Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Power of Persistence

Persist. v. - 1. to continue steadfastly or firmly in some state, purpose, course of action, or the like, especially in spite of opposition 2. to last or endure tenaciously 3. to be insistent in a statement, request, question, etc.


Every morning, our little dog begs to be let into my daughter's bedroom. She'll sit at the base of the door, her neck kinked back, until you open it. She won't be denied either. Should you ignore her, she'll come find you and race back to the door. Usually by the fourth or fifth try, one of us gives in.

She is persistent.

There's something to say about hanging in there. The women from Canaan was persistent. Jesus was on the coast of Tyre and Sidon when she approached, calling out after him, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil." (Mt 15:22)

What did Jesus do? He ignored her. (v23) But then the disciples got into it. "Send her away." (v24)

So Jesus spoke. "I was sent only to the people of Israel!" (CEV) Nice, huh?

You'd think at that point, the woman would give up. I mean, here's this man, calling himself the Son of God, traveling around the area performing miracles, yet He doesn't have time for her? But she didn't quit. She knelt down at His feet and begged. "Please, help me, Lord!" (v25 CEV)

And once again, Jesus had a strange response. "It isn't right to take food away from children and feed it to dogs." (v26 CEV) Dogs? I'd've been crushed. I mean, at that point, why bother? You asked twice, He gave you two negative answers. He obviously isn't going to do anything.

Ah. But that isn't faith. This woman knew what she wanted and wasn't going to give up until she got it. She was persistent.

"Truth, Lord," she said, "yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." (v27) 

Even the dogs. Notice. In that statement, she acknowledged His words. She didn't deny what she was. Instead, she justified her right to ask.

Jesus gave a similar example. In Luke, He tells the story of a man who asks his friend for bread.


And suppose your friend answers, "Don't bother me! The door is bolted, and my children and I are in bed. I cannot get up to give you something." He may not get up and give you the bread, just because you are his friend. But he will get up and give you as much as you need, simply because you are not ashamed to keep on asking. (Lk 11:7-8 CEV)

Don't be ashamed to ask.


For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Luke 11:10)

Persistence. But persistence based on a certain set of facts. Persistence based on the love of our Father. Look at Luke 11:13.


If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

How much more. I'd give my daughter the world if I could. Especially if she's persistent. So how much more would Father God, Abba, God who sent his only Son to die for you, give? 

It isn't because we deserve it. My daughter often doesn't deserve the good things I give to her. I give them because I love her, because she's special to me, because seeing the happiness on her face when she receives something she's really wanted means everything to me.

So how much more does it mean to God when you're down and He lifts you up. When you're sick and He makes you well. When you're poor and He blesses you.

He's a God of more. More power. More sufficiency. More wisdom. More peace. More understanding. More compassion. More mercy. More grace.

There isn't a thing you need that He doesn't have and isn't willing to give. You have only to ask. 

And be persistent. He told you to.


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Suzanne D. Williams  
Suzanne Williams Photography  
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday Photographs

I have both my regular 365 project photos this week and an album of images taken at the Circle B Reserve in Lakeland, Florida. To view the photos from the reserve, visit the link above the thumbnail.




Day 48, Yellow Warbler
Day 48, 2-17-2013 Yellow Warbler

Day 49, Fireplace
Day 49, 2-18-2013, Fireplace

Day 50, Zinnia
Day 50, 2-19-2013 Zinnia

Day 51, Cardinal
Day 51, 2-20-2013, Male Cardinal

Day 52, Mexican Prickly Poppy
Day 52, 2-21-2013, Mexican Prickly Poppy

Day 53, Brown Anole
Day 53, 2-22-2013 Male Brown Anole

Day 54, Sunrise and Palm Fronds
Day 54, 2-23-2013 Sunrise and Palm Fronds


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Suzanne D. Williams
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Story Saturdays: "I'm not the man you think I am."

Don't forget, Me & Timothy Cooper is now available at Barnes & Noble for Nook readers. This week it reached #13 in Christian Short Stories at Amazon. So awesome! Only $1.49 gets you a copy of your own.
 
 

Here's the final excerpt of Love & Redemption. This week I approved the proof. It looks spectacular! In this scene, Ann is recovering from her stomach troubles and Michael has fallen in love.

