July 30, 2012

Power in the Name

Freedigitalphotos.net/Stuart Miles
Have you thought about the power in the name of Jesus? The name Jesus spoken out loud can cause demons to flee and peace to enter. It has the power to summon angels and demolish strongholds. Jesus truly is the answer for life's hurts, trials, and temptations.

I just got back from a Youth Revival at a small little town in west Texas. The preaching was powerful, Spirit-filled and challenging. And while at a campsite in the middle of a state park, a spiritual battle was waged. I don't know how you feel about spiritual warfare, but I have always relegated it to Biblical times or really pagan areas where witch doctors and witchcraft abound. But after what happened at that park, I'm convinced there is a battle being waged right here under our noses.

A young adult presented symptoms of being overcome by a demon and friends brought him out to the campsite to be prayed over. This person was strong, lashed out, bit, scratched, spit, and raged. Then it would subside and a fearful voice would emerge begging for help...to get rid of "it", to make "it" leave.

The youth present went farther down the trail and sang praises to God and prayed while the adults prayed and proclaimed over the overcome person for 3 hours. It wasn't until this person was able to speak the name of Jesus himself that there was relief. The person didn't want to speak the name of Jesus. He fought against it, but when he did, there was a change. There was a settling. There was a peace.

All because of the name of Jesus.

There is such power behind the name of Jesus. Jesus is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. There is power in just speaking His holy name. When you proclaim Jesus as your lord, demons flee and peace comes.

When we truly believe in Jesus and emulate his life and teaching, we become little Jesuses in this word. We live in the power He brings. We are His hands, His feet, His heart. We bring peace to the world around us...and this world needs the peace of Jesus. Boy, does it need peace!

Are you speaking the name of Jesus on a daily basis? Are you living in the power of Him and His calling on your life? Are you fighting the war against the evil one, proclaiming the lordship of Jesus?

Try it. Speak the name of Jesus. Trust in Him to empower you to wage the war against the evil one. As it is written in Ephesians6:11-13:

 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

After we have stood our ground...after we have done everything...we will stand in the power of the Name of Jesus. Speak it. Live it!


July 23, 2012

When God Says Not Now

Photo by anankkml @freedigitalphotos.net


Hearing God speak is such weird thing. When I hear others talking about hearing from God, my first thought is "What did He sound like?" I always think of God talking in an audible voice. And while I have had God speak to me in a dream, I have never heard an actual voice when I am wide awake. It's more of an impression. A feeling. An overwhelming sensation gripping my heart, making my body come alive with awareness...an awareness of God's unmistakable presence.

God spoke to me last weekend and I was overcome.

I'd been wrestling with my writing, not being able to focus, not being able to hear my characters talk or see their futures in my head. I've also felt a guilt about not being more involved in my church. Sure, I go to our church worship gathering every Sunday. I sing on the Praise Team. I teach children's Bible Class every now and then. But what am I doing to help my husband in his work? What am I doing to further God's mission in this world through our church? I haven't been using my gift of hospitality. I haven't been serving others...just myself and my writing.

All of these things were on my heart last weekend, and Sunday morning I prayed that God would speak to me so that I would know His will for me. I told Him I was expecting Him to speak in a way that brooked no  argument. And He did.

The whole church service spoke, from the songs to the sermon, God whispered to my heart. What was so cool is my husband, who I had not shared any of this with, got up and spoke words throughout his sermon that blew God's breath over me. He said (paraphrased), "In the story of the prodigal son, it's not just the wayward sinners who end up in the pig pen. It's us. We get in a place where we put our wants and desires before God. We lose our focus. He wants more for us. He has more for us. But what does God want from you? Has He been speaking to you?"

Well, yes, He has! God spoke to my soul, and He has told me to give up my writing for publication to focus on Him and His mission. I don't believe He wants me to give it up forever, but I know He has asked me to set it aside for a time to revel in His presence and rediscover my love and passion for Him.

So while I am not writing for publication at this point in my journey, I will continue to post in my blog what God is teaching me, what great books I am reading, and what fun things I am up to.

And oh, how I love to have fun!

So has God been whispering to you? 

