For Christian Authors

I’d like to help you get some traffic, while I help me get some prizes for my book launch. Here are the details:

On September 8 I am releasing two devotionals and hosting an online launch party.

If you’d be willing to give away a book (Paperback or E-Book), I’d like to do the following for you:

  1. I’ll include the book on my launch party page with a URL to purchase**.
  2. I’ll read the book (or at least part of it) and leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon
  3. I’ll include the URL to purchase the book when I give it away and share my thoughts about it.**
  4. If you join my launch team, I’ll also give 10 people a chance to share their thoughts about one of the new devotionals AND promote their own book/website/blog/podcast.**
  5. When you launch your next book, I’d be happy to return the favor if you like.

E-mail or message me on Facebook if you’d like to be included.

Check out the new devotionals at my online store:

Devotions Inspired by Life
Devotions for Church Leaders and Small Groups

** I will review books before I include them in the giveaway. I reserve the right to refuse books that:

  • include foul language
  • have multiple editorial or proofreading errors
  • have been allowed to be mediocre

Mask Bullies

I have to say something. I can’t be the only person who has this problem. But it’s a risk. No one likes to talk about brain illness. Some think they don’t exist.

If you can’t relate, then I invite you to imagine a world where one half of your brain reacts as if you’re falling off a cliff while the other half tries to convince you, you’ll be fine. I’ve lived there. It’s not fun.

And the thing is . . . I have a very mild case of this brain malady. There are so many with symptoms more sever than mine. In fact, I really thought Jesus and the Holy Spirit had taken care of all my anxiety issues. I’ve felt free for years. My days of not being able to get out of bed left more than a decade ago.

Until recently.

I didn’t know I couldn’t wear a mask. I’ve never had to before. But just the thought of it makes me anxious. I listened to a pastor say they had to wear masks during service, and I almost hyperventilated. I stopped the video before it finished. The whole rest of the evening my hubby kept asking if I was alright. But you see, once the anxiety begins, it takes a while for the sensible side of my brain to take control again.

And now . . . every day . . . I face triggers. I can’t be on Facebook without seeing the bullies.

You see, I can’t just “suck it up” or “be decent” as your meme’s encourage me to do. And each one makes me feel helpless, weak and more anxious. I feel like I can’t breathe and I get light headed. It doesn’t matter how much I tell myself this is silly, the anxious side of my brain now has control, and it’s going to make me pass out before it relinquishes to the sensible side.

I understand some folks are frightened by this disease and the mask makes them feel better, but for some of us, the mask is more dangerous than the disease. If you just scoffed, I get it. It’s hard to understand. It doesn’t make sense, even to those of us struggling with it.

Your meme’s ask if I care about your grandmother’s health, but do you care about mine and the hundreds of thousands of people who suffer with mental illness even worse than I do?

No, I don’t like to talk about it. No one who feels this way does. Partly because we feel like it sounds silly. Maybe because it makes us feel weak. Probably because we don’t want the judgement that comes with the term ‘mental illness’.

Yes, I prefer to keep my tough facade intact, but if I can help one other person who suffers with this or any kind of anxiety know they aren’t alone, I decided it’s worth it.

If I can help one pastor understand that someone in your congregation is staying home because you said they have to wear a mask, it’s worth it.

This disease has already claimed the lives of people who suffer from depression when they were quarantined. It has stolen from those who need physical contact to survive (oh yes, that’s a real thing). People have died because their loved ones couldn’t come see them anymore, and they didn’t understand why. Yet, none of those numbers have been taken into account.

Please be kind when you post your opinions. Please read every meme from the point of view of someone who suffers with mental illness. Please help me breathe.

__________________________________________________________

I’ve been really humbled by the number of people who’ve read and shared this post.
And I’m so grateful for all the kind comments folks have made on Facebook.

But while you’re here, I thought maybe I’d invite you to join my book launch team.
I’m releasing two devotion books on September 8, and I’d love for you to be a part of the celebration.
get all the details here.

Book Review – Get Your Life Back

Get Your Life Back by John Eldredge brings another homerun by the author.  I enjoy Mr. Eldredge’s candor as he shares his own life and offers his experience to help us understand several different ways to rescue our lives from the busyness this world pulls us into.

I highly recommend this book for Christians in every part of the faith journey, and even those who haven’t met Christ or aren’t quite convinced the Christian life is for them will find helpful strategies to Get Back to really living!

You’ll find it here on Amazon:

Unyeilding Hope – A Review

by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

I have loved Janette Oke’s work for more than 30 years. Hers were some of the first Christian Fiction books I read, and she hooked me. Unyeilding Hope doesn’t disappoint.

Mrs. Oke and her daughter set their story in Western Canada as many of her books. This early 20th Century setting provides a wonderful backdrop for this story of unusual family. I can’t wait for book #2 to release!