Can't get enough of this story? Check out all my other posts. Also, check out the book trailer for the first 3 books in the series!


Take a trip into the past and fall in love with an Irishman. 
 
EXCERPT:

When Anne awoke it was dark. Crickets sang nearby her head.
“Michael?” she called.
Rapid footsteps crunched across the ground, and he dropped to his knees at her side. “You’re awake.”
She stared up at the sky. Stars sparkled in the blackness. “What time is it?”
“After midnight.”
“Oh Lord,” she moaned. “I feel … awful.”
His hand rested on her head and then whisked down her cheek. “The food disagreed with you, and you passed out. Do you remember that?”
Pictures flashed. The horse. The sun. His hand holding hers.
“Yes,” she sighed. “I’m thirsty.”
Her neck arched as he pressed a canteen to her lips. Water splashed down her chin.
“Please tell me I don’t have to eat for a week,” she said. She turned her head and sought his face. Crow’s feet had formed around his eyes. “You needn’t worry about me,” she whispered. “I’ll be all right.”
He worked his jaw and the dimples reappeared. She extended her finger, but he captured her hand. “You mess with me when you do that,” he said. “And you have to eat.”
She groaned. She struggled to sit up and so flung out her hand. He pulled her up beside him, brushing needles from her hair. She flipped her palms upward in her lap.
“I have something for your birthday,” he said. “A gift.”
She turned her face to his, pausing only inches away. His breath rushed warm on her cheeks and words fled. Mute, she noted every contour and ridge. “What,” she coughed. “What is it?”
His hand reached for hers and their fingers enfolded. “No, it’s not your birthday yet,” he said.

 ***

But I wish it was. His senses spun. He’d thought a lot while she slept and decided he’d give her the ring, but this time it’d be on his own terms. Would she even want it?
She cares for me. At least, he thought she did. Yet was the ring for her sake or for his? I want her as my wife. That knowledge settled in his heart. He loved her. But how was that possible?
She laid her head on his shoulder, and the tension eased. He clutched her hand in his lap, his mind drifting a thousand miles away.
“Do you believe in God?” she asked.
He jumped. “God?”
“Yes. Mama does. She always took us to church. Papa went most times, but then sometimes he didn’t. Mama says prayer changes things, and I’ve been trying to pray. You know, about us. Do you ever pray?”
He laid his cheek against the top of her head. “I can’t say that I do. I don’t know that I’m worth the effort.”
She lifted her head and stared at him. “What could you have done that’s worse than anybody else?”
You have no idea.
“Michael?”
He looked away. “I’m … not the man you think I am.”
“Do you know what I think you are?” she said. “I think you’re handsome. And you’re sweet and kind. You’re funny. I think you loved your mama and that life somehow sold you short. That’s what I think. I can’t imagine you doing anything so horrible it’s beyond forgiveness.” She touched his cheek, and he gulped.
“I’ve known you what, three days? And already I’ve figured all of that out about you.” She yawned and reached for his arms. He folded them around her. “I like you, Michael O’Fallen. I’m thinking I like you a lot.”
Like. Not love.
She snuggled into him, and he bowed his head. She was wrong; he wasn’t all those good things. He should’ve walked away that night. Instead, he’d let his anger get the better of him, and a man had died as a result.
When would he quit living with the guilt?

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Suzanne D. Williams 

Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Do You Trust God?

Trusting God means trusting strength.

Trusting God means trusting the Holy Spirit.

Trusting that God is big enough and powerful enough for whatever you're going through. 

Because you are going THROUGH it. In one side and out the other. Out the other mightier and more secure than you ever were to start with. 

Trusting God means success and victory and knowing the outcome because God already said it thousands of years ago.

Because God said if you think on His Word day and night you'll be prosperous. (Jos 1:8) 

Because He said you're the head and not the tail. (Deu 28:13) 

Because He is your Shepherd leading you into green pastures and beside still waters. (Ps 23:2) 

Because you sit beneath the shadow of His wings outside of any fear that might come against you. (Ps 91:2,5) 

Because His power has risen as bright as the sun with healing in its beams. (Mal 4:2)

Because Jesus said, "Ask and I'll give it to you. Seek and you'll find." (Mt 7:7)

Because if you speak to the mountain in Jesus' name, it'll move. (Mk 11:23)

Because Jesus prayed for you. (Jn 17:20) Because Jesus forgave you. (Jn 3:16) Because Jesus rose again for you. (Jn 20:17)

Because the Greater One lives inside you. (1Jn 4:4) Because the Alpha and Omega has already told how it all ends. (Rev 1:8)

We trust God from a position of strength, not a position of weakness. It's not, "Oh me," but "Oh, yes. Yes, God has this. Yes, God can handle it."

