Tuesday, April 28, 2015

GOD'S NOT DEAD! HE'S ALIVE!

GOD’S NOT DEAD, the movie, debuted one year ago, but I believe it is so relevant in these times and don’t want it to be forgotten! To encourage those who may have missed it to see it--though I’m not usually a movie reviewer--I've chosen to bring ti to you today!




My husband and I took two of our grandsons, ages eleven and fourteen, to see the movie GOD’S NOT DEAD, a powerful, Indy Christian movie. We all enjoyed it very much, and when it was over, went to texting as the Christian band Newsboys suggested all the movie-goers do—text everyone you know this simple, not-so-subtle message: ‘God’s Not Dead’.

Opening weekend, March 21, 2014, ticket sales landed the Pure Flix release in the top-five earning films with $8.6M though showing on only 730 screens. Christians showing up in droves doubled the per-screen revenues of ‘The Muppets Most Wanted’. While this surprised the analysts, it came as no shocker to the distribution company’s expectations due to the exciting engagement numbers prior to GOD’S NOT DEAD’s release. 

A college freshman, played by Shane Harper, wears his cross necklace signing up for a philosophy course even though forewarned that the professor will beat him down in an effort to crush his Christian faith. 
The first thing the atheist instructor (Kevin Sorbo) does is force every student in his class to write ‘God is dead’ on a sheet of paper and sign it. But Josh Wheaton refuses and Professor Radisson declares he will fail and break him. The two strike a deal that Josh will have twenty minutes in the next three classes to do his best to prove God is not dead to the students who have just all signed the papers.

While these classes take place, other characters’ stories are introduced: a Muslim student hiding her recent conversion from her strict father, Reverend Dave serving in the college town trying to show his visiting Nigerian preacher friend a good time, a vegan reporter Amy who learns she has cancer and her wealthy, career driven boyfriend, Mark, his Christian sister Mena—Radisson’s live-in girlfriend—their mother suffering with dementia, one of the students in the class, a young Chinese man under conviction.
Josh’s girlfriend Karen has their lives all planned out and demands that he not buck the professor who can ruin him and their future together. His parents, never on-screen, are also against taking that path, seems everyone is, but with the reverend’s encouragement, Josh defies them all to do what he believes is the right, and God blesses his efforts to prepare for his debate with his professor.

A fun scene is when the real Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson and his wife are ambushed by the reporter trying to dispel their religion, but end up sharing their testimony with the dying woman. There’s a minimal amount of violence in the film depicted when the Muslim father knocks his daughter around before putting her out of their home and at the end when Radisson, on his way to the Newsboys’ concert to make up with Mena, is hit by a car.
All the stories are nicely tied up as the players all end up at the concert. Karen breaks it off with Josh, so he invites the Chinese student to use her ticket (bought earlier for his and Karen’s first date anniversary). The reporter barges into the band’s back room for an interview, but ends up getting prayed for. Seems everything is playing against Reverend Dave getting his friend to the planned trip, but the Nigerian continually encourages him that it’s okay because God is on the throne and in control. They end up being at the scene of the accident and pray with the professor.
The three times that Josh addresses the philosophy class are wonderful and anointed and provide a powerful persuasion that God is not dead using philosophers through the centuries and up to Steven Hawking. Can he convince his fellow students though? The film exposes academia’s liberal agenda practiced today on college campuses across our country. To my grandsons chagrin—by the way, they sat on the edge of their seats by the end of the movie—I waited, blocking their exit, to read the all the credits that cited hundreds of ongoing legal cases that fight for the rights of Christian students and professors.

