Tag Archives: grace

Parting Words From The Word…Following His Lead When I Don’t Want To

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I don’t know why I don’t always follow His lead. I don’t know why I dare to question, or ignore, or put off responding. After all, I’ve experienced a lot of years walking with the Lord, some more closely than others.

But it wasn’t until recently that I realized I can look back on my many years and see that some of my most life-changing, spiritual-growth events came as a result of things I didn’t want to do.

For instance, way back in 1997, I didn’t want to share my marriage testimony with the women of my church. These women saw me as an upstanding Christian woman who had a long, happy marriage and who loved their kids. They didn’t know about how I had bulldozed my way through the first 15 years of my marriage. They hadn’t seen the dangerous repercussions of that experience. They didn’t know that event had propelled me to submit to the Father and seek to change who I was.

They didn’t know . . . and I liked it that way.

When God told me in 1997 that I had to share that experience with my church friends, I was quick to let Him know exactly what I thought about His great idea. It was a plain and simple “No way!”

I won’t go through all the gory details, but I’ll just say that His details were miraculous, parting-of-the-sea, a line-in-the-sand moment I couldn’t ignore. And I will say God took me kicking and screaming into women’s ministry through that experience. My life has never been the same. (If you’re interested, you can read about those details here and here.)

So, what if I had never obeyed, albeit defiantly? What if I had stuck to my guns, kept my secret, and never come clean? I don’t know that the world would be that much different, but I sure would be. I would have missed out on close to 20 years of serving Him as a Christian speaker.

I would have missed out on a lot.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

What about you? Are you hearing His voice, but saying no? Are you standing your ground, defying His plan for your life?

You could be missing out on a lot.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Just Follow Jesus and Life Will Be Easy, Right?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

This year I’m using a new book for part of my quiet time with the Lord. The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas A` Kempis; Classic Devotions in Today’s Language, compiled and edited by James N. Watkins is shedding new light on what it means to follow Christ, to be His disciple.

Kempis on Suffering: “Jesus has many lovers of his heavenly kingdom but few bearers of his cross. He has many seekers of comfort but few willing to face trouble and trial. He finds many companions at his table but few with him in fasting. Many desire to rejoice with him, but few are willing to undergo adversity for his sake.”

God’s Word: Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

My Revelation: There have been times in my life when I’ve been teased, insulted, and made to feel like a child for being a believer and follower of Christ. But I realize now I have no idea what true suffering for Christ, taking up His cross, really means.

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Kempis on Peace: “When you have no desire for outward things, only then you will enjoy internal peace.”

God’s Word: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

My revelation: How many times have I thought I would have peace, not worry, be happy…if only my circumstances were different?

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Kempis on Shining His Light: “Some have much of me on their lips, but little of me in their hearts.”

God’s Word: “…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

My Revelation: How many times have I done good works–good deeds–so that others would see me?

Yes, we’re followers of Christ. We love the Lord and thank Him for His sacrifice and grace. But are we–am I–giving Him my all?

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-39 NIV

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…A Baby Changed Everything

During the Christmas season, it has become my Christian Writer’s Den tradition to post this beautiful video and the life-giving words it proclaims. I’ve done it now for several years, and each time I hear it, I still get chills and my eyes fill with tears.

When Jesus was born, everything was changed.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch the beautiful images from the film, The Nativity, and listen to the words of this powerful song sung by Faith Hill.

YouTube Preview Image

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:11-14 (KJV)

During this blessed Christmas season, I’m especially thankful a Baby changed everything for me. And He wants to change everything for you, too.

I was lost but now I’m found! Hallelujah!

Christmas blessings as we celebrate the Gift and the Giver,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…What’s My Password?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

 

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time with passwords. Even though I know better, I’ll be absolutely sure that this time I’ll remember. Yea. Right. You know how that story ends.

But this week, as I was scrambling yet again to enter a correct password, it hit me that I have one password that will never change and will never be stolen. As a matter of fact, this is one Password that I want to share with everyone!

Not only will it allow entry into the best site of all, but with this holy Password, everything else in life can be changed forever.

 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (NIV)

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Parting Words From the WORD…Give Thanks to the Lord

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

 

During this month of thanks, let’s remember, it doesn’t get any simpler than this:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1-3

 

Whatever you’re going through, remember this:

Give thanks. He is good. His love endures forever.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…We ARE Somebodies

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. James 3:13 NIV

When I read this verse, it immediately took me back to a conversation at a Christian Communicators Conference where the topic was wisdom. Could be kind of a heady topic, wouldn’t you say? Especially for those who write, teach, and speak The Word.

