Posts Tagged ‘Letter from the Publisher’

It’s Time to Breathe. . .

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From our Publisher’s Desk

As we move into March, many of us are already feeling the weight of business and the rush of life pulling us in a million different directions. It can be hard to find the time in our busy schedules to slow down, be still, and just breathe and rest in God’s presence.
On this St. Patrick’s Day, it is important for us not to get caught up in the festivities of the day, and instead to think about what the day actually represents. Instead of focusing on wearing green or not being pinched, we should take a moment to get away from the noise around us, take a breather, and spend some time alone with God. The real St. Patrick would emphasize the importance of us maintaining our spiritual health in order to be spiritual leaders and make disciples for Christ. How can we show and reflect who Christ is in our own lives if we don’t take time out of each day to spend with Him and learn more about who He is?
A Whisper in the Woods    Martin Wiles emphasizes the importance of stepping into quiet escapes with God in his book A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes in a Noisy World. This book provides weekly devotionals that can transport readers out of the noisy world around them and into the quiet escape of a beautiful forest with tall trees where the voice of God is more clearly heard throughout nature. In his book, Martin provides tools that help readers hear God’s words of comfort as they face the mountains and the valleys that this life often and unavoidably brings. Throughout A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes in a Noisy World, Martin lays out ways to take a step back, adjust our focus, and spend some quiet time resting in God’s presence.

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     “The psalmist was a morning person. He had no alarm clock to awaken him, but he rose early and took his requests to the Lord.
While God doesn’t dictate morning as the time we must come to Him, He does have a lot to say through those who followed Him about the advantages of coming to Him in the morning. Jesus Himself did.
Our minds are fresher in the morning. I may still be sleepy, but the clutter of the day hasn’t cluttered my mind yet. Some function better at night, but the advantages of the morning are weighty. Quiet reigns, which allows me to focus.
When I approach God in the morning, the day is before me. I’ve not made any mistakes or decisions yet. The potential, however, is there. What day doesn’t involve decisions, temptations, or potential mistakes? Coming to God in the morning allows me to petition Him for guidance, strength, and wisdom.

Regardless of what time I come before God, coming consistently is important. Just as regular communication with others stabilizes friendships, so spending time each day with God cements our relationship with Him.
Morning by morning – or whenever is good for you – spend time with God.”

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     “Since life has many paths – represented by the numerous decisions I have to make – knowing the right one is essential. Otherwise, I might find myself in unnecessary debt, broken relationships, jail, or any other number of unpleasant situations.Martin Wiles
Taking the right path is possible when I consult the guidebook. God calls it His Word. We call it the Bible. Any direction I need is found there. Life progresses, scientist discover, and technology advances, but the principles of God’s Word never get outdated. They are good for all time.
Prayer keeps me on the right path. Through prayer, I petition God to give me full understanding of His Word, to help me know how to apply it to daily situations, and to guide others in the same path I’m traveling. Prayer helps the guidebook come alive in daily life.
Communing with other believers is also wise. Passing other hikers who were coming from the direction we were going assured us we were traveling tin the right direction – even if we had not seen any blazes. There is strength and comfort in numbers.
Don’t guess about whether or not you’re on the right path. You can know.
Prayer: Father, lead us along the right paths in life so we’ll end up where You want us to be.”

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     Instead of getting caught up in the world’s celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, take a moment to remember the real St. Patrick, take time out of your busy day to sit down, take a breath, stop worrying, and rest in God’s presence and purpose. Let Him refresh you and make you more like Him. And in doing so, let God use you (just as He used St. Patrick) to share His word and make Him known.

To learn more about Martin and A Whisper in the Woods, visit HERE.

New Year’s Resolutions: A Letter from Our Publisher

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Every year millions of people make resolutions of changes they would like to make in their lifestyle with a “New Year’s Resolution.” Some common changes people want to make are becoming more active, getting into shape, and getting back on track spiritually. In fact, many of us can probably say that we have followed this trend and made a resolution at some point in our life that matches up with one of these three changes. Many of us can probably also say that we have fallen short when it came time to keep the resolution we made. Change can be hard when it means we have to step outside of our comfort zone in order to accomplish a task that we previously couldn’t.

Kelly Wypych talks about stepping outside of your comfort zone and pushing through difficult changes and challenges in life within her book Ten Iron Principles: Persevering Through Difficult Situations. She tells her story of becoming an endurance racer, and how, through God’s grace and mercy, she came to salvation through a triathlon. As she became stronger physically, she found that she was also becoming stronger spiritually. By making changes to her lifestyle and old routines, she found her Kingdom purpose. We can learn about the power of perseverance from Kelly’s experience and words of wisdom.

