25 April, 2010

Steady On: Day #11

Day #11

I have two parents, a sister, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and a large group of friends surrounding me; they all love me so very much, but I often feel lonely. It’s just there and there are times I can’t even explain it.

When life’s storms hit us by surprise who will be there for us…Jesus is! I can count on him always being there for me even when it seems the odds are against me. Jesus will forever be my rock and I will never loose this fight and I will never be undefeated. Because it is the enemy who is the defeated one. Praise God, we will never be defeated!

Questions:
  1. When was the last time you felt really lonely? What caused you to feel lonely?
  2. How can focusing on God help you feel less lonely?
  3. Have you ever felt the confusion and turmoil of life’s storm in the devotional? Were you able to call for God in the storm, or did you feel so confused that you forgot?
  4. If you called for God in your last storm, how did he help?


Heavenly Father, Thank you that you come to my rescue when my life becomes a storm. The next time I face a storm, help me remember to call on you. Please give me the perspective I need to survive the storm and even to grow and learn from it. Bring me to the point of maturity that I can even thank you for the storms, knowing that learning to handle storms with grace can make me more like you. I pray this in Jesus’ Holy name -Amen.

24 April, 2010

Rosie the Reviewer {The Blind Side}

:::SPOILERS:::

5 *****

Synopsis: Michael Oher was just another kid from the projects with no hope and no future. Until God sent the Tuley family into his life, from then on, they not only teach him what a family is like…he teaches them what courage is.

Profanity: There is the occasional use of a*s and b***h, a small amount of profanity in the film.

Sexuality: A crude form of intercourse used by some of the people Michael new from the projects about his adopted sister and mother. It was portrayed in a bad light as it should have been.

Violence: At the beginning of the film you see Michael in the projects. A few scenes during a football game, one kid kicked Michael in the head (of course he has his helmet on). Another time when Michael’s projects acquaintances disrespectfully talk of Michael’s sister, he pummels them. There is also an automobile accident.


My Thoughts: I first saw ads for this film last year and I knew from the start I would like it. This is a wonderful inspirational movie. And shows the love and kindness of Christ through his followers, who dared to take a chance on an abandoned young man. The Blind Side is a true story, and one that will leave your life changed. There are many book to movies such as romances or other ‘inspirational’ book/movies, that still have a large amount of questionable things or who don’t give glory to God for helping them through and getting them to where they are. That’s not The Blind Side, it is a funny, life-changing, amazing movie. I highly recommend you see it!

(The real LeAnn Tuley and Michael Oher while he was playing for Ole Miss)

19 April, 2010

Steady On: Day #10

Day #10


I think the hardest thing of all for me and maybe even this connects with you as well, I have a hard time loving people. You know I have an easier time loving animals than humans, why, because animals don’t judge you, they don’t do anything malicious unless taught that way by malicious humans. Within the few minutes of meeting a new animal, I can hug them and easily say, “I love you.” That’s who I am.

But when I gave over my life to Christ, I gave up picking and choosing who I will and will not love. Because Christ commands us to love everyone, even you enemies….yikes, now that is a hard one. How hard is it to love our enemies? I mean really it easy to love our friends and family, but people who seek to do us harm, we must love them as well. We are to love like Christ loves and he loved all, even his own enemies who put mocked him before Pilot and the people who chanted “Crucify him…” he loved them so much he died on the cross for them. All Jesus asks from us is to love…

Questions:
  1. Who do you know most who demonstrates saving grace, What is it about that person that speaks God’s grace?
  2. What part of your life especially needs to feel God’s grace?
  3. Is there someone in your life whom you have chosen not to love? Will you begin to love that person today?
  4. Who do you know who is not a Christian who needs to head the message of God’s saving grace?

Heavenly Father of mercy, you are all that I need. How can I say thank you for the saving grace you have offered me through the death of your son. That you would pay such a price for my soul fills me with awe. Thank you. Help me to see others though eyes of grace. Soften my heart to those who are unloved and in need. Give me opportunities to be a vessel of your grace to others and help me not to miss or ignore the opportunities you send my way. I praise you and exalt your name, O God of grace. I pray this in Jesus’ Holy name –Amen.

