Feeds:
Posts
Comments
angst-802639_1280

Photo by johnhain found on pixabay.com

Do you feel like you go through life white-knuckling it? A quick perusal on Facebook tells me anxiety is a major problem. As I was reading Davalyn Spencer’s post below, and the adventures and views she encountered, I wondered how often I’ve missed out on the beauty of the journey due to worry and fear.

As an added bonus, Davalyn’s giving away a free copy of her novella, Columbia Bride! (Read about the book at the end of today’s post) The winner will be randomly selected form comments left on this blog post. Please note, the contest is open to readers in the continental US only.

My Winding Roads and Toddlers by Davalyn Spencer

When my rodeo bullfighter husband and I set out on the road years ago with our dreams and children, we quickly acquired the skill of traveling light, fast, and focused. I loved it. No suitcases and always at home in our camper. Only the view outside our windows changed.

But the roads—they were another matter. Particularly when we veered off the predominant path.

One breathtaking drive took us through southeastern Washington down into the northeast corner of Oregon to the Chief Joseph Days Rodeo in Joseph, Oregon, land of the Nez Perce. I acquired one of my most important lessons in map reading on that trip: two squiggly lines on either side of a river means go the other way. But by the time I figured that out, there was no turning back.

Home was an 11.5-foot camper, extended-cab pickup, and horse trailer. In those pre-seat belt days, we fitted the back-seat space with a covered, padded board so our toddler, Jake, could sleep and ride and play in comfort.

Rolling wheat fields escorted us across the Washington state line until we began our descent toward the Grande Ronde River

photo by 4dr14nqg taken from pixabay.com

photo by 4dr14nqg taken from pixabay.com

on what the locals called Rattlesnake Grade.

Why were we not put off by the name?

Our “shortcut” to Joseph took an extra hour in our rig, maneuvering the narrow, sort-of-two-lane road that switch-backed down to the river and up the canyon on the other side.

As we rode that grade with all of our livelihood and our precious child, prayer became more important to me than breathing. I’d cringe as oncoming logging trucks whipped down the snaking road, passing us with inches to spare. Or I’d look over the rail-less edge, drinking in the terror of what could happen with one wrong turn.

My husband white-knuckled the steering wheel, his focus shifting between the engine light, the side mirrors, and oncoming trucks. But our son leaned over our seat back and laid his little head on his daddy’s shoulder, cool as a glass of summer lemonade. The sight was a direct message from God to me.

Jake was completely unaware of the razor’s edge we were riding. His daddy was in charge, and he was just fine with that. He didn’t even look out the side windows, but kept his eyes on the view through the windshield. In his childish innocence, he demonstrated the kind of confidence I needed to have in my Heavenly Father.

We made it safely to Joseph, had a great rodeo, and took the longer but quicker way out of the area through Pendleton. Map-reading lesson learned.

Several times since that trip, life has kinked up with curves, steep pulls, and passing concerns that threaten to push me over the edge. But things have always worked out when I rested in the Lord’s care and let Him sit behind the wheel.

We would do well to remember that Dad’s got it under control. He doesn’t need us grabbing the steering wheel, especially on the steep grades. If we let God be God, He’ll get us safely through. He’s faithful and oh so worthy of our confidence.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5, NIV).

***

Novella in Old West Summer Brides: The Columbine Bride:

DCS 2014_3.smaller FullOldWestSummerBridesLucy Powell is on a path not of her choosing: widowhood. But she’s determined she doesn’t need anyone’s help to get her neglected ranch back in order and running right—especially the neighboring rancher who keeps showing up at the end of her shotgun. Buck Reiter can’t leave Lucy and her two young’uns alone. It’s just not in him to sit by and watch while someone struggles. But he ends up as the struggler, searching for a way to let Lucy know there’s a whole lot more going on in his heart than just neighborly attention.

But it HERE.

