The Process of Becoming

If only we could grow without struggle. Today’s guest shares a familiar analogy, but one I think we should all be reminded of periodically. I’ve heard it said, those things that are most worthwhile take the greatest amount of work and perseverance.

This makes me think of 1 Timothy 4:8. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come” (NLT).

As you read Delia Latham‘s post, prayerfully consider where you’re at spiritually, where God might be taking you, and how He’s growing and molding you in order to prepare you for what lies ahead.

Worm-to-Wonderful

by Delia Latham

I can be a bit of a squirmy worm when it comes to sitting still for instruction. Lectures, long sermons and the like…my mind is willing, but my body refuses to play the quiet game. Yet every time I write a novel, I sit at the feet of the Ultimate Instructor. Most of the time, it’s a joyful experience. I love transcribing the words He speaks into my heart and soul.

But then there are the other times… Times when what the Teacher intends as a special blessing becomes a downright painful experience. Times when the words He whispers into my heart differ from the ones my head screams are “right,” and I wriggle against His will.

In my latest release, Spring Raine (Book 1, Paradise Pines series), butterflies kept fluttering in and out of my scenes. I’m more accustomed to angels showing up in my books. Why was God inserting these new visitors into the story? I hemmed and hawed and questioned the ‘why,’ but eventually I rolled my eyes, zipped my lips and let God finish telling the story. I’m so glad I did, because what I learned was worth not getting my own way.

Butterflies are lovely, graceful, almost magical creatures, aren’t they? While I’d never studied them closely, I knew what I thought was enough about them—which pretty much meant that I was aware, just like any self-respecting 6-year-old, that they started life as caterpillars. But that little fact is a mere scratch on the surface of an entire, fascinating world I knew precious little about.

The Ultimate Teacher on the other hand…He knows everything there is to know about the butterfly. He created the whole, complicated species, from tiny egg to squirmy worm to mysterious chrysalis to graceful, winged beauty. As a spiritual lesson wrapped in a wonderful blessing, the Master Instructor allowed me to see inside a cocoon while I wrote Spring Raine.

He showed me the chrysalis effect.

Caterpillars don’t have fairy godmothers who turn them into butterflies in an instant. The “becoming” is a process, one that takes place in carefully planned, necessary stages. The squirmy worm cannot become all he was born to be unless and until he sheds his old skin, submits to the cocoon and goes through each required stage of metamorphosis.

Worm-to-wonderful. That’s the chrysalis effect. God sent big, beautiful monarch butterflies into a story of seaside romance to teach me about obedience and submission, about myself, and yes…about writing.

As Christians, we must submit to the chrysalis, and let God recreate us—and sometimes, that means completely restructuring who and what we are. Without Him, we’re nothing more than empty shells, with no real purpose. With Him, we become something more…something alive and real. A creature unfettered by the weight of sin, and endowed with the power to touch and bless human hearts and souls. Something beautiful. Something good.

The key? Shed the squirmy worm skin. Be still, and know that He is God. Learn to follow the Ultimate Teacher’s step-by-step (word-by-word?) instructions, and thereby wrap a cocoon of His love around us. When we “become” what we’re meant to be, our efforts will emerge in full beauty. That’s when they’ll wing their way into the hearts of those we interact with and influence, and maybe even change a life or two along the way.

Psalm 25:5 (KJV)—Lead me in Your truth, and teach me: for You are the God of my salvation.

Spring Raine:

An uncharacteristic, last-minute decision to do something “wild and crazy” before entering the stressful world of forensic science sends Raine Presley to Cambria, California. Against a cloud of disapproval from her slightly manipulative, over-protective parents, she signs a seasonal lease at the beautiful Paradise Pines Lodge…and winds up over her head in life and love.

Declan Keller’s just minding his own business—literally—when Raine drops into his world and turns it upside down. He’s far too busy carving beautiful shapes out of chunks of wood to be babysitting a gal from Pasadena. Even so, his father’s promise to an old friend obligates him, despite a looming deadline that could make or break his career in the art world. He’s praying for anything but Raine when she comes along.

