Reflections In Hindsight

Grace in the Rearview Mirror…it's closer than it appears

  • Ephesians 4:29

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)

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      A part of the Buried Treasure Series, in this book we join school teacher Judy Wingate settling into motherhood following the birth of her new baby. When Esme an older lady who was a member of the local garden club turns up dead with a garden claw in the middle of her forehead at the base of a statue in the center of town, Judy is determined to find out more […]
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    Thank you for your encouragement and support for the past three years. We've had fun connecting with you and hope you've found useful material here on Reflections. And here's the but... Reflections In Hindsight is closing on December 21, 2012. Elaine and Sophie and I can be found over at http://authorculture.blogspot.com; April can be found at Clash of the Titles, http://www.clashofthetitles, http://www.aprilgardner.com and watch for news for more novels from her!; Janet is ever-present on the Internet with her very special words of wisdom and grace at http://www.janetperezeckles.com, and Luther--who knows where he'll show up next, but I'd watch my back if I were you... Book Reviews are always important, so I, Lisa, will continue to offer them through my blog, as well as those promotions for your new books or book launches, or your news.
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Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Joy In The Mourning

Posted by elainemcooper on December 14, 2012

(I wrote this for our church’s Advent book of Devotions, with the focus on “Joy”)

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

Christmas Joy - Christmas Wallpaper

There is a section of Psalm 30, verse 5 that reads, “… weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (KJV)

Well, the morning of October 20, 2003, there was much weeping as I sat by my dying daughter’s bedside, but there was little joy in my heart. And as she took her last breath, the weeping continued despite that fact that it was dawn.

So where was my joy? Our family had endured the heartache of her illness for nearly two years, praying for healing, hoping against hope that the brain tumor would leave my daughter’s body. Instead, it took her life. I doubted that I would ever feel joy again.

Following her death, I mostly felt numb. There were times when I was angry, times when I shouted at God or others. I understood in my head that my daughter’s life was in His hands—after all, He was her Creator—but my heart rebelled against the loss.

On my drive home from work months later, crying the whole way, I yelled at God. “This is just too hard!” I did not hear an audible voice, but it might as well have been. The voice of the Holy Spirit enveloped my heart and soul with His message to me: “My grace is sufficient for you.”

I felt as if a spiritual two-by-four had hit me between the eyes. It was not painful, but powerful in its impact. I suddenly knew that God’s promise was true: His grace was sufficient for me. I never questioned Him again.

Was I suddenly giddy and happy, bursting into “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart…” like my children sang when they were little? Hardly. Forgive my bluntness, but I find that song so annoying! Mostly because it equates God’s joy into a sort of fake, upbeat happiness with a smile plastered on one’s face. Is that what joy is?

When I read God’s Word, joy takes on a whole new meaning. It is not the absence of heartache and difficulty but the assurance of God’s love and grace. Surprisingly, it is often connected with grief, mourning, and trials.

King David wrote these words right after pleading for deliverance from the enemies who were seeking to kill him:

“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.” (Psalm 5:11 NIV)

Salvation through Jesus Christ brings true joy, as was experienced by Paul’s jailer after he had accepted Christ:

“The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them. He was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family.” (Acts 16: 34 NIV)

Trusting in God’s strength and comfort brings joy:

“That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV)

The Lord’s presence fills us with His eternal view:

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalms 16:11 NIV)

The most difficult of circumstances can lead to greater joy:

“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126: 5-6 NIV)

Terrible trials can lead to an outpouring of compassion for others:

“Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” (2 Corinthians 8:2 NIV)

And finally, His Word promises renewed laughter, filled with the joy of the Lord.

“He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” (Job 8:21 NIV)

So did my daughter’s death bring a giddy happiness to my heart? No. But despite the pain, the trials, the loss, I have learned that there is joy in the mourning.

May your Christmas be Blessed with HIS JOY!

Posted in Encouragment, Inspiration | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Five secrets to live a joyous, clean life.

Posted by janeteckles on December 8, 2012

12-3-12QuinoaBy: Janet Perez Eckles

I sat at the kitchen table in my friends’ lovely home. “Have you tried quinoa?” I asked them.

“Yes,” they chorused. “We don’t like it!”

“Don’t like it? It’s the best thing around,” I protested. “So nutritious and delicious—depending how you prepare it, that is.”

“It tasted so very sour,” they said. “It was awful, too bitter.”

