Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010!

As many friends and family members suffer hardships this year, let us remember to give thanks to our Lord and Savior.
1. It's bitterly cold in Florida, unusually so.
I'm thankful I'm not stuck on a snow-piled highway in the middle of a blizzard.
2. I can't afford to buy presents for loved ones because of our financial distress.
I'm thankful that I have loved ones, for there are many who spend this time alone.
3. My husband denied me the joy of putting up a Christmas tree this year. No reason, he's just a humbug about Christmas.
I'm thankful he's my husband. Humbug or not, he's the man God chose for me, and I love him dearly.
4. My workload has been so heavy lately that my writing has been put on hold.
I'm thankful I have a job--and a promotion in position & salary, too!
5. I don't know whom, if anyone, will share Christmas Day with us for dinner.
I'm thankful we'll have something to eat, for many go hungry every day.
Since I struggled to come up with 5 complaints, I know I am blessed by a loving God. He has been with me through trials and triumphs, and my joy in knowing Him is great! You can have that joy, too.
May God bless you this Christmas season!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

RPLA Winner!

My yet-to-be-published novel, The Obedient Heart, won second place in the inspirational romance genre of the Royal Palm Literary Awards contest. This was exciting news at first, but the competitive muse who sometimes takes over my thinking, reminded me that it didn't take FIRST place. After reading the synopsis of the first place winner, I'd say that author earned it. And I had to remind myself that being second place doesn't mean that only two novelists in this category entered the contest. According to Florida Writers Association Group Facilitator, Kaye Coppersmith, no one wins just for entering. If the entries don't meet the FWA standards, then there is no winner for that category. Second place is acceptable. I recall back in the days of Ted Mack's "The Amateur Hour" (the 1960s prelude to "America's Got Talent") Ann-Margaret took second place to a leaf blower. In an interview several years later, the famous actress-singer said, "I wonder where that leaf blower is now." I hope and pray the First Place winner gets a publishing contract, as I'm sure the author is much more talented than a man who made music by blowing through leaves. Ha!
The Obedient Heart takes place in south Tampa, with quick trips to Chicago, IL and Paris, France. Here's a brief synopsis:
Held captive in a tiny hut deep in the Guatemalan rain forest, Ted Bohannon and his friend, Donald Gregory, have one goal: take the four children imprisoned with them and escape.
Two years later, Ted's widowed sister Jennifer Ryaan paces in her living room. A mysterious note with a Guatemalan postmark appeared in her mailbox that afternoon. Someone knows her missing brother's fate. And her friends couldn't have picked a worse time to set her up on a blind date with airline pilot Jack McGowan.
FBI Agents, who investigated the original case, received new information about Jennifer's brother from a confidential informant. With Jennifer's permission, they set up phone taps and surveillance. A clandestine meeting in Paris brought Jack under the cross hairs of their suspicion.
Jennifer refuses to believe her new love is involved, but how can she argue with such compelling evidence as photos of Jack with two international crime bosses?
The tug-of-war between Jennifer's feelings for Jack and her determination to locate her missing brother is overshadowed by two men from Guatemala who stalk her. They offer to take her to her brother for a price-a price too high for her heart of obedience to God. From mysterious notes to Jennifer's kidnapping, this novel proves that an obedient heart can be broken, but faith in the Lord will help to mend it.
If you'd like to see this novel published, please let me know by posting your comment on this blog. Or if you think I need to "bump up" the synopsis, let me know that, too. I'm open to suggestions.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


In Hillsborough County we have the privilege of voting early in our elections. I'm not sure why the powers that be decided to open the polls two weeks before the actual election day, but I'm glad they did. Instead of standing in line, checking my watch every two seconds, and stressing about being late for work, I can zip out on my lunch hour, walk right in, show my driver's license (not my voter I.D.), and cast my vote.

