Do We Limit Ourselves?

I’ve been smacked in the face with the fact that I put limits on myself.

Not only on what I can accomplish – but also on what I could even dream of accomplishing.

Most often I blame my limitations on time. But I also fall into believing that emotionally, mentally, physically, or spiritually I just don’t have it in me to do all that I want to on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

But, is that what God wants from me?
Or from you?

Over the course of the last few days, I’ve heard three stories about people who came from difficult circumstances, only to rise far above them to make their dreams happen. They worked hard and persevered—regardless of horrible childhoods, addictions, or other challenges. They accomplished what they set out to do because somewhere inside of them, they believed they could.

One such story is about Nick Vujicic, a young man born without legs or limbs, and only a small foot with two toes on his left side. Doctors could find no medical reason for his condition.

Nick credits God for giving him the strength to rise above enormous obstacles. He types with his toes, maneuvers his body where he needs to, and even swims in a pool without fear of drowning.

Nick doesn’t accept what most people would call limiting factors in his life. He isn’t satisfied with just living and getting by. Instead, he’s taken his love for people and passion to bring hope to thousands. He’s traveled to 19 nations and made over 1,600 speaking appearances.

“God has used me to let people know in countless schools, churches, prisons, orphanages, hospitals, stadiums and in face-to-face encounters with individuals how very precious they are to God. Secondly, it’s my pleasure to assure them that God does have a plan for their lives that is purposeful. For God took my life, one that others might disregard as having any significance and filled me with His purpose and showed me His plans to move hearts and lives toward Him. Understanding this, though faced with struggles, you can overcome too.” Nick Vujicic

Nick inspires me to believe in myself. I don’t need—nor should I—put limits on what I can do.

Is there something you dream of doing? Don’t limit yourself.

To find out more about Nick Vujicic and his ministry, visit these websites.


Your Heart's Living Room

The other day I was drawn into watching the TV show, Flip This House, when I should have been at the computer working on my latest novel.

In this reality show, people purchase homes, fix them up, and then hope to sell at a large profit.

My husband is fascinated by the world of real estate and he also enjoys construction. I’m more intrigued by watching a house go from dingy, outdated, and ugly to a place of comfort and beauty. I appreciate the change from an artistic point of view.

If done right, the house isn’t just transformed on the outside with a new coat of paint. The contractors make sure that electrical wiring is up to code, rotted wood is replaced, the plumbing is in good condition, and the foundation is strong. The change has to start from the very core of the house.

Isn’t that what also needs to be done in our lives when we want to transform who we are?

It’s not enough to purchase new clothes to cover the outside. Changing our hair color or style may make us feel better about our appearance, but it doesn’t do anything to change who we are inside. Not really.

We need God’s help with that.

A few words from a song that’s become a recent favorite of mine…

Living Room
By Mark Harris

My life has been like an old house…
Far past the outskirts of town
The kind that you see down a dirt road
You wonder why it’s not torn down

Lord, come through the doorway - closed in the past
And tear down the walls of my pride
Open the windows and push out the darkness
By letting in heaven’s good light
Banish the silence

and open this too
Fill up my heart
And make it your living room…

Let be known to all who come near…
This is your home

This is what I want…

For the Lord to make my heart His living room and fill it with love, patience, peace, joy, hope, and forgiveness.

And I desire for all people who come near, to know that He resides there…

What about your heart’s living room?


Every Good & Perfect Gift - An Interview with Author Sharon K. Souza

It’s been a long time since I read a novel that not only made me laugh, but touched my heart and made me cry.

I highly recommend Every Good & Perfect Gift to anyone who has ever had a best friend or hopes to find one.

Author of Every Good & Perfect Gift

1 . Your debut novel Every Good & Perfect Gift is released this month from Nav Press. Can you tell us a little about the book?

DeeDee and Gabby have been friends since the sixth grade, when headstrong and courageous DeeDee began mapping out their lives. But after twenty years with her husband DeeDee changes her plan. Nearing forty years old, she wants a baby - now! Two years of infertility, prayers, and outrageous behavior finally results in the birth of DeeDee's demand.

Gabby is present for all of it, noting the increasingly strange behavior of her lifelong friend after the baby's birth. Then comes a diagnosis that threatens to shatter their world. Gabby must find the strength and faith to carry DeeDee and herself through the dark unknown, but is she up for it?

2. What inspired you to write Every Good & Perfect Gift?

I wanted to write a book about a "Jonathan and David" type friendship between two women, knowing that I was ultimately going to tell the story of a young woman who is diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's. I have a close friend who, at the age of 42, began to exhibit many of the symptoms portrayed in the book. Since completing the book I've learned that another close friend has been diagnosed with EOA. What are the odds? In determining what course the friendship between Gabby and DeeDee would take, I asked myself: What is the greatest way one woman can express friendship to another? The answer: By helping her have a child if she's unable to, which one character is willing to do if it comes to that.

3. You've incorporated two major issues in Every Good & Perfect Gift: infertility and Early Onset Alzheimer's. Why not focus on one or the other? Why both?

The theme of Gift is extraordinary friendship. The foundation for the friendship is established between the characters in their childhood, tested through the issue of infertility, and exemplified through catastrophic illness. Infertility was the catalyst to get to that level of friendship expressed because of the illness. One character's growth was accomplished because of infertility, while the other character's growth came as a result of the Alzheimer's.