“Many parallels existed in my life between the quest for physical endurance and my trek to salvation. During this unbelievable life voyage, I completed the race and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. He became real to me. As I inched nearer and nearer to race day, I grew closer and closer to God.”Ten Iron Principles

“My achievement definitely did not result from my inner strength because I demonstrated incredible weakness. God wanted to settle His love unequivocally in my heart and mind. I am not alone; I never have been. God carried me to the finish. He showed me my life is powered by God.”

“Nothing is wasted. [God] uses whatever sufferings occur in our lives to mold us, teaching us the necessary lessons, so we may change our behaviors. This growth enables us to become the sons and daughters God needs us to be. He knows you, too.”

“My words of advice? If He calls you, go. Bring all you’ve got. But don’t take it from me; remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 14:27, ‘Take courage! It is I. don’t be afraid’ (NIV).”

“The road to the Ironman proved to me that change is a process and occurs even when I take a few steps backwards. Chipping away requires dedication and persistence, especially when the road is long, and the outcome is unknown.”Ironman

Iron Principle #1 – You Are Not the Driver
“The biggest self-perpetuated delusion of my life (and possibly your life, too) is I retain control of it…As much as we sometimes wish we were in control, think we are in control, or even try to be in control, God holds the reins.”

Iron Principle #2 – Show Up
“Showing up is one of the hardest things for people to do and one of my greatest frustrations in relationships…Things are tough? Show up. Don’t give up. Do not give in. Keep participating to the fullest in your life and in the steps God has shown you for your recovery and inevitable victory in Him. Do not fall short of your pledged commitment. But if you do: smile, shake it off, and start again. Forgiveness is always available.”

Iron Principle #3 – Rounding the Bend
“Perseverance produces power. But take heart. You will make it through this time and “round the bend.” I call it “rounding the bend” because of the way I visualize it. Think of a learning curve depicted on a graph. The line on the graph steeply rises and then begins to arc as it plateaus and levels out. I imagine myself as a stick figure or cartoon running up the curve as if on a mountain. My little stick figure self struggles and sweats, huffing and puffing up the steep climb. Then, like magic, I go over the curve and things get easier, and I get faster because the trajectory flattens.”

Iron Principles #4 – Buoy to Buoy
“In my first open water swim, I heard a coach nearby ask his athletes how far they had to swim. After mumbled responses, he told them they only had to “Swim to the next buoy.” I stood transfixed thinking what an amazing philosophy this was. Sometimes looking ahead to a big goal can be disarming and overwhelming. Keep the big goal or the finish line always in in the back of your mind but remember to focus on the next upcoming goal or ‘buoy.’”

Iron Principle #5 – The Skittle Philosophy
“In the Beach to Battleship iron-distance triathlon, I altered my nutrition strategy from sports products to Skittles and Sweet Tarts because I could not stomach the nutrition products any longer. The Skittles tell the twisted tale of how we all need to be adaptable. Not all things will go according to plan, and you need to roll with the punches. Create the plan and follow it step by step, rounding the bend, and aiming for the next buoy.”

Iron Principle #6 – Run the Mile You Are In
“No matter how long the race, you can run only one mile at a time; you can run only the mile you are in…While keeping your eye on the prize, do not forget today is all you have. Try to ensure every day you are doing something, however small, to push you closer to your goal, to your “finish line” even if it means resting. Make the most of every effort and avoid getting so caught up in the finish line that you miss the journey.”

Iron Principle #7 – Use Whatever You’re Doing as a Time for Worship
“In whatever you attempt, remember God blesses you with the necessary gifts to be able to attack your goal. Be thankful and show your gratefulness through your efforts… You can easily incorporate prayer into your job, relationships, or into the dark times.”

Iron Principle #8 – Some Days Just Suck
“A few big misconceptions are that successful people never fail, they never experience pain or doubt, and they have it all together. No, they don’t… You will fail now and again when trying to reach your goals. Failure happens, but do not dwell on it. Get back up and dust yourself off… If the day beats you up, go to sleep and remember tomorrow is another day.”

Iron Principle #9 – CFM (Continuous Forward Motion)
“No matter how far, no matter how big the goal, no matter how insurmountable the task, if you keep moving forward, regardless of speed, you will get to the finish line. Whether with big strides or baby steps, keep moving forward.”

Iron Principle #10 – We Win
“It is easy to get engrossed in our problems and trials and how they affect us. It is easy to get stuck in the pain and hurt. But, try to keep a part of yourself focused on the eternal reward even if only a teeny, tiny bit. You may not understand or see the outcome of your situation, your struggle, or your life, however, if you are saved, you know how your soul turns out. You realize the result of the final fight. Jesus wins. He triumphs in victory. The battle was fought and won two thousand years ago on a cross. Jesus defeated Satan and death. Boo-yah.