Neither Declan nor Raine is prepared for the seemingly divine influence of Paradise Pines—and Miss Angelina Love. A mysterious lady who may or may not own the lodge, Miss Angie possesses an amazing talent for mending ruffled feathers, spouting proverbs, and somehow bending even the most determined of hearts to the power of love.

Available on Amazon, and most other online booksellers.

Delia Latham is a born-and-bred California gal, raised in a place called Weedpatch and currently living in East Texas with her husband, Johnny. She enjoys multiple roles as Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but especially loves being a princess daughter to the King of Kings. She has a “thing” for Dr. Pepper, and loves to hear from her readers. Contact her through her website. Subscribe to Delia’s bi-monthly newsletter and receive a FREE short story!

You might also enjoy:

“Grow Up” by Julie Opperman

“Have Faith Like a Child” by Brooke Williams

“The Power of Thanksgiving” by … me! 😉

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Win a copy of Jewels for the Kingdom

I’m excited to announce, Delia Latham, my guest yesterday and author of nine wonderful books, is giving away a copy of her latest release, Jewels Delia3 - webfor the Kingdom. To be entered in the drawing, simply leave a comment on yesterday or today’s post.

Jewels for the Kingdomis the first of four separately authored Heart’s Haven e-Books:

Pia Peretti’s past could destroy her future. Thanks to her pre-Christian lifestyle, she can’t marry a believer, and she won’t marry a non-believer. Minister David Myers wants to help Pia release perf5.500x8.500.inddher guilt and trust that God has forgiven her…but the young minister is working through his own trial of faith.

After a failed counseling session with a wounded soul, David’s confidence is shaken. He accepts a new pastorate, and moves to Angel Falls to find a haven for his wounded heart.

Is it possible these two hurting hearts are meant to mend each other’s brokenness with some divine intervention?

This novel may be downloaded directly to your reading device through White Rose Publishing, a division of Pelican Book Group, or through AmazonBarnes and Noble, or Christian Book Distributors. Find information on all four Heart’s Haven novellas atwww.delialatham.net.

Get to know Delia Latham: 

Born and raised in Weedpatch, California, Delia Latham moved to Oklahoma in ’08, making her a self-proclaimed California Okie. She loves to read and write in her country home, and gets a kick out of watching her husband play Farmer John. She’s a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but especially loves being a princess daughter to the King of Kings. She loves Dr. Pepper and hearing from her readers. Contact her through her website (www.delialatham.net), blog, or Facebook author page.

 

Beyond the Familiar

Delia3 - webToday my sweet friend, Delia Latham, author of nine books, including the acclaimed Solomon’s Gate series, encourages us to look, with faith-filled eyes, past what we see, beyond the familiar to the angelic.

Beyond the Familiar by Delia Latham

Psalm 91:11 – For he shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

 

My guess is that not one reader will find this verse of scripture unfamiliar. It’s often quoted in sermons, used as memory verse material, and is a favorite to print on plaques and other decorative items. While not everyone will be able to say where the verse is located, most folks will know it’s from the Bible, and can pretty much quote it word for word.

That’s good. Or is it?

An old saying suggests that with familiarity comes contempt…or disregard. For example, consider the items hanging on your walls, or the scenery outside your home. Chances are, they’re so much a part of your life that they’ve become invisible. If asked to do so, you could describe them right down to the last detail. But when you walk through the rooms in your house, how often do you actually see the items you’ve so carefully collected and gathered around you? Someone recently asked me if I still owned a certain picture that has hung in my home for years. “Yes,” I replied. “It’s hanging in my—” At this point, I stopped, because I couldn’t remember. I hadn’t noticed it in a long time.

I closed my eyes, deliberately envisioned my home, room to room and wall to wall, and finally located that framed print. In my living room, where I see it every day. Or rather, where I don’t see it every day.