It’s definitely a movie with a message, and for God, for Christendom, it’s a good one! For liberal agnostics and atheists, maybe not so much, except they may walk out converted. Journalists Adam R. Holtzand Steven Isaac banner on the Huffington Post Religion Blog claim the film Preys on Evangelical fear. They report GOD’S NOT DEAD pits conservative Christianity against the forces of plurality in contemporary culture. I’d agree and declare Christianity won!
Endorsed by The American Family Association’s president, GOD’S NOT DEAD is purposeful family entertainment well worth the price of the tickets to take the whole family. I highly recommend that churches make sure their entire youth groups to see this great movie that honors God and advances His Kingdom on earth. It's available on DVD now, too!
I guarantee if you’re a follower of Christ, you won’t regret spending your decision watching GOD’S NOT DEAD, but rather be energized to go and share the good news that:

God lives! 

Hallelujah! Y'all be blessed!


One teeny disclaimer as a writer, I just want you all to know I would have preferred GOD ISN'T DEAD. It's become something I'm acutely aware of on the written page as well as in my speech--and others'. When claiming ANYthing "is not" whatEVER, it sounds so much better to contract the 'is not' to 'isn't.' The more common tradition is to put the 'apostrophe 'S' of the 'is' onto the subject--herein 'God'--which lets the 'S' slide in front of the 'not' forming the new word SNOT.
Yuckadoo! Drippy body fluids escaping the nostril...SO...next time you want to say 'That is not gross', please remember 'That isn't gross' versus 'That's not gross'...because it just is! :) Thank you for allowing this wee  rant. I appreciate your indulgence.  




SING A NEW SONG, is my new release for April, a Christian contemporary romance, book two of the Red River Romance series. Mary Esther wins fame as a singer with a Christian band, but becomes disillusioned and goes home where she runs into her childhood best friend and first kisser, Samuel Levi Baylor. He's been tending cows and sharing the Good News every chance he gets in the twenty years they've been separated. He wrote to her, but the letters all came back marked returned to sender. Can puppy love be rekindled?




Saturday, April 25, 2015

Blessings, Blessings, All Around!


Today, I'm so blessed and excited to highlight my upcoming historical Christian Texas Romance - SINS OF THE MOTHERS - at Faith, Friends, and... Chocolate! It debuts on my 65th birthday, May 3rd, 2015! (eBook now available for pre-orders!) Yeppers, I was born in the wonderful year of 1950!

This novel is book four in the series that began March 2014 when Simon & Schuster's Howard Books released VOW UNBROKEN set in 1832. Vow Unbroken features Sins of the Mother's heroine Mary Rachel's parents, and envelopes you into Henry and Sue's love story. 

Then book two HEARTS STOLEN launched in September that year set in 1844 with Sue's fourteen-year-old nephew as its hero. His heroine Sassy is the friend (name mentioned in Vow Unbroken) of his younger sister-cousin Rebecca. She's nine in Vow Unbroken and so, 21 in Hearts Stolen and has alerted her Texas Ranger, cousin-brother Levi to be watching for her friend Sassy who just disappeared one day, but Indians had been spotted in the area. His Aunt Sue and Uncle Henry are brought in at the end of the story and you meet their four little girls. 

Starting Tomorrow - SUNDAY, April 26th - HEARTS STOLEN (eBook format) will be FREE and HOPE REBORN on sale for less than 50% regular price: $3.33! 

Each book stands alone, but as with most series, better enjoyed read in order. So book three then is HOPE REBORN. It's set in 1850-1851 and the heroine, Millicent May Meriwether is a New York dime novelist bored with the same old stories. An article on a couple of Texas Rangers catches her attention and causes her to leave almost immediately for the Lone Star State to interview the real-life heroes for new inspiration. She finds way more than she ever bargained for in the wild west.

      Henry and Sue's oldest daughter Mary Rachel Buckmeyer is seventeen and a big fan of the famous author and is thrilled to transcribe her latest novel so the original can be sent to her New York publisher before its deadline. So readers get to meet her in book three Hope Reborn before she carries her own story SINS OF THE MOTHERS.