Try to remember this. Try to keep the hope of spending eternity in heaven with the Lord in your mind’s eye! Amazing! Keeping salvation at the forefront helps us to remember the right choices are not always the easy choices, and it gives us the strength to move in the proper direction. Focusing on our deliverance helps us to stand up when we feel more like sitting. It guides us to remain in His strength when we feel weak.”

As you head into your new year, take Kelly’s advice and her Ten Iron Principles to heart. Don’t become overwhelmed by the length of the coming year, the amount of work required to reach your goals, or the many daunting tasks you may have to accomplish. But instead, try to take it day by day, one task at a time, hour by hour, or even minute by minute. Remember the words of Ecclesiastes 9:11, “The race is not given to the swift nor the strong but he who endures until the end.”

To Love a Child…: A Letter from Our Publisher

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As families come together to celebrate Thanksgiving, one tradition is to go around the table and list the things which you are thankful for. Many give the expected response of friends, their home, food, etc. But what we may not realize is that while we are thankful for these things, November also recognizes children without homes, without families, and some without friends. November is Orphan Awareness Month. There are many children around the world who will not have the opportunity to sit down and enjoy a meal with a family this holiday season.
Mary Sandford explores life for children in an orphanage in her book titled Unwanted. Mary follows the life of Debbie Spencer. She is like most children her age, she has friends who she cares about, she loves to play and laugh with them, and she has no fear praying to her Heavenly Father. However, unlike most children, she lives in an orphanage…even though she is not technically an orphan. Mary Sandford shows how Debbie, and many of the other children in the orphanage, felt not having a family there with them to comfort and love them.

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       “I didn’t know what made me more embarrassed, wanting Daddy or being scared over a silly commercial in the first place. After I was back in the dormitory, thinking about the awful music kept me awake for hours every night. That’s when longing for Daddy was the worst. He should have been alive to protect me from scary commercials and bad dreams.”
“For weeks I’d cried myself to sleep. I’d hoped and prayed and waited. My mother never came to see me. Not once. Not even when I had the mumps. After that, I had stopped thinking of her. I’d made myself stop, and now, I never did and didn’t want to start.
Patricia [one of the members of staff at the orphanage] led me into the office and closed the door behind me. My mother stood next to Miss Ritz and her desk.
“Thisss isss my daww-ter.” My mother’s voice was loud but might not be heard over the singing. She wrapped her arms around me and clung to me like she needed me, if only to stay upright. I wanted to step aside and watch her fall. I wanted to pay her back for all the times I’d longed to be needed and wanted but never was.
I pulled away from her arms.
She gave me a bleary-eyed gaze squinting like she couldn’t see clearly. “Ssstill looksss jusss like her Daddy.”
Miss Ritz went around the desk to her chair as if my mother wasn’t there bent over and crying into her lap.”

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       “Concentrating on the chairs worked only for a moment. Everything that happened before I came to the home bombarded my thoughts.
I remembered waking up to find a cake on the table with “Happy Birthday, Debbie, 12 years old,” written in blue letters across the smooth white frosting. I’d swiped a taste off of the side and ran into Gram’s room to thank her. But Gram wasn’t there. Before I could figure out why, Uncle Lloyd came bursting in.
“What are you doing in here?” he’d asked. “My mother is gone. Her heart gave out, and it’s all Carol’s fault.” He grabbed my arm and added, “And yours.” Then he shoved me out of the room and slammed the door.
Ever since Uncle Lloyd came home from the war and he’d had to sleep on the orange velveteen davenport, he’d been mad. Mad at Gram for letting us move in when Daddy went back to Korea. Mad like he wanted Gram all to himself to take care of him and his wounded hip without my mother and me there, too.
My mother never even tried because, ever since Daddy left for Korea, all my mother did was lay on Uncle Lloyd’s davenport all day with the brown and yellow afghan spread over her. Until the day after my ninth birthday when she got the telegram.
She had started to read it out loud. “We regret to inform you…” but she stopped, and no one ever told me what else it said. No one told me why my mother ran out of the house without a coat or even shoes. No one told me where she’d been before Uncle Lloyd found her. I heard him tell Gram he’d taken her to the hospital, but I didn’t know why until Gram had tucked me into bed with tears in her eyes.”
Just before all of the chaos with her mother coming to visit her in the orphanage, Debbie’s heart was lightened by some much-needed good news.
“An outing. Folks who cared for orphans were coming to take us out? Folks who liked children and maybe wanted a child. My chest swelled up with hope. Was God answering my prayers for a new family?
No matter what I knew, telling Sharon and Noreen wasn’t a good idea at all. I wasn’t telling anyone. It was supposed to be a secret. A secret that could make my biggest wish come true. I was just sure of it.
Gram would have been proud of me thinking of someone else’s feelