Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Update! Click 'comments.'
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Carmen Rockett tagged me for the Seven Sevens Meme.
Seven Things to Do Before I Die.
1. See my children marry their true loves, live for the Lord, and hopefully have children.
2. Publish a book of devotionals.
3. Publish a book of children’s poetry.
4. Take art classes.
5. Organize my house – I think I can get more on my list done if I’m not dragged down with disorganization.
6. Develop my speaking and singing ministry.
7. Walk and eat right so I can be healthy enough to do all these things before I die.
Seven Things I Cannot Do
1. Nothing – I’m always doing something.
2. Quit piling. (I heard that pilers are smart. Ha!)
3. Eat too many sweets.
4. Go a day without singing.
5. Go a day without writing.
6. Get caught up on my to-do list.
7. Find anything in my closet. (See #5 above. I’ve got to get a system.)
Seven Things that I Admire in my husband or wife (or for singles, dad or mom).
1. His thoughtfulness.
2. His faithfulness to God.
3. His tenacity.
4. His work ethic.
5. His energy! (Anyone ever see him at ease?)
6. His love for the Word.
7. His love for the Church.
Seven Things I Say Most Often
1. I love you.
2. Ouch! (when Sadie, our Labradoodle runs over me.)
3. Well, that’s gonna leave a bruise. (follows #2 statement)
4. Are you kidding me?
5. Be careful. (every time someone leaves, usually followed by #1)
6. Ya think?
7. If I say I will, I will.
Seven Books (or series) I Love (right now)
1. The Bible
2. The Boundaries Series
3. The Church Ladies
4. Any book of Shel Silverstein poetry
5. Any Calvin and Hobbes books
6. Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God
7. Landon Snow and the Auctor’s Riddle
Seven Movies I Would Watch Over and Over Again
1. Hope Floats
3. 9 to 5
4. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
5. The Preacher’s Wife
6. The Family Man
7. Remember the Titans
Seven People I Want to Join In, Too:
1. Just As I Am
2. The Upward Call
3. Hill Country Thoughts
4. Between Sundays
5. Windows to My Soul
6. Walking Circumspectly
(Just copy and paste the questions and replace my answers with yours. Have fun!)
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Hi, everyone! My December column for the Dabbling Mum is up. It's called CHRISTmas and Cartwheels.
EXCERPT: "Mom, are you dizzy from trying to keep up with the busyness of the CHRISTmas season? Dads, do you feel like Bart Conner on the balance beam, juggling work, family, and church obligations?
As little girls, my sister and I used to....."
Read more by clicking here!
Donna J. Shepherd © 2005 All rights reserved.
No portion of this Website may be reproduced without permission.
For more information, contact Donna.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
It was my honor to be interviewed by Wendy Lynn Decker for Sisters in the Lord Magazine. If you'd like to read the interview, click here.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Click here to read Thanksgiving - A Day in the Life of "The Cook" published by Penwomanship.
Donna J. Shepherd © 2005 All rights reserved. No portion of this Website may be reproduced without permission. For more information, contact Donna.
Monday, November 14, 2005
I also have a column up on NABBW simply called Giving Thanks. Click here.
My column on Crossmap.com called Smelly Saints is now one of the All Time Most Popular! Thank you for reading it or click here if you haven't yet. Think it's that catchy name?
Donna J. Shepherd © 2005 All rights reserved.
No portion of this Website may be reproduced without permission.
For more information, contact Donna.
Monday, October 31, 2005
The Lonely Lightning Bug
by Donna J. Shepherd
A Littlest Angel Children's Book
Order information: Click here!
Illustrated by Kevin Scott Collier
Cover by Kevin Scott Collier and Andy Cooke
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Formats and prices:
Zipped electronic download 6.00
CD 9.95 + 5.95 S&H
PROCEEDS FROM THE SALE OF THIS BOOK GO TO: StarShine Hospice, the Hospice of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was.
Exodus 16:14-15 niv
I awoke early this morning. When I opened my back door to let the dogs out, I saw my geraniums drooping, their leaves folded up as if trying to shield themselves from the cold. The top of the glass top table looked opaque instead of clear, etched instead of smooth. Tiny crystals of frost formed a thin covering of icy feathers, each sparkling in the morning light.
Can you imagine how the children of Israel felt that first morning when they threw back the flaps of their tents, and saw manna covering the ground? The word ‘manna’ means, “What is it?” In Exodus 16:31, the Bible says, “It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.”
The ‘bread from heaven’ represented God’s daily provision. He rained manna down from Heaven – evidence of His presence and provision, but they were only permitted to gather one day’s worth, and two day’s worth the night before the Sabbath. Wouldn’t that be a test of your faith in God?
How many times have you talked to someone who said, “I know the Lord is going to give me a better job,” then in the course of the conversation, you find out this person is not filling out applications, has not typed up his resume, or tried to educate himself. Or how about the person who wants to minister? Has she been studying the Word of God, praying, and preparing for the ministry?
God could have caused the manna to appear in the tents. Or He could have even caused the people to be supernaturally nourished. But He didn’t. Every day they picked their food up from the ground. The manna came directly from the hand of God, but they had to use their hands to gather it.
Do you know your purpose? How are you preparing to minister when called upon? When it’s time to witness of Jesus, are you at a loss because you don’t know what to say? Just as the manna did not jump into the Israelite’s hands, the knowledge of the Word of God will not jump into your brain. You must ‘gather’ and digest it.
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
The Israelites ate manna that sustained life for forty years. Jesus is the ‘bread of God’ Who gives us eternal life. The next time you see a blanket of frost, think of manna, God’s provision, and ask yourself, “Am I doing all I can to ‘gather’ souls for the kingdom of God?”
