Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The First Christmas

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas as you celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Luke 2:1-20 (KJV)

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Beth-lehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David): To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Beth-lehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

*I'm hosting over at Living by Grace today. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Gift Inside

The house is decorated. The gifts have been purchased. The baking is done. The only thing that remains is wrapping the presents. A quick inventory of supplies, reveals a myriad of gift wrap and bags to choose from. Colorful bows will add the finishing touch to each present.

Christmas is only a few days away. Our family will pass out gifts, one at a time, and watch as the recipient opens each present. Candid photos will record enthusiastic responses and surprised expressions for us to enjoy throughout the year. As the wrapping paper is torn from each box, it's the gift inside that will be treasured.

Travel back in time with me to a little town called Bethlehem. The marketplace is thronged with merchants selling their wares. The sound of voices fills the air as salesmen strike deals with customers. Townspeople stand in line, waiting to buy food and drink. Every inn is filled to capacity - some weary travelers are turned away.

Unbeknownst to the people of Bethlehem, a precious gift is born that very night. "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn," (Luke 2:7; KJV). 

This baby is God's gift to mankind. 

The Savior, who willingly left His throne in heaven, veiled Himself in flesh to live a sinless life and shed His blood on the cross to pay our sin debt. In the words of the apostle Paul: "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift," (2 Corinthians 9:15)!

Gifts are supposed to be accepted and unwrapped by the recipient. The present that I leave unopened under my Christmas tree won't be of any use to me. 

The same is true regarding the gift of Jesus Christ. He was sent for your benefit. He "made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross," (Philippians 2:7-8). 

His desire is to give each one of us eternal life: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord," (Romans 6:23).

How can such an amazing gift be unwrapped? He provides the answer: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," (John 3:16).

Believe in Him. Believe that you are a sinner. Believe that Jesus shed His blood and paid your sin debt on the cross of Calvary. Put your faith in Him, and receive the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ!

Have you left the most important gift unopened this season? Don't wait till Christmas. You can receive this gift today. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. And you'll spend an eternity rejoicing in heaven!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son Jesus to be born as a babe in a manger all those years ago. I praise you that Jesus willingly went to the cross, shedding His blood in payment for my sins. Thank you for the gift of eternal life you give me when I believe in the finished work of Jesus. To God be the glory! Amen.

*I'm hosting over at Living by Grace today. Come join in the discussion!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Price Worth Paying

December. The month we celebrate the birth of Jesus. As I decorated our Christmas tree and festive music played in the background, I couldn't help thinking about the time leading up to that first Christmas so many years ago...

No doubt Mary was excited. I imagine she was anticipating her marriage to Joseph, the talented carpenter. Wedding preparations were in full swing. No detail would be overlooked. The list of food for the celebration was thoroughly checked and re-checked. Although modest, accommodations for the guests were carefully thought through.

After a full day of chores and working on her wedding dress, Mary was more than ready for a good night of sleep. Little did she know this night would radically change the course of her life.

The being in her room could be none other than an angel. Before she could react, he was speaking, "Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women," (Luke 1:28; KJV). 

A bit frightened, Mary was troubled at his words, and wondered what he could possibly mean. Before she was able to respond, the angel delivered his message, "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus," (Luke 1:30-31).

What? How could this be possible? Mary was a virgin. 

The angel gave her the answer, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God...For with God nothing shall be impossible," (Luke 1:35, 37).

Incredible! To be highly favored by God, and chosen to be the mother of the Messiah. Mary's response was immediate, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word," (Luke 1:38).

No hesitation. 

Full obedience.

As I continued to hang the Christmas ornaments on my tree, I couldn't help but think of the cost of obedience. For Mary, her reputation would be ruined. She would be shunned by family, friends, and society for becoming pregnant outside of marriage. It was possible that she could be stoned. Even her fiancĂ©, Joseph, may not believe her. 

But Mary chose to believe God, and fully surrendered to His will for her. Although her life wasn't easy, Mary's obedience was rewarded by God. The Messiah was born Who would provide salvation for all mankind.


Being willing to submit to the Lord's authority. 

I had to ask myself if I am willing to pay the price of being obedient to my Savior, if it means running the risk of suffering. 

Tough question. But one that I can answer in the affirmative when I contemplate the outcome - hearing the words of my Heavenly Father, "...Well done, thou good and faithful servant," (Matthew 25:21a).

Are you willing to pay the price of obedience to Christ? What step will you take to be obedient today?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for Your Word. I love the examples of ordinary people, just like me, who chose to be obedient to You. Help me to choose to be obedient to You today. In Jesus' name, Amen.

*The events leading up to the appearance of the angel are fictionalized. The quoted scriptures contain the factual account. For the entire story, read Luke 1:26-38.

*I'm hosting over at Living by Grace today. Come join in the discussion!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Stay Tuned

The month of December is always exciting: decorating, baking, getting together with family and friends. Most importantly, it's a dedicated time to reflect on the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

I'll be taking a blogging break on Thursdays this month to enjoy the season and work on a few surprises to be unveiled in the New Year.

Please join me on Mondays for some special posts leading up to Christmas! 

God Bless,


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Created for a Purpose

The app is incredible. Google SkyMap. I can point my phone up to the sky in any direction, and the application will tell me which stars I'm looking at.

Pretty mind boggling. 

In Google's own words, "If there’s a specific constellation you’re looking for you can search through the application’s database, and SkyMap will help you find it in the sky, using an intuitive arrow system to tell you which direction to turn. When you get close, a circle will appear on the screen surrounding the stars that make up the constellation. It’s really a stargazer’s dream come true."

This amazing technology has made me more aware of a marvelous Creator! I'm convinced of the Psalmist's words, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork," (Psalm 19:1; KJV).