16 April, 2010

Steady On: Day #9

Day #9


You don’t deserve forgiveness. Look at what you’ve done! Why do you still think God loves you? The people around you may not see what you’re doing, but God does and he will certainly NOT forgive that.
Have you ever felt those lies going through your head? Those lies are from your enemy, the devil, and he knows your guilt of your sin and he feeds on that. It is an unrelenting badgering that leaves you in self-doubt. I know I sin, every day I do something wrong and I just wonder why would God still love me a royal screw-up?! But what I have done doesn’t change how he feels about me; he’s not even surprised that I did it. He knows me better than I know myself. He knit me in my mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5).

All God wants is me to come as I am, not to change a thing. He knows I can’t change myself, that’s why I need my Father’s help. When I go to God and tell him everything, I feel –relief. Because I know, no matter what I do, God will forgive me. And when I know the truth, the lies will not affect me.


Questions:
  1. What was the last thing that made you feel guilty? Have you confessed that sin to God and found relief?
  2. If you could write to someone you didn’t know and tell them your darkest secret, knowing that this person will never tell anyone and you would never be embarrassed by seeing that person, what would you write?
  3. Do you have trouble believing that God could forgive you for your darkest sins? If so, why?
  4. How does the fact that God already knows everything about you make it easier for you to confess your sin to him?

Heavenly Father, I bring to you the secret sins that eat me up with guilt. I am afraid and unsure, but I’m taking a chance and I’m bringing them to you. Please forgive me for the wrong I’ve done. I’m so sorry for causing you such pain. Thank you so much for providing the perfect sacrifice of love and ask that you heal my soul. In Jesus’ Holy name I pray –Amen.

14 April, 2010

INTERVIEW WITH CATHY BRYANT

Cathy Bryant is an aspiring author of Christian fiction and is working on a novel of her own. She runs her blog wordvessel.blogspot.com as well as a group on Facebook “Christian Fiction”. If you wish to know more about her, follow her on Blogger and add her as a friend on Facebook.

Cathy Bryant, How did writing change your life? What inspired you to write your own novel?
Writing has impacted my life in ways I never expected, so I love this question! First of all, writing has given me an outlet to express my faith. Through writing I've also had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to do this at this stage in my life.

I've always enjoyed writing and tried (more times than I want to count) writing novels when I was younger, but life always seemed to get in the way. After a series of life-changing events, I believe that God kind of nudged me and said, "If you're going to do this, you'd better get started!"

Life is short, and none of us are guaranteed another breath or heartbeat. If there's something that God has given you the heart, desire, and ability to do, why wait?


What is the difference you wish to make in the Christian fiction market?
Great question! There are so many wonderful things about the Christian fiction market, but I'm also concerned about a disturbing trend I see to omit the message of Christ from many books. Without Christ, a novel really belongs in the ABA rather than the CBA, in my humble opinion.

Now, having said that, I'm not sure I have the power to make much of a difference in Christian fiction. My goal in writing is not to change the Christian fiction market, but to honor God. I hope by keeping that as my goal, I'll make a difference in people's lives.


The cardinal rule of writing, is write what you know. Do you find yourself following it or breaking it when you choose the plots for your work?
Definitely following! My Miller's Creek series is set in small-town Texas, and I've lived in small-town Texas my entire life. I know the good, the bad, and the down-right ugly of living in small towns! =) Also, the spiritual message of my books so far seem to follow lessons I've learned in my own journey, so I guess the rule would also apply in that way as well.


How were you inspired to start your writing career?
As I mentioned above there were a series of events that nudged me into writing, although I've enjoyed writing and wanted to write since I was a child. In the summer of 2007 I attended my first writer's conference and returned the following year. At that second conference I met and visited with an author who encouraged me to join ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). It was such a God moment--a divine appointment!

Within your personal life, who has helped you the most, someone who has been the most supportive in your dreams of writing?
Without a doubt, my sweet husband. I can't tell you the number of times I've gotten so frustrated and tired that I wanted to quit. When self-doubt and perfectionism creep in, he's right there with a hug and an encouraging word. I don't think I would be answering these questions today if it weren't for him.


