Friday, July 21, 2017

Surviving Guilt

Surviving Guilt

By Barbara M. Britton

I had heard about survivor’s guilt. Veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have discussed the guilt of being unscathed while their fellow soldiers died. Even on one of my favorite TV shows, Blue Bloods, the main character Danny Reagan has talked about his guilt coming home from war when his friends didn’t. I have never been to war. I’ve never fought a battle against a flesh and blood enemy, but I have battled the scary “C” word—Cancer. Where is the guilt in surviving cancer? It’s there when people you love succumb to this invasive illness.
Some of my favorite verses in Scripture are Philippians 4:6-7.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I took Paul’s advice and prayed often during my cancer surgeries and treatments. I truly felt stronger and at peace from all the prayers being said for me. And I am thankful that I am still enjoying life a year and a half after completing my surgeries and radiation treatment for breast cancer.

But I never thought I would feel guilty about surviving cancer until my sister-in-law lost her battle with ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed after I finished my radiation therapy and she died as I neared a year of life lived cancer free. We were almost the same age, so why wasn’t she healed? She was a strong Christian, so why did God take her home and leave me here? I struggled with these feelings and wondered if others thought about them too.

I remember being in a Bible study with a woman who had lost her son due to a car accident. She told us, “I never questioned God.” Wow! Not even once? She trusted God. The all-knowing, all-powerful, loving Creator. God doesn’t make mistakes. I believed all these things about God and now I had a chance to live them. Instead of questioning God, I told Him how I felt about my sister-in-law’s passing. I wasn’t questioning His awesomeness, but I was being honest about my pain.  I prayed, “Lord, I don’t understand, but I trust you.”

Instead of being angry about my sister-in-law’s passing, I lifted my family members up in prayer and helped them deal with their emotions as best I could. And instead of feeling guilty, I’m learning to be thankful for the time God has given me post-cancer.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1, we are told, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven:” Yes, even a time to be born and a time to die. We don’t have the time sheet. God is the keeper of this mystery. It is up to us to make the most of our lives and tell the people in our lives that we love them—every day. We also need to tell people about Jesus. Wouldn’t it be great if we started a revival in this land?

We serve a loving, powerful God. He wants what is best for us. Sometimes we won’t understand His actions. In those times, we need to share our feelings with God and those around us, but we don’t ever want to question God’s essence. Lingering questions will be answered in Glory.

So, today,

  • Thank God your eyes opened and your feet hit the bedroom floor
  • Pray for someone who is hurting
  • Tell your friends and family that you love them
  • Praise the Lord! In every situation
  • Praise Him for eternal life--cancer can’t take that away  
  • And for you ladies, don’t forget to schedule a yearly 3D mammogram. God gives us good medical detection too.
  • May the Lord bless you and keep you.

About Barb:
Barbara M. Britton lives in Wisconsin and writes Christian Fiction for teens and adults. She has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. 

Barb brings little known Bible characters to light in her Tribes of Israel series. You can find out about Barb’s books on her website, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

A Bit About Barb's Latest Book: “Building Benjamin.”

Love Grows Where God Grafts the Tender Shoot.
Naomi desires to dance well enough to catch the eye of a wealthy landowner. Her father needs a substantial bride price due to the deaths of her brothers at the hands of the tribe of Benjamin. But when Benjamites raid the Ephraimite feast and capture young girls, Naomi is bound and carried from her home by Eliab, a troubled shepherd who needs a wife.

As Naomi awaits rescue, she finds Eliab has a strong faith in God and a just reason for abducting her. A reason that affects all the tribes of Israel. The future of the tribe of Benjamin hangs in the balance, but if Naomi follows her heart and stays with Eliab to rebuild his lineage, she must forfeit her family and become a traitor to her tribe.

You can purchase “Building Benjamin” on Amazon or B&N

Friday, July 14, 2017

Being Light to the World

How to Be the Light in a World of Darkness

a devotion from Sarah Ruut

“You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” 1 Thessalonians 5:5, NIV

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16, NIV

The rain came down in sheets, and thunder rumbled loudly overhead. The lightning lit the water for brief glimpses, but not enough for the ship’s captain to make out the shore. Yet he knew they were getting close.
There, blinking in the distance through the storm, was a light. Unlike the lightning, this light was consistent and comforting. It was the lighthouse on the shore.

