Monthly Archives: November 2013

Where Does Your Inspiration Come From?

Inspiration is a movement of soul, a force that brings change, strength, creativity, or peace.

Inspiration wakens the tired mom  for the third time during the night with love.

Inspiration strengthens and encourages the cancer patient through treatment.

Inspiration  commutes with the desk jockey to impact business day, after day, after day,  with tenacity and integrity.

Inspiration  discovers, conquers, creates, and invents.

Inspiration survives, endures, embraces, and forgives.

Inspiration  keeps us going

No

     Matter

           What.

Inspiration doesn’t merely breathe, it inhales and savors. It embraces and creates moments, it doesn’t only endure them.

Inspiration draws from the spiritual, mental and physical sources to cope with life’s joys and sorrows. It isn’t only for artists, it fills a simple, ordinary life with artistry.

When inspiration fails, we drudge along life’s obligatory path without passion for the work of our heart and hands.

Life without inspiration is a dark, dreary world, with a colorless rainbow and songless birds. They’re vague images and sounds, instead of touch points to the soul that press you on toward an abundant life.

You don’t live without inspiration, you exist.

Where does inspiration come from?

Family   Nobody loves you like family. It goes without saying that nobody drives you crazy like family, but underneath family drama is often a deep-rooted, comfortable love. Sitting and sipping coffee with my parents and siblings is a ritual that calms my heart and strengthens me anew.

Friends   One of our greatest needs is a secret-keeping friend. You can always find someone to shop with, but rare is a heart and soul friendship where trust allows you to hold nothing back.

Inspiration with person

Fresh Air    More than filling your lungs with scientifically needed oxygen, we need the source, whether you climb a mountain or watch leaves fall.  Stop and smell the roses isn’t just a cool line from a country song. Creation stirs up creativity and hope, even in a small dose.

Fun    I didn’t think being a grown-up would be so hard.  I pictured staying up late and eating my desert first, not paying bills, worrying and working.   Kids have fun, grown-ups remind themselves to have fun.  Play a game.  Swing. Declare a Nerf gun war.  Ride your grocery cart to the car.  (It’s fun!  Just don’t crash.) When laughter loosens your tightly wound rubber bands, the  doors to creativity and hope fly open.

Faith   What’s more inspiring than measuring the Savior’s love by the distance between His nail pierced hands?  He understands family stress, His abandoned Him while He was on the cross.  He understands physical suffering, He was scourged and then crucified.  He understands poverty, He had no place to lay His head. His endurance is more than our inspiration, it’s our strength and salvation.

Are you feeling burdened and overwhelmed by circumstances you can’t change? Are grown-up responsibilities stealing your joy and creativity?

Mindy on beach get inspired

Renew your body, soul and spirit with whatever brings you inspiration. Make your own list.  Set your own goals. Put yourself on your calendar.  Bring little bursts of inspiration into your life daily.  Start embracing, stop enduring.  Life shouldn’t be drudgery.

And while you’re at it, you might as well eat your desert first.

 

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Rock Your Facebook Social Media Tabs

 

My generation liked  matchy-matchy.  If we were styling brown shoes, we had a brown belt and purse. We would never  *gasp* wear brown boots and carry a black purse. The  wild colors and un-matching accessories of today can be hard on my 80’s sensibilities.

Today’s young women look fashionable and amazing – but I just can’t do it.  Pink pants and a lime green shirt?  Uffda.  Wait, this must be how my mom felt when I wore white sandals after September 1st.

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Anyhoo, today’s Cool Tool helped me transform my Facebook Author Page to be all matchy-matchy.  Remember the criteria for my Cool Tools?  They have to be free and easy enough for this old lady blogger to figger out.

image See the new coordinating look on my social media tabs?  They all sport the same vintage typewriter.  It started out by finding Joie de vie blog.  She introduced me to Woobox.  Yes, this little place on the internet  wooed my heart by promising to make my Facebook page all matchy-matchy. 

 

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Using Microsoft Word I typed up my titles using Courier New, the  most old-fashioned script, font size 99.  Yep, I lugged my vintage typewriter outside and posed it on table in the Redneck Grill, my backyard fire pit area made of weathered gray wood. This is the  same gray wood you see all around my social places.

I stood on a lawn chair, because I am too short for aerial view, and shot from different angles to see what I preferred.  When the photos were  scaled down to create the tabs the letters were too small to read, so I cropped them in Windows Live Photo Gallery, a free download from Microsoft. Yes, I blogged about that Cool Tool, too.

