Thankful Winners

While hanging out at my kitchen sink, I watch our dogs from the window.

My German Shepherd is a territorial dog, more so than most, and he just cannot stand to see another creature come onto his property and pack off his stuff. Never mind that he can’t eat all the English walnuts that drop from our tree.  He does crack shells and eats the meat. So does my other dog.

To my knowledge, he does not eat acorns or the pods off the tulip tree. That doesn’t keep him from tracking down the squirrels that do.

Yesterday I stepped up to the kitchen sink, a perfect place to view our large back yard, as he ran a red squirrel up a tree. Our other dog joined in the chase, but it wasn’t as if he needed help.

These scenes by the sink usually come with a trade-off. I wash dishes or prep some food, where I’m in place long enough to watch a chase unfold. Otherwise I’m somewhere else in the house, and miss the action.

Okay, so I reach for a glass and wash it. Then look up to see my German Shepherd coming from the embankment, straight toward our tulip tree, located behind our house and in direct view of the kitchen window. His shoulders are massive for a dog I still call a pup, and they’re working like pistons. I can see the outline of his body, front legs eating up the ground as the back feet pump.

With that wonderful German Shepherd snout prominently outlined and looking similar to a cartoon version of a hyena’s nose, his ears are sticking straight up. Exactly like the classic police dog. Only he’s much prettier—a golden loop starts above each ear, circles it at the base and then comes around to end in a curlicue on the upper side of each black cheek. I have yet to see markings like this on another Shepherd.

My eyes catch movement to the side and I see our black female coming in at a different angle, headed toward the tree. Then my gaze settles on the squirrel, with its body close to the ground and tail, almost the length of its body, sticking straight back. The squirrel’s feet seem to move effortlessly, almost floating, as it travels across the ground. Its elongated face with its cheeks bunched tight, reflects a calculated look of stress.

So, there it played out in front of me. The squirrel raced toward the tree and safety, with the Shepherd just behind and the female pouring it on as she cuts in from the side. All three of them were locked into a tight race that could end in pain, even death, for one or more of the trio. The squirrel reminded me of that rabbit greyhounds chase at the dog races, only who would be the winner in this race?

“Come on, boy. Get that squirrel for showing you no respect in your own yard.”

“Go, go…” Then I came to my senses. “No, no….”

I held my breath and hoped my dog would lose the race. If he caught that squirrel, it could be bad news for him, too.

Well, the squirrel made it to the tree seconds ahead of my dogs, and I have to say that gave me a bit of relief.

I wasn’t sure just how much damage the squirrel could do if he caught my buddy, maybe by his big snout, but I knew one thing for sure. That squirrel had cracked a bunch of nuts with those jaws and he would not go down easily.

“Good boy,” I hollered, watching my Shepherd come toward the back door, his tail wagging.

Today he was the winner.

I met him at the door and scratched behind his ears as he came in and plopped down to rest from the big race, while I filled both dogs’ food bowls.

“Good Boy,” I repeated when I fed them.

It had crossed my mind it would be difficult to run him to the vet, over in the next town, with me home alone. Not to mention my nerves if he had been really hurt in the tussle.

In the end I am thankful we were all big winners—the squirrel, the dogs and me.

My Long Winter of Learning


Those of you who’ve visited my blog know I haven’t posted in quite some time.

I could say that due to a faulty memory I had problems recalling my password, but that would not be true, so this is what actually happened.

I heard the ‘author’s call’ to write and chose to answer it. I picked up several writing books to help me learn the fine art of composing Christian fiction.

Imagine how long it could have taken me to write “Liberty’s Call”, or its sequel, “Freedom’s Anchor”, without the help of talented authors who have put their ‘learn how to write’ expertise into instruction books.

The following are books now on my bookshelf within easy reach.

