Tag Archives: devotionals

Review: As the Ink Flows

As the Ink Flows: Devotions to Inspire Christian Writers and SpeakersAs the Ink Flows, by Glenda Dekkema, Melony Teague, Carol Ford, Claudia Loopstra, and Marguerite Cummings (Judson Press, 2016)

As the Ink Flows is a collection of ninety devotions from five Canadian writers and speakers. The contents are divided by topic: “the craft, inspiration, know yourself, well-being, personalities, and faithfulness.”

The devotional component of each entry is the standard Scripture quote, devotional thought, and prayer, but what sets these devotions apart is the application portion. Each one includes a question for reflection and a writing prompt for the day.

This is an approachable resource that will encourage Christians who work with words, while encouraging them to build from a foundation of faith. It’s useful for writers and speakers in both the Christian and the general market.

Working through the reflections and writing prompts will enrich writing projects already in progress, and will inspire new ones. As the Ink Flows is suitable for individuals and small groups.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Feed Your Spirit, by Kimberley J. Payne

Feed Your Spirit, a collection of devotionals on prayer, by Kimberley J. PayneFeed Your Spirit, by Kimberley J. Payne (Kimberley Payne, 2014)

Feed Your Spirit is a short collection of devotionals on prayer. Each opens with a Scripture passage, and closes with a quote on prayer. Each devotional is longer than your standard brief daily reading, and explores an aspect of prayer.

One that I most appreciated was the PATH method of prayer (Praise, Admit, Thanksgiving and Help). Topics also cover prayer walking, gratitude, hearing from God, and the question of “what if God’s answer is no?”

My favourite line reminds me that “Just as His mercies are new each day, His plan for me is new each day.” (Kindle location 296)

This collection of devotionals can be read one-a-day, or in one sitting. It’s free on all ebook platforms. Author Kimberley J. Payne writes about faith, family and fitness. For more about the author or to read her weekly blog posts, visit her website: kimberleypayne.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Seeing The Leader Within

I’m thrilled to welcome Jill Hart to share a guest post with us today. Jill is the author of Do Life Different, which I reviewed earlier this week (click to read the review). Here’s your chance to sample Jill’s writing, maybe pick up a bit of wisdom, and get to know her a bit.

Jill Hart

Seeing The Leader Within
by Jill Hart

if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Romans 12:8b NIV

I ran my website, www.CWAHM.com, for many years before I saw myself as a leader. In my mind, I was just a mommy blogger trying to work from home. After I’d been in business for nearly ten years, a good friend and mentor sat me down and challenged me to begin acting like a leader. She told me that women were looking to me not only for help in working from home, but for advice on parenting, spiritual growth, and other areas of life.

I tried to deny I was leader because the title scared me. It still does. When I think of a leader, I think of my pastor or government officials. Leadership comes with  responsibility, and I wasn’t sure I was willing to take that on. As I prayed about this idea of being a leader, God showed me He’d already put me a in a place of leadership. I could step into that role or step back into the comfort of a normal life.

Many of us don’t want to accept when God calls us into ministry or leadership. Realize, however, that you’re likely already a leader in some form. If you’re a mom, you’re a leader. If you help with the children at church, you’re a leader. If you’re a Christian, you’re a leader. People are watching you live and represent Christ. If you don’t believe me, ask God to show you who you might be leading.

Stepping out of our comfort zone can be scary and sometimes painful. Moving from an unintentional leader to an intentional (or diligent) leader may feel like a big jump, but the rewards are eternal.

Once you begin to see yourself as a leader, you will begin to act like a leader so you don’t end up incompetent. No one sets out to be a bad leader, but if you aren’t being intentional, then you’ve set yourself up for failure.

