The Best Gift. Ever.

Christmas week provided an opportunity for my family to reconnect. As we played a game in front of the fireplace, my adult kids began to reminisce about their antics with babysitters in years gone by. It was amusing to hear their side of the “story,” and to see their reaction to our version. What a soothing balm it was for this mom’s heart to hear the laughter that has been so absent between them in recent years. I glanced at the lights on the Christmas tree and relished our Christmas miracle.
There was another Christmas week that changed our story. It was the Christmas when God’s Son was born in a manger. Jesus came to our world to remind us that we were made for relationship with Him. He is the true ambassador of God’s love, and our Christmas miracle.

Yesterday, our daughter-in-law slid off the snowy road and down an embankment. As a precaution in her seventh month of pregnancy, the ambulance took her to the ER to check on the baby. Our lives came to a standstill as we anxiously awaited news. We are all inexplicably linked, as we were made for relationship with each other. We received a Christmas miracle in knowing the affirmation of that love.

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It is God’s desire for us to be in relationship with Him and with each other. How else could He show us, than to come, Himself? It reminds me of a Christmas carol that says, “He taught us to love one another.” Jesus modeled that sacrificial love.
What gift are you thankful for? Have you experienced a Christmas miracle in the call to love one another?
Sally


Book Review: “Why Dogs Are…”

why dogs are
“Why Dogs Are…” is the name of a delightful children’s book about compassion expressed through a canine friend. Author, Tana Thompson, and illustrator, Marita Gentry, have paired up to compose a compelling look at the ways dogs help people experience unconditional love as they comfort, give aid and serve as guides.

In a through-the-back-door style, the book brings a deeper message, that of the sanctity of human life. It teaches the value of every human and the need to help those who are different than ourselves. It is an important tool for families to use as they learn to display character traits of respect, compassion and forgiveness.
“Why Dogs Are…” is a make believe story about the origins of dogs, but a true to life story of the impact of a dog’s love. It uses appealing colors to draw the observer into the story, and the cheerful colors create a drawing board of illustrations. The pictures provide opportunity for parents to talk about the needs of those who suffer from illness, loneliness or the inability to perform day to day functions. And in talking about those needs, brainstorm ways to make a difference in other people’s lives.

Through the storyline, it’s easy to envision a dog’s enthusiastic beginnings in heaven: “wagging his tail, ran through clouds, jumped over rainbow, goofy smile, hiding bones in big fluffy clouds.” The book says dogs came from heaven as ambassadors from God, and were sent on a mission to communicate His love. Anyone who has had a dog will tell you they become members of the family, and this book illustrates beautifully the lessons we learn from pets of unconditional loyalty, love and forgiveness. It is also a good reminder that we all have the responsibility to care for others with love and compassion.

“Why Dogs Are…” has a refreshing take on life and the beauty of God’s world. Share a copy with the little people in your life!

Disclosure of Material: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sally


Moving Party!

[ File # csp1883563, License # 1295737 ] Licensed through http://www.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (http://www.canstockphoto.com/legal.php) (c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / ilona75
[ File # csp1883563, License # 1295737 ]
Licensed through http://www.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (http://www.canstockphoto.com/legal.php)
(c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / ilona75
To celebrate my new blog, and to “lighten the load” in moving, and to celebrate the new release of my ebook on Kindle, we’re having a sale! For five days only, January 5-9, 2015, you can pick up your own copy absolutely FREE!
Are you planning a Spring Retreat? Now’s the time to start the process! Get your own copy on Amazon.

Would you be willing to post a review on Amazon or on your own blog?

It would be a big help on the Amazon Ranking to let others know what tips you will implement as you plan your own event. Get it while it’s free!
Don’t have a Kindle? I got my own copy for PC free. Check that out here.
And welcome to the party at my new home!
It’s gonna be a great year!
Sally


Book Review: Freedom’s Stand

Freedoms Stand

What would it feel like to live in a Muslim country? J.M. Windle has captured the essence of a life that is ruled by Shariah Law and the cultural morays for women who are bartered like property. Freedom’s Stand is the story of a relief aid worker who clashes with an ancient society and with her own expectations of what it means to make a difference. As she strives to build relationships with women of Afghanistan, Amy Mallory is faced with her own inadequacies. The struggles of faith and humanity are real and believable. The reader gains understanding of how it feels to have daily language barriers in trying to communicate needs, and then feeling mistrusted in the process. The dilemmas reveal genuine soul-searching as characters insert their own beliefs about God’s involvement in the human element. And the storyline is an eye-opening look at the different forms justice takes, in the application of it around the world.

Who is J.M. Windle? Jeanette Windle grew up in South America as the daughter of missionaries. Her home included six countries and served as fuel for the imagination of a gifted storyteller. She shares about the details of research on her blog.

The world is becoming a smaller place; people move to other countries with job opportunities, and then find the challenges of being in another culture overwhelming. When we study the behavior of other people, even in the form of fiction, we better understand the methods they use to cope with daily life and survival in their lands. We are also seeing more about Shariah Law in our own country. The web brings news of laws being changed to accommodate our Muslim neighbors. How will that effect life in the USA? How will we respond to injustices around the globe? We can’t be vocal if we don’t invest in the learning process.

Grab a copy of Freedom’s Stand, and its prequel, Veiled Freedom, and immerse yourself in a riveting story that includes danger, romance and far away lands!