Just as the lighthouse brings comfort to sailors, guiding them safely away from the rocks that will destroy their ships, we are called to be the light to the world around us.

This life we live is fraught with danger. Our culture contains so many pitfalls and stumbling blocks. We are to be the light, to help others see the dangers they’re walking into. Hopefully, we can spare them the pain and difficulty of a crash.

But what does it actually look like to be the light?

When a loved one is choosing to walk in sin, do we sit quietly and pray for them? Praying for them is good, no doubt. But we need to be the light. We need to speak the truth in love to warn them of the dangers they are headed toward.

When friends invite us to join them in watching a movie that is dishonoring to the Lord, do we join in without a word because we want to build the relationship? Or do we gently point out the objectionable content (rocks on the shore) that we would prefer not to watch (run into)?

What about a worldview that is inconsistent with what the Bible teaches? Perhaps the idea of, “You do what’s good for you, and I’ll do what’s good for me.” Do we hold our tongues, or do we speak the truth in love?

What if speaking up and being a light costs us the relationship?

The Bible does say that, as much as it is up to us, we are to live at peace with those around us. We shouldn’t go around stirring up trouble. But that doesn’t negate the call to be a light.

Ultimately it comes down to presentation. Being a light doesn’t involve arguing to make a point. Just as a light simply is, we can stand with the truth, as an example, in love, without creating conflict. That doesn’t guarantee there won’t be conflict stirred by the other side, but we aren’t responsible for someone else’s behavior.

What if no one is watching?

The lighthouse light never goes out. In fact, the light keeper makes sure of that! In the same way, our light should never go out. Our behavior should be the same whether there are people watching us or not. Because the reality is, we never know when someone may be watching. We should always keep the light lit.

As you go about your day, may I challenge you to be a light? Your community needs you!

Lord, I thank You for the privilege and responsibility you’ve given us to be a light to those around us. I ask You to guide us as we seek to reflect You in our lives and to guide others safely to You.

~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~

About Sarah

Sarah Ruut is an avid reader of Christian fiction when she’s not busy homeschooling her four tweens and teens. She also runs two blogs where she hopes to connect with people right where they are. She loves sharing about books and their authors on her blog, Fiction, Faith, and Fun, where you’ll find reviews of Christian fiction, interviews with amazing authors, giveaways and more! 

She also offers encouragement for this Christian life at Breaking Ordinary

You can connect with Sarah on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Paradox of Suffering

The Paradox of Suffering

by Richard Spillman

In Romans 5:3 there is a statement that, to be honest, is difficult to handle. Paul says “we rejoice in our sufferings,” with the clear implication that we should all find joy in our pain. This might be easy to say before any suffering begins. It might be easy to understand once the suffering is over. But joy in the midst of suffering? I just don’t know. Perhaps it depends on the level of suffering?  Maybe there is a way to dull the pain so joy can emerge? What does God want from us when the pain runs so deep we can hardly breath?

These are questions that can’t be answered until you are actually overwhelmed with suffering. Only then can you begin to search for some spark of joy. Anyway that was how I came to find purpose in my suffering.

My mother trafficked me through most of my childhood. I was repeatedly raped as a child, exposed to things no child should see, had any sense of trust of anything or anybody shredded. It’s a pain I still carry with me after all these years. The fact that I survived, I'm told by my therapists, is a miracle. I should have ended up on drugs (never even tempted) or ended my life (sad to say tempted). I didn't because God protected me. You see He had a plan. I did pay a price - most of my childhood locked away in forgotten memories that will stay there (I hope and pray they stay locked away. My greatest fear is that I will remember), years of therapy, struggles at the brink of death. But all the while, God was there.

Now here is the most important part … and he has redeemed the experience. Giving me the grace to survive and have a relatively successful life might be enough but He had even grander plans. Today, I often can tell when someone has been sexually abused as a child. In those instances, and there have been many of them, when a door opens for me to share my story one-on-one with a victim the most frequent response I get is tears and a "I've never told anyone this but ..." Much to my continuing surprise, God somehow uses me to unblock lives that have struggled under the weight of an often unspoken horror. Those are the times I glimpse a purpose in suffering. Those are the times I find redemption for pain.

