Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Slump Called Summer - Martin Wiles


Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32 NLT

The slump had hit.

Some slumps I enjoy. Such as the one I get to experience from the last of May until the first week in August. We teachers call this our summer break. The one we need after slaving with kids for nine months, trying to impart knowledge and skills they’ll need in life. Dealing with paperwork and grading an unending string of papers. The slump allows us to put all this aside and slump in our recliners … or on a cruise ship … or in a mountain cabin … or in a pool … or at the beach. But even this slump bores me after a few weeks, and I’m ready to return to the grind.

Other slumps I don’t enjoy. When I pastored churches full time, I hated summer slumps. Since the churches were smaller membership, a few families going on vacation significantly decreased the size of our congregation. And with more people vacating, the church also faced the giving slump. Same bills. Less money.

As a writer who works hard to build his social media platform, I too feel the effects of the summer slump. Fewer website visits, fewer friend requests, fewer likes.

My wife sells avidly on Facebook and eBay. Summer slumps hit her too. People busy themselves saving for or spending money on vacations, not buying the goods she tries to sell to help us make ends meet.

While some summer slumps are enjoyable, others God doesn’t plan for us to get caught up in. Paul names them.

Summer isn’t a time to skimp on kindness—although it sometimes happens. Long stretches of hot weather tend to make people irritable. The patience fuses get shorter. Fights break our easier. Curse words fly faster. God wants us to give kindness year-round, not just nine months out of the year.

Forgiveness should never slump. God never stops forgiving, regardless of how many times we mess up. He never says, “Oops, it’s summer. No forgiveness for three months.” Sometimes, I need more forgiveness in summer than during the remainder of the year. The old adage is true: “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” Even in the down months, I try to stay busy.

Slumps are sometimes needed—and can be good for emotional, physical, and spiritual strength—but don’t slump on kindness and forgiveness. They are always needed.

Prayer: Father, whatever we slump from, let it never be kindness and forgiveness.

Tweetable: Are you slumping?



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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Author Interview with Leanna Sain

Today, Love Lines from God welcomes author Leanna Sain. 

When did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something? 

It was at a Halloween party at a friend’s house. We had hiked out to a spooky cemetery, and on the way back my flashlight glanced over to the right and spotlighted an old wooden gate. While gates on a farm aren’t unusual, this one was. There was no fence—just a gate—sitting all by itself at the edge of a pasture.

“Uh…why do you have a gate without a fence?” I asked my friend. 
  
“Dunno. It was like that when we bought the place.” 

Maintaining the Halloween spirit, I said, “Dum, dum, duuuum. The gate to nowhere.”

We both laughed, then she said, “That sounds like the name of a book.”

“Yeah, it kind of does, doesn’t it.”

“Why don’t you write it?”

“Maybe I will.” 

And that was the story seed for my trilogy: Gate to Nowhere; Return to Nowhere; and Magnolia Blossoms. 

Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from? 

They can come from anywhere: newspaper articles, street names, a school bus covered with kudzu vines, or a homeless person on the streets of Savannah. I keep a little notebook in my purse to jot down things that strike me. Those get added to a Word document on my laptop. Right now, the list of story ideas is so long I’ll have to live forever to get them all written.

Why do you write what you do?

It’s what I like to read. I love a good edge-of-your-seat story with a dash of history and sometimes a touch of magic realism stirred in. 

What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing? 

Having enough time to get it all done. I don’t have a problem with the actual writing. It’s the “marketing part” that gives me fits.

If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future? 

I’ve heard a Christian man—a Sunday school teacher, no less—say you have to include the sex and bad language if you want to sell books. That comment floored me. I disagree. For a Christian, our writing is part of our testimony. And I think people are desperately looking for books and TV shows that don’t include all that. The problem is they’re hard to find. I’m doing what I can to remedy that.

If you would, please tell us what was the hardest thing about writing your last book? How long does it typically take you to finish your books?

