Monday, December 22, 2014

Liberty in North Korea Fundraiser: Torn Asunder

Torn Asunder by Alana Terry 


Torn Asunder is the newest suspense novel from award-winning author Alana Terry. Torn Asunder is the story of Hannah and Simon, two North Korean refugees who sneak back into their country to serve as underground missionaries. In this world of spies, secret police, and informants, Simon and Hannah learn that staying together won't just compromise their ministry. It could cost them both their lives.

Torn Asunder launches today for just 99 cents, and all book sale proceeds today support the work of Liberty in North Korea, an organization that runs an underground railroad for North Korean refugees. You can get the paperback or the ebook for 99 cents for a limited time only. And remember the best news ~ Your purchase will help save a North Korean refugee!

Excerpt from Torn Asunder:

Simon gritted his teeth. His head felt like it was sinking. The general kept his voice level and pleasant as he slipped the device over Simon’s pinky. “Now, you just tell me who you delivered your Bibles to, and I’ll let you leave here with everything intact.”

Simon tried to swallow. His whole jaw was swollen from his scuffle in the woods. He shut his eyes and hoped the general couldn’t feel him tremble.

General Sin chuckled to himself. “Silly me. I forgot.” He slid the device off Simon’s finger. “This kind of tool won’t work on a big, strong man like you.” He strode over to Hannah and yanked her hand before Simon could even cry out. He jammed her ring finger into the opening.

Simon struggled against his iron restraints. “Let her go!”

Hannah sucked in her breath. General Sin still glared at Simon. “This is your last chance. Give me the names, and I'll release her unharmed.”

Simon’s field of vision blurred over. He wanted to scream. The metal from his handcuffs sliced open his wrists. He pictured himself breaking free and tackling the general to the ground.

“Better talk.” General Sin yawned. “I hate getting my uniform messy.”

Hannah’s hand trembled, but she didn’t make a noise.

“Three …”

Simon clenched his jaw, unable to tear his face away from Hannah’s wide, terrified eyes.

“Two …”





Want more? Buy Torn Asunder on amazon now. And remember, all book sales today will be donated directly to Liberty in North Korea, a group committed to seeing North Koreans achieve their freedom in THIS GENERATION.

Want to help spread the word? See below to click and tweet, or share this image on your timeline. Then be sure to scroll down to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a $100 gift card, surprise grab bag ($60 retail), great CD from Cherie Norquay, and free prizes to everyone who enters! And don't forget to leave a comment and tell us what you think of Hannah and Simon and those like them who sneak into hostile mission fields to share the gospel.





Are you on twitter? Just click to tweet ~

Tweet: Buy a book. Save a refugee. Torn Asunder by Alana Terry. All proceeds today to @libertyinNK. #99cents #suspense http://ctt.ec/QjI3D+

Tweet: New release Torn Asunder, Christian #suspense set in #NorthKorea. All proceeds today donated to @libertyinNK #99cents http://ctt.ec/6io3Z+

Or copy and paste into an email or Facebook status: Torn Asunder is a new Christian suspense novel by Alana Terry about two North Koreans who serve as undercover missionaries. It's on sale for only 99 cents, and all book proceeds today will be donated to Liberty in North Korea's underground railroad for North Korean refugees.

Did you help spread the word? Click below to claim your prizes!




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Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Little of This and That, Including My Publishing To-Do List for 2015

I've started a couple of features on Facebook. One of these is my husband's picture of the day that I'm sharing on my author page as well as on Twitter.
Here I am on Twitter: @SHollinghead
And here I am on Facebook: Sheila Hollinghead, Author

I've shared that I'm releasing Thunder's Shadow on December 17th. The date has special meaning--my mother and father's anniversary. The Thunder books are very loosely based on my mother's life, and a little on my father's also (she did marry him, after all!). 
It is up for pre-order here: Thunder's Shadow

I have a confession to make. I did not write The Frailest Branch during NaNo. This will be the first book in a spin-off series, tentatively titled In the Pines. The plan at this juncture is to have Zeke and Grace as my male and female protagonists throughout this series. 

So, you might wonder if I wrote anything for NaNo this year. I did! I wrote some of the Thunder book #4. I had planned to end the series with three books. However, I had too many loose ends and knew they needed to be tied into a nice bow. It may take two more books to get them nice and neat--we shall see. Echoing Thunder will be the title of book #4. I do not have a cover for it, as of yet.

My plans for 2015 are rather ambitious... 
1. Publish Echoing Thunder, In the Shadow of the Cedar, Book 4.
2. Write and publish The Frailest Branch, In the Pines, Book 1.
3. Write Moon's Silence, Moonbow, Book 2, under my pen name, Ann Raley.
4. Write the fifth Thunder book, perhaps for NaNo. No title yet... maybe Thunder's End.
5. If time permits, work on Flight and Jillian's Journey. They will be published under my pen name. 

Whew! I'm tired looking at that list! 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thunder's Shadow Available for PreOrder

Thundersnow will be free, 
December 5th through December 9th
Clothed in Thunder will be on sale for $.99,
December 6th through December 13th
And Thunder's Shadow is available for PreOrder today through the 17th at a special price of $.99! Release day is December 17th!

In the Deep South of the Great Depression, Sarah Jane, a courageous yet vulnerable fourteen-year-old, battles a mentally ill mother. While enduring emotional and physical abuse, she strives to rescue, not only herself, but her four-year-old brother from a lifetime of pain. When a Thundersnow transforms her life, Sarah Jane's fearless faith sets her on a hope-filled path where bliss awaits if she will only seek... in the shadow of the cedar.

