Thursday, August 29, 2013

CONGRATS! - Guest Post by New Author Natalie Replogle!!

Today I am hosting a stop on the blog tour for author, Natalie Replogle. As friends and going to the same High School as Natalie, I'm so excited that her book, A Rescued Heart has now been released! In today's blog, she will be answering a few questions about her book.

Your personal faith is very important to you.  How does this show up in your writing and/or characters?
A lot of Christian books I’ve read have one of the main characters that doesn’t know or want God and learns along the way who God is and begins a relationship with Him. I wanted to do things a little different. I wanted both main characters to share the faith and by doing this show the ups and downs of living a life as a follower of Christ. We are all sinners saved by Grace, no one is perfect, but we do serve a perfect God. I wanted people to see that even believers struggle along the way, make poor choices and don’t trust God the way we should. My prayer is that someone reading my book will identify with one of the characters and see changes they can make in their own life.

How long did it take to write the book?
The first draft took me a little over a year, but it took much longer until I was done with the final draft. From the day I started writing until I had the final draft took about three years. I had already sent out my manuscript to a few agents when I started working on the outline of the second book. I did a few chapters and sent them off to my editor but got a reply that what I had wasn’t going to work. We spoke on the phone and talked about some options and then came to the decision that I had to go back and change a portion of first book to make the second book flow better.  I love the new changes and what it added to the storyline. I think it brought improved suspense and added more depth to the characters. 

Do you have book #2 already written?
I am halfway done! With our busy summer, I took a break on writing to focus on my family and give my mind a little rest. Now that school has started my free time has increased and I’m looking forward to getting back to my characters!

Did you use the Author’s Learning Center to help you with your writing?
No, I did not.  I just did a lot of research on how to write a fiction book.  I had an amazing editor offer to help me on my grammar and she was also such a great encourager and person to bounce ideas around with….and someone that spoke honestly with me when she thought things needed to change or didn’t work. I also read and reread all of my favorite author’s books and took notes on how they wrote, explained scenes, dialogue, introductions, etc. I did a few writing contests in hopes to get feedback. I did a Genesis contest through ACFW that was for unpublished authors. It was the first five pages and I had a published author (Lynette Eason), an agent and a publisher critique it. I also got connected (through a mutual friend) with fiction author Sharlene MacLaren who critiqued my first chapter and gave me great advice and so kindly answered a few of my questions.

Head over to Amazon where you can read a short preview from the book and you can either buy the paper or e-book version of A Rescued Heart.  
Here's the link:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

#258 - FOUR Ways to be a Super Woman!

Proverbs 31:15-16a - She rises while it is yet night and gets [spiritual] food for her household and assigns her maids their tasks. She considers a [new] field before she buys or accepts it [expanding prudently and not courting neglect of her present duties by assuming other duties]...
As we read about the Proverbs 31 woman, I'm sure you've thought it too... she is Super Woman! When we read about all her attributes and accomplishments, it can be extremely intimidating in comparison to where we may currently be in life. I assure you, I am NO different! I often stand in awe of this amazing woman.