Lead your children. Lead at church. You may not know it, but people look up to you. Instead of sticking your head in the sand and telling yourself you could never be a leader, ask God what He has for you. Be willing to step forward and lead the people who look to you.

~~~

Do Life Different, by Jill HartJill Hart is a writer, speaker and coach, showing others how to follow the calling God has placed on their lives. She teaches her clients how to overcome the fear of getting started and helps them discover ways to find success. She is the author of the new devotional book, Do Life Different. Learn more about Jill at www.jillhart.com.

Link for book: http://bit.ly/do-life-different

Review: Do Life Different, by Jill Hart

Do Life Different, by Jill HartDo Life Different, by Jill Hart (Choose NOW Publishing, 2014)

Do Life Different is written for Christian work-at-home moms, and much of the content is also applicable to Christian moms whose at-home work is parenting and homemaking. The book’s subtitle is Inspiring Work-at-home Moms to Powerful Living in Work, Family and Faith.

As a writer, I count as working from home, and although my youngest child is a teen I find the household responsibilities themselves require more “parenting” than I seem able to give. This book addresses a strongly-felt need for me, so I bumped it to the top of my review pile, read it in one night, and will go back through it again at a more sedate pace.

Topics include overcoming fear and worry, making wise decisions, business as ministry, enjoying your work, and “is success okay?”.

Three insights are already making a difference for me:

  1. since God’s mercies are new every day, we can greet the morning with a hope-filled sense of starting over;
  2. we are each the best one for the job to which God called us (I count parenting in this as well as whatever business one might run);
  3. we are leaders, by definition as workers and as mothers—accepting this allows us to lead intentionally instead of wasting opportunities.

There are plenty more nuggets in this collection of 52 devotionals. Each entry offers a Bible verse, a one- to two-page insight, and a thought-provoking “Doing it different” question on how readers can apply the day’s lesson in their lives.

Each has a corresponding video devotional on the author’s website. [Note: if you’re reading the print version, or if you’re reading the ebook on a device that doesn’t support Flash videos, you can view the devotions on your computer. The web address is in the front of the book.]

There are free 6-week or 12-week study guides for women who want to work through the material as a group. To download the study guides, visit Choose NOW Publishing (scroll down to the cover images for the two study guides, then click the one you want).

Writer, speaker and coach Jill Hart is the founder of Christian Work at Home Ministries, where you’ll find a wealth of resources on finding a job, starting or growing a business, balancing life, and knowing God better. To read a sample chapter of Do Life Different, visit Jill Hart or Choose Now Publishing. Or watch Jill’s video intro below:

[Review copy provided by the publisher.]

For Christian Parents (and those who love them)

Familiar with these questions?

Parenting questions

Parenting comes with a lot of second-guessing and what-ifs. We need friends, listening ears, prayer partners.

We also need to keep a good connection with God. He’s the source of hope, wisdom, strength, patience… and everything else that equips us to raise our kids well.

That’s why I’m excited about Powerline365 from Choose NOW Ministries. Yes, I’m published by a branch of this ministry and can’t claim to be impartial. But I’m not obligated promote this; I’m sharing it with you like any other resource I see value in.

Our teens are navigating dangerous times. Suicides. Drugs. Cyber-bullying. Stress. Negative self-esteem. The enemy of our souls is hitting them hard, and I don’t want to see a generation lost.

If we strengthen the parents, won’t that help the teens? Won’t it better equip those teens in their relationships with their peers?

I’m beyond grateful at how well the teen years have gone so far in our home, but still I wish I’d had a resource like Powerline365 from the beginning. Imagine, a burst of encouragement every day, specifically focused on this particular part of our lives.

The Powerline365 project is being done through crowdfunding, which is essentially pre-ordering. If it’s not fully funded by midnight, January 31, contributors get their money back. There are different funding levels, based on what you want in return.

One of the things I see potential for with Powerline365 is in parenting and Bible study groups. Imagine the difference that could make! Some of the higher funding levels provide opportunities like live Skype discussions led by parenting expert and Powerline365 creator Nicole O’Dell.

Parenting. There are no guarantees, except that you’ll be stretched beyond your limits and that God will make a difference. (Click to tweet)

