All posts by Leslie DeVooght

Practice in the Waiting

With the Winter Olympics wrapping up, I need to confess that I have failed to watch more than a couple of videos on Facebook of some of the highlights. However, watching even a few minutes of Shaun White tumbling through the air high above the ground reminds me of the commitment to practice and determination that is required to compete on this level. We don’t get see the bruises and tears—the sheer exhaustion that must come at the end of a week of training. Most of us can’t imagine the kind of dedication it takes to become an Olympic athlete. Most of them won’t stand on the podium, and yet they keep practicing, striving for that goal. Some will fail but return more mature, stronger, more agile. Maybe it will be their time, and they will win but what if they don’t?

More to the point, what are us average humans striving for? Some days, I’m patting myself on the back because I figured out a way to make supper without returning to the grocery store. I mean, sometimes that takes real ingenuity.

  A year ago I attended the Florida Christian Writers Conference. I had just completed my third book and spent significant time honing my skills. I cringe to think I actually let people read my first book, but that’s another story. Suffice it to say, after reading several craft books and listening to experts, my writing had improved. Most of you know that I found a great deal of success at the conference, so I won’t bore you with those details. (Click here to read that post. ) I really thought I was ready for publication. I had an agent and two books—wasn’t it my time? Apparently not, but I say that with thanksgiving. Since that time, I have learned so much more about writing and the publishing world. When I spoke to my writing coach and mentor yesterday, she even mentioned how much stronger my writing is now than it was then. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the picture of patience. I detour into doubt. But there’s something about training to be better, trying new things, and exploring alternative approaches that keep me going. Looking back even six months, I know I wasn’t ready. In the process and the practice, I know God is preparing me for just the right time.

“He has planned something better for us so that only together with us would we be made perfect.” (Heb. 11:40).

Few of us will win the big prizes, so where does that leave us? I’m so excited to let you know: it leaves us with Jesus. In this reality, we are just like the athlete wearing a gold medal. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Co. 9:24-25). I’m thinking that crown might just rival a gold medal.

Granted some days, it feels like we’re swimming against the tide, but God is always working. He has marked out a race for us. Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and run with perseverance with our eyes fixed on Jesus. (Heb. 12:1-2). When our patience is growing thin and our faith is shallow, we must remember that God works in his time and that what we are learning while we wait may be just the thing we need when it is time. I love that I can look back and see how my writing has improved with practice (Well, maybe love is a little strong, but I’m certainly encouraged that the time has been well spent.) What’s even more important is that I can see how I’ve grown in my faith, and hopefully, when God asks me to do something for him, I will be ready. I know I will be ready to give him the glory because he has molded me into the right person for the right race.

When the drills seem too difficult or the rejection too hard remember this: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” Phil. 1:6

What are you practicing for today? What is hindering you from following God’s calling?

Complaining about Blessings

Recently, I’ve become sensitive to people complaining about what I would consider blessings, and I’m almost certain they would as well. With our abundance of things and activities, we become burdened by the very blessings we sought. But for me, the real zinger is when we complain to a person about a problem that she would be happy to have because that means she would also have the blessing. Have you ever realized you were doing this? I didn’t until I was on the other side. When the person is complaining about the very thing, the very activity that I’ve been praying and working to obtain, I think how happy I’d be to have that problem. I just know I’d never complain about it; at least that’s what I like to tell myself.

In Philippians, Paul writes, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.” (Phil. 4:11-14)

Honestly, when I read those words, and I think about the living conditions of people around the world, I’m embarrassed that I complain about anything. However, I am comforted that Paul continues to be thankful for someone to share his troubles. What is it to understand our blessings, to be content?

This year for Lent, my family is giving up complaining. I know it sounds crazy, and we will likely fail miserably, but we think it’s an experiment worth trying. But there’s more to this plan. For every complaint, the person must put a quarter in a jar and write on a chart the complaint and the blessing. (My daughter said to take her to the bank to trade out a twenty for a couple of rolls of quarters.) At the end of Lent, we will donate the money to the City Rescue Mission. These people have real needs—real problems. Hopefully, we will learn how blessed we truly are and maybe it will be something that we consider before we open our mouths in the future. If nothing else, a good charity will benefit a lot. One trip to Libby’s school during rush hour should result in several dollars.