Imagine how handy this tool would have been 2000 years ago. I can picture the wise men holding up their smart phones, searching for the star that would lead them to the new-born King. But God's plan was infinitely better! 

An easily recognizable star, shining in the east, that would lead the men directly to the Savior.

Their journey was long. They came a considerable distance from the east to Jerusalem. Their excitement mounted as they made their way through the crowded streets to the palace. But no one knew anything about a baby.

King Herod called the priests and scribes together to do a little research. Where would this baby be born?

The scrolls contained an answer, "In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel," (Matthew 2:5-6).

Cold chills must have gripped the King as he contemplated this potential menace to the kingdom. He feigned kindness to his guests, telling them to find the baby and return to the palace, so he could go and worship the baby too. His unspoken plans played out in his mind. When the wise men returned, he would send his troops to do away with this threat to his throne.

The wise men continued their journey, destined for Bethlehem. They searched the sky. Sure enough, there it was: the star that had led them faithfully thus far. "...And lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy," (Matthew 2:9-10).

The star had been created for a purpose - to shine in such a way as to guide these men to the Savior. 

It did its job: "And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh," (Matthew 2:11).

See the connection? You were created for a purpose too. 

Just like the star of Bethlehem, each of us is given the opportunity to shine for Jesus, pointing others to Him. Don't let the hustle and bustle of the season dim your light. Instead, choose to be like that brightly shining star of long ago, leading others to the truth of a loving Savior who was born to reconcile sinful man with a holy God.

When your light is shining brightly, it won't take a neat app to find you, you'll be clearly visible. Doing your part to make your Heavenly Father known!

 Heavenly Father, thank You for the opportunity to shine for You. During this busy Christmas season, help me to be still and know You are God. I humble myself in worship of You. Help me to shine brightly, pointing others to You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

*I'm hosting over at Living by Grace today. Come join in the discussion!

*A re-post from 12/2010

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Interview: Author and Prayer-Warrior, Cherie Hill

I remember running across Cherie's blog a couple years ago. She was a kindred spirit. Her insightful articles about the truths of God's Word had me returning to her blog every time she posted. Her commitment to praying for me convinced me that she took her ministry seriously. Today I have the privilege of hosting author and prayer-warrior, Cherie Hill! Join me in welcoming her!
Maria: Welcome to Life Lessons, Cherie! Tell us a bit about yourself:

Cherie: Thank you for this opportunity Maria! I love how Life Lessons connects us with others in the world working to fulfill God’s purposes in their lives! It encourages me greatly!

There’s an old me, that lived by the flesh, longing for what only the world gives, and there’s the “new” me that lives on Living Water alone, after meeting Jesus at the well. But some things don’t change even through that encounter:  I’m a homeschooling mom of two boys, wife, and most importantly, devoted servant to the Lord. 

My favorite times are those when I get one on one with God in the great outdoors, so I’m thrilled beyond belief that our family is currently in the process of moving to Colorado! My joy is helping others to hear God’ voice, through His Word, via my ministry ScriptureNow.com

Maria: Congratulations on your upcoming move! How did you get started as a writer?

Cherie: I can honestly say that I’ve never aspired to be a writer. I’m having a hard time convincing myself that I am one! LOL 

Truly, literally it started in the wee morning hours as I sought the Lord in the depths of emptiness. I met Jesus at the well when my life had been emptied and there was nothing left. It was there that He offered me Living Water and I began to be filled with His Truth. I’d been believing lies for far too long―He refreshed and renewed my soul and then asked me to step out in faith and begin a ministry called “ScriptureNow.”

The purpose is simple: connect people around the world with God’s Word. As prayer requests poured in, God’s Spirit began to speak to me, and I began to write. I have truly known what it is like to experience His heart flow in and out of my own. The joy is overwhelming.

Maria: Wow -- now that's encouraging! How has your relationship with Jesus Christ impacted your writing?

Cherie: My relationship with Jesus IS my writing. My writing comes from sitting daily at His feet. My books are mostly revelations of my own inner walk of faith displayed in my books. What I've found is that my own struggles with faith are no different than those of others around the world. I've discovered that what God has spoken to my heart has a dramatic impact on the hearts of others. As God has encouraged and strengthened my heart, it is through my writings that I have been able to encourage and strengthen others.

Maria: Awesome! Give us a sneak peek into your upcoming release:

Cherie: My latest release will be published by Dec. 10th 2012. I am incredibly excited about this book as its message is one that is powerful and can have a life transforming effect on the reader. The title, “empty.” says it all. I’m continually hearing, through my ministry, the cries of emptiness within people around the world. They thirst, they’re dehydrated, life has drained them dry, and they are desperate. The purpose of the book’s message is to lead people to Living Water, the only thing that satisfies the soul.

Maria: Sounds fantastic! And SO timely - what a wonderful gift to give this Christmas season: an introduction to the Savior.
With the many demands on your time, I understand you've started your own publishing services. What do you offer?

Cherie: This has been an amazing turn in my journey of life. I never anticipated offering publishing services until I began to have other Christian authors reaching out to me for help. I have experienced great success through the Amazon.com CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing programs. I have learned “tricks of the trade,” and have enabled other authors to catapult their books into BestSeller and Hot New Releases lists on Amazon. I offer full paperback and ebook editing and formatting as well as professional cover design and synopsis writing. It is a great joy to help others to fulfill God’s purposes for their lives through their writings! My publishing services website is:

Maria: You're a wealth of information Cherie! What advice would you give a first-time author?

