This time of year, people are posting like crazy on social media the number of books they read in 2018. There are even some pretty cute videos and memes that you can use to illustrate what a productive reader you were last year.

While it’s perfectly fine to tally up your reading year, I don’t happen to keep track, nor do I want to know how many books I read. On the one hand, the number would be interesting. On the other, I will more than likely be depressed at the low number of actual books.

I read…a lot…like the newspaper every morning (yes, in print—my husband and I both trained as journalists and print’s in our blood!), weekly and monthly magazines, and fiction and nonfiction books, as well as all the reading I do in my crit group and blog writing.

Rather than focus on a number, this year I challenge you to focus on the ideas and thoughts of the books you read. I like to reflect on ideas that challenged me, that inspired me to change, and that moved me to look at the world differently. Both fiction and nonfiction books can give us much food for thought.

As we ease into 2019, by all means, keep your tallies of books read. But also, jot down what reached down into your heart and gave you a different perspective, an outlook, or a calling.

Sarah Hamaker is a writer, editor, and parent coach in Fairfax, Virginia. Connect with her at www.sarahhamaker.com.

(Illustration courtesy Pixabay)

 

 

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Most cats hate water, right? Nope. Colonel Brandon, my kitty, loved it when he was little. He would smack the water in his dish and watch it fly in the air, landing all over the floor. Who knows? Maybe he could see a rainbow of colors while he splashed.

His joyful game usually ended when he knocked over the bowl, saturating the floor underneath. He’d walk away with droplets of water all over his face.

When he got older, he used to sit with his water dish between his paws, as if he feared it might get away.

His actions remind me of Psalm 42:1. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.”

How wonderful if I sought God as diligently as my cat sought water.

Sometimes I try to find satisfaction other places. Reading or watching a movie can help me escape for the moment.

However, the days I spend time in God’s Word and prayer, I always find the refreshment I need, and I have the courage to face life’s challenges.

Just like my kitty sought water, I encourage you to get in the Word and delight in God’s love.

Cynthia L Simmons and her husband reside in Atlanta. A Bible teacher and former home-school mother, she writes a column for Leading Hearts Magazine. She served as past president of Christian Authors Guild, directs Atlanta Christian Writing Conference, and hosts Heart of the Matter Radio. Her author website is www.clsimmons.com.

 

 

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When Larry and I arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia, our missionary hosts directed us to our hotel room and left us to freshen up. Larry plugged in his shaver but it didn’t turn on even though we used the adaptor we brought. I tried to plug in the coffee maker provided in the room and still no electricity!

“The room’s electricity must be broken,” I said and quickly dialed the front desk to tell them of the problem.

They said a repairman would be right up and within minutes, we heard a knock on the door. The man looked into the room and then pointed to a small fixture on the wall near the door.

In broken English, he said, “Put your room key in that.”

We slid the key into the fixture and tried the lamp. Bingo! It turned on! Electricity was supplied to the room!

We laughed as the maintenance man walked away, gently shaking his head at the silly Americans who don’t know how to turn on the electricity.

Yes, you now know that in Indonesia (and many other places as well since it was the same situation in Hong Kong) that you must plug in the key at the door to get electricity.

In a fresh way, I was reminded that if I don’t “plug” into the Holy Spirit’s power to do what God wants me to do, I’m not going to be “electrified.”

Let’s not even try to do God’s work on our own. Instead, seek His power by asking Him for His abilities through you.

Kathy Collard Miller loves to speak and write about how God’s children can trust Him more. She has spoken in over thrity U.S. states and eight foreign countries. She has over fifty published books including At the Heart of Friendship: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series. Larry and Kathy live in Southern California and are the parents of two and grandparents of two. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller and www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor and @KathyCMiller.

 

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Excerpt from Christmas Charity by Susan G Mathis

“I heard you were newlyweds from Canada. From Wolfe Island? It’s a mighty lot to adjust to, that’s for sure. But how’s you doing, dearie?”

