Sunday, December 27, 2009

Living With Expectancy



“…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 3:13-14

Every year at this time a lot of people make many promises. Some of the New Year’s Resolutions I have heard (or made) are:

“I am going to pray an hour each day.”
“I intend to read the entire Bible!”
“I will lose thirty pounds!”
“I promise to be nice to everyone I meet.”

By the end of January, the list looks more like this:

“I am going to pray when I can.”
“I intend to read the New Testament or at least the Gospel of John.”
“Each day, I’m going to eat a little less.”

And last but not least, “I will not snap the head off of everyone I meet!”

We start the year off with great expectancy, but many times our hopes are dashed by the trials and events of life. But even if the events of this world assault our senses and threaten our safety, we still have hope in the Lord. The Bible says in Romans 5:1-2: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

A slew of books and articles are written at the beginning of each year about getting organized and simplifying your life. I taught a Sunday School lesson entitled “Living with Eternity in Mind.” What a great thought! It occurred to me there would be no better way to simplify life than to question our worries and obligations with, “Will this matter for eternity?”

I thank God we have hope in the midst of trials. God has not only provided for our salvation through Jesus Christ, but the Holy Spirit is in our midst to comfort us and give us peace. What kind of life would we have if we had no hope? If we live with eternity and expectation in mind, I believe we have a more positive outlook every day of our lives. We won’t spend our lives looking back with regret, but will, as Paul told the Philippians, look ahead toward our goal. We have hope.

As we begin a new year, this verse is my prayer for all who read this: Romans 15:13- “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”

Let’s live each day to its fullest, and endeavor to make every day count for eternity.

Prayer: God, I thank You for each day you grant to me. Help me to be diligent in using each day for Your glory. Thank You for the hope of eternal life in Christ Jesus. In His Name I pray. Amen.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christ of Christmas



Free download of the Christmas story from Luke read by singer/songwriter Matthew West. Tyndale's goal is to reach 1 million total downloads. You can also download a free copy of the Gospel of John in the New Living Translation.



Friday, November 20, 2009

The Greatest Gift



For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:23 nlt

When my son, Aaron, was a small tyke, his favorite toys were plastic G I. Joe figures. Every day his little red head could be found poring over his collection. After much deliberation, he picked out two to carry- one in each chubby, little hand.

For Christmas, Aaron asked for a specific G. I. Joe. The problem? Every other three-year old in our area wanted the same one. I despaired as Christmas grew closer, and none could be found.

Finally, I found it. You would have thought I’d discovered a treasure chest full of gold. The salesgirl looked disinterested as I practically jumped up and down by the counter relating how relieved I was to have found it.

I could hardly wait to see Aaron’s blue eyes light up when he opened his special gift. It only took a few seconds for him to rip the colorful paper from the packaging. Of course, the big hug and the enthusiastic “Thank you, Mommy!” made the hunt worthwhile. Then as quickly as he opened it, he moved on to his next gift. He had no idea of the time and effort it took to find what he requested.

During the Christmas season, we hustle about trying to get the right gift for each person on our list. It warms my heart when someone opens a gift from me and exclaims, “You know I need this very thing!”

God looked at mankind thousands of years ago and knew exactly what we needed. In the same way someone exclaims over an earthly gift, God Himself along with the angels in heaven rejoice when we see the need for the Gift He sent- His Son, Jesus. I can imagine my heavenly Father’s delight when someone exclaims, “I need you, Jesus. I accept the gift of salvation.” Luke 15:10- “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”

In the days before Christmas, Aaron had asked for the special toy several more times without knowing the gift had already been purchased. Before I accepted Christ, He already paid for my salvation through His death on the cross over two thousand years ago. When I was nine years old, my spiritual eyes opened and I realized Jesus was just what I needed.

Our salvation is not based on what we can do for our God, but what God has already done for us. Christianity is the only religion based on this foundation. When we hunt for that special gift for our loved ones, let’s remember the greatest Gift of all- the salvation Jesus paid for with His death and resurrection. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”- John 3:16. Have you accepted the greatest gift?

Prayer: God, I thank You for the greatest present of all – salvation through Jesus Christ. Help me to remember amidst the busyness of the holiday the true meaning and reason we celebrate – Jesus’ birth. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

_______

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Born to Die

The other night I heard the song by Steppenwolf, Born to Be Wild. It brought back memories of Junior High and High School - that song had legs! When it came on the radio, my friends and I turned the volume up, and da-da-da'd through the verses, and on the chorus belted out, "Born to be wi-l-d," and played air guitar or in my case, drums. Oh, were we wild.

