Friday, December 16, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Some of you may remember this picture from Christmas 2010. One year ago on Christmas morning, my husband snapped this photo of me with my 89-year-old mother. Just over six months later, on July 2, 2011, we all gathered together to celebrate her 90th birthday. Then, on August 3, just one month and one day later, Mom "graduated to heaven," where she is now spending Christmas with the One whose birth we now celebrate.
Wow. What a difference a year makes! Or even a month or a week or a day. We aren't promised any time beyond this moment, at least so far as our temporal life here on earth, but we are promised eternity with Christ if we receive Him as our Savior and turn our lives over to Him.
Mom did that when she was fifty years old, and she lived the last forty of her years as a child of God. That's why, as Christmas 2011 closes in on us, we can rejoice for her even though our celebration is tinged with the sadness of missing her. We know where Mom is at this very moment, and one day soon we will join her there. What a great and precious promise!
If you haven't already settled that "forever issue" in your own heart, don't let another minute go by without doing so. None of us knows where we will be this time next year, but if we know the One who holds the future in His nail-scarred hands, we can rest in His eternal security. Just ask Him to forgive you, to be your Lord and Savior, to keep you close to His heart for all eternity--and He will faithfully do so. And then, if there's someone you need to visit or call or just makes things right with, do it now...while you still can. Trust me; you'll be glad you did.
Merry Christmas, beloved ones, and a joyous New Year to all of you!
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage (Psalm 84:5, NKJV).
Having just celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday, the word “pilgrim” is still fresh in my mind. I also can’t hear the word without thinking of John Wayne and his unique way of addressing others by the term “pilgrim.” But it’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come” (yes, that’s the full title!) by John Bunyan (published in 1678) that really captures the meaning of the word “pilgrimage” in Psalm 84.
The primary character in this never-out-of-print allegory is Christian, whose earthly journey is followed from his hometown of “City of Destruction” (this world) to “Celestial City” (that which is to come). Along the way Christian encounters nearly every temptation imaginable, is sidetracked, discouraged, and exhausted. But Christian also meets a friend on his journey—Faithful—who encourages him to keep going.
We can learn a lot from Christian and Faithful, the most important being that if we think we can survive our journey in our own strength, we will certainly meet with destruction. But Psalm 84 assures us that if we understand that God Himself is our strength and if we have set our hearts on allowing Him to carry us to the end of our pilgrimage from this temporal world to the eternal one, we are blessed indeed.
As we come together to celebrate our Lord’s birth and to look forward to all that God has purposed for us in the year to come, may we set our hearts afresh on pilgrimage and rejoice in the knowledge that God will surely bring us through.
Monday, December 12, 2011
Christmas greetings to you all!
I just realized I haven’t sent out a mass update since July 22, two weeks before my 90-year-old mother “graduated to heaven.” She’s spending this Christmas rejoicing in the presence of her Savior, reunited with my dad and so many other loved ones who went before her. We’re glad for her, of course, but it makes for a very different Christmas for our family, as she was the last of our parents and our children’s grandparents, so we will certainly miss her presence here with us.
As for publishing news, I released three more books this year, all novels—People of the Book in April, and Deliver Me From Evil and A Christmas Journey Home in September. Of course I’m now working fast and furiously on the next ones!
Al is still working in aerospace during the week, playing golf on the weekends—and enjoying his new 2005 sunburst orange Corvette, which he got when he finally traded in the Harley. So I’m still “Easy Writer” but now in a bit more comfort.
The kids and grandkids are all doing well, and our family continues to grow as we just got the announcement that our grandson Mikey (actively serving in the Navy and newly married) and his wife, Brittney, are expecting their first child (though not for about eight months yet). I can’t believe we’re talking about being great grandparents—again! Wow, are we getting old or what???
But we’re not so old that we can’t jump on a plane and fly to Hawaii for Christmas—which is exactly what Al and I are doing on Sunday, December 18. We’ll return on January 1 and dive right into the New Year then; meanwhile, MELE KELIKIMAKA to you all!
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
“If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way.
First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift”
(Matthew 5:23-24, NKJV).