Propelled by blind love, Mary Rachel Buckmeyer defies her father to elope with Caleb Wheeler. The newlyweds run off to California then partner with his cousin in his dry goods business. Unbeknownst to the young bride, her new husband sends his kissing cousin ahead. He wants his love and his new wife’s money, too. Betrayal and murder drive Mary, soon a young mother, to the depths of despair. But she hates the man who loves her enough to cover her sins and deliver her out of the horrible pit she’s dug for herself. Or does she?
     Mary Rachel travels from frontier Texas to the raw bone boomtown of 1850’s San Francisco gold rush days, then all the way to genteel New York to find redemption for the sins of her mothers. 


Would you enjoy a short excerpt? 

Here's how Sins of the Mothers starts off...

     With everyone on the porch for the clan’s sendoff, Mary Rachel decided for sure and for certain and could wait no longer. She took a deep breath and hugged his neck. “Daddy, I’m sorry. I really am, but I can’t go. No, I mean I’m not going. I can’t leave. I won’t.”

     He leaned back and stared at her for too long a minute, his face suddenly stone cold. “What did you just say?”
     She grimaced; steam rose to her cheeks. He softened just like he always had when her mother turned on him. Saying it aloud made it all the more real, strengthened her resolve. “I cannot be gone for seven months. I thought for a while maybe I could, but I can’t, Daddy.”
     Her new mother stepped close. “But Mary Rachel, why? It’s the trip of a lifetime. I promise you’ll adore Europe.”
     “It’s just Mary now, please. No Rachel. That’s what Caleb calls me.”
      His voice lowered to almost a whisper, he slipped some of the steel back on. “So. This is about that boy.”
     “He’s a man, Daddy, and you know it. We love each other.”
     “If he loves you, baby, then he’ll wait. It’s only seven months. He should be thrilled you have this opportunity to travel Europe.”
     “Well, I’ve made my decision, and I’m not going.”
     “We’ve booked your passage.”
     “I know, and I’m sorry. I should have told you sooner, but I knew you wouldn’t be happy about my decision.” She looked off at the tree line, hating the disappointment in his eyes. But that was a coward’s way, so she faced him again. “Like I said, I thought I could. Anyway, let Bonnie take my place.”
     From somewhere, her youngest sister burst into the middle. “Can I, Daddy? Please take me! I’ll be good. Mama, tell him how good I’ll be.” She turned those doe eyes on him. “Pleeeease.”


* * * * *

     Six miles, north by northwest as the turkey vultures soar from Clarksville, Texas, the very reason Mary stayed home, rode his best mule as he skidded the black walnut saw log back to his cabin. Caleb looked behind. “Slow, girl, almost there.”  
     He nudged the animal a bit further, the timber only feet from his makeshift hoist. Two more steps, then he eased Harley Sue to a stop. He hopped down then rubbed the old girl’s near ear.   “You sure are a good mule.”
     The distant rattle of trace chains turned him east, for a minute he stared, then she waved. “Well, look here what the cat drug in.” He unhooked the skid and led Harley Sue to the barn’s corral; got back before Lanelle had the brake set on her wagon. “She go?”
     “Nope.”
      He nodded. “You sure? Saw it with your own eyes?”
     “Yep, he took the three younger girls, but not the princess.” She stood and threw him a smirk. “Help me down.”
     “Sure.” He stepped toward her with his arms held out, she fell into them. He caught her then twirled her around as she wrapped hers around his neck. He set her feet to the ground then stepped back a bit. Business first. “Anyone see you turn on my road?” 
     “No, but what difference would it make? I’m only bringing supplies for my kin.”
     “True, you get it all?”
     “A pound of salt pork, two ounces of salt, and a pound of coffee, but you best get yourself to town. Old man Hobbs wants a word with you. Wasn’t too happy when I told him to put it on your bill ‘stead of Pappy’s.”
     Caleb nodded toward his wagon. “I should have this lumber loaded by Saturday. I’ll see to him on my way to Jefferson.”
     She shrugged then turned and moseyed toward the cabin. “That last batch any better?”
     Heading the opposite direction to the well, he soon went to cranking; retrieved the jug, pulled the cork, and sipped a taste. When he didn’t follow, she looked around then trotted to him grinning. He extended his home brew. “You tell me.”
     Always a sight to behold, she accepted the jug without an ounce of pretension. Licked her lips then took a short pull and wiped her mouth. “Boogers, Caleb.” She grinned then got herself a real drink. “Woo! I’d say that may be the best you’ve cooked yet.”

