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I’ve often said parenting is the most excruciatingly rewarding job I’ll ever possess. Last night we had parent teacher conferences and learned of some things that made my mamma-bear rise up. I’ve been in prayer over this situation since, and though my husband and I feel the need to address the issue, we also realize God is using the incident to grow and strengthen our daughter. Nothing can level a parent like seeing their children struggle. Today fellow ACFW writer Karen Jurgens shares a similar situation and what she learned from it.

 

But first, I want to congratulate the winner of last week’s book drawing. Lourdes Montes, congrats! You won a copy of Smokey Mountain Investigation by Annslee Urban! I’ll be contacting you shortly. :) 

The Heat of Trials by Karen Jurgens

IMG_1360Years ago, I had lunch with my six-year-old daughter who was enrolled in a day camp during her father’s summer custody. She sat at a long, metal table dominoed on each side with children wilted from the noon heat. Brightening as I approached, she smiled at me with eyes that longed for freedom. The heat index that Texas afternoon was 108 degrees.

“Mommy.” Her enormous blue eyes sparkled with tears. “I wish I could go with you right now and get out of this heat. I’m sooo hot.

I smoothed the damp hair back from her face and examined the freckles on her sun-scorched nose. Longing to grab up my baby and head for the air-conditioning, I was forced instead to forget my agony for her by offering up words of comfort, along with a drink of ice water I had brought along.

“Honey, it’s almost over. You get to come home in a few days. Just wait a little while longer.”

I continued to tell her about all the wonderful, cool things we would do together. She seriously digested my words along with her Lunchable. When it was time to head back to the playground, she hugged me as hard as she could and took a final, cold drink. I watched her trudge off, still hot and sticky from the heat, but filled with hope that this uncomfortable time would come to an end.

As I drove away, now with tears in my eyes, I thought of Jesus who sees us through our trials in much the same way. As we cry out to Him to rescue us from the fierce heat of trials and persecution, He comes to us with His reassuring presence, bringing us living waters to revive our parched spirits. He often chooses not to take us out of the trial, but rather to carry us through the heat.

Remember the Old Testament story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who walked through the fiery flames with the Lord by their side? The ID-100188329king had sentenced them to death for refusing to fall down and worship him, thus casting them into a furnace heated seven times hotter than usual. The king’s wide-eyed incredulity witnessed four men walking around in the midst of the fire. When he called to the three Hebrew boys to come out, he was amazed that not only were they not burned, but there was not even the smell of smoke upon them.

When our spirits are hot and weary from the fiery flames of life, Jesus is waiting to bring comfort. Drink deeply of the icy, cool water of His Word. Allow the Comforter to whisper encouragement to your spirit to be patient a little while longer.

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing;” (1 Peter 4:12-13a NASB).

And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1Peter 5:10).

“And let the one who is thirsty, come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost” (Revelation 22:17b NASB).

Take heart, beloved, the end is in sight.

***

Karen Jurgens has been a high school English and French teacher all her life. She has recently retired and is beginning a ministry to encourage others going through life’s trials. Her current WIP is about her own powerful testimony. She speaks to Christian groups and blogs at KarenJurgens.com.

LivingbyGracepicLet’s talk about this! Are you in a trial right now? How might knowing God sees you and is walking beside you–even carrying you–help? As a parent, do you struggle with seeing your children go through trials? How might remembering God loves and is with them help? During a difficult time, for you our your children, how might focusing on God’s character give you peace and strength? Share some of God’s character traits you find most encouraging. You can share your thoughts here in the comments below or on Facebook at Living by Grace. 

For those of you who have been following my blog tour, here’s where I’ve been this week:

On Friday I visited Everyone’s Story to talk about one word that makes all the difference, regardless what task or endeavor we undertake. You can read my piece here.

On Inspy Romance I finally finished my serial story. You can read the ending here, and if you haven’t been following, you can follow the links on the page to read the other portions of the story.

I’ve been on Shannon Taylor Vannatter’s blog three times this week, sharing a real life romance story, doing a character interview, and on Friday, she’ll post an excerpt. You can read my real life romance here. You can get to know Ainsley, the heroine in Beyond I Do, here.

I also visited Christine Lindsay’s blog to talk about… heart rot. You can read that post here.

