Saturday, December 21, 2013

Single at Christmas? Here's Some Christmas Cheer!


The stockings are hung. The presents are wrapped. The tree is aglow with lights. The fire burns brightly as carolers sing. And mistletoe is just waiting for you and your special someone to enjoy “the most wonderful time of the year!” 

Stop! Is this a Christmas movie we’re talking about? Because for many of us who are single or single again, it sounds like a fairy tale. Or a Hallmark card. Or someone else’s life. 

Yes, many singles struggle during the holidays to find the joy and the jolly amidst the holiday rush and the holly.   

What if you just broke up, or are recently divorced?
What if you can't afford to fly home for the holidays?
What if your family doesn’t gather—or you have no family to go home to?
 
And you feel lonely, sad, dejected or depressed.  

Here are some tips and gentle reminders to help you not just survive the holidays, but maybe even to thrive:  

Give and serve. Lucy in the Peanuts Christmas TV special was right. Charlie Brown was depressed and she advised him to get involved with the local community Christmas play. What can you do in your community to help others? Volunteer at a food bank. Help with a toy drive. Offer to baby sit while friends with children do their holiday shopping. Or, whatever moves you. Doing for others brings joy to them—and to you! 

Connect. Ask a friend to have coffee or tea. Share your heart with a trusted friend so he or she can empathize and pray for you. Sometimes it helps to just get it out and talk about how you’re feeling.  

Pray. Ask God to give you comfort and joy, and a sense of community. You never know what may happen to surprise you. One friend I know did not have any plans for Christmas Day. So she prayed and asked God for something to do on this special holiday. Then, just a few days before the holiday, she got an invitation to join a family she knew from church for their Christmas dinner and celebration.  

Enjoy it anyways. So even if you get no offers. Even if you end up alone on Christmas, decide to enjoy it anyways! You can buy some special foods you like, or treat yourself to a favorite meal (just pick it up the day before since many restaurants are closed on Christmas Day). We have choices! Even if “home for the holidays” will not happen for you, you can choose to focus on what you do have—not on what you don’t have.  

Focus on the true meaning of Christmas. You will find meaning and joy as you look to the true story of the birth of Jesus Christ: a baby, born of a virgin girl, who grew up to love and change the world. Amazing, but true, Love came down at Christmas—God WITH us. Emmanuel.  
 

So what is the meaning of that first Christmas night?

  Simply, He came to make everything right.

  For the Child had a purpose in coming to Earth.

He came as a light and to give us new birth.

 

He gave us forgiveness and paid with His life.

  What kind of love would pay such a price?

For death could not hold Him; He rose from that grave.

And freedom and life were the gifts that He gave.

 

No longer divided, no longer alone,

  Because of His love the wall had come down.

  Live free forever! O, what a gift!

Both now here on earth and forever with Him.

 

Wise men and angels followed Him then.

  Wise men still seek Him, again and again.

 
 
That’s from a poem I wrote some years ago about the true meaning of Christmas.

Finally, remember who loves you. Love changes everything. So, whether you have the love of a good woman or man—or don’t—you still have different kinds of love in your life that can be cultivated and CELEBRATED all through the year. Like the love of family or friends or pets or neighbors or others.  

And mostly, the love of a kind and generous God who is always there loving you—whether you feel it or not. Love came down at Christmas. For you. For me. On that you can rely.
 

Merry Christmas and blessings for an extraordinarily good New Year!


Jackie M. Johnson


Thursday, December 5, 2013

12 Steps to Becoming a More Organized Woman


A Book Review

These days, almost everyone I know complains that they have too much to do and not enough time. How do you get it all done and stay organized in the process. Are there better ways to tackle the clutter, organize your house and maintain relationships with your spouse, kids, friends, and—most importantly—with God in this fast-paced life? 

Yes, indeed. Thanks to author Lane P. Jordan, getting organized doesn’t have to be difficult.  

In her newly updated and revised book, 12 Steps to Becoming a More Organized Woman: Practical Tips for Managing Your Home and Your Family (Hendrickson Publishers) Jordan provides a treasure chest of information to help make life more productive and satisfying.  

