I struggle with the concept of living in the world but not of the world.  I tend to sway back and forth.  Sometimes I find myself able to keep my focus on the spiritual realm, where I find peace and strength and joy.  Other times my thoughts are on things happening around me.  Sometimes those things also fill me with peace and joy, other times...not so much.  Christ tells us that we are not of this world.  And yet he also calls us to be a light to the world.  He tells us to spread his good news.  He tells us to bear one another's burdens, to practice hospitality, to respect and honor authority (both earthly and heavenly).  So, it seems to me that he wants us to make a differnece in this world, while at the same time being cognizant of our place in the eternal.
     As I said, I struggle with this. When I look around and see the state of our country, my default setting is to shut down, to close my eyes to the things of this world and to look only at the eternal.  After all, these things will fall away.  But Christ tells me to love my neighbor.  He tells me to care for the orphans and widows.  He tells me to speak the truth of his word to a world that is dying.  If I surround myself only with thoughts of MY eternal position, what does that say about my duty to that dying world?  I think it shows my contempt for it.  It reveals in me a prideful judgment.  It shows the pharisiacal tendency to separate myself from those who do not act the way I interpret the scripture, to pat myself on the back and say of them, "Shame on you.  I would never act that way."  
     But my actions are silence.  My action is to dissacociate myself from the society in which I live.  My actions are to think I am better because I do not (fill in the blank).  Because I would rather keep peace than speak.  Because I convince myself that my thoughts are not going to change the thoughts of others, so why bother?  Or even more cowardly, that sharing my thoughts may cause others to think ill of me, and that would bother me terribly.  And Christ has been convicting me.
     My latest struggle has been with the political situation in our country.  As I have watched, I have seen very little of Christ in any commercial, sound bite, or social media post. I refused to watch the debates because all I heard was accusation of what the other candidate was doing (or not doing), rather than sharing beliefs and plans for the future. I have friends and family with strong opinions from both political parties.  And I have heard and read Christians share opinions that scream (to me) rage and hatred and disdain.  I have heard more of what people are against than what people are for.  And so I have chosen to remain silent, because I do not wish to be pulled into any type of mud-slinging debate.  
     Christ has been convicting me, as I said, on this matter.  I had decided not to vote.  My opinion was that I could not in good conscience sign my blessing to either candidate.  Neither one was a person whose integrity I believed or supported.  Some people have said that if I could not support a candidate, then I should vote with the party that shares the majority of my beliefs.  I could not do that either, because, again, I have seen much of hatred and dissension and disrespect between both parties, and all I feel is shame for both.  I do not feel that either party has a moral high ground.  We have turned into a mud wrestling match, and we stand on the side lines, cheering on our candidate, hoping they demolish the other.
...but I digress.  Can you see my disdain slipping through?  God forgive me.  
     My point (I think?!) is this.  Christ loves me. He wants to fill me personally with himself.  He offers me life abundantly and everlasting.  And because of the hope I have in him, I can have peace and joy and strength.  AND he has placed me in this world, at this point in time.  He has a purpose for me, and it is not simply to sit in isolated adoration of him all day long.  He does not want me to dissociate myself from this world to the point of having no impact on it.  He wants me to be his light.  He calls me to be his ambassador.  He commands me to share Him with those around me. 
    So I am praying diligently for a word on what exactly I should do Tuesday.  I want to honor God with my choice.  I am praying for his guidance as election day inches forward.   I am praying that he will show me what he would have me do, and give me clarity and confidence that I am following his lead.
    Regardless of the outcome, I pray that Christ will continue to show me ways that I can make an impact in this world, even as I remember that my eternity is not here.  I pray that he will continue to convict me of ways that I am not like him, and that he will mold me more and more into his image.  May he do the same with you, Dear Ones.  
When asked, Jesus stated that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  He then went on to say that the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.

This morning I was reading 1 Thessalonians.  As sometimes happens, two particular verses jumped out at me. In this case it was because in both, Paul used the phrase "more and more."  He was urging the Christians in Thessolonica to do two things.  In chapter 4, verse 1 he says, "we have instructed you how to live in order to please God," and urges them to continue to do this more and more.  In the same chapter, verse 10, he encourages them to "love all brothers throughout Macedonia." And again, urges them to do so more and more.

