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Editor's comments about KONDI'S QUEST

 I have read and edited A LOT of books over 27 years in the publishing industry, and Kondi’s Quest is one I heartily endorse. It brought tears to this crusty ol’ editor’s eye…and the message of betrayal, love, longing, and forgiveness is an amazing, life-changing one for all readers. Plus I really loved the African flavor, and homeschool children I know LOVE the glossary of words and learning more about the culture.

My blogtalkradio program

I was featured on The River on blogtalkradio this afternoon.  You can find the link embedded to the right of and below this post.  It's a half-hour program.  I hope you enjoy hearing it.

Kondi's Quest recommendation.

Dear Sylvia,
I read your book and enjoyed it a great deal. If one changes the diorama
curtain and the vocabulary a bit, Kondi could live in India, South
... America or here in the US.

I enjoyed how clearly you displayed her shyness and fears, but also her
courage and pure faith.

I don't know if you meant it for adults or teens or young adults, but it
is suitable for all. I hope you get good distribution as it is worth the
time to read it.

I plan to loan it to a couple of young people at the church -- they are in high

You did a very good job and made Kondi very much a three dimensional
person. I like the ending and wish more such situations could end like
that. Our Lord is good and can do so much when we permit Him to do so.


Billie Reynolds

(Billie is the Treasurer for Oregon Christian Writers.)

More Good News!

I have been invited to share on KRVR, a blogtalkradio program on November 7th.  If you'd like to tune in, mark you calenders.  The program takes place at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time, 3:00 p.m. Mountain Time, 4:00 p.m. Central Time, and 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.  Here is the link:  www.blogtalkradio.com/krvr. It is a half-hour program.

The link has also been embedded on my blog page.  Look for it in the righthand column under the followers -- in case you mislay the link.

I'll be sharing a little bit about our missionary career as well as about Kondi's Quest, and why I chose to write a children's novel in an African context.  The program will also be archived and there will be an MP3 download of the program available after the program airs.

I hope you'll listen in.

Good news!

This came from my publisher today:

Wanted you to know that Kondi’s Quest is 1 of 10 titles we’ve selected to highlight at the national ECLA (Evangelical Church and Library Association) conf Oct. 14-15. Please pray for heart reception of church leaders and church librarians to your book as I speak about it this next couple days.

Praise the Lord! Thank you for praying with me.

Ruby for Women

Today, I'm being presented on Ruby for Women: http://rubyforwomen.ning.com/ 

You'll need to scroll about halfway down. I'm very pleased.

Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting

It is my joy to host Lydia Harris, a.k.a. Grandma Tea, on my blog.  She's written a wonderful Bible study book about becoming the grandparent God wants each of us to be.  I hope you'll enjoy visiting with her. 

Although Lydia deals with health challenges, she's been a prolific writer for many years.  Her first book, Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting, has just been released last fall.

Lydia is not only a writer, she's a teacher and contributor at many writing conferences.  One of her favorite writing projects is her column, A Cup of Tea with Lydia, in the Country Register.  That gives her and her husband Milt lavish opportunities to imbibe at tea rooms in the Northwest.

Welcome, Lydia.

Thanks for inviting me to guest blog on your site, Sylvia. I’m glad we met at the Oregon Christian Writers’ conference. Now we’ve both published our first books.

Writing and Grandparenting

In Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting, I’ve combined my passion for grandparenting and my calling to write. My book is a Bible study for new and experienced grandparents, but it’s not your typical study. Although full of scripture, it also contains practical and creative ideas to share fun and faith with grandkids. I interviewed dozens of grandparents like you, Sylvia. So the book includes their stories and quotes as well as my twelve years of hands-on grandparenting.

The study affirms grandparents in their important role, provides tools to become FANtastic grandparents, and helps them to pass on a legacy of faith. One grandmother wrote, “Your book has challenged me to think intentionally and to live purposefully in this new role.” The book makes a great gift for grandparents.

I’m thankful my husband and I live near our five grandkids, aged one to twelve, and can enjoy time with them. Even so, it takes planning to make it happen. I try to schedule time twice a month with my eight-year-old granddaughter for spiritual mentoring. And whenever possible, we attend our grandkids’ events or invite them to our home.

This week we had a first as we watched our middle-school-aged grandson play football with his school team. Go Jaguars! Another day, our kindergarten-aged grandson spent the afternoon. Since he has a vivid imagination, we looked for dinosaur footprints as we walked to the park. When we took him home, I told him when he turned sixteen and had a license I hoped he would drive over to visit me. “I will,” he promised.

Family Matters

I’m the youngest of eight children, and family has always been important to me. All my siblings are Christians, and we spoke German in our home when growing up. At the end of each day, we gathered for “Schluss” as a family to sing hymns, read the Bible, and kneel to pray—all in German.

After raising two children, God nudged me to write. I’ve written hundreds of book reviews, articles, columns, devotionals, recipes, and stories. I enjoy writing about tea, hospitality, prayer, family, and grandparenting. Together with my grandchildren, I create and test recipes, which are published in Focus on the Family’s children’s magazines.

Prayer as a Priority

Prayer is an important part of my life. I joined a Moms In Touch prayer group over twenty years ago and still pray weekly with mothers, now grandmothers. I also organize family prayer times for our extended family. We regularly share prayer requests by e-mail. Family members who live in the greater Seattle area meet about six times a year for family prayer times. In Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting, I’ve included several lessons on prayer along with exciting prayer tools.

Now with a published book, I also have speaking opportunities. I’m grateful that during these retirement years God still has plans for my life and continues to pour out his blessings. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” (Psalm 23:6 KJV)

Please stop by my blog (www.PreparingMyHeart.net) and say hello. And if you or someone you know is a grandparent, consider my book as a gift. To God be the glory!


Grandma Tea

An added note from Lydia:  For any in the greater Seattle area, I wanted to mention that this Saturday, Oct. 1, I'll be at Lifeway Christian Bookstore in Tukwila signing my book from 11 a.m.to 1 p.m. Lifeway is also sponsoring kids' events, includingVeggieTales, at the same time. Please bring your kids and grandkids for a fun time. You might even get to meet a couple of my wonderful grandkids!

Guest posts

Today is the first day of my blog tour.  Perhaps you'd like to know more about Malawi and also about how Kondi's Quest came into being.  I'm being hosted today by two blogs:  http://www.authorculture.blogspot.com/ and http://danapratola.webs.com/apps/blog/  I highly recommend subscribing to being a follower of these blogs.  Enjoy!

Kondi's Quest book launch

Today, Wednesday, August 17th, is the day for the debut of my book, Kondi's Quest.  I would like to create a sales surge -- a marketing ploy to bring my book closer to the front of the ranks on Amazon.  If you had planned to purchase Kondi's Quest, you would help me by buying at least one book today.  My rank yesterday was over 1 million.  This morning, at about 10:30, it was down to about 130,000.  (The closer one's rank is to number one, the better.  A lower rank means more visibility for those who don't know me or my book.)  Thank you for considering buying Kondi's Quest today.


