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Archive for June, 2015

All Photographs by: Richard Farmer

“Therefore, brethren be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

I turned onto a dark and dangerous road one night many years ago. Too busy having fun. Thinking of the next day’s opportunities. Not paying attention to the mechanics of reaching my destination, I turned onto Alligator Alley—a two lane toll road that runs across the Everglades in South Florida from Miami to Naples. A road that wasn’t safe in the daytime, much less at night.

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And several miles later, the car ran out of gas and we were stranded. Unable to see in the darkness, listening to the terrifying sounds of the Glades at night.
But how many times have we all done that exact thing on our journey through life? Too enthralled in the moment. Too busy with the problems at hand. Giving no thought to the road we’re traveling. Paying no attention to a change in direction. Never bothering to check our spiritual gas gage, ‘til the voices of peril and fear echo in our ears. Unable to find our way out of the gnarled mess we’ve made.

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God was gracious to answer my frantic cries that frightening night. He delivered two silly women—I’m convinced, by sending angels to our rescue. The amazing story can be found on page 34, in Cecil Murphey and Twila Belk’s book, Heavenly Company, Entertaining Angels Unaware.

I’d love to tell you those terrifying hours on Alligator Alley taught me a life lesson I’ve never repeated.
But I’d be lying.
_MG_9600_1_2What nightmarish road do you find yourself trapped on today? Stuck alongside or mired in treacherous swamps full of snakes, gators, and getchas threatening your sanity and safety. Is your mind filled with if only self rebukes? Precious one, you don’t have to remain ensnared—God is waiting for you to cry out to Him.
He is your Deliverer.
Or do you have a life-pattern of shoving the pedal-to-the-floorboard, paying no attention to or perhaps not even considering your destination? Just bent on accomplishing the task screaming do me first? And then the next one, and the next one—until you’re lost and out of gas. Entrenched in the quagmire of your own choices.

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That’s where I found myself this morning. Exhausted. Full of regret. Idling on fumes. Having run at mach speed for several weeks from morning ‘til night. Oh, I’d mumbled thank you prayers and asked for guidance at the beginning of each day, but I had failed to stop and refill my spiritual tank—until this morning. This morning when I looked back and saw the litter of missed opportunities and muddy trail of wrong choices behind me and smelled the fumes of empty.
But in my despair, God was there. He didn’t rejected me. I cried out to Him that dark night on Alligator Alley and He delivered us. And I cried out to Him this morning, when I came to my senses, and His Word was there to rebuke, refresh, and restore me.
And He promises to do the same for you. If you will trust Him. And then obey His Word.

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In the Book of 2 Peter I read those ancient words and thought about what was going on in Peter’s life as he penned them—sometime around 63 or 64 A.D. Christians were driven from their homes and slaughtered for their faith. And this was mere months or a year or two before Peter was crucified. Upside down, for his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Listen to his words and see how much he had learned since that infamous night when he also took a dark and dangerous turn down the road of destruction—the night the rooster crowed.
Perhaps, like Peter, we can learn through God’s Words to avoid those faithless detours in the swamp and those mired-in-the-muck dead-ends. Choosing instead to chart our course of travel—from faith to faith and filling to filling—rather than fooling ourselves into running toward ultimate destruction on the fumes of a know-it-all, prideful heart.

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…as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
Therefore, brethren be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:3-11 NKJV).

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Meet my friend and fellow Prism Book Group Author, Gay LewisCC_4 (1)!

DiAne: How did you start writing romance?

I started out writing women’s fiction, but my stories weren’t going anywhere. Deciding to try my hand at romance was difficult because I’m a minister’s wife. How could I write love scenes that wouldn’t cause my parishioners—and me—to blush when we saw each other in church? A difficult question and one I study each time a love scene is due in a book. God created romance and intimacy between a man and woman, but detailing it in such a way to bring honor to Him is a challenge. It is also fun.

DiAne: Tell me about your character, Sarah.

My title character, Sarah, is dyslexic, clumsy, and inexperienced. On her first assignment, she blunders often—like the time she appears as a biker in black leather, silver chains, and tattoos. People in the Burger Barn think she is one of Hell’s Angels, and Sarah hyperventilates over what the Superiors in The Heavenlies might say. She wonders constantly if she’ll be called up to Cloud Number Five for a reprimand.

Having never used human disguises before, choosing one is problematic for the novice angel. She is only to materialize in dire circumstances, yet when she does, her selections often bring trouble. She loves the colors and textures of women’s clothing—and she especially loves shoes—red, high-heeled ones—and that’s trouble waiting to happen!

Sarah takes on a few of the characteristics of earthlings as she helps them. She discovered she can cry while on Earth—a new experience, as tears don’t occur in The Heavenlies. Her assignments are to connect a woman and man for marriage, but this is tricky since angels don’t experience sexual passion or romantic love.