What are you doing for Lent this year? Are you giving something up or adding something beneficial? As we draw closer to the cross, I pray that this year we can all gain a greater perspective of God’s amazing blessing of grace.

Croquet Kiss

It’s the first week of the month, and I’m excited to share my first published flash fiction piece. Croquet Kiss was first published in the August edition of Spark magazine. It is set on Jekyll Island during the time when millionaires holidayed on the Island. They often visited during the month of February, fleeing the cold winters of the Northeast. I hope you enjoy.

Croquet Kiss by Leslie DeVooght

Tap.

Clarice’s yellow ball rolled to a stop beside John’s black one. With her precise putt, she’d created an irresistible target.

John pulled back his wooden mallet and swung with gusto. His competitive spirit vanquished his manners.

Thwack.

John’s ball smashed against her ball, sending it sailing over the manicured lawn. It rested in the rough under a sweeping oak. His shot went beyond defense and social graces, but her ball couldn’t have landed in a more perfect location.

Rowdy cheers rose from the gentlemen, entertaining her friends on the veranda of the Jekyll Island Club House.

Jekyll Island Club

Clarice glanced to the spectators.

The ladies paused—their glasses of lemonade suspended. They breathed a collective sigh, while their wide brim hats swayed like sailing yachts on an undulating sea.

With a smug grin, John tipped his hat to his friends. His chest swelled, confident of his skill. Surely this surge of masculinity would encourage him to act on the sparks that flew between them.

Clarice bit down on her lip, a smile pushing at the corners. Before John caught a glimpse of her expression, she tossed her white, lace sunhat and marched across the croquet court. She swung her mallet like a drum major’s baton, feigning irritation.

Last night, she’d tarried with John in the beam of the moon on the stoop of her uncle’s vacation cottage. And when John leaned into her, she tilted her chin, lips puckered—ready. But instead of warm lips on hers, he’d lifted her hand and politely pecked the back of her fingers—merely childhood friends.

Ire rose in her, warming her cheeks—time to take matters into her own hands.

“Tsk, tsk, Clarice.” John fell in line behind her. “What will you do now?”

“Hmmph.” She pulled her shoulders back and dabbed a renegade bead of perspiration daring to escape her hairline.

“Come on, please don’t be mad. I was simply following our President’s advice—‘speak softly and carry a big stick.’”

Undoubtedly, Teddy Roosevelt wouldn’t approve of his words being used to describe a lawn sport. And of course, John focused on the stick and not the speaking softly. Besides why were they discussing politics at all—certainly, a twist she hadn’t anticipated. What else could she do to show her willingness and still be called a lady?

She spun and faced him. “I—”

John nearly collided with her, as he waved to his cohorts. He snatched his hand down, and his fingers tangled with hers, then their eyes entwined.

Maybe he’d stop dawdling and draw her to him. Shivers dashed up her arms.

“Sorry.” He broke the trance, pulling his hand from hers.

Her cheeks burned—maybe not.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Southern Sands Newsletter

Happy end of January! How did that happen? I’m still writing 2017 on everything. My family went on a ski trip to Breckenridge, Colorado at the beginning of the month. Then we spent a week recovering from the National Championship game. Why can’t they start those things earlier?

At the end of November, my agent sent my first book proposal to several acquisitions editors. One of them said she liked my voice, which was very nice to hear even though she didn’t contract the book. We are still waiting to hear on the rest, so please keep those prayers coming. My word for this year is ‘rejoice,’ so I’d sure like to be rejoicing over a contract instead of the strawberries being buy-one-get-one-free at Publix.

