Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for...


It’s meaning? Nothing. Zero. Absolutely nada.

But writing about nothing didn't sound like a lot of fun - to read or write - so...I'll write about Zilch instead.

Zilch is the name of a dice game our family enjoys playing. Some folks call the same game Farkle. Actually, we call it Farkle most of the time, but I hear the “official” name of the game is Zilch.

Ever played it? It’s a great way to keep a group occupied, but still free to visit and enjoy one another’s company. On those rare visits from relatives who live at a distance, we almost always pull out the dice and enjoy a game of Zilch…or Farkle. (Maybe we should start calling it Zarkle…or Filch…or Farch…) lol

Family game night is a great way to spend an evening. I love the fact that players can actually visit with each other during play, breaking the growing routine of every family member staring at a computer or television screen. In the same room, but not connected. Conversation? Zilch. Interaction? Zilch. True family time? Zilch.

All that ZILCH equals NO FAMILY,
and the Heart's Haven angels
say that's not a good thing.
Not a good thing at all.

Try this Zilch instead, and make it a rule that your family members - everyone living under your roof - participate one night a week. Get to know each other again. It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s inexpensive—six dice and you’re all set.

Wouldn't it be nice if your family grew closer because of "nothing"?

Let's talk about it. What does your family do to stay connected? (Please don't say, "Zilch!) :D

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for...

If you're still hanging onto a dead dream of yesterday, laying flowers on its grave by the hour, you cannot be planting the seeds for a new dream to grow today.

—Joyce Chapman


The thing about yesterday is that it’s gone.
Done. Over. Finished.
No matter how righteously we lived those twenty-four hours, or how grossly we mismanaged them, no life remains in that day. It is essentially dead…and we all know what happens if dead things are not buried. Yep, that’s right—they raise a doggone obnoxious stink.
So we should live each day as we wish, because when tomorrow comes, today is dead. Now, come on…I know you didn’t really say that!
Burying a man doesn’t undo all the good he might have done while he lived. Nor does it heal all the hurts or close all the wounds he inflicted. And letting yesterday go doesn’t erase the impressions we made on others, the kindnesses or cruelties we committed, the footprints we left in the sands of time.
I loved my Dad. Adored him. He was and will always remain my hero. When he died, I seriously questioned how I could possibly go on without him. And yet, I knew I had to keep living. It would have negated all the wisdom he ever shared with me had I stretched myself across his grave and insisted on dying too. I had to honor his memory by living what remains of my life according to the principles of honesty and integrity that he taught me by example. The physical, flesh-and-bone creature who was “Daddy” is gone…nothing he did in his life, right or wrong, can be changed. But the essence of who he was lives on—in me, in my siblings, and in the lives he touched, for good or bad, while he lived.
So yesterday’s gone, but not forgotten.
We’ve all made mistakes we wish we could un-make. We’ve all done things we’re ashamed of, and wish we could un-do. I certainly have.
Regret is a fact of life. And it can be a good thing. Those who commit atrocious acts and experience no sense of shame or sorrow for their actions have problems far more serious than I’m qualified to discuss.
But regret that doesn’t result in change—which brings about a measure of peace and self-forgiveness—is counteractive. It gives yesterday the power to ruin today and tomorrow.
Let’s bury the past, with all its mistakes and regrets; cover it over with the lessons we learned from living it; and plant within that fertile new soil a thousand seeds of hope and change, of goodness, kindness and love.
Grow a better tomorrow from the seeds we plant today on yesterday’s grave.
It’s a way to turn yesterday’s ugliness into tomorrow’s beauty—and yesterday’s beauty into a glorious future.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for...

(OK, people…OK, OK! I know that’s not the proper way to spell extraterrestrial. Tell ya what…YOU come up with a great “X” word to blog about. :D)

According to Wikipedia, the word extraterrestrial “may refer to any object or being beyond (extra-) the planet Earth (terrestrial).” Whoa…wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute, amigo! You mean it doesn’t necessarily have to be little green men and UFOs? ‘Cause I gotta tell ya, it sounds to me like even things of a heavenly nature could be called extraterrestrial…they’re certainly “beyond the planet Earth”!
For years on end—decades and centuries and millennia—we Earthlings have been obsessed with the extraterrestrial…at least, as it applies to other planets and solar systems. Stories abound about abductions, visitations, UFO sightings and other odd and unusual occurrences. The movie industry rakes in untold fortunes selling fictional “what-ifs” about what’s “out there.” Publishers continue to print imaginative scenarios involving aliens on Earth and Earthlings in space. It’s become a ridiculously lucrative gimmick.
Why? Because it’s the unknown, and we humans are nothing if not nosy…oh, excuse me, I meant curious, of course.
We Christians could…if we chose…play on that unbridled human curiosity to turn our “extraterrestrial” experiences into spiritual gold. Think about it: Our very real encounters with angels…visitations from God’s own messengers. Those “God moments” when the Maker of the Universe Himself draws near and shows Himself inarguably real. The wonderful miracles that touch and bless our lives.