Prayer: Lord, I pray I remain faithful to Your purpose for my life. Help me to trust You daily to provide for me. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
Monday, October 17, 2005
Donna J. Shepherd © 2005 All rights reserved.
No portion of this Website may be reproduced without permission.
For more information, contact Donna.
Tuesday, October 4, 2005
We had a guest minister at church the other night. He told us how sure he was he'd picked the right path to his chosen profession.
But sometimes God has other plans. This man had a congenital birth defect. The Lord not only healed him, but also called him to preach. He said God set him on ‘a new path I didn’t know was there.’
When he made that statement, it reminded me of one of the original Nintendo games. My favorite part of the game entailed finding a secret path or a hidden door. I could play that game for hours – becoming the best player my son knew and sort of a hero when I beat the game. One day he brought his friends to our house after school. It seems he’d bragged his mother could beat the dragon. They came to get the proof.
I became far too obsessed with the game. No matter how I try to justify all the time wasted on the game, I cannot make an excuse for most of it. Oh, it was fun, and relaxing. My son and I had something in common. But when it was all said and done, what did I have to show for it? A son begging for the next version.
At times, I feel I’ve traded one obsession for another – writing. I scribble notes all over the place. I jot down ideas. I visit sites with tips for writers. I pray daily asking the Lord to anoint my writing, and that this endeavor won’t be a waste of time. God has been gracious. I’ve received many notes of encouragement, and I do feel the Lord is blessing. I’m on a ‘new path.’
And are there dragons to slay? Yes! I believe the Lord can use our words to banish discouragement and slay doubt.
When Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, he advised them, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)
Let us heed this advice by speaking and writing words of faith and healing, words which edify and build up. May our words meet needs and benefit others.
I bought a new computer game recently, but I haven’t gotten carried away this time. I have poems and articles to write, devotionals to share, and blogs to post to!
Prayer: I praise you, Lord, for your goodness and mercy. Help me, O God, to be a vessel of honor building up and a blessing to those whose lives I touch. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
Sunday, October 2, 2005
I'd like to announce the launch of a new association for women founded by Dotsie Bregel called the NABBW - the National Association of Baby Boomer Women. I'm honored to be the Inspirational Writer. Click here for more information.
Monday, September 12, 2005
WHAT NAME WOULD YOU GIVE THE TOPSY TURVY LAND CHIMPANZEE?
WHAT YOU WILL RECEIVE IF YOUR ENTRY IS CHOSEN THE WINNER!
• A free copy of the Topsy Turvy Land book, autographed by Donna J. Shepherd, Kevin Scott Collier and Liz Ball!
• Original artwork signed by Kevin Scott Collier from the pages of Topsy Turvy Land book!
• A signed copy of Tweener Press book.
Contest ends Saturday, September 24, 2005. Ready to enter? Click here!
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
If you have a blog, you can register at the site above and participate
to raise awareness and money for the relief effort, picking the charity of
Let's continue to pray over this situation - for those who've been displaced, families who are grieving over the loss of loved ones, and for all those who are participating in the relief efforts.
Convoy of Hope
Mt. Zion Disaster Relief Shower Trailer
Here are instructions for putting together a disaster relief kit - something I hope we never need...
Disaster Supply Kit
Friday, August 19, 2005
Topsy Turvy Land is now available through Amazon.com. Today I had tears of joy as I read a review left by Michael P. Snyder:
A delight for the imagination, August 19, 2005
Reviewer: Michael P. Snyder (Spring Hill, TN USA)
The kids in my house love this book--the four little ones AND the two big ones. The words and pictures tickle the imagination and highlight the limitless breadth of God's creation. Biblical truth permeates every entertaining page.
The best endorsement I can give this book is this: Last night I allowed my 5-year old and my 4-year old to take three books to bed with them. The five-year old grabbed Topsy Turvy Land, igniting a small skirmish. The peace talks ended with a compromise--a five minute limit on Topsy Turvy Land before swapping with your brother. I guess we may have to buy another copy....or three or four.
Wow! What more can a children's author ask for? Thanks, Michael and family! Here's the link - Amazon.com
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Tuesday, August 2, 2005
Stagnation hides resentment and lost desires,
locked in muddy sediment of unfulfilled dreams.
Daily the cesspit grows deeper.
Can anything stir emotions; cause still waters to flow?
Anger has been the only turbine –
the cause of untold hurt and pain.
Is there nothing that can clear the waters?
Can darkness receive light
and hope be renewed once again?
With cleansing God alone can perform,
His love purifies the depths of the heart,
ridding the soul of bitterness
revealing tenderness only grace can impart.
Forgiveness rushes through the depths
with penetrating power unknown to man
Refreshing the capacity to love.
Faith and hope remain.
© Donna J. Shepherd
Monday, July 25, 2005
After what seems to be an eternity, Topsy Turvy Land is here!
TOPSY TURVY LAND
by Donna J. Shepherd
Illustrated by Kevin Scott Collier
(Hidden Pictures by Liz Ball)
Come visit a place of peace and whimsy where green monkeys and singing snakes live. Children will delight in the lyrical rhymes and vibrant illustrations while searching for the hidden hearts. Full of fun from beginning to end!
Format: Paperback, 16pp
Pub. Date: July 2005
Hidden Pictures Publishing
P.O. Box 63
Tipp City, OH 45371
Retail price: $6.99
To order, click here!
"He made the giraffe with his very long neck,
And the toucan with gigantic beak,
God must have had fun,
Creating each one,
And all in just under a week!"
© 2005 Donna Shepherd
The publisher now has a blog, too. Check it out! Click here!
Kevin Scott Collier, the illustrator extraordinaire, has dedicated an entire page to the book! Check it out. Click here!
Friday, July 22, 2005
Are you going to be in the Ohio area July 30, 2005? I will be speaking and singing at a Women's Conference sponsored by the women of Redeemer Church and friends, and the Breakfast Club. The theme is Drawing Closer To Christ.
