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.

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!

A Busy Week

It’s Friday . . . OK, in my brain it’s still Thursday because I haven’t gone to bed yet, but the clock on my computer says Friday. It’s been busy!

Steve and I got to go to the Toby Mac Hits Deep Concert on Sunday evening. Toby Mac is a showman! But Jordan Feliz was definitely the best vocalist. He doesn’t look anything like I thought he would. It’s funny how you hear a voice on the radio and picture a face, but then when you see them up close . . . let’s say I was surprised.

We were just seven rows off the floor, so even though we didn’t stand, we could always see. Steve had surgery on his finger on Thursday, so standing and getting excited wasn’t a good idea.

We spent the night in Columbus. The hotel was nice, but it had the oddest art. The pictures themselves were just modern, not what I’d choose, but artsy. The odd part was the way they were framed. A 5×7 piece of art with a 8 inch mat around it and a 3 inch gilded frame. Two filled the space above each queen size bed. The art got lost in the frame and the mat.

The drive home on Monday was lovely. It was a nice Spring day.

Spring may have finally arrived. After a bit of snow on Sunday, the rest of the week has gradually warmed. My favorite part is the buds on the trees. There’s one at the bottom of Mahan Lane that’s actually green, and one bush on the way to the church has bloomed. The rest look red because the buds have all come out.

I think everyone should praise God every time they see a green tree or a flowering bush in the Spring. imagine how much praise our Creator would receive.

It’s truly lovely!

I especially love seeing the leaves on the trees. They remind me of the time before I could see.

Before I got glasses in third grade, I had no idea how bad my eyes were. But on the day I got them I came out of the office and could see. I still remember my amazement at the leaves on the trees. I’d never known you could see each individual leaf. Trees just looked like green blobs before. I still aprreciate every leaf.

I hope we spend as much time praising God for the beauty of Spring as we did complaining about the dismal winter.

My Everyday Ordinary Life – #1

I’ve started doing timed writings. Just type for 10-20 minutes no editing, no backspacing (I just messed that up), nothing . . . just keep typing, force myself to write.

I do better writing by hand. The typing causes me to go back and edit. But I’m going to leave this. So, if you’re here and find a lto of mistakes, forgive me. In fact, you might want to pass up reading this article if mistakes bother you too much. I will correct some . . . i can’t help myself, but I’m going to try to leave them.

A big problem with this timed writing is deciding what to write about. I’d really like to start sharing some of my childhood, but it seems so boring. It was wonderful, don’t get me wrong. But without conflict, a story is dull . . . yep, that’s my life.

I guess boring is really a blessing. If I had something worth writing about it would mean I had trauma in my life.

Part of the problem is that the trauma I did have just seemed a part of life. No one made a big deal about it It happens . . . we just dealt with it.

Kind of like the day my dad carried me down to the pen next to the barn. He showed me a brand new calf. This tiny red heifer was born a couple of months early, but that meant it was near my birthday. So Daddy allowed me to name it and made me think it was mine. I called it Brownie.

Here’s the part that city folks think is strange. I knew Brownie would only get to live a few years, and I was OK with that, even as a very young child. Killing livestock for food was part of life. we didn’t think a thing about it.

I told my story to a bunch of teens one day. One of them in particular was really freaked out. She didn’t understand how we could possibly name an animal and then eat it a few years later. Even an old dog dying was traumatic to her. But on a farm death is as much a part of life as birth. We don’t stress about it, and don’t think about it being traumatic. There isn’t excitement in it. It’s not really worth writing about.

Unless perhaps you’re a city person. If you’re anti-hunting and against eating meat, I can see how that could be an exciting, over-the-top story for you. But for me, it’s just the story of an other day of my life.

The stories of my grandparents on my mother’s side are much the same. Both were very ill most of my life. Each went to live with Jesus before they were sixty. But I never thought it was strange to see my grandfather’s toes all black with cotton between them. At seven, I assumed everyone visited their grandparents in the hospital and got birthday gifts that had been purchased in the hospital gift shops. I was devestated when they died. They practically lived iwth us most of the time. However, I think I always knew they’d be gone early. They were always so sick. So what may seem traumatic to some, seemed like normal life to me. It wasn’t pleasant, but no one ever promised me a perfect and pleasant life.

So, i’m oing to try to find somethings to write about in these timed messages . . . Maybe if you’re reading this, you could make a suggestion below. I’m writing something everyday, either here or in my journal. I’ll probably end up sharing some of my relatively boring life . . . but for some maybe it won’t be so boring.

I Confess . . . Sometimes I Judge

I don’t mean to.

Really, I don’t . . . but I know I do.

Twice in the last few days I felt the disgust that comes with judgement rise up in my soul. It was because of posts on Facebook. Sometimes I wonder if I should delete my account, but then I read a post from a cousin who lives far away, or see pictures of a nephew who I just don’t have time to connect with often and remember the good outweighs the bad.

But back to the judging. I’m just going to put it out here. Because while I need to have a different attitude within my spirit toward the individuals involved, the issues I’m having with their actions are not wrong.

The Bible tells me I can’t judge even the actions of those outside the church. And, you know what? I’m actually pretty good at that! I don’t have much problem with someone who doesn’t claim to be following Christ doing things that don’t honor Christ. Sinners will sin . . . it’s what we do!

But the Bible also tells me if a brother or sister is caught in sin, I should gently reprove them. THIS is what I have problems with. There’s not much love in my heart when I see those hypocritical posts on Facebook. When I hear someone preaching about what the Bible says and they are blatantly living a lifestyle outside of scripture, my judgmental spirit kicks in.

I’m not talking about a sin here or there. What bothers me is the sinful lifestyle. We’re all going to do things that aren’t Christ honoring from time to time. We’re human, it’s going to happen. But people who put themselves in a lifestyle that is anything but Christian, and then start preaching . . . well that makes my blood boil.

I’m specifically talking about adultery.

Twice in the last couple of weeks, men whom I don’t know well, not well enough to rebuke, got up on their soapbox to share their scriptural opinion. Now, you might wonder how I know about their lifestyle if I don’t know them well. I know their significant others very well.

Both of these men started dating someone I know well while they were still married. One of them was married himself, the other calls himself a pastor. They both moved in with their sweethearts while the girls were still married. And both women were excited to have found a nice Christian man. Do you see my problem?

So now when I see their posts defending their political view with the Bible, giving scriptural advice and comfort to my real friends, I get angry.

It wouldn’t be so bad if I could feel some compassion toward them, if I wanted to help them see the truth. But all I feel is angry. I want to send them private messages explaining their folly. But until I feel less judgmental, I just can’t . . . no matter how “right” my observation is.

So, I’ll be working on the judgement . . . trying to love more . . . trying to be more like Christ. In the meantime, if you’re reading this and it hits home, do me a favor and talk to Jesus, be honest with yourself and Him, and do things the right way. It will really save me some frustration!

Life . . . It’s What Happens

I’m not sure why we expect our day to day to be perfect. Why do we get disappointed, surprised and even angry when life happens? I’ve not found any promises for a perfect and/or easy life. Here’s what I have found:

I’ve found that Adam and Eve couldn’t follow directions so God promised pain and toil as long as we walk on this earth.

I’ve found that humans have suffered persecution and disease ever since the fall

I’ve found that
Noah was probably persecuted for his faith, and that year on the boat had to feel like it would never end. I’m guessing he even lost some family and friends in that flood. He was responsible for feeding and cleaning up after 100’s of animals. Think about how hard that year was physically, mentally and emotionally.

Job . . . there isn’t room here to talk about Job.

Abraham was afraid.

Lot was afraid.

Isaac couldn’t see and could hardly hear when he got old

Jacob lied. He lived away from his family for 20 years or more. His own father-in-law cheated him many times.

Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. Every time he thought he was going to get a break someone let him down. He was in prison for a long time.

Moses couldn’t talk right. He killed someone. He never did admit to his faults. He missed going into the promised land.