In a nutshell: our experiences with the “extraterrestrial.”
Human beings crave a bit of knowing about the unknown. What kind of response might we bring about if we manifested true enthusiasm and single-minded purpose in sharing our brand of other-worldly contact? Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm. Spend enough time around someone who’s constantly upbeat and bubbly and fun, and you’ll find yourself starting to mirror his or her excitement. It’s like a magnet, drawing a person in whether they want to be drawn or not.

Get excited enough about your extraterrestrial Savior, and your excitement will attach itself to your earthly contacts. Tell your story and make it good—which simply means tell it like it is, because the truth about God is more than breathtaking. That truth, and your enthusiasm about it, will attract people, make them long to know more about your extraterrestrial Savior.

And really, that’s all you need to do. God Himself will do the rest, right from His throne in a place so far beyond this world that even the little green guys on Mars consider it extraterrestrial.

Now that’s something to be excited about!

Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for...

I absorbed this quote, and considered its meanings, while I stood in line waiting to meet one of my author heroes, Karen Kingsbury, at a book signing in Tennessee.

The simple, block formation, with equally simple white lettering made me think about motivation, and the myriad ways we’re asked to dance in time to God’s tune, which often times comes in the form of angel whisperings…the call of instinct, Spirit…wings fluttering against your heart and soul.

That’s what I like to call God speak.

For many years I wrote secular romance for Kensington Publishing. My path led me to The Wild Rose Press and a story titled With This Kiss. I had taken considerable time off from writing between Kensington and The Wild Rose Press, so the process of crafting With This Kiss formed a road back to what I love—writing stories full of love, romance and hope. That calling bloomed deeper when I began to read stories from the “sweet” arm of The Wild Rose Press. These titles were called “White Roses,” and the stories were a revelation. They moved me, and left my preconceived notion of inspirational romance in the dust.

Angel wings brushed through my chest, and against my nerve endings. I really wanted to write for this line. Further, I had seen communications from the editor in chief at White Rose that left me in awe of her gentle, caring spirit and savvy publishing skill. More prompts pushing me forward.

Since then, I’ve contracted my twentieth book for White Rose, now Pelican Book Group, because I decided to dance to the beat of God’s call. I had always wanted to write inspirational romance, but needed to deal with some self-worth and self-doubt issues before God paved the way to a deluge of stories that pour from the very depths of my spirit. Instinct. Whisperings. Angel wings.

Listen. Pay attention. Move in that timeless dance, and the journey you take will lead you somewhere beautiful, and filled with the grace of dreams come true.

To dance hand-in-hand with God has opened so many doors. I’ve met friends through my writing ministry that will forever be a part of my life. I’ve embraced experiences like meeting readers, talking about my craft to interested conference attendees, and I've held books in my hands that I created via nothing more than the call of The One who made me, and the beat of His angel wings.

How about you? What's your dream? What defines the beat of an angel's wings in your heart?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for...

“I’m not afraid to fail…I’m scared to death of dying and having the Lord say to me, ‘Angelica, this is what you might have done had you trusted more.’”
Mother Angelica

A beach. Many days I sit on my patio and look out at the white sand of the pristine beach. Few people interrupt my view. No tall beach hotels block my vision. My home faces due south. I look out on the green-blue waters of the Indian Ocean with nothing to my right or to my left, just the occasional spark of a white-tipped wave.

The view is clear and open. Sometimes I feel like I can see all the way across to India and a bright jumble of color will flash in mind. When I look East, I fancy I can see the dark green of African jungles.

It’s only in my imagination, of course, but that is how our Lord sees. If He but looks across the rippling waters, the wonderful colors of His creation will appear. His vision is so perfect, He can see not only into the distance but into the past and the future as well. Many years ago, I learned to trust His vision.

I was a young Christian and the mother of four active children. When I slept, I slept hard. One night I had a dream. It was very clear. I knocked on my neighbor’s door, delivered a very specific message then returned to my own home. The alarm buzzer went off and as I came out of my deep, dream-filled sleep a very firm voice said, “Tell her.”

My morning was a jumbled rush of spilled oatmeal and missing headbands. I didn’t have time to think about the voice and its message, let alone to act on it. I bundled all the children…plus a few extra neighbors…into my van and headed off to school. It wasn’t until I pulled back into my quiet cul-de-sac and saw my neighbor’s front door that I finally thought about the dream.

How can I say that to her, Lord? I barely know her. What will she think of me? What do those few words mean? They don’t make sense. Why would you pick me to deliver the message? I’m just a baby Christian. I know nothing. Is she home? This is her workday and her driveway is empty.

I decided the dream and all it entailed was a result of an overtired body and started on my daily routine. By the time my doorbell rang, I’d forgotten all about it…until I saw my neighbor standing on my doorstep. Then I remembered the voice. Tell her.

