Friday, September 26, 2014
Friday, July 4, 2014
Find out more …
Stories of Faith and Courage from Prison, is an inspirational collection of true stories laid out in a daily format; one per day for 365 days. Each story will tell about a work of God in the lives of those who have experienced some aspect of prison. A single scripture verse will accompany each writing, pointing to the hope and truth found in God’s word.
While incarcerated, many inmates spiritually hit bottom and come face-to-face with the choices they have made. Thankfully, God uses Christian volunteers, prison chaplains, family members, outside friends, Christian pen pals, and other inmates, to share His love and truth with the lost behind bars. Regardless of how they are offered hope, inmate’s testimonies, along with their daily walk challenges, are moving and inspirational.
You will read amazing stories including Brandon, a prisoner who had a prayer warrior mother, and was also visited by a Christian volunteer. Brandon came to Christ while incarcerated, and witnessed constant gang activity behind bars, including preying upon the youth on the outside. Since his release, Brandon often risks his life in his ministry of intervening in the lives of youth who are at risk to become involved in gang activity.
The battle for the souls of inmates is fierce. One female prisoner said, “When I first arrived at prison in 2002, Christianity was openly practiced and Satanic practices were underground. Now it is just the opposite.” This inspirational book will remind Christians of their admonishment by Jesus to visit the imprisoned, to pray for them, and to share the gospel with them (Matthew 25:36). These collective, true stories will especially touch those who are uncomfortable with prison ministry, helping them to develop compassion for the shunned souls of society.
Quotes from inmate letters:
I was deeply moved by receiving the blessing of the gifts Willow sent. Being that I don’t have support from family and friends, I’ve come to understand my real family comes from God. God had showed me over the years that He’s the only one I need to depend on. Even though I didn’t hear from family and friends, I was relieved knowing that God always thinks of His people, by utilizing your church and staff to reach out to people such as myself. I want to thank you all personally for doing the work of our Father.
James, Pontiac CC
My purpose for writing you is to inform you that I have received the Christmas bag Willow sent to the prison, and wanted to say to all that worked on this touching idea, thank you, thank you, thank you.
To put all of your judgment about those in prison to the side, and sacrifice your time and money to send something that is helpful, was very heartwarming.
A.J., Pontiac CC
Thank you so much for the gifts Willow gave me on Christmas, and your thoughts and prayers. It is because of all of you that I have finally decided to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
Johnathon, Ogle County Jail
Thank you so very much for thinking of us in prison. You put a huge smile on our faces. That was very thoughtful and I’m very grateful. I feel like the Spiritual Survival book was meant for me.
Samantha, Logan CC
I wish to offer my words of gratitude. What you did was more than give us snacks and trinkets. You even did more than speak to our spirituality. You showed us that you cared about us, despite our faults. You brought us some semblance of a Christmas season. Receiving those packages and digging through them with wonder and anticipation gave us a chance to remember how Christmas use to be. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. To take up your time and money to do that for us, without even knowing who we are, this is not something that will be soon forgotten.
Brian, Pontiac CC
Thank you for the Christmas cards. I thought I was not going to be able to send a Christmas card to my mom, but thanks to you I was able to. This is my first Christmas away from my family and no one send me a card. I was mad until I got this from you. It made my day.
Rayvone, Vienna CC
When I returned to my housing unit on December 18th, I found a package on my desk that was donated by your congregation. This was the first time in 11 years that anyone has given me any type of gift for the Christmas holiday.
Ken, Pontiac CC
I am writing from Massachusetts to thank you for all that Willow dose with the prison ministry there in IL. I have a nephew that’s incarcerated in Cook County Jail. He asked for a Bible, and received one. He’s now exploring his faith.
Teresa G, aunt of an incarcerated nephew
Thank you all for thinking about us in here. So often society looks at us as expandable, incorrigible, evil, wicked, undesirable, etc. In fact most of us are not any of those things. We are guilty of our crimes 90% of the time, but our crimes are not the sum total of who we are. The gifts you send are Gods love in action.