There will be Breakout Forums on Prayer, Music, Devotional, and Bible Study led by members of Redeemer Church to help us “Draw Closer To Christ”. Audiences will be given a chance to share some of their favorite tips on the topic. The Redeemer Praise Band will provide live music, and lunch and snacks will be served.
The registration form can be downloaded from the following web site page: click here!
Update: I sang "In His Presence" and then spoke on drawing closer to Christ. I pray that my words encouraged the ladies. I enjoyed all the speakers, and had a great time getting to know the ladies of the Breakfast Club. Thank you for inviting me.
Friday, July 15, 2005
…who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age… (Hebrews 6:5 niv)
We had a visitor at our house for four weeks – a puppy named Molly. She’s a lively Boston Terrier with unlimited energy and need for affection. We’ve had a ball throwing her ball for her to fetch – at least the first fifty times. I’ve yet to tire her out with that game.
My dog, Angel, used to being the ‘top dog,’ had to adjust to having Molly around. For four weeks, she had to fight to get her treats. As soon as I doled them out, each dog gobbled up her treat as if it were the last morsel she’d ever see.
Molly has been gone for a week, and I’ve noticed I’m finding treats lying all over the house. For some reason, Angel delights in leaving them in plain sight. She plays with them, throwing them up in the air, and daring us to try to steal them from her. Eventually she eats them, but she doesn’t feel the urgency now that Molly’s gone.
I talk to a lot of Christians who, when in panic mode, take their Bible, and gobble up the Word, searching the Scripture for answers to their current dilemma. After the crisis has passed, the Bible gets thrown on a bookshelf to gather dust until the next time trouble appears. The urgency is gone.
Angel doesn’t live on those treats. She receives her nourishment from a steady diet of dog food specially designed for her health needs. What we need is a steady diet of the Word. We are spiritual beings, and the Bible is our spiritual nourishment designed by God to meet every need. Why don’t we digest a bit each day so that when trouble comes or the devil tries to steal our joy, we’ll have adequate storage of the Scriptures in our hearts and minds? We won’t go into ‘panic mode.’
I’ve seen a billboard that says, “Seven days without prayer makes one weak.” Even one day without the spiritual nourishment of the Word of God makes a Christian weak. You don’t go without food for your physical body. When we are so blessed to have Bibles at our fingertips, why are we spiritually anorexic?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for Your Word. May I never take it for granted. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Earlier this week, the doorbell rang. Since both my son and I expected packages, we raced to the door to see what the UPS man had left on the front porch. "Yes!" I snatched up the package with my name on it.
I carried it into the kitchen, laid it on the countertop, and ripped it open. After I pushed the paper wrapping aside, I pulled out the textbook and study guide for my latest college class. I clutched the book to my chest, and said, "I can't wait to get started on this."
Both my son and daughter looked at me like I'd grown a gigantic third eyeball. One of them said, "Oh, Mom. You are such a geek."
"I know!" I laughed. "And that's one good thing about getting older. I don't care."
I yearn to learn. I admit it. When I attended high school, I actually liked the challenge. Of course, I never made such a confession then. It wasn't 'cool' to like school. Right?
But now I realize what a privilege it is, not only to read, research, and learn, but to read, research, learn, AND write! Prior to 1456, when the first Bible was produced on a printing press, all manuscripts of the Bible were laboriouly copied by hand. These days, you probably have a dusty copy of the Bible some place in your home. We have an entire shelf in our bookcase dedicated to all the different versions of the Bible. I have such great admiration for those who wrote my textbooks and study guides - much more so now that I know the amount of hard work that can go into writing a 400 word devotional or a 1200 word article!
When I'm doing research, I have the entire internet at my disposal. I can read any version I want, and listen to it being read to me if I desire. I can find numerous Bible commentaries, and countless sites with Biblical teaching.
I heard the other day that even the shyest person among us will impact at least 10,000 people over the course of his or her lifetime. And then to think that God might use some of my writing to bless others overwhelms me at times. The counter on this site clicked over the 10,000 mark the other day, and I have to admit, my stomach fluttered at the idea that that many people had viewed the site. I prayed, "Lord, direct people by the power of Holy Spirit who need encouragement to my site today."
It's not about numbers. Or fame. But ministry. I encourage everyone who writes for the Master to remember our purpose - to lift up the Name of Jesus, and draw ourselves and others to Him. And to pause to thank God for the privilege of being a scribe for Him. May we all write beautiful words of prose and poetry, stories and teaching. What a privilege!
In Matthew 13:52, scribes are described as bringing out new and old treasures. The Amplified Bible interprets this as "the fresh as well as the familiar." How can we find the fresh insights the Lord gives us unless we are familiar with His Word? Let's be students always - learning from our Master. Then we can minister in the capacity He wants us to - whether it's teaching, singing, caregiving, praying, preaching, or writing.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the Word of God, and that Your mercies are new every morning. Help me to faithful to minister Your Word. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.
Tuesday, June 7, 2005
There are three definitions for 'buggy.' 1. A small lightweight carriage, 2. an informal or slang term for mentally irregular, and 3. infested with bugs.
Can you tell me which one this poem is about? Or is it two?? *hint, hint.
Click here to read about Poor Mrs. Rose!
Friday, June 3, 2005
After the LORD finished speaking to me, I got another scroll and gave it to Baruch. Then I told him what to write, so this second scroll would contain even more than was on the scroll Jehoiakim had burned. – Jeremiah 36:32 cev
Recently I lost everything on my computer. All my files. All my mail. All my favorites and email addresses.
I sat in front of my laptop and prayed. Then I cried a bit. Then I prayed some more. I took my computer, which I really wanted to shove over a cliff, to two different computer tech places. They assured me they could recover my files. They couldn’t.