“Creating Characters; How to Build Story People” by Dwight V. Swain

“Techniques of the Selling Writer” by Dwight V. Swain

“Between the Lines” by Jessica Page Morrell

“Plot versus Character” by Jeff Gerke

“Plot & Structure” by James Scott Bell

“Conflict, Action & Suspense” by William Nobel

“How to Write and Sell a Christian Novel” by Gilbert Morris

“Stein on Writing” by Sol Stein

Tithing From the Heart

“Have you given a tithing of the heart lately?”

If someone asked you a question similar to this, how would you answer? No doubt you’d want to know what they meant by ‘tithing of the heart’.

While the words may seem obvious, it’s not to be confused with a monetary tithing or offering, which are also of the heart and spirit.

We, as church-going worshipers of Christ, tithe. Some of us to our church, some of us to other Christian organizations doing work for the Lord, and some of us tithe to both. All depending on our means and where the need is, as the Holy Spirit leads us.

But, in a tithing of the heart it’s a little different and usually may not cost much more than a few dollars.

A heart tithing can be gas money to get to a retirement or nursing home. A few dollars invested in a small gift or card to say “Jesus loves you”, or “I’m thinking of you”. It could be secretly paying for a perm or dress for a poor elderly lady during the holidays who could never afford that luxury, except that our Lord Jesus intends for her to have it. Or, some other luxury she can’t afford but that we may take for granted.

There are many ways to do a tithing, and some don’t cost a thing (maybe just a little bit of elbow grease or energy). You could walk to an elderly neighbor’s house and do their dishes, sweep their floor, or cook them a good meal. Even invite them to lunch or dinner.

You could cook for them, when you make your dinner, and deliver theirs hot, along with a nice plate, silver and a lovely cloth napkin(s), that you insist be piled in a small box or basket, and not be washed. The cleanup is your privilege.

Many of these little things that you would do for them are chores they could have done for themselves before age caught up with them. They may still do these things, but if they are living at home and maintaining their independence without much help it drains their already-restricted level of energy.

Another avenue to explore is helping a young family having a difficult time financially. So many people are now out of work (a two-job family now down to one) as prices still continue to rise for the most basic of things such as food, clothing, and shelter. The person who has some time to spare can shop at yard sales for nicer items of clothing to help a family with children. If the items are big ones—like shoes, coats and jeans— it will be especially appreciated.

What about new parents who have fallen on difficult times as well. Every mother and father knows how fast infants and toddlers grow out of their clothing. Then there are the big ticket items for them, such as highchairs, baby beds and walkers, and even these can be bought at yard sales and polished up or fixed to be almost ‘good as new’.

As God’s children, there are so many ways we who are doing alright can help His other children in need. The joy from giving to another will satisfy our spirit.

It’s my personal preference, when giving a tithing, that the recipient be the most lonely and neediest of persons.

What good does it do to bestow gifts and acts of kindness on a person or couple who already have all their financial and social needs met? I’ll give them my pleasant conversation, but my energy, time, and money will go to someone that doesn’t have much in this life.

I believe it’s easy to like and do for the lovelier people of America. It’s not so easy to love the poor, the broken, or the ugliest of our land. What good does it do to invite someone to eat who can easily repay that generosity?

I’ll always do what my Lord and Savior Christ Jesus tells me to do, either by responding when He speaks to my heart or by following the prompting of His Holy Spirit.

SALVATION . . . Accept No Substitute


            Father God in heaven, in the name of Jesus Christ, Your only begotten Son, I pray this prayer today.

            May Your hand be upon each person who reads this. I ask a blessing for each one and I ask Your guidance for them to fully understand the content of this entry and the courage to act on my suggestion for their family, friends, and church family. I ask this, Father, in the name of Your Son and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May everyone who reads this say “Amen.”

As a Christian, I’ve noticed certain things that happen when I’m in a crowd or even mingling with other self-proclaiming Christians. Even at family gatherings.

Here is an example of what happens to me. I walk into a room at a family gathering and suddenly the room clears out. When it happens, I feel a pressing need to check my hygiene. You know, blow into a hand or sniff under an arm, that type of thing. Just to be sure my deodorant still works.