Picking up exactly where we left off in Book One, Clothed in Thunder teaches us people are not always who they seem to be. Jay realizes that though she's always loved Michael - did she really know him at all? And what about Drake the Snake? Could he really shed his skin and become a different person, one she could love?

A blissful life was planned—to move back home, to the farm that held precious memories and the promise of new life. The bombing of Pearl Harbor shatters the dream. The roar of war thunders across the ocean, casting a shadow on those left behind, who must carry on without the strength of their young men. Yet God's light can pierce any shadow, even Thunder’s Shadow. Will Sarah Jane find the grit she needs to withstand, not only the turmoil of war, but also the insidious assaults of Michael’s former girlfriend? As always, she must seek... in the shadow of the cedar. 





Thursday, October 16, 2014

New Book Covers

I've been working on book covers. Often I become obsessed and work in a frenzy. I think I'm about done... I've created covers for books that are yet to be written. I have one more I'd like to do. 

For NaNo this year, I'd planned to write a sequel to Moonbow. Instead, a mystery set during WWII has begged me to write it. I'm going to make a book cover before I begin. I do have a title--The Frailest Branch. The title comes from two sources--Emily Dickinson's poem...


“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,

It asked a crumb - of me.

And the second source is Victor Hugo's quote: Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings. ~Victor Hugo

So, I put the two together. My thinking goes like this... Hope is a bird and hope is perched on a frail branch. In the story, will hope survive when the branch gives way? We shall see...

Anyway, I though I'd share the covers I've been working on. Oh... I've decided to publish my sci-fi and fantasies under a pen name, Ann Raley. A couple of the covers have the pen name. 

Here are three short :

I also updated the covers for Write and Rise, Write, Shine!

                

 I haven't decided on which of these two covers to use. 



I'd love to know what you think! 


Linking up with:



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Monday, September 29, 2014

Psalm 139, Part 5

How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.
If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.

Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

God is the ultimate creator, giving us a wild and seemingly infinite variety of plants, animals, and microorganisms (consider that 95% of organisms are now extinct), plus he created the vast array of landscapes across the universe. God’s thoughts clearly outnumber the grains of sand. How many grains of sand are there on the earth? Estimates run from 2.5 to 10 sextillion. To write sextillion, add 21 zeros after the 10. Scientists estimate there are more stars in the galaxy than there are grains of sand upon the earth. That’s pretty mind boggling.

David seems to have an abrupt change in his musings when he says “If only you, God, would slay the wicked!” Perhaps the transition is not quite as abrupt as it seems. Perhaps David is saying “How perfect the world would be if it wasn’t for all these pesky people you have made.” Most of us have had similar thoughts. Why did God make the wicked? Why does he continue to allow them to torment and torture those around them? A good example of this is in the news as I write this. ISIS has beheaded journalists, Christians, and even children. (ISIS Killing Children) Why is God allowing this? What should we as Christians do?

And what of the next verses:

Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.

The thing is, we can hate ISIS, hate passionately what they stand for, and despise their attacks on innocent people. Let me give an example. If someone saw a thug attack a young child, would the Christian stand idly by or would he/she stop the attack?

This actually happened when I taught in Columbus, Georgia. On that day, a fire drill disrupted our normal routine. As we were filing out, one of those children, one who was destined to be bullied, a skinny, short boy whom everyone disliked, whom everyone picked on, tripped and fell. Like a pack of wild dogs, several seventh and eighth-grade students began kicking and beating this small boy. I was the nearest teacher and searched frantically for another teacher for a split second, but no one was in sight. By the time I turned back around, about thirty or forty students, mainly boys, had joined in the fray.

There were several actions I could have taken. I could have realized that many of the students were taller and bigger than me, and that I was vastly outnumbered. I could have waited for help or gone for help myself. Or, I could have tried to reason with those who were frantically trying to reach the boy. I did none of those.

Instead, I jumped into the fray, grabbing students by the backs of their shirts, their belt loops, wherever I could find a hold, and flung them away as I made my way to the boy. Did I have warm, fuzzy feeling for this mob? Did I even care if I hurt them as I flung them aside? Of course not. I was shocked and appalled at their behavior and knew I had to react as quickly as possible to save the young boy from serious injury. The mob gave way slowly, and I reached my target and shielded him from further blows. I protected him as I waited for help that eventually came.

During that time, as this bullied child was being beaten, his enemies became my enemies. I fought off his attackers with all the strength I possessed, with a fierce anger. And I’m glad I did.

Here’s the interesting thing. Most of that mob of thirty or forty students consisted of young men (a few girls may have been involved) whom I taught. A lot of them got off scot-free. Since so many were involved, it was difficult to identify all of them. A few were punished for their behavior. They all returned to my class. And, yes, I forgave them and treated them the same as the students who had not joined in the mob mentality.

I’ll never forget watching the very first Survivor season and Susan Hawk’s speech. This is part of what she had to say: But if I would ever pass you along in life and you are laying (sic) there dying of thirst, I would not give you a drink of water. I would let the vultures take you and do whatever they want with you with no ill regrets.

During the fray, my anger was turned on the attackers. Later, I forgave and treated them with love, helped them with their work, and gave them encouraging words. I would have given them a drink of water and protected them from the vultures—something Susan Hawk claimed she would not do to the person she considered an enemy.