Kondi's Quest launches on Wednesday, August 17th!  This has been a 24-year journey.  I'm thankful to the Lord, in awe at His goodness, that Kondi's Quest is finally ready to fascinate pre-teens and speak to them about God's goodness and love.  I have attached both front and back covers.

I would like to create a sales surge on Amazon.com  If any of you planned to purchase there, would you order them on Wednesday, August 17th?  I'd sure appreciate that.  Here's the reasoning behind this:  Amazon rates each book according to sales.  The more sales you have, the closer you come to "the front of the line."  The closer you are to the front of their pages of listed books, the more likely you are to make more sales from people who don't know you but are looking for a good book.   I'll appreciate your helping me in this way.  A sales surge is very effective.

For those of you who plan to buy a signed copy from my website, I'm set up to accept payments now.  I'll be delighted to sign a copy for you.  The price is $12.00 with $2.50 for shipping.  My shipment of books should arrive this week, so I hope there won't be a long delay for you. 

Now is a great time to buy Christmas gifts for all the pre-teens on your list.  Also, you might think of homeschooling moms and their kids.  Kondi's Quest is not only a fun story, it has a lot of interesting tid-bits about a new culture.  For instance, men are not welcome in a Malawian kitchen and an owl hooting nearby is not a good sign.

Best wishes for happy reading and sharing.

Kondi's Quest -- Chapter One

I wonder if Bambo would give me fifty tambala for thread. Chikondi carried the tin cup of steaming, sweet tea. Very carefully she shifted the hot cup from one hand to the other, but she kept her eyes on the silver rim where the tea might slosh over. She was afraid to ask him. She

couldn't tell him it was for embroidery thread. He’d be so angry! She knew there were no extra tambalas for what he would call “nonsense.” She glanced up at him. He sat on the far side of their earthen yard, the unbuttoned sleeves of his red-and-black-checked shirt pushed up his arms.

She looked at the tea leaves moving in the bottom of the cup, patterns swimming and changing. In her mind she saw the design she was sewing. If only I had some more red thread to finish it. Maybe after he's had his tea, I can ask him. But he’s been looking at the papers in his brown envelope again, and then he’s always cross.

The tea was light and clear because her mother had put lemon in it instead of milk. Last night Bambo had taken his brown envelope and gone to the bar to drink. He was there until late in the night. He preferred lemon in his morning tea after he had been drinking.

Now he sat in the deep shade of an avocado tree at the edge of the clearing around their

house. Near him the big brown envelope rested across some stones to keep it from getting dirty.

Kondi shifted the cup in her hands again, being very careful not to spill it as she walked across the yard. He’ll go to sleep after his tea, she thought. I'd better ask him when he wakes up.

Bending to hand the cup to Bambo, she tripped on a stick of firewood in front of her

foot. With the next step she stumbled. Hot tea spilled over her hand. She jerked, and scalding tea poured down her father’s arm to his elbow and onto the brown envelope below.

“Ahh!” Bambo yelled, shaking his scalded arm. “Worthless child!  You are always careless!”

Kondi’s hand flew to her mouth. “Mai-o! Pepani! Don’t beat—” Bambo’s fist slashed toward Kondi’s head. She threw up her arm to protect herself. Bambo’s hand connected and she spun sideways across the hard-packed yard. A chicken flapped away with a loud squawk as she fell in the gravel on one knee.

“My envelope! You've ruined my envelope!” Bambo danced with rage.

Needles of pain stabbed through her head. Clutching her ear and clamping her eyes shut she clenched her teeth to keep from crying. Jumping to her feet, she stumbled down the short path to the road, opening her eyes long enough to drop over the steep embankment onto the dirt roadside.

A truck loaded with bags of maize careened around the corner. Fear squeezed Kondi's heart and pumped her feet into a wild dash. She leaped up the bank on the other side of the road and grabbed a handful of coarse grass with one hand, thrashing like a rabbit in a snare. The truck blared as it roared behind her. With the other hand she caught the root of a tree and hauled herself up. Men sat laughing on the top of the bags of maize. Throwing herself into the rough grass, Kondi wriggled from bush to bush, crawling on her hands and knees. After a bit she stopped to rest beneath a flame tree.

“Where are you? I’ll beat you flat!”

Kondi’s head jerked around.

“You’ve ruined my envelope! I’ll beat your skinny bones!” Her father stood on the road bank brandishing a stout stick over his head. She scrambled away through the weeds deeper into the brush.

Finally, exhausted, she propped herself under the shade of a large protea bush with its spiky pink-and-white flowers turning themselves inside out. Tears began to roll down her cheeks as she rubbed her stinging face and aching ear. The meaning of my name is a cruel joke. A trickle of blood ran down her leg. To me, love is only a dream. Mai may love me, but Bambo doesn’t. If only he would!

“I hate Bambo!” she asserted angrily, plucking a soft leaf to wipe away the blood. She remembered the laughing men in the truck. “I hate them, too!” In her mind she threw rocks at them.

After awhile she heard her mother calling from the edge of the road, but she didn't answer.

Kondi moaned to herself. No one loves me – not even Mai. Why does Bambo beat me? I didn’t mean to spill the tea. Even adults have accidents sometimes. Kondi held one hand to her throbbing ear. She knew Mai would never leave Bambo, but she wished, somehow, for their home to be a place of peace, instead of fear. Using another leaf, she wiped her knee again—red blood on brown skin.

When the sun beamed high overhead, she stood up and started down the hill toward the well near the bottom where she could wash her knee and get a drink. She gazed at the purple-blue

mountains across the wide valley. They seemed painted against the blue sky, so clear she felt she could reach out and touch them. Each peak wore a fluffy white cloud. Like old, humped women with wooly hats on. But seeing the purple mountains like that didn’t make her feel happy as it usually did.

At the well, Kondi put her leg under the spout. The hot metal handle reminded her of the hot tin tea cup and all the morning’s trouble. The pump screeched several times before warm water gushed over her leg. Gingerly, she washed the dried blood from her knee and gently blotted it with the hem of her skirt.

            Just then she heard steps on the path. Someone was coming! Is that Bambo's red and black shirt? Fear pulsed into her fingertips as she started to run.


She stopped and turned. It was her mother. Kondi stood still near a bush, punching holes in one of its broad leaves with her fingernail. She looked at her mother, then looked away.

“I’ve been calling and calling you, Kondi.”

“I didn’t burn him on purpose, Mai. I didn’t! It was an accident.”

“Of course it was.” Mai moved closer. “I wasn’t calling you to punish you. Are you all right? Your knee is bleeding!” She began to pump a bucket full to the brim while she talked. “Come. I’ll send you to the clinic in town. You need a bandage. On your way home you can stop at the market to buy greens for supper.”

* * * * *

Most of the girls her age had several brothers and sisters to look after. “Maybe Mai will have a baby girl soon,” she would tell her friends at school. “Then I’ll have a baby sister to carry

on my back, just like the rest of you!”