As details and comments bounced back and forth I learned their big ‘no-no’—they cooked the quinoa without thoroughly rinsing it first. Each grain has a covering (bitter to the taste) to keep birds from eating it.

“C’mon, friends,” I said, rolling up my sleeves, “let’s do it right. Need to wash it well first.”

And sure enough, they prepared it correctly and when cooked, we added a little almond milk, some honey and a dash of cinnamon—delicious!

Here’s a question for you: Is your life delicious or just a bit sour and bitter? Maybe it’s because of the coating of stress and fear that covers up your joy.

We all have those times, those stages and seasons. I say, let’s jump in under the faucet of God’s grace and figure out how to rinse those things that keep us from enjoying, really enjoying life.

Here are five ways to live a clean, healthy, happy and hugely joyous life:

1. Stand under the living water Jesus offers.
2. Rub off stains of sin. Use the brush of repentance if necessary.
3. For more stubborn stains of sin, pour the bleach of His grace.
4. And if the whole garment of your life is soiled, soak in His Word night and day.
5. Press clean item with the iron of contentment and good choices.

Like quinoa, the sour and bitter taste will be washed away. And, our life, clean and fresh, will be ready to be used by God for His purpose, for His glory and for the beautiful plans He has for us.

And like quinoa, David also needed rinsing. He was the king of messes. But He soaked one night in the bleach of repentance. And as he did, he probably repeated, “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness…” (Psalm 51:5-7).

Father, I too want to hear joy and gladness. I commit to begin again, clean, free from the bitter covering of sin. I thank you that you gave us the way to find the clarity of joy, the cleansing of peace and the shining newness of a new beginning. In Jesus’ name, amen

• Any rinsing needed in your life today?
• What keeps you from starting over, clean and free?
• How does it feel to stand under the refreshing, living water Jesus offers?

Janet
Cheering you on to experience life, harvest its lessons and share their outcome.

Posted in Encouragment, Hope, Inspiration | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

I’m Thankful For…

Posted by Luther D. Powell on November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it! I figured the best way to go about tonight’s blog would be to go generic. Why not descibe some things I’m thankful for, right?

First and foremost, I’m thankful for Jesus Christ. To me, He is many things; God, Savior, Friend, The Creator. I could fill this whole post with just His names, but I want to express my thanks for the things He has made and done for me. For one thing, I can’t thank Him enough for His forgiveness, and saving me (and the rest of the world, for that matter) from sin. I’m thankful for His endless love, His goodness, and the fullness my heart receives when I pursue Him.

I’m thankful for the family I was born into, and the family I continue to adopt in Christ. I’m thankful for my awesome parents and how they’ve provided for me all my life. I’m thankful for my two older sisters, whom, despite the regular distance between all of us, have always helped me grow as a person.

I’m thankful for friends. Best friends, semi-close friends, acquaintances, anyone I come into contact with who doesn’t immediately try to kill me. I’m always learning, and anyone who treats me with either respect or disrespect is going to teach me something. Those who show me love, whom I love, I am most thankful for. I can’t imagine a life without any friends. They help me stay who I am, and help me keep from being who I shouldn’t be.

I am thankful for music. My ability to hear it, my ability to make it. Metal music is my favorite, but I can enjoy anything with a pleasant tune and/or agreeable lyrics. God really knew what He was doing when He blessed mankind with the means and talents to create such wonderful sounds.

I’m also thankful for art in general, all sorts. Again, being able to make art is great. If I had no way to express some of the things on my mind, I feel like my head would probably explode. That goes for drawing, writing, anything one may call art. I hope my art and writing can inspire anyone else as much as the world’s has inspired me.

I’m thankful for my cat. Because… why shouldn’t I be thankful for my cat?

I’m thankful for the miracle of technology. For computers, cell phones, video games, internet, webcams, photography, television, refrigerators, toilets! I was lucky enough to live in a generation which got to see the arrival of a whole world of technology that people twenty years ago weren’t exposed to and people twenty years from now will think is prehistoric. Without Facebook –without internet!- I wouldn’t have gotten my first few stories published, nor would I have met a great community of writer-friends in the process of starting my career. I have access to so many people near and far with today’s technology, and for that, I am thankful.

I am thankful for nourishment. Food, drinks, caffeine. I try not to overindulge myself, but I sure do like being able to eat what I want, when I want, how I want.

