Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Those hidden-not-so-hidden Sins

You know those consistent little pricks you get in your spirit? The ones that tell you that something
isn't right; that you need to deal with something lurking in your heart. Today, the very talented author Jodie Bailey, author of Smokescreen, shares her thoughts on those hidden-but-not-hidden (a play on Psalm 19:12-14 ;) ) ... um... M&Ms? 

Give-away alert! As an added bonus, Jodie is giving away a copy of her latest release, Smokescreen, to one lucky reader randomly chosen from the comments left on today's post. Please note, the give-away is open to those in the continental US only. 

Sweet Tea by Jodie Bailey

A few years ago, I realized my knees were very unhappy every time I went up the stairs in our house.  And, eventually, my lungs got that way too.  As a mid-thirties woman, that was a little bit scary.  Trust me… never, ever google your aches and pains.  Ten minutes in and you’ll be convinced you need life support, intensive therapy, and a drug that can only be concocted from the interior seed pod of a flower that grows in Outer Mongolia and only blooms once every century for thirty-two seconds on the second new Moon of the vernal equinox.

The truth was… I needed to lose weight.  My husband had deployed a couple of months before and I was unwittingly finding a great deal of comfort in a phenomenal amount of M&Ms and sweet tea.  And when I say “phenomenal” I mean… Really, it would be embarrassing to tell you just how weak I was when it came to two-pound bags of M&Ms on sale with a coupon at Walgreens and Steak ‘n’ Shake’s half price happy hour. 

A friend of mine joined the gym with me, and she gave me a
Photo by Linda72 taken from Pixabay.com
food diary.  Best thing that ever happened.  For the first time, I realized just how much damage I was doing sucking down all of that sugar.  But the biggest problem wasn’t the M&Ms and the sweet tea.  When I started keeping track, I noticed a whole lot of tiny choices that piled up to whole lot of fat and cholesterol.   There were some sneaky little buggers wrecking me even after I cut way back on the two biggies. Things that, I never paid attention to ,that sort of just were there.

It’s like that with our spiritual lives.  When we turn to Jesus, so many times we know exactly what our “big” sins are.  We know what gets us every time, where we’ve fallen so hard on our faces that we have pavement marks embedded in our cheeks.  We take those things to Him, and we work and we work… and Thank God, He helps us through them. 

But sometimes we miss the little things.  We get so focused on the “big baddies” that we fail to notice the little white lies… the music that has zero redeeming quality… the little piece of gossip.  And those things can wreck us as fast as the big ones.  Before long, we’re sitting in the ditch, wondering how we got there and why we aren’t growing in Christ.  

“But God… We stopped the big thing!  What’s happening?”  And we totally miss the Dorito dust on our fingers. 

It can be scary to lay it all out and inspect what we’re feeding
Photo by Counselling taken from Pixabay.com
ourselves.  It can be even scarier to lay it out in front of God and let Him have a look.  We might find we have to cut out some things we didn’t even realize were there or, like sweet tea and M&Ms, we have to cut out some things we think we love.  The thing is, once God gets ahold of us and we replace those things with Him, we see the change in our spirits, and life is so much sweeter with Him at the center.  After a while, the other things? We don’t miss them at all. 

When her life is on the line, Ashley Colson is rescued by the last person she ever expected to see again. Military officer Ethan Kincaid might have disappointed her once in the past, but now he's the only person who can keep her safe. They're under the gun to decode top secret files that can save the life of a friend who is in enemy hands. But the killers will pull out all the stops to get their hands on the files…and Ashley. With time running out, can they put aside their past and find the answers that could give them a future?

Jodie Bailey writes novels about freedom and the heroes who fight for it. Her novels include 2014 RT Reviewers Choice Award winner Crossfire

Monday, August 17, 2015

Take No Thought

As a young woman, I most likely placed right up there in the top ten world’s biggest worriers! In my forties, I received a birthday card from Bill Gothard’s Basic Youth Conflict Institute—a simple homemade stiff paper printed with ‘Worry Hinders Every Promise of God.’ I remember thinking, how did they know I was a worrier? Guess it's quite common among humans.
So, I stuck it in my mirror—mostly because it was green, my favorite color, but every day, I saw it there. One time I glanced at it, as clear and up close as high definition TV, the Holy Spirit wrote His Truth across my heart.

Worry hinders God’s promises to me! Every one!

I repented and received forgiveness, then ever since—much to my beloved Ron’s penchant—I quit worrying. He’d been telling me it didn’t honor God, so after Holy Spirit confirmed it, I quit completely.  Gave it up! Refused to worry and trusted God instead.
Through the years, my faith’s grown stronger along with my desire to please Him. My heart longs only to bring Him glory. I love Him so much, and I know He loves me, that His thoughts are toward me. Once He opened my blind eyes, I clearly saw the waste of worry.
It never accomplishes anything, except maybe to make you sick. Repent of confessing, “I’m worried sick about…” Quick! Oh, the bad words and confessions we speak without even realizing it!

Worry is the total opposite of faith!

Hebrews 11:6 tells us “Without faith, it is impossible to please Him.” To worry insinuates God isn’t big enough or that He doesn’t care. I absolutely know that is not true. He always ALWAYS comes through, provides my needs and watches over me. I’ve proven Him o’er and o’er, and encourage you to as well.
In book one of my historical Texas Romance series, VOW UNBROKEN, more than ten times I used the phrase “Don’t worry”. It probably shows up at least once in all of them. It’s a wonderful Truth to learn young, but no matter your age, those who belong to God should abandon every whim to worry and know His sweet peace that passes understanding.