Not voting is NEVER an option. How many men and women have spilled their blood to give me the right to vote? I cringe when people tell me they don't vote. And many don't vote because they either don't know or don't care about the issues, the candidates, or amendments. But you can bet your last dollar they know who got voted off the island on Survivor, who won the World Series, or who divorced whom in Hollyweird! Doesn't it make sense to learn about the candidates (and issues) who will have the power to raise or lower your taxes and make other decisions that will affect your liberty? Why do citizens care more about entertainers (many of whom are in that field because they are too lazy or ignorant to do anything productive), sports figures, or egomaniacs on a reality program? Maybe because it's easier than thinking.

I've enjoyed campaign walks and sign-waving events, and made some wonderful friends working for different candidates.

Study the issues & amendments, work on a candidate's campaign to get to know them (it's fun!), and go vote! You'll be glad you did.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Review of Ashes of Remembrance

Dear friends, I'm so sorry to have been so long between posts. One of my co-workers brought her sick child to the office because the daycare center has a policy of no sick children. We should adopt that policy for our office, because I succumbed to the viral infection the child left behind. Out sick for a week, and I'm still struggling to feel better. Always the optimist, this was a great opportunity to read, Ashes of Remembrance, the sequel to Only the River Runs Free by Bodie & Brock Thoene. Many of the same characters appear in this story, including Mad Molly, little Mary Elizabeth, along with main characters Kate Donovan, and Joseph Connor Burk. Joseph has reclaimed his rightful place in the community, and Chapter 1 opens with his wedding to Kate Donovan. Tragedy strikes when Joseph is arrested and falsely accused of treason before the end of the wedding reception! The evil Col. Mahon wants Burk property to graze his cattle. What better way to steal it than have Joseph hanged as a conspirator? A brief encounter in jail before Joseph is shipped off to Botany Bay leaves Kate carrying his child. In typical Thoene fashion, the history is factual, but, in my opinion, this one is much more brutal than their other writings. I still enjoyed this novel in spite of the gruesome details. After all, the mark of a good writer is when the reader experiences the book...smells the odors of the prison ship, feels the hunger pang of the prisoner who suffer from near starvation, dread the sinister shark's fin circling the skiff in the vast ocean near the southern tip of Africa. So, now I'm back from Galway, back from the sea voyage, back from another adventure in mid 19th century Ireland, only to wonder what happens next to Kate, Joseph, and the wee babe she carries within her. This gets another "Highly Recommended" from me!

Friday, August 20, 2010

"No Other" by Shawna K. Williams

This historical romance by Shawna K. Williams pulled me into the story with the first sentence. Set in Post WWII America, it possesses the right amount of detail to keep the reader in the late 1940s, learning about the struggles one American family of German descent suffered from President Roosevelt's (d) internment camps. The war ended, and twenty-year-old Jacob had to return to the classroom to earn his high school diploma. Difficult enough without a pretty teacher, Meri, who was only two years older than he. Their relationship began innocently enough with a school play, which Jacob's sister helped write (revealing more about their family's difficulties than Jacob preferred). As Jacob and Meri allowed their love for each other to unfold, he learned she was trapped in her own private internment camp, created by her hypocritical and overbearing parents. Despite Jacob's struggle (and failure) with temptation, he found the path of redemption in honestly claiming responsibility for his actions. No Other is a refreshing look at two people in love during a forgotten era. I look forward to a sequel. I'd like to know what happened to Roger (wink wink).

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Only the River Runs Free

Bodie & Brock Thoene captured me in another of their excellent novels, Only the River Runs Free. The story is set in early-to-mid-19th century Ireland, complete with Mad Molly, the eccentric old woman of Ballynockanor who lost her marbles when her employer and his son died on the same day. But she kept the secret of their demise locked away for years, later slipping the mysterious key to a young lame boy and his wee sister.
When a stranger comes to Ballynockanor on Christmas Eve, Mad Molly proclaims a miracle will come to the town through this young man. His intention to become a priest is thwarted by his secret love for Kate, the widowed (and scarred) daughter of town drunk, Tom Donovan. In typical Thoene fashion, this novel is woven together by a well-designed plot. I sailed through it in a week and found myself lamenting at the end, not because the ending was unhappy. Oh, no. The happy ending makes it all the more worth the read. I lamented because I wasn't ready to leave Ballynockanor and its colorful characters. I'm looking forward to reading Ashes of Remembrance, another masterpiece in The Galway Chronicles.
Highly recommended.
Buy two - one for yourself, and one to give as a gift.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Heavenly Humor

