Thursday, April 30, 2015

He's Always Been There

This is me at age 12 on Gidget. She's the horse that is the star of my sequel to Joe-The Horse Nobody Loved.  This is the only picture I have of Gidget. I didn't spend much time recording my life back then...just lived it.

I am happy to say that the Gidget story is as effortless to write as the Joe story was. yesterday I wrote 8,000 words. I would have written more but bed time rolled around. As I am researching facts for the training of horses with the problems Gidget possessed, I have been very surprised by the revelations in entirely different areas that I am stumbling upon.

I won't ruin the book by giving any of my epiphanies away, but the gist of it all is that God is continually pointing me to Him. In myriad ways. In all ways. Even more surprisingly, before I even knew He was there, He was pointing me to Him. He wasn't exactly blazing neon arrows in the Heavens, but close. It astonishes me in retrospect that I missed it for so many years. He spoke through the animals around me, the people He planted in my path, the struggles I endured, and of course the beauty and declaration of all creation.

How did I miss Him? I'm sorry for that. But I am grateful that I see Him now. His message surrounds us. He's always been there.

Exodus 33:14 

And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Dislocated Spirit?

Whatever had slipped out of joint in my jaw seems to be slipping back in joint. I had soup for lunch, and soft fish for dinner. I was starving for "real food," but my jaw was feeling a whole lot better. Several friends wrote with sage advice about how to deal with TMJD (for those of you lucky enough not to be afflicted with this, it is temporal-mandibular-joint disorder...or really hurty jaws at the point where the upper and lower hinge together.) Top advice: don't chew anything but mush. Second: Get a mouth guard.

I do wear a night mouth guard because most folks with TMJ are teeth clenchers and grinders. The mouth guard prevents us from doing damage to our jaws and our teeth. In periods of stress, we tend to clench and grind it was not wise for me to not wear my mouth guard during the recent Las Vegas book signing trip. While that trip was fun, it was very stressful nonetheless. I was probably clenching my jaws like a bear trap all night during that week! So now, I am paying for it. I should have known better and worn my mouth guard. I just got slack and lazy.

The good news is icecream requires no chewing.

I went on a walk in the afternoon because the major stress reliever in my life is exercise. Besides, I love the outdoors and it was a beautiful day. I was so excited to see the irises are in bloom! I love those showy flowers. Between the sun, the walk, the irises, and the tense jaw seemed to relax and I am almost pain free now. It happened suddenly, so I think something really did slip out of joint, but now it's back, and I am so grateful.

God hands me little wake up calls like that on a regular basis. Things seem to be going just fine, even if I have slacked off a little in my daily Bible reading, or had a little too many cookies and too few vegetables, or chosen a few too many times not to speak His word boldly when I knew I could have...and should have. And then, wham! The inevitable consequence of falling short of all I should be and do hit hard.  The Bible warns repeatedly to guard against backsliding. It is too easy to become complacent, to sit back and watch a fire die rather than go to all the effort of adding logs.

If spiritual muscles grow slack, the tensions and tugs of an evil world can pull all of us out of alignment with God's perfect will. I guarantee, that hurts a whole lot more than a dislocated jaw.

1 John 1:9 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, “‘Return, faithless Israel, declares the Lord. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the Lord; I will not be angry forever.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Why then has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding? They hold fast to deceit; they refuse to return.

“Return, O faithless sons; I will heal your faithlessness.” “Behold, we come to you, for you are the Lord our God.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Heavens Declare His Glory

I always go to "speak life" on the sidewalks of the abortion mill each Monday with a mix of trepidation and expectation. Fear of encountering evil (and it is palpable there) mingles with wonder at what miracles God will engineer while I get to watch! There is always something that leaves me deeply moved, and deeply grateful to God for His provision and grace. I have long since learned that when I am weak ( always), He is strong. My job is to show up, and speak His word. The rest is up to Him and the hearts of those we are ministering to.

Before I left for the abortion mill in the morning, I put some finishing touches on a pastel I am donating to charity for a silent auction. I titled it, "The Heavens Declare His Glory." When I got on the microphone at the abortion mill, I even used the verse the title comes from:

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. ...Psalm 19:1-14

In other words, God is evident to all who look for Him. His presence is continually declared through the miracle of His creation. And the crowning achievement of all His creation is humankind, made in His image. The unborn child in the womb is made in the image of God Himself. How could we destroy such a sacred work of the hand of God? How could we not speak up on behalf of the baby?