Given the chance to do it all over again would I choose this path? No. Do I thank God for the experience when He uses me to help others? Yes. Therein lies the paradox of suffering. One that I can't unravel but one that I have found peace living with. 

For me, the answer always lay in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." To become an instrument of God’s mercy and compassion – that is the key to joy in my own suffering.

God comforted me and continues to do so and my joy comes from the gift to comfort others who at one time lived in the depraved, distorted world of my youth.

So this is my prayer: Lord, mold me into an instrument of your mercy. Let me minister to the broken hearted. Let my pain melt into a river of compassion.

Richard Spillman is a retired Computer Scientist who typically writes Christian non-fiction (The Passion of Job and Do What Jesus Did both available on Amazon) as well as a Christian blog ( His latest passion, however, is Christian fiction. His first novel, Awakened, is waiting for a publisher to pick it up. He is represented by Jim Hart of Hartline Literary Agency. The story asks the question: “What if Lazarus didn’t die a second time?” He was led to write it after avoiding being kidnapped by ISIS in the Philippines, and then receiving death threats (to behead him in standard ISIS fashion) during the rest of his missionary service there. Besides the blog he is active on Twitter ( and Instagram ( where you can see pictures from his missionary travels around the world.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Protect and Ensure Your Legacy ♦ Paula Mowrey

Photo by Peggy Blann Phifer

Protect and Ensure Your Legacy

 by Paula Mowrey

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

Most Christians have studied this verse through a Sunday school class or through a sermon. Some even have that last line as plaques in their homes. Joshua makes it clear to the nation that he and his household will serve God. He places before the people a choice to follow in his footsteps or stray back to some of their ancestors’ old ways.

Now on this day it is recorded that the people agreed with Joshua wholeheartedly to follow God alone. I’m sure they had good intentions. But just two page turns in my Bible are some of the saddest words I’ve read.

“Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals.” Judges 2:8-11

What? What happened to their promise? I understand some would argue that this was the next generation. But why didn’t they train up their children the way they had been instructed to?

God gave strict and explicit instructions on how parents were to pass on this Godly legacy. They were to always have God and His commands before them, talking about them when they ate or when they were walking along.

That generation failed to pass along their rich legacy. Honestly, the thought makes me shiver. Doesn’t this prove that we are only one generation away from not knowing God or following His ways?

The responsibility rests on those of us who know God and His commands to pass this along to our children and those we have influence over. This has to be pointed and intentional. We can’t just be flippant, thinking they’ll catch on. This transmission is much too important for that.

Prayer: Lord, I choose, as Joshua on that day, to serve You, the one true God. I choose to follow Your commands as outlined in Your Word. And I will make every effort to ensure that those around me know about this spiritual heritage, so no one might say that a generation arose who didn’t know You. Amen.

Currently, I am doing a study of Godly legacy and how I might pass it on my blog. Please join me in this important topic.

Paula Mowrey
Paula is a pastor’s wife, mom to a college student, author, acquiring editor, and speaker. No matter the hat she wears, she strives to honor God’s plan even if it means going out on a limb and leaving comfort zones. Reviewers have characterized her writing as “thundering with emotion.” Her book, Be The Blessing, won the 2014 Selah Award in the novella category. Paula enjoys reading and reviewing Christian fiction, writing Christian romance and devotionals, and helping other authors realize their dream of publication.  

Learn more about Paula and find other places to link with her on her blog at

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Are Your Modifiers Dangling?

Dangling Modifiers and Other Writing Faux Pas

by Peggy Blann Phifer

Image from Pixabay

They jump right out at you. We've all seen them, laughed at them, and wondered how they got past the editor. I'm talking about "dangling modifiers."

Let's look at a few:

"Changing the oil every 3,000 miles, the car seemed to run better."

"Quickly summoning an ambulance, the corpse was carried to the mortuary."

"Walking through the park, the coins fell through a hole in his pocket."

"Turning the corner, a handsome building appeared."

