Christmas Ivy

Product Details

Christmas Ivy a heartwarming Christmas story with a twist of how God provides published by Prism Book Group in November 2016. It is available as an ebook at Amazon.

How can one visit alleviate the trials of the past few years? How can one quilt reveal truths never before realized?
It had to be a dream…
Her grandparents passed away a few years earlier, but here in the family kitchen on the dawn of Christmas morning, they greet her with the same love and sage advice she grew up with. Their presence captivates reality and brings Ivy to complete confusion.

Could this strange visit truly be the provision for which Ivy longed?

Excerpt: The sizzle of bacon cooking brought Ivy to an upright position out of sound sleep. The smoky flavor tantalized her nostrils as the fog in her mind slowly lifted. Her hands flew to her face. It’s Christmas! The words rose within her, not with joy, but with panic. How could she have slept so late!? Mama will have my head. I should be making breakfast. But wait. It’s Christmas! Mama must have let me sleep. A wonderful gift, to sleep past dawn. Ivy heard a gentle snoring and looked to see the cat curled next to her legs.

 

Run With the Wind

Product Details

Run With the Wind is part of a Christmas Cowboy novella series, published by Prism Book Group in November 2016. It is an ebook available at Amazon.

Linney Merritt loves her life in the Florida scrub where she assists her Pa in raising and taking cattle to market. The new cowman, Cyrus John, appreciates the chance to start over. Marrying holds no interest for either, but they can’t help but be drawn to each other. And then, just before Christmas, they find themselves fighting together to save the life of a calf, all while discovering the One who can remove fears and provide forgiveness.

Life changed for the world in a stable one Christmas. Could it also begin for Linney and Cy in this stable?

Excerpt: Nellie moaned, and Linney pulled. The emerging calf licked her face. “We better hurry, Pa. He just done licked me. Don’t want him thinkin’ I’m his mama.”

“You’ll make a good one someday.”

“That ain’t happenin’. Why would anyone want to go through this?”

Pa looked around Nellie’s bulk. His eyes found Linney’s. “For the likes of you, girl. It’s  worth it.”

 

Godly Grandeur — Perpetual Creation

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If you haven’t taken a walk in the woods this season, now would be the time. The beauty and continuous life seen there is breath-taking. The hush of the breeze, the variety of shape and size, the colors that wash over you represent the trueness of God. Even with the death process that is ongoing and the destruction that occasionally attacks, life is perpetual. . . like the first law of motion, that which is in motion tends to stay in motion.

Here in the woods, the motion of creation is displayed wonderfully. Creation is life. Yes,301 death and destruction attack and destroy, but life keeps going. To believe that God created this in six days is not hard to believe. To think that all this just happened is hard to believe. We have the saying ‘Life goes on’, and how true it is. We cry out against that saying when we have experienced evil and loss. That life goes on seems wrong and unfair. But, be thankful that it does. Look at the plants that grow unaided by human intervention . . . the trilliums, the lady-slippers, the forget-me-nots. A multitude of plants keep on growing, trees grow out of dead trees and through rock. God is life continuing.

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We say destruction is from God, we rail against God allowing evil and therefore conclude He doesn’t care. But life is what God does. Life keeps going perpetually. Think of the thousands of years that life has kept going. We think that accidents are God. An unwanted pregnancy may be an accident, yet is is precipitated by the law of sowing seed . . . you sow seed, you reap life. And think about the infant growing in the womb, the wonder of giving birth, the growth of that baby into someone with a totally unique personality, able to talk and walk and create and think brilliantly. Yes, a birth defect is an accident, not God’s original plan, and I know about that.  Yet, considering all that could possibly go wrong in the growing of an infant, because so much goes into that growing, it is amazing that the majority of births are defect free . . . that’s life continuing, God’s plan.

We know the agony of a young person dying at an early age, truly an accident, crying out against all that is right. Truly tragic as it is, it shows God’s plan is for life — for we correctly don’t think of early death as a right thing. We do take note and find comfort in the good that may come of it, but that again reveals that God’s purpose, His grandeur, is life, not death. He will help us go on . . . and it’s right that we do so, allowing His healing and comforting hand to work in us. Life does and must go on.

