Exceeding Great Joy!

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Matthew 2:10-11 “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.  After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary his mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

Thought for the Day: I’ve been on a quest lately. What I’m seeking can’t be found at a shopping mall, library, under a Christmas tree, or at a wildly popular vacation spot. You can’t buy it, bake it, or find it on the internet. What I’m searching for is exceedingly great joy.

The Matthew text tells us when the wise me saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.  I imagine them approaching slowly, with their gifts in tow, weary from their long journey. Maybe one may have uttered to the other, “Are we there yet?” In my mind’s eye, I zoom in to that moment, that glorious moment, when they saw the baby Jesus. I bet it didn’t take long for their hearts to be filled with joyful praise and adoration as they gazed at The Messiah. Just imagining the joy the wise felt in that moment brings a smile to my face.

Capture that moment, that journey, and use it as an example of finding great joy. Take time to close your eyes and gaze up at the Messiah. Be still and let His love fill your soul. Just as the Magi experienced the fulfillment of their quest, we too need to keep seeking The Savior!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the Messiah, the King of Kings. All nations will come and bow down before you. Therefore, whatever opposition I may find, I joyfully ascribe authority and dignity to you, and bring you gifts of praise to say that you alone can satisfy my heart. I joyfully exalt thee and will feast on every joyful moment during this advent season.  Amen!

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A New Day

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There’s nothing more hopeful than a majestic sunrise. Promise, inspiration, and hope fill my senses each and every morning. Yesterdays disappointments fade into the past and the splendor of now builds strength.

Heavenly Father, Master of Mercy, as darkness eases into the splendor of morning, awaken me with the joy and hope found at the dawn of a new day. Wrap me in comfort and tuck me in safety. Replenish my energy and equip me to serve.

Finding Joy

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I love life, always have. Yet a few months back I became aware of my lack of joy. And finding time to figure out the cause was nearly impossible. Ah, finding time. Work, family, chores, church, commitments, and writing had soured my zest for life. Yep, the very things I love had managed to overwhelm me and steal my joy. I was looking at life through a lens of hurry-repeat and worry-repeat. I want to be happy, grateful, and enjoy life to the fullest. So how do I get my joy back?

Prioritizing and shuffling my schedule has helped. But seeking God’s answer has made the most impact. True lasting beauty and joy is found in a heart that rests secure in God’s love. So…to be joyful, I’ve decided to begin a quest to rest secure in God’s love. These are a few things I can think of to do amid a busy schedule:

  • Inhale the truth. God is there.
  • Believe in the power of love. God is there, too.
  • Develop unwavering faith. It is built on a foundation of security in God.
  • Adapt laser-sharp focus on anchoring a mindset of gratitude. God uses gratitude to reveal His love.
  • Use prayer to rejoice. God inhabits prayer – This one is tricky. Prayer isn’t meant to be a session where we tick off our worries to God. We can’t “inform” Him of anything – He already knows. Prayer is meant to be a communion with God, a conversation, and a way to interact and get to know Him. Prayer is the ONLY way to communicate with God. He doesn’t have an email address, phone number, or PO Box. So when you pray, ask…believe…and receive. This cycle enables us to be thankful in every situation. We don’t need to try to pray away problems; we need to praise God all the way through them.
  • And last, but not least, I’m filling my life with things that give me joy. Although I may still be in training, one of my joys is writing. 

Oops I did it again!

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The labor pains have ended! After a year of brainstorming, plotting, writing, rewriting, editing, and proofing…it’s a book! My second book, Invisible Surveillance is here. It’s the sequel to Powerless Consent. Help me celebrate by clicking over to Amazon and buying a copy. It’s only $2.99. If you don’t have a Kindle, just download Kindle for PC, it’s FREE!                     INVISIBLE SURVEILLANCE

Invisible Surveillance is back…

Now the high tech spying technology is spiraling out of the CIA’s control.  The only one who can stop it is Callie Hunter, along with her CIA fiancé, Jack Oakes.

