One More for the Kingdom?

One More for the Kingdom? has now been published.  It has been quite a journey.  As some of you know, we began an outreach in Spain about 2 years ago.  Never did I believe that God would do the many amazing things He has done there.  Never did I believe that we would meet so many problems!!  I experienced the reality of the fact that we have an enemy.  And he does not want any person to enter the Kingdom of God.  So, once our objective became clear – to win people for the Kingdom of God – it attracted the attention of our enemy.  The book includes some allusions to these difficulties but it really represents the reality of our journey through life if we want to seek and serve God.  When we become Christians we sometimes think that means life will become easy.  No way!  And this was the purpose of writing this book – to highlight some of the problems so that we are not taken by surprise when we meet them, and to encourage the reader to seek first the Kingdom of God.   The five star review given by Readers’ Favorite ends by saying, ‘One More for the Kingdom?’ is a must read for anyone who wants to take their spiritual life seriously.’  And I guess this sums it up much better than I could.

One More for the Kingdom?  is different from my other books in many ways, three of which are as follows:

Each chapter begins with a conversation between fiends, not friends.

The front cover features a wonderful painting by a talented artist from Spain – Esther Romero

It received a FIVE STAR review from Readers’ Favorite before publication – https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/one-more-for-the-kingdom

The book follows the journey of Mansheart as he looks for the Kingdom of God.  What is the Kingdom of God, and where do we find it?  Mansheart will find on his journey that he has a cunning enemy.  At first, he is not even aware he is on a journey, nor does he realise he has an enemy. As he travels Mansheart is tricked in various ways by two fiends, who have one objective – to prevent Mansheart entering the Kingdom.  Will Mansheart be deceived by the many tricks and lies he meets along the way?  Will he reach the Kingdom? And if he does will it be anything like he imagined or something very different? If you find the Christian life difficult and wonder why, or if you have questions about the Kingdom of God, then this book is for you!   The final comment from the Readers’ Favorite reviewer said this, “The book combines heartwarming stories, biblical verses, and allegories to weave a spiritual message that is as relevant to our time as it is eye-opening.  One More for the Kingdom? is a must-read for anyone who wants to take their spiritual life seriously.”

I hope you enjoy reading it.  I would love to hear from you by email – you can use the contact tab on this website – with any comments or views you have about the book.  God bless you and thank you for your interest and support.

 

Father, if it be possible…………………………………………….. Learning from my beautiful friend

Father, if it be possible………  Learning from my beautiful friend

My dear friend

It was both wonderful and heart-breaking to meet with you today.  You are an amazing woman – beautiful inside and out.  Beauty on the outside is fairly easy for many woman, beauty on the inside is not.  I don’t think you realise for one moment just how special you are.  I believe you are Christ-like and I learned something about Him today that I did not know before.  I saw the beauty of His character shining through you, and I was almost overwhelmed by the wonder of this.

You had no idea.  But I saw Jesus through you today.  You didn’t realise this.  I saw Him as you served me, when I should have been serving you.  I saw Him as you encouraged me, when I should have been encouraging you.  I saw Him as the love you have for your children, your husband, your natural family and your church family shone out.  It was so strong, I felt I could have reached out and touched it. Your love seemed to encompass everyone with whom you are in contact – everyone about whom you spoke.  Your face was glowing as you told me about the children you were working with this week.  You had volunteered to help, in spite of your recent operation, and you were learning so much from them, you said – especially those who were disabled.  And you shared the things you had learned from them and I wondered at your wisdom.

I saw Him as you prayed, “Lord if my broken body can glorify you more than my healthy one, then your will be done.”  I heard His voice echo in my soul, ‘Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me’.  I saw Jesus as I wept with you and laughed with you.  I saw Him in a way I had never seen Him before.  In awe and wonder at the beauty of His character and His love.  In awe and wonder that He was willing to suffer to accomplish God’s will for mankind.

Suffering is a strange part of God’s plan – but it is part of His plan.

I saw Him as you struggled to accept what God has allowed in your life but never for one moment did you doubt His love.  I struggled with my composure when you described your suffering and pain as a gift – and said you didn’t want to waste it.   You said, “No matter what, God is God, He is good and He loves me. I should not waste the gift He placed into my hands, He trusted me first, when He gave it to me, that I can remain faithful to Him, and He will help me too.”

And I wondered at God’s ways.  When we suffer, we are always changed by it. We can choose to draw closer to God and allow Him to transform us through it. Or we can run from Him in bitterness and anger.  Run where? And to whom?

What an example you are my dear friend.  Drawing closer to God, loving Him, trusting Him.  Like Job of old, one loved by God and yet allowed to experience suffering.  Like Job, refusing to ‘curse God and die’.  Like Job, ‘though He slay me, yet will I trust Him’.

