Leaving a Legacy by Understanding What Really Matters

MamaMondaysjpgHow do you want your children to remember you once you’re gone? What kind of legacy will you leave? Because every word, action, hug, and prayer matters. A lot. May we be intentional to “understand [and focus on] what really matters” (Phil. 1:10) so that we can faithfully parent these precious lives God had entrusted to our care.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook probably remember the book, created by my daughter, that I posted. In it, she’d depicted various scenes from our past–moments she remembered. (You can see it at the end of today’s post.) Reading it, I literally bawled, because it told me I’d made a positive impact in her life. That those moments had meant something.

Mamas, they do. Those moments when you pause to answer question number 789, or read that same picture book for the umpteenth time, or crouch with a flashlight–at three in the morning–to peer for monsters under your child’s bed, matter. A lot.

Today, Ada honors her mother and reminds us that simple teachings can leave a legacy of faith.

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April 11
by Ada Brownell

April 11 is my mother’s birthday. She would be 116 years old, but she’s been with Jesus for 58 years. I was 21 when she died. She had eight children, and I was the youngest.

school-543041_640Mama stood out in a crowd because of her flaming hair, but she had amazing spunk and ability to get things done. She attended college, quite unusual for someone born in 1900. She expected to be a school teacher like her mother, but she fell in love and invested her life in her family and Sunday school children instead.

Mom, Rita Shepherd Nicholson, never reached fame but her life impacted the world through her children. Students still receive scholarships in her name.

Her teaching stuck with us. When my siblings and I are together, we often quote Mama, especially the Scriptures that would pop out of her at appropriate times, sharing how we remember her words. “Love your neighbor as yourself;” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you;” “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to bible-706641_640wrath;” “What your hands find to do, do it with all your might,” and many more.

Her children rose up, as Solomon said we would, and called her blessed. Everette became a minister. Joe and Virgil spent their careers in Christian education. Joe also traveled the world in missions. Their students spread the gospel everywhere. We all ministered through music, teaching, writing and other talents. Our mother’s grandchildren still spread the gospel, some in other nations.

Although there were other influences, Mama modeled a life lived for Jesus is the most important success. We learned it and believe it.

***

The Peach Blossom Rancher
Sequel to The Lady Fugitive

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Find The Lady Fugitive on Amazon

John Lincoln Parks’ works to rebuild his deceased father’s peach and horse ranch, thrown into ruin by a wicked uncle, murdered in the last book.

John yearns for a wife to help him make the ranch all it should be. He has his eye on his sister’s elegant matron of honor, Valerie MacDougal, a young widow. But Valerie, a law school graduate, returns to Boston to live with her parents since her little son was born. John and Valerie write, he’s kissed her a few times, but while in Boston Valerie and one of her father’s law partners try to get three patients wrongfully judged as insane, out of the Boston asylum and they spend a lot time together.

Will John marry Valerie or Edwina Jorgenson, the feisty rancher-neighbor who has been in love with John since they were in grade school? Edwina’s father is in a wheelchair and she’s taking care of their ranch. John tries to help and protect this neighbor who has a Peeping Tom whose bootprints are like the person’s who dumped a body in John’s barn. But John and Edwina fuss at one another constantly. Will John even marry, or be hanged for the murder?

Tentative Release Date June 1, 2016

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ada brownellAda Brownell blogs and writes with Stick-to-Your-Soul Encouragement. She is the author of six other books, and more than 350 stories and articles in Christian publications. She now lives in Missouri, a beautiful state except for tornadoes and chiggers.

Find Ada on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and her web site.

 

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Let’s talk about it: As I mentioned earlier, being a mother is tough. Each mom wants to leave a legacy for her children. Ada’s mother left the legacy of faith. What legacy do you hope to leave your children? What are you doing to teach your kids what you hope to leave them? Share your thoughts in the comments below; we can all learn from one another!

Before you go, if you’re local, I’d love for you to join me at the SouthPointe Barnes & Noble in Lincoln where I’ll be signing books this Saturday, from 2-3pm.

Barnes and Noble April 16

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Incidentally, for those looking for something extra special to give to their mothers this Mother’s Day, consider commissioning my daughter to make her a memory book. She’ll be beyond touched, believe me. (I was!)

Contact Ashley at ans_1(at)ymail(dot)com to dialogue with her about process and prices, and visit her website HERE to learn more about her, her art, and services (including facilitating fun painting parties!).

