Sunday, August 9, 2015

I Quit Going to Church

I have a confession to make: I quit going to church. There, I said it. I went fairly consistently on the weekends that the boys were here, but when they weren't, it was hard. I was all alone. I don't really know anyone at church that isn't connected with my children. And it was just downright painful.

After my ex-husband got the ruling that I could not have the boys on Sundays and Wednesdays, I couldn't bring myself to go to church anymore. I went once, and everyone asked me about the boys. I started to cry, and I couldn't focus on the sermon. Each week, I had another excuse for why I was just missing *this week*. Now, I've realized that I haven't been to church for most of the summer.

Today, I was determined that I needed to be in church. I was slow getting ready, missed breakfast, but I had made up my mind that I need to be faithful. I got to church right as the service was starting. Greeters were still at the door to the lobby, but it wasn't the greeter that I'm used to, the one who knows my story and understands where I am right now. It was the greeter that used to meet us at the door when the boys were with me. The one who would encourage my oldest to go to group even when he didn't want to. I hadn't seen this greeter in months. First thing he asks me is if my son is hiding from him. This was always part of their routine. My son would try to avoid youth group because he was shy, and this greeter had made it his mission to encourage my son to engage.

I try to answer him, but I fumble with my words and begin crying. He is shocked and confused. He says something about being sorry, but I don't quite catch the words. I sit in the lobby, unable to enter with the worship. Stragglers pass by and acknowledge me, looking away quickly when they see the tears in my eyes. No one engages with me. The pastor sees me and waves, then he turns to enter the gymnasium for worship. I try to listen to the praise songs reflected on the screen, but the words are jumbled in my mind.

After about 15 minutes of trying to hold back the tears, the same greeter came through the lobby. Pity showed in his eyes as he told me that he would send up some prayers for me, then he continued on his way, stopping to talk with another family and play with their toddler. I stood and hobbled for the door, tightly grabbing my cane. Grief was wracking my body as I tried to walk to my car. The gravel on the steep driveway slipped under my feet, seeming to share the loss that I felt. It slid away, tumbling down the hill, one tiny rock at a time.

I climbed into my truck, grasping the handle to pull myself in. Closing the door, I allowed the tears to fall down my face. Slowly, they eased enough that I could drive home. Perhaps, next week I will try again.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Author Interview: Laurie A. Coombs

Many, many moons ago (like three years), I started a new feature interviewing authors of upcoming or newly release books that I believe my readers would love. The last few years have seen a lot of changes in my life, and this blog has fallen by the wayside. But tonight, I'd like to share a book with you that is causing me to re-think my ability to forgive and receive forgiveness. I hope you will enjoy the interview as well as the book.

Q&A with Laurie Coombs

Author of Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness

Q: What would you like for our readers to know about you personally?
A: I’m just a girl who loves Jesus. Someone who believes God enough to follow His lead. I love my husband and children more than I can ever say. I love spending time with my family and friends. I drink entirely way too many soy chai tea lattes. I am terrible at keeping a workout schedule. And I feel most alive when I speak about Jesus.  

Q: Tell us about your family.

A: My family is most certainly my greatest blessing here on this earth. My husband, Travis, and I have been married almost fourteen years but have been together for close to eighteen. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long––we were just babies, seventeen and eighteen years old, when we began dating. 

Travis and I have two wonderfully amazing daughters, who are seven and nine years old, who we absolutely adore. But our family is not finished yet. We’ve been in the process of adopting from Ethiopia for almost five years now and are in the home stretch to bring our three year old little boy and five year old little girl home! Quite honestly, we cannot wait to see this epic journey come to completion, and so prayers are very much appreciated!! 

Q: Have you written other nonfiction books? 

A: Not yet! But I have a sneaking suspicion God might call me to write a book on faith and belief enough to follow Him in the hard places. I have so many more incredible stories of God’s faithfulness in the face of difficult circumstances in me, but we’ll just have to wait and see where He leads!

Q: Do you have any other books in the works right now?

A. Letters from My Father’s Murderer has been keeping me pretty busy over the last three years, and I quite honestly haven’t had much time for anything else. I told my husband I’m never going to write another book, when I was in the thick of it a few months back. His response made me chuckle. He told me writing a book is probably like having a baby––toward the end, you think you’ll never do it again, but once you give birth––and see the fruit of your labor––you get amnesia of sorts and are ready to do it all over again. I think Travis is right. This will not be my only book.