If I am going to be honest, I struggle with implementing both of these commandments simultaneously.  I seem to swing on the pendulum of who to please. Either I put my focus on living to please God (and not man), as verse one instructs, or I spend my energy trying to make people happy.  Then I catch myself worrying about what people think, and tell myself that my focus on whome to please should be God.  This often turns into a self-castigation that goes something like, "You shouldn't care what they think.  You should care that you are doing the right things; pleasing God."  And if I am not careful, my "not caring what they think" turns into, "not caring about them".

This is, of course, is in direct contrast to commandment two, which is to love our brothers.  But, oh!  How to separate loving someone from trying to please them?  

This morning, as I was wrestling with how to come to grips with this in my heart (because my mind KNOWS that both commandments are correct and should be followed...), I finally landed on two principles that helped in that moment.  Perhaps they will help you as well if you struggle with "people pleasing".

First, I reminded myself that in my own strength, my own love, my own power, I simply cannot do both.  If I rely on myself to "do" better, I will fail.  But the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in me.  And that power can certainly love God, live to please him, AND love my brothers without pandering to them.  That love that Christ had for the world, that was both grace AND truth, is the same love that lives in me.  And it is that power and that love that I want to channel.

Second, I thought of myself as a parent.  I love my children more than any souls on this earth.  But quite often in parenting, I made decisions that did not make my children happy.  If my decision was based on what was best for them, and conflicted with what they wanted, I never dwelled too long on the fact that they were unhappy.  Did I try to explain my decision?  Yes, if they were old enough to understand.  But I never feared that their love for me would die simply because I didn't do something to please them.  Why is that?  Perhaps because I had faith that my love for them would show through in the end.  Perhaps because the moments of love and joy and fellowship outweighed the times of frustration and discontent.  Regardless, I never based my parental decisions solely on "what will make the children happy".

So, why can't I do that with my brothers and sisters?  Why do I worry that sharing my differing opinion, or conflicting view, will forever marr a friendship?  Why do I think that I am responsible for making everyone in the room happy, even if I don't really agree with a decision?  

It's still a struggle.  But I hope that as I continue to read scripture and meditate on its truths, that the Lord will continue to change me to be more like him.  As this happens, I will more easily abide by both commandments: I will live my life to please God and I will love my brothers and sisters!


I believe the Word of God is true.  I believe it has remained true throughout the centuries, regardless of fashion, culture, or politics.  However, I must admit, that I do, on occasion, struggle with understanding exactly what certain scriptures mean.  I am learning that the more I read and meditate on His word, as well as on Christ's character, some scriptures have become clearer to me.  And I would like to share my understanding of one such passage.

I have been reading through the gospel of Luke. One morning this week I read chapter 11.  It begins with Jesus showing the disciples the model prayer:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
      for we also forgive everyone
            who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation."

Soon after we come to a verse of scripture that was introduced to me as a youth.  It is inscribed upon countless wall paintings, inspirational artwork, bookmarks, and Bible covers:
     "Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to  you."
​As a young person who wanted to take this literally, I wondered...so I can ask for anything and I will get it?  And of course it was explained to me by youth directors and other people over the years that I had to pray from the Spirit, I had to pray within the will of God, in order for the verse to be applicable.
Oh.  Well.  How do I know if I'm in the will of God?  And if it's already God's will, then why do I have to ask for it?  Now, don't misinterpret me.  As I have grown in my walk with Christ, I continue to pray.  My prayers have often been less requests for things, and more pleas for character that more resembles Christ.  And as with many things, my initial struggle with the truth of this verse was forgotten.  Until this week, when I read it again.
This time, I stopped and asked.  What does this mean, exactly?  And in stopping, rather than just reading on, in meditating on the whole passage rather than just the one verse,  I came to a new understanding.
I believe that Jesus is further explaining the prayer he gave the disciples at the beginning of the chapter.  There is no break in his speaking.  And we can apply each of the three sections of verse nine to the parts of the model prayer he just gave to the disciples.
     "Give us each day our daily bread."  ..... "Ask and it will be given to you."  Christ will provide all our needs.  Daily.  For me, this may mean asking for it daily.  I struggle with fear of not belonging.  It was that primal fear that propelled me into the arms of Christ as an eight year old child.  And it is a weakness the Enemy still tries to use to thwart my peace.  So I have to pray for the strength to abide in Christ's love almost daily.  When I do, it is given to me.
     "Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us." ...."Seek and you will find."
When we ask for forgiveness, we find it.  Every time.  And he will also give us the grace to forgive others, as we are told to pray, if we truly seek that grace.
    "Lead us not into temptation." ...."Knock and the door will be opened to you."  Christ will not lead us down a path of temptation.  His doors, his way, will always be open to us.  