One of our counselors was having a protracted discussion with a young woman, who was angry that we dared "judge" others. I noticed 3 young people were listening, and had pulled into the parking lot but not entered the mill. I called out to them, begging them to go on our free mobile Ultrasound unit in the RV parked behind me. Let us show them their options, we begged. They seemed very conflicted, but finally went in the mill. Our hearts sank. We had felt certain they would come to us.

A few minutes later, they emerged. They drove out of the lot and stopped next to me.
"We would like to go on your ultrasound."

Currently, I am the only Monday counselor trained to counsel the women on the RV, so I always get that privilege. Believe me, it is a privilege. I get at least a half an hour, if not more time to convince the mamas that their child is a blessing,  created by a loving God in His image. I can give them lists of resources and practical help. And then, I can give them the Gospel, and pray God saves their souls. Some are more receptive than others. This group of three young people were the softest-hearted ones I have had the pleasure of meeting yet. Not only did the young mama choose life for her little one, but all three were spellbound by the Gospel presentation. All three said Yes when I asked if I could pray with them to accept Jesus as savior and Lord. All three were eager to receive regular texts from me with Bible verses. All three understood the need to find a home church, and talked at length with our pastor/counselor about that. I even was able to give the "purity" message, and they seemed to receive it earnestly. If it had been a movie, everyone would say it was not believable.

The heavens declare the glory of God. He is always there, always showing Himself, always speaking. Don't close your ears and your eyes, or you will miss the greatest purpose of all humankind. When you speak, speak His message. It never returns void.

(There is a time to speak and a time to be silent. God reminded me of that when I dislocated my jaw biting down on a crouton last night. Now I have no choice but to be silent for a bit. Any suggestions for easing the pain of TMJ appreciated.)
To be a part of this awesome ministry, go to

Hebrews 1:3 

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. ...

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Monday, April 27, 2015

One Choice at a Time

I met a seven-year-old fan yesterday. I was walking around the block with a friend when a little boy gave me a thumbs up.
"Keep up the good work with your books," he said.
I stopped. I didn't know him.
"How do you know I write books?" I asked.
"I have one of them."
"Oh my! Which one?"
"About the dog you found, the one that was almost dead."
"Oh! I'm Listening with a Broken Ear. Did you read it?"
"Yes. I liked it."
"Well if you liked that one, you would probably like my new one. It's about a horse that I loved when I was around your age. It's called Joe- The Horse Nobody Loved."
He agreed he would like to read it. I told him if he saw me again to grab his book, and I would autograph it for him.

He made my day. He was only seven years old. My books are for adults, but I have always maintained any age can read them. I keep them clean and wholesome, with inspiring messages. I make them the sorts of books I would want to read, or have my children read. Our culture is so filled with sex, and violence, bad language, shaky morals, selfish messages...I am on a quest to change it one book at a time. How lovely that I reached a seven-year-old.

Today, as every Monday, I head out as a pro-life sidewalk counselor at the busiest abortion mill in Charlotte. I speak for the babies. Jesus valued them, and all children, so we should as well. Please pray that the mamas' hearts would be turned to their babies. May our world be transformed one choice at a time.
Matthew 19:14
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Behaving Better

I was drawing a picture of a horse on my computer, just goofing off, and taking a break since I had been working all day on my sequel to Joe - the Horse Nobody Loved. While drawing,  I noticed my pen was not calibrated exactly. My brush strokes were slightly off from the pen point. I called Microsoft support to ask them how to recalibrate my pen.

It was clear that the technician knew very little about my machine. He was hesitant, and reading step-by-step instructions from a manual. Now typically, I get quite annoyed by this. I mean, he is supposed to be the expert. But in halting words (English was clearly not his first language,) he said, "If you to excuse me please, I have never done this. Let me please to put you on hold?"
"Sure," I said, good humor bubbling up out of some reservoir that I suspect was filled by the Holy Spirit. (It sure wasn't typical of me...) Frankly, I surprised myself.

After three minutes, he came back on the phone, and talked me through my pen calibration successfully. He was very pleased with himself. And I was pleased with myself. I had not blown my stack.
"Is there anything else I may to help with you?" he asked.
"Well yes... I can't seem to figure out how to put a check box next to my list when I use One Note. I know it is not hard. Can you remind me of how to do that?"
"Yes, I would be very happy to help you. If please, to you mind that I put you on hold? I am new to this." (PS- these are not typos...this is how he spoke.)
"I don't mind," I said, "You take your time, and then when you figure it out, you will know it for the next customer."
"Yes...that is right." Nervous laugh.