4. Why did you use humor to tell a story with such serious issues?

It's exactly because the issues are so serious that I chose humor to tell the story. Our life experiences are heavy enough without adding to them as we read for pleasure. That's not to say there aren't serious moments in the book, but hopefully the reader is buoyed by the lighter sections, rather than overloaded with the weightier ones.

5. What are your feelings about egg donation and other modern solutions that help women overcome infertility?

There are some things I might not personally opt for, but infertility was never an issue with me. If it had been I might have been willing to try anything. As it stands, I'm not opposed to in vitro fertilization or sperm donation, things of that nature. I don't find anything in Scripture that would cause me to be against it.

6. What are your feelings about a couple's decision to intentionally not have children?

Again, that wasn't my experience. I had three babies in quick succession and would not have done anything differently. But not every adult is cut out to be a parent. If an individual or couple realizes that they aren't equipped for parenthood, or if they feel their lives are full as they are, I don't' believe it's a sin not to have children. In fact, I think it's wise. That's not to say a person's feelings may not change in time, like it did for DeeDee. Then it's up to the couple to make the choice that's right for them.

7. What do you want your readers to take away from this book?

I spent several years in my early adulthood without a close friend. When the first one came into my life, I realized what I had missed and truly saw her as a gift from the Lord. But beyond that, I've experienced the truth of Proverbs 18:24: ". . . there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." In her darkest moments, Gabby learned that the Lord reaches out to us in compassion, spanning the gap between our need and His provision. That's been the case in my life over and over.

8. Do you base any of your characters on real people?

The concept of the story was based on a real situation in regards to the Early Onset Alzheimer's. But the characters are not based on real people. I do typically use people I know/have known and then take their personality traits/quirks to extremes--almost like a caricature--in order to make the character as interesting as possible. Almost always my daughters will recognize something of themselves in my make-believe world. It makes for fun conversation.

9. If the characters are primarily fictional, what about the setting? Is that someplace known to you?

I actually wrote the entire story in a fictional setting, without ever naming it. I just placed the town in the San Joaquin valley. My editor suggested I nail down the location, even a fictitious one. As we talked back and forth, I decided to use my real "home town" of Lodi. I grew up in the Sacramento area, but have lived in or around Lodi since my husband and I got married. There's some debate about whether or not "our" Lodi is the subject of the 1969 Credence Clearwater Revival song, "Stuck in Lodi." Right or wrong, I choose to think it is. But not for a minute do I feel stuck. I love Lodi.

10. What is your purpose in writing inspirational fiction?

I've had well-meaning friends ask why I write fiction at all. If I want to share the Gospel, why not write "the truth." Two answers come to mind. First, that "burning fire shut up in my bones" (Jer. 20:9) finds its release in fiction. Second, when Jesus wanted to get a heavenly truth across, He didn't deliver a three-point sermon. He told stories. My desire in writing inspirational fiction is that women who read my books will find them easy to share with other women who haven't yet come into relationship with Jesus, and that those women will be directed to the One who loves them with an everlasting love.

About Sharon:
Sharon and her husband Rick have been married 36 years. They live in northern California, and have three children and 6 grandchildren. Rick travels the world building churches, Bible schools and orphanages. Sharon travels with him on occasion, but while Rick lives the adventure, Sharon is more than happy to create her own through fiction.

You can find out more about Sharon and her writing by checking out her website at

Happy Reading!

Stress Management

It seems the human race—at least those of us living in the U.S.—are always looking for ways to alleviate stress. Some people find relief by working out at a gym, eating fattening foods, or drinking to excess.

I received these words of wisdom on stress management in an email…

A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 8oz. to 20oz.

The lecturer replied, “The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it.”

“If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance.”

“In each case it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

He continued, “And that's the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on.”

“As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden.”

“So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work/life down. Don't carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow.”

“Whatever burdens you're carrying now, let them down for a moment if you can. Relax; pick them up later after you've rested. Life is short. Enjoy!”

And then he shared some ways of dealing with the burdens of life:

* Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.

* Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

* Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

* Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.

* If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

* If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

* It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

* Never buy a car you can't push.

* Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.

* Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

* Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

* The second mouse gets the cheese.

* When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

* Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

* You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

* Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.

* We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

* A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

So…put down the glass and relax.


The Blessings of a Smile

Two weeks ago I started a new job with a telecommunications company. My job in cash applications is to resolve issues with missing payments from clients across the country. I’ve been consumed with learning new computer programs and ways to research payment methods.

It’s interesting…but more complicated than I expected. I’m kind of a CSI – (Customer Service Investigator?) - looking for clues that will help solve a mystery. If the client uses a credit card, I may find the payment in someone else’s account by mistake. But if payment is made in cash, it’s much more difficult to find and prove without documentation.

All that said…I arrive home at the end of the day mentally exhausted. There’s no energy left for tackling writing projects or anything else.

Co-workers promise that the job gets much easier with a little time and experience. They all seem to relax and enjoy their day, so I’m counting on what they tell me to be true.

The people in my department are amazing. Their willingness to help and answer questions blows me away. They never balk at stopping their own work in order to explain something or help me figure out a problem that has me stumped.

And they do it with a genuine smile…

Their smiles have welcomed, given encouragement, and provided me with comfort that I’m doing okay.

Their smiles have also made me search my heart and past experiences.

When interrupted in my own work or activity, have I always gone out of my way to help without feeling resentful? Have I always offered a warm smile to a co-worker or client when they needed reassurance?

I’ve learned much over the past two weeks, but probably the most valuable thing I’ve learned is the blessing a simple smile can give.

Go make someone’s day easier.
Give them a smile.


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