Cherie: Before publishing, talk to me. : ) The publishing industry has been turned upside down, and that is a true benefit for authors. I have seen authors who were turned down hundreds of times by traditional publishers, now able to make sizeable mortgage payments through Amazon.  Amazon provides EVERYTHING you’ll need to give your writings maximum visibility. Of course, that does not always mean there is a guarantee of sales. But it’s like walking into a book store and seeing your book on a front table display―it’s front and center. And Amazon’s promotional tools allow you to take your book and make it HIGHLY visible to the WORLD!

As the industry has changed, I am also saddened by so many authors publishing through subsidy publishers who are charging an unbelievable amount of money to publish; providing a less than average product, and leaving the author with little to no royalties. I have clients that have published with TOP subsidy publishers and have been grossly disappointed. So, I’d encourage anyone who is thinking of publishing to contact me . . . I consult on publishing for FREE!

Maria: You can't beat a free publishing consultation!  What words of wisdom would you like to leave with our readers?

Cherie: Truthfully, if I could speak anything into anyone’s life it would be this: Trust God’s Word and keep walking in faith even through your doubt. Keep your eyes on Jesus and you’ll find yourself walking on water.

Maria: So beautifully put! Reminds me of some words of wisdom penned by King Solomon: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths," (Proverbs 3:5-6; KJV). Thanks so much for joining us today, Cherie! I look forward to reading your new book and seeing how God continues to use the many ministries He's entrusted to you!

Connect with Cherie:

*Cherie Hill is the founder of ScriptureNow.com. She has a BA in Psychology and is trained in Biblical Counseling through the AACC.

Cherie is an Amazon.com Bestselling Christian Living author. She has been ranked #6 in Bestselling authors for Amazon in the Religion and Spirituality category and is consistently in the top 20. Her published works are: "Waiting on God," "Be Still: Let Jesus Calm Your Storms," "Beginning at the End: Finding God When Your World Falls Apart," "The Ways of God: Finding Purpose Through Your Pain," and "Hope Being Gone."

Cherie writes the Christian Women's column, "FAITHLIFT" for CWAHM.com and is a contributor for FAITHVILLAGE.com, as well as several other on-line Christian magazines.

Monday, November 26, 2012

An Interview with Alene Snodgrass - Author of Graffiti

For the past several weeks I've had the privilege of taking a writing course, Tribe Writers, taught by Jeff Goins. Not only have I learned a lot, but I've also been blessed to meet some fantastic people! Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to my new friend, Alene Snodgrass. So grab your favorite beverage and enjoy reading about this amazing lady!

Maria: Welcome to Life Lessons, Alene! Tell us a bit about yourself:

Alene: I grew up in south Texas, married a military man, traveled the world for 23 years, had three children, and then ended up back in south Texas. I went from a country girl to a suburban girl. I love my camera. There are days when I could live behind the lens just capturing life. There is nothing like a photo that takes your breath away with a story.

Maria: How did you get started as a writer?

Alene: I began writing in 2007 at the prompting of friends. It was a struggle for me, because all I could remember was cheating my way through English in college and all those red F’s. But I took baby steps and followed the dream that was being birthed within my soul.

Maria: I'm glad you pursued your dream! How has your relationship with Jesus Christ impacted your writing?

Alene: My writing has only came about because of the love I have for Jesus. When the nudging became so strong to write and I knew in my own weakness I couldn't, there were years that I put off writing. It wasn't until I was convicted that delaying my obedience was being disobedient. I became diligent in writing at that point and published my first study Dirty LaundrySecrets.

Maria: Give us a sneak peek into your eBook, Graffiti: scribbles from different sides of the street:

Alene: Graffiti is dear to my heart. Three years ago I left my nice, fancy church to begin serving at a church in the inner city. I had been there for a few months when I met Rick, a homeless man. We became great friends and we both loved to write. Our friendship grew as we began sharing writings and the stories of our lives. I learned so much from Rick. The most important thing being that it doesn't matter that we think we don’t have much in common with those that are “different” and from “the other side of the street," we are more alike than we know. It’s a beautiful story and one that is told in Graffiti.

Maria: It's amazing what God teaches us when we follow Him in obedience! What do you hope readers glean from your book?

Alene: I believe in this message so much. I think most of us living in America live lives too comfortably. We get caught up in our daily routines and schedules, while missing so many in need around us. It doesn't have to be the homeless; it can be your neighbor across the street that needs a hand. This book challenges us all to live in the moment, keep our eyes open to those we can help, and then step out of our comfort zones to help meet their needs.

Maria: Challenging stuff! What steps can we take to step outside our comfort zones?

Alene: For each of us it will be different. I used to think I had to be a missionary in a foreign land, but that is not what Christ actually teaches. He says start in your own neighborhoods and streets - see those who you can serve and then do so. Yes, the homeless need help. But so do our neighbors across the street, children in our children’s classrooms, single moms, and sometimes even the elderly or disabled in the grocery store. Needs are everywhere. We have to slow ourselves down and peek out from behind our comfortable zones to see.

Maria: You're absolutely right, Alene! What words of wisdom would you like to leave with our readers?

Alene: Many I often visit with are looking for meaning and purpose in their life. They are looking to gain significance through material things, more money, and even a title at work. They seek and search for more and more. But the odd thing about our purpose is that it will show up when we get our eyes off ourselves and begin serving others. I know we've been taught to chase the American dream for fulfillment, but really it is in helping others that our true purpose is found. 

Maria: Thanks for those words of truth! It's been a pleasure interviewing you and getting the message out about your new eBook, Graffiti! I look forward to hearing how God uses it to impact the lives of those who read it! God bless you!