"Flying low, a herd of cattle could be seen."

"Watching from the ground, the birds flew higher until they disappeared."

All the words in front of the comma are 'dangling modifiers.' They just sit there--dangling--modifying nothing. They have no subject. We have a car changing its own oil. Coins walking in the park. A corpse calling the ambulance. A building turning the corner. Cattle flying low. And birds watching themselves fly.


When we begin a sentence with a modifying word, phrase, or clause, we have to make sure the next thing that comes along can, in fact, be modified by that modifier. When a modifier   improperly modifies something, it is called a 'dangling modifier.' This often happens with beginning participial phrases, making 'dangling participles' all too common.

So, we need to change these sentences, somehow, so they make sense:

"Changing the oil every 3,000 miles, Jack found that he got much better mileage."

"Quickly summoning an ambulance, witnesses watched as the corpse was carried to the mortuary." (I'm sure you can do better with this one! Give it a try.)

"Walking through the park, Bob never noticed the coins falling through a hole in his pocket."

I'll let you work on the other sentences while I go on to another common writing error. These are a bit more subtle, yet glaringly obvious to the writer's eye.

"Ramona prays fervently for her Grandmother's recovery at St. Matthews Church." (Her grandmother lives at the church?)

"He found the golf clubs that his father had used to win the U.S. Open in the car trunk." (Huh?)

"They reported that Giuseppe Bella, the European rock star, had died on the 6 o'clock news." (Hmm, bet THAT was exciting!)

Or how about these headlines…

"Stolen art found by tree in park!" (I can see it now: Oak Tree Opens Private Detective Agency.)

"Car crashes into store window going 60 miles per hour!" (I can see it now…speeding window collides with car.)

As you can see, writers must be careful in sentence construction. Most editors will catch them. But, apparently, from the examples above, not always. 

One last look at what I mean:

From the Wall Street Journal--"Once thought plentiful, the U.S. is now facing a shortage of natural gas that could last for years." Uh, the U.S. isn't as plentiful as we thought?

This was a dispatch from Miami Beach a number of years ago--

"The palazzo was the stately retreat of fashion designer Gianni Versace. Gunned down on the steps of his mansion, tourists come like pilgrims to a shrine in this playground of glamour." Gunned down tourists? Oh, my.

Hope this has been some fun for you. These examples are just a handful of those that appear all the time in newspapers, and, unfortunately, even books. Be sure what you write makes sense! Check what you write carefully. Don't leave it to editors to catch your errors--sometimes they won't.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

New Series ♦ Behind the Scenes ♦ Author Lee Carver Giveaway

Behind the Scenes of a New Series, from author Lee Carver 

Sunset on the Amazon River, from Pixabay

“Call to the Jungle”

Three years ago, a well-known publisher asked me to write short romance novels concerning missionaries in a foreign setting. Two weeks after my agent turned them in, the publisher was sold and that novel line was discontinued. Most publishers don’t want to invest in novels with a foreign setting. And missionary romances? Not a genre they’d bet on. So I’ve made the novels longer and more complex, and I’m self-publishing them. The first, Katie’s Quest, was released on June 1st, and others follow at three month intervals.

My husband and I were volunteer missionaries in the Brazilian Amazon following his early retirement from Citibank’s international branch. He refreshed his Navy flight training to be a pilot for the Lord’s work instead of chasing Russian submarines. We lived in Brazil twelve years, though half of that was in South America’s banking capital, São Paulo. All that language training, Brazilian permanent visas, technicolor driver’s licenses, and cultural adaptation came to fruition on the mission field. It’s more than a setting for my novels; it’s the best part of our lives.

When we returned from Brazil to care for my husband’s parents at the ends of their lives, so much bubbled in my brain to be shared. Things like what the Amazon is really like—in contrast to Tarzan movies—and the in-depth look at missionaries.

Part of the message in my novels is the life of sacrifice, the acceptance of hardship, and the dedication of missionaries—real, imperfect people—who serve today. We knew them as married couples at times struggling with their relationship, as parents searching for the best ways to educate their children in both languages and cultures, and hard-working, sweaty people who gave themselves in full commitment to God’s work in hard-to-reach areas of the jungle. Like the missionaries in my “Call to the Jungle” series, they broke the bounds of stereotypes, especially those of American movies. They were and are very real people. Missionaries put on the line every day all that they have and are.

