I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

How to Have a Blessed Christmas

Recently I strolled down the mall near our house with my arms loaded with bags and my heart practically singing with happiness. Not a single one of the purchases were for me. 

Since we're "The Ponderers", I thought about what it was that made me so happy that day. God brought a verse to my mind. "It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35)

That was it! God's word became real in a new way. Happiness at Christmas does not come from the presents we receive. It comes when we first think of God's greatest gift ever, His only begotten Son who came to this world to save mankind. Next, since the Bible is always true, joy comes when we give.

Gifts do not always have to be a material items purchased at the store. They can be kind words or actions of love. Your time can also be a gift. 

Is there someone in your life who would rather have "a pat on the back" more than a new sweater? Could your words of blessing be the best present your husband receives this year? Does a friend or relative just need some of your time during the holidays? 

But since we do love giving something gift-wrapped, let me make a suggestion for the fiction writer in your circle. Books. Non-fiction books! Why? The right kind of book can refresh their creativity and renew their calling. And let me tell the truth here. When a fiction writer reads a great Christian non-fiction book, they just may get a great new idea for the tension, the conflict, the black moment, or even the "happy ever after" portion of their book! 

So go ahead. Have yourself a blessed little Christmas as you give--just like Jesus. 

--Teri Smith

Photo from free digital photos

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Living the Dream

By Patricia Bradley

As I opened up a new document to write this blog post, I realized it would be my last Ponderer post for the year. A sobering thought. So I pondered what I might say about 2014. January and February were the most exciting but also the most painful months I’ve ever lived.

On February 5th, my book, Shadows of the Past, debuted seven days after I turned 69. It was the same day my mother was buried. God had promised me she would hold my book in her hands and she did—it came in the mail to her on January 13th.  She was even able to read a chapter or two before she became so ill.

At the same time, I signed a contract with Harlequin for two Heartwarming books. Matthew’s Choice came out in September.  A month later A Promise to Protect, the second in the Logan Point series released. That’s when it hit me that I am living my dream.

I think that’s what I want to leave you with—living your dream and what it means. The time from February until now has been filled with writing. I have worked on 5 books this year, and as 2015 stares me in the face, I have an April deadline for two of them. And Gone Without a Trace releases July 15. Living your dream can be a lot of hard work, so you may want to be careful what you pray for. J

If I’d realized exactly how much work was going to be involved would I have been as excited in 2012 when Revell offered me a contract? You bet. I’ve never been happier in my life. It took me thirty-four years to get here. That was hard work as well, writing and not knowing if anyone would ever see my stories.

I’m often asked what piece of advice would you give someone who wanted to be a writer, and I always say the same thing. Learn the craft and don’t give up--you never get too old to live your dream. Write the best story you know how and depend on God to get it published. Yeah, I know that’s four pieces of advice.

Merry Christmas! And may 2015 be your year to be published! 

Leave a comment and tell me what your dream is.

Patricia Bradley
Follow me on Twitter: @PTBradley1
Follow me on FaceBook: www.facebook.com/patriciabradleyauthor

I asked God to give me patience and He gave me a book to write.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

There is a time for everything under heaven.

By Jennie Atkns
Have you ever been given a word or what you perceived as a random thought from God that you didn’t quite know what to do with?
That was my situation after returning from ACFW. The word was PREPARE.
Prepare what? And for what? Believe me, after a year loaded with trials, I can honestly say it left me imagining the worst. But I stopped to consider where I was and what I was doing when “the word” appeared on the neon bulletin board of my mind. I was in the midst of struggling with my writing and all the decisions associated with it—traditional publisher or Indie? Agent or no agent? Or perhaps stop writing completely.
I have been striving for publication since 2008. I have completed seven manuscripts and started a dozen more. I’ve received multiple rejections, but earnestly tried to learn from each one. I’ve been told my writing is good, but for some reason I haven’t had the bites from the publishers I’d hoped for. I would like to insert here that I don’t feel my books were so magnificent that they should have been grabbed up immediately. But I had hoped by this time an editor would have showed some interest. My writing journey is no different than any other newbie writer, but it has left me questioning my current path.
I’ve been pushing to expand the exposure of my personal blog. I’ve appeared in multiple other blogs for a broader exposure. I pressed forward with my latest novel in an effort to complete it prior to the conference. Although I have always felt God’s leading with my writing, when I received “the word” I realized I’d only been trying to push my agenda. Not God’s. I was trying to jam a round peg into a square hole. As a result, I felt burned out and confused.
The time has come for me to examine what God wants for me and my writing. I don’t know where I’ll head afterwards, but I must take the time to lean on God and trust in his leading.
From now until the end of March I am abstaining from social websites, blogs, and anything that takes me away from focusing on God’s direction for my life. During that time, I plan to study more, research ways to make my writing better and stronger. Until he sends me in a different direction, I am preparing my heart to receive God’s guidance and my mind for the lessons I will learn.
Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for everything under heaven. Each of the examples listed in chapter 3 are opposite from each other—they are examples of all or nothing. No fence sitting, no gray area. A time to be born, and a time to die.  A time to weep, and a time to laugh.  A time to love, and a time to hate are a few examples.  
For me . . . this will be a time of growth and making sure I am in the will of God. Although I hesitate to drop everything I’ve been working toward like the proverbial hot potato, I’m determined to take on the approach spelled out in Ecclesiastes and see where God leads.
I’d like to say thanks in advance to Ginger Takamiya who will take my place here on the MBT Ponderers blog while I am away.
God bless you all and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and blessed New Year.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Heart-stopping fear

Delores E. Topliff
What? A ghost? We’re well-past Halloween, that holiday where spooks say “Boo” and cause heart-stopping fear. 

Ideal life and writing is not always untroubled smooth sailing. It includes surprise ups and downs that define successor show what's needed to succeed next time.

I couldn’t master bike riding at age ten until my little sister tumbled down a cellar coal chute and needed rescue. Then I quit concentrating on balance and which foot to put where and simply pedaled like mad across the park to rescue her. Bike riding became easy.

In college I couldn’t manage ski rope tows and got thrown every time until an instructor stood behind me, put his arms around me, and said, “Just relax, let me carry you up.” He did and it worked great. And what had been impossible became easy after that.

My mother’s great fear of snakes influenced us kids until I made myself fight to be a good example for my grandkids. Though snakes are still not my favorite creatures, I can touch them now without revulsion, once I know which are truly harmful and which are non-dangerous lookalikes. In some areas of Israel, I scan paths for serpents, but turn off that brain function when back home.

The Ebola scare intensified while we were away. Five airports including Chicago had begun screening procedures by our return. One mature Christian woman on our team trusts God for health issues and thrived in Israel. When we changed planes in Paris, her new seatmate was a nurse who had been visiting home but was returning to the U.S.
“Where is home for you?”
“West Africa.”
“Do they have Ebola there?”
“Further away. Our area is fine.”
U.S. Customs forms came around needing completion. The nurse asked to borrow my friend’s pen. Small requests sometimes become bigger issues . . .

Even in fiction when characters overcome challenges that defeated them before, we celebrate their growthand are encouraged to do the same.

Have you faced heart-stopping fear? Are there things that used to paralyze you that no longer do? Tell us about them, and what made the difference.