Please click over to the Powerline365 page and have a look. See why this project is on Nicole O’Dell’s heart, and why she’s such a great choice to create it. Hear why Clay Crosse and Renee Crosse of Holy Homes Ministry believe it’s a project worth endorsing. Consider sharing it with your friends and on social media.

If Powerline365 is not for you, thanks for taking time to read this far. If it is for you, and you decide to participate in funding this campaign, come back here afterward and tell me in the comments. You’ll be eligible for a Spark30: thirty days of emailed devotionals from Powerline365. These—and any of the other Powerline365 options—can be gifted.

Here’s the link: Powerline365. (Remember to come back here if you decide to contribute, so I can add you to the list of Spark30 recipients.)

Celebration Month

Celebration cake with candle.The earliest notes for my foray into the mad adventure known as fiction writing carry a March date. I’ve chosen March as the “birthday” month of my fictional characters imaginary friends, even those who have told me their “real” birth dates. My family thinks I’m crazy, but they never turn down free cake.

This blog began in March, too, and in 2013 I’m celebrating 5 years. Names have changed (the blog used to be God With Us: Finding Joy, and I used to write under the pen name of Joanna Mallory) but the focus is much the same.

God has given me a devotional every week. For five years. I love the chance to share what He’s showing me, and to see how sometimes He uses it in readers’ lives.

I’ve enjoyed spreading the word about books I’ve read and authors I’ve appreciated. Especially Canadian authors who are Christian…

And the blogging friends I’ve made, a few of whom could be my sisters separated at birth… some of you I won’t meet before Heaven, others I’ve met at Write! Canada, but it’s our online conversations that have rooted the relationships.

In celebration of it all, I’m giving away a free copy of A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider. To find out more, visit the Blog Birthday Party page. [Comments left on today’s post won’t be included in the draw… you need to go over to the giveaway page. Edit: The party’s over, and the page is gone now.]

So… join the celebration, and help yourself to a slice of virtual cake!

Interview: Canadian author Violet Nesdoly, part 2

Welcome back to part 2 of an interview with Violet Nesdoly, multi-talented writer from British Columbia, Canada. (Click for part 1 of the interview.)

Janet: Violet, last week we talked about the varieties of writing that you do. That’s a lot of work! What would be the perfect writer’s lair for you?

Violet Nesdoly with her new novel, Destiny's Hands Violet: Janet, I have it! When we bought our townhouse in 2007, I laid claim to the largest extra bedroom as my office. I have two desks (one for the computer, one for longhand writing), lots of shelves, a file cabinet. All I need is a lair-fairy to clean it up for me, and to go through and shred all the paper I no longer need to keep.

Janet: A lair-fairy—ooh, I could use one of those too. How does it feel when someone tells you they’ve changed because they connected with something you’ve written?

Violet: As you can imagine, this is huge! One of the reasons I chose to spend my days writing is because the writing of others has made a big impact on my life. I can think of many times a book has brought me to tears with the sense that God is in the room right beside me. The thought that God the Holy Spirit can inhabit words so that they communicate across time and distance is one of the mysteries of life.

When someone tells me that my words have helped them connect with God in some way, I feel a snap of rightness (like when puzzle pieces fit together) and am immensely grateful that I can do this thing that has the potential to impact people for eternity. 

Janet: I like that “snap of rightness” illustration. Those are the satisfying moments that make a writer’s work worthwhile. What do you like best about the writing life?

Violet: The variety. The independence (being my own boss). The challenge to always become a better writer. The vast opportunities because of advances in technology. The fact that I can connect with people all over the world at minimal cost.

Janet: What do you like least?

Violet: Marketing and publicity. Building a ‘platform’ via the social networks. Blowing my  own horn. Knowing that I’m responsible for selling a lot of books. Want to really know? I wrote about it here.

Janet: What do your family think of your writing?

Violet: My family has been so supportive. My husband is the best! He subscribes to my devotions, and gets my back when he finds typos. In all the years I’ve been freelancing, my career has never been a substantial money-maker. But he lets me muddle on, not begrudging me the time or shekels. He even cooks!

Janet: You have a keeper! Let’s step back and meet your non-writing side. What’s the rest of life like?

Violet: My husband and I attend a wonderful church (Christian Life Assembly), and I also attend and have taught at our women’s Wednesday morning program, Women By Design. 

Visiting our daughter, son-in-law and grandkids (a three-hour drive away) is always a treat, as is driving into the big city to dine with our adult son in restaurants of his choosing.