I prayed that somehow we’d figure this out so that I recovered my files.
Guess what? God said, “No.” Sometimes He does that. And it’s hard to take, isn’t it?
I spent a couple weeks without something to which I’d grown addicted. Did you know that addictions come in many different forms? Lesson One.
Lesson Two. I discovered just how much time I had spent on-line. Without the distraction of email and messages boards, I actually studied for an exam for the college course I’m taking. I finished up a children’s book, and got it to the publisher.
Lesson Three? I found I had used my time on my ‘writing machine’ – my loving name for it, to procrastinate my duties in other areas besides writing and studying – like laundry and cleaning. Oh, my. Not what I need – another way to procrastinate!
In March, I backed up my writing files. Thank God. He had prompted me to do that, and I hadn’t done much writing since then because of life’s circumstances. So I did have about a year’s writing on a disk.
And because of His prompting, I had been sending all the files that had to do with my children’s book to an on-line account. So I had everything for it to go on! Praise the Lord!
So now I’m saying, “Okay, Lord. I get it. Lessons learned.”
In the book of Jeremiah, we read that God told Jeremiah to write the words He gave him on a scroll. So Jeremiah called for his scribe, Baruch, to write them all down. Baruch then took the scroll to the temple to read the words of the Lord. King Jehoiakim had the scroll brought to him, and threw it in the fire.
Do you know what the Lord told Jeremiah to do? Get another scroll. Start writing. The second scroll contained all the words the Lord had told him, and more. The New King James Version says, “there were added to them many similar words.”
Someone told me that God must have great things in store to throw such an obstacle in my path. But anything that satan means for evil, God can use for good. I’m not writing Scripture of course, but I do believe God can and will inspire me by the power of the Holy Spirit to rewrite a lot of what was on the computer, and add to them many similar words. I believe God can not only restore, but also give an increase.
Tell me - do you use your time on the computer to shirk responsibilities? Maybe you surf the web instead of writing, or talk to other Christians online instead of spending time talking to God. Maybe my hard lesson will help someone else. First of all, talk to God Himself before writing about Him. Secondly, back up your files regularly. And finally, turn off the computer now and then. It’s difficult at first, but you’ll enjoy the time you spend online much more if you’ve taken care of obligations first.
Now I must get back to writing. I have a lot of catching up to do!
Prayer: Lord, I thank You for Your presence, for Your Word, and for Your goodness. Help me to be faithful to use my time and resources wisely. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.
Friday, May 27, 2005
Sunday, May 22, 2005
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.- Hebrews 10:36
Throughout my teen years and into adulthood, an underlying thread of discontent made its way into the tapestry of my life. I loved God and longed to serve Him in a greater capacity.
When Don became pastor of a small church, we started a Sunday School program, but had no one to teach the adult class.
My husband pleaded with me. “Donna, won’t you consider teaching the adult class?”
The thought of teaching adults petrified me. I’d taught Sunday School for years, but up until that point, my oldest students were four-year olds.
As the new pastor’s wife, I wanted to help any way I could, so after praying about it, I agreed. We ordered the material and I opened up my first book. I thought, Oh, no – this can’t be right. The first series of lessons was entitled, “Sex and the Christian.”
I taught the whole book with a red face and perspiring palms. To this day, my students tease me about my obvious discomfort.
And even though I’ve been teaching for years, I learn something every Sunday. Sometimes I feel like a fraud, because I’m sure I get more out of my teaching than my students. I’ve become more disciplined in my own Bible study, and for every minute I spend in the actual classroom setting, I’ve spent many more in preparation.
I want to be the best teacher I can be under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Even though I felt inadequate at first, God honored my effort. I believe He equips us for the tasks He has for us. One example of this is in the Old Testament, when God chose workers to build the Tabernacle.
Exodus 31:1-3 – “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship.”
Isn't that a wonderful thought? God filled the workers with the Holy Spirit and gave them the skill, ability, and knowledge for their work. My desire is to be filled with that same Spirit to be equipped for the awesome task of sharing His word.
Teaching has taught me. I’ve learned that while singing will always be my heart’s cry, my experience as a teacher has been more fulfilling than I ever dreamed.
Teaching God’s Word has been a colorful thread in the tapestry of my life. When my life is laid out before God, I pray it will be a vivid display of submission to His will.
Recently my husband has been trying to talk me into preaching one Sunday. I’m still praying about that one!
Prayer: Thank you, God, for the opportunity to minister for You. I pray that I will be willing to step out in faith to do Your will. In Jesus' sweet, precious, Holy Name I pray, Amen.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
Georgiana Preskar has given us a source, Seeds of Deception, that makes some very enlightening information available to parents who care about what their children learn at school. The author uses an easy to read, comfortable format, but the book is not pleasant reading since the facts are so disturbing. For example, Ms. Preskar makes wild claims about connections between homosexuality and Hitler's agenda and then compares that phenomenon with mind control in our schools. However, and much to my chagrin, she has researched these claims very well and provides some very convincing documentation.
I am a Christian and a public school teacher who hesitated to read this book, anticipating accusations against "those humanist teachers who are out to get your kids," which is what I often see and hear in Christian circles. In reality, most teachers are very interested in your child's well-being, and the author respects the integrity of the teacher. However, this book identifies the hidden sources of influence that are capable of destroying every Godly thought that you have lovingly and painstakingly nurtured in your child.
Please read Seeds of Deception. In spite of some distracting editing oversights in the text, the book can educate and inspire parents to counter the deception behind a number of the programs now in place in the public school systems of our nation. We are now without excuse for being ignorant of the agenda. - Reviewed by E. Horton
Saturday, May 14, 2005
Okay, I'm back. I did put a bunch of writing on a CD in March, so I have some records, but you know how it is. There's a lot on there that I'd compiled in the last two months - especially stuff to do with Topsy Turvy Land, the children's book. If you've contacted me for a copy or to do a review, contact me again please.
