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The Waves of Life

When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, (Ugh. Did I really just admit my illness, one with so many myths, judgements, and misconceptions surrounding it, online???) I felt ready to break—physically and emotionally. I thought the intense pain shooting through every ounce of my body would last forever.

I’ve since learned those waves, or flares, as the medical community calls them, won’t last forever, and knowing that brings incredible peace. Knowing there is an eventual end to the pain makes it bearable. And knowing God has a purpose in my pain, which He does, makes it glorious.

Life is like that, isn’t it? Stuck in the muck, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and defeated, to focus on the tumult rather than our Savior. But today my sweet friend and highly-valued critique partner, Majie Lane, MarjiLaine-260x300shares some encouraging thoughts on these “waves of life” we all go through and what each one can do for us.

The Waves of Life by Marji Lane

My latest release, The Love Boat Bachelor is set on a cruise. It had me thinking all things oceans. Looking back on the last few years which comprise my writing life, I can see how waves of circumstances can change the way I think. Even the way I live. I could get fancy like the Starbucks down the corner and call the different waves Tall, Venti, and Grande, but I think I’ll just call my waves small, medium, and large.

The small waves are circumstances that mold us. The way God teaches us through daily life. They tend to take on the appearance of seasons – football, holiday, busy, vacation. Even more seasons if you still have kids in your home – prom, musical, contest, performance, the list goes on. All seasons that enrich, but also complicate our lives.

These small waves can give us a beating when attitudes are sour or other waves are overwhelming.

Medium waves are those that are more of the way we define ourselves. Our jobs, locations, and relationships make up the medium waves. I’m a wife and an author. I’m also a wavesmom and a teacher. I’m a
Texan. I’d find it very hard to change that, but we’ve come close a time or two.

The medium waves aren’t usually the overwhelming ones, but they can throw in turbulence when they have a change. Even then, they only change our title and sometimes a perspective. They don’t actually change who we are.

The deep-water waves, those are the ones that can have the largest effect on us. They comprise the broader seasons of our lives: years with babies in the house or school children, supporting aging family members, retirement, having teenagers, being the aging family member that needs support.

wave 3In deep water, the waves seem to move slowly, almost imperceptive from the height of a cruise ship. In the same way, these particular waves of our lives change over periods of years, decades even.

It’s when any of the waves, especially the large or medium ones, are jarred that the Lord works in our lives. When the water shifts unexpectedly, He’s there supporting and strengthening us through huge directional adjustments.

But Jesus said He’d never leave us comfortless. (John 14:18)

When we are at our most vulnerable, we tend to listen to Him better. Pay attention more willingly. And we’re the most malleable. So that He can perfect us, His creations.

He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. (Philippians 1:6)

When we are broken and humble before God, He can use us to do the work He needs us to do. And true contentment comes when we’re able to look at the waves we’ve been through and know that none of them conquered us. We can throw back our heads and smile at God, knowing full well He holds us close and will give us whatever we need to accomplish His work.

Your turn: What waves are you dealing with right now, and how is God using them to strengthen you?

Marji Laine, a homeschooling mom, lives with her husband, their four grown and almost-grown kids, and a spoiled black Lab in the Dallas area. When she’s not fighting for quiet time and a space of her own to visit with her characters, she’s indulging in photography, watching NASCAR, and lately helping her oldest with wedding plans.

She works part time as the children’s music director at her church, leads a college-aged Bible Study, and teaches high school writing. She loves acting in stage plays, sings in small groups and a large choir, and has a passion for sharing about the relationship that the Lord wants to have with His children.

She has so loved being involved with Write Integrity Press and their last four collaborative novellas. “What an amazing group of creative and talented people!:” Contact her at MarjiLaine.com or find her on Suspense Sisters ReviewsFacebookTwiiter,Goodreads, Pinterest, and Google+.

TLBB CoverThe Love Boat Bachelor:

Romance is a joke.

After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too.

Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry?

Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise.

As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.

What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

Grab your copy here!

Let’s talk about this. I know many of you are going through some very painful times. First, to those of you who have shared your struggles with me, know I’m praying for you. For all of us, may we draw ever-nearer livingbygracepic.jpto Christ when we feel ready to ship-wreck, for He is our strength, our comfort, and our closest friend.

To repeat Marji’s question, posed above:

What waves are you dealing with right now, and how is God using them to strengthen you?

I encourage you to prayerfully consider the latter part of that question, because that’s the glory-phrase. Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

I’ll share mine. Living with chronic pain has a way of centering one’s heart in eternity, which in turn gives passion and focus to my ministry. Each day I’m reminded that this sin-and-pain-ravished world is not my home, and that’s a reminder I need.