Patrice, Pontiac CC
Kym McNabney is wife and mother. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and the treasurer for the ACFW Chicago Area Chapter. She fosters for Collie Rescue of Greater IL, and writes for their newsletter. The Coordinator for the pen pal program through Willow Creek Community Church, and involved in other areas of the prison and jail ministry. She had thirteen stories published in, Stories of Faith and Courage from Prison. When she’s not writing she loves to read, listen to music, and watch movies.
Other posts you might like:
3rdDay Rocker—Making Ministry from a Passion
March of the Minions
My Prayer Shawl Ministry
Friday, June 20, 2014
Whenever I begin to write a story it always starts as a romance. Of course, my characters take off and do things I’d never have expected when I first “birthed” them (they’re like children that way). But in the beginning, it’s always JUST a romance. With this in mind, I know there will need to be a defining moment where the man must slay a dragon (of some sort) for his lady.
You may think this idea is sexist and old fashioned. “Why can’t the woman slay a dragon for him?” You ask.
Well that’s fine and dandy, and most of my heroines do some slaying too, but if I’m going to fall in love with the man (which is unnecessary for me with the ladies I write) he will need to be willing to take a personal risk to get the heroine what she needs.
In my novella, At the Edge of a Dark Forest, my female protagonist, Carly, explains this idea to her counterpart, Cole, when he teases her about her penchant for reading the genre. He, being a double amputee, wonders if he could measure up as a dragon slayer.
Because dragons come in many forms.
Early in my marriage, I’d scheduled one of those free offers to check our heating and air conditioning to clear it for winter service. FREE, I thought, who could pass up FREE? I was a little naïve back then. Of course, after the check, the technician handed me a very long list of repairs we could have done at a “reduced” price by their company if I signed NOW. I was warned, if not done soon, the whole unit would blow, costing me thousands of dollars in the end. My heart pounded. What should I do? I don’t want to miss this opportunity, and I didn’t want to risk the larger expenditure that would surely come.
I called my husband as the technician huffed loudly and tapped his toe in front of me. I could hear the comforting smile in my husband’s voice as he asked to speak to the man. I handed him the phone. They chatted. A few minutes later, the man gave me back the phone and packed his things as my husband told me not to worry. He’d consult a friend who could advise us and potentially do the work for much less than this company. He did, costing a third of what I’d been quoted.
I don’t know why this seemed a big deal to me, but I felt like a dragon had been slayed that day. A dragon in the shape of a scam-artist who’d infiltrated my home and planned to drain me of my life’s blood … or at least some cash. It gave me great peace to know my husband knew how to interrogate this man to get to the truth, to call on resources, and to ensure his family’s home was properly cared for.
My husband slays dragons every day in his office, where he manages employees, ensures goals are met and a salary is gained to feed his family. He is my hero. My knight in shining armor. He is also the biggest encourager in my writing. I am blessed.
I once listened to a woman complain that her husband never thanked her for the work she did in the home. I hear ya lady—it can be a thankless job. But I was stopped cold when she recounted how he asked of her, “When have you thanked me for going to my job every day?”
I wondered, “Had I ever thanked my husband for his provision?” I hadn’t. I try to rectify that now … To thank him for the work he does and most of all delaying HIS dream of being a writer (for which he is very gifted) to provide for his family so I can pursue MY dreams.
Thank you, Rick Almony, for slaying all those dragons!
Have you thanked your dragon-slayer today?
Friday, June 6, 2014
Do you ever have those moments where you feel truly inspired by God and know you are on the right track? Many authors talk about writing the story God gave them. It’s a wonderful feeling as the Holy Spirit flows through your fingertips onto the page. But there’s another kind of Holy Spirit experience that’s even better than knowing it as it happens. It’s the moment you read back what you thought was a mundane, common-place scene and find the gems He left behind. That’s when you know you are being used as an Empty Vessel of the Lord. And there’s no greater feeling in the world, because the emptier you are of yourself, the more room you have for Him. And the more Him, the better!