     He took the jug back and sipped a few gulps more. Burned good all the way down. Replacing the cork, he nodded toward the cabin. “You got time?”

OH DEAR! Mary Rachel's love is a cad!


Here's what beta readers (those who read SINS OF THE MOTHERS early) are saying...

I've often wondered if the past can repeat itself in a person's life and Mary Rachel Buckmeyer gave me my answer. Love, betrayal, despair, the sweet faith of little children, and the perseverance of a miner. These all made for a wonderful story of what life was like in San Francisco during the gold rush of the 1850's. When I finished the last page of Mary's story, I smiled and thought... I loved this story! But... There had better be another book coming because I want more of these Buckmeyer's! I'd recommend this story to anyone who enjoys reading  a good Christian, historical fiction of the 1800's.

                 --Deanna Stevens, Nebraska reader

                  

Another great story of Christian love. It has strong characters and great story of second chances. The story of Hosea marrying the harlot is interwoven into the plot. The witness of God's voice speaking to you, forgiveness, and God giving you the desire of your heart if you listen to His voice is also interwoven into the plot. I love the romance, history, and faith. Can't wait for the next book. Caryl McAdoo is an awesome writer.

                  --Joy Gibson, Tennessee reader


BIO: Christian, hybrid (Simon & Schuster & Indie) author Caryl McAdoo is currently writing three series, all from a perspective of faith: her historical Texas Romances; the contemporary Red River Romances; and The Generations, her Biblical fiction. The novelist loves singing new songs the Lord gives her, and she paints. In 2008, she and her high school sweetheart-husband Ron moved from the DFW area—home for fifty-five years—to the woods of Red River County. Caryl counts four children and fifteen grandsugars life’s biggest blessings believing all good things come from God. Praying each story gives God glory, she hopes it will also minister His love, mercy, and grace to its readers. Caryl and Ron live in Clarksville, the county seat, in the far northeast corner of the Lone Star State.


Here's How to Find Me Online:

All Books   /  Website  (All First Chapters are offered here)  /   Facebook  /  Personal Blog  /  The Caryler newsletter (Get FREE books for subscribing!)  /  GoodReads  /   Twitter  /   Google+  /  Pinterest  /  Reviewer?   (Join Caryl’s Street Team!)

WIN FREE PRINT COPY!!

I'd love to award a free copy of SINS OF THE MOTHERS to a visitor here at Faith, Friends, and... Chocolate. Just sign up for The Caryler, my monthly newletter (plus to thank you, I send a free eBook every quarter!) AND comment here to let me know you did! :) BLESSINGS! 



AND, I also want to take this opportunity to give a fellow Christian author a shout out! Edie Melson is one of our own here at Faith, Friends, and... Chocolate and has an awesome new book that deserves your attention! 
     
WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES offers prayers and scripture references for the person at home to pray for the soldier they love and for themselves as they wait. With over 2.3 million active and reserve military personnel, there are that many families who are waiting at home and praying for their well being. 
      While My Soldier Serves features 111 prayers for their soldier and 53 prayers for the one who waits at home. These thoughtful, specific prayers target the needs soldiers face every day such as for wisdom, strength, faith, protection, encouragement, comfort, and their team. Prayers for the one who waits at home include fear, loneliness, patience, faith, strength, and community. 

    Written so that it can be used by anyone who loves a soldier, it is perfect for parents, spouses, friends, or even groups who band together to pray for our soldiers. Foreword by Todd Starnes, best-selling author and contributor to Fox News.
     Doesn't that just sound like a great book??

    



HUGS and BLESSINGS and THANK YOU for stopping by today! Don't forget to leave a comment to let us know you were here :)








  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

From Slogging to Shelter

Wavebreak Media Ltd
Ever work really hard, only to achieve nothing? Or at least, not nearly what you had intended to accomplish?