Born to be wild. Born to -- you fill in the blank. Sometimes we watch sports and think someone like Michael Jordan was born to play basketball. As a wee child, Julie Andrews opened her mouth, and a voice with a four-octave range flowed forth. She was born to sing.

During this season, I've reflected on Jesus Christ's mission. He taught like no other. But men and women have been anointed to teach. He healed the sick, yet gave the same power to the disciples. "He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness (Matthew 10:1 niv)."

Jesus performed miracles. We read in Acts that God did extraordinary miracles through Paul.

Jesus taught, healed the sick, and performed miracles, but He was born for something much greater. He was born to die.

Mary, Joseph, the disciples, Paul. None could perform a task He alone came to earth to accomplish. I sing a song called, Mary, Did You Know. The baby Mary delivered would deliver her - and us. His blood alone atones for sin. "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone."

As an eight-year old girl, I stood up front in church one morning, and sang a song a capella. I don't even remember the song, but I do remember the grownups hovering around me after church. "Oh, honey, you were born to sing!" "Donna, you must use your talent for the Lord." And I did for several years.

Then life - banking and babies, housework and hum-drum, overcame my song. I threw myself into my mission of motherhood. My mom made me proud by saying I was born to be a mom.

Now I write. I love it. I can't imagine not writing now. Was I born to write? To sing? To be a mother? In whatever area of ministry He leads, I pray I accomplish my mission.

One thing I know - if I shed every drop of blood in my body, I could not atone for even one person's sin. I thank Jesus Christ that He fulfilled His purpose. During the Christmas holiday, I feel a twinge of sadness because even though we celebrate His birth, I know Jesus Christ was born to die.

But hallelujah, He arose to live again. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again (II Corinthians 5:15 niv). And even though I will one day die, because of His sacrifice, I, too, will live again.

Let's praise Him and vow to fulfill the purpose God has for our lives - as scribes and singers, guitar players or poets, parents, grandparents - as Christians.
___________

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Are You Too BUSY to Say Thanks?

Column on The Dabbling Mum. Click here to read Are You Too BUSY to Say Thanks?

Donna J. Shepherd © 2007
All rights reserved.


No portion of this Website may be reproduced by Crossmap or any other website without dated written permission from Donna. - Thanks!

_______

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mad Anthony Quarterly Writers' Workshop



Donna will be presenting a workshop.

Quarterly Workshop Series Presents:

Writing for the Christian Market - How to write, edit, and sell your writing

8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 14, 2009

8:00 Registration; 8:30 Donna Shepherd: Christian Nonfiction
10:15 Shelley Galloway: Christian Fiction
12:00 Victoria Ryan: The Devil is in the Details: Revising and Editing

Book signing after each presentation.

244 Dayton Street (corner of Dayton and Third Streets)
Hamilton, OH 45011
(513) 856-9800

Street Parking is FREE on Saturdays

Registration: $25 prepaid/ $30 at the door includes 3 workshops and light refreshments *

The Mad Anthony Writers Conference is a volunteer organization raising funds for the YWCA Family Literacy Council serving Butler, northern Hamilton, and western Warren Counties in Ohio.

* Workshops will be cancelled if fewer than 10 participants
More information at http://www.madanthonycbf.org/

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Day for Writers

Join the Yahoo Group to receive updates and talk with other writers!

Click to join greaterharvestworkshops


Greater Harvest Workshops
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Resurrection Lutheran Church
1270 N. Broadway
Lebanon, Ohio, 45036

Registration: $49


New Schedule with 8 New Workshops.
Same Inspiration and Fun!


Have you always wanted to write but haven’t known where to start?
Is it your desire to write articles and devotionals for magazines and books?
Have you written a book, or would like to, but have no idea what step to take next?
Have you started to write, but need to be inspired to keep the momentum going?


Greater Harvest Workshops are designed to move you closer to your goal of becoming a working writer and published author. Taught by Donna Shepherd, an author and speaker, and Mary Busha, a writer's coach, these workshops, along with hands-on training, will motivate you to step up to the next level!
Schedule:

8:30-9:00: Registration/Coffee
9:00-9:30: General Session
9:30-9:45: Break
9:45-10:45: Workshop 1
10:45-11:00: Break
11:00-12:00: Workshop 2
12:00-12:30: Lunch (included with registration)
12:30-12:45: Networking
12:45-1:45: Workshop 3
1:45-2:00: Break
2:00-3:00: Workshop 4
3:00-3:30: Closing Session

Writers can choose one workshop from each session.

