Category Archives: inspiration

The New Year–what will it be?

2017 is gone. So many of my friends were happy to see it go. Some celebrated that it was a banner year for them. Where are you on that spectrum? I’m more in the middle. There were some amazing things that happened this past year, but also there were some hard things that I had to walk through. It’s life. Right?

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What will 2018 bring? Honestly, I don’t know. But God does. He sees all that has happened, all that is happening, and all that will happen. He is beyond time. He is preparing you and me right now for what will happen next week, month, and throughout the year. My hope is not in the year but in the Lord. Of course, I am hoping for certain things to happen. Good things. Who doesn’t? But my faith and hope does not hinge on whether those things happen or not. I love the verse from Daniel, where his friends are asked to bow to an idol. They refuse. They tell Nebuchadnezzar, “we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18) Oh, how powerful is that! “But even if He does not…!”

Many times last year, that was my mantra. Over and over, I clung to God and said those words…”But even if You do not, I’m still going to serve only You. I’m going to worship only You.” It’s a choice. Let’s make that choice today. No matter what happens this year, we’re going to cling to the Lord.

Let’s say, “Yes, Lord!” on the good days and even on the hard days. Then no matter what happens in 2018, it will be a great year.

Forgiven

Blown away!

Some new reviews have been coming in and have blown my socks off. Thankfully, it’s summer! Here’s one of the latest reviews of Plain Fear: Forgiven.

Inspirational fiction author Leanna Ellis was thinking a long way out of the box when she created the Plain Fear series. A paranormal series based on the simplistic lifestyle of the Amish, combined with the haunting elegance of vampires. Her vision resounded with both paranormal romance and inspirational readers with this ultimate tale of good vs. evil. The final book in the series, Plain Fear: Forgiven concludes this ground breaking series and blends the two genres so masterfully that it is hard to tell which one the book actually fits into. An amazing finale to a very charismatic and suspenseful series!

Leanna Ellis has long been a favorite of mine in the inspirational fiction genre. Being a fan of paranormal writing as well, I was extremely excited to see where Ellis would take this Amish/Vampire romance. I was certainly not disappointed. Plain Fear is a series that redefines what readers might consider inspirational. Even though some of the characters are “undead” these books still have the same underlying issues that any inspirational novel might have: good vs. evil, faith vs. unbelief, love vs. hate and even redemption vs. eternal loss. Ellis has done something many readers may not have thought possible. She has used characters and ideas that many in the inspirational community would consider taboo, to show the power of love and of God. Well done!

Plain Fear: Forgiven is the final book in the Plain Fear series. It wraps up the complete circle of the series, going from being utterly forsaken to being forgiven. Readers will be on the edge of their seats as they watch the hero, Samuel struggle against the dark side of his nature, which would lead him down the same path his brother Jacob succumbed to. But they will also see his determination to live up to the tenets of his faith. This book not only has the elements of good and evil but it is also filled with suspense and romance, giving the reader a very complex story that will stick with them for a long time.

Ellis’ portrayal of the Amish is done with a deft hand. She does not make the simple lifestyle of the Amish people into something evil by adding the vampire element. She still shows these people as people of faith and understanding. Who often stand in the gap between the materialistic world and the a world of simple pleasures and meaning that has fallen by the wayside. She shows the faith and love of this remarkable group of people with grace, while showing the dark, seductive side of life through the eyes of her vampire characters. The stark contrast is amazing to see brought out in the pages of this book and the others in the series.

I can honestly say that after reading this series I have reflected more about my own life and faith. Samuel shows that even those who believe they are on a righteous path have to make tough decisions and must live with the consequences of each decision they make. Even though this series may not be in the inspirational market, I think it holds true value in that arena as well as the paranormal market. If you haven’t read this series… What are you waiting for?