To you, what is the most inspiring period and/or subject to write about? And why?
There are so many that I can't choose just one. I'd say that forgiveness, redemption, grace, love, and sacrifice are the greatest inspirational subjects to write about. Isn't it awesome that the greatest story of all time contains all of those?


What have you done before you found your calling to write?
I'm a Jill-of-all-trades and the master of none, lol! I've been a secretary/receptionist, waitress, teacher (in public schools and privately), church accompanist, and even had a summer job that lasted one whole day where I burned off baby turkey toes for a meat-packing plant. EEeeuuuwww! (I'll never get that stench outta my nose!)


How hard is it as an aspiring author to try and get your work published?
Getting published isn't difficult at all in today's world, if you're willing to go it on your own. What's difficult is writing a good book and convincing people to read it. A writer wears many hats: writer, editor, proofreader, salesperson, speaker, etc. (And if you go the route I did you can add webmaster, formatter, cover designer and more to the list!)

Can you tell me a little about your work, such as what you have written, what you would like to write, and why you want to?
My debut novel is Texas Roads, a contemporary Christian romance and 2009 ACFW Genesis finalist that tells the story of a disillusioned widow's search for home. Here's the book blurb:

Dani Davis longs for a place to call home. With quaint country charm, quirky residents, and loads of business potential, Miller's Creek, Texas seems like the perfect place to start over. . .except for the cowboy who gives her a ride into town. She secretly finances renovations to downtown, until malicious rumors force her to choose between keeping her identity a secret and the home for which she's always longed.
Cowboy mayor Steve Miller is determined to rescue his dying hometown. When vandals threaten the renovation, he can't help but suspect Dani, whose strange behavior has become fodder for local gossips. Can he and Dani call a truce for a higher cause, and in the process help Dani realize the true meaning of home?
I'm currently working on book two in the series (working title: A Path Too Narrow), and have a third book planned for the same setting. I also have a couple of great ideas for more serious stories that I would classify as women's fiction. And I'd love to be able to write a fantasy allegory someday.


As a future author, can you give other aspiring authors a word of advice to help encourage them?
First of all, pray, pray, pray about what God wants you to do with your writing. He's promised to give us wisdom and guidance if we'll allow Him to lead. The problems I've faced in my writing usually occur when I take off on my own tangent. *Sigh*...when will I ever learn?
Writing is a tough business. If you know that going in, you can overcome some of those tough days. Surround yourself with writing friends who understand what you're going through. They'll encourage you through rough times, and then it will be your turn to encourage them.
Make time to study the craft of writing. None of us ever arrive--there's always room for improvement. Treat writing like a college degree. Buy books and haul out the highlighters and sticky notes. Apply what you've learned to your writing.
Have a teachable spirit, but at the same time trust your inner instinct. I send my work out to several people during the writing process. When different people make the same suggestions, I know there are corrections I need to make. On the other hand, no one knows your story like you, so don't change everything to please others. Know when to say "Enough!" I also listen to the manner in which the criticism comes. If it's snarky and mean-spirited, I pay no attention to it.
I also encourage writers to read as much as possible. Reading improves your writing. And don't just stick to your genre. I write romance and women's fiction, but I also read suspense, speculative fiction and fantasy. Go back and read the classics--there's a reason these books have endured the test of time.






Sean MacKenzie: Is the author of five blogs (xanga (1 professional, 1 personal use), blogspot, shoutlife, ECFL) and is also a member of Facebook. She herself is writing a piece of fiction herself set in heart of Nazi Germany as well as many other pieces she hopes to publish one in particular is about the US Airborne. Don't forget to subscribe/follow her if you wish for further updates.

Steady On: Day #8

Day #8

The life we live is a daily journey. Some days are good others seem like anything and everything go wrong, been there, I know I have! Sometimes when everything goes wrong it’s my own fault. Like I have a one-tracked mind and the only thing I can see is MY goal and I never stop to think, “Is this what’s best for me?”

With each step I take towards that goal of mine, I take one step further away from God. In the end, I come closer to sin and away from the straight and narrow.

However, even though I am tired and have wandered far away from my Father, he still helps me find my way home, by his mercy and guidance. God wants to be in my life and wants me to want him as well. Thankfully God always welcomes me with outstretched arms, ready to take me back and forgive me of my sin.


Questions:
  1. What was the last spiritual high you experienced? What got you to that mountaintop?
  2. What was the last spiritual low you experienced? How did you end up in that valley?
  3. What one thing is constant no matter where we find ourselves in our life’s journey?
  4. What people in your life cheer you on? Who calls your name when you stray from God’s path?
  5. Are you currently involved in any activity that you would want the light of God shinned on? Are you doing anything you would not want the people you respect to know about? What steps can you take to get back on the narrow road?


Heavenly Father, Help me live in such a way that I need not fear the life of discovery. Guide my feet and help me stay on the narrow road. Forgive me for the times that I turn away from your loving light and pursue the dangers of the worldly pleasures. I praise you for the light of your Word and for your steadfast love. In Jesus’ Holy name I pray –Amen.

12 April, 2010

Steady On: Day #7

Day #7

Are you a parent? Do you love your child? How much do you love your child? I have had the blessing to be a mother (yes kitties do count) and I do love my babies unconditionally. I want them to be forever protected, never unhealthy, and constantly sheltered by myself. I want them to live a full and happy life. God created within me a nature to love animals, which is just one of my many distinct characteristics he designed me for.

Did you know that’s how God feels about you and me? He loves you unconditionally, wants you to stay healthy and protects you! I always believed God gave us children so he could show us how much he loves us. Because that natural instinct to protect your child from anything and everything that could harm them, it comes from God. Those are his instincts. That he created you, everything about you! You’re talents, your faults, your strengths, your weaknesses. Why? Because he loves you and me so very much!


Questions:
  1. What is your favorite thing that God is to you? Lord? Savior? Father? Friend? Why?
  2. What about you is unique? Why do you think God created you with those special characteristics? How can you use them for God?
  3. Do you ever have a difficulty believing God could love you? Why? How does thinking yourself as God’s child help you comprehend his love?
  4. What is unconditional love? Why is that kind of love better than conditional love?


Heavenly Father, It is so good I am able to call you that! You are the perfect Father. You have lavished me in love, directed me away from danger, and showered me with your blessings. You knew me before I even existed and you loved me even then. You have placed a spiritual ring on my finger and given me your name and the life of your Son. I will never understand why you feel such a devotion to any person, though I am filled with gratitude that you have made me yours. If someone should as ‘who I am’, I will tell them, ‘I am my Father’s child’. That will say it all. In Jesus’ Holy name I pray –Amen.

10 April, 2010

Steady On: Day #6

Day #6

Many times I feel less than, that I cannot compete with the people around me. That I need this or that to make me a better person. Yes, Christians feel this way all too often. The world lies to you saying you need these superficial things so that people like you.

I don’t know about you, but I often fall prey to those lies. Especially with the way I look, I have always been bigger than most young ladies and it makes me feel self-conscious. Though I am so glad that I don’t have worry about that with my Heavenly Father, he created me just the way I am, sure I can’t get into the smaller sizes, but he sees me as perfect and loves me unconditionally.

There are some times when we do feel like we have to meet other’s expectations, though with God, he loves you just as you are.


Questions:
  1. Have you ever experienced God’s love in your life?
  2. What makes you feel bad about yourself? How can you be aware of God’s love for you make you feel better?
  3. What do you worry or stress about? Have you ever asked God to replace your worries with peace and comfort? What has been the result?


Heavenly Father, Please help me to be aware that you really do love me more than anything. I praise you for being the kind of God who uses his power to work good and not harm in my life. Help me turn to you when I need assurance and affirmation. Forgive me when I allow other people’s standards to determine my self-worth. I pray this in Jesus’ Holy name –Amen.