            Today, though, on her long walk to town, she felt too worried to even think about having a baby sister. She kept seeing her father’s arm come slashing down toward her head. Usually she enjoyed the scorching sun on her shoulders and seeing the wild flowers and butterflies. Usually she would stop near the road and take a long look at the black tracery of the jacaranda tree, with its lavender breath of blossom. Usually she would skip and run and call to her friends.

Today she walked head down, shoulders drooped, whacking here and there with a stick, raising dust. She struck at a yellow butterfly. It fell to the road and thrashed away with a torn wing. Kondi turned and walked backward, watching the butterfly stagger and dip in its erratic flight.

What’s in Bambo’s envelope anyway? Kondi dragged her stick in the dust. He carries it everywhere. Is there money in there, or letters, or what? She sighed heavily. I can’t see how an old torn envelope can be so important.

Suddenly, she bumped into something warm and soft. Bambo! She squinched her eyes and threw her hands up to protect her head. Something fell with a thud and a rattle, like spilling gravel. Metallic prickles of fear danced across her tongue.

My book, Kondi's Quest, has gone to press.

You can check it out at the link below:


The Wallet Dance

"Well, here we go again!" exclaimed Anna into the telephone receiver.

"How's that?" Midge asked.

"The Wallet Dance!"  Anna said.  "Every month Don's wallet has to do didoes and gyrations, twists and turns, to cover all our expenses.  It gets depressing.  We are not wild spenders and Don works so hard!  How can we be better stewards of the money God provides for us through Don's job?"

Many of us ask this question.  No matter how much we make, there always seems to be more outlay than income at the end of our month.  We know God wants us to act responsibly with the funds He gives us.  What can we do to utilize our money and spend more wisely?

~  Fill up your car mid-week instead of on the weekend.  Usually prices go up on the weekend when people are more free to stop at the pump.  If you save 3 cents a gallon on 10 gallons of gas every week, you will save $15.60 a year.  The same savings on 20 gallons a week nets you $31.20 a year -- enough to pay for your Christmas turkey.

~Buy medium-priced products and buy classic styles in clothing.  Cheap products and "faddy" clothes don't last long.  Switches break, wires burn out quickly and seams come apart.  Fashion fads are here today and gone tomorrow; then a new wardrobe will be required.

Not long ago, going down the highway, I saw a pillow-top mattress with a very expensive roses-on-black ticking lashed to the top of a rickety mini-van.  I thought, There goes someone who has not spent very wisely.  They could have bought a just-as-comfortable mattress in last year's miss-matched fabric and saved a lot!  Who's going to see the roses once the sheets are on?

~  Launder with care.  Hand-washing is possible for some clothes labeled Dry Clean only.  Also, there are dry-cleaning packets that work in your dryer.  Ironing dress shirts is not as difficult as it used to be, with all the new fabrics as well as spray starches.  Renting a steam-cleaner and doing our own carpets is less expensive than either buying a machine or having a company come and do them for us.  It only takes a little more of our time and some planning.

~  Learn straight-seam sewing.  Hemming up the children's dragging pant legs, the straggling hems on curtains, towels and blankets, will save the cost of buying new ones.  We've come to think of mending as being for dowdy stay-at-home mothers.  Not so!  And each mend takes only a few minutes.

~Cook from scratch.  Preparing a delicious pizza with mom-mixed dough, home-made sauce and freshly chopped vegetables will not only impress your family, it will also save you money.  Children, with your supervision, can help, and it could become a family-togetherness project.  With judicious planning and the use of today's wonderful crock-pots and microwaves, home-cooked meals can bless your family, give them better nutrition and save you from the Wallet Dance!

Not Without Honor

Margo hummed as she dusted in the living room.  It had taken her most of the day to clean the house and finish the laundry.  She would bring in some roses from the garden for the finishing touch.  When the family came home they would all notice how lovely their home looked.

"Hi, Mom!"  Gina said, when she sailed in the door at three.  "I'm going to Marsha's house for an hour, O.K.?"  And she sailed right out again.

"Baseball practice at the 'lot' with the guys at four!" Jim shouted when he whizzed in a 3:30.  "Got a cookie for a guy?"  He grabbed five from the cookie jar and slammed the door as he went out again, clutching his mitt.

Neither of them noticed! Margo's hum dwindled away. 

Later, Gina came home, grabbed up the school books she'd thrown on the table and headed for the stairs.  "Homework!" she said as the stairwell door closed.

Oh well, Brad will notice how nice the house looks when he comes home.  He appreciates a lovely home and a delicious supper.

"Hi, Hon," Brad said, pecking her on the cheek as he breezed in the door shortly after five and flung his jacket over a chair.  "When will supper be ready?  I will have to go back to the office for an hour."

At supper, Gina and Jim chattered, but silence descended as they served their plates and began to eat.  Stimulating dinner conversation consisted of "Please pass the salt," or "May I have some more potatoes?"

Brad swallowed his last bit.  "Sorry, Hon.  Gotta go!  See you around seven."  He grabbed up his coat and was gone.

Me, too!" Jim scraped back his cair.  "More practice until dark."

Margo sighed, rubbing her forehead with a tired hand.  I've worked hard all day!  None of them noticed how nice the house looks -- not even the roses!  Tears of weariness filled her eyes as she began to pick up the plates for the dishwasher.  I guess I'm more tired than I thought! 

All wives and mothers have felt taken for granted at one time or another -- not a pleasant feeling.  Sometimes we feel "used."  Two thoughts may help:

1)  Jesus, too, was taken for granted.  In Matthew 13:53-58 (NIV) we have the story of Jesus being "without honor" among His own family and neighbors.  "He says he is the Son of God.  Who does he think he is?  He's just one of us -- the carpenter's son!" they said to each other.  (Author's paraphrase.)

"Jesus said to them, 'Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor,' (vs. 57).  Jesus knows how we feel.  He was without honor, too.

2)  Are we taking others for granted?  Margo had not expressed appreciation to Brad, either, and he had worked hard all day, too.  If we don't like to be taken for granted, perhaps we will remember not to do the same to others.  Expressing appreciation for work well done is always gratifying -- both to the giver and the receiver.

Jesus could do few miracles in His home district because only a few believed in Him and honored Him.  Let us be sure that we do not chip away at close relationships by taking our loved ones for granted.  Let's be sure they are not without honor.

Apples of Gold

Every woman enjoys a compliment.  Whether it is on her complexion, her cooking or her character, a word of commendation brings brightness to her eyes.  Approval lifts the heart and lightens the load.

Appreciation of a compliment is not exclusively an American enjoyment.  Praise is a benison in any culture.  Ethiopian women beam when someone exclaims over the beauty of their children, their delicious cooking or the flavor of their coffee.  A Japanese proverb says, "One word of praise can warm three winter months."

A man likes approval, also.  Watch him 'light up' when you say, "Don't you look nice!" or "What a beautiful car you have!" or "You've done a great job!"