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Because He Reigns

“If that was God’s miracle, I want nothing to do with you, God.”A Call to Praise icon 2

God doesn’t always show up as we expect, nor does always play out as we desire. But does that mean He isn’t good? Does the chaos of our world in any way diminish or contradict His sovereignty?

I almost find it funny, one of my greatest fears has always been that of myself or my loved ones experiencing physical pain. When my husband donated a kidney, and I watched him struggle through those first few nights of recovery in intense pain, I thought I was going to come undone. When my daughter got shingles and cried out to both me and God, my heart literally shred. And for myself, I spent a great deal of time and energy attempting to avoid physical pain.

So what’d God do? He allowed me to develop a condition characterized by unrelenting pain. Sense of humor? Cruelty? Or grace characterized by incomprehensible mercy and grace? I’ve come to realize it’s the latter, and though I don’t have the time or space here to expand, one of the greatest gifts I’ve received from suffering are explained in Carol’s beautiful post below.

But first, I wanted to announce the winner of last week’s give away! Jennifer Hallmark, congrats! You won a copy of Jan Pierce’s book, Home Grown Readers! I’ll shoot you an email soon to chat about the best way to get that to you.

The Beauty of His Sovereignty by Carol McClain

“As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes…The Lord has established His throne in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all.” Ps. 103: 15 -19

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Photo by David Castillo Dominici taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Life in my twenties had been hard, and as things spiraled out of control, a Christian family, with children nearer to my age than I was to the parents, befriended me.

At that time, my daughter was three. She was bright and beautiful and pleasant. Never would she be a Mother Teresa changing the lives of the less fortunate, or an Angelina Jolie, gorgeous and altruistic. She may never be extraordinary to the world, but she is my reason for living.

When life got too difficult, I would strap Sarah into her bike seat and peddle a mile down the road to my neighbors. Once inside their home, the presence of Christ would descend. Sarah would hurry to their TV and watch Mr. Rogers. I would bask in the faith of Marge and Al. This was the only place I allowed myself to feel God.

One day, dear friends of theirs visited. With them was their grandson. He was my daughter’s age but had severe cerebral palsy. Still in a high chair, Alex couldn’t feed himself, control his arms, or any other part of his body for that matter. On this particular day, while my perfect, little girl sat mesmerized at the TV, Alex stuck out his tongue.

“That is a miracle of God,” Al said. “Alex demonstrates God’s infinite love.”

Everyone agreed.

I, on the other hand, sat in shocked silence. If that was God’s miracle, I want nothing to do with you, God.

The usual warmth of their home vanished as I bristled at what I deemed to be God’s unfairness.

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Photo by Samuiblue taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Yet, the comment of God’s miracle clung to me like thistle seeds. I rode home, fixed dinner for my family, prepared Sarah for bed. That night, I lay alone in my bed and brooded about Alex. From a young age, I understood the immensity of eternity. This life is a blink of the eye compared to forever. Alex suffered for a heartbeat. In heaven, he’d have perfect limbs, a fine mind and a crown of jewels greater than I could imagine.

And my daughter? Today her life excels more than mine. She’s more philanthropic than I’ve ever been. A better mother. Has a marriage that works beautifully. She’s attractive. Smart. Never will she win a Nobel Prize. But because of Alex, of those like him who suffer through his days that are like grass, a flower in the field, I’ve always relished her perfection—the sunlight-gold of her hair, the slant of her eyebrows, her good grades, her hand-holding, sitting on my lap (even today). Every little thing about her delights me.

The hard things of life show us how blessed we are. They demonstrate the miracle of God. We are His creation. Belonging to Him, He has free reign. If we suffer—it’s but for a moment, but it brings with it exceeding great joy.

Alex is a key to my salvation. And his life, like ours, reaches out across our suffering and shows the beauty of God’s sovereignty.

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Carol McClain is an erstwhile English teacher, a bassoonist and a stained-glass artist with an eclectic array of other interests. She lives in the frozen reaches of northern NY and will, this summer, trade her Yankee ways for Tennessee.

UnknownHer debut novel is DWF: Divorced White Female. In this humorous women’s fiction, sassy and unsaved Cheryl Chandler knows only one thing will save her from her husband’s desertion: a man—any man so long as he’s hot. Somehow she has to find him. Eventually, he has to meet her kids. The first problem is solved by her children who sign her up on an online dating site. The second problem? She’s stuck.