09 April, 2010

Steady On: Day #5

Day #5

Today again is another devotional about decisions and the stress that comes along with it; and after yesterday, which was my baby’s birthday (my baby kitty Garfield) and the anniversary of when we met, I needed this devotional. Because serious decisions can truly stress you out almost to the point you think you are going insane. The decision to have my cat put to sleep had to be the hardest decision I have ever made. Though that morning before Garfield passed away, when I woke up I felt this overwhelming peace. I had no idea that day I would take Garfield to the vet, but I ended up doing so. I had my family around me as I was literally hysterical and the vet was oh so kind to me; giving me as much time alone with Garfield to say good-bye.

I am still second guessing my decision, even after two weeks have passed. But God is seeing me through this heart brake. Though putting my entire trust in God, helped me be able to make that decision, yes I still miss my baby boy terribly, I still expect him to be there at the foot of my bed when I wake up in the morning. It wasn’t about me or how I would feel, it was about Garfield. God smacked me with reality when he used my mentor to tell me that. When you have a difficult decision to make, pray, never forget to pray. Know that the Holy Spirit will fill you with a peace when you know what God’s will is for you in your life. Even if it wounds you.


Questions:
  1. What stresses you out the most? When was the last time you felt stressed?
  2. Where is your focus when you feel stressed? How can shifting your focus make a difference?
  3. Have you ever experienced the peace as described in this devotional? What were the circumstances? What did you learn from those experiences?
  4. How can God living in you help you to accomplish things that you could not accomplish on your own?

Heavenly Father…Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my problems that I loose all sense of your presence. Forgive me for taking my eyes off you and focusing on the things of the world. When you see me doing this, please pull me back into your presence. Do whatever it takes to get my attention! Thank you for the gift of peace that you so freely fill me, even when I am distracted and overwhelmed –especially when I am distracted and overwhelmed! I praise you for your peace of your presence. I pray this in Jesus’ Holy name…Amen.

08 April, 2010

THE NEXT INTERVIEW

With aspiring author....


Cathy Bryant!!!! I hope you are looking forward to the interview as much as I am!

07 April, 2010

Steady On: Day #4

Day #4

When you look at me, you probably think this gal has never had to worry about much, she’s a Christian so life must have came easy to her! You could not be more wrong! Some of you who know me personally know of my family’s financial hardships in the past. For the twenty years I’ve lived, we’ve always been hit hard financially. One time my dad was laid off for fifteen months and we ran out of unemployment money after six months. It was hard not to get bitter and angry that we were struggling so much while others were doing fine. I didn’t want people’s ‘charity’ or ‘pity’ I didn’t want them to feel sorry for me.

Throughout that time, of dad being laid off for fifteen months, my sister took sick and we had no idea what it was for a while. We clung to God, even though I had been a Christian a little less than a year, I grew so much during that time. I learned so much of how when you do cling to God, you learn more about him and he teaches you lessons that are absolutely life altering.


Questions:
  1. Is there anything sad about you that most people don’t know? Can you see God’s hand in this situation? Can you feel his comfort?
  2. Has anything happened to you that seems totally unfair, something that tempts you to become bitter? Will you dare trust God to work “everything together for good”? (Romans 8:28)
  3. what specific lessons have you learned from the pain you’ve faced so far in your life?
  4. After reading this devotional, has your idea of what’s truly important changed? How?


Heavenly Father…Thank you for walking with me through the pain of this life. But sometimes I hurt so badly that I can’t see anything good. Please ease my pain and open my eyes to see your plan for me. Help me not to blame you for the hard times, but to blame the true source – Satan. Help me be brave while I endure. I praise you for bringing me through past difficulties, and I praise you in advance for bringing me through future pain. In Jesus’ Holy name I pray…Amen.

06 April, 2010

Steady On: Day #3

Day #3

Since the beginning of this year I have been in such situations where I had to make very difficult decisions. The latest decision I had to make had to do with someone I love very dearly. You see my cat Garfield, whom to me is my son, developed squamis cell carcinoma cancerous tumors on him. For a while, I know I was in denial, I didn’t want to know that my son and best friend was dying. But when I had to make that decision, I prayed for guidance for God to show me what I needed to do. The morning Garfield passed, I felt this peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding. I knew the decision I had to make, although the hardest, was the best for him.

