When I was twelve, I prayed for a bicycle. My father, a spiritual man, told me I shouldn’t bother God with it. That I should solve my own problems. I was pretty sure he was wrong, so I just kept praying and saving my meager earnings. Sure enough, a brand new bike showed up. To my young heart, it was a miracle.
I reasoned God blessed me with a bicycle because I was a good girl, at least that is what my father told me. We were both wrong. Later, while we were tossed about by the winds of life, we learned the truth.
We learned to see the Lord, while life’s challenges raged like storms all around us. We learned ways to Hear him, in the gentle whisperings of the spirit and see Him in the large and small miracles that came in answer to sincere prayers. We felt Him in our hearts and searched for him in the scriptures.
We both gained a firm belief in the Lord’s love for all of us. He meets us where we are, and during his lifetime blessed many people who the world labeled as unworthy, like the woman caught in adultery or the woman at the well.
Bad things happen to good people. We will all experience storms or trials in our lifetime.
The Lord may not remove the storm, but He will not leave us alone in it. He wants us to know Him, to learn to hear Him, so when the wild winds blow we can find Him and the shelter He offers us.
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in this life is to see the signs of the Lord in the storm. The tender mercies Psalms 145:9 talks about when it says, “The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.”
Many years ago, I began a daily list of things I am grateful for. It became my greatest anti-anxiety medicine. When I couldn’t sleep, I would quiet my worries by listing all the blessings I experienced that day.
Immediately, my perspective on life was permanently and profoundly altered. I found daily reasons to rejoice. I learned to see Him.
But, you may ask, how can we rejoice in this place, at this time?
In this place ~ Covid-19
We are in quarantine. It is late, but the house is not quiet or tidy. My daughter, her husband, and my eight-year-old grandson moved home six weeks ago. My grandson is roller skating throughout the first floor instead of brushing his teeth for bed, my adult daughter and her husband are upstairs calling him. Two televisions are competing for attention.
My kitchen is cluttered with a project. We are in the middle of a pandemic and because a loved one asked; we are sewing face masks. We have sewn well over a hundred and more are lined up waiting to be finished. I have work to do before I sleep.
And yet, I am filled with joy as I count the tender mercies of the Lord, the answered prayers, and little miracles that surround us. Everything is as it should be (Something I never thought I would say in a pandemic). But first it had to fall completely apart.
At the first of the year, it seemed our lives unraveled around us. And yet, in hindsight, we can see how the trials led us to miracles. Things that at first seemed like bad news have been revealed as blessings. Prayers that had gone unanswered for months, were answered in a week. Everything in our lives changed to prepare us for the storm already raging just out of sight.
We felt confused while our lives were unexpectedly rearranged, but at peace all at the same time. Looking back, the pattern of the Lord answering every prayer is clear. He provided for all of our needs before we ever heard the world “virus.” And he spoke to peace to our hearts.
We are like you. Some of us are working, some are not. We scrambled for toilet paper. We have family members with seriously compromised immune systems, and we are afraid to go out the door without a full hazmat suit.
But on the first Sunday of home church, the historic Sunday when church was cancelled worldwide, we counted our blessings and we knew we had felt the hand of God in our lives.
The kids moving home had changed from a trial to a blessing. We relished the ability to be together, support each other, and combine our food storage. My new job temporarily went away with the virus, giving me time to prepare and enjoy the birth of my son’s baby. And just over the horizon, unknown on that Sunday, was something wonderful, already in the works. The quiet days of a simpler life in quarantine allowed us to appreciate each other on a deeper level.
Friends and family members have expressed experiencing similar blessings, or tender mercies, during some of the darkest days in world history.
That first Sunday, we marveled at the ways Heavenly Father takes care of his children and knows them all by name, even though they number more than the sands of all the seas. We recognized His hand in larger things, while He still showered us with tender mercies. Even when we wondered if he would ever answer our prayers, He already was.
Tomorrow will come
We may not all survive. The storm may continue on. But while the winds blow, we will be on our knees, seeking Him, listening for Him, and trusting the plan He has for us, knowing he is mindful of us. He will answer your prayers. Be patient. We are part of His eternal family. We Hear Him promising to come again.
“And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him…” (1 Kings 19: 11–13)
My gift to you, while we wait for tomorrow to come. The lowest price Amazon will allow.
Eve Marx of the Seaside Signal not only featured my newest novel, Finding Hope, she investigated trafficking in our small town and researched what it might look like in yours. Do you wonder if your kids are at risk? Do you want to know what to look for?