While I was on hold, I figured how to add the checkbox myself. He came back on the phone.
"I am still working on this, please," he said.
"I figured it out," I told him.
I talked him through it, and he was very excited that it worked.
"And if you please," he said, "Can you tell me how you created a numbered list in the first place?"
"Sure, just right click and a window comes up with a list of options.  A numbered list is one of the options. Click on that, and a list will automatically form."
He tried it.
"That is great!" he said, "Thank you so much for helping me."
"Not a problem."
"And thank you for calling Microsoft. Is there anything else I may please to assist you with?"
I smiled and told him that was all for now.

I learned something very important. First, all of us are new at our jobs at some point in our life. It behooves all of us to remember that when we are interacting with others. I don't remember it nearly as often as I should. Secondly, getting mad and upset, my first knee-jerk response, doesn't make me feel nearly as good as I felt after helping the expert I had called to help me. I am NO saint, a fact my family will readily attest to. But boy, it feels good to behave like one.

Ephesians 4:32 

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

If God has Brought You To It.....

As a writer, one can never sit too long without a new book in the works. When I finish a book, I always feel I have written the last excellent word I will ever write. It is all downhill from here. My authorship days are over. This despair is most pronounced upon completing books that I feel took every ounce of feeling and emotion and talent I had. My last book, Joe-The Horse Nobody Loved was such a book. I am glad it is doing so well, because, like I said, I may never write again.

Until I put the first paragraph of my sequel on a Word Document yesterday. Just do it, I told myself. Just start. Just write the first sentence. Then, the whole plot and flow of the new book came to me fully formed, and I began writing. Whew! Maybe I have one more book in me...

CS Lewis, one of my favorite Christian authors, said:
When He [Jesus]said, ‘Be perfect,’ He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder—in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.
From Mere Christianity

It is hard to get up each morning with all that lies before us, all that we are to do or to endure. But God is clear. If He has given you another day, we are to arise and strive to be all God intends us to be. Laziness has no place in God's kingdom. There are times for rest, to be sure, but not to be slack. When the task is before us, we are to be excellent. A good friend reminded me, "If God has sent you to it, He will guide you through it." God often reminds us of that truth in His word:

Philippians 4: 12-13 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

 This applies to all of us, in all we do. It is much preferred to be hatched than to go bad, no matter what the condition of the nest may be. I am happy the new book is hatched. I am happier that I am born again through believing in His atoning sacrifice on the cross, and that Jesus is with me through it all.

Proverbs 24:10

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Noticing God

Every day, I send a Bible verse to all the women I have stayed in touch with over the year since I began as a pro-life sidewalk counselor at the abortion mill. Most never respond, or acknowledge if they have read the verse, but some have told me that at just the right time, the verse was an encouragement when they needed it. This is the wonder of God and His word -- it never returns void.

Yesterday, as always, I sent out a verse and almost immediately got a response from one of the women. She had been going through some very hard times, and all the verses I'd been sending had been helping her. She asked me for prayer, and shared some of her situation. I asked some questions, hoping to see if I could help...but she didn't respond. So tomorrow, I will send another verse, and pray that God, who sees all our needs, will continue to uphold and uplift her.

Einstein said that one can see the world two ways, as though nothing is a miracle or as though everything is. I choose the latter. God declares His glory through His creation, so that no one can claim ignorance of His existence. The Bible tells us that, and also reminds us that EVERYONE who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Acts 2:21) The fish that feels the ocean all day all around him for every moment of his life may not notice or be grateful for the ocean...until he is snared and brought out of it. God is our ocean and it is best to notice Him now, while you can still swim in His presence.

Exodus 33:14 

And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

One Step From Victory

Never give up. God is bombarding me with that message. Several months ago, my sister recommended I send some of my short stories to a devotional magazine for kids. She felt I could adapt almost any one of my blog posts...of which I now have over a thousand. I've been posting now every day for four years. Anyway, I adapted a couple of stories and sent them to the editor. After a couple of months I received a reply. Rejected.

Ok, so I admit Despond kicked me hard. I locked myself in the bathroom and cried. I couldn't even write a simple devotional for kids. Who was I trying to kid that I had any talent at writing? After I soaked a few towels with my tears, I crawled whimpering back to my computer.

"Thank you for reading my work. Could you perhaps tell me why it was rejected?" I didn't expect an answer. However, the editor graciously wrote back. Too abstract and too many messages for the young audience. Keep it simple (stupid.) (She didn't add stupid...but I did.)

"Could I revise and resend?" I asked, rubbing my red nose.