What a beautiful character has emerged.  Now on show to all who meet you.  Warm, kind, loving, humble, sympathetic, a servant-heart – and something much more than that too.  Something it is impossible to describe because it is so wonderful and so different from others.  So different from those I meet who don’t know Jesus, and so different from many I meet who do know Him.  I see what it means when the Bible describes a Christ-like character.  I see it now before me in a way I have never seen before.  Is this what it means to be Christ-like?

And you asked me, and asked God – what good can possibly come from this illness?  And I thought of the many people who have been touched by what is happening to you, including myself.  Many of them I don’t know, but some I do.  You don’t realise how many people are touched by your situation.  The new Christian in Spain who wonders about the strength of your faith as you continue to trust God in the midst of your pain.  The unbeliever who marvels at the faith of someone who continues to love God, even while suffering. That group of women who look and wonder and seek God so much more because they want to understand what is going on.  The doctors, nurses, and others who meet with you because of your illness, who are touched by the indefinable something in your character.  The young woman who sees you, and wants to become a nurse to help people like you.  Others too who are children, or too close to the situation for me to name without this becoming too personal.  I see just a few.  God sees every single one – hundreds or thousands, and I am sure there will be more.  You do not see any of these.  You cannot believe that you could be used by God in such a powerful way.

I remember you writing to me a few months ago when I enquired how you were. “Dear Margaret,” you said “thank you so much for your prayers, I am fine. Please don’t worry about me, any worries will lead us away from trusting God. I’m grateful for what I am in right now, again it’s a huge, valuable opportunity to know our Lord, to learn the truth and the way to His plan for me.  My heart aches too when I think about my children, but this is what God said to me: “didn’t I create them, they are my children, I am their keeper, I love them just as I love you!” Margaret, please keep praying for me and sending your encouraging words to me, it is not going to be easy, but there must be a purpose of this, it will end good!!” And the tears come again as I write this, tears of sorrow and joy in equal measure.  Sorrow for your suffering but tears too of great joy as I see your great trust in, and love for, God.  If I had the power I would end your suffering in a moment.  Forget the Christ like character, forget the good that has come and will come.  Just end the suffering right now.  But, that is me – and as you reminded me, God is God.  ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways’, declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’

You have been a Christian such a short time, and yet you are so far ahead of some of us who have been on the road for years.

You are so very special.  You are a wonderful example.  I don’t think I have ever met anyone quite like you and you are teaching me things I never knew before.

 

Who will move the stone?

“Who will roll the stone away?”  Mark 16:3

As some of you know, I am involved in an outreach movement in Spain.  As ever, when God is on the move, there are blessings and trials going along together.  And during this last year I have thought on several occasions, ‘who will move the stone away?’  But the lesson I have to learn over and over again, is to cast my cares on HIM (1 Peter 5:7) and He will ‘move the stone’.  And when we want to work for God, when we want to help advance HIS Kingdom on earth, we must always remember it is HIS work, not ours.  HIS plans, not ours that must go forward, HIS thoughts not ours that must prevail.  We must constantly realign our thoughts and actions with HIS – otherwise our work will be wasted.

And as I wrestled with this last week, I received a wonderful encouragement in my email box.  It was sent to me by a friend and written by a lady I don’t know – but I thank God for her.  Because this encouraged me, I have asked her permission to reprint it here in full, and hope this may also encourage you if you are facing a seemingly insurmountable problem in your life right now.

“In Mark 16 we are invited to engage with the women disciples as they prepare to visit the tomb and anoint the body of Jesus. They had bought spices; a fragrant offering for the one they loved. At daybreak they made their way, aware of the challenge before them. ‘Who would move the stone?’ They were resolved that nothing would deter them. On arrival at the tomb, their question had been answered: God himself had moved the stone. The way was open; no barriers, no hindrances. They encountered resurrection; and with resurrection came revelation: ‘You will see Him!’ This promise echoes through the pages of scripture, encouraging us to be living witnesses. A new day dawns and our hearts are drawn. We choose to prepare; to bring the fragrant spices of our love and adoration to worship Jesus. We are aware of challenges, but need to look to God himself to ‘remove the stone’. As we set aside our questions and choose to trust, we need not be deterred by situations and circumstances. Our priority is to worship Jesus. We come in faith, bringing the fragrant spices of lives transformed by His love and grace. As we come, we meet with resurrection; we receive revelation, and the promise that ‘We will see Him!’  We encounter our risen, living Lord.  As we behold Him, our hearts are changed and we reflect His glory. Heart to heart encounters bring clarity of purpose and calling. Each new day is an opportunity to encounter resurrection and revelation: to reaffirm that God himself will move obstacles as we worship, listen and partner with him for His kingdom and glory.”   Rhonty Beeching

New Year’s Resolution

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13-1

I love New Year.  And I always make a New Year resolution – in spite of the fact that I am not always successful in keeping it!