Left to our own devices and convictions, it would be easy to think more highly of ourselves than we should. After all, people sometimes look up to us as writers and speakers, as if we were smarter or had something they couldn’t have.

As if we’re somebody.

Yes, I know that God gifts each of us differently and it’s up to us to use those gifts for His glory, but we have to remember that the gift of wisdom has nothing to do with us.

We are somebodies. We’re sinners, saved by grace based on nothing we’ve done or deserve.

So who is wise and understanding among us? If God has called us, gifted us, endowed us with the ability to write and speak about Him and teach His Word, it’s our responsibility to live a “good life” (God-honoring life) and continually offer good deeds done in the humility of our position: A sinner saved by grace.

That is the true evidence of any wisdom we may or may not have.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Yvonne Ortega, and Who Won Kathy Carlton Willis’ Book?

Yvonne Ortega headshotWelcome to the Christian Writer’s Den 5th Tuesday as we welcome author and speaker, Yvonne Ortega!

Yvonne and I go way back to 2005 or so when we first met through the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA). In 2011 she attended the NCompass Writing Retreats that Edie Melson and I were leading at the time (before life got so crazy that we had to discontinue it). Then in 2012, she attended Christian Communicators Conference. During that time, she was cranking out books and blog posts, while also providing counseling in many areas of need.

Since then, God has continued to use her in powerful ways to reach those who need to hear the Good News of the love, grace, and mercy of our Lord. She has gone on to get even more training and as you’ll see, is now training others! But one of the things I love the most about Yvonne is her often-stated goal, “To reach millions for Jesus in my lifetime.” Wow. Can you see why I’m excited about sharing her latest book with you?

Be sure to leave a comment for Yvonne and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy of her latest book, Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward.

So let’s get started! Welcome, Yvonne. First of all, I’d like you to tell my friends a little about yourself.

I’m a small-town gal who enjoys the beach and music—everything from country western to classical music. Mention travel, and I’ll pack my bags right away. I watch comedies and laugh until my sides hurt.

As I’ve already mentioned, you’re a professional speaker and an author. How did you get interested in this line of work and ministry?

As a child, I gathered the neighborhood kids to play school. I was the teacher. Mama took me to the library weekly until I could go on my own. I would get lost in a book and forget to eat if it weren’t for Mama’s dinnertime call. I liked the smell and feel of paper and composition books and wrote stories. At thirteen, I submitted my first letter to the editor of the local newspaper.

After a diagnosis of breast cancer fourteen and a half years ago, I cried out to God through journaling. After lots of rewrites, I wrote my first book, Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer. I had to speak in order to market and publicize the book.

That led me to speaker training, and now I’m a World Class Certified Speaking Coach.

What led you to write your second book?

Prior to breast cancer, I had gone through a domestic violence marriage, divorce, and single parenting. After breast cancer, I had four car accidents in seven years. None were my fault, but I suffered injuries and damage to my car. Six years ago, my only child unexpectedly passed away following surgery. Each crisis forced me to my knees in prayer and to the Bible for answers. God showered me with his love, Yvonne Ortega book cover 2compassion, and faithfulness.

After the divorce, I became a Licensed Professional Counselor and became involved in Women’s Ministry. I met many hurting women who didn’t know they could move from broken to beautiful with God’s help. That’s how my latest book, Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward, came about. Passion drives me to share the message of these life lessons with women worldwide. Hurting people don’t need to give up. They can move forward and lead a productive, joyful life beyond measure.

What words of wisdom do you have for women who want to write about their painful past?

  • Make sure you’re ready to write about your painful past without an emotional, physical, or spiritual collapse. Take your time to heal. Ask God to show you when you can tackle the trauma of your past. He will show you.
  • Have you forgiven those who hurt you? God says in 1 Peter 3:9, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.” I struggled to forgive my ex-husband. With God’s help, I’m no longer a prisoner of the past. Your readers want to know you aren’t either.
  • Acknowledge your pain and loss and admit you still grieve. I lost my mother before Mother’s Day and my only child three days after in the same year. Their birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Mother’s Day trigger the pain. They’re in heaven, but I can’t call or visit them and can’t send them a card or a gift. They can’t call or visit me, or send me a card or gift either. That hurts.
  • If you present yourself as Wonder Woman, your readers can’t identify with you. And you can’t minister to them. Acknowledge both your strengths and weaknesses.
  • In writing about your painful past, you answer a divine call. You minister to those you write and speak for. Your writing cannot be therapeutic journaling. There is a place for therapeutic journaling, but not for publication. For publication, include application, application, and more application. Have Scriptures, prayers, resources, links, quotations, etc. for the readers. Answer the question, “What’s in it for them?”