Regrets. We all have them, don’t we? But one thing I’ve learned as we come closer to the end of our earthly life: ultimately it isn’t what we didn’t do for ourselves that we regret so much as what we didn’t do for others. I have absolutely no regrets over any kindness I’ve offered, any selfless deed I’ve performed, or any gift I’ve given. If I regret anything it’s those times I could have given but chose not to; times I served myself rather than others; times I spoke an unkind word rather than a healing one.
Billy Graham, in Nearing Home, writes, “Don’t come to the end of your life and look back with regret over a hurt that could have been forgiven or a relationship that could have been healed—if you had only seized the initiative and taken the first step.” Now is the time—right now, today, even this very moment—to seize the initiative and take that first step toward reconciling a broken relationship or encouraging someone in need or giving of yourself. How easy to put it off and tell ourselves we’ll do it “later,” but we aren’t promised later. This may be our only chance.
If we love God and regularly offer up praise and worship, prayers and thanksgiving to Him, then we need to heed the admonition in Matthew 5 to FIRST go to that one we’ve offended (or who has offended us) or from whom we are estranged for whatever reason—and do whatever we can to make it right. That person may or may not accept our efforts, but we will have gone a long way in ensuring we don’t reach the end of our earthly journey with a cartload of regrets following along behind us.
Friday, December 2, 2011
I love my church...and I imagine you do too. But have you noticed how easy it is for us to get trapped inside its four walls where everything is comfortable and familiar? God is calling us to "take it to the streets," to "go into all the world and preach the gospel." This excellent new resource from New Hope Publishers, Beyond My Church by Jason C. Dukes, will help propel you out those doors into effective, powerful ministry.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Thinking beyond your church matters because the unity of the church is imperative in order for the work of God to happen in our city and in our world. And not just unity in the one local church family that you call your
own. When all followers of Jesus actually love one another like Jesus loved us— living according to His ways rather than our own—then the world will see and, in turn, believe that Jesus was actually sent as the Son of God. This is the unity Jesus prayed for. It should be lived out among His followers and can only be present when
God is the force holding us all together.
In this new release by pastor Jason Dukes, you will explore this unity and discover how it can become part of the DNA of your local church expression.
For more info about the author or to order the book go to www.jasoncdukes.com
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him”
(1 Corinthians 2:9, NKJV)
I still can’t believe that Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas is nearly here—again! I used to scratch my head and look askance at my parents (and other “old people”) when I heard them say things like “time sure flies” and “the days are zipping by way too fast.” But the older I get and the more days zip by, the more I understand.
One thing I’ve always enjoyed doing during this season between Thanksgiving and Christmas is to make a personal list of things I’m thankful for, adding at least one thing each day when I have my prayer and Bible study time. But always before, I’ve focused on being grateful for things in the past or even the present. This year I’m trying something new. I already know the many wonderful blessings God has given me over the years/decades, but what about those I anticipate in the future?
Without Jesus, cynical people say things, “Life stinks…and then you die.” What a sad viewpoint! Of course, without Christ the statement is true. I once heard someone say, “For unbelievers, whatever happens to them on earth is the best they’ll ever have. For those of us who know Jesus as Lord and Savior, whatever happens here is the worst we’ll ever have.” Translation? We have more to look forward to, more blessings to be thankful for in the future, than we could ever begin to list from the past or present. In fact, the Bible says the blessings that God has for us are so great and immeasurable that we can’t even begin to comprehend or imagine them.
But even if we don’t make a dent in that infinite list of blessings, why not join me in making one anyway? We can start today, jotting down as many of the promised blessings we can think of as we look forward to that day when we will finally see our beloved Savior face-to-face. Being in His presence will no doubt be at the top of our anticipated blessings list, but there are many other things too—no more sickness or death; no more tears or sorrow; no more sin or evil; hanging out with our “forever family,” not to mention legions of angels…the list is endless. So rejoice, beloved, for truly the best is yet to be!
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I am so pleased to have my longtime friend (and first-ever fiction mentor) here on my Easy Writer blog today. A Log Cabin Christmas is already a NY Times bestseller, so here's your chance to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy. Take it away, Margaret!
“When God said let there be peas on earth I don’t think he meant us to eat them.”
