Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Love Covers


Reaching into the archives today for this post. Love covers has always meant so much to me.

I learned of a conversation recently in which a parent engaged a teenager about an issue in the teen’s life. They held differing opinions. The child who’d struggled with faith issues said to the parent, “I want to be very angry with you, and push you away, but I can’t. You’ve been good parents, and I know you love me so much.”

When I heard this, a Bible verse, which appears twice in different forms, came to mind.

First from Proverbs 10:12, “Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs,” and from I Peter 4:8,”Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

To make sure I understood this, I looked up the word cover from the Proverbs text in the Hebrew. It means clothe, conceal, hide, overwhelm. For the I Peter text, I sought out the Greek word, which also means cover or hide.

Eugene Peterson translates the Proverbs verse this way, “Hatred starts fights, but love pulls a quilt over the bickering.”



Peterson renders the I Peter passage, “Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.”

It bears repeating, “Love makes up for practically anything.”

In matters of the heart, when the rift runs deep, love on. Despite the heartache, despite the differences and the seemingly impossible to resolve dispute, keep loving. Love “…always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” I Corinthians 13:7-8).

Of course, our love can fail, but God’s love never does.

One dark Friday, on a Judean hillside, God overwhelmed our sins through the death of his Son. On that day love didn’t just make up “…for practically anything,” it made up for everything.

Once and for all, love covered.

If you’re in the middle of dissension today, love on, for through you God wants to overwhelm, cover, and hide whatever it is that’s causing the trouble.

Let's repeat often, “Love covers.”

(I feel I need to add a caveat here, loving doesn't mean staying in abusive situations). 




 



Tuesday, January 21, 2020

What could be and book release day


Yay!!! Book release day for A Plan for Everything!!

I’m always amazed when this day rolls around. When I’m in the thick of writing a story, it seems like I’ll never finish. Then when I do, it seems release day will never come.

I came across this quote from author and creativity expert, Allen Arnold, recently, “Art that reflects reality is fine. But we have the chance to do more, to offer art that gives people a glimpse of what could be.”

That’s what I aim to do in all my work . . . to offer that hope.

In most of my bios, you’ll find these words, “She writes to give others hope in the redemptive purposes of God.” In my stories, and I pray in whatever I undertake, I want others to see there is no situation that God cannot redeem, no circumstance He cannot use for His purpose. I know this because at one point in my life, I thought myself irredeemable, but God’s grace proved more than sufficient to cover my sin and my situation.

I’ve also written that I do so to offer an alternative to life’s brokenness. Brokenness just is. It’s part of life here on this planet, but we have a choice. We can focus on all that’s wrong or we can focus on hope.

I think of my Aunt Nell often. She was such an inspiration to me. She had every reason to be down with serious health challenges and heartaches, having outlived her husband and two grandchildren. In one of the most memorable conversations I ever had with her, I asked how she kept up her hope through so many difficulties. She said in her sweet southern drawl, “Honey, we can sit around and think about all the bad things. That’s just depressing. I don’t study on the bad things; I study on what’s good.”

So, in my writing I study on what’s good, the possibilities, and as Allen Arnold says, on “what could be.”

Here’s praying that someone will find their “could be” in A Plan for Everything.

Blessings, friends.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
 
 

Friday, January 17, 2020

My "Paper Missionary" is about to fly

I was so touched recently when an author acquaintance mentioned beloved novelist Janette Oke’s perspective on her books. In Janette Oke: A Heart for the Prairie, we find these words, “As her writing career blossomed she tried to picture each one of her books as a little ‘paper missionary.’”

I’ve been thinking about that with a new book, A Plan for Everything, releasing on January 21. Last week I was interviewed by a Canadian author and this week a blog hosted from Africa went live. Words from I Chronicles 16:24 come to mind, "Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples." I have over a dozen interviews in process at the moment, and I’m praying those little “paper missionaries” will be going out reaching people in places I will likely never go and touching people I will never meet, at least this side of heaven. I love the characters in A Plan for Everything, and I love Worthville, Georgia where it is set. I believe the message is an important one. I hope readers do, too.

It is an exciting prospect and a great privilege to have this opportunity. I do not take it for granted. Just because I’ve worked a long time toward this goal does not entitle me to what is happening today. I know people who have worked just as hard and are still trying to get published. It is simply Grace with a capital G.

I see writing as a calling and I try to be obedient to what God has asked me to do. The result, I pray, is a book God can use to touch readers and meet needs that perhaps they don’t even know they have. I hope that after finishing one of my books, a reader will experience some element of positive change. It would be worth all my time and effort if even one gains hope or encouragement, comes to know God a little better or even for the first time.

So, if you will, would you help my little “paper missionary” take wings by sharing this post on social media, forwarding to a reader friend, or just tell someone about  A Plan for Everything. Despite all the marketing efforts, it’s said that about eighty percent of books are sold by word-of-mouth.