Now.  Perhaps this seemed elementary to you.  You knew this all along.  And I almost did not post my thoughts, because...after all...I am not a biblical scholar.  There are many who are far more versed in scripture than me.  But I just sat through a sermon where I was prompted that we are all called to share the Good News.  We are all called to make disciples of Christ.  And that means sharing what Christ reveals to us through His Word.    So here I am, sharing with you the good news.  Christ still provides for our needs.  He still offers forgiveness.  And he still leads us!

For me, this understanding, as childlike as it may be, has allowed me to put to rest the question of "what do you mean, Lord?"  It makes sense to me now, as it never did before.  And for that, I am thankful.

​I have been listing on social media one thing for which I am thankful each day during November.  I have participated in this habit for about three years now.  It helps me to stay focused on positive aspects of my life when the busy-ness of the season threatens to overwhelm.
The recent events of terrorism and subsequent discussions regarding refugees and our role as Americans has given me much to think about.  I have heard from many people that we must do what we can to keep our families, our children safe.  They must come first.  Three experiences in my life have caused me to feel differently from many friends whose relationships I cherish.  Perhaps reading these experiences may help someone else as we struggle to be Christ to the world.
1.  When I was nine years old, my parents accepted the call to the mission field.  We moved to India.  After several months, the homeschooling materials we were expecting still had not arrived.  There was no school nearby for me to attend. My parents made the very difficult decision to send me to live with another missionary family who lived in southern India so that I might go to school.  
They did not use me as an excuse to return home because there was no school for me close to them.  They followed Christ's leading.  It was not easy.  I honestly do not know if I would have had that strength when my daughter was nine.  But it set a precedent in my young heart that I was not more important than the work of Christ.  I knew my parents loved me, but they had to put Christ's calling first.
2.  Many years ago, I heard a missionary speak on the radio.  She shared a truth from her life that rocked my world.  She had felt the call to go to the mission field.  She struggled with that call.  "Not now, Lord.  Let me get my children in school first.  Wait a little longer, Lord, until my children are grown.  I don't want my children to have to be uprooted and have to struggle with all the difficulties of living in a foreign land."  She said this pleading went on for several months.  Finally, one evening, she heard, as clear as day, "If the children are the problem, I can remedy that.  I have called you to go."  After that, she immediately began to make plans to obey. 
That story stuck with me.  And I have always been very cautious in using my children as an excuse to do (or not do) something that I felt was a direction from the Lord.  
3.  I have entered that stage of life where my children are almost grown.  When my daughter was fifteen, she wanted to go on her first mission trip.  It would be a week long trip with our church to Belize.  I had attended this trip before and was looking forward to sharing in this experience with her.  As time drew near, it became apparent that we would not have the funds for both of us to go.  I was angry with God.  My rant went something like this: "Lord, you know how much I want this.  You could provide a way if you wanted to.  I'm not going to send my daughter to a foreign land by herself.  I want to experience this with her, to see her joy as she begins to serve you in that way.  Why won't you do something to make this happen for us?"  Suddenly, I promise you, I felt as if the Lord sat down right beside me and said, "She is mine.  She's not yours to keep.  My plans for her are MY plans for her.  You need to let go."  
I still get emotional when I think of that day.  Just like the missionary lady, I immediately took a step back from the situation.  I let go.  I trusted that whatever the Lord had in store for her, his plan was good.  He would use her as he saw fit, and he would keep her in the palm of his hand.   Does that mean she will always be safe?  Not necessarily.  But she will always be with Christ.  And that is enough for me.