DWF is available wherever ebooks are sold. The print copy can be found on Amazon.

Let’s talk about this. What events or situations have brought the livingbygracepic.jptruth of eternity and God’s sovereignty home for you? Have you ever struggled with this, and if so, why? How has God helped you in your struggle? What do you find most difficult to accept regarding this truth? What do you find most comforting? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook. 

For those of you following our Call to Praise Blog Hop, make sure to join me Saturday on Ginger Solomon’s as I wrap this series up.

For my writer friends who periodically struggle with fear, join me on the Write Conversation as I talk about Finding Freedom From Fear.

For my local friends, make sure to mark your calendars for two Pamperingupcoming events:

Saturday morning, April 18th from 10-11:30, join me at Reality Church in LaVista for some intense pampering, including free mani-pecs and (also free!) childcare! Sign up here!

Afterward, join me at Barnes and Noble from 2-5ish pm where I’ll be talking about my latest release and signing copies. Find more information here, and use the “invite a friend” link to invite your friends. Let me know if you plan on coming, and maybe we can chat over coffee after.

Oh, I almost forgot! I can now officially share the cover of my next book, releasing in winter of 2016! I’m really excited about this one, because there’s an amazing miracle-God’s-sovereign story that follows. I can’t wait to share.

Intertwined_N154121Intertwined:

Abandoned by her husband, an organ procurement coordinator fighting to keep her job and her sanity encounters an old flame facing an unthinkable tragedy.

For Tammy Kuhn, being an organ procurement coordinator is more than a job. It’s a ministry. But when her husband of sixteen years leaves her for another woman, struggles with childcare, her absentee ex-husband, and an altercation with a doctor threaten her job. Embittered and overwhelmed, she fights to maintain her sanity when a late night encounter with an old flame stirs emotions long since buried but the ICU is no place for romance.

You can pre-order it here, or, shop locally and help our bookstores survive and thrive and order the book through Divine Truth Christian Bookstore, and tell them you want it signed. I’d be more than happy to pop in and oblige!

Following God-given Dreams

Booksigning 11You sense God calling you, nudging you to surrender fully to His call, but you’re not sure where that will lead. To make matters worse, doubts, fears, and insecurities well within, making it hard to zero in on that still, small voice that speaks courage and peace and confidence. This journey of obedience, of full surrender, is never easy and rarely quick, but today, a sweet friend, multi-published author Shannon Taylor Vannatter, shows us it’s worth it–worth every tear, every hurdle.

As an added bonus, she’s giving away a copy of Rodeo Song to one of you, randomly selected from the comments below. (She’s also donated three of her books to three different charity fundraising events, including Takin’ it to the Streets’ first annual Hope for the Homeless event. You can see her donations here.)

I also want to congratulate the winner of last week’s give-away. Mary C. Wilson, congrats! You won a copy of Connie Almony’s novel, At the Edge of a Dark Forest! I’ll contact you soon to arrange how best to get that to you.

Living My Dream by Shannon Taylor Vannetter

At times since I first started this writing thing back in 1999, the publication journey has been a roller coaster. From the time a Print On Demand publisher published my book without my knowledge to when my traditional publisher decided to close my line, I’ve been on the verge of pulling my hair out, and have lain in the floor crying. But despite my rollercoaster ride through the publishing landscape, I’m still writing and I’m thankful I’m a writer.

On a spiritual level:

1. I get to fulfill my calling. From the time I became a Christian at fifteen years old, I felt like there was something I was supposed to do. With writing, I get to fulfill my purpose by doing something I thoroughly enjoy.

2. I get to share Jesus with nonbelievers. A non-believer is more likely to read the romance novel their friend loans them than the Bible. I recently got a letter from a Muslim man in prison telling me how much he enjoyed one of my books. He still sounded Muslim from his letter, but maybe my book planted seeds.

3. I get the opportunity to draw Christians closer to Jesus. Some of my characters are Christians, some of them aren’t. Most of them make mistakes—just like real people. I use my characters blunders to draw them closer into fellowship with God. Maybe a reader will identify with my character’s journey and take steps to draw closer to Jesus as a result.

