Genesis 5020

My Story for His Glory

Growing Part 4 March 29, 2013

Filed under: Jolene's Gensis 5020 — Melissa Finnegan @ 11:51 am
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As you know today is Good Friday. I wanted to share a song with you that has been speaking to me recently. The tomb is empty and our hearts are alive. Let’s live like it’s true. We have victory through Christ who overcame death. Check out this song and come alive today. Click here. Have a blessed Easter!

Before we jump into  today’s post I wanted to let you know I will be taking next Friday off. Although I will probably have internet access I want to focus on my family while we have a mini-vacation. We will get back to Jolene’s Genesis 5020 on April 12th.

We have a few more weeks of Jolene’s Genesis 5020 but I want to start putting it out there that your story matters and I would love to have your story on this blog.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a Genesis 5020 from someone who left elem3nt  and have them share how God has used that for good? How maybe a life would never have been touched if you stayed? Just a thought.

I will take anyone’s story who feels God calling them to share. Don’t listen to the voice that says, “You’re story doesn’t matter.”

For a long time Jolene felt she had nothing to share but God told her otherwise and I can tell you healing is taking place between her and people who left elem3nt. They are reaching out to her, it’s amazing to hear the things she is telling me. All God, all for his glory. That is the reason for this blog; to offer healing and hope and share our stories for God glory. It’s all about Him.

What’s your Genesis 5020? Share with me at: 5020genesisstories (at) gmail (dot) com

grass-13333554902L7As the healing and growth continued, we went through a sermon series on the Holy Spirit. Our life group also studied Francis Chan’s book Forgotten God.

I felt something waking up inside me like never before.

I had known of God all my life, and even accepted Him as my Savior at a fairly young age. Now it was like something new was growing inside me. I felt a desire to know God more intimately and feel His presence in my daily life.

That is the privilege and power we have as believers – God’s Holy Spirit living inside us and guiding us every moment. I had never really understood the Holy Spirit, and maybe never will completely, but I felt my faith going deeper.  I found myself daily asking the Spirit into my life to guide and direct.

He moved and God spoke through that still small voice.

Then we started an extended series on IDOLS, and that is when it really started to click for me. We talked for weeks about different things we have in our lives that we place before God.

One Sunday we talked about our church being an idol. That is exactly what I had done.

I had placed the institution of the church up on a pedestal above my relationship with God. When my church fell off that pedestal I had a crisis of faith.

What I had to realize was that my faith was a personal relationship with Christ, not based on what was happening at my church. My church will never be perfect, because it is made up of imperfect people, including myself.

The important thing is to keep cultivating that personal relationship apart from just Sunday worship.  The church definitely plays an important part in a believer’s life, but it should not be the only basis or measure of our faith.

In the midst of these lessons God was teaching me and as I started to feel an internal shift.

Our church embarked on a church wide teaching series.  This study included full programming for all ages.  Announcements were made at church about new groups forming and my daughter asked if there would be a group for her.

We did some investigating and found there was youth curriculum for the study.  At this time, we did not have a youth pastor or any formal programming for middle or high school students.

After my daughter asked several more times about a group, I suggested to my husband that we do the series for our youth on Sunday mornings.  He quickly agreed as he has always had a heart for student ministry.

I never thought it was my area of giftedness or ministry.  But I had always wanted us to do some sort of ministry together because I thought it was a blessing when couples served together.  So here was a perfect opportunity.

I felt totally inadequate but followed through and we started the group.

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:3-4 NLT

 

Write to the Point with Cheri Swalwell March 27, 2013

Filed under: Author Interviews — Melissa Finnegan @ 10:05 am
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Cheri_portrait-9Today we get write to the point with Cheri Swalwell.

Tell us about yourself, family, where are you from, how long have you been writing?

I always say I am a gypsy and when I married my husband, he gave me roots.  My father was a pastor, and we lived in four different states since my birth.  I feel blessed, however, with that life because I was able to experience a variety of cultures throughout the United States.  There are definite differences living in the eastern part of the U.S. versus the midwest.  Our extended family was scattered throughout as well so I was able to enjoy the west and southern states as well.