But New Year is a time for looking forward, not back.  It is a time to think about all that God has planned for me this year.  It is a time to remember how good and how great He is every year – and I know this year will be no exception.  The Bible proclaims from beginning to end that God is good and God is love and I believe that.  I believe it because I believe the Bible is God’s Word.  I believe it because I know Jesus who is my Saviour and my Lord.  But, I also believe it because I have experienced it time after time after time.

And if ever I should doubt it all I have to do is look at the cross of Christ.  The perfect demonstration of God’s love for me (Romans 5:8).  Here is the proof that He loves me, proof that He wants my company, proof that by trusting Jesus I am a child of God and proof that when this life ends I will be with Him for ever – what more could I ask for?  I should always be joyful and praising God for all this shouldn’t I?  But…………………………… the reality is sometimes different!!

I have the great privilege of being part of a Christian Ladies Group where I live in the UK and I have learned many valuable lessons from these women.  And this year is no exception, in spite of the fact that I have not been with them very much – (because of time spent in Spain which will soon be the subject of another blog post.)   But the primary lesson I have learned is that we should – and can – keep praising God in spite of any difficulties we may be experiencing.  Many of the women in this group have had severe problems this year and far from perfect circumstances, and yet…………………………… still they have trusted and still they have continued to praise God.  And I believe they have brought a smile to God’s face time and time again throughout this year.  “the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147.11

It’s easy really to praise God when everything is going well – although we often don’t!  But to praise Him when things are not so good?  That takes courage and faith and endurance and character………….and today I want to shout aloud the praises of these wonderful women to anyone who will listen, and to say thank you to them for the lessons they teach me.  And I praise God for each one of them.  They know that even if they don’t understand everything, they can still trust God because “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

And it is this that has made me decide on my New Year resolution – which is to praise God every day.  To stop being so busy bringing Him all my requests that I often forget to praise Him for all that He is, all He has done, all that He does, and all that I know He will do in 2016.  So this is my New Year resolution, and my prayer too because even in this I know I can’t keep it up in my own strength.  Hopeless and helpless without Him but knowing He will never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).

So I’m looking forward to 2016, and aiming to keep praising Him each day while waiting and watching for Jesus to return.  Happy New Year and God bless you.

Introducing Corine Hyman

Yes I know……………. I haven’t written on this blog for a while!  I am in Spain at the moment and there is so much going on.  God is at work in amazing ways and one day soon I will write here with a few details.  However, I always like to keep my word – if at all possible – and I promised to introduce a wonderful children’s author on this blog.  So that is why I am here today J

I don’t often read children’s books, but I was asked to take a look at this one: ‘Teaching Christ’s Children About Feeling Angry’.  The title intrigued me – as did the wonderful illustration on the front, so I decided to read it.  And I loved it!  This is an excellent little book for children.  It is firmly based on the Bible; very simple and easy to read and it has some excellent advice for both children and adults.  It is also likely to keep a child’s attention because of the excellent illustrations.

So, I decided it would be worthwhile to interview the author, Corine Hyman, and here she is…….

Margaret – Hi Corine – thanks for joining me today.  I have just read your wonderful book for kids – ‘Teaching Christ’s Children About Feeling Angry’.  I really liked it so I thought it would be good to get to know you a bit better.  So can you tell us a little about yourself?

Corine – Thanks for that and for asking for an interview.  I currently live in the great state of Maryland where I work full-time as a clinical psychologist.  However, my passion is writing Christian Childrens Books.  The book you mention is my sixth picture book: Teaching Christ’s Children About Feeling Angry.   All my books can be found on Amazon and at www.booksbycorine.com.

M – Yes that’s the book I read.  It is excellent.  I love the simple way you explain Biblical truth.  And the pictures are wonderful!  It seems daft to ask you what you do in your spare time because I doubt that you have very much!

C – Well, that’s true.  I don’t have much spare time, but when I’m not working or pursuing my passion, I enjoy gardening, cooking, and dancing.

M – Can you tell us a bit more about this book?

C – Yes of course, I would love to.  Teaching Christ’s Children About Feeling Angry is the first book in my ‘feelings’ series.  Each book will introduce children to a different emotion and help them, and the adults that love them, learn to express their emotion in a way that honors God.  This book teaches children how to express anger in a way that honors God.  Young children often feel that it is wrong to feel angry.  In Teaching Christ’s Children about Feeling Angry, the main character walks you through things that typically make a child angry and how she learns to deal with her anger in a way that is pleasing to God.

