An Encouraging Word

pieToday is Thanksgiving, and once again, I’m spending the holiday alone. As you know, I suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, and it isn’t always possible for me to be around crowds. Back when I was in quarantine, adjusting to health restrictions was very difficult. Holidays weren’t a time of joy—they were a time of discouragement. I used to feel VERY sorry for myself on the holidays. I used to throw myself HUGE pity parties because I felt that I was missing all the fun. I have to smile now! Things are so different!!! I ENJOY holidays again. In fact, even when I’m alone, I have a blast! Why, you ask??? The answer is simple. I’ve learned that attitude trumps circumstance any day of the week–especially on holidays.

Recently, I was thumbing through one of my old prayer journals, and I found an entry written on Easter Sunday many years ago. It was one of my first holidays spent alone, and I can remember feeling very discouraged. As I prayed that day, I felt the Lord speak. Here’s what I felt God said:

Oh, precious child, I see and feel your pain and discouragement, but child it is temporary. You won’t be ill forever—that is not my plan or my purpose for you. Remain faithful a little longer and know that I have not forgotten you. I love you. I am preparing a good future for you. Trust me and rest in peace and joy.

Friends, whether you are spending the holiday alone, or whether you are surrounded by family and friends, know that God will be with you today. He will be the silent occupant at your table. He will be there, helping you, encouraging you, and blessing you. Ask for His peace, joy, and love to surround you—and it will.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday!!!

 

leaves 11“Let not your heart be troubled [Jesus said]. You are trusting God, now trust in me.” John 14:1

No, I will not abandon you or leave you as orphans in the storm—I will come to you.” John 14:18

 

Deborah M. Piccurelli #2–Author Interview

Deborah

Dear Friends, I’m so excited to have Deborah M. Piccurelli on my blog today! Deborah is a fantastic person! I count her as a real friend. Several times, I have asked her to pray for me, and I know her prayers have made a difference. She is not only a lovely person, she is also a prayer warrior, and I appreciate her so much!

Danele: Deborah, I’m so glad to have you with us today!

Deborah: Thank you, Danele! It’s an honor and a pleasure to be here.

Danele: The pleasure is all mine! I have really been looking forward to this interview, and I can’t wait to learn more about you! Can you describe a time when you’ve dramatically felt the presence of God?

Deborah: When I was dealing with a bizarre physical condition, I went to numerous doctors of every kind, who could never give the condition a name. They tried treating it with medicines that never helped. Sometimes, I would watch the 700 Club broadcasts, because I liked the uplifting stories they featured. Often, there would be a segment where two hosts would pray for their audience regarding healing. A few times it would sound like they were talking about my own problem, but as I listened further, it would turn out not to be. So, I said to the Father, “If you’re going to do this for me, I need to know specifics so I know that it’s me.” A few days later, I was cleaning my house when all of a sudden, a white haze came over the room, and I felt strongly compelled to turn on the TV to the 700 Club. It was just around the time they were praying for people. Soon, I heard one of them say that my condition was about to be healed. Then she mentioned something specific to my situation and said, “You’ll know this is you, because it’s heredity.” Through this woman, God repeated my own words to me! But dramatically feeling the presence of God is the point. I later realized that the haze that fell over the room was the Holy Spirit. And He MADE me turn that TV on. I had never experienced anything like that before. It put me in mind of how God led the Israelites out of Egypt with a cloud by day.

Danele: Wow! That’s so amazing! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful testimony! Now, here’s another question for you. Why do you think it’s important to sing praises to God?

Deborah: I believe that praising God serves more than one purpose. Certainly we praise Him to express our love and gratitude, but He has given us the act of praise as a weapon against the devil when he attacks, too. Praise also lifts us up and boosts our faith. No doubt about it, praise is good for all of us.

Danele: That’s so true! What a lovely answer! Deborah, where do you feel the presence of God the most?

