Saturday, May 7, 2016

Best-Ever Mother’s Day

Dear Family & Friends,

This is directed to MOMS...
 I’ve had the privilege of being a mom for over fifty years and what an adventure it’s been! When I meet moms with kids in the grocery store I remind them to enjoy every minute of this fleeting time of hands-on parenting.

I’d also like to tell them something else, but I don’t – it’s the secret I never knew when I had four kids within nine years - I’m not sure they’re ready to hear yet that mothering never ends.  Who thought I’d still have an active part to play in my children’s lives when they were grown up?

Now my humbling privilege is to pray extensively for my adult children (and seven grandchildren.) This may seem small, but I know prayer has supernatural power to release intensified activity of God in their lives. Of course, now and then I still get to bring brownies, spinach salads, homemade soup, or provide fried chicken when we get together and love to do it. But mothering as a pray-er is intangible, invisible and DAILY wherever their location.

Sometimes I wonder if praying is more a gift to me. I still miss having my children under roof, but through prayer I feel connected even with David & his family over a thousand miles away. I watch the flow of God’s plan for all their lives and I savor every thought of them as I pray God’s peace, protection and guidance for them. It’s a tough world out there.

It’s a joy to have a husband who participates in this prayer calling given to every mom and dad. He knows our children have been shaped by our tens of thousands of interactions with them. Not all were perfect, but Lord knows we, as you, were dedicated to trying our best and always will.  What a lifelong blessing it is to pray for our children at every age!

James 5:16 The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous (wo)man availeth much.

It’s my great pleasure to make available FREE through amazon on specified days starting today these ebooks for you moms.

*May 7-8 Love Always Mom (a true family story about the power of love and prayer.)

*May 10-11 Adventures of Tommy Smurlee and Tommy Smurlee and The Missing Statue. I wrote the Tommy Smurlee books with a compelling mystery, fantasy storyline, plus life-changing character lessons for my grandchildren to remember. For ages 7 and up. 

These gift ebooks can be read on any computer or smart phone, Ipad, etc. (They’re FREE only on the days listed so check the dates.) May they bless you and your children - I know as a mom anything that blesses my children blesses me.

EXCITING NEWS! My new mystery Never Tomorrow published by Prism Books will be available in print starting May 20th. If you enjoy the novel putting a review on amazon or Goodreads would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

"Layer upon layer of intrigue—laced with murder–propels this novel to the pinnacle of suspense. An ingenious plot, dynamic and complex characters, and an insight into the troubled avenues of human behavior rarely exposed make NEVER TOMORROW a stand-out for readers of mysteries, thrillers, and suspense." - Pat Gussin New York Times best-selling author of After the Fall
MOMS, may this be your best Mother's Day ever!!!!!!!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Blessed Easter Friends!

Easter is my favorite holiday.

The first Easter was a game-changer between the world as it was and the world ever since - this Jesus-dying-and rising-from-the-dead-event that makes our good living and happy dying possible.

I admit the cross and its meaning are complex. How to understand this mysterious exchange of penalty? I certainly know I deserve to be accountable for my less than desirable behaviors. Socrates spoke of an innate longing for virtue within each of us - an awareness of falling short. I know I do, did and continue to be less virtuous than I’d like to be. I don’t want to carry this guilt I richly deserve. Jesus paying it off is a huge blessing to me.

Jesus counted the personal cost, accepted the anguish and took the punishment for us all. Amazingly now we can ask for and confidently receive forgiveness for sin and shortcomings. The world without Easter could easily be dark and full of despair.

No wonder we dance and celebrate.  Death has no power – we’re life-dwellers forever. 

Jesus literally rose from death. We can know we won’t stay dead either. We have reason to jump and leap - maybe that’s where the image of Easter bunnies comes from.

We’re filled with inner richness – maybe that’s why eggs are significant. We’ll be coloring ours Saturday night.

We can live delicious lives loving God and loving our neighbor  - ah, there’s the reason for chocolate.

How fitting we celebrate Easter in spring, because it’s truly new life day.

May your Easter be spectacular in every way!

Happy, blessed, joyous Easter.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

 John 3:16

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Living Out God’s Call

Our friends have not seen their adult daughter, their only child, their only son-in-law and four grandchildren for 540 days and recently spent ten days together in Mali, Africa. The pain of separation at times has been intense but they have an assurance that their daughter and son-in-law have been called to serve God in a foreign country teaching Muslims about Jesus. These friends, too, were called many years ago to be missionaries in Haiti.

