It is difficult to believe that 2023 is here. Right? When I was a child any year beginning with 20 sounded so futuristic. Every year I had known started with 19. Now here we are getting close to a quarter of a century in the 2000s. Wow!
Are you satisfied with how you lived your life in 2022? If you are like me, your mind is whirling with ideas of things you want to do differently or change this year. What are your goals to change yourself? I’m not talking physically, but mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
After taking inventory of last year, I want to be more positive and put grief to rest. Our family has had some jarring heartaches from the loss of beloved family members over the past few years. Instead of dwelling on what I’ve lost by those sweet people being gone, I’ve decided to focus on what they’ve gained instead. They were all Christians are gained a life of no more tears, or pain, and no more suffering. Now, their life is in Heaven. Praise God!
When I think about how much I am missing one of those precious family members, I will smile instead of cry. Knowing that my family is now together in perfect harmony with Jesus is what makes me extremely happy. My mind’s eye will see them healthy and joyful.
Another thing that I am consciously changing is to mend any fractured relationships. For whatever reason the relationship is not whole or flourishing, I am taking responsibility and plan to make it better. A Bible study that I am doing pinpoints six reasons that cause strife or challenges in relationships. They are: (1) a failure to forgive or apologize, (2) criticism, (3) gossip, (4) deception, (5) a lack of inclusion, and (6) a failure to accept differences. Anyone nodding their head? Raise your hand if you have done or been the recipient of any one of these six. Yep, me, too.
Scripture tells that the best place to begin is with ourselves. Before we criticize someone, we need to take a look at our actions first. Are we nitpicking something when in fact we have done the same thing to a greater extent?
“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”(Matthew 7:2–5)
In order for me to accomplish making myself better I will need help. Help from family and friends is wonderful, but I need help from Jesus with Him, I can do all things. His guidance will keep me doing what I should and uphold my spirit. I will feel better all around just knowing that He is with me.
What about you? I would love to hear what you are working on to make you a better YOU in 2023. Do you need prayer support? I would be honored to include you in my daily prayers. Just send me a note.
It is my sincere prayer that you will achieve great things in 2023 with the help of Jesus, our Savior. May God bless you indeed!
A Picture of Hope by author Liz Tolsma is part of Barbour Publishing’s Heroines of WWII Series.This was a Christian historical fiction and very unique captivating tale about an incident from WWII. I have never read a story like this even though I have seen movies and read other books about WWII. This heartfelt story will stay with readers long after finishing this exceptional book. It is a fictionalization of real events and actual people.
This phenomenal book tells the story of Nellie Wilkerson, a photo journalist from Chicago, who finds her way to Nazi occupied France in 1944. It is also about Jean-Paul, whose mother is French and father a Nazi. Jean-Paul is part of the French resistance and allows Nellie to join him as he searches for other members of his team. They find a young Mongoloid girl and decide to take her to a convent for shelter.
Author Tolsma has done an exemplary job of research for this project. With her skilled hand she took me to 1944 war torn France and taught me things I never knew about this horrific time. I loved some of the secondary characters. I hated how unbelievably cruel the Nazis were.
This was a suspenseful story that made my heart race at times. It is such an amazing book that I do not even want to tell much of the story. Touching, heart wrenching, riveting, adventure, romance, inspirational, and suspense are just a few words to describe this epic novel. I had trouble absorbing it at times, but I could not put it down. Thoughts of it are still swirling around in my head.
I definitely recommend this book. Anyone that is interested in WWII will be thrilled to find this gem. It is so unusual that a reading group will chat away for hours and still have more to discuss. There are a few parts difficult to read, but they are mild compared to other accounts. I rate this 5 out of 5 stars. A copy was provided by Celebrate Lit but these are my honest words.
About the Book
Book: A Picture of Hope
Author: Liz Tolsma
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Release date: October, 2021
A Photojournalist Risks Her Life to Save Children
Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes—the heroines of WWII.
Journalist Nellie Wilkerson has spent the bulk of the war in London, photographing pilots taking off and landing—and she’s bored. She jumps at the chance to go to France, where the Allied forces recently landed. She enlists Jean-Paul Breslau of the French underground to take her to the frontlines. On the journey, they come upon an orphanage where nuns shelter children with disabilities. Can they help save them before the Nazis come to liquidate it?
Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels, romantic suspense novels, prairie romance novellas, and an Amish romance. She is a popular speaker and an editor and resides next to a Wisconsin farm field with her husband and their youngest daughter. Her son is a US Marine, and her oldest daughter is a college student. Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. Please visit her website at http://www.liztolsma.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter (@LizTolsma), Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. She is also the host of the Christian Historical Fiction Talk podcast.
More from Liz
Why Another WWII Novel Set in France
You may well read the back cover of my latest release, A Picture of Hope, and wonder why on earth we need another WWII novel set in France. After all, Kristy Cambron just had one. Melanie Dobson and Sarah Sundin will be coming out with theirs in 2022. So why did I feel the need to write my novel with the same setting?
First of all, I’m a Francophile. I love all things French. It started when I took French in high school. Everyone else was learning Spanish, but I wasn’t into being part of the crowd. There were only a few of us in the class, and it was great fun. We had a wonderful teacher. Being able to pull out some of that French, refine it a bit, and use it in the book was a blast. But I also love French food (who doesn’t?) and everything else.
Secondly, I hadn’t written about France before. When I wrote this proposal at least five or six years ago, I didn’t know France would be so hot. God did, and the book came about in His perfect timing. I’d explored the Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the Philippines. Such a shame that I was leaving out France, so I set about to write a novel located in that country.
Thirdly, there was so much good material to pull from. The French resistance, while small, did good work and sacrificed a great deal to get Jews out of the country and into Switzerland or Spain. The books that Kristy, Melanie, Sarah, and I write are all so different. Only the setting is the same. And when I found out that the famous mime Marcel Marceau was part of the resistance, I couldn’t help but giving him a cameo. Be on the lookout!
Along the way, I discovered some truly heartrending incidents that took place in France. They also compelled me to write this book. I long for the world to remember what happened so that we will never forget. And so that the atrocities committed there will never be repeated.
Fourthly, this was originally the third book in a series. Don’t worry – it’s a stand-alone. Maybe someday I’ll get to publish the other two. The women in the series are all American journalists in Europe. One is a reporter, the other is a broadcaster, and so I decided to make Nellie, the heroine in A Picture of Hope, a photojournalist. And where better to take pictures than on Omaha Beach soon after D-day. How she gets there is based on a very interesting true story, so be sure to read to the end for that one.
There are so many stories about WWII to be told and so many countries that participated in the conflict in one way or the other. The ground is so rich that we aren’t plowing the same parcel. You’ll find all of these books to be very different from each other, each with its own message, its own voice, and its own plot.
The focus in my book is on children with Down syndrome. I have a background in special education, and my husband and I adopted a child from the Philippines with an intellectual disability, so I’ve always had a heart for people with special needs. My daughter brings us so much joy that I wanted to share a glimpse into what these remarkable people are truly capable of.
So that is why I wrote a WWII novel set in France. Make yourself a cup of café au lait, butter up a croissant, and enjoy A Picture of Hope!
Christmas Grace by author Mindy Steele is a poignant Contemporary Amish tale. She is a new author to me and I really enjoyed her style and storyline. The author was able to put a twist on a trial that is often used. It captivated me immediately.
This is the story of Grace. She is sent from her home in Indiana to stay in her aunt’s community in Kentucky. Her father has sent her there to live under her aunt’s supervision. Grace has made a grave mistake and her father will not allow her to remain at home. Grace barely remembers her aunt, and those memories are not of a happy woman.
Author Steele has written a unique plot filled with many twists and surprises. My interest was captured immediately and not released until I read the last page. The characters were a combination of lovable, quirky, and despicable people. Some were so easy to love, and other so easy to dislike. Not only was this a romance, but it had a mystery that had me guessing.
The author skillfully wove timeless life and spiritual lessons all throughout her story. This is a lesson in family, love, forgiveness, redemption, trusting God, and hope. It is about doing the right thing even when it is difficult.
I highly recommend this beautiful, moving story. It will give you all kinds of emotions and things to ponder. This would be an excellent choice for a reading group. I gladly rate it 5 stars. A copy was provided by Celebrate Lit but these are my honest words.
About the Book
Book: Christmas Grace
Author: Mindy Steele
Genre: Amish Romance
Release date: October 26, 2021
Second chances and the Christmas spirit abound in Mindy Steele’s heartwarming novel, one of faith, love, and the power of community.