My most current mailing list was on the laptop. If you're on either the Topsy Turvy Land or the Devotionals by Donna list, be sure to email me so I can add you back on! Or even easier - sign up using the form to the right of this post!
If you know of friends and family who were on the list, please forward this on by clicking on the little white envelope in the bottom right-hand corner of this post.
I've checked into getting a professional mailing list, because the Devotional list is getting quite large. I'd already had fifty people sign up for the Topsy Turvy Land list!
As soon as I get it compiled, I'm printing it out. Good old paper and ink. Thanks so much, and once again, I'm so sorry for the inconvenience!
Monday, May 9, 2005
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. - Proverbs 14:30
Recently I received a book by snail mail - a gift from an author I met on-line. I took the book downstairs and propped it up on the bookrack on my new treadmill. I opened it up being careful not to break the spine. I love the way a new book feels. I love the way I feel - excited about the treasure hidden between the covers.
And what a treasure it was. The writer included an entire book's worth of information in the first chapter. My thirty-minute workout passed by before I knew it.
While I savored the spiritual morsels in the book, I had to quash an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach - something like literary nausea. Why would I ever try to write another word? Who was I to think I could communicate deep spiritual insights? I'm shallow.
As a first step to rid myself of this illness, I sent an email to the author praising her book. Then I prayed. And prayed some more. If I am to continue to write, I must believe God has a message contained in this container of clay that only I can write. I asked God to replace jealousy with trust. I do trust in His plan, His will, and His purpose for me, and my plea is for strength and wisdom to build on His blueprint for my life.
Admitting my feelings represents a healthy step in overcoming them. James wrote, "But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth" (James 3: 14).
Soon it wasn't difficult to admit I would not have wanted to write the book that induced such envy. Many tears and heartache had been experienced before the author wrote the first word. Deep insight came from passing through deep valleys. Mountaintop highs resulted in magnificent praise.
Paul wrote, "Let us not desire vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another" (Gal. 5:26).
When I read beautiful writing, I desire to give genuine compliments to the author, and praise to God Who inspired the author.
Do you ever find yourself in this same trap? Maybe the ministry isn't writing, but singing or teaching or preaching.
Let us praise God at all times for His goodness and His faithfulness to inspire beauty - whether it comes though us or someone else.
I have green eyes. I don't want them to be green with envy.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You for the burden to work for You, and ask that You anoint me to do the work You have for me. Help me to praise others and encourage them in their ministries. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.
Sunday, May 1, 2005
A wonderful woman named Mary Preston was a mentor to me in my early years of singing, and instrumental in my learning to play the piano. She never had children, but she treated me as I were her own. I share this in honor of Mother's Day.
As a teenager I sang in the church choir. I enjoyed watching the pianist, Mary, as her fingers glided across the ivories providing the upbeat and lively accompaniment to our choir specials.
One Sunday Mary stopped me after church. “Donna, you have a good voice. Have you ever thought of singing a solo?”
The idea of singing by myself terrified me, but I went to Mary’s for the fun of it. We practiced for a while. Afterwards she served the most fantastic chocolate cake I’d ever tasted. I’m not sure how she convinced me – maybe it was the caffeine, but I agreed to sing a solo in church the next Sunday.
Then one day she invited me to her home. Two other women showed up. Mary announced, “These are your backup singers.”
Mary continued to mentor me over the next few years. She invited me to her home often, and on special occasions fixed her famous chocolate cake. Written out, the recipe covered an entire page of single-spaced notebook paper, and required a significant amount of time to prepare.
So what was a special occasion? Anytime I came over. Mary always managed to have a freshly baked cake for me, and we celebrated many truly special occasions – my first solo, the first time we sang as a group, the recording of my first album, which Mary and her husband financed, and eventually, my stepping out to sing in a group that traveled our tri-state area.
Shortly after I got married, Mary found out she had cancer and passed away within no time. After her death, I was blessed to bring her piano to my home and learn to play.
When I think of Mary, I recall her dedication to mentor a young woman like me. In Luke 6:40 (NIV), Jesus said, “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Thirty years later, I’m still singing. I’m a pastor’s wife, and I learned to play that piano and now, like Mary was so long ago, I’m the church pianist.
Often I think of Mary and the encouragement and blessing she bestowed upon my life, and I’m reminded of a woman who sacrificed her time and talent to help a floundering young woman find her purpose.
I still eat chocolate every day, but despite my best effort, I’ve never been able to duplicate Mary’s cake. I pray I’ll be able to duplicate her ministry as a mentor to someone else.
And I’m sure to give that recipe another try!
*To make a cake similar to Mary's, click here.
Saturday, April 30, 2005
It was my privilege to be a contributing writer to Daily Grace for Women, Devotional Reflections to Nourish Your Soul, Honor Books, April 2005. For more information, see the sidebar on the right.
Thank you to everyone who sent congrats and shared in my excitement. God bless you.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
This month InspiredMoms.com features inspiring daily devotionals written by their team of Inspired Moms writers and guest writers. The title of the series is Mom, You Have Character!
I wrote one for March 31st called Training for Life. Click here to read!
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? - Galatians 3:3 niv
This morning when you started your day, did you have an agenda? Many people, at least the more organized ones, begin by consulting a ‘to do’ list. In our society, being goal oriented is viewed as a good attribute.
It seems as if I fight a continual battle to get and stay organized. I make out my list, marking off the more important tasks, dividing them into categories, and putting a checkmark beside each task as I complete it.
Many times, I barely get the list compiled, and I need to crumple it up and throw it out. Each day is an adventure, and some days I have to give up my goals and let God decide.