And David ends with this:

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

To enter into a fight with a thirst for vengeance or with an attitude of what’s in it for me is wrong. But to fight for the underdog or to help those in need is admirable. And after we have won the battle, then we provide the drink of water, the binding of the wounds, the love. Let God search our hearts and find what our true intentions are. Let us rid ourselves of wrong motives and stand up and fight for God.

He will lead us “in the way everlasting.”

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fog

fog

 

Fog comes on cat’s feet

As does age. 

Together they creep in, becoming one,

silently, stealthily stealing youth.

And more.

The fog confiscates memories,

transforming them to thin and ethereal wisps,

ungraspable as they fade.

Although they never completely leave,

for the mistiness condenses to tears.

Dew forms more easily in fog

and drips down cheeks.

And always must be swiped away

before pain is seen.

The long ago sun’s heat melted joys,

grew children up and away,

and evaporated hopes and dreams.

Life narrows.

Hair silvers, reflects the fog,

and film dulls the eyes

until the whole world fills with grayness.

And all becomes mist.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Thunder's Echo

Thunder's Echo? What in the world is that?

Yeah, not something I was planning. I was working on Thunder's Shadow and the first few chapters did not seem to fit with the rest of the book, being more back story than anything else. And, yet, they contain important information that sets up the story line for Thunder's Shadow. My first thought was to simply delete the chapters and condense them into a prologue.

I sent them to a few friends to get their reaction. They all agreed I should keep them and Pauline Creeden gave me an excellent piece of advice--make these chapters into a novella.

And I did.

If we're friends on Facebook, you've seen the cover I designed. If not, here's what it looks like: 

I'm basically finished with the story although somehow I added in an extra week that I need to go back and delete. Hopefully I'll be through with it soon and get it uploaded. I included the first two chapters of Thunder's Shadow, bringing it to 16,000 words--a very short read. 

Here's an excerpt I've shared on Facebook:

“Michael's joining the Marines.”

“Oh, how wonderful.” Sylvia brought her hands together. For a moment she looked as if she was going to burst out in applause. Her hands stilled but she still beamed. “That must mean you've moved the date up.”

I didn't answer. It was none of her business what we planned. What was she up to, anyway?  

Maybe if I kept silent, she'd take the hint and leave. My focus on her was so intent that I didn't see Michael until he scraped a chair over the tiled floor. 

He kissed my cheek and nodded at Sylvia, his eyes returning to mine, questioning. I shrugged.

He smiled at me, his look brightening. “You should have seen the line at the recruitment office. It wound around the block.”

“Oh, isn't that great,” Sylvia said.

Michael gave a curt nod.

I forced a smile and glanced at her. “Yes, that's good. I'm glad there are so many willing to defend our country.” 

Michael glanced at Sylvia, then at me, his forehead scrunched, eyebrows drawn. He lowered his eyes to the checkered tablecloth and traced a pattern. 

Sylvia touched his shoulder lightly, almost in a playful gesture. “You and Sarah Jane will soon be husband and wife.”

Michael flicked his gaze in my direction but didn't answer.

Sylvia continued as if he had. “I wanted to offer my congratulations. And y'all just let me know if I can help in any way. Michael, I'll be glad to sew on a button...”

Michael stopped his tracing and stared at her. “Jay is perfectly capable of sewing.”

“Oh, really? I didn't know... with all the studying and working so hard at her job. You do realize, Michael, I'm majoring in home economics. I can put together a trousseau like that.” She snapped her slim fingers. 

My jaw hung open for a second before I clamped it shut. I studied her for a moment and then cleared my throat. “My aunt has been helping me for three years now. My cedar chest is full, and we're almost finished with my wedding dress.”

A wedding dress I wouldn't be wearing for a while–not if Michael followed through on what he had told me last night. My cheeks burned at the thought, and my gaze fell to my food. I spooned in a mouthful, not tasting it.

Sylvia leaned across the table toward me. “Please, let me know if you need help with anything. I can give you cooking lessons if you'd like.”

My head snapped up. Had someone told her I couldn't cook? I could cook just fine–eating what I'd cooked was the hard part.

Michael grinned at me for a split second before sobering and turning to Sylvia. “I love Jay's cooking.”

I grimaced, knowing he was stretching the truth.

“Oh? But we can all use a little help at times, can't we?” She flashed her flawless teeth again and wiggled in her chair, tilting her head at Michael. 

He stared her down. “I'm sure Jay will be quite good at any and all of her wifely duties.” His eyes burned with such intensity, I was sure Sylvia would flinch under his scrutiny.

Instead, she raised an eyebrow. “Well, that's good to know. However, if you need me for anything, anything at all, you know where I am.” She winked at Michael, gathered her tray, and touched his shoulder briefly in passing.

After she left, I leaned closer to Michael. “What was that about?”

He shrugged his shoulders but red stained his cheeks. “You tell me.” 



Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cover Reveal for Sanctuary by Pauline Creeden

SanctuaryAd2

Left Behind for the Hunger Games generation


In a heart-racing thriller described as Falling Skies meet The Walking Dead, Jennie struggles to find a safe place for what’s left of her family. But it seems as though there is no place sacred, no place secure. First the aliens attacked the sun, making it dimmer, weaker, and half what it used to be. Then they attacked the water supply, killing one-third of Earth’s population with a bitter contaminate. And when they unleash a new terror on humankind, the victims will wish for death, but will not find it…

When the world shatters to pieces around her, will Jennie find the strength she needs to keep going? SanctuaryeBook  

Buy on Amazon / Barnes and Noble /Goodreads

 

Pauline CreedenPauline Creeden

Pauline Creeden is a horse trainer from Virginia, but writing is her therapy. In her fiction, she creates worlds that are both familiar and strange, often pulling the veil between dimensions. She becomes the main character in each of her stories, and because she has ADD, she will get bored if she pretends to be one person for too long.
Follow Pauline Creeden: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Sanctuaryad1

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Marriage and the Husband as Spiritual Leader

What does it mean for the husband to be the spiritual leader? Often we talk of these things without actually looking into the words of the Bible, without considering the actions of Jesus. The words have gotten old and trite—what would Jesus do—but nonetheless are our guide. After all, isn’t our goal as Christians to become more Christ-like? So, let’s consider a couple of things from the Bible.

We are told that the marriage relationship is like the Jesus/church relationship. To look at how Jesus responded to people, and especially his disciples, and especially the women who were part of his ministry, is important to truly understand our roles in marriage. The man is to be the head of the home, just as Jesus is head of the church. What exactly did Jesus do here on earth as he led his disciples? By looking at his human actions, perhaps we can glimpse what is expected of the man, as head of the house.

First, Jesus never forced anyone to follow him, even though he, above anyone else, knew what was best. He called to Peter and Andrew, “Follow me.” And they followed, with no pressure from Jesus for them to do so. The disciples voluntarily gave up much to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from him.

And later, we know what happened when Jesus entered the house of Martha and Mary. Mary sat at his feet while Martha scurried around in preparation. Jesus said “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Matthew 10:41-42)

I champion the rights of men whenever I have opportunity. A huge burden has been placed on them, one I do not see coming from the teachings of the Bible. This just scratches the surface but from this short consideration a couple of conclusions can be drawn. Husbands never force their wives to their way of thinking. Instead, they gently persuade them to follow and the women discover truth for themselves. Secondly, Christian men give their wives opportunity for study. This anxiety for a perfect home, perfect meals, a perfect hostess, takes a backseat to learning from Jesus.

Godly men will help to relieve this anxiety so their wives will have an opportunity for Bible study. They will act like grown-ups and not throw clothes on the floor and leave them, or just fill in the blank here, if that adds to the burden of the wife.The men do not have to lead the Bible study but instead make sure that wives have time to study by helping out whenever they can.

To summarize, Christian men will ask wives to follow but never force and will always allow their wives to draw their own conclusions. They will also help relieve anxieties and not overburden their wives with demands, freeing them to have time for Bible study.

Remember that each of us must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12) Ultimately, no one is responsible for my salvation except for me!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Psalm 139, Part 4

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.~verses 13-16

 

This study comes at an opportune time. That’s always cool, and I like to think of it as a God thing. I’ll mention below why I find this applicable right now. First, let’s try to figure out the meaning of these words. Many times, the first verses are used by pro-lifers to advocate their position. Being pro-life, I agree with that usage. Today, however, I would like to apply them more broadly.

Let’s think about it… God formed us. He knows us, knows all about us, and knows the lives he wants us to live. We should be thankful for ourselves, everything about us, for it says Wonderful are your works! What is his work in this context? Us! People. We all remember the popular meme—God doesn’t make junk. We are intricately woven, fearfully and wonderfully made.

Remember the admonition, love others as we love ourselves? That means we are to love ourselves, warts, buckteeth, double chins, short legs, and all. Perhaps we are not the best Candy Crush player, perhaps we are clumsy at sports, perhaps we’re only average in intelligence…the list can go on and on. None of that makes us failures. God formed us to do HIS work, not the things we think are important. 

I watched The Lego Movie the other night. Emmett says this:

You don't have to be the bad guy. You are the most talented, most interesting, and most extraordinary person in the universe. And you are capable of amazing things. Because you are the Special. And so am I. And so is everyone. The prophecy is made up, but it's also true. It's about all of us. Right now, it's about you. And you... still... can change everything.

And that is true of each of us! God has given each of us a destiny. These words, in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them, do not mean what we think they mean upon first reading. It does not mean we are predestined to live out a certain life. No! Instead, these words mean God has predestined a path for us, a path upon which we will fulfill our destiny, the destiny he formed us to live. It is up to us to choose to walk that path, it is up to us to stay on that path, it is up to us to know we have a path, even when Satan whispers lies in our ears.

One interesting part of this passage says, my soul knows it very well. What do you feel in your bones, what do you really know about yourself, what will you do when you discover your purpose? How do you feel when you know you are intricately woven by God’s own hands to fulfill your purpose here upon this earth?

Don’t let Satan’s lies, his whispers, destroy your faith in yourself. Be courageous! God has given you all you need!