I keep reminding myself  of Paul’s words: “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” Philippians 1:6

So while I wait faithfully and patiently (ha, ha), I’ve been binge writing.  I’ve found that it’s easier for me to write two-thousand words in a day than five hundred.  I finished a first draft of a book Sunday afternoon, and I am trying to add a subplot to finish another one by the end of the month. With long sessions of writing, I believe I’m starting to experience a writer’s high much like runner’s high. It kind of feels like being in a dream. Which brings us to another casualty of binge writing, persistent characters that want to discuss their storylines at three in the morning.  This results in me dashing to the kitchen to find a scrap of paper and a pen or a purple marker and jot notes. I certainly wouldn’t trust my characters to remind me of their brilliant idea, and I know I won’t be able to remember it.

One of my favorite parts of writing are conferences. I will be attending the Florida Christian Writers Conference a the end of February, and the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference at the end of May. Besides learning from professionals, there is time to meet new friends and enjoy old ones. It’s nice to hear other people share the same doubts and hopes as me. In preparation, I decided to have new headshots taken for my business cards. Of course, the day I met the photographer at Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island it was forty-four degrees and falling. I wanted the pictures to look like the summer, so I was in a sleeveless top and barefoot. I’m still surprised a didn’t lose a toe to frostbite, but the pictures are fantastic, so it was worth it.

I hope your year is off to a great start. I would love to pray for you. What is going on in your life? Do you have a dream? Has God planted a seed in your heart? Comment below on the website or in an email.

 

 

Most Romantic Lines from Literature by Amanda Everett

Y’all are in for a treat this week. My friend Amanda Everett is guest blogging.

Amanda Everette is a southern girl saved by grace. Lover of pretty things, clever words, and her stud of a husband. Not necessarily in that order.

Amanda and I met at the American Christian Writers Conference in August of 2016. We became quick friends and critique partners. I’m delighted by the post. Be sure to read all the way to the end. It brought tears to my eyes. Be sure to check Amanda out on her website at www.amandaeverettwriter.com .

A glance, a touch, that long-awaited kiss beneath a starry sky, the promise of happily ever after—this is what romance is made of. As a writer, and reader, of romance, I can’t seem to get enough of love lately! With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I’ve rounded up some of the most romantic lines from literature. You know the type, the ones that make your breath catch, heart flutter, and mind hope that maybe, just maybe, you’ll hear similar words of love spoken to you.

Most romantic lines from literature: 

  1. “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same…If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.”

Technically, I combined two different quotes from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, but can you blame me?

  1. “You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.” Rhett Butler, Gone with the Wind

Has there ever been a more roguish, charming scoundrel of a gentleman? *swoon*

  1. “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.” Winnie the Pooh

The love of a good friend is not to be taken lightly.

  1. “You have bewitched me body and soul.” Pride and Prejudice.

Mr. Darcy—enough said.

  1. “I love her and it is the beginning of everything.” –F. Scott Fitzgerald

Okay, so this line isn’t from a book, but a personal letter in which F. Scott Fitzgerald was talking about his wife, Zelda.  I think you can see why I had to include it.

  1. “and this is the wonder that is keeping the stars apart
    i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)” E.E. Cummings

To be forever in your beloved’s thoughts— what more could one want? Some people speculate that Cummings left the “I” lower case so as to be on the same level as his beloved.

  1. “When he shall die,
    Take him and cut him out in little stars,
    And he will make the face of heaven so fine
    That all the world will be in love with night
    And pay no worship to the garish sun.”
    —William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet
    It’s impossible to talk about romance without including Romeo & Juliet. I had to recite this for a high school English class and it’s one of the few pieces I still remember to this day.
  2. “I don’t want sunbursts or marble halls, I just want you.” L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island

To be loved for who you are, isn’t that what we all desire?

  1. “Always.” Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

When you think romance, you generally don’t think of Harry Potter, but this line by Severus Snape in regards to his undying love for Lily Potter slays me every time.

Are you feeling a little weak at the knees yet? I know I am! But here’s the thing, no matter how many romance novels I read or chick-flicks I watch, I find I’m still left wanting more. It took me years to realize there is no one on this earth who can ever fully satisfy my desire for love, not even my husband.