Check out some of these categories that Jordan tackles in her book: 

  • Walking with God daily
  • Working on your marriage
  • The importance of time
  • Balancing the demands of home and career
  • Staying healthy and fit
  • Health meals
  • Details of the home
  • Nurturing and providing for children
  • Restoring yourself emotionally and spiritually
  • And more…
With practical tips and spiritual insight for women who want to live a more balanced and productive life, this book can be a helpful resource.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Finding Joy Despite Your Circumstances




A thankful heart is a JOYFUL heart.
 
Where does joy come from?   

Does joy come from winning a trip to Hawaii? Or the bliss of holding a newborn baby? Or the calm delight of watching a pink-orange sunset with the one you love?  

Sure. All of those things can bring us joy, but what happens when it rains at the beach or the baby cries, or the one you love no longer want to watch sunsets with you?   

Yeah. Not good.            

Yet despite the frustrations life can bring, true joy is not dependent upon our circumstances. Though life’s joy stealers can be many, we can learn to have more joy in our lives. It starts with asking.  

Ask God for more joy in your life. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” 

Here are a few good verses on finding JOY:  

  • The joy of the LORD is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10
  • The cheerful heart has a continual feast. Proverbs 15:15
  • Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. Psalm 126:5
  • Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Psalm 100:2
  • The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:3

Finally, a heart full of praise and thankfulness is a glad heart.   

Praising God multiplies our joy and increases our faith. “Praise is the spark plug of faith. Praise gets faith airborne, where it can soar above the gravitational forces of this world’s cares. The secret of faith is continual praise even when your inward parts tremble, lips quiver, and decay enters your bones,” says Kay Arthur in When Bad Things Happen.  

Praising God for who He is and all He has done can start a smile quickly. Thanking Him for the relationships in our lives that bring us connection and cheer buoys our spirits as well.  

A thankful heart is a joyful heart.  

 

(excerpt from Power Prayers forWomen by Jackie M. Johnson)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dealing With Losses and Getting Unstuck


"If you don't grieve well, you grieve all the time."


Sometimes life hurts. People move away. Or pass away, or break up with us. We get fired or yelled at. Or we’re misunderstood or mistreated. Whatever it is, it feels really bad. We just want the pain to go away.  

Certainly, in times of loss you need to cry. You need to get it all out. You have a right to your emotions.
 
But when months have passed, or years, there could remain some "emotional garbage." Which, like regular garbage in your home, needs to be taken out. Grief left unattended blocks your emotions as well as your movement forward into healing and wholeness.  

Bottom line: A loss of significance—a big loss—can get stuck in your heart if it is not processed.  

Stuck pain can also lead to unwanted behavior. You’re constantly sad or bitter, and it keeps you at arm’s length from other people, so you feel alone. You don’t feel like yourself, so you end up saying or doing things you don’t really mean—like blaming others or lashing out in unwarranted anger. You hurt others.  

It’s been said that if you don’t grieve well, you grieve all the time. While you may put on a good front for friends and co-workers, inside the lingering sadness remains.  

On the other hand, when you express your grief and deal with it, you can become emotionally stronger and healthier. That’s why it’s so important to grieve losses—to unblock your frozen heart so you can feel better, find joy and live a life of emotional freedom, serenity and love.  

It’s time to “drain the pain” and express your grief so you can move forward.  

How to Express Your Grief

Everyone heals in their own way and their own timing because love and loss is unique for each person. Here are some ideas on how to process your pain and release your sadness through grieving.  

1.     Acknowledge your loss. Getting through this season of grief and sadness begins by acknowledging that a loss has happened. Someone or something that was there is now gone.

2.     Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you do what you cannot do on your own. With His power, emotions expressed will begin the flow, unclogging your blocked heart. In time you will get unstuck and move from the darkness of loss and pain into the sunlight of restoration and wholeness. “The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down” (Psalm 145:14, NIV).

3.     Ask for help from a close friend or family member who will listen as you share your story of loss. When someone listens to your heart, and hears your pain, he or she is a witnesses your sorrow and it can be life-changing.

4.     Let yourself cry. Get the hugs you need. Allow others to pray for and with you. And receive all the peace and comfort that God and others have for you.  

The good news is that you will not feel this way forever. Your gray days will one day turn to vibrant colors again. Perhaps it’s not today, or next week, but one day; maybe soon…  

Your new day will come.

