Monday, December 3, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction--December 3, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction
December 10, 2012
I’m trying to figure out where January to November went, and how it is December already! December 1 marked our oldest granddaughter’s 25th birthday; don’t know how she keeps getting older when I don’t! Wish she had been here so we could celebrate it with her, but they’re doing the Lord’s work in Oklahoma. She had a neat present the Sunday before when she received her local minister’s license. She’s getting a double major in college in ministry and music.
Last week also brought me a neat present: my newly-published Advent book Preparing Your Heart for Christmas. I hope you who downloaded it from Amazon when it was free are enjoying it; it’s now for sale on Amazon for $4.95. Should be receiving the Grandmother, Mother and Me anthology any day now, and I’m already receiving submissions for the Grandfather, Father and Me anthology.
Thought for Today:
When you’re in a difficult place, realize that the Lord either placed you there, or allowed you to be there for reasons known only to Him. The same God who led you there will lead you out” (Pastor Ira Brown).
Laugh for Today:
A visitor knocking on a college dormitory door asked, "May I come in? This is the room I had when I attended here." He was invited in. "Same old room. Same old furniture. Same old view from the window. Same old closet." He opened the closet door and there stood a girl.
"That's my sister," stammered the student.
"Oh yes," said the visitor, "same old story."
For the next few weeks I’m sharing some of the devotionals from my Advent book. Hope you enjoy them. Today’s devotional is followed by some Christmas gift ideas, and then by a guest blog by Nancy Dobbins.
Day 6
Exchanging the Good for the Better
If you then, being evil, know how to give good
gifts to your children, how much more will your
Father who is in heaven give good things to
them who ask Him! (Matthew 7:11).
“Can you come to dinner Sunday?” a friend asked me one day. “I think if my son met a Christian girl he will come to church.” I accepted, and a week later I met her son Harold. He went to church with us that night and a few days later called and asked me out.
That began a courtship that lasted several months, during which time Harold accepted the Lord. A while later, he left for the Army. I went with his parents to visit him over Thanksgiving weekend and we continued our relationship through letters and phone calls.
When he came home for Christmas, he gave me a watch. Wanting to know just where I stood, I asked him, “Is this a friendship gift or something more?”
“A friendship gift,” he replied. I was disappointed that our courtship was over, but appreciated his honesty. And I was thankful that through our brief relationship, Harold found the Lord. God also used me during that time to help bring about reconciliation between his mother and his grandmother.
The week after Harold returned to the Army base, a coworker knocked at my door and asked if I would type a term paper for a seminary student from her hometown. That was the night I met Gary Goodrich—the brown-eyed, brown-haired, soft-spoken guy who, three weeks later on Valentine’s Day, presented me with an engagement ring. And amazingly that was also the night Harold’s watch quit working.
One of my mother’s favorite sayings was, “God sometimes takes away the good to give us the better,” and that has been true in my life.
How about you? Have you lost something good out of your life this Christmas? Turn the situation over to the Lord and then sit back and wait for Him to give you something better.
Lord, I think of some Christmases when things were happening in my life I didn’t understand. But looking back, I see that Your hand was guiding me all along and You were in control. Thank You!
Looking for Christmas gifts: I have:
Celebrating Christmas with…Memories, Poetry and Good Food anthology—$20, $3 s&h
Grandmother, Mother and Me…Memories, Poetry and Good Food—anthology—$20, $3 s&h
Advent devotional book: Preparing Your Heart for Christmas—$4.95 on Amazon
For your writer friends: A Step in the Write Direction—the Complete How-to Book for Christian Writers”—$20, $3 s&h. Student edition—$15, $3 s&h
Also for writers: Motivational Moments—100 Devotionals for Writers and Speakers—$10, $3 s&h
For your gourmet friends: a Michigan Cookbook and an Ohio cookbook, $7 each, $2 s&h
For those who need encouragement: Healing in God's Time, story of Dave Clark, songwriter, who has 25 #1 songs including “Crucified with Christ,” ”Mercy Said No,” “Mercy Came Running." —$15, $2.50 s&h
For those who need help letting go of the past, The Freedom of Letting Go, $15, $2.50 s&h
See more information at:

Guest Blog
A Brighter Future
Nancy Dobbins
It was Christmas. My husband was in prison. I cried a lot. I was constantly was thinking: How can I possibly forgive him? How can I ever live this down? How can I go on?”
That was twenty-three years ago. Last Sunday, tears filled my eyes as I fingered an Angel Tree ornament. I recalled how angry I’d felt 23 years earlier. Then I remembered all the people who had been the hands and feet of Jesus to me back then. They’d given me the courage to go on and truly forgive my husband.
As I stared at the Christmas tree filled with Project Angel Tree angels, I thought of the children who would accept the gifts. Would they feel angry and filled with shame like I had 23 years earlier? Would they take on the shame and guilt of their parent in prison? Would they think their friends hated them for what their mom or dad had done? Would they think, “I’ll just end up like my parent?”
As my eyes misted over, I thanked God for the bright future that my friends and family had instilled into me in the last 23 years. I scanned the gift wishes of the angels hanging on the tree and prayed, “Lord, help me choose one that will transform a child with Your love.”
My eyes danced when I found the gift wish, “Elmo or a musical toy.”
“Elmo! His laughter was so contagious six months earlier. I’d never played with him before then.”
So I bought Elmo along with a red gift bag. I smiled as I thought, “What better color to share the love of Jesus than the color of Jesus’ blood that bought our redemption?”
As I placed Elmo in the gift bag, I prayed, “Lord, let every peal of laughter from Elmo bring a bucket-load of God’s joy! Let the red fur of Elmo bring salvation to everyone who hears that contagious laughter!”
Laughter had healed Norman Cousins and in 1981 he wrote a book about it. But we have a much better gift than just the healing power of laughter. We have the ability to bring hope through restoration with Jesus. That’s what Project Angel Tree does. Mary Kay Beard started it in 1982. She was a former bank robber whose life was dramatically altered in prison by the gospel.
In the last 30 years, more than nine million children have been touched with this ministry. “Those millions of connections have laid the foundation for countless families [being] restored to one another and to their loving heavenly Father.”
Project Angel Tree is just one of many outreaches of Prison Fellowship Ministry. Other outreaches include a mentorship program and summer camp outreaches. Some churches, like Shiloh Christian Ministries in Sierra Vista, Arizona, also sponsor clothing giveaways, school backpack outreaches, Christmas parties, and monthly newsletter mailings.
Would you like to help a child find a brighter future? Project Angel Tree can help you do that. One way is to buy an angel tree gift. Another way is to ask your church to join Project Angel Tree. A third way is to donate to the program. Still a fourth way is to pray that God would bless everyone involved.
Would you like to join us in impacting shattered lives with the hope of the gospel?

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