The Psalms are filled with words of praise to God.  In the New Testament, when the Pharisees rebuked Jesus for allowing His followers to shout His praises, Jesus said, "I tell you . . . if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out," (Luke 19:40 NIV).  God revels in the tribute of those who love Him.

People, made in God's image, revel in appreciation, as He does.  When we deny deserved commendation, we stunt our friends' and family members' spiritual and emotional growth.  Children who are rarely or never praised, may grow physically, but their spiritual and emotional maturity may not fully develop.  Verbally honoring the achievements of our loved ones helps them become, emotionally and spiritually, the persons God intended them to be.

Each of us will be blessed if we learn the art of giving a sincere compliment.  This may not be easy.  Perhaps we did not learn as children to give a good word.  The "sacrifice of praise" means praising God, and others, when we don't particularly feel like it.  We can practice on our family, giving them affirmation, whether our spirits are up or down.  Applauding family members daily makes it easier to praise God.  Honoring God makes it easier to hoor our children, our spouses and our friends.  Practice makes perfect.

How do we begin?  Learning to say a sincere "Thank you" is a good way to start.  Thank a gentleman for holding the door for you.  Thank your muddy son for the bouquet of dandelions he has grubbed from the wet spring grasses.  Thank the neighbor lady who offers to watch the kids.

Begin at home. How long has it been since we have thanked our husbands for the bountiful provision they earn for our families?  And the children?  Of course, they leave finger marks on our freshly washed cabinets, throw wet towels on the floor and leave dirty clothes trailing from the hamper.  They muddy the floor, shout too loud in the house and spill food at the table.  But they do some things right.  Do we thank them when they hang up the towel, or remember to take off muddy shoes at the door or when they use soft voices?

A church reader board once proclaimed:  "Praise loudly -- blame softly."  When we learn the art of giving sincere credit at home, it will be easier to compliment the bag boy for his 'carry out'; the hairdresser for an especially nice coif; the neighbor on his garden and the store clerk for her courtesy.

To paraphrase Solomon, one of the wisest men in the world:  "A (compliment) aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver," Proverbs 25:11 NIV).

The Family Altar

"You sure have good kids," Darla said to her friend Grace.  "Did you do anything special in raising the?"

"We give the praise to the Lord," Grace replied.  "Not everyone is as fortunate as we are to have children who grow up to love God.  One thing we did that some people don't do is that we started having family prayers when our first child was only 18 months old."

"Eighteen months!" Darla exclaimed.  "That's pretty young to start learning about God, isn't it?"

Grace smiled.  "Better too young than too late.  If you have a family altar with children when they are very small, they will accept the Fatherhood of God easily.  Our kids started praying as soon as they could ask us for things."

"I see," Darla said.  "I'm sure it is important, but I wouldn't know how to go about starting to have family prayers.  What did you do?"

Perhaps you, too, have seen the need to begin a time of family worship, but haven't known exactly what to include.  Some of the components of an effective family altar are:

A leader.  Since the husband is the priest-figure in his home, it is best for the father to lead the worship time.  However, in some Christian homes the father is absent or unwilling, so the mother will need to assume that role.  Perhaps, as the children grow older, each can take a turn being the leader for an evening.

Time.  Taking ten to twenty minutes in the morning or evening will not be too long for even very young children.  Just before bedtime might be good.  When kids begin school, the worship time can be lengthened.  But be flexible.  On evenings when the children are very tired, just a few minutes will suffice, without breaking the continuity of a daily worship time.

Singing.  Choruses that the children know from their Sunday School hour will help them feel comfortable and lead the family into worship.  Learning new songs for their age group is always appropriate.  Help them learn hymns, too, if the words are not to 'big' for them.

Scripture reading and memorization.  The Gospels read like a story for young children, especially if you use a modern language version.  Memorizing scripture will allow each family member to take God's Word with them throughout their day.  Even young children can memorize short passages.  As they grow older, even memorizing full chapters will not be too difficult.

Worship and thanksgiving.  Praising God for His goodness and giving thanks to Him for everyday blessings will help the family to be more grateful for each other, too.  Complimenting one another will become easier.  Giving thanks each day will help family members to be alert to the blessing of life.  No matter how difficul a family's life is, there are always reasons for which to be grateful to God.

Requests and prayer.  Children's prayer requests may seem amusing to teens and adults, but every child's plea in prayer should be taken seriously.  If a child's appeal is laughed at when he or she is small, that child may withdraw from any form of prayer or worship in adulthood.  Remind the family that God hears and answers every prayer, whether it is voiced in one's heart or at the Family Altar.

God's Hemmings

I once saw a lady at a conference tacking up her loose him with strips of cellophane tape.  "Isn't she clever!" I said to a friend.  "I would never have thought to do that."  This woman knew what every classy lady knows -- a gal looks really tacky when her hem is dragging.

Young gilrs begin to learn the art of sewing by putting in a hem; it is basic to all garment sewing.  We hem sleeves and skirts; we face a shirt, blouse or jacket front; we bind or over-stitch seams inside a garment to keep the raw edges of especially soft material from fraying.

Psalm 139:5 (NIV) says that God, who knows how I was made, and is aware of all my weaknesses -- God "hems me in."  How does He do that?

God keeps me from unraveling.  To prevent fabric from wear, three thicknesses of fabric 'pad' places where a garment is particularly stressed, such as the bottom of a skirt or sleeve.  One thickness of fabric with a raw ege would soon fray away, thread by thread, leaving the dress looking untidy and tattered.

Every woman experiences stress.  She starts supper while she finishes the last of the ironing, separating two sqabbling siblings and mediating a truce between teeagers all in the same half-hour.  Why is it that the biggest crises of the day happen at the end of a woman's multi-tasking day, when she is the most tired?  If she works outside the home, her stress is increased.

A woman's day has many turnings.  One harried mother put BCKN4TH on her license plat -- back-and-forth, back-and-forth.  It helps to know that God is by my side to keep me from unraveling.

God protects me.  To "hem in" can also mean to confine or restrict.  When I hear this term, I think of frightened sheep, which, in their terror, want to dart out of the flock, actually exposing theselves to even greater danger.  We hold a frightened child's hand at the street-side, so that when a car whizzes by, he won't dart out into its path in alarm.  God protects us in the same way.  Psalm 91 tells us that we needn't fear diseases; "stones" in the path the Lord has set us on;  "lions" that roar to terrify; "cobras" with venom in their mouths. 

'"Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him,"' (verses 14-16).  Deliverance and protection are God's gift to me today.

God beautifies me.  Ethiopian women hem their traditional white dresses with colorful woven borders.  Red, gold, orange, blue and green shine brightly on the hems of dresses and the filmy shawls that cover their heads and shoulders.  If they are short of funds, they may only border the front of the skirt, the back having a turned-under finish.  They prefer to border the whole skirt and shawl and the wider the border, the better; that way, no matter how they turn, the lovely borders enhance their striking beauty.  Knowing that God "hems me in -- behind and before" (Psalm 139:5b) allows His glory to beautify the physical and spiritual aspect of every woman who trusts in Him.