Deborah: I don’t know why it happens this way, but I feel God’s presence the most during my morning prayer time. I’m up a 5:00 a.m. because it’s the best time to get alone with Him with no interruptions. It’s my favorite time, because He speaks to me so much more at that time than any other. The revelation knowledge He imparts to me is awe-inspiring.

Danele: I love early-morning prayer times too! Now, Deborah, why do you think it is important to read your Bible?

Deborah: Wow, there are so many reasons it’s important to read the Bible! It’s the major way God reveals Himself to us. It’s His will for us, His promises to us, His law, His power, a way He extends His love to us. It’s how we get His wisdom and the mind of Christ. It’s a weapon (sword of the spirit) against the devil. There’s more, but I think you get the idea.

Danele: I do indeed! Thank you so much for sharing your heart, Deborah. Now, before I let you go, can you give us a list of the books you have written?

Deborah: Of course! Hush, Little Baby (Sword of the Spirit Publishing), Love Comes Calling (Prism Book Group), and In the Midst of Deceit (Jireh Publishing – it’s out of print, but there are still some left on Amazon).

Danele: Besides writing books, I know that you also publish articles. Many of my readers have expressed interest in writing for magazines. Can you please explain the process to us?

Deborah: I never planned on writing short fiction for magazines, but this is how it happened for me: I write mostly books, and I have been working on TV and movie scripts, lately. But as a Christian fiction book author, I joined an organization called The Book Club Network that I heard of through American Christian Fiction Writers’ e-mail loop. They help connect authors with book clubs and other readers, and offer authors paid promotional packages to help with their marketing. I joined at the time of their inception some years back. Over a year ago, I called them with a question about one of their contests. One thing led to another, and the president, Fred, offered me some opportunities to promote my books, one of which would be to write three articles/stories in their monthly online magazine, Book Fun Magazine, to help get my name and work out there. After submitting the first story, I was contacted by the Sr. VP, asking if I would be interested in having my own monthly column of similarly themed stories. What a gift! The column is called Kingdom Conversations, because they focus on a believer’s conversations with the Lord.

As for the inner workings, for this particular magazine, they consider all of us on the team a family, so writing regularly for them begins with a relationship. Beyond that, I just follow guidelines they provide as far as word count, font, due date each month, etc. They want you to make sure the article or story is mistake free and just the way the writer would like it to be in print. Soon after, the original issue becomes live on Amazon. I imagine all magazines have their own way of doing things, though.

Danele: Wow! That’s so exciting! What a wonderful opportunity! Thank you so much for describing the process for us. I really appreciate it, and I know my readers do too! Can you please tell us how to find your articles?

Deborah: Recently, I asked if I could cut down on my frequency of writing the column, so they agreed to allow me to do so every other month. There will be one in the December issue, and semi-monthly going forward. But, if you go to www.bookfun.org, the magazine is always available through the website. You can access it for free the first five days after it becomes live. You don’t have to be a member of The Book Club Network, but If you join, the difference is, they will automatically send you a notice when it becomes available and provide the Amazon link to download it. If you are not a member, you can visit the website, but there is no guarantee it will be within the first five days. You can also search Amazon for Book Fun Magazine, where you can find the current issue, and also be able to purchase many of the back issues readers find so valuable. Also, any writer who is a member of ACFW will receive notice of its availability through the email loop. BUT, I invite all of your readers, Danele, to click on that link I’ve provided above, and join The Book Club Network. It’s free and has many benefits for both readers and writers alike. If you are an author, you might be especially interested to know that they already have a readership of approximately half a million!

Danele: That’s fantastic! Thank you so much for talking with us today, Deborah! I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve had such a great time!

Deborah: And thank you, Danele, for inviting me back! I am always honored to be here.

 

Friends, Deborah M. Piccurelli is such a marvelous person! If you would like to learn more about her, or her books, please follow the links below. I hope you have a wonderful day!