I’m thankful for sleep, and for dreams. Dreams make sleep fun, and sleep makes me… normal?

I’m thankful for pillows and blankets.

I’m thankful for clothes. I like being warm, and I like being stylish.

I’m thankful for my ability to grow a beard.

I’m thankful for Bruce Willis movies, ‘cause he’s awesome.

I’m thankful for Godzilla.

I’m thankful for hugs and kisses.

I’m thankful for new places to travel.

I’m thankful for mysteries and adventures.

I’m thankful for books, reading, information, words and eyeballs.

I’m thankful for glasses. Having to wear them is a drag, but they keep my world from looking like a messy, blurry blob.

I’m thankful for fingernails. You never notice how useful they are until you let them grow a little bit.

I’m thankful for trees. They help us breathe, they’re pretty, and climbing on them is fun.

I’m thankful for comfy chairs.

I’m thankful for animals. All of them. Well, maybe all of them except for mosquitoes.

I’m thankful for transportation. Cars, boats, planes, trains, all that good stuff. Feet are nice too, but they don’t cross oceans very easily.

I’m thankful for senses. How could we do anything without them, you know?

I’m thankful for time limits, and for eternity. Time limits give me a reason to work faster, or slower, to decide when to begin and when to end. And eternity? It gives me a reason to stick around.

In Christ,

Luther D. Powell

Posted in Encouragment, Family, Friendship, Happiness, Inspiration, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Three secrets to choosing a good friend.

Posted by janeteckles on November 10, 2012

By Janet Perez Eckles

Do you have a friend who is just about perfect? You know what I mean—she has hair to die for, gorgeous skin, wears killer clothes and always smells divine?

I have one of those friends. But rather than hate her, I admire her…she’s so very special!

So I said to her. “I wish I could be like you. “ I sighed. “Tall and statuesque.”

“Ha! Look at you” she said with a giggle. “And what are you? A size zero?”

We laughed. “NO,” I said, “Four petite.”

“Good. Because anyone who wears a size zero is not my friend.”

We both giggled like high school girls.

But what she said was quite profound. You and I should do the same—refuse to have friends who wear zero—in the encouragement department, that is. A friend who offers zero support. A friend who offers zero empathy. Zero wisdom. Zero understanding and nada of genuine love. Those are taken off our list of friends.

Conversely, if you want to be a friend with an extra-large amount of wisdom and love, here are the secrets to be that kind of friend:

1. Evaluate what you bring to the friendship: understanding, joy, positive thoughts and attitudes.

2. Be slow to criticize. To keep count of wrongs. To react without thinking. And to discourage.

3. Be quick to praise. To uplift the spirits. To highlight the good. To be available. And to surprise with sweet gestures.

And when talking about what size of love we wear in our heart, our words are the measuring stick: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:2).

Father, grant me the wisdom to speak all that is edifying, encouraging, uplifting and honoring to you. Make me the friend Jesus is—with genuine love and sincere giving. In Jesus’ name, amen.

• How do your friends enrich your life?
• Are you the kind of friend you want to be?
• What criteria do you use to evaluate friends?

Janet

Cheering you on to experience life, harvest its lessons and share their outcome.

Posted in Encouragment, Friendship, Inspiration, Life Experiences | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Vulnerability Exposes the Heart

Posted by Luther D. Powell on November 8, 2012

This past week, I’ve been sick with something nasty. Can’t quite say what it is; apparently, what we know as the ‘common cold’ is a variety of innumerable illnesses which our bodies just happen to react the same way to. But I’ll say it’s a cold. A really, really bad cold. Coughing, sneezing, emptying tissues boxes by the hour, the works.

Being sick with this sort of thing really shows me my innermost self. And no, not just because I’m coughing my entrails out. I mean, sickness makes me irritable and cranky, probably because I’m so weak, so vulnerable. My head is throbbing and I don’t feel like thinking. My throat hurts and I don’t feel like talking. I can’t smell stuff. The rest of my body aches and it’s a chore to get out of bed. Can’t breathe and it makes sleeping difficult. Wah wah waaah!

All these factors contribute to my being less patient with my computer loading things on the Internet, the bus being ‘late’ by my watch, my soup tasting funny, all sorts of little things that I’m suddenly so bothered by. The question is, has my life really gone downhill since I’ve gotten sick, or is everything pretty much exactly the same as it always is, and do I have any right to grouch about things? Answer: Life is no different around me, just inside me, and I don’t really have the right to grouch.