 

 

Wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, author Davalynn Spencer began her writing journey in the national rodeo market and as a newspaper journalist, winning awards in both arenas. Today she continues to win acclaim with her inspirational western romance, finaling for the 2015 Will Rogers Medallion, placing second in the 2014 Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards, and finaling for the Selah Award and the Holt Medallion. Davalynn teaches writing at Pueblo Community College. She and her handsome cowboy make their home on Colorado’s Front Range with a Queensland heeler named Blue. Connect with Davalynn online at www.davalynnspencer.com and www.Facebook.com/AuthorDavalynnSpencer.com.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Can you share a time, like Davalynn did, when you were consumed with worry but God reassured you with a truth, object lesson, or perhaps an unexpected surge of peace? What do you do when you feel anxious? What helps you find peace when life gets crazy? Share your thoughts with us here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Before you go, I wanted to invite you to be part of my Street Team!

Not sure what that is? Let me tell you. ;)
A street team is a writer’s inner circle of readers. Basically, they’re a group of freaders (friends and readers. I just made that word up. Are you impressed? … Yeah, me, neither.) Anyway, a street team is a group of folks, like you, who enjoy a writers writing enough that they want to tell others about it. (This can be such a huge help to writers!) In return, they get fun perks like free autographed books, first peak at covers, are invited to help name characters that will appear in upcoming novels (if I wrote suspense, that could really be fun, right?? haha!); they’ll get to read deleted scenes no one else will get to see, and more!
Sound fun? It will be, I promise!
Here’s what’s expected of street team members:
  • Tell your friends, family, co-workers, the random strangers you meet on the street, about the book. (Assuming you like it, of course!) You can do this by:
  • Posting reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnesandnoble.com, etc.
  • Sharing links (and links to reviews) on Facebook and Twitter
  • Sending invites to friends and family for an author’s events
  • Inviting friends over for chocolate and Skype with an author parties
  • Attaching post-it notes to random vehicles with the phrase, “Please read this book:–” Um… on second thought, don’t do that one, please. I’d hate to scare people.
So, I’m out of ideas now… Your turn!

 

Photo by Surge Bertasius taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by Surge Bertasius taken from freedigitalphotos.net

If God is for us, who or what can stand against us? (Romans 8:31) And yet, I feel this verse needs a caveat–it implies obedience, as does the below devotion, written by author Karen Jurgens. For those of you who’ve been following my blog for a while, you might remember a similar post, What’s Your Jericho. This biblical account, and the application it offers for our lives today, merits the reminder. As you read Karen’s post, pause to think of all the seemingly impenetrable walls in your life. Has God called you to advance toward them in faith? Then obey without hesitation, trusting Him to perfect that which concerns you. (Psalm 138:8)

Prayer Victory

By Karen Jurgens

“The Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and valiant warriors’” ~ Joshua 6:2, NASB.

Picture by PublicDomainPictures taken from Pixabay.com

Picture by PublicDomainPictures taken from Pixabay.com

During difficult times, how do we fight? By going to battle on our knees. Prayer is the most powerful weapon we have to come against the enemy, but we also need strategy for using it effectively.

Let’s look at the story of Joshua and see how he was guided in the battle for Jericho. (You can read the entire account HERE.)

Directed by God, he and his troops were faithful to do as commanded. “You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days” ~ Joshua 6:3, NASB. Marching around the city in silence once each day must have been a true act of faith—no swords, no fighting, and no words. Armed men went first, followed by seven priests blowing seven rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord, followed by the rear guard.

How could a simple march bring down city walls and usher victory into the hands of the Israelites? It must have been especially challenging on the sixth day—the day before the miracle—but they had God’s promise that He would bring them the victory.

Do we also feel the same way as we pray in God’s will for our requests—perhaps for days, weeks, or even years—as we keep waiting for that breakthrough? Probably so.

jerichowall

photo by heathertruett taken from pixabay.com

But the seventh day dawned in Jericho. On that special day, the procedure was different. “…then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets” ~ Joshua 6:4b, NASB. They marched around the city walls six times, and on the seventh round, God told them “…when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the walls of the city will fall down flat…” ~ Joshua 6:5, NASB. What a victory celebration that must have been!