Yesterday I received a pleasant surprise when a friend alerted me to a post Shannon Vannatter wrote, in which she mentioned a fun memory, my second novel, and why she purchased a copy of Beyond I Do. You can read that here.

Today I’m on Zoe McCarthy’s sharing my thoughts on something that will probably get me in trouble. ;) You can read that post here.

Have a blessed fall day. :)

 

One of my most difficult, painful, and frightening years also became my best. In a very strange way. If God had given me a choice, I would’ve taken a major detour, skipping past 2012 entirely. And yet, had I done that, I would’ve missed the deep sense of God’s presence as He met with me in my broken state each morning. I would’ve missed the clear and priority-changing realization that, in my times of health, I’d allowed so many insignificant things to distract me from what was most important.

In 2012, it felt as if my fast-moving, goal-oriented world came to a stop, and today I praise God for that because there is much that can be learned when time stands still. Today fellow ACFW author, Annslee Urban, shares what she’s learned about time standing still.

booksigningbamAs an added bonus, she’s giving doing a book give-away! The winner will be randomly chosen from the comments left on today’s post.

When time stands still

Annslee Urban

Time is a funny thing. It is infinite, ever moving forward. Ticking, ticking, ticking on, marking new days, new lives, new memories.

I refer to the best memories in my life as, “when life stands still.” In those precious moments, extraneous distractions fade away, only the joy of the moment remains. Like the first time I held each of my children. Indescribable joy. Pure and real. A feeling of completeness and love. Or my first kiss. Pretty incredible.

And then there was one Alaskan hike, five kids in tow trudging through the forest, laughing, sharing tall tales, allowing time to stand still. And of course, our infamous camping trip. Rained poured, tent got flooded and the kids were hungry. So, we took shelter in our minivan and ate chocolate ice cream for dinner. Plastic forks. Styrofoam cups. Happy children.

Simpler moments have also stopped time. Watching my sleeping babies. Welcoming a grandchild into the world. A long walk through the woods. A great conversation with my husband or a friend.

There have been many moments that have been frozen in time. Forever, engraved in my mind. If I had to power to change anything, I would worry less, enjoy more moments and make more memories.sunset-silhouette-1412362-m

Even amidst the busyness in life, time can still. Here’s some simple measures to help slow the hands on the clock, long enough to create a lifetime memory.

  • Don’t let time get away. Block off your schedule. Plan something fun and stick to your plan. Involve those you love.
  • Laugh often. Love much. Find the joy in life. Embrace it. Be ever thankful and forever in awe of the world we live in and the people God put in your life. Laugh with them. Enjoy times together.
  • Live in the Moment. Live just for today. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Don’t dwell on the past. Enjoy the day the Lord has given you and feel blessed.
  • Capture time. Take pictures and have fun taking them. Be silly. Mark adventures. Share with others and reminisce.
  • Study God’s word. God is the best budgeter of time. He created it and created you. Get to know him. Let him guide your path. Blessings and memories are sure to follow.

Another day passes. Another begins. Time ticks on. Don’t let a memory pass you by. Let time stand still.

Ecclesiastes 8:15New International Version (NIV)

15 So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.

smicoverSmoky Mountain Investigation:

A mysterious caller taunts journalist Kylie Harper with details about a decade-old death, leading her to a new trail of murder. Who is this deranged person…and what does he want from her?

Ex-Delta Force captain and Kylie’s former love Nick Bentley fled their Smoky Mountain hometown after the murder of their classmate. When family duty calls him back, Nick comes face-to-face with Kylie…and the past he’s tried to forget. Now Nick must put everything on the line to save Kylie before she becomes the next victim of a madman. Buy it here!

***

Annslee Urban grew up watching old-time romance movies, which she attributes to her passion for sweet romance, true love and happy endings. A daydreamer at heart, Mary began her writing journey when the youngest of her five children started school. For several years she worked as a freelance writer for newspapers in her community and has written for magazines and online publications.

Raised in the foothills of Arizona, she survived temperature shock when she moved to Western Pennsylvania, before setting in North Carolina with her husband and children. Aside from writing, Annslee works part-time as a Registered Nurse in the Behavioral Health field. She is a member of ACFW, and has served as on the board of Carolina Christian Writers.