Unfortunately, I fear that’s what happens to us in regard to God’s Word, as well. Take that verse of scripture from Psalms…

Angels keep showing up in my novels. This is not a direction I ever planned to take with my writing, but it seems God had other ideas. My latest novella, Jewels for the Kingdom, is based around a cottage-rental complex in a fictional Texas town. Heart’s Haven is rumored to be a favorite hangout for a number of God’s special messengers, and the old guy who owns the place is suspected of having conversations with them on a regular basis.

A lot of people would have a problem with that idea. But why is it so unbelievable? The Holy Bible clearly states that God places His emissaries around us. If we truly, without a doubt, unequivocally believe God’s Word means exactly what it says…why is the idea of angels actually appearing to and speaking with human beings so hard to swallow?

Once I stopped tussling with God about inserting angels into my books, I found myself learning to look beyond the familiar to the fullness of the very personal promise in Psalm 91:11. God has given His angels charge over me (and you), to keep me (and you) in ALL my (our) ways.

The word “all” covers a tremendous amount of territory. Job. Family. Friends. Home. Bills. Hobbies. Relationships. The little things and the big things, the important ones and the trivial.

Now look beyond the word “all” to WHO is keeping us in all your ways. Angels.

They’re out there. God’s Word isn’t a fairy tale. Every word is a fact, including the word “angels,” and the promise that they are with us.

Sometimes they’re not visible to our human vision. Sometimes, I believe they are, but our pitiful human minds refuse to connect the dots. Consider Hebrews 13:2, with its unapologetic directive: Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Who’s to say the homeless man on the corner, the one who gives you a gap-toothed smile each day as you pass by, is not one of your angels? And what about the quiet woman who always seems to be at the next table in your favorite local café? Remember the stranger who chased you down with your purse when you left it behind…in a busy mall…during the Christmas season?

Is it possible? Yes. It is.

God’s special messengers, His angels, have charge over you. They’re with you every step you take, every decision you make. When you think you’re alone…you’re not. The things you fear, you shouldn’t, because angels have your back. Even when we don’t feel them, when we don’t see them, when we forget their existence…they are there. Guarding, protecting, guiding and teaching.

Keeping. Keeping us in all our ways.

Isn’t that just like God? Using the hosts of Heaven to take care of us, His earthly children.

That’s a promise to cherish. All of it. Every word.

Precious Father, I thank You for being so concerned with my well-being that You would  assign your holy angels to light my path and guide my steps, to keep me in every way. Help me to look beyond the familiar, to the fullness of all that You’ve promised me. Open my eyes to see the possibilities in every person that I come in contact with. Above all, create in me a clean heart and a right spirit, so when someone looks at me, they see a reflection of You. I ask these things in Your precious, holy name. Amen.

####

perf5.500x8.500.inddJewels for the Kingdom is the first of four separately authored Heart’s Haven e-Books:

Pia Peretti’s past could destroy her future. Thanks to her pre-Christian lifestyle, she can’t marry a believer, and she won’t marry a non-believer. Minister David Myers wants to help Pia release her guilt and trust that God has forgiven her…but the young minister is working through his own trial of faith.

After a failed counseling session with a wounded soul, David’s confidence is shaken. He accepts a new pastorate, and moves to Angel Falls to find a haven for his wounded heart.

Is it possible these two hurting hearts are meant to mend each other’s brokenness with some divine intervention?

This novel may be downloaded directly to your reading device through White Rose Publishing, a division of Pelican Book Group, or through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Christian Book Distributors. Find information on all four Heart’s Haven novellas at www.delialatham.net.

Get to know Delia Latham: 

Born and raised in Weedpatch, California, Delia Latham moved to Oklahoma in ’08, making her a self-proclaimed California Okie. She loves to read and write in her country home, and gets a kick out of watching her husband play Farmer John. She’s a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but especially loves being a princess daughter to the King of Kings. She loves Dr. Pepper and hearing from her readers. Contact her through her website (www.delialatham.net), blog, or Facebook author page.

Let’s talk about this. When you think of angels, what images come to mind? What Bible stories? How do you feel knowing God is watching over you, right now?

Join me at Living by Grace as we talk about God’s messengers, angels.