 

For more information about dealing with sadness, grief
and life losses, see “When Love Ends” by Jackie M. Johnson.
There's an entire chapter on healing grief and losses.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Dealing with Difficult People


 
Do you have a friend who’s an arrogant know-it-all or a spouse who nags you like a woodpecker on an oak tree? Difficult people can be in our place of work, our church or right in our own home. 
 
But you don’t have to live with hurtful words and put downs—or someone who is simply annoying.  

You have choices. 

No matter what happens or how people treat you, you can choose how you will respond. You can respond defensively and angrily, or kindly with respect and tact. You can change the subject. You can walk away. You can choose not to argue and take the high road.  

Of course, it’s natural to be offended when someone hurts our feelings, but what we do with that offense—whether we hold it inside and let it fester, or release it—makes all the difference.  

What are some lessons we can learn from Christ’s examples of how he treated people (with love, respect, and addressing the person’s true need)? How can we deal with conflict and strife from the difficult people in our lives? Here are just a few ideas:  

Love. Jesus said radical things like: Love your enemies. Human nature often wants to do the opposite. Sometimes the most loving thing to do is to “speak the truth in love²” and say the hard things, with kindness and tact, but also with boldness and truth. 

Stay calm. James 3:18 reads, “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” You can choose to be a person of peace despite your circumstances.  

Keep perspective. Hurting people hurt other people. The annoying person in the cubicle next to you may have issues in his life you know nothing about. But, past pain in someone else’s life doesn’t excuse bad behavior in yours. Knowing that may help you to better deal with the situation since often the problem is not about you, it’s about them.  

Communicate with tact.  Don’t blame or accuse, instead say, “When you (describe their action), I feel (describe how you feel). “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).  Of course, there are times when, despite your best efforts you may need to leave the room and handle the situation another time so anger can diffuse.  

Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?”  

Pray. Most importantly, pray for the person who’s annoying you, and for grace and strength in your response. Your prayers are powerful and effective! Philippians 4:13 states, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  

Coping with difficult people is part of life. It isn’t always easy, but God will be your strength to help you overcome and deal with that person in your office or your living room who’s not the easiest person to be around.  

Pray about your challenges. Give them to God, and ask for wisdom, healing and hope. Then watch what happens.  

You just might be surprised.  

 

For more about dealing with difficult people,
see Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times by Jackie M. Johnson.
 
 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Dealing with Rejection after a Breakup


 

Breakups are tough. And no matter how hard someone tries to carefully choose their words, rejection hurts. Even if you only went out a few times the sting of their rebuff can leave you feeling like a dating discard or send you into a what-is-wrong-with-me spiral.  

Whether you were together for two weeks or two years, being rejected can leave you feeling unwanted, insecure, or “less than.”  How can you cope? 

When you feel rejected, it’s important to remember that there’s what happened and what you tell yourself about what happened. Often, a guy is not rejecting you as a person, but making a choice on the best fit for him (just as you make a choice on what’s the best fit for you).  

It’s crucial to know that not being chosen doesn’t mean you’re not acceptable. You are still worthy and wonderful whether the other person realizes it or not.  You may not feel very wonderful right now, but don’t let what someone else thinks erode your sense of self.   

Besides the guy may have his own issues to deal with too. When he says, “It’s not you, it’s me” you may want to believe him. On the other hand, there may be things in your own life you want to change—like false beliefs that are preventing you from lasting love. It’s worth praying about and exploring how you can become your best self whether you are in a relationship or not.  

No matter who initiated the breakup, remember that you will always be significant and important in the eyes of the One who loves you most.  

Keep reminding yourself of the truth, because truth combats lies like light combats darkness. You matter to God, and He has unending love for you. You are the apple of his eye. He chose you. You are accepted in the Beloved. You are enough, and you are worth being loved well.  

Truly, your love life matters to God. He is still in control and He is leading you on a path to good purposes.  

God redeems loss and pain and heals the heart to love again.

 

To learn more about healing from a dating relationship breakup or divorce,
check out When Love Ends by Jackie M. Johnson. Available in paperback or e-book.
 