I can easily imagine the quiet hum of their hearts when they breathed the same air again and celebrated being united. I often experience this deep joy when I’m with family members I love.

God’s call upon each of our lives is fascinating. I feel God has called me to write. We leave our family for several months during the winter and I focus intently on my writing. I miss them very much, but I believe I am honoring God’s intention for me. (Yes I also enjoy being in a warmer climate.)

My husband Wayne feels called to pray for the needs of others and to bring smiles and happiness to strangers. He spends a significant amount of his day doing this.

Some of our friends are called to serve in church or be active in politics or in the community socializing with people who benefit from their friendship.

I’ve learned that God’s call is not about accomplishment or visible impact from our efforts but about being faithful to God’s leading. Living out God’s call (direction) for our lives ALWAYS brings inner joy and peace – yet it can be QUITE challenging.

It’s usually during private, still time with God that we discern God’s call. His direction for us can change at any time. Mine has changed often. How about yours?

Romans 11:29 For God's gifts and His call are irrevocable.

Writing Update:
I'm celebrating completing the final edits with editor Paula Mowery this week for Never Tomorrow, my next mystery novel due out in May.  Each book is a team project. Wayne came up with this title! My publisher Prism Books will now begin the designing the cover. Can't wait to see it!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Merry Christmas

Pondering Christmas 2015

The mystery of Christmas is upon us again. How shall we believe? And why? It’s so preposterous. One man, one life, one supernatural wonder-worker who passes on His power to certain unlikely, unworthy individuals like each of us?

In every state and every country people speak about first-hand experience of the ManGod who changed their lives. We meet people often who say they’re no longer the same after being in His presence and surrendering to His lordship.

The transformation of every human nature begins with this birth we celebrate. Without Christ’s entrance into human reality, paradise was indeed forever lost. It’s now as close as our skin.

The first Christmas was truly the world’s game-changer. We know this, not in the head but deep in our heart-checker of truth. Without holiness and goodness we’re nothing. Who but Christ can make us what we need to be and deeply unconsciously long to be?

This Bethlehem babe who became an adult victim, a cross-hanger who shed royal red blood for the likes of us. Can it be true that His blood purifies our own? Symbolically yes, and really truly? Yes.

Who needs a Savior, a Changer, a Better-maker? We do. Don't we all want to see with God’s eyes the beauty He formed in each soul and help the radiance burst forth that’s locked inside. We sense its presence.

Isn’t that why God came? So we can love out the beauty in one another. And smother the sinfulness of pride and self-absorption that crawls all over us.

How can we be worthy gift-givers without recognizing the Giver of every gift we’ve ever received? And how shall we know Him? And why doesn’t everyone?

This weird thing about Jesus’ birth, dying and rising is that it empowers the world and gives deep meaning to gift-giving and loving without limits.

This Christmas may we meditate a bit on the mystery and wonder of the Christ-change in us. We who call ourselves Christ-ians have experienced newness in our lives. And the peace that passes understanding – what level of peace can that be? One that doesn’t rest on circumstances like even world peace. The kind that will flood your heart with contentment no matter what if you’re a follower of this baby-become man-become King of glory.

Christmas represents the beginning of this greatest mystery and change event in humankind - weird but oh so wonderful.

As we shop and bake and wrap and shine and polish and hang the holly may we, may I remember it’s not just a home we decorate but our lives. It’s not just gifts we give, but love that comes from the originator of the idea, Jesus. May you have a Jesus-filled Christmas!

News On the Homefront

We're well, praise God and enjoying every precious day together after 53 years. We treasure most of all our family times when we can be with our adult children and the grown-up grandchildren. Our favorite activities are golfing, reading, writing and traveling N & S, FL, NC and states between. 

Judy continues writing and speaking about biblical principles for raising families and God’s miracles in our lives. Her new book is due soon from Prism Book Group - Never Tomorrow, a Christian mystery novel about a serial killer. It’s her favorite project thus far. Love Notes To God is due out later next year – 365 Day Devotional. And Love Always, Mom is being reprinted due to frequent demand. And her monthly blog continues. Wayne ministers at church, in Bible studies and with his joy ministry.

We love every memory of you, our family, friends and acquaintances, and if this Christmas message has reached someone we haven’t yet met, may it happen. Blessings & love!

Joyful Christmas Reflections is available free as an ebook Dec. 17-19 through amazon on Kindle. We hope these thoughts on the participants in the first Christmas will bless you.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving Thoughts on Cyber Monday

 What is real thanksgiving?