Grace Miller believed herself in love with the charming Englischer who eventually broke her heart. Now alone except for the secret life growing inside her, she arrives in the unfamiliar small village of Walnut Ridge, Kentucky, to hide and hopefully gain forgiveness. She is pleasantly surprised, however, to find a tight-knit, welcoming group who help her heart grow right alongside her belly. And with the holidays around the corner, there’s plenty of preparations to occupy her mind. Also occupying her mind? Her strong, protective neighbor, Cullen Graber, the town’s blacksmith, who seems intent on not allowing her to ever suffer alone.
Cullen Graber gave up on love after too many losses early in life. He planned to live out his days focusing on his smithy business, yet the beautiful and mysterious Grace refuses to leave his thoughts. But can they open their hearts to God’s grace and create a new family together before Grace must return home?
Mindy Steele writes sweet Amish fiction as well as romantic suspense. She is an author of 7 novels. The Miller’s Creek Amish series, Christmas Grace, Christmas in Cranberry, His Amish Wife’s Hidden past, and An Amish Flower Farm, releasing 2021. If not gardening or visiting her Amish neighbors, she is on the family farm writing her newest inspiration.
More from Mindy
Behind the scenes with Christmas Grace:
Many are fascinated with the Amish. Their lifestyle, their faith and family. They are talented craftsman, extraordinary bakers, and wonderful stewards of the land. For me, it was their community as a whole. The Amish are some of the best examples of community. How they tend to one another and work alongside each other even without the need of a disaster or tragedy to occur. I didn’t even realize until a close friend who reads my manuscripts pointed it out, but every book I have written thus far has been mostly centered around community. ( I thought that was cool) Walnut Ridge was the first community I ever fictionalized and I still find myself wanting to go back and writing more about the wonderful people who live there.
As an avid reader of Amish fiction I wanted to write a story that wasn’t so…perfect, because none of us are. Grace Miller made a mistake, and finds herself having to face the consequences of that. I think we all can relate somewhat to her. Getting to know the three local communities near me, I find myself drawn more to the imperfect and how they carry on more than the upright and grounded. There is a scene where a group of women share their imperfections with Grace. It became a turning point in her life.
Walnut Ridge, Kentucky is completely fictional, as are all of my book settings currently. I have a love for setting a stage, building a place from the ground up. Although my hero, Cullen Graber was born and raised in Walnut Ridge, Grace Miller was not. Getting to know a character like Grace was a pleasure, but required a lot of research. Although I have seen much of our great country I live less than a half an hour from my birthplace.
Many books and films paint a picture on the meaning of shunning, but it doesn’t happen as often as you think or to the severity portrayed. I met a woman the year this book was wrote and learned a lot from her own personal plight. She had been shunned from her community and never returned, but still speaks to her mother and siblings, often. Grace was shunned for a time in her community, but even after confessing her sin, asking forgiveness and receiving it from her church and community members, her father sent her away from his house out of shame. As a parent to five, there are few times in those teenaged years I wanted to bann a kid or two, but my heart went out to Grace here.
I love creating characters who are realistic and relatable, but also swoon worthy and Cullen Graber is one I have had in my back pocket for a while. The gentle giant, slow to speak, fast to listen, and has a past too. I hope you come to find him as stoic yet imperfect as I wrote him.
There is a scene in the book where Grace finds herself completely alone and facing monsters. (No, I’m not giving out a spoiler here) I have found myself in such a place a time or two as I imagine many have. That moment when fear and bravery collide. This scene was actually inspired by a horrible nightmare while writing Christmas Grace. After reading, I bet you can guess what I’m afraid of.
I am a panster, not a plotter, but even I was shocked that I wrote this book in three weeks while working full time. I have tried my hand at plotting, but find once my characters start to reveal themselves, I have no more control over the story than I did my children’s choice in careers. My process is scary actually, according to Mr. Steele that is. (wink wink) I get an idea, start drafting out characters, setting, and pace or walk for two days while my head figures it all out. Then its pen and paper until that first draft is complete.
When you hear the word Amish, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Yep, food. I happen to be a food lover and an expert on the subject. Grace found herself unable to work at the job her aunt had set up for her but found she had a purpose, and a place to fit in. We all have a purpose, and a place in our community.