George, age 6 in Snow Angel/A Log Cabin Christmas
My husband and I spent our honeymoon in a rustic log cabin in Yosemite. It would have been the perfect honeymoon getaway had it not been for that mouse.
Standing on a chest of drawers screaming wasn't exactly how I pictured my wedding night. It was even worse the next morning when we had breakfast at the lodge with everyone staring at us.
That was the first and last time I’d stepped foot in a log cabin, so before I could write my story for A Log Cabin Christmas I had to do some research. That’s the fun part of writing but so is sharing fun facts with readers.
THINGS YOU PROBABLY DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT LOG CABINS
· Abe Lincoln was born in one. Okay, so maybe you already knew that, but did you also know that the first president born in a log cabin was Andrew Jackson?
· Pound for pound wood is stronger than steel which makes Log Cabins virtually indestructible (except by woodpeckers and carpenter bees). They can stand up to earthquakes and are pretty much fire-resistant. A log home was the only beachfront home in the Carolinas to remain standing during Hurricane Hugo.
· Log cabins were not an American invention. The Swedish bought the idea to American in the 1600s.
· Providing there were trees, a log cabin could be built in days, needed no nails and was rainproof, sturdy and cheap to build. The only tool needed to build one was an ax.
· Log cabin designs were influenced by the Homestead Act of 1862 which required homes to be at least ten by twelve and have one glass window.
· Foundations were built eighteen inches high because it was believed that termites couldn’t climb that high. (I know for a fact that eighteen inches will not keep out mice!)
· A log cabin helped win a presidential election. William Harrison made a big deal over his “humble beginnings” and used the log cabin logo (along with hard cider) to show he was a “people’s man.” Ironically, the man was born in a wood frame house.
· Log Cabin syrup was introduced in 1887 by Patrick J. Towle, a Minnesota grocer. The name was chosen to honor Towle’s hero Abraham Lincoln.
Now that you know a little bit more about log cabins, here’s a short preview of my story:
The moment schoolteacher Maddie Parker walked into the tumble-down log cabin schoolhouse, she knew coming to Maverick, Texas was a mistake. Now she’s stuck at school with three of her rowdiest pupils during a blizzard and in terrible danger of becoming unglued.
Sheriff Brad Donovan is fit to be tied. What kind of teacher would keep her pupils after school in such weather? Now it’s up to him to rescue them—no easy task. For now he’s stuck at the schoolhouse with no means of escape. But while the storm rages outside, hearts are thawing inside.
Brad and Maddie have personal reasons for fighting their attraction to each other, but as the days drag on it becomes increasingly hard to do. Was it fate or bad luck that brought that together? Or could this have been God’s plan all along?
P.S. If have an adversity to mice don’t worry. The only furry creature in my story is a bear!
Now that I shared my log cabin story, how about sharing yours? You might even win a copy of the book!
Margaret is the bestselling author of more than twenty-five books. Her next book Dawn Comes Early will be released March 2012. It’s the first book in her exciting new Brides of Last Chance Ranch series.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Looking for a great Christmas gift for children? Here's a book I highly recommend:
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Do you have family members, friends, or co-workers who drive you crazy? Bottke offers six steps to help you restore your SANITY. Discover how to Stop your negative behavior, Assemble a support group, Nip excuses in the bud, Implement rules and boundaries, Trust your instincts, and Yield everything to God.
For more info on Allison and her many excellent books and appearances, hop on over to www.allisonbottke.com
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you:
In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6).
I spent the last few days going through the last of my mom’s clothes and personal belongings, sorting and searching and bagging up the vast majority of it to donate to the Salvation Army. (To be honest, there wasn’t much left, as she’d already given away most of it while she was still here with us.) I set everything out on the front porch, called for a pick-up, and as of yesterday morning, it was gone.
Strange feeling, isn’t it? We know we’re only here for a short time and that eternal life lies beyond, far better than anything we can experience in this temporal setting. But the old saying, “You can’t take it with you,” takes on a new depth of reality when we look upon the material goods a loved one has left behind after “graduating to heaven.”