4. I get to preach. I’m not saying I want to be a preacher, but the overall theme of all of my books is this: Love doesn’t make the world go around—God does. My characters learn that love is only lasting if God is in the center of their hand-in-marriage-1422245-m (1)relationship. So many young people in the world need that message. It gives me great joy to know that mothers and grandmothers often let their daughters and granddaughters read Heartsongs because they trust the books are clean with a spiritual message.

5. I get to connect with Christians all over the world. It makes my day when readers contact me to say my story touched their hearts. Tangible proof that I’m doing what God called me to do and that I got the message across that He wanted me to share.

On a personal level:

1. I get to work from home and my schedule is flexible. I can take time off when my son is home from school sick. I get to attend all of his school parties and events and work my writing schedule around my family. During the school year, I write while he’s at school. I work my deadlines around summer vacation, so that during the summer, I’m mom. If I need to get some writing done in the summer, I do it when he’s not home, he has a friend over, or after everyone else goes to bed. If I write until 2:00 am, I don’t have to get up early for a regular job the next day.

Writing requires a schedule, but it’s flexible enough, I can be mom when I need to be and I don’t have to worry about babysitters. Yes, he’s twelve now. And my mom left me home alone when I was twelve. But he’s a boy. Boy’s are a different species – they like snakes, fires, and guns. Enough said.

2. I can take the day off for church functions. Since my husband is a pastor, member visits, hospital visits, and funerals are a large part of our lives. If I had a regular job, he’d have to go it alone and I wouldn’t be able to be as involved with our congregation as I am.

3. My son is proud of me. He tells everyone, “My mom is an author.” He thinks it’s cool that none of his friends can say that and that I’ve taught fiction writing classes and spoke at career days at his school.

4. Through the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, I’ve made friends all over the globe. I have lots of

Shannon and me (Jennifer) at the ACFW conference in 2009

Shannon and me (Jennifer) at the ACFW conference in 2009

friends, but writing friends get me like no one else does. Not even my family. And since writing can be such a solitary pursuit, friends who get you are a God send.

5. Having a job that requires daydreaming. All of my life, I’ve tried to listen and pay attention, but my mind would wander. With writing–having a wandering mind is encouraged, an active imagination is required, and daydreaming is allowed. I hear voices and have imaginary friends, but everyone thinks it’s okay and normal since I’m a writer.

And that just scratches the surface. I won’t even get into how I write in my jammies most of the time.

Rodeo SongRodeo Song:

JENNA WENTWORTH FOUND THE MAN OF HER DREAMS 

But when silken-voiced Garrett Steele set out for stardom, he left Jenna—and his cowboy past—far behind. A chance encounter at one of his concerts propels him back into Jenna’s life. But, once burned by love, Jenna must guard her heart against the captivating singer.

Once upon a time, Garrett vowed he’d be a success, no matter what. But that path shattered his soul. His reunion with Jenna makes him long for things he once took for granted. Now he must show her that he’s found what he was looking for all along…right here in his hometown.

Purchase Links:

Mardel            Deeper Shopping            Amazon            Christian Book          Harlequin

Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife/award-winning author. She lives in rural central Arkansas in a town with a population of around 100, if you count a few cows. Shannon writes inspirational contemporary romance and it took her nine years to get published in the traditional market.

Shannon hopes to entertain Christian women and plant seeds in the non-believer’s heart as her characters struggle with real-life issues. Their journeys, from ordinary lives to extraordinary romance through Christ-centered relationships, demonstrate that love doesn’t conquer all—Jesus does. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her family and doing craft projects.

You can visit her online at her website http://shannonvannatter.com and blog: http://shannonvannatter.com/blog

You can connect with her on Facebook,  GoodreadsPinterest and Twitter.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! I believe we all have a calling. For some, that may mean saving money and paying off debt to spend quality time with their grandchildren during retirement. For others it may mean launching or serving in a ministry, writing a novel, or honing a talent to be used for God’s glory. Or perhaps God’s calling you to step out in faith and courage to invite neighbors to a women’s event at your church.

All of those callings can feel frightening, but as Shannon reminds us in today’s post, the rewards of obedience are endless!

What is God calling you to do, and what steps are you taking to obey? You can share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

And don’t forget to stop by Faith-filled Friends to read about the making of my novel, Beyond I Do, which is now available on Amazon for pre-order at a discounted price. I also encourage you to stop by Takin’ it to the Streets to read about one of my less-than glamorous yet more memorable moments.