When I first signed with my amazing agent, Julie Gwinn, we both had hopes for the first book I wrote. She had planned on pitching it two months later so there was time to polish it until it shined. Then she called me up and asked me how quick I could write a second book to pitch too, not wanting to simply go in with one book I assume, but I know nothing about the stresses of a agents work. My mother insist this is who I am, the one who best performs under pressure, without time to prep, think. I tend to disagree. But in three weeks Christmas Grace was finished and ready for editing. I have wrote two contemporaries in short time spans, but Grace’s book, my first contracted book, will always be that one I always remember. Mostly because of I ran out of coffee twice, forgot to shower and eat a few days and learned it’s alright to talk to yourself if you really need someone to hear your thoughts. Oh, and the publisher bought a second book too. I can’t wait to share A Cranberry Christmas with you.
Every Window Filled with Light by author Sheila Stovall is a contemporary Christian Fiction. It is a touching story that moved me and stayed with me long after I had finished it. I was not sure what to expect, and this book was a poignant surprise.
This is the story of Emma Baker. One of the reasons this book is a surprise is that in the beginning we read: “The albino python flicked its tongue next to Emma Baker’s cheek.” Truthfully, I almost put the book down right then. My thoughts on snakes are such that my favorite one is a dead one. Yes, I have a fear of them. Thankfully, this was just an opening attention-getter and not a snake filled book. Back to Emma, she is a librarian and caring soul. She has lost her husband and has been receiving letters from his killer.
This is also the tale of tattooed minister Luke Davis. He does not look anything like the stereotypical pastor, but he is a phenomenal one. He preaches love and forgiveness. Looks might be deceiving, but actions and words speak volumes in this case. Luke is definitely a man of faith.
Author Stovall has an inviting style of writing. I was immediately interested in Emma and her life. Her emotions were easy to feel through the pages. Conversations read smoothly and sounded realistic. Each character was believable and realistic. The storyline was unique and held my interest. I love books set in Indiana and Kentucky since I am a Hoosier and have many relatives from the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
There were many timeless life and spiritual lessons in this story. The main ones were trusting God, learning that God uses us all for His purpose and brings out out of every situation, healing, true forgiveness and restoration. I like how Luke is not what the characters think a pastor should be, showing that God can use anyone and good can come from bad. This is an encouraging message about hope, love, joy, and living better even during
I definitely recommend this book. It is an illustration of faith in action and forgiveness lived. It would make a fabulous small group or book club choice. There is so much to discuss. I rated it 5 out of 5 stars. I received a copy from Celebrate Lit, but these are my own words.
About the Book
Book: Every Window Filled with Light
Author: Shelia Stovall
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Christian Fiction
Release date: April 2, 2021
Welcome to Weldon, Kentucky, where the only things the locals love more than fried pies are gossip and match-making.
Librarian Emma Baker, a young and childless widow, believes her dream to build a family is over. It’s been two years since a student accidentally stabbed Emma’s husband to death, and her grief has stifled any interest in romance—until she meets Pastor Luke Davis. But when Emma learns Luke is counseling her husband’s killer fresh out of jail, her temper gets in the way.
Meanwhile, Emma discovers twelve-year-old Harley, abandoned by her drug-addict mother, hiding in the library, and takes the girl in as her foster mom. Then a young mother is made homeless by an apartment fire, and Emma opens her home again. One person and one prayer at a time, Emma begins to discover hope.
If Emma can yield and offer forgiveness to her husband’s killer, perhaps she’ll be able to piece together the broken parts of her heart…and the broken people who enter her life…to form a new family and maybe even have a second chance at love.
Shelia Stovall is the director of a small-town library in southern Kentucky, where only strangers mention her last name, and the children call her Miss Shelia.
Shelia and her husband Michael live on a farm, and she enjoys taking daily rambles with their three dogs to the creek. Spending time with family, especially her grandchildren, is her all-time favorite thing. The only hobby Shelia loves more than reading uplifting stories of hope is writing them.
More from Shelia
When I was younger, I daydreamed about becoming an author, but it wasn’t something I pursued. I wrote a few short stories for fun, but I poured my time and energy into my children and career.
In the summer of 2011, I participated in a Bible study called Jonah by Priscilla Shirer. One evening, our facilitator asked us to meditate on the question, What does God want you to do that you don’t want to do. I sat feeling smug as the others prayed. I’d already signed up for a short-term mission trip to Africa, which I hadn’t wanted to do. But as I sat in the quiet, God spoke to me. Write a book for me. My heartbeat quickened as God gave me the opening and the ending of the story. I envisioned a large two-story yellow Victorian home with every Window filled with light.
God’s request filled me with panic, and the workbook page remained blank. The thought of someone reading God’s request made my face hot. Who was I to think I could be an author? Finally, I made a feeble attempt, but it was too hard.