So, when I say that I do not feel it is right for us to deny refugees safe harbor, that everywhere I turn in the scriptures, I am instructed to love my enemy, to show compassion to all, to practice hospitality, to show Christ's love to those who do not know him, I also know that there are experiences in my life that have made my heart more susceptible to the truths of those commands. And so I am thankful for those situations, even though some were horrible during the experience.  I also know that I could not follow any of those instructions without Christ in me.  

I do not pretend to understand all the ramifications of allowing thousands of souls into our nation.  But I don't have to.  All I have to do is follow the instructions that are clear in the Bible, which I hold to be still true and still applicable today.  Does that mean I will be safe?  Does that mean I will be appreciated?  Does that mean my efforts will help?  I don't know.  But I cannot base my choice on whether or not to follow Christ's teachings on the answer to any of those questions.  I am commanded to trust and obey.  
I am delighted to be a part of Alana Terry's whirlwind Blog Tour!  I had the privilege of reading her novel, The Beloved Daughter recently.  It was both heartbreaking and horrific.  A tale set in modern day North Korea, this story of Christian persecution touched close to home for me.  With family who have served in "forbidden" countries, knowing that there truly are still those today who are degraded and tortured for their faith is a stark reminder of our need to reach the world for Christ. 

Mrs. Terry writes with poetic precision, painting pictures that are at once poignant and painful. But it is indeed necessary.  I recommend this book to any adult who has a vision for being a bright light in a dark world.  Please take a few moments to read what others are saying about this book, and then enter into the drawing for some awesome prizes!
The Beloved Daughter, an inspirational suspense novel by award-winning author Alana Terry, is a story of persecution and triumph set in the oppressive North Korean regime. The audiobook version of Alana's bestselling debut novel is narrated by Kathy Garver, a four-time Audie award winner and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient from the Motion Picture Council. (You might also recognize Kathy as Cissy from the TV show Family Affair.)

Listen to a sample of Kathy reading from The Beloved Daughter.

The Beloved Daughter

Synopsis: In a small North Korean village, a young girl struggles to survive. It is her father's faith, not the famine of North Hamyong Province, that most threatens Chung-Cha's well-being. The Beloved Daughter follows Chung-Cha into one of the most notorious prison camps the contemporary free world has known. Her crime? Being the daughter of a Christian.

Join the giveaway
     *Winner, Women of Faith Writing Contest
     *1st Place, Book Club Network Book of the Month

     *Amazon Bestseller (#5 Christian Suspense)


"...an engaging plot that reads like a story out of today's headlines..." ~ Women of Faith Writing Contest

"Alana is a master storyteller, and I can’t imagine anyone failing to be captivated by this harrowing tale. What we have here is a compelling story, but it’s also one of great importance." ~ Brad Francis, Author of The Savvy Demon's Guide to Godly Living 

"The Beloved Daughter is a beautifully written story that is...both personal and representative of the challenges that many North Koreans still face today." ~ Sarah Palmer, Rescue Team Coordinator at Liberty in North Korea

"The author does a phenomenal job... HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - but have tissues handy." ~ Pauline Creeden, Editor AltWit Press

Order your own copy of The Beloved Daughter.

Awesome Prizes!

You don't want to miss out on the month-long Beloved Daughter audiobook launch party. RSVP now on Facebook or see the Alana Terry facebook page to get started. Dozens of winners ... Hundreds of $$$-worth in prizes!

ENTER THE DRAWING: In addition to the Facebook party, you can enter the grand prize drawing below for a chance to win a $100 gift card to either Target or Amazon (you choose!), or one of theawesome prizes from the prize gallery (think Christian T-shirts, jewelry, books, CDs, lotions, and more)!




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We are in that stage where it seems our lives are consumed with the college search.   Monday we went on a tour of Lee University, a small Christian college in Tennessee.  After the tour, whatever reservations I had were negated.  So I asked Caitlyn what she thought. She said, "I guess I'm just not going to have that 'This is it' feeling.  I like it, but I just don't know."  Well, okay.  That was the last of the three colleges she had on her very short list.