I have been telling stories in my head since my childhood.  My sister started the tradition to keep me quiet in the early summer mornings before my parents would wake up.  Then I continued it during long bus rides or whenever I was bored and needed a little entertainment but didn’t have a book with me to read.  I never considered myself a writer, however; just someone with an active imagination.  It wasn’t until about six years ago, after I had written one book for fun and had started another but set it aside when life got busy, when I asked God to show me what His plan was for my life.  I wanted to make a difference for Him as well as do something I was passionate about.  Four years later, He clearly told me, “Finish your book.”  I argued a little bit as well as reminded God I wasn’t a writer, but ended up just choosing to obey.  I have been loving the journey ever since.  There is so much to learn and I have since written another book that will be my first fiction novel that I present for publication.  The one that God had me finish is safely in a file on my computer but needs a lot of work.  It is definitely what one would describe as a very rough draft. 

How did you come to know Jesus as your Savior?

As I stated earlier, I was privileged to grow up in a home where my father was a pastor and so I witnessed what a relationship with God was like from an early age.  I remember one particular rainy Saturday afternoon.  I had been fighting with my sister and even though the specifics of me sitting in my room are lost in my memory, I distinctly remember talking with my mom about wanting a relationship with Jesus and saying the sinner’s prayer, feeling a difference when I said, “Amen.”  I have been growing in my relationship with God ever since.  I pray that I’m modeling for my children what it means to have a relationship with Jesus on a daily basis. 

Tell us about your latest book(s). What do want your readers to take away after the last page?

I actually have been blessed by God to have two devotionals published with Mantle Rock Publishing.  The first: A 40 Day Habit Between Friends: Taking it to the Next Levelflatecover_1_ (3) was published in November 2012 and A 40 Day Habit Between Friends: Because They Need You was published in December 2012.  These are compilations of various blog posts I had written previously and after much encouragement, chose to make into a daily devotional.  My prayer is people will be encouraged in their relationship with Jesus Christ after reading these devotionals, that they will want more of Jesus and will see that you don’t have to be perfect to be a Christ follower; in fact, He doesn’t want perfection.  He is in the business of using ordinary people for extraordinary purposes, through His strength!

How often do you blog and what do you cover in your blog?

I blog twice a week.  You can find my posts on my website, my blog itself, as well as on my Facebook author page.  I have a true passion for marriage and children, keeping the family strong.  I absolutely love working with children and believe very strongly in keeping a marriage strong as that is what will grow strong families.  My blogs cover marriage and parenting issues, but also spiritual issues that anyone can relate to, no matter what stage you are in life.  Just every day struggles that every day people struggle with:  Fear versus faith, grace, love, whether or not God gives hardships or allows them to name but a few topics that have been tackled. 

9781481209007_p0_v2_s114x166 What are you reading right now?

I love to read.  I read all kinds of books:  My fiction loves include Amish, contemporary and historical romance, suspense, medical, mysteries, and women’s fiction.  Any genre that deals with relationships and digging deeper into tough subjects are what interest me.  I also love books that tell the story from more than one point of view.  I love getting into the minds of several of the characters to truly see the big picture.  I have a degree in Psychology so figuring out the why behind the reason fascinates me; in real life and in my imagination.  I am reading Candace Calvert’s Grace Medical series currently and loving it as well as reading the second book, Poison, by Jordyn Redwood.  I just finished reading Mary Ellis’ second book in the New Beginnings Series and am thoroughly enjoying Sharon Srock’s two books, Callie and Terri.  I could go on and on with more authors I have been introduced to through the ACFW and feel privileged to get to enjoy the fruits of their talents.

I also read a lot of nonfiction.  I just finished reading What a Difference a Mom Makes by Dr. Kevin Leman; The Way of the Wise(also by Dr. Leman); Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God by Sheila Walsh; and am getting ready to read Grace Like Rain and Wavelength by Jeff Petherick and Karl Nilsson.  I love reading books that challenge me in my relationship with Jesus as well as encourage me to take it to the next level as a wife to my amazing husband and mother to my wonderful children. 