"I shared an apartment with my tuxedo cat, Sammy. Aside from not kicking in his share of the rent, he had all the attributes of a roommate anyone could want. He didn’t borrow my clothes, leave dirty dishes in the sink, or take long showers depleting the source of hot water." - Excerpt from Silhouette on the Shade I'm very excited to announce Heavenly Humor for the Cat Lover's Soul is available for pre-order, either through Barbour Publishing ( or Barnes & Noble. I haven't checked with LifeWay or other book stores yet. In this anthology, you'll find my story, Silhouette on the Shade, about sharing my apartment with Sammy, my first cat (often referred to as my first love). He was a delightful little guy - black & white with soft amber eyes - who never complained about frequent relocations, and accepted other animals into our home with aplomb.

(Note of appreciation to: for the above image)

Barbour is working on another anthology, Heavenly Humor for the Mother's Soul. I wrote seven stories for that book and pray they'll publish all of them. Looking forward to sharing more good news with you as blessings find their way to me.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My Novel Makes the Finals in RPLA

What exciting news! April 29, 2010: I entered my novel in the Inspirational Romance genre of the Royal Palm Literary Award Contest, hosted by the Florida Writers Association. It was a last minute effort that almost didn't happen. Every time I've attempted to enter this contest, something--an important event, unexpected company, or toppled by a common cold--always got in my way. This time, I knew I had a trip to Alabama planned in early May, followed by my husband's birthday celebration, and we received happy news that his daughter and her family were relocating to Tampa. I read the contest entry details and discovered that by entering before May 1st, I could actually save money. So, with a quick prayer, I downloaded the pages I needed, printed them out, and shipped my entry via USPS. Over Memorial Day weekend, I needed to check my e-mail for research on another writing assignment. I bumped my husband off his laptop, promising to be brief. There it was...the e-mail from RPLA saying, "Congratulations! Your novel Obedient Heart has made it into the finals..." Now, I have to compile all my chapters into one document of 97,742 words, and ship the entire manuscript to be judged in its entirety. This is heart-pounding excitement for me. When I first wrote this novel, I knew nothing about writing. I attended the Florida Christian Writers Conference, where I studied under Gayle Roper (whom the RPLA cited as an example for Inspirational Romance). A few years passed and I continued to gain more knowledge and grow in the art of writing. I rewrote, and rewrote and rewrote this novel, using the tips I've learned from Gayle, Mark Mynheir, Jeanette Windle, Cecil Murphy, and all the wonderful writers in FWA and Word Weavers. So, please keep me in your prayers as I prepare to send the completed manuscript to RPLA. And thank you, Jan Powell, for all your encouragement, as you repeatedly said to me, "This could be the year..."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Review Of Raymond C. Hundley's Book

My friend in law school wrote on her FB page, "If I get my law degree, and the world ends in 2012, I'll be really mad!" Dr. Raymond C. Hundley's book, "Will The World End in 2012?" is a quick read with only 184 pages, including a well-written study guide at the end. He begins with a review of the film, "2012," which I opted not to see. Dr. Hundley introduces each prediction with a believable scenario, then takes the reader through the pros and cons of the chapter, and ends with his scientific opinion as to whether or not the catastrophe is feasible. My only critism is his overuse of the word "relationship" in the last chapter. I'll say no more so as not to spoil the ending. This is a book I would recommend, especially to my friend in law school (haha). I intend to read it again with the study guide in mind. I'd like to get 100% on the questions he asks at the end.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Resurrection in Review Part 2 - Andy Woods

Here is, at long last, the second part of Andy Wood's message on Resurrection. According to the Bible, everyone will resurrect; some to eternal life, others to a judgment of disgrace and contempt. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. - John 5:28-29 ...having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. - Acts 24:15
  • In Luke 16;19-31, Jesus relates the agonies the unrepentant man suffers in Hades.
  • In Luke 23:43, the thief on the cross goes to Paradise with Christ because he believed in Him.