Q: What kinds of hobbies and leisure activities do you enjoy?

A: I absolutely love doing just about anything outdoors––hiking, camping, backpacking, snow skiing––and so does the rest of my family. Together with some of our closest friends, we spend most weekends outside, enjoying God’s creation in one form or another. 

Aside from that, I love to read. I can often be caught reading four or five books at the same time (though not in one sitting). And I’d say one of my favorite things to do is to share dinner with our closest friends while our gaggle of kids run around playing with one another. 

Q: Why did you write the featured book?
A: To be honest, I didn’t initially want to write this book. I wanted to share my story, but I knew that writing it in a book would require me to bare all. I knew I’d have to share difficult things, and I quite honestly didn’t want to. But greater than my resistance was my desire to see people experience freedom and redemption and healing as I had. I wanted God to be glorified for what He had done in and through my life. 

I knew God was calling me to write this book. And I knew God well enough to know that if I answered that call I’d most assuredly see lives change as a result of the message He has given me. God allowed me to see that good could come out of the ashes of my past. That I could play a small part in the grand story He has been unfolding since the beginning of time. That I could participate in what He’s doing in the here and now, for the good of many. And so, I chose to say yes, and of course, I’m now completely on board with God’s plan for my life.

Q: What do you want the reader to take away from the book?
A: Hope is at the heart of my message. God truly has worked all things for good in my life. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” The first part of Genesis 50:20 says, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” God brings good out of evil. Love out of hate. Peace out of despair. I believe it is His desire to do this for every one of us. You see, our pain won’t be wasted. We don’t have to sit in it. If we bring our pain, past and present, to God, He will redeem it.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to tell my readers about you or your book?
A: I’d like the readers to know that we all have wounds. Every one of us. And my pain is no more valid than yours or anyone else’s. I believe pain is pain, regardless of its cause. But here’s the thing, Jesus came that we might have life. Life to the full. He came to bind the brokenhearted. To proclaim freedom to the captives. To release prisoners from their darkness. To comfort all who mourn. To bestow a crown of beauty instead of ashes. In short, He came to redeem. To make us new. 

Jesus once said that we will have troubles in this life, “but,” He said, “take heart for I have overcome the world.” Troubles will come, pain will be felt, but our troubles and our pain are not without purpose. God uses everything. Nothing goes to waste. If He allows something to take place, it is because He has a plan for it. There is absolutely nothing we might face that won’t be used by God.

Q: Where on the Internet can the readers find you?
A: I write at but can also be found on and I also have had the honor of being featured in Billy Graham’s most recent film, Heaven, which can be viewed online at My Hope with Billy Graham. It’s well worth the time to watch!


Laurie Coombs is a passionate writer and speaker on the issues of forgiveness, redemption, and the hope found in Jesus. She is the author of Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness, an incredible true story of grace, mercy, and the redemptive power of God. Her story was featured in Billy Graham’s film, Heaven, and she is a featured writer and blogger for iBelieve and Crosswalk. Laurie and her husband, Travis, make their home in Nevada along with their two daughters, Ella and Avery. Be sure to visit or connect with Laurie on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.
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Thursday, July 26, 2012

David, Goliath and Michael Phelps

Today I am honored to have a dear friend share some of her thoughts with us. I hope you are blessed and encouraged. Wendy signature