My Ninevah was Africa. I turned my thoughts and efforts to preparing to go to Niger in December 2011. After the trip, all I could think about was returning to Africa. Our translators were visiting the US. It thrilled me when they accepted my invitation to stay overnight in my home. While preparing for their visit, I discovered my laptop under the bed covered in dust. I gulped as I remembered God asking me to write a book. With trepidation, I opened the computer and read the first few pages of the story I’d started. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great. I whined to God. I don’t have the skills or the talent. I don’t know how to write a book.
Then, I received an email in my work email account promoting a Christian writers’ conference. To this day, it is still the only email I’ve received at work advertising a writers’ conference. I could hardly breathe as I read the email promoting the writers’ workshop to be held at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, TX—a long way from Kentucky. I shared everything with my husband, and he encouraged me to go even though we didn’t have the money. He reminded me we had a travel credit in our airline account because of connection problems during our first trip to Africa, and so, I packed my bags.
When I attended the conference, two instructors, New York Times best-selling author Lisa Wingate and Judy Christie, changed my life when they encouraged me to finish the story. Judy asked me to commit to writing one hour a day, and she predicted I’d finish the first draft by Thanksgiving if I’d stick with it. The conference was held in October, and I thought her expectations impossible. I didn’t meet her goal, but I finished the first draft on 12/12/12. I’ll never forget that morning. It’s a good thing I had no idea of the work ahead of me.
Judy was kind enough to give me the email address of her award-winning editor Jamie Clarke Chavez. I sent the first three chapters to Jamie, and my mouth dropped open when she agreed to work with me. Today, she is someone I consider a dear friend. Writers have asked me, How did you get Jamie Chavez to work with you. She must have taken pity on me. I cringe as I remember those first chapters. I consider Jame a gift from God.
Through the years of hard work, God has been faithful to provide me with encouragement and help along the road to publication. If there is anything good in Every Window Filled with Light, it is from Him and the people he sent to aid me. The best blessings of the writing journey are the friendships I’ve made along the way.
I hope you’ll read Every Window Filled with Light or give it to someone who needs an uplifting story of hope. If there’s a person you know who doesn’t know Christ and doesn’t want to listen to a witness, this is a book you can share. I hope the reader will be so drawn into the story they won’t realize they are being exposed to God’s salvation plan until it’s too late.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about why I wrote Every Window Filled with Light. Has God ever asked you to do something you didn’t want to do? I’d love to hear your story.
She Writes for Him by author Cynthia Cavanaugh is a book on women and their issues. It is a book on resilient faith in God. This book was written to inspire and encourage women in all circumstances.
The chapters are written about various woman. Each heart wrenching story contains a topic many woman know all too well. After the story is a Resilient Truth section, Resilient Prayer section, Resilient Action section, and it closes with a short biography on the woman.
Divided into five parts: Shame, Loss, Abortion, Depression and Anxiety, Betrayal are the issues. Each category can be read in any order, but the stories within each should be read in order. The author has written a well thought and organized book.
When thinking about this book, powerful comes to mind. The topics discussed are ones that are not often talked about or at least out in the open. This brings them to light showing women they are not alone in such harrowing times.
I was moved by the stories and the women that wrote them. Tears blurred some pages and I nodded in some sections. Yes, we are not alone in our struggles. Books like this offer counsel and encouragement in a biblical fashion. I loved that it was scripturally based and God glorifying.
I highly recommend this book. It would be a necessary addition to a church library. So many woman will benefit from reading this book. A small group of woman will benefit from reading this. I received a copy from Celebrate Lit but these are my honest words.
About the Book
Book: She Writes for Him
Author: Cynthia Cavanaugh
Genre: Women’s Issues
Release Date: May 12, 2020
It’s not often we speak about abortion, shame, betrayal, depression, anxiety, and loss in our circles of faith. It can be uncomfortable as we try to reconcile why a good God allows suffering and pain. Life is messy, and yet we need not silence these stories.
She Writes For Him: Stories of Resilient Faith is written by brave women who have boldly ventured out to tell their hard stories. These resilient women have found that God can be trusted in the midst of difficult and tragic circumstances. They have found God’s redemption in their pain and their willingness to look doubts in the face and claim God’s steadfast love over their trials.
This book is Redemption Press’s debut in a series meant to infuse hope and courage to others who have experienced a similar journey, that they might know they are not alone and can find healing.