But Jack has a secret that a madman is using to destroy his credibility.  This, combined with disappearing data, missing evidence files, and falsified records, halt all their efforts and test their faith to the breaking point.

Can Jack redeem himself, or will he loose everything he holds dear?

Will he and Callie be able to stem the tide of this espionage destruction?

Finding answers won’t be easy . . . Not everything is as it seems.

Teaser…

Four months post Powerless Consent…

 CHAPTER ONE

The Moment

 Cambria, California – Friday, October 21st10:07 a.m.

Ten seconds before the knife penetrated him, Jack Oakes accepted the fact he was about to die. He’d had his share of scuffles in the line of duty, but he’d never looked pure evil in the eye.

The blade punctured his gut and burned like a son-of-a-gun. His shirt blossomed a bright red before his eyes. That phrase ‘everything went into slow motion’ suddenly rang true as his senses stalled. His racing heart yanked him back to the here and now. With every morsel of strength he had, he wrestled with the handcuffs. Each twist scraped his raw skin, sending hot jabs of pain through his arms. No doubt his wrists were bloody, too.

His muscles quivered and perspiration soaked his brow, seeping into his eyes. The sting managed to steady his senses. To get his bearings, he blinked until he had clear sight. Shackled by fear and totally powerless, he peered into the stone cold eyes of his assailant. He wanted to kick the jerk but his legs felt like two stacks of bricks and wouldn’t move. A buzzing sound hummed in his ears and he felt numb. That couldn’t be good.

He heard the unmistakable sound of gunfire and jerked back, striking his head against the wall behind him. But who had a gun? A blessed silence rolled in behind the shot. Another surge of pain bit into his stomach as the blade released. His assailant fell back in a whoosh, the knife still clutched in his hand.

“Jack!” Callie’s trembling voice echoed from the doorway.

Dazed and disoriented, Jack sharpened his focus. Although she stepped toward him, she appeared to grow farther away. Farther and farther than he could understand.

Success

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While doing some online research, I stumbled across an article that asked: How do you define success? Hmm, what a big question. I don’t believe material symbols, wealth, plaques on the wall, or being famous equate to success. A serving spirit, honesty, and an honorable character are a few of the benchmarks I choose. I’d also add a life filled with purpose as a priority.

With that said, striving for success can be challenging. Sometimes daily struggles can shift my attitude causing negative thoughts and a judgmental spirit which definitely doesn’t align with an honorable character. It really got me thinking about how easily my priorities stray. Choosing to be disciplined is another key. Seeking spiritual nourishment from scripture and inspirational quotes temper my angst and get me back on track. I stumbled across this lovely verse by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It’s definitely a keeper.

Success

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to succeed.   Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Voice of Gladness

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The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah wrote, “There shall be heard again, the voice of joy and the voice of gladness…the voices of those who sing as they bring sacrifices of thanksgiving into the house of the Lord…God will cause the captivity of the land to be reversed and return to be as it was at first” (Jeremiah 33:11).
I particularly love two words in this scripture: reversed and return. I believe God is saying when you stay full of joy and learn to offer up the sacrifice of praise, He will have mercy on you. He will reverse negative situations. He will return, or restore, what’s been stolen or broken.
But notice that restoration doesn’t come from complaining, being negative, or being bitter. Restoration takes place when you have the voice of gladness, the voice of joy. That means you wake up in the morning with song in your heart. You go out each day with a sincere smile on your face. Things may not always go your way, but you don’t become discouraged. You shake it off and count it all joy. Restoration will occur because you have the voice of joy, the voice of gladness, and you keep offering up that sacrifice of praise.
Learn to count it all joy. Don’t be determined to never have problems or get discouraged when times get tough. Be determined to stay full of joy in the midst of your sweet struggles. Choose to adapt an attitude of gratitude.
And no matter what comes your way, don’t lose your joy. Learn to offer up that sacrifice of praise. If you keep the voice of gladness, the voice of joy, you cannot stay down and defeated. God has promised He will reverse and restore. Not only that, but because you have joy, you will find the strength to outlast every attack, to overcome every obstacle, to defeat every enemy. You will become everything God created you to be, and live a life filled with passion.