I used photographs for my custom tabs, but use your creativity to show your personality and interests. You could create images in Quozio, Ribbet, or  Recite This.

Then, I clicked over to Woobox.

 

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FREE!  Is that not music to your ears?  Start at  Woobox and scroll to the bottom to find this green starting place.

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You want to find Static Tabs at the top of the next screen.

 

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Click Create a New Tab  on the top right side of the screen.

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It drops down and Woobox offers you these choices.

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I clicked on Pinterest and this dialogue box that popped up.  Click to enlarge if you’re old and infirmed like me and can’t read those little letters.

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Click on change to bring you to your  photos.  Choose the one you want from your own files and save.

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Ta Da!  A customized Facebook Fan Page everybody is sure to love, especially those from the 80’s!

If you update your tabs, please leave a link in the comment section to add to the inspiration!  I’d love to see what others create.

Preparing Your Heart and Home for Thanksgiving

Do the holidays sneak up on you?  My daughter said, “Mom! Only six weeks until Christmas!”

Six weeks?  Last time I checked, I had six months and was feeling the hopeful thrill of actually accomplishing  Martha Stewart type holidays.

But, I don’t like to let rush into Christmas and let Thanksgiving go by unnoticed, since it’s a holiday of spirit and remembrance.  It’s a time to relax and be together as a family.  We lived in farmland and hubby worked as a farmhand for many summers,  so fall is also a time to think of harvest and abundance.

In September, the kids and I begin decorating with leaves, moss, pinecones, seed pods and any gift of nature we find on our nature walks.  When we have the energy, we climb into the attic and dig out a few of our favorite Thanksgiving decorations.

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I blogged through using these wonderful vintage postcards Thanksgiving in My Heart and Home. These  are a free printable download from Hub Pages.

 

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One year I had a bug to decorate My Chairs Are Ready For Thanksgiving. I know, way over the top, who decorates their chairs,  but I’ve used them for several years now so the effort was worth it.

 

Thanksgiving crafts 034You either think I’m ridiculous, or you thought of a way to improve them.

 

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On the way to my house for Thanksgiving,  my in-laws experienced a horrible blizzard.  Their train got stuck on the tracks in Spokane, WA, and I had one extra day on my hands.  So, I Just Had to Make One More Thing, this Thankful Garland that’s tacked to my fireplace.  I have left it up and changed the season décor for several years now.

2010 Thanksgiving Buffet

Even though I enjoy decorating for the holiday season, I know what is The True Measure of Thanksgiving.

 

Thanksgiving 090I love decorating with what I have, especially old books.


Give Thanks

Boggle cubes spell out a heart  reminder. Some years I spell out messages with Scrabble tiles.

Because I need the reminder.  I feel grief and sorrow so deeply, I have to remind myself there is always joy somewhere amidst the sufferings in my life.  The joy comes from the fact that there is always something to be thankful for.

Joy isn’t the rah-rah kinda’ false cheerfulness people wrongly expect out of Christians who are sick, lost their jobs, lost a loved one to death, or have been crippled by unfaithfulness of others.  People expect that reaction, until it’s their turn to be tested. Then they understand. We aren’t to be running around yelling, “Yea, I have cancer!  Praise the Lord!”  It is more of a calm delight, trusting  in His presence and His plans for our life.

In James 1:2-3 we’re told, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

Count it joy.  That seems a tough expectation until you understand  the definitions according to the Strong’s definition of the Greek words.

COUNT -  to go before, to be a leader

JOY – rejoice exceedingly, in salutations, hail!

FALL – descend from higher position to lower, fall prostrate

TRIALS – trials of a man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy, temptations, as the devil used to keep the Lord Jesus from His divine mission.

Loosely paraphrased with these ideas in mind, “Go into your trials as a leader, hail them with joy and fall prostrate in worship, because these trials prove you have a divine mission and the devil doesn’t want you to succeed.

This is how we can count it joy and “give thanks always for all things,” because this was the same attitude the Lord Jesus had when He went to the cross for our sins.  He was willing to suffer for us, so we always have a reason to wrap joy and thanksgiving around our weak bodies when we’re besieged by life.

We also have a divine mission, gifts and ministries the Lord has given us to accomplish.  Thankfulness keeps your heart on your mission when you are suffering.