I now understand why it happens, although it took me awhile, and it doesn’t have anything to do with personal cleanliness.

This action from others prompts the question, “Are they running from the Lord?”

This surfaced in my mind again one day last week, as cool air blew over lush grass and sweet smelling floral, and found its way through my open window. It was accompanied by the sound of birds singing as they flitted from fence to tree to feeder, as they socialized in our bird-friendly and sheltered backyard. They seem to feel safe – like humans do when they have salvation.

I decided to explore why the question periodically comes to mind and the circumstances that bring it.

These people who flee the room when I enter are running from their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit (who resides in every Christian)—not from me.

Many people sit in churches and other religious facilities believing they are saved because they pray to God. But the truth is, if He’s the only one they acknowledge, then they aren’t. They are not saved unless they have accepted the full pardon of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

            The Bible, the Word of God, tells us plainly that we must come through His Son Jesus Christ if God is to hear us. If we don’t accept Jesus’ pardon for our life, yet we want to know His Father, we are trying to enter the back door into heaven and it will definitely be closed to everyone who rattles the door knob. (1John 2:23, John 10:38, Ephesians 5:20, Matthew 11:26)

            I would ask this of people who run from Jesus:

“Don’t want anything to do with grace, or goodness, or eternal life with a loving God?”

“A God who won’t throw you away, won’t destroy you for all eternity?”

Are you, or do you know, someone who sits in the pew each worship day and looks around feeling confident they are saved in the Lord—just because they have been raised in a good church family?

These people just know that their salvation must be secure. They followed the church rules and participated in all the programs and Wednesday night worships.

They may have even joined the choir or sang special music, playing an instrument their parents started them on at birth…well, maybe made a choice which one they would play at that time.

I can testify personally that He, God Almighty, will extend every opportunity to bring you into His glorious family, to bring you life and not death. Through the saving Grace of His son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The most loving and wonderful thing you can do for these people, whether church friends or your family, is tell them the truth.

One day in the future, maybe today, it will be their last day on earth. Once they are dead their destiny is set. If they have not accepted Jesus Christ’s Salvation, a pardon purchased  for them through His death on the cross, then they are destined for hell.

Yes there is a real hell and that is the destination for anyone not saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior.

If you know this truth, tell it to anyone you suspect does not know it.

If they don’t act on securing their place for all eternity, in Heaven, it is not your fault and you will have done what the Lord our God expects of you.

This ball is in your hands. What are you going to do with it?

I pray the Lord’s guidance for you in this important decision.


They say salvation is of the Jews. John 4:22 They’re right. Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ was born a Jew. Matt 27:37

OK, so we know who our Savior is. That He was born a Jew, from the tribe of Judah. But, what about salvation?

I’ve asked this question. “Have you led anyone to Jesus lately?” Today I ask the question, “If not, why not?”

How do we lead someone to Him if the Holy Spirit has called their name, and put them in our path?

Many Christians aren’t soul-savers, but this isn’t by choice. They want to be. Many just don’t know how to go about it—what to do. The one thing that may get in their way is embarrassment. Yes, I said embarrassment. This may be hard to believe but it has truth.

It’s difficult to ask someone “Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?”

Oh, My! What if they say “Mind your own business”?  What if they laugh at you and point their finger? This is when you have to trust the Lord. That He didn’t send you to be ridiculed, but that He may want you to do this exact thing. Or, maybe He wants you to plant a seed and have someone else bring it to fruition. Maybe you will introduce the subject of salvation, and the next Christian will kneel with them while they give their life to Jesus.

What if you don’t take this person to the Lord? Or, plant that seed? He will always provide someone else for them, but look at what you will have missed. Not knowing the joy and wonder of completing an assignment for the Lord.

I ask you, isn’t it worth stepping out in faith to help someone be saved from destruction, on the day of the Lord? When he shall set us sheep on His right side and the goats (unsaved) on His left?  Matt 25:33

How do you go about leading another person to the Lord? Well, this is what I do.

First, I pray before asking the person I’m talking to if they’ve been saved. If their answer is “No”, I ask, “Do you want to know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?”

If they should say “No”, I tell them Jesus loves them and wants them to have a pardon and eternal life with Him. If there’s no positive response I stop there, making a mental note to stay in contact with them. This may be an introduction to salvation, where at another time I can approach them again.

If I determine the person is ready to receive the Lord, I simply ask, “Do you want to do this now?”

If the answer is “Yes”, I start the process of taking this person through the steps that will guarantee them eternal life with our Lord and Savior. It’s evident at this time that the Holy Spirit has drawn them to Jesus. John 6:44 If it’s possible, I kneel with them (I’m partial to kneeling, although I’ve taken a few through the sinner’s prayer in other places). It’s good to open with prayer and ask His hand upon the two of you as you lead this wise individual to the Lord. You may also have other requests for the Lord, specific to this person.

I ask “Do you believe Jesus Christ is the son of God?” John 20:31 Wait for an answer after each question. If at any time the answer is “No”, then it’s time to discuss the Scriptures. “Do you believe Jesus was born of a virgin?” Luke 1:27-32  “That the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary, His mother, and that God is His father?” Luke 1:34-35 “Do you believe He was crucified on the cross (John 19:23-33) for our sins and on the third day was resurrected?” John 20:1-17

If the person says “Yes” to all my questions I lead them through this prayer. “Jesus Christ I believe You are the son of God, born of a virgin. That You died on the cross for my sins and after three days were resurrected from the dead and now sit on the right side of God, Your Father. Please come into my heart, be my Savior, and cleanse me from all my sins.”

Here is what you, and the person you’re leading to Jesus, don’t have to do for salvation—that in fact you cannot do for salvation. You don’t have to earn it. You don’t have to act so good that it’ll be given to you, or if you fail taken from you. And finally, you don’t have to find someone else to get your salvation, or intercede for you, with God.

All you have to do is follow the steps above and Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for you, will come into your heart and bring you salvation. Then the Holy Spirit will come to reside in you and clean you up from inside out. You just need to remember you’re a sinner and when you realize you’ve committed a sin, ask forgiveness. He will do that if you ask. That’s the most incredible thing, now isn’t it? He died on the cross that we might live. If we accept his pardon, He will graciously forgive our sins and one day we’ll spend eternity with Him.

We live in perilous times. There is soon coming a day when many will want to know about the Lord our God, and there will be plenty of work to do. We must know how to lead a child of God to salvation. Their eternal soul depends on it.

Another lesson in learning to obey the Will of God

I once had a friend named Jerri. I visited her at a local nursing home weekly for over a year. She passed on to be with the Lord back in March.  I know she went to be with the Lord.  She accepted Jesus Christ as her savior and became a born again Christian during one of my visits, when I read her the Bible.  Jerri had asked me to start in the book of Matthew and I did, reading to her each visit.

Jerri couldn’t walk because the arthritis she had twisted up her feet so they were not flat on the bottom, splaying each toe off in a slightly different direction. She also had a weight problem from her inability to move her body or exercise.  She lived the last years of her life on her back, taken out of her bed only for a shower, with the use of a lift. Jerri did absolutely everything, and I literally mean everything, on her back and left shoulder.

During my visits we ate special lunches together and shared  two Christmases. When I was out of state my husband filled in. He took her a bottle of pop, a chocolate chip cookie and read to her that week’s chapters from our current Christian fiction book. She loved being read to. Her fingers were crinkled up from the arthritis, similar to her toes, preventing her from holding a book or turning a page.

When Jerri died I stayed home awhile. Then one day in August the Lord told me to go back to meet another person. I thought about it, but I didn’t go.  In September He nudged me and I dropped by the home and spoke to Linda, the administrator,  about visiting someone new. It was about a week later I received the call that they had a couple of possibilities. I made an appointment and went in to discuss my potential candidates.