But there is someone who can.

He is a poet who seeks to win your affection with tender words. A King enthralled by your beauty. A mighty warrior ready to calm all your fears and rejoice over you with singing. There is one who has known you at your darkest and loves you still. One who has literally moved heaven and earth to make a way for you to be together forever.  He is the ultimate storyteller, the creator of love, God over all…and He is madly, deeply, completely in love with you

So on this Valentine’s Day, perhaps the most romantic line ever written can be found right here:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”-John 3:16

May any semblance of love you read about, any chick-flick you watch, and any relationship you’re a part of always remind you of the greatest love story ever told—that of Christ and his love for you.

A Rage of Foregiveness

Must she forgive him daily? Paige snatched the hedge clippers from the hook on the garage wall. Roses symbolized love, but Brick’s garden of blooms only reminded her of his infidelity. They wouldn’t torment her any longer.

She marched to the front of the house—the tool of horticulture annihilation held above her head like a sword for battle. Paige breached the last line of defense, the porch stairs that surrounded the plants, and stepped into Brick’s sanctuary. The dense humidity made the air thick with their fragrance. The sweet scent slapped her, thwarting her advance. Her breath caught. A memory tugged at her heart—more bitter, than sweet. She shoved it under before it surfaced from where she’d tried to drown it. Heat rose in her like mercury in the thermometer on a midsummer’s day.

Forgiveness.

“Fine, God!” Paige looked to the heavens and waved the clippers in the air. “I forgive him for cheating on me with St. Simons Island’s most decorated good time girl!” She snapped a thorny limb. “I forgive him for making me the number one prayer request at the church ladies’ circle meetings with a healthy dose of ‘bless her heart’ to disguise their gossip.” Chop!  “I forgive him for exploiting my talents to further his career, insisting I stage houses for mediocre photographers when I should’ve been capturing your creation.”

Snap! She hacked a large branch—a shower of scarlet petals fell to the ground. The roses suffocated her with their pungent perfume.

Forgive Brick.

“Really, God?” Guilt, like a thorn, punctured her heart. “Fine. Brick, I forgive you for spending more time cultivating these ridiculous flowers than you spent nurturing our marriage. I forgive you for never standing up for me to your parents.” With the back of her free hand, she swatted away the traitorous tears rolling over her cheeks. “I forgive you for insisting we name our precious daughter after your over-bearing mother.”

“And Brick,” she raised the shears at the last blushing bloom. “I forgive you for breaking your promises to love and cherish me and most of all, that our life would be wonderful.” Excerpted from Island Love is Stormy by Leslie DeVooght

Wow! That’s not the way my Sunday school teacher taught me to forgive people. But don’t you connect with Paige? Haven’t we all been hurt so badly by someone we loved and trusted that forgiveness seemed impossible? We know we shouldn’t hold a grudge, but sometimes it’s so hard to grant grace.

And really why should we? I mean other than Jesus tells us to. Okay, so that’s a pretty persuasive reason. But what about punishment? What about justice? What about that scoundrel getting his due?

But what if God used that kind of logic with us? Ouch. Don’t worry he doesn’t. His grace is all-encompassing. He pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance. He does not stay angry forever but delights to show mercy. He will always have compassion on us, and he treads our sins underfoot and hurls all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. See Micah 7:18-19 Can I get an Amen?

For me, it’s hardest to forgive people who hurt my children. I want to fight for them. I want the meanie to say he’s sorry. I want them to cry like they made my baby cry. As a matter of fact, sometimes I secretly plot ways to do it. Then I remember that’s not what Jesus wants from me, and I pray for strength to forgive.

Forgiveness requires God. We simply can’t do it with our own power. When we start praying for those that have wronged us, our hearts are softened, and we can let them go. I think these ideas border on controversial in today’s society, but we need to forgive to be free—to be joyful.