I sent the revised story. They sent me another rejection. This time it was because portions were not quite believable. I had matured, though. I said, "Oh well," and probably only soaked one towel with tears this time.

Well, then my poor mama had emergency surgery and I spent a month in NY during the frigid winter to help her recuperate. While cross-country skiing, I thought of another story. So I revised the one I had previously sent, making it more believable, and added the new one. I sent them both to the editor.

Two months passed. I had totally forgotten about the stories. Then yesterday morning I  was on a run. I had just finished praying, thanking God for blessing after blessing that I often didn't notice or took for granted. Then, I glanced at my phone. I had a message from the editor of the kid's magazine. I sighed. Another rejection probably to spoil my day. I was going to wait till I finished the run to read the message, but then just couldn't stand the suspense. I gasped as I read the editor's email. Congratulations! We have decided to accept both your stories....

I ran a little faster, my head a little higher, my arms pumping a little more vigorously. It is not like I get much money for the stories. But something (Someone) kept nudging me not to give up, not to think failure meant hopeless. Failure can be just one step closer to hope if used properly. All the mighty saints of God experienced failure, and all of them moved beyond it by trusting in God, and not giving up. They all felt like giving up, but they wearily chose to trudge on anyway. That made all the difference. Take heart, friends. You might be just one step away from victory.

Deuteronomy 20:4 

For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


I stumbled upon a new adventure. Some readers have been after me to produce audiobooks. I myself was never a fan of audiobooks until my sister and I went to Chincoteague, and during the long drive, we listened to Misty of Chincoteague. Audiobooks do have a valuable place.

I talked with my writer support group about how one can produce audio books, and they told me about a profit sharing production company. It would cost me nothing! My book had to be accepted by interested narrators first. I had to "sell" myself, and convince them of the likelihood that they would make money for all their work. Since my new book, Joe - The Horse Nobody Loved is still doing really well (still #1 in horse books on Amazon...sometimes dips but seems to keep scooting back to #1), I decided that was the one I would put out as an audiobook first. I sent the sample to the company, and waited to see if anyone was interested.

Right away I heard from someone who quickly sent me their audition tape of my first chapter. I loved it! Now it is true, I have no experience with audiobooks, but the feeling the narrator put into her reading was perfect. I told her I wanted to hire her. I didn't even need to hear any one else. The next step was to send her the whole book. If she didn't like it, she would turn down the gig. It turned out to be a husband and wife team. Here is the letter they sent me after reading the whole book:

 Hi Vicky,

Dorothy and I read through your book this morning and we love your writing very much! This just might be the best book we've agreed to produce! I love your wit and Dorothy has been going through some Kleenex while reading it as she has a very soft heart. (We both do! ….okay, I admit it! I teared up a bit, too! LOL!)

A little about us: Dorothy and I fell in love on the internet over 3 years ago (no one was more shocked about that than us!) I lived in Lynchburg, Va, she here in Ennis, Texas. 2 years ago we became engaged and I moved to Ennis to be with her. After much praying about how the Lord would have us use our talents, we began exploring audiobook production. I had been a home recording enthusiast, she, an actress on TV, in movies, and in theater. So, this seems to be the perfect combination and we both LOVE doing it.  I am her audio engineer, and she is the featured narrator, although I have narrated a couple of books also. Our goal is to bring glory to God through family-friendly, faith-based audiobooks, and educational books.

And then, a day later another letter:

I asked Dorothy, "Would you give the book a 10?" She said, "..higher if I could!" I've never seen her cry this much after reading something. It will be a challenge to keep from breaking down during production.   OH GREAT! Dorothy just read the last paragraph to me and now I CAN'T SEE to type! Gosh, what an ending, Vicky!!!! We're so glad we get to do this book!!! Thank you again for this great opportunity!!!

God is always speaking, and His miracles should not astound me...but they do every time. Remember, the narrators in this company read all genre, and it is not a Christian company.What were the chances of strong believers being the ones who decided to audition for my book? And a movie/TV actress on top of it! I looked her up. She was in several well known movies. And they love my book.

Who knows where this all may lead? 


Yes, God does, and I am following Him right now with my mouth hanging open, eyes wide in wonderment.


Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Not a Lecture...A Promise

It was a dramatic day on the sidewalks of Charlotte's busiest abortion mill Monday, speaking on behalf of the babies in the womb. A couple who saw their baby on the pro-life mobile ultrasound unit chose life just as the clinic opened. Another couple drove in, took our literature, and after a few moments of discussion, drove out with their baby still alive! I spent an hour on the microphone, read a little of Horton Hears a Who, ("a person's a person, no matter how small") and talked directly to the security woman when there were no pregnant women arriving. I reminded the security woman that she was created for a holy purpose by a loving God. I doubted she felt good about what she was doing, ushering babies in to their destruction. She could choose instead to do the right thing. She seemed to be ignoring me.

During the first two hours, an older woman and teen drove into the parking lot. The teen went inside the mill. The older woman sat in the car. Several of us took turns calling to her, begging her to talk with us, get our free ultrasound, look at our list of resources. Finally, she told us there was no baby. The nurse from the RV with the mobile ultrasound unit continued talking with the older woman and discovered the teen had miscarried and was here for a D and C. (Removing the dead tissue and uterine lining following miscarriage.) The nurse tried to convince the older woman that the abortion mill was not a safe place to have that procedure done. I tried to talk with the older woman as well, telling her how important it was to get her daughter out of that terrible place who only do abortions. (We are frequently lied to, so always assume the person is there for an abortion no matter what they tell us.)
The woman rolled up her window and got on her cellphone. The teen came out a half hour or so later and again, we all counseled and called to her, telling her no matter what was going on with her, she needed to leave the clinic which has been shut down twice due to malpractice issues. The girl appeared to be crying, and seemed to be ignoring us. Then she returned to the clinic. The abortionist arrived, arms full of pizza boxes. It always amazes me that he can eat prior to the grisly, bloody act he then performs. Especially something with tomato sauce. I couldn't.

The teen came out again, and I hurried over to the far end of the parking lot where she was headed. She stopped to talk with the older woman, and they came out of the car as I called to them. I couldn't believe it when they walked towards me.
"Do you do free ultrasounds?" she asked.
"Yes. And pregnancy tests.Tell me what's going on," I said.
"The doctor told me I miscarried...but I am not sure. I want to be sure before I have the D and C."
"I admire you for that," I said, "We can tell you if your baby is still there. They won't tell you that in the abortion clinic. They will lie to you, and have, to other women who were told they miscarried when the baby was alive."

The woman told me she was very stressed. She didn't want the baby, but she couldn't get a D and C without knowing if the baby still lived. She told me she believed in God, though as I questioned her more, her faith seemed very shallow. was something to work with! I talked with her about God's love and provision, and shared a brief Gospel message. She was stony-faced and didn't seem to be listening. Then I asked if I could pray with her, before we did the ultrasound. She said I could. I prayed that the little baby still lived, but if not, that God would comfort and guide this young lady. She began crying and told me she was overwhelmed with either scenario.

We went in to the ultrasound unit. The older lady came too. She turned out to be the grandmother. She had not known the clinic was an abortion clinic. Had she known, she told me, she would not have brought her granddaughter there. As the nurse began pressing the ultrasound scope on the teen's belly, the image appeared on the screen. I was praying the whole time. I didn't see anything a heart.
"Here's the sac," said the nurse, "This dark oval. And this white at the bottom is the baby."
I think we all held our breath as the nurse pressed the scope and moved it slowly. And then, we saw it. The tiny fast rhythm of a beating heart. The baby was alive. The young mama had not miscarried. Had she not stopped and turned back to talk with us, her living child would have been sucked away.

She didn't show much emotion, but she watched intently each time the nurse settled the ultrasound on the beating heart of her child. When she got dressed and we sat back in the consultation room, I asked what she was feeling.
"Stressed." I had already pulled out of my pack of materials several pages of verses about "hope." Normally we try to give a strong Gospel message, and a purity message. What God was directing me to say instead was His message of Hope when we feel we cannot handle what life has given us.
"Would it be ok if I share something from the Bible?" I asked.
"I don't want to hear a lecture," she said.
"It is not a lecture!" I said, "I know sometimes it sounds like God is this big bad killjoy in the sky with a bunch of do nots, doesn't it?"
She nodded.
"But these verses, all these pages are God's promises of hope to His hurting children. Listen to this one:
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

She seemed to be listening.
"And this one: Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  

 See, life is hard sometimes, and it seems impossible, but God promises He is there. He will give us strength, He will uphold us. He has a plan for your life. In walking out of that clinic, you took a step towards God. I think you heard His still, small voice, and you acted upon it. That takes courage."