Pretty Little Weeds

Yesterday we woke to our first dusting of snow. Although it was pretty, standing on our porch shivering I found myself longing for spring. Today’s post was written by author Delia Latham after a long winter. As we head toward blizzard season (in MO, anyway) take a moment to remember those first rose buds, leaf sprigs, and yes…weeds.

Pretty Little Weeds by Delia Latham

Spring brings with it such incredible beauty! Every year, I’m amazed all over again by the stunning gift of nature God gives us so freely, and which we rarely take time to fully appreciate.

Yesterday, I also discovered a lesson hiding in some of that beauty. Is it a new thing? No…I tend to agree with King Solomon: There is nothing new under the sun. But sometimes we need a reminder of things we already know, don’t you think?

My family had gathered out on the front deck, enjoying the sunshine and welcome warmth after a cold, harsh Winter that seemed endless. Most of the trees around us are donning their dress-up gowns in various shades of green for the new season. Across the way, Mr. Nichols’ redbud tree is a picture of fuschia-colored glory. Bright yellow forsythia blooms in several yards down the road.

Even the lawns have greened up and are taking part in the joyous song of nature, which always seems to me at this time of year to be praising God for another chance to shine.

Our front lawn needs to be mowed. It’s so beautiful right now, though, that I told my husband I hated to see the lawn mower come out of the garage. The grass is covered in a beautiful carpet of some kind of pale purple wildflower, just tall enough to blow and sway with every breeze. From where I was sitting, it looked like a sea of heather, stirred by gentle waves.

Of course, that’s just me being fanciful. Those pretty blooms aren’t even wildflowers, according to my husband. They’re weeds, and must be mown down—and the sooner the better, to prevent them choking out the grass. My daughter-in-law told me their lawn is covered in something similar, but it’s pretty little white flowers, which are also, unfortunately, just some kind of weed.

As I sat there and studied those pretty weeds, God impressed on me how similar they are to things that often crop up in our lives—things that need to be weeded out, but which we steer the metaphorical lawnmower around because we like them:

• Habits that threaten our health and shorten our lifespan. We not only “allow” them to remain in our lives, we embrace them, nourish them, cling to them, because they fulfill something within us. (Smoking, drinking, overeating, caffeine, OTC drugs, for instance.)

• Pastimes that probably shouldn’t be a part of the life of a Christian . They usually contain some element of attractiveness—that’s how Satan convinces us to take part in them. Simple things like books and movies that contain an over-abundance of R (or higher)-rated language, violence, sex, etc. Places we go that fall outside the auspices of acceptability for a Christian. Even the company we keep can fall into the category of a weed that, if allowed to flourish within our own lives, can choke out the healthy, godly growth that we should be nourishing.

Most of us, if we call ourselves Christians, do a fine job of holding at bay what we consider “big” sins. Think about it. Satan couldn’t convince us to rob a bank, sleep with our neighbor’s wife or husband, get high on cocaine, or molest a child if he tried from now until the end of the world. We know that…and so does he. His best chance of worming his evil way into our lives is through the little things: the pretty weeds on the lawn.

Song of Solomon 2:15 attributes the spoiling of the vine to “the little foxes.” Not a big lion or bear, not some frightening beast that’s difficult to bring down. No, it’s the cute little foxes. The things we barely notice, and if we do, they hold a certain amount of attraction for us. Baby foxes are adorable to look at…but when they’re grown, they become troublesome creatures that are not often welcome on one’s property.

When referring to anything with the potential to escalate into an unpleasant or troublesome situation, my Daddy (the earthly one) used to say, “Best nip it in the bud!” In other words, handle it before it becomes a problem. Pull the weeds before they choke out the garden. (In his case, a lot of times it meant replacing the spark plugs under the engine before they led to a more serious mechanical failure.)

Maybe this lesson was intended only for me. Sometimes God does that, I know—just drops an idea in my head because I need a reminder for whatever reason. That could be why he opened my eyes to those beautiful purple weeds on my lawn…and is it just coincidence that purple happens to be my favorite color?