What’s Your Passion?

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Now that I have a passion, and truly understand what it means, I can’t believe I lived so long without one. Sure, I have the love kind. The intense passion that bursts during love making and basks in the afterglow of sweet intimacy. And the flavor of passion that moistens your taste buds just before you take a bite of your favorite cheesecake. Let’s not forget the type of passion that numbs your throat from shouting when your favorite team wins the big game or when the students you’ve mentored perform on stage and receive a standing ovation. The passion I’m talking about is different.

This passion is a burning desire to mold a masterpiece, to create. It’s not the feeling you get when you’ve completed a monumental task, or the flicker your feel when the start a new one. It’s an intense spark driven hunger, to create, to fix, or to transform something that rewards you with utter joy. That’s how I feel about writing.

This writing thing is relatively new to me. I hadn’t voluntarily picked up a pen until seven years ago. Honest. Never possessed a desire to write, and considered it a chore when I had to write as much as the little family update notes in Christmas cards. There always seemed to be a multitude of exciting and conversely required things to do that kept my focus off a page.

It all changed at 4:00 a.m. that dark July night in 2005. I woke from a fitful sleep, thrashing and gasping for a saving breath. ‘The Dream’ as I call it, shook me to the core. I was powerless in every sense of the word and woke up feeling every emotion known to woman. I say woman because we all know there are certain emotions that men just don’t feel. My husband did provide a warm embrace and assurance that it was only a dream. He even caressed me back to sleep. The next morning, still drowning in a crush of emotions, ‘The Dream’ was my chosen topic of discussion. After a few hours of creative chatter and brainstorming my nightmare transformed into a compelling story. A story that’s changed my life.

Six years, countless workshops, numerous writers meetings, and hundreds of revisions later, I have a novel. Did you hear that? I have a novel…me! Go figure. This story however, is not about my novel, but the blessing I received while writing it. I’m going to reveal what God did to mold me into the passionate writer I believe I’ve become.

After my story was dropped in my lap, I struggled for a time trying to decipher what to do with it. Everyone I talked to suggested that I write a book. “Easy for you say,” I pouted and even stuck out my tongue. I literally had no clue what to do next, so I prayed.

Heavenly Father, Weaver of Wonder, show me the way. I don’t know how to write, yet You’ve given me this story. Pave my path, open my mind, and use me to glorify You. In Jesus name. For a time, not much changed. I worked, cleaned, worshiped, took a few vacations, loved on my grandkids, and so on. Then, I noticed the marquee on an office building about a block from where I work showcasing a national writer’s organization. That’s not to the good part. When I entered the building to inquire about joining a writer’s group, a lovely receptionist informed me that the local chapter met once a month in the same building I work in! Of course, I joined the group, and for the record, am currently serving as secretary. Okay, back to my story. November 11, 2008, I opened my bible to the book of Habakkuk. I’ve been reading my bible faithfully for over ten years, and I never remembered seeing Habakkuk. Never heard a sermon spotlighting Habakkuk, or even knew such a crazy named book existed. I still chuckle when I say it, Habakkuk, it just sounds funny. Here’s what I read:

Habakkuk 2 The Lord’s Answer: Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so the herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

After clearing the lump that had ballooned in my throat, I scooted to my knees, tightly closed my eyes, and prayed, Sweet Jesus, Kindler of Courage, thank you for this message. I’m humbled to hear from You and honored that You think I can do this. Please give me the fortitude, wisdom, and desire to inscribe what You require. Oh, and for the record, this is going to be one heck of a task.
What a moment. I still bask in the joy of that day.

I believe if I hadn’t continued to seek the Lord, and worked my tail off learning the craft of writing, my story would have remained tucked in the corners of my mind with the rest of my dreams. I believe, since I was obedient and heeded His call, I’ve been blessed with a passion that makes life that much fuller. The passion is the blessing. Don’t be afraid to try new things and think outside the box. Explore, learn, and grow. The result might surprise you.