She didn't quite know how she would manage, but she chose life for her baby. Her grandmother, who is against abortion, was thrilled and promised to help her. Her own mother would help her. She has more support than many of the women we counsel. She said several times how stressed she was and I told her what my mom always told me, "You know what to do in the next five minutes. Just do that. And then do the same thing in the five minutes after that. Don't worry about planning your whole life. Just plan the next five minutes. And when you feel stressed, let me encourage you to read the Psalms. They are written by a man who was fleeing for his life, yet he found comfort and peace in God. You can too."

There was a knock on the RV door. The security person had come to my fellow sidewalk counselors and brought them a woman who he thought we should talk to. I was dumfounded. That mama, led to us by the person who worked at the abortion mill, chose life for her baby as well. You never know, you just never know in what unexpected places hope may blossom.

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Proverbs 23:18 

Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Purpose of Life

Rainy day all day Sunday. Tornado watch at night. Perfect day to paint, and ponder the purpose of life. I do that now and then. It is interesting that if you do a study of what the Bible says is the purpose of life, it never talks about our purpose....but finding and fulfilling God's purpose for us. Here is a smattering of those verses:

Psalm 138:8 

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

“Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you.

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Get the point? Our purpose is to do God's will - to follow His purpose for us. He never seems to ask us to go out and seek contentment, or riches, or fame, or specific employment. We are told to discern His Will, to agree with Him, to see His vision, to make disciples for Him, to seek His kingdom, and to follow His appointments. The perspective of our purpose is completely turned on its head. Our purpose is His purpose...and somehow, that is the way to true contentment and meaning. We are to so completely identify with God and His will for us that it becomes our will, our desire, our purpose. We are consecrated from conception for a holy purpose. This boggles my mind. Especially since I spent most of my life trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. That was the wrong pursuit. I should have been wondering what does God want to do with my life? My job is not to thwart His perfect plan.

Rainy days and Sundays are good for thoughts like this.

Psalm 73:26

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Be Still

There is always a bit of sadness and let down when an amazing adventure comes to an end. That's how I feel now, after the once-in-a-lifetime adventure of a book signing at a major convention in Las Vegas. It is the same gut-wrenching feeling we all experience when vacation ends, the car is packed, and we have to drive back to all the worries and cares of real life. It is never easy to return to reality.

And then look: in my Bible reading today was my favorite verse:

Psalm 46:10  
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

It is hard for me to be still, really still. Almost impossible, actually. Just ask my sister Amy, who spent a week with me at my book signing in Vegas. I probably have Attention Deficit Disorder, but I was in school before that was a popular diagnosis so I was never officially labeled. In our stillness (which happens to me NEVER) we are to KNOW that God is God. That's all. If we can know that, it is all we need. We are all so frantic, always on the verge of desperation, but God tells us: Be still. Know Him.

It is just what I needed to hear.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

In His Image

The great book-signing adventure to Vegas is over. I flew back home late last night, and in a blink of an eye, all the flurry, excitement, tense nerves, chaos, worry, and hurry was over. It was a whirlwind of activity and frankly, I am dead tired. There were few peaceful hours. Vegas is a city of frenetic bling and bustle. It is over-consumption, and over-the-top bombardment to every human sense. Young and old men pass out cards of naked women, prostitutes, on every corner, and tell me, "It's just a job. I need to feed my family." Glassy-eyed gamblers never shift from their chairs in the neon lights and loud music of the casinos. The streets are lined with fake opulence, the facings of buildings crafted to imitate the real iconic structures from all around the world. Upper stories are painted fabric stretched across scaffolding. (When the wind storm ripped one off, the ruse was revealed.) Miles and miles of instant gratification and seduction.  I would not mind never setting foot in Vegas again.

When we returned from Vegas to my sister Amy's home in the remote desert south of Tucson, calm descended. There is not a single store for twenty miles. Bumpy dirt roads keep the sparse traffic to a crawl. The landscape beckons without a single neon light. Everything in the desert is still, and quiet, and real. The desert is peaceful, and breathtaking in its quiet beauty. Some Saguaro grow only 1.5 inches in ten years. That is taking the pace of life down a few notches! The skies in Amy's world stretch out forever, with more stars than you would think possible when night descends. The only sounds you hear in her backyard are occasional coyotes yipping, and the wind. We spent my last night in Tucson in front of a bonfire, watching the stars and taking a deep breath.

The entire time I was in Vegas, I felt a touch of shame. I just don't believe this is what God meant for us. When Amy and I confronted the pimps on the street corners, we kept reminding them, "We are made in God's image! Is this what He would want of us, His image-bearers?"  I don't think so.
I think the Saguaro have the right idea -- slow, and steady growth without fanfare or bling or false adornment, inch by inch stretching heaven-ward.