Connect with Alene:

Great news! November 26th - 30th, Alene is giving away over $75.00 worth of resources FREE to anyone who buys Graffiti. If you buy the book this week, she'll send you nine resources as a gift. Here's all you need to do:

1. Buy the book for $3.99 BEFORE November 30th.
2. Email a copy of your receipt to graffitibookgifts@gmail.com When you buy it, just forward the Amazon email receipt you get. Do not submit questions there. If you have a question, email alenesnodgrass@gmail.com.
3. Check your email and enjoy your resources!

*Alene Snodgrass is an energetic and motivational  Christian speaker, Bible teacher, and author. Her relevant messages and Bible studies have created drastic changes in the lives of people, as well as helped many step out to serve the broken, abused, and downhearted in their communities. She is the author of Dirty Laundry Secrets - a journey to meet the Launderer, and I'm a Fixer-Upper - a day-by-day remodeling guide

Alene has been published in numerous books, online publications and writes regularly for WHOA Magazine. She serves as the Bible Studies director at Bay Area Fellowship Westside Campus in Corpus Christi, Texas - a church that ministers in the inner city.

*I'm hosting over at Living by Grace today. Are you ready to take a step outside your comfort zone? Come join in the discussion!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving & A Winner

It's a beautiful day to give thanks for all God's mercies!

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever. O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever. To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever. To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever. To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever. To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever: The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever: The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever...O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 136:1-9,26; KJV)

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Congratulations to Patty, winner of the signed copy of Jody Hedlund's newest release, Unending Devotion!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

True Satisfaction

Who can deny that food and holidays go together? Thanksgiving is no exception. Spending time with dear family members can only be made sweeter by a table laden with food. My mouth is already watering in anticipation of all the delectable things that will make up the Thanksgiving Day feast.

I imagine myself loading my plate with all kinds of goodies - pumpkin pie topped with real whipped cream, just a sliver of the pecan pie, and oh, I can't pass by the apple bread without having just a little. A dessert connoisseur's dream. But in this dream of mine, something is missing. Food that will truly nourish my body. If my plate is loaded solely with sweets, it'll only be a matter of time before my body craves what it really needs - proper nutrients. You know, the ones found in the turkey, green beans, squash, and cranberry relish, also on the table.

When fueled with the appropriate balance of food, my body is able to function properly. The problem: sometimes I fall prey to eating the things that sound good to me, rather than those that are good for me.

Thanksgiving wouldn't be the same without taking time to reflect on the past year's blessings. However, in a rush to finish cleaning the house, prepare the mid-day meal, and welcome family, I sometimes leave out what I really need - time spent with my Savior; praising Him for His goodness. Time allowing Him to orchestrate my days in such a way that balance is restored during a time that tends to get chaotic.

Consider the beautiful metaphor spoken by Jesus himself, "I am the the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst," (John 6:35). Sweets cannot satisfy my body's hunger, neither can my soul be satisfied in living a life apart from Christ.

As you get together with friends and family this year, and put the finishing touches on your Thanksgiving Day feast, remember to make plenty of room for what will truly satisfy - the Lord, Jesus Christ!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for who You are! Thank You for the blessings you pour out in my life. Help me to enjoy a time of worshiping and praising You this Thanksgiving - remembering that it IS all about You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

*I'm hosting over at Living by Grace today. Come join in the discussion!

A re-post from 11/2011

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Interview with Best-Selling Author, Jody Hedlund

I remember stumbling upon Jody Hedlund's blog prior to her first book release. This amazingly talented lady is now the author of three historical romance novels -- with more on the way! It's my pleasure to introduce you to Jody and to share her most recent release, Unending Devotion.

Maria: Hi Jody! So glad you could join us today. Tell us a bit about yourself:

Jody: I'm a chocolate-lover, coffee-guzzler, avid reader, passionate writer, busy mom of five, and wife to my college sweet-heart for over twenty years.

Maria: Wow! Sounds like there's plenty to keep you busy. Give us a glimpse into an ordinary day at your house:

Jody: I'm not sure that we have any ordinary days in our crazy house! Since I homeschool my children, our home is usually very busy and noisy. I spend most of my day teaching my children. Then once we're done with our school time, I try to squeeze in a little writing. As my children are getting older and are involved in more extracurricular activities, I've also become a taxi mom and an expert at juggling a busy schedule!

Maria: From the sound of it, you've mastered your busy schedule. As an established author, what is your favorite part of the writing process?

Jody: As a writer, I love telling stories. I especially like the feeling that comes as I near the end of the book when everything looks hopeless, the characters are in big trouble, and somehow I’m able to wrap up the book in a satisfying way. I call it the first-draft love affair! I fall absolutely and madly in love with the story and think it’s the best thing I've ever written.

Maria: Let's talk about your recent release, Unending Devotion. Being a Michigan girl myself, I could identify with the setting of this story. But I have to admit, I was unaware of the devastating effects of the lumber industry. Share a brief summary of what your research revealed:

Jody: During my research for the book, I began reading biographies about people who lived during the lumber era. And as I did, I ran across stories of young women who didn't fit into the glamorized legends and songs that we usually associate with the lumber era.

The stories of many of these women were much darker. They're tales of women who were abused, exploited, and even enslaved.

Unending Devotion is inspired by one of those women, Jennie King. She rode a train into central Michigan in answer to a newspaper ad for a job. She expected to work in a hotel. Instead she found herself enslaved in a brothel. She fled, but was recaptured and beaten. The brave and desperate woman escaped again, wearing only a nightgown, and this time gained help from a local family. The brothel owner tried to get her back again. But the family helped smuggle Jennie out of town and to a safe place.

Maria: I know one of your hopes in writing this book, was to heighten awareness of the issue of white slavery (forced prostitution) during the lumber era. Unfortunately, this is still a problem in our generation. Lily Young was willing to stem the tide of evil in her day. How can we get involved in combating this type of slavery today?