I’m giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag! That’s the highest praise I can give…

Deb’s Bookbag

Five Lessons from the Olympics

The Olympics are over. Even though not having the Olympics on what seemed like 24/7 frees up much of my time, I still miss it. One of my favorite commercials during the Olympics was seeing the wannabe swimmer, who watched a race on her iPad and then wrote the time her hero achieved on a write-on board. Here are the five ways the Olympics help me.

1. Inspiration spurs us to make goals. Goal setting is important and watching these athletes is like watching goals in action. Sometimes those goals are not met, and yet sometimes more is achieved than anyone thought possible. But watching these athletes reach for their goals, reassessing and readjusting those goals, is a great lesson for all of us. For me, it is truly inspiring to see an athlete standing on the podium, receiving a gold medal, and becoming teary eyed during the Star Spangled Banner. My goals may not be their goals, but learning from these amazing individuals can push me to be better than I ever thought I could be.

2. Even though I’m fairly sure I’ll never be an Olympic athlete, watching the Olympics can push me to workout just a little harder, push through those times when I’d rather get off the treadmill or forget about lifting weights or turn back for home sooner than I should. These athletes amaze me. They push through tough times, heartache, depression, and difficulties. They fall off an apparatus, dust themselves off, and get back up. Sometimes I’m too ready to give up. Watching these amazing athletes pushes me forward when I’m ready to give up.

3. The Olympics remind me that ordinary people can reach the extraordinary. And it can be amazing.

4. Behind all those amazing moments seen on television when it all comes together for an athlete are hours upon hours of preparation, hard work, and dedication. They didn’t decide that week to be an Olympic athlete. They made the commitment to their goal years and years before that moment. They dedicated thousands of hours of work to their goal. They sacrificed many things. It takes commitment, dedication, and sacrifices to achieve so much.

5. Setting measurable goals help us reach for the seemingly impossible and make them possible. Start small and build. Once you reach a small, measurable goal, then make the next step. One at a time. Goals build upon each other.

Going for the Gold…or just Going?

Taking my last breath, I kicked the water as hard as I could, and I stretched my arm for the wall. When I touch the tiled pool and sputtered to the surface, I realized I hadn’t won the race. A race against my grandfather. But in my mind, when I was just about seven years old, it had been against Mark Spitz. Then a few years later, I stood poised on the edge of the wooden beam, my balance steady as I made my dismount and landed, feet firm, on the mat. Surely, it was a routine worthy of a 10, just like Nadia’s. But only (again) in my mind.

Have you ever challenged an Olympic champion? I hope I’m not the only one with a crazy imagination. So maybe I wasn’t Olympic material. When I participated in sports, in my mind’s eye I was competing against the very best, striving for my very best. That’s what the Olympics is about: going for the gold. But it’s also so much more than that.

Mark Spitz. Nadia Comaneci. Scott Hamilton. Michael Phelps. Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Mary Lou Retton. All of these very gifted and yet different athletes from separate Olympic games were champions, and they inspired me to be my best in whatever sport or activity I attempted. Sometimes I hit the mark, sometimes I missed it by a mile. But the point isn’t always achieving; the point is reaching farther than you ever dared dream possible.

This weekend marks the beginning of the 2012 Olympics in London. I cannot wait! I love the Olympics. I love the ‘up close and personal’ stories of people going for their dreams against all odds. And so many of the athletes we’ve cheered for over the years have faced disappointments and difficulties along the way.

Do you remember Olympic speed skater, Dan Jansen, who lost a sister? He kept trying, kept reaching for that dream. What about Olympians who suffered injuries? Or lost coaches? Or worked two jobs to pay for their training? So many stories. So many triumphs. I can’t remember all of their names, not all won the gold or even a bronze medal. For me, the Olympics aren’t just about who gets a medal placed around their neck. But it’s the triumph over tragedy. It’s the dusting off disappointments and trying again. It’s the buoyant human spirit.

This is a picture of my son fencing at USFA’s National Fencing Tournament in Reno, NV last year. He inspires me, because he never gives less than 110%.

So are you an Olympics watcher? What’s your favorite sport to watch? What athlete has inspired you?