Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Faith, Friends...and Chocolate!: Holy Hospitality

Faith, Friends...and Chocolate!: Holy Hospitality: The holiday season conjures up images of family gathered around an artfully designed Thanksgiving table with turkey roasted to golden...

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Experience the Sunrise this December

Most mornings I walk in my quiet place. As the sun peeks over the Blue Ridge Mountains with a wash of amber over the valley, I pause, close my eyes, stretch out my arms, and verbally praise my Savior. The warmth I feel in my body and in my spirit recharges me and fuels me for the day.

So smitten with the sunrise am I that I've often struggled to capture its beauty on paper, mostly with pen and ink with various pastel shadings. The exercise helps me feel close to Abba Father.

Yet, at no time did His sunrise mean more to me than after the loss of our second baby, a little boy born at four months gestation. In the aftermath, I longed to make sense of the senseless.

Alone and depressed one cold morning, I knelt in front of our living room recliner. With compelling cheeriness, the winter sun poured through the double windows as I poured out my heart to God. Exhausted, I reached for my Bible on the coffee table. Flipping the pages, I landed on Luke 1:78-79.

Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us,
To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.
To guide our feet into the way of peace.

I perked up. It was as though God faxed that scripture through rays of sunlight just for me that morning. Since we'd recently gone through the Christmas season, the passage was especially meaningful. My Sunrise, my Savior, had chosen to leave heaven in the form of a helpless babe in order to lift me out of my sin and darkness. On this life-changing morn, He reminded me that His light extended beyond my initial salvation to illumine every dark thing thereafter that tried to invade my soul, including depression in the aftermath of my loss.

This December Sunrise experience was a pivotal point in my healing journey in 1982.

Years later, Luke 1:78-79 continues to impact my life and prayerfully others' lives as I draw upon this scripture for my novel, December Sunrise.


 A young girl's heart for helping takes her to a dark place 
only the Light of Christmas can illumine. 

 A little girl’s Christmas wish comes at a high cost.

Emma’s Christmas list isn’t like other kids’. Instead of toys, she wants her mama’s cancer to go away, the town to stop arguing over the Ten Commandments, and nice Mr. Whitmire to reunite with his estranged daughter. Grandma Doreen holds the key to a family secret that just might fulfill some of Emma’s desires, but not before tragedy strikes.

Filled with the wonder and hope that only His December Sunrise can create . . . 

Experience the Sunrise this December!

December Sunrise available here.

 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

VOTING . . . What if?

Voting . . . what if we couldn't?

What might that look like?

Voting booths torn out of precincts?

Pad-locks on doors?

Signs posted around the country with only one face, one name, one person demanding allegiance?

Or else.

As disappointing as our current presidential candidates are, we still have an opportunity to vote. A privilege. A responsibility.
A freedom.

While neither candidate may scratch where our principles itch, one lines up more closely with the message of liberty, of which God is the author.

One who is willing to secure our borders. For without a border, we are not a country.

One who promotes free enterprise and champions small business owners. For without capitalism, socialism and communism take over.

One who supports limited governmental control in crucial areas of life, like parents' freedom to choose and guide their children's education.

One who acknowledges that life is sacred at every stage, and thus will work to protect pre-born children, the disabled, and the elderly.

One who believes a strong military is vital in establishing respect for America from both enemies and allies alike.

One who believes that a person's hard-earned money should not go to support healthcare mandates which fund abortion.

One who is closer in thought and practice to the ideas of our founding fathers and the Constitution.

One who believes that faith in God as recognized by our founding fathers is crucial to the moral fiber of our country. 

The candidate options may not be ideal on every front. I get that.

However, ONE is better. Closer to the tenets upon which our country was founded. One who will champion the liberties we hold dear, not strap Americans with more government control, ultimately and dangerously wooing us toward a dictatorship.

As a Christian citizen, I believe God directs me to be salt and light in my culture (Matt. 5: Phil. 2:15). In all areas of life, I am to shine forth Christ's grace and truth.

Ken Ham, speaker, author, and president of Answers in Genesis-USA writes that, "When Christians go to the polls, we are given the opportunity to vote for those candidates we believe will best enable us to continue to have as much freedom as possible to be light and salt in this world, as we need to be. This is particularly true today as we are seeing an increase of Christian persecution and the erosion of religious freedom and the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the US Constitution and its First Amendment."

Furthermore, he notes that "Christians should judge what candidates believe, say, and do against the absolute authority of the Word of God and vote accordingly . . . As Christians, we need to be active in preaching, and 'to contend earnestly for the faith' (Jude 1:3). As part of our contending for the faith, I suggest we should be active in taking every opportunity we can (such as voting) to be an influence of good in this earthly world's affairs."

Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family adds: "As citizens of the United States, we are both decision-makers for our government and stewards of our nation's values and heritage. There is no getting around it: voting is both a right and a responsibility for each one of us in our representative form of government. So please, commit to vote in 2016!"

I echo his plea!