Wow, and I thought I read a lot, I think you have me beat!

Can you share with us a Genesis 5020 in your life?

In 2006, we were happy to find out we were unexpectedly pregnant with a third child.  One day shy of the 12-week mark, we lost the baby in four short hours.  I was devastated.  That was December 2006.  February 2007, after God prompted me to begin a fast for our family, my husband became very ill.  Without too many details, those two tragedies occurring so closely together could have derailed our faith and the strength of our marriage, but instead, through the grace of God, we are stronger today than we were in 2006, and I thought we had a great marriage then.  It has been seven years and God has since blessed us with another “planned by Him bonus baby” in 2009, truly a blessing for our entire family.  And, my husband is now pursuing a new career in nutritional health and wellness in order to help others who have had health issues that are frustratingly not completely diagnosable by modern medicine. 

What Satan tried to use to divide us or create a cavern between God and my family has instead been used as a blessing.  Even though I didn’t consider myself a writer, I promised God when I had my miscarriage that “someday I would write the book I so desperately wanted to offer hope to me while grieving the loss of our child.”  God reminded me of that promise in 2011 and in January 2013, I typed “The End.”  I’m waiting on Him to determine the next step, but it feels good to fulfill not only a promise to God but to offer hope to others who are walking the path I found myself in 2006, a journey no one wants to experience.

Do you have a life and/or a ministry verse?

Our family verse is Matthew 19:26, “With God, all things are possible.”  We have clung to that promise for seven years as I truly believe God will heal my husband to better health than he had before he got severely ill.  However, we trust God with that verse for everything in our life.  We never know what God’s answer is going to be, (Yes, no, or maybe) but we have the assurance that with God, all things are possible so we need not fear but instead just continue to walk in faith and obedience.

Where can we find you on the web?

You can find my blog at:  http://journeysfromtheheartofawifeandmother.wordpress.com

My Facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/pages/cheri-Swalwell

My website is:  www.cheriswalwell.com

My email address is:  clSwalwell99@gmail.com

Is there anything I didn’t ask that you would like to add?

Thank you for the honor of being interviewed and a guest on your sight.  My day job is as a medical transcriptionist so I have had a lot of practice typing other people’s words.  That’s what my writing is:  God is the One who supplies the content; I’m just His typist.  And as with any typist, all mistakes are solely mine.

Love it, Cheri. Thanks so much for sharing with my readers.

 

Review: Signs, Wonders and a Baptist Preacher March 26, 2013

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Signs, Wonders and a Baptist Preacher by Chad Norris

From the back cover of Signs, Wonders and a Baptist Preacher:

Baptist Preacher Takes the “Weird” Out of the Supernatural

Demonstrating humor, candor, and personal vulnerability, this Southern Baptist preacher offers an entertaining, non-religious look at the Holy Spirit. He shares transparently, recounting his own history of depression and panic attacks until Jesus rescued him and showed him how to do the works of the Father. As Norris explains, “I had no paradigm for that.” Then he challenges readers to engage with the supernatural.

Even though Jesus said we will do even greater things than he did, we don’t. Norris’ engaging narrative style lowers readers’ defenses and opens their minds to the idea that these “greater things” are more attainable than they think. Because we are loved more than we imagine, says Norris, we are more capable of doing the Father’s works than we have ever considered.

My thoughts:

God has been showing me recently there is so much more to Him and I am only scratching the surface, so when I saw this book I thought; I need to read that.

I loved this book. I am very critical of non-fiction books because they often start out good and then I feel like the author used all their good stuff up in the first three chapters and then I am reading the same thing over again and again, just stated different ways.

Not so with this book.

I was raised Methodist, nothing charismatic about me and I attend a pretty conservative church (comparatively speaking, we do have contemporary worship and a few people raise their hands and clap) but as I stated earlier I believe there is so much more to God that we are missing out on.