God wants to own me.  Store managers deliberately place their goods where shoppers will touch and handle them.  We touch the things we possess with gentle fingers because we cherish them.  In the fabric store, we touch the cloth that we wish we could own, letting it trail through our fingers as we pass by.  We're more likely to buy what we touch.  The selvage hem on the long side keeps the fabric intact.

The Psalmist said, ". . . you have laid your hand upon me," (Psalm 139:5c).  He wants to own each of us.  Does God own me by the inch, by the yard or by the bolt?

Will I allow myself to be blessed by God's Hemming?

Our Closest Friend

"Good books, like good friends, are few and chosen; the more select, the more enjoyable," Louisa Mae Alcott said.  Friendships don't just happen.  Usually, they are forged between people who enjoy the same pursuits and have similar tastes.

When we marry, our bond with single friends is no longer as close, even when we still like them.  Our marriage changes the interaction.  We become closer to married friends than when we were single.

The same sotr of thing may happen in our spiritual lives.  When we come into right relationship with God, all other friendships are affected.  Our closeness with people who walk with God may be strengthened while others friendships may wane.  The rock of a new relationship with God, tossed into the pool of our lives, causes ripples and waves, making the reflections of other's lives on our own to waver and dance.  Once our relathioship with God is made right, what criteria can we use to forge new relationships and strengthen old ones?

Loyalty.  "The proper office of a friend is to side with you when you are in the wrong.  Nearly anybody will side with you when you are in the right,"  (Mark Twain).  A true friend will stand with her companions even when they in trouble.  It doesn't mean that she agrees with what the friend did; only that she is fiercely loyal to her friends.

Leadership.  Of course, we need to maintain friendships with our old buddies, but the leadership may have to change.  Before, we might have been a follower, doing whatever our friends chose for the group to do.  Our new close relationship with God may caution us about going some places and doing some of the things we did before we knew Him.  Whose leadership will we follow --  our old friends' or God's?  We may need to lead our group to help steer unbelieving companions into activities that please God.

Love.  I have old classmates who, even after a long separation, take up our conversations where they left off.  Love's bond between fast friends is strong enough to weather any storm, able to take the buffeting of any gale.  We will speak to unbelieving companions about their relationship with God, not in a preachy way, but out of love and concern.  Although accepting Christ as Savior is a personal decision, and we can't force them to make peace with God, we can love them and hold them dear to our hearts before God's throne.  Love is shown in expressing true concerns for our chums.

Once in awhile, we may have to make a choice between our friends and God.  Even though we may experience the pain of rejection by our closest friends, our bond with God will be deepened and strengthened.  Our fellowship with Him will be sweeter than ever before.  He will become our closest Friend.

Beauty Secrets

"Beauty is only skin deep," they say.  "Ugly goes clear to the bone."  Most of us are not so concerned with the bones, as we are with the padding and skin that goes over our frame.

Every woman wants to be beautiful.  Millions of dollars are spent each year on beauty products.  We buy lotions to smooth our skin and even out its color; powders to brighten cheeks and make our eyes more alluring; wax to soften and color lips.  We purchase sprays to hold hair in place and improve our bodies' scent; shoes to heighten it; the latest clothes to flatter our figures; jewelry for the final touch of glamour.

Surgeries to beautify those parts of our bodies we think are ugly cost a lot in time, effort and money.  We spend hundreds of hours on our bodies so that we will look our best for those we want to impress and for those we love.

How God must long for us to be this lavish about spending time on the condition of our souls.  Our culture focuses on having a beautiful body -- even though it is temporal;  it will fade and die.  Our spirits, internal and invisible, are more important.  They will either live eternally in God's presence or live cut off from Him in an eternal hell if we fail to recognize and accept the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary to cleanse our sin.

What beauty secrets can we apply to the development and growth of our souls?

*  A Joyful Heart.  I will put a sparkle in our eyes, lift our spirits, and put a spring in our steps.  A joyful heart is a woman's best cosmetic.  It will keep us outward-looking and upward-looking rather than inward-looking.  Nehemiah admonished, "Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength," (Nehemiah 8:10 NIV).  King Solomon's description of the ideal woman implies a joyful and enthsiastic heart (Proverbs 31:10-31), even though the word 'joyful' is not used.

*  A Gentle and Quiet Spirit.  Peter also describes the ideal Christian woman -- one who is beautiful in God's sight.  He cautions against concentrating on "outward adornment," (I Peter 3:3).  It is the "gentle and quiet spirit" of a godly woman that will influence an unbelieving husband to make his heart right with God (I Peter 3:1-6).  Paul urges both Timothy and Titus to admonish women in gentleness and quietness at home and in the community (I Timothy 2:9-11; Titus 2: 4-5).

*  A Holy Influence.  Peter encourages both men and women in holiness ( I Peter 3).  He says:
          Guard your minds ( I Peter 3:8-9).  A mind that is in harmony with others, sympathetic compassionate and humble will please God.
          Guard your tongues (I Peter 3:9-10).  No exchanging insults.  No arguing or complaining (Philippians 2:14).  The KJV terms it "murmuring and disputing."  We may not audibly complain, but it is easy to mutter under our breaths or murmur in our spirits when we are crossed.
          Guard your actions (I Peter 3:11-15).  No retaliation or back-biting.  Will my actions reflect Christ to those who do not know Him?
          Guard your consciences (I Peter 3:16-17).  By doing so, we will not be ashamed.

Young women seem to be physically beautiful without much effort.  As we age, it takes increasingly more money, time, and effort to keep up a beautiful facade.  However, every woman who knows and loves God, can be beautiful in His sight and to her loved ones by developing her inner person -- her spirit.  Life may be a painful business, but every woman can be a gorgeous specimen of God's grace by following His beauty secrets.


"I'm worn out! My spirit feels mutilated and frazzled. I desperately need God's help!" Many of us have said something like this.

Exhaustion may be caused by a medical condition that we need to address. However, much of our tiredness comes from the stresses of modern-day living. We dash here and there and then feel exhausted and depressed. We fail to recognize the energy that God has for us. Every believer has access to His storehouse. What kinds of power does God possess?

Creation power. "The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary . . . He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak," (Isaiah 40: 25-20 NIV).

We may feel that the Lord has forgotten us or has ignored our needs. He hasn't. He has creation power to infuse into those whose knees are weak and whose energy is low.

Genetic power. God is at work in our lives before birth. David said, "You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb . . . my frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place . . . your eyes saw my unformed body," (Psalm 139:13-15).

We may think our birth was an accident or that it took place because of a sinful act. Our conception may be surrounded by a dark fog of sin, but God was there, doing His work, showing His love, forming us to be the persons He wanted.

Saving power. We haven't enough strength to make ourselves pure before God. Sin permeates the very fibers of our being and every characteristic of our personalities. We are saved ". . . through the working of His mighty power," (Ephesians 3:7).

Resurrection power. Paul speaks of ". . . His uncomparably great power . . . like the working of His mighty strength which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead," (Ephesians 1:19). Since God has power to raise Jesus from death, He can certainly resurrect a broken life, and renew a checkered past. Nothing is too hard for Him.