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We see evil in the world, but it is not from God — it comes from without. Even the word evil in English is live backwards. It’s a wrong direction, going against God’s purpose. 

Sometimes we worship what man does, his creative brilliant mind, the many inventions and commodities he has made. But where did that intelligence come from? God began it all with creating a world that perpetually continues, that demonstrates life.  We marvel at science, yet the laws that we use to create are the laws that God placed in the world. The law of lift, gravity, laws of motion, of thermodynamics. All of it we discovered in the world that God created. All the abilities of language, of communication, of intervention, came from the creative mind of God. He created a world that is logistically amazing and interdependent on its working parts.

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Even the simplest cell has over 60,000 proteins and thousands of interdependent parts . . . not simple at all . . . except that it is simply magnificent. Some say evolution is true because of similar systems in all animals. Yet, when we find a work of art, or pieces of writing, we identify the creator by the similar patterns. God has similar patterns throughout all living things, but the most marvelous variety you can imagine. We want to call it mother nature, but it’s Father God, who loves us and gave life that continues.

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So go outside and find a place where you can consider what God has done, what He is doing, and what He will continue to do. His heart for you is life, continual, restorative life. No matter what has attacked you, what lies have been told to you, God is a life-giving God. His Godly grandeur is perpetual life. Feel free to tap into it.

 

Guideposts Writers Workshop Contest

2014 was the year I entered the Guideposts Workshop Contest with thousands. Along with eleven others, I won and was sent to New York for an amazing week of training. In the March 2015 issue, the harrowing story of my niece who spent the night in the ocean was published. Here it is:

Clare Louis story Guideposts

If you have a story to write, the deadline for this year’s contest is June 10, 2016. Go to this site for all the information you need:  https://www.guideposts.org/enter-the-guideposts-writers-workshop-contest

 

All Eyes on September . . . A Perfect Storm?

Today is 9/11, the 14th anniversary of the terrible terrorist attack in New York. 3000 people lost their lives and we remember them with honor.

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This next week also holds significant dates. Could it be a perfect storm of economy, astronomy, and Biblical prophecy?

Sunday, September 13th is the 29th of Alul on the Israeli calendar. It begins the holiest time in the Hebrew calendar. The 14th, the beginning of the month of Tishri is Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the year on the Israeli civil calendar. Tishri is the seventh month of the sacred calendar.

Ten days pass from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, Sept. 23, the Day of Atonement. These days are High Holy Days, called the Days of Awe and the Days of Teshuvah (turning or repentance). It is said that on Rosh Hashanah, God’s assessment of a person or a nation is set. The ten days that follow provide the opportunity to change that by what you do. You can ask forgiveness of God and others, getting things right, and forgive those that have wronged you. It is also a time to pray for the nations.

On September 27/28 we will see the last blood moon of the current tetrad. Blood Moons are lunar eclipses that occur on Israeli feast days. In the last 600 years there have been four of these tetrads (grouping of four), with three sets occurring in the last 70 years. There will not be another for hundreds of years.

Lunar eclipses occur fairly often, but the ones that occur consecutively on Feast Days, hold great significance for Israel. Each tetrad of blood moons signaled great trouble followed by great triumph for the Jewish people. 1493-94, right after the Spanish Inquisition, Jews were murdered and kicked out of Spain, but made their way to a new world via Christopher Columbus. 1949-50 was immediately after the Holocaust and the Jews gaining Israel. 1967-68 was the time when all the surrounding Arab countries went after Israel and Israel triumphed and received Jerusalem back. We are now in the 2014-15 tetrad, and there has been no lack of evil pressure on Israel. I’ve written a novel about all of this entitled Blood Moon Redemption that incorporates the history of the blood moons and current events into a political thriller.  It is not published yet, although publishers and agents are looking at it.