9:45-10:45: Workshop 1
Write Devotionals and Get Published - (Donna) In this workshop, learn how to compose a devotional, study the markets, and how to format your devotionals for submission to magazines, anthologies, and books.
Writing and Road Trips – What They Have in Common - (Mary) Writing a book or an article is similar to taking a road trip across town or across the country. Both require planning and decision making. Explore six elements writing and road trips have in common.
11:00-12:00: Workshop 2
Use Your Good Senses. - (Donna) Let's boost creativity by paying attention to sensory details. We'll stir up our senses with hands-on activities and writing exercises and watch creativity come alive as we enjoy the senses God gave us.
Self-publishing – Is it for You? - (Mary) Discover some of the pros and cons of self-publishing, find out why many writers today are taking this route to publication, and begin to determine if this is the best way for you to get into print.

12:45-1:45: Workshop 3
Blogging and Social Networking - (Donna) What is a blog? Do you really need to have a website and a blog? Find out how to determine your best course of action to promote and brand yourself on the Internet.
Keeping Your Writing Alive One Day at a Time - (Mary) Once you’ve begun the writing process, it’s important to keep the momentum going. Find out how you can write something every day…and, in the process, bless others at the same time.
2:00-3:00: Workshop 4
ABC's of Sparkling Writing - (Donna) Who wants to write ho-hum? Donna will share twenty-six ways to liven up your writing.
Marketing Yourself and Your Book Proposal - (Mary) If you’ve found that writing your book is easy compared to the awesome task of marketing your work, this workshop will help you get by the intimidation of trying to get your manuscript into the hands of an agent or publisher.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Thrown Out of My Own Home

I'm posting along with some other writers over on the Christian Humor Writers Blog. For something a bit different, here's today's post.


I know the day I teetered on the edge of change. My emotions tumbled inside, and I thought for a few seconds of morphing into my mother.

Not that my mother is a bad person. Quite the opposite. She’s the best person I know, but a more emotional person you will not find. I’m analytical. Logical. The first to say, “Let’s figure this out.” One of my favorite Beatles songs was “We Can Work It Out.”

As a teenager, arguments with my mother grew more frequent and intense. To my dismay, she could engage me every time. I had a bedroom in the finished basement of our ranch house, and I would stand at the bottom of the steps with Mom at the top, both of us screaming, our words echoing through the stairwell.

When I had my own daughter, I vowed we would never have the same kind of relationship my mother and I had. It helped that my child and I seemed evenly matched in temperament. That is, until she hit puberty. Overnight, my even-tempered sweetheart turned into a volatile volcano. Anything I said or did caused eruptions, and left me trembling.

One day I came home, said something inane to my daughter, and we were off and running - our voices raised, our tempers rising. I needed to let the dog out through our back patio door, and even while trying to argue my point, I slid the glass door to the side. Before I realized what happened, my daughter had pushed me out onto the deck, and closed the door behind me.

So there I stood. Now what? I stared through the glass into my daughter’s face – her eyes huge, her face registering disbelief, probably mirroring my expression.

Memories of the endless arguments I had as a teenager flooded my mind. The very thing I feared was happening.

If ever there was a time when respect for me as her parent needed to develop, it was at this moment. Stepping into the endless whirl of arguing and intimidation would only make my role as her parent more difficult. Besides, judging from the ease with which she had pushed me out the door, I’d say my daughter could whip me!

Then the absurdity of the situation hit me. I started laughing, and laughed until tears flowed.

When my daughter saw me doubled over, she opened the door, and I opened my arms. As we held each other, I spoke to her about how, even though I understood how her hormones had her in an uproar physically and emotionally, I still expected her to treat me with respect. I shared the vow I had made when she was born. I would not be repeating history. She tearfully apologized for her behavior.

We had many more tense moments, but I did not play into her attempts to engage me. I kept my wits about me, kept my voice low, and kept her respect, too.

As I matured, I realized it wouldn’t kill me to show more emotion at times. Aging sometimes brings new dynamics to old relationships. My mom has become more reflective over the years, and we get along swimmingly now. My daughter is now a young adult, and we have a wonderful relationship. Thank God! Being thrown out of the house by my own child is an experience I never want to repeat.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Secret Place

Click on logo to read a devotion - "The Secret Place."
"The other night I watched the classic movie, The Secret Garden, made in 1949 and based on the children's book by Frances Hodgson Burnett, about a sad and troubled girl who finds peace while solving the mystery of a secret garden...."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

For Father's Day: Playing for My Father



The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him.
– Exodus 15:2 NIV


Luther Jack Riley, L.J. for short, was not a musical man. His wife, Mammie, grew up singing, and when they visited her family, the whole clan gathered around the piano to sing for hours. But not L.J. – he sat to the side and listened, never singing a note.