M – So what is the age range of the book? 

C – The book is geared towards children 3 to 8 years old, but my slogan is “All Books By Corine are for people from 3 to 103.”  I say this for many reasons; first several adults have read the book and they fell in love with it.  The way this book teaches how to deal with anger applies to adults as well.  Also, the book is designed to not only be a teaching tool but a discussion guide with young children.  It contains a plan to deal with several anger situations including what to do when you are angry, what not to do when you are angry and how to deal with angry people.

M – Yes and you do this in a very simple and down-to-earth way.  So what’s been the best – and the worst – part of your writing journey?

C – I can truthfully say there has not been a worst part.  I have definitely made some mistakes but I have learned and grown from each one.  I used to hate marketing my books.  Like most writers, I just wanted to curl up with my computer and my thoughts and write, write, write.  However, I am slowly learning to love marketing.  In terms of the best part, I will have to say it is definitely seeing the finished book.  Each time a book is complete I literally cry.

M – Yes I know what you mean.  I look at my books and often think they must have been written by someone else!  I still can’t really believe I have written so many books – and that they are selling so well!  I think, ‘wow, people actually want to read my books!’  So, what genre do you write, and why?

C – I write Christian Childrens books because I love children.  I love being a Christian and I love showing people that the Bible has simple answers for all of life’s questions.

M – Oh I definitely agree that the Bible has answers for all our questions.  The problem is that we often don’t like the answer!  Or we don’t take the time to find it.  Are you working on a book now? If so, can you give us a glimpse of it?

C – Yes.  I am currently working on a workbook to accompany Teaching Christ’s Children about Feeling Angry as well as the second book in the Teaching Christ’s Children About Feeling.  The name of the second book is still under wraps. However, you can find out more about it by following me via my blog or social media.  Soon I will be offering people a chance to name the characters in this book.

M – Oh thanks Corine that sounds great.  I will put your contact details here below our interview so that anyone interested can find out more about you and your books.  Thanks so much for joining me today and keep up the good/God work!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/booksbycorine

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/booksbycorine

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/booksbycorine/

A lesson on suffering from a 3 year old

“For I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” Romans 8:18

Why do we suffer?  This is a common question from both those who know God, and those who do not.  It is often used, of course, as a ‘reason’ to refuse to believe in God, or in the goodness of God.  I don’t presume to know the full answer to this question of suffering, but this week I had an experience which, for me, was an example of part of the answer.

The child of a friend of mine became very seriously ill.  This week has been a nightmare for the parents.  The situation became progressively worse, which resulted in the child being admitted to our local hospital. This was followed the next day by an ambulance ride, with blue flashing lights, to a hospital in London at about 7pm in the evening.  In the first hospital they just could not discover the problem.  The child was in severe pain and vomiting constantly.  At the London hospital they still could not firmly establish the root cause, but felt they had to open up the child and operate immediately.  A 3-4 hour operation in the middle of the night.

I sat with the child’s Mummy at our local hospital.  I wept with her, for her child, and for her pain.  And I thought of God – our great Heavenly Father – whose love for me and for you is even greater than the love of a Mummy for her baby.

The little child, on the huge hospital bed, with tubes coming out of him in so many different places, looked at his Mummy reproachfully.  He seemed to be saying, ‘why are you letting this happen to me Mummy?  Why don’t you stop them sticking needles in me?  Please take out all these tubes.  Why don’t you take me home?’  But, of course, a Mummy who loved her child so much, could not do that.  All this had to happen, so that the child could be made well.  The child was broken and had to be mended.  All this had to be done in order to fix what was wrong.  He could not enjoy toys and games and ice cream and fun in the future, unless first the problem was fixed.  Mummy understood this, the child did not.

And yet even while suffering, you could see the love and trust shining out of this little boy’s eyes.  Mummy is here so it must be alright, he seemed to be thinking.  Drifting in and out of sleep, each time he woke his eyes searched the room for his Mummy.  Yes she was still there, so even though he had no idea what was happening, it must be alright.

At the same time Mummy (and Daddy at home with the younger child) were doing exactly the same with their Heavenly Father.  Oh God, we don’t understand what is going on and our little boy is hurting, but we are still going to trust you irrespective of the outcome.  We know you are here with us.  We know you love us because Jesus suffered and died on the cross for each of us, so we are hanging onto that love and trusting you.

And I wondered about the connection between our suffering here on earth, and the glory that will be revealed in us when we are with Jesus.  Each of us has been broken by the terrible effect of sin.  What if we cannot be made fit for heaven in any other way?  What if the only way we can have the ‘glory’ is if we also have the suffering?  What if our broken minds and bodies must first be fixed, before we can enjoy all that God has in store for us throughout eternity?