The blood moon this month will also be a Super Moon, when the moon is in perigee – closest to Earth in its orbit. (http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/life/2015/09/10/rare-supermoon-light-up-night-sky/72001486/). Super Moons occur about every 18 years. That day begins Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles which continues for seven days.

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Overlaying these events is the end of the Shemitah year on Sept. 13. Shemitah means release. Just as the Sabbath was designed to be a day of rest, so Shemitah is to be a year of rest every seven years. The ground was to lay fallow and what grew of its own accord was for the poor. Debts owed were to be forgiven. In the years that Israel followed this pattern, abundant crops grew before and after the shemitah year. However, when this was not followed, the month of Tishri became a time of financial upheaval. You can read more about this at http://www.hopeoftheworld.org/.

It seems our economic cycle follows this same seven year pattern.  If you study stock market crashes, you’ll see most of them occur every seven years, and this autumn is that time. Perhaps we would do well to heed the ten days of repentance and prayer, asking forgiveness of God and others, getting things right in our lives, and forgiving those that have wronged us. Let’s ask God’s mercy, wisdom, and protection for our nation, and pray as well for the nations of this world.

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It seems the perfect storm of economy, astronomy, and Biblical prophecy may be here. Let’s remember that 1 Peter 5:6,7 says, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” John 10:10 says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” And Jeremiah 29:13 says, “And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” In these perilous times we need to actively trust Him.

Forgiveness — Let It Go

There it was again. I was out walking, enjoying the day, and my mind reached down and pulled up that hurtful memory like a cow pulling up its cud to chew. And chew I did. I was there again. I rehearsed what they said, what they did. It was simply wrong. It wasn’t true or right. I saw their expression. It hurt. It made me mad. My body tensed. All the words I should have said coursed through me.

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Finally, I said to myself, “That was five years ago! WHY am I thinking about that now? I thought I forgot that.” Obviously I had not. As I settled down and focused on why I was remembering so vividly rather than what I was remembering, I had the thought, ‘perhaps I need to forgive’.

The word forgive comes from the Greek word aphiemi which means to release or send away. Bottom line it means ‘let it go’.

Unforgiveness puts us in a prison of torment. They say it’s like preparing poison for the person you haven’t forgiven and then drinking it yourself, not understanding why they don’t change. You live with tormenting thoughts day and night of what they said or did. Those thoughts can exhaust you and dominate everything and anything you need to do.

Unforgiveness makes us ugly. We think we are unaffected because we are sure we are right. The truth is we become difficult to be around. Perhaps we are always the victim, promoting the poor me attitude. Perhaps we put up a wall so no one else can hurt us or deceive us. We also may go on the aggressive, just to make sure no one has the opportunity to do anything against us.

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Forgiveness sets us free. Most of us think forgiveness lets the other person off the hook. Not so. It does not deny what they did or that it was wrong. They will have to answer to God, to themselves, and perhaps the civil/criminal court of law. But we can be free of their sin’s control over us. That person may not even know anyone was offended. It’s possible their comment or action was inadvertent. And, certainly, it may have been on purpose, mean-spirited, and downright evil. Either way, forgiveness sets us free from those chains.

Forgiveness is the highest order of life.  If you forgive constantly, if you make a habit of letting things go, life is a joy.  Forgiveness destroys the stumbling blocks of anger, frustration, resentment, bitterness, and wariness that seem to place themselves right in your path. You have opportunity every day to take offense, but it will be poison in your veins.  Forgiveness cleanses you, protects you, and so blesses others. Why not begin developing the habit? As with any habit, you will have to practice. Sometimes you may need to forgive the same thing many times, but it becomes easier and easier.

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I spent a whole summer walking and forgiving.  It seemed all those things that had festered below the surface were brought up to my mind, like the cream rising to top so it could be skimmed away. I learned to let it go, to skim it away. Some were easier than others, but I began to develop a pattern, and I began to learn to recognize the poison for what it was. Looking back, a lot of good doors opened after that summer. I think when those ugly thoughts aren’t dominating our thinking that we are open to hear God’s thoughts and good plans for us. I still have to work at it at times, but life is so much better when I let it go.

