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Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

Unbound is a fascinating fictional read that explores many themes, among them self-concept, sorrow, sin, God’s forgiveness and grace. One of my favorite lines is: “What was it about sorrow that made people insist their grief was unique, worse than anyone else’s.”

Ruthie Adrian has been living her dream life, but when that life is ripped from her, she feels she is paying for past sins. The mother-in-law she has always seen as a stable woman, suffers similar misconceptions. Both women have secrets that the author skillfully unravels as the narrative progresses.

The novel shows the story through the eyes of a very diverse array of characters, and their reactions to crises. They add tension to the plot, and raise the stakes considerably, keeping the reader wondering how much worse things can get before there is resolution.

A constant in the book is Ruthie’s passion: her alpacas…her biddies. They become a MacGuffin (something that reflects much that is happening in the story; it could have been told without them, but they add insight). The animals offer simple comfort, as well as a connection to the past, a distraction in the present, and a hope for the future.

The author has skillfully created this tale as a modern-day parallel to the biblical story told in the book of Ruth, with enough similarity to be recognizable, but enough variance to stand on its own.

Unbound is a thought-provoking book that leaves the reader considering the many themes that affect us all, and with the strong hope that God’s grace can change even the most dismal circumstances into opportunities for grace.

Five stars! *****

Author Eleanor Bertin

A fascination with the intersection of people and God’s Word inspires Eleanor Bertin’s fiction. Like the under-renovation century home in Alberta where she lives with her husband and youngest son, God is at work in her life and the lives of her characters.

See her website at eleanorbertinauthor.com

Read my interview with Eleanor.

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It’s raspberry picking time again at my place on the Canadian prairies. The bushes are full this year, thanks to June rains after a very dry spring.

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If you’ve ever picked raspberries, have you noticed that after a rain they are harder to pull off the stem? Some innate force makes them tighten up so the rain doesn’t wash them off.

As I was picking and thinking about this, verses from John 15 popped into my mind: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine…I am the vine; you are the branches… apart from me you can do nothing” John 15:4-5.

Those of us who follow Christ are to remain dependent on the Vine, holding on tightly. When storms come, we are to tighten our grip even more.

Such a simple analogy but so important in our lives. We need the nourishment provided by the Vine, that is, Christ, and so we hold fast to Him.

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I’m thankful for this example from nature of how to live in the strength of God. May you also remain in the Vine as you go through your peaceful times as well as your storms.

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Recently, some friends, bison ranchers, shared an interesting story they’d heard about these animals.

These massive beasts that used to freely roam the plains of North America, sustaining the indigenous peoples, are now being raised on ranches, but they are not tame.

John Stanley painting
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According to our friends, bison, or buffalo, as we used to call them, have never really been domesticated. They can be contained in strong, tall fences, can be shipped for sale—if they want to be loaded—but they are not compliant, nor can they be trusted. Owners cannot help with calving, and treating an animal is tricky.

The story they shared with us involved a female bison who needed to be treated for some ailment. A veterinarian had been called, and had shot a tranquilizer dart into the animal. She eventually fell to her knees but did not go down. The vet prepared to use another dart, because a bison that is not completely down is definitely not out.

Before the vet could fire his second shot, two more cows came alongside the tranquilized animal, one on each side, and drew close to her, effectively shielding her from the veterinarian. As a team, they pushed her to her feet and guided her forward. As she moved, the sedative wore off and became useless.

I was captivated by this picture of support.

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How often do we feel alone? How often do I see someone else who is suffering alone? Our responsibility, as children of God, is to come alongside and lift each other up. Guide the suffering one forward. Encourage by our presence.

Let’s keep this picture in our mind’s eye and try to remember to lift up those who are in need.

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It’s been a dry spring. We had little snow, no run-off, and only one tenth of an inch of rain to start off the crops and gardens. Not nearly enough. I mowed my grass a couple of times, but it was becoming brittle and yellow.