Yes, God has provided my healing. (Is 53:4). Yes, God will prosper me. (1Pe 2:24) 

Yes, with faith as small as a mustard seed, He will take care of me. (Mt 17:20) Think about that. A mustard seed. Do you know why a mustard seed? Because God's that big. God's so big all it takes is the smallest amount to bring life to pass.

And He's full of life. Full of love. Full of grace. Full of mercy. Full of blessing.

Given all of that ... Given all He is and all He's promised. Given He's faithful and willing and desires to do it for you ... Do you trust God?

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Suzanne D. Williams 
Suzanne Williams Photography 
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Book Blast: The Missing Piece (Inspirational Love Story) by Carol McCormick - Plus $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!


e77606749f110a7e9d9a7b.L._SX750_SY470_[1]Carol McCormick Carol began writing years ago after reading a ten-page story her grandmother wrote about growing up in the early 1900s. It was then that she began to write down her own stories to share with her daughters someday. Later, she began to write as a way to draw herself and other people closer to the Lord. Carol writes for Christians to encourage them in their faith. She also writes for those who are unaware of God's grace, to show them how to connect to Him in order to experience His love and goodness. Her writing is applicable to life with its direct, yet sensitive, and oftentimes humorous messages and lessons. Carol has been a speaker for Christian Women's Connection (Stonecroft Ministries International) for over fifteen years. She is also an international bestselling author who has appeared on regional and Christian television programs and has been a guest on over fifty Christian and secular radio stations.

Book Blast: The Missing Piece (Inspirational Love Story) by Carol McCormick - Plus $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Title: The Missing Piece (Inspirational Love Story) By Carol McCormick

About the Book:

"Fresh dialogue, realistic characters, a powerful message," The Romance Readers Connection How does a man pick up the pieces when his world crashes around him? Misplaced priorities shattered his marriage. Problems almost crushed him. Love motivated him to mend the damage, once he found all the pieces. After only a few months of marriage, Lorraine left Dylan on a wintry night after he'd spent one too many nights out with the guys. Unable to cope with the loss, Dylan escapes the painful feelings by drinking them away. This decision costs him a year-and-a-half of his life after he stops in a little mountain town and ends up in the local jail. When he's released, he returns home in search of a job to get his life--and his wife back. THE MISSING PIECE is not only a love story about a man who loves a woman, but is also a love story about a merciful God who loves mankind, even when he falls. The novel is an emotionally-charged journey of hope and redemption with a touch of spunk, a hint of humor, and a few twists along the way. "Inspiring and encouraging. Anyone who desires a restoration to their spirit should read THE MISSING PIECE," Myshelf.com "A wonderful, heartwarming Christian romance. This is definitely a story that I recommend to all lovers of Christian romance," Escape to Romance
Follow Carol McCormick Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday Photographs

Enjoy this week's 365 Project photos! If you need to catch up, the full album can be viewed at Photobucket.

Day 42, Sunrise
Day 42, 2-11-2013, Blazing Sun

Day 43, Red-shouldered Hawk
 Day 43, 2-12-2013, Red-shouldered Hawk

Day 44, Snapdragon and Dianthus
Day 44, 2-13-2013, Snapdragon and Dianthus

Day 45, My Front Porch
 Day 45, 2-14-2013, My Front Porch

Day 46,Tassel flower
Day 46, 2-15-2013, Tasselflower

Day 47, Blanketflower
Day 47, 2-16-2013, Blanketflower

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Suzanne D. Williams
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA


Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Story Saturdays: We've Got A Long Ride Ahead

Note. Me & Timothy Cooper is now available at Barnes & Noble for Nook readers for only 99 cents. Sales ends February 22nd.
 
Only two Saturdays left until the release of my next novel, Love & Redemption, (March 1st)! Here's another excerpt from the book. Forced on a long ride south, Anne O'Fallen finds herself not feeling so great.