I loved Chad’s thoughts and honesty about the supernatural.  He states early on in the book ( I was reading on my kindle so I don’t have a page number), “Supernatural has moved away from charismatic-only conversations.”

I had to say amen when he said, “Why are we so obsessed with calming Jesus down?”

He poses the questions, “If we had followed Jesus while He was on the earth, what would He have asked us to do?”

What did He ask the disciples to do? Go heal, perform signs and wonders. So why aren’t we seeing more of that these days? You’ll have to read the book to get Chad’s take.

The only thing I felt was missing was talking about the Holy Spirit. He did talk about the Holy Spirit, I guess I mean more specifically the gift of tongues. He never touched that. I figured, if you are going to rock the boat and talk about signs and wonders why not go all out and talk about tongues as well? I would have really liked to hear what he had to say.

I have read other books similar to this but they were very textbook like and I had trouble staying focused. Not the case with this book.

If you have been curious about signs and wonders and want your faith challenged I recommend this book.

I want more of Jesus, how about you? I want all He has for me, whatever that looks like.

To order from Amazon click here.

To order from Barnes and Noble click here.

To order from christianbook.com click here.

An egalley of this book was given to me by Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

 

Review and Giveaway: Shattered March 25, 2013

Filed under: Monday Musings — Melissa Finnegan @ 11:38 am
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9780764209833

Shattered by Dani Pettrey

From the back cover of Shattered:

When her prodigal brother Reef’s return to Yancey, Alaska, is shattered by his arrest for murder, Piper McKenna is determined to protect him.

Deputy Landon Grainger loves the McKennas like family, but he’s also sworn to find the truth. And he knows those closest to you have the power to deceive you the most. With his sheriff pushing for a quick conviction, some unexpected leads complicate the investigation, and pursuing the truth puts Landon’s career in jeopardy.

When Piper launches her own investigation, Landon realizes he must protect her from herself–and whatever complications await as the two follow clues deep into Canada’s rugged backcountry. Not only does their long friendship seem to be turning into something more, but this dangerous case is becoming deadlier with each step.

My thoughts and giveaway:

If you like romance and suspense you will love this book.

I read Submerged, Dani’s first book and liked it, but not nearly as much as I enjoyed Shattered. I can definitely see her growth as a writer.

The book had me hooked at the first chapter, which is what you want. Each chapter packed a punch and had me turning the pages as fast as I could.

I like how the chapters are very short. Downton Abbey fans will appreciate that 🙂 Short chapters make me feel like I am reading faster, even though I know I’m not.

Dani also laid the ground work for future books and I can’t wait to get my hands on them and see those characters again and what will happen in their lives.

The only downside I really saw was the main female character, Piper, didn’t really have any flaws, no baggage, nothing to deal with. I enjoy flawed characters, it makes them more relatable. But I liked Piper and that missing element is easily overlooked because the rest of the book is very good.

In both books you can see a Genesis 5020 in the hurting characters lives. They use their hurts to help others.

Overall, I recommend this book. If you enjoy Dee Henderson you will enjoy Dani Pettrey.

You can order on amazon here.

You can order from Barnes and Noble here.

You can order from Christianbook.com here

You can oder from the publisher here.

You can learn more about Dani here.

You can leave a comment and win both books!!! Leave a comment by March 31st at 5:00 PM to be entered and you could win Submerged and Shattered.

A review copy of this book was given to me by Baker Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

As a side note; I am reading so many books that I will have to start posting on Tuesdays once in a while. Tomorrow I will be sharing a great non-fiction book I just finished.

 

Forgiveness Part 3 March 22, 2013

We are back with part three of Jolene’s Genesis 5020. If y0u missed the first two parts click here for part one and here for part two.

hands-with-heartsI continued to cry out to God. I was trying to be in His Word more, to find comfort in the scriptures. 

I remember reading a passage in Daniel for a Bible Study, it talked about the sacred articles of the temple being carried away and used for unsacred purposes.  I felt like that was what was happening to our church.  Our precious members, my friends and family, were being carried away. 