God's plan consists of two general resurrections after Christ's. Andy's chart indicated that one resurrection is of the believers in Christ. In his graph (which I am unable to draw in this medium) under the believers' resurrection line, the chart lists three different times of resurrections as in the harvest cycle described in Leviticus.

  1. First Fruits (Christ) Leviticus 23:10 (" shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.")
  2. General (at the Rapture) Lev. 23:1-12
  3. Gleanings (at the beginning of the Millennium) Leviticus 19:9-10 ( shall not reap to the very corners of your field, shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger.)
Gleanings were for the poor. In the resurrection, Rev. 20:4-5 includes the Old Testament saints and tribulation martyrs. (And I saw the souls of those who have been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.) The Unbelievers' resurrection line goes directly to post-millennium (after the thousand year reign of Chris). Daniel didn't see the thousand years between the last two resurrections when he predicted the resurrection in the verse: Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. - Dan. 12:2 Andy explained it is like viewing a mountain range from afar. You see only the peaks, but not the valleys that span between them. Christ's resurrection is attested by witnesses in 1 Cor 15:1-11. ...Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
His resurrection is the heart of the gospel.

Psalm 16:10 is one of many Old Testament predictions of the resurrection. For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

The mystery is the rapture - a generation of Christians to be spared from death, instantaneously at the last trump of God. Revelation 20:4-5 describes the first resurrection in a series, not the first. Rev. 20:12-15 gives the bad news for unbelievers: And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Hades is a place of conscious torment, awaiting final judgment just as post-conviction inmates await transport to prison. Unbelievers are not written in The Book of Life, but they will be judged by the deeds written in them. The Deeds books determine the level of punishment in hell. Another way to view the timeline of the resurrections is the Order of Tagma. When the king welcomed his army back from war, they were specifically positioned for the march.
  1. Conquering General: Christ (1 Cor. 15:23) But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, then comes the end.
  2. Officers: Believers at the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:13-18) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
  3. Soldiers: Old Testament Saints and Tribulation Martyrs (Rev. 20:4) ...and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
  4. Captives/Slaves: Unsaved from all the ages of the world (Rev. 20:5) The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This life is like a grain of sand on a seashore. Our choice for or against Christ determines our eternal destiny.
In summary, everyone will be resurrected. The question is: where do we spend eternity?
Born once, die twice.
Born twice, die once.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Resurrection in Review