My latest book, Hush, is different than the rest of my books. I wrote it while watching my mother struggle through the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease. It probably took six months to finish the first draft. I used the writing as a sort of therapy, a way to get rid of some of the hard emotions I was dealing with. 
As a result, this book is a little edgier than my others. I created a minor character suffering from the disease, which allowed me to weave some of the things my mother said and did right into the story. I dedicated the book to Mama to honor her. But that didn’t seem to be enough, so I decided to donate half of what I make on sales to Alzheimer’s research. There’s not a cure for this horrible disease and there’s a 100% mortality rate. We need to find a cure.
  
Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.
  
First, the time I must take to promote the book when I’d rather be writing

Second, when the words are flowing and I’m in the writing groove, and I realize I forgot to make dinner.

Third, saying goodbye to the characters I create when I reach the end of the story. They become real when you live with them for so long. It’s a bittersweet feeling.

On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?

Creating these people and their lives and conflicts and being in control of it all. Well…sort of in control. Sometimes, the characters take the story off in a direction I never intended. But that’s okay, too. I call that “the magic.” 

What are you reading now, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?

Sue Grafton: I love how her mind worked. Amazing mysteries. I hate that she never got to finish her “Z” book. Sarah Addison Allen: I love the magic realism she weaves through her stories. Frank Peretti: What a great storyteller. Ted Dekker: He is consistently able to produce those “edge-of-your-seat” books I mentioned earlier.

Can you please give us your buy Links? 

https://shoplpc.com/hush
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hush-Leanna-Sain/dp/1645262502/ref=sr_1_1?
https://www.amazon.com/Hush-Leanna-Sain-ebook/dp/B07Z5QVSHQ/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=hush+Sain&qid=1571343107&sr=8-1 

And what are your social media links if people would like to follow you? 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Leannasbooks
Twitter: https://LeannaSain@Leannasbooks
Website and blog: http://leannasain.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/LeannaSain


North Carolina native, Leanna Sain, earned her BA from the University of South Carolina, then moved back to her beloved mountains of Western NC. Her Southern romantic suspense, or “GRIT-lit,” showcases her plot-driven method of writing that successfully rolls the styles of best-selling authors Mary Kay Andrews, Nicholas Sparks, and Jan Karon into a delightfully hybrid form that is all her own. Her books have stacked up numerous awards, from Foreword Magazine’s Book-of-the-Year to the Clark Cox Historical Fiction Award from the North Carolina Society of Historians. She loves leading discussion groups and book clubs. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Throwback Tuesday on Monday - Devil on the Run - Martin Wiles

Devil on the Run

Nothing is more encouraging than when the devil is on the run.

Resistance is indispensable when lifting weights and using exercise equipment to build muscles. If too little weight is placed on the bar, muscles aren’t challenged to heft it. Current muscle mass may be maintained and toned, but increased muscle mass probably won’t occur. A similar circumstance materializes when using exercise equipment. If the resistance isn’t increased, muscle mass won’t be challenged and therefore increase. Resistance may not be pleasant, but toning and increasing muscle depend on it. Read more...

Tweetable: Are you putting the devil on the run?


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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Staying Focused - Martin Wiles

Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” John 21:21-22 NLT

Although he tries his best, maintaining it tests him.

Focusing is challenging for our oldest grandson. He’s high strung and carries a Type A personality. A combination that opposes his concentration. As I taught him phonics in preparation for his first year at school, he struggled.

Several things had to happen for him to focus. I had to eliminate all distractions. His brother couldn’t be nearby, the television had to be off, other electronics couldn’t be playing, and I had to promise him a reward. The reward involved playing a word game on my computer.

So we established a daily routine. I’d write the new words on paper, he would learn to sound them out and then sound them together, and then he’d write them. As a reward, we’d use a game on the computer that made flashcards, sounds, typing exercises, and matching with the words he’d learned. Knowing this was coming at the end of our session helped him focus on the parts of our session he didn’t particularly care for.

Staying focused isn’t always only a childhood challenge. Peter was an adult, and he had trouble focusing … on what God wanted him to do. He wanted to focus on what Jesus had in mind for John. Jesus in so many words told him to mind his own business. Stay focused. He eventually did, and God used him in miraculous ways as an early leader of the church.