No Safety Net

I’m not much of a risk taker, and I can worry things out ten to twenty, even thirty years. This need for stability and, ultimately, control, greatly hindered my walk with Christ. Can you relate? Join me on Literally Speaking as I talk about surrender, obedience, discovering and embracing your call, and becoming Christ’s hands and feet to the broken. As an added bonus, Patti Shene is doing a give-away of one of my novels, winner’s choice. Listen and learn more here. 

IMG_7480Pause to consider your circle. Have you surrounded yourself with others who are just like you? When was the last time you reached out to a nonbelieving neighbor or initiated conversation with a stranger? Sound frightening? Maybe. But remember, Christ has not given us a spirit of fear! Today my sweet friend, Jennifer Hallmark, shares her thoughts on what it means to walk as children of light.

A Candle in the Dark

By Jennifer Hallmark

photo by photoexplorer

photo by photoexplorer

“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children…For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light…” Ephesians 5:1,8 NKJV

Are we imitators of God? To walk as children of light means to radiate a positive, Christ-like attitude toward people in your family, community, and world. One former pastor preached several sermons on being a light in the dark, not in a room already lit by many candles.

Every Sunday and Wednesday at churches all over the world, buildings are lit with many lights. While it is important to fellowship with other believers, our ministry should extend beyond this. My candle is a nice addition to our church, but when I take my candle out into a dark area, it becomes much more important. Our light is Christ’s love and grace revealed in us. We need to point people to the ultimate light, Jesus Christ.

People are drawn to light. Notice the way cars congregate under the only street light near a store. Light attracts and the light given to us when we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior should attract interest, at least.

Why do we seek jobs and neighborhoods among Christians? We’re much more comfortable and less fearful being a light in a room full of lights. Are we afraid of the dark? God calls us to be light where there is little to no light. Volunteering at local shelters or soup kitchen is one way to shine in the darkness. St. Francis of Assisi said ‘All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.’ Are we willing to love people where they are, even if we are the only candle in sight? We can ask God to help us to be willing and fight through any fear we might have.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-15 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (NKJV).

No more hiding our light under baskets or among other lights. It’s time to toss our comfort level to one side and step out. We needn’t fear anymore, for the Holy Spirit will strengthen us to do whatever God calls us to do. Someone is walking on a dark path in your world. They need the comfort we can bring and the true light to their path; Jesus. Will you be the one to shine and point the way?

***

Jennifer Hallmark is a writer by nature, artist at heart, and daughter of God by His grace. She’s published over 200 articles and interviews on the internet, short stories in several magazines and been part of two book compilations, A Dozen Apologies, and Sweet Freedom A La Mode. She is currently shopping her contemporary southern fiction novel, When Wedding and Weather Collide. She’s contributed to two compilations, one that will release in June with Write Integrity Press called Unlikely Merger and a non-fiction compilation releasing in the summer called  Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage. 

Visit her online at Alabama-Inspired Fiction, and the group blog she co-founded focus on her books, love of the South, and helping writers. Keep up to day with her and her writing by subscribing to her monthly newsletter at her author page. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. For fun, she loves to read detective fiction from the Golden Age, watch movies like LOTR, and play with her two precious granddaughters. Jennifer and her husband, Danny, have spent their married life in Alabama and have a basset hound, Max.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! What are you doing to share the light of Christ? What is one thing you can do today to bring light into a dark situation? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

ID-100122426

Photo by David Castillo Dominici taken from freedigitalphotos.net

This Valentine’s Day, do you find yourself pouting, fuming, frowning, maybe stomping around a bit? Or have you begun to place catalogs strategically throughout the house… opened to a particular page… with a certain necklace or bracelet circled in red?

Because it’s all about us, right??? It’s all about what makes us happy, what we desire… what we DESERVE!

Or is it? Today author Karen Jurgens challenges our thinking, encouraging us to go deeper.

 Can’t Buy Me Love

By Karen Jurgens

Love. The pink hearts and red roses on Valentine’s Day come around each year to remind us. Isn’t finding love and happiness one of our ultimate quests in life?

Valentine heartWe’re born into it. Oozing love, parents lavish hopes and dreams on their precious newborn sons and daughters. The kind of love that is strong enough for a lifetime.

So how does that bubble burst?

Everything changes when a child grows old enough to understand how love operates. He is so accustomed to being on the receiving end that he is shocked to discover…there’s also a giving end. 

What??

He is forced to learn how share toys and not whine. Forced to accept a new sibling who shares his parents’ love and not be jealous. Forced to let other kids have a turn before his without crying. And the lesson continues as he grows older–how to apologize, forgive, and extend grace to those who may not deserve it.

Although we all encounter these learning opportunities, their lessons aren’t always taken to heart. Instead, people seem to equate love with money, thinking that will bring them ultimate satisfaction. But is love for sale?