Then the rain came. A shower that amounted to over half an inch. It helped. The flowers perked up, and the ground drank every drop as it fell. Then the clouds dropped two more inches, and our world changed. Dry, dormant grass awoke and began to grow again. Crops flourished. Gardens sprung up almost overnight. Flowers nodded and smiled.

Sometimes we go through dry spells, and the reasons are myriad. Illness and loss, disappointment, financial trouble, all these can leave us temporarily stricken. Nothing to give, lack of energy, no motivation.

Just like the seasons of the year, our times of drought can deplete our resources. We need time, patience, and showers of renewal from the Lord in order to re-energize and move forward. Even small bits of input can increase our energy and inspire us to refocus.

This week I had to mow the grass twice. Even though it makes more work, the result is the luscious look of green that feeds both the eye and the soul.

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If you’re in a season of drought, take heart. It will not last. Nourishment of the soul will come, and with it, renewal. We only need to look up and believe in the Creator who knows exactly what we need, and often uses our dry times to prepare us for the busy growing season ahead.

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Subtitle: A woman’s guide to life-changing prayer

In this excellent study on prayer, author Sheila Walsh leads the reader into a deeper understanding of communication with God. It’s more than a method; it’s a lifestyle. Our prayer life hinges on how we see God, how we think He sees us, and our level of commitment to Him. Walsh shares many interesting, funny, and sometimes poignant examples from her own life. She opens herself up in this book so readers can identify and be encouraged.

I found this to be a challenging, comforting, thought-provoking, inspiring book that I would recommend to anyone who has an interest in a deeper understanding of prayer in the life of a Christian.

Check out Sheila’s website.

 

 

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One spring day some years ago, while I was having a morning devotional and prayer time, a certain friend came to mind, and I felt I should drop in on her. To be honest, dropping in on people is not something I do often. But “they say” that if you hear the voice of God’s Spirit in your heart and ignore it, it will start to diminish. If you hear and obey, your recognition of the heart voice will gain strength. I decided to go.

When I entered the house of my friend and told her of the prompting I’d felt, she started to cry. She was going through a trial with one of her children that we had gone through with one of ours, and I was able to share my heart with her, pray with her, and assure her that in time, all would work out. Which it did.

Yesterday, I met a woman at church whom I had not met before. I introduced myself and we had a nice conversation, after which she invited me to come to her home for tea sometime. I called and arranged a time for later that week. Being an introvert who loves to stay home, I knew I had to do it immediately or I never would. I was already second-guessing my decision, trying to justify a way out. I mentioned it to my dear husband, and he said, “You should go.” A book I was reading included a similar instance that paralleled mine, and another book I was reviewing also suggested the same. Go.

I went. We had a nice chat over tea and found we were spiritual sisters. We may never be close friends, but I had obeyed the voice in my spirit.

The point is not so much the outcome, which isn’t in my hands anyway, but our willingness to obey the voice of God and follow through, to be involved in God’s ministry in this world, even in a small way.

I’m not always in tune with God’s promptings, nor do I always obey. But when I do, I feel joy that only comes from a growing relationship with my Savior. I pray the same for you.

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JAN: Today, I’m pleased to feature an interview with Kimberley Payne, who I met years ago at a Write! Canada conference. She’s still busily writing and sharing her knowledge.

Kimberley Payne

Kimberley, how long have you been writing and how did you come to it?

KIMBERLEY: I’ve been writing since I was a child keeping track of my summer activities in a journal. But I didn’t seriously write for publication until I was in my 30s. I turned 50 this year, so it’s been 2 decades.

JAN:Who are some of the people who most influenced your decision to write?

KIMBERLEY:I remember attending the God Uses Inkconference years ago (before the name changed to Write! Canada) and I found my tribe. These same people are still my friends and encourage me to write. Janis Cox is most influential; she spurs me on.

JAN:What’s your preferred genre?

KIMBERLEY: Non-fiction. I write about things that I learn. I write about anything F; that is fitness, family, faith, food, fellowship, and fun.

JAN:Why do you write?