When she isn’t writing, Annslee enjoys cooking, traveling to faraway places, playing with grandbabies and all things chocolate!

You can reach Annslee at: annsleeurban@gmail.com

maryurban.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/mary.a.urban.9

Let’s talk about this! How often have you chosen to clear out your calendar so you could simply be–spending time with God, livingbygracepic.jpfamily, or just soaking up the beauty of the day? Is that easy for you to do? What about when life gets crazy? What are some ways you create margins in your life when it feels as if you’re running short on time? Share your thougths here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

BeyondIDocover
Beyond I Do for only $2.99! Get it here!

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed, socialite psychiatrist. But as Ainsley’s wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream, a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. If she wants to embrace God’s best and find lasting love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

 

 

 

BeyondIDocoverFor those of you who’ve been waiting for an excuse to purchase my debut novel, Beyond I Do, how’s a ginormous Amazon sale? I just learned (a bit by accident. ;) ) that my contemporary romance novel is on sale for only $2.99! (kindle verson) (Maybe this sale is in preparation for my sophomore novel, When Dawn Breaks???)

Get it HERE!

I’m not sure how long this sale will last, but at least for day, for under $10 you can grab your kindle and head to your local coffee house for a mocha and enjoyable day of reading.  (Seems maybe I should do the same!)

Now might be a great time to “gift” this story, which many have found to be a great evangelism tool do it’s clear presentation of grace.

Happy reading, and sorry for the double post but I will see you tommorw when Maria Morgan will be joining me and sharing a bit about her debut book. Oh, is it gonna be a fun day!

Before I go, I wanted to give a shout-out to some amazing friends, a.k.a. cheerleaders who continually encouage me, talk up my writing, and share my links on FB and abroad.

Susan Aken, Jean Herian, and Jennifer Hallmark (who’s blog I just happen to be on today), you ladies are cherished. (Understatement of the century!)

 

I’m formatting this post through tear-blurred vision, amazed once again by God’s mercy and grace. Those who know me personally know I’m not the most advanced-thinking, detail-oriented writer on the web. Lately, with book edits and launch responsibilities, this has proved more true ID-100160717than ever. The result–I don’t often read the guest posts authors send me until the last minute. (Which can result in scrambling if I find what my guest has written isn’t a good fit. You’d think I’d learn.)

Similarly, with the gunk I’ve faced these past two years, you’d think I’d learn … to choose to praise when I want to isolate. To persevere when I’d rather stay in bed. To lean on Christ, who’s strength is made perfect in my weakness, when I feel defeated.

I’m learning. Slowly, and at times with gritted teeth.

Profile Pic mainLong intro to say, today is one of those days, and just when I was beginning to slip into poor-me mode, I read Misty Beller’s post on trials and reminded myself once again, God is in the gunk and the glorious, and He can and does use every tear, trial, and triumph for eternal good.

The Blessings of Trials by Misty Beller

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

I’m not sure who came up with this nifty saying, but for so many years it’s been my life’s motto.

The fact is, trials happen. Life is hard. But through the pain, God has taught me two vital truths.

  1. Sometimes you just have to buckle down and get through it.

Over the last year, my family’s gone through a lot of hard “stuff”, from a miscarriage, to an accident where my husband broke multiple bones in his face and neck. Since then he’s had six surgeries, each rendering him mostly an invalid for about four weeks, and me the sole breadwinner and caregiver for our girls, age seven and three. There were so many times that I could only take one day—one hour—at a time. There was no room to worry about the future, I could only buckle down and focus on what had to be done in the next hour.

But that was a hard lesson for this former control-freak to learn. It took God stripping away layers of my perceived ability to control. I couldn’t know which doctor appointment would bring to light more broken bones, requiring immediate surgery. I couldn’t know when the call would come from the babysitter that one of the girls had thrown up five times in the last hour. God was the only one who could see ahead, and I had to trust that He would bring us through it. There was no other option for me.

  1. The blessings can’t come without the trials.

This concept didn’t become crystal clear for me until recently. It’s not just that God will bless us through the hard times, with patience and strength, and maybe a few token bright spots. But it’s not possible to receive the best He has in store for us, unless we go through the hard times. Kind of like looking at a river on a map. You can’t reach the ocean until you’ve followed the path of the river.

