Genesis 5020

My Story for His Glory

Part XXVII-Choose Obedience August 31, 2012

As I write this I am sitting in my favorite summer spot. A picnic table at Indian Creek Campground. I am surrounded by cottonwood leaves that have already made their fall escape from the trees and rest on the ground. The leaves that remain green and attached to their trees clap around me, praising our Creator. Crickets chirp a morning greeting and the smell of last night’s campfire fills the air. Robins sing a beautiful song and a chipmunk dashes across the grass hunting for food.

This is our last camping trip before school starts. I wait with anticipation of all God has planned for the upcoming school year.

I need to back up and share with you some things God did in my life in the year 2011, aside from sharing with our families.

In April of 2011 I began submitting articles to various magazine.

I will never forget the day I opened my inbox and I had an email from an editor who was interested in one of my articles. I wasted no time and sent her the article to read.

In May my article, “The Five Be’s of Brokenness,” was published. You can read that article here. I don’t believe for a second it was an accident that article saw publication first. It is all about sharing your story of brokenness with others. I wrote that piece as an assignment for my Christian Writers Guild course. It touched a deep place in my heart and is my passion.

In May our church had a mother daughter banquet. As we looked for a speaker I felt God tell me to do it. I shared with the rest of the women’s ministry team what God laid on my heart. They were in agreement and I had my first speaking engagement in May 2011.

I sent an article to Proverbs 31 the same time I sent out my first published article. In July I finally heard back from them. They said they liked my article but wondered if I could make it shorter. Of course I said yes, I can cut 500 of my precious words. That proved harder than I originally thought, but I did it.

A couple of weeks later (the week before Labor Day, a busy week with getting my classroom ready and meetings) I received another email from them saying they liked the piece but wondered if I could make it a Christmas article and could I have it done by the Thursday before Labor Day weekend. That gave me three days, that were already jammed packed, to reshape the article to meet their needs. Again, I said yes. Proverbs 31 is a magazine I had prayed to get an article in and did not want to miss this opportunity.

Thursday night before Labor Day I sent the completely reworked article back to them. It appeared in their December issue. They have a print magazine so I cannot add the link but I hold in my hand two print copies of my article. God is good.

In November another article appeared in Power to Change. You can find that article here.

In December one more article appeared in the same magazine, Inspired Women Magazine, that published my first article. You can find it here.

I also committed to beginning my novel. I didn’t work on Fridays last year and spent that day working on my book. I finished the first draft in February and I am getting close to being done with my first round of edits.

I don’t tell you all this to brag on myself but to brag on my Savior. He is so good. I know I say that a lot but it is so true.

When you choose obedience God will bless you.

I believe all these articles were published because Patrick and I began to share our story and God received all the honor due to Him.

I wonder how many blessings we miss out on because we are not being obedient. Trust me, I know I am not always obedient and that makes me sad, what am I missing when ignore my Father?

God has blessings for you. Believe it, claim them. Choose obedience and see what good gifts your Father has for you.

I have to share a praise. If you took time to prayer for Sherri Johnson’s husband, thank you. That day he was offered a job.

Didn’t I tell you God was good?

Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.’ John 14:23

Share something God has done in your life. How has He answered a prayer for you recently?

What’s your Genesis 5020? I know you have one but no one has shared yet. Remember you need to give God glory for what He has done in your life, what is stopping you? Send your stories to us at: 5020genesisstories(at)gmail(dot)com. You can remain anonymous if you wish, just let us know.

 

Write to the Point with Henry McLaughlin August 22, 2012

This week we get write to the point with Henry McLaughlin.

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

I was born in Rhode Island. In November, my beautiful wife, Linda, and I will celebrate our 44th wedding anniversary. We have five children, three sons and two daughters. Our oldest son is in heaven. The other children are spread out among New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Missouri. We have one grandson and several grand cats.

After working in public child welfare in Rhode Island for nearly thirty years, I retired in 1999. My wife and I moved to Texas to be part of Kenneth Copeland Ministries. I worked for the ministry in several areas, primarily human resources and the road crew.

In 2002, I became serious about writing when, after serious and complicated heart surgery, the Lord put it on my heart to write. Putting years of dabbling aside, I completed four years of courses through the Christian Writers Guild: Apprentice, Journeyman, and Craftsman, including a residency.

To improve my knowledge and skills, I attend writers’ conferences, workshops and retreats, and participate in online and local critique groups. I also belong to the Christian Writers Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, and North Texas Christian Writers.

My bachelor’s degree in American History helped develop my research skills and an appreciation of the physical and spiritual greatness of this country. The post Civil War era and the settling of the American West have long been areas of interest to me.

Through my master’s degree in social work and years working in public child welfare, I learned insights into human behavior: what motivates people, how people cope in a crisis, and how lost they are without Christ.