Your advice is right on target! Where can readers find your book?

Moving from Broken to Beautiful is available as a paperback and an ebook on Amazon and other online booksellers.

Do you have another book in progress?

I’m thrilled to say I’m halfway through writing a book on forgiveness.

Awesome, Yvonne! I didn’t know that! Thank you for joining us today. I pray God continues to bless you as you bless others.

And readers, don’t forget to leave a comment for Yvonne and you’ll be in the Random.org drawing for a free book. Be sure to return next week to see if you’re the winner.

Yvonne Ortega book cover 1Readers, you can contact Yvonne through:

Her website: www.YvonneOrtega.com

Her blog: On the homepage of her website

Twitter: @yvonneortega1

Facebook: Yvonne Ortega

Facebook Community Page: Yvonne Ortega

To contact Yvonne about a speaking event, please visit her website or contact her directly at yvonne@yvonneortega.com

Bio: Yvonne Ortega is a World Class Certified Speaking Coach, an international speaker, author of Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward and Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer and a contributing author to two anthologies. She has taught at major Christian writing conferences in the USA. Yvonne has been interviewed on radio and TV programs including Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk, the Harvest Show, 100 Huntley Street, and Marnie’s Friends. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has taught Precept Bible Studies and in Bible Study Fellowship. Yvonne currently serves on the Advisory Board for Christians in Recovery. She served as the Regional Speaker Trainer of Virginia for more than three years and on the board of Kairos Prison Ministry. Subscribe to her newsletter and free weekly devotion at www.YvonneOrtega.com

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And who won Kathy Carlton Willis’ book, Grin with Grace?Grin-With-Grace_cover

The winner is:

Jean Wilund!

Congratulations, Jean! All you need to do is contact me with your snail mail address and Kathy will get your book right out to you!

And for you who didn’t win, here’s your direct Amazon link to Grin with Grace. I know you want your own copy so you’ll be able to grin through the tough times, too!

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Friends, I don’t know if you noticed, but both of these books are about how to get through those tough times in life. I didn’t plan this, but apparently God did! I hope you find that both of these books encourage you and lift you up through the human lessons and the supernatural love, grace, and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Grace and peace be your in abundance,

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Kathy Carlton Willis and Who Won Edie Melson’s Book?

Kathy Carlton Willis ImageIt’s a joy to introduce my friend, Kathy Carlton Willis, to you!

Kathy and I have been friends for many years and have seen many changes in the writing world. But one thing remains constant: The secret to getting your work published is to write well! And that’s exactly what Kathy did with her latest book, Grin with Grace. What a joy to share this new book with you!

Leave a comment for Kathy and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy of Grin with Grace! Be sure to check back next week to see if you’re the winner. Now, let’s get started!

Welcome, Kathy! Let’s begin by letting you tell my friends a little bit about yourself.

I’m a flawed pastor’s wife on the search for grace. I’ve discovered a lot about God, others and myself along the way. I dote on my Boston Terrier, Jazzy, and love to find the humor in any given situation—even the trials. I’ve laughed. A lot. Grace (and Jazzy) have a lot to do with the ability to grin even when I’d rather groan or grit my teeth.

Will you share how you began your speaking and writing ministry?

I guess we can blame my profusion of words on my Mom. She says I pretty much came out of the womb talking, and soon after she helped me discover our public library. I’ve always been a words girl and started writing when I started writing—and haven’t looked back!

How did you come up with Grin with Grace?

All through my husband’s time in church ministry—over thirty years now—I’ve learned the importance of grinning with grace. So often, when I felt backed into a corner by a not-so-well-meaning church member, I found a way to bite my tongue: I told myself to grin with grace. It became my go-to phrase.

To organize the book, I searched for the word grace in Scripture and combined the results into different categories. I discovered how God blesses us with His grace, and the ways grace impacts our relationships with Him and others. Since life is more bearable with laughter, humorous transparency is woven into the fabric of this study. Hence—Grin with Grace.

I know from my own experience that God often qualifies us as authors by allowing us to gain life experience before we write on the topic. What happened to prepare you for writing Grin with Grace?

While writing this series, I dealt with multiple health issues, surgeries, cancer, and hospitalizations. At the same time, I moved to a different town and dove in to a new church ministry with my husband. Very little in life seemed familiar or comfortable. But God infused grace into each challenge and turned them into opportunities.