Genesis 1:27 

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

2 Peter 3:18 

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.

And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord.

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,

Friday, April 17, 2015

Journey's End

As we drove back to Sister Amy's home in Tucson from my gala Vegas book signing, we found one last eager reader in a podunk desert town along the way. He was a little wooden-faced as I told him about my book, but gradually warmed up to me. Still, I couldn't quite close the deal and make the sale.
So I moved on to the wildlife. Maybe they would be better customers.We enticed some peacocks nearby, one of your more common desert inhabitants, but they were not interested in my book. However, my burrito was another story.
One last charming couple wished us well, and we headed wearily the final leg of the journey home.

This sign reminded us, one is always on the cusp. Choose everlasting life, or eternal death of separation from our Creator.  I could have talked to wooden Indians all day, but it would have done me no good. Choose life. Choose Jesus. I want to see you in Heaven...and sell you a book.


Deuteronomy 30:19 

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,

Galatians 1:15 

But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace,

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pressing Upward

Well, we had planned to head back home to my sister Amy's house, leaving the wonderful Vegas book signing of The Tower Builder extravaganza behind. My two gigs signing books were over, all my duties complete, when Tony (the tower builder himself) called. He begged us to stay because there was a ham radio operator's reception that evening, and he felt I would have a roomful of potential book buyers. We had already checked out of the hotel, but Amy found us a hotel attached to the convention center for $30. A nice hotel. $30. It seemed God wanted us to stay. We booked it.
We had a few hours till the reception so Amy and I went walking, but stopped and explained the Gospel to the men passing out nude photographs of prostitutes. Some got angry, some looked ashamed. We became better and bolder as we moved along the boulevard. We stopped and talked to each one we met. You never know where a seed planted might bear fruit.
Then on to the reception. We had brought books to give away for the raffle at the reception, and the three people who won told me they were thrilled. Each of them, in some way, had a connection to the book's subject that made them anxious to read it. Before the reception, I texted my brother John, a ham radio operator, and asked him what to talk about with this group, that would make me appear less ignorant than I was. It was all fine, however. They were overjoyed to meet an author, and all wanted to chat, and have me sign their books.
We had hoped we would have a sumptuous spread of food, since it was held at dinner time. Nope. Pretzels, and chips. yum yum. Then the publicist who has been helping me all along had a brilliant idea. Have the announcer give away a book to the "oldest ham radio operator." Instantly, an 84 year old woman came racing up, claiming she was the winner. She had been a belly dancer in her youth.
I asked her to show us a little of her belly dancing, and she wiggled her hips a bit for the crowd. Then, someone tapped me on the shoulder. "I think I'm older," he said, "I'm 88." Well, we couldn't take a book from the belly dancer, so we offered another book to the 88 year old, who was the real winner.

By now, I had photographers from Radio World, and National Association of Broadcasters taking my picture. There were broadcast directors from NBC, CBS, and an assortment of TV/Radio divisions. I was getting exposure to some of the most influential broadcast people in the nation...and they were coming to talk to me. I can't tell you what a thrill this was.

Meanwhile, Amy was faithfully always nearby. She even posed as a camera tripod for the publicist, Peggy, who was recording everything, and every moment when I met someone famous.
When the reception ended, Tony, the tower builder and subject of my book invited Amy and me to dinner. Since our dinner had been pretzels and chips up to that point, we said yes eagerly. Here is what we ate with Tony, and his partner in his tower company they own:
a tad better than just pretzels and chips, huh?

Afterwards, we trudged back to our hotel, exhausted but elated. Today, we really are going home. Cinderella will return her glass slippers, and her coach will become a pumpkin again. It sure was fun being a princess.

This book that went to Vegas was written as a labor of love for my brother. It never seemed likely to be very successful, or make any money. It was too quirky, and hard to categorize. Yet I have never had as much fun or unanticipated acclaim as I have had from this book. As my friend the tower builder, Tony, is fond of telling me, it is the spontaneous opportunities one seizes in life that sometimes lead to the greatest rewards. This is true. It is the leap of faith that God is leading, and opening doors, and half the time our failure is not because we aimed too high, but that we aimed too low. Aim for Heaven, Jesus begs us, and find not only Me, but fulfillment.

Philippians 3:13-14 

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.”

And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Everyone Needs One

Day 2 of the wonderful Vegas book signing day. I was over most of my nerves so Amy and I had fun trolling the convention and hawking my book.On our way in to the convention center, Amy and I felt compelled to stop and chastise a man handing out pictures of prostitutes. We pray God spoke to his heart.