Being joyful and thankful is a choice, not a circumstance. A choice I remind myself to take.

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A free Thanksgiving printable from Naomi at Delight Creative Home.

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Another beautiful creation from Naomi.  Check out her blog, she generously provides many free printables.

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Laurie and Emily at the Glo Girl Blog provided this download created with words from the Psalms.

Now you have beautiful reasons and ways to remind yourself to choose joy and thankfulness during the entire year, not just the holiday.

Making your home sing Mondays WHWButton#2

Home Isn’t Always Where Your Heart Is

flashback friday

 

I had the privilege of growing up in Montana, a state of rugged land and rugged people. 

It’s a state where you watch for rattlesnakes and prickly pear cactus, neither bother you and you know both are edible.

The average person never dresses completely in style, or completely out of style, and cowboy is always an accepted style.

A four-wheel drive pickup has always been the vehicle of choice, and not because of the flashy commercials and current buying trends,  but because you can help your friends move, transport your building materials, and haul home the gutted deer that’s food for the winter.

Montanans have been slow to adapt drinking good coffee, but are quick to offer you a cup if you stop by.

When I visit Montana, my soul is invigorated,  I am alive and at home.  I write and photograph like a mad woman, knowing the visit will soon be a vaporous memory.

In 2005 I received my first digital camera and immediately forged the  habit of shooting pictures through the car windows.  We had driven to Montana for Thanksgiving with the relatives, and I was reluctant to leave.

Montana Shack
On my way home, I shot frantically out the water-spotted windows, capturing those last fleeting images that would be my final souvenirs of a too-short visit.

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I wondered if these ranchers were content with their simple lives and their land, or if they dreamed about the city lights and all that existed beyond their mountains.

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Hearty sagebrush kissed by early winter’s frost, brought a lacy, softening touch to the landscape.

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A peak into a valley I imagined Lewis and Clark traveling.  I can almost see Native Americans on their horses watching the process below. Shadows of past buffalo herds highlight the base of the mountains.  I long for the rocks to speak, to tell me the stories I have missed.

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The winter beauty of Montana isn’t the flashy floral beauty and white sandy beaches of warmer climates. But, if you look closely, you will see so many shades of brown, gray, and green, your heart marvel at the Creator’s palette.

The foothills of the Rockies aren’t the towering peaks that demand to be scaled, they’re the mountains of quiet strength and constant presence.

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Even the rocks cry out majestically in their diluvian formations. There is gold in those hills, and silver, sapphires, copper…it’s the Treasure State, but the treasure it gave me  wasn’t monetary.

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I shot through the valley and into the mountains.  I shot horses, trees, and the Yellowstone River that  kept us company for part of the trip.

And then, I put my camera down.  There was no prolonging it any more.  I had to go home, and my home isn’t in Montana.

But my heart is.

Making your home sing Mondays

Honoring the Veterans

I love small towns.  Not only do they have that Mayberry feel my metropolis-tired body craves, they often have little surprises, such as thrift stores and historical sites,  nestled in between the cottage-lined streets and the two-block long Main Street. The people I meet feel like they could be my next best friend.  However, they  know I’m nobody’s friend, and give me frank, but kind, stares. 

This summer, Cadott, Wisconsin, population 1,440, was no exception. They claim to be on the 45th parallel, halfway between the North Pole and the equator, but in July there weren’t any polar breezes.  I was thrilled to discover a Veterans memorial and took as many pictures as I could, until the 95° heat forced me back to the AC in my rental car.

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I love history and I love to honor veterans, so the Wisconsin Veterans Tribute was a great find.

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The House of Heroes and tribute flags in military precision.

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A tank used during the Cold War sitting peacefully on a grassy hill. I remember crouching under desks during elementary school bomb drills, the fear of the Communists sometimes infiltrating our recess play. The American hockey victory over the Soviets was an unforgettable triumph for those who grew up during the Cold War. Our young men trounced them, but no lives lost.  I wish it were always that way.

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This shark-toothed Cobra made me smile. Although war is a frightening, horrific time for American soldiers and civilians, the soldiers don’t allow their sense of humor to be totally demolished.  This reminded me about the messages WWII veterans write on the bombs. 

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An pre-WWII canon, either Japanese or Chinese.

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And because the small town feel had already enveloped my heart and mind, reading the inscriptions on the stones brought tears to my eyes.

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I wondered how the Rollins parents were able to let their five sons go.