That seventh day is on the way for us prayer warriors. As we march around and pray over our requests, let us continue to have faith that the day when God will pull down our strongholds is coming soon.

Dear Lord, like the story of Joshua, may our walls come tumbling down!

***

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this. When faced with a challenge, do you focus on the challenge or turn your heart and mind to Christ through prayer? I think sometimes we forget how powerful and attentive He is. How He truly is for us. What are you facing right now? Are you using the challenge as an opportunity to pray or as a reason to worry? The choice is ours! Share your thoughts in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Stock images photo taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Stock images photo taken from freedigitalphotos.net

When you see heads turning during worship, people cringing, others whispering… you know Jennifer Slattery is close by. Kicked out of campus choir my freshman year in high school for, and I quote, “throwing the entire choir off-key”, you’d think I would’ve learned to keep my mouth closed, or at least, to sing quieter. But nope. Can’t do it.

Considering I’m tone-deaf, embarrassingly so, some find it odd that music plays such a big part in my walk with Christ. And yet, there’s something profoundly spiritual about lifting our hearts in praise musically. Today my sweet friend and multi-published author LoRee Peery shares some beautiful thoughts on singing.

But first… I wanted to invite you to join me on Dawn Janis’ blog as I talk about the niggling of a story that came in the middle of the Katrina chaos, an idea that was soon forgotten, but ultimately, blossomed into a novel reviewers have called hilarious and heartwarming. Read more HERE.

A Song in My Heart from LoRee Peery

Have you ever considered the possibility of going to jail for being a Christian? What would occupy your mind? You can be assured there’d be no Bible behind those bars.

I have no doubt the Holy Spirit would bring verses and passages to mind, but I believe I’d sing to keep my focus on the Lord as well as to keep my sanity.

David and other psalmists filled the book of Psalms with singing. My Bible is filled with underlined verses referring to music. We are to sing to the Lord, sing for joy, and sing praises.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth, Psalm 8:1.

His song will be with me in the night, Psalm, 42:8.

I will praise the name of God with song, Psalm 69:30.

The Bible references psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. We are to sing from a thankful heart and with a joyful soul.

Photo by Alexas_Fotos taken from pixabay.com

Photo by Alexas_Fotos taken from pixabay.com

Sing! Sing of His strength, and praise His mighty power.

My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God, Psalm 84:2.

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live, Psalm 104:33.

Sing to the Lord a new song, Psalm 149:1.

We are to use tongue, mouth, lips, flesh, and instruments, according to the writers of the Psalms.

May you take to heart, and implant in your soul, the words you voice during future times of Sunday worship. Go ahead and sing as you meditate on the Psalms.

Oh, my dear Author of music, I pray no matter where You plant me in life, You will bring a song to my heart and mind. I praise you for who You are, I praise You for past victories. I praise You for now. I long to forever sing from my soul to your ear. In your precious Name, amen.

First choiceChristian romance author LoRee Peery writes to feel alive, as a way of contributing, and to pass forward the hope of rescue from sin. She writes of redeeming grace with a sense of place. LoRee clings to I John 5:4 and prays her family sees that faith. She has authored the Frivolities Series and other e-books. Her desire for readers, the same as for her characters, is to discover where they fit in this life journey to best work out the Lord’s life plan. She is who she is by the grace of God: Christian, country girl, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend, and author. She’s been a reader since before kindergarten. One day she slapped a story in her lap. “I could write better than this.” (Lofty assumption, eh?) Her dear hubby challenged, “Why don’t you?” Thus her writing journey began many moons ago.

Her latest release is titled Where Hearts Meet:

Shattered by the loss of her parents, Deena pours her love into her patients at an assisted living facility. When the son of oneWhereHeartsMeet_w11796_300 her charges starts showing up to spend time with his mother, Deena’s wary heart is warmed by his attention to his mother…and to her. Simon is plagued by his ex-wife’s disappearance years before. When he meets Deena, who closely resembles the woman, he fears his attraction is based only on Deena’s looks. But she exhibits a warmth his ex-wife never had. Dare he risk his once broken heart? As two lonely souls pursue a tentative, budding love, secrets and lies come forward to tear them apart. Can Simon and Deena overcome loss and allow their hearts to mend?

But it HERE!

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! In what ways has music helped to center your heart in Christ or bring you peace and comfort during a difficult time? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Speaking of music and praise, I hope you’ll join me and my Takin’ it to the Streets friends for a hilarious, musical, unexpected night of talented performers, exceptional speakers, and great auction items. Tickets are available at Divine Truth Christian BookstoreReality Church, and can be purchased at the door.

Print

Freedom

FreedomversepicSo if the Son sets you free, you are truly free” (John 8:36).

Imagine living your entire life as a slave. What would you give for freedom? What would that freedom feel like once it came? And how long, once freed, would it take to shake off your slave mentality?

We don’t think about slavery much these days; I’m not sure we can ever fully grasp what life is like for those living as someone’s property, spending every moment doing someone else’s bidding. To dream of, long for–ache for–freedom. But to believe it is far from your grasp, so far, you begin to give up hope. You stop dreaming and settle into a life of barely existing.

Yesterday the Associated Press posted an article about a Burmese slave who spent 22 years in captivity. Oh, how he longed for freedom, but the one time he asked, he was beaten so severely, he nearly died. And so, he spent the next 14 years resigned to his fate. And yes, that desire, that deep, inner hunger for liberty and the ability to reconnect with those he loved, would not be stilled. Over time, it grew, and grew, until his desire to be free, truly free, overrode his fear of being beat. And so, he asked again. And again, and again, and each time, his owners beat him down.

One day, after his “owner” cracked his skull with a helmet, he ran away, determined to see his family once again… only to land right back into slavery. But his thirst for freedom would not be quenched, so after being chained to a fishing boat for three days, he managed to break free, and this time he ran with every ounce of energy and determination he possessed.

Oh, to be free, truly free! (You can read Myint’s entire story HERE.)

Last Sunday, our family pastor, Robert Conn asked us two questions: Who are you, and, what breaks your heart? You can watch this powerful sermon here:

The answer jumped to mind immediately–I’m redeemed, restored, and made whole by Christ, and I’m utterly devastated to see others in emotional and spiritual bondage. But the good news is, I know the route to freedom! And that is through Jesus Christ, God’s only Son.

May everything I do and say point to that truth, because without Christ, man is and will remain in bondage. For eternity.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! How would you answer Robert’s questions: Who are you, and what breaks your heart? More importantly, what might God be asking you to do about it? Who can you point to freedom? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at living by grace on Facebook.

Speaking of freedom, have I sent the Sweet Freedom series? You get them free when you sign up for my (and 7 other authors’) free quarterly newsletter. Although really, we should probably call it an e-zine because it’s much more than news. In truth, it contains very little news, but a SF Front Coverwhole lot of other stuff, life serial story segments, recipes, devotions… Check out our last issue HERE.

And sign up to receive our next issue, and your free PDF copies of our Sweet Freedom series.

Receive our free quarterly e-mailing!

* indicates required
Email Address *

First Name
Last Name

// <![CDATA[
(function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]=’EMAIL';ftypes[0]=’email';fnames[1]=’FNAME‘;ftypes[1]=’text';fnames[2]=’LNAME‘;ftypes[2]=’text';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true);
// ]]>

 

road-39690_1280

Photo by ClkerFreeVectorImages taken from pixabay.com

Life is full of uncertainties, and though I’m pretty sure, while waiting for something important, we wish God would come through right now! But it’s in the waiting, the following along God’s detours and reroutes, that our faith grows strongest and we are most alert to God’s hand.

Today prolific and hugely talented author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter, shares her signingexperience with waiting, rerouting, followed by more waiting.