Can't get enough of this story? Check out all my other posts. Also, check out the book trailer for the first 3 books in the series!
 

Take a trip into the past and fall in love with an Irishman.



EXCERPT:


Anne mounted the horse clumsily, her stomach roiling. The rancid meat offered as breakfast churned in her gut, but she clamped her jaws tight. She wouldn’t spoil Michael’s mood with complaints of a stomachache.
He settled in behind her, and she relaxed against him. When the horse moved, however, her stomach complaint resurfaced and bile rose in her throat. Swallowing hard, she pushed it back down.
Those men will eat anything.
The sun climbed higher in the sky and the late March weather became more like summer. The air, heavy with moisture, clouded her lungs as she breathed. She was used to it. She’d lived in Florida for most of her life. Yet usually, the spring was much cooler. She hung her head to avoid the sun on her face. He’d given her his hat, which helped immensely, despite the fact it would leave him without one.
Her gaze traveled ahead, and she picked out Ferguson’s horse from the crowd. The old gray nag he rode slouched beneath his weight. What was he after? If he had the farm, then why hadn’t he thrown her family out? He’d taken her away instead, and that made no sense. Taken her away for what? Men like him were only after two things in life – money or pleasure. So what was this?
Maybe both.
Her stomach flipped, and she swallowed again. She’d think about something else. She focused on their surroundings. They’d left the oak hammock behind and moved into an immense slash pine forest. Here, the thick carpet of brown needles cushioned the footfalls of the horses, creating unusual silence.
A hawk called. Perched on a limb, the hawk dodged the violent assault of a smaller bird. Flying furiously at the hawk’s throat, the smaller bird pecked with its beak and whipped its wings in the hawk’s face.
That’s how I feel. Like I can’t get ahead. Her spirits plummeted. What was her family doing? Did they miss her? She shut her eyes and pictured their faces. Mama’s sweet smile. Nicky. The two babies. Even Papa. She’d like to see him too.
But would you go back?
The question startled her. Where had that come from?
Would you go back to how it was before Michael?
She flicked her gaze over her shoulder. Distracted, he didn’t seem to notice. Would she? His arms pressed in, strong and warm, on her sides.
I … I don’t know.
Eighteen wasn’t so young to get married. Other girls married at that age. Her mama was married by then. Besides, she’d be nineteen in … The knowledge swept through her and a tear sprang into her eyes. She willed it away. Her birthday was in two days. How could she forget her own birthday? Mama always planned something. She’d make a cake. Wrap a small gift.
“What are you thinking about?” Michael’s voice shook her from her thoughts.
She took a deep breath. She wouldn’t bring up her birthday. What did it matter? “I’m thinking we should play a game.”
“A game?”
“Yes. When we were moving here, Mama had us play a game to occupy our time. It was a long wagon ride, after all. We’d go in a circle telling something we loved. I’ll go first. I love apple pie.  Of course, we don’t get apples down here much, so it’s been a while since I’ve had one. You have apples in New York?”
He chuckled. “Mmhmm.”
“I’ll bet you have great pies up there. Your turn,” she urged.
He cleared his throat. “Well, I love colcannon.”
“Colcannon? What’s that?”
He lowered the reins, resting his hand on his thigh. “Well, it’s cabbage and potatoes cooked together in kind of cake.”
“Cabbage in a cake?”
He laughed. “No, not like a cake you’d eat, more of the shape of a pan.”
“Your mama make that?”
“Aye,” he replied.