Website: www.deborahmpiccurelli.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/deborah.piccurelli

Twitter: @DebPiccurelli

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/DebPiccurelli

Amazon– Hush, Little Baby: http://tinyurl.com/qhgxd8h

Amazon– Love Comes Calling: http://tinyurl.com/pXyyym4

 

Like A Calf Let Out To Pasture

calf-1When I was growing up, I used to feed calves on my family’s dairy farm. When the calves reached a certain age, they were put out on pasture. The calves used to kick up their heels and leap for joy when they were released from their pens. I had so much fun watching them! Pasture day was a celebration!

As you know, I was ill for many years, and in quarantine for seven. And lately, I’ve been thinking about my calf-feeding days. When the calves were released from their captivity, their joy knew no bounds. I’m emerging from years of illness, and today, I want to express my thankfulness to the Lord!

Thank you, Lord, for staying close to me while I was in pain! Thank you, Lord, for encouraging me when I was discouraged! Thank you, Lord, for giving me wisdom and strength during the dark days! Thank you, Lord, for protecting me from further harm! Thank you, Lord, for forgiving me when I had a bad attitude! And thank you, Lord, for always loving me!

Friends, if you’re facing a battle today, look out from your prison of pain and gaze at the rolling pasture beyond your gate. The day WILL come when your trial ends and you’re led out to green fields. Pain NEVER last forever. Discouragement ALWAYS comes to an end. Nothing stays bad forever. EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY!

 

pastureSlowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!” Habakkuk 2:3b

But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” Malachi 4:2

 

Stuttering and Speaking

roses-dWhen I was growing up, I had some friends who stuttered. I could tell their stuttering frustrated them, but I couldn’t begin to understand their struggle. Later in life, I understood their struggle all too well. You see, one of the side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning is stuttering.

Before I learned that I was being poisoned by my faulty furnace, I worked in an office. I had lots of responsibilities, and almost all of them required me to speak clearly. Every night when I went home, I got another dose of carbon monoxide from my furnace, and every morning when I went to work, it became harder to do my job. I am a very precise person. I like feeling competent and on top of things. But the more carbon monoxide I unknowingly inhaled, the less in control I became. Eventually, as time passed, I staggered when I walked, I fainted when I stood, and worst of all—I stuttered when I talked.

speakStuttering was EXTREMELY frustrating. I would know exactly what I wanted to say, but it was as if something was broken in my brain. I couldn’t get my tongue to form the words. And when I forced my tongue to move, my speech was slow and halting. Many times, I couldn’t get my tongue to move at all, and I would stand in mute dismay, visualizing exactly what I wanted to say but unable to speak the words. It was as if I’d been bound and gagged.

As the months passed, my condition worsened. I had to clutch a wall for support when I walked, and I could barely hold a conversation. Soon it was time for my yearly employee evaluation. The year before, my boss told me that I’d been given one of the best employee evaluations and one of the highest raises. snowy-mtsI knew this year would be different, and I was petrified. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I knew it was hindering my job performance. My boss asked me to keep track of my hours and duties to see if I was being given too many tasks. Determined to keep my stuttering at a minimum and to make the meeting easier, I began fashioning meticulous charts. Each evening, I spent hours putting together a packet that detailed exactly what I did each day. In my way of thinking, the charts would help me explain what my stumbling tongue could not say. Even if I couldn’t verbally express a point I wanted to make, I could direct my boss to a certain page in the packet and ask my boss to view a certain chart. In my way of thinking, creating the packet was the best way for me to prepare for the meeting. It would help me compensate for my new handicap.

dahliasThe day of my evaluation, I was a nervous wreck. I was told that I wouldn’t just be meeting with my boss but also with members of the board. I made extra packets and said a prayer. When I went into the meeting, I was directed to a chair. Before I sat down, I carefully handed each person in the room one of my packets. After the meeting began, my boss looked at the packet and said ten horrible words, “I don’t think we need this. We can just talk.” With that, my boss tossed my carefully prepared packet onto the table. The board members did the same.