DiAne: I understand your eighth book, Sarah and a Midnight Cruise to Catalina Island is here featuring her. Would you tell us a little about it?

Sarah is assigned to assist Carolyn Baker find a mate on a cruise ship. Oh horrors! She can fly but can she swim? Dyslexic and bumbling angel, Sarah, comes to earth to unite Carolyn with a mate. Poopty doopty! She must do it on a ship while Carolyn cruises to Catalina Island. Sarah fears falling into the ocean, and she’s horrified soggy wings will drown her. On this mission, Talen, an evil spirit is assigned to thwart Heaven’s Little Love Angel’s efforts. Tomas, the Warrior Angel, must protect Sarah. Can Tomas succeed without Sarah goofing up the war between the holy and unholy spirits? Will Talen succeed in spoiling Carolyn’s romance?

DiAne: So you are writing about holy and unholy angels in this book. Was that difficult?

Oh my yes! I have several theological books about both kinds of angel, but writing about the wicked ones was scary. I prefer sweet, holy ones such as Sarah.

DiAne: Would you give us an excerpt?

Thanks for asking. Sarah has called upon her mentor, Mother Goodness for advice. This scene is from Chapter Four.

Mother Goodness smiled. “Because of free will, the Holy One allows earthlings to choose wrong partners, but with Carolyn, such a mistake will not transpire.” Mother Goodness sighed. “Humans often interfere with God’s plans. Many fail to seek Him, but not so with your charge. Her heart is in the right place and her relationship with the Father is solid. She is a virgin who has waited and prayed all her life for a prince charming, and the Almighty has answered her prayer. The evil one knows this and wishes to thwart the Powerful One of Heaven. He desires to damage her life by having her fall in love and marry the wrong man. You and Tomas will see that God’s plan is carried out.”

Sarah’s stomach quaked. “This assignment is scarier than the Ferris wheel.”

Mother Goodness laughed. “And that turned out well, didn’t it?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Sarah sighed. “One more question. Why couldn’t I practice walking in those cute shoes?”

“What were you thinking before you tumbled off the roof?”

Sarah frowned as she remembered her thoughts. “I was proud of them and thought my feet looked adorable.”

Smiling, Mother Goodness nodded.

“Oh…now I get it. Pride goes before a fall.”

DiAne: Are more Sarah books planned?
Yes. Prism Book Group has me contracted for two more Sarah books. I’m working on them now. The process of writing and publishing can be a slow one. The next two books are due by September, 2015, but I’m not sure when they will appear.
DiAne: Is waiting for a book to come out tough for you?
Yes! People can read faster than we authors can get books out.
Thanks DiAne for having me on your blog. I’m happy to introduce your readers to Sarah.

Sarah_CatalinaIsland copy best selling authorGay’s links

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This blog is by my friend and edit partner, Kathleen Brown. If you aren’t caring for someone with Alzheimer’s I bet you know someone who is. Please share this blog with them.Going through difficult times are made easier when we learn from those who’ve walked that road before us. Kathleen’s new book, “A Time for Miracles” is available at Amazon.com.

Alzheimer's: Hope and Help for Caregivers

Often it seems nothing we can do or say will bring happiness to our loved ones with Alzheimer’s. Since they gradually lose the power to choose their own pleasure, caregivers are left to use trial and error to guess what might bring a smile.

angry bluebirdFor me, when often became even more often, and even more often became ‘way too often, I re-discovered a happiness strategy from back before I was a daily caregiver…back when I was a daily mom. What I remembered is this:

Sometimes it’s what we don’t do that makes the difference between sullen and happy in those we care for.

I remembered the occasional evenings when I allowed my sons to skip a vegetable at dinner time…and decided maybe Mom didn’t need to wear fresh clothes every day. Some days I didn’t insist she drink a full glass of water at every meal; if she wanted…

