Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rose McCauley and a Christmas Anthology

If you're looking for a Christmas read, you might consider  the Southern charm of a recently released anthology, Christmas Belles of Georgia, which includes a story by fellow member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Rose McCauley.

Rose shares that she has been writing for over ten years and has been published in several non-fiction anthologies and devotionals. She is happy for this to be her first fiction anthology because Christmas books are her favorites. A retired schoolteacher who has been happily married to her college sweetheart for 43 years, she is also mother to three grown children and their spouses and grandmother to three lovely, lively kids with one more on the way! You can reach her through her website www.rosemccauley.com or blogsite at www.rosemccauley.blogspot.com  and also on Facebook as Rose McCauley.


In the anthology, Christmas Belles of Georgia: Four letters are mailed from Monticello, a small antebellum town in Georgia. Sisters once, now heirs to a historic plantation, each young woman must come to terms with the circumstances of her birth…Will the sisters receive a traditional Christmas gift…of love?

Sounds enticing, doesn't it? So, buy a copy at your favorite local bookseller or online source, make a cup of hot cocoa, and sit down by the fire to enjoy. I'm looking forward to it.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Interview about Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees

If you're looking for me today, I'm being interviewed over at Sharon Lavy's blog. Sharon was kind enough to review Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees on Friday and is posting a Q/A with me today. Once more, thank you for the gift of your time. Blessings, Bev

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What Christmas Really Smells Like

Please drop by sweet Sharon Lavy's blog. She's been gracious enough to post about Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees.

We're finishing up the turkey here, and beginning to get ready for Christmas. 

The scents of Balsam and Fir trees, candy canes, and cinnamon are almost universally perceived as the fragrances of Christmas.

But another aroma sends me to Christmases past just as quickly as these: the scent of the Sears automotive department.

More specifically, tires.

For several years when I was a child, my family lived near the big rambling Sears and Roebuck store on Ponce de Leon Avenue in Atlanta.

At Christmas, we always made at least one pilgrimage to the brick-faced multi -layered establishment, in which they would transform what I remember to be one entire floor into a seasonal toy department.

The thing is, no matter how big or small the store, Sears and Roebuck always smelled like the tires in automotive. So, as I carefully perused the dolls, games, and stuffed animals, which I hoped would wind up under the tree on Christmas morn, my olfactory nerves decided Christmas smelled like rubber.

Now, at least once during the Christmas season, I have to make a trip to Sears. I usually don’t buy much. I just want to smell the tires.

And remember.

Strange, I know.

But my trip to Sears started me thinking about what the first Christmas smelled like. I had to laugh. I guess to get it; we’d have to go sit in a cattle stall. I can’t imagine anyone making manure scented potpourri.

We’ve really sanitized the birth of Jesus, haven’t we?

Very different from the scene conjured by the idyllic nativity figures I have displayed in my house; I believe in the natural, it was a gritty, smelly event.


But in the spirit, there was a transcendent sweetness about it. A sweetness the Savior has shared with us who have received his salvation.

Eugene Peterson puts it this way in 2 Corinthians 2:15, “Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life.”

Don’t you love that? “…an aroma redolent with life.”

What the first Christmas really smelled like was life.

Eternal Life.

That’s why the Son of God endured the grime and the stench.

For us.

I made my trip to Sears early this morning and just stood for a moment transported to my childhood by new tire smell. But one day, all those who know Him are going to be transported to their eternal home because of the fragrant life the incarnate God born in a cattle stall died to give us.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Stormy Seas and Rescued Sailors

I awoke in the early morning to the explosion of waves against the shore, and I knew the storm the meteorologists predicted had moved in. Later at first light when I stepped outside, the wind blew me several steps back. The ocean that had only lapped at my feet the day before, now tossed angrily at high tide. 

“…all your waves and breakers have swept over me,” the psalmist wrote.

Sometimes, it feels as if we’re dealing with problems, as Eugene Peterson said in his translation of this verse, which threaten to “…crash and crush…” us. 