My writing journey is a great example of this. There were so many times I thought I’d found the perfect avenue for my book. An agent or editor would send an optimistic response to my initial query, and they would ask for the full manuscript. But God gently shut each of the wrong doors, opening little windows of light in the direction He had planned. At the end of the day, I’m so thankful for the “No” answers I received, because they brought me to the point where I could see Him pointing toward the right door. And now, my debut novel The Lady and the Mountain Man released in September, and I have no doubt I’m exactly where God has planned for me in my writing journey. But I wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for the awful times of rejection and uncertainty and frustration.

These two truths aren’t new, and may seem fairly obvious. But when you’re in the darkest times, wondering if you’ll even make it to morning, knowing these two facts—along with the absolute truth of God’s love for you, His child—may be just what you need to see the light. I know that’s been the case for me.

I’ll be praying God blesses you with perseverance and the fullness of His plan for your life, even through the hard times.

Blessings,

Misty

***

Misty Beller was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and two daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

Writing is a dream come true for Misty. Her family—both immediate and extended—is the foundation that holds her secure in that dream.

You can find Misty on her website, blog, Goodreads, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

Mountain Man coverThe Lady and the Mountain Man back cover blurb:

Leah Townsend, a recently orphaned heiress, flees Richmond after discovering her fiancé’s plot to kill her after their wedding. She needs a safe place to hide, and finds herself accepting a newspaper marriage proposal from a God-fearing young rancher in the Montana Territory. But when Leah arrives at the mountain ranch, she learns her intended husband was killed by a grizzly, leaving behind a bitter older brother and a spunky younger sister.

When Gideon Bryant finds a city girl standing in his log cabin, his first thought is to send her back where she came from. He’s lost too many people to the wild elements of these mountains––his parents, his wife, and now his brother. His love for this untamed land lives on, but he’s determined not to open his heart to another person.

But when an accident forces Leah to stay at the ranch for seven more months, can Gideon protect his heart from a love he doesn’t want? Has Leah really escaped the men who seek her life?

Buy it here:

On Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this. When I’m going through a tough time, physically or emotionally, it’s easy to focus on the here and now and forget the eternal. But God is ever faithful to remind me of His sovereignty and love, a love that is bigger than anything this sin-cursed world can throw our way. And He sees. He knows. He cares, and He is always working to mold and equip us and to fulfill His eternal plan.

Eternal. I often lose sight of that, but in truth, trials are a tangible reminder that this world is not our home. (Praise God for that!)

What about you? When have you received blessings from your trials? How has a trial (grief, sickness, material struggles, etc.) encouraged you to remember and focus on the eternal?

Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

And now, for those of you who aren’t on FB, here’s where I’ve been this week.

Yesterday I shared an article on Rest Ministries that fits quite well with today’s theme. In it I share how God has used my chronic illnesses to bless and grow my family. You can read this piece here.

Yesterday I also learned my debut novel had been nominated for the fiction category of the ECPA awards. Yay!

Today I’m on Deborah Piccurelli’s chatting about my novel, where the inspiration for the story came from, and how I hope the story will impact my readers. You can read the interview here.

Deborah also read and reviewed my novel. I enjoyed reading her perspective of the story. You can read her review here.

I also did a book give-away on fellow author Sara Ellen’s blog, one which she has extended. So, if you haven’t read my novel yet and would like a chance to win it, or if you’d like to win it as a gift for a friend, you can enter the drawing here.

Author Catherine Castle invited me to visit with her readers on her blog. You can join our chat here.

On Monday I stopped by Jessica Everingham’s to talk about living a life without regret. You can read this post here.

That’s my week. (Most of it, anyway.) What about you? What have you been up to? What has God been showing you?

On Monday I talked about the life-transformaing power of grace on Wordsmith Woman. You can read that post here.

The Waiting Place

ID-10077787Oh, how I hate to wait! I will embark upon insanely strange endeavors to avoid doing nothing, often creating quite a mess in the process. I want to DO! Something! Anything!

Standing in line at the grocery? A perfect time to check emails!

Stop lights? A time to return phone calls.