Let's look at just a few things from the verses above and see how we may be able to apply these Super Woman qualities!
(1) Benefits to "rising while it is yet night" - The house is quiet. For maybe the only time in the next 24 hours will you be able to think without hearing, "Mommmmy! Mommmmy!" Or without wiping a mouth, washing fingers, cleaning up spilled milk, picking up toys before your spouse walks in the door. I read this morning the quality of "THINK TIME."
    • "Resolve now to set aside some time each day (at least thirty minutes) to be completely by yourself.... Select a time when your mind is fresh and when you can be free from distractions.... Spend some time in managed solitude every day and think yourself to success." - David J. Schwartz
(2) Getting YOUR Spiritual Food or Direction - As a woman, mom, business owner, employee, wife, friend, sister, daughter, we have responsibilities that involve the well-being and growth of others. As a mom, it's mine (and your) responsibility to grow our children up in the Lord. HOW are we doing that on a daily basis? Is it a planned event? Are we daily imparting the Word of God into our children, teaching them Biblical lessons or how to act as a child of God? With grown kids... are we encouraging them in their walk with the Lord? Cheering them on to seek the Lord even in the little things? Being an iron-sharpener versus a constant bearer of gossip? Being spiritually fed every morning put US in the right mentality to be able to LEAD our children & ourselves! Being spiritually fed and taking that morning time to THINK and PRAY, allows us to be SPIRITUALLY DIRECTED for our day, so those things we do are not done in vain! 
(3) Assign maids their tasks! - I don't know about you, but I have yet to hire a maid, though I look forward to the day I will be able too!! Until then, how are we doing in assigning those MAID TASKS? Planning when things are going to get done?
    • Meal Preparation - healthy & on time for the family 
    • Cleaning - baseboards, toilets, mopping, dusting, vacuuming... all the fun stuff!
    • Laundry - washing, folding AND putting away. 
    • Organizing - how does that tupperware cabinet look? the garage? the pantry? your closet? 
This time of planning of when you are going to get to some of these things. To be honest, I need to work on every one of these areas! But, if we never take the time to assign these tasks to OURSELVES (until we can afford a maid), they may go undone, or a point of stress because we always feel behind. IF ONLY we PLANNED out these items, we may be surprised at the amount of time we actually have AFTER they are completed, not to mention how good we feel about ourselves. (i.e. not carrying that guilt around, and nervous if our husbands are going to ask us for clean underwear again - they are still in the laundry basket!) UNTIL "we" have a maid, our job is to PLAN, PLAN, PLAN - ASSIGN THE TASK. Pull out the calendar, and FIND a TIME to ASSIGN THAT TASK!!! Maybe it's one day a month where we prepare meals in advance to freeze? Just PLAN it!
(4) CONSIDER & Expand PRUDENTLY - I KNOW God has called me to do great things with my life, to accomplish things that will change people's lives for the better. I also know that He has called YOU to great things too! He has a purpose and plan, and it is OUR JOB to accomplish HIS purpose for our life. That will take carefully considering everything that goes onto our calendar. If we are going to add something to the calendar, expanding prudently after time as put prayerfully considering that activity. IS it something that you and I are suppose to do, or will it be just one more thing to keep us "busy?" (B.U.S.Y. - Being Under Satan's Yoke) - Make sure that "BUSY" isn't keeping you from accomplishing God's BEST for your life! Sometimes the most POWERFUL and SPIRITUAL word can be "NO"!  Consider, maybe you are suppose to say NO to that committee so you can actually work towards the assignment GOD has for you to do! 
Be blessed! Maybe take ONE thing in the above thoughts that you can work on this week. We CAN BE SUPER WOMEN! It may just take a little THINKING and PLANNING! :)

    Monday, August 26, 2013

    How to GROW Belief?

    Matthew 17:20-21 (NKJ) - So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
    If you remember in the Bible it talked about each of us given the measure of faith as believers. One believer not given a "greater measure," but each of us has the same amount. Well then, why do some people do significantly more with their life? Why does it appear some people have such greater faith because they accomplish so much more? Well.... let's take a look at that this morning.

    Here in Matthew 17, the disciples have just come to Jesus because they were not able to cast out a demon. They wanted to know why, so Jesus goes about telling them. They had been given "the" measure of faith, so faith should not have been the problem. Jesus proceeds to tell them it is because of their unbelief. When I looked up "unbelief" in the dictionary, it defined it as skepticism, rejection of belief. 

    Where and what is the TIME spent on? Rejecting belief? Dwelling on what is not possible? OR is time spent on building up belief? Building up what IS possible? Unbelief is rejection of belief. Belief was defined as confidence in the truth. A quote I read this morning goes hand in hand with what we are talking about, "It is usually overlooked, it is noteworthy that leaders spend a considerable time alone, with nothing but their own thinking apparatus." 

    To increase belief, we need to increase the time we spend on that topic or area we are looking to grow. At the end of Matthew 17:21, it talks about prayer and fasting. The type of demon that the disciples were trying to cast out only came out through prayer and fasting. Their unbelief was too great, they had not spent enough time increasing their belief. In this instance, Jesus said it could have been done through prayer and fasting. Prayer, often something done alone.... and when one fasts, it is often giving up food to spend more time in prayer or with the Lord alone.

    Leaders spend considerable time alone. 

    It is not a mystery that the greatest leaders, good and bad (Stalin, Hitler, etc - spent jail time and had much alone time to devise their evil schemes) spend a lot of time alone. They are able to plan, increase belief in the plan. Increase belief in their beliefs!

    So.... today.... what area do you want to grow in belief? DWELL on the positive of it. DWELL on why it is possible! DWELL on the how it can be done. Continue to think, dwell, ponder on the positive, on the possibility. GET ALONE to think, to journal, to pray. As you do this, watch your unbelief diminish until all that is left over is the DOING IT!!!! You will have accomplished what at one point seemed like a distant wish or dream! Through spending that time alone growing your belief, you will have accomplished victory!

