God Gives Everyone Talents - Don't Waste Yours

A coworker stopped me as I strolled past her desk.

“Did you hear? Michael Jackson died!”

Stunned, I listened to her explain, and couldn’t help but feel saddened.

In my opinion, he was a musical genius.

I grew up with Michael. Not literally – but I’m only a few years older than the fifty-year-old super star. So as I matured from a little girl into a woman, I also watched him morph from a little boy into a man who seemed to have lost his way.

Today’s news reminded me of another shocking death. The day Elvis Presley died I was a sophomore in college. I stood in my apartment when the report was broadcast. Elvis was only 42. The man had charisma and a voice that couldn’t be mistaken for anyone else.

Both men were extremely talented. Both contributed so much.

But . . . I wonder how much more – not only musically - they could have given to the world if they’d been able to live not only longer, but a different lifestyle.

And I think . . . what a waste.

Is it selfish of me to have wanted more from them?
Yes! I’m guilty.

My feeling deprived of what I believe could have been also makes me realize something else. God has given us all gifts and talents that shouldn’t be squandered.

We may never be music super stars. Or great sports heroes. I may never make a guest appearance on Oprah with a best selling novel.

None of us may every have big glory moments. We may never even feel appreciated for the things we do for family and friends.

The important thing is to recognize that we all have a purpose and a reason for being who we are. Who God made us to be.

I don't want to waste time - or what God has given me to share.
Do you?


Relationship with Dad Affecting Your Image of God?

Have you ever thought how your relationship with your dad might affect your perception of God? And ultimately your relationship with Him?

Years ago I heard a speaker explain how our viewpoint of God is directly related to experiences we have with our earthly father. If our dad is distant and authoritative, that’s how we see God. But in contrast, if he’s loving and forgiving, we carry that picture. I believe that’s true.

With Father’s Day approaching, I’ve thought about the images of God’s personality and love that my own dad has given.

Dad Saved
Around the age of three, my parents left my toddler brother with my grandmother, and took me to the lake fishing. We didn’t have a boat, so they fished from the end of a long dock. I was supposed to remain close, but must have gotten antsy, because I fell into the lake! We weren’t so careful about using lifejackets back then. I felt no fear, was perfectly calm, and even saw a fish swim by during what seemed a very slow descent. Then, suddenly my dad’s arm wrapped around me, and he carried me to the surface. People fishing nearby rushed over to make sure I was okay. That was the end of fishing for that day!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3: 16 NIV)

Dad Taught
At the age of four, I was still not allowed to cross the street in front of my parents’ business alone. One day, as I was playing outside, a friend beckoned me with treats from the doorway of the small grocery store directly across the road. Yep, you guessed it. I crossed the street. After all, she was my friend and she had popsicles!

That was the first of rare spankings my father administered on my bottom. But he did it out of love and wanting to protect me from horrible danger. I don’t think God punishes us for our blunders, but I think sometimes he allows bad things to happen as a result so that we can learn from our mistakes.

Dad Forgives
Lying to my mother was a matter of self-preservation. The day I “borrowed” my mother’s red finger nail polish and then promptly spilled some on a dresser scarf, I blamed the mess on a cousin. My mom turned the matter over to my dad, who even as big as I was, cuddled me on his lap and asked me to tell the truth. I could never lie to my dad. With tears streaming down my face, I admitted to being the culprit. Dad hugged me and that was the end of it.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NIV)

Dad Listens
I was eight years old when my mother became pregnant with my sister. I’d never seen my mother so “difficult” to be around and didn’t understand that women can get a little hormonal during pregnancy. In tears, I sought out my father. He placed me on a stool, listened to my sobs as I relayed my woes, and then with gentleness, explained why my mother was on edge.

Our Heavenly Father is always ready and willing to listen to whatever is on our heart.

Dad Loves Unconditionally
As an adult, I made a difficult, life changing decision that affected not only me, but family and friends. Some stood by me. Some couldn’t at the time. It was heartbreaking knowing that I was not only disappointing people, I was also causing pain.

I’ll never forget the phone conversation I had with my dad. He said, “Dawn, you do what you need to do. Just know that I love you.”

What a gift my dad gave me. It still brings tears to my eyes many years later.

God loves like that. Unconditionally. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done. How much we disappointed or hurt Him. He will never, ever stop loving us.