Sometimes, however, the little spiritual nudges our Father sends to one of us can also be a blessing or a help in some way to another of His kids. So I thought I’d share with you the lesson He shared with me this week.

I pray it blesses you, and helps you nip something in the bud…

Originally posted on Living the Write Life

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Born and raised in Weedpatch, California, Delia Latham moved to Oklahoma in ’08, making her a self-proclaimed California Okie. She loves to read and write in her country home, and gets a kick out of watching her husband play Farmer John. She’s a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but especially loves being a princess daughter to the King of Kings. She loves Dr. Pepper and hearing from her readers. Contact her through her website or e-mail delia AT delialatham DOT net.

Delia writes inspirational romance and women’s fiction, and is currently contracted through White Rose Publishing and Vinspire Publishing.

Did you love today’s post? Think it should make it into the my top three of 2011? Then tweet it, FB share it, leave a comment, or like it.

 

Blessings From the Top of the Tree by Delia Latham

Today a dear friend and sister in Christ is here to share a devotional from her book, Morning Rendezvous.

Blessings from the Top of the Tree by Delia Latham

Pro. 10:6a (KJV)
Blessings are upon the head of the just;

It was a humdinger of a windstorm—unusually rough for California, where we lived at the time. Not anything approaching tornado severity, but enough to knock down a few trees, tear off a bunch of roof tiles and stir up some pretty nasty allergies.

Given my husband’s severe lung problems, high winds have become something to dread. They often blow in a ton of allergens, bringing on a week or so of severe discomfort. Needless to say, we were more than a bit unhappy about the storm.

A couple of days later, Aunt Vera dropped by our place, her arms piled high with three plastic grocery bags. All of them were stuffed full of pecans from her trees.

“They were all over my yard, after that wind the other night,” she announced. “I had to do something with them, and I know how Johnny loves pecan pies.”

All of the nuts within her reach had been harvested prior to the storm. These nuts came from the upper branches, the ones she couldn’t get to. “I guess they would have stayed up there until they rotted without that storm,” she said, with a wry little shake of her head.

After our sweet visitor left, I looked at those three bags of snacking nuts—three bags stuffed full of potential pies and other delectable desserts—and I saw them differently. They were the fruits of the storm—blessings from the top of the tree. Good things beyond our reach.

And God has a way of shaking them loose and raining them down all around us!

Since then, I try to remember to look at the storms of life through less jaded eyes, as well. During the blizzard, it’s hard to see anything but toppled trees and destruction to property. It’s difficult to look past the blowing garbage and allergic reactions.

While the wind blows, it’s almost impossible to remember that after the storm, God always sends a rainbow. After the winds, we reap the sweet-smelling, clean air and sunshine.

After He tries us, He showers us with good things…things previously out of our grasp.

We must learn to hold tight to God and just survive the storm. Because when it’s over, we get the blessings from the top of the tree!

Oh, God, how many times have You blessed me, and I failed to recognize the blessing? Please forgive my blindness and open my eyes to Your wondrous gifts. I want to see You…not only in the blessings that come after, but in the storm itself. Open my spiritual eyes to the things I should see. And Lord, thank You for all those good things You rain down on me from the top of the tree! Amen

 Morning Rendezvous is not strictly a book of devotion. It’s devotions and random inspirational thoughts and musings. It’s made up of my devotions and inspirational posts that are scattered all over the internet. I gathered up my favorites and put them into book format because I know so many people who never touch a computer, but I hope they’d be blessed by some of the thoughts God blessed me with.~Delia
 

Delia was born and raised in a place called Weedpatch, Delia Latham moved from California to Oklahoma in 2008, making her a self-proclaimed California Okie. She loves to read and write in her simple country home, and gets a kick out of watching her husband play Farmer John. The author enjoys multiple roles as Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but especially loves being a princess daughter to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. She loves to hear from her readers. You can contact her through her website or send an e-mail to delia AT delialatham DOT net.

Find out more about this author at www.delialatham.net.