yosimite-valleyI can still remember the horrible sound of those packets hitting the table. In truth, it is the only thing I can remember clearly about that meeting. Every time I was asked a question, my mind would freeze. I knew what I wanted to say, but I couldn’t get the words out. When I was finally able to force my tongue to move, I stumbled over each word. Sometimes, I would get stuck on a certain letter, and I would keep repeating an “s,” “t,” or “d” sound. That meeting was one of the most horrible experiences of my life. Luckily, carbon monoxide poisoning also causes amnesia and short term memory problems, so I don’t remember much of what took place—and I don’t want to remember. It’s one of those events that I’m happy to let the gray haze of amnesia obscure.

peaceful-lake-2I’m sure that the people in the meeting tried their best to be kind—they were all kind people. But regardless of what they said, I knew my job was coming to an end. It wasn’t suggested that I leave, but inwardly, I knew the writing was on the wall. That writing became even clearer when my condition worsened and I couldn’t make it through the day without vomiting or fainting. I hated quitting my job, but I knew I couldn’t continue.

Later, when the root cause of my illness was uncovered and the carbon monoxide leak in the furnace was discovered, I began to slowly recover. Even when the vomiting and fainting stopped, the stuttering continued. I would avoid talking on the phone because my halting speech sounded so terrible. Deep inside my heart, I felt extremely frustrated and angry. I had always taken pride in my ability to communicate clearly. I couldn’t believe how much damage the carbon monoxide had done. I knew that I easily could have died, but living was proving to be a challenge. It was so frustrating to feel unable to express my thoughts. I can remember having people ask me simple questions, and I would stare at them in desperation—unable to form the words.

purple crocusAs time passed, and the years slowly rolled by, my stuttering began to clear. Today, I have very little trouble conveying my ideas through spoken speech, and I only stutter on occasion. But even though the stuttering has stopped, it left a scar. That scar is both a blessing and a curse. Stuttering taught me to slow down and weigh each word. It also taught me the value of clear communication.

Spiritually, my stuttering experience gave me new insight into Moses. Moses stuttered. In fact, he stuttered so much that he begged God to choose someone else to deliver the Israelite nation. He was afraid that no one would listen to his stuttering speech. He was also probably afraid that he would sound like a fool.

We are all called to be God’s ambassadors to world. We are called to tell the world about Christ’s love. Talking to people can be intimidating. It can make us feel tongue-tied. But God didn’t let Moses off the hook, and even though Moses stuttered, he was able to lead the Israelites out of slavery and to the promise land.

Three crosses sunsetI used to be very confident about my ability to communicate. When I stuttered, that confidence was shattered. But now that I can speak clearly again, I’ve learned that my confidence shouldn’t come from my own abilities, but from God speaking through me. The Bible is full of ordinary people who felt they had nothing to offer. It was those same ordinary people who ended up doing marvelous things for God. Their very lack of ability qualified them to be used by the Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 says that God chooses to use people who are weak because it makes it obvious that He is at work. There’s something beautiful and freeing about that. I really like knowing that I don’t have to measure up—I just have to show up. Lots of times I feel weak, flawed, and extremely weird—but that’s okay. God likes using imperfect people to further His kingdom. Stuttering made me slow down and realize that isn’t my abilities that can impact the kingdom of God—it’s God reaching down and using me for His glory.

 

pink-beachBut God said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”

-2 Corinthians 12:9a

 

Sharon McGregor #2–Author Interview

Sharon McGregor

Dear friends, I’m so delighted to have Sharon McGregor with us today! Sharon is a terrific author and a wonderful person. She is extremely kind and thoughtful, and she has an outstanding sense of humor that always makes me smile. Having her on my blog makes me feel very honored!

Danele: Sharon, I’m so glad that you’re able to be here! I’ve been really looking forward to talking with you!

Sharon: Thanks, Danele. I’m so glad you invited me today. I enjoy reading your blog posts and love your time travel series.

