Going on Hiatus

by:  Staci Stallings

With the end of May and beginning of June being particularly busy for me this year, I am putting the G&F blog on hiatus until June 26, 2012.  For the latest news direct from our authors please visit us on Facebook at:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Grace-Faith-4-U/249437741772914

I’ll see you in June!

Have a great start to your summer!

Staci Stallings

“Abide in Me”

 by:  Staci Stallings

Author’s Note:  This article was written around 2001 about the same time I was writing my newest release “To Protect & Serve.”  The book this article talks about was that book.

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.” –John 15:7

 “Abide in Me.” The three words with which Jesus invited his disciples to place their faith in His love as they walked to the Garden of Gethsemane that last fateful night. He wasn’t just talking to the disciples though. No, He was talking to us, too. And these three simple words, if understood and acted upon, can make all the difference in a Christian’s life. The problem is that many of us have never really even noticed they were spoken—much less taken their message to heart.

What does “abide” mean anyway? According to Webster’s Dictionary, “abide” means to remain. That makes sense, remain with Me, stay with Me, stay by My side. Ah, but Jesus doesn’t say “with,” He says “in.” Simply put Jesus is not saying He wants us to walk with him, or to be with Him. He is saying He wants us to remain in Him—as close as we could ever get to Him without actually being Him.

This is just semantics, you say. A play on words. What possible significance could such a tiny distinction make? I can tell you that in my life, it has made all the difference.

I must confess first that until recently I didn’t put words to this phenomenon. I knew it was in my life, but explaining it wasn’t easy to do. At the time I called it “faith.” As a writer, I put great faith in the belief that God would light my path, that if I surrendered the project to His care, I would have the right words at the right time.

The opportunities to use this faith were boundless. For example, when my two year old deleted five pages of the new manuscript I was working on, I distinctly remember saying, “Well, I guess God didn’t want it said that way.” Or when my publicist threw a major curve into my plans by saying the cover for my second book (which I had chosen) would never work, and we had no choice but to change it. True it took me awhile of being furious with her before I realized that it was God, not she, that had a better idea. Once I surrendered to that understanding, the new cover came into focus, and it was far and away better than the original.

For several years these were the types of ways I tried to “abide in Him” although “faith” was probably the better term because I was still relying on some outside entity—not a spirit that permeated me.

Recently, however, I came into contact with Bruce Wilkinson’s Secrets of the Vine, and my understanding took a giant leap forward. In Secrets, Wilkinson talks about the phrase “abide in Me” and what Jesus really meant when He spoke those words. After reading that book, I was having a discussion with a friend about my writing. For the first time ever this friend is getting to experience the writing process with me as she is reading the book I am working on as I am writing it.

The strange thing is: it is not just she who is growing through this project as I am now getting to experience the writing process in a whole new light. A light which has opened my eyes to what has been happening for years. When it would happen in the past, however, I couldn’t adequately explain it to anyone else and therefore it was easier to overlook or to not take the time to really examine. Nonetheless, I believe this experience is the best definition for “abiding in Me” around.

A couple of examples: during the course of writing my current book, I was introduced to two songs that so embody the book that their entrance into my life could not be called mere “coincidence.” Also, I received an email that depicted the exact kind of person characterized in the book in a way that visually detailed the precise message I am trying to portray. A sign possibly that I am on the right track?

Perhaps most intriguing I received a magazine which gave me in perfect form the insight I needed to understand why this character was acting the way he was. Of course, everyone receives magazines every day, and it was one that I was subscribed to, so that shouldn’t be all that noteworthy. Except for this: the post office had changed our address and that particular magazine was one I hadn’t changed the address on yet. I hadn’t received that magazine for four weeks, and when that copy got here, it had the old address, which the post office had said they refused to deliver to anymore. More than that, I haven’t received either of the next two editions although I have now changed the address. So, why then did that one come through with exactly what I needed despite every obstacle against it?

I think the answer can be found in those three words: Abide in Me. Tell me honestly, do we really think that some little post office crisis can keep God’s plan from working out in our lives? If you do, then I challenge you to question how many of these “coincidences” in your life you are either missing out on—or overlooking right at this very moment.

As a firm believer in these words, I can tell you that if you will take them to heart… If you will accept that Jesus is not just an “out there entity” that you can have faith in but truly a spirit that permeates your very life… If you will truly accept His presence in every aspect of your life, every minute of every day, then He will abide in you, and your life will never again be the same.

After all it was His promise.

Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection. Check out Staci’s brand new release…

Houston firefighter, Jeff Taylor is a fireman’s fireman. No situation is too dangerous to keep him sidelined if lives are on the line. However, when control freak Lisa Matheson falls for him, she quickly realizes she can’t control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have…

 To Protect & Serve

The Courage Series, Book 1

To save others’ lives, they will risk their own

 Buy it on Amazon Kindle

Buy it on Barnes & Noble Nook

“To Protect and Serve will hold you prisoner to its pages until the final one is turned. Prepare to cry, laugh, wish, love and maybe even cry again as you become enveloped in the hopes and feelings of Lisa and Jeff.”

-Cindy Reiger

Get Your Copy Today!

How Long is Forever?

By Ada Brownell

Grand Mesa near Grand Junction, Colo., is the largest flat-top mountain in the world. The mountain has 300 lakes that anglers claim are “bottomless.” In Carlsbad Caverns, early spelunkers named one yawning opening as “The Bottomless Pit.”

Yet, we know those lakes and the pit end somewhere. Someone discovered the reason the abyss in the cavern seems to have no bottom is because soft sand covers its floor. Sand prevented sound when a stone dropped.

Although people imagine pits and lakes that go on forever, the human mind can’t comprehend no beginning and no end. I used to try to figure it out as a child and it made me dizzy.

At the end of the Lord’s prayer we say, “For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory—forever.”

How long is forever? No one has wrapped his brain around it, but we know from His Word God is eternal. The great “I am.” The self-existent One. The One who was, and is, and is to come. Someone with no beginning and no end. He’s always been, He is, and He will exist forever.

But humankind is limited. We all have a beginning, and life does end. But Jesus promised “whoever lives and believes in Him will never die” (John 11:26).

What hope that gives! Back when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden and they discovered Satan lied, telling them, “You won’t die if you eat the forbidden fruit,” they realized their future was ruined.

Afterward, although they would die, God promised a Redeemer who would reverse Satan’s scheme. Through God’s only Son, eternal life was restored for those who accept redemption.

Although often it brings joy, “forever” can be a troubling word. Like Adam and Eve, sometimes our choices mean we are changed forever. Suicide is a forever decision; it can’t be reversed. Rejecting Jesus can be a forever decision because “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:26-28).

The Book of Revelation is full of “forever” passages, most reasons to rejoice. “There will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5NLT).

“And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” (Revelation 5: 13NKJ).

”Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10NLT).

“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15KJ).

If we know Jesus and accept God’s love, even though we die, we will live forever, too. This is the theme of my new book, Swallowed by LIFE: “While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life” 2 Corinthians 5:4NLT).

©Ada Brownell 2012

Free Kindle today!

Ada’s book, “Swallowed by LIFE”

Get yours….  Click here!

Visit Ada’s Blog:

http://inkfromanearthenvessel.blogspot.com

The Fig Tree

enclosed picture credit:
c. by Lee Figenbaum http://www.thefigtree.net/
used by permission.
by: Lisa Lickel

Mark 11:12-14, 20-26

It’s so unfair, a poor little fig tree and leafed out. Jesus tries to pick a fig to eat, but there aren’t any. It’s not even the time for figs. Jesus isn’t disappointed. He’s not sad for the misguided tree. He’s not upset he can’t have a fig when he’s so hungry. Instead, Jesus is enraged, so out of his mind angry that he curses the tree. Can you imagine the searing breeze of that curse, withering the bright green leaves into brown crisps, cracking and peeling the bark, boiling the sap and finally shriveling roots?

For forty years I’d heard that story and I never understood what Jesus had against that tree. Until I realized that my writing career had done the same thing. I hadn’t put in the necessary prep time to understand what I was doing to encourage sales when my first novels were published. I was all leafed out, eager to show everyone I was someone! I had what it takes to produce…nothing. Without a foundation, fertilized soil, tender nurturing, I was worse than the seed of another parable that fell on thin soil and barely sprouted. I had a root that made promises to readers that I couldn’t keep.

I believe it’s okay to see your dream become reality. Go ahead and publish your book, hold it in your hands, see who’ll buy it. But do your homework first. Prepare the ground, line up the gardeners who will support you. Store water and gather fertilizer, but most of all, be ready at the right season of your life to nurture others with the work you have been blessed to share. No matter who helps you put your work out for show, make sure it’s more than pleasing to the eye on the outside, but also handsome and hearty for refreshment on the inside.

Thank you, Jesus, for the work you have commissioned from me. May it be pleasing, never false, in the Kingdom. Amen.