July 13, 2012

Am I Doing Enough?

I rented Machine Gun Preacher last night and was left with a disquieting question. (disclaimer: this movie is rated R for violence and language) Am I doing enough for God? Now, as a life-long believer, I know that is such a terrible question to ask. The Christian walk is not about doing...it is about a relationship with Jesus. But is my relationship deep enough to where I am actively pursuing His work around me?

If God is all about His mission in this world - to bring people into relationship with Him - then how am I participating in that mission?

My answer is lamentable. Not much. Yes, I am a preacher's wife, but what have I been doing other than going to church every Sunday, sing in the Praise Team, help out occasionally in children's class, and support my husband? Nothing. I quit having people in my home because I live so far away from church. I don't visit others now that I work full time. I haven't organized anything because, well, I work and am tired.

As for bringing people into relationship with Jesus? Nope.

In the movie Machine Gun Preacher, the main character, Sam, went on a mission trip to Uganda to work on constructing buildings for the people there. When he went to Sudan and saw that mass of orphans there, he was moved to help. He saw the need in front of him and he acted upon it.

So often my eyes are clouded by all the stuff in life that keeps me busy...to the point that I forget that my life should revolve around Jesus. I want to see clearly. I want to see where God is working and join Him in His work.

Not that I have to be doing something big or great, but I want to be His hands, His mouth, His embrace wherever needed. I want others to experience Jesus when they are around me. I want them to taste and see that He is good.

Am I doing enough? Probably not. But I do have Jesus in my heart and He will work His will in me if I let Him.

Have an awesome weekend!

p.s. I lost 1 pound last night at weigh in!!! Finally! I've either stayed the same or gained a little the past month...grrrr.

July 09, 2012

Nose to the Grindstone

Photo by Stuart Miles
 from FreeDigitalPhotos.net
My week off is over and it is back to the trenches, off to the workforce, nose to the grindstone. OUCH! I didn't do much on my "vacation"...spent time with family, read, watched Netflix, did a little editing. I didn't even clean the house like I should have.

There's something about getting back to a routine that I like. I get up at 5am and get to work by 7:30am. I get home at 5:15pm and I cook supper. I clean the kitchen. I get on my laptop and/or watch TV. I go to bed. I know what I'm supposed to do and I do it. It is a forced discipline - of which I sadly lack on my own.

It's weird how you make yourself do something when you know you HAVE to do it. I get up early because I HAVE to go to work. I cook dinner because we HAVE to eat. I do laundry because we HAVE to have clean clothes.

Here's the thing...I'm not one of those writers who HAS to write or they die. It's a fun thing for me, so if I don't feel like it, I don't. But that won't get a book written. There has to be some kind of discipline going on to get a book written.

So what's a girl to do? Make a plan, of course. With consequences. Mwahahahhaa. I must write 1000 words a day or I do not get a diet Dr. Pepper the next day. Sigh...I know what you are thinking...that's harsh! I love my diet Dr. Peppers.

So tell me, what's your plan of action to get things accomplished? 


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Winner of Keli Gwyn's debut book, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California is....Patty! Congratulations! Be looking for an email from me! 

July 04, 2012

Weird Waves of Life


Photo by federico stevanin @ freedigitalphotos.net

The busyness of life comes in waves. Sometimes life is slow and easy. You have evenings free, you can take a nap during the day if you like, you have time to bake cookies. Other times life is like a merry-go-round, spinning faster and faster until you are hanging on for dear life.

Last week was one of those weeks. It was a week with the birth of a church member's baby girl on Wednesday, the funeral for one of our wonderful members from church on Thursday, the memorial service for a young man who tragically died on Friday, and the wedding of a some church members on Saturday (3 hours away). It is strange how one can experience the highs and lows of life's big events all in one week.

I'm emotionally drained. (and still battling the cold...or allergies...that I've been dealing with for the past week.)

But I have this week off from work, due to our school district wanting to save some money. I've resting, writing, movie watching, reading, and doing a little crafting.

I think I'll try to harness some of the emotions of the past week and see if it will infuse my writing with some depth. Maybe not, but I'm going to give it a shot.