 

 

 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Tired? Exhausted? Here's Hope for Peace and Rest



 
It was late when I finally finished eating dinner. Tired, bleary-eyed from a long week at work, I opened the kitchen cupboard to put away my leftover spaghetti, and stopped suddenly.
What am I doing?
I shook my head and laughed, and put the food in the refrigerator where it belonged. I was exhausted. The past few months had been a whirlwind, and tension was taking its toll.
Of course, putting Italian food in the wrong place was the least of it. Most nights I was up late working, folding laundry, or doing “one more thing” before bed wondering why the days were so long and the nights so short. 
I don’t think I’m the only one who has too much to do and never enough time.
In the exhaustion of daily living, we often complain, “There’s so much to do, and never enough time” instead of saying a quiet prayer, “Lord, I am so tired. Please help me.”
And that’s exactly what God will do when you ask Him.
Rest brings margin to your life, spaces that allow you to replenish and restore beauty and balance. Without it, life is an endless cycle of work, chores and errands. And that’s not what God intended. Joy, peace, fun and play are essential parts of life, too. 
Eugene Peterson explains the “unforced rhythms of grace” in The Message Bible:  
Come to Me. Get away with Me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me--watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly. (Jesus, in Matthew 11:28-30)
 
Prayer
Lord, my hands are full and my mind is reeling with so many things to do. Will you please order my days and help me to get stuff done and find time to rest? As I work, help me to be productive and peaceful. As I love others, help me be calm and encouraging. I need Your peace in every area of my life today. Help me to find JOY despite my circumstances. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
 
(For more information on finding rest and relief from busyness and stress, check out "Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times" by Jackie M. Johnson.)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 


 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Finding Joy Despite Trials

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
James 1:2–3

Life can be hard sometimes. Whatever you are going through, God knows. He sees. He cares. And He is more than willing and able to help you through!
With God, we are overcomers! Here's a short prayer for today:
"Lord, it’s hard for me to think that something good can come from these challenges. Yet, despite my circumstances, you lift me up to a place of joy! Joy in my trials? Only you can make it happen. You, who shines your love like light into my gray, cloudy heart. Thank you. In times of testing, temptation or total disarray, I need your persevering power. I believe that together we will make it through. In Jesus’s name. Amen."
May today be the day of your breakthrough! Keep on believing. Your day will come.
 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Lesson from Mountain Climbing




A mountain is climbed one step at a time. You begin by putting one foot in front of another, and another, until you reach the summit.
 
Of course, climbers know the importance of staying hydrated and never climbing alone. As believers walking this rocky road of life, we can stay hydrated with refreshment from God’s Word, which is as essential to life as water.  

We can build a team around us for support and encouragement, building community and strong relationships with friends, family, church members, those with whom we play sports or do hobbies and others. And, don't forget the importance of welcoming newcomers, too. Everyone needs a place to belong.

And we can learn to trust our guide, Jesus Christ. He knows the way when we do not. He provides, He protects, He heals and comforts. He goes before us and with us.  

He is with us—always.  

As we press on, in mountain climbing and in life, the power of prayer helps us to persevere and find joy. So even when you feel like giving up, believe that the ascent is worth the climb, for once you reach the peak the view is exhilarating.

“You need to persevere so that
when you have done the will of God,
you will receive what he has promised.”
(Hebrews 10:36)
 
 
 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Standing Strong in Tough Times



Life can be hard at times. Maybe your kids are screaming, and they just won't seem to settle down. Or, you can’t find a job—and you’ve been out of work for months. Could it be that someone you love just left you and you're brokenhearted? Do you have an illness or injury? Or, an ache in your heart wondering if you are dating or just friends with someone you care about?
 
Whatever the situation, you can find HOPE despite your circumstances.
 
To stand strong in challenging times, we need a solid foundation. When we ask, God will build support into our lives so that when the winds of change and challenge blow we won’t topple like the fragile houses of the three little pigs.
 
We will stand strong.
 
Consider what happens when builders construct a skyscraper. In order for the building to be tall and not tumble, the workers first dig a foundation and then pound steel reinforcing rods called pylons deep into the earth. Concrete is then poured into the shaft with the pylons for a super-strong hold.

The same can be true in your life.

As you grow deeper, you grow stronger in your faith. As you immerse yourself in the ways and wisdom of God, the truth (like pylons of hope, trust, courage, and faith), helps you become stronger.

So when your life is spiraling downward or you’re overcome with loneliness, you will be able to withstand more readily the gale-force winds of hard times and pain.