My Everyday Ordinary Life #2

Today I explored the world of publishing. After bookmarking several Christian Literary Agents, I’ve come to the conclusion my platform lacks the meat needed to make any kind of impression. My options remain self-publish or hold off until I can grow my platform to a more impressive size.

I’m torn. I have a book ready to go. I’d really like to get it out there. One side of me contemplates buying my own ISBN’s and starting my own publishing company. Perhaps I could enlist someone to take care of the marketing.

On the other hand, might all my books have more credibility if one went through a traditional more well-known publisher?

The Elite Blog Academy offers a free Boot Camp this weekend. I’m anxious to see if I can apply enough of her tips to make a difference.

Do you have questions? Not about publishing. I don’t know enough for myself, so I certainly can’t help you. However, I would love to blog answers to your questions. Questions with topics like:

  1. What does the Bible say about . . . ?
  2. What would do if your kids . . .?
  3. How do you and your husband handle . . . ?
  4. Do you have financial advice for . . .?

I look forward to hearing from you! Come on, it will make my day and take my mind off this publishing stuff!

Nine Ways to Keep Your Kids Safe From Bullies

Every day I see articles and television shows telling us how to stop bullying. Object lessons and advice abound. But here’s a word of truth. No amount of training or classes will rid the world of bullies. Since Cain bullied Able to the point of death, big, weak people have tormented and tortured anything or anyone smaller or weaker.

Since bullies are obviously here to stay, the best we can do is raise children to be less susceptible to them.

I and my family have never been exempt from bullies. In the ’70’s my siblings and I suffered all kinds of things thrown at us on the bus. Kids called us names and worse. One of my children received a pig’s heart in her locker courtesy of an anonymous donor, and my grandchildren experienced scissor stabbings and eyeglasses stolen and defaced. As I’ve watched and read all the bullying propaganda, I wondered how we survived, mentally and physically.

I discovered most of the advice I could give to parents of kids affected by bullying also applies to kids who are bullies. Whether kids bully or empower bullies, they usually need help in these areas.

1 Help your child know he or she is loved and supported.
Most bullying begins with intimidation. Words hurt. However, kids who feel love and support from home don’t let it bother them as badly. I think love and support helped I, my siblings, my children and my grandchildren survived bullying.

If your child bullies, love and support can save him, too. While we can’t stop all bullying, parents do have the power to change their own child. If you feel as though you already show you child a lot of love and support, I recommend Gary Chapman’s “Five Love Languages of Children.” Dr. Chapman does a great job of helping parents understand how to love kids who don’t feel loved.

2 Help your child develop a healthy self-esteem.
When a child thinks well of him or herself, they more easily ignore the insults of bullying, and often when a bully doesn’t get the reaction she’s hoping for, she moves on to a more rewarding target.

A healthy self-esteem means your child doesn’t think too highly of themselves either. Arrogance creates as many bullies as subjugation.

3 Give your child chores and other responsibility.
Responsibility feeds self-confidence. A child who completes a job on her own feels empowered. Parents who do everything for their children set them up for failure. By age ten your child should be able to get completely ready on his own. Simple chores can begin as early as age two. Young children can dust and dry dishes as well as fold socks. Kids with a sense of accomplishment care less about what others think. They also carry themselves with more authority, deterring bullies.

This same self-confidence keeps kids from becoming bullies. A child who feels a sense off responsibility seldom needs to attack others to bolster their esteem.

4 Teach your child the difference between teasing and bullying.
Don’t allow children to make themselves into victims. Humans joke around and tease one another, and kids need to shake off hurtful teasing. Teach your child to go to their friends and tell them when their words hurt. Help them speak the truth without whining or sounding defensive.

To keep your child from becoming a bully, don’t give her permission to keep up with teasing when someone has asked them to stop. It’s difficult to find the line between repeated teasing and bullying, but it’s easy to set a line so your child knows one tease past someone asking them to stop is too many.

5 Don’t Bully.
When you use threats to get your own way with your children or other adults, you demonstrate bullying is to be tolerated. You send a message to your child that they should give in to the bullies, inviting continued torment. When tickling your child or wrestling with them, stop when they say stop. Even when you think they don’t really mean it. Show them the way it’s supposed to work, so they’ll set high standards.

When you bully, you teach your child to bully. Some people don’t even know they’re bullying, but if you continually intimidate or pressure people into giving you your way, there’s a good chance you’re a bully.

6 Teach your child to take responsibility for their mistakes.
Much like #3, kids who learn to take responsibility become stronger people. Taking responsibility builds character. When your child gets bad grades, don’t let them blame the teacher. If they break the rules, make sure they experience consequences. Build people of integrity by setting boundaries for the youngest of children and enforcing them whenever needed.