My being sick could be caused by a number of things. I won’t say God has willed it, because I know He loves me and doesn’t want to make me sick. He wants to make me strong in Him. However, because I’m sick, it is easier for me to realize what my heart is really like at the moment, and how much I’m missing out on God’s love. If my heart were more like His, I wouldn’t be so quick to whine and groan at the simple annoyances that I, literally, deal with every day and am normally used to. It bothers me that I am so easily bothered by things when I’m sick and weak, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has this issue. The blessing in it is that truly, I recognize my need for more Jesus when my temper flares up against silly things, and it certainly does that more often when I’m sick.

For example, I got slightly unhappy when I woke up from a ‘nap’ a few minutes ago, after having written half of this blog and after I planned to only sleep for an hour and a half before I would finish this and post it. Set two alarms. I don’t know how I slept past two alarms, and my being sick is no excuse. I woke up and started coughing angrily before sitting down to finish this.

So, am I saying God makes people sick when He knows we needs to straighten up? No, but I am saying that the timing with my sickness in particular fascinates me, because I know that He knows that I need to straighten up, and I know that He uses all kinds of things for His work to get done. Is anyone else out there catching something nasty and suddenly noticing the condition of your heart? This isn’t a guilt-trip; don’t feel bad about it. I mean, do, but in a healthy fashion. Recognize it and fix it! Maybe your sickness won’t be such a pain when you know that you’re right with The Lord, yeah? Food for thought. Er… cough drops for thought.

In Christ,

Luther D. Powell

Posted in Encouragment, Inspiration, Life Experiences, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Five secrets to make our travel safe.

Posted by janeteckles on November 3, 2012

By Janet Perez Eckles

“Do you remember that time we were in an Arkansas?” my friend asked me on the phone.

“We had a great time.”

“I mean the drive to the country home from the airport,” she said. “That was the darkest road ever. It was black.”

“That was one of the most adventurous trips for sure,” I said.

“But even when it was so dark, I felt better because you were with me,” she added.

What a sweet friend…but felt better with me? What good would a blind friend be to her on a pitch black road?

We both laughed for a long while.

But reality isn’t as funny. While on the road of life, we bring along the wrong person—our insecurities. We invite whom we shouldn’t—our negativity. We pursue what isn’t the best—superficial longings. And we trust in others’ wisdom.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. During the journey, here are five ways to make sure you have the best companion for a safe trip:

1. Bring someone who can see the road ahead.
2. Make sure that person has knowledge of the surroundings, the turns and danger points.
3. Determine if that person has traveled that road before.
4. Know that you can trust in that person should your vehicle break down.
5. Be certain that person can take over at any time.

And if you find this person to be anyone else but the Lord—trouble and danger ahead. The road will be dark. Each turn will be dangerous. And the fatal cliff is waiting at the next curve.

But if you can invite Jesus on the journey…if you can relax as He’s beside you, then, no matter how dark the road is, your soul will whisper: “Great peace has those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble” (Psalm 119.165).

Father, often the road is black, no way out, no signs or lights to guide the way. Teach me to love your law, your precepts and ways. I will have peace, I will trust in your companionship, in your navigating and I shall not get lost, fall or stumble. In Jesus’ name I thank you, amen.

• What road are you on now?
• Who’s guiding your path?
• Who will bring reassurance for the journey?

Janet
Cheering you on to experience life, harvest its lessons and share their outcome.

Posted in Anxiety, Encouragment, Friendship, Inspiration, Life Experiences | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Laughter—God’s Gift

Posted by elainemcooper on November 2, 2012

By Elaine Marie Cooper

Author’s Note: This blog posted over a year ago on another site. With all the stress of elections and storms, I pray that you can take a breather and find a moment to smile. Perhaps even laugh. :)

When I was a little girl (but old enough to read) my brothers, sisters, and I looked at a wedding invitation sent to our parents. As each of us read the beautiful font announcing the happy occasion, we each fell on the floor laughing. So what did we find so funny? It read:

Announcing the marriage of Onessima Boelke to Valentine Putz.

We looked at each other through our jovial tears, and said, “She’s going to become Onessima Putz!” Peals of laughter ensued. We even managed to draw my mom into the humor of it. That, in and of itself, was the best part since Mom was not easily humored. It was a moment of pure hilarity that I have never forgotten, mostly because Mom did not often laugh.

