Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Giveaway and Guest Post - By Faith Blum

This is a guest post by my friend, Faith Blum. :D 
She is hosting a giveaway on her blog. Read this post for details on how to win  an Advanced Reader copy of Be Thou My Vision and an ebook copy of Aundy by Shanna Hatfield.

Book Blurb

The church was empty when I dragged myself out of the pew and headed out the door. As I opened the door, the corner of my eye caught a flicker of movement which I chose to ignore. I walked down the steps and was nearly bowled over by two wild boys. With arms grown strong and quick from man-handling two brothers growing up, I grabbed the two boys before they had a chance to escape me.

Anna Stuart is comfortable with her life. She may be a 30 year old spinster, but she has her routine and enjoys taking care of her father and older brother. One letter shatters all her routines, comfort, and enjoyment. After learning of her brother’s death, Anna feels like her life will never be the same again.

Then she meets two motherless boys. Did God place them in her life to lead her to a new vision of life? Can she trust God to give her the desires of her heart before she even knows what they are?

Writing sermons
By Faith Blum, author of the book A Mighty Fortress

I think the hardest part of writing "Be Thou My Vision" was writing the sermons. I only have two (or three) in the book and they are both fairly short, but let me tell you, they were hard to write! First of all, it was nerve-wracking to write a sermon because I didn't want to make any major theological errors. Secondly, the sermons had to be historically accurate, too! Preaching styles have changed quite a bit since the 1870s. Here are just a few of those differences:

  • Most people during that time thought they were Christians simply because they went to church or had a spiritual experience at a revival meeting.
  • Preachers often preached "brimstone and hellfire" sermons.
  • Pastors were more candid about sin
  • Terminology was slightly different

When writing the sermons, I had to be careful to keep all of this in mind and I still don't know for sure if I got it all right. I'm sure I messed up somewhere. When editing the sermons, I decided to edit more for theological accuracy rather than historical accuracy. Read below for the first fully-written sermon in "Be Thou My Vision":

“Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter seven.” Pastor Miles Jenkins waited until the rustling of pages quieted down. “We will read verses seven through twelve.”
“'Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
“‘Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.'
“This passage talks about those who know something about God’s kingdom, but still seek out His will for their lives or have yet to come to know Him as their personal Savior. There is a giant difference between going to church and knowing Jesus personally. Those who only go to church without a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ will go to hell.
“Are you one of those people who comes to this house of God, but you don’t read your Bible or know Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Or perhaps you are one of those who believe that all the good deeds you do will get you to heaven. The Bible is very specific and clear about that very issue.
“In this passage, Jesus explains how to know His as your personal Savior in a simple, yet difficult, formula. Ask, seek, and knock. Ask God your questions. Seek His answers in the Bible through prayer and asking your pastor or a friend who knows the Lord. And then comes the hardest step: Knocking. Knock on the door and ask God for His free gift of salvation.
“Why is this part so hard? Because we think salvation should be harder than simply knocking and asking. I have heard the question, 'Don't we have to DO something before God will accept us?’ many times. Or sometimes it is said this way, 'Isn't there something we can DO to earn God's favor?'
“The Bible answers that question with a resounding 'No'! No, there is nothing you need to, or can, do to earn salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, 'For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.' Faith, not works. I guess we should add that to the list. Ask, Seek, Believe, Have faith, Knock, Accept. That's all there is to it. Simple? Perhaps. Belief and faith do not come easily.”
Pastor Jenkins looked toward the back wall; his eyes avoided eye contact for the first time during this sermon. “Although I grew up in a God-fearing home, I had a hard time accepting it for myself and making Jesus my personal Savior. And even after I came to a personal faith in Christ, having faith was often hard. When I knocked and accepted Jesus as Lord of my life, keeping my faith in line with God's word was, and is, the hardest thing I have ever done. Yes, even harder than watching my wife die. Even harder than accepting that her death would ultimately be for the best somehow.”
Pastor Jenkins cleared his throat and wiped the tears out of his eyes. “But that faith is what brought me through all those trials and it will continue to do so in the future. Every day I struggle and every day that I persevere is sweeter than the day before.
“How many of you have faith, but struggle with it? Know this, God is stronger than your trial or temptation and, if you ask, He will help you and guide you through.
“How many of you have yet to believe and put your faith in Him? God is seeking you. Do not hide from Him like the Old Testament prophet, Jonah did. Jonah was told to warn the Ninevites that they needed to repent or their city would be destroyed. He disobeyed, thinking he could hide from God. God found him and Jonah spent three days and nights in the belly of a big fish. When God let him out of the fish, Jonah completed his mission.
“God seeks you just as you are. He knows you are a sinner condemned to hell. All He cares about is that you come to Him so He can save you from an eternity without Him. God does not want a single person to go to hell.
“Are you hiding from God today? Why are you hiding? Is your faith less than you desire it to be? Trust God and ask Him for help. Seek His face. Believe He can help you. Have faith He will accomplish His work in you. Knock on His door and accept His help and be ready for Him to want you to change.”
Pastor Jenkins looked over the sanctuary. For a fleeting second, I thought he looked me straight in the eye, asking me those questions personally. Then he concluded, “Let us spend a minute or two in silent prayer. After that time, I will close us in prayer.”