Knowing that nothing we amass here on earth—whether billions of dollars or just enough to eke out a meager existence—will accompany us on that final journey through the valley of the shadow of death should give us pause, as we consider those things that have eternal value. Peter nailed it when he said to the crippled man, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
It is those things we do in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth that will follow us to heaven. The time we told others about the Father’s great love, so great that He would send His only Son to die for us; the times we cried and prayed for lost loved ones and even nations lost in darkness; the gifts we gave out of our own needs rather than our abundance. The One whose name we do it in—Jesus Christ of Nazareth—sees it all, though at times it may seem that no one sees or cares.
Silver and gold will be left behind when we breathe our last, but our legacy of all we did in the name of Jesus will continue throughout eternity. And it is the one thing that will remain when our deeds are judged and we receive the crown of heaven—which we will promptly and joyously lay at the Savior’s feet.
May we daily give whatever we can in the matchless name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth!
Monday, November 14, 2011
Here at last! A dynamic book that will help you overcome negative feelings about yourself and put you on the road to success in every area of your life. Using sound biblical principles, nationally known author, life coach, and businesswoman Dr. MaryAnn Diorio deals with such life-changing topics as overcoming worry and fear, taking charge of your life, learning to accept yourself, and finding your purpose in life. YOU WERE MADE FOR GREATNESS! offers practical advice which, if applied, guarantees success and will help you become all that God created you to be.To order a copy for yourself (and one for someone else who would benefit from knowing his/her potential) go to http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/93001
Friday, November 11, 2011
Yesterday was Veterans Day, and no one honors veterans more with her writing than my dear friend and accomplished author Tricia Goyer. Please read her story below...and then buy the book. You won't be sorry!
My Procrastination Heart Break Story
By Tricia Goyer
If you could see my desk you would chuckle. Okay, maybe not. Perhaps you would have pity on me, volunteer your time and set to work on my massive to-do list. (Any takers, huh, huh?)
Seriously, I have stacks of bills to pay, letters to answer, books to mail out, a checkbook to balance, and a toddler to chase after. That's not including the research books for my work-in-progress, making time for the teen girls I mentor, and reading through my next manuscript galley for final edits.
Usually, I can keep the balls up in the air. The bills are rarely late. The checkbook evidentially gets balanced. The toddler gets fed and bathed (most days).
And somehow, with God's grace, my writing assignments are turned in on time. But it's the things like mailing books out that end up taking longer than they should.
This is NOT a good thing. Not only do I want my readers to like me, but sometimes they might not live long enough to seen the autographed front cover. Let me explain . . .
When I received the first copies of Night Song (http://www.triciagoyer.com/historicalfiction.html#NightSong) in the mail a few years ago, the first thing I did was set aside a few copies. One thing I do is send free books to everyone who helped on the project—especially to the veterans I interview.
Well, one of the men I interviewed was a medic. He gave me some great information for my character, Nick. (Would you believe I had to go look his name up! I have too many hunky heroes in my head!)
Anyway, I emailed Earl to let him know the book would be in the mail. He said he was down with a broken hip, but he was looking forward to getting the book. A few days passed (I was under deadline for another project). Then a week. Then two. Finally, I got the book in the mail. THAT VERY SAME DAY I got a note from Earl's son telling me he'd passed away. I felt HORRIBLE! I mean, I was literally sick to my stomach. Earl had helped me so much. He had been SO excited to have an autographed copy from me. And I couldn't get my act together enough to mail a silly book.
I sent a sympathy card to Earl's family and a letter. I apologized to them for not sending the book sooner. A week later I received an email from his daughter.
"Oh honey," she said. "Don't worry about not sending the book. My dad got tired of waiting and had me buy a copy for him. He read it right before he passed away and loved it. He was so excited. He showed everyone."
Thank you, GOD!
I was SO thankful. Even though I didn't have my act together, Someone did!
As an added bonus, through the communication with Earl's kids I discovered he never shared much about his experiences during WWII. (This is common with many veterans.)
After his death, I was able to forward the emails and stories he'd sent me, and because of that they were able to discover part of their father's past they'd never known.
Isn't God good? In spite of my procrastination.
