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December '13

"We are his servants because the same God who said that light should shine out of darkness has given us light. For that reason we bring to light the knowledge about God's glory which shines from Christ's face."
—2 Corinthians 4:6 (God's Word)

Reflection:

Don't you wish the spirit of Christmas could be seen, felt, and heard throughout the year? I do! All this lovely cheer we spread around for a single month--giving to the poorest of the poor, lighting our candles of time and energies, giving extra offerings for our favorite charities.

What if that splendid light and goodwill shone all year long? For instance, what if we gave more and yearned for less? Rejoiced more and complained less? What if we all joined hands and hearts everyday, every month...and shared the peace of Christ to our little corner of the world? Such a very different place this planet would be.

This Christmas Season my wish for you is the Peace which passes all understanding. God's peace covers a multitude of issues, and yours may be different than mine. Even so, we all long for it, don't we? "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." ~ John 14:27 (NIV)

On another very special note, if you are curious about my favorite aspect of Christmas, be sure to check out my Christmas 2013 Blog on December 6th, which includes a private peek into our home. Here's the link to the Bethany House Fiction Author Blog site: bethanyfiction.com. Read and enjoy, and spread the word to family and friends. Then leave a comment.

Thanks, as always, for being the best-ever readers any author could be so blessed to call a friend. Your prayers and thoughtful words continue to encourage me daily. May the Lord bless you abundantly with the "simple gifts" this coming year.

 

November '13

It is God who produces in you the desires and actions that please him. Do everything without complaining or arguing. Then you will be blameless and innocent... You will shine like stars among them in the world as you hold firmly to the word of life.
—Philippians 2:13-16 God's Word Bible

Reflection:

Have you ever encountered a family gathering where there is non-stop quarreling and fussing? Perhaps, you were an innocent bystander, but your stomach was in knots all the same. The atmosphere intended for merriement was instead riddled with discord. Not the ideal way to enjoy such a get-together, let alone try to digest food!

With the Season of Gratitude upon us, no doubt there will be more than the typical opportunity to connect with our immediate and extended families, as well as with close friends and neighbors--around the table and, perhaps, in other venues. What if instead of demanding our own way or opinion, this year we embraced the "simple gifts" my Amish friends talk about...and practice daily? Jenny Burns, my English protagonist in my newest novel, The Secret Keeper, quickly experiences these attributes when she moves in with Katie Lapp's Amish parents as a hopeful seeker in Hickory Hollow. I'm referring to, of course, the New Testament Fruit of the Spirit, as found in Galatians, chapter five.

Sharing such characteristics as joyfulness, kindness and patience with our dear ones, making that our priority around our Thanksgiving tables will make a real difference in the mood of the entire day. Think of the potential for creating loving bonds of happiness and peace. Not to mention mercy and grace, too.

So, it's not just about finding the best-ever Thanksgiving menu online, is it?--or baking Aunt Judith's "perfect" pecan pie. The way we treat each other, and emulate God's light and love, are so essential for a happy Thanksgiving Day, and every day of the year.

Let's make a difference in our corner of the world, beginning with our very own family. Are you in?

A blessed Thanksgiving Season to you and yours!

October '13

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

—Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Reflection:

A surprising number of reader-friends, during my recent book tour to Indiana and Kentucky, asked me this question: What constitutes having influence in one’s small corner of the world? And how can we know if that calling is being fulfilled?

Especially now, in these difficult times, people are eager to know what they can do to make a difference where they live and work and minister…right where they are.

My recently novel, The Secret Keeper, delves into this important issue. When the Holy Spirit inspires a desire in our hearts—if we nurture that calling and follow it—the initial desire (with prayer, divine blessing, and hard work) can spring to life and blossom into a beautiful “garden.”

Are you struggling, unsure of your influence on those you love, your circle of friends at work…at church…in the secular marketplace? Trust in God’s perfect timing and in His cherished will. My Amish friends understand the meaning of God’s sovereignty. They truly believe, like an innocent and trusting child, in their heavenly Father’s plan for their lives.

“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.” ~Romans 8:26-27

A blessed and inspiring autumn season to you!

September '13

Make your ways known to me, O Lord, and teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me because you are God, my savior. I wait all day long for you.

—Psalm 25:4-5 God’s Word

Reflection:

When asking for tech support from your computer geek, do you interrupt before you receive the information and just hope you can fix your PC problems yourself? When you’re gathering cooking ingredients for a new recipe, do you abandon the last three items, too rushed to bother, yet still hope the dish turns out okay? Do you leave off the last half of your course assignment, hoping the prof won’t notice?

Yet how frequently do we, impatient as we are, throw up our hands when our prayers seem to go unanswered? Why are we in such a hurry for answers?
James 1:4 instructs: But let patience have her perfect work.…

In this fast-paced, hectic world we live in, it’s sometimes hard to think that waiting for God’s answer is ever a good idea!
Many of my Amish friends are lifelong farmers; they are familiar with the concept of waiting and patience—one of the fruit of the Spirit is longsuffering. They wait each spring for the soil to thaw and soften before plowing and cultivating; they wait for the crops to yield produce, for the rains to come, and for the highly anticipated harvest.

So often we wonder how much longer we must wait to know God’s will. But really, does it matter if, while we’re waiting, we’re growing and maturing…trusting in His timing?

On that note, I’m patiently waiting (trying!) to see many of you during my upcoming fall 2013 book tour to Indiana and Kentucky. Please check the full schedule here.

Blessings as we grow together in Christ,