I don't know who came up with the saying "practice makes perfect," but I am pretty sure it was the parent of a child who had grown weary of doing the same thing over and over, day after day. With the 2012 Olympics set to start in a few short days, I am going to guess that even an athlete like Michael Phelps had his days when he just wanted to roll over and go back to sleep, instead of jumping in a cold pool to swim a bunch of laps. Swimmer As spectators, we are not privy to the hours and hours and hours these athletes have spent practicing their individual sports. We haven't seen the determination, the grit, or the discipline of both athlete and family. From the comfort of our sofas, we are only witnesses to the main event. We only watch when it counts. Though you and I may not be training for a specific competition we are practicing something every day, whether it's physically, mentally or spiritually. But many of us may feel we are running on the treadmill of oblivion until one day, quite unexpectedly, we experience our own Olympic moment. Like David. A young King David spent many unwatched hours practicing, just like Phelps. But he wasn't in the water - he was practicing with a sling shot. As he played and later worked in his father's fields, he used his sling shot to kill animals for dinner, protect his family's sheep from becoming prey, and probably annoy his older brothers. While Phelps trains with a specific event in mind, David's chance to shine came without warning. For 40 days, the Israelite army had cowered in fear as they were taunted by the Philistines and the giant, Goliath. David's father sent him to the scene to bring supplies to his older brothers fighting in the army. When he saw what was happening, he could not believe the audacity of the enemy. David knew that with God's help he could take down Goliath with only his well used sling shot and one smooth stone. Though no one had ever seen him practice, it was David's Olympic moment. It is always tempting to give up and take the easy way out. We are easily bored with the monotony of life. We would rather do anything other than what we ought to be doing. But Galatians 6:9 says, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we WILL reap a harvest IF we do not give up." (emphasis mine) What good thing have you become weary of doing? Are you tempted to quit because you aren't seeing the results you feel you deserve? We don't know when our turn will come, but rest assured it will never come if we throw in the towel. Listen to this encouragement from your heavenly Father: "Keep at it. Don't quit. It will get better, if you do not give up." The 2012 Olympics will not be Michael Phelps's first time in the pool. It wasn't David's first time with a sling shot, either. What will you continue to practice today, so that you will be prepared for your Olympic moment tomorrow? Pagedividercopy 5

Elizabeth B. Elliott lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and three mostly adorable children. She loves to read, write and tap dance, but spends most of her time looking for her keys. You can follow her on Twitter @ElizaBElliott

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Author Interview: Lynn Dove

I am so excited to introduce a new venture on this site. For a long time, I have wanted to introduce new books and authors that I thought you would enjoy. Today, I am focusing a on a writer who has just completed her third book. I'll let her tell you the rest …. Pagedivider Author Lynn Dove Author Interview with Lynn Dove:

Lynn Dove is a graduate of the University of Calgary, where she earned her Bachelor of Education degree in 1981, she has spent the last thirty years teaching children in the private and public school settings. In 2007, she earned a Masters of Religious Education degree from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary, in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada. Lynn’s blogs Journey Thoughts and Word Salt have well over 10K in followers and readers. Journey Thoughts won a 2011 Canadian Christian Writing Award (the equivalent of winning a Christy Award in Canada). Lynn’s writing has also been showcased in a few compilation books the latest being in Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith featuring essays from Robin Jones Gunn, Tricia Goyer and Suzanne Woods Fisher just to name a few. Lynn’s article “Cool Grandma” can be found on p. 56. How do you describe yourself, Lynn?

I am a Christ-follower, a wife, a mom, a grandmother, a teacher and a writer (in that order). I wear so many different “hats” that I find prioritizing them tends to focus me better. I have been married to my best friend, Charles for over 33 years and we have three wonderful children: daughter, Laurelle (husband, Matt) grandbaby, Jaxon, and we have two live-at-home teenagers, Brett and Carmen. I have been a teacher most of my adult life, and I still substitute from time to time at the private Christian school my youngest daughter attends. I love volunteering and working closely with the youth in our church. I love to blog, camp and read. Tell us a little bit about your “Wounded Trilogy”?

Shoot the Wounded, the first book of the Wounded Trilogy, is written for youth and young adults. It addresses how lies and gossip destroy a person's spirit and speaks to the heart of relevant themes such as bullying, teen pregnancy and family violence. The story points the characters, and ultimately the reader, to hope in Jesus Christ. STW was a finalist in the 2010 Readers Favorite Book Awards.

Heal the Wounded, is the sequel to STW and the second book of the Wounded Trilogy. HTW won a Bronze Medal in the 2011 Readers Favorite Book Awards in the Young Adult- Coming of Age category. HTW delves even deeper into the real world of teenagers trying to live out their faith in the midst of upset and struggle. Heal the Wounded, continues to follow the characters, Jake, Leigh, Mike (Jake's best friend), and Tim (Ronnie's brother) each of them dealing with the aftermath of their friend’s death in the first book. Jake is especially dealing with a variety of disappointments (“Job” experiences I call them) that cause him to question why God allows bad things to happen to good people. A new character is introduced into the story, Cassidy, a young cancer patient whose unquenchable spirit and faith impacts Jake, Leigh, Mike and Tim in a way that allows them all to experience God's grace and the power of His healing in each one of their lives.

Love the Wounded is the final and dramatic conclusion to the Wounded Trilogy series that has followed the lives of teenagers Jake, Leigh, Mike, Dylan and Tim as they come to terms with a series of tragedies and events that have made each of them question why God allows “bad things to happen to good people”. Released May 30, 2012, the book has already received a five star review from Readers Favorite. My books deal with a variety of social issues: family violence, bullying, teen pregnancy, gossip and are listed as resources on the largest anti-bullying website in the world:

Why did you become a writer?