In Book 2, Piper’s Purpose, you’ll meet Piper Jordan, an American reared in Brazil, who had her pilot’s license before she could drive and her aviation maintenance certificate before her business degree. Pulled between two countries, two career paths, and separated parents, she strives to determine what is important and what to do with her life. She could settle into her father’s choice, working with him and her brother in a private aviation company in Rio de Janeiro, or blaze her own way.

In Book 3, Rebecca’s Redemption, Rebecca is a nurse seeking redemption for past sins who joins a doctor contending against the jungle. Both healers need healing.

As for our own testimony, whatever God may call you to do, do it. Go there. Or serve at home. Otherwise, you’ll miss the greatest adventure and fulfillment possible. Your call may not be to the Amazon, but every believer is called by God. Listen carefully. The call is there. 

About the book: Katie Dennis committed to serve as a nurse in the Amazon even after her fiancé died on a training flight. She wouldn’t have lasted through the first mission trip if not for Matt, a pilot born and reared in the jungle. But she’d never fall for a pilot again.

Matt Gibbs, missionary pilot, finally settled on a good choice for a wife, someone known to his family all their lives. Why, then, did the new blonde nurse make him feel like doing barrel rolls in the Amazon sky?

Romance and unforeseen danger flow in the Brazilian Amazon as Katie searches for a fulfilling and meaningful life—one that quickly becomes more exciting than her wildest imagination!

Buy the Book:

 About the author:
Lee Carver is once again failing at retirement, a hybrid author in every sense: fiction and nonfiction, traditionally and independently published. She also does freelance editing, formatting, and print book and e-book uploads as well as being a Stephen Minister, singing alto in the choir, crocheting with Prayer Shawl Ministry, and playing piano, among other activities. Married forty-nine years to a very supportive man, they have two adult children and five grandchildren.

 About the Giveaway:
Lee is offering a free Kindle copy of Katie's Quest to one of my readers. To enter, just leave a comment below and include your contact information so we can notify you should you be the winner. Giveaway ends next Tuesday ... no, make that next Wednesday, July 5, at Midnight, Central time. 
AND ... just for fun, in your comment, tell us what your first thoughts are at the mention of 'jungle' ... let's get a conversation going here!

Don't forget to use the share media options below, as well. Thanks!

Friday, June 23, 2017

HOPE: A Devotional by author Gail Kittleson


by Gail Kittleson

Hope - from Pixabay

            “You alone are my hope...” Jeremiah uses the Hebrew word qawa, similar to the word for trust. (Jeremiah 17:17 NLT)

            Hope means to trust in, wait for, look for, or desire something or someone; or to expect something beneficial in the future.

In Spanish, the verb esparar means both to hope and to wait. We wait for spring because we trust that winter will fade. Warmer winds will blow, as they do every year. We count on it.

Male Northern Cardinal - Pixabay
We also await answers to our prayers for wholeness and increased faith. If we see God as faithful, caring, and powerful, hope comes a lot easier. On the other hand, our woundedness can hinder trust.

My World War II characters experience this truth. Sometimes it’s difficult for Addie to believe things will ever change in her marriage. In the sequel, the merciless Waffen SS atrocities in Southern France overwhelm Addie’s best friend Kate.

But for these heroines, hope shines in the midst of struggle. They both must wait to see the end for which they long. Thus, there’s plenty of room for hope to affect their attitudes and individual growth.

Twenty-seven times, the Greek Old Testament translates qawa as hupomeno, "to wait, to be patient, to endure.” In the presence of suffering, this term implies patience in bearing affliction while hopefully awaiting deliverance. If I tried for hours, I couldn’t better express the attitude my characters exhibit in their struggles.

I hope readers find encouragement for their own difficulties through embracing Addie and Kate’s stories. This is what happens with us as we follow Biblical characters facing hard times.

For all of us, things look bleak at times—that’s when hope flutters in and encourages us.            

Hummingbird from Pixabay

       Emily Dickinson obviously knew hope intimately:

      “Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.