Bullies have been let off the hook for too long. They keep upping the game because no one holds them accountable.

7 Vet your kid’s friends.
Do you know who your kids run around with? Too often people who call themselves friends are the bullies. Teach your children to be picky about who they let into their inner circle.

8 Don’t give them access to Social Media.
This should be a no-brainer, but still I see kids as young as six with unlimited internet access. Not all Youtube videos are fit for children’s consumption, even those rated for kids. I won’t even begin to name all the apps that can undermine everything you’ve worked hard to instill in your child. Until your child starts to drive, they don’t really need a cell phone. Even if they need to contact you, other kids and the adults around them will have a means. You put locks on your doors and vet their friends to keep them safe, then you allow anyone to access your kids through the internet.

9 Take your kids to church.
I saved this for last because I was afraid you’d quit reading if you saw this earlier. First, you need to understand not all churches are created equal. Some churches are full of Spiritual bullies. You may have to go to a few before you find the right one. However, a church with an emphasis on a relationship with Jesus will love your child and help you with those steps above. Plus, once a child realizes he’s created in the image of God, His self-confidence gets an immediate boost. And when she understands the depth of love and the magnitude of God’s mercy, she’ll begin to see she should love herself.

Folks who believe others are created in God’s image seldom bully others because they have a healthy respect for all people. People who experience the full measure of the love of God learn to see people through God’s eyes find it difficult to treat them badly.

BONUS: Help you kids understand what it means when we say:

Hurt People, Hurt People

No one comes into this world a bully. They learn it from someone. When we see the bully as a person whose been hurt, abused or abandoned, we’ll treat them better. I’ve seen bullies turned into friends when the one bullied offered kindness instead of retaliation.

When we respect other regardless of our differences, we create an environment to eliminate bullying. Even though we can be sure bullying in one form or another will be around until Jesus returns, we have the power to make a difference in our children.

Even when we can’t keep them from being bullied, our actions and lessons can help them avoid the emotional scars by giving them self-confidence and making sure they know they are loved and supported.

It’s Time to Stop all this Offensive Behavior!

I hear that phrase every day. The list of politically incorrect words grows by the minute.

  • Women find themselves continually offended.
  • People of various races take offense
  • Those who limit gender are considered offensive and
  • Many find my Christian worldviews offensive.

And that’s just the beginning. I would never intentionally insult anyone, but with the number of people who become miffed at the slightest faux pax, intentional or not, I’m guaranteed to be offensive at some point.

This morning as I perused the comments regarding the 54th Superbowl halftime show, I wondered why my offense doesn’t matter.

Many of the politically correct humans I see, especially those the world dubbed celebrities, use foul language every day, words most of these same folks would never want to come out of their two-year old’s mouths. This language is not only beneath them, it’s not only below their intellect, it’s also offensive to me. There are a lot of words these people would never use because they would alienate a portion of the population, and some of those words I commend them for avoiding. But I’m beginning to wonder why things that offend me don’t matter.

The Superbowl halftime show last night added to my dilemma. So many of my friends on Facebook found offense at the soft porn that adorned that stage. Men and women of every age expressed disgust and dismay over the show. The majority of people I know were offended by the display. Yet, our offense doesn’t matter.

No one cares about my offense. Not one of these speech and action police are willing to change their behavior on behalf of me and my friends to keep us from becoming offended. I guess I’m just tired of walking on eggshells to avoid saying words that don’t mean anything while those same people who ask me to don’t mind offending half of the United States all in one fell swoop.

I think the answer might be here:
An unhealed person can find offense in pretty much anything someone does.

A healed person understand the actions of others have absolutely nothing to do with them.

Each day you get to decide which one you will be

Meme on Facebook

I guess I’ve decided to live in my healing and the freedom Christ has given me!

Friends, Family, People on the Street

I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel.

Romans 9:2-4a

A few years ago I wrote, “I don’t know if I would ever want to give up my salvation for the sake of others.” And to be honest, I still can’t say I do; however, I discovered I’m beginning to understand Paul better.

As I consider all the people I meet every day who don’t know Christ, I feel overwhelmed. So many wear faces that betray their upbeat talk. Waitresses attempting to look happy, cashiers smiling though their eyes tell a different story, lost people searching for an answer, an answer I possess. I want to share, to give them help and encouragement. But I know from experience, most won’t believe me if I tell them, “The hope you’re looking for is only found in Jesus Christ.”

Honestly, even those of us who know the answer spent years trying to do it on our own before we gave it all to Him. So it’s no wonder these folks, to whom Jesus is no more than a curse word or a picture on a Christmas card, find my story an eye-roller. Some listen politely, others are curious, but none are truly interested.

And my heart breaks.

It hasn’t always been that way. I once felt bad for them and knew it was my duty to share the gospel. I sincerely wanted others to know Christ; yet my heart escaped the hurt.