About the Author

An avid reader, Faith Blum started writing at an early age. Whether it was a story about the camping trip that summer or a more creative story about fictional characters, she has always enjoyed writing. When not writing, Miss Blum enjoys reading, crafting, playing piano, leading on the Holy Worlds Christian Writing Forum and playing games with her family (canasta, anyone?). As a history enthusiast who has been fascinated for years with the Old West, Faith has endeavored to create a clean, fun, and challenging Western story. Faith lives with her family on a hobby farm in the Northern Midwest, where she enjoys the many cats they have.

Find Faith on:
To preorder a copy, just follow this link: Go Here. ;)


To enter the giveaway for an Advanced Reader copy of Be Thou My Vision and an ebook copy of Aundy by Shanna Hatfield go to Faith’s blog and leave a comment to either ask her a question, or make a comment about what you think about the article.

Friday, September 19, 2014

If The Words You Spoke Appeared On Your Skin...

All together, don't these just beg to be made into a story? 

If someone writes something along these lines, I wanna see it! ^_^

~Ophelia - Marie

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Random Thing I Do In My Spare Time... Clay Dragons

Lately I've been pretty busy: working as a nurse aid, puttering my way through poetry editing, and ... making dragons. ;)

These are made from Sculpy clay, and most of them have been glossed with nail polish.

(I also make clay animals.  Though I've been on a dragon kick lately. ;) ) 

My dragon family.

This is my best dragon I've made to date, I think. :) 

This cub is hanging in my car.

Flower Dragon

I recently made an Etsy shop: 
and I have a Facebook page:  to have somewhere to share my random creative spurt. ;)

This has been a "General Rambling" of  a craft type. ;)

(Head's up - I'm planning to do a giveaway in late December.)

~Ophelia - Marie 

Monday, September 1, 2014

I Don't Want To Grow Up - Beyond Caring

       This is the second post in my 'I Don't Want To Grow Up' series. The first post is entitled, 'I Don't Want To Grow Up - Beyond Dreaming'. 

I don't want to be so "grown up" that I no longer care.

I don't want to stop caring
Because I've put everyone in categorized bubbles
And they don't matter anymore.

       There are the people who "deserve our care" and then the people who "made wrong choices, and got what they deserved" - There are the people who, "Need our compassion", and the people who, "Need to just figure it out for themselves"- sadly, we hear this attitude all the time. We tend to rush in to help those who stumbled, but glare harshly at those who have habitually been walking on the edge of wrong choices (despite being told what would happen) and finally crumble under the weight of what they've done. We scold, and shake our heads, and throw out our words of, "We told you this would happen!" instead of showing compassion. The weight of our judgmental glances tell them that their chances are better out on the road.  