Dr. Andy Woods, an associate professor at the College of Biblical Studies in Houston, Tx, blessed us with his pearls of theological wisdom on Sunday, April 4, 2010. I always look forward to his sermons/lessons when he appears at Bayside Community Church. Here is an overview of my notes: Andy presented his Resurrection in Review in three parts:
  1. 1. Define Resurrection
  2. 2. Demand for Resurrection
  3. 3. Description of Resurrection
1. Definition: Reunion in Glory God created us in two parts - material and invisible. When the body dies, the material and invisible parts separate. So resurrection is the opposite of death. Lazarus was not resurrected when he came out of the grave. (John 11:43-44) Jesus brought him back to life after four days in the same body, therefore, he was resuscitated. The many who came out of their tombs after Jesus on that first Resurrection Sunday (Matthew 27:52) may have been resuscitated, as well, instead of resurrected. The physical body dies, but the glorified body, which we get at the moment of resurrection, never dies. 2. Demand for Resurrection: We have a cursed physical body Why do we need to be resurrected? Because Heaven is eternal, and our physical bodies are temporal. Sin has tainted us since Adam, leaving us to bear his curse. As such, we are not fit to enter God's presence in our physical bodies. Heaven is both a physical and spiritual experience. Although we have an obligation to be good stewards of our physical bodies, 1 Peter 3:3-4 tells us "our adornment must not be merely external... let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God." We must have our glorified bodies to come into His presence in Heaven. 3. Description of Resurrection: The perishable becomes imperishable In 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, Paul tells us we are "sown a perishable body, but will be raised with an imperishable body; sown in dishonor, but raised in glory; sown in weakness, it is raised in power; ...sown a natural body, ...raised a spiritual body." And "just as we have borne the image of the earthly, we will also bear the image of the heavenly." Jesus, in His resurrected body, walked through walls and closed doors, (John 20:26) yet he ate a plate of fish with His disciples on the beach (Luke 24:43), proving that He was not a spirit, and not a physical man. The Resurrection is both. The scars Jesus bears on his hands, feet, and side remain as a constant reminder to us of the exorbitant price He paid for our sins. Stay tuned for the second part of Andy's message, regarding who will be resurrected, and when?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Overview of Church History - Kerby Anderson

Kerby Anderson, host of radio program "Point of View," author, lecturer, and visiting professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, offered an in depth overview of the history of the Christian church at Bayside Community Church on Sunday, March 21, 2010. It's amazing he could cover two thousand years in twenty-five minutes! I'll try to make some sense out of my notes, some of which resemble shorthand...and I never took shorthand.
The ancient church (from A.D. 33-313), which consisted of Jewish believers and converted pagans, had its conflicts with the state, producing martyrs and apologists (with their "isms"). The Edict of Milan came in 313.
The Roman Empire continue to rule, even after Jesus' death, burial, and resurrecton.
The Christian Empire from 313-476 saw differing edicts of Nicea in 325, Constantine in 381, Ephesus in 431, and Chalcedon in 451. Augustine wrote Confessions and City of God, and developed doctrines of church and just war, grace and predestination.
The early middle ages, from 476-1054, saw the fall of the Roman Empire. A schism between the east and the west developed as the west spoke Latin, and the east spoke Greek. Bishops held political authority, and the ancient culture all but disappeared. The church tried to preserve it.
Islam started in the 7th century. Saladin and Richard the Lion Hearted clashed during the Crusades, which began in 1095.
The highpoint of the Middle Ages, from 1054-1303, saw disagreements in the church over clergy being able to marry and the type of bread used for Communion.
Then came the monastic orders of the Franciscans and Dominicans. European cities grew and cathedrals were built, with multi-generational construction crews.
The late Middle Ages, 1303-1453, brought the decline of the papacy, the 100-years war, and the black plague. John Wycliff translated the Latin Vulgate, and John Huss led his reformation.
From 1453-1600, the Americas were discovered, and Martin Luther posted his 95 Thesis of Sola Scriptura in 1517. As the Europeans immigrated to the colonies, they brought their own denominations:
  • John Calvin came from Switzerland.
  • John Knox came from Scotland.
  • The Mennonites came from the Netherlands.
  • Anglican-Episcopal came from England.
The 17th & 18th centuries brought bloody conflicts from internal controversy. Which Christianity is true?
  • Moravians came to the U.S. Colonies and brought the Methodist denomination.
  • The Puritans settled in Massachusetts.
  • The Baptists settled in Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
  • The Anglicans settled in Virginia, New York, and Maryland.
  • The Quakers and Mennonites settled in Pennsylvania.
  • The Catholics were dominant until the French left.
  • The Methodists later spread west to Kentucky and Ohio.

The 19th century brought more revolutions in America, France, and latin America. The protestant theologians turned away from Biblical faith. Then came the 2nd great awakening, when colleges were established by churches. The colleges strayed from the faith, as is evident in the present anti-God, liberal teaching at most universities.