P.S. Oops. Almost forgot to say why these words come at an opportune time for me. I went into a-fib yesterday. This is at least the fifth time this has occurred. When my heart acts up, fear begins to boil and spills over into my life. I have to remember that God has set me on this path and I cannot let fear overwhelm me! I hope to work for God as long as I draw breath and even when fear threatens to defeat me!

m16

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Study of Psalm 139, Part 3

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. ~verses 7-12

 

What comforting words when we are bowed down with sorrow. Even in our darkest of times, God is with us and provides us with light. These verses uplift our spirits. No matter the trials and tribulations we find ourselves faced with, God will see us through it, if we allow him. Someone asked the other day if a Christian can ever be lost. After all Romans 8:38-39 says

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

However, we can separate ourselves from God—nothing can cause us to lose our salvation except our own foolish will. Romans 8:1 tells us that we must walk after the Spirit to avoid condemnation. Some of us turn aside from our first love, forgetting our purpose. But, if we stay in God’s hand, he will hold us up. Let us encourage one another, to remain faithful. Our reward will be great when we pass the finish line.

A friend shared this on Facebook that details how a person will feel when they die and go to Heaven:

This isn't death--it's glory!
It isn't dark--it's light!
Or even faith--It's sight!
This isn't grief--it's having
My last tear wiped away;
It's sunrise--it's the morning
Of my eternal day!

This isn't even praying--it's speaking face to face
Listening and glimpsing
The wonders of His grace.

This is the end of pleading
For strength to bear my pain;
Not even pain's dark mem'ry
Will ever live again.

How did I bear the earth-life
Before I came up higher,
Before my soul was granted its every deep desire,
Before I knew this rapture
Of meeting face to face
The One Who sought me, saved me,
And kept me by His grace!
~Martha Snell Nicholson

Yes, this world is not my home, we’re just passing through. We’re not bodies with a soul but souls with a body—no more than souls. Within our souls dwell our Sprit, the Spirit we’re commanded to use when we worship God. Our Spirits will be with God forever and how glorious that will be!

It’s natural to mourn when loved ones die—after all, Jesus mourned with Martha and Mary in the death of Lazarus. However, after the mourning, after the saying of the temporary goodbyes, after the tears are dried, we should rejoice that our loved ones have gone on to be with the Lord, where there will be no more pain, no more dark memories, no more sorrow but instead the glow of the Savior’s face, his touch, his smile.

We are on this shore watching the ship sail away. On the other shore are those welcoming the ship full of the saved. Let us not mourn as one who has no hope. Instead, let us imagine the joy our loved ones feel as they are welcomed to their permanent home, the place where all tears are wiped away!

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Study of Psalm 139, Part 2

Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain. ~verses 4-6

 

For a period of several weeks, I kept seeing this Psalm in various places—in memes on Facebook and devotionals I was reading and also quoted by friends. It made me stop and wonder why. I printed it out and read the verses several times, asking God to help me to understand.

I think that perhaps God was telling me to trust him and that’s so difficult to do. I ran across a verse last night, 1John 5:18-19, that says We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

A couple of things struck me from these verses. First, that God keeps his children safe (and that goes along with the psalm). The Lord, according to the psalm, hems us in “behind and before.” God is protecting us. He not only has our back, he’s the point man too. So, what of those Christians who are killed or hurt or become sick?

It’s a difficult concept to grapple with. “Such knowledge” is beyond our understanding. Even through the worst of times, God is still protecting us. The last part of the verse in 1 John is interesting. “The whole world is under the control of the evil one.”

Evil is all about us, and yet, God keeps us safe. We know that many thousands of Christians have been martyred. This is not about God shielding us from all pain and sorrow. Rather, it’s about the safety of our souls. The part of us that belongs to God is kept safe, the part that matters, the part that continues forever.

The evilness of the world spills over to splash us with pain and sorrow. But the important part of us, the part God hems in, is kept safe. God knows us completely—knows the words we will say before they even leave our mouths. Some believe this speaks of predestination. Again, this is something beyond our complete understanding. However, we know God is beyond time. He knows how the story ends—that does not mean he has it all neatly written. We, somehow, have our own free will to write our own stories, to make choices, to change courses, and it somehow works within God’s great scheme.

And as the story plays out, he lays his hand upon us to guide us and to comfort us. With his hand upon us, we can be courageous, knowing we are forever safe as he hems us in!

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Meme Monday


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My Goals, My Hopes, My Dreams

In a writers’ group I belong to, we were asked to list our goals, hopes, and dreams. I had to ruminate on it for a day or two, and still I’m not sure of my answer, but I’ll give it a stab.

My tangible goal is to work steadily on Thunder’s Shadow, the last of the In the Shadow of the Cedar books. I’m giving myself plenty of leeway here. The tentative publication date will be in December of this year. I have a very rough draft written (50,000 words). If I work four days a week for at least four hours a day, I can be finished with the first pass in four weeks, by the middle of July. It would be ready for Beta readers at that stage. Then, it’s just a matter of polishing it up.

My Goal: Work four hours a day for for days a week until Thunder’s Shadow is complete.

My hope speaks to my tagline—Training my hands, bending His bow, piercing hearts, healing souls.

Part of my hope is to study (train) daily. There’s a part in Rise, Write, Shine that says something like this: we must immerse ourselves in God’s word, so much so that we live out our Christian lives, doing the right thing, without giving it a second thought. And when we become “right” for God, we “write” for God. His righteousness pours forth from us and onto the page. Therefore, the training enables us to become better Christian writers.

The second part, bending His bow, is learning to surrender. Someone had a meme the other day that said to not keep rattling the door when God has firmly locked it. (His bow, by the way, means me. We’re the bows from which He sends forth his word.) Life happens, and we may not like it, but we must learn to accept it.

 ended up

The next part of my tagline, “piercing hearts,” refers to God’s words being able to prick consciences. We train in His word, bend to His will, and write the words. He will allow them to get to the right place, to offer encouragement or exhortation where it is needed—to pierce hearts.