I posted on Facebook that evening that we were praying for God's direction as she chooses where to spend this next part of her journey.  Yesterday at school a colleague and I were discussing the situation and I jokingly said, "Cait wants God to come down and say, 'Thou shalt go to...' whichever school he wants her to attend."

Are you ready for this?

Caitlyn came home from school yesterday so excited she could hardly stand it.  

"Has Mr. Lindley called you?"  (her high school band director)
"No, why?"
"Let me just tell you, Mom.  Mr. Lindley called me in to his office today and asked me if I was really interested in Lee University.  I told him I was.  He asked if I planned to play in any of the ensembles and I told him I wanted to, and would really like a scholarship to play, but I wasn't sure if they let non-music majors do that.  So Mr. Lindley called his 'friend', who is, like, the director of all the bands at Lee.  The man said that they do allow non-music majors to play and they do offer scholarships.
"Then Mr. Lindley asked him about their honor band.  And the man said that the applications were over a month ago, but they had one of the four alto saxes drop out yesterday.  He said if Mr. Lindley would recommend me then I could have that spot!"

I was floored.  So in the blink of an eye, my daughter is going to be playing in the Lee honor band in two weeks.  Under the direction of the head of bands at Lee University.  In a band that only accepts 4 alto saxes, and she has a spot over the 90 applicants who applied.  This will give her a foot in the door when she auditions for a spot in any ensemble at Lee.

So, I guess, sometimes God does come down and say...
This past week our faculty lost a valiant lady.  Suzan Phillips Estes was a wife, mother, teacher, and friend.  I had the privilege of working with her at AES for only two years, but knew her to be devoted to her family and her career for many years previously.  Her battle with cancer was horrific, but her witness throughout was a great inspiration to all who knew her.

Her husband, Ryan, was given grace to speak her eulogy at the funeral on Wednesday.  And once again God was glorified through this family.  One truth Ryan spoke was from a note written in Suzan's Bible.  "Peace is better than understanding", written beside the verse that proclaims that Christ gives us peace that passes all understanding.  While I had never thought about peace being better, I certainly understood it in that moment.  

Many times, events happen that I don't understand.  My father's diagnosis with ALS...and his cure.  The Tsunami in Indonesia and Thailand.  My Aunt Jackie's early passing.  My son's struggles.  But I can look back at those instances and see that there were times when God gave me peace.  And although my personality is the type that longs to understand, to make sense of the world around me, there are times that I have to simply fall back on my faith.  

God is still good.  The world is not.  He has overcome the world and calls me his child.  So I can believe the verse in Romans that proclaims "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  This verse does not say all things are good, but that God is working through those things for our good.  So when I don't understand the "why", I can cling to the hope that God is still with me.

And I know that while we are still here on this earth we have a mission.  So I am making a firmer choice to be an encourager, a positive influence on those around me, and to share the power and grace of Christ every chance I get.  Thank you, Suzan, for inspiring me to be better.

I recently met another author and asked if I could share her with you.  Please take a few minutes to get to know Sarah Smith, who publishes as Precarious Yates.  She lives in Texas with her husband, daughter, dogs, sheep chickens, lizard and rabbit.

Why did you choose to write under a pen name?  I write under the name Precarious Yates because there are way too many Sarah Smiths in the publishing world! 

Tell us about your current book. UnEmbraceable is about a runaway teen, Tamar, who dives into a life of prostitution and stealing after a dark and harrowing past. She runs into Leonard, a computer programmer with a weight of sadness and a unique gift. Tamar steals Leonard’s wallet, and Leonard is sure of one thing about her: she will be his wife some day. In the meantime, there are zombies to run from and the weight of the past that could crush the both of them.

That sounds both intriguing, and a little creepy!  I bet most teens would love it!  What genre do you enjoy reading? I love, love, love YA, mostly fantasy, some dystopian, some sci-fi. I love reading about hope. I’ve seen enough of the other stuff.

What book are you reading now? I’m reading The Beloved Daughter by Alana Terry.

What fact about your life would you like to share with your readers? I lived in Ireland for 4 years, and actually had the audacity to teach creative writing while I was there. Yes, you read that right—teach. In all reality, I learned from the Irish how to make the page breathe the words. I’m still trying to perfect that one!