Teaching power. Paul said, "We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me," (Colossians 1:28&29). Sometimes we teach others; sometimes we are the learners. Part of the Holy Spirit's work in each life is to teach us and to guide us into all truth (John 16:13). He will help us to learn spiritual truths and temporal duties when we ask for His power.

Standing power. Paul encouraged the Ephesians to armor themselves "so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes," (Ephesians 6:10). He names the armor pieces: truth, righteousness, readiness, faith, salvation, the Word of God. We can't put them on by ourselves; we must ask for God's help. We can't stand by ourselves against the waves of evil crashing about our world -- but we can ask for God's help to stand. "Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm, then . . . " (Ephesians 6:13&14).

We may lack the energy we need for daily living and for our spiritual health. Our power may drain away, but His power is vibrant and fresh for every assault. He has energy for every exhaustion.


"I always try to start the day with laughter," our dear friend said. His smile beams even on his most miserable days. He's had a debilitating disease since he was eight, and now, in his 60's, he lives with pain and nausea. He firmly believes, along with King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, that "a happy heart makes the face cheerful," (Proverbs 15:14 NIV) and "A cheerful heart is good medicine," (Proverbs 17:22)

Most of us have days -- maybe even months -- when things are not going well. When we are tired, when we are sick or when trouble clouds our days, it becomes easy to let our discontent spill over on others. "I've learned that if you want to cheer up yourself, you should try cheering up soneone else," wrote a 13-year-old, ( Live and Learn and Pass It On, by H. Jackson Brown, Jr., Rutledge Hill Press, 1991). We may sourly think, "Yeah, right! You're not in my situation."

A lonely missionary's daughter, beginning life in the U.S. on her own and dealing with an American culture and lifestyle that was unfamiliar, began to feel depressed. Shocked at her frowning face when she passed a mirror one day, she gave herself a cheesy grin. "It was kind of silly," she said, "but I found it worked every time. I always felt better when I saw a smile on my face, even if it was a goofy one."

Charles Dickens once said that cheerfulness and contentment are great beautifiers. Most of us want to be pretty or handsome, and no one is attractive wearing a frown.

Paul, the Apostle, advocated being cheerful. When he was on a ship in a three-day "hurricane-force northeaster" (Acts 27:14), he and his companions weer busy lightening the load and possibly they felt too nauseated to fix a meal. They did everything they knew to save themselves; they even ditched the ship's tackle (vs. 19). Huddled together, they "gave up all hope of being saved," (vs. 20). At this low point, Paul spoke to cheer them. He told them an angel visited him during the night, promising to spare his life and the lives of all who sailed with him. "Be of good cheer . . ." Paul exhorted them. "I believe God . . . ." (Acts 27:25 KJV). Paul had experienced God's encouragement before in his life (Acte 23:11) and he knew Him to be faithful to His promises.

When should we be cheery?

* When we are in trouble: Jesus encouraged his companions to "take heart" (John 16:33 NIV) and to "be of good cheer" in a world filled with trouble.

* When we are sick: Jesus told a paralytic to "be of good cheer," (Matthew 9:2) Even in illness we have a delivering Savior.

* When we are afraid: Jesus walked on the water to His storm-tossed, terror-filled disciples. He said, "Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid," (Matthew 14:27 KJV).

* When we show mercy: Paul exhorts us to do so "with cheerfulness," (Romans 12:8 NIV). Saying "I forgive you" or "Here is help for you" with a gloomy face rarely heartens anyone.

* When we give: II Corinthians 9:7 encourage us to give, "not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver," (NIV). Are we happy when we share what we have?

* When we look: ". . . a cheerful look brings joy to the heart," (Proverbe 15:30 NIV).

Apparently, any time and any circumstance is a great place to be cheerful. We bless people when we show a joy-filled demeanor. Will those who know us best think of us as cheery?

Anointed Imagination

". . . An imaginative and creative mind is a great and precious gift; but, like God's other gifts, it may be perverted, misused, and degraded. The Christian's powers of imagination are a dedicated talent of creativity, and he has a duty before God to cherish and expand them. . . The sanctified imagination will operate . . . to bless mankind and to glorify God," (Norma R. Youngberg, Creative Techniques for Christian Writers, Pacific Press Pub. Assoc.: Mt. View, Calif., 1968, p. 2).

God used His creative fancy to bring our world into existence. He envisioned tall animals with very long necks and created a giraffe. He thought up a huge gray beast with a long nose and made an elephant. He imagined an animal with a ruff of fur around its head and neck and formed a lion. He dreamed up beings to rule over the animals and created man.

Because we often remember bad or sad things, we fail to realize the creative power of an anointed imagination. Paul had a concluding piece of advice in his letter to the Philippians: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things," (Philippians 4:8 NIV). Imagine that! What a better world we woud have if each of us used his mind to remember or dream up only good things.

The Wright brothers envisioned a machine that would fly a man through the air. Someone else dreamed of a machine that could "think" and the computer was born. Who first thought about floating on the water in a wooden craft, we wonder. All these people developed a mental image of something good and created machines that would benefit mankind.

Secular people are often very creative. They want to benefit mankind in order to make money. Christians often think of imagining as idle fancy, wasted time or unspiritual activity.

When the word "imagination" is used in the Bible, it often has a negative connotation. True, imagining can be used for evil. Both David and Micah write of those who lie awake at night to dream up new ways to do evil. (Psalm 36:4; Micah 2:1). The tragedies of September 11th in New York City were dreamed up through demonically empowered plotting.

When we were newly married, I broke a valued item. Imagining my husband's disappointment when he arrived home, my mind expanded disappointment into anger, and anger into rage. After work, he found an exhausted wife with eyes swollen from weeping. He was disappointed, but I was relieve to find that the scene of anger I had envisioned was unfounded.

Worry is imagination misused. Our minds may be the "room" where our soul dwells. We harbor adverse mental pictures or depressing scenes that may never take place, but which dishearten us for days.

George MacDonald, a great Christian thinker and wirter, "believed that in using our imagination we are being divine image-bearers, dimly reflecting God's own creativity," (ChristianityToday.com, May 10, 2006.) We can control the images that play before our mind's eye. We can choose to make our imaginations our allies by selecting positive mental pictures, deleting those that trouble us. Some negative mental images are persistent, but by filling our minds with God's Word and choosing, with His strength, to think about happy days and positive concepts, we can gradually nudge out the discouraging ones.

"Of all people," one Christian writer asserts, "Christians should be the most imaginative, creative and inventive as well as the most skillful, the most dedicated, and the most humble," (Youngberg, op. cit., page 4).


