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.

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.