When you use your dollars to purchase books, movies, or any other form of entertainment you influence the world. Our purchases of clean and inspirational work support authors who write well-told stories and inspirational books. Together, authors and readers can create change and make a statement. Light the world with books.
This Week’s featured author fascinates me. Aryeh Green is Chief Strategy Officer at EnergiyaGlobal, a Jerusalem-based company developing renewable energy projects in Africa. He was the founder and director of MediaCentral, a Jerusalem-based project of HonestReporting, providing services for the foreign media in Israel. He is a true world changer, speaking at Stanford as a lead up to Martin Luther King day, and the author of the recently-published book My Israel Trail: Finding Peace in the Promised Land.
Aryeh was born in Washington DC, a descendant of one of the first Jews in North America (who arrived in 1690); he grew up in San Francisco, went to UC Berkeley, and has lived in Israel for well over 30 years.
Aryeh has been a policy advisor to Natan Sharansky and a business executive and consultant for the past three decades. He served as a senior member of minister Sharansky’s staff in the Israeli prime minister’s office, where among other things he was responsible for supporting civil society activists in the Arab and Muslim world. He continues to be active in the effort to promote freedom and democracy in the Middle East.
Aryeh holds a BA in psychology from UC Berkeley, an MA in international relations from Hebrew University, and an MSc in business management from Boston University & Ben Gurion University, and has been widely published in various newspapers, magazines & academic publications.
Aryeh was married four years ago to Miriam, and they live in Beit Shemesh (the “House of the Rising Sun” in loose translation). They have 9 children between them… and aside from hiking all over Israel (or talking about it), when not promoting renewable energy and accuracy in the media, Aryeh grows grapes and makes wine.
I asked this fascinating author why he is committed to writing only clean or inspirational books. He said:
“As an observant Jew who leads a traditional life and believes in expressing gratitude for God’s blessings, I want to share my outlook and values with others.”
Well said, Aryeh! I I have enjoyed learning about Aryeh’s traditions and values on his many television and online interviews, like his interview on the Christian Broadcast Network. As a young girl, my Jewish neighbor shared her history and heritage with me. I ate her stories up like chocolate ice-cream on a hot day. I gained a deep respect or the culture.
About the Book: My Israel Trail: Finding Peace in the Promised Land
“My Israel Trail is a book about a hike on the 700-mile Israel Trail, and facing personal challenges. It offers new perspectives on Israel – the land, the country, its history and people – and illuminating insights from the experience.
Natan Sharansky celebrates Aryeh’s “engaging passion and persistence”; Mayim Bialik calls the book a “fascinating journey” and “beautiful exploration of self and identity”.
After a devastating divorce, which rocked his world and confounded his deeply-held optimism, Aryeh Green’s goal was to find healing, and get his life back on track. His hike along ‘Shvil Yisrael’, the Israel National Trail, enabled the discovery of a number of universal truths for living based on Jewish tradition.”
You can find, My Israel Trail: Finding Peace in the Promised Land, at Barnes & Noble, Costco, Target, Walmart, others.
Brenda McDaniel, Author of her debut book, My Angel My Hero, is retired. She has BS in Psychology and MS in Counseling. She has loved writing since childhood. Her childhood dream finally came true when she published her story.
Brenda has a clear reason for writing her first book and committing to write clean or inspirational books going forward. Brenda shared:
I am a devout Christian and not only believe in angels, but have seen one when my mother passed away.
This year we celebrated early so that some of us can hit the road for Utah and celebrate with the rest of the family.
2019 was a great year for the Symonds family! I thought it would be fun to share a little bit of our lovely chaos with you. Funny, when the noise in the room is made by people I love, it is music to my ears.
I was raised in a large and very close family. We are still very connected through Lassie Hame, our family home on the beach. We text, chat and visit often. Christmas was a time of chaos, good food, and cousins everywhere. I loved it.
Then, later in life, we moved our family to our first home on the Oregon Coast. Although we were just down the road from the beach house, we had quiet Christmases. Traveling to the coast from Utah and even Portland is difficult in winter. Even though we had six children, I missed the constant party atmosphere of my youth.
As we celebrated our early Christmas, I realized I had recreated the big family of my youth. Even though we only had half of our grandchildren and four of our children, it was – in the words of little Maddy, “Glorious Chaos!”
Whether you have a small family, chosen family, a church family, or spend your Christmas in the service of others – I wish you a day of glorious chaos and love!
For those of you who are thinking life at the beach is sand and sun, I thought you might enjoy a little authentic Seaside, Oregon travel conditions! We started out for the airport yesterday! After a three hour drive, a night with my cousins (the best!) we arrived at the airport this morning. Here is a little peek at our drive. Please don’t judge the backseat driver in the passenger seat (me) wearing her lucky Uggs and giving the driver absolutely sound advice.