Danele: That’s so nice of you to say! Thank you! I love writing my books, and knowing that other people are enjoying them makes me so happy! Sharon, you’ve been such a voice of encouragement during my writing journey! I can’t wait to learn more about you! I know that God plays a central part in your life. Can you tell us why you think it’s important to attend church?

Sharon: When I was a child, church played a great role in our everyday life. I grew up on a small farm on the prairies. Our fellow worshipers were our next-door neighbors—the men who helped thresh our grain, the women who rushed to help when someone was in trouble, and the children we attended school with. Our society has changed so much over the past few decades. While we are in constant contact with each other through all forms of social media, the contact through cyberspace remains an arms-length one. We have developed the ability to discuss extremely private details in an impersonal medium. I think we need the intimacy of church, not only for our spiritual health, but also for our social and mental well-being. When we worship together in church, we are connecting our souls on that personal level that cannot be reached anywhere else.

Danele: That makes so much sense! I hadn’t thought of it that way before. Thank you! Now, here’s another question for you—if you could be a Bible character, which one would you choose to be?

Sharon: I would choose Mary Magdalene. We first hear of her bending to wash Jesus’ feet and drying them with her hair. His followers are astounded at this as she is considered a woman with loose morals, and “possessed by seven devils”. Jesus said to her “Thy sins are forgiven. Thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace.” From that time on, Mary Magdalene became one of a group of women apostles, who followed with Him and ministered. Mary Magdalene was present at all of the steps on the way to redemption. She was at the cross when He was crucified, offering comfort and suffering along with His Mother Mary and His aunt Elizabeth. She was at His tomb when she discovered the stone was rolled away and she ran to call the disciples. It was to Mary Magdalene that Jesus said His first words after resurrection. She was a chief apostle in the early days of the Church. I think Mary Magdalene touches a chord in us because we see that no matter what we have done in the past, we are redeemable. She epitomizes the importance of women in the Church and the role they can take.

Danele: That’s lovely, Sharon! What a beautiful answer! Now, let’s approach things in a different way. If you could be a Bible character, which one would you NOT choose to be?

Sharon: I think that would be Noah’s wife. I sympathize with her for those forty days and forty nights at sea with all those creatures to care for. Now, I know it was Noah that build the ark to God’s specifications. It was Noah that organized the animals and ticked them off, two by two, as they entered the ark. But, I’m sure as can be that, once they were ready to sail and the rains began, Noah retreated to the deck with his pipe and busied himself with sailing the ship and charting a course. I’m sure he turned and said to his wife, “The rest is up to you. You’re in charge of below deck.” Now, anyone who has traveled across country on a rainy journey with a carload of offspring, listening to a chorus of “Are we there yet?” will surely sympathize with Noah’s wife. Not only did she have to look after sleeping arrangements and ration food, she also had to organize the removal of—well, whatever required removing with all those animals on board. She had to make sure the mice didn’t frighten the elephants, act as marriage counselor to those argumentative jackals, comfort the moaning lion who insisted that Noah chose his least favorite wife to accompany him, and deal with a seasick giraffe. I’m sure she also had to act as midwife to those small creatures whose gestation period is less than forty days. I’m certain that in some cases more than two of each animal debarked. In addition, she had three daughters-in-law. Imagine trying to sort out all those petty jealousies over forty days! But, I think the biggest problem of all came when she realized that, no matter how much she wanted to, when one of those pesky mosquitoes landed on her arm, she had to refrain from smacking the little blighter. Oh, I wish Noah’s wife had been less resolute in carrying out her duties.

Danele: Oh, Sharon! You just made me laugh! I really love your sense of humor! You are such a delight! Now, before I let you go, can you give us a list of the books you have written?

Sharon: Of course! Autumn Dreams, Acres of Dreams, Fiona’s Knight of Dreams, Northern Lights, and All’s Fair In Love and Arson.