Honestly, sometimes I think forgiveness may be a little selfish because of how much it helps me move on. The only one you hurt when you fail to forgive is yourself. It eats at you and controls you, while the offender often has no idea of your bitterness. Meanwhile, you exhaust yourself concocting ways to get even or you alter your life and avoid your friends and family to avoid the person who has wronged you. So while we’re sitting at home wallowing in bitterness, she’s at the party having a great time. Is that the justice we so desperately sought?

Friends, as we start this New Year, let’s take time to forgive. Let’s resolve to forgive even if it’s in a fit of rage—even if you have to forgive the same person every day, ten times a day. We owe it to ourselves, but most of all we owe it to God.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-23

In what circumstances do you find it most difficult to forgive?

 

The St. Simons Island Trilogy by Eugenia Price

We often take for granted the treasures in our own backyard. At least that is true for me, I lived on St. Simons Island all my life and didn’t climb to the top of the lighthouse until I was a volunteer for my daughter’s first-grade field trip. Sometimes I felt my husband, a newcomer but a history fan, knew more about the local lore than I did. While visiting the Island last summer, I took my children on a trolley tour as research for the Flash Fiction piece I was writing. As I write more and more about St. Simons Island for my contemporary fiction novels, I find myself looking at my hometown from an entirely different light. I even acquired a detailed street map from the visitor’s bureau because as a native, I didn’t know some of the street names. We always just knew where we were going.

As part of my self-education of St. Simons Island History, I decided to read Eugenia Price’s St. Simons Island trilogy. Although the books are historical fiction, I think they are more fact than fiction. The stories of the families who founded St. Simons Island from just after the Revolutionary War to Post-Civil War days created a new appreciation for both local history and national history. If you live on the Island and have not read these books, I highly recommend them. You will recognize the names of our neighborhoods, streets, and parks. If you are interested in Southern History, I also think you would enjoy these books.

The first book, The Lighthouse, is the story of James Gould and starts in New England. An extra benefit for me was the mention of a town in Maine that Carlton and I visited last summer. James Gould arrives in the South and is a successful tree farmer before he makes his way to St. Simons Island where he builds the first Lighthouse and becomes a cotton farmer.

The second book, New Moon Rising, is the story of James Gould’s son Horace. After being removed from a Northern school, Horace returns to the South and after a lengthy detour in New Orleans, he finds his way back to St. Simons Island. His story explores many issues surrounding the Civil War.

The third book which was actually the first book Price wrote in the series is The Beloved Invader. This book is the story of Anson Dodge and Anna Gould, Horace’s daughter. Anson Dodge rebuilt Christ Church Frederica after the Union soldiers destroyed it during the Civil War.

Before writing fiction, Eugenia Price wrote many non-fiction Christian works. She was born in Charleston, West Virginia and worked in Chicago, Illinois in radio soap-opera programming. She then went on to write a number of books on Christian Living and devotionals. She wrote fourteen historical novels. Some of the others are set in other parts of the Coastal Georgia and North Florida. Isn’t it funny how an outsider can provide such insight on the ordinary things of our lives?

As much as the history of St. Simons Island interested me, what I adored most was Price’s descriptions of the Island—the plants, trees, beaches, rivers, and marshes. The places of my life. We should all take time to notice and enjoy the world around us, and the magnificence of God’s creation. I hope in this new year, you slow down and experience how beautiful our world is in whatever place you call home.

Never too Late for Love – Flash Fiction by Leslie DeVooght

Is it ever too late for love? Are we ever too old too fall in love? I don’t think so. So often, we leave romance stories for the young, but this month my flash fiction is about a couple finding love later in life. I hope you enjoy Never too Late for Love, and hopefully, you will be able to read the rest of Thomas and Evelyn’s story when my first book is published. Evelyn is one of my favorite characters, so I may share more of her in future posts. Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

With her tennis racquet swinging by her side, Evelyn skipped across the parking lot to the Island Club pro shop. More like a school girl than the fifty-five-year-old spinster she was. With all hope of love buried in her past and given up on in her future, she’d met Thomas. God sure did have a sense of humor. Warmth filled her.