        Where would we be if God hadn't loved us, despite how messed up we are? Where would we be if He had left us to figure things out alone? Where would we be if we had to meet His standards, before He extended grace? Where would we be if our past kept us from finding a new future in Him? So much has been given to us that we've never deserved. We need to extend that same grace to others. 

        That doesn't mean people shouldn't be held accountable for their actions, and that there aren't real consequences for life choices people make. It doesn't mean we shouldn't try to tell people what will happen when we see them walking into sin. It doesn't mean we should turn a blind eye to what harmful things people do to themselves and others in the name of being "sensitive". It means... praying for the broken, talking to them, showing them the love of God by our lives and actions, and seeking to genuinely care about them as individuals, even when they aren't very "lovable"...


I don't want to see someone crying
And hurry away
Because I don't have time.

         I don't want to get to the point in life where my agenda becomes more important than caring for others. It takes time to talk to hurting people. It takes time to get to know them, be there for them, and understand why they are hurting. It isn't easy. It isn't even always rewarding. It isn't without cost, or without occasional confusion and pain. It isn't without mistakes, or times that seem impossible. 

           I know I can't be there for everyone. I know that I can't heal the pain. I know that I am not always the friend I should be. I know I can not be someone's strength. I know I can not fix what people crush. I know I don't have all the solutions, or even a handful of them, a lot of times. I know I am not strong enough to fully bear another's heartaches. I know I haven't always been obedient to reaching out when I had the chance. I know there are times I have to step back from a friendship. I know there are days I can't handle trying to be there, and have to take a break. I know I can't do everything... But I do know many things I can do, with God's strength.

        I know I can listen. I know I can show I care. I know I can offer my friendship. I know I can extend forgiveness. I know I can speak truth. I know I can look at things from another point of view and offer ideas. I know I can pray down on my knees and beg for God's healing, peace, and strength for others. I know that I can make a difference in someone's life, if that's what God has for me to do. 

         When it comes down to it, will you take the time to show you care? Will you put aside what is "convenient" to reach out? A lot of times you don't even have to do much, it seems... Pray and be there for people - that's what is needed the most. But like I said, that doesn't mean it's easy... It's being the hands and feet of Jesus. It's showing love to those who often don't know what love really means -  the hope that is bound up in a relationship with Jesus.

I don't want to look at people
And only wonder what they'll give me,
How they'll help me forward,
And if they are worth my time.

         Life is full of people who will either have the means to repay our caring in some way, or who won't.

          There are people who affirm those who love them in their pain, and there are those who react harshly to offered help. There are people who accept love and gentle reproof, and then there are people who appear colder to kindnesses and ignore (or sharply reply to) anything that isn't uplifting and affirming... There are those who seem easier to love, and there are those that are much harder to love.

     I work as a nurse aide in a long term care facility. Not all of my residents are lovable. (Many of them are wonderfully sweet though, and I absolutely love my job.) Some are unkind and demanding and always seem to be complaining... But God calls me to be loving and patient with them too. I don't always have the right attitude, but God has been teaching me again the meaning of caring for those who can and will give you nothing in return.

        As I was thinking about that, these verses came to mind:

Luke 14:12-14
12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Matthew 5:46-47
 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 

I don't want to grow out of caring-
Deeply, truly caring-
The type of caring that makes me cry
Though I don't know their name,
Or fully understand their hurt.

           I don't want to stop being empathetic, even though it hurts. I want Him to break my heart 'til it moves my hands and feet. Mmm, I want to have a heart of compassion to those around me, and not become cynical to the brokenness. I want to love others with no half measures - loving them the best I know how, in God's strength.

          God has shown me such perfect love. He teaches me day by day to rest in Him, even when I struggle, and shows me that I am not alone. His grace is enough for me. How can I do any less than seek to love others in even a fraction of the way that He has loved me? He is the reason I can care.

Now my question for you is: How will you show you care?

~Ophelia - Marie