John Jay, co-author of the Federalist Papers, President of the American Bible Society, and the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, established Sunday Schools in churches. (Wait...a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was the president of the Bible Society? Could that happen in today's society?)
In the 20th Century to 1914, the Eastern church is shaken by revolution. Protestant optimism is shaken by wars. Catholics struggle against modernity and worship of Mary.
In 1909, the protestants had their fundamentalist vs. modernist controversy.
The evangelical movement developed in post-WWII.
Now, with modern attitudes, we must ask, "Have we come full circle? Are we Rome again?"
  • Western civilization = Rome + Christianity
  • Western civilization - Christianity = Rome
Glenn Sunshine argues we are once again becoming like the Roman Empire. Look at the similarities of the ancient Romans and our culture:
  • Tolerance was the supreme virtue (Ditto for present day)
  • Oversexed society - anti-natal sexuality. Decadent sexual activity without procreating. (Ditto for present day)
  • Rampant homosexuality (Ditto for present day)
  • Abortion on demand. (Ditto for present day)
  • Infanticide - eliminating defective children) (Ditto for present day)
  • Declining birthrate, rising immigrant population. (Ditto for present day)
Can you hear Caligula and Nero saying, "We're back! Did you miss us?"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

You Are Now Entering the Mission Field

I've posted the letter below because I was so moved by this friend's passion for the Lord. I remember Juliana Anderson as a pretty little girl; the daughter of our pastor at Palma Ceia Baptist Church. Now she's grown into a lovely young woman who wants nothing more than to tell the world about our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…

- Matthew 28:19

Read Juliana's letter and be warmed by her joy!


Thanks to all of your prayers and support, I leave for Brazil in exactly one week from today! Next Thursday I will be flying out of Tampa to Atlanta to meet up with the rest of the team and from there we will travel to Brazil.

Time is flying so fast and it is a scramble to get everything done before I leave. Please pray that I don't lose my mind! I just found out today that I will be serving on the team through various aspects including drama, crafts, leading a devotion, being a translator and filing several other roles. I can tell God is going to do great things through our team and can't wait to see what He will do.

Please, please, please pray for us. Health is a big concern right now. Everyone seems to be getting sick around me and I know being sick will drain my energy (although my true energy and strength comes from the Lord). I don't want anything to get in the way of me being able to give my best, so I pray that God will give me the courage and wisdom to know what I should do.

Pray that God would speak through me to bring the Gospel to many and that lives will be changed for eternity. I just want to thank you again and tell you all how God has been so faithful to provide for this trip! God has blessed me with an amazing support group (you) and supplied all the money I needed for this trip as well as for a mission trip in May to Paraguay. For the longest time I wasn't sure if God wanted me on that trip as well, but after much prayer, God made it clear to me what I should do. Just a few days after I decided to go, I received a check in the mail for the exact remaining balance I needed for the Paraguay trip. I will be going to Paraguay with Idlewild Baptist Church. My dad is leading the trip and my mom and two brothers are planning on going as well.

Please be in prayer for their support to come in. Before I leave, I will send out another letter to give you the link to a blog where you will be abel to follow what is happening each day. Thank you so much for your support, and I covet your prayers.

Saved to serve,

Juliana Anderson

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Great Writing About A Great King

No offense intended to Benjamin Merkle that it took me a couple of months to get through this book. He's an excellent author. I expected a historical fiction novel, but this book is a NON-fiction narrative.

I applaud Mr. Merkle for his captivating authorship. An example from Chapter 3 illustrates the retreat of the Vikings when Alfred’s brother finally arrived at a fierce battle:

“All that was left was a view of the backside of a panic-stricken mob fleeing for its life. It took several moments for Alfred and his men to recover from their amazement and to realize what had happened. Suddenly, it became clear.

King Æthelred had finished his prayers.”

James Scott Bell (my mentor) would consider that last sentence a gem.