    Thursday, August 22, 2013

    Seeds of Expectancy!

    1 Cor. 3:7 - So neither he who plants is anything nor he who waters, but (only) God Who makes it grow AND become greater. 
    Maybe the Holy Spirit is trying to get ME to get something, because the theme today is the same. Expectancy! Here were the words I journaled as I was listening this morning...
    Plant seeds of expectation Amy. EXPECT today that I will DO great things!! Smile & EXPECT. At each corner, expect good. LOOK for it! Recognize it!! Make a list if you need too. 
    Planting seeds of expectancy. What a fun way to go through the day! Smiling, looking around at each corner with great anticipation of GOD putting that next great thing or person there. Even looking down to the ground to see a penny or quarter. Making that "mental" or "written out" list of the GOOD things God is doing. Today for example.... it's a BEAUTIFUL day here in South Carolina! For the first in many days it is not raining and is suppose to stay sunny all day! YIPPEE! The perfect day to do something special with my kiddos!

    Smile. Expect. Drive and expect. Walk and expect. Answer the phone and expect. PLANT SEEDS of expectancy. God will make your dreams and goals grow. God will help those seeds not just grow, but become greater! Is it a seed of EXPECTANCY for growth in your business? Expect to meet the next customer today.

    God will not only help the seeds GROW, he will make them become GREATER!

    Keep your list today. Write down everything GREAT and SMALL that God does... from the penny and front row parking place to the huge new customer account or new friend you met. Expect GOD to do what HE can do!

    Tuesday, August 20, 2013


    Psalm 85:8 - I will listen [with expectancy] to what God the Lord will say...
    At times... I'm sure we are all guilty. Guilty of what? Guilty of falling into the trap of the mundane routine, specifically when it comes to our time with God. Hopefully, you have a regular time that you spend each day with God, preferably morning, allowing your day to be fueled with the Word. Thankfully, it is a routine that I have been pretty consistent with, not perfect, but consistent.

    This morning, as I read, I was convicted of how often my time previously was spent without expectancy. My routine of reading and journaling, at times, left out the true fervor of seeking, reading, listening with expectancy to what the Lord was going to tell me or reveal to me.

    So my question to you (and me), do you need to revamp your quiet time? Do you need to make an alteration? An adjustment? In that time when you quiet yourself to just listen, tune in to that still small Voice, do you need to increase your expectancy? An hour or two hours in the Word, pales in comparison from hearing ONE WORD or ONE SENTENCE from the Lord about your exact situation.

    When you get in that place next, I encourage you to listen with expectancy. There are hidden treasures for you, hidden for you, not from you. Listen, really listen. EXPECT that what you are going to hear next from that still small Voice is going to be EXACTLY what you need!

    Monday, August 19, 2013

    Not Missing the Memories Along the Way!

    Ps 80: 3, 7, 19 - Restore us again... Restore us again... Restore us, cause Your face to shine (in pleasure, approval & favor on us)...
    Ps 81:8, 10 - ... if you would listen to Me! (10) I am the Lord your God Who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide & I will fill it. 
    Do you feel like sometimes you are thinking to yourself, "Restore me Lord, Restore me. Restore me." Or, "Just get me to 'that' place. Get me where I want to go. Get me there. Can I please just 'arrive.'"

    Like a crop takes time to grow, so does your harvest. This morning as I journaled, read the Word and listened to the Lord, I felt like He was gently nudging me to remember, "If you will just listen to Me, I will fill your every desire." Similar to what the Psalmists said in Psalm 81, " your mouth wide & I will fill it."

    As I was listening, I got a picture of a woman. She was standing in her kitchen area, holding a cup of warm coffee. As she peered out the window, steam floated off the fragile china-like mug. It was a brisk morning, fall was upon her and her family. She was not where she wanted to be in life, far from where she thought she would be at this point. Though, she smiled nonetheless. For today, she was going to enjoy and drink in every moment of what her day would bring. She was going to enjoy her kids. She was going to revel in the moment of laughter when her child said and did something funny. Today, she was going to enjoy the journey on the way to where she was going.

    Maybe you feel you are in a "Joseph" place in your life. Be it in the pit or prison, maybe just accused of  something you did not do. But as it says in Psalm 81:8,10 - "If you would listen to ME! I am the Lord your God Who brought you up out of the land land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it." 

    During this time, if you and I would listen to the Lord, HE will fill our every desire. Even during this time where we are on the journey to where we want to go, maybe seemingly far from our final "dream" destination, BUT, if we would listen to the Lord, He will even allow this journey-time to be enjoyable. Like the woman I saw, in the midst of the journey, we will be able to not miss the memory moments. We will be able to ENJOY every step of the way.

    And like Joseph, do you know where our journey will end if we choose to listen to the Lord?! It will end up FUL-FILLED! And you will not miss a laugh, the first tooth your child loses, funny dance time, birthday surprises, game night, dinner joy .... buried away forever, in the recesses of your mind will be each memory and moment that you did not miss during this journey. When you reach the ultimate destination of your dream or goal, you will not feel like the journey was in vain because it is filled with precious memories along the way.

    Today, the place where you are at, choose to find the JOY in each of todays moments. Close your eyes,  and take a snapshot of "this" moment, the funny faces of your child. Save the picture in your mind, they will not be young forever.

    Enjoy today, find it's JOY. When you reach your final destination, you will have a photobook of amazing memories!

    Monday, August 12, 2013

    Need an ANSWER?

    Mark 4:20, 22 - And those sown on the good (well-adapted) soil are the ones who hear the Word and receive and accept and welcome it and bear fruit—some thirty times as much as was sown, some sixty times as much, and some [even] a hundred times as much. [Things are hidden temporarily only as a means to revelation.] For there is nothing hidden except to be revealed, nor is anything [temporarily] kept secret except in order that it may be made known.
    Do you have questions? Need answers? The answer you are seeking is not hidden FROM you, it is hidden FOR YOU! The revelation that you desire for your situation is not designed to be kept hidden, it is designed for you to FIND it. God is not One to just dangle something in front of you (in this case, a question) with no means for you to find the answer to it. Answers are there, and you are MEANT to find them. Let's take a look at a few situations in the Bible.

    Noah. Let's look at Noah. In Genesis 6:9, it said that Noah walked in habitual fellowship with God. God had a man that He knew would listen to His instructions, and when the time came, Noah was mandated to build a boat, a big boat. God gave him very specific instructions, a detailed plan with measurements, the type of material, everything Noah needed in order to build this boat to God's specifications. It needed to withstand the weight of ALL the animals that would be on the boat. It needed to withstand the storms and weather. Noah listened, and God answered. God gave Noah a plan.

    Moses. After 40 years of personal exile due to killing a man, Moses was called back to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses was called by God to go before Pharaoh to make the request, as we know, "Let My people go!" It was a request from God Himself. God wanted to Israelites to be set free from captivity. You remember, the 10 plagues... God told Moses exactly what to do in order for the Israelites to be set free. Sure, it took 10 major plagues before Pharaoh would listen, but in the end, the people were set free. Moses listened, and God answered. God gave Moses a plan.

    Solomon. Solomon was directed to build the Lord's house (1 Kings 6). From the cedar to the dimensions, from the inner sanctuary to overlaying the floors with gold; God gave Solomon very specific instructions on how to build the temple and with the exact materials. It was a specific project. Solomon listened, and God answered. God gave Solomon a plan.

    Friend, YOU are no different. Remember the verse that says God is the same yesterday, today & tomorrow. You serve the SAME God that Noah, Moses & Solomon served. Although, YOU and I have something even better! As Christians, when we got saved, the Holy Spirit Himself came to live inside of us.

    Are you feeling like your schedule is crazy? How can you possibly get everything done? YOUR answer is not hidden FROM you, it is hidden FOR YOU! Ask. Seek. Just like God laid out dimensions for the completion of the temple, He will lay out specifically what kind of schedule for your day. Just ask.

    Is it marital? How to keep your laundry caught up? How to grow your business? How to spend more time with your family? How to increase your income. There is no problem that sustained thought (prayer) can't answer!

    So today.... whatever the question or problem.... commit some time to seeking the Lord! Just like Noah, Moses & Solomon, if you listen, you may be very surprised at the depth of detail you get back! It's there for you to find, YOUR answer is not hidden FROM you, it is hidden FOR YOU!


    Sunday, August 11, 2013

    Is it Dark? GOOD IS COMING!

    Jeremiah 1:11-12 -  Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Jeremiah, what do you see? And I said, I see a branch or shoot of an almond tree [the emblem of alertness and activity, blossoming in late winter]. Then said the Lord to me, You have seen well, for I am alert and active, watching over My word to perform it.
    Did you, like me, find it odd that a tree or anything would be blooming in LATE winter? Winter is not the time for things to bloom. When I've read this scripture, I've often thought this, but this morning I actually looked up when an almond tree should bloom and it is NOT in late winter. Almond trees should bloom in early spring, and optimally when there is no chance of a frost.