What will readers discover in Grin with Grace?Grin-With-Grace_cover

Grace isn’t meant to be hoarded. Once God blesses us with grace, we are then recruited to be instruments of His grace to others. Grin with Grace tells stories of real-life grace and gives suggestions for creating new grace moments for others. Learn how to become a Grace agent.

What are some of the events you have planned to go along with your Grin with Grace book? Event planners are welcome to contact me to find out more about these programs: Grace Gal Pal’s Night Out, Grin with Grace Banquet, Tea or Brunch, and the Grin with Grace Retreat.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

If you’re serious about obtaining the writing goals God’s given you, then you have to act like the CEO of your own company and do the work of writing. If you treat it as a hobbyist, you will get hobby-like results. But when you treat it like a business, the industry will take you seriously. Take the time to do it right the first time rather than getting in a hurry. Ask yourself: “Am I in love with the idea of being a writer, or am I in love with actually writing?”

(Vonda here: Kathy didn’t tell you, so I will. Kathy also has a writers group she coaches called WordGirls. It’s a group customized to the needs of the members, and involves a variety of services: webinars, private Facebook discussion group, one-on-one coaching, critiques, weekend getaways, downloadable tutorials, monthly newsletter and more. Their next event is in Kentucky later in October. Contact Kathy if you’d like to hear more about WordGirls.)

Where can readers find your book?

Grin with Grace is published by AMG Publishing and can be found or requested anywhere books are sold.

So what’s on the horizon? Do you have another book in progress?

The next book in the Grin With…Bible Study Series is Grin with Joy. It’s set to release around March, 2016. I also have a book for speakers that released this year titled Speaker to Speaker: The Essential Speaker’s Companion.

Thank you for being with us today, Kathy. You gave us all a lot to think about and work on.

And friends, don’t forget to leave a comment for Kathy and you’ll be in the drawing for a free copy of her book!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00025]Readers, you can contact Kathy through:
Her website:
www.KathyCarltonWillis.com
Her Grin with Kathy Blog: http://www1.cbn.com/blog-grin-and-grow-with-kathy
Twitter: @KCWComm
Facebook: Kathy Carlton Willis
Facebook Groups: Grin with Kathy and Speaker to Speaker
To contact Kathy, please email her at: kathy@kathycarltonwillis.com

Bio: Kathy Carlton Willis writes and speaks with a balance of funny and faith—whimsy and wisdom. Not many funny girls also have Bible degrees! Kathy’s a pastor’s wife, which gives her plenty of opportunities to grin with grace. She shines the light on issues that hold women back and inspires their own lightbulb moments. Almost a thousand of Kathy’s articles have been published in books, magazines, newspapers and online publications. Kathy’s tagline describes her best: Light & Lively: His Reflection/Her Laughter. Kathy lives with her pastor/husband, Russ, in Rockdale, Texas.

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Who won Edie Melson’s book, Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers?

And the winner is…

Rene` Diane Aube!

Congratulations, Rene`! Just contact me with your mailing address and your book will be on it’s way!

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Thanks for Tweeting!

Can you grin through the gook of life? Grace can’t be hoarded! #Free book #amwriting @KCWComm via @VondaSkelton http://ow.ly/Sve09 (Click to Tweet)

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…There’s No Sinners Anonymous Program

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I am a sinner.

No 12-Step or Sinners Anonymous Program can change that fact.

Guess what. You’re a sinner, too.

And yet we invest countless hours and waste sleepless nights trying to hide it. Why?

Oh, if only we would be transparent like Paul, who said in Romans 7 (and I paraphrase), “I don’t know why I do the things I do. I don’t do what I know I should do and I do what I know I shouldn’t!”

Or that we would be broken like David when he said in Psalm 51:8-9, “Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.”

My pastor, Larry Scott, once said, “We’re either broken and sinful and admit it. Or we’re broken and sinful and hide it.”

Which will we be today?

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…The More I Seek You

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

 

It’s Thursday night as I write this. My heart is so full. Tonight I had the joy of leading a precious sister to the love, grace, and mercy of our Lord. Her entire life has been one of abuse from those who should have cared for her. But tonight she knows the Truth of the Gospel. She’s clean, her past is gone, and she finally knows that she’s loved, simply for who she is.

I got home and couldn’t wait to get to my office so I could worship and praise Him alone. Just the two of us. And now I invite you to have your own time with Him.

After all, the more we seek Him, the more we find Him; and the more we find Him, the more we love Him. I pray that you’ll take the time today to seek, find, and love Him.

 

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You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1 (NIV)

 

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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