Managing Editor Cynthia Cavanaugh is a speaker, life coach, and award-winning author of Anchored: Leading through the Storms and Live Bold: A Devotional Journal to Strengthen Your Soul. She is the strategic marketing coach for Redemption Press, and you can find her at http://www.cynthiacavanaugh.com, Facebook, and Instagram, and her new podcast, Soul Anchor.
More from Athena
In May 2019, while driving home from the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal with the sun out and the mountain in view, God gave me a vision of a movement. He gave me the name “She Writes for Him,” and I knew it would start as a book compilation, then a podcast, and finally a conference.
Here we are a year later, and She Writes for Him: Stories of Resilient Faith launched on May 12, 2020. Featuring Carol Kent, Tammy Trent, and Dr. Saundra Dalton Smith, 27 brave women share their hard stories of abortion, depression and anxiety, betrayal, loss, and shame.
The second edition is already taking submissions, and best-selling author Liz Curtis Higgs leads the lineup of contributors sharing on suffering, cancer, mental health, addictions, and abuse for She Writes for Him: Stories of Living Hope.
My hope in this book series is to address topics that have long been a struggle for the church to be the safe place it needs to be for those still hurting from wounds of the past. Those of us who love the Lord but have trauma in our pasts and are still on our healing journey need to be encouraged by others who have walked in our shoes. Perhaps we haven’t even started our healing journey yet, convinced we are the only one struggling the way we do or are too ashamed to admit our failures of the past. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, this compilation of brave women will encourage you to process your pain and experience the redemption in your areas of struggle.
Athena Dean Holtz, publisher and creator of the She Writes for Him compilation series.
Glimpses of God is a refreshing Summer devotional for women written by authors Shirley Crowder & Harriet Michael. It is a two month devotional with sixty-five daily lessons. That makes it perfect for a summer inspirational quick read.
Authors Crowder and Michael each write devotions. Their styles are welcoming and easy to read. I felt as if we were having a conversation together. Topics all center around summer – Dog Days of Summer, Blackberry Winter, Memorial Day, Good Ol’ Summertime, and Vacation Bible School. Each day includes a lesson, corresponding Scripture, a suggested Prayer, and a Thought for the Day.
Not every lesson has the same spiritual depth. Some are light and made me happy, while others were deeper and left me pondering something for a few days. I liked that. The authors really meshed well. This is a devotional that all women will enjoy.
I highly recommend Glimpses of God. It would make a great birthday or Mother’s Day gift. A small group would benefit from reading and discussing it. Church libraries should keep a copy, too. I received a copy from Celebrate Lit but these are my honest words. I rate it 4 out of 5 stars.
About the Book
Book: Glimpses of God: A Summer Devotional for Women
Author: Shirley Crowder & Harriet Michael
Release Date: April 29, 2020
Creator God made the world in which we live. He placed the moon and stars in the sky, the rivers and ocean on the earth. He also created seasons throughout the year. Each season is defined by specific features/attributes that are common although the degree varies depending on where a person lives. In winter we think of cold weather; in spring, blooming flowers; in summer, warm weather; and in the fall, beautifully colored leaves.
As Christ-followers we also experience spiritual seasons. These seasons do not come in order like seasons in nature, which come regularly without fail. Each spiritual season we experience is defined by certain features also. In spiritual winter we think of the coldness of our relationship with God; in spring, new
This devotional is focused on summer—both calendar and spiritual. Our spiritual summer is a time of growth, hard work, and relaxation as we nurture and care for the new things that were planted in our spiritual spring and allow them to ripen or mature.
Shirley Crowder was born in a mission guest house under the shade of a mango tree in Nigeria, West Africa, where her parents served as missionaries. She and co-author Harriet E. Michael grew up together on the mission field and have been life-long friends. Shirley is passionate about disciple-making, which is manifested in and through a myriad of ministry opportunities: biblical counseling, teaching Bible studies, writing, and music.
She is a biblical counselor and is commissioned by and serves on the national Advisory Team for The Addiction Connection. She is an award-winning writer who has had several of her articles appear in “Paper Pulpit” inthe Faith section of The Gadsden Times, and in a David C. Cook publication. She also writes articles for Life Bible Study, Woman’s Missionary Union, The Addiction Connection and Inspired Prompt. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to eight books.
Shirley has spiritual children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren serving the Lord in various ministry and secular positions throughout the world.