Jody: I actually have several organizations listed on my website that are helping to increase awareness of the problem and fight against it, and I'm donating part of the proceeds from UnendingDevotion to help stop trafficking. One of the organizations I have listed is World Vision. They work directly with victims rescued from a life of trafficking. They give hope to young girls by offering  assistance like medical care, nutritious food, non-formal education, vocational training, compassionate counseling, and, where possible, reintegration into a loving family environment. To learn more visit World Vision’s website.

Maria: What a positive way to make a difference! I applaud your personal efforts to be part of the solution.  I was drawn to both of your main characters, Lily Young and Connell McCormick. How would they describe themselves?

Jody: Because Lily was an orphan growing up, she would say she has a heart for the under-privileged. She's very caring and wants to save everyone and everything. On the other hand, she often doesn't stop to think before she acts. She's rather impetuous and rash which leads her to rush headlong into trouble.

Connell's father is a lumber baron who has made millions off lumbering. As manager of several of his father's lumber camps, Connell has a sense of loyalty and duty to his father's thriving business. He works hard and is determined to make his father proud of his efforts. Amidst all of the lawlessness and evil that surrounds him in the lumber towns, he figures as long as he leads an upstanding life, that's all that matters.

Maria: Do you purposely weave your own personality traits into your characters, or do you develop your characters with traits you'd like to possess?

Jody: While each of my characters are unique with no intention of replicating myself or any one person I know, each book does bring out my passion for helping the underprivileged. I usually have a heroine who is fighting against social ills of some kind. And I always seem to have a minor character struggling through timeless issues like poverty, exploitation, abuse, etc. Since I have a masters in Social Work, I guess it's inevitable that I would weave in characters struggling against social ills.

Maria: I can definitely see the parallel. I know you must have another book in the works. Can you give us a sneak peek?

Jody: My next book (releasing in April 2013) is A Noble Groom. It's another Michigan book set among a rural immigrant faming community which is facing discrimination, drought, and then the Great Fire of 1881.

The story starts with recently widowed Annalisa Werner having the feeling her husband was murdered but being unable to prove it. Alone with her young daughter, she has six months left to finish raising the money needed to pay back the land contract her husband purchased, and the land is difficult to toil by herself. She needs a husband. With unmarried men scarce, her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.

For nobleman Carl von Reichart, the blade of the guillotine is his fate. He's been accused and convicted of a serious crime he didn't commit, and his only escape is to flee to a small German community in Michigan where he'll be safe. He secures a job on Annalisa's farm but bumbles through learning about farming and manuel labor.

Annalisa senses that Carl is harboring a secret about his past, yet she finds herself drawn to him anyway. He's gentle, kind, and romantic-- unlike any of the men she's ever known. He begins to restore her faith in the ability to love -- but her true groom is still on his way. And time is running out on them all.

Maria: Fascinating plot! I can already tell I'll be adding your next title to my "To Be Read" list! What words of wisdom would you like to share with our readers?

Jody: I recently ran across a pin over on Pinterest which said: "Your dream doesn't have an expiration date. Take a deep breath and try again." I think that's inspiring for all of us whether we're writers or pursuing some other dream. We don't need to be in a hurry. We just need to keep working and trying.

Maria: I love that thought, Jody! Very encouraging. Thanks so much for stopping by today. And I look forward to reading many more of your books! God bless you~

Great news! Jody has graciously agreed to give away a signed copy of her book, Unending Devotion.

*Leave a comment to this post, include your email address in the following format: morgan(dot)maria(dot)i(at)gmail(dot)com. Entries without an email address are not eligible.

*Receive an extra entry by becoming a follower, or by reminding me that you're already a follower.

*Receive a bonus entry by posting about this giveaway on your blog, Facebook, and/or Twitter. Please be sure and let me know you did so in your comment.

*This is open to US residents only. My sincere apology to those followers outside the US.

*Deadline to enter is midnight Eastern Standard Time, Tuesday, November 20th, 2012. Winner to be announced in Thursday's post. The winner will be notified via email.

Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling book, The Preacher's Bride. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. Publishers Weekly called her newest book Unending Devotion, " a meaty tale of life amid the debauchery of the lumber camps of 1880s Michigan . . . exciting and unpredictable to the very end."
Jody would love to connect with you! Find her in one of these places:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Brushing Out the Tangles

Her soft snores punctuated the stillness. At first, I couldn't make sense of the sound. But a quick glance in the direction of the living room confirmed my suspicions. My cat, Courtney, lay curled up on one of the chairs, fast asleep, gray fur sticking up in all directions.

Most cats enjoy being groomed. Not Courtney. She's quick to jump up on the couch to share some family time, and just as quick to jump down if I try to get in a few strokes with her brush. Oddly enough, when I attempt to hold her still and do a more thorough job, she actually purrs. Done regularly, the frequent brushings keep the mats in her fur to a minimum, and I can groom Courtney quickly. It seems that although she's not crazy about the process, she feels better once she's brushed.

Reminds me of the often painful refining process the Lord applies in my life. I long to be the type of vessel  the Lord can use, yet I'm not quite as eager to sign up for the furnace experiences that help me become that useful, highly polished tool. Much like Courtney, I'm not keen on things that cause discomfort or pain - although I recognize the value of the experiences once I'm on the other side.

Case in point. The flight where I was given the opportunity to share Christ with a fellow passenger. I had a list of things to keep me busy for quite some time. In fact, I was actually looking forward to the down time to get some things done. But then the gentleman across from me started a conversation. It would have been easy to give a brief answer and turn back to my work.