Tricia Goyer is a homeschooling mom of four and an acclaimed and prolific writer, publishing hundreds of articles in national magazines. She has also written books on marriage and parenting and contributed notes to the Women of Faith Study Bible. Tricia's written numerous novels inspired by World War II veterans, including her new release Remembering You. Tricia lives with her husband and four children in Arkansas. You can find out more information about Tricia at www.triciagoyer.com.
Video with Tricia talking about her newest novel about WWII veterans:
Tricia's Story in Guideposts about interviewing veterans from the 11th Armored Division: http://www.guideposts.org/inspirational-stories/war-heroes-provide-answer-authors-prayer
More information about Tricia's novel, Remembering You:
Thursday, November 10, 2011
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 KJV).
As followers of Christ and believers of His promises we often fail to focus on JESUS and focus instead on our present circumstances. We want to walk in faith but this can become a long and narrow path that makes us feel blind, vulnerable and lost. However, all that is required of us to have FAITH!
I recently lost my home when the Bank took it over and sold it at an auction. I had three days to move out and dear friends of mine in Ramona offered me their home for a temporary stay. God gave me PEACE (which is the spirit of JESUS) and I have been living one day at a time. I have learned not to focus on my present circumstances and focus instead on JESUS. This has been a period of greater intimacy with Him! I don’t know all the details but after the Bank sold my home it took it back from the buyer, reduced the amount of my mortgage, modified my loan and is now telling me to move back. I remembered giving my appliances and most furniture away, instead of selling them, because even in the midst of my poverty I wanted to bless others but I never imagined how great was going to be my blessing. I earned $100.00 last month but I blessed a missionary from South Africa and another one from Australia with it and the LORD abundantly multiplied that seed.
We don’t need to know how the LORD is going to move in our lives, we simply need to follow Him, keep the FAITH and die to self! Life is never about us, it is always about Him. The important thing is not to find a purpose for our life; it is to find His purpose for our life as we serve in His Kingdom. May He be increased as we are decreased!
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3 KJV).
Monday, November 7, 2011
To order click on the link below:
Thursday, November 3, 2011
One of my own personal heroes". What a wonderful book! And one that SOOO needed to be published. Thanks, Dave, for stepping out in faith and doing this. May it bless many with its story of faith and courage.
If any of you are looking for a book to encourage you, regardless of your situation or circumstances (or for someone else facing an uphill climb in life), this is the book for you! Here's the link to purchase it:
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
He lays up the deep in storehouses (Psalm 33:6-7, NKJV).
I’ve been meditating a lot lately on the absolute awesomeness of God, and the verses above capture that so clearly, don’t they? We serve a God who spoke the heavens into existence, breathed the stars into the skies, gathers the waters into their assigned boundaries, and locks the depths of the oceans into reservoirs. No matter how you look at it, that’s impressive!
Knowing this, what is our response to be? According to verse 8 of Psalm 33, all the inhabitants of the earth are to “fear the Lord” and “stand in awe of Him.” But is that what usually happens? Sometimes. More often than not, however, the “inhabitants of the earth” pay little if any attention to this awesome God and, instead, worship His creation.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the oceans and the mountains, the trees and flowers, the birds and fish and animals. But they are all creations, masterfully crafted by the One who also breathed life into the dust of the earth and formed man. Is it any wonder He holds our lives in His hands? Shouldn’t the very thought make us tremble, even as we rejoice that He is merciful and loving?
As we move into a season of Thanksgiving and then celebration of Christ’s coming to earth as a Babe in a manger, may we appreciate all of God’s creations—but may we worship only Him. May we, as the psalmist declared, “fear the Lord” and “stand in awe of Him” (Psalm 33:8, NKJV). There is nothing that can put our own lives in perspective quicker or clearer than recognizing the awesomeness of God.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Blurb for Abundant Rain
Writers are a peculiar breed. We are insecure and often struggle with discouragement. Abundant Rain is meant to be a buoy in that tossing sea. These short pieces will lift you up and keep you afloat and, most important, keep you connected to the source of all our inspiration, The One who has set us on this journey as writers of faith.