I literally and physically cried out to God!  I did not understand!  I didn’t even know what or how to pray!  How could we be going through this?  How could it be beneficial to growing the kingdom of God?  Why?  Why?  Why? 

To God, I probably looked like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum when they don’t get their way.  And that is probably more accurate than I would care to admit!  Because in reality I just didn’t see the bigger picture God had planned.

God was slowly changing and growing my personal faith, while He was doing the same for my church.  I was being forced to rely more on Him and my personal relationship with Him.  Just as our church was being forced to do the same. 

Deep faith and trust were beginning to take root.  Our human efforts were failing , what was left except to fall back on God?  Why did we have to fall so far to do that?

  I remember another conversation with an elder’s wife.  She suggested that our church was going through this time because we had become prideful.  Prideful?  Ouch!  That hurt!  Yet I could see truth in the words she spoke.  I had become prideful in my church being the “it church” in town.  My perspective on what makes a church successful had become pretty warped and was in desperate need of adjustment by God.

At the end of the summer of 2011 we had a church body update, the first of many to come.  But this one was significant.  In my opinion it was the beginning of our healing and growth as a church body.  

There was a request for forgiveness for mistakes made in the past and hurt that had been caused to people along the path we had chosen as a body.  Acknowledging the hurt we had been through together was like turning a corner.  We admitted mistakes, made apologies and began the journey of forgiveness and healing.

This topic of forgiveness is one that has come before me many times over the last year.  After that church meeting we began a prayer emphasis – praying individually for each member of our body.  And we intentionally included those who had left our church family. 

That convicted me, because I hadn’t realized I harbored some feelings of resentment toward those who had moved on.  I realized this was wrong and prayed God would bless those who had left and the churches they were a part of. 

I also began to realize the power of prayer, not just as a way to present our requests to God, but as a two-way communication that He uses to speak truth back into our lives.

Forgiveness came up again this past summer as I listened to a song on the radio by Matthew West called “Forgiveness”. 

It has such powerful words that speak of forgiving even when we don’t feel like it or we feel the person doesn’t deserve it. 

I had just ended a long phone conversation with a friend.  During that conversation I realized again that I was harboring resentment toward individuals that had caused strife in our church before leaving and had also caused pain to some of my immediate family. 

As I was stripping wallpaper in my kitchen, that song came on the radio and I wept at the way God planned that moment.  He was speaking so loudly to me and stripping away unforgiveness in my heart just like the paper coming off the walls in my kitchen. 

I had to forgive in order to move forward with what He had planned for me and for our church family.

In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part. Matthew 6:14-15 The Message

Examine your heart as I examine mine. Is there any unforgiveness that needs to be stripped away from you today?

 

Write to the Point with Deanna Klingel March 20, 2013

Congratulations to Devra Carmical, who won last week’s book, Daughter of Light by Morgan L. Busse.

This week we get write to the point with Deanna Klingel.

Tell us about yourself, family, where are you from, how long have you been writing?

deannaMy husband and I both grew up in the same little town in Michigan. We were the proverbial “high school sweethearts.” We married while still in college. We’ve raised seven children who are out in the world and have given us eleven grandchildren. I’ve been writing all my life, but for publishing since 2010.

How did you come to know Jesus as your Savior?

On my website you will find my short story “Marsha Blue.” I followed Marsha down the aisle when I was just a little girl.

Tell us about your latest book(s). What do want your readers to take away after the last page?

My most recent release is Cracks in the Ice, published by Write Integrity. At the end of the book there are discussion questions for teens and resource information concerning teen alcoholism. There are three million teens in our country who are alcoholics. I hope one of them will read Gina’s story and see herself, a teen with a dream that has melted away, but for whom there is hope. There is forgiveness, there is mending of the heart and family. There is always another chance. Jesus is always there for us with another chance.

How often do you blog and what do you cover in your blog?