Making decisions is hard in life and as you mature, I’ll be honest it doesn’t get any easier. You never know the challenges that you will face in life. The way I have found that helps me through those hard times, is God’s guidance and direction, how he blesses me with discernment at the right times.

Questions:
  1. How has God intervened in your life to give you just the help you needed when you need it most?
  2. Who has God worked through to bless you?
  3. Who has God blessed through you?
  4. What is the difference between fate and providence? What do you believe is working in your life?

Heavenly Father…help me to be open to your Spirit so that you can bless others through me. Open my eyes to see your work around me, and help me to submit to your work in me. Forgive me for the times that I subconsciously attribute your work to fate. I praise you for caring enough about each and every one of us that you reach down from heaven to move in our lives. 

05 April, 2010

Steady On: Day #2

Day #2

Can you remember a time when you were completely terrified, yet there was one person you could trust entirely with your life. Such as combat, when you enter into combat, you know the buddy next to you to have your back and is even willing to lay his/her life down for you. You would trust them of course. And you keep your eyes on them at all times to keep focused.

Well today’s devotional as you guessed is about trust. Who do you trust with your life when you feel like your sinking into despair? Who can you focus on to get you through the tough times? When Simon Peter saw Jesus walk to him on water, he wanted to go out and meet his Lord. So he did, but when he took his eyes off his focal point, he quickly sank. When we are unfocused and aren’t keeping our eyes on the Lord, things go terribly wrong. I am very guilty of this. I think I know what God wants, but my eyes aren’t on him and I’m not listening to him call out, “Come”.

Questions:
  1. What memories from your childhood about a time when you were afraid to try some new task and someone encouraged you and helped you succeed? What do you remember about the trust you had in that person?
  2. What difficult storm have you experienced in you life? Were you able to keep your eyes focused on Jesus, or did you sink like Simon Peter?
  3. If you sank like Simon Peter, how did Jesus come to your rescue?
  4. Why does keeping our eyes focused on Jesus during a difficult time help us endure?

Heavenly Father…I exalt your glorious name. I praise you for your calming touch in times of trouble, I thank you for your constant presence every day in my life. You are my rescuer, shelter, strength, and comforter. When I find myself in restless waters, I am confident that you will not let me sink. When the roar from troubles fills my ears, I listen for your assuring voice. Help me keep my eyes on you Lord. I don’t ever want to loose sight of your face for in your presence there is no fear. I pray this is Jesus’ Holy name…Amen.

04 April, 2010

Steady On: Day #1

For everyday I read a part of Point of Grace’s Steady On Devotional, I am going to blog about what I learn. I hope you will learn along with me.


Day #1

Today was about the hustle and bustle of life. Don’t we all get caught up in the I want it now… way of life and that when we don’t Get it now we take our life out of God’s hands and think we know what’s best. I am guilty of this all too often, there is a line from the song Steady On by Point of Grace that says “Teach our restless feet to walk beside you…” Wow that really hit me, do I pray for that? No. Should I…YES!

Because when I don’t take council in my instructions (the Bible) or obey my Heavenly Father, things go terribly wrong. Every have that happen? I know it sure has with me, because of me. I want to take control of my life, but it’s not my life. I was bought with a price, with Jesus’ sacrifice. Therefore I must honor God and his timing and hope and pray for patience.

Questions:
  1. When was the last time you got impatient with God’s timing and struck out on your own? What happened?
  2. Have you ever gotten bored with the direction God seemed to be taking you? Did you keep in step with Him anyway, or did you get of course? What happened?
  3. Recall a time when you trusted God and did things his way even when you were afraid. What did that experience teach you?
  4. Are you living your life with Heaven in view? If so, how? If not, what needs to change?

Heavenly Father…Teach my restless feet to walk beside you. Forgive me for all the times I’ve taken my own course. Guide my feet and light my path. Help me grow in trust so that I’ll follow you even when I can’t see ahead.  Help me to run when you run and walk when you walk. Help me keep in step with you. In Jesus’ Holy name I pray…Amen.