The truth was, I had prayed that very morning to be used as a witness. Did I really mean what I said? Or had it just been a routine prayer? It wasn't comfortable to give up my free time, but I knew the Lord had orchestrated the opportunity. As I spoke with the man, I could almost feel the Lord scouring the selfishness from me.

God's Word is full of truths that, when applied, act as cleansing agents. Powerful purifiers that remove  the things from my life that make me rough around the edges. The Apostle Paul describes it accurately, "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart," (Hebrews 4:12; KJV).

But one trip to the Master Refiner is not enough. Just like Courtney needs a daily brushing, I need daily refining. I know that the process is difficult, but the end result will be a clear reflection of my Master.

Is the Lord refining you? How will you cooperate with Him in this process today?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for loving me enough to scour the rough edges from me. Help me to 'hold still' and let You accomplish Your work in my life. In Jesus' name, Amen.

*I'm hosting over at Living by Grace today. Come join in the discussion!

A re-post from 11/2011

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Interview with Writer & Editor Jennifer Slattery

I had the privilege of meeting Jennifer Slattery a couple years ago. We didn't have the opportunity to sit down and chat. No, we met via the internet. Jennifer was collaborating with some other great gals (Jessica R. Patch, Joanne Sher, and Patty Wysong) to host a Facebook page/community that came to be known as Living by Grace: a fantastic place to engage with readers while sharing insights from God's Word. I was honored to join them in that endeavor.

Time flies. I figured it was high time to track down this multi-talented writer and editor and find out what she's up to these days. Join me in welcoming Jennifer!

Maria: Welcome to Life Lessons, Jennifer! Tell us a bit about yourself:

Jennifer: I’ve been married to my best friend and a man I adore for seventeen years, and we have a fifteen-year-old daughter. My favorite pastime of late has been going on leisurely walks with either or both of them. I especially love those times with our daughter as it allows me to catch glimpses into her heart. I’ve enjoyed every stage of parenting, but this one might be my favorite yet.

Maria: Ah, family is SO important! Between managing your business (Words That Keep), and taking care of your family, when do you find time to write?

Jennifer: I love to write. It’s how I process, and it invigorates me, therefore, most of the time, it sort of just flows. (We always find time for those things we love, don’t we?) But I don’t watch TV except maybe a few times a month, so I think that helps. And I tend to break my day into chunks so that I can make the most of each moment—writing when my daughter is at school and the house is quiet, editing when she and my husband are watching TV. Cleaning when I need a mental break.
Maria: I totally understand. Kudos to you for trading TV time for editing time! How has your relationship with Jesus Christ impacted your writing?

Jennifer: Jesus is the reason I began writing in the first place. I started writing for a church I belonged to 13 or so years ago—newsletters, curriculum, dramas. Then one day I realized, “Hey, I like this!” So I started dabbling in storytelling just for fun. Then, I felt God’s call. Or I should say, He confirmed it, although I fought Him initially. It’s one thing to write for fun—when you have time. It’s another to center your day around that—to embrace it full force. And frankly, I wanted to do something that would earn a steady paycheck. That wasn't so hard, so unpredictable. But He kept calling, and after a period of rebellion, I surrendered.
Maria: I'm glad you followed the Lord's call! What do you hope readers glean from your writing? 

Jennifer: God’s grace poured in and through our broken lives. I hope those who don’t know Jesus will sense His deep, incomprehensible love for them. I hope that those who do know Him will be drawn closer and into deeper surrender.

Maria: Excellent! Any books on the horizon?

Jennifer: Great question! And one I hope to have an answer to soon. J I have several projects in various stages of review with different publishers, and I’m in the critiquing/editing stage with another project and have a few ideas for nonfiction books I’d like to dive into, when I can.
Maria: Fantastic! Please keep us posted! Let's talk about your business. What services do you offer?

Jennifer: Mostly I do line-edits and big-picture reads called betas. I love helping writers strengthen their stories by showing them places they can eliminate unnecessary words/phrases, increase tension, improve characterization, show their reader rather than telling them about a situation/emotion/character, that sort of thing. I also provide marketing coaching and have helped many with press releases.

Maria: Sounds like your business allows you to wear many hats. Share a lesson you've learned through Words That Keep:

Jennifer: God manages the business for me. When my schedule allows and finances require more work, suddenly clients begin contacting me again. I've learned to trust in His timing. Well, I’m learning to trust in His timing. I have a tendency to barge ahead or veer right or left on occasion, but thankfully, our ever-patient Savior always nudges me back on track.

Maria: Thanks for your transparency! Share a little-known fact about yourself:

Jennifer: I once swam in a lake where authorities found a dead body. The month before I swam in it. And no, I didn't know at the time. Ugh!

Maria: I have to echo you, "Ugh!" On a more pleasant note, what words of wisdom would you like to leave with our readers?

Jennifer: Trust God in every stage—even the quiet or seemingly non-productive stages. Grab hold of and cherish each moment. He has a loving and faithful purpose in every one!

Maria: Awesome advice Jennifer! Thanks again for joining us today!

Connect with Jennifer:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Keep Asking!

A couple months went by without a response to my email. That couldn't be good news. My pessimistic nature equated the lack of response with a definite, ‘No!’ But a friend encouraged me to send another message in an effort to follow-up. There was a possibility the first email hadn't arrived, wasn't there?

Acting on her advice, I held my breath as I pressed the send button. What did I have to lose? Whether the answer was ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ once I had a response, I could move on. To my surprise, an email was waiting in my inbox on Monday morning. My original message had never been received. I was invited to re-submit my request with the assurance that it would be reviewed in a timely manner.