***


Michael met the gaze Anne threw over her shoulder.
“Did you know you talk like that whenever I mention your mother?” she asked.
The sun hit hot on his neck. He didn’t regret the loss of his hat, but his neck would be red later. He smiled at her. “I suppose I do. Isn’t it your turn?”
She flicked her hair, and it tickled his nose. “Let’s see. I love … swimming. That’s why I went to the spring. I love it there; the water’s so clear.”
“Do you usually swim … uhm …”
Her laugh trickled through the air. “Sometimes. But only when I’m alone. You swim?”
The image of swimming in the greasy, black waters around New York formed in his mind. “Oh no,” he replied. “No swimming for me.”
She twisted in the saddle. “Can you swim?”
He shook his head. “No.”
“I should teach you,” she said. “You’d want to learn, right?”
The corners of his mouth curved. “You’re gonna teach me to swim?”
“Well, why not? Everybody should know how.”
“I’d rather watch you.”
She smacked at him, and he dodged the blow with a laugh.
“You, Michael O’Fallen, are incorrigible. You’re worse than Nicky. He’s always pulling pranks. Why it’s too bad I’ll miss my birthday because I’ll bet he has a joke planned.” Her hand flew to her mouth.
Michael stared at the back of head. Her birthday? He tugged her hand away from her mouth. “What did you say?”
She stuttered. “N-nothin’. I talk too much.”
He wove her fingers into his. “No, tell me, Anne. When’s your birthday?”
“How … how old are you?” she interrupted.
He sighed. So he’d play along for now. “Twenty. My birthday is in August. August third. Now your turn.”
“I didn’t want to bother you with it,” she muttered.
His thumb tracked over her hand. “Now, why is your birthday a bother? I’d think you’d want to celebrate.”
“What’s there to celebrate? We’re stuck out here. We don’t know where we’re going, and there’s everything to consider. Makes it seem insignificant to me.”
He clenched her hand. “Nothing about you is insignificant.”
Nothing. She was a bright light in a very dark room. Maybe you’re right, Mama. Maybe I’m falling in love.
“So when is it?” he persisted. There had to be some way to make the day special. He glimpsed her fingers. She ought to have a wedding ring.
He glared at Ferguson riding way ahead. He got us into this, so he should provide one. His thoughts turned over and back again. He didn’t realize she’d gotten quiet until she leaned over the horse’s neck.
“Michael …” she moaned.
He pulled the horse up sharp, and releasing the reins, grabbed for her shoulders as she pitched forward. “What is it?” His heart swished loudly in his ears.
“I’m gonna be sick.” And she vomited into the dust.


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Suzanne D. Williams

Suzanne Williams Photography 
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Unseen Faith

Now faith means ... being certain of things we cannot see. (Heb 11:1 JBPhillips)

So much of our decisions are made based on prior knowledge. We desire a new product, so we read the specs and study online reviews. We ask for public opinion, then based on all we've learned make an informed choice.

We walk out our daily lives this same way. We buy and plan and make lists to be certain of the outcome and control how we get there. We don't want to forget anything or have to rely on anyone.

But none of that is faith.

I have friends who do not believe in Christ. They don't see the need for church or the Bible and though they're wonderful people (else they wouldn't be my friends), the one thing they lack, the thing they don't see that keeps them from God is that faith cannot be seen at all.

I have said this time and again, but it bears repeating. Faith is like walking in midair. You have nothing in your hands and nothing beneath your feet. Instead, all your weight is supported by God.

It's a helpless feeling really.

But turning control over to God is the wisest choice you'll make. He is, after all, God, and so far wiser than you are at making decisions. But it is also the most humble. It requires you admitting you can't go it alone. And you can't whether you admit that or not.

It also requires lack of evidence. Hebrews 11:1 in the King James says, "Faith is ... the evidence of things not seen." Trusting God exists, that the Bible is truth, that the insane stories of miracles and healings and supernatural happenings really transpired is the essence of faith.

I mean, a donkey talked? An virgin conceived? A man rose from the dead?

Faith comes first. Faith is saying, "Yes, He did," and taking God's word as evidence, as the ultimate proof, before we see anything else, before we know anything else, before any of it is logical and makes sense. That is faith.

And faith is what makes us peculiar. Because those who don't believe simply can't see its the power of God which holds us up.

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. (1Pe 2:9)

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Suzanne D. Williams
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

CrossReads Launch Party

“The authority the Master has given me
 is for putting people together, not tearing them apart.”
 -2 Corinthians 10:13 (TMB)
 

Introducing

a new place to meet, read, and be encouraged… 

CrossReads Logo

 
Find books that uplift, authors that inspire, and a whole community of fellow Christians who are looking to encourage and be encouraged.
 

Join the Community today, and be entered to win one of 169 prizes!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
See the books you can win.
Including a copy of my own books MISSING and FOUND.

Dear Reader

This piece was written for the Grace & Faith 4U Blog. It received such a nice reception that I wanted to also post it here. It is not di...