Blog:  www.my-book-bag.blogspot.com

Newsletter:  www.bookshelfnewsletter.blogspot.com

Meet Delia Latham, author of Yesterday’s Promise

Although I haven’t finished Yesterday’s Promise, what I’ve read so far has captured my imagination. In fact, I was hooked from page one! I’ve never read a book that was able to draw me to its heroine so early on before, from the very first page, and yet, Yesterday’s Promise does just that!  I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of fairy tale novels. I want characters that I can relate to. Real characters living real lives. Characters like Hanna Johns, a single mom struggling to make ends meet, following Jesus the best she can. If you have a Hanna in your life, tell them about Yesterday’s Promise. Better yet, buy them a copy as a way to encourage them to keep on keeping on.

Here’s a glimpse of our cyber-conversation:

Me: Hannah Johns, the heroine of Yesterday’s Promise, was likely every mother’s dream. She was involved in ministry, others-focused and overall, had her head on her shoulders…until, she throws caution to the wind and does the unthinkable and marries a total stranger—clad in biker gear no less—less than a week after they met. What do you think it was about Brock that drew her to him?

Delia: Well, I’m sure she couldn’t help but notice that he was gorgeous! Brock Ellis is  the typical tall, dark and handsome hero, with steel-blue eyes, broad shoulders, narrow hips—and a killer smile! J But Hannah was first drawn to him because, despite the biker-boy façade, Brock was kind-hearted—a perfectly gentle gentleman. Plus…let’s face it, she was an innocent. Her entire life, prior to the story, had been wrapped up in numerous ministries and activities within the church. She lived to please others. She was an innocent, and Brock was charming, gorgeous, and made no secret of his attraction to her. It had to be a heady experience to have someone—especially someone like Brock—totally focused on her, for a change.

Me: When you were a teen, were you more like the choir singing Hannah or the chase after the biker Hannah?

Delia: Well, to be fair, Hannah didn’t “chase after” the biker. She simply found herself in the role of “damsel in distress” opposite his “he-man to the rescue.” What followed was what makes Yesterday’s Promise a good read.

But in answer to your question, I was probably a little of both. Like Hannah, I was involved in just about every aspect of the church: played the piano, sang in the choir, led song services and sang solo, directed the junior choir on a temporary basis. I attended Christian school from 5th grade all the way through high school. My life was the church. That said, I must confess I was always good at spotting a cute guy. (grin)

Me:  As a single mom, what were Hannah’s greatest struggles?

Delia: Like any single mom, making a living was one of her top concerns. She adored her son and wanted the best for him, and yet…while she was grateful for her job, singing in a dinner lounge was not where she wanted to be five years down the road. She had big goals and dreams, and trying to achieve them while keeping food in little Davey’s mouth was another of her struggles.

Me: What aspect of Hannah’s personality do you think your readers will most relate to or connect with?

Mothers will, without a doubt, understand her determination to do whatever is necessary to take care of her son. And I think any Christian female will relate to Hannah’s love for God and her desire to follow His leading. They should also completely “get” her confusion: Is what’s happening between her and Brock God’s leading…or her heart’s?

Me: What is Hannah’s greatest weakness?

Delia: While Hannah’s faith in God never wavers, her confidence in herself has taken a beating. She has a tendency to pull her sins—real and imagined—out of the blood of Christ and beat herself up for them again and again.

Me: What do you most admire about Hannah?

Delia: Despite her self-doubts and recriminations, Hannah ultimately rests in God’s promises. She’s human, so yes, she sometimes questions circumstances. But at the end of the day, Hannah Johns knows in her heart of hearts that her heavenly Father has her life completely in control, and that He cannot and will not fail. I think I borrowed that aspect of her personality from my grandmother, who more than anyone else I’ve ever known, loved God from the inside out. He was the Lover of her soul, and she adored Him. Hannah has that same quiet spiritual confidence and devotion. I admire it immensely.

Find out more about Delia, Yesterday’s Promise and follow her blog tour at: http://www.delialatham.net/blogtour.htm.