Harriet E. Michael was born in Joinkrama, Nigeria, deep in the African jungle in the Niger River delta, where her father served as the only missionary doctor at that station. A few years later, the mission moved the family to a larger hospital in Ogbomoso. Co-author Shirley Crowder and her family lived right across the dirt road. The two children became constant playmates. Today they continue to enjoy their lifelong friendship.
Harriet is a multi-published, award-winning writer and speaker. She has authored or co-authored seven books (six nonfiction and one novel) with several more under contract for future release. She is also a prolific freelance writer, having penned over 200 articles, devotions, and stories. Her work has appeared in publications by Focus on the Family, David C. Cook, Lifeway, Standard Publishing, Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Upper Room, Judson Press, Bethany House, and more. When not writing, she loves speaking to women’s groups and teaching workshops on freelance writing.
She and her husband of more than 40 years have four children and two grandchildren. When not writing, she enjoys substituting at a Christian school near her home, gardening, cooking, and traveling.
More from Shirley
In the same way that nature’s seasons serve a purpose on earth, so do the seasons in our spiritual lives. God provides, cares for, and sustains the earth, and in His faithfulness, He does the same for us. Our responsibility is to be obedient to God’s commands in the Bible and to cling to the truth that God is in control.
Our “Glimpses of God” series consist of:
Glimpses of God: a winter devotional for women
Glimpses of God: a summer devotional for women
Glimpses of God: a spring devotional for women (due out in early 2021)
Glimpses of God: an autumn devotional for women (due out in late summer 2021)
We pray that as readers meditate upon the Bible passages and truths in each devotional, they will catch glimpses of God in and through everything around them.
How has He provided for you? How is He protecting you? How is He teaching you?
Pet peeves. We all have them. Most of us have a long list of them. I know I do. Incorrect grammar drives me crazy. Younger people being disrespectful always makes me want to correct them on the spot. One of the biggies for me though is people saying “I am sending good (or positive) thoughts.” What is that? Explain it to me.
How does one send a thought? Do you put it in a box and send it? No, that wouldn’t work. I suppose in lieu of praying people believe this is the next best thing. Perhaps for them it even is the best thing, but it is not for me. I would much rather have and offer prayer. In fact, scripture tells us to “Pray without ceasing.” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
Do you believe a person’s thoughts are powerful enough to change someone else’s life? I don’t. Do I believe prayer is that powerful? Pull up a chair and let me tell you some first hand experiences. Yes, prayer is absolutely that powerful and effective. Why, because God is powerful.
Several years ago I had a stroke. The doctors said there was damage done to my eyes and I would always see bright flashing lights, like strobe lights. Always meaning every minute of every day for the rest of my life. To the doctors’ baffling surprise my eyesight improved almost back to normal. I had an army of faithful prayer warriors praying for me. God heard and answered our prayers. No positive thoughts or vibes sent my way could have healed me.
Family members have had cancer literally disappear thanks to our healing Heavenly Father answering our prayers. Lives have been saved, jobs secured, and babies added to our family all because we prayed and God answered. Money miraculously became available to pay for food or important bills, all because of answered prayers. Accidents were avoided, injuries not as severe, and diagnoses not fatal where first thought, all due to faithful praying family and friends. God heard and answered. Prayer makes a difference, a big difference.
I encourage you to pray for one another instead of merely saying you are sending thoughts. It is not difficult. There is no special way to pray. It is a conversation between you and your Creator. He knows everything about you already, even what you are going to say. Open your heart and just talk to God. The more you pray, the more you will want to pray and the easier it will become.
Don’t get me wrong. Positive thinking is important. It makes a huge difference in a person’s day. We all awake each day with the choice to be happy and see life with the glass half full or we could be grumpy and negatively say the glass is half empty. I do believe in positive thinking, but I just don’t believe in sending positive thoughts.
Speaking of thoughts, I hope this has given you something to ponder if you ask for or offer good or positive thoughts. Honestly, I would rather not have someone say that to me except for the fact that I can pray for them. If they aren’t praying, they are missing such a blessing. We all need blessings and prayers. We all need God.
In the matter of days our lives were turned upside down. Normal ceased to exist. Our daily routines changed. Spring Break plans were disrupted. Schools let scholars go home for the remainder of the year. Seniors were cheated out of their final semester of High School or College. People were quarantined at home. Why? A nasty extremely contagious, life threatening virus named Covid19.