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Texas trudged through a month of devastating storms, tornadoes, and flash floods that left a littered trail of deaths, broken families, costly property damage, and life/death rescues—but it could-a-been worse. DSCF8996 One more storm would’ve pushed the rivers and lakes to dump more destruction and rainfall amounts to further crush past records. Thank God, we were spared—this time. Today the sun is shining and the weatherman promises no rain, but storm damages remain. And lives have been changed. Forever. Flash floods roar, if you’ve never heard or seen one. Storms miles away send walls of water gushing and crashing between the banks, gathering power like locomotives racing downstream, dumping on unsuspecting victims. You may have seconds or minutes to react—like the folks in Wimberly, Texas, along the banks of the Blanco River. Two families swept away inside their house before they knew what happened. One father survived. Violent wind and rain struck Crandall, Texas, around 7 a.m. Saturday morning, bending trees DSCF9020double, and dumping more rain. And between six to eight inches of rain fell Thursday night and causing the release of water from surrounding lakes. Again lifting water levels along the Trinity and Brazos Rivers—that ten foot high and risin’ water. Only along the Trinity it was twenty feet and rising.In either event, there’s no stopping flood water. The only options—help or ignore.Dangerous rescues, sometimes by helicopters or boats, to snatch victims from the horror of drowning. Volunteers from other states rushed to help; cramming pets, meager belongings, and people, into the back of anything with wheels to get ’em outta Dodge ’til the water recedes and clean-up begins. DSCF9023 All three Texas rivers flooded—The Trinity, The Brazos, and the Colorado. Unfortunately Houston, Texas, and points south of there are the final destination and destruction for this over-abundance of free water. DSCF9015 I sat beside the rising waters of the Trinity Sunday afternoon and thought about the dark floods swirling through our government, our courts, our schools, and our homes. And I wondered— How high are the nasty flood-waters of drugs, alcohol, anger, sexual and physical abuse, teen pregnancy, lack of respect of authority that daily shove their way through your child’s classroom, mamas? How fast do the flashes of lies rush down the halls of every school. Every day. Determined to destroy your child. Can you hear their evil roar? DSCF9025 Unlike a flash flood, this now rising flow first seeped among us like the drip, drip, drip of a leaking faucet. Unnoticed until erosion had etched hairline cracks in the foundational principles of our nation. In the ‘60’s what began as one lady’s breach over the spillway of liberty succeeded in removing prayer from public school. She silenced the voices of multiplied millions of America’s school children who acknowledged the Lord God Almighty as Father and asked their Father to provide for them each day. And we, the church family, sat silent.

DSCF8998 Then other, more powerful creeks and rivers, aimed at destruction, joined the growing leaks, carving ditches and gulleys—breeding places for snakes and vermin to hide and strike at will. The flash flood of situation ethics raced through our schools with a vengeance in the ‘70’s, ‘80’s, and ‘90’s. And many teachers and children were dragged in the undertow and drowned in this twisted deception of right and wrong. Teaching “if it feels good, do it. Do whatever you want, if you have a good reason for what you’re doing.” Birthing a generation who believe there are no moral absolutes. The situation you are momentarily in determines your choice of ethics—and we see in HD every night how that’s working. And now those deceived children are the teachers of the next generations.

Add the double whammy in 1973 of an F8 tornado—Roe v. Wade—a woman’s right to kill her unborn child became the law of the land. And we, the church family, clamped our hands over our ears—‘til the screams of dead babies roared—leaving a pathway strewn with abortive moms who DSCF9008realized too late that tissue was indeed a baby. Moms left with guilt beyond our ability to conceive. And with the stroke of a pen the majority of Supreme Court Justices brought God’s gavel of righteous judgment down on this nation when they sentenced over fifty-four million American children to die.

Eight years ago a painting entitled “The Gathering Storm” depicted the approach of the storm we are experiencing today. And over 51 percent of the nation’s voters ignored the artist’s warnings. But today that storm is reality, yet many refuse to believe or heed the coming apocalypse. DSCF9004 While the levy crumbles, we send our grown children to defend this nation. And our tax dollars pay DSCF9017their salaries. Yet these young men and women and their chaplains are dishonorably discharged unless they deny or keep silent about their faith in Jesus Christ. And our dollars pay the salaries of those who punish our children and their spiritual leaders and reject our God. While the snake infested flood-tide-of-lies continues to rise each day. Straight-line winds over the decision regarding the redefinition of marriage is due to sweep from shore to shore in America in June of 2015. And once again, nine justices will either seal the fate of America or give Americans one more opportunity to search for and believe God’s truth. Unlike those volunteers who helped victims fleeing the Brazos and Trinity to safety, where are volunteers, teachers, and parents willing to yank America’s young people out of the raging floodsDSCF9026 of evil? Have they chosen to ignore the tsunami of lies about to destroy this nation, or are they afraid to speak truth? “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9 NKJV) In light of the times and the Word of God, what did Jesus tell His Church? • Be salt and light rescuers. • Identifying evil, lies, and false gods. • Filled with and sharing the hope and the love of God with those who will hear and believe. • Be courageous men, women, boys and girls who speak God’s truth of forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ, regardless of the consequences. • Ready, willing, and positioned to snatch any who will hear and believe into the safety of the ark of Jesus Christ. • Love our brothers and sisters in Christ so the world will see our relationship with Jesus and with each other and know He is Lord. “…all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another, love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous. Not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:8-9 NKJV). DSCF8959It’s not about being Baptist, Presbyterian, Church of God, Catholic, Methodist, Church of Christ, Episcopalian—it’s about loving the Lord your God with all your heart and mind, and loving your neighbor as yourself—‘til Jesus comes. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).

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