Note: I received this book as part of the Tyndale Rewards Program. I received no compensation for this review. Do you want to get free books too? Here’s my link.

Sally


Christmas Eve

presents

The 24th is my favorite date in December. We’ve arrived home from the 11 pm Christmas Eve Service. The frenzy of the month is over. The kids have received their first present (new pajamas) and everyone has gone to bed. I have the moment to hold in my hands as I put the last of the bows on the packages and place them under the tree. There’s a serenity that fills the night. Another author captured it by saying, “Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”

Funny, how the two stories have become so intertwined in American folklore; Santa and The Christ seem to get equal billing in our media. Only, Santa is portrayed as a living, breathing, jolly old soul.

And Jesus? He’s a lawn ornament, a plastic figurine with peeling paint.

When did Santa and The Savior reverse roles? Now, we’re saving the North Pole, and Christmas magic, and telling kids, if we only believe, Santa will rescue our Christmas dreams. How do we help the world discover the One who really came to rescue us at Christmas?

A few weeks ago, Hubby and I attended a Steven Curtis Chapman Concert in Elmira, NY. As Steven Curtis Chapman shared a video about their program, Show Hope, he told us, “Some children do not want presents this Christmas. They want someone who will become their own forever family.”

These children have unfulfilled Christmas dreams. And here I am, with an abundance of presents under my Christmas tree. It’s difficult to reconcile the two worlds. We clash by what we do and don’t have. And it’s a stark reminder of our need for a Savior.

So, here I am, beneath my tree, remembering the carols sung less than an hour ago, of a baby in a manger. And angels bringing news of peace on earth. And wise men who recognize the Hope of the world.

Will you kneel before Him?

Will I?

Sally

Luke 2:1-20

Book Review: Bethlehem Road

Beth

Bethlehem Road is a journey through the book of Ruth and looks at the cultural nuances disrupted when a Moabite joins lives with an Israelite.

Michael Whitworth is a preacher and also the author of The Epic of God and The Derision of Heaven. He regularly blogs at Start2Finish.

The book promises to comfort others who have walked the road of suffering and to strengthen faith in the providence of God. While that was a tall order, it fulfilled the task by showing how God’s hand worked with the initiative of His people to bring events around for their good and His glory.

An interesting theory was raised in the idea that Ruth parallels the Proverbs 31 woman. I find that thought exciting, because I can relate to Ruth more than the other gal. But, if written about David’s great grandmother, then the book of Ruth would be a likely target for the woman exalted in Solomon’s annuls.

Although most people don’t pick up a commentary for their reading pleasure, Bethlehem Road reads more like a conversation and shows the relevancy to current events. It brings hope to a world in bleak circumstances.

One of the things that gave me pause was the assertion that Ruth’s actions were more memorable than Abraham’s leap of faith, because she didn’t receive a call from God like Abraham did. Abraham followed God because of his relationship with God. Ruth followed God because of her relationship with Naomi, and that is a beautiful reminder of the responsibility we all have to lead others to the Lord, as we are in relationship with them.

I also appreciated the affirmation that we all need someone who will be faithful to us when we go through the storms of life. The explanation of the word hesed, or God’s blessing, is one of loyalty and faithfulness, and especially in reference to caring for one who is unable to do so on their own. It is an act of imitation, in the highest form, as one imitates the kindnesses of God.

This book is an interesting read; it draws the reader into the story of a woman who took a chance in the middle of her own heartache, and found a greater blessing through serving others.

The author compares the loss of his own father to the loss Naomi, Orpah and Ruth suffered. Indeed, “death comes knocking, leaving behind in its awful wake three graves and three widows unable to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives because some of the pieces are now missing.” (p. 26) But, the author also concludes that God comes alongside us when we suffer. God uses others to comfort us when we face shattered dreams, and His silence does not equate to His absence.

The author makes use of a vast Bibliography to substantiate his views, and the result is a well-rounded research into the hidden work of God in the daily events of our lives.

I especially appreciate the reminder that God can and will use us in the mundane as well as the spectacular. Our calling is to obey and, in the natural course of living, to act with integrity.

Every once in a while, there comes along a book that is a pleasure to recommend, and this is one of those books. It provides detail with heart, and draws the reader to understand that

Sally

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 


Welcome to my New Site!

Hi! Welcome to my workroom! Here, you’ll find out what I’ve been up to and what’s coming next.

I began writing in high school. I became editor for our youth group’s newspaper and found out I loved connecting with people through words. I wrote features about our activities as well as made assignments to my peers for their input. Who knew it would lead to something more?

I began submitting articles in 1996, when Nathanael was 5 and Anna was 2. My hubby is a pastor and we chose for me to stay-at-home while the kids were growing up. Now, both kids are in their twenties and I am caring for my father. The writing is an outlet that enables me to be available to my family.

So, what brings you here? Are you looking for speaker tips?  Are you a writer? Possibly you’re looking for encouragement on a rough day? Maybe you’re a mom looking for resources for your family?

Isn’t it awesome that we can bridge the miles through the click of a keyboard? I will be posting twice a week, and transferring files over from my previous blog, http://sallyswords.braveblog.com. I’m looking forward to a format that is more readily available to connect with readers. Thank you for joining me on the adventure!

Sally Ferguson

Retreat Solutions for Planners

My ebook is now available for Kindle! Click to check out How to Plan a Women’s Retreat!