I was so glad I had listened to my friend’s counsel. It IS okay to ask more than once. Although I still have no idea what the response will be to my email, without the second ‘ask’ I would have walked away from a door I may be invited to walk through.

Sound familiar? Throughout the Bible we’re invited to ask our Heavenly Father for things: wisdom, mercy, our daily needs, forgiveness, grace. It’s when I’m waiting for His answer that I sometimes forget to persist in prayer.

Jesus told the parable of a man whose friend came to visit him. Apparently the visitor didn't make it to his friend’s house until late at night – and unfortunately, there was no bread in the house to offer his guest.  Maybe he thought, “Wait a minute, my neighbor always has delicious bread and plenty to spare. Surely he’ll let me borrow some bread for my guest.”

The story continues to unfold. The man is standing outside his neighbor’s house. He knocks on the door despite the late hour. He calls to his neighbor – describing his need for bread. The neighbor’s response? “Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee,” (Luke 11:7; KJV).

I can relate! Who likes to be disturbed in the middle of the night, leave the comfort of a nice, warm bed and get a meal together for a neighbor? But the rest of the parable is eye-opening. Jesus says, “Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity (asking for something repeatedly and insistently) he will rise and give him as many as he needeth,” (Luke 11:8; words in italic mine). It seems the man didn't give up. He continued to ask his neighbor for the food until he left with bread in hand. Persistence paid off. 

WOW! When I’m asking according to God’s will and waiting on His timing, my prayer WILL be answered. God’s Word is clear, “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,” (Matthew 7:7-8; KJV). Today I plan on taking God up on His offer. I will persist in prayer.

What about you? Are you willing to step out in faith and ask God for wisdom or peace? What step will you take to persist in prayer?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the privilege of prayer. Forgive me for not praying more often – and for giving up when I don't get an immediate answer. Thank You for the parable that demonstrates the importance of being persistent. Help me to be faithful to ask, seek, and knock, knowing You WILL answer. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

*I'm hosting over at Living by Grace today. Come join in the discussion!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Interview with Missionary Wife Mindy Bush

It all started in the church nursery. I was scheduled to work in the infant room with Mindy Bush, a busy mom I had not had the pleasure of meeting. In addition to cuddling adorable babies and changing a lot of diapers, we had the chance to get to know one another. Today I have the opportunity to give you a glimpse into the servant's heart of my new friend, Mindy Bush! 

Maria: Welcome to Life Lessons, Mindy! Tell us a bit about yourself:

Mindy: I was born on a pig farm in Indiana. I happened to be born with a “built-in best friend," my twin sister, Jacky. As little girls we talked about being missionaries one day, and pretty much did everything in life together even having a double wedding and having our first babies within two weeks of each other!

I met my husband, Jeff, at college, and we were married two weeks after graduating. We began deputation pretty much on our honeymoon, and 18 months later we arrived in Peru for language school with our first daughter, Lydia, who was six weeks old at the time. Our two years of language and ministry training with Bro. Austin Gardner (who is now our pastor at Vision Baptist Church) laid the foundation for our future ministry in Argentina. In Peru, God blessed us with our second daughter, Adriana.

Maria: Sounds a little like the stuff stories are made of! Love the part about you and your sister's double wedding! And having your first babies only two weeks apart...I know you and your husband served as missionaries in Argentina, South America for several years. Describe your ministry there:

Mindy: Wow! It’s hard to fit eight years into a short paragraph but I will try. We arrived in Argentina in January 2004, and lived in a hotel for three weeks while we looked for a house. It was our desire to start a ministry from zero and not be close to other missionaries so as not to hinder their ministries. It was a little formidable to figure out how to do everything, but jumping right into the culture and just asking the people, helped us to learn more about them! 

We found a house and then started looking for a building to rent for the church. The first church was started two months after we arrived. It felt like our ministry was on “high speed” the entire eight years we were there. There were always things going on and we kept very busy: Jeff, training leaders and me, being wife and mom to three little ones (I found out I was expecting two months after arriving to Argentina, so we had our third daughter, Johanna, before our oldest turned three years old, so you can understand my “busyness”). 

My ministry was mainly to my family, but I was also involved in discipling and teaching ladies, teaching piano, and English classes! Our ministry focus was on training leaders and starting churches. Today there are four churches going strong for the Lord with leaders who studied in our Bible institute, which is in it’s seventh year and currently has 32 students!  We are excited that the ministry continues even without us there and love hearing from the pastors about how people are being saved and the churches are growing! That’s what it’s all about – seeing souls come to the Savior and seeing those people win others to Him!

Maria: I can see how those eight years flew by! It sounds like you made quite an impact in a short amount of time too. Tell us about your transition back to the states and what your ministry looks like today:

Mindy: When we left Argentina for our furlough last year, we didn't know we would not be returning.  We love Argentina and were planning on dying there! But God started working in my husband’s heart when he went back to Argentina on a visit during our furlough. He was both saddened but happy to find that all the churches were doing exceptionally well….without him. It made him wonder if going back would just hinder the work. 

As he prayed about the next step that God would have us to take, he started asking counsel from many Godly preachers. When Bro. Gardner presented  the need for a Director for Vision Baptist Missions (VBM), Jeff knew right away that this was where God was leading us. 

My husband has always had a burden to see more missionaries around the world and train young people to be missionaries so this is where we are today. We have only been in this position for about four months or so, but it is exciting to see how God is calling out people for His service! We feel very privileged to help these young missionary families as they prepare for the field, and we are praying for more young people to give their lives to God on the mission field.