So what is on your agenda for the week? Any holiday plans for today, July the 4th?


July 02, 2012

Keli Gwyn, Debut Author: Interview & Giveaway

I've been so excited about hosting Keli Gwyn, whose debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, released yesterday, July 1. Keli is one of those people who have God's fingerprints all over them. She is kind, considerate, giving, and selfless. She is a gifted writer and I know God has big things in store for His servant, Keli.
ABOUT KELI GWYN:  Keli Gwyn writes stories that transport readers to the 1800s, where she brings historic towns to life, peoples them with colorful characters, and adds a hint of humor. A California native, she lives in the Gold Rush-era town of Placerville at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Her debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, set in the heart of the Gold Country where she lives, will be released in July 2012.

When Keli’s fingers aren’t hovering over the keyboard of her newfangled laptop, she enjoys strolling past stately Victorian houses in her historic town, burying her nose in reference books as she unearths interesting facts to include in her stories, and interacting with other romance readers. Her favorite places to visit are her fictional worlds, the Coach factory outlet store, and Taco Bell.

MY INTERVIEW WITH KELI:

Did you see yourself becoming a writer as a child? If not, what did you dream of being?

I’d dreamed of being a writer since I was seven. Forty years passed before I dusted off that long-held dream and began writing my first story. In the interim I worked as a bookkeeper to put myself through college, earned a degree in Mass Communication/Print Journalism, and spent a couple of years as an assistant editor at a small publishing company before marrying and being a stay-at-home mom. The dream never died, though, and after all this time it’s coming true. The lesson I learned is: don’t give up on your dreams.

How long did you write before you sold your first book?

Five years. I began writing in January 2006, and my agent, Rachelle Gardner, sold my story in December 2010.

How many manuscripts have you written and which is your favorite?

I’ve completed six historical romances so far, five of them before I sold. My third story, the one that led to my offer of representation and first contract, is near and dear to me for those reasons. However, I have a soft spot for my first story, one hidden in the remote recesses of my hard drive. And I’m excited about the story I’m working on now. Sheesh. What am I saying? I love all my stories. :-)

You are agented by the coveted uber-agent Rachelle Gardner. How long did you write before you sought representation? Tell us a little about gaining her as your agent.

After I spent a year studying craft, I rewrote that third story. I decided to enter it in some contests to see if I was getting closer to having a marketable story. It did well, garnering me several wins and requests for fulls.

One of those requests was from Rachelle. I sent it to her. The next day I received an email with words that set me bouncing off the walls and shrieking “Oh my gosh!” for a full fifteen minutes: “I’d like to discuss the possibility of representation.” We did, and on the eve of Christmas Eve 2009, I received an amazing gift when she called and I accepted her offer.

How long does it take you to write a book?

In the early days, before I’d discovered the wonderful world of writers online and hadn’t learned about craft, I lost myself in my stories for weeks on end. I’d come up for air after a couple of months with a completed story and a heart filled with joy. These days it takes me longer to write a book than it used to because I’m no longer holed up in my writing cave.

What do you like to do when you are not writing? Are you ever NOT writing?

In addition to writing, I spend time on promotion, connecting with readers on social media sites, responding to email, etc. I’m sure I’m not alone in having to carve out writing time. The important thing is to make it a priority.

I spend time each day working out at Curves or walking. I love strolling past the Victorian houses in our historical Gold Rush-era town or hiking on the trail reading a romance. Yes, I’ve recently learned to read while walking. My husband and I enjoy watching shows from Netflix. Some of them are romances or period pieces, but because I love Gwynly and won’t subject him to a steady diet of them, many are mysteries. They help me learn about plotting.

Many of the people who follow our blog are aspiring writers themselves. Can you share your favorite writing tip with them?

Have fun! The pressure to follow every “rule,” final in contests, send out queries, get an agent or a contract, etc. can rob us of the joy of writing. When that happens, writing can cease to be fun and our work can suffer. I know, because I’ve been there. When the Lord led me to let go of my expectations, I started having fun again, my writing took a real leap forward, and things began happening for me.