At the age of nine, Lavawan, the youngest of L.J. and Mammie’s four children, found out his dad had a plan. Even though no one in the family had ever expressed a desire to play a musical instrument, for some inexplicable reason, his father decided to buy a piano.

Lavawan waited on pins and needles for the piano to be delivered. Somehow he knew, as if by instinct, he’d be able to play it. He’d already begun calling it "my piano.”

Finally the day arrived. It rained hard that day, and the movers covered the wood with plastic sheeting. They rolled the old upright into the living room, and Lavawan’s anticipation grew as they peeled back the plastic. He had such an unusual feeling about it all. He knew before he sat down he could play that piano.

All four children took turns trying to play. One by one, they quit – except Lavawan. Every single day, he spent hours picking out notes. He had no teachers, no lessons, just a tenacious determination to learn.

L.J. worked shift work at the paper mill and often had to sleep during the day. It would be difficult for most people to sleep with a kid banging on the ivories for hours on end, but not L.J.

Lavawan’s mom pulled him aside to tell him she'd noticed something odd. "When you play the piano, your dad sleeps. When you quit, he wakes up."

One day Lavawan knelt down beside his bed and prayed a fervent prayer. “Please, God, if you’ll give me the ability to play, I’ll use it for Your glory the rest of my life.” Within a few months’ time, he could play almost every song the congregation sung at church. He became the church pianist at the age of ten.

Over the next few years, he learned to read and write music fluently. He became a concert pianist, and played for thousands of people. Thousands more sang as he played in worship services. Lillenus Publishing Company has released several books of arrangements for piano by Lavawan Riley.

He testifies, “The call on my life depended on a decision and act of my father totally independent of me. He did not know I would become a pianist and serve in the ministry all these years. I know God guided the steps of my father.”

L.J. Riley passed away a few months ago at the age of 84. Lavawan played for his father’s funeral. While he played, all he could think of was that rainy day many years ago when his daddy felt led by the Holy Spirit to buy a piano.

As he filed past the casket, Lavawan laid his left hand on his father’s lifeless right hand and prayed another fervent prayer. “God, these hands have finished their work. They toiled for years, and now they toil no more. But in my hands, there is still life, and I will use my hands to serve You the rest of my days. Thank you, God, for giving me such a father.”




******************************

Lavawan and his wife, Sheila, are dear friends. I’ve been blessed to see him in concert many times. When he plays, the Spirit of God fills the room.

I never knew L.J. Riley. When I asked Lavawan about his dad, he sent along a picture taken two years ago. He looked exactly like I imagined he would – a short, pudgy man in a ball cap with a friendly smile.

Even though we never met, I am grateful to L.J. Riley for his openness to guidance from the Lord. My desire is to be led of the Spirit the same way in every area of my life.


Prayer: Lord, I love You and give thanks for the gift of music. I praise You for my own musical ability, and pray I will be faithful to minister for Your glory. Like Lavawan, I am grateful for my earthly father, but most of all, I thank You for being my heavenly Father. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.


*Originally posted Father's Day, 2004

NEWS! Look for one of my stories in The Best Dad in the World - in bookstores now! (and in The Best Grandma in the World, too!)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Captivating Women Quarterly - June 13

I invite you to attend the Captivating Women Quarterly - Summer 2009 Mini-Conference. From 11:15am - 12:30 pm, I will be teaching Workshop 2 - "Write His Glory."

"As Christians, whether we're writing a book, a magazine article, or for the web, our ultimate goal is to write for God's glory. Would you like to see more clearly how God is involved in your writing process? Come ready to examine what motivates you to write and to determine how best to use your unique gifts to obey His call to communicate the message He's given you…for His glory!"

Come ready to delve deep into your motivation to write and route a course for your unique gifts from God.

To register, click the banner above.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Book News: Dotty's Topsy Tale - Now Available!