I know this is a cliché answer, but I have always wanted to write. I have written poetry and short stories since I was in elementary school. I was always writing. In fact my biology teacher in high school signed my Gr. 12 year book: “To the only literary biologist I know”. My teachers could always count on me to give a lengthy treatise on any subject. I did not have aspirations to be a novelist. My debut novel, Shoot the Wounded, actually started out as a short story but 100 pages later, I realized I couldn’t call it a “short story” any longer. Then it sat for ten years taking up valuable computer memory space until one day as I was deleting files I came across the story again. It was my husband who encouraged me to finish it and then get it published.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people?

I have three children and because two of them are teenagers and I write novels for teenagers, I have been very purposeful not basing my characters on any one of them. It would mortify them! Instead I try to draw on my experience with working with teenagers in general as a high school teacher and as a youth leader, so I kind of create characters that have a smattering of many individuals I know personally all rolled up into one cohesive characterization. My kids still say that they see themselves in the characters. I suppose that’s to be expected, but I pray that when they recognize themselves they see the character as positively portrayed and not the otherwise.

Do you have any new book or writing projects now that the Wounded Trilogy is done?

I am working on a more autobiographical account of my journey with breast cancer in 2001 called “Life Lived”. I have a few projects I am working on, a devotional for one, as well as a few more articles set to be published in compilation book works.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers (authors)?

I am asked this question a lot and my advice is always: WRITE! If you feel called by God to write, just write. Decide in advance what your goals are for writing. Is it for pure enjoyment that you write? Is it something you do that is private or is it something you want to share? Decide to whom you are writing. Knowing your audience will also determine how you will write and what your focus will be when you write. Also determine your “success” goals before you embark on the publishing journey. Do you want to have a small, intimate audience or a world-wide audience? That will help you set realistic expectations when it comes to selling and promoting your work. I had no idea when I embarked on this writing adventure that there would be so much work involved in promoting yourself and your work. As a Christian we revere humbleness, however for you to be noticed in the industry and to get your books into the hands of readers, you have to create a “buzz” about your work. It takes a lot of time and it takes a lot of effort and purposeful networking. I spend a lot of time building online relationships with hundreds of authors and industry professionals. I read and review books and I have blogs that showcase new and “seasoned” authors. I have learned so much for those who have been in the industry a long time, and I have been blessed with incredible mentors along the way.

What is your favourite work of literary fiction?

There are so many wonderful works of fiction it is tough to choose just one. I love the classics but the book that inspired me to read (and then write) was Lucy Maude Montgomery’s, “Anne of Green Gables”. I suppose being a Canadian; I gravitate naturally to Canadian authors and their work. Who is your favourite contemporary author? Again there are so many wonderful authors out there. I am an eclectic reader, meaning that I read all genres of fiction so my favourite Christian author(s) are Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury and Suzanne Woods Fisher and Janette Oke.

Who are your greatest encouragers?

I have a hugely supportive family, extended family and friends. My biggest fan is my husband, Charles. He has been the one who encouraged me to publish in the first place (and he had never even read the book at that time). My church family hosts my book launches and prays for me on a regular basis. They realize that this is a ministry for me, and they have bought my books and sent them all around the world! I am more than blessed!

Lynn’s books are available on,, on Lynn’s website. Readers may also connect with Lynn on Twitter, Facebook, on her blogs: “Journey Thoughts”, “Word Salt” and on her website:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Caring for the Needs of Others