 “I’m sorry to bother you but I have the day off,” she said, “and well, I just needed to talk. No one else is home so I thought we might have a cup of coffee.”

The Lord hadn’t just given me a job to do. He conspired to make sure I followed through. He knew I was young in my faith and needed encouragement so He made sure my neighbor came to me.

“I have to tell you something.” I blurted out, interrupting her. “Be at peace. She is with the Lord.”

My friend stared at me, her eyes unblinking. Then she burst into tears. “You don’t know how much I needed to hear that.”

No, I didn’t know, but Someone who is always listening and who sees all did.

As my friend and I held each other and cried, shared and unburdened, I was very glad He had not let my lack of vision get in the way.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for...

Are you ever afraid of doing the wrong thing in the eyes of the Lord? Do the opinions of people, perhaps peer pressure, tie your tongue or your hands when the opportunity to serve arises? Do you feel that the boundaries of faith confine rather than free?

Sometimes, in this world filled with so many competing influences and forms of media, I wonder just what path I should take when a difficult or confusing situation arises. When the deepest form of confusion takes root, I remember that God's word has remained the same through the ages. I seek His guidance and do my best to travel the path He has set before me. 
My prayer for you today is that you will find confidence in the warm embrace of God's grace as you follow the path He has set before you.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for...

C.S. Lewis once said that the smartest thing Satan ever did was convince mankind that he didn’t exist.

I agree wholeheartedly because not believing in Satan allows him to work behind the scenes and move amongst us undetected. We’re so busy putting blame on ourselves, our political leaders, other cultures or technology, we forget the one who is truly responsible.

Throughout time Satan has been a master at taking God’s truths, God’s gifts and blessings to us, and twisting them so slightly, we don’t even know they’ve been corrupted. For example, in the early days of Christianity, Gnosticism was a belief that was disavowed by the early church fathers. There were many reasons it was disavowed but the main one was they claimed Jesus was not human. If Jesus was not human then he did not suffer as a human. If he didn’t suffer for us then His sacrifice is lessened. The truth is, we were redeemed at a great price. Christ suffered and died for us and He did it willingly. It is the greatest gift and example humanity has ever seen.

In modern times we’re not free from Satan’s machinations. Marriage is a Christian ritual, a covenant bond between a man and a woman, created by God to exemplify the trinity. The perfect love between the Father and the Son created the Holy Spirit. A family. He gave us a little taste of heaven here on earth to show us what we have to look forward to and yet, the institution of marriage has been under attack for years and continues to be so.

God gave us another amazing gift. He made us co-creators with Him and allowed us the ability to bear children, to watch them grow and to love them as He loved us. And yet, this life-giving, grace-filled act has become an abomination, with mothers across the face of our country ending the lives of their children as easily as if they were warts to remove.

We’re surrounded by twisted truths and sometimes it seems that Satan is winning the battle. But that, too, is a lie. The truth is Jesus won the war when he climbed up on the cross.  We are saved. We may lose battles along the way, many, many battles, but we need not lose hope.  What’s important is that we fight the good fight and we can only do that through Jesus…who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” John 14:5

Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for...

Wikipedia says, “The term spirituality lacks a definitive definition, although social scientists have defined spirituality as the search for "the sacred.”

I’m not really sure why we need social scientists to define spirituality for us.  It sounds like what most Christians have been practicing for centuries but I guess I should be glad science is even acknowledging humanity’s spirituality. For so much of my youth, it was downplayed as a psychological aberration or a mental illness and so maligned, that our culture even began to deny its existence.

But God planted a need deep inside us, a yearning for Him, a desire to seek Him out. Even though popular culture wanted to ignore it, the human soul cried out for fulfillment, completion in its Creator.

It’s true, modern culture searched for fulfillment in things such as new age concepts, ecological struggles and humanism. But each of these paths contains elements of their creator. Our voices may not give the right words to these experiences but our spirits recognize Him.

I live in a large international community. My daily life includes Christians of the Eastern Orthodox faith, Catholics from India, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims. I am allowed to practice my faith in this country but not to evangelize or proselytize. It’s all right. I don’t need the words.

A baby camel slipped behind its mother and stared at me with curious, cautious eyes. Like a stunning ball of fire, the sun sank into the mirror-like stillness of Lake Nasser, leaving a watching crowd speechless. A frail, confused and frightened old woman wrapped in a black abaya, chattered meaninglessly on an airplane until her son, a grown man, gently took her arm and calmed her in a soft, loving tone.

Each time I witnessed these things, I looked around. Someone met my gaze. We were from different cultures, didn’t even speak the same language but a spark was lit. Our spirits soared across our differences and for one moment, one minute in time, we were united in the knowledge that we had been touched by God.

Cultures did not separate us. We needed no words. Our spirits stood together in awe of our Creator. That’s all the definition of spirituality I need.