Dotty's Topsy Tale, written by Donna J. Shepherd, illustrated by Kevin Scott Collier, the long awaited print sequel to Topsy Turvy Land, introduces a purple baby hippo named Violet into the inspirational series to explore the topic of discrimination. Kevin created 14 fun, colorful illustrations for the book.
_______

Dotty is up on the publisher's website. Click HERE for more information.
Illustrator: Kevin Scott Collier http://www.kevinscottcollier.com/
Print ISBN 13: 978-1-935137-55-9; eBook ISBN 13: 978-1-935137-65-5
Dotty's Book Trailer

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I Know Jesus Loves Me

Last year on Easter Sunday, to introduce my husband's sermon, I sang the song “Redeemer” written by Nicole C. Mullins. One of the lines in the chorus says, “I know my redeemer lives.” Then my husband preached an Easter sermon entitled “I Know He Lives.” During his sermon, he spoke of the tremendous love of Christ.

So after church when a little girl about seven came running up to Don exclaiming, “I know Jesus loves me!” he thought she must have been paying attention to the sermon.

“I know, Honey! Jesus loves you.”

She grinned even wider, followed him a few more steps and said, “Pastor, I know Jesus loves me.”

Don turned around, patted her on the head and said, “Praise the Lord. He does!”

Finally, the little girl sighed in exasperation and said, “I KNOW 'Jesus Loves Me.' Don’t you want to hear me sing it?”

_______

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hidden Picture Puzzle for Easter!


A hidden picture puzzle for Easter by Liz Ball. To order books with her hidden picture puzzles, click HERE. Enjoy!

*Click on the picture, then print! It will print out full size ready to be colored. If that doesn't work with your printer, right click on the picture, and then 'save picture as...' and then you can print it out using your photo program.
_______

Wednesday, February 18, 2009




CWAHM.com Announces Work At Home 101


A FREE online 3-week course designed to give moms a work-at-home starting place.


Most people are curious about working from home. We know others do it, but aren't sure how they do it.

CWAHM.com's Work at Home 101 is designed to give you an overview of the choices available that will allow you to work from home. This online course will give you the starting place you've been searching for.


Best of all - it's completely free! CLICK HERE!

Some of the things covered during Work at Home 101:

* Where to Start
*
Telecommuting
*
Home-Based Businesses
*
Avoiding Scams
*
Entrepreneur Tips
*
AND MUCH MORE!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Valentine's Day: Say, “I Love You” to Someone Today



“But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:9

February is the month of love. A lot of people think Hallmark thought up Valentine’s Day, but few know how it really originated.

One legend says Valentine was a priest during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When his actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

According to another legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that he fell in love with a young girl -- who may have been his jailor's daughter -- who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression still in use today.

Since America has been at war, there is a heightened awareness of the fragility of life. If you haven’t told your spouse, your children, or your loved ones you love them, why not do it today? We don’t know what tomorrow holds or even if there will be a tomorrow and of course the Lord could return at any moment for His Church.

Even if you don’t have a sweetheart, perhaps you can think of someone who could benefit from an expression of love from you. Just think – there may be someone in your life who won’t be hugged or told someone loves him or her if you don’t take the initiative.

What about your church family? What is one of the ways we know we are in the body of Christ? I John 4:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.”

Lastly, but most importantly, I want to tell the Savior of my soul, the Maker of my heart and the Creator of love itself that I love Him.

Say, "I love you" to someone today!

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for all those who love me, and for the privilege of loving others. Most of all, I thank You, God, for Your love, mercy, and grace shown through Jesus Christ.

Donna J. Shepherd © 2007 All rights reserved. No portion of this Website may be reproduced by Crossmap or any other website without dated written permission from Donna. - Thanks!

*First posted 2-14-06

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Greater Harvest Workshops - A Day for Writers

Important Announcement:

I was so looking forward to our Greater Harvest Workshops Saturday. I'm sorry to say that we've had to postpone our workshops. Mary had a death in her extended family and was called to be with her family during this difficult time.

We have rescheduled for February 28. If you've already paid, we can either keep your registration as is and let you know when the event will be, or we will refund your money immediately of course, if you prefer. Let me know. I'm so sorry we've had to do this, but some things just can't be planned for, can they?

In the meantime - keep writing!



Greater Harvest Workshops
Saturday, February 28, 2009, 8:30-3:30
Resurrection Lutheran Church, Lebanon, Ohio
Registration: $45

Have you always wanted to write but haven’t known where to start?
Is it your desire to write articles and devotionals for magazines and books?
Have you written a book, or would like to, but have no idea what step to take next?
Has fear paralyzed you and kept you from writing or submitting your pieces?

Greater Harvest Workshops are designed to move you closer to your goal of becoming a working writer and published author. Taught by Donna Shepherd, an author and speaker, and Mary Busha, a writer's coach, these workshops, along with hands-on training, will motivate you to step up to the next level!
For more information and to register, go to:
____________
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