Monday, November 24, 2014

Hard Times and Hard Places

Brick walkway in  Magnolia Cemetery ~  courtesy of Betty Talbert Parker

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord rescues them from them all. Psalm 34:19 NRSV

A friend is going through hard times. She’s recently lost a loved one; her children have moved away leaving her with feelings of abandonment; she is suffering with health issues aggravated by stress and grief; and to seemingly add insult to injury, she suffered a freak accident which has spoiled her holiday plans. 

My heart goes out to her.  But words of encouragement and acts of kindness can only go so far.  I cover her with my prayers and trust in God for her.

And the truth is, we all experience times like this, when we feel alone, our hopes and dreams shattered. When hard times come, we run the risk of sinking into self-pity, falling into despair.

But, we, the righteous, have this promise:

For though they fall seven times, they will rise again. Proverbs 24:16 NRSV

Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. Micah 7:8 NRSV

We must hold on to this promise.

Daniel believed this. I love the story of his faith. (See Daniel 6:16-24) He was punished for trusting in God and specifically for praying, which defied the king’s orders.

Then the king gave the command, and Daniel was brought and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to Daniel, ‘May your God, whom you faithfully serve, deliver you!’  Daniel 6:20

And Daniel spent the dark night sitting amongst the lions in the bottom of that deep pit. But the next morning, to the king’s joy and the glory of God, he was found alive and well.

So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. Daniel 6:23b

Let's pray for one another, that our faith will stay strong through the hard times, and pray for God’s mercy and grace to be poured out on those who are suffering. For in time we shall see the victory, for we are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us. (SeeRomans 8:35-39)

Magnolia Cemetery ~ courtesy of Betty Talbert Parker
Thanks so much for visiting.  I pray for all of you who read this blog and pray you find some encouragement here.  Many Blessings for you and yours at this Thanksgiving time.

Special thanks to Betty Talbert Parker of Thomson, GA for allowing me to share her pictures.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Our Fallen Nature Obliges Us to Seek Him Moment by Moment

Photo of raging river courtesy of Google Images
Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace—in peace because they trust in you. Isaiah26:3 NRSV

Following my devotions, I praised God for the beautiful day. After my time of meditating on Him, Scripture reading, and prayer, I was in a happy mood. As I sipped my coffee, I enjoyed the view from my window—golden leaves fluttered on the dogwood tree with the morning sun shining through. I enjoyed peace.

The first thing on my to-do list was to choose my insurance plan for the year during annual open enrollment. I sat down before the computer by the sunny window expecting to complete my task within a few minutes. I signed onto the website and filled in my personal information. But, to my dismay, when I got to the screen where I should have been able to make my selection, the screen was grayed out, and NO Coverage was already selected for me. I couldn't advance or go backwards. I had to call the 1-800 number for help.

So, with that I began a series of back-to-back calls to my insurance provider until I finally got an open line, and then I held for over an hour before a live person spoke to me. During the 2 ½ hour process (by the end of which all was resolved), I had time to analyze what was happening to my peaceful happy mood.

Even though my lovely view from the window had not changed, and God was still God, my focus shifted. As I held the phone, minute by dreary minute, unpleasant changes were taking place in my body, and my thoughts were scampering about like the squirrels in the tree.

My heart rate rose.  Tension across my forehead warned that my blood pressure had also risen. My shoulder ached, and my neck got stiff. I felt aggravated and anxious; all because my focus shifted from God to an unexpected “glitch”.

Allow me to echo the Apostle Paul:

Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24)

I think it must be part of our fallen human condition and this earthly piligrimage to suffer these moods and changing feelings so easily swayed by circumstances and situations beyond our control. Wouldn’t it be grand if we Christians could rest in perfect and permanent peace all the time?  Living constantly in conformity to our faith in Him?  We have hope. 

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Rom. 7:25)

Daily, moment by moment, as we seek His grace (through prayer and reflection, Scripture reading and practicing godly virtues), we can experience His perfect peace in the midst of the realities of life. With our focus on Him, His peace will be like stepping stones in the raging river of life.

For he is our peace…Ephesians 2:14a

And with our mind stayed on Him, He will lead us to our eternal home, where all will be peace and light.

Daily, let us pray, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10b

Sunset at Beaver Creek Reservoir ~ photo courtesy of the talented Eileen DeCamp

Thanks so much for taking the time to visit Write Moments with God.  Some of you will remember this story from last November.  It's so reflective of how we are, I thought I'd write about it again. 