Not to be missed, of course, is the daily hour-long walk hubby and I go for each morning that it isn’t pouring rain. 

Janet: What are some of your favourite things?

Violet: Our grandkids (three beautiful pre-schoolers). Walks in the beautiful outdoors. Bird watching. Identifying wildflowers. My camera. My Kindle e-reader. Scrivener. My New Spirit-Filled Life Bible.

Janet: Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

Violet: My life passage is Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

A song that has impacted me hugely is “You and Me Alone” by Norm Strauss. Norm is a Canadian singer-songwriter (roots style) and there’s not a lot of his stuff on YouTube. I did write about this particular song on my personal blog way back in 2005. If you’re interested in reading the lyrics and a bit about how the song has impacted me, the article is “marker stone – part 1.”

Janet: That’s a powerful story (I had to read “marker stone – part 2” as well.) I’m glad God has kept you writing! What are you reading these days?

Violet: Since I got my Kindle e-reader, I have more books on the go at one time than ever! The last piece of fiction I read was August Gamble by Linda Hall (downloaded from Smashwords). I also recently finished With Burning Hearts by Henri J. M. Nouwen (that was in hard copy),  Heaven Is for Real by Todd Burpo, Collections From a Forest – Volume 1, a book of poems by Charlie Van Gorkom, and Journey on the Hard Side of Miracles by Steven Stiles. I’m somewhere in the middle of The Transforming Power of the Gospel by Jerry Bridges and Rumours of Water by L. L. Barkat.

Janet: What are you listening to?

Violet: I got my husband a Jason Crabb CD for Christmas (Jason Crabb: The Song Lives On – Southern Gospel). I discovered I love it too. Other favourites are The Journey, a project by Stuart Townend, A Way to see in the Dark by Jason Gray, and whenever I’m doing our household’s number crunching, I tune in to Grooveshark Radio, search Andrew Peterson and line up a list of songs by him.

Janet: A number-crunching playlist. That’s a new one. As long as you’re not playing “Mission Impossible” I won’t worry! What do you like to do to get away from it all?

Violet: Hawaii!! We went this January. What fun! We also love to travel in British Columbia and explore out-of-the-way places. I’m always scouting for more murals and funky public art.

Janet:  There are murals in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia too (hint, hint). Thanks so much for taking time to let us get to know you a bit, Violet. May the Lord continue to bless you and make you a blessing to others—in every area of your life.

===

Destiny's Hands cover art

Destiny’s Hands is available now in print and e-book. You can read the opening chapters of Destiny’s Hands (Kindle version).

You can also find Violet Nesdoly via her main website (previous link) and at the following blogs:

Interview: Canadian author Violet Nesdoly

Today’s visitor is Violet Nesdoly, from British Columbia, Canada. Violet, I often include links to your Other Food: daily devo’s blog, and I realized that’s giving my readers a limited view of who you are. Yes, you write insightful devotionals for adults (and for kids at Bible Drive-thru). But that’s only part of what you do.

I first heard of you as a poet. Care to give us a peek at that part of your life?

Violet NesdolyViolet: First, thanks, so much, Janet, for your support of Other Food: daily devos, and your interest in general.

As you mention the bits and pieces of my writing life, I’m more aware than ever that I’ve built my career the wrong way. Common wisdom is that you choose a subject or genre and become an expert in it. However, it seems I’ve become more of 21st century Renaissance woman, with fingers in lots of pies.

Now, to your question about poetry—I’ve always viewed it as a sideline. But what a fun sideline! My poetry-writing time is my time to play and experiment. Poetry provides the perfect outlet for my love of words and my philosophical bent. It gives me a way to express my enjoyment of nature and dovetails with my hobby of photography.

I’ve put together two poetry collections (available as books) and currently post original poems once or twice a week on my poetry blog  Violet Nesdoly/poems. In addition, I’ve had the satisfaction of seeing my poems published in a few other print and online publications (e.g. Prairie Messenger, Rejoice,  Good Times, Your Daily Poem, Utmost Christian Writers, qarrtsiluni).

I’m also part of a local poets’ group, the Matsqui, Sumas, Abbotsford Poets Potpourri Society (MSA PPS). I am the society’s website administrator and take part in regular readings, open mics and club projects. (Actually, keeps me pretty busy. Maybe it isn’t as much a of sideline as I thought!)

Janet: As well as your own poetry, you’ve written columns on the subject and served as Utmost Christian Writers International Poetry Laureate (2006-2008). And one of your blogs, Line upon line, is writing-related. Teaching seems to be part of your focus too.

Violet: The experience of being Utmost Christian Writers’ Poet Laureate was a huge honour and the wherefore of my second book. 