Commercials? A wonderful opportunity to bounce from one pile of clutter to the other, creating a great deal of dust but never accomplishing much of value.

Those ten extra minutes I nabbed between dinner and Lifegroup? Why, that provides a few minutes to clear out my inbox, respond to folks on Facebook, and … get distracted by a video someone posted, causing me to be late.

*sigh*

I wonder if God’s ever tempted to whack me upside the head. “Woman! Sit still! How will you ever hear Me if you keep running in circles and running that endless, loud mind of yours?”

Yes, my thoughts can be quite dominating. Oy.

IMG_3790 cropped for TwitterToday’s guest post comes from a sweet ACFW author, Linda Rondeau, encourages us to indeed make our waiting time productive, but not by running around like a crazy person. Rather, she encourages to use every moment to draw near to our Savior.

While You’re Waiting by Linda Rondeau

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly (Psalm 5:3 NIV).

 

Are you waiting on God? Perhaps for answers, purpose, or fruit for your hard labor?

After what I thought would be a routine mammogram, the radiologist said, “There are spots. One of them is highly suspicious. You need to have it taken care of right away.” The urgency in the warning promoted me to quick action.

While I waited for results, of course my initial reaction was one of anxiety. It is the natural human response to uncertainty. Yet, the more God reminded me I was His child and that He’d be with me regardless of the outcome, my pleading became prayers of praise. I would not face this alone. And so I moved forward and kept occupied. When the news came that the tumor was indeed cancerous, God had already prepared my heart. He occupied my mind with book contracts and filled my spirit with laughter. I make a very funny bald person.

Waiting need not be a time of anxiety or stagnation. It should be a time of anticipation and activity.

In the song, While I’m Waiting, by John Walker, made famous by the movie Fireproof, the writer states that he will worship while he’s waiting. He will do so by remaining hopeful, even though he is hurting. He will worship in waiting by moving forward, serving, loving, and doing the things he knows God expects from him.

Joyce Meyer lists two important aspects of waiting on God: 1) to expect He has heard your prayer and will answer and 2) be eager with faith. “It’s just like when a woman is expecting a baby…even though she can’t see the baby, she knows it is there.” She prepares and keeps busy. Nine months can be a very long time if she were to simply sit in a chair and do nothing until the baby comes.

Sometimes we must wait through tragedy. During these times of grief, we want God to purge the pain. Yet it is in these times of deepest agony, ID-10055137that God seems the nearest. In the book, Song for Sarah, Paula D’Arcy chronicles her grief through a disappointing pregnancy. When she first learned she’d have a child, she wrote letters to her unborn whom she named Sarah. Later, she learned her baby was stillborn. In her deepest sorrow she continued to write to Sarah and spilled out her honest anger and resentment toward God. “Where are you?” she asked. Yet, while waiting, she moved forward. When the day of her delivery came, she felt God’s power and deliverance from fear. He had never been far away, but made His presence the most powerful when she needed Him the most.

Paul and Silas found themselves in the deepest part of a prison. Perhaps they felt abandoned and forgotten. (Acts 16). Perhaps they wondered why this trial happened when all they were trying to do was God’s work. Yet, they faced the hardest part of waiting by praising God with expectation.

Are you waiting for God? Faith prompts us to action. Doubt paralyzes. Our service and continued commitment during this time of anticipation is our song of praise.

Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18 c NIV).

LINDA WOOD RONDEAU

Cancer survivor, author, sometimes speaker but always a wife and mother, Linda lives in Jacksonville, Florida where she is able to golf year around with her more than patient husband of 37 years. She has won a few awards in life but her best achievements are her three children and grandchildren. Life is never as we planned but with God at the helm, always an adventure. Linda’s books reflect how God transforms our worst pasts into our best futures. She is always available to speak to your groups on God’s surpassing Love.

Facebook            Twitter              Google Plus               Goodreads                Pinterest

Linda’s Blog: This Daily Grind

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! How well do you wait? Not just in grocery lines or rush hour traffic, but in those excruciating moments when you’re crying out to God and He appears to be silent? What do you do while you wait? Do you draw near? Do you worship? When facing the unknown, do you focus on the uncertainty and your angst or the known Person and character of God?