Books by Lisa Likel can be found here:

A Summer in Oakville

Meander Scar

Review of Topaz Treasure

Topaz Treasure by Valerie Comer

About the book:  Join a geocaching adventure in the spectacular Lake of the Ozarks wilderness, with Lyssa, the reluctant volunteer whose former nemesis is now her chief sponsor; Madison, a city girl paired with an outdoorsy guy who gets on her very last nerve; cautious Reagan, who meets an equally cautious guy; and Hadley, who doesn’t know enough about guys to realize she’s met a womanizer. Will they find the treasure they’re looking for … or something else entirely?

“Topaz Treasure” (first novella in Rainbow’s End) by Valerie Comer Closet believer Lyssa Quinn steps out of her comfort zone to help coordinate the Rainbow’s End geocaching hunt her church is using as an outreach event. She’s not expecting her former humanities prof–young, handsome, anti-Christian Kirk Kennedy–to be at the Lake of the Ozarks at all, let along in a position to provide sponsorship to the treasure hunt. How can she trust someone who once shredded her best friend’s faith?

Topaz Treasure is one out of 4 fun stories in the Rainbow’s End novel published by Barbour. I like novellas because of their length you can take them to read in the school car line or sports practices. Being theses stories are quick reads you feel like you had a little me time in your busy day.

 Topaz Treasure is a story of holding on to false beliefs, and unwillingness to accept others can change. Lyssa’s roommate was fearful that Lyssa would be hurt by Kirk, a known Christian mocker. Was she right? Not telling you! I don’t do spoilers. The story is set in the Ozarks and made me feel like I was home. Comer got the setting correct, right down to Ha Ha Tonka State Park. Lyssa and Kirk’s characters are well written as is the story. I do wish it could have been a novel so I could have stayed with the characters a bit longer. Topaz Treasure is a unique love story in that it centers around geocaching–hunting for treasure using a GPS. Intrigued by this hobby I’m hoping to take part in some of these myself. You can find out more about geocaching events here.

 

Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie grows much of her own food and is active in the local food movement as well as her church. She only hopes her imaginary friends enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, gardening and geocaching with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

Connect with Valerie Comer!

Connect at:

 

Buy Rainbows End

My 40-Day Fast From Marketing

by:  Precarious Yates

Not every single year, but many years during the season of Lent I abstain from something for 40 days. This year, 2012, I took time off from promoting my own book, blogs, etc.

What did I spend this new extra time doing?

I read Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

And I promoted other people’s work.

What did I learn? Well, I learned what you suspected anyway—my heart was not in the right place.

Before February 22, while I entered the information about my book into various social networks, my heart was filled with complaint (because of lack of sales), self doubt (questioning the content of what I wrote) and disappointment. Okay, which one of these was healthy and would drive up the sales?

Exactly.

So I took time off for 40 days.

And with all the self loathing that I was experiencing before Lent, you’d think the time off during Lent would be super easy.

Not.

I thought about it every single one of those 40 days.

But the fast was refreshing. And I’ll tell you why.

First of all, spending time with God in His word is always refreshing. I adore the Torah, and taking 40 days to study it extensively is always a treasure. I learned that God’s ways are not my ways. Woohoo!!!

I learned that my complaining ran parallel to the Israelites’ complaining. Uh, can you say ‘conviction’? The best kind, of course. The kind that leads to life and wholeness. Shalom.

I had been complaining in my heart of hearts that I’d never be successful as a writer.

What was I thinking? I could put in hours, I could have skill and talent galore, and I still wouldn’t make it anywhere without the favor and timing of God. If it’s not in His plan, do I really want to be doing this? And if it is in His plan, do I really need all the self-flagellation and groaning?

Here’s what else I learned, and I want you to pay real close attention to this, otherwise you might miss it: I’m glad I wrote what I did, because it was what God had put on my heart to write. Did you catch that? Because there’s something in it for you. I’ll say it again, I’m glad I wrote what I did. No second guessing. No, “Oh, if only I had done this, or that with the book.”

Granted, my writing skills are always growing and improving, so I’m not at all saying that it’s the best thing since Shakespeare. One day I hope to be that good, but I’m not today. And that’s okay.

I’m done with second guessing about The Elite of the Weak. It’s what God put on my heart. And I like it, in a very ‘outside of myself” kind of way. Those 40 days away from my book helped.

What else did I learn?

That there are some incredible indie books out there. The indie market is becoming a force to be reckoned with, and I’m glad I’m in that circuit. I get to help others who are in the same boat as me, throwing their beloved stories out into an overstuffed pool, hoping someone notices and picks it up. I get to help another writer by pushing their book to the top so it’d get noticed.

I became ecstatic when a fellow writer’s book began to sell. I’m not talking just mildly happy, it brightened my whole day. There were no more questions in my heart of ‘Why them and not me?’ And I was more than happy to see those questions gone. (Psst, readers like to read 😉 and they’ll still want to read when they put down my book.)

Are you new to the business? Do you have a book you’re getting ready to put out there? Do you want people to promote your book for you? Do for others what you would have them do for you. It helps more than you think it will. You do reap what you sow.

And lastly, listen to that still small voice of the Holy Spirit. If He’s prompting you to do something different from what everyone else around you says should be done, listen to Him. Even when it’s hard. When you listen to Him, I promise that times of refreshing will come.

God bless you!

Sarah Smith, writing as Precarious Yates

Final note: One of the main reasons I was fasting during Lent was to participate in the 40 Days Fast for Freedom with the Not For Sale campaign. They work raising awareness about modern day slavery. They work with survivors of sex slave trafficking. They also implement various programs in nations where the citizens (particularly children) are vulnerable, and they try to prevent the occurrence of slavery before it even starts. The issue of modern day slavery is a heart wrenching issue, but I encourage you—if you don’t know about it, take some time to educate yourself. I have many links on my website as places to begin your research.

www.precariousyates.com

precariousyates.wordpress.com

@precariousyates

www.facebook.com/precariousyates

Review: A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee

Review: A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer
Reviewed by Valerie Comer

On the heels of the Civil War, a dying man gave Doctor Travis Logan the deed to his Tennessee farm. The man’s brain must have been a bit addled, because he also offered Travis Heaven and Angel.

Life is tough in Tennessee as the war closes, and Heaven Wharton has her hands full keeping marauders off her land. Surely soon Pa will return to take Heaven and her sister off to Chicago. Too bad Heaven is a lousy shot. When she attempts to shoot over a man’s head, she accidentally grazes him instead. Horrified, she drags him into the house and tries to save his life.

Angel, her 12-year-old blind sister, has been trying to get a bit more freedom to do things on the farm, but Heaven has been protecting her. It’s been a stop-gap measure while they wait for Pa. But when the stranger regains consciousness, she finds that not only has Pa died and given away the family farm to this. . .this stranger, but he’s thrown in Heaven and Angel as well. Surely that can’t be right!

A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennesee is a wonderful glimpse of life in a difficult time. So many men didn’t return home from the Civil War and, of those who did, many were so changed they found it impossible to pick up their lives where they’d left off. This story showcases several characters with differing levels of war-induced trauma, making the issues feel very real.

Although I loved Heaven’s spunk and Travis’s determination, my favorite character was Angel. She has such conflicting emotions and no hesitation speaking up, from wondering if she is a suitable chaperone (being as she’s blind), to telling both Heaven and Travis things to make them think more kindly of the other. So many times I wanted to laugh and cry and cheer with Angel.

If you enjoy historical romance, or possibly even if you don’t, you’ll love A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennesee by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer. This is one of my favorite books so far this year.

Christian author Diana Lesire Brandmeyer lives in Southern Illinois where the corn grows at a rapid rate behind her home. She’s married and has three grown sons all on their own now, each of them bringing someone special to join the family. Yay! Daughter-in-laws!

Diana writes historical and contemporary romances. She’s also written We’re Not Blended-We’re Pureed, A Survivor’s Guide to Blended Families. Once widowed and now remarried she writes with humor and experience on the difficulty of joining two families.

A digital copy of this novel was provided by the author for review. However, the opinions are, as always, mine alone.

Welcome: Amy McGuire

I’m so pleased to welcome Amy McGuire to our author spotlight….

Can you tell us a little about your background, Amy?

I was born in Campbell River, B.C. and grew up the child of missionary parents in East Africa.  Due to my unique upbringing I have moved many times and experienced many cultures.  This I feel helped in the creation of my first published novel.  Since I was a little girl I have written stories.  In junior high I liked to write comedies but by high school I had graduated to writing romance and have never really considered writing anything else.  In 2009 I began the saga I am working on now, finishing up book 1-3 by the end of 2010.  Romance is my passion and I hope to continue to write love stories for many, many years to come.

I’m with you on the romance thing!  Tell us about who you are when you are not writing.

I’m a stay at home mom and have been since my little bunny arrived in May of 2008.  I love to sit and read just about anywhere, but I truly love the outdoors.  I love to dream and see inspiration in a lot of things around me.  My idea of the perfect vacation is one where I have my feet in the ocean, warm sand sifting between my toes, a book in one hand and a tall glass of root beer in the other.  The only decision I have to make is whether I’ll spend part of the day swimming or sightseeing.  I love the taste of chocolate, the softness of my daughter’s hair, the sound of birdsong, the smell of cut grass and suntan lotion in summer and the amazing contrast of colour in the world around me.

Who are your greatest influences either writing or personal?

I think Lucy Maud Montgomery would be one of my greatest influences.  Since I was very young I have read the Anne of Green Gables series many times.  Her characters are dreamers, thinkers and free spirited.  I think what draws me to her work the most though, is that she writes about Canada.  I read a lot of romance but find very, very few based in Canada.  I don’t know why that is, since Canada is so beautiful and diverse.  As such, I think she truly inspired me to write what I know and love.

If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be and why?

‘No dream is too big if you’re willing to work for it’ and ‘you’re never too old to fulfill your dreams’.  Those are two pieces of advice my mother gives me often.  She has taught me to dream big and go after those dreams.  I know we are put on this earth to care for others and have a relationship with our creator, but I also know we were meant to dream and strive for those dreams, as long as they won’t harm others.

What has been your greatest challenge in life so far?  How did you handle it?

Motherhood, hands down.  It’s been a joy as well as a true challenge to raise a child in this world.  There are moments I question whether I’m the right girl for the job.  I’m so grateful to have a big God to take care of both of us.

Motherhood.  Definitely a new challenge every day!  So, what do you like to read?  What are some of your favorites that you have read?

I like to read romance, the occasional young adult novel and a romantic comedy if it makes me laugh out loud.  My favourites are pretty much anything by Nora Roberts, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Anne of Green Gables, The Twilight Saga (there, I admitted it) despite the writing (the story was good but made a much better movie saga than books), Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness and Piercing The Darkness, The Oath, Visitation, a few of Debbie MacComber’s works, the occasional Fern Michael’s book.

Peretti is one of my literary heroes as well.  🙂  So what are you working on now? 

I am currently working on editing as well as marketing Sweet Love, the first in my The Heart’s Five Senses saga.  I hope to have it in print edition from CreateSpace for sale on Amazon as well as for any book signings I may have in the future.  Book Two, The Essence of Romance is due to come out in e-book format in December with a print edition shortly thereafter.  I have a blog I try to keep updated with all the latest happenings with my books and a website I am proud to say I created myself.  You can find both at www.shesanauthor.com.  I have recently started being a guest on a Google On Air program for Indie Authors hosted by Jason Matthews and AC Cruz.  It runs every night from 6-7 pm PST, 9-10pm EST and we talk about the different elements of self publishing.  I’m very excited to be an author in such a digital age where someone on the completely opposite side of the world can buy my book and be reading it only minutes later.

Where can readers find you on the ‘net? 

My website as I stated before is www.shesanauthor.com and my book can be found at www.shesanauthor.com/webstore and http://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Love-ebook/dp/B0077IUEX6/ref=sr_1_44?ie=UTF8&qid=1332876155&sr=8-44

Thank you so much for this fantastic opportunity, Staci.

Thanks so much for joining us, Amy!  It was great to have you.  Please come back and share with us again!

 

What Can Cemeteries Teach Us About Life?

by: Lisa Likel

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

The people of long ago are not remembered… (vs. 11)

Walking through cemeteries is a favorite pastime of mine. As a historian, the gravestones call out to me, telling the story of who once breathed and walked and then died in this place. Sometimes the stories are poignant–drownings or illness taking whole families. I’m amused by the woman surrounded by her several husbands. Sometimes there’s an infant or elderly people who made their way across the sea to start a new life in a new place at an advanced age.

The care of these graves tell a story, too: who is left to remember? Are there flowers, bushes, flags, toys? Is the marker in good shape or faded and crumbling, maybe sunken or fallen? The people of long ago… I carry my thoughts on to who will remember me. What legacy will I leave? Even if there is truly nothing new under the sun, surely there is something precious to leave behind. Micah 6:8 teaches that God’s requirements are that we should act with justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. I want to be remembered for being that kind of person.

Things I can do:

Pick up that piece of garbage

Give a quarter at the checkout lane when the person in front of me is short

Let the other car in

Give the memories of my grandparents to my children

Take the single parent neighbor kids to church and shopping for Mother’s Day

Thank you, Father, for all those who walked before me, setting the example. Amen.

Photo courtesy of Larry and Linda Kopet

*~*

Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives with her husband in a hundred and sixty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. Surrounded by books and dragons, she writes inspiring fiction. Her novels include mystery and romance, all with a twist of grace. She is the editor in chief of Creative Wisconsin Magazine and of OtherSheep, a Christian sci fi/fantasy magazine.

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