And the last part, “healing souls,” is about the healing power all Christians have found in God’s word.

My hope: I will immerse myself, drench myself, in the word of God, surrender my life to His will, be courageous enough to allow His thoughts, His words, drip from me and into my books, and have faith His water of life will heal souls. (Did I carry the water metaphor too far? Smile)

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My dream: I will find peace, happiness, and contentment in using whatever God gives me to accomplish His will. (And I really hope His will is for me to sell a million books! But, you know, His ways are not our ways and all of that!)

Dear Lord,

Please help me to find the peace that passes understanding in doing your will for my life. Help me to recognize the path You wish me to take.

Amen.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Meme Monday

After I share these, I’m transferring them over to the Inspirational Quotes and Pictures page. This is the fifth one. By the way, this is part of the old barn in front of out house. Thanks to my husband, Carl, for taking the picture!

balancing act

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Study of Psalm 139, Part 1

Even in the bad times we need to believe God has a plan, a reason for us to experience the bad. Terrible things happen to people. How can we still rejoice in those times?

You have searched me, Lord,

and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;

you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;

you are familiar with all my ways. ~Psalm 139:1-3

God created us and he “gets” us. He knows when we rise and he knows when we lie down. He watches over us during times of sorrow and pain. Do I understand it? No and it can never be fully understood on this side of heaven. He has searched us, probed into the dark recesses of our hearts, and he understands us, inside and out. We often sing a song, “I Surrender All.”

How true is that? Have we surrendered all? Have we stretched out our lives and let God pick us apart or do we curl up in a ball and beg him to leave us alone? Surrendering all means just that—we fully trust God to not destroy us, to believe he loves us. It takes a lifetime of handing our battered lives to him.

When I was five, I had a bout with pneumonia and at first the doctors believed I had tuberculosis. I was isolated in a small hospital room. My parents were not allowed in but could only look at me through the small window in the door. I felt utterly abandoned. Yet, my parents had to hand me over to the hospital staff because they knew the pain from the needle pricks of the nurses and the probing from the doctors were to help, not hurt. 

When I recovered, my father carried me to the car, gravel crunching beneath his boots. Still today, the sound of crunching gravel is one of the most soothing sounds I’ve ever heard. One day I will hear that gravel crunch as God sweeps me into his arms to carry me home.

This earth is in general a zone of discomfort. If it were not so, would we long so fervently for heaven? This world is not our home and we should not expect all its comforts while we are here. And it’s not all bad. God gives us periods of great joy and happiness while we’re traveling through, a little taste of heaven, to increase our desire to see him.  And we know he always cares for us and watches us, just as my parents stood at the small window watching over me.

And isn’t that enough to praise God?

Praise God in the good times.

Praise God in the bad times.

Praise God in the whirlwind.

Praise God in the silence.

Praise God always.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Psalm 139

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For the past few weeks, Psalm 139 keeps cropping up in my daily Bible readings, on Facebook, and even in private conversations. Here it is in its entirety.

Psalm 139

1 You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.
19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

Amen!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Our Yoke


Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~Matthew 11:29-30 (NIV)
Jesus has given us a yoke.
A yoke has been a sign of submission since the Babylonian captivity of the Israelites.
Early in the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord:
This is what the Lord said to me: “Make a yoke out of straps and crossbars and put it on your neck. Then send word to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon through the envoys who have come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah. Give them a message for their masters and say, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Tell this to your masters: With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please. Now I will hand all your countries over to my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. ~Jeremiah 27:1-6 (NIV)
God told Jeremiah to put on a yoke to let Nebuchadnezzar know that Israel would now be in submission to the Babylonians.
In the same way, the symbolic yoke in Matthew means we are now in submission to Christ. He’s holding the reins.

We’re wearing the yoke!

Meme Monday

alone

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Fun??

Not sure about the "fun" part, hence the question marks. Life has been challenging of late, and I'm struggling to establish a new normal. I'm working on updating my books Rise: Reflections on Christian Writing and Write: Reflections on Christian Writing. I hope to finish within the next week or so.

My mother turned ninety-one. She recently had two minor strokes but has improved tremendously, praise God. She has become more child-like, telling her sister, who is a few years younger, that she's the boss because she's older. I'm learning to laugh instead of grieve over her diminishing mental acuity.

My hope for the future is to share memes I've made on Mondays, passages from Eternal Springs on Tuesdays, passages from the Reflections on Christian Writing on Wednesdays, perhaps do old pictures on Thursdays, and share blog posts or videos on Fridays. Sounds like a plan, eh?

Perhaps I'll even throw in some original blog posts on occasion.

Now for the "fun" part. We have a pair of fox squirrels living in our yard. My husband and I have been trying to take a picture of them since we've been here. The other day I was here alone, even the dogs were gone. I noticed something moving in the tall grass. I moved closer and realized it was the pair of fox squirrels. I quietly slipped into the house to snag the camera, hoping they would still be around when I returned. Sure enough, they were still close to the front porch. As I moved closer, they scampered up trees and watched me. And here's the result of my efforts:


Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Writing Wednesday

"In order to pronounce a book bad it is not enough to discover that it elicits no good response from ourselves, for that might be our fault." ~An Experiment in Criticism by C.S. Lewis

The other day, I ran across this quote and that, in turn, led me to buying the book. I’ve read the first few chapters, and it has me sitting back on my heels, saying “Uh, huh.” Life has changed from when this book was written, but, although the media for storytelling has evolved, much of what Lewis says still rings true. In the first chapters, he attempts to differentiate between those with “good taste” and those with “bad taste.” It is not as easy as saying, “If you agree with me, you have good taste.”