Nearly 70  years later the inscription still brings wonder and worship. “The grace of God brought each of them safely home.”

I can only imagine that family reunion.

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Grief and love never subside, as this family recorded.

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I wondered how many prayers went up from this county in Wisconsin to bring these five men home from Midway.

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Grief and joy mingle together between the monuments, honoring soldiers who returned, and those who didn’t.

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Proud of their Greek heritage, more proud to fight as Americans.

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“We would have gone to the wall for you!”  is the inscription from the tenacious Eau Claire Vietnam Veterans.

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Agent Orange, an enemy our soldiers didn’t know they would be facing, with side-effects they couldn’t evade even in peace time.

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We must never forget.

 

 

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My tribute and gratitude to Veterans
and those that love them.

 

 

Read more about Veterans:

 

Making your home sing Mondays      WHWButton#2

Platform Building Ideas Presented on Pinterest

I was surprised to discover most writers are introverts.

Because I’m obnoxious an extrovert, I assumed all writers were. Surprise!  When I first started attending writers meetings  years ago, I met many quiet, well-behaved people.  I actually think writers are  so busy talking to their imaginary characters and creating scenes in their minds, they can forget to interact with the real characters around them.

When introverted writers are told they need a social media platform and a marketing plan for their books, they panic.  Wait, even extroverts panic, because we only daydream about writing our books.  We never daydream about selling them.

But, today’s market demands writers are more than great writers, they must be savvy marketers.

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Today’s Cool Tool is something I created  for writers. I wanted to inspire writers and remove some of the panic they feel when they hear the word platform. To many, it feels more like walking the plank than promoting their brilliance captured in print.

Introverts fear approaching someone and introducing themselves, and are even more uncomfortable when faced with having to  introduce themselves AND promote their book.

Imagine a bricklayer at work.  Brick by brick, they build a wall higher and higher and higher.  That’s how you build a platform – one brick of knowledge at a time.  You don’t have to do it all at once, focus on one aspect of social media, conquer it, then move onto the next area. Last spring I added a Facebook Author Page (fan page) and began utilizing that.

Then I moved onto PinterestIt’s so addicting, I wouldn’t be surprised if Pinterest Support Groups start popping up around the country.  I recently read that people are clicking to Pinterest  before Google, so if that’s where people are, that’s where writers need to be. 

This Pinterest board was created to help writers begin the brick by brick process of building their author platform.

 

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The bricks in this case are the pins on the board I named  Book Launch and Author Platform. I visited websites from some of the great thinkers in the industry and pinned them.  There are even some craft ideas sprinkled in for staging an author event.  I’ll decorating our annual writers conference,  Northwest Christian Writers Renewal with some of these projects. (Click on the graphic to take you to my Pinterest board.)

 

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These are a few of the individual pins to show the variety.  (click on any link to bring you to their web site.) The articles introduce you to the information, and to the people in the industry.  This board will constantly be growing and changing as I discover new skills I need to learn. It’s like in high school and I’m doing your homework for you, but this isn’t cheating. Smile  I love helping other writers.

If you are on Pinterest already, you can follow the board.  If you aren’t on Pinterest,  save it to your favorites. 

Grow your confidence and your platform by choosing and implementing one area of social media. C’mon, pick up one  brick from this Pinterest board.  When it’s solidly in place, pick up another one.  Before you know it, you’ll be standing on a sturdy Author Platform.

 

Previous blog posts about Pinterest:

Two bricks in my social media platform…

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God Changed my Name from Queen of @#$%

I was excited to hear  best-selling author, James L. Rubart, speak at the monthly meeting for the Northwest Christian Writers Association. Two years before he spoke about his six year journey to publication and the discouragement of repeated rejections. At that time, he urged  us to keep writing and not give up on our ambitions.  “Step through your fear, out of the shadows, and into the destiny and the light God has planned for you.”

Since then, he’s written and published books faster than I can finish a grocery list. I knew he’d be encouraging. Maybe he’d unlock the secret to getting published.  Maybe he’d shed some light on a marketing plan that couldn’t fail. Maybe he’d give tips on plotting my novel.

  I was ready to learn.

He began talking and I began typing, but it was not what I was expecting to hear.  (The italics are from Rubart’s keynote.)

The thief comes to steal and destroy, he wants to destroy our dreams and our desires.

Our desire reveals our design, our design reveals our destiny.