Writing poetry how-to columns has motivated me to study the craft. I still write a regular (four-times-a-year) poetry column for FellowScript. Writing it forces me to think about how the process of writing poetry works and how I keep motivated so I can pass these things on to others.

As for teaching in general, I guess I have a little of that in my DNA. I have a degree in elementary education and taught in the public school system for a total of five years. Actually, my writing for children has been largely educational too. 

Janet: You also review books at Blogcritics, write a personal blog promptings, and run another blog Murals and More, where you post photographs of murals and public art. Have I left anything out?

Violet: One more thing comes to mind: a little storefront at Constant Content. That’s where I sell content for the web.

Janet: What got you started writing in the first place?

Violet: I started writing when I was in high school. A paper that we got when I was a kid (The Western Producer) had a section called the Young Cooperators Club that published the creative writing of children and teens. To join you gave yourself a pseudonym and submitted writing to the editor of your age group. I got my first taste of publication there as “Nell.”

I didn’t write much for public consumption during my early adult years but the dream of becoming a writer never died completely. After my children were in school, I decided to revive it. At the end of 1995 I enrolled in the “Writing for Children and Teens” course at the Institute for Children’s Literature and  sold my first piece of writing—a Keys for Kids devotion—in March of 1997. I’ve been freelancing ever since.

Janet: And what are you working on now?

Violet: Around 2002 I got an idea for a Bible fiction story (book-length). Over the years I’ve worked on that project, mostly doing research. In 2009 I spent the month of November (NaNoWriMo) writing the story that was in my head. Last spring I worked on it some more and entered it in the Word Alive Press (WAP) free publishing contest.

I was surprised when it made the list of finalists (released in September 2011). Destiny's Hands cover artI have decided to self-publish that book (called Destiny’s Hands, a fictional rendering of the story of Bezalel, the head craftsman of the tabernacle and its accessories—Exodus). I have just finished doing a six-week edit of that manuscript and got it off my desk and into the hands of my editor at WAP  mid-March.

Janet: Congratulations on reaching the publishing stage! Destiny’s Hands is now available, and I’m looking forward to reading it. The cover is beautiful.

Here’s the link to part 2 of this interview with Violet Nesdoly.

Downsizing

God bless us each with a fresh year where we grow in awareness of His presence and in trust of His care.

To simplify my life a little, I’ll be dropping to two posts a week here:

Mondays will offer reviews, author interviews, web finds and all the things that used to come on Fridays. This will let me keep up with the reviews I want to do for speculative, sporadic… and slightly odd.

Thursdays will be devotional days now, instead of Wednesdays.

Review: Abundant Rain, by Marcia Lee Laycock

Abundant Rain, by Marcia Lee Laycock (Smashwords, 2011)

The subtitle of this ebook is “Inspiring words for writers of faith.” It’s an 110-page collection of short pieces designed to encourage and sustain writers (and perhaps to help their loved ones understand them).

The articles in this collection have appeared as Marcia’s weekly devotional posts on the popular Novel Journey blog.

Topics cover perseverance, pride, writing about life’s ugly bits and hard questions, self-promotion versus bragging, art and perfectionism, praising God, and what happens when we compare ourselves with other writers.

One of the selections, “Little Songs,” particularly warmed my heart. In it, Marcia describes a string of emails in an online writing group, all on the theme of “whatever our circumstances, bless the Lord.” I’m part of the same group—InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship—and I remember that conversation thread well. In fact, one of the quoted prayers may well be mine.

Writers, like any other group of people following a particular passion, are a misunderstood lot. It takes one of our own to know which words will encourage us. Abundant Rain is a book designed to bless writers. It’s one to read and then read again, in small sections, as needed.

Look for the free ebook, “A Small Patch of Blue,” on the author’s Smashwords profile page if you’d like to preview an excerpt from Abundant RainAbundant Rain is available from Smashwords in various ebook formats.

Marcia Lee Laycock is an award-winning Canadian author of non-fiction and fiction. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies (most recently in A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider) and she has written two devotional compilations, Spur of the Moment and Focused Reflections, as well as the novel One Smooth Stone. A Tumbled Stone, the novel’s sequel, is due to release soon.

Marcia can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and on her website, which also has links to her various blog presences.

[Review copy from my personal library.]