Even as Linda told me a little about Mary, the Lord cautioned me this wasn’t the one. I met Mary and told Linda I’d see how it worked out but I wasn’t sure she was who God had  sent  me to. Being a Christian, Linda understood. I visited Mary twice and she didn’t want to visit and told me so. But I was determined to see it through. The third visit she was asleep and couldn’t be roused. I went looking for Linda. She and another staff person suggested I consider the other possibility and we went to visit Mavis in her room. I asked Mavis if I could visit her the next week. She indicated yes. She doesn’t easily speak except for a word or two.

That day I learned Mavis is mostly alone. Her husband is deceased. She has a child who can barely take care of their self much less stand in the gap for a mother who needs someone to support her emotionally. To say I thought of you this week, or I’ve enjoyed our time together.

The Lord knows how much Mavis loves Him. He sent me to beat back the lonliness and read His word to her, indicating ‘I love you, favored child.’

The following week Mavis and I went down to the cafeteria and had coffee, something she loves, and I asked if she wanted to hear the Bible. “Yes” she said, and delight spread out across her face leaving a glow as her eyes sparkled. During our first chapter of Matthew her face filled with light that can only have come from God’s Holy Spirit and it touched my heart, telling me that for now she was exactly the person I’ve been sent to minister to and treat like she’s a child of the King, because she is. That I’m there because He has not forgotten her.

I can hardly wait to see how our friendship progresses and what the Lord reveals to me about her and about me through her.


Divine Intervention and the Church Potluck

I read my scriptures in the evening because that’s just the way it has worked out for me. I start out in my rocker recliner, eventually putting my feet up, my dog lying close by. The house is quiet and soon I’m deep in thought, the word of God ministering to my mind and spirit as I read my scriptures. Occasionally I start crying and break out in spontaneous prayer, giving thanks to my Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.

My first encounter with God happened when I was a young girl. I already knew of His existence, because at one time, we attended a Pentecostal church. Things got lively during services, and our mother couldn’t correct us all, at one time, there were too many of us. After each attendance I would wonder if we were going to survive my mother’s wrath, considering the way we acted, once we reached home. Looking back, I know our actions were a total embarrassment to her and it’s a wonder any of us survived to grow up. Of course it didn’t help that there were other families with many children to engage us.

My first meeting with God was in a backwoods church on a Sunday when the pastor had invited us to attend and eat afterward. He picked us up and drove us home after service and the potluck that followed. If it had been an ordinary day I would have remembered most everything, because that’s just the way I am, detailed. But it wasn’t.

I encountered Him that day when I opened up a children’s story book during services. I remember it wasn’t a thick book but thinner and a bit larger than a golden book, but with a thin, hard, front and back cover. It wasn’t the size of the book that caught my attention though, it was the contents. The angels had large pearl-colored wings and they wore white gowns and there were halos on their heads. I read the book and my heart leapt at the pictures of them, my spirit quickening. I learned that Jesus loved me. That He watched over me.

The service ended and church cleared out but I hardly noticed, sitting there completely absorbed in my encounter with the Lord who made the universe.

I don’t think my feet touched the ground once after I opened that book and I don’t remember eating from the table loaded with good food and desserts or running and playing like I would normally do.

What I remember is a connection was made with my Lord and Savior, and I’m not sure of how it happened. I was a child, but I’m totally convinced that I had found where I belonged. My spirit soared and I found myself at God’s throne.

I went home that day and there was no privacy for me to reflect on what happened, because of all my brothers and sisters. The feeling of walking on a cloud ended when one of my brothers pushed me. It was a quick crash back to earth and then after that life moved forward, as it does for all growing children. Contact had been made with the Lord and I didn’t forget what I experienced that day, pulling it out of my memory from time to time to savor it, until my world moved past that juncture and I no longer thought about it, not for years. I didn’t forget it though, and one day years later, when I was at the end of my rope, in a world that has no mercy for its occupants, God gently called my name and I remembered the sound of His voice.