I have many moments in my life I look back to and see God’s work in play, even times I’d put Him aside for what I’d deemed more important things. Though I’d neglected Him, He never treated me as though I were of lesser importance. I think that’s why those moments are so special to me now.
He still gives me these wonderful revelations of His presence in my life. One most recent was as I wrote the last scene of my novella, At the Edge of a Dark Forest.
In writing fiction, it’s important to get the pacing of the story just so. That way, the reader can feel they are in the moment with the character. In the final scene, my female protagonist, Carly, is going to a spot in the forest to see the male protagonist, Cole, for the first time in many months. I felt this walk in the woods needed to take a little time so the reader could feel Carly’s nervousness about seeing Cole again. I wanted to drag it out just a bit so as to heighten the suspense of what she’d find. So I added lots of details of the woods she traveled and thoughts of past moments there.
I asked myself, “What would she be thinking?”
She’d be thinking of the tree her father’s car hit when he meant to commit suicide. That was the moment where Cole and Carly’s two worlds intertwined.
“What would the tree look like now?”
I wrote the answer into the story, “New growth in broken spots and animals finding shelter in the holes.”
I added the crunch of the leaves under her feet and the exertion of the climb and ended the story. Phew! It always feels so good to type “The End” even when you know there are reams of edits to make afterwards. So I read through the scene several times, clarified points, elaborated on ideas and …
Then it hit me!
New growth in broken spots and animals finding shelter in the holes.
That phrase, unbeknownst to me as I typed the words, was a perfect metaphor for Cole’s story. You see, Cole is a double amputee after having been injured from an IED in the Iraq War. Carly came into his life to provide him with her prototype prosthetics and train him how to use them.
New growth in broken spots …
But that was not the part that really shocked me. It was the last words of the sentence …
… and animals finding shelter in the holes.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. Could the metaphor be more perfect? I sobbed at the realization, because I had nothing to do with its use. It was all God … when I wasn’t looking. There’s nothing more extraordinary then the feeling of being an Empty Vessel of the Lord. Thank you, God!
Oh yeah, if you’re wondering how the animals finding shelter in the holes relates to the story, well, there’s only one way to find out <wink>.
Other Posts you might like:
Friday, April 25, 2014
Today, I'm visiting Jo Huddleston's blog.
There’s also a giveaway!!!
But before you do …
Watch this video and find out what color Tai Anderson's eyes are (3:00)
Friday, April 18, 2014
But it is.
That is the day our sins were washed away for good. Past tense. Were washed away. For Good.
I guess today really is a good day, even for Jesus, because it's the day we became good enough to spend eternity with Him. I think He likes that too. In fact, He gave His life for the idea.
So have a very GOOD Friday!
And to prepare you for the celebration of the Resurrection, I want to share a music video with you, by a wonderful group I only just found out about today. I hope you love them as much as I do. If you can't see the imbed, try this link. Here's The Western Den:
Friday, April 11, 2014
As many of you know, I’ve published a novella based on a modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast. This is part of a larger project with my critique partners, June Foster, Gail Pallotta, Vanessa Riley and Mildred Colvin. Today, June Foster is going to share a little of what she learned about ADD while researching her character, Red, for her novella, Red and the Wolf. Oh, how I relate!
ADD Spells Red
Do you find yourself constantly late, overwhelmed by everyday jobs, forgetful, or disorganized? Are you ready to tear your hair out? Don't go bald. You might be struggling with Attention Deficit Disorder which affects adults as well as children. As an adult, the more responsibilities you have in your life, the greater the struggle.
In my fairytale novella Red and the Wolf, which is based on Little Red Riding Hood, Lilly Hood is a journalist who struggles with ADD. In doing research for her character, I discovered some interesting facts including the most common symptoms.