Susan bit her lip and studied Mabel. Could she trust her, this stranger? Susan needed to talk with someone, especially since her mama wasn’t here. “It’s … all so sudden. Patrick is a good and kind man, but …” She looked toward the door and sighed. “I’m sure I’ll adjust … with time.”

Mabel took Susan’s hand in her tiny, wrinkled ones. “Change ain’t easy, I’ll give you that. But you can nudge it in the right direction. Charity is what you need, dearie. God’s love for that spitfire of a girl. I ’spect she be hurtin’ a mighty bit with all the goin’s on. She’s a child sneaking her way to womanhood I ’spect. You be a woman who must guide her along the path with a strong dose of charity.”

“That’s what my mama said. Not quite in those words.” Susan smiled and swiped a tear that had leaked out.

“We old folk knows such things. We’ve tried and failed many a time afore learnin’ the way. You’ll learn to, in time. But I feel in my bones that charity is the tool you need to use to crack that hard shell your girlie has formed around herself. What happened to her mother?”

“Died of pneumonia when Lizzy was seven, short of four years ago. Patrick and her had several stillborns and miscarriages before Lizzy came along, so Patrick …” Her words trailed off.

Mabel finished her thought. “Spoils her.” She grinned as Susan shrugged. “I could see it in her eyes the minute she cast her icy glare at ya.” Mabel chuckled. “She be a stubborn one?”

Susan sucked in a breath and nodded. “She hates me.”

“Naw. She fears you.”

Susan’s brow furrowed and she shook her head. “She doesn’t fear anything. I, on the otherhand, fear her.”

Mabel patted her hand. “Now you just stop that right now. You’s the grownup and mustn’t fear her. She’s but a child and needs you, dearie.”

Susan countered with a furious shake of her head. “She needs her father, not me. She despises me, and my marriage to him.”

“She’s just protecting herself, afeared to let you in, afeared you’ll take her daddy, afeared that she’d be betraying her mama, afeared that if she lets you in and loves you that you’ll die like her mama. It’s just the way them babes think.” Mabel touched Susan’s cheek and tenderly gazed into her eyes stinging with tears. “Now, be puttin’ away those tears and straighten that spine and fill that heart of yours with a boatload of charity for that prickly little thing. And do not fear! God will give you victory, dearie.” Mabel grabbed a towel that was lying on the table and wiped away her tears. Like her mama would have done.

Susan G Mathis is vice president of Christian Authors Network. She’s a multi-published author of stories set in her childhood stomping ground, the beautiful Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River in upstate NY. Her newest novella, Christmas Charity, her first novel, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, her Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, and her novellas will take you to a time and place few have gone. Susan is also author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale, two children’s picture books, seven stories in compilation books, and hundreds of published articles. Visit her at www.SusanGMathis.com.

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“…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV).

I can’t imagine losing one of my children. A friend recently lost her adult child and to see her grieve ripped my heart out of my chest.

Christmas should be a time of joy. After all, God sent His son that He might save us, and for the most part the season is joyful. Still, when I turn my Christmas tree on at night, and listen to the sweet sound of the nativity music box play Silent Night, I find my heart ripping in two.

The birth of Christ changed the world and eternity as we know it. God gave of Himself, the ultimate Lamb – a living, breathing child. So many lives were impacted by this birth. Joseph’s life was turned upside down. His bride- to-be carrying what the world called “illegitimate,” but what the angel called a miracle. And Mary, a child herself, chosen to bear the Son of Man.

Though His birth was nothing short of miraculous, His death tore a hole in the world. Mary sat at the feet of her dying son as the blood puddled around her knees and God Himself, looked away, heartbroken. All this…to show His love. To save us.

Christmas is a joyful time for family and friends, but for me, it’s also heart wrenching. I am grateful for the “gift that keeps on giving.” Just knowing the magnitude of the sacrifice humbles me every time I think of it. A child was born to carry the weight of the world. And though we know the end of the story, it didn’t change the loss of a child.

As Christmas nears, reflect on the child who gave His all that we might have life to the full.

Cindy Sproles is an author, speaker, and conference teacher. She is managing editor for Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, as well as executive editor for www.christiandevotions.us and www.inspireafire.com. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com.

 

 

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