Friday, October 30, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
By Kirsten Strawn
Discouraged I sat at my computer. Slumped over my desk I asked God, What’s the point of all my writing? Am I wasting my time? I glanced down noticing a small piece of paper with a scripture on it. I had received the verse at Bible study during Easter when we received a plastic egg filled with goodies. Each egg contained a different scripture with a promise to claim as our own. Picking up the small piece of paper I re-read my promise from Joshua 1:9, “Have not I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged for I am with you wherever you go.” I sat back realizing that I was hearing a message from God. He was talking to me. Was I terrified? I thought about it for a moment. Yes, I was afraid of being judged. I was afraid of failure. Would I ever write a book? Would anyone read it? All I wanted was to make a difference. Surely I had not gone through my past suffering in vain. I straightened up in my chair. God was telling me not to be afraid, to trust Him with my writing, and to be obedient.
I marveled at how personal God is. Over the years I learned to hear from God by doing the following:
Seek Him with all of my heart
Pray for God to guide me to what He wants me to know.
Expect to hear from Him
Ask for specific direction
Know God will speak through His Word, prayer, godly people, and circumstances
This time His message sat among a stack of papers on my desk. With a sigh, I rested in the thought that the Creator of the universe gave me a love note to encourage me. Glancing at my blank screen I contemplated whether to begin my writing or succumb to the diversion of email. I clicked on My Yahoo Mail to see a message in my inbox. I recognized an email from a friend in Canada. I spoke at her women’s retreat when I lived there two years prior. I opened her note to read, “Good Morning my friend! You won't believe the conversation I just had. It was about you! A woman just called me about registration. She said that it was through the speaker that we had two years ago that she grew so much from that weekend. She said you were so transparent with your story, how you were "real" and the impact you had on her life. You showed her that by being "real" the effect she can have on other people’s lives. Praise God! I hope this encourages you today.”
Overwhelmed by the timing of this beautiful message of encouragement I knew God was clearly giving me direction. He wanted me to share my story of hope. God cares for me. He knows my fears, yet He will give me the strength and the courage to press on, to make a difference in people’s lives as I did at the woman's retreat.
A lump formed in my throat as tears moistened my eyes. I began to compose a reply to my sweet friend when I heard a strange flapping sound behind me near the open kitchen door. I looked over my shoulder in disbelief. A sparrow fluttered into my kitchen hovering for several seconds in midair before landing on the shutters. I remained still not wanting to scare the bird. I watched in amazement. Then to my surprise another sparrow entered through the door hovering near the window. Shocked, I wondered what made these two birds come into my house. Following my question, I became acutely aware of God’s presence. Just then a third bird, this time a red-crested finch, fluttered into my kitchen. Could this really be happening? Not one bird, not two, but three birds bringing a message from God that He is with me; symbolizing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He was allowing me to experience Him personally through His creation. I could hardly contain my gratitude as tears welled up again. I praised Him for His love as I stared in awe. I rejoiced in the message these birds delivered. I thought about the song, His Eye is On The Sparrow, and the scripture that says, "So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows," (Matthew 10:31).
Moved by God’s compassion for me I lifted my eyes to heaven thanking my Father for being personal, for loving me so intimately, and for His promises through the scriptures. From the family room at my desk I viewed the birds until it occurred to me that they might fly around the house. How would I get them out safely? I began to pray, “Father, please let these precious birds leave without getting hurt.” Then in the same way they came in, one by one the birds flew out the door unharmed. Sad to see them leave, I was left with the overwhelming presence of God. I felt His peace and comfort lift my spirits and renew my strength. I knew I could do anything with Him by my side, (Phil.4:13). Our Heavenly Father is a personal loving God who speaks to us through His Word, through His people, through prayer, and circumstances. Next time you experience fear or you feel discouraged know that Jesus is with you.
Through Kirsten’s obedience God has used her many stories to encourage her on-line readers at www.TheFaithCoach.com/.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Fellow authors and dear frinds Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson have "cooked up" a very popular fiction series about a group of women lovingly referred to as "The Potluck Club." A Taste of Fame is their most recent offering, and thanks to their gracious publisher (Revell) I recently had the opportunity to read this humorous and well written novel. I also received a copy of The Potluck Club Cookbook, which is full of fantastic recipes that I can't wait to try! Of course, if you haven't read their previous Potluck Club books, you need to start there. But wherever you are in this Potluck series--just starting or well into it and an established fan--don't miss this newest novel or its accompanying cookbook. In fact, they'd make terrific gifts for all your family and friends who also love to read and/or cook. So don't miss them!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Want to make a difference where you live/work/play? Really? Then you need to get a copy of Simple Compassion: Devotions to Make a Difference in Your Neighborhood and Your World by Keri Wyatt Kent. This lovely book is more than just a great personal devotional (though it is that!), but it is also a fantastic resource for helping us "put feet to our faith" wherever we go. If you're committed to being part of the solution instead of the problem, of changing the world one heart and life at a time, then this is the book for you! (Zondervan Publishers)
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Okay, if you're a mom, then somewhere along the line you've wished you could stay home with the kiddos and still contribute to the family income, right? Seriously, we've all dreamed about it to one extent or another.
Thankfully, authors Jill Hart and Diana Ennen have taken it beyond dreaming. Not only have they figured out how to be successful work-at-home moms, but they have graciously combined their knowledge and expertise into a practical, easy-to-read manual for other moms with the same desire.
Published by Beacon Hill Press and available wherever books are sold (including Amazon), this book is a great investment for your own library, as well as a perfect gift for other moms on your girlfriend list. So order a copy (or two or three) today, and watch those work-at-home dreams start to become a reality!
Saturday, October 10, 2009
To learn how to "crack the code," join Bill and Pam via a Focus on the Family recording at http://www.focusonlinecommunities.com/community/events/billandpamfarrel
Thursday, October 8, 2009
When Your Aging Parent Needs Care by Candy Arrington and Kim Atchley is by far one of the most balanced resources for this much-needed topic that I've come across yet--and believe me, I've read a lot of them!
As the primary caretaker for my 88-year-old mother who lives with us, I know personally the challenges faced by those who take on the care of an aging parent. It is no easy task, and anyone who thinks otherwise should not even consider doing it without first getting the necessary education to realistically know what to expect. To have the necessary resources compiled so expertly as they are in this book will be a literal godsend to anyone who is already in the midst of this very special season of life--or considering it.
Though it is a privilege to be called to care for one who once cared for us, it should not be done without prayerful consideration--and all the practical help available. This book from Harvest House Publishers is a must-have for such an undertaking!
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
For anyone who has ever been involved in any way in the heartache of abortion or infertility--or anyone who is a mom and/or just loves children--this book will set your lips to singing and your toes to tapping. Get a copy to bless yourself, and one for a friend. She'll thank you.