Share your thoughts in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Speaking of FB, for those of you who aren’t on it, or who aren’t my FB friend (Um… how come? ;) ), but who’d like to follow my blog tours/book launch events, here’s where I’ve been this past week.

On Monday I got to chat, in studio, with Greg Vogt, host of KCRO AM 660. You can listen to our fun discussion here: (Note, the interview starts about ten minutes in, after our fun discourse on Veggie Tales.)

https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/169021040&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true

Today my article helping the betrayed find blessings, not bitterness, in their betrayal, went live on Crosswalk.com. You can read it here. How To Trade Bitterness For Blessing.

I’m also talking about life-changing fiction on Jo Huddleston. You can read my post here.

And as a final highlight, yesterday I turned in my substantive (big picture) edits for When Dawn Breaks, which means that novel is one step closer to going to print. Yay!

GailPallottaHeadshotThere are some things that instantly cause my stomach to knot and my pulse to race, and that’s heights, the threat of car accidents, and journeying into the unknown. Today my friend and fellow ACFW author, Gail Pollatta, combines three of my most intense fears into a post that made me cringe, and think, and rejoice in the God who stays with us on every winding, uncertain, and unsettling road. As you read her account of a very frightening night, pause to remember the God who sees you even in the dark and who hears you even when you utter not a sound.

As an added bonus, she’s giving away a copy of her novel, Stopped Cold, to one lucky reader chosen randomly from the comments left on today’s post. 

Prayers of the Heart by Gail Pallotta

I believe God answers prayers from our hearts even if we don’t say them out loud. One such prayer started on a frigid mountain road in the North ID-100124482Carolina hills when I was in my twenties. I was riding home from school with two friends when a cold rain started to fall.

We had the radio tuned to the college station, but we lost reception, probably because of the worsening weather. An eerie quiet hovered around us. I glanced over at my friend driving the car. I’ll call her Mandy.

She gripped the steering wheel, her body visibly tense. That was out of character for the tall, dark-haired beauty who was the epitome of grace and calm. “The road seems slick. I guess it’s covered in water. It’s hard to see,” she said.

I knew the drive took us along a steep, rocky drop-off on our right because I’d ridden by it many times in broad daylight. But I had no idea whether or not we’d reached it. Only our headlights cut into the black of night. Other than having a sense of the road beneath us, we could have been floating in black space.

Our co-ed in the backseat…I’ll call her Amy…said, “I can’t stand the silence and not knowing where we are. Could we sing or something?”

“Sure. What song?” Mandy asked.

‘How about the hymn, He Leadeth Me?” The suggestion seemed like a good idea at the time, and looking back on the circumstance, I’d say it probably came from a prayer in my heart.

“Okay,” Amy said. Then, she started the song, and we joined in.

All of a sudden the car slid to the right.

Mandy screamed. “The rain’s turned to ice. The road’s frozen.”

“Turn into the slide,” I said.

“I’m trying,” Mandy hollered as the vehicle veered more to the right.

“O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!” Amy kept singing.

The sedan turned sideways and slipped across the highway while scooting down the steep grade fast as though it had gotten caught on an oil slick. Amy and I gasped.

“Keep singing,” Mandy said.

“Whate’er I do, where’er I be

Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.”

We sang as the car skidded in the dark, the headlights swirling toward an unknown place.

All of a sudden a thud jarred us. The vehicle stopped, and the motor rattled, the wipers scraping ice pellets off the windshield. The headlights shone on the trunk of a huge hardwood tree growing above the edge of the cliff. I slumped in my seat as we sat speechless for what seemed like an hour, but must have been only a few minutes.

Mandy pulled back on the highway. As we crept down the mountain to a lower elevation the ice turned back to rain.

We arrived at our homes shaken but safe. I can’t help but wonder if the three of us had had the same prayer in our hearts.

Seven other travelers went over the cliff and died that night.