    What does that mean to you? Do you feel you are in darkness? Does your situation seem bleak right now? Do you feel you are in the wilderness? Friend, let me tell you, wherever you are right now have faith, says that Lord that "I am alert and active, watching over My word to perform it." The LORD, though it may seem like a dark and dreary time for you, it may seem cold, gloomy and dark.... like winter, but have FAITH that the LORD IS ACTIVE in your situation. What's even better, that the LORD can make things BLOOM at the most un-optimal time! You may be in a "winter" right now in life, be it job challenges, financial, health, family, business, stress of busyness.... whatever your "winter" is, HAVE FAITH that even in this time, the LORD IS ACTIVE in the background. Expect good things. Expect that even during this "winter" season, this "dark" time that in the background the Lord is alert, active, and working on your behalf to make things come out in YOUR FAVOR in the long run! That in the MIDDLE of it all, He can make things bloom. He can make flowers even in the winter. 

    EXPECT GOOD. You are a child of the MOST HIGH GOD, choose to believe today in the LIGHT and not in the darkness. Choose to believe that though you may not see it yet, GOOD IS COMING!

    Be blessed!

    Saturday, August 10, 2013

    #257 - How to Fill Up your "JOY TANK"

    Eccl 2:26a - For to the person who pleases Him God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy...
    Prov. 31:18a - She tastes and sees that her gain from work [with and for God] is good...
    Good Morning! :) And technically "WELCOME BACK!" (to both of us!) I'm excited about this next phase of my journey for consistent weekly blog posts, and I'm excited about you stopping back in again on a regular basis. It seems with kids come change, and changes of seasons. I think I may have come to the realization that there is always going to be something "new" to adjust to.... our upcoming "new" will be pre-school, then welcoming a new baby into the family come December. In the meantime, we are just going to ROLL with the calling God has on my life, which is to write. With that said.... let's begin...

    Have you ever found yourself in a rut of a routine that has become mundane and unfulfilling? Maybe you go weeks, months, even years doing the same things, but instead of with a smile on your face while doing these activities, a somber expression is pasted there instead. When at one time you found daily joy in what you were doing, but somewhere along the way, the joy has disappeared.

    In Ecclesiastes 2 verse 26, it talks about pleasing God. I'm sure if we got out a piece of paper and began to brain storm, we could come up with several ways to please God.... obedience, service, love, worship, studying His Word... the list would go on. I believe ONE way that we please God, is to be OBEDIENT to our calling, to be obedient to using the gifts He has given us. Proverbs 31:18 talks about the Proverbs 31 Woman seeing that her work with and for God is good. Her work, what she has done for God (which may include for God's people) is good. Our Proverbs 31 friend even "tastes," she "experiences" that her work has been good. Our Proverbs 31 friend sees that in her work, she has gain and has ADDED VALUE.

    I believe from the moment in our life where we do not feel like we are adding value to others or making a difference in someone's life, we begin to lose some of our joy, some of our edge. Life begins to seem mundane and unfulfilling. When we are just going through the motions, not adding value our "joy levels" go down and down and down, until our "Joy Tank" is empty.

    So... maybe it's time for you?? Maybe it's time for you to sit down and really reflect on your gifts or your calling. If I were a betting person, I would guess that when you are operating in your gift, it brings you joy. Maybe you LOVE to bake. I would guess, when you are baking, whether it be for your husband or a friend, I bet it brings you joy. Maybe for you it's writing? Or helping people put a wardrobe together that is trendy? Maybe it's painting? Working with kids? Doing yard work? What brings you joy?? How can you USE YOUR GIFT to ADD VALUE to others?

    Take out a piece of paper. Brainstorm. How can you USE your gifts today? Tomorrow? This week? How can you use your gifts on a REGULAR BASIS? If you can answer that question for yourself, and APPLY the answer, watch your Joy Tank fill up! Each day, instead of walking in mundane activities, you will see a NEW YOU! You will see a YOU who is fulfilled again, who is finding JOY again, whose daily activities are producing a new excitement for life!

    I would LOVE to hear from you, what is ONE thing you could do to INCREASE YOUR JOY TANK? Is it making cookies for a friend? Singing in your church choir? Let's increase our JOY by walking in the gifts & calling God has given us!

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