And as an added bonus, she’s doing a special, multi-blog give-away to commemorate the Heartsong Presents line since it’s ending this month! How fun is that?

Baseball Memory Board

Comment to enter the drawing for a copy of Rodeo Reunion. Ten copies will be split among names drawn during the blog tour from June 1st – July 1st. One winner will receive a baseball themed memory board personally crafted by the author. Winners will be revealed on Shannon’s blog on July 22nd.

Trusting in the God of Hope by Shannon Taylor Vannatter

Any time I’ve been down about my writing career, God gives me hope. Back before I was published and began to wonder if I ever would be, He’d give me encouragement by allowing me to place in a writing contest or an editor taking the time to write a positive note on a rejection letter. Those little fuzzy moments kept me going. He still does that.

Back in November, I learned the line I write for Heartsong Presents is ending. I was contracted for one more rodeo book and a new series of three books. With the end of Heartsong Presents, those four books were destined to never see the light of day. But I’d been through this before.

After my fourth book was published when Barbour owned the line, they decided to end Heartsong Presents. Even though I had two more books contracted. I cried and railed and mourned my books and my career. But a few months later, I attended the ACFW conference and my new editor told me to go ahead and write the next book in my series because another publisher was buying the line.

Six months later, I learned Harlequin had purchased Heartsong Presents. My final two books in my contract saw the light of day and I soon had another contract for six books. Fast forward four years and Harlequin made the same decision regarding the line. This time, I knew no one would buy it because there aren’t any other publishers who distribute category length romance.

But I didn’t rail and I didn’t cry. By this time, I knew God’s got this. A few weeks later, my agent called with a possible publisherkeyboard-690066_1280 to take on my four remaining books. All I had to do was add word count and tweak the books to fit their line. We went back and forth for several months trying to make my submission perfect.

A month later, the editor contacted my agent. What I’d done still didn’t fit the imprint, but she gave very specific instructions to make my books fit. And even went as far as calling me on the phone. That doesn’t happen often. Hope bloomed.

I tweaked the proposal again and sent it off. We’re going on seven weeks now. The editor apologized when my agent checked with her, saying she’s behind on everything and hasn’t even had the time to read my proposal. I was hoping to have a positive answer by the time my blog tour for my final Heartsong came around. Which is now. But I still don’t know what will become of my four books.

In the meantime, I wrote a long book I’ve wanted to write for a long time. It’s polished and almost ready to send to my agent so she can try to find a home for it. But the market is rough in publishing in general. As time drags, I’m getting discouraged.

Last weekend, I went to an annual writers’ retreat with ten women from my local group. We had a great time, visited, ate, ate some more, learned, and got some writing time in.

I’m the only traditionally published one in the group simply because my journey fell into place before theirs. I’m their encouragement—proof that getting published can happen. But my career is at a standstill. It kind of got to me.

Double RainbowOn the way home, I was praying and whining a little. I rounded a curve and the trees revealed an expanse of open sky. I saw a cloud with a silver lining. Then another. Pretty much a sky full of clouds with silver linings. Bordering all those clouds was a double rainbow. I take that as God saying He’s got this. I quit whining.

For the rest of my trip home, I enjoyed the canvas God painted just for me. And I know He’ll follow through on all those silver linings.

Award winning, central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife. She lives in a town with a population of around 100, if you count a few cows, and she once climbed a mountain wearing gold wedge-heeled sandals which became known as her hiking boots.

She has eleven published titles and is contracted for four more. Her books are available at christianbook.com, barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com, harlequin.com, and barbourbooks.com. Learn more about Shannon and her books at ShannonVannatter.com and check out her Real Life Romance blog.

Connect with her on Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/stvannatter/, and Twitter: @stvauthor.

About her novel, Rodeo Reunion:

RAQUEL MARRIS NEEDS A MAN WHO’LL STAY PUT

And Slade Walker’s not a likely candidate. Even if the former major league pitcher just agreed to coach her son’s little league team. The single mom can’t risk everything on a bronc-riding chaplain who’s only passing through Raquel’s small Texas town.