* * *

Award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, Mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. She’s been a Sunday school teacher, a swim-team coordinator and an after-school literary instructor. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. Her teen book, Stopped Cold, was a best-seller on All Romance eBooks, finished fourth in the Preditors and Editors readers’ poll, and was a finalist for the 2013 Grace Awards. She’s published short stories in “Splickety” magazine and Sweet Freedom with a Slice of Peach Cobbler. Some of her published articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. Readers can find her on the internet on the staff of Clash of the Titles, http://www.clashofthetitles.blogspot.com, at her blog, http://www.gailpallotta.blogspot.com, on her Web Site, http://www.gailpallotta.com on Authors and More on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authorsandmore and twitter, Gail Pallotta @Hopefulwords

StoppedColdforwebuseHer novel, Stopped Cold:

Teen Margaret McWhorter, a freshman in high school in Mistville, North Carolina, enjoys flirting with her first romantic interest, swimming and hanging out with friends. Then her brother, Sean, suffers a stroke from taking a steroid. Now, he’s lying unconscious in a hospital. Margaret’s angry at her dad for pushing Sean to be a football star, but a fire of hate burns inside her to find the criminals. While she, her heartthrob and best friend look for them, she calls on her Christian faith, asking God to cure Sean, heal the hate and open her heart to love.

Check out her next novel, Mountain of Love and Danger, available on preorder, here:

Smashwords

Amazon

Let’s talk about this! I can think of numerous times when I knew God had reached down to pull me out of a LivingbyGracepicdangerous (physically or spiritually) situation and many other times when I knew He’d placed me in the perfect place at the perfect time for an amazing reason. And yet, I suspect there are many other times when He was working behind the scenes, guiding me, or perhaps delaying me, in order to keep me on that good and perfect path He has marked out for me.

 

He does that for all of us, because that is the kind of gentle, attentive Father He is.

What emotions did you feel as you read Gail’s testimony? What went through your mind? Can you share a similar time when you knew God alone had kept you from something harmful? Can you share a time when He led you toward immense blessing? How might remembering those times help you the next time you face an uncertain or frightening situation?

Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Face on Facebook. (Which, by the way, begs the question, are you and I friends on FB? If not, why is that? ;0 Let’s connect! You can find me here.

Before you go, however, I encourage you to read my friend, Diana Prusik’s post on Faith-filled Friends as she too experienced a rather frightening car ride recently. You can read her post titled Angels in Disguise here.

IMG_3923And for those of you who are curious to know how Takin’ it to the Streets first annual Hope for the Homeless event went–it was a huge success! We raised over $3,000 and gained a lot of exposure with the help of KCRO AM 660, a great article in the Omaha World Herald, and a short clip that aired on KETV7. You can read more about the event, and an encounter that, to me, meant more than any money raised, here, and you can read the Herald article here.

 

 

Standing at the altar, you have no idea what lies ahead. Oh, you’ve heard stories. And countless people–like everyone in your church, neighborhood, on the job, and at your local grocery–have bombarded you with advice: marriage takes work. Always be ready to forgive. Learn to eat burned food (kinda wish someone would’ve told my hubby that one. *sheepish grin*). The list goes on.

But then life happens, and this love thing becomes harder than you’ve ever anticipated.

Ane-PR.headshot copyToday a sweet friend and very talented and giving author, Ane Mulligan, shares her thoughts on this thing called marriage, AND she’s got a hugely fun give-away going to help celebrate her debut, Chapel Springs Revival, which I hear is HILARIOUS! (Details below)

 

But first, I wanted to share a fun video created by one of my favorite preachers, Francis Chan. Enjoy:

On Marriage by Ane Mulligan

Twenty years ago or so, I heard two young women in a church hallway complaining about their husbands. Let’s face it; we all joke about men coming from Mars and women from Venus, but that’s not what they were doing. They were stirring the water in a bitter well.

Another Sunday, I overheard another conversation (yes, I’m a writer and we tend to eavesdrop). It went something like this:

“I just learned that God has the perfect mate all picked out for each of us, and we’re supposed to pray to find that person.”

“Sure, so?”

“I didn’t do that! I didn’t know. So, that must mean Sam* isn’t the one God wants me married to.”

Uh-oh. The conversation went downhill from there to include the word “divorce.” I later pulled her aside for a “Titus 2:4″ moment.

If a woman wasn’t a Christian before she married, God still knew her. He knew his plans for her. Jer 29:11. Her husband is His will for her.

I’m not talking about women in abusive marriages. That’s totally different.

The thing so many young women forget is marriage isn’t what the movies or secular romance novels show. Marriage is a contract. A commitment. For better or worse, the vows say. WhenID-10094774 we make this commitment, God expects us to stay committed to our marriage.