And then later I understand it was even worse.  Mummy was alone in the hospital in London.  She had to help the doctors hold the child tight so that the preparation could be made for the operation.  The child felt totally betrayed.  For a short while he would not look at his Mummy or allow her to come near him.  The ultimate betrayal, she had conspired with those who were hurting him.

And I remembered the times in my life, when I have turned against God because, with my limited understanding, He was doing nothing to help me.  In fact, He seemed against me because He allowed things in my life which He could have prevented.  And yet, His love was too great to stop the suffering. I need to be fixed before I am able to enjoy the glory which will be revealed in me.  And I am sure there is still much more fixing to be done!  And I can always trust in His great love and goodness.  The love which was prepared to come to earth, and suffer and die for me.

Perhaps there is a link between the extent of the suffering and the extent of the glory.  God is fair and just and righteous.  But none of us knows how much someone else may suffer, so we can never compare.  What is suffering to me may not be to you.  But our Heavenly Father knows us through and through.  He knows every detail of our character and our lives perfectly.  He knows exactly what we need, and exactly what is best for us.

I love the way the Amplified Bible puts this verse in Romans 8:18:   For I consider that the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us!

The Bible also says, ‘For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone’.  Lamentations 3:33.  He only allows what is necessary in our lives.  Can we trust Him?  Can we trust His love?

Yes we can.  Because He has already demonstrated such love – “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”. John 15:13 (NIV).  He suffered so much on our behalf.  Jesus went to the cross so that we could be forgiven, and our relationship with God restored.  So that we could be ‘fixed’.  And now all that remains is to change us so that we are able to enjoy all that He has in store for us in the future.  We would not enjoy heaven as we are, we need to be changed. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV)

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”1 Corinthians 2:9 (NKJV)

I learned a lesson this week from a very brave and beautiful little boy who is only 3 years old.  I also learned a lesson from his brave, loving and faithful parents.  I hope I will never forget this.

When we have finished running the race (Hebrews 12:1) and are face to face with Jesus (1 Corinthians 13:12) He will present us with our crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4).  Then maybe we will echo words similar to those of this wonderful little boy, when he came round from the operation.  He was presented with a certificate of bravery by the surgeon and said – ‘Mummy did I win?’  Yes my darling you won.

An Easter message

‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’  Matthew 11:28-30

After rather a sombre message yesterday I thought today should be more encouraging!  And Easter is such a wonderful time of encouragement.  The God who ‘will not leave the guilty unpunished’ (yesterday’s blog) is a God of love who ‘is not willing that any should perish’ (2 Peter 3:8-10).  That is why God is still waiting and we have not yet arrived at the Day of Judgment.  And in these Bible verses we have such a wonderful invitation.  Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

In a world which is in such turmoil, I believe the only way we can find true and lasting ‘rest’ is by being in the presence of God and knowing His love.  And the only way we can be in the presence of God, and have a relationship with Him, is through the Lord Jesus.  Jesus says, ‘no-one comes to the Father except through me.’  John 14:6

In the days before Easter some of us have been reflecting on the journey of Jesus to the cross.  That doesn’t seem to me like a light burden or an easy yoke!  But because Jesus was always in perfect communion with His Father, the burden became easy and the yoke light.  And today, whatever our circumstances, I believe we can still find rest in the presence of God.  I was reading recently a testimony from a young Christian woman who was imprisoned in Iraq.  She said, ‘I have learned that it is possible to be in prison and still be free.’  Wow!

And so this Easter – and every day – the message is still available for anyone – ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ Romans 10:13.   Jesus died on the cross (a historical fact) but the questions is, have you accepted that He died for YOU?  That because He loves YOU and me so much, He was prepared to die on the cross and take the punishment that we deserved.  You see, you and I can never have a relationship with a holy and perfect God, unless the question of our sin is first dealt with.  And so God provided the solution in Jesus.  Jesus died on the cross and poured out His blood as a perfect sacrifice before God (as foretold in the Old Testament) for the ‘sins of the world’.  This means I can repent of my sin before God and He can forgive me, because Jesus took my punishment.  God is righteous and must punish sin (yesterday’s blog) but He is love and thus has provided the solution to the problem of sin.

And then we know from the Bible that He rose again and met with hundreds of people before He went back to heaven.  And the Bible tells us He is coming again.  So just as the Old Testament prophecy about the birth, life, and death of Jesus came true, so also will the prophecy that He will come again also come true.  We don’t know when, but we do know from the Bible that one day Jesus will return – not to die on a cross, but as a King and a Judge.