ADD adults can "zone out" even in the middle of a conversation. They're not trying to be rude but just can't help it sometimes. They might be reading the most fascinating book yet find it hard to focus. Frustrating. Overlooking details and finishing a task, another ADD symptom, can be a detriment to one's career. Lilly Hood, reporter for the Daily Scoop in Fairwilde, Alabama, would agree.
If you know someone who has begun multiple projects that remain unfinished, it's possible your friend could be plagued with ADD symptoms, since procrastination is another issue. Poor self-control and reckless or spontaneous behavior without regard for the consequences is an additional indication. In Red and the Wolf, heroine Lilly Hood displays one more common symptom—she can't keep her mouth shut. She constantly delivers a stream of words and conversation, especially when boyfriend Hunter Woods is trying to kiss her. What's she afraid of?
In doing research, I discovered an interesting concept. ADD adults can channel their symptoms into positive outcomes. There's hope. Since ADD people are high-energy and good brainstormers, they are capable of working long hours on a task. They always have a surplus of ideas, creativity, excitement, and interest to add to the mix. Too, they are flexible, results-oriented, and independent. So there is a bright side to Attention Deficit Disorder. Just ask Lilly Hood when she's not afraid to climb a tree and text her boyfriend for help after she's pursued by a vicious bear in the forest.
June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in Education and a MA in counseling. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, and Deliver Us, and Hometown Fourth of July. Ryan's Father is available from WhiteFire Publishing. Red and the Wolf, a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, is available from Amazon.com. June loves to write stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. June uses her training in counseling and her Christian beliefs in creating characters who find freedom to live godly lives.
Newspaper reporter Lilly Red Hood forgot her dinner date with handsome Hunter Woods, thanks to ADD she's had since childhood. In Hunter's absence fellow reporter Wolf Skinner moves in with less than honorable intentions. When Lilly gets lost in the Alabama forest, which of these gentlemen will be her hero?
Other posts you might like:
Monday, April 7, 2014
If you'd like to see what I've been blogging about, here are the links of the tour so far:
March 26th—Writing Prompts Blog—Jennifer Hallmark
If you'd like to see the rest as it comes along, check out the Events/Blog Tour tab above. I will be sharing more here very soon.
Thanks for stopping by.
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Why am I doing a blog post on a prosthetic socket design?
1) It's the prototype design I used in my novella, At the Edge of a Dark Forest.
2) It's really cool, and ...
3) It's a great metaphor for how we should be as members of the Body of Christ.
Ha! I knew I could make it relevant!
When I started researching prosthetic products for my main character, Carly Rose, to be introducing to her counterpart, Cole Harrison, I knew nothing of what the typical amputee experiences while using prosthetics. I wanted to find something innovative, that Carly could be a part of, so I looked for hands with fingers that could move more naturally, and products that claimed to have the potential to help an amputee sense texture and heat. Believe it or not, there is research being done on these, but it is bulky and would not have worked in my story.
What I didn't expect to find was a product that though it appears to be a simple design enhancement, could dramatically impact the maneuverability of its users. That's what the Hi-Fi socket design does, and more.
Think about it. If you are wearing a plastic bucket fit to your thigh, around the flesh, it will move with your soft tissue. And some of us have more soft-tissue than others. This leads to instability, rubbing, burning, sweating, as well as less controlled movement. BioDesign's High Fidelity socket pushes the soft tissue away and attaches closer to the main structure of your body--the bone. No extra movement. Less sweating due to openings, no rubbing and therefore no burning. It seems so simple, and yet so extraordinary.
This is how we want to be in the Body of Christ. We don't just want to be holding onto the soft, fleshy part of His Word. We want to be fastened to the bone. Less movement equals more stability, less friction, less burning, fewer sores.
And more maneuverability!
Many think that in following God's Word it limits us. But like the old bucket-design socket, without God's guidance, yes, we will move a lot, but we will wobble and need to use more energy to do daily tasks. As a member of the Body who is attached closer to the structure, the movement is stable, guided, and therefore more functional--more productive.