People without money look over the fence and think, if I could just be rich, I would be happy for the rest of my life. Money is the answer to everything. The others on the opposite side look at all their worldly possessions, prominence, stardom, popularity and think, I have money and everything my heart desires. So why do I feel so empty insidefence?

Money can buy education and degrees, but it can’t buy Godly wisdom.

Money can buy a marriage license and a lavish wedding, but it can’t buy a happy marriage.

Money can buy a house, but it can’t buy a home with a loving family.

Money can buy a bed, but it can’t buy deep sleep and sweet dreams.

Money can buy all the adult toys and distractions the world offers, but it can’t buy love and happiness–what our soul longs for the most.

Truly satisfying love isn’t found in the world because the world only offers fleeting pleasures.

Love’s entrance is narrow and there is only one gate. And the price? Money can’t buy it—it’s free for the asking…received freely through faith in Jesus Christ.

Come to the foot of the Cross–Jesus is waiting there to offer you salvation through His shed blood. Will you come today and receive it?

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6, NASB).

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not that of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no man may boast” (Eph.2:8, NASB).

photo for author page

Karen Jurgens, a native Cincinnatian, has been a Texan transplant for thirty years and counting. She earned an M.Ed from the University of Arizona and enjoyed a life-long vocation of teaching English and French in high school, but writing has always been her passion.

Since recently retiring from the teaching profession, she is currently writing her first non-fiction book and is beginning her first romance novella. She currently writes on her personal blog, Touched by Him, and aspires to become a Christian speaker. Karen is an avid gourmet cook and goes all out for holidays and family birthdays. She loves spin classes, reading, and playing online word games.

You can find her at www.karenjurgens.com and also on the blogging crew at Jennifer Hallmark’s Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My!

Let’s talk about this. It’s so easy to become completely focused on ourselves, especially this time of year when every commercial and advertisement feeds our materialistic desires. But all those things–chocolate, fancy dinners, roses and jewelry–are but temporary fixes to an unmet gaping need that only Christ can fill. Ladies, what can you do this Valentine’s Day to resist livingbygracepic.jpthe “It’s all about me” pull? More importantly, what can you do today to connect with your true and ever faithful husband, Jesus Christ? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

You Gotta Fight

Photo by Exsodus found on freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by Exsodus found on freedigitalphotos.net

Love, deep, growing, intimate love doesn’t just happen. You’ve gotta fight for it with everything you’ve got. Every day. Because every day, there are countless things pulling you and your spouse apart: busyness, job stress, the chaos of raising a family… the selfishness we’re all consumed with.

Yesterday morning I shared our battle story at an Art of Marriage conference. My husband thought it would help and encourage others if I shared it here, so he video taped me. The lighting’s not the best, and I sound a bit… winey and perhaps a little… writerly. ;) But hopefully you can look past all the technical issues and glean from the message.

ID-10075977Have you ever felt like life is hurling flaming arrows at you? Like every step forward provokes yet one obstacle after another? Could be God’s training you, could be He’s redirecting you, or it could be you have an enemy lurking in the shadows, watching you, planning your demise. But before you become discouraged or afraid, take comfort in this: Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. Today a sweet Christian lady and fellow ACFW member, Alexis Goring, shares some powerful marching orders, challenging us to live not as victims but victors. As you read her devotion, pause to connect with your power source.

The Christian Life

 by Alexis A. Goring

“It’s not the devil’s plan to convert us but to simply divert us.” – Pastor Peter Bath.

Pastor Bath is one wise preacher because in that simple quote, he uncovered a key strategy of the enemy—the devil sends diversions that rob us of our joy, peace and patience. If we’re not careful, the devil’s ploys can also rob us of our salvation which is why the Holy Bible tells us to put on the “full armor of God” every day (Ephesians 6:11-17) for the battles we are facing are not with “flesh and blood” but with against principalities, powers and “spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Did you think that the person who cut you off on the freeway was your enemy or the person who offended you was your true problem? No, they were merely distractions because the real problem is not with the person who cut you off on the freeway or the person you don’t like because they offended you. There is a deeper level to life happening every day and Christians are on the frontlines.

“The Christian life is not a playground,” Pastor Steven Furtick, said. “it’s a battleground.”ID-100225188

Pastor Furtick is another man of God who is wise and on-point with his sermons. His creative team at Elevation Church based in North Carolina, created a video message, “I Will Fight” that is very inspirational and true to what I’m telling you today. If you need encouragement in your journey, watch the video here:


Here’s an excerpt:

“The devil is a liar and my God always causes me to triumph through Jesus Christ my Lord. I will fight. I’m unashamed to represent a kingdom that is unshakable. No one will be able to stand against God’s plan for me all the days of my life. With my God, I will advance against every troop, with His help, I will scale every wall. Though my enemies surround me, my God surrounds my enemies. Though they may come at me one way, they will flee seven ways because no weapon formed against me will prosper and every evil thing that rises against me, I will condemn. I will fight! My heart is steadfast, my purpose is immovable. I am always abounding in the work of the Lord and my potential is unlimited because the limitless God lives within me. I will fight!”