Now that you are agented and published, do you still experience rejections? If so, how are these rejections different or similar to the ones you received before becoming published?

I’d heard that published authors still receive rejections, and I’ll admit to having found that hard to believe. Well, I’m here to tell you from personal experience that it’s true.

A Bride Opens Shop releases July 1! Tell us a little about the book.

 Widow Elenora Watkins looks forward to meeting her new business partner, Miles Rutledge, who owns a shop in 1870s El Dorado. But Miles is shocked to see a woman step off the stagecoach. His rude behavior forces Elenora to reconsider—so she becomes his competition across the street. Can Miles win her heart while destroying her business?

If you could only share one line from A Bride Opens Shop, which one would you choose and why?

My favorite line is two words long. In order to understand why I like it so much, I’ll give you the set-up. Miles and Elenora have just met. He expected a man to show up and is dealing with his shock—and not doing a very good of it. Elenora is unaware that Miles’s mother didn’t tell her son that his prospective partner is a woman.

Miles and Ellie are talking in the backroom of his shop. He stops pacing, turns, and says, “You’re a woman.” Ellie replies with those two words I love, “You’re observant.” To me, this line shows her personality well. She takes Miles head on, shows her spirit and quick mind, and doesn’t let his rudeness faze her. Ellie definitely has spunk!

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

More inspirational historical romances set in during the Victorian era. I’ve run many ideas by Rachelle, and she liked them all, so I’ll be busy writing for years to come.

Now for a little fun…tell us 3 FUN facts about yourself that you don't think anyone knows. It doesn't have to be writing related, but a funny writing quirk would be FABULOUS!

Ooh! This is fun, Sherrinda!
I created voices for our two cat brothers. Dandy got the only low one I can make, but poor Sandy is dismayed that his “voice” sounds girly. What’s worse is that he has a bit of a Bostonian accent. Where that came from, I’ll never know. I’ve never even been to Massachusetts.

I collect hedgehog figurines and stuffed animals. I became enamored with this interesting creature when Gwynly and I lived in Germany. We actually got to rescue a real one once when it wandered into the American military high school where Gwynly taught. That was pretty cool.

When the words aren’t flowing or I’m searching for just the right way to word something, I reach into a little basket of toys I keep beside my writing desk. I’m sure some would wonder what tossing a ball in the air or bouncing a metal slinky from hand to hand has to do with writing. That’s easy. Playing with toys takes me back to my childhood and unlocks my creativity. That’s my answer anyhow, and I’m sticking with it. :-)

Thanks so much for having me as a guest on your lovely blog, Sherrinda.

And now, I have a question for your visitors. Do you have any pets who “talk?”

Oh Keli....I have loved having you here! Thank you for your wonderful answers, giving others a glimpse into YOU! May God bless you on this exciting journey!

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You can find Keli at any of the following links. She'd love to hear from you!


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You can purchase Keli's book, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California at any of the following retailers.


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Back cover copy
Love Is Gold in El Dorado, California

Widow Elenora Watkins heads to California with her nine-year-old daughter, Tildy, eager to become a partner in a mercantile. When the mulish owner withdraws his offer because she’s a woman, she opens her own shop. She’s determined to prove herself capable of running a successful business without the help of anyone—including her controlling father, her seemingly distant heavenly Father, and one Miles Rutledge.

Widower Miles Rutledge is not about to get involved with another willful woman like his late wife, especially when she’s his competition. But the beautiful Elenora may be too hard to resist. When another man appears out to claim Elenora’s heart, Miles searches for a way to win her back. . .while putting her out of business.

Meanwhile, Maude Rutledge, Miles’s meddling mother, longs to see her son make a good match. And Tildy is just as bent on gaining a loving papa.

The battle of wills begins, but can anyone win when the competition is more than they bargained for?

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GIVEAWAY!

If you would like a chance to get your hands on Keli's debut book, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, leave a comment with the answer to Keli's question at the end of her interview. Leave your spam-free email address....janedoe(at)gmail(dot)com....so that you can be contacted if you are the winner. I will draw for the winner using random.org and announce it next Monday, July 9. Only U.S. citizens, please. 


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