Do we know our names?
     Child of the King
     Heir to the Kingdom
     The one Christ died for
     Kings and Queens

We have taken on false identities that are not true, that are keeping us back.

From 8th grade I believed the lie,  "You can’t write."

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Are you kidding me? That’s a total lie.

What names have you been called?  Loser? Lazy?

Sticks and Stones

When Rubart  mentioned the names  we were called, tears instantly transported me back to the winter of 1982. Although nearly 50 years old, the wound was still raw. I was thankful I was sitting alone at the back of the room so few would witness my breakdown as I relived the painful memory he’d revived.

I’d entered the locker room to question my PE teacher about the D on my report card, figuring it  was an honest mistake.  It was one of my favorite classes taught by one of my favorite teachers.  I was good at sports and tried to be helpful and friendly during class. I  didn’t even complain when she made us run laps. Besides, it was my senior year and this grade would seriously affect my chance for Salutatorian.

I assumed I’d receive a changed grade, but she unloaded unexpected rage.  Her dirty-blonde Dorothy Hamill hair bobbed around her face, her open mouth gave me a  view usually only her dentist saw. Her tirade  ended with, “You really think you’re something! You  walk around here like you’re the Queen of @#$$%!”

The unleashed fury was so shocking, I could only escape.

I tore down the hallway, into the institutional green bathroom and  locked myself  in a stall. I crouched  on the toilet  seat so she couldn’t see my feet.  She came into the bathroom and called, “Melinda! Melinda!”  But, it was too late. The other name she used  had seared a hole into my heart. I bit my lip hard so she wouldn’t hear me cry or breathe.  When she was gone, I freely sobbed.

It wasn’t only about the grade. I had thought she liked me. I couldn’t begin to imagine what I’d done to deserve the D and her attack.  It wasn’t due to lack of effort or participation on my part.

Her hatred for me cost me my class rank,  my ability to vie for scholarships and my trust for adults. Worse than that, it branded me with a name of shame I wore for decades.

Rubart continued talking.  He told of the girls from India who were named “unwanted”  at birth but had a ceremony in to chose new names.

God is in the business of renaming. He renamed Abram to Abraham.  Sarai to Sarah.

There’s a name God wants to give you.

There’s a name He wants to erase from you.”

The fall after the name-calling incident,  I was a  typical non-Christian college freshman without parental restraint and attended  every party I could find. But I had another desire that couldn’t be quenched, to find spiritual answers to life’s questions. I began attending several Bible studies and reading the Bible daily.

The tug of war over my soul didn’t last long, I became a born-again Christian and experienced a life-change in October. The following week, I mustered up the courage to attend the Campus Crusade meeting advertised on a campus bulletin board.

Afterwards, a young man with the love of Jesus radiating on his face approached with a smile, stuck out his hand and said, "Hi, what’s your name?"

My name…my name…my name…it struck boldly and instantly in my mind. I’d been reading the verses in 2 Corinthians  that said faith made you a "new creation in Christ." I decided a new creation needed a new name.

"Hi, I’m Mindy," I said.

As I grew in faith, I realized how profound this action was. 

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Rubart continued, “ Revelation 2:17 says to him who overcomes…I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.

God loves to give names. So does the enemy.

Next week  I encourage you to get alone and silent before the Lord, and ask “What would you call me?”

Also go through the list of names you were called by the enemy and release them.  Pray over them and reject them in the Name of Jesus.The Lord is into Names.”

Rubart offered a way to transform the title of shame spewed with spittle and hatred by my high school teacher to a name bestowed in love by my heavenly Father.  I prayed.  Weeks went by.  I continued to pray and ask the Lord for a new name.

One Sunday I sat in the pew warmed by the words of faith  and worship that swirled around.  In prayer, I released burdens to the Lord  I’d carried way too long.

My new name settled around me like a mantle of peace, a covering of love.

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BELOVED

I’m no longer a teenager named in hatred by a teacher for reasons I’ll never discover, I’m a woman loved and named  by Someone who died for me for reasons I’ll never fully comprehend.

The wisdom Rubart shared that evening wasn’t what I’d expected, but it was exactly what I needed.

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In each of his books, Rubart’s characters undergo serious transfomations as they replace lies from the enemy with truths from God’s Word. You’ll be enthralled not only with the fast-paced action, but with the spiritual awakening within your own heart.

James L. Rubart on Pinterest

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For more encouraging Christian posts, check out these Linkup Parties.

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