I wish my history books back in school had been written with such colorful word pictures and intense emotion. I'm sure my grades in that discipline would've improved. I loved history, but the texts were as dry as sawdust. Mr. Merkle made me care about King Alfred. I was saddened at Æthelred's untimely death, but encouraged by Alfred's unwavering tenacity against the marauding Danes.

I feel like I truly know this great king, although I had never heard of Alfred the Great before selecting this book. The White Horse King, Alfred, was a fierce warrior, a faithful Christian who sought wisdom, and a deeply committed leader who loved mercy and gave himself for his people, dying at the age of fifty.

The first of my friends to get a copy of this wonderful book is May Barnett, our resident Liverpudlian who said, “King Alfred sat by the fire...” when I told her I was reading about the White Horse King.

I highly recommend “The White Horse King – The Life of Alfred the Great” by Benjamin Merkle.

Great writing about a great leader!

Disclosure of Material Connection. I received this free book from Thomas Nelson Publishers as a part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Great Escape

I promised to post my notes from Andy Woods' sermon a few weeks back, but life's busyness got in the way. Until I can organize my notes, I'll post this devotional, which I submitted to PCCWeb Daily Devotion. They published it on February 8, 2010, and I received encouraging messages from people in Maryland, Indiana, Wisconsin, Canada, England, and Uganda. What a joy to know my cats' escapade one night would bless people from all walks of life around the world!
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me..." - John 10:27 (NASB)
The alarm woke me at 6:35. I punched the button and sat up. Something was missing. My husband Tom lay snoring beside me, but Pixie, my short-hair tabby, wasn't curled up next to me. Her sister, Feathers, the long-haired likeness of Pixie, wasn't stretched out at my feet.
I dragged myself out of bed and plodded to the kitchen to feed them. Neither cat ran to the cupboard. Even the dry food clinking into their bowls didn't bring them running.
"Where are they?" I asked.
"They're around here somewhere," Tom muffled into his pillow.
I searched the house, from room to room, calling their names.
No response.
The room where Tom was working on renovations had been a point of curiosity for them. I turned on the light and found a five-by-five inch square opening in the wood floor.
"Could you come here, please?" The calmness of my voice surprised me.
Tom stumbled, half asleep, into the workroom. "What's wrong?"
I pointed to the opening. "Where does this lead?"
Fuzzy slippers on my feet, I was out the back door, pulling my robe around me, before Tom could put on his pants.
"Feathers!" I called. "Pixie!"
A tiny mew squeaked back to me from the neighbor's driveway behind our house. Pixie rounded the decorative fence and ran toward me, passing without stopping. She turned and ran past me again. The third time, I dropped to one knee, holding my hand out to her. She came to me, and I scooped her up to take her inside.
I set her down in the kitchen and spied the opening in the workroom floor. Oops!
Hunger overcame her temptation to escape again. Running to her plate gave me the break I needed to cover her escape hatch with the form-fitted block of wood.
Now, to find her elusive sister.
Outside in the dark, the beam from Tom's flashlight came around the side yard. He had searched the perimeter of the house.
"There she is," he said in a cautious whisper.
Her fluffy tail poked out from under a piece of discarded dry-wall.
"Come here, Feathers, " I called.
She approached me with a kittenish mew, but backed away. Again, I dropped to one knee and held out my hand to her. She scampered to me, allowing me to pick her up and carry her into the safety of our home.
My cats know my voice and usually come to me when I call. But outside, in their fear of unfamiliar surroundings, they were too skittish to obey. Only when I lowered myself to their level did they respond, allowing me to give them the safety and comfort they needed.
Our Heavenly Father lowered Himself to our level--in the form of Jesus Christ, being fully God and perfectly human--to reach us. We stray from Him at times, but we know His voice, and when He calls us back, we take His hand to the safety and comfort only He can offer.
Prayer: Gracious Father, we praise You and give thanks for Your wondrous love. You are always there with an outstretched hand and enveloping comfort even when we stray. Help us to remember to listen for our Savior's voice in our time of need. In Christ's precious name, we pray.