KIMBERLEY: I love to share. When I learn something new I want to share it with others. I can’t not tell others what I learn. If I didn’t write, it’d become a real problem.

JAN: How and where do you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

KIMBERLEY: I write longhand in an 8.5×11 spiral notepad. I usually write on my comfy couch in my bedroom but have also written on the beach and back deck. I like to listen to the same CD of instrumental sounds and pantser my way around.

JAN:Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?

KIMBERLEY: Reading, listening to Christian programs, going to church. I’m inspired when someone shares a perspective that I hadn’t considered before.

JAN:What do you like most / least about writing?

KIMBERLEY: I like when an idea is percolating in my mind and I’m excited to get it on paper. I like when people comment on my writing – especially when they say nice things.

I don’t like when I lose a thought because I didn’t record it quickly enough. I don’t like when someone gives me a rating of 3 out of 5 on a book review. Yuck! I’d rather a 1 than a 3. Three is so mediocre.

JAN:What are some of the best methods of promoting your work?

KIMBERLEY: I believe the best way is through my email list. I say this because the people who have joined my list have done so voluntarily and so I expect that they are actually interested in what I have to say.

JAN:What are your favorite / most effective social media?

KIMBERLEY: I like Facebook. It’s easy and I spend a lot of time there on a personal level. I’m also on every other social media site just because I was told I should be. I tweet and Pin but I really don’t know how effective they are.

JAN:How do you balance professional time with personal time?

KIMBERLEY: I work full-time so my daytime hours are dedicated to my job. My evenings are divided into hour slots; an hour to write, an hour to play with my granddaughter, an hour to exercise, an hour to colour/watch television. Give or take an hour.

JAN: What are you currently reading? Do you prefer digital or print?

KIMBERLEY: I am currently reading Bad Girls of the Bibleby Liz Curtis Higgs, and Donald Miller Greatest Hits: Through Painted Deserts, Searching for God Knows Whatand Blue Like Jazz. I alternate between digital and print. I pick up a lot of my print books at garage sales and in library boxes. But I have downsized to one ladder bookshelf in my bedroom so I don’t have too much room for print books anymore. For fiction, I love mysteries. I like digital because I can usually download an e-book for a good price.

JAN:What are some of your favorite things? What makes you unique?

KIMBERLEY: Dark chocolate. Steam rising off the lake. A seagull’s call. My granddaughter’s giggle. Naps. These are a few of my favourite things. The dentist just pulled a 50-year old baby tooth. I think that qualifies me as unique.

JAN:What keeps you going in your writing career?

KIMBERLEY: As a life-long learner I keep learning things that I want to share. I suppose if I stopped learning, I’d stop writing.

JAN:How is your faith reflected in your writing?

KIMBERLEY: Everything I write reflects my faith. My bio states: “Her writing relates raising a family, pursuing a healthy lifestyle and everyday experiences to building a relationship with God.”My faith is really central to my writing.

JAN:That’s inspiring. What are some things you’ve learned from your own writing?

KIMBERLEY: I’ve learned that I have a lot of stuff to share. And after many years, I am finally finding my voice.

JAN:What is your ultimate writing goal?

KIMBERLEY: To leave a legacy of writings that my grandchildren’s grandchildren will enjoy reading and learning from.

JAN:Advice for beginning writer…

KIMBERLEY: Join a writer’s group for support and encouragement. I am a member of Inscribe, The Word Guild and John316 authors. Finding your tribe and talking with like-minded people is especially important for writers. We are a unique group. We need to stick together.

JAN:Thanks so much for taking the time to let us in on your life, Kimberley. Blessings as you continue to learn and share and write.

BIO: Health that Feeds Body & Spirit

Kimberley is a motivational speaker and an award-winning author and a member of The Word Guild and Inscribe Christian Writer’s Fellowship. Her writing relates raising a family, pursuing a healthy lifestyle, and everyday experiences to building a relationship with God. Kimberley, who lives near Toronto, Canada, offers practical, guilt-free tips on improving spiritual and physical health.

Kimberley Payne

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