Thomas seemed to like her, but did he treat all his tennis students this way? Maybe, but maybe not, and a girl could dream. Her numerical age might not describe her as a girl, but the tingles that ran up her arms when he helped her with her serve, sure left her as giddy as one.

Evelyn inhaled and breathed out slowly, placing her hand on the door handle. Hopefully, the warmth of her cheeks would pass as youthfulness. She opened the door and stepped into the shop, gliding to the counter to sign in for her lesson.

“Good afternoon, Ms. Spencer. Thomas said to let you know that your lesson will be with Judy today.” Lainey bobbed her head to the music emanating from her phone.

Evelyn’s heart dropped like one of her serves that didn’t quite cross the net. She gripped the edge of the counter. “Are you certain? There must be a mistake. He didn’t say anything to me. Please check again.” She pursed her lips.

“Yep.” She shrugged. “Like, don’t shoot the messenger.”

Evelyn dropped her head and turned.

“Wait. I just saw this note on the schedule.”

Evelyn’s heart skittered as she glanced over her shoulder.

Lainey waved a fluorescent-yellow sticky note. How had she missed that—flighty girl. “It says for you to stop by Thomas’s office before your lesson.”

Evelyn chewed her lip as she walked down the hall. Maybe he just had a conflict. Surely, he wouldn’t dump her before they’d even gone out. What had happened at the last lesson that would have caused him to assign her to Judy? They’d sat on the bench and talked for over an hour. Maybe he was bored the whole time, but he’d laughed, and when it was time to leave, he walked her to her car, guiding her with his hand on her back.

She huffed. She was too old for this emotional roller coaster. Maybe working with Judy was for the best. She slid around the door, twisting the racquet in her hand. Thomas hunched over his desk, reading a magazine. It didn’t look like he had a conflict. Click here to read the rest of the story.

Rejoice – A Word for 2018

“The angel of the Lord said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all the people!’” Luke 2:10 (Exclamation point added by me, but don’t you think if there’s a place to put one, it’s here.)

As we move on from Christmas and into the New Year, I’m pausing to reflect on the past and consider the future. Mostly because, as seems to be my habit, I get sick in December, and this year is no exception, so I’m writing this post through a fog of cold medicine and blurry eyes with a persistent runny nose.

But while I pause because I’m not feeling great, I hope you also pause to pray, meditate, and choose  . . . a word. That’s right, one word that you will focus on in the next year. Not a list of new year’s resolutions, just a word. Author Beth Vogt gives this challenge every year, and this year, I’m giving it a go. Although I think I probably do this without knowing it every year. Last year, my word would have been hope or delight, and the year before perseverance. This year my word will be REJOICE. 

With this in mind, being a research nerd and Bible geek, I began looking up verses, and immediately landed in Romans chapter five and knew that God had been preparing me for this word. In my Bible study group, two weeks in a row, I was asked to read these verses. The first week the words caught in my throat and brought tears to my eyes, but the next week I read it with gusto, and now, I think they will be my verses for the year. Here they are:

We Rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:2-5

Even as I type those verses, I see my other words and know that this is the place I want to dwell this year. However, just when I thought I discovered the perfect “rejoice” verse, I received my new Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible. Oh, yeah, so excited, I ripped off the plastic and danced to my writing spot. I just knew when I looked up “my verse,” there was going to be this beautiful, inspirational definition in Greek or Hebrew that would bless me with deep meaning. And I would then write the most insightful blog post ever written. It would go viral, and editors would be calling my agent begging to publish my novel. Wow! That would have been fantastic, but it was not to be.

As I read Romans Five in my study Bible, it didn’t even use the word Rejoice. I couldn’t believe it. It said Exalt, but then I remembered what Andi Lee, author of a Mary Like Me, wrote: if different translations use different words than it might mean something, so once again I pulled the cap off my highlighter and searched the cross-references. At this point, I remind you, I’m really not feeling well, so I needed to find something and fast.