Blood Moon Time

In the early morning hours of Wednesday, October 8, there will be the second total lunar eclipse in a set of four.  Because of the refraction of the sun’s light passing through earth’s atmosphere as the earth slides between the moon and the sun, the moon appears red, hence the name Blood Moon.

lunar eclipse, moon, space

I love these things because I loved teaching fifth grade science, and delighted in informing the students that a lunar eclipse was viewing earth’s shadow passing over the moon.  Imagine seeing the earth’s shadow! How exciting! And refraction, the bending of light, as it passes through a substance, creates colors. How cool is that! Science is so much fun.

But these Blood Moons carry a much greater significance.  This is a series of four consecutive Blood Moons, that began April 14, 2014, and will continue to next September, each of them falling on a Jewish high holy day.  The spring ones occur on Passover and the autumn ones on the first day of Sukkoth, the Feast of Tabernacles.  Rabbinical teachings indicate that Blood Moons hold great significance for Israel.

Let me give you some background.  Although there can be as many as 7 lunar eclipses in any year, there have only been a few times in history when 4 in a row occurred on Jewish holy days.  The next time this will happen is a few hundred years from now.

There was a blood moon tetrad in 1493-94. The Spanish Inquisition required all Jews to be out of the country by July 31, 1492.  It was a terrible time for Jews.  Christopher Columbus sailed on August 3 of that year. Not too many know that Columbus was part Jewish.  He was a provision for the Jews in a time of great persecution.  They were given a whole new world to live in.

The next blood moon tetrad was in 1949-50. The Jews had such tragedy with the holocaust and then great triumph in obtaining their own country, Israel.  1967-68 was the next tetrad.  All the countries surrounding Israel wanted their annihilation, but Israel won the Six-Day War and regained Jerusalem.

Now Hamas has been pounding Israel with rockets and ISIS is decimating the Middle East. And we are in another set of Blood Moons.  What will be the provision for Israel? What will be their triumph this time? Doubtless, God will help and bless Israel.

John Hagee and Mark Biltz have written informational books about all of this. They will increase your understanding.  I have written a political thriller novel about this entitled Blood Moon Redemption. I have not yet secured a publisher, but I hope to soon.

So be sure to rise early Wednesday morning and watch the second Blood Moon of this holy day tetrad. Know that you are watching your planet’s shadow. Know also that God has set the sun and moon in the sky for signals and ask God what He would have you do.

Take the Plunge

It seemed unlikely. Thousands of people would have entered. But then, there’s always God’s favor.  Yes, and probably every person that entered prayed for God’s favor.  Who am I? But I knew my niece’s story should be told.  BJ Taylor had presented a short workshop on how to write a good entry and had even given me  a critique. Still . . . it took her four times, and they only held the contest every two years.  Mid-August came and seemed to have gone.  It was August 20. I’d prayed again that morning. “It’s OK, why would they select me, but Lord you know, and Clare’s story should be told. And it would look nice on my resume. And I would learn so much.  It would be so cool. I praise you, Lord.”

The phone rang about 2PM. I didn’t recognize the number, but was focused on something on the computer. “Hello.”

“This is Guideposts Magazine calling.” A flutter, dropped mouth, excitement, disbelief. I was one of 12 who had won the 2014 Guideposts Workshop Contest. I would be flying to Rye, New York in October to be trained in the art of inspirational storytelling. Clare’s story would be told.

My first words were “Are you kidding?” Seriously, Self, would they randomly call the non-winners and tell them they won? I was simply stunned.  Then I was so excited, I don’t know what else I said.  I quickly texted and then called my niece. “I won, you won, we won!”

My niece had fallen off a boat a few years ago and subsequently spent 7 hours alone in the ocean overnight.  God gave her such peace and strength. It was difficult, but she survived, and I was given the privilege to write her story. Hopefully you can read it soon in Guideposts Magazine.