This Father’s Day, think about your own dad and what he’s done for you. And if you’re a father, consider the picture of God you’re giving your own children.

Happy Father’s Day!

My Agenda - or God's?

Have you ever planned and imagined how something was going to turn out, only to have it not go quite the way you wanted?

Months ago I requested the past week off from the day job for a stay-at-home vacation. I’ve never had one before. Usually you think of vacation as a time to kick back, go to the beach, explore new territory, or just read a book.

I decided this vacation would be devoted to working on my current novel. I post-phoned appointments, turned down invitations to social gatherings, and made my husband promise to not interrupt me during office hibernation.

I envisioned immersing myself in writing from early morning until the wee hours of the next, and set a goal for finishing the rough draft I’d made such slow progress on during the past year.

But as the days progressed, things didn’t go according to plan.

My husband and I enjoy a nice yard, so every year I plant several truckloads of flowers in the front and back of the house, filling a large window box, pots, and hanging planters. With bad weather during one weekend, and a trip out of town another, we hadn’t gotten the job done. So after several trips to Home Depot and Fred Meyer – and many hours of labor, the work was completed.

Then one thing after the other followed. A mix up at the bank due to charges posting twice for the same purchase. Another with my insurance company pertaining to mail order prescriptions. Only I could deal with both - and both cost me hours on the phone.

There were blogs to write, email to catch up on, unexpected interruptions, and at times I was just too tired to work on my manuscript.

It didn’t take long to see that I’d set unrealistic goals for how much writing could feasibly be accomplished in a week.

It all resulted it frustration, followed by self-beating for failing at what I thought needed to be accomplished.

I had to take a step back.

Instead of asking God what His agenda was for me, I’d been too consumed in my own.

I haven't spent every possible minute absorbed in my work, but other valuable things happened during the course of the week that would have been difficult had I not been on “vacation.”

I spent several hours on the phone, offering support to a friend who’s going through a crisis.

My daughter in New York City and I were able to spend time together for several hours on two separate occasions via Skype without being hindered by the three hour time difference.

A special friend and I were able to share a lengthy lunch together on an afternoon I’d normally be at my day job.

And – with prayer and lots of caffeine, I was still able to write more than what I could have in four weekends - which has kicked me back into gear.

I think God had a different agenda for my week, and I believe His held far more blessings.

Have a great week – and leave the agenda to Him.


My Short Story, "Healing on a Park Bench," Published

I’m excited to share that my short story, “Healing on a Park Bench,” has been published in the June 2009 issue of Christian Fiction Online Magazine.

This popular magazine is filled with articles written for/by authors, agents, and editors in the industry. The publication also includes two short stories per issue.

You can read “Healing on a Park Bench” at http://christianfictiononlinemagazine.com/HealingParkBench.html

Hope you enjoy!


Misperception of the City that Never Sleeps

Have you ever taken pieces of information, formulated an opinion, and later discovered you were terribly wrong?

My youngest daughter, Ana, and I recently returned from our first visit to New York City. The Big Apple. Brooke and Doug, my oldest daughter and son-in-law, moved there a short time ago due to new opportunities in their careers.

(Ana, Doug, Brooke)

As a parent, it was comforting to see the Brooklyn neighborhood where the couple found a small, but nice and comfortable place to live. One evening we strolled down the path through a park at the water’s edge. The city, brightly lit, just lay across the way. Families were out with strollers. Kids happily skipped along. Masters walked their dogs. It felt friendly. It felt safe.

Brooke and Doug had already found their way around using the subway and knew the layout of the city. As we walked the streets they pointed out Trump Tower, Radio City Music Hall, and the studios where the Today Show and Good Morning America are broadcast. We stood in Times Square and visited Rockefeller Center. Theatres where famous actors currently played displayed colorful billboards – a sensory overload. There was so much to take in.

I was struck by how wrong my preconceived ideas had been of how the city would look, feel, and sound.

Through movies and television, we see walls filled with graffiti, homeless people laying in alleys, and an overwhelming sense of crowding and noise.

I didn’t experience any of that.

The city was clean and beautiful. Many people cruised the sidewalks, but not the amount I expected. There wasn’t even a great deal of noise. Possibly due to signs like this one!