I love the way David described life in Psalm 139. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and “all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Did you know that God ordained your life before you took your first breath? Ordain means to put in order by virtue of superior authority.
When life throws me lemons, I try to squeeze the adversity out of it, and let the sweet Holy Spirit calm me while I sip my ‘spiritual lemonade.’ In my distress, I do my best to remember that God is in control. It’s difficult to surrender. Our nature is to try to control, but when we surrender, we give up the goals, and let God decide.
I’ll continue to write my lists. God is not the author of confusion. I desire to set goals that reflect godly priorities, and depend on God to direct me on this path through life – even when my day doesn’t pattern itself after my ‘to do’ list.
When I think of the book mentioned in Psalm 139:16, I wonder what my book of life looks like. How many chapters does it have? I hope it’s a nice, thick book!
Prayer: Lord, I thank you for the very breath of life. I pray that I will live this day as You direct and guide. Help me to live according to the Spirit, submitting my will to Yours. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to eternal life. But a person who has no love is still dead. -
I John 3:14 nlt
Do you have a favorite restaurant? What makes that particular eatery different from the rest? Each restaurant specializes whether it’s a hot dog stand or a fancy French restaurant. You won’t get a fantastic piece of fresh salmon by going to a local pizza place, but you can probably order lasagna with homemade sauce or thick crust pizza piled high with the ingredients of your choice.
I added a new place to my list of favorites – a small, locally owned restaurant. I go there for one reason alone- their homemade creamy maple vinaigrette dressing – a concoction so delicious I tap my foot and grin the whole time I eat my salad.
Every Sunday, we drive past many churches to attend the one of our choice. What makes your church different from the rest? Is it the worship style you prefer? Maybe the doctrine lines up with your beliefs.
Each church is different, but one uniting factor should be present in all Christian churches – the desire to lift up the name of the Lord in praise, and to draw people to His Son, Jesus Christ. Churches do not exist to be social clubs, dating services, or community outreaches, although they can and do serve in this capacity, but a church’s goal is different from secular organizations formed for these purposes.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
Hopefully when we attend church, we go for the right reason – not out of obligation or guilt, or to make business contacts. I pray you go to praise the Lord, pray, receive Bible-based instruction, and to recharge your spiritual life. The Church isn’t perfect being made up of imperfect people like you and me, but in a healthy, Spirit-filled church, you can gain strength from the Word of God preached, and from other Christians.
Let us do as Paul said and exhort one another. When we recharge spiritually, we will with boldness witness of Jesus Christ to those in our circle of influence.
In the same way I look forward to sitting down to a dinner with friends, I look forward to the fellowship and strength found in the presence of other Christians. Is your spirit as hungry for the Word and deep, intense fellowship with God and your fellow Christians as your physical body hungers for deep-dish pizza?
Speaking of hunger – I haven’t had a salad with creamy maple vinaigrette for a few days. I think I’ve figured out where I’d like to eat dinner tonight.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for commissioning the Body of Christ, and the ministry of the local church. I pray I will be faithful to minister to my brothers and sisters in Christ, and fulfill my purpose as part of Your Body. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
Saturday, April 9, 2005
For your children and grandchildren (and even grown-up children at heart!) - Click here to get on board the Inspiration Station - a new children's magazine! I have a poem called Concrete Map on the Poetry Page.
If you'd like to leave the editor a comment, click here!
Recently I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Nancy C. Anderson's book, Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome: How to Grow Affair Proof Hedges Around Your Marriage.
Nancy writes about a confusing time in her life with such vulnerability, she draws the reader in. She shows how being out of the will of God brought her nothing but heartache, and then takes us through her journey from chaos to the cure. Her practical tips and spiritual insights inspire her readers to work on their own relationships. Recommended reading whether struggling in your marriage or you want to make a good thing better.
Available at Amazon and Christian Books.
Thursday, March 31, 2005
“Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, "Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." – John 4:10 nkjv
The church service began as usual with our singing a few choruses followed by a time called “Select a Hymn” – a favorite with the members of our congregation.
As the pianist, I’m challenged when this time rolls around. I never know which hymn will catch someone’s eye on any given evening. Some nights, I know them all. At other times, I’m at a loss, but since I can play ‘by ear,’ some of the songs I manage to pick my way through without sounding completely tone deaf.
At one point, the guitarist, Amy, said to the drummer and me, “I’d like to sing ‘As the Deer,’” but we were so busy trying to keep up with the current selections, she didn’t get a chance to request it.
The song leader seemed ready to wind the session down when he said to one man who had been very persistent in raising his hand, “Which number did you select, young man?”
He stated the hymn number, and out of over 500 hymns in our book, he had chosen “As the Deer.”
Amy’s face lit up. The three of us praised the Lord with her as we sang the words in Psalm 42:1, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.”
I thought how wonderful it was that the desire of her heart to praise the Lord with a certain song was granted. How many times have you prayed for something and the Lord answered with a resounding, “Yes!” to your request?
If the Lord knows the number of hairs on your head, He knows the desires of your heart. Of course, sometimes God says, “No” or “Not now,” but isn’t it wonderful when a prayer is answered so quickly? I loved it!
I have found through personal experience if I drink a glass of water first thing in the morning, I’m thirstier the entire day. I’ve also discovered if I read the Bible, pray, and seek God first thing in the morning, I long for even more time to spend alone with Him. As the deer pants for the water, my soul thirsts for God, the Living Water.
How about you? Are you thirsty?
Prayer: Lord, I praise You and long to draw closer to You. I thank You for the Living Water that becomes a fountain springing up into everlasting life. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Are you hospitable? Click here to read a short piece on hospitality I wrote for Sisters in the Lord Magazine. God bless you!