Wow, that is amazing.  Ireland is at the top of my list of places I want to visit some day, so I'm just a little jealous right now!  If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be, and why? Jerusalem. Why? My heart has yearned for that city for as long as I can remember.

Do you have any hobbies (other than writing)? I play guitar, I play on jungle gyms, and I love to color with crayons and pastels. I have a six year old who keeps me young.

Are you working on any other books?  Tell us about them. I’m finishing up book 3 of The Heart of the Caveat Whale trilogy. This is a YA fantasy set in a watery world. There are mermaids, mermen, huge and horrifying beasts, and the absolutely delightful aquavians.

What do you enjoy most about writing? The journey. Always the journey. The moments when my pen is moving across the page and I’m thick in the ‘zone’ of the story, those are my favorite moments of writing.

What other authors have inspired you? Oh, all the great classic fantasy authors: C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, George MacDonald. As for recent authors, I’d have to say that Staci Stallings, Chana Keefer, Sarah Witenhafer, Jackie Castle and all the others whose books I’ve read who write with integrity and depth and are not afraid to write beauty.

Do you have a link where we can purchase your books or read more about you? precariousyates.wordpress.com That’s where you’ll find all my books on the side bar.

Thanks for sharing about your work!  Now, just for fun, what would you answer to these questions?

Sweet or salty? Briny, as in ocean. Ahh, I miss the ocean…

Mountains or beach? Beach. Please. Now? J.

What cd is in your player right now? Usually something by U2, but right now it’s music by Jonny Rodgers: acoustic guitar and wine glasses—ethereal, sublime, perfect writing music.

Precarious Yates lives in Texas with husband, daughter, sheep, dogs, chickens, rabbit, lizard and by the time you read this some other exotic creature her husband or daughter has brought home. She had studied the plight of and worked toward the abolition of modern slavery for over a decade before sitting down to write Revelation Special Ops. She was further inspired by the work of her sister-in-law, who helped to found Love146, an organization that works to raise awareness about human trafficking and builds safe homes in vulnerable regions. Yates spent several years overseas as a missionary in Ireland, and also did missions work in India and the Philippines. Her passion for literature has become her means of further educating young adults of the realities of modern slavery, while producing hope through the power of Christ Jesus in us.

I would like to introduce you to author, Sophronia Belle Lyon.  Ms. Lyon travels the United States and Canada "in a large, red, diesel-powered conveyance, living a gypsy existence with [her] beloved husband.  Take a few minutes to find out more about this unique lady and her exciting writing!

Welcome Ms. Lyon.  Please tell us about your current book.

The ‘Pprentice, the Puppets, and the Pirates is the second book in the Alexander Legacy series. The genre is Steampunk Literary Tribute. This series combines Victorian classic characters from Alcott, Dickens, Stevenson and other authors with Sci-fi and fantasy elements in a mystery involving human trafficking. Oliver Twist as a 20-something eccentric inventor narrates this story and fights against those who would make man immortal, godlike, and seek to destroy morality and overthrow the British Empire. Pinocchio, Long John Silver, and Spring-Heeled Jack make appearances in the story.

That sounds very intriguing.  Do you read a lot of sci-fi? 

I enjoy reading historical fiction, sci-fi, and fantasy.  Right now I am reading Land of Flames by Cynthia P. Willow, a fantasy, first in a series called The Karini and Lamek Chronicles.

I would assume since Oliver Twist in a character in your story that Dickens is an author who has given you inspiration.  Are there others?

Charles Dickens and Jane Austen are both writers who have inspired me.  They have great characters and stories of overcoming hardships.

Are you working on any other books?  Tell us about them.

The Alexander Legacy series will continue, probably with Sluefoot Sue from the Pecos Bill American tall tales as the next narrator. My publisher, Mary C. Findley of Findley Family Video Publications, and hubby Michael J. Findley, are co-writing a Homeschool Curriculum series integrating World History with the hard sciences and Literature called The Conflict of the Ages. It begins at Creation and promotes Biblical Authority. Two books in the series, The Scientific History of Origins, and The Origin of Evil in the World that Was, are already available. She also writes historical fiction.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love my characters. I love how they get into trouble trying very hard to do what’s right, and how God gets them out.