What readers are saying -
Marcia Laycock is one of the best devotion writers I've read. Each devotion is fresh, on target, and leaves me changed. As a writer, I've been encouraged and inspired by her writing. I have indeed been blessed richly by Abundant Rain. Thank you, Marcia, for writing a devotion book for us. :) Review by Ane Mulligan, editor, Novel Rocket.com
Abundant Rain, a devotional directed toward writers, is a well-written encouragement to all, including writers. The principles traverse occupational boundaries but certainly do speak to the writer in us. I found myself re-reading a few to more fully understand the profound principle imbedded within. A great read for writers and for anyone looking for the reason they should be doing what they do. Review by Barbara Derksen - author of Vanished and nine other books
Abundant Rain by Marcia Laycock zinged straight into my heart. And it’s a keeper. Normally I don’t read devotional books, but I was delightfully surprised when I began to read Abundant Rain. This devotional book is now on my desktop to be opened each day. While Abundant Rain is geared to writers, it would also be an inspiration to any type of artist, but especially those who use words as their medium. There were moments where the author’s devotional thoughts were exactly what I needed to hear that very day. Her anecdotes were at times hilarious or tenderly poignant. In each case my soul was deeply touched. I highly recommend Abundant Rain to all aspiring writers, artists, or even to those who have already experienced success. This devotional will help keep the journey of your artistic soul as straight as an arrow. Review by Christine Lindsay, Author of Shadowed in Silk
Monday, October 31, 2011
This is an exquisitely lovely story, told with a depth of passion that will carry readers along on a tsunami of emotion, yet leave them deeply touched and satisfied at its conclusion.
I highly recommend Reclaiming Lily (and anything else by Patti Lacy). Find out more about the book and the author at www.pattilacy.com
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4, NKJV).
I was talking with a friend the other day and mentioned how much I enjoyed my job and how blessed I was to be able to use God’s gift of writing and communicating. She responded, “That’s what happens when passion and purpose collide.”
Wow. What a profound statement! I’ve been thinking about it ever since and realized it lines up perfectly with Psalm 37:4. When we take our delight, our joy, from spending time with and belonging to the Lord, He brings to fruition the very seeds of desire He has planted in our heart. As He wove us together in our mother’s womb, He gifted us for His purpose; those gifts become our passion as we grow and explore and venture out into various activities. But when we submit those passions to God’s purpose, explosive things happen. Fruit begins to blossom and bud and ripen to an extent we could never have achieved or even imagined in our own efforts.
Every individual born on this earth is stamped with the image of almighty God, and each is gifted with a passion and ability to fulfill God’s purpose for our existence. We can choose to ignore God and waste our gifts and passions on our own pleasure…or allow God to direct us in the way He wants us to go, the things He wants us to do, the people He wishes us to touch. That choice will determine not only our personal fulfillment here on earth, but also our ability to lay an offering at the feet of our Lord when we cross the threshold into heaven.
And it’s all about what happens when passion and purpose collide.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
I'm so excited to have fellow author and dear friend Donna Fletcher Crow as a guest blogger today. If you know her, you already love her--and her books! If not, let me introduce you. Take it away, Donna!
Those Valiant Victorians
I love history. Especially English history. All periods of it. But I have always had a special place in my heart for the Victorians. It’s easy to look back on just about any period of history as being a simpler time in which to live than our own. (I do love my rose-colored glasses!) At least it sometimes seems refreshing to think of dealing with different problems than our own and looking back on a period where morality and modesty and plain old goodness were popular concepts is, I fear, refreshingly different. It was even fashionable to overtly Christian!
The inestimable Wikipedia tells us that the Victorian Era comprised almost 64 years of “peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence.” The thing I find most endearing about the Victorians, however, was their energy and, in keeping with the aforementioned self-confidence, the belief that they could do anything and fix anything.
It wasn’t that their period was without problems. One need only point to urban poverty, child labour, conditions in mines, factories, prisons. . . Almost all a result of the practically overnight turn from being an agrarian culture to industrialization— certainly as major a turning point in human history, if not bigger, than our own technological revolution. Unprecedented economic and population growth, changes in farming, mining and manufacturing methods sent people flooding into the cities with all the accompanying social problems.