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
I’ve been working on a book proposal, and studying (yes, I’m in college), so I thought I’d do something a bit different and share a link to the website of my friend and writing mentor, Mary DeMuth. Harvest House Publishers just released her book, Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God. I was privileged to see the manuscript before it hit the market, and honored to write a glowing review. Enjoy.
Monday, March 7, 2005
Wednesday, March 2, 2005
The annual event that comes whether you like it or not happens this month - I get to celebrate another birthday. I say, “get to” because so many people dread their birthday. The popular saying is, “You might as well enjoy it. Think of the alternative!” But when you say that to a Christian, the alternative is better. As Philippians 1:21 says, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Someone in my church had a birthday last week. When I asked how old this person was, I was told thirty-nine AGAIN. And this from a man! I guess hedging when asked your age isn’t strictly a woman’s prerogative after all.
My mom told anyone who asked she was thirty-nine for so long that I really don’t know how old she is now. When I became older than my mom, I told her she was going to have to add a few years!
Our time on earth is short compared to eternity. I wrote a song with the words, “Life is like a vapor quickly gone. Our only hope for eternity is God, the Father. His never-ending love sent Christ, His Son.” These lines were based on James 4:14 , “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” We must make the best of what little time we have on earth. Cherish each day. Live a life that glorifies God.
Not long ago I ran into one of my favorite teachers while waiting for my daughter in the orthodontist’s office. It surprised me to learn his daughter was younger than mine. I took a closer look at him only to realize he couldn’t have been more than five or six years older than me so when I was 17, he was only 22 or 23 - not an old man at all. In high school, he seemed so much older.
So age is a relative matter. And in my case, my relatives remind me of my age. My siblings remind me I am the eldest. My son thinks I am out of touch with popular culture, but my mother thinks I am a spring chicken. So since wisdom comes with age – hopefully -- I have decided that I will go with my mother’s opinion!
Oh, and in case you're wondering, I intend to turn thirty-nine again on my birthday, too.
Prayer: Lord, help us to serve You with all our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls. Help us to live each day to its fullest. May something we do today have an impact for eternity. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 3:14 nkjv
I needed to drive to a meeting. The drive takes about forty minutes, most of which is on the interstate. Since I don’t drive on the highway frequently, before backing out of the garage, I strapped my seatbelt, adjusted my mirrors, checked my directions, and prayed. In fact, I prayed for almost forty minutes!
As I whizzed down the road at sixty, okay seventy, miles per hour, I thought about how often I looked in the rear-view mirror. Many years ago in driver’s education, my instructor told me to check my mirrors frequently while driving.
Looking back is advantageous at times. On the way home, I passed through downtown at rush hour, and I could keep my eye on the semis, aggressive drivers who rushed past me like I stood still, or the drivers distracted by cellphones.
In life, looking back can be an education. We learn what not to do by examining our mistakes. But bad memories can hinder us from living in the present. We must not dwell on past mistakes, but learn from them and move on.
We can also reminisce with our positive memories thanking God for His blessings. We never want to forget the goodness of our Father. We sing a popular song at church that says, “Look what the Lord has done.” Even good memories can stifle our lives by causing us to wish things were ‘the way they used to be.’ God has done marvelous things in the past, and because He does not change, He does marvelous things today, too!
If I had spent the greater part of my time driving on the interstate looking in my rearview mirror, I’m sure I wouldn’t be here at all. To live life to its fullest, we cannot linger in the past. The apostle Paul put it this way. “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” (Philippians 3:12-13 nkjv)
Maybe I wouldn’t check my mirrors so often if I drove the speed limit. Oh, me. Did I admit that?
Prayer: Lord, help me to trust You, to thank You for ‘this day,’ and to and to be present and ready to do Your will. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Lori Anton of Women with Heart has published Steak or Green Beans? - an article dealing with Christians being judgmental of one another. Click here to read. I'd love some feedback. God bless you! - Donna
Monday, February 7, 2005
Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name. – Hebrews 13:15 amp
I received the nicest email from someone who stumbled across my devotionals. Dianne complimented me on the site, and encouraged me to keep working for the Lord. I appreciate the fact that Dianne took the time to cheer on a fellow Christian she has never met.
Her email caused me to wonder. Have I applauded someone who’s done a good job lately? Have I inspired someone to work harder in his or her ministry? And most importantly – have I been faithful to praise God?
Everyone can use a boost now and then. I have to admit that sometimes I notice the negative before the positive. I jump in to fix what I perceive as wrong before I stop to appreciate what is right. These days I make an intentional effort to focus on the positive.
Does God really need for us to compliment Him? In Psalm 22:3, David said, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” What does it mean to inhabit? To be present in; be inside of. God is present when we praise Him. God dwells inside those who praise Him.
Stop for a moment. Is there someone in your life you could call today to encourage? In our church, Lori Barker does a lot of the ‘behind the scenes’ kind of work. As the ‘pastor’s wife’, I’m so grateful for people like Lori who don’t hesitate to do the things for which there is no outward praise. We have several more like Lori, too. We are blessed.
Not everyone writes or sings or preaches, but tell me – who in your church buys the bread for Communion? Who cleans the church or types up the bulletins? Do you know? Why not tell them today how much you appreciate their ministry?
Take some time, too, to praise the Lord. Perhaps you might like to memorize this verse: While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being. - Psalm 146:2
Prayer: Lord, I praise You and give You glory for You are so worthy to be praised. Make me aware of those around me in need of a word of praise or thanks. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
Wednesday, February 2, 2005
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 were none of them. – Psalm 139:16 esv
I can finally see some shoots of grass in my front yard. A big snowstorm hit our area a few weeks ago, and blanketed everything with twenty inches of snow with a few more added here and there since then. For a while, I felt like God had us inside a giant snow globe, and every so often, He’d give us a good shake.
