Saturday, December 27, 2008

It Was the Most Wonderful Day of the Year!

I thought I should bring an update as to how my Christmas alone with God turned out.

The day dawned very cold, but sunny, however, I was awake and drinking coffee before dawn. Without delay, I dove right into my time with the Lord. Since I had already listed the different areas of my life that I wanted to pray about and for, I divided the time up by those areas, beginning with relationships. I used a devotional type book a friend Julie Ieron wrote called Praying Like Jesus and read a variety of her writings that seemed to pertain to the topic which would lead into specific thoughts and prayers which I journaled back to God. It was awesome! In between the segments of prayer I would take a few minutes break and then come back.

The day flew by, and when I got to health, I decided to take a walk. What better way to pray about health then to get exercising. I got outside and quickly realized that the sun may be out but it was still very cold . . . and icy! So I sat in my car and warmed it up while I prayed there.

When I got the middle of the afternoon, I fought through sleepyness and and reviewed what I had prayed about. Since I journal most of my prayers, it was easy to remember what I'd taken to the Lord that day. I finished about an hour before I was to leave for my friend's house and it was enough time to transition back to Christmas celebration mode. When I arrived at my friend's house, I was ready for some company. We had a great time over a wonderful meal and some fun games that had me laughing harder than I had in a long while.

All in all, the day was perfect. After all, God planned it! :-)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Silent Night, Holy Night

This year God has called me to do something I never thought I would do. To choose to not drive north to Wisconsin to spend Christmas with friends, but instead stay home and spend it with Him. Being single with no immediate family in the area, for the past several years I've spent Christmas Day with my good friend, Andrea, who lives about two hours away.

It happened yesterday when I sat quiet enough to listen for God's still, small voice and I got the impression I was to stay home.

"Do you mean, here, all alone on Christmas God?"

"But, you won't be alone. You'll have Me like always. You and I have a lot to talk about."

But, it's Christmas."

"What better time to spend a day together. Just you and Me?"

"Okay, but You'll have to show me this is really what you want."

And God did show me. I asked two friends to pray for me and they affirmed it was a positive thing to do. And the idea grew on me. A day of solitude with Jesus on the day we celebrate as His birthday. But what would Andrea think? Won't she be disappointed? I'd pray a bit more about it. Then a long-time friend called and invited me to Christmas dinner tomorrow late in the afternoon. Was this God again, saying after a long time alone with him it would be nice to have a meal with good friends? I told her I'd let her know this morning because I had given it until this morning--Christmas Eve day--to decide for sure.

This morning I woke up to a gentle snow. The picture is the tree in front of my living room window. It was like being in the middle of a snow globe. With God's beauty in view, I opened the daily devotional, Streams in the Desert, to today's reading and here is what it said, "We would be better Christians if we spent more time alone, and we would actually accomplish more if we attempted less, and spent more time in isolation and quiet waiting upon God."

Well, there it was. Plain and simple. I got excited and began listing out the areas of my life that I need to be in prayer over. My writing of course. My volunteer work with ACFW and church and community. My relationships. My health. I don't mean to make it sound like it's all about me, because it isn't. It's about my relationship with Him. The One whose birthday we celebrate tomorrow. Every one of those things I listed: writing, volunteering, relationships, health. They all intertwine with Him and my relationship with Him. He provides everything I need for life as Peter states in one of his letters. He is my life source and all areas of my life must be bathed in prayer.

I called Andrea and she understood. In fact, in the middle of the night she had a sense she should tell me not to come tomorrow. That maybe the winter weather was too dicey. I don't think the weather was why she had that feeling. It was God.

So tonight I sit here excited to be up early tomorrow morning...probably before dawn and to begin my day in the presence of my Lord.

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

CFBA Blog Tour: Neta Jackson's "Where Do I Go?"

A story of seeking-and finding-God's will in unlikely places.

Woo hoo! I've been waiting so long to read this book. I'm a fan of Neta Jackson. Have been ever since the Yada Yada Prayer Group Book One came out. She didn't expect it to be more than a stand-alone book, and one book evolved into six. About this time last year, I read the last one which had a Christmas theme and felt as though I were saying farewell to many good friends, never to be seen again. I comforted myself by listening to the earlier books on audio while I walked, but even those came to an end because only the first four were ever recorded.

Then Neta and her husband Dave, who is an author in his own right, visited my local ACFW chapter last July and announced that she had a new series coming out that would be set in Manna House, the women's homeless shelter that had become so prominent in the Yada Yada stories. And, although the stories would have a new protagonist, the Yada Yada's would be making "cameo" appearances throughout. I was very stoked.

Last week I received my copy of Where Do I Go and dove right in. What fun to meet Gabby Fairbanks, this series' new heroine, and so delightful to reunite with many of the Yada Yada's. It felt like old homeweek to me. There was Josh and Edesa as newlyweds, and Estelle. and Avis. Of course, Jodie the protag in the Yada Yada books. popped up too. It did seem a little different to have her not be the storyteller (the books are in first person POV) and to see her from the perspective of someone who didn't know her backstory. But it was kind of fun to have that perspective that Jodie couldn't give herself in her own words.

The storyline brings Gabby, a newcomer to Chicago and well-to do living on Chicago's glorious lakefront in a highrise penthouse, down to earth when she encounters a bag lady. That leads to her being introduced to Manna House and, before she knows it, she finds herself applying to work there. You can imagine how this goes over with Philip her husband who comes down from proper Virgina stock and has always lived in high places, and I mean not just in penthouses mind you.

If you are a Yada Yada fan, I know you will love this book. But even if Neta's writing is new to you, you will love it. She gives us a inside look into life in a Christian women's shelter and into the clashing of the lives of the rich living among the have-nots in the big city. The story reminds me of what Jesus said in Revelation 3 to the Church at Laodicia. He quoted them as saying they were rich and needed nothing more. He told them that what he has is gold refined in fire that they can become truly rich and white garments that far out-dazzle their designer threads. That was my own version. In this story Gabby finds true wealth at a shelter of homeless women and the people who serve God through serving those women than she ever found marrying into a wealthy family.

You can imagine the tension between these two worlds as Gabby struggles to keep her marriage on even keel, keep the peace with her critical mother-in-law, deal with an aging mother who lives a distance away, and be a mom to her two boys. She finally finds the answer to the question, "Where do I go?" Of course there is only one answer.

You also need to check out Dave Jackson's book, Henry Bentley's Second Chance, which uniquely is a parallel book about the doorman in Gabby's highrise building. Henry figures strongly in Neta's book and has his own story in Dave's.

Romantic Times Book Reviews says, “Exquisite characters coupled with God's mercy and love emanate from each page.”

Publisher's Weekly adds,“Jackson's Yada Yada series has sold half a million copies, and this new offshoot series ... promises the same.... The book's dramatic ending ... leav[es] readers eager for the next installment in the series.”

As a husband/wife writing team, Dave and Neta Jackson are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together they are the authors or coauthors of over 100 books. In addition to writing several books about Christian community, the Jacksons have coauthored numerous books with expert resource people on a variety of topics from racial reconciliation to medical ethics to ministry to kids in gangs.

Dave and Neta live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years they were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. They are now members of a multi-racial congregation in the Chicago area.

They're trying something new! Not just new for them, but something completely new in Christian fiction: “Parallel novels,” two stories taking place in the same time frame, same neighborhood, involving some of the same characters living through their own dramas and crises but interacting with and affecting one another … just the way it happens in real life.

It’s something that only a husband and wife writing team could pull off. While Neta has Where Do I Go?, her husband Dave has written Harry Bentley's Second Chance.

You can buy Where Do I Go at Amazon. Go now, do not delay. You won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

CFBA Feature: Brandilyn Collins' Dark Pursuit

Have you ever wondered if fiction imitates life or life imitates fiction? Brandilyn Collins's newest release, DARK PURSUIT, fills the bill. Brandilyn is known for taglines like "Don't Forget to Breathe" or "Seatbelt Suspense®" to describe her stories and Dark Pursuit falls right into this description. I started the book just before Thanksgiving and with great reluctance had to put it down until now thanks to the holiday weekend. I cannot wait to pick it up again and finish it. I can't leave Kaitlan in her predicament or Darell still trying to help his grandaughter.


Brandilyn Collins is known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. She is currently working on her 20th book. For chances to win free copies of her work, join her Fan Club on Facebook. Here’s what Brandilyn has to say about why she wrote Dark Pursuit:

In John Milton’s Paradise Lost Satan’s followers, kicked out of heaven, boast about storming the gates and reclaiming their territory. Beelzebub scoffs at their boasting as merely “hatching vain empires” and suggests a different revengeful scheme: seduce mankind away from God. So Satan visits the Garden of Eden to teach humans the very thing he and his cohorts have learned to be futile—the dark pursuit of hatching their own vain empires instead of following God. He presented man with this “gift” of death, disguised as life. And man fell for it.

Upon this theme of man’s fall and spiritual blindness, I created the characters and events in Dark Pursuit. The story clips along at a fast pace, with much symbolism running underneath.


Dark Pursuit—A twisting story of murder, betrayal, and eternal choices

Novelist Darell Brooke lived for his title as King of Suspense—until an auto accident left him unable to concentrate. Two years later, reclusive and bitter, he wants one thing: to plot a new novel and regain his reputation.

Kaitlan Sering, his twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, once lived for drugs. After she stole from Darell, he cut her off. Now she’s rebuilding her life. But in Kaitlan’s town two women have been murdered, and she’s about to discover a third. She’s even more shocked to realize the culprit—her boyfriend, Craig, the police chief’s son.

Desperate, Kaitlan flees to her estranged grandfather. For over forty years, Darell Brooke has lived suspense. Surely he’ll devise a plan to trap the cunning Craig.

But can Darell’s muddled mind do it? And—if he tries—with what motivation? For Kaitlan’s plight may be the stunning answer to the elusive plot he seeks...

Read the first chapter of Dark Pursuit, HERE.

You can order your very own copy at Amazon. You won't be sorry!