Doesn't that sound better to you?
Friday, February 21, 2014
Exodus 2:3 (NIV) “But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.”
Authors often talk about how their manuscript is like a baby and when they release it for the world to read—and criticize—it’s like sending their child into the wilderness.
At the Edge of a Dark Forest, out to be published and offered for sale on Amazon, Smashwords and all its distributors, my fingers actually shook.
But I did it!
I kept musing about my “baby” out there with no one to shelter it, and it made me think of Moses’ mother …
And all of you.
Moses’ mother had two choices:
Keep her son, risking he be murdered by the king of Egypt
Let him go … allowing him to do the work for which God made him.
She released him to the current of the Nile. That’s what I needed to do with my manuscript. I needed to let it go and do the work God intended for it.
I have a confession. I LOVE my story. I really do. I write for me—the kinds of things I love to read. But I don’t expect the world to love it the same as I do. However, I know God has planned for it to touch someone somewhere. I hope I get to hear from those people who are touched. It encourages me to continue in God’s work.
The same goes for you, dear reader. God has requested you release your baby—the ministry He’s called you to. If you don’t, it will die. Given to Him, it will live, and grow, and blossom. Don’t hold onto the gift He’s given you. Give it away. Because when you do, He will not only protect it and nurture it, He will give you infinitely more!
Other posts you might like:
Dark Forests and Military Service
Let Him Steal Your Show
How Many Talents Do You Get?
Friday, February 7, 2014
One of my most read posts, and consequently, most commented on, is “Can God Heal Autsim?” It seems many people are dealing with this issue and would like answers as to what God’s role is in the whole affair. I’m not going to tell you the answer because I don’t feel there is only ONE. God deals with each and every one of His Creations differently. He made us unique. He will treat us as such.
Still, I know God CAN heal autism. I also know that He can do miraculous things THROUGH autism, as He has for my family. Either way, it’s best for all of us if we invite God into the process of our lives so He can work as He deems best. To trust in HIM.
In the above mentioned post, I ask my readers to pray for my son (who has autism), and I promise to pray for their afflicted child, as well. And I do. Many have left comments to tell me of their children. Others have emailed me. So today, I’m going to do that again.
Out loud this time!
Please join me in praying for these children, their families and the many others struggling with this disorder. Pray for healing, pray for patience, pray for resources, pray for answers. Pray that we see God in the process and know that He is Good.
Pray! It’s the most powerful thing you can do!
We thank you that you are an intimate part of each of our lives. Not You and a crowd of believers, but You and ME, You and Bridgette, You and Hannah, You and Des, You and Aida, You and Rebekah.
You and each and every one of us—individually. You treat us as the unique creation we are, not as others want us to be.
We thank you that you watch over our needs and give us what is best. We thank you for the many others who commented on the previous post with thoughts, prayers and resources—Albert Soo, Hannah Lim, Thomas Wagner and those who did not leave their name. We thank you for the many who have prayed. We praise you that you created believers who care!
Please, dear Lord, we ask that You will continue to show Yourself in our lives, that you will bless all our children and cause them to know You as well. We ask that You will give us the resources for the jobs you have mapped out for us.
Give us peace, give us guidance, give us Your Joy!
Lord, please show us how to pray for our family. The Bible tells us Your Holy Spirit translates our groans into prayer. I’m groaning Lord! Know my heart. I know You do. Thank You for that.
And as always, Lord, I pray you will heal my son. I pray You will give him words to speak so he can tell me all that is on his heart. I pray for all the others who are dealing with the troubling effects of this disorder. I pray for those who’ve requested prayer from me and my readers, those who have the disorder: Matthew, James and Rashad, and the many who did not leave a name. I pray these families will see Your work in their lives today and know it is REAL.
I pray this in Your Holy Son’s name, Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior!
Friday, January 24, 2014
The internet is full of blogs. Have you noticed that? It used to be that if you had a blog, everyone read your stuff. But today, there are so many to choose from it’s hard to find the right one for you.