For the Christian, all of life is sacred. God expects us to influence all aspects of society, including the governmental process. To quote Edmund Burke, statesman, orator, and political thinker of the 1700s, "We are part of a contract between those who are dead, those who are living, and those who are to be born."

One way we can fulfill our contract to the community of the past, present, and future is to step into our privilege and responsibility of voting.

Voting may be a simple thing. But it's a precious freedom that we must not take for granted.

 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Name that Hymn

I love the book of Psalms. The largest book in the Bible is actually a music book. I like to call it a HIM book, because it's all about exalting and worshiping God! Many of our modern day praise and worship lyrics are taken from the Psalms.

In Colossians 3:16, the apostle Paul instructs, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God" (NIV).

One way the word of Christ can dwell in us richly is through song!

Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.

During my quiet time walks with Abba Father in the morning, I sometimes take my hymnbook. I like to thoughtfully, prayerfully read the words out loud as I walk. Sometimes, I break out with the melody. What a special time entering into the heart of the hymn writer as s/he exalts God.

Revisiting old hymns may seem archaic for some Christians nowadays. How sad, since hymnology is rife with biblical doctrine about God, salvation (redemption), sanctification (growth in Christ), and the believer's future glorification. Hymns center in who God is and what He has done for us. When so much Christian music today focuses on self, hymns focus on God--the place to begin if we are ever to experience victory and the joy and peace we desire. 

In addition, hymns make us think. We're called upon to stop and ponder, chew on the words and the meaning. No burger and fries meal here; hymns offer a full course meal to digest and to satisfy. Don't get me wrong--I'm one of those Christian music lovers who likes variety (modern praise choruses, spiritual songs, and hymns), but once in a while, I like to pull out that old hymnal and sing a few tunes.  

As I revisit a five hymns in this post, perhaps you'd like to play along. Can you guess the name of the hymn from the line below?

1. " . . . . how sweet the sound; that saved a wretch like me." 

2. "There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not."

3. "I trust the Ever-living One--His wounds for me shall plead. I need no other argument,"

4. "Out of my bondage, sorrow and night,"

5. "I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how He could love me,"

So, any of the above lines ring a bell? Post your answers in the comments section below. 

 

 



 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Living He Loved

The other day while walking in my quiet place and chewing on Philippians 2:1-8 (why God left heaven in the person of Jesus), an old hymn came to mind: "Living He loved me, dying He saved me, buried He carried my sins far away. Rising He justified, freely forever. One day He's coming, oh glorious day!" (One Day).

The phrase "living He loved me" kept rolling around in my head. Yes, He died, was buried, and rose again for my redemption and eternal life, but He lived for 33 years prior to that. Thirty-three years of living to show love to those around Him. Living in a human body with weakness and limitation, subject to ridicule and rejection (after all, in most eyes, He was the bastard boy of Mary). And He did so by choice . . . . because He loved. He knew His purpose and He glorified the Father by living out that purpose.

As Abba Father reminded me of this in the morning hour during my walk, I sensed Him speaking to my heart: "Eileen, I just want you to live. Live . . . and love as I loved while on earth. I have given you My purpose--to glorify Me by sharing Jesus's love with others."
That sharing of His love occurred when I stopped to engage the teens waiting at the street corner for the bus.

And that sharing continued with Chuck as soon as I walked back in the door; however on this morn, I addressed his needs with a greater strength and sensitivity.

That sharing progressed as I moved upstairs to interact with two-year-old Rivers and five-year-old Gabe. With just enough attention given to satisfy them and to release me to go back downstairs to my office and begin my morning work day.

All I could say in response was "Thank You, Abba! I can live and love because You continue to show me how, by Your mercy, grace, and strength."

What's God been showing you through His Word lately? Perhaps a take away from a sermon, a Sunday school lesson, a radio speaker, or your quiet time in the Word?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul!



God keeps taking me back to Psalm 103 the last couple weeks. What spiritual nourishment! Perhaps you too will wrap up in the truths of this lovely, richly meaningful psalm written by David . . .



Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
 
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
 
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your [a]years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
 
The Lord performs [b]righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.
 
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
 
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who [c]fear Him.
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
 
13 Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who [d]fear Him.
14 For He Himself knows [e]our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16 When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,
And its place acknowledges it no longer.
 
17 But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who [f]fear Him,
And His [g]righteousness to children’s children,
18 To those who keep His covenant
And remember His precepts to do them.

19 The Lord has established His throne in the heavens,
And His [h]sovereignty rules over [i]all.
 
20 Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!
21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You who serve Him, doing His will.
22 Bless the Lord, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion;
 
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

(Text provided by BibleGateway.com).

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

BOOK GIVEAWAY in Honor of my 40th Wedding Anniversary!

Redemption for a post-abortive woman and a foster mom. Both want the same child, but who will win?

Join me this Friday, July 15 at 2:00 p.m. to discuss my novel, Masquerade. FREE ebook copy to one participant!