Problems for which many people blame the Victorians, but I rise to their defense and point out that, yes, these things did get out of hand, but as soon as the energetic, confident Victorians became aware of the problems, they set out to correct them, largely because they saw it as their Christian duty. Perhaps a supreme example would be Anthony Ashley-Cooper, the Earl Shaftesbury, that crusading Christian who worked unceasingly for improved conditions in mines and factories, to bring in child labour laws, to outlaw climbing boys and to promote model housing, as well as being president of the British and Foreign Bible Society.
This is the world of my Lord Danvers Mysteries. As a mystery writer, I have a special interest in crimes of the period and so in each book in the series my amateur sleuths Charles, Lord Danvers, and the lovely Lady Antonia, find themselves embroiled in two mysteries, one a true crime as well as one of my own devising which I have wrapped around the historical facts.
In A Most Inconvenient Death, the first in the series, Charles, Lord Danvers, still in mourning for his lost love, the delicately beautiful Lady Charlotte, hopes to find escape from his ghosts at the country estate of his oldest friend Sir John Boileau. The events surrounding the coming of age of Sir John’s son and heir have much of Norfolk astir— until the peace of an autumn evening is shattered by a brutal murder.
The police are quick to point to a quarrelsome farmer but Lord Danvers has his doubts. As the local magistrate, Sir John has an interest in the investigation. But is the real connection much closer to home? And does Danvers owe the greater loyalty to an old friend or to the truth?
Then Danvers is even more unsettled by the entrance of the alluring Lady Antonia Hoover.
The Stanfield Hall Murders were the sensation they are portrayed to be, the elaborate coming of age celebrations and the ensuing dramatic trial are all recorded history. Lady Antonia, Lord Danvers, his irrepressible man Hardy and their pioneering aeronautical adventures are my contribution.
Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 37 books, mostly novels dealing with British history.
The Lord Danvers Mysteries feature historical Victorian crimes within fictional stories. A MOST INCONVENIENT DEATH is set on a country estate in Norfolk, GRAVE MATTERS begins with the opening of the Crystal Palace in London before Charles and Antonia fly off to Scotland in his aerostat for their honeymoon. TO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN finds the couple in Canterbury where Antonia has complications enough battling with the dark secret she has kept from her husband even before she becomes embroiled in a grisly murder and an investigation that culminates with a chase scene over the roof of Canterbury Cathedral.
To see more about The Lord Danvers series and Donna’s other books as well as pictures from her garden and research trips go to: www.DonnaFletcherCrow.com.
Her blog is at: http://www.donnafletchercrow.com/articles.php
and you can follow her on Facebook at: http://ning.it/eLjgYp
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands (Psalm 19:1, NIV).
I’ve been traveling a lot lately—more than I care to, actually, though I’ve so enjoyed reconnecting with existing friends and making new ones. Still, it’s good to be home, isn’t it? But one thing I noticed, as I crisscrossed the United States several times in the last few months: Regardless of where I was, when I looked up into the sky, I knew God was there, sitting on His throne, sovereign and kind and faithful.
The psalmist wrote that the heavens “declare” God’s glory and the skies “proclaim” His handiwork. The very fact that stars have been hung in place, and the sun and moon continue to rise on schedule, reminds us of God’s unchanging love for us. Whether we are standing in our own backyard or looking up from a hotel terrace thousands of miles away, God is as close to us as our own heartbeat.
That gives me great comfort. At times, during my travels and the busy schedules they entail, I grow weary—more so the older I get. But God has promised that if I will cling tightly to Him, He will use me to honor His name and to bless others, even in my old age and regardless of where I am or the circumstances that surround me.
The next time you find yourself thinking that perhaps you’ve outlived your usefulness or that you’re just too marred and flawed to be a worthy vessel in God’s hands, stop where you are and look up, and then remember the words of the psalmist: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” You see, it isn’t who we are but who He is that matters. Therefore, we can move forward with confidence into all that He has called and gifted us to do—right up until our very last breath on earth.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Thank God for those who are already living such sacrificial lives--and may the rest of us wake up to our true purpose as the Church and join with them while we still have breath and time. I strongly encourage you to get this book for yourself and one for someone else. The time is short, beloved, and we mustn't waste what we have left. Please do a cut-and-paste of the link below and check out this excellent book, will you?
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You maintain my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance (Psalm 16:5-6).