And there it was. Halleluiah! (Can’t you hear the angels singing? Or is that the cold medicine?)

Rejoice is a synonym for exalt, but what is really exciting was all of the ways these words work together throughout the Bible. With the words on the page literally swirling, I found something that will keep me studying these words all year. But for now, hear this, rejoice and exult can mean leap for joy. I love that and that is what I want to do every morning, maybe not so much after a long day.

This year I want to learn to rejoice regardless of my circumstances, and although this may seem like a ridiculous goal if you’re not a believer, it is what having the Holy Spirit in you means. Friends, I hope and pray that this year we will rejoice together, and we can leap for joy because we are filled with Holy Spirit.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

May you grab hold of the peace God gives and rejoice.

What word will you focus on this year? Leave your comments below. I’d love to pray with you.

Don’t Miss Christmas by Angel Moore

Merry Christmas Friends! I am so happy to have award-winning and Love Inspired Historical author and my friend, Angel Moore, sharing her thoughts on rejoicing in this season of Jesus and family. I hope her message encourages you to slow down and take time to really be with your loved ones and make special memories. For those of you spending your first Christmas without a family member, I  join you and pray that God comforts us with His peace and fills us with Joy to bring us strength.

Angel Moore fell in love with romance in elementary school when she read the story of Robin Hood and Maid Marian. Who doesn’t want to escape to a happily-ever-after world? Married to her best friend, she has two wonderful sons, a lovely daughter-in-law, and three grands. She writes STORIES OF FAITH & HOPE.
Her next Love Inspired Historical book, Husband by Arrangement, will release in March of 2018. The final release of her Mail Order Brides of River Bend series, Bartering for a Bride, will release before the end of December. Find all the latest news and all of her books at angelmoorebooks.com

 

Please take Angel’s precious words to heart this year. (By the way, just love that Angel is guest blogging for me at Christmas. Like her name, she is a messenger for God.)

In a few days, we’ll be celebrating the birth of Christ with family and friends. Have you finished shopping? And wrapping? And baking? I haven’t even decided what to cook yet, but I have bought my wrapping paper.

Do you even want to talk about the traffic? I almost had to send someone to the repair shop a couple of times last week. I prefer one car to a lane.

Somehow, Christmas becomes a frenzy. And we get wrapped up in the frenzy.

I have to stop and remember the things I value most at this time of year. Decorating the tree with my grands is one of the top things. I bought acrylic and plastic ornaments—and I was the first person to drop one on the floor.

Angel’s Grandchildren

The kids laughed at me and then covered my tree with snowflake ornaments. The snowflakes were chosen to match the snowflake stocking holders I have for each of them. They are all different. I explain to my little ones that they are all beautiful and unique, just like God’s snowflakes.

 

I treasure the time with my church family. We share wonderful services filled with glorious music and messages about the birth of Christ. Then we enjoy fellowship and food together.

My mom comes to see me every Christmas. It’s a time we set aside for each other.

All of these things mean more to me than anything I could unwrap under the tree. These are the eternal things. It’s not about the money we spend or the gifts we give.

It’s about the time we share with each other remembering the birth of Jesus. In Luke, chapter two, the story of the shepherds leaving their work to encounter the newborn Savior, is one of my favorites. They glorified and praised God when they saw Christ. And they told others about Him. Mary treasured and pondered everything that happened. She stored the memories in her heart.

I see the shepherds as people like us. Working people. Serving God and wanting to be in His presence. They dropped everything and went to see Jesus.

Let’s remember to be like Mary, too. To focus on the Savior. Not just at Christmas, but always.

Jesus came to earth to restore us to Him. Having us in the family of God is important to Him.

Having our family together and serving Him is important, too.

I have to remind myself sometimes to slow down and not let the frenzy of the season keep me from the most valuable things.

Don’t Miss Christmas. Spend it with your loved ones honoring the One Who loves us all.

Angel’s next Love Inspired Historical book, Husband by Arrangement, will release in March of 2018.