Will you be pleased to see Him when He returns as King, because He is your Saviour?  Or will you be terrified because He will not leave the guilty unpunished?

How do I know I know God resize

Introducing ‘Thaw’ by E Kaiser Writes

 

As you know I promised to interview more Christian authors on my blog and here is the next one!  A very different kind of fairytale by E. Kaiser Writes.

Hi Elizabeth – thanks for joining me today.  I have been looking with great interest at your new series – Thaw. 

E.K. I am very happy to be here and I am very excited about this new series.

Well I have to say first of all that I am not usually a great fan of fiction – not even Christian fiction – but I must say I am very interested in your new series because of the strong Christian messages which run throughout.  You seem to have woven these into your stories in a very skilful way.

E.K. Thank you.  That is what I have tried to do because there are many fairytale messages out there which can be very misleading.  For example,  I feel like Disney has dominated the fairytale area with the message of “Do whatever you feel like”, but that is a detrimental message. Often we feel like doing very unkind things, if not sometimes downright bad. The Lord’s perspective isn’t “follow your heart”, it is “guard your heart”.

I couldn’t agree more.  In fact, Proverbs 4.23 says that doesn’t it!  ‘Above all else, guard you heart….’  So could you tell me, and my readers, just what are the key Christian themes in the ‘Thaw’ series?

 E.K. We are all born with flaws and strengths, and those are often linked together. The Lord makes us the way we are for a purpose, and it is our job to figure out that purpose and how to make our flaws not overpower our strengths. The balancing act of finding that harmony can only be started when we stop making excuses for ourselves, or viewing ourselves as “victims of fate”… We must step up to the plate and say, “This is how He made me; and I am going to work hard to become the very best version of that.”
So many times fairytales depict their main characters to be basically at the mercy of events, whereas I believe we are never at their mercy. Life happens to us without our consent, but we always have the ability to choose how we react to it.
This is key, I think, and something the Winter Angel eventually points out to Ilise: she says “do not think others have no burdens because they are not like you. Theirs are unique to them, and may be harder for them to bear then yours are for you.”

That is great and again based squarely on Scripture.  Proverbs again!  ‘Each heart knows its own bitterness’ Proverbs 14.10.

E.K. Yes absolutely.   Another major current, is personality differences react in different ways, but they all need the same lesson. To put ourselves aside and concentrate on what is the right thing to do. The characters in these books are distinctly aware that their lives are watched by the Great King, but the two main girls allow themselves to get very much off track as they grow up, and then they have to struggle past that toward a better understanding of maturity.
I contend that we can’t be emotionally or mentally mature without a corresponding degree of spiritual maturity, and it’s really only spiritual strength that can give us what it takes to overcome our inner problems. Often that is grown in times of stress, and so if we’re looking in the right direction during our time of trouble we can emerge better & bigger for it. And in that way He has set it up so that even our greatest trials can become enormous gifts in retrospect.

The Thaw books are by no means allegorical or doctrinally-charged… but they are written from a deep perspective of hope in the Eternal, and so everything in them is laced with that; instead of the sometimes rather “dark art-y” view a lot of modern day fantasy has developed into.
In this way, I hope young and old alike can enjoy a fantasy world underpinned with wholesome morals, and maybe some of them can be encouraged to keep fighting the good fight within themselves as well.

That sounds excellent to me.  So what made you focus on these particular books and themes?

E.K. These three were the first to come. They grew out of a scenario that came and got stuck in my head.  But the basis is that we are always masters of our fate if we will only give the worrying and fear over to the true Master, and focus on what we can change instead of what we can’t.
As I have said, I feel like Disney has dominated the fairytale area with the message of “Do whatever you feel like”, but that is a detrimental message. Often we feel like doing very unkind things, if not sometimes downright bad. The Lord’s perspective isn’t “follow your heart”, it is “guard your heart”.
In the end we all feel bad impulses, but it is our actions that determine who we really are. By separating what we do from the way we feel at that moment, we can win out over our worser impulses, and become better, stronger people.

Characters all throughout this series find themselves in various fairytale situations, but instead of being hopeless, (which our girls in the first 2 Thaw books are unwisely tempted to do,) our characters learn that by sticking it out, and refusing to give up, triumph can be achieved. That good will win over evil every time. Even when it seems impossible.
Because, that’s what fairy-tales, (when properly told,) can do best!

What a great lesson for us all. To keep on and refuse to give up, even when the path is difficult.  Now having read a little about your books I am particularly interested in your theme of ‘ice maidens in real life’, so give us the back story on how  Ilise’s problems actually exist in our world too, and possibly in us.

E.K. Okay! Yes! As I said above, part of maturity of every kind is separating actions from feelings. Different personalities process life differently, but while some just keep reacting to everything they feel, others of us try to keep from reacting by quitting feeling.