Steel upon steel, story upon story, a structure is built. Likewise, God’s Word tells us that hope comes step by step as “…suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope (Rom. 5:34).

Press in to God’s strength and He will help you do what you cannot do on your own. There is hope ahead. And we’re on the way to finding it.

For more about finding hope in hard times,
see Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times (Revell/Baker Publishing Group) by Jackie M. Johnson

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Live a Life of Love


LOVE. It's one of those words... We're supposed to know what it means. I mean, mostly we do. But often our definition is lacking or skewed.

For instance, romantic love is more than holding hands or kissing, although that is nice. It's also about kindness, caring and seeking the best in the other person. It's about putting others' needs before yours. It's sacrificial for the good of the other person and the sake of the relationship.

Bottom line: If you are meeting his needs and he is meeting yours, then everyone gets their needs met!

Of course there are other kinds of love. God loves you--the best love there is! And there is the love of family, friends, people whom you serve and more.

I love The Message Bible because the wording is so down-to-earth. Here's one passage about LOVE from Ephesians 5:

"Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant...Love like that."

Extravagant love.

When we spend time with the One who loves us most, we learn to love like that.

I'm in! How about you?

Monday, July 1, 2013

ICRS 2013 a Success!


The International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) is the largest gathering in the nation of Christian authors, editors, publishers, agents, music and film industry and retail gift sellers.

This year, under the St. Louis Arch, amazing things happened. Steve Laube, literary agent at The Steve Laube Agency, wrote a comprehensive blog post about his observations of the 2013 event. Here are some of the highlights (click here for the entire post):  

Golden Scroll Awards banquet winners (at AWSA)

  • Editor of the Year went to Sandra VanderZicht of Zondervan
  • Fiction Editor of the Year went to Vicki Crumpton of Baker Publishing Group
  • Nonfiction Book of the Year went Karen Whiting and Jocelyn Green for Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front (God & Country Press of AMG Publishers.) 
  • Novel of the Year went to Jeanette Windle for Congo Dawn (Tyndale)
  • AWSA of the Year was Carol Kent
  • The Beyond Me Award, presented by Kathi Macias, went to Sue Badeau
  • The prestigious 2013 Golden Scroll Lifetime Achievement Award went to Carole Lewis, the bestselling author and national director of First Place 4 Health,
Christy Awards

Lifetime Achievement Award to agent, Lee Hough at Alive Communications. This stellar man—who has not only contributed significantly to the Christian publishing industry, but is also a superb example of how to love your wife, family and others—has two months to live due to terminal brain cancer. Well deserved, Lee Hough. Well deserved.

Exhibits galore with the latest in books, music gifts and more.


Next year’s ICRS will be held in Atlanta, Georgia from June 22-25, 2014
 
See you there!
 

 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Update on Black Forest Fire: Colorado Springs



Good news! The Black Forest Fire near Colorado Springs, Colorado is nearly out!

We are now at 75% containment (and it's been burning for nearly a week). The good news: 3,615 homes saved. The bad news: 483 homes totally destroyed and 2 fatalities. 4,100 people remain evacuated from their homes.

Please pray for the fire to cease totally. For rain. For the safety and protection of firefighters. For those who have lost everything...for peace, comfort and provision to begin anew.

Thanks for your prayers!


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

PRAY FOR COLORADO: Wildfires Raging


 
 
Less than a year ago our city battled the largest wildfire in Colorado history.
 
Today, as numerous wildfires are raging in our state (at the Royal Gorge, LaVeta, Black Forest and other areas), we ask for prayer.  

The blaze closest to Colorado Springs is the Black Forest fire. So far it has burned more than 8,000 acres in one day and is 0% contained. That means it is burning out of control.  

Hundreds of firefighters, police, National Guard and others are helping to battle flames in the 90+ degree heat.  

Thousands have been evacuated statewide and nearly 100 homes have been lost in the Black Forest fire—only miles from my home.  

Today, the air is hazy and you can smell the smoke for miles. It smells like campfire, residual from the blaze still being battled.  

Thankfully, Colorado Springs is a community that rallies to help each other. I was at Care and Share foodbank today dropping of boxes of energy bars (for firefighters on the front lines) and the line of cars went on for BLOCKS…so many people willing to help!
 
