Tuesday, December 16, 2014

CrossReads Book Blast: In the Cleft: Joy Comes in the Mourning by Dana Goodman


In the Cleft: Joy Comes in the Mourning
By Dana Goodman

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About the Book:

Author and Counselor, Dana Goodman, shares her painful journey through heart breaking tragedy. After losing her 12-year-old son and 30-year-old husband to cancer, she must put back together the broken pieces of her life and her faith. Drawing hope from Christ, she describes how even the worst of tragedies can be rewritten into love stories so seeds of hope can be imparted to others. Ron Dart, Professor of Philosophy and Politics at the University of the Fraser Valley, says this about In the Cleft:
"I read the missive in a single sitting--was charmed and entranced, enthralled and captured by the poignant and evocative insights--- it's a burnished gold of a book---a real beauty---tragedy and hope, in an honest and raw way, jostling wisely and judiciously in your vulnerable soul--take heart---your well told and painful journey will bring healing and restore life to many---thanks for the sacrament and chalice of eternity so generously shared."

author photo graphic 48

Dana Goodman, author and counselor, Dana Goodman, lives in Kamloops British Columbia. She wrote In the Cleft: Joy Comes in the Mourning as a tribute to her son after he died of an aggressive brain tumor called Glioblastoma Multiforme. His unquenchable faith gave her the courage to visit grief layers and find healing and life after unbearable heartache. Dana's greatest joy in life is Jesus Christ, even on the topsy-turvy days when he is hidden. She loves simple things like hot coffee, deep talks with girlfriends, journaling and having wonderful adventures with her family.

Follow Dana Goodman

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Storm is Coming!

Winter storms are coming. That's what happens in the Pacific Northwest—and many other places around the world—during winter. Harsh winds. Biting temperatures. A sudden dumping of snow. Sometimes Jason and I dream about moving to Arizona to enjoy wintertime sunshine and warmth. But as long as we live on the backside of Mt. Spokane, I know storms are coming.

Seasons bring different kinds of storms. I can remember a horrific rain and wind storm in Ketchikan, Alaska, on Thanksgiving Day when I was ten years old. The massive deluge sunk boats, knocked out power on the day people planned to spend the day cooking, and caused a lot of property damage. It was a storm to remember.

In life, as in seasons, we go through storms. I've known people who wouldn't admit anything was wrong in their lives. "The tongue has the power of life and death" Proverbs eighteen says, and some would contend by saying the words, they'll make it happen. And, there's truth in that. Others take this idea to an unrealistic degree. Once, I talked with a lady who denied ever having been sick, not even a cold. I disagreed with her, knowing she had to have been sick when she was a kid, but she adamantly held her ground. She wouldn't confess a negative word about her health, almost as if fearful of doing so. I believe in speaking life and love and faith in Jesus over every situation. But, if asked, I won't deny a problem happened.

Just like I know I will face a storm (or two or three) this winter, I know in life I will face storms. For some of us, it's a marriage crisis. Or a health issue. A financial struggle. A lack of a job, house, food. Maybe, there's friendship or family troubles. Or addictions. The rough patches we go through are storms. Sure, sometimes we bring problems on ourselves. Other times it's an onslaught from satan. He is, after all, out to destroy us.

One time I was listening to a radio talk-show host speaking on family and marriage. The guy said he'd never personally had rough times in his marriage. And at that moment, going through some struggles, I felt disappointed . . . and ashamed. Was something wrong with me because I was going through marital issues? Was I less of a follower of Christ because of it? Had that man said, "I haven't experienced that kind of problem in my life, BUT, I've experienced other troubles that make me realize how painful it can be," then I would have felt a bond with his struggles, even if it wasn't the same scenario.

Sometimes, we come across as if we've weathered life without a hitch. Perfect. Lily-white. But I can't go along with that. Yes, I'm alive and doing well today, thanks to God. Thanks to His love changing me. His protection. His peace . . . in the middle of my storms. Thanks to perseverance and learning through struggles. And thanks to a host of family and friends sharing life with me and giving me second chances.

One day, the disciples hopped in a boat—following Jesus—and they found themselves in the storm of their lives. These were fisherman! They made their living by working on the water. They knew the risks of turbulent winds. But this was a whopper of a storm, and they were petrified! Fisherman who'd been raised on the sea, and didn't get seasick, suddenly thought they were going to die. I can imagine their pinched faces as they cried out, fearful the next wave would knock them into the sea. Were they going to drown? They thought so.

But not Jesus. He was sleeping in the rocking, bouncing, water-sloshing-in boat.

When they woke him up, he scolded them—as if questioning why they even woke him up. "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" In that moment, Jesus must have felt a flood of compassion for his traveling companions. Even though he knew the boat wasn't going to sink. God had a plan for his life, and that job wasn't finished yet. He also knew the disciples didn't "get" that yet. So he commanded the wind and waves to stop doing what they were doing. Instantly, all was calm. I can imagine Jesus curling up again and going right back to sleep.