Slade is taking a hiatus from the rodeo circuit to meet the sister he never knew he had. But the pretty widowed nurse next door is making him think twice about hitting the road again. He can’t turn his back on the cowboys who need him, but Raquel and her boy need him, too. Can Slade fulfill his calling and finally find a place to hang his hat?

Buy it:

At Christian Book Distributers or on Amazon

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Are you in a waiting period? What might God be showing or teaching you? Have you ever felt as if you’d slammed into a closed door only to find God had something else amazing waiting? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

 

SaraiLabelShe was beautiful, most likely came from a wealthy family, and would one day become the mother of an entire nation. The matriarch of a faith that would completely change the world, revealing God’s plan of redemption and ultimately, leading to the fulfillment of prophesies given since the beginning of time.

But when we meet her in Genesis 11, one label defines her: barren. At a time and in a culture when barrenness was a huge deal. Children were seen as a blessing, a sign of favor, and for these women who were often easily discarded, a promise of stability.

Infertility in any culture can lead to an incredible emptiness and sorrow, but in her day and age, it was downright shameful. In the ancient Middle East, most women didn’t work. They weren’t scholars, didn’t impress others with their deep and lofty thoughts on politics. Nope. They were valued for one thing–their ability to produce an heir.

In the land in which Sarai lived, failure to do so was considered grounds for divorce.

Can you imagine her shame? Despite her wealth and beauty, I envision her walking through the streets of Ur with her head bowed and her heart heavy. Watching the other women with swollen bellies, or infants held to their breast. Listening to mothers talk about how strong and capable their sons are.

Feeling completely isolated and alone. Held in bondage by this one label thrust on her by her peers: barren.

But God saw her differently. To Him, she was His princess, which is what her name (both versions) means. And He’d spend the next six chapters helping her live like His princess, to wear with pride and conviction the label He Himself gave her.

We all have labels: Unwanted. Unlovable. Failure. Tainted.Redeemedpic

Those labels, when latched on to, hinder our walk with Christ. Some, like Sarai’s, are negative. Hurtful, thrust upon us by others, relentlessly whispering to our wounded hearts, “You’re not good enough.” If not diligently fought against, those labels can cling to us long after we’ve been redeemed. And they begin to influence our actions and reactions.

But we, like Sarai, are princesses (or princes, fellas), daughters of the King! Let’s live like the royalty we are. No one can tag a label on to us unless we let them.

Not even us, ourselves.

Ah, so now we’ve come to the root of. Those labels wouldn’t stick unless we believed them–owned them. So how do we resist them? How do we learn to walk like the royalty we, redeemed and cherished children of Christ, are?

We replace our distorted view with truth and focus on who we are in Christ. That’s the only label we should cling to. That’s the only label we should nurture and live out.

Starting next week, a group of Facebook friends and I are going to follow Sarai/Sarah’s journey, inviting God to lead us on a similar trek–that of embracing and living in our true, defining label–daughters of the King. And I invite you to join us.

Speaking of labels, Tuesday I visited Internet Cafe Devotions to talk about those insidious lies we allow to weasel their way into our hearts, wearing us down and keeping us from the incredible joy available through Christ in an article entitled The Battle You Must Win. Read it HERE.

Let’s talk about this. We all, every one of us, have labels we carry around, some we’ve held on to so long, we’ve forgotten they’re even there. The only way, I believe, to shuck those self-defeating labels is to fill our hearts and minds with truth. This week, prayerfully ask God to show you what lies you’ve allowed yourself to hold on to. Ask Him to show you how He sees you, then ask Him to help you view yourself in the same light.

LivingbyGracepicIs there a certain label that jumped out at you when you read today’s post? Has God perhaps already helped you tear off a label from your past? If so, what was it, and how did God help you toss it? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook. 

Do you feel average? Unnoticed? Like the easiest thing for you to do would be to blend in with the masses? Get up, go to work, go home, eat, go to bed, repeat. Like millions of Americans do each day. Settling for the plainness of mediocracy, never revealing their true, glorious, Christ-revealing beauty.