 
Will you pray for the Colorado fires burning nearby? 

For rain to come and the high winds to die down  

For the fires to be contained and stop (they predict it will burn for days) 

For the many people who have evacuated—for comfort in their loss of homes and properties—and for food and shelter in their time of need right now.  

For the police, firefighters, National Guard, Army and other first responders to be safe and to have the energy and strength to battle this blaze.    

For people, property and pets to be safe. 
 

Lord, we need you. Come and heal our land—and the people of our city affected by the fires. We ask believing! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 
Click for live updates on the Colorado wildfires from The Gazette



Photo credit (fire): Huffington Post; Photo credit (cars): Jackie Johnson

Monday, June 3, 2013

The 3 M’s of Connecting at ICRS 2013 (for Authors)


It’s almost here! The International Christian Retail Show 2013 will be held June 23-26, 2013 at America's Center Convention Complex in St. Louis, Missouri and attendees are getting ready.
From Christian book and music publishers, editors and agents to authors and media, the event promises to be packed with information, education and FUN!

Who’s exhibiting at ICRS (the largest Christian convention for book, music and gift retailers)? For a map of 2013 ICRS Exhibit Hall Floor, check out the link. 
 
For authors: Author and veteran ICRS attendee, KarenWhiting, offers these tips for authors at the conference:

1. Meet. I like to meet the sales reps of my publishers. When they meet me and we chat, they get more excited about my books and that helps book sales.


2. Media: I am not signing at ICRS this time, but I will be interviewed for radio and TV while I am there. With fewer big names coming the stations, they have more room to interview the lesser known authors.

3. Marketing: The one-sheet should include a summary of your marketing plan. What you bring to the table in marketing ideas plays a bigger role than ever.

Get ready now! It all starts in less than three weeks.


Friday, May 24, 2013

What to Do About Money? A Lesson from an Acorn


"Big oaks from little acorns grow."

 

It always amazes me when I look at an acorn how a tall tree can come from such a small seed. But nothing will happen unless it is first surrendered to the soil. Release precedes growth.

Likewise, when we surrender to God our heart and our attitude toward money, growth happens. In the black soil of faith, God grows our character and integrity tall and strong. When we ask, he provides wisdom on how to save, spend, and give from all that he has provided and given to us.

Ask God for “acorn faith” to plant seeds of hope for what God will do in your finances.

Ask him for an increase and wise management of your money so it will bear fruit—in your own life and in the lives of those in need.

Prayer
Lord, I ask for wisdom in how to use money wisely. I ask for increase, so I can not only meet my needs by be a generous giver. Show me how to spend, save and give for your glory. In Jesus' name. Amen.


Photo credit: Dave Frahm

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Veggie Tales Turn 20: Celebration at ICRS 2013


 
America's favorite faith-based animated children's series, VeggieTales is turning 20 this year, and they will be celebrating with special anniversary events at the 2013 ICRS show in St. Louis.  

It all begins with a birthday bash to kick off the ICRS show and the entire CBA community is welcome. Co-Founder Michael Nawrocki, CEO Leslie Ferrell, and fan-favorite characters Bob and Larry will be on hand for a ceremonial ribbon cutting, photo and autograph opportunities with Veggie stars.  

And don’t forget the birthday cake!

It all happens Monday, June 24, 20137:45 a.m. (CST) at ICRS 2013 held at America's Center Convention Complex (Hall 4 - Main Convention Floor Entrance). 

Happy birthday to our colorful, and inspiring, vegetable friends!

Monday, May 6, 2013

ICRS 2013: Authors, Musicians and CBA Publishing

 

By Jackie Johnson
 

In a few weeks, thousands of Christian retailers, authors, musicians, agents and others will descend upon America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis for the 2013 International Christian Retail Show.

 
It is “the world’s largest trade show for Christian resources” and we plan to bring you all the news and happenings from the show. From author book signings to emerging voices in the New Voices Showcase, we’ll cover ICRS 2013 and let you know what to look for—and what to buy in the coming months. As an insider, you’ll know before books and CDs hit the stores and you’ll be ready! 
 

In addition to a gigantic exhibit floor with all the major Christian book publishers, small publishers, distributors, gift suppliers and more, attendees will learn about the latest trends, products and best practices for Christian bookstores or church stores. 
 