It is such a blessing when I’m out and about and one of you will mention something in a post or I receive a comment through social media or email. Thank you dear friends, for trusting me with the time you spend reading here. You are a blessing.

Here’s the back cover copy for A Plan for Everything:

Connie’s Coffee and Cones is thriving, and owner Connie Spencer is right on track to realize her dream of expanding into a catering business. She believes she owes her success to her remarkable ability to plan. In fact, she has a plan for everything. At least, she thought she did—until Michael Cole appears in Worthville.

Michael has an agenda of his own—and a competing business—that threatens to derail everything Connie hopes for professionally. And if that isn’t enough, Michael carries a secret that could cause a backlash for both of them. So, why does she find herself attracted to him? When an accident on a rain-slicked highway leaves Michael temporarily incapacitated, Connie is presented with a dilemma she never saw coming—helping the man she’s falling for, or moving ahead with her meticulous plans.

As life spirals out of her control and Connie faces losing everything, she questions whether her plans are enough. But if hers aren’t, whose are? As she searches for the answer, she learns she must come to terms with her deepest hurt in order to embrace a higher plan for her future. 


 Digital A Plan for Everything now in Presell.  and HERE for Print. Print HERE at Anaiah Press.


 
 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The story I didn't know and how it can change us all


My gaze fell on a book at a vintage bookstore by a familiar author. The Burden is Light the title read. I wondered at the dramatic subtitle, The Autobiography of a Transformed Pagan. The book was about and by beloved Georgia author, Eugenia Price, who has written much Christian nonfiction but also novels of historical fiction set in the South. I flipped through a few pages and saw the book was signed so I bought it delighted to have a volume with her signature.

But as for the transformed pagan bit, I honestly thought it a bit much. It was so out of sync with the person I came to know through her writing.

After Christmas, when things settled down a bit, and I could get back into a reading routine, I cracked the book open and saw it had been published in the middle of the last century at the very beginning of her career writing for the Christian market. Previously she had been a successful producer and writer of serials for radio, first for NBC, then Procter and Gamble. She later formed her own production company.

As I read, I had to shake my head a couple of times. Was this the Eugenia Price I knewthe kind, gentle spirit, whose work I read so much over the years? I began to understand the subtitle was not over dramatized after all. It pains me to say this, but she said it first. She was a woman with a hard heart, who not only didn’t believe in Jesus, but also mocked the things of God in a piercing way. She was a pagan.

The change came through two avenuesfirst, the witness of Ellen, a childhood friend that God brought back into her life. Ellen had been much influenced by Dr. Samuel Shoemaker, rector of Calvary Church and co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. The second means was a Gideon Bible she found in a New York City hotel room. I thought of the Gideon Bible right then on my bedside table that my Gideon friend Don gave me to pass along. I had not yet found a recipient, but I was encouraged anew to seek out a beneficiary.

As Eugenia read that Gideon Bible, she remembered words Ellen had written to her, “This new thing isn’t something you have. It is Something that has you.” Something did indeed get hold of her. And slowly, the hard heart began to melt, and she at last gave her life to Jesus. Shortly after her conversion in 1949, she became a writer and director for the radio series, Unshackled, which related conversion stories. Almost seventy years later, it is still in production. According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, she went on to write fourteen novels, twenty-two inspirational books, and three autobiographies. Her books have sold more than forty million copies.

I had the great privilege of attending her posthumous induction into the Georgia Writer’s Hall of fame a couple of years ago. I loved seeing the displays of her work and meeting her niece, Cindy Birdsong. We really hit it off.

Her book, The Lighthouse, was included in a list of twenty-five books every Georgian should read by the Georgia Center for the Book.
 

 
 

 

 
 


Now, after reading her conversion story, I appreciate even more what God did through her life. Sometimes, I think we lapse into the notion that Jesus came to save folks who aren’t too bad and just need a little push to get them over the hump. But Paul said it in I Timothy 1:15, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinnersof whom I am the worst.” This man who stood approving of and held the coats of those who stoned Stephen knew what he was talking about. Jesus came for the hardest and coldest hearts. He came to save those who have mocked himwho have despised him. He came to rescue those who have no hope without him and don’t even know it. He came for you and me.

If you or someone in your life needs Jesus, now is the time. Today is the day. Let Him get hold of you. Let Him use you as He did Ellen to help lead someone else to Jesus. Let Eugenia Price's story change your story and allow Him to change the cold heart and ignite a fire. When I think of what God did through this one woman who finally surrendered to God, my hope is renewed for those who don’t know the Lord.

Who knows what God will do with one single life surrendered to Him?
 
And by the way, if you haven't supported the Gideons International lately, please do so. They do good work.  



 Here for A Plan for Everything now in Presell.
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