Friends and family oft think I’m strange, but it’s a perfect opportunity to testify! Once, with a busy book launch ahead that included twenty-six face to face events in twenty-one Texas towns, I found myself without transportation—my transmission had died. One week out, several people asked with an anxious tone, “What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know exactly, but I’m not worried about it. God knows, and He already has a plan in place for me to get around. So, I’m just waiting on Him to reveal what that is. I’m checking doors, but haven’t found an open one yet.” I knew He’d provide. He always ALWAYS has.
And my Jehovah Jireh (God, My Provider) came through! My sister let me borrow her car the first week while she was out of state. On Tuesday of the 2nd week, I was told to go check makes and models and pick out a car, I went to Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Chevrolet, and Ford and chose a Toyota Corolla (they had a GREEN one J). 
The next day, I was told to go find the dealerships with the best out-the-door price. I did, and God’s chosen came, wrote a check, and handed me the title and keys for a brand new green Corolla with FIVE miles on it! How can the devil EVER convince me God won’t take care of me? What would I ever have to worry about when He who sits on Heaven’s throne is my God?
I have to say, had He not performed this miracle, and transportation didn’t show up, I would have calmly made the calls to cancel the events, knowing that it wasn’t His will for me after all. Maybe I’d be missing a terrible accident the devil set up to kill me, or meet a movie producer. J Whatever the Lord’s reason, if He didn’t provide, I wasn’t to go.
Either way, I remain at peace, trusting Him.

My new release this month REPLENISH THE EARTH, volume 3 in my Biblical fiction series 'The Generations', begins when God shuts the door on the ark and it starts raining. I would imagine Noah's wife, faced with new situations with unfathomable outcomes, was definitely worried. If you'd like to travel along on the famous vessel, click to get your copy today!

BIO: Caryl McAdoo and her husband Ron—high school sweethearts—live with four grandsons in the woods south of Clarksville, the county seat of Red River County in Northeast Texas. She enjoys four-wheeling over the 916-acre McAdoo Ranch, horseback riding, and singing the new songs God gives her. For every blessing in her life, including ten children (counting in-loves) and fourteen grandsugars, Caryl credits her relationship with the Lord, and her heart’s desire is to glorify Him.
Facebook  /  Website  /  Twitter  /  The Generations

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Yea, Though I Walk...

© Michal Bednarek
It's late Monday and I'm supposed to be writing this blog for Faith, Friends and Chocolate. But the words aren't coming.

My sister called a couple hours ago. Our brother’s cancer is back. We don’t know how bad yet; all we know is that he will have a seven-week course of chemo. Five days a week for seven hours a day, two weeks off. Repeat twice.

So my brain isn’t really too focused on writing.

There’s a lot not going my way right now. I didn’t get to go to the beach this year, for the second year in a row. Work I had gotten rid of was dumped back on me. The contract for my third book is not coming as fast as I would like. School starts in a couple weeks, which means I will have to get up way too early. Perhaps worst of all, tonight is the last new Major Crimes episode until November.

OK, I'm getting silly. Most of these are minor, first-world problems. I know that. And I have many, many blessings. I have four healthy children. We have no money problems (at the moment). We have food, shelter, reliable cars. Sunday was my anniversary—I have been married to my wonderful husband for thirty-two years. For a present I asked him for tickets to the Chicago/Earth Wind & Fire concert this Friday. (Yes, I know, I'm dating myself. Hush.) Now, if I had bought them, I'd have gotten the $25 lawn seats. He bought me VIP box tickets. 

Even in my brother’s situation, it’s the 21st century, not a hundred or two hundred or even fifty years ago. He lives in a major city and will be treated in one of the best hospitals. And despite my feelings about the Affordable Care Act and the fact that I now pay ridiculously more than I used to, he now has health insurance when a couple years ago he didn’t.

© Stuart Gray
There are spiritual issues at stake here as well. So it’s time for me to begin trusting God a little more, following Him more closely. Praying more. I’ve been a little lax. I should be praying fervently every day, but I admit that is one of my weaknesses.

It’s the valleys that draw us near, and while I've skirted around some lately, no one’s life—spiritual or otherwise—was on the line. It was only my own comfort, more or less, or at least something I could ignore for a while.
That’s no longer the case.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  ~Philippians 4:6-7 ESV 

Carole Towriss grew up in beautiful San Diego, California. Now she and her husband live just north of Washington, DC. In between making tacos and telling her four children to pick up their shoes for the third time, she reads, watches chick flicks, writes and waits for summertime to return to the beach. You can find her at www.CaroleTowriss.com.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

4 Free Photo Editing Tools Even Aunt Linda Will Love To Use

Remember the first time you took a family picture at Aunt Linda’s?
You carefully steadied the camera, perhaps you used a stand, and after the hundredth picture, you waited weeks to use up the 200 roll of Kodak film. Then the day arrived, the 200th picture was taken. You wound the film and took it to be developed. A week later, with much anticipation, you flipped through your family photos from Aunt Linda’s, which you haven't visited in two years, only to discover the pictures turned out almost like the negatives, dark and grainy.
Times have changed from checking the box at the photo lab, glossy, matte or enhanced, to the do-it-yourself photo editing and printing from your personal computer. With today’s technologies, we have many photo options at our fingertips including photo imaging programs.
Ready to let your fingers do the editing? Below you’ll find four FREE image programs that I use on a regular basis.
4 Free Photo Editing Tools Even Aunt Linda Will Love To Use
Whether you want to edit your photos, give them a new level of effects or make a collage, these sites will help create photos that tell a story — your story.
1)  PicMonkey  
4) piZap

What’s your favorite editing sites? Please share the links in the comments below. Aunt Linda thanks you!

~ 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/  Facebook or on Twitter.