God gifts all of His children and matches our gifts to the unique personalities He implants in us. How He will use my grandson’s, I have no clue, but if my grandson chooses to follow God we’ll find out soon enough. Even those with the same personalities God uses in various ways.

God matches our personality to His plan for us. And He has a plan. He has something in mind for each of us to do. That’s where we should direct our focus. Others may make suggestions—and we may have our own ideas—but finding God’s plan is most important.

When we stay focused on God’s plan for us—as Jesus told Peter to do—we’ll experience joy and peace as we never have before. Focusing on what the Creator created us to do always makes life enjoyable.

Discover God’s plan for you, and enjoy life to its fullest.

Prayer: Father, show us Your plan, and help us stay focused on accomplishing it. 

Tweetable: Do you have trouble focusing?




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Friday, November 15, 2019

Flashback Friday - Facer or Avoider? - Martin Wiles

Facer or Avoider?

In life, there are only two types of people: avoiders and facers.

The first two days of each of my college semesters encumbered me with syllabi I would need for the next five months. Within the pages of these mini books were assignments I was responsible for. Among them numerous research papers. How would I accomplish all this by the deadlines? Simple. By ledgering them down according to date from nearest to farthest. And by starting immediately. My first paper was completed long before the due date, but none of them were late. Nor did I find myself hurrying to complete any at the last minute. I was a facer in college. Read more...

Tweetable: Are you a facer or an avoider?


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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Author Interview with Susan G. Mathis

Today, Love Lines from God welcomes author, Susan Mathis. 

Welcome, Susan. Tell us when you decided to
become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?

I can’t remember not writing. I’ve taught Language Arts for nine years to fourth through eighth graders, had my own newspaper column, wrote missions curriculum, and written just about anything God put in my path. 

Before I jumped into the fiction world, I served as the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and was the former Editor/Editorial Director of twelve Focus on the Family publications. My first two published books were nonfiction, co-authored with my husband, Dale. I also authored two picture books and am published in various book compilations including five Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Ready to Wed, Supporting Families Through Meaningful Ministry, The Christian Leadership Experience, and Spiritual Mentoring of Teens. 

I swore I’d never write fiction, but never say never. My hubby and I went to a book talk/signing, and after we left, I jokingly said, “I could write a story about a quilt!” I then proceeded to tell him the entire story, and he said, “Well, write it!” Thus began my journey of writing historical fiction.

Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from?

I grew up in the Thousand Islands, and there are so many wonderful stories to tell. The Thousand Islands Gilded Age is full of wonderful islands and characters like George Pullman, Frederick Bourne, and hundreds of famous people like J.P. Morgan, Vanderbilt, and others. So I aim to tell at least some of them. 

Why do you write what you do?

I fell in love with the Thousand Islands as a young girl, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2016 that I felt inspired to write The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series. By then I had completed my debut novel, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, a story set partially on the largest island, Wolfe Island, Canada. Christmas Charity is also set in the Thousand Islands. 

What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing? 

Time. I have too many ideas for one lifetime.

What surprised you the most during the research or writing of your book? 

I’ve gleaned all kinds of valuable information and made special friends in the process of researching and writing my stories. My historical editor is the president of the Thousand Islands Historical Association and a Thousand Islands author herself. Seeing and experiencing the area as I wrote made my writing come to life, and my historical editor keeps the history accurate.  

If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future?

The market is so inundated by the good, the bad, and the ugly that it’s hard to find the space and audience.

If you would, please tell us what was the hardest thing about writing your last book? And how long does it typically take you to finish your books?

Both of my novellas took about three months to write. The hardest part was finding the time to get it out of my head and onto my computer. The toughest scenes to write were the abuse scenes. As someone who’s been there, I know how traumatic it is.

Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business. 

The time it takes to do all the marketing, the social media that constantly changes its algorithms, and the challenges of building a platform.

On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process? 

Everything. I love creating a world and characters that touch the readers’ lives.

What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?