Recently, I’ve found a few that I enjoy, and a few I feel provide something a little different, so I added them to my blog list. Today, I want to highlight them.
Though I read a lot of blogs about writing, this is my MINISTRY blog, so I will not be highlighting the writing ones. If you’re looking for writing information, go to my Writers/Readers blog at InfiniteCharacters.com.
So here are some of my favorites:
Cross and Cutlass—This is fiction author MaryLu Tyndall’s blog. MaryLu writes swashbuckling stories, and has recently decided to complete her Christian Pirate (that’s right, I said Christian Pirate) series. Intrigued? You’ll have to check them out to see. This blog is a bit of a mix of things. She sometimes features good fiction/non-fiction books, tells us about her research or highlights something important from the Bible that is relevant to the day. I love her expression of faith, mostly because she seems to have a deep understanding of the necessary balance of Truth and Grace.
A Girl Like Me—This blog was started by the wives of two of the members of the Christian Rock Band, Tenth Avenue North—Heather Owen and Kelly Donehey. What I love about this blog is the HEART for young women who are struggling in life and in faith. It provides love, acceptance, AND a firm foundation for those who have questions or may have strayed and need a way back home.
SammyA.—This blog is a bit lighter than the one above, though it serves much of the same purpose—helping those who may not understand the message of the Bible and need a non-threatening means of understanding it.
Sacred Outfitters—I just found this one recently while searching for information on preparing Christians for college. Jeff Baxter, the host of this blog, has written about that very topic. What I like about this blog is that it gives firm, in-depth information for those who are ready to dive deeper into the foundations of their faith and want to be able to share it with others.
Everyone’s Story—This is my friend, Elaine Stock’s, blog. She highlights a number of Christian authors who share inspiring stories of God working in their lives.
For other great blogs, check out my sidebar under “Check it out.” I hope you find something that will inspire you.
Other posts you might like:
Friday, January 17, 2014
Here’s the blurb:
Sacrifice—No Greater Love
Friday, January 10, 2014
If you can’t see the imbed, click here.
This song always makes me cry!
Listen and remember …
The days we are given are gifts from above
Get out and do what you were meant to do
Live and Love!
Thank you, Superchick!!!
Other posts you might like:
Friday, January 3, 2014
As a former counselor who specialized in working with eating disorders, people would often ask me the question, “Don’t these girls already know they are thin enough?” Hmmm. I couldn’t answer that question. Why? Because when I asked it of my clients I’d often get a perplexed expression in return. They didn’t have an answer. Not one.
I suppose thin enough would be the kind of weight that makes one happy. You see, the goal of becoming thin, is to be desirable, and even more important, in control. Supposedly, these things make a person happy.
We are told that being thin enough will help us achieve that result, so when it doesn’t (and it can’t), we assume we haven’t gotten there yet. So the only thing to do, is become more of the thing that didn’t achieve the goal in the first place.
I suspect it’s the same for those who have so much money they couldn’t spend it in a lifetime, and yet their primary goal is to accrue more.
Rich enough? What is that?
It’s another attempt at becoming happy. But does it ever get us there? I don’t think so, because it seems those who already have these things are still clamoring to increase them. Yet there are people who have so much less, muddling through the ups and downs of life, in what one might actually call Joy. Yes, they have sorrow, hard times and downright grief, but they are able to bounce back, view the bigger picture and be content. How does one achieve this feat if it can’t be received through riches and beauty?
The answer does not lie in gaining control of one’s life. More control means more responsibility, more worries to work through, more people to manipulate. The answer is in giving over control to the One who knows what to do with it. The One who always has the right answer. The One who thinks you are desirable because He made you perfectly for His purposes—to love and be loved. The only One who can bring you true Joy.
It’s not about becoming thinner, richer or even smarter. It’s about resting in the love of Your Father in Heaven. Now go get some rest :o).
Ecclesiastes 5:10-15 (NIV) “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless …”
Other posts you might like: