Sunday, November 25, 2012

Book review: The Treasure Seeker

The Treasure Seeker: Finding Love and Value in the Arms of Your Loving Heavenly Father, by Teena Stewart, is a book of encouragement for women.

Teena starts with vivid accounts of treasure seekers of old. Being a Blackbeard fan myself, I enjoyed the pages about his treasure hunts. She continues with the words:
"God is the ultimate treasure hunter. Like [Indiana] Jones, He is well-acquainted with the details and beauty of what lies lost in the darkness. No matter how deeply we, the treasure, have sunk into the depths of blackness, we cannot go anywhere He won’t be able to find us."

With sections on being refined by God, our value, allowing for our flaws and faults and humility versus humiliation, there is richness in Teena's well-researched chapters.

Each chapter ends with a "Points to Ponder" set of questions, ideal for a group or individual study.

This is a book to be treasured and enjoyed.

Order a copy of The Treasure Seeker today by heading over to Amazon.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: a taste from chapter 36

Even When It’s Bleak

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
—Habakkuk 3:17–18

I tell my children that life is tough. It isn’t easy being human. I’m not trying to take away their hope. Rather, I want them to know that troubles will come their way; and instead of shunning those troubles, they need to look up to God for help. Life and troubles go together. It took me a long to realize this. I think the desire to believe that I would be spared from sorrows stunted my early spiritual growth.

Jesus warned us, In this world you will have trouble(John 16:33). The fig tree will often be bare. But each time, hopefully, our trust in God deepens. We look back and see how He provided even when we were ready to call it quits.

I pondered the reason that we rejoice even when the fig tree doesn’t bud and realized that being joyful in God serves a wonderful purpose. If we can focus on God, this takes our mind off of the circumstances that plague us. If we can keep our eyes on a God who changes not, who is constant even though our lives are whirlwinds of change, we are acting on the knowledge that we serve Someone worthy of praise. We let praise overtake our burden. Praise gets the front row seat. Our heavy turmoil gets seated in the back of the auditorium. Time and time again, God asks us to look to Him as our refugee, to focus on His goodness in spite of our sorrow. Something about trusting in the midst of bleakness works to reiterate the worthiness of God to be praised. Even when things aren’t as we want them to be. Even when the day is dark. Regardless.

While Jesus said in John 16:33 that we will have trouble, He also left us with a promise in that same verse: But take heart! I have overcome the world. Our problems won’t go with us into our new life in Heaven. But God will.

I challenge you to get to know God better than you know your troubles. Push aside all the jargon you might have grown up with—“christianese”—certain phrases you’ve repeated that you aren’t even sure how to explain to a nonbeliever. Read the Bible, perhaps pondering on one passage over and over so that you can fully grasp its meaning for you. Discover ways to express both God and faith in your own words.

Reflections to Ponder
Can we trust that God is moving even when all seems impossible? When we have nothing to hang onto but God, when everything else seems at a loss, a mural of confusion, can we know that God is for us?

Lord, I want to persevere. I want to be persistent as I serve You—believing that You are for me, that Your love for me is great, and that Your mercy and grace exceeds my expectations.

When You Walk
When there are days you don’t feel like going on your daily walk, how do you motivate yourself? If someone asked you what to do to become motivated, what advice would you give?

~ from Getting Out of Bed in the Morning by Alice J. Wisler
copyright 2012
Leafwood Publishers

Order a copy today from the Rivers of Life Gift Shop.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Getting Out of Bed: The arrival of GOOB

"You are a work of art in progress."

Yesterday, I was the happy recipient of a box of books titled Getting Out of Bed in the Morning. My two daughters (my son was at work) and husband were able to share in some of my excitement over the contents with me. My daughters breathed in the aroma of the pages, something I've taught them to do. There is nothing like the special scent of a newly-published book. Especially when your name is on the cover as the author.

Holding a copy of my devotional was a dream come true. I savored the feel of both the book and my heart. This book is compiled of forty devotions and a large piece of my broken heart.

In 1997 my son Daniel died after eight months of cancer treatments. He was four. I was thirty-six. I was angry with God for not healing him. The cancer hadn't killed him; it was the severe treatments that compromised his body. A staph infection took over and eventually his heart stopped. He died in my arms.

I was pregnant at the time. While my baby kicked inside the womb, my son gritted his teeth and left this earth. Three months to the day of his death, my fourth child, Elizabeth was born.

Getting out of bed each morning after Daniel's death was surreal. How could my son be gone? How could I still be alive? What was wrong with God? Why hadn't he saved my little boy from death? How would I live now? What was the point of going on?

I wrestled with questions, primarily to God. Why? How come? How could you? Why?

I wanted to die.

I didn't get to.

Instead, I put one foot in front of the other. And at the end of each day, I went to bed and woke to try again the next morning. One foot in front of the other. One day at a time. Deep breaths.

I would never ask God for anything again.

I knew too well that He could say, No.

Journaling was a lifeline. So was the support of the Wake County, North Carolina Compassionate Friends group. Some books helped. I wrote articles that made it into print magazines. I founded Daniel's House Publications and through it, compiled two cookbooks of recipes and memories in memory of children, who like my Daniel, had died way too soon. Slices of Sunlight came out in 1999 and two years later, Down the Cereal Aisle followed. I had an online newsletter.

I cried and missed my son. Birthdays came and I sent balloons up to him in Heaven. Christmases made me hollow and I was glad when the season ended.

I spoke at conferences. I taught on the benefits of writing through grief. I met some wonderful people---real people----the kind that know they are broken and that life is not for wimps.

I wanted to write a book on how God fit into my struggle. Believe me, I tried. I had agents and editors interested, but nothing stuck.

Until . . .

Last year, Leafwood Publishers said, Yes! This publisher took my fragile mother's heart and said, We believe in you. We read your words. You do have something to say.

I wrote Getting Out of Bed in the Morning to offer a morsel of hope to those without. I want to share with others that although they are weak and struggle, they aren't alone. God is the provider of the daily bread, the wisdom, the cup of cold water, the balm of healing, the hope of tomorrow. He has this awesome thing called sustaining grace. He supplies it. And He loves us, no matter how battered we might feel.

God is for the broken hearted.

God is for you.

To order an autographed copy of Getting Out of Bed in the Morning , head over to my Broken Psalms blog (join it, if you'd like) and visit the Rivers of Life Gift Shop.

[This post also appears on my Broken Psalms blog and my Writing the Heartache blog.]

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Creating Fun Characters

The other day I met Todd Frei, a digital librarian with Wake County Libraries in North Carolina, to discuss how to go about creating fun characters. He filmed the segment which can be viewed when you go here.

This series of You Tube videos recorded by the library is part of the National Novel Writing Month (November). Have any of you taken part in writing a novel this month? I've got one going, but haven't made as much progress as I'd like.

I'll be presenting a workshop on character crafting at the East Regional Library in Knightdale on Sunday, November 18th at 2 PM. The event is free and open to the public. Join me!

946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Enter to win an autographed copy of Still Life in Shadows!

This month, I am offering a signed copy of my latest release, Still Life in Shadows. To enter the contest for the drawing of the novel, simply follow this blog if you have yet to do so, and then enter a comment below this post. Include an email address where I can reach you if you win.

Yes, it is that simple!

The names of all who enter will be placed in a hat and one person's name will be randomly drawn on November 30th.

Your comment should be in response to the following question:
What is your favorite kind of bread?
Still Life in Shadows has a recipe in it for bread in a can. You can comment on that as well. Have you ever had bread in a can? Would you like to?

Have fun!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Guest post with author K. Dawn Byrd

Today I want to welcome author K. Dawn Byrd to my blog. Her newest release is Amazing Love. Here's a bit about the story.

Gabe Knight, a pastor in a small coastal town, finds his life is turned upside down when Dee Dillow arrives and hires him to remodel an estate she's inherited from her aunt. Dee dashes his plans for wedded bless when on a drunken binge, she divulges that she's the highest paid call girl in Nevada and part-owner of the ritziest brothel in the state.

Gabe falls in love with her, but can't believe he's hearing the voice of God when a still, small voice tells him to marry her. After much questioning, they marry and he is deliriously happy. Until, Dee betrays him.

Gabe soon discovers just how hard it is to have the unconditional love God calls him to have for his wife, the kind of love God has for his children. When faced with losing her, Gabe realizes what true love is, how much it hurts, and just how much God loves and is willing to sacrifice for his children.

An Interview with the heroine of Amazing Love

1.Dee, tell me the most interesting thing about you.
I'm not sure how interesting it is, but it would be pretty shocking to most people. I grew up in a brothel outside of Vegas. My mother owned it and since I was home-schooled, I spent most of my life there. I don't know exactly how it happened, but I became the highest paid call-girl in all of the state.

2. What do you do for fun?
Shop. I love fancy cars, fine jewelry, and designer bags and shoes. I also like to invest money. It's exciting to watch it grow. I left the brothel when I was teenager and ended up trying to survive on the streets when my mother turned her back on me. I never want to live like that again and that's why I save money.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?
I put off going to church with my husband, Gabe. I'm just not into all that religion stuff. I know he expects me to go, but I'm pretty good at coming up with excuses why I can't.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?
I'm afraid of having to live on the streets again as a prostitute like I did when I was a teen. I'm also afraid of going hungry.

5. What do you want out of life?
All I want is to have a family. I never even thought about a husband and kids until I met Gabe and now that's all I think about.

6. What is the most important thing to you?
My money and Gabe.

7. Do you read? If so, what is your favorite type of book to read?
Remodeling magazines. Gabe is remodeling a huge estate I inherited from my aunt.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I'd want to make Gabe happy. He expects me to accept his God, but I just can't. It's hard to believe in a God you can't see.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
No pets. I really don't have time for them.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
I would go back to the day I was born and find a way to take me away from my mother. She allowed terrible things to happen to me.

An Interview with the hero of Amazing Love:

1. Gabe, tell me the most interesting thing about you.
I'm a preacher and God told me to marry a prostitute. Am I crazy? Am I hearing voices? I know God told Hosea to in the Bible, but this is 2012!

2. What do you do for fun?
I love working with my hands, especially carpentry work. I also own some old vehicles and like to work on them. Sometimes they're a challenge to keep running and my wife, Dee (the prostitute) hates them, but I can't afford all those fancy sports cars she drives on a preacher's salary.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?
I put off dealing with drama. An ex-girlfriend has stirred up all kinds of trouble in my relationship with Dee. Maybe I shouldn't look the other way so much. Maybe I should tell her like it is. I just hate hurting people and I have the church to think about. My greatest fear is that something will split it.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?
Dying alone. I want a wife and kids.

5. What do you want out of life?
I want it all. A wife. Kids. A little white house with a picket fence. Of course, I'll settle for Dee's mansion on the hill overlooking the ocean since that's where she wants to live. She inherited it from her aunt and I've been working on it for her.

6. What is the most important thing to you?
My faith. I've worked long and hard to get as close to God as I am and I don't want anything coming between us.

7. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?
I read remodeling magazines.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
If I could change one thing about myself, it would be my past. I didn't always live for God. I did my share of drinking and had my share of women. If I could go back in time, I'd live my entire life for God.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
No, I don't own any pets. I'm so busy with my job as a preacher and my side jobs remodeling that there's no time for them.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
I'd love to meet Hosea face to face. Dee has put me through torture. She's ripped my heart out. I'd like to ask Hosea how he dealt with that kind of pain when Gomer was unfaithful to him.

About the Author
K. Dawn Byrd is an author of inspirational novels in several genres, including, historical, suspense, romance, and young adult. Some of her favorite things are chocolate, cars, and her pets. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and riding down country roads in the passenger seat of her husband's Corvette Stingray. When asked why she writes, her response is, "For the simple joy of placing words on the page!"

Order your copy of Amazing Love today.