But that memory always reminds me of the importance of having a sense of humor—even when circumstances are difficult.

Anyone who has read any of my posts or interviews before knows that my husband Steve and I have endured major stress in our lives. Yet somehow, laughter has become a welcome friend even in the most dire of circumstances.

I will never forget an evening at home when my daughter was ill with a brain tumor. While the setting was not funny in the slightest, what ensued still makes us laugh.

We often read chapters from James Herriott’s books to our daughter Bethany since she really enjoyed the tales of the Yorkshire veterinarian. His stories described his large animal practice during the 1930’s through the ‘60’s. This one particular evening, my elderly mom was reading a chapter to Bethany and the story concerned artificial insemination in cows. So picture a woman in her 80’s reading to a cancer patient about a sensitive topic not often discussed in such detail. I think we all nearly landed on the floor, weak from laughter, listening to my very proper mother trying to get through the reading. And yes, even Mom ended up laughing!

It was a moment of joy that relieved our stress.

So isn’t that what humor is? The opposite side of pain that relieves the tension in our everyday lives?

Consider some of the physical benefits of laughing (courtesy of http://www.humor-laughter.com):

- Lowers the levels of cortisol in our body. Cortisol suppresses our immune system

- Acts like exercise in stimulating our hearts and lungs. Improves our breathing capacity

- 15 minutes of laughter equals the benefit of 2 hours of sleep

- Laughing for 15 seconds adds two days to your life span (I have NO idea how they figured that one out)

- Laughter causes endorphins to release into the body with the same exhilarating effect as doing strenuous exercise (I, personally, would prefer to laugh than exercise—but that’s another topic).

A study by the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore states that laughter along with an active sense of humor may help protect you against a heart attack. They quote the old saying of “laughter being the best medicine.”

So what does the Bible say about laughter? Well, it first appears in Genesis. Both Abraham and Sarah are caught laughing when God promises them a child in their old age.

Abraham fell face down; he laughed and said to himself. “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” (Genesis 17:17 NIV)

Then the Lord appears in a visible form to Abraham and, within earshot of Sarah, promises that by next year at this time, Sarah will give birth to a son.

“Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of child bearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, ‘After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?’” (Genesis 18:10-12 NIV)

Notice that this particular laughter was at the irony of the situation. It was also rooted in pain, as both Abraham and Sarah had long hoped and prayed for a child. I suppose they laughed so they wouldn’t cry.

But as God is in the business of keeping His promises, Sarah did give birth to a son in her old age. The laughter this time was joyful.

Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”(Genesis 21:6 NIV)

It was a release of heartfelt happiness born after so many years of barrenness. I’m sure if she was able, she would have rolled on the floor laughing. But you never know—any 90-year-old woman who could give birth may have been doing an out-and-out belly laugh!

Laughter in the Bible is often described in its contrast to painful situations. In Psalms126:2, it describes former captives who are now released, returning to their home and filled with mirth:

“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.”(NIV)

Again in Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes, laughter is side-by-side with pain:

- “Even in laughter, the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.” (Proverbs 14:13 NIV)

- “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” (Job 8:2 NIV)

- “A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIV)

I cannot imagine getting through the difficulties in life without the comfort of humor. It can be found in even the most desperate of situations, if we pray for the eyes to see it. I thank God for His joy.

So when was the last time you were consumed with laughter? Life is filled with stress and certainly there are times when laughing is inappropriate. (Think of a certain candidate in a recent vice-presidential debate…) But could it be that humor is a gift to us when times are tough? When we are beset with financial worries, concerns about our children, fears over a loved ones’ health—maybe God’s remedy to help us cope is as close as a giggle, a smile, a laugh-filled moment.

If anyone wants to borrow the hilarious movie, “While You Were Sleeping,” you can. I own two copies. I have watched the first one so often, I was afraid I’d wear the DVD out so I bought another when it was on sale. I know I can always count on a good laugh when I watch it.

May your life be filled with joyful laughter.

photo credit: maureen_sill via photopin cc

Posted in Anxiety, Encouragment, Inspiration | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

On the Brink of No-Shave-NaNo

Posted by Luther D. Powell on November 1, 2012

Last year, my blog-predecessor, Ben Erlichman, blogged at the start of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) about his plans for upcoming stories. I thought I’d do the same, for those curious about the different types of stories I come up with, and also to help motivate myself to write said stories. I’m challenging myself for NaNo, but I don’t have an account on the actual site, NaNoWriMo.org.