I stepped inside away from the wind, and stood for a long time studying the pitching sea. I remembered Psalm 44 that I’d been reading for several days. It ends, “Rise up and help us; redeem us because of your unfailing love.” Not because of our good deeds, or our righteousness, or our family linage, or our place in life. And certainly not because we deserve it. These are not enough, but because of YOUR goodness and love, oh God, rescue fearful, sometimes misguided sailors from stormy seas. 

How and when God chooses to rescue is often puzzling to me, but we can accept His way because we know His love. 

Today, in a rolling flood of troubles I saw God rise up for someone, stretch out his mighty hand, and roll back the tide. 

Surprisingly. 

Powerfully.

Completely. 

Because of His unfailing love.







I have witnessed in my life many wonderful acts of God, and today, the splendor of His presence was unmistakable.

I bear witness to the fact that God is at work and he intervenes in the affairs of his children.

If your sea is troubled, if you feel adrift, call out to Him. Pray Psalm 44. And trust His love.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wild Horses

Jerry and I have been out roaming coastal Georgia and Florida the past few days to promote my book, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees. I’d never visited the charming little town of St. Mary’s, (only read about it in books and magazines), but, oh, how lovely it is.

We visited
Once Upon a Bookseller Bookstore, then set out to discover a little about the town. 

Steeped in history, it’s also notable for being the gateway to
Cumberland Island, one of the nation’s best-preserved wilderness areas. 

We visited the Cumberland Visitor’s Center, and though we missed the ferry for the day, we stood at the dock from which the boats depart and gazed out over the sparkling water.



Just a ferry ride away, wild horses flew like the wind along pristine beaches. 

Just then, I had an “I wanna be a park ranger moment.”

Have I mentioned this desire of mine? I suppose it first surfaced during our home schooling years. All the National Park visits and historical tours during our educational travel reinforced it. I love history, and nature, and the outfit’s not too bad either. 

I don’t suppose I’ll ever be a park ranger, and I’m sure the jobs not all I think it might be. But, I can write about them. There’s a park ranger in a future book out there somewhere. 

And those wild horses…

I’m reminded once more of verses from Job 39 which Randall Wallace used to start his film Secretariat. God is speaking:
Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane?

Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting?

He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength,

And charges into the fray. 


I may never be a park ranger, but one day soon, I sure hope to see those wild horses.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Last Week for Operation Christmas Child

This is the last week for Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box Collections, so I'm slipping in here with a repost. If you've not packed a box, there's still time. Check online at Samaritan's Purse for a collection center near you, pack a box or two,and take it before the weekend. Many thanks, Bev

It’s the time of the year to start thinking about packing your Operation Christmas Child box for Samaritan’s Purse. Last year, Samaritan’s Purse distributed shoeboxes to eight million children around the world. Our family has prepared boxes since our kids were little. Every year, each of them would pack one for a child their age and gender. Now, that the last two are both in college, my grandchildren jumped in to help me.




I spoke with Brittany this morning at Samaritan’s Purse and asked about the three most important items they’d like to see in a shoebox. She said hygiene materials are number one. Toothbrush, toothpaste, washcloth, soap and a comb or brush are essential elements in every box. Following these would be school supplies: notebooks, pencils, erasers, etc. Third on her list was a toy: a stuffed animal, a yo-yo, etc.

I’ve been working on my boxes for a year. I got the idea from my friend Dolly, who inspired me to shop for bargains, so that I could increase my number of boxes.

Here’s how:

After holidays (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc.) retailers mark down their seasonal merchandise to clear it. I look for items at 75% off—socks, coloring books, toys. Many go for as little as a quarter. When school supplies are reduced, I pick up crayons, markers, notebooks, and pencils. Just this week, I bought balls for each box, which were reduced from summer stock.

One thing I don’t scrimp on, and that’s toothpaste and a toothbrush that won’t make gums bleed. Children in the third world may not have brushed regularly, so it’s important to buy a good soft toothbrush. Also, if it’s in your budget, a light up toy or flashlight is great. Always include extra batteries. If a child lives without electricity, these things are a wonder. Also, give thought to the toy you include. Easily broken plastic is not a good idea. Look for things with more longevity—a slinky, a toy car. Remember what Brittany said about stuffed animals. I remember hearing a story which emerged from a war-torn country about a fourteen-year-old boy drafted into the army. He took his Operation Christmas Child stuffed animal with him to war.

If you start now, you can increase your number of boxes, too. You may download “How to Pack a Shoebox” and labels for the boxes HERE. Pay special attention to the items that shouldn’t be included. A toll-free number for drop off locations is provided or you can mail your shoeboxes to Operation Christmas Child headquarters in North Carolina.

Here’s what especially motivated me. I heard a testimony this year from a missionary in Eastern Europe who spoke about how important the shoebox ministry was in bringing children to his church. He had opportunity to share the Good News with so many who’d never heard it before because of Operation Christmas Child.

That’s all I needed to hear. This year, instead of two boxes, I’m working on twelve.



I still have some items to collect, but I’m closing in on it, and have had some great help.



"Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities! "(Luke 12:48 The Message)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sing On

A few days ago, having just finished an errand, I exited a store preoccupied with a persistent trouble. But loud warbles arrested me. 

I looked up and saw this creature...







 ...singing his little heart out.

A portion of my daily Bible reading today is from 2 Thessalonians 2:16, “May our lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”

This morning in Streams in the Desert, “Remember it is the very time for faith to work when sight ceases. The greater the difficulties, the easier for faith; as long as there remain certain natural prospects, faith does not get on even as easily as where natural prospects fail. “ George Mueller


God reminded of my singing friend. He stopped me in my tracks and reminded me to sing on in hope even in the midst of vexing difficulties which appear to have no answer.

Again from Streams in the Desert, “…and rejoice, since the most glorious promises of God are generally fulfilled in such a wondrous manner that He steps forth to save us at a time when there is the least appearance of it.”


So, join me in singing the song of hope. Who knows who we might touch with our music?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stay


A lot of waiting here today.




What would the news be?

Wondering if this cancer in my dad was already a wildfire.

Knowing too much and knowing too little.

Waiting.

One hour, then two.

Shifting in chairs, checking watches.



How much longer?

Finally, his name called.

Walk down the hall, squeeze in the room, my sister, my dad, his wife, my husband, and me.

Standing now. Not enough chairs. Not enough air.

More waiting.  Looking out the window. Swapping stories.

Clinging to hope.

Then the click of the latch.

We inhale as the white coat of revelation enters.

And…

It’s not good, but it’s not bad either. Seems contained. One more test to make sure, then lots of medicine. Maybe radiation.

We exhale.

“Might live to be 95,” doctor says.

Sister and I exchange glances.

Tears.

95.

Yes, Dad, save for your old age.

Stay to see the great-grands.

We’ll pray.

Take the medicine.

Stay. 

“I’ve been carrying you on my back from the day you were born,

And I’ll keep on carrying you when you’re old.

I’ll be there, bearing you when you’re old and gray.

I’ve done it and will keep on doing it,

Carrying you on my back,

Saving you” (Isaiah 46:4 The Message).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cotton Fields and the Harvest

Early one morning while driving in a rural area, my husband and I came upon this scene. 


Though Jesus probably didn't have cotton in mind, these words from John 4:35 came to me, “…Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”

A few days later, I had the privilege of hearing a pastor from Bulgaria give a moving account of God’s work both behind the iron curtain and since the fall of communism. Out of the twelve pastors in our denomination imprisoned during the time of oppression, sadly, all but one died in prison. But they paved the way for the work to come.

He told of the churches destroyed during the last century, but how since that bleak time, many have been restored and once more are vital places of worship. 

The young man we heard lives sacrificially on a monthly salary the equivalent of $300 U.S. dollars. His responsibilities are many and far-reaching, not only pastor to his own church but also supervising a pastor in a neighboring village. 

His commitment and determination to see others come to Christ in this former Eastern bloc country moved me. Biblical study resources are scare, and sometimes many pastors share only a few books. Though the number of true believers are still a small percentage of the total population, the church in Bulgaria has begun to mushroom and many new churches have been planted.

A few days after I took the photo above, the cotton was harvested. As I passed the field where reapers had done their work, I longed to see the same thing happen in the spiritual realm. Both here and around the world.

I pray it would be so.

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