Now that’s an attitude we all need to have as Christians. Don’t let the enemy discourage or divert you. It’s his plan to divert your focus from God and emphasize the troubles and despair of this world. But there is hope because God is more powerful than the enemy and clearly the Bible tells us in the Book of Revelation that at the end of human history, God wins! Stay on the winning side—keep your faith in God alive and strong. Don’t be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the battles you face in this life. Remember, you can be victorious in this life through Jesus Christ! The Bible says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

So take heart, dear ones as your remember these simple truths: God loves you (John 3:16). God is for you (Romans 8:31). God will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5) and you can have the victory in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, (1 Corinthians 15:57)!

I think we’ve reached the point in this devotional where if we were in church service, the pastor would say, “And let the church say Amen.”

Be blessed!

@ByGoring, pic 2

Alexis A. Goring is a college graduate with a degree in print journalism from Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Maryland. Writing is her passion. She hopes that her stories will touch hearts, bring smiles to faces, and inspire minds to seek God whose love for humanity is unfailing.

 

Social media links:

Official website, http://www.alexisagoring.com/

Official Author page on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAlexisAGoring

Twitter handle, @pennedbyalex

 

 

Media image (1)Hope in My Heart is a collection of short, heartwarming stories with characters in need of hope.

In “Love Unexpected,” a car crash brings commitment-wary Sebastian and career woman Chandra together. Neither is looking for romance, but those around them see the potential, and Sebastian and Chandra discover that sometimes love shows up unexpectedly.

Christmastime is the setting for the middle story, “The Best Gift.” Christina desires to lose ten pounds so she can fit into her dress for her sister’s wedding. Jordan wishes her mom would stop trying to marry her off. And Joshua hopes to be reunited with his ex-girlfriend but eventually learns that the best gift this Christmas will be the restoration of his relationship with God.

In “Peace and Love,” three characters living in a metropolitan area are desperately searching. Elle, a starving artist, aspires to become a paid professional. Eric, a divorce attorney, wants to resolve his issues concerning his parents’ divorce. Kristine anticipates finding her birth mom before she marries Derek. All characters pray their searches will conclude this holiday season and fill their hearts with peace and love.

 

Purchase links:

Amazon.com, http://amzn.to/1it3pxT

BarnesandNoble.com, http://bit.ly/1mGHW95

Books-A-Million.com, http://bit.ly/1kLQviX

Christianbook.com, http://bit.ly/1heBcjV

Crossbooks.com, http://bit.ly/1it47eJ

Lifeway.com, http://lfwy.co/1kLQStR

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! When talking about spiritual warfare, the idea that we do indeed have a spiritual enemy–Satan and his demons–we can often err one of two ways: We can become obsessed with the idea, attributing every minor frustration to Satanic activity, cowering in fear, or we can underestimate the unseen world and continue in ignorance. Or, we can proceed with a healthy awareness, continually connected with our power source, staying strong and alert in the battle. Where are you on this spectrum? What are you doing today to stay strong in your faith? Share your ideas here or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Normally, I’d add a list of places of where I’ve been this past week, but… I’m a bit tired and behind. So… Join me on Facebook? :)

I did have a wonderful signing last weekend and felt such an outpouring of love from my sisters in Christ. A good chunk of my Northland Baptist church family came, reminding me that though we’ve moved, we’re still part of that sweet family. :) I 2015-01-31 12.54.11-2also got to connect with Gale Perkins, the courageous, strong Christian woman my main female character in When Dawn Breaks is based on. It was fun to share her story with book buyers, plus, Destinee, the teenage girl she adopted came, and both of them did some signing as well.

This Saturday I’m sharing the story of how God turned Steve and my failing marriage into a growing, intimate, laughter filled romance that has lasted 20 years (and counting!). If you’re in the Omaha Metro, I’d love for you to join me. Email me at jenniferaslattery@gmail.com for details.

Following this, I’ll be signing books at the Bookworm, an independent bookseller in Omaha. I’d love to see some friendly faces! If you can’t make it but would like to purchase a personalized, autographed copy, call the store, and I’m sure they’ll work something out. :)

BooksigningposterforBookwormInOmaha BooksigningposterforBookwormInOmaha file-page1

We’ve all been there–at the end of a prayer prayed with everything within us. We know God can do what ask. It’d be so easy for Him. He created the universe and raised a man from the dead, after all. So what do we do when our most fervent prayer goes unanswered? Today I’m blogging about this very thing on Joy Avery Melville’s blog. Join us here.  (The piece starts after her blip about my novel and my back cover text, so you’ll need to scroll a bit to find it. :) )

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