On another quick note, it is also No-Shave-November, or Noshavember for short. For most guys on campus, that means shaving off facial hair on the night of October 31, and letting it grow uncontrollably throughout November. For me, that just means trimming what beard I have, and letting it continue to do its thing for the month and probably through all of Winter. Because I, for one, do not want a cold chin in this nasty, Ohio weather.

These are all the different stories I currently have in mind to write eventually. A few are pretty well developed, most are just ideas tossed about scattered notebooks. If I remember correctly, Ben Erlichman made up a big planning chart for himself with all his story ideas, but I… don’t make charts. Like, ever. So I figured I would just brief you on each idea, without giving away too much meat, of course.

First and foremost, there’s the werewolf story. It’s the first real novel I ever started writing, and had it (and its sequel) complete until I decided it was terrible and had to rewrite it. The story itself was originally going to span for seven books, but I’m playing it by ear now, considering the vast amounts of changes I’ve made to it. The story follows a variety of characters, most of which are not human (werewolves, vampires, mutants, angels, demons, all that good stuff); teenagers in high school struggling to fit in despite their ‘abnormalities,’ immortals locked in ageless battle with others of their kind, unseen evils trying to end the world, unseen good trying to bring all the supernatural characters against the evil in order to save the world… It’s… ambitious. But it’s MOSTLY about werewolves.

The story I’ve chosen to work on for NaNo is what I’ll call a ghost-romance. It starts off like any other love story: two college students meet at a party, things are a bit shaky at first, but they develop a relationship. Lovey-doviness ensues. The fun part is, the guy has recurring nightmares about horrible things happening to the girl, and strange, disturbing things start happening wherever the girl goes. I won’t give away any more, but I’m pretty excited about this one.

I also have two other ghost stories in mind, one of which I plan to write as a short. The short will be about a vengeful spirit haunting its murderer. The other book will involve a single father and his toddler son (or daughter, haven’t decided). The child is lonely, and begins talking about what seems to be an imaginary friend. Coincidentally, spooky stuff occurs around the house once the child brings up his/her ‘friend.’ The father, being a devout Christian, suspects an evil presence, and seeks help from priests to rid his home of his child’s creepy buddy. Once again, without giving more away, things do not turn out as expected for the father, and he gets himself involved in deeper business…

I plan on writing extended stories stemming from the two shorts I had published a little while back, Double-Edged (in Splickety magazine) and Front Row Seats (in OtherSheep magazine). Double-Edged is essentially about a ‘church-soldier’ in a bleak, post-holy-war future, turning his back on the corrupt church sect which trained him. The extended story would make a good trilogy, taking place during and after the holy war the main character fought in, leading up to the events of the short story.

Front Row Seats is a short story about a man struggling through a recent divorce, his inner battle described in detail during a church sermon he attends. This is probably the least horror-related story I’ve thought up, but its uniqueness comes from the portrayal of the good and evil presence following him around in his daily life. The extended story would pretty much explain all this better than I just did…

Another book I have in the works is a murder mystery thriller. It’s still very premature, but what I have so far is an investigation on a series of famous, gruesome paintings of death (in the story, not real ones) which are being mimicked by a serial killer. So like, there’s some crazy guy going around killing people in ways which are identical to these paintings/drawings, something like that, and somebody has to stop him. Basic murder mystery formula.

To keep up with the times, I’ve inevitably thought up a zombie story. It was to be a short, but I might make it a novel or trilogy. Put simply, two priests fight for survival in a zombie apocalypse. At first I REALLY wanted to entitle it, “Mass of the Living Dead,” but I didn’t want to offend anybody and decided against it.

Finally, the most recent story I’ve come up with is about someone finding (or being given) an empty, old journal. As soon as the MC begins writing in this journal, he/she unknowingly opens the gate into an alternate reality, or maybe several, or the future, or the past, something that ultimately defies the laws of science and stuff. My initial thought was, “journal from the future. That would be cool,” but it’s turned into something bigger than that. We’ll see where it goes from there. The idea was partially inspired by Ted Dekker’s Circle books, but I want to make it scary.

Lots of ideas, lots of time for writing out said ideas. I hope you enjoyed catching a glimpse of the depths of my brain tonight. Happy Holidays for those who celebrate them, cheers and God bless!