I will have so many opportunities to tell so many stories. The last few weeks so many stories from my past and from other people are stirring in my heart and mind.  What opportunities this workshop provides.

I still am somewhat flabbergasted (isn’t that a great word), as are the other winners.  We have met through email and on facebook.  We have met several that are already a part of the Guideposts family as well. What a kind and welcoming group. The workshop begins two weeks from today.

So, if God has given you a nudge to proceed in a certain venture that seems unlikely of success because of the sheer volume of competitors, go ahead and step out.  You’ll not get there if you never start. It may take a while and you may have to do a lot of do-overs, but you’ll be the better for it, and it will put you in a place to see the next step and the next opportunity. At first, for me, this seemed a whim, then it seemed an assignment from God, then it seemed a calling, a purpose.  I’m not quite sure what doors this will open for me, but I think there will be connections and open doors that I never would have experienced if I didn’t take time and try.

 

 

More Than One Way to Pitch a Book

I had just arrived at the Write to Publish Conference in Wheaton, IL, and placed my book, The Cheesehead Devotional, on the consignment table. A man named Bob Hostetler picked up a copy.  I said, “That’s my book”, excited that already someone was buying it, or so I thought.

He replied, “I’m going to pitch it tonight.”  I was pleased, noting he held several books in his arms.  We chatted a few minutes and then I hurried off to my first workshop of the conference.  When I arrived for the evening meeting, I learned that Bob Hostetler was the featured speaker for the conference.  He’s co-authored several books with Josh McDowell and written many other well-known books and articles.

His message was to not allow discouragement to keep us from writing what God has called us to write.  He showed humorously how comparing ourselves to other writers is not helpful.  He began picking up books of workshop speakers and making comments on how his books just didn’t compare.  His comments brought lots of laughter.  Then he picked up my book and said, “Now Judy here has written The Cheesehead Devotional . . . That is just wrong!!!” and threw (pitched) it across the room!  It was absolutely hilarious — everyone roared, including me.  I was so surprised, but I so understand that non-Packer fans have their issues. I found out later that Bob is a Bengals fan — explains it.

The next day, I told him, “Bob, I’m going to use your name — that you pitched my book.  You told me you’d pitch it and you did.”

He replied, “Judy, you can tell them I was compelled.”

I added, “And it was a big hit.”

The humor surrounding my book continued throughout the week.  The director of the conference listed the titles of Bob’s books one evening before he came up to speak.  When she got to the book, “Quit Going to Church”, she paused, then said, “Now that’s just wrong!” and threw it on the floor.  Again, it brought the house down.

At the editor’s panel, editors were asked to describe the type of books they were looking for.   Eddie Jones, senior editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, who published my book, explained that they published devotionals that addressed a particular niche or specific wound. He went on to mention my book saying that it addressed the particular niche of the Green Bay Packers.  Another editor leaned over to his microphone and added, “Or a specific wound”. Again, a ton of laughter.  I don’t remember his favorite team, but obviously not the Packers. A small football war beginning??

To cap off a great conference with wonderful teaching, great networking, new friends, and so much laughter, I received the  Best New Writer 2013 award at the Saturday night banquet.  As I went up to receive the award, very surprised, one of the organizers of the conference shouted, “Now that’s just right!” I am very honored to receive the award, and thank God for all His goodness to each of us.

So if you want to pitch a book, realize there may be many wonderful results. And if you want to read the book, check it out on Amazon.

 

Those Rascally Critters!!

I had to brake for a turkey crossing the road the other day.  It was so sad.  I rather enjoy braking for deer as they are so beautiful to behold.  Yes, it’s so dangerous to hit a deer, but when it’s a turkey, I actually consider hitting it.  Turkeys came on our property once and totally demolished a bird feeder.  One flew through a neighbor’s window and almost destroyed his kitchen before destroying itself.  He came home to find the mess.

I have flower gardens, so I don’t want turkeys.  I also don’t want deer eating my flowers, and that’s one reason we have a dog.  She does a great job shooing them to the neighbors.  I apologize to them once in a while for that.  We had one dog, though, that was so mild-mannered that the deer would come up and eat his food. Wish we had a picture of it.