It was fantastic! There was a steady stream of people, and I signed lots of books. The photographer from Radio World took several photos, and bought a book! Some influential people told me they put a bug in the ear of Radio World to have me write an article about the book for them. Yippeeee!

Milford Smith, VP of Greater Media returned for another signed copy of the book, and posed for pictures. For such an accomplished,well-known guy in the radio world, he could not have been more friendly or kind. Here he is with Amy (above) who was flawless in her role wearing tower safety gear and dragging potential customers in.

It was a very successful gig. Got a request to come to a New Orleans convention and speak next year! this photo is left to right, Milford, me, and Tony the tower builder.

Back to the hotel, and just in time. A sandstorm hit, with vigorous winds. Note the palm tree fronds blown sideways. Fortunately, there was gourmet pizza available in the hotel. We literally could not walk outside so stayed in and rested...and stuffed ourselves with awesome pizza.

The star of the show was Amy. She kept me laughing and calm, brought me customers, and smoothed all glitches. I couldn't have done it without her.

Spiritual lesson: find an Amy in your life, someone who reflects Christ in all she is. It rubs off.

Romans 12:1-2 

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Nothing is Impossible With God

Day One of book signing The Tower Builder in Vegas is a wrap. Lots of really nice people stopped by. Many were ushered in through the vigorous and humorous efforts of my phenomenal sister Amy, who dressed up in a tower climber's safety gear and wandered the halls of the Vegas Convention Center. Above is sister Amy in gear, the lovely wife of the tower builder who is in the book, and me, the happy author riding on the wave of this fun adventure.

Amy's job was to attract attention. Amy is not shy and this was a requirement for this particular gig. Tony, the guy beside her in the photo is the tower builder himself. He actually puts that gear on and climbs 2,000 feet into the air, hanging from those tiny cords. He is the Empire State Building tower guy. Can you even begin to imagine that? He's the subject of my book. (Incidentally, the book was #6 on Amazon this morning. Not too shabby! The e-book is on a 99 cent promotion today. Go quickly before it sells out!)
I signed a bunch of books. The top question was, "What on earth got you interested in writing about radio towers?"  I guess the fact that I was not an engineer, a tower climber, or eager to climb anything more than a foot off the ground was readily apparent. But the real answer is I was after the human interest story of the people who love to engage in the most dangerous job on earth...and I solved a couple of really cool WWII era mysteries in the process. It is not just about towers.
Amy and I went trolling for customers before the book signing. One serendipitous encounter was when we were standing in front of the Convention Las Vegas sign, and the gentleman above stopped and asked if we could trade the task of photographing each other. He wanted his photo in front of the sign and would then take ours. We asked if he was in radio, because he had a great voice. He was. In fact, owned six radio stations. Amy quickly texted her husband to find out all he could about this guy. He is in the DJ's Hall of Fame - Will Payne. We invited him to the book signing.
We logged a total of 20 miles (no kidding) yesterday. Amy wears one of those mile counter devices so we knew this was true. After our signing, we walked wearily to dinner and had some of the best gnocchi made to man. We were both eager to go right to bed and forgo the Vegas nightlife. I think we were snoring in 3 seconds flat.

On the drive to Vegas, Amy needed coffee really badly. She had a coupon for Dunkin Donuts free coffee. So we asked our smart phone to guide us to the nearest Dunkin Donuts. You i-Phone users know about Siri, the woman's voice who answers out loud to your queries on the i-Phone. Siri told us,
"There are no Dunkin Donuts near you."

Just as Siri was telling us that, we saw a giant sign on the side of the highway: Dunkin Donuts. Sometimes, one needs to ignore the advice of even the smartest of phones...and follow the signs. Amy and I were certain there was a spiritual lesson in that. God is pointing us along a path and to a place the experts may tell us doesn't exist...but all of us who have seen glimpses of Him know better, don't we?

Will I become rich and famous from the book signing? No...not likely. But sometimes, despite what the experts' voices are telling you, you trust in things you cannot see, and hope in the impossible, and what you find might even be more precious than what you thought you were looking for.

Keep looking. Keep scrambling after God. Keep pursuing your dreams...He is always there and He is always guiding. If you keep after Him, you just never know what exciting adventures He has in store for you.
Today is Book Signing Day 2. Can't wait to see what the day will bring.

Deuteronomy 28:1-68 

“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. ...

Luke 1:37 

For nothing will be impossible with God.”