My mom passed away a couple of months ago, and I heard many glowing tributes to her at her memorial service. It seemed Mom touched many lives and left quite a legacy behind, though that legacy included nothing material because, when Mom died at 90, she no longer had anything material or monetary left to pass on to others. Her legacy was strictly that of fond memories, blessed relationships, and spiritual encouragement.
And that’s the point. As believers, we have the greatest heritage imaginable—God Himself! The psalmist says that the Lord is his inheritance, and He is ours as well. The psalmist also declares that his inheritance is a good one. Though some may inherit mansions or yachts or huge bank accounts when loved ones die, believers inherit the God of the Universe, the Savior of mankind, an unending life of joy and peace and light.
This is an inheritance that should not only cause us to rejoice but to do everything possible to impart that same inheritance to others. As Christians who desire to glorify God, this should be our main focus, our primary goal, each and every day, every moment that we walk this earth. We know the old saying that we can’t “take it [material things] with us” is true, but it is also true that the only treasures we can take with us to heaven and lay at the feet of Jesus are the lives we influence for God’s Kingdom.
The lines truly have fallen to us in pleasant places, dear fellow believers, for we have a good heritage—too good to keep to ourselves. Let’s resolve, while we still have breath within us, to pass it on to as many others as we can!
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul (Psalm 25:1).
How many times do we say or sing the words listed above: “To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul”? Simple words, and easy to say, but not so easy to do at times—at least not for me. And yet, if I did, I would surely find myself less often scratching my head and saying, “How did I get here?”
The key is in understanding the word “soul,” which in turn helps us understand how we “lift” our soul to the Lord. If we remember that our soul is made up of our mind (thoughts), emotions, and will, the picture becomes clear. To lift up our soul to the Lord means that we submit our thoughts and emotions to Him, and choose (submit our will) to live according to His Word rather than by our emotions or thoughts. Simple…but not always easy.
Here’s another thought that might help. The devil is often referred to as the “enemy of our soul.” Though he can’t undermine or defeat the spirit of a born-again child of God, he certainly can try to use our mind, will, and emotions to deceive and harm us. But if we remember to submit or “lift” our soul to God, seeking His direction and protection, the devil will fail in his attempts to derail us.
The devil is smarter than we are, but 1 John 4:4 says, “He who is in you [believers] is greater than he who is in the world.” God in us is greater than the devil in the world. That gives me great comfort and assurance—and the perfect incentive and reminder to continually lift my soul to the Lord.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NKJV).
The seasons are changing again, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. In some parts of the country, the change is drastic; in others, gradual. Where we live, in the Southern California desert, we’re thrilled that we’ve dropped 25 degrees from the triple digits that plagued us just last month.
A few days ago I was strolling with friends through the botanical gardens in St. Louis, and in the background I heard the loveliest harp music imaginable. I focused so I could make out the song, and it was “Autumn Leaves.” Autumn. The time when the song writer proclaims that he misses his beloved most of all.
I can relate, not so much because I’ve recently lost my mom or because my dad died in the fall twelve years ago, but because I truly miss my Beloved most of all this time of year. Though I walk closely to my Savior throughout all the seasons, there is something about falling leaves that tugs at my heart and makes me homesick for heaven. I suppose part of it is that I am yet another year older and that much closer to my eventual home-going. The thing that struck me most, however, as I enjoyed the splendid scenery at those botanical gardens, is that it wasn’t that long ago that fall reminded me that I was no longer young; I was middle-aged. Now that’s no longer true (unless I expect to live to be at least 125!). No, now fall reminds me that my own autumn season, my middle-aged years, are at an end and I will be soon living in winter—truly the final years of my life here on earth. And that, fellow pilgrims, is a joyous thought!
Seriously, if we actually believe what we say we believe, then each passing year, every falling leaf of autumn, brings us that much closer to being reunited, face-to-face, with our Beloved, in a place where we will never again have to deal with the nostalgic or even frightening reminders of changing seasons. We will instead dwell in everlasting Light, basking in the warmth of the Son, in an eternal season of pure joy. Until then, fellow travelers, rejoice with me as autumn leaves fall at your feet. Resurrection Spring is right around the corner!
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Check out Karen and her many excellent books at http://www.karenoconnor.com/