Parks were closed. Sporting events were cancelled. Businesses were shut down and only essential workers were employed. Companies had employees work from home. Grocery store shelves were bare. Toilet paper became a rare item. Yes, stores were sold out of it everywhere. Hand sanitizer disappeared along with it. Health officials found it necessary to reteach us how to wash our hands.
Since groceries were out of meat, groceries were selling their raw protein along with prepared menu items. Delivery or curbside pick up were the only options since dining in had been banned. Gatherings were limited to ten people. Weddings were rescheduled and funerals kept private. Church doors were closed. Masks were worn in public for protection. Our world had completely changed.
Covid19 has taken our normal from us. Our secure, everyday life is now gone. Healthcare and grocery workers are exhausted. Parents are homeschooling and frustrated. Family and friends are missing each other. Children are frightened and do not understand. Adults are, too. This is a worldwide pandemic. What is a pandemic? Webster’s dictionary says “Pandemic definition is – occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population.”
Oh, but wait. It is not all gloom and doom. Covid19 has also given to us. Our priorities have been forced into perspective. Family has risen to the top. Those concerts and sporting events that we believed were essential have been replaced with family time. Family dinners have made a huge comeback. People are returning to the kitchen to prepare meals that will be eaten around a table with family. The weather has turned nice and families are going outside. We are rediscovering the treasure we have been taking for granted.
Communities and the entire nation have joined together. Meals are given to children
out of school and to healthcare workers. Restaurants are pitching where they can. Protective masks are being made at home to help. Many are giving them away. Neighbors are checking on each other. Teenagers are doing yard work to help elderly. Groceries are picked up for friends. Kindness is manifesting itself through people across this nation. We are thinking of others and their needs. America and mankind are pulling together to help win this war on Covid19. We are standing together to assist others.
With so much time spent in self quarantine parents are spending quality time with their children. Hiking, playing games, grilling or working in the kitchen, are just a few of the ways families are enjoying their time together. They are becoming reacquainted with each other. Families are doing more activities together and making lasting memories. For the most part, this is a great thing. Unfortunately there will be some children not blessed with a happy home.
The best thing to come out of this is that people have turned their hearts and minds back to God. Children are witnessing a revival in their homes. Prayers are said at mealtime and bedtime now more than ever. Bibles are being dusted off and opened. God’s Word is being read. We have more time now to begin our day with God’s Word and in prayer. That excuse has been taken away. Parents are able to set good examples for their children and teach them God’s Word.
God’s children have hit the reset button on their lives. We are putting things in proper order starting with Jesus, then others, and finally ourselves. We will come through this battle victorious. Always we need our Heavenly Father, but we need Him especially now. This is an epic battle we are fighting with Covid19. Fear not. Nothing is impossible with God. He is more powerful than anything, even this pandemic. I hope the lessons that we learned during this time will stay with us. I hope our world remains changed for the better. Don’t you?
Today is the anniversary of Holy Saturday, Easter Eve or Black Saturday. It is the name given to the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It is the seventh day of Holy Week. When Jesus died, He called out, “It is finished!” He had completed His job. Now what?
Where was Jesus on this day so long ago? He was dead. My heart breaks to write this. Jesus was away from God and descended into hell. Isn’t that what the Apostles Creed says? All of what was done was for us. The price was paid for us so that we would not owe it.
This day is traditionally a time of reflection and waiting like Lent. Jesus’ followers spent this day waiting after his crucifixion on Good Friday. He had said He would rise from the dead so they would be watching for Him. Most likely they would be recalling every word He said to them. I would. Wouldn’t you go over every detail?
Roman governor Pontius Pilate instructed guards to be posted at the tomb to prevent Jesus’ followers from removing the body to claim that He had risen from the dead. Pilate sealed the tomb, secured it, and posted guards. No one was getting in. Jesus’ body would not be taken.
Easter or Resurrection Sunday is tomorrow. I know the ending of this heart wrenching account. I also know this was God’s plan, but it still hurts. For those of us baptized, when we were we died with Christ (going down under water) and arose with Him (rising up again). Symbolic but not close to what my precious Savior endured.
Scripture tells us this in Romans 6:3-11King James Version (KJV):
”Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
So, while we await Resurrection Sunday, take a moment to reflect. Just as we were baptized and died with Jesus, we died to sin. We should sever the bond sin has over us and sin no more. After He died for us, let us live for Him.