Maria: It's wonderful to hear how God guided and directed you! Describe a typical day in the Bush household:

Mindy: With five kids and a rather busy schedule, I’m not sure what a “typical” day looks like yet. When we are not on the road, visiting churches and presenting the VBM ministry, I love just staying home with my kids! I homeschool so our mornings are pretty much taken up with that. We are involved in the ministries of Vision Baptist Church so when there is an activity going on there, that is where you will find us!  

Maria: I can understand how homeschooling five kids would keep you VERY busy! Have your kids adjusted to American cuisine? What are their favorite foods?

Mindy: Well, not being able to get a lot of processed foods in Argentina, my girls naturally didn't develop a taste for that kind of “cuisine” so we are still working on getting them to like Macaroni & Cheese, Pizza Rolls, and processed American cheese,etc. Give them a ham and Swiss croissant, an empanada (meat pie) and fresh fruit and they act like it’s Christmas! They ask me to make Argentine food at least once a week.  They will eat anything because they have a strict mama, but if you ask them their favorite foods, they will still say, “Milanesa de Pollo” which is Argentine. J

Maria: All this talk of food is making me hungry! What is the funniest thing that happened on the mission field?

Mindy: Well, we have made many cultural and language mistakes but probably the funniest one was when  I was having really bad morning sickness, and my husband had to get the girls ready for school. Well, Adriana was in K4 and had to wear a smock over her clothes. Jeff just thought she wore the smock so he sent her off to school wearing only the smock. When she came back that afternoon, the teacher had sent a note home telling us she had to wear clothes under the smock.

Maria: That's hilarious - I'm sure you must have been mortified! On a more serious note, what is the most important lesson God taught you when you were in Argentina?

Mindy: That He is enough! I missed my family; I missed American traditions; I missed American food; but I could deal with all those issues as long as He was with me! I had to learn that I couldn't lean on my husband’s walk with God. I had to personally have my own daily spiritual walk with Him or I would be headed fast down the road of depression and “pity parties."
Another important lesson that He taught me was that when you are in His will and something doesn't go as we would have thought, that He is in control! Every time our plans went “off script” so to speak, the trials only led us in a closer relationship with God.  

The night a gun was held to my head and we faced the real threat of being shot to death in our own home, we honestly could not explain the peace in our hearts! Even our youngest daughter, Alexa, who was about 14 months old at the time, sat quietly still during the whole experience. I don’t believe that God speaks in an audible voice, but I heard Him speak to me in my heart, telling me that it was all going to be okay and that He had allowed it to happen! That is what kept me from panicking as the men ransacked our house, threatened to kill us and then threatened to come back for our youngest baby and kidnap her if we called the police. God’s grace was enough in that moment of difficulty!

Maria: What a terrifying experience! God certainly is the only One who can give us that peace that passes understanding.What goals do you have for the future?

Mindy: My goals for the future are my present goals really – to be the best helpmeet I can to my husband, to see all of our children accept the Lord as Savior and serve Him with their lives!

Maria: Beautiful! What words of wisdom would you like to share with our readers?

Mindy: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways, acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths,” (Proverbs 3:5-6; KJV). If God calls you to full-time service – Trust Him! If your life is suddenly “off script” – Trust Him!  

At the end of my life, I’m sure I will wish that I would have just trusted Him more! Worry and fear are emotions from the devil. When we worry, we are not trusting. Faith cancels out all Fear, but Fear cancels out all Faith!

Maria: Thanks for those encouraging words Mindy! I appreciate your willingness to share what the Lord is doing in your life - God bless!

Stay up-to-date with Mindy and her husband Jeff's work at Vision Baptist Missions:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sugar Overload

I gave in. Friends were coming over for dinner, so I had the perfect excuse to make dessert. And not just any dessert - but one boasting three delectable kinds of chocolate. With my willpower on a swift decline, I included a sugary-helping of dessert with both lunch and dinner. A little help from my family ensured that the Chocolate Explosion was polished off over the course of the weekend.

By Sunday evening, I had to admit I had overdone it. Not only did my clothes feel a bit too tight, but the sugar had overwhelmed my immune system. Sluggishness, a sore throat and head congestion greeted me Monday morning. Ugh! If only I could rewind to Friday and go lighter on the dessert throughout the weekend. Live and learn.

If I practiced some self-control where the Chocolate Explosion was concerned, I may have avoided getting sick. I had bumped into an undeniable truth: self control is important in all areas of my life - even in the small things.

Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, also known as temperance (Galatians 5:22-23; KJV). Yielding to the Spirit is the key to living a life filled with this precious fruit. Is it easy? No - it requires hard work. My old sin nature is constantly at war with my new spiritual nature. That's why the apostle Peter says to diligently pursue adding some things to my faith. Pursuing something diligently means work is involved!
What should I be striving to add to my faith? "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance (self-control); and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity," (2 Peter 1:5-7). Lots of great things I need to add to my faith - one of which is temperance.

Self-control doesn't come naturally. It's something I have to learn. The apostle Paul put it best when speaking with the Philippians, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me," (Philippians 4:11-13).

How was Paul able to exercise self-control and contentment in these situations? He submitted himself to the will of Christ and obeyed the Lord in each circumstance. As a result he was able to demonstrate self-control and he experienced contentment.

With the holiday season right around the corner, the reality is that I WILL be making desserts and attending festivities where sugary goodies will be the highlight. My plan? Remember the example of the apostle Paul - demonstrate self-control and learn to be content with a modest portion!

Do you struggle with self-control? What step will you take to put this fruit of the Spirit into practice in your own life?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the fruit of the Spirit that includes self-control. Help me to realize the importance of demonstrating self-control even in the small areas. Teach me to be content, knowing that you are able to strengthen me in every situation. In Jesus' name, Amen.

*I'm hosting over at Living by Grace today. Come join in the discussion!