May you experience His peace today.

Now, to announce the winner of my monthly book giveaway.  Norma Gail and I thank all of you who commented.

Caroline Brown is the winner by random drawing of Norma Gail's compelling debut novel, Land of My Dreams.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Meet debut novelist Norma Gail - Plus monthly book giveaway

Norma Gail 

I’m happy to introduce to you today Norma Gail.  Norma Gail’s debut Christian novel, Land of My Dreams, released in April 2014. Her devotionals and poetry have appeared at, the Stitches Thru Time blog, and in “The Secret Place.” She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, FaithWriters, and the New Mexico Christian Novelists. She lives in the mountains of New Mexico with her husband of 38 years. They have two adult children.

I hope you enjoy the interview.  Be sure to leave a comment at the end as your entry in our random drawing to win a copy of Land of My Dreams.

Norma Gail, please tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

I began writing poetry and short stories when I was very young and continued all through my school years, but stopped for a nursing career and to raise my children. I didn’t begin writing again until I was in my forties, and then only on rare occasions. It wasn’t until my children were grown that I began to write seriously. Land of My Dreams is my first novel.

What inspired you on your writing journey?

I feel an intense desire to explain the struggles and challenges that have taught me the greatest lessons of my Christian life through stories that entertain and draw the reader in until they become a part of the story.

Do you have a publishing secret you’d like to share with other writers?

You need to feel confidant you have found your own voice, but it is important to listen to what others are telling you. Do the paid critiques, talk to a variety of people, other authors, editors, and agents. If they are saying some major changes need to be done to make your book publishable, do them. If you are serious about your writing you need to be teachable.

What is the most meaningful truth you hope your readers glean from your writing?

I want my readers to learn that we have a loving God who can turn even the worst of trials into blessing. I don’t write light fiction. There are heavy spiritual lessons to be learned in this story, and the reviews bear that out. I write very much from the point of view of a Bible study leader. Having led women’s Bible studies for 19 years, my thinking is deeply scriptural. I want to communicate the wisdom of God’s word and the blessings of obedience, as well as the consequences of doing things our own way.

Please tell us about your new novel. 

Land of MyDreams began as a dream as we prepared for a trip to Scotland for our thirtieth wedding anniversary. I literally dreamed about a man in a kilt on a misty mountainside with his bagpipes, and surrounded by sheep. The characters developed as people who had been hurt by life and questioned a loving God who is personally involved in their daily lives. Bonny and Kieran are a little older than in some romances. Both have suffered tremendous loss. It takes time to trust each other and their relationship is threatened by their inability to leave the past behind and trust God. They are surrounded by friends who direct them toward the Lord in loving and pretty straight forward ways.

Here’s the back cover copy of the book:

Alone and betrayed, American professor, Bonny Bryant longs for a haven of peace. She accepts a position at a small Christian college in Fort William, Scotland, craving escape from her painful past. The passionate love which develops when she meets fellow professor and sheep farmer, Kieran MacDonell, is something she never anticipated.Kieran harbors a deep anger toward God in the face of his own devastating grief. When Bonny’s former fiancĂ© reenters her life, Kieran’s loneliness draws him to a former student.How will Bonny decide between her rivals? Can they set aside the past to make way for a future, or will it drive them apart?

Landof My Dreams spans the distance between New Mexico’s high desert mountains and the misty Scottish Highlands with a timeless story of overwhelming grief, undying love, and compelling faith.

I can’t wait to get my own copy, Norma Gail.  It sounds intriguing. How can readers contact you on the web?

My website:
Twitter: @Norma_Gail

Land of Dreams is available for purchase on and (Barnes & Noble).

In conclusion, I like to ask my guest authors to share their favorite Scripture verse.

 They are not just idle words for you--they are your life. De. 32:47 NIV

I first learned this Scripture when I was a discussion leader in Bible Study Fellowship. Not only has teaching and leading other women in Bible study been my passion and ministry for 19 years, it is my source of strength to make it through every day as I deal with fibromyalgia and other health problems. There is no life worth living apart from Jesus Christ.


Dear Readers, thank you for visiting Write Moments with God.  I hope you've enjoyed getting to know Norma Gail as much as I have.  If you will leave a comment below (including your email in case you are the winner) we will include your name in the random drawing for a copy of Land of My Dreams. Please comment by Sunday, November 9th. The winner will be announced on the blog on Monday, November 10th.  As always, I appreciate you.  Blessings!