The closer I grow to Christ, the more I feel what He feels. His Spirit reveals the pain in others and gives me a burden for people I don’t know. I pass someone in the mall and I share their hurt.

I understand Paul’s great sorrow and unceasing anguish.

My heart’s desire is to help others become everything Christ created them to be, but the only way to get there is fully trust in Jesus. I absolutely love small groups and one on one mentoring because it’s in those places I see change and growth. These moments give me hope to continue. Without them I’m not certain I could face the crowds.

A life in Christ offers so much peace. I praise Him for all He continually brings me through. And as I grieve those who remain lost in this world, I eagerly await the next one who starts to ask questions, to seek truth and live in the love of the One who knows.

For everyone who wishes they could be in church more often

Yesterday I visited a man from our church in the hospital. He’s been in a Nursing Home for many months and headed back there last night. He lamented that he wanted to get back home so he could come to church. I know he really wants to be there, but honestly, he only showed up occasionally before he went to the nursing home. He always had a lot of reasons why he couldn’t come, but now that he really can’t be there, he misses being with his church family even more than before.

Two other older woman I visit also want to be in church. Both of them attended faithfully until their health just won’t allow it. They only leave home to go to the doctor and perhaps an occasional family function. I feel so bad for them. They truly long to be in fellowship again, but their health just won’t allow it.

Meanwhile, I hear, “I really want to come to church, but . . .” almost every day. It’s probably more frequent for me since I’m the pastor’s wife, but to be frank, I’m tired of hearing it. Every time the phrase starts my hairs start to stand on end as I think of those elderly saints who can’t get to worship.

It’s been almost twenty years since Somerton, Ohio lost Ethel Ackerman. She missed about the last six Sundays of her life, up until then we saw her almost every week. Those last weeks Steve would sometimes get called to move her from one chair to the other because her legs weren’t even strong enough to help the caregiver get her around. But up until then she hobbled into the sanctuary every week. She scheduled her doctor appointments for Tuesday or Wednesday so she wouldn’t be too tired to come. It took her that long to recover after a day out.

I truly wish those people who start their sentences, “We want to get back to church . . .” could hear what I hear. Because it sounds something like this:

  • Ball games, practice and dance are really more important than worship
  • I’m too ill to come on Sundays, but I’ll see you at Wal-mart
  • Frankly, I’m just too lazy to get out of bed before noon on Sundays
  • I really just don’t love Jesus enough to make worship a priority

I understand folks who make excuses aren’t as far along as others in their journey with Christ. I don’t mean to be so hard on them. But maybe it’s time they heard the truth. I’m hoping one of those excuse makers will read this and just be honest with themselves. Because you can’t fix something if you won’t admit it’s broke.

Poverty

I saw a social media post today entitled “Financial Advice doesn’t work when your Poor.” I started to type this comment; however, it seemed a bit too preachy and judgey for a Facebook reply, so I thought I’d include it here.

From what I see in the poor today, they still need a lot of financial advice. We lived below the poverty level for the first 15 years or more of our marriage, yet chose to stay off of public assistance after the first year.

Here are a few ways we saved money that I believe people today need to learn:

1. We only had a phone when we could afford it (often we didn’t – and I don’t mean a cell phone – those didn’t exist – we didn’t have a land line.)

2. We didn’t have cable or internet

3. We didn’t smoke or drink

4. We limited our eating out to a splurge once or twice a month at McDonalds or Pizza Hut (one pizza for the whole family) – we never ever ate at a place like the Roadhouse.

5. We never took a vacation

6. We never had new furniture

7. We didn’t have a car payment. We drove junk. and when we did get a car payment, it was minimal

8. We didn’t buy much for Christmas or Birthdays and everything we bought was very practical – PJ’s – clothes – one toy max (and we didn’t apply for assistance from help organizations – not that I think less of those who do, but by just living within our means we taught our children a great lesson)

9. School supplies were 10 cent notebooks, folders and bulk pens and pencils. When we got a bit more money each child got one new pair of pants and one new shirt.

10. We went to work everyday no matter how we felt or what else was going on in our lives.

11. Our kids didn’t play sports (maybe you think that’s not fair, but teaching your children to live within their means is the second greatest lesson they’ll learn)

I see too many folks who get their electric turned off yet they spend that amount or more on cell phones and internet. The library has free internet.

I talk to people who don’t have enough money, but they call off work once a week. Employers can’t find employees because they can’t pass the drug tests.

I know there are those living in poverty who are struggling and really are trying, but the majority aren’t. They need financial advice . . . not on how to set up a 401K or a savings account, but how to live within their means, how to cook nutritious meals on a budget and how to keep bettering themselves by showing up for work and going above and beyond to make an impression.