I guess it’s simply giving gratitude for gifts given. The natural, spontaneous process after receiving a gift is to take the time to send a note, a call of thanks, express heartfelt appreciation. 
One thing for sure, I feel fiilled with it.

Whom do you thank for a gift? The store where it was purchased? The credit card company that processed the transaction? The person who delivered it? How silly. The purchaser, the giver who selected it and finally at its source, yes, of course – God.

God is ultimately the giver of every good thing. All giving starts with His love and kindness. This is the impetus behind all gift-giving and receiving. My giving back reflects His giving to me. My giving to others blesses me as I display His qualities of love and kindness. Thankfully in His image we have all been made.

These days of Black Friday bargains and Cyber Monday, it’s good to remember we’ve already been given the greatest bargain the world has ever known – personal acquisition of divine love at no cost to us whatever to enjoy and appreciate. Thank you Lord!

James 1:17 New International Version (NIV)
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
We're thankful for you, fellow earth-walkers enriching our lives by Your presence with us on the journey. 

And we’re thankful for all the moments of life we’ve experienced and for our awareness that the best is always yet to come.
Prayer Poem: A Moment

Dear Lord,

Is anything more special than a moment? A dot of time filled with possibilities. Love to be spent, actions to be performed, skirmishes to be won and ideas to be explored.

Forever is but a collection of moments strung together as precious pearls. The essence of God’s Kingdom begins on the filament of now.

Lord, You make my life a marvelous mosaic of moments. I‘m grateful mosaics can also be made of broken pieces like shortcomings and grieving shaped into a new and vibrant whole. Your new creations become more vibrant and glow more richly than I could ever imagine. You’re the artist of my experiences.

Without you all the fragments would crumble. With You my broken pieces become a moment-by-moment work of God-art.
[A Moment is from 365 Love Notes To God, my daily devotional due to be released in spring.]

Writing Update:
Never Tomorrow is in final editing stage. Received this feedback yesterday from a test reader: “I had a hard time putting it down.” This is what every writer longs to hear. I’d be grateful if you’d keep this Christian mystery novel about a serial killer in your prayers. (No, that’s not an oxymoron.)
On another front Bullet in the Night is currently being made into an audio book. I’ve just been sent the first chapters to review. I’ll let you know when it’s released.
Thanks again to those of you on my prayer team!

Gratitude Lists:

Yesterday my husband Wayne started keeping a written list of God’s blessings throughout the day.  Before noon he noted seventeen.

Last month 1760 ebooks of Directive 99 were ordered in two days during a special promotion. May every one of them bless readers. The heroine of this suspense novel learns how much she has to be thankful for when her world falls apart. Her husband is kidnapped and her career is in jeopardy.

"Gifts From the Heart to the Page"
I'm grateful to be the featured speaker at the Christian Women's Connection Brunch 9:30 a.m. WED. Dec. 9th at Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan. Call Terry for more info or to register: 262-325-9246

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Autumn and Families

 Don’t you love autumn with its crisp, cool days and sunlit leaves adorning yards? I’ve been helping out a few hours every Saturday afternoon at my friends’ apple orchard, Royal Oak, telling people about their new Apple Maze and directing them to the U-Pick apples area. I go home energized by all the hoopla. Such a happy place for families to connect. I can’t think of any greater joy than being with family and friends.

October is my birthday month which makes me nostalgic.  What makes life so special is stopping to ponder what was and looking with hope to the future. The more seasons my body has seen, the more I have to reflect upon. At the moment I’m treasuring the summer that’s been and anticipating the holidays to come. Time truly flies but I've learned we can slow it down and savor special moments.

For forty-some years now I’ve attempted to live in response to the Holy Spirit’s nudges as a wife, mom, grandmom, and Christian counselor and author commissioned to love and serve God’s people. What a fascinating journey this has been.

Next week I’m presenting a parenting seminar to 40 parents on Raising Successful Students and Happy Kids.  I’ll be telling them Happy Kids are holy kids who know they've been created for a purpose by Almighty God. Soon I’ll spend a week in the Blue Ridge Mountains with Wayne hiking and attending a novelist’s retreat. Then a visit to see loved ones in Florida. Yes, life is awesome!

 In between my editing continues for Never Tomorrow mystery to be released in January…

Wishing you happy autumn days filled with family fun, plump pumpkins, warm apple cider and time to reflect.

This is a picture of the October family wedding of our son Dan and Stephanie 14 years ago. Can it be?

I found this Bible verse with the word autumn in it - I like it. What do you think? "Rejoice, O people of Jerusalem, rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rains he sends are tokens of forgiveness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as those of spring." Joel 2:23