Here are just some of the Christian book publishers who will be exhibiting at the show:
 
B & H
Baker Publishing
David C Cook
Gospel Light/Regal
Group Publishing
Guideposts
Harvest House
IVP
Kregel
Lifeway
Moody Publishers
New Hope
Tyndale House
and many more!
 

ICRS is a place to connect, to network, to see what’s new and to find new resources. It all happens in St. Louis—and it’s coming soon.  
 

So stay tuned, and we will bring you all the latest updates—the news you need to know—from ICRS 2013.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

From Fear to Faith: How to Overcome

 
 

Fear says, “I cannot handle this situation.”
Faith says, “God can.”

Years ago, when I was learning how to mountain bike I was afraid to go down super big hills with rocky terrain. I was afraid of falling. I wanted to go slowly down the hill—to maintain control and feel more in control. However, my friend (who was an experienced mountain biker) said, “Speed is your friend,” and urged me to go faster.  

Faster? It sounded counterintuitive. Perched at the top or a hill strewn with rocks of all sizes, I paused. I prayed and I decided to trust him.  

As I went down the hill on my bike, the speed actually helped me to glide across the rocky path in a whole new way. I was scared and excited. It was exhilarating! 

Fear comes into our lives in many ways. Perhaps your fears are holding you back from what you truly want. Or, they are keeping you in bondage—not free.  

Fear says, “I cannot handle this situation.” Faith says, “God can.”  

When you release your grasp and let go of how you think things should be, they begin to change. Surrender is a powerful thing. Giving your fears to God, and allowing him to transform them into faith—faith that He will come through for you even though you can’t see now how it’s all going to work out. 

He is your strong protector, wise helper and total healer. He is stronger than any force that tries to come against you. God whispers, “Will you trust me?” Will you believe I will take care of all your needs and calm your fears?   

It starts by remembering what God has done in the past—for you and for others. Recall how He has seen you through before, and believe that He will again. Ask the Him to help you do what you cannot. 

Remember you are not alone. The Lord is with you always and He will fight for you.
 
 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

When You Feel Like Giving Up: 5 Helpful Ways to Get Through Hard Times


 

 

Life can be hard. How do you press on when you’re emotionally or physically drained? When times are tough, and when you feel like giving up, here are five vital things to help you persevere with God’s strength:  

1) Cast your cares. Don't take on burdens you were never meant to bear—like worry, fear and doubt. They’ll weigh you down and hinder you from being effective. Instead, give God your fears; surrender trying to do it all on your own to Him. Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”  

2) Believe that God will help you. Did you know that God not only loves you—and He LIKES you? But some people find it hard to believe God will actually help them, and the weight of the world on their shoulders is crushing. They think He doesn’t care, or He’s too busy being CEO of the entire universe to be concerned about their unhappy life. Nothing could be further from the truth.
 
In fact, God loves you. And he likes you. Despite your feelings of insecurity, inadequacy or other emotion you’re ashamed of, God is all about loving you. You are not alone; help is available and it’s a prayer away.  

3) Press on in prayer. Prayer is the foundation upon which everything else is built in your life. It the most important thing you can do. Talk to God about your situation, because He is the one who has the power to change it.
 
4) Send in reinforcements. Sometimes you need backup. It’s amazing what happens when you receive support in prayer from friends and family members who are willing to pray for you and with you. When you don’t know what to pray, when you’re spent emotionally or physically, or, like Moses, when you need someone to “hold up your arms” (to support you), the prayers of others on your behalf can give you a boost to keep going.  

5) Take action. Taking one small step can lead to another and another and it builds momentum, and things begin to change. You will not be in this hard place forever. God will help you through. Unlike others who may have let you down, God keeps His promises. When you take action in prayer, He moves on your behalf.  

There are still purposes to be fulfilled—lives to touch, things to accomplish, and character to be formed on the inside. Press on, pray on, with holy tenacity, holding on to hope that one day—maybe soon—the check will come, the job will be yours, or the house will be filled with a child’s laughter. 

Whatever it is you long for, tell God your heart’s desires and He will answer.
 
Whether it’s a “yes,” “no,” or “wait,” know that the One who loves you most is working all things together for His good purposes. We may not always understand or like it, but we can know with certainty that one day everything will be made right.

Today, we pray and trust Him.