Tuesday, March 26, 2019

On being kind

When my sister, Tammy, and I were small children, a greasy substance was found on one of our walls at homea real mess. When questioned about this, Tammy didn’t want to admit her guilt, but she didn’t want me to take the blame either. “Beverly didn’t do it,” she answered.

Today, my sister celebrates one of those big birthdays, and in tribute to her, if I were to characterize her life with one word, it would be she is kind. And as you can see, kindness has been her trademark for a long time always looking for a way to help and uplift others. She is a wife, mom, aunt, and sister in our family. We know Tammy consistently models kindness day in and day out. It is not reserved for special times or special people, but if you know my sister at all, you know her kindness.

In what can seem an increasingly razor- edged, caustic world, kindness can feel rare. Many feel an “I just say what I think” mentality deserves some sort of merit badge, when actually the opposite is true. It takes restraint and thoughtfulness to season our words with tenderness and love.

Saint Paul said it this way, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Tammy spent decades as a first grade teacher showering her kindness on children. Now she displays it in her efforts to help others achieve their weight loss goals, much as she did herself ten years ago when she lost one hundred and forty pounds and appeared in several media features. She knows firsthand the multi-faceted challenges those seeking to manage their weight may deal with, and she knows kindness and compassion go a long way to encourage.

When hurt or harmed herself, she somehow finds a way to refrain from lashing out, and forgives even when others fail to ask her forgiveness.

Well this time, Beverly did do it, because I’m taking a chance with this post today. My sister is not one to put herself forward, but I don’t want her to think her lifetime of kindness has gone unnoticed.

So happy birthday, my dear sister, and thank you for the many kindnesses from you I have received. I pray we can all take a page from your book, and let kindness be our watchword as well.
“As a Ford model during the 1980’s, the New York fashion world was my world. Beverly’s encouraging stories of how God moved in that sphere help us realize that no matter where we are— even on Seventh Avenue--God wants to use us for His glory.”
Nancy StaffordActress (“Matlock”), Speaker, and Author

Faith in the Fashion District by Beverly Varnado


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

If you've been waiting a long time

One of the many wonderful blessings about being an Anaiah Press author has been getting to know the other authors with Anaiah. I am honored to have the lovely Laura Thomas, guest post here today. She is the Anaiah Press author of Glass Bottom Boat. Laura, it's a joy to welcome you to One Ringing Bell.

Waiting is the worst. And we all seem to be in a perpetual existence of waiting, don’t we? Straining our necks to see the next chapter, always wanting to be further along, counting the days until our next goal is met or season is here.

But what if we started counting our blessings rather than counting the days?

It changes everything, doesn't it? When our hearts are filled with gratitude, the grappling for more or sooner or when subsides. Faith replaces fear and adoration replaces anxiety. The gift of a new day is suddenly precious and next week, next month, next year pales in significance when we appreciate the blessings of NOW.

I waited SIX LONG YEARS for my latest book, The Glass Bottom Boat, to be published. It’s my sixth published book, but my first Christian romantic suspense novel and today I am thrilled to bits—but this adventure has stretched my paper-thin patience to the limit. It's been rejected too many times to mention and it certainly wasn't the literary journey I would have chosen, but it was God's journey for me and my book. His timing is always perfect. Sometimes we see that in hindsight and sometimes we simply have to trust.

 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

As a writer, I learned early on that when we submit our precious book-baby, magazine manuscript, or online article into the big, wide world, we have to LET IT GO. Leave it with the Lord. We move on to the next writing project and put our heart and soul into that, we live our lives to the fullest whilst finding joy in the craft in the present.

Likewise, in other areas of life, we get to give our worries or requests over to the Lord, and then we have the opportunity to make the most of every single day in the meantime—growing, learning, listening, loving, even marveling in the mundane moments.

If you are in a season of waiting, friend, know that you are not waiting alone. There is One who never leaves or forsakes us, never slumbers nor sleeps. He will answer in His time and he will walk through that answer with us. And in the waiting, may we count our blessings, dig into the Word, revel in the beauty of creation, find sweet fellowship with others, adore God deeply.

Fill the waiting time with Him. Not a minute will be wasted. Ask anyone who has waited six years for her book baby to be born . . .
Laura is a published Christian author with a heart for inspiring and encouraging readers, especially in her romantic suspense, teen fiction, marriage, and children’s books. Laura is a chocoholic mom of three, married to her high school sweetheart. Originally from the UK, they live in Kelowna, B.C. as audacious empty-nesters.

Surrounded by the romantic paradise of her sister’s destination wedding in Jamaica, Madison Grey realizes she must overcome her paralyzing fear of the ocean—and her broken heart— to start living again. Luke Alexander, the groom’s brother, is a missionary who has come to terms with a life of singleness—until he meets Madison. 
During the wedding, their personal connection intensifies when a stalker stirs up haunting memories of her gold-digging ex-fiancĂ©.  After Madison mysteriously disappears and the newlyweds receive a ransom note, Luke dives into action to find her. Will he save Madison in time or will she be forced to suffer her worst nightmare… in the depths of a glass bottom boat?


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Daring to ask for the new thing

During Lent, I’m participating in a study by author Max LucadoHe Chose the Nails.

An instruction Lucado gave to be used in our daily quiet time was to ask ourselves several questions. “Where in my life am I falling short, feeling defeated, or growing cold to God? What new thing do I hope God might do in me?”

To me, the question that takes the most courage to ask is the last one.

A new thing is at first appealing, but new things involve change, which is often challenging.

I’ll never forget sitting in a prayer group years ago, and a friend asked for prayer about her move. Her family was renovating a beautiful vintage home in a lovely part of town, but she had two small children at the time. “It’s a blessing. . . ” she said with tears streaming down her face. “. . .  but I’m so overwhelmed.”

God was giving her a new home, but in time, He also did something fresh in her, increasing her trust in Him as she walked with Him through this transition.  

If there’s a geographical, relational, vocational, or any other kind of change, it will always come with a spiritual implication.

When we ask God to do a new thing in us, sometimes there can be an unraveling of sorts. He may take things apart before he puts them back together.

It often feels easier just to be satisfied with the status quo, but clinging to our comfort zone and our past can cause us to miss the incredible future God has. We’ll miss the stretching and strengthening. We’ll miss the wonder of how the new work can shake us from our yesterdays to establish different opportunities. The new thing can cause us to think of ourselves in ways we never have beforesee ourselves more as God sees us.

Eugene Peterson translated Isaiah 43:19 this way, “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?”

In the original language the word new has a connotation of renew or repair as if the something brand-new is closer to God’s original intent.

As I’m praying for God to show me the new thing He wants to do in me, and I’m also praying He would give me the courage and tenacity to embrace it.

This Lenten season, join with me in asking the questions above. In doing so, when we celebrate the rolled away stone on Easter morning, our Hallelujahs may resound even more.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The Power of a Legacy

I'm writing today for my publisher's blog, Anaiah Press. Here's a snippet of today's post. You may continue reading by clicking the link below.

When we hear the word, legacy, we often think of a financial or real estate inheritance.

That’s what Genny Sanders first thought in my book, The Key to Everything, when her grandmother died leaving Genny her house. Genny was grateful for the house, but that was only the beginning of her grandmother’s legacy.

A legacy can take on many forms.

When the father of my friend Joseph died, Joseph said, “He has left me his good name”a reference to Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is more desirable than great riches . . .” Joseph saw his name a reflection of the man of honor and integrity his father was. He counted it of more value than any material possession. (Continue reading at Anaiah Press blog.)
A key can open more than a door. Available Here.
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