In Christ,

Luther D. Powell

Posted in Inspiration, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

When God comes to our rescue.

Posted by janeteckles on October 27, 2012

By Janet Perez Eckles

Two dear friends picked me up from the airport. And once we entered the hotel’s lobby, we went to the counter. . After giving the usual information to the clerk, my friend lowered her voice, “Mrs. Eckles is bl..bl..blind,” she whispered.

“Sure am,” I said with a silly grin.

My friend cleared her throat. “And she needs a room, with…” she hesitated.

“An ocean view!” I said.

I laughed. And they gave a quiet chuckle.

Next, they tried to figure out how I’d get to the restaurant for breakfast. After moments of discussion, I leaned closer to the counter. “There is a great invention called “room service.”

Should I be starved while in my room, all I do is pick up the phone and dial 0, ask for room service, place my order, and voila! Food comes to the door!

God knows that. Not only about our physical hunger, but our spiritual hunger, too. Often you and I are stuck in a room of uncertainty. We wonder how will feed that hunger for security. How will we satisfy that thirst for safety? For confidence and fulfillment?

God knew that before we did. He’s waiting for our heart’s call. And He promised He will show up. While we approach the window facing the ocean of His grace, His love and goodness pour down. And His compassion arrives to satisfy our thirst and ease our pain.

That’s why, no matter what hotel room of emptiness we are in, we will declare, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1).

Father, I confess I’ve looked elsewhere for help—my job, friends, possessions, relationships and my own wisdom. In moments when my soul is hungry, I will look up and trust that you and only you will come to my aid to meet my needs, those that burden my heart, those that keep me stressed and those I keep secretly inside. In Jesus’ name, amen.

• How is the view of your life right now?
• Who will come to your rescue?
• How does your heart feel, knowing God will come to you, wherever you are?

Janet
Cheering you on to experience life, harvest its lessons and share their outcome.

Posted in Authors, Encouragment, Inspiration, Life Experiences | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Hero With A Hook

Posted by elainemcooper on October 19, 2012

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

Kellie Doffin, Foundation Assistant and Volunteer Coordinator at CFI, with just a few of Janet’s afghans.

Some heroes carry weapons of protection. Others may wield tools to put out fires or bring healing to the sick. But heroes like Janet Sandberg wield another kind of implement—a crochet hook to produce comfort for those in need.

There’s no Olympic gold medallion for heroes like Janet. There’s just the gratitude of the dozens of frightened children in foster care and domestic shelters that have received one of her beautifully wrought afghans. When they cuddle up in the warmth of her blankets, her little recipients can feel the love of a woman who reaches out to them anonymously with God’s love. And they can know that they have been prayed for.

I first met Janet several years ago at church. A quiet, unassuming lady, her sweet spirit is reflected in a quick smile that lights up a conversation. We met in response to my request to start a “Crochet and Pray” group, where we could gather once a month to crochet for those in need, while praying for the future recipients of the crafted items. Janet was a little shy about doing a ministry that she enjoyed so much—she felt it shouldn’t be so much fun! I laughed.

What better way to serve the Lord than with joyful hands and hearts?

Through the years we occasionally cancelled our get-together. Sometimes it was bad weather, or sometimes I was traveling out-of-state to help with grandkids. But whether the group met formally or just chatted on the phone, Janet kept on with her ministry. If the women and I couldn’t meet, I could always count on a finished supply from Janet. I’d arrange to go pick up her gorgeous afghans and deliver them to Children and Families of Iowa (CFI), an organization to help families in distress.

A few years ago, Janet faced a scare with lung cancer. After she recovered her strength, she returned to her crocheting and provided countless blankets to frightened foster kids.

I recently delivered twelve afghans for children to CFI; a few of these homemade gifts are displayed in the photo above. I had picked them up from Janet and enjoyed a sweet visit with her and a cup of coffee. She looks so great…but she is battling cancer again.

Despite her exhaustion from treatments, she keeps wielding her tool of ministry—that crochet hook that keeps weaving strands of comfort. Janet doesn’t complain about her own discomfort. And she still has a room-brightening smile.

I guess heroes don’t focus on themselves. They keep looking for ways to serve others.

Maybe that’s the definition of a real hero.

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10 NIV)

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)

Posted in Encouragment, Inspiration, Life Experiences | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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