Most of us enjoy conversations with friends. However, our most important conversations are those we hold with ourselves in the privacy of our own minds.
We have often been warned against pride. However, pride -- thinking too much of ourselves -- had its reverse. Thinking too little of ourselves spawns negative self-talk. What do we grouse about to ourselves?
About God. When life has gone awry, or has devolved into a tragedy, it is easy for us to think, "Well, God may love everyone else, but He doesn't love me." We tell ourselves, "He doesn't care what happens to me.
"Beware of allowing selfconsciousness to continue because by slow degrees it will awaken self-pity," warns Oswald Chambers, (My Utmost for His Highest, Dodd, Mead and Co.:New York, 1935, Aug. 20th entry.) And the problem with pity parties is that no one comes -- not even God.
Feeling sorry for ourselves is common. We generate self-pity by continually brooding over the wrongs done to us.
Telling ourselves that God doesn't love us is an untruth. David speaks often about God's "unfailing love," (Psalm 31:16; 32:10; 33:5 & 18; 36:5 NIV). Jesus assured us of His love when He admonished His follwers to "Love each other as I have loved you," (John 15:12.) John, the Apostle also wrote: "This is love: not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins," (1John 4:10). So, telling ourselves that God doesn't love us is false. God does love us and cares what happens to us.
Rev. Benjamin Dagwell once prayed:
"Oh Lord,
Give me a mind that is not bored,
That does not whimper, whine or sigh.
Don't let me worry overmuch
About this fussy thing called I.
Give me a sense of humor, Lord,
Give me the grace to see a joke,
To get some happiness in life
And pass it on to other folk."
Committing ourselves into God's loving and faithful hand frees us from grousing and self-pity.
About others. We may control what we say about others, but we allow our minds to castigate others freely. We may think, "He doesn't really love me," or "She thinks I'm dumb. I can't do anything right where she's concerned." That may or may not be true. We can't know that for a fact unless we are told. Charles Swindoll said our attitude is more important than facts, the past, education, money, circumstances, failures or what other people think, say or do. We choose daily what our attitude will be. "Life," he wrote, "is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it," (Taken from quotelands.com).
About ourselves. We say, "I'm stupid. I can't do anything right. God couldn't love someone as dumb as me." Berating ourselves, since we are made in God's image, makes us critics of God. God designed every cell when He created us in our mothers' wombs, (Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:13). He made each of us who we are and He will help us to grow into the character that pleases Him when we ask for His help and guidance.
The ten spies who entered Canaan were not defeated by the giants; it was their perception of the giants that terrified them. They told Joshua, " . . . we seemed like grasshopers," (Numbers 13:31-33). What they said to themselves about themselves demoralized them.
"The mind is its own place," John Milton said, "and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven." Let's offer our self-talk to God. Only He can help us keep these most private conversations positive and pleasing to Him.

Washing Feet

A bank of pedicure booths lines the back of a nearby manicure shop where I go on rare occasions. Oriental girls busily scrub feet. They clip and file toenails, soak and scrub calluses, anoint and massage legs and paint toenails. Pedicure spas are the new way to spend an afternoon. "I never have a manicure," my friend told me,"but a pedicure is so relaxing."

My mother remembered the foot-washing ceremonies in her childhood church. Parishoners would weep as they washed each others' feet, asked forgiveness, and encouraged one another in the Lord. Burdens lightened as they were shared. Bonds of friendship and loyalty strengthened as forgiveness was requested and given. An air of peace and inner rest pervaded the small group.

In the New Testament, John tells about Jesus washing His disciples' feet (John 13:2-12 NIV). In His day, people usually traveled on foot, wearing rough sandals. Even those fortunate enough to travel by carriage, or by riding a horse or donkey, lived very close to the ground, and were easily soiled by the winds blowing dust during their journeys.

The story is preceded by the words, "Jesus knew." Jesus knew three things about Himself:
1) He knew "that the Father had put all things under his power,"
2) He knew "that he had come from God,"
3) He knew He "would return to God."

He recognized His Own divinity, His omniscience and His omnipresence, His home and His destination. Even so, He humbled Himself to do the work usually assigned to the lowest servant in a household.

The conjunction "so" in this story is significant. It means "consequently," "therefore" or "knowing all this." Expressing love, concern and humility to one another is a trait that pleases God -- a trait that emulates God's character.

Another phrase used in this story to show the importance Jesus assigned to this task -- "he got up from his meal," (vs. 4a). Jesus interrupted His meal. He separated Himself from even essential activities to show humility and love to His friends.

"He took off his outer clothing," (vs. 4b) -- removed any garment that would make Him handsome in their eyes, or give a sense of awe. He knew that serving and pride are antipathetic -- they fight against each other.

"He wrapped a towel around his waist," (vs. 4c). In Jesus' day this was the sign of a servant, just as, today, a waiter in a fine restaurant carries a towel over his arm. He had told ten of His indignant disciples, when two of them tried to claim the most honorable places in what they thought would be his new earthly Kingdom, ". . . High officials exercise authority . . . Not so with you. Whosoever wants to be first must be your slave -- just as the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many," (Matthew 20:25-28).

How can I wash feet? I can:
# offer to do a job no one else wants to do,
# initiate renewed relationships when there's been a rift,
# accept an assignment, even though I know it will be fraught with difficulties,
# forgive -- yes, again.

It is called humility. Jesus said, "You must now wash each others' feet," (John 13:14 The Message).

My Source

"I have a problem, Anna." Mavis leaned over their tiny cafe table where two coffees steamed gently. "You have to advise me!"

"I'll try," Anna replied. "What's wrong?"

"Well, I met Jake through a friend. He keeps coming on to me," Mavis said, looking down in embarrassment and fiddling with her spoon. "He looks and raises his eyebrows where and when he shouldn't."

"Mmm, not good," Anna said.

"I know. But, Anna, there's more. A couple of years ago I used some company money to cover my bills. I paid it right back the next payday. Before I knew he was the boss's nephew, I foolishly told Jake what I did." Mavis put her hand to her mouth. "He's implied that if I 'treat him nice' he won't tell my boss. If not -- well, I can't lose my job! I'm still taking care of my mom. What am I going to do?"

"I'm sorry." Anna took Mavis's hand and pressed it warmly. "No woman should be under this kind of pressure."

"I know having an affair would be wrong," Mavis said, stirring her now-cold coffee again, "but I can't lost my job, Anna!"

"Neither can you afford to lose your purity to satisfy him. He just wants to use you, Mavis! You're probably not his first conquest," Anna said, squeezing Mavis's hand to emphasize her words.

"Yesterday, I read something in Proverbs. Perhaps it will help." Anna unzipped her purse and took out a small Bible. "It's in chapter eight of a paraphrase called The Message," she said. "Look!" She pointed to verse ten. Mavis shifted her chair to see. " 'Prefer my life disciplines over chasing after money, and God-knowledge over a lucrative career'."

"But I have to have an income, Anna!"

Anna smiled and went on. "Now look at verse 19: 'My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary! The returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus.' Who's your source of income, Mavis -- your job or God?"

Mavis looked away at the bustling avenue where a colorful crowd jostled one another. She fingered the handle of her cup. "I never thought of it like that before. I guess I need to decide whether or not I will trust God to provide for Mom and me, right?"