David was afraid for his life. First his best friend’s dad wanted him dead and later his own son. And that doesn’t begin to touch all the battles he fought. He lived with shame.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are more stories in the Bible and even more from outside scripture that describe heartache, destruction, pain and all sorts of evil falling upon humans.

Consider:
The holocaust.
The hunger in third world countries.
Human Trafficking

That’s life.

So why do we expect better?

First of all, I think that in developed countries we have it too easy. We’re used to instant gratification and an easy life. So, the minute life gets hard, we get angry or depressed. Some of the things that happen to us, if we’d put it in perspective, would look a little less horrific. I don’t want to minimize anyone’s pain. And I know it’s all relative, one person’s trial is another person’s growth moment. But seriously, if you put your bad day on a scale and weighed it next to a day as a prisoner in Auschwitz, would it look a bit different?

Second, I believe that within each of us is the memory of the Garden of Eden. Somewhere deep inside we know heaven exists. Otherwise, reflecting back on history why wouldn’t we just look at hardship and tragedy as “part of life” and move on. What is there that keeps us hoping for a better day, a more positive outcome, a cushy life? The only thing I can find that would give us any indication that we are destined for something good is the fact we are created in the image of God. We have the knowledge deep inside of us that we were made for something more.

You see we were created for the Garden. We were designed for heavenly perfection. It’s what humans were meant to have, to know. And deep inside our intricate DNA that knowledge remains. It’s passed from generation to generation and it continually strives for a truth we know to be true, but one that cannot be grasped on this side of eternity.

We have the power to make this life better. When we make Christ our Savior and allow the Holy Spirit to work inside of us we have the capability to make it more bearable for those around us. But even in the midst of a hundred folks all striving to be more like Christ, there will still be disease and the effects of persecution from those outside the circle. That’s life.

Even so, when we truly trust in Jesus Christ we can have peace in this life. It may not come in the way we want it to. A perfect life doesn’t always bring peace, but the Spirit of Christ does. When we trust in Him and believe in the promises of God, we can be like David. Even when his enemies were coming against him and he faced betrayal and abandonment, he said with confidence, “I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27)

Why Bible Study and Sunday School?

About 1/2 the folks in our church come to Sunday School and/or Bible Study. I get it that mid-week is difficult for working moms and folks who work way more overtime than they’d like. But I’m not sure why everyone doesn’t come an hour early on Sunday Morning. I’ve heard “It’s my only morning to sleep in”, but really . . . you can’t get up by 9 AM to be at Sunday School by 10 AM? I like to sleep in . . . but seriously?!?!

Today, as I prepared for Wednesday evening’s discussion, I wondered how many folks don’t realize what they’re missing by only coming out on Sundays for the sermon. So here’s a little bit of explanation and a little info about how your “reasons” for not coming are really just lame excuses:

REASON 1 – I Don’t Know Enough To Come to Sunday School
Truthfully, this is the lamest of all excuses.
Would you let your 7th grader skip school because he didn’t know enough math to go to math class? There will always be people who know a bit more than you do (if not how would we learn), but there will also always be people who can learn from you. And in Bible classes that can sometimes be the person who you thought knew more than you. It’s amazing the things God has taught me from people who didn’t know much at all about the Bible. Sometimes it’s even the question they ask. Sometimes they ask something I’d never even thought to wonder about before, and it causes me to dig and pray. So, dump this excuse and join a small group somewhere.

REASON 2 – Everything I need to Know I’ve Heard in a Sermon at Somepoint
Maybe this is true . . . but I doubt it.
When I was preparing today, I realized why this excuse is invalid. I just printed out a copy of four parallel passages of scripture. We’re going to look at how the story is the same and different in each gospel and why all four gospel authors thought it was important. PLUS, someone will have a question that I didn’t even think to ask, I’m certain of it. Your pastor can not possibly cover everything in the scripture on Sunday mornings. Plus, he or she can only go so deep because there are hopefully always newbies in your midst. Bible Study and Sunday small groups offer an opportunity to look a little deeper, hear other’s opinions and questions and ask questions yourself. Look around, it’s the folks in these small groups who are growing in the faith the fastest.