That takes making a purposeful decision to not dwell on our husbands’ faults. Oh, I know they have them; but so do we. Years ago, I found myself focusing on my husband’s faults. Jesus said we can’t get bitter and sweet water from the same well. When we start down that path, we lose sight of their good qualities.

Things went from bad to worse. Finally I got tired of trying to change my husband. I was out of love. There wasn’t a drop of sweet water left in the well. I knew what I’d been doing but I didn’t know how to fix it.

“Lord, I give up. I don’t know what you want, but from now on, I’m going to concentrate on You and me. Change me, Lord. I’ll leave my husband to You.”

I’m sure you can guess what happened. God changed me, but at the same time, my husband changed. I began to see his wonderful qualities and all the things he did for me. The well water became sweet again.

That’s when I realized if we don’t workout our love, it becomes like a muscle that hasn’t seen the inside of a gym in years—flabby. And stale. And atrophied.

Yes, love is a decision that demands commitment and work. But what a sweet ride it can be. Guard you love, your hearts, and your marriages.

CSR COVER copyChapel Springs Revival

Buy it here!

With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.

Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It’s impossible not to, what with Claire’s zany antics and Patsy’s self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is personal.

With their marriages in as much disarray as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.

GIVE-AWAY DETAILS: Leave it to the crazy, hilarious, and insanely creative (or just insane? ;) ) Ane Mulligan to come up with perhaps the funnest give-away EVER!

Today’s stops and there’s 4! Good luck.
Here! (As a fun aside, I’m on her blog today, too. Which I find incredibly cool because Ane has been a huge influence in my writing career. She ran the ACFW Scribes class when I first joined ACFW and taught me to use strong, vivid verbs. She taught me to name–be specific about sensory details (saying she smelled the faint scent of lilacs rather than flowers to trigger a deeper response in my reader), and I could go on. And on. And on, as could every other ACFW member, I’m sure!

She will also be on:
3 Men Walk Into a Blog
Jude Urbanski
Jo Huddleston

1. Each day you leave a comment on this blog during September, your name goes into the drawing.

2. Leave a comment on each of the blogs I’m on that day, and each one will earn you another name in the drawing. (For instance, if I’m on 3 blogs that day, and you leave a comment on each of them, you’ll get your name into the drawing 3 more times.)

3. If you post on your Facebook page that you have commented on a blog I’m on, tag me, and give the link, you get your name in two (2) extra times.

4. Tweet and tag me, giving the link, and your name goes in another time.

5. Google+ the same as #3, and you’ll get our name in two (2) extra times.

Today’s BONUS entries:
What do I believe about coffee?
What does Jennifer write?
Who are the 3 men in that blog linked to above?

As an aside, I’ve been told readers have had a tough time leaving comments. If you find this to be the case, please shoot me an email at jenniferaslattery@gmail.com and I’ll manually enter your comment.

LivingbyGracepicLet’s talk about this!

Are you married? If so, what has been the biggest surprise in terms of sticking it out? Have you ever come close to calling it quits? What helped you persevere? How can we as parents help prepare our kids to work toward lifelong commitment once they get married?

Perhaps you’re divorced. Looking back over your marriage, can you see things you wished you’d done differently? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

My debut novel, Beyond I Do, addresses a bit of what we’re talking about today. As Ainsley Meadows’ wedding day draws near, nigglings of doubt begin to arise, leaving her unsettled. As she prays about this, she realizes something huge has been missing in her wedding plans–prayer itself! She was so swept away by the flowers and romance, she failed to take time to seek God’s guidance. These doubts grow to gut-knotting confusion when an encounter with a woman, her child, and their abuser sparks within her a passion and ignites a long-hidden dream, one that threatens to change EVERYTHING! Read more here. You can buy it here! (or get an autographed copy at Takin’ it to the Streets’ Hope for the Homeless event.)

Other posts and articles you might enjoy:

My Marriage Before and After

Monkfish and Marriage

AND, where I’ve been this week:

Don’t Be Discouraged or Afraid

5 Tips for Stronger Writing

5 Things Your Pastor’s Wife Needs From You

 

 

 

 

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