Shannon’s List of Favorite Holiday Reads, Fun, and Family Stuff!
Here are a few things I am LOVING this Christmas season.
Each morning, I love to ground myself by starting the day with quiet study. I highly recommend the non-denominational group, Multiply Goodness.Their current study, Advent, O Come Let Us Adore Him
I am a huge fan of, Don’t Miss This, with Emily Belle Freeman and David Butler. They have partnered with LDS Living to provide daily video inspiration and study ideas for families. Do you want to introduce your children to the characters in their nativity scene? Check this out!
#LightTheWorld Check the Hashtag! The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has created some beautiful content to help you and your family feel closer to Christ during the Christmas Season. You can find #LightTheWorld here. Here is a beautiful video of the nativity.
I have also been enjoying Emily Belle Freeman’s, Inklings, studyguide for women who want to know more about their role in the Priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Last of all! Have you ever wanted a Life Coach? Meet Lisa Lewis. She has been guiding participants through their 40-day Journey to the New Year. It still isn’t too late to take the journey with us.
Favorite Christmas Movies in 2019
Take a look inside my head! This movie tells the story of how Charles Dickens wrote the Christmas Carol. It is like taking a walk through an author’s mind. I LOVE it! The Man Who Invented Christmas on Amazon.
REVIEW COPIES FREE. For reading all the way to the end of this LONG, LONG, List, if you would like to join my review crew and receive a free copy of Safe House and Finding Hope for an honest and fair review on Goodreads AND Amazon, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put review crew in the subject line. I will reply ASAP with Kindle versions of my books for the first 20 people who ask.
And don’t forget! My birthday is coming! So until then, I am giving away 100 Kindle Copies of Finding Hope on Goodreads. No hook and a great chance of winning since I am a small town beach author who knows almost no one! Enter here.
I don't know about your family, but kids all around me are getting out for Christmas Break. Parents everywhere are looking forward to baking cookies, sledding, package wrapping, and fun....right up until the kids have been home for days and you run out of things to do.
I am pleased to share this Thursday's author and all of her fun ideas for things to do with your kids, just in time for families everywhere to be snowed in. And trust me, Nina is an expert. She has eight children and still finds time to write children's books.Nina Harris, Author of a children's book called The Ten Leopards, not only has an adorable book, but she has a fun website!
Just in time for Christmas and 2020 Book of Mormon study!
Debbi Rollo, author of Book of Mormon Rhymes: A Companion for Family Scripture Study, an inspirational book for parents and families studying the Book of Mormon shared her reasons for a lifetime commitment to writing only clean or inspirational books. She said:
"I believe that this world needs as much clean, uplifting, and inspirational books and material as possible to counteract the darkness and negativity that seems to be increasing. I believe that wholesome entertainment in books and media helps us to feel more joy and uplifts our spirits so we can better fulfill our purposes in life. As an Author, I am happily committed to do my part.'
I am so excited to share this book with you! Marie Woodward, author of Goodbye, Nauvoo, a historical fiction, has a beautiful family history around the very subject of her book! Join me to learn why she is committed to writing clean and inspiration books, and the fascinating history behind her novel, including some family history, and a cherished recipe.
Check out this fun fact Marie shared."The picture of the Nauvoo temple image on the cover of my book was taken by my mother-in-law, Cindy Woodward. She was there on vacation and didn't realize a tornado was brewing in the background at the time she took the picture."
Marie recently had a baby. Marie shared this photo of her little family on the day they blessed the new addition to their family and her inspiration for writing clean novels.I asked Marie about her commitment to only produce clean books and she said:
" As a mother, I want to be an example to my children in writing clean and inspirational books. I want to uplift others and write books that people can be inspired by."
Marie carefully researched her own family history and Nauvoo for her beautiful novel. If you are not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and you know nothing of the history of Nauvoo (spoiler alert), members of the church built the beautiful city in swamp land. They were later driven violently and forced to leave behind their homes and their beautiful temple. It is such an important piece of our culture and history, our Church has rebuilt the temple and returned some of the city to its former glory. You can ...
In honor of the Savior’s Birthday, Christmas, and until my January 7th Birthday, I am giving away 100 kindle copies of Finding Hope on Goodreads. If you don’t use Goodreads, check it out. The Giveaways are a blast. And! As I only know about 100 people in a tiny town on the Oregon Coast, the odds are with you.
Merry Christmas to you and yours from me and mine!