While I was reading these first chapters, two people came to mind. I realized, even though I had never even thought of them in these terms before (I only knew I enjoyed conversing with them), that they have good taste even though their tastes do not coincide with mine. This is what I have garnered from Lewis (and perhaps I am reading him incorrectly)—good taste comes from approaching a work of art (he talks of music and art, not just of books) with no expectations, with no preconceived notions. It’s amazing how many people simply say something like “I hate country music.” Really? You’ve listened to all country music, and none of it has any appeal for you? My two friends, however, are different. They do not shut out entire genres of art. Instead, they are open to new ideas and approach life with a willingness to learn.

Recently, I did some interviews during which I was asked about my favorites. I’ve always said I have few, if any favorites, of anything. I don’t read in only a few genres. I don’t listen to only one type of music. I don’t enjoy just certain types of cuisine. I approach life willing to give almost any and everything a fair shake. Lewis says we must surrender our preconceived notions to fully appreciate art. And I agree.

There’s a group of people on Facebook that have reverse snobbery. Anything the masses like, they instantly take a dislike to…The Hunger Games, Twilight, Harry Potter, Divergent, etc. It seems as if the more popular the book, the less they like it. These people also dislike whole genres… “I would never read romance. I hate thrillers.”

Yeah…I’ve never really understood that. I’ve also never understood how just one small part of a book can make someone hate the whole book.

What is my point? I am asking readers to broaden their horizons—do not let preconceptions and prejudices keep you from reading, and liking, certain books. (Exceptions would be those that clearly are evil. Let’s read and study our Bible enough to recognize evil.)

Fairness is something I’ve championed all my life. I’m broadening my horizon enough now to apply that to books! Won’t you join me?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

New Release—Thorns of Betrayal

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$.99 for a limited time!

 

His destiny brought them together, but will her past rip them apart?

Ever since her father’s mysterious death, Rose Bauer has suffered with migraines. Visions and voices reach out to her from the intense pain. Is her father’s spirit trying to contact her? Or is she going crazy?

Now is not a good time to be crazy.

Zeke Clayton claims destiny led him to her door. But how strong can destiny bind two souls when one is as tainted as hers? Is his love for her and faith in God strong enough to survive all her secrets?

Will justice ever be served against the one who has betrayed them all?

Excerpt:

She had to get away from him, away from his lies. She pulled onto the county road. Her tires fishtailed on the wet asphalt and her head banged against the driver’s window. She slammed her transmission into second gear and then third. She could barely see through the downpour. How could she let herself get caught in a spring storm? She knew how bad they could get. Lightning flashed and momentarily blinded her. She blinked and blinked. The residual ball of light obscured her vision. Her VW splashed through a low-water crossing.

She down shifted as her car traveled through the water but returned the gear to third and pressed the gas. He’s lying! That’s what Russell did. He lied! Nobody knew that better than her. Wipers flapped vehemently across her windshield. Her mother did not kill those people. They killed her. Her body shook as she sobbed. Tears poured down her face. She scrubbed a knuckle across her nose. Around the curve a granite outcrop became part of the view. Her little bug dipped and climbed with the contour of the road. She needed to talk to Keisha.

The wipers squealed against drying glass. The downpour had stopped. She reached into her purse for her cell phone. Her car slammed into another low-water crossing and hydroplaned to her left. She jerked her eyes up. Terror shot through her chest. Oh God! Her cell phone crashed to the floorboard and broke apart. She gripped her steering wheel with blanching knuckles, but it didn’t help. The current pushed her little Beetle off the concrete road into the water. It tipped to the left and then righted itself. The Volkswagen bobbled but favored the left side. She leaned toward the center and frantically looked around. Men and women ran from vehicles along the side of the normally dry gulch.

Hysteria barely in check, she pounded the windshield and screamed, “Help me!”

The people were throwing ropes across the river down from her car. Thank God, they’ll catch the car. Her eyes met theirs. They were yelling something at her.

“What?” She rolled down her window.

“Don’t move,” the crew hollered. “Don’t move!”

Three men spilled from a black Hummer. Many voices yelled for her to be still.

A warm sensation cascaded over her like a sheer drape. Her fear flushed out like a drain and peace filled her heart. She would be saved. She sat back in her seat and sighed.

Her VW jerked, and her head slammed against the steering wheel. The ropes had caught. The current roared against the hull, filling her ears, drowning out the people’s voices. A warm trail of fluid ran down her neck. She touched her chin. Blood! Fear crept back and tightened in her throat. Like a terrifying roller coaster, she tipped in her seat. Her car was rolling over! She screamed as it continued to tumble.

Water punched her in the face and shoved past her as it poured into her car, quickly filling it. Panic clawed at her mind as the water engulfed her. Her door opened. She jerked her head toward it. A man! She could get out. She grabbed at his shoulders, his arms, whatever she could get hold of to pull herself out. But she couldn’t get out! She was stuck. He pushed back from her.

Oh No! Don’t leave me!

Her lungs burned. Raw pain tore at her throat. Choking convulsions. Pain…fading…darkness.