Your books sound fascinating, Ms. Lyon.  Now will you tell us a bit more about yourself?  What fact about your life would you like to share with your readers?

Tea and crumpets really are the best balm for a troubled soul. My self-adjusting corset gets entirely too tight at times. Oh, dear. That was two facts. I beg your pardon.

If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be, and why?

India, a land of amazing ancient culture, is a place I would love to visit. Mowgli and Bagheera, from Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Books, are from there, and appear in my series.

Do you have any hobbies (other than writing)?

make puppets and perform with them, and I create wall hangings incorporating Native American-inspired designs and Scripture verses.

And just for fun:

Sweet or salty?  Give me dark chocolate, nuts, and fruit, and I am yours to command. I know that’s no kind of proper answer, but it’s the best I can do.

Mountains or beach?  I would have to say mountain, since I grew up in the Catskill mountains of upstate New York, and also love the red rocks of the west, neither of which are anywhere near a beach.

Favorite movie quote?  Buzz Light year: “Procedure is what separates us from the dark forces of chaos.”
Warp Darkmatter “If it means less paperwork, I’ll take chaos.”

What cd is in your player right now?  “Sounds of Nature”, which is just that – rainstorms, thunder, running streams, twittering birds, but I love Russian classical, especially Tchaikovsky. 

Thanks again for sharing yourself and your books with us today. Do you have a link where we can purchase your books or read more about you?

Here are the two Alexander Legacy Books
And here is a link to Findley Family Video’s (my publisher) blog, Elk Jerky for the Soul http://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com

I will admit that we don't usually attend church on Sunday nights.  Especially during the school year, that time has become a time of preparation for the upcoming week.  (A teacher's work is never done.)  But tonight there was a special youth event after church, so we attended the evening service.  And, as usual, God used that time to show me something that changed my understanding.  I'm so glad he does that!

We watched a video about a master potter who took us through the creative process and likened it to our experience with God as The Master Potter.  Now, I have heard that analogy before, and, while listening to his explanation of the various steps of creating a useful vessel, I pretty much just nodded and smiled.  It was nice to hear it again, to be reminded that God has to mold us, and sometimes it is painful, but that he has a purpose for our lives if we simply yield to him.  I don't mean to make light of that truth.  It just wasn't new.

Then at one point in the video the potter is holding a beautiful vase and begins talking about how we usually want to show our best side to the world.  He turns the vase around and shows that it has been marred and torn.  Huge holes have been ripped into the vase, and it can only be described as ugly.  He says we might have this hidden side of us, this broken side that we don't want to show the world.  This side which makes us feel unusable.

As I was watching this, I immediately began to predict how the potter was going to turn this around.  Hmmm.  He could turn the vase into a unique one that holds flowers that stick out from its side. Like God can take bad things that happen to us and work them out for good.  Or perhaps he's going to show us how he repairs the holes....like Jesus repairs the brokenness in our own lives.  

I could not have been more wrong.

As the potter holds that useless vase, he tells the story of the Prodigal Son, and how when the younger son finally comes to his senses, and returns home, the father sees him from a long way off.  The father embraces the son.  He holds him tight.  He celebrates his return with a party.  While the potter is sharing this reunion, he embraces this marred vase...so hard that it begins to collapse.  He lovingly folds it inward, completely erasing the previous shape, turning it essentially back into a lump.  And he says,  "We will start over.  We will make this anew."

I was floored.  

The potter didn't just make do with the holes in the vase.  He didn't patch them up either.  He completely remade the vessel.  When he was finished, there was nothing about the old vase visible.  And in that, I finally understood what Paul meant when he said, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come!"  (2 Cor. 5:17)  And again in Colossians 3:9-10, "...since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator."

God does not repair us.  He does not just take our broken lives and mend them.  He creates in us a NEW  heart, a new life, a new spirit!  We are not simply forgiven.  We are transformed and are being remade.  And the most comforting part for me is, we are in the hands of a Master who only has the best plans for us!  

Now, if I will just remember this, and quit reaching out for that old self that fits so uncomfortably!