It’s been like that in my life lately.

Sometimes it’s not a big deal, like when I toil for hours and can't get the new church budget to balance. With more people in committee, we’ll get it done.

In my writing life, I can kind of see where maybe God has a plan. I signed with an agent about a year ago. I just completed a second manuscript, so she now has two. The idea, of course, is that she will sell them to a bigger house than the one who published my first two. They’ll be available in stores, and more online sites like ChristianBook.com, so I’ll sell more books, my message will reach more people, the word of Christ will be spread further in this world, and I will be privileged to be a tiny part of that.

That’s the plan, anyway. Right now, though, nothing’s
happening, at least that I can see. So I just have to be patient, really patient. And in the meantime, I just keep writing.

In my personal life, the plan is not so clear. Some days I try and try and it feels like I am going backwards. Dealing with people is not like reaching a daily word count. Practicing forbearance and meekness is not as easy as editing and layering in sensory details. Holding my tongue is much more difficult than showing, not telling.

Relationships are hard work. I think most of us know marriages are work, but so are all other relationships. Some more than others. Some we like working at more than others, and in some the other person doesn’t really do their part. But we still have to do ours.

But we have to remember, God is always there for us. He reminds us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9) I tend to forget this, and just try to slog through the muck.

©Anna Yakimova
But schlepping through mud on your own when your buddy is next to you, holding out His hand, is just dumb.

And on those days, when I’m done slogging and whining and pouting and crying, and all that is left is to collapse into a ball on the ground, what I need to do is make sure I fall at His feet, because “he who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1)

Can you imagine a more beautiful retreat from the aches of this world than the shadow of God Himself?

But it must be a temporary shelter, because that is not where we belong. We can rest in His arms, but then we must return to our work, to our world. We must take His love, His light, His salvation to weary and hurting people. 

And keep trying. Even when we can’t see the results. Because He can.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Creativity Like No Other

When you think of being creative, what do you think of? As a writer, I think of creating words and characters that draw my readers to turn the next page. I think of storylines that show Christ’s character and His redemptive love. But overall, I’d say creativity is the ability to take an idea and make something meaningful out of that idea.

The words creativity and meaningful took on such a stronger context two years ago when I learned my six-year-old was legally blind in both eyes.

I remember the first day she came home from school with her glasses. She jumped out of the van and headed straight for a weed in the yard.

She knelt and stared at that pink patch on the ground for who knows how long before she turned to me and asked, “Can I put this in my room?”

I bit back tears because the weed to me was nothing of value, but to my daughter, it was the most beautiful flower she’d ever seen. The sparkle in her eyes for that weed fueled my creativity, but it also begged the question, how can I help my daughter see the things she’s missed?

We began a special scrapbook, dragged out old pictures, and poured through them both so she could make new memories. We’ve pinched leaves off bushes, played in the dirt, caught lizards, toads—yes, I caught a toad! Never thought I’d try to go toad hunting before, but it was so worth it by how fascinated she was with the bumps on its back. I’d do anything for her.

Isn’t God like that with us in a way, creating the heavens, the sun and clouds by day and the moon and stars by night. Creating the babes we hold dear in our arms and how our hearts yearn for them … an overwhelming love and fierce desire to protect them from harm. A glimpse of who God is and His love for us.

Our Father finds different ways to speak to our hearts, to draw us near Him, because when

Photo by Gualberto107 taken from freedigitalphotos.net
we look up at the stars or the feather-like clouds above, I can picture God looking upon us. I can picture God saying, “These things are nothing of value in my eyes compared to you, they are a reminder to you of who I AM. And you, my daughter, are worth more than anything this world has to offer. I made you. I gave you life through My son, Jesus. I’d do anything for you.”

Ephesians 1: 13-14 says, “Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.”

Perhaps the Lord is saying to you, “How can I help My daughter see the things she’s missed?” Or, perhaps He’s asking you to help others see the beauty of His creation, so that they too can understand the depth of His love?