If anyone were to ask me if church potlucks work, I would have to say they do—I personally know that they do.

I’ve thought about spiritual warfare and pondered that preacher’s obedience to the Lord. He must have had many other things to do that day and yet he came to our house earlier in the week to invite us, and that day to collect us and transport us to

Was it just a pastor doing what pastors do — or was that divine intervention that sent him to our door? If he hadn’t come, I wouldn’t have been at church that day for my appointment with the Lord and Savior of my life. Did God Almighty set this in motion just for me, a little country girl who had nothing to offer but her heart?

What do you think about divine intervention and spiritual warfare? Perhaps it’s happened to you at some time in your life. If it has I’d like to know what happened to you, what your special encounter with God was like. Please leave me a comment, you have my guarantee it’ll be taken seriously. It’s my heart-felt desire that God blesses you richly in your life.

Visiting Ms. Lil Bone

I remember becoming aware of ‘old folk’, not related by blood or marriage, with our elderly neighbor, Lil Bone. She lived down from us on the left, as you faced the road.

While I’d been to her house with family members on occasion, I’d never visited her alone until early one evening. We’d worn a path between her house and ours, some visiting her but mostly exploring the thickly timbered woods and shrub which made up most of our play environment and the area except for houses and fields carved out from it.

Up above the lower land we and our neighbors lived on, ran a small two lane road. It allowed transportation from one place to another, especially town, and it was where we ran to catch the school bus, which waited patiently as we fought the incline, legs pumping and mouth blowing plumes of frosty air, all the while envisioning being left behind.

I was nine years old and she seemed almost ancient to me. I came from a large family and one early October evening, while my mother was busy with our household, I decided it was time to visit Lil Bone. It was dark out and I shivered as I followed the path which went to her house, stamped into my memory. I was halfway there when I began thinking about my mother’s remark that she’d heard a black panther scream a few nights before. Fear settled into me as I tried to remember all the warnings about the vicious cat. I moved as far from the trees as possible, avoiding overhanging limbs as I hurried forward.

I arrived at her house and pecked on the door, anxious for her to answer. She soon did, telling me “Come in Patricia, it’s too cold for you out there.” I followed her into the kitchen and she asked if I’d like a cookie, a smile on her face. If my eyes matched my desire they must have been the size of saucers. I looked up into her sensitive, patient face and it seemed the wisdom I was searching for resided there as she stared back, handing me that cookie.

She was the first old person to touch my heart and prick the desire for knowledge that lay within me. The wisdom that can only be gleaned by someone who has lived many years tempered with the strength  received from the pain of  giving up those things in life that come only from God. A biological family, youth, then spouse, children. We talked and one thing she impressed on me was the danger of being out in the woods alone at night. My brother came looking for me and when we got home I had plenty of explaining to do, but my mother was lenient with my scolding when I think back on it.

I grew into adulthood being drawn to older people, some so tired and broken in their bodies that they could hardly help themselves. On holidays when I cooked special meals for my family, we waited until the oldest child delivered every plate I made up before starting our own dinner. I didn’t mind this because they had something so much more important to give back. I received accurate guidance and knowledge several times on which way to go when I came to important decisions and crossroads in my life.

I have also found that when I get to know someone, whether in their home or at a convalescent center, there are many precious rewards to be gained from this during future visits. All people have worth and meaning and I’ve discovered for myself God didn’t create any ‘nobodies’. There are opportunities for each and every one of us to enrich our lives by enriching the lives of a person who is waiting to meet us.

If you don’t have a personal ministry in your life consider going to your nearest convalescent center and ask to meet and spend time with someone who doesn’t have a relative or friend to visit.

This is also an excellent place to work on winning a soul for the Lord, someone who you could see again some future day.