Bio:

Lynn Donovan spends her days chasing after her muses, trying to get them to settle down and behave long enough to dictate their words and actions. Thank goodness her muses love Christ or she’d be in big trouble. The results have produced The Clockwork Dragon, a collection of nine short stories in which she wrote half (4.5 stories), The Wishing Well Curse, and Thorns of Betrayal. All published by Alt Wit Press. Astraea Press will release two more muse-inspired novels, Rocking Horse Shadows and Christmas Grace, Signing Seeds later this year. A speculative fiction called The Abraham Project is hovering out there for approval from a publisher. Lynn enjoys reading and writing Christian fiction, paranormal, and speculative fiction. But you never know what her muses will come up with for a story, so you could see a novel under any given genre. All we can tell you is keep your eyes open, cause these muses are not sitting still for long! Oops, there they go again…

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Stalker info:

Facebook: MLDonovan https://www.facebook.com/ml.donovan.10

Fan Page: Lynn Donovan https://www.facebook.com/LynnDonovanFGG

Twitter: MLynnDonovan https://twitter.com/MLynnDonovan

Amazon.com Lynn Donovan http://www.amazon.com/Lynn-Donovan/e/B009WQFVWK/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3?qid=1391007573&sr=8-3-fkmr2

Website: http://lynndonovanauthor.webs.com/

Goodreads.com: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7025612.Lynn_Donovan

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Why Harry Potter Fans are Outraged (and should be)

Harry and HermioneJ.K. Rowling did an interview (Rowling Regrets Ron/Hermione Relationship) in which she said that Harry and Hermione should have married, not Hermione and Ron. I said on Facebook that Hermione and Ron will have to endure a lot of marriage counseling to stay married. Her original vision, Rowling said, was for Hermione and Ron to fall in love and marry. Sometimes, in the writing of a book, writers must discard their original vision. The characters grow in ways the writer does not anticipate. Rowling now believes she should have followed the characters, allowing the romance to blossom between Harry and Hermione. I agree with her, but I think she’s wrong to voice it.

You see, when a good writer creates a world, the reader enters into that world. The characters come alive. Readers may daydream about the characters, carry on imaginary conversations, and visualize the world to such a degree that it seems almost real. And readers do not want writers messing with their “reality.” Some readers do not even want to know writers exist. They would rather believe the world the writer worked so hard to create came into being fully formed.

Once our work enters into the world, it is no longer ours intellectually, for lack of a better word. Instead, it becomes a collaboration between the writer and the reader. The reader’s imagination takes the story places that the writer has never even dreamed. The story takes on a life of its own—one that depends as much on the reader’s imagination as the writer’s.

So, Rowling basically broke into the reader’s mind, without permission, and rearranged the furniture. And that is why Harry Potter Fans Are Outraged.

We, as writers, need to learn from Rowling’s mistake. Are you listening, George Lucas?

Monday, January 27, 2014

2013: A Year to Remember

Last year began and ended with me the same way—I suffered with bouts of the flu. That was rather unusual, since, during the sixty years of my life, I’ve only had the flu twice, once at the age of four and not again until I was 53. But that was not all. In between the bookends of the flu, I had a year of physical ailments. I won’t bore you with a list. Suffice it to say that there were times I thought (or wished) the end was imminent.

Who knows, but God, how close any of us ever comes to death? Recently, I read of a young woman, fourteen weeks pregnant, who died of unknown causes, possibly a blood clot to the brain. We never know when our next breath will be our last.

And, if that wasn’t enough, in the midst of my illnesses, my husband and I bought a house and moved. And furthermore, I published a book and wrote the rough draft of another one. It was quite a year, one in which I leaned on God for strength when I had none of my own.

God, through it all, blessed us richly. The house is beautiful.

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However, we bought it more for the outside views than for the inside. Today, Carl and I, wrapped up in blankets, sat on the front porch, studied from James, and watched a gorgeous sunrise. As the sun rose, a variety of birds fluttered among the trees. The view of the wonders of God’s creation calmed, soothed, and humbled.

 

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I am regaining my strength, physically, mentally, and spiritually, as I soul-search and study, not only God’s word but his creation. Yesterday, our preacher encouraged us to read Psalm 37. The words resonate.

Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.

The wicked plots against the righteous
and gnashes his teeth at him,
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that his day is coming.

The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose way is upright;
their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.

Better is the little that the righteous has
than the abundance of many wicked.
For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the Lord upholds the righteous.

The Lord knows the days of the blameless,
and their heritage will remain forever;
they are not put to shame in evil times;
in the days of famine they have abundance.

But the wicked will perish;
the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.

The wicked borrows but does not pay back,
but the righteous is generous and gives;
for those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the land,
but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
when he delights in his way;
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the Lord upholds his hand.

I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging for bread.
He is ever lending generously,
and his children become a blessing.

Turn away from evil and do good;
so shall you dwell forever.
For the Lord loves justice;
he will not forsake his saints.
They are preserved forever,
but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
The righteous shall inherit the land
and dwell upon it forever.

The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks justice.
The law of his God is in his heart;
his steps do not slip.

The wicked watches for the righteous
and seeks to put him to death.
The Lord will not abandon him to his power
or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.

Wait for the Lord and keep his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
spreading himself like a green laurel tree.

But he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
though I sought him, he could not be found.

Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
for there is a future for the man of peace.
But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him. (ESV)

* * *

May I always take refuge in Him!