My first novel, Journey to Riverbend, won the 2009 Operation First Novel award sponsored by the Christian Writers Guild and was published by Tyndale House in January, 2011.

In September 2010, the Lord opened the way for me to move into full time writing. Now, I have four other novels completed and waiting for publication.

The Father has opened the door for me to mentor other writers one-on-one, to give to them the insights, knowledge and encouragement others have poured into me.

In addition, I teach writing at conferences and workshops and as well as a creative writing course at my church.

I am honored at this time to serve as President of Fort Worth Chapter of Word Weavers. This local writers group is part of the Christian Writers Guild and provides a forum for teaching, critiquing, and encouraging fellow writers.

In January, 2012, I began serving as a writers coach for North Texas Christian Writers. I oversee and provide direction, encouragement, and guidance to four writers groups.

How did you come to know Jesus as your Savior?

In 1974, my wife and I made a Marriage Encounter Weekend. During that weekend, we not only recommitted to our marriage, we had our first spiritual encounter with Jesus. He became Lord and Savior, not only over us as individuals, but over our marriage and our family, as well. That weekend launched us on a journey of knowing Him more and more and of serving Him through loving each other and becoming more active in our church life as well.

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

Journey to Riverbend is a novel of historical suspense and romance. Set in the American West in 1878, it is a story of the prodigal with a twist: the prodigal son dies in the first chapter. Michael Archer promises to find the young man’s estranged father to attempt the reconciliation the son greatly desires. Complicating the matter is the father is not at all like the prodigal’s father in the Bible.

Michael meets Rachel Stone, a former prostitute who is a new Christian seeking to establish herself as a dressmaker. Their relationship is strained by Rachel’s desire for independence and Michael’s feelings of not being worthy.

Keeping his promise becomes even more difficult when the father is kidnapped by an old business rival. Michael decides to join the posse to search for the father and embarks on journey that leads to danger and death. At the climax, Michael must confront his darkest secret—he killed his own father—as he faces the challenge of having to kill again to save the kidnapped father.

Michael’s journey challenges him to face his darkest moments and to recognize the good in him and forgive himself. Rachel’s journey dares her to risk being loved. The father’s journey brings him face-to-face with his past and the hurt he caused numerous people and has him wondering if he’ll have time to right the wrongs.

The themes, the takeaways, of Journey to Riverbend are restoration, reconciliation, and forgiveness.

I have your book downloaded on my kindle. I can’t wait to read it!

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

I blog on a weekly basis, on some aspect of writing and also on the spiritual journey I am taking with the Father.

Can you share with us a favorite book you have read?

Just one? There are so many. From the craft side, a book I recommend to every aspiring writer is Orson Scott Card’s How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy because it teaches how to build characters and construct a story world that applies to every genre, not just sci-fi or fantasy. If we’re writing fiction, whether it’s historical, contemporary, or other worldly, we build a story world for our characters.

From the fiction side, I just finished Fifth Man by Randy Ingermanson and John B. Olson. Not only is it an exciting, edge-of-the-seat story, it is also a great example of how to have tension on every page.

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

There have been two incidents in my life.

The first was the death of our eldest in a motorcycle accident in over the Christmas season of 1993. The Father showed His mercy and grace by opening the doors to get us to our son’s side in England when we didn’t have passports or the money for airfare. It took Him less than seven hours to get us on a plane. After our son’s death, the Father again gave my wife and me the strength and grace to support our other children through the grief. He gave us friends who went to our house at 6:30 in the morning so our children wouldn’t be alone when we called with the news. Those friends took care of our children until we could return from England several days later. Those friends were, and are, a shining example of the Love of Christ in action. Instead of the enemy hurting us, we walked in the cocoon of the Father’s love.

The second was my heart surgery in 2002. In essence, I was near death several times but a praying wife and friends and church showed the power of God. The ICU nurses referred to me as their miracle patient when I was moved to a regular room.

Praise God. I am so grateful you saw the Father’s love in your life during those times.

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

When we moved to Texas to serve in Kenneth Copeland Ministries, we left family and friends behind. My life foundation scripture is Luke 18:29 (NLT). “And I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.”

My writing foundation scripture is Habakkuk 2:2, 3 (NLT). “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a messenger can carry the correct message to others.…If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.”

I am sure I have read the verse in Habakkuk but never applied it to my writing. What a great verse of encouragement.

Where can we find you on the web?

www.henrymclaughlin.org

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

To all the aspiring writers who read this, if the Father has called you to write but it seems so far away or too hard, don’t give up. Keep writing. Learn all you can about writing. Learn all you can about obedience to His call, and about patience, and the craft and art of writing. Be obedient and diligent and trust Him.