That was a real storm. A time of conflict, fear, thoughts that all was lost and death might be imminent. Yet—I love this—Jesus was calmly sleeping.

We will face storms, yet, we have the assurance Jesus is in our boat. In times of difficulties, we can be like the disciples and scream out in fear. Or be like Jesus: sleeping in peace and trusting God. AND, like Him, we can stand up and command the elements of the storm to stop. Let's tell satan (strongly) to back off. "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." And, we can pray. "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Heb 4:16) I love the "with confidence" part. Not cowering, or whining, or begging. Approach God confidently! We know He hears us.

Last night, I went to sleep a little discouraged. But I woke up with these thoughts on my mind. We'd all like to avoid storms. I know I would. But each time we come out of one, we're stronger. We've learned perseverance. Our faith is built up. And we have a precious story to tell. A testimony of overcoming. And we will.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Oozing Thankfulness?

At this time of year, our thoughts turn toward thankfulness. And that's a good thing.

All month, friends have been posting on Facebook and Twitter about the things they're thankful for. It's cool to have a month to do that. To focus our attention on "being" thankful. But, really, thankfulness is far more than speaking the words "thank you," although the sentiment needs to be said. It's more than taking a month to list the things we're thankful for, and yet, it's great to acknowledge the people and blessings you appreciate. I believe thankfulness is a deeper expression of what's in our hearts. It's a pouring out of what we have inside. Someone mentioned the other day that thankfulness is our "faith in action." And, I like that.

God did so much for us by sending Jesus, for taking away our guilt and shame, for saving our families, for giving us the hope we have, that our hearts should overflow with an abundance of thankfulness. Like a cup of coffee when someone bumps into it and it sloshes on the counter, so our lives, if "bumped into," should ooze thankfulness, a bi-product of love. Hopefully, that's what others will see.

Too often we get filled to the brim with stuff. Chores. Work. Pressures. Our need to be right or have our wishes fulfilled. Entertainment. We get caught up in the "affairs of this life" way too easily. Oh, yes, those fingers are pointing at me too. I forget how fast this life is passing. A fog that will dissipate way too soon. I want my life to count for the good stuff. Is thankfulness a part of who I am?

Instead of being stressed over dinner plans and baking and cleaning the house this Thanksgiving, let's take time to consider the condition of our hearts and what's inside. Is it love? Goodness? Mercy? Thankfulness?

May genuine thankfulness be the new love shining from us. Not just during the days leading up to and including Thanksgiving. But every single day.

May "thanksgiving" be a year-round expression. And may your "Thanksgiving" be filled with an abundance of love and joy.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

CrossReads Book Blast with Sophie Dawson

Seeing The Life

Seeing The Life By Sophie Dawson

About the Book

Seeing The Life is a look at the life of Yeshua the Christ in a way never used before. Dassa, the daughter of the innkeeper, is sent to fetch the midwife to help the young woman in the stable give birth. She and Mary become close friends as do Micah, her fiance then husband, and Joseph. Separated when the young family flees Bethlehem in the night, their friendship resumes several years later in Jerusalem. Dassa and Micah know Yeshua is special, but he is still a boy with a boy's interests and love of life. Through the years the families, though separated most of the year, spend time together in Jerusalem during the Jewish Festivals. Then Yeshua begins speaking and teaching. Micah, Joseph of Arimethea, their sons and others who follow and believe Yeshua's message. Yet do they really understand it? Is he the long awaited messiah who will free the Jews from the grip of Rome? What do the stories he tells really mean? Seeing The Life sees the life of Yeshua within the social and political culture of the time. Not only do we see his ministry but also his family and friendships as he grew. Yeshua was a normal baby who cried, spit up, wet and messed. He was a child who fell and skinned his knees. He lost his baby teeth. He had siblings. He had friends. My goal was to show the humanness of Yeshua's life. We see him as fully God but often miss that he was fully man, boy and baby also.

Sophie Dawson
Sophie Dawson is Midwestern born and bred and is the author of several novels, including the Cottonwood Series and Stone Creek Series. Her novel Healing Love has won three awards: AuthorStand 2012 Gold Medal, Indiebook 2012 Silver Medal, and Readers' Favorite 2013 Silver Medal. Giving Love was a finalist in Readers' Favorite 2013. Her books have also been #1 Best Sellers in their genre on Amazon. Seeing The Life is a finalist in Readers' Favorite Awards 2014. She is a member of Christian Independent Authors and Association of Independent Authors. An award-winning quilter with eclectic interests, Dawson posts to several blogs, including Little Bits Blog on her website, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Iowa Wesleyan College.

Follow Sophie Dawson Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Married Glances

In my WIP, April's Storm, April wishes her preacher-husband would glance across the wedding attendees and catch her eye, notice her, send her a silent message with a sizzling look. But she realizes, Chad, the twenty-four-hours-a-day-servant guy, would never do that. He's operating in his official capacity at a wedding—she knows this—yet she still longs for him to single her out.