The creature at the top of my list of those not allowed is the red squirrel.  The grey squirrels are abundant, and my husband spends a great deal of time designing methods to keep them off the bird feeders.  Quite comical.  We even had those nocturnal flying squirrels once.  A red squirrel, though, is destructive.  They have gotten into our shed and shredded things as well as chewing up a seat in the boat.  Plus, they chatter.

I decided to follow Jesus’ example when He spoke to the fig tree and told it that no one would eat its fruit again. The next day it was dried up from its roots.  So, I started talking to the red squirrels.  I told them that they were to no longer live on my property, that it was not their home, that they needed to go somewhere else and have a happy life, but they were not to remain on my property.  I didn’t yell, I just spoke very firmly.  It took about five weeks, but they left.  The next year it only took two or three weeks with those that came.

I think we went a couple years with no sign of red squirrels.  Then two years ago, one came and he was sassy.  He would chatter at me when I was outside like he was telling me to get lost.  I calmly told him to leave as it was my property, not his.  I did throw a couple rocks at him — he was really annoying.

About the same time a raccoon visited.  Now I kind of like raccoons.  My brother and a friend found two baby raccoons next to their mother who had been hit by a car.  Each took one home.  My brother named ours Yunior.  Yunior would walk down the sidewalk between my brother’s feet.  Mom would not let Yunior in the house but Grandma would.  Her house was old and had pipes outside the walls.  At the joints of the pipes there were drips so she kept a pan there to catch the water.  We would give Yunior crackers and he would wash them in the pans.  We kept him in a dog house with a cage outside its door.  My cousin and I would lay on the ground with our heads against the cage and let Yunior play with our hair.

My husband, however, was not quite so fond of raccoons and borrowed a live trap from a friend.  He put some bread in it and placed it behind our little pond about 30 feet from our door.  The next morning he woke me to tell me we got the raccoon.  I ran downstairs and opened the door to see it.  As it lifted his head, I was saying, “Oh aren’t you cute.  Wait, you are not cute.  Lee, it’s not a raccoon, it’s an opossum.”  We laughed and went out to see it.  By then it was trying to play dead, so we joked that we could no longer see it.  Lee loaded the cage into the car, drove to the other side of the peninsula and released it.  We were hoping that someone over there wasn’t catching critters and bringing them over by us and releasing them.

That night, Lee put some meat in the live trap and the next morning the young raccoon was in there.  Now, he was cute.  I love those little bandit faces and inquisitive eyes.  This time, I went with Lee to drop the little guy on  the other side of the peninsula and hoped he would have a happy life.

So, mission accomplished.  Lee set the trap out where it had been and we thought no more about it until the next morning.  Our dog was going nuts out by the trap.  I went out and who would be there, but little Mr. Chattering Red Squirrel.  I tried to contain myself.  I said, “Hello, Mr. Red Squirrel.  I think we had a talk about this, that you needed to leave, so I’m glad you have accommodated us so nicely.  I hope that you have a long and happy life where we take you.  You could have left yourself, but, as I told you, this is not your home anymore.  I do apologize for throwing the rocks at you.  That was not my best moment.  But, having said that, it is time to say goodbye.”  Yes, Lee took him across the peninsula.  We wondered if we should have banded them all to see if they came back, but we’ve had no opossums, raccoons, and thankfully, no red squirrels or turkeys since then.

Spring has just sprung and I am looking forward to sitting out on my patio by our little pond and viewing only birds and grey squirrels.  I may have to exercise my faith and authority again, but in the meantime I will be content to see raccoons, opossum, deer, turkeys, and red squirrels at places other than my property.  I will continue to talk to the animals.  They listen.  And, if need be, I will tell them where they cannot be.

Our voice of authority is a real voice.  It is, of course, for more important things in our life than just pesky animals, but animals provide great practice and some funny stories.  Read Mark 11 and learn how important what you say is.