My own blog is a daily blog, the 30-second mini blog. It can be anything. It’s the first page of my website. This month it’s been the Stations of the Cross for Lent, one a day. Before that it was the magical growth of my amaryllis. One time it was “first words,” the opening words of each chapter of Cracks in the Ice. In February I did a tribute to my dogs. Like I said, it can be anything. But the point is it’s a quick (30 second) smile with a cup of coffee, and BYOB, bring your own Bible. I guest blog a couple times a month.

What are you reading right now?

Right now I’m reading A Noble Treason. Before that I read a wonderful, marvelous book, Prague Winter by Madeleine Albright.

Can you share with us a Genesis 5020 in your life?

The Genesis 50:20 in my life was probably Lyme Disease. It nearly destroyed me. But! While I was out of commission and trying to “get a grip” Lily came into my life. She was a golden retriever puppy. You can read her story in her own book, my first published one, Just for the Moment: The Remarkable Gift of the Therapy Dog. Because of Lyme Disease I learned to train dogs, got involved in therapy dog work, rescue work, and became a published writer. God needed to sit me down, take me out of the action, and refocus me. I’m so grateful.

Do you have a life and/or a ministry verse? 

You probably mean a “go-to” verse? Probably John 3:16. Without that, well…But I just got this new Bible app on my ipad. I just type in what’s on my mind at the momentCracks in the Ice Cover FINAL FRONT and up pops the appropriate verse. Not quite the same as fingering through the thin worn pages of my Bible, but it sure is efficient!

Where can we find you on the web?

I’m at www.BooksByDeanna.com. I’m also on facebook, pinterest and twitter, though I really haven’t figured that twitter thing out too well.

Is there anything I didn’t ask that you would like to add?

I’d like to add that I love to make middle school visits and talk to the kids about my books. I also speak to women’s ministry groups and OLLI. Thanks for having me and giving me a soapbox.

No problem, we are glad you stopped by to chat with us today.

Readers, Deanna is giving away a paperback copy of her book to one commentator. Leave a comment by March 26th at 5:00 pm to be entered.

 

Review: Forsaken Dreams March 18, 2013

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Forsaken Dreams by MaryLu Tyndall

From the backcover of Forsaken Dreams:

Embark on a seafaring adventure in a brand-new series from bestselling author MaryLu Tyndall. After witnessing the death and destruction caused by the Civil War, Colonel Blake Wallace is eager to leave his once precious Southern homeland for the pristine shores of Brazil and the prospect of a new utopian community. Widow Eliza Crawford seeks passage on Wallace’s ship harboring a dirty secret—and a blossoming hope for a fresh start. But will dangers from the sea and from man keep them from the peace and love they long for?

My Thoughts:

This is the second book I have read by MaryLu Tyndall. The first was Veil of Pearls, which I absolutely loved, probably the best book I read in 2012. So I had high expectations for Forsaken Dreams.

MaryLu paints a vivid picture of the scenes and characters. At first the two main characters where a little too sweet on each other, it all seemed too perfect, which it was until the conflict arises. Then we get to the good stuff.

All the characters seem to have gotten on the ship, New Hope, to escape their past. But they soon learn you can’t outrun your past, it will catch up with you. Now they are forced to face it and reconcile their future with their past.

Can’t we all relate? Don’t we all wish there were things we could forget about, but the truth is our past has shaped us into the people we are now. That same holds true for this cast of characters MaryLu introduces us to. The past can also be redeemed, but only with the help of our Savior, the Redeemer.

Not only are the main characters endearing that whole cast has a story. You will get bits and pieces of their story as your read Forsaken Dreams and it will made you want to read the rest of the series. I can’t wait to read the next (whenever that will be) and see what secrets the other characters are hiding.

Oh, and there are some mysterious things taking place as well. But you will have to read the book to find out what I am talking about.

To order the book on Amazon click here.

To order from Barnes and Noble click here.

To order from Christianbook.com click here.

To order from Barbour Publishing click here.

To check out MaryLu’s website click here.

An egalley of this book was given to me by Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.