Colorado May 2015 009Today my guest Janet K. Brown, author of Worth Her Weight shares an insightful lesson God showed her through a seemingly plain creature.

The Unordinary Oriole

By Janet K. Brown

A beautiful oriole ministered to me on our recent visit to Aurora, Colorado. Our daughter’s house, like most in that area, sprawls the foothills of the Rockies, and hiking trails wind up and down, linking one trail after another. If I had the strength, I could hike for many miles. I stick with the two mile loop nearby.

While hiking, I noticed one shaggy pine that appeared to be home to a bird that I didn’t recognize. My husband researched and discovered it was an orchard oriole. Orioles hide in trees and feed on fruits and insects.

I noticed when the oriole perched in the tree, I could barely see it. The top of its head, body, and wings were black and blended with the trunk of the pine. Even when my husband or daughter said it was in the tree, I could search and search and not spot it. When the bird took flight, however, my eyes lifted and watched the graceful swoop.

“How beautiful,” I said. The bird’s breast and the bottom of its wings were brilliant orange, but without the flight, I couldn’t seebranch-386907_1280 its hidden beauty.

Are we not the same as the ordinary oriole?

My mother had a saying, “He puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like me.” I have two legs, two arms, and average intelligence. There’s nothing special about me. When I keep quiet and don’t strive for excellence, I blend with other woman around me. Like the oriole, I hide in my tree. When I weighed two hundred and fifty pounds, and my self esteem was as low as our North Texas red dirt, I wanted to hide.

God healed me emotionally and showed me the meaning of this verse:

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV).

With this hope, I spread my wings and wrote my books and taught my classes, and showed the beautiful orange side of me that God created.

The oriole is ordinary until it flies.

So, are we.

***

Janet K. Brown lives in Wichita Falls, Texas with her husband, Charles. Writing became her second career after retiring from medical coding.

Worth Her Weight is the author’s first inspirational women’s fiction, but it makes a perfect companion to her previously released, Divine Dining: 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weight and Abundant Wellness. Both books encompass her passion for diet, fitness, and God’s Word. Worth Her Weight marks Brown’s third book. Who knew she had a penchant for teens and ghosts? She released her debut novel, an inspirational young adult, Victoria and the Ghost, in July, 2012.

Janet and her husband love to travel with their RV, work in their church, and visit their three daughters, two sons-in-law and three perfect grandchildren. She teaches workshops on writing, weight loss, and the historical settings of her teen books.

Visit her online at http:/ /www.janetkbrown.com, on Twitter at https://twitter.com/janetkbrowntx, or on Facebook, and contact her by E-mail at: Janet(dot)hope(at)att(dot)net

Worth Her Weight:

How can a woman who gives to everyone but herself accept God’s love and healing when she believes she’s fat, unworthy, and unfixable? Can she be Worth Her Weight?

Lacey Chandler helps her mother, her sister, her friend, and then she binges on food and wonders is there really a God? Betty Chandler hates being handicapped and useless, so she lashes out at the daughter that helps, and the God who doesn’t seem to care. Toby Wheeler loves being police chief in Wharton Rock, but when the devil invades the small town, he can’t release control.

Is God enough in Wharton Rock?

Buy it HERE!  Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & at your local bookstore.

LivingbyGracepicLet’s talk about this!

 

Are you in hiding? Avoiding risks or certain opportunities to spread your wings and fly? That first step can be excruciatingly terrifying, but oh, the freedom we experience when we finally experience the beauty of full flight–of full surrender. Pause to prayerfully consider in what ways you’re hiding right now. Perhaps it’s relationally. Maybe you’ve been hurt so many times in the past, you’ve begun to hide behind your defenses. Or maybe it’s in your career, or in ministry. But like Janet says, we have not been given a spirit of fear, and our beauty, or rather, God’s beauty, is best displayed when we step out of hiding, spread our wings, and fly.

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,155 other followers