And then we stepped into Central Park. I had no idea! From everything I’d seen through various mediums, I expected the park to be a huge green lawn with scattered trees and paths for bikers and runners. Central Park blew me away. It was like stepping into another world that would take you a day to explore. Lush, thick vegetation filled the park and massive trees shaded the visitors from the hot sun. Bridges spanned bodies of water. Horse drawn carriages provided interest with bright colors and romantic appeal.

I know there are areas in New York that are dirty and ugly. Areas that are filled with crime and hurting people. But reality is that the entire city is not.

It’s so easy for us to have misperceptions about not only places, but people. We’re told one thing and we believe it instead of checking out the facts. We look at a man living on the streets and we think we have him all figured out.

But if we take the time to look closer, maybe—just possibly—we’ll see something quite different. Something quite amazing. Look at the Susan Boyle phenomenon. She stepped out onto a stage and people laughed. She opened her mouth and sang, and the world took notice.

Take time to look for good and beauty in your surroundings—but even more in the people you meet.


What's New in Christian Fiction?

A list of June releases for your summer pleasure!

1. A Case of the Heart by Beth Shriver from The Wild Rose Press. An over zealous social worker develops a relationship with a cop while they keep her client safe from involvement in a drug ring.

2. A Dream to Call My Own, Brides of Gallatin County Book 3 from Bethany House Publishers by Tracie Peterson. Love and adventure still hearts in the rugged Montana frontier, while a killer threatens the peace and happiness of an entire community.

3. A Soldier's Reunion by Cheryl Wyatt from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. reunion romance between a U.S. Air Force Pararescue Jumper (PJ) and a pediatrician and first love from his past who fears their careers will push them apart again.

4. A Family for Tory/A Mother for Cindy by Margaret Daley from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Classics. Two stories that illustrate what happens when children decide to matchmake and bring two people together.

5. Above All Things by Deborah Raney from Steeple Hill. Evette must decide if she can be a mother to her husband's 6-year-old mixed race child. A baby neither of them knew existed until a fateful phone call.

6. Child Finder by Mike Angley from TotalRecall Publications, Inc. An Air Force Special Agent discovers he has a psychic gift that enables him to find missing children, but the government's exploitation of his skills leads to murder!

7. Critical Care, Mercy Hospital Series #1 by Candace Calvert from Tyndale House. When a nurse initiates disaster counseling, the process re-opens her own emotional wounds--as God prepares her heart for a love that was nowhere in her plans.

8. Highland Masquerade, The MacTavish Chronicles by April Sanders from Tate Publishing. Victoria must disguise herself as a boy and accidentally falls into the hands of the man she loves in order to escape her evil uncle.

9. His Forever Love by Missy Tippins from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. Can former high school buddies find love while fighting over "custody" of his grandmother?

10. Love Finds you in Revenge, Ohio by Lisa Harris from Summerside Press. Morgan finds herself torn between saving her sister's heart and losing hers to the man who jilted her seven years ago.

11. Love Finds you in Treasure Island, Florida by Debby Mayne from Summerside Press. The attraction between Amanda and Jerry is overshadowed by their sense of responsibility.

12. Love's Pursuit by Siri Mitchell from Bethany House Publishers. Susannah Phillips obeys the rules. But when love interferes, she faces a choice: Follow the rules or follow her heart.

13. Nosey in Nebraska by Mary Connealy from Barbour Publishing. Murder, Romance, Comedy and a really big mouse.

14. Snow Melts in Spring, Seasons of the Tallgrass Series by Deborah Vogts from Zondervan. Mattie Evans, a young veterinarian in rural Kansas saves a horse inured in a terrible accident but finds herself tending the wounded relationship between a prodigal son and his ailing father.

15. Sunset Beach, The Beach House Series #4, by Trish Perry from Harvest House Publishers. Sonny Miller invites her mother and estranged aunt to a week at the beach, not telling one about the other; but they bring a few surprises of their own.

16. The Night Watchman, the Ray Quinn Series Book #1, by Mark Mynheir from Multnomah/Waterbrook Publishers. When the case of a lifetime is thrust upon him, retried homicide detective Ray Quinn must decide rather he’ll succumb to his depression and pain or use the God-given gifts he still has left to catch a killer. Crawling from the wreckage of his former life, Ray struggles to find healing and purpose as he tracks a madman.

17. Witness to Murder by Jill Elizabeth Nelson from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. When a TV reporter witnesses a murder--she thinks--only unearthing the sinister secrets of her painful past can save her from becoming the next victim.

Happy Reading!

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