Have you ever wanted that? Have you ever felt a need for your husband to take your hand or kiss your cheek or just let his gaze linger on you an extra moment?

I have. Even after thirty-nine years of marriage, the need for my husband's acknowledgement might come at a less-than-perfect time for him. Still, from across a crowded church or a busy store, if Jason glances my way, it changes the moment between us. It takes such a tiny chunk of time for a husband to remind his wife that he loves her. That he has eyes for her alone. To remind her that when he's done with all the busyness of work or service, he's looking forward to being alone with her. Remember how it was when you were dating? You could stir up all kinds of romantic sparks without saying a word. A glance is surely worth a couple hundred words. It says, "I'm still mad about you. I want you. Let's hold hands. When this meeting's over, I'm going to give you a kiss that'll make your toes curl. I can't wait to hold you in my arms. I'm glad I married you."

For me, that means so much. I can't speak for a guy, but I can guess he likes those special connections too. Let your eyes talk. Tell your husband or wife you're wild about him/her, even from a distance. 

Eyes sparkle, glow, shine. Let your eyes radiate love. And those little glances will take on a language of their own that can last a lifetime.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Favorite Christmas Dessert

Chocolate-Caramel Bars

Many years ago, I found this recipe on the back of a Betty Crocker cake mix, and I've made it lots of times since. But I've tweaked it a little as I do most recipes, and the glaze is mine. I have to say, I love chocolate!! I enjoy caramel, but I bet these would be great with melted chocolate instead of caramel. Mmm...

1 package BC German chocolate cake mix
½ cup margarine or butter, softened
1 egg
½ cup margarine or butter
½ cup evaporated milk
1 package (14 ounces) caramels
Glaze (below)

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Mix cake mix (dry),  ½ cup butter, and egg until crumbly—or for me, forms a big lump—set aside 1 ½ cups (or about ½ of mix). Press the rest of the mixture in ungreased rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches. Bake until crust appears dry, 10-12 minutes; cool 10 minutes. Heat ½ cup butter, milk, and caramels over low heat, stirring until caramels are melted. Pour over crust. Spread the reserved mix over the top of the caramel layer.  Bake until top layer appears dry and begins to brown, 25-30 minutes; cool. Drizzle with a chocolate-frosting glaze (below). Loosen edges with spatula, refrigerate until caramel mixture becomes firm, about 1 hour. Cut into bars.

Glaze: Mix powdered sugar (as much as desired, about a cup), a little hot chocolate mix (dry—a tsp, or to taste), and a teaspoon of peanut butter with a little hot water until desired consistency. Dribble over chocolate layer. Mm-good.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

CrossReads Book Blast: The Name Quest by John Avery

Avery-NameQuest CVR

The Name Quest - explore the names of God to grow in faith and get to know Him better By John Avery

About the Book:

Take an insightful journey into deeper relationship with God through the biblical names of God. Beginning in Babel and ending with a burning Babylon, The Name Quest builds faith and encourages spiritual growth. The names of God are like a rainbow—each name expresses part of the spectrum of the character and attributes of God. God is a personality with a multifaceted character too integrated and dynamic to compartmentalize. God’s names are best examined in clusters, around common themes. So that is how the chapters are organized. Along the way, the author tenderly answers tough questions: Which of the Hebrew names of God is His personal name—Yahweh or Jehovah? What does it mean to pray in Jesus’ name? How can we relate to the Holy God and the Judge? Why is a God of love called the “Jealous God”? What does it mean to call Jesus the Messiah? The Name Quest mentions all the names of God in the Bible while explaining their significance in ordinary language. The author weaves together fifteen years of Bible study research with plentiful illustrations and humorous anecdotes. These include lessons learned as a pastor on a Caribbean island. A visit to a Welsh hill farm introduces a chapter about the Good Shepherd. The story of a Hungarian political prisoner illustrates the meaning of Immanuel (or is it Emmanuel?) A rescue from the slopes of an active volcano helps explain salvation and the meaning of Jesus’ Hebrew name, Yeshua. Even the clever advertisement on a packet of potato chips offers a lesson about how to grow in faith in God. Unlike chasing rainbows, the spiritual journey has an end. The Name Quest is a road map for every Christian’s spiritual journey and it points to the destination—being formed into the image of Jesus Christ. Start exploring!


John Avery is the author of "The Name Quest – explore the names of God to grow in faith and get to know Him better" (Morgan James Publishing, 2014). He is a trained teacher with over thirty years experience as a Bible teaching pastor, small group leader, and missionary. He has lived in England, Israel, Africa, and the Caribbean, ministering with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and local churches. He and his wife, Janet, now make their home in Oregon. John likes to hike, snowshoe, and cross country ski. John writes a regular Bible devotional on www.BibleMaturity.com and maintains a comprehensive resource for all the names of God at www.NamesForGod.net.

Follow John Avery Website | Facebook | Twitter

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