I know this somewhat from personal experience, I was the kind of middle child that clammed up. The worse things got the further I retreated inside, telling myself that things couldn’t hurt me if I could just stop feeling them.

Ah yes!  Personal experience means you write straight from the heart!

E.K. I hope so!  I believe we show our greatest power when on a peak of emotion, and as kids that’s often when we behave the very worst.
Ilise is a special gift a la the Snow Maiden; when her barren parents build a baby out of snow, their many years of prayers are answered and they are given the child they have so long yearned for. But with her special origins comes the ability to freeze, (opposite the Snow Maiden tales, in which the poor child always melted away) Her parents have no idea how to deal with that; and soon all three of them are freaked out about her future and what her strange-ness could possibly end up in.  Thinking that she can use her strength to shut down her emotions, she goes about doing so; but emotions are not the problem. They are with us always.
Not being able to disconnect feeling from acting is the problem; and this is a lesson that Ilise takes a while to learn.
I wish someone would have told me about this as a child, it could have saved me a lot of anguish in my youth; where I struggled with black depression that I felt guilty for even feeling. For although we can choose to refuse joy, sorrow is not negotiable. It took me many years and some very highly educational books before I realized that we needed to always welcome joy in all its forms; for it was the raft to help us through the sad parts of life.
Becoming an “ice maiden”, a “cool cucumber”, or whatever other name there is for it, is an easy choice. It feels like you’re really getting somewhere… that you are truly protecting yourself from the sharp stings of everything around you. But it doesn’t. And it can lock you away in a place where you aren’t sure how to escape, and then all you have is the sorrowful parts of the world to keep you company… all of your days.
Those of us who have slipped down this path need to take heart, because we can reverse this process. We can “learn how to melt”… and for the most part, the damage we might have done in our pursuit of this goal is generally minor. Most of it is done to ourselves… and if we can stop gnawing on the past, assess the future realistically, but with hope, and then step out with determination, we can break the icy chains and open up to the happy side of life.
In some seasons there may not be much happiness around, but if we can just take each moment mindfully, there are little things in every path. We just have to be more open to noticing them and taking them into our hearts.
Gratitude is a huge part of this, as well; and there are a ton of “happiness experts” that extoll the virtues of simply being grateful. This is true, and can help a lot.
But most importantly we have to take that first step; quit keeping our hearts on ice, and quit “freezing” the people who are close to us, because it only makes ourselves chillier than before.

Well that sounds a really great message to me and I can’t wait to read some more of your books.  I will put the links below for others to click on and find them and in the meantime thanks so much for joining me.

E.K. A real pleasure.  Thanks for inviting me and enjoy the books.

http://www.amazon.com/Thaw-Winters-E-Kaiser-Writes-ebook/dp/B00RUDQMXO/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

http://www.amazon.com/Thaw-Winter-E-Kaiser-Writes-ebook/dp/B00RWUVZQO/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Introducing Kelsey Bryant!

As you know, I’m part of a Blog Train at the moment but I have enjoyed getting to know Kelsey so much via this train that I have decided that I will now, from time to time, interview other Christian authors.  So watch this space!

But today it’s my privilege today to welcome Kelsey Bryant on my blog and to have the opportunity to   have a chat with her about her life as an author.   Kelsey is from Texas and has written a beautiful book called ‘Family Reunion’.  I have read this book so feel very   qualified to comment!  But that’s   enough from me – let’s hear from Kelsey:

Kelsey Bryant

Kelsey, tell us about the   first book you published.

“Fourteen-year-old   Marielle Austin’s grandpa has devised a series of projects for Marielle and   her five cousins to complete—there’s a shed to fix up, a missionary to   interview, and a trail of clues to solve, leading to a treasure. Success will   earn them a prize beyond anything they could imagine!

Marielle, Emma, and Caroline are   completely committed, but what can they do when bad attitudes and work ethics   seem to be all Abby, Kailey, and Reanna can offer?

The week is passing quickly…. will the mysterious prize slip away, and with it any chance of friendship between these very different cousins?”

It’s a simple storyline….. six cousins are at a week-long family reunion, and they come from two quite different backgrounds.  Three of the girls are homeschooled.  Their grandfather has created funt asks for them to accomplish together, but their success depends on overcoming differences.  I recommend this book especially for ages 11-16.  Homeschoolers in particular may want to check it out!

And I would certainly agree that this would be an excellent resource for homeschoolers.  I love the way the book puts across key Christian values and messages without sounding ‘preachy’.

I would also be interested to know how you move through ‘writer’s block’? What keeps you writing?