"Yes," Anna said, "you do! But God will never fail you, Mavis." Anna paused and looked out the window. "Also, you need to talk to your boss. Repaying the money doesn't completely right the wrong."

"Oh!" Mavis's face blanched. "I don't know if I can do that or not!" She pushed away from the table with a trembling hand. "Thanks. Can we meet again next Friday?"

A week later, Anna arrived at the cafe first and sat at an outside table. "Don't you look nice?" Anna said, smiling, as Mavis walked up. "How has your week gone?"

"O.K. I explained everything to Mom and we did some serious praying over last weekend," Mavis answered, smiling back. "Saturday night I made it clear to Jake that I wasn't going to fall for his line. He was rude and ugly afterward, but I'm glad I stood up to him. Also, I told my boss about using company money. I'm not sure I'll still have my job next week, but if I don't, I still know I did the right thing. The Lord will provide for us. I've chosen God as my source."

Door Ajar

"One thing about temptation -- you can be sure it will give you another chance," (Country, Aug/Sept. 1988 issue).

All of us are tempted at one time or another to do or say something that we know would not please the Lord. Following our enemy's red herrings is the common lot of man. (I Corinthians 10:13 NIV). Everone listens to his honeyed words sometimes. If we could do or say anything we wanted without censure, we would not need to trust in God. "Satan . . . tempts us in order to make us lose . . . the possibility of being of value to God," (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Dodd, Mead & Co.: New York, 1935, p. 262). Since we all sense Satan's bewitchments, we need to know how to deal with them.

Temptations come to us when we are tired. Overwork with little rest leaves us open to Satan's ravages on our emotions and desires. We each need enough rest to function efficiently. Not getting adequate sleep depletes our reserves of physical strength, mental energy and emotional resilience. Overtireing ourselves by accepting work assignments beyond our ability or emotional strength is opening the door for a failure. It is not wrong to decline another assignment when we already have a work overload -- in fact, it is wise.

We need all our strength to resist the suggestions and plans of the enemy of our souls. Even when we are physically or emotionally drained, our Lord tells us, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness," (II Corinthians 12:9). When, in our tiredness, we bring our temptations to the Lord in prayer, He renews our energy (Isaiah 40:30,31) and freshens our resolve to live for him and serve Him. He will help us find a more workable schedule when we ask.

It is also when we are encountering some particular trial that we are more vulnerable. When a mate has asked for a divorce, when we're hopitalized and there's no one to take care of the children, when the insurance won't cover the accident -- that's when it's easy to just throw in the towel and give in to whatever temptation may raise its head. Let's be on guard in these times of stress so we don't succumb in defeat. "The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials. . . ." (II Peter 2:9).

We need not fear the trials we face. All Christian men and women have them. Adversities may sap our reserves of physical and emotional energy, but when we trust the Lord in the middle of them, we can be sure that, in His time, He "will rescue (us) from every evil attack and will bring (us) safely to his heavenly kingdom," (II Timothy 4:18). Sometimes victory is a process. Reading God's Word and praying about our situation often throughout the day will help to strengthen our determination to please God in the way we live and speak.

We're tempted by what tugs at our personalities and our dispositions. What tempts one person may not tempt another. What gaps have I left for temptation to slip in? Have I cracked the door on desires I know are wrong? Leaving the door unlatched will make it easier for temptation to walk right in. Which door have I left ajar?

A Cheerful Word

People love Christmas because it's a cheerful time during the drab day of winter. We send "a word of good cheer" to our friends through Christmas card or gifts. Hearts lift from a humdrum life to more pleasant thoughts and memories. A cheerful word, though, should not be just for holidays or celebrations. We need a lift whether our lives are lonely or light, boring or bright. Few refuse a cheerful word.

King Solomon, the wisest man, wrote: "An anxious heart weights a man down, but a kind word cheers him up," (Proverbs 12:25 NIV).

Not long ago, on a winter day, our mad-cap neighbor came, barefooted, to our door. She said, "I know you and your husband are people who pray. I've just had a test -- positive for cancer. I would appreciate your prayers in the next few days."

"Let's pray now," I said. Taking her hand I began to pray for healing and peace. She wiped away tears with the back of her hand and smiled as she thanked me. For her, prayer had been a cheerful word.

Paul cheered his traveling companions. In a terrible three-day storm, they were so busy throwing the cargo and tackle overboard that they had no time to prepare food. Paul said, ". . . Now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; . . .for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me," (Acts 27:13-26). Sometimes just saying "It is going to be all right," is the most encouraging thing we can do.

In another terrible storm, Jesus' disciples feared for their lives and battled the raging waves far into the night. During the early morning hours, "Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. 'It's a ghost,' they said and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them, 'Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid,'" (Matthew 14:22-27). Often, we cheer another by simply saying, "I'm here."

"I've learned," wrote a thirteen-year-old, "that if you want to cheer up yourself, you should try cheering up someone else." (Live and Learn and Pass it on, by H. J. Brown, Jr., Rutledge Hill Press, 1991). The daily grind grinds slowly and fine. Most of us could use a lift of spirits, especially in days of winter's bleak grip.

Who needs cheering? Many of our neighbors do -- those near home or at work. Perhaps we can take a small gift of homemade cookies, a meal for a busy friend to pop in the microwave after work, or a photocopy of a comforting article to read. A cheerful word may be silently spoken.

A friend, who has suffered from a debilitating disease since he was eight, told me, "I try to start the day at our house with laughter. My wife gets down, seeing me in pain, but laughter lifts our spirits, makes the day go better and cheers us up."

Our missionary family traveled a lot. When schedules were tight and tensions rose, Dad would stride out quickly ahead of the family. Mama would nudge me and whisper, "Watch him now. He's going to do it." Then, sure enough, Dad would pretend to trip over a crack in the sidewalk, and catch himself just before the spill. (Dad had hoped to be a comedian at one time and had a wide repertoire of funny faces and ploys.) Although we knew exactly what he planned to do, Mama and I always chuckled. A cheerful act blesses, too.

Today, who among our acquaintances needs a cheerful word?

Hello and Welcome to my Website

I'm glad you stopped by for a visit.

I've just self-published my first book, Kondi's Quest. I wrote Kondi's Quest out of my love for Africa that developed during the many years I lived there. I first went to Africa as a young girl in 1946 when my parents served in the (then) Belgian Congo.  Later, in 1971, my husband and I spent 21 years as missionaries in Malawi and 11 years in Ethiopia.

For many years, I've written mostly articles and devotionals. I began Kondi's Quest in 1987, but because missionary work was my main work, it developed slowly. It took 24 years to finish Kondi's Quest and prepare it for publication. I'm delighted to have Kondi's Quest release as my first pre-teen's novel in the Mysteries in Malawi series.

You can read more about me here.

On my blog I discuss everything from poetry to fiction to personal spiritual development. I hope you'll drop by often and leave a comment to let me know you what you think.

To the right, you can click to friend me on Facebook. I'm on Facebook often and I would love to hear from you!

God bless you on your reading journey.