As I stood at my back door watching the enormous flakes floating gently to the ground, I thought about how each one is unique. Just like people. Did you know there is no one else exactly like you? The arrangement of ridges in any fingerprint is thought to be unique and permanent with each person. No two persons having the same prints have ever been found.
Isn’t that amazing? Lenny LeBlane wrote a song entitled “There Is None Like You.” The lyrics refer to God, but the title could have been written about you.
David wrote in the 139th Psalm: “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.” (Psalm 139:14-15 esv)
As a musician, David, wrote a beautiful song extolling the wonder of the intricacy of our form. It’s just like a unique God to make each of His creatures unique as well.
You have a ministry and a commission given to you by Jesus Christ Himself to reach those around you in your ‘Jerusalem.’ You have an incomparable mission. We have a common goal to reach others for Christ, but your ministry is unique. Your circle of influence reaches people I will never touch. They’ll never read my writing or talk to me or hear me sing. They will have never heard of me. But they know you. They know your life. Who will cross your path today? Are you ready to be the witness God would have you be? Perhaps someone will need to hear words only you can speak, or you might be the only person who can empathize with someone’s plight. Pray. Be ready.
As I write this, God has seen fit to shake my world once again. Giant snowflakes fall in silence outside my window – so beautiful, but please, God – can we keep it down to just an inch or less?
Prayer: Lord, help me to be aware of my unique ministry. May I be led of the Holy Spirit to minister to those You bring across my path. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
To read the Lyrics to “There Is None Like You,” click here.
To hear a recording: click here.
Monday, January 24, 2005
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. – James 1:2 ESV
We added a member to our household – a seven-week-old Boston Terrier. Oh, the joy of having a puppy. Molly, her name since this morning, nuzzles into your neck and your heart. She hops instead of runs, plays hard and sleeps soundly, and when we leave the room, cries in such a pitiful way we run right back in to comfort her.
Already I’ve seen a bit of stubbornness in her. She wants to sleep on the sofa right next to me, snuggled into a leopard print throw. When I get up to do chores, she keeps whining for me to sit back down.
How can such a tiny being have such a strong will? So far, I’m being accommodating, but eventually I’ll have to get stern with her. There’s no telling what kind of mess a puppy can get into without proper supervision.
Isn’t that like we humans? We place our hands on our hips, and defy God. “Why can’t You do what I want to do?” We question why we go through trials, when the Lord may be trying to train us, teach us, and is only concerned about our best interest. We can get ourselves into some pretty big messes when we ignore His direction, can’t we?
God accommodates His children to an extent, but then spiritually, we need to grow up. We bow to His will. His supervision will always be for our good. James the Apostle said the testing of our faith produces steadfastness. When we trust God during a difficult time, our faith increases, and we learn patience. We grow up a little.
According to what I’ve read, Boston Terriers have a tendency to resist being told what to do – another trait shared by many humans. Life will be much more pleasant for all of us if Molly learns to follow commands. God has laid out in His Word many commandments for us to follow. How much better would our lives be if we lived according to God’s Word?
I’m looking forward to the many spiritual lessons this little puppy will teach me. And she’s so cute, too! Only one downside - Boston Terriers snort, snuffle, wheeze, grunt, and snore loudly. Just what I needed. Don’t we hear enough of that already out of humans?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for being so patient with your children. Help me to be accepting of Your will and Your instruction. Thank You for Your Word that teaches me. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Friday, January 14, 2005
I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. – Acts 20:24 niv
Many (many, many!) years ago, I attended a cheerleading camp. All week long, we practiced our cheers and choreographed our steps. At the end of the competition, the best squad won a trophy. Another competition went on simultaneously. Whoever won that one received the coveted ‘Spirit Stick.” After all, what would any self-respecting cheerleader be without that school spirit? The competition escalated as we neared the final ceremony. Many of the girls thrived on the tension. Not me. I became a nervous wreck.
I’m the type of person who throws in her cards when the competition heats up, or backs off when confronted with an overzealous opponent. My stomach quivers at the thought of such rivalry.
The apostle Paul, obviously well acquainted with competition, referred to winning quite often. In 1 Corinthians 9:23-24 (niv), Paul said, “I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”
Paul encouraged us to run to win. What do we win? He goes on to say in verse 25, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”
When I feel overwhelmed by an opponent, I might mutter, “It’s only a game” or “I don’t care about winning that much.”
But when we’re talking about eternity, I do care, and I do want to win – souls for the Lord, and the battle against Satan. And one day a crown of life. In order to win, we must aggressively pursue a relationship with God, our Father, and be willing to stay in strict training as we pursue His will.
I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone in the past few months to promote my writing. I’m not adverse to hard work, researching the market, and writing till my fingers ache. I don’t want to come across as so humble that I don’t praise the Lord for what He’s done through me. For every article published, for every heart touched, for every person who is encouraged, I give God the glory. I’m thrilled He will use me. I’m thankful that, instead of a ‘Spirit Stick,” I have the real Spirit to help me, to prod me on, to encourage, and empower me. Praise the Lord!
If God wants me to do cartwheels (oh, I hurt at just the thought of it!) across a platform, I’d do it – even though at this point, it would mean enthusiastically promoting my latest project – my mid-life version of a cartwheel.
I feel like my no-compete clause has caused me to retreat. I'm defeating that tendency with God’s help. In the Christian race, we don’t compete against each other. When we work together in unity as a team to tell others of Jesus’ love, we all win.
My cheerleading squad may not have won the ‘Spirit Stick’ but I did end up getting a trophy one year for being the “Best All-Round Cheerleader.” Now I’m afraid I might just win one for being round.
Keep pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly calling of God. Are you in the running? And just for old time’s sake: Go, Christian, go!
Prayer: God, I thank You for the promise of a crown of life. I ask for strength to persevere, and the wisdom to do Your will. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.