When the writer’s block simply involves something like a difficult story knot, I sit and think, or talk it through with someone (usually my mom) and think, or go through my day (driving, working) and think. I firmly believe that a great deal of writing happens in your mind. (Confession: sometimes that’s all the writing I get done in a day; it’s essential to keeping the story alive!) Other people who understand my writing are a source of inspiration, and so is a blank document where I type out all my conflicting thoughts.

When the writer’s block is the malignant type that threatens to choke out all desire to ever write again, what always enables me to keep going is the knowledge that God has given me this gift, so I have to use it. I have faith that God wouldn’t have given me an ability like this if He didn’t mean for me to use it. Everything the Lord gives us, we are to render unto Him.

And, prayer always helps.

I couldn’t agree more about prayer!  And again I love the way your book often brings this into the daily lives of those about whom you write.

So, which author, either living or dead, would you most like to meet? What one question would you ask them?

Jane Austen! I would actually want to talk with her for a whole day, but since I’m limited to one question, I would ask her, “How did you create characters that are so realistic?”

Actually Kelsey, I think your characters are extremely realistic too!  Perhaps you have learned this from Jane Austen without realizing it!

Now I also want to ask you some more questions about you, as an author.  What is your biggest strength as a writer? How do you utilize that to your advantage? What is your biggest weakness or fear as a writer? How do you overcome this? Sorry, for so many questions at once!

That’s fine Margaret.  I love talking about my work.  I would say my descriptiveness is a strength. As long as I know or can discover enough about a scene or a sensation, I see a complete picture in my mind and paint it with words. (People say they enjoy my descriptions of food—it makes them hungry!) This is such a blessing to be able to do because it goes a long way in drawing readers into a story; I also hope that it infuses them with joy.

My stories, so far, aren’t the exciting type that are popular today. I’m a contemplative person, so I tend to focus on characters and relationships rather than action and sensation. My fear is that people will think my stories drag. But I overcome this by realizing that there are readers who appreciate a thoughtful and inspirational storyline—and not everyone has to like my books. I don’t write for the people who don’t like my kind of thing; I write for those who do.

Well, Kelsey – I certainly enjoy the way you write – although I’m not exactly in the 11-16 age range!  I think there is a great need today for books like yours, especially for the younger generation.

Now one final question and then we must stop – although I could talk to you all day! What book project/s are you working on right now?

I’m working on the sequel to Family Reunion, which follows the six cousins as they visit England. Lord willing, I will publish that in November. I’ve also begun book three of the same series, which is about the girls grown up. And I’m about 54,000 words into an unrelated young adult novel, also about a young woman: Amy Brown is waiting for the day when the Six Cousins series is complete and she can receive my full attention.

Margaret, thank you so much for hosting me!

Thank you Kelsey for agreeing to be interviewed on my blog!  I hope you will stop by again when you publish your next book.  God bless you

Here’s the link to Family Reunion and also to Kelsey’s author page on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Family-Reunion-Six-Cousins-Book/dp/1492330795/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409192597&sr=1-1&keywords=six+cousins

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Kelsey-Bryant/e/B00GF0BT72/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1403057663&sr=1-2-ent

If you want to follow Kelsey or contact her directly you can use one of the following links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KelseyBryantAuthor

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+KelseyBryant/about

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/kelseyibryant/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7334692.Kelsey_Bryant

Website: http://kelseybryantauthor.weebly.com/

Blog: http://kelseysnotebookblog.blogspot.com/

I’ve joined a blog train!

I have recently joined an author blog train!  “What’s an author blog train?” I hear you ask, which is exactly the same question I asked a couple of weeks ago.  Well, I think it must be an American idea – and a very good one – as I had never heard of it before in this country.  In this case a number of authors have got on a ‘train’ together.  This train then stops at various stations in the coming weeks which represent different blogs/websites and different authors are interviewed.  So far we have had Elizabeth K station, followed by David Bergsland.  And today it’s Jansina!  All these stops represent some great interviews with some excellent authors in the USA so why not ‘stop’ by and explore.  They are all Christian writers.  Some write fiction, some non-fiction.

You can check out the following links which show the interviews with the authors.  From this you will get an idea of the sort of books they write and, if you are interested, you can see the links to buy their books or follow their blogs etc.

Have fun exploring these ‘stations’ and hopefully you will find some great authors you hadn’t heard about before.

Thanks for stopping by and God bless you.

First stop – Elizabeth K

http://oneanotherliving.com/meet-authors/elizabeth-k-writes/

David Bergsland

http://ekaiserwritesablog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/ica-blog-train-david-bergsland-interview.html

Jansina

http://radiqx.com/2014/09/blog-train-indie-christian-authors-jansina-grossman-rivershore-books/