Danele: Your book, Fiona’s Knight of Dreams, is one of my favorites! Another one I really enjoyed is your Christmas book, All’s Fair In Love and Arson. Since it’s getting close to the holiday season, can you please tell my readers more about it?

Sharon: Sure! All’s Fair In Love and Arson came out in time for Christmas last year with Prism Book Group. It’s a seasonal love story with a dash of mystery and suspense and a dollop of humor. I thoroughly enjoyed writing this story with its small town setting and the interaction between mother and daughter. Along the way, Bella falls in love, regains a closeness to her mother Izzie, and learns what Christmas really means.

Danele: Can you share its back cover blurb and some purchasing links?

Sharon: Bella is back at her childhood home. When her mother took a fall in the Nuisance Grounds (garbage dump) and broke her leg, Bella came back to help her and run her shop, Izzie’s. Soon Bella discovers she’s also been handed Izzie’s role in the town’s Christmas theater production, a musical version of a well-known mystery that threatens to become more bizarre each day. A serial arsonist is frightening the townspeople, a family feud threatens young romance, and intrigue and rumors are the order of the day. On top of everything, Bella’s high school sweetheart Jake, who dumped her for a cheerleader, is now Chief of Police. Poor Bella! Christmas in St. Christopher’s is not what it used to be.

My book may be purchased through Amazon: https://goo.gl/y0Tr3N. It may also be purchased through Barnes and Noble: https://goo.gl/Za9W63.

Danele: Sharon, it has been so much fun talking with you! I really enjoyed it!

Sharon: Thanks for inviting me, Danele. It’s always a pleasure to chat with you.

 

Friends, Sharon McGregor is a wonderful person! If you would like to learn more about her, or her books, please follow the links below. I hope you have a wonderful day!

Amazon.com Author page: https://goo.gl/vtWft4

Twitter: @sharonmcgr

LinkedIn: https://goo.gl/RDivMC

Webpage and blog: www.sharonmcgregor.com

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/SharonMcGregorauthor/

 

Watch Out For The Trophy Case Of Death!!!

school hallwayGrowing up, I was an extreme klutz. In middle school, I was always tripping over my feet and running into things. It was truly pathetic. In the eighth grade, the bane of my existence was THE TROPHY CASE OF DEATH. The trophy case was fastened about five feet from the floor, and it was about a foot wide. Whenever I came out of my fourth-period class, I would inevitably run right into it. I think my shoulder was black and blue from August all the way through May.

I’m not sure why I had such a problem with that AWFUL trophy case—I knew it was there—I just couldn’t seem to avoid it. At the prompting of one of my friends, I even tied a ribbon around my finger to remind me to watch my step. You would think the ribbon would help, but it didn’t. Regardless of the string around my finger, every day I’d leave class and WHAM! That GHASTLY trophy case always caught me by surprise, and it always knocked me for a loop.

angry faceDown through the years, I’ve thought about that silly trophy case on several occasions, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it shows I have “blind spots.”  You see, I KNEW the trophy case was there, but I kept forgetting the danger until I hurt myself. Spiritually, I occasionally do the same thing—especially when it comes to anger and offense. I know that getting upset at people is a HUGE trap. I know that holding a grudge ALWAYS destroys my peace. For my own wellbeing, I MUST avoid feeling offended!!

That’s not always easy for me. In fact, sometimes it’s just plain hard.

Unfortunately, God doesn’t call us to do what’s EASY—He calls us to do what’s RIGHT. And what’s right is to give people the benefit of the doubt, to forgive quickly, to avoid the obsessive need for extracting apologies, and to practice the beautiful art of forgetting.

In the eighth grade, my life would’ve been much easier if I’d remembered to watch out for the trophy case of death. And today, my life is ALWAYS easier if I remember not to hold a grudge.

 

lotus flower 5Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives.” Hebrews 12:15b

If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry—get over it quickly; for when you are angry you give a mighty foothold to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27

Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13