It took nine years and eight complete re-writes for Journey to Riverbend to be published. And if the Father will do it for me, He’ll do it for you.

Melissa, thank you for the opportunity to do this interview.

May the Father abundantly bless you as you continue your Journey in Him.

Thank you so much Henry, it has been an honor to have you on my blog.

Readers, leave a comment for Henry by August 28 at 5:00 PM to be entered to win a paperback copy of his book.

 

Part XIX-A Whisper June 29, 2012

 I am not sure of the exact dates of the next couple events, but I know they happened at the end of July or beginning of August.

Patrick and I realized we needed time to be us. To get away and just be a couple. We love our children, but married people need time for just the two of them.

We had seen a Bed and Breakfast several times called The Claddagh. The Claddagh is an Irish ring. Actually, our first Christmas together Patrick gave me a Claddagh. We thought it fitting to go away for a night and stay at the Claddagh since we both always wanted to check it out.

We enjoyed a lovely time together. I can’t say things were normal, things were better than ever. Our marriage before the affair was not a picture of what God desired. He wants so much more for His children. Patrick and I were just beginning to grasp God’s design for marriage.

A wonderful thing occurred on the morning we were leaving. Patrick was in the shower and I walked out onto the balcony that adjoined our room.

The sun shone bright and trees surrounded the property. I leaned against the railing and took in the wonder of it all. I praised God for His beautiful creation. I praised Him for my husband who loved me after all I had done.

Sadness filled me. I hated what I did to Patrick. I hated that girl who could be so selfish.

“Lord, am I a horrible person?”

“Am I just bad?”

“Will I never be good enough?”

“Will I always be an adulteress?”

“Who am I?”

A breeze tickled my ear and I felt the Lord speak to my heart, “You are none of those things. You. Are. Mine.”

For the first time, since all this began, I believed Him.

I am His. And He is mine.

That moment changed me.

I finally let go of the lies and embraced the truth my Savior held out to me.

Those words are not just for me. They are for all.

You.

Are.

His.

Someone needs to hear that today. Someone reading this needs to believe those words desperately. You are His. Nothing else matters.

After that moment I seemed to grow more aware of God’s voice.

During a  prayer time with Him I felt a whisper in my heart again.

“Write.”

What?

Yes, I have always wanted to write but life kind of got in the way of that dream.

In one of my many journals I wrote a list of life goals when I was in middle school. I had marked off every one…

Become a teacher

Sing on Broadway (I didn’t sing on Broadway but I was a soloist in Carnegie Hall, so I figured the was close enough)

Royal Singer (anyone who graduated from the same high school as me will know what that is)

Honors choir

Lead in music

All where checked except: Become published.

Why now, Lord?

“Now you are ready.”

Up until this point I never looked at my abuse, I never dealt with my brokenness. Now God gave me a command to take my pain and help other women.

I saw women in a new way. Instead of judging them, as I did many times, I looked deeper. I saw their brokenness.

How many other women where like me?

How many marriages where in trouble?

How many women had been abused and never told anyone?

I knew when the time was right, I would be ready to share, because God gave me the command.

The dream to write came back to life and I shared this dream with others.

Now I just needed to convince my logical husband that this made sense.

Thankfully, the  Christian Writers Guild offers courses for credit. Because I could use the credits to renew my teaching certificate Patrick agreed that this could work. Totally God, appealing to my husband’s planning side and my dreamer side.  We decided to wait until January to enroll and by February of 2010 I received my course. But I am getting way ahead of myself.

After the “write” whisper, God invaded my thoughts.

Shortly after my world fell apart in June, I began jotting down scripture in a tiny notebook. On August 12, 2009 I wrote in the back of that notebook something that was not scripture. What I wrote still sends my heart in double time.

“I have a wonderful plan for you. Stay in my arms and I will lead you to it.”

I believe God spoke this to me. This message was only the beginning.

On August 14 I wrote: “I walked with you today along the beach and we laughed together. I was filled with joy. ‘I love you dear one’.”

“I love you dear one” are the words God spoke to me.

I thought maybe I was going crazy. Was I making this stuff up? Did people really have encounters with Christ like this?

But this sense for me.

My emotional and physical affair all began in my mind. God knew what I needed. He showed up in my mind in highly visual ways, in ways He knew I would understand.

After this two tiny encounters they grew more elaborate. I would like to share one or two with  you next week.

Remember, God speaks to everyone in a unique way. The way His showed Himself to me is not the way He will show Himself to you. So never compare. God knows what His children need. Just like you (if you are a parent) know how you comfort one child, or discipline one child, might not work for the other. You do what works for that individual child. God will speak to you in the way He knows you will hear.

Listen. Your Father is talking to you.

After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 1 Kings 19: 12 NIV

Have you heard your Father speak to you? Mind sharing something He told you?