Think back to your childhood. For some of you, that is a short trip, for others of us, there may be quite a journey. But take a moment to think back to a time when you remember the values that your elders surrounded you with. Does something home to mind a bout a specific family member who was determined in their activities? Or perhaps one that was known for their generosity. What brings that image in to mind? Hold onto the vision that you have of that person as I share a little bit about mine. My mother was the middle of eight children, 2 boys and 6 girls. Four looked exactly like their mother and four exactly like their father. The were brought up in the middle of farm country in a tiny Tennessee village. For the entirity of my grandmother's life, the only running water she had was when one of her children would take a bucket and run up to Grandma Uselton's house to get a bucket of water from her well. There was no inside plumbing and no electricity. Before you begin to think that this was in a far0off generation, I am talking about a home that they were still residing in when my grandmother passed away in 1972, a mere 40 years ago. But while she did not have much at all in the way of physical possessions, she was filled with integrity, honor and love. She taught her daughters the value of hard work and of being dependable and industrious. Of all of my mama's sisters, the one that came to my mind earlier in the post was my Aunt Doris. She was the second daughter, and the one just older than my mama. She is in her mid-60s now, but I have never seen this woman take a lazy moment in her life. She works hard at everything thing she does. But more amazingly, she has cared for her family without ever working outside her home. This was a decision that she had her husband made many many years ago before they even had children. She would be home with those children no matter what. God definitely gave her time and opportunity the challenge those decisions. Back in the '80s, they had a son in college, and two daughters in high school. My Uncle (her husband) went to work just like he did every day, but she received a call that he had been injured. He had herniated several disks, and the doctors did not believe that he would ever work again, and perhaps not even walk. Now the had a big decision to make. Over ½ of their income was not gone, but they still had a son in college,2 daughters in private school, but of them graduating within the next couple of years and planning to attend college as well, not to mention the medical bills. I have seen so many women go into a panic and immediately start looking for another job outside the home that would give them more money and sacrificing the time with their family and with the hoe business that God had put on their hearts, but not my Aunt. She continued on in the bath that God had given her, trusting that He would provide for their needs. She still continued to volunteer with the bus ministry every sSaturday and Sunday at church. She still prepared meals for the sick, always something from her "doris Collection" that people loved and would ask for the recipe for. She even continued to minister to others through hosting holiday parties each hear for hundreds of people. Did she doe all of this for her flory? No, she did it because she saw that even as desperate as her issues were, there was always someone who had things worse than she did. As I have become so ill, she had taken the time to check in with me several times a month to make sure that I am doing okay. I watch her and her husband as they go through all of their medical issues. My Uncle's injuries have placed him on so much pain medicine that many of his other organs are starting to fail, but when you see him, he has a smile on his face as he walks out the door for his morning 2 miles. I look at my aunt who has had both of her shoulders and her knees replaced from heard work. One day I ask her who see is able to keep going as well as she does with all of these difficulties and she tells me a profound secret that I want to share with you. She told me "Every time I start to get discouraged, I look around myself and see someone who is in a worse situation than I am, and I realize that it is not possible for me ti get discourage if they can keep going, then so can i." She has let that be the attitude that ruled her life. Today I I was reading my scriptures, I came across this verse. I had heard it and read it many times, but it had only related to me as a farming thing. I did not take the time to apply it to real life. The verse is here;
Deuteronomy 4:19-22, "When you harvest your grain and forget a sheaf back in the field, don't go back and get it; leave it for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow so that God , your God, will bless you in all your work. When you shake the olives off your trees, don't go back over the branches and strip them bare—what's left is for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow. And when you cut the grapes in your vineyard, don't take every last grape—leave a few for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow. Don't ever forget that you were a slave in Egypt. I command you: Do what I'm telling you."
I never consider plucking my fields since I have never had a garden in my life, but perhaps I do have gardens in my should that need to be address. Do I have some extra time that I could spend on someone else?? Do I have a skill that could help and encourage someone else? Then I need to be using theses for others instead of hoarding everything for myself. I need to look outside of my little world. Have you looked outside your world? What do you see? Can you take some of the resources, skills that God has given you and bless others with them?It doesn't matter where you are, or what kind of health you are in, there is still stone that you can do that will bless others and honor God.
Abba Father, today I thank you for opening my eyes to see the gifts that you've given me that I could and can share with others. Plea19-22 When you harvest your grain and forget a sheaf back in the field, don't go back and get it; leave it for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow so that God , your God, will bless you in all your work. When you shake the olives off your trees, don't go back over the branches and strip them bare—what's left is for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow. And when you cut the grapes in your vineyard, don't take every last grape—leave a few for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow. Don't ever forget that you were a slave in Egypt. I command you: Do what I'm telling you. see for vie me for squandering the resources that you have given me, and help me to be aware of how I can serve others more effective. In your Precious name, we Pray. AMEN.
Is there anything that I can pray for you about? God has allowed me a season full of prayer, and I would love to add your concerns to my list. The father has told us that where two or there are gathered together, He wail be in their midst. I truly believe that God will bring more blessing and guidance if we will just include others i our needs. May God bless you richly this week as you service our great Savior.