God gave His son for us and raised Jesus from the grave so that we may have life in Him for all eternity. Indeed, this is the greatest creativity and my mind cannot fathom it.

It’s called REDEEMED.
_____________
~ Tanya Eavenson enjoys spending time with her husband, and their three children. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Word Weavers International, and writes for Christ to the World Ministries. Her books are available on Amazon and other retailers. You can find her at http://www.tanyaeavenson.com/

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What if...? The Greatest Hinderance to Obedience

It's been used and misused so often, it's become
cliche, as have those of us who wear it. The phrase: What Would Jesus Do. I'm certain it started as a powerful, heartfelt urging to truly live out the sentiments implied by the phrase. And I think most of us still want to. Oh, to live our lives completely surrendered to Christ!

So what stops us?

Most times, I believe, it's the unknown that holds us back. The what if. And what fuels the what ifs? Most often, selfishness. This almost innate urging within us to strive and grasp for blessings and promotions and material things, as if that's the only way our needs will be met.

This isn't new. This urge to grab hold of things started long ago in the Garden of Eden when Eve, ignoring the abundance--the immense grace!--all around her, decided it wasn't enough. Not only was it not enough, but she had to grab hold of that one thing she felt she was missing, stating in essence that God couldn't or wouldn't provide for her. That He'd withhold something good, something amazing, from her.

The result? She got what she wanted, and she found, in grasping for that thing, she lost the abundance she'd been freely given.

Every time I grab and grasp and strive, whether it be for something as little as that place in the grocery line or that last piece of chocolate (eek!) or something more personal like prestige or respect, I'm doing the same thing. I'm ignoring the amazing grace provided for me on the cross so I can chase after lesser things. In essence I'm saying I don't trust God to give me what I need; that I don't truly believe His grace is enough.

It's as if I've completely lost site of eternity and the price He paid to get me there. Moreover, when I give in to self, whether my act is big or small, I'm distorting the beauty of grace. But when I choose to offer my whole self to Christ, dying to self, as the Bible calls it, I reveal the life-changing power of the Resurrection.

Holy week, I began reading In His Steps by Charles Monroe Sheldon, and in it, the pastor challenges his congregation to ask themselves this question each day. He challenged them to "earnestly and honestly for an entire year, not to do anything without first asking the question, 'What would Jesus do?' And after asking that question, each one will follow Jesus as exactly as he knows how, no matter what the results may be.'" (Pg. 14)

A simple question, and one I imagine we'd all agree we need to be asking. But it's the ending of the pastor's challenge that makes it difficult. Uncomfortable.

When I read that passage, my heart quickened . "Yes, Lord! I want to do that!" I prayed. But then my rational side began to take over, leading me down all the what ifs in various areas of my life. I'd lay them out, but I imagine you have a few what ifs of your own. I hadn't gotten far on my anxiously speculating journey, however, when another thought came, this one quite convicting: Do I really trust God with my life? And regardless of what happens or where He leads me, do I really love Him more than all of these, whatever those these may be?

Still pondering all of this, I went to church on Sunday where I was reminded of my Savior's crucifixion.

Photo by bela_kiefer taken from freedigitalphotos.net
Which he endured for me.

And for you.

Suddenly, all my what ifs lost momentum. Because the cross changes everything.

I pray God will help me keep the cross on the forefront of my mind, that He will burn within me a passion that overrides any tendency toward selfishness or apathy, so that I can, daily, live out the words of Romans 12:1, in which Paul urges me, no pleads with me, in view of God's mercy, in view of the life Christ shed for me, to give my body (my mind, my will, my heart, my actions, my deepest needs) to God because of all He has done for me. That will be my living and holy sacrifice--the kind He will find acceptable. For that is truly the way to worship Him.

In view of God's mercy... That's a powerful, convicting phrase, isn't it?

What about you? What do you believe to be your greatest hinderance to surrendered obedience? How does remembering Christ's death on the cross help? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and don't forget to sign up for our free quarterly newsletter!

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