In all my stories, I include an Irish character and tea, since I’m Irish and love tea. But faith, hope, and love are reoccurring themes in my stories. 

What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?

I enjoy reading everything from children’s picture books to nonfiction to contemporary to historical fiction. But if I had to choose, I’d settle in with Christian historical fiction. That’s what I’m writing from now on.

Tell us about your next project.

Book two of the Thousand Islands Gilded Age series comes to life in Devyn’s Dilemma. It’ll release in April 2020. Here’s the summary of the story: 1910, Thousand Islands, New York. Others may consider The Towers castle on Dark Island an enchanting summer retreat, but to Devyn McKenna, it’s a prison. Yet as she works as a maid for Frederick Bourne, former president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, her life blossoms under the kindness of his family and fascinating entrepreneurs such as J.P. Morgan, Thomas Lipton, and Captain Vanderbilt. But more than anything, the growing friendship of Mr. Bourne’s valet, Brice McBride, begins to pry away the painful layers that conceal Devyn’s heart.

Brice is drawn to the mysterious Devyn, even though he’s certain she’s hiding a secret—one far more dangerous than the clues they find in The Towers that hint of a treasure on the island. When Devyn is accused of stealing Bourne’s investment in Vanderbilt’s New York City subway expansion, he might not be able to protect her.

Tell our readers how they can find you on the Internet.

Buying links:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Saras-Surprise-Susan-G-Mathis/dp/1087235715

Website: www.SusanGMathis.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanGMathis
Twitter: https://twitter.com/@SusanGMathis
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/susangmathis
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/susangmathisaut
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6044608.Susan_G_Mathis

Susan G Mathis is a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate New York. Katelyn’s Choice, the first in The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, is available now, and book two, Devyn’s Dilemma, will release in April 2020. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are available now. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more information.

Susan has also published two premarital books with her husband, Dale, two children's picture books, and stories in a dozen compilations. She has also published hundreds of articles. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs, enjoys traveling globally with her wonderful husband, and relishes each time she gets to see or Skype with her four granddaughters. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Choices and Consequences - Martin Wiles


Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. Galatians 6:7 NKJV

When her skin turned yellow, her husband wasn’t surprised.

Cattie seemed to have it all. She married a preacher and planned to fulfill all the wonderful roles that accompanied being a preacher’s wife. For a while, things went as planned. Her husband pastored a church in the low country of South Carolina. The next six years passed quickly. Then one Sunday, strangers visited the church. The next thing Cattie knew she was packing for a move to the upstate of South Carolina.

Over the next five years, Cattie tired of being a preachers’ wife and convinced herself she had never wanted to be one in the first place. She found a job in town and began hanging around with people who didn’t share her faith or her lifestyle.

Cattie’s downward spiral began innocently enough: smoking. Then she began drinking and even buying alcohol for some of the teenagers in the church. She changed her style of dress, wearing low-cut blouses and short skirts. When she filled in at stores in neighboring towns, she wouldn’t come home at night but stayed in sleazy motels.

Cattie’s husband became suspicious. Eventually, the proof of her bad habits surfaced. She admitted her addictions. Little did he know she was also dabbling in drugs and sleeping around with truck drivers and the chairman of deacons at the church he pastored.

Cattie’s husband wasn’t surprised when one day she said, “I don’t love you anymore. I want a divorce.” Nor was he surprised when she showed up to get the kids one day and was yellow all over. Her sexual escapades had rewarded her with hepatitis.

Paul states a simple but always-true truth: choices result in consequences. What we sow, we reap.

My choices never affect only me. They affect others, as Cattie’s did her husband and children. They affect my relationships with others and my relationship with God. Consequences can’t be avoided. What we sow, we reap. Later, and often to a greater degree than what we originally sowed.

God is always willing to forgive our sins, but He normally doesn’t take away the consequences. They are His reminders not to repeat our bad or unwise behavior. They also help us learn valuable lessons if we try.

Ask God to help you make good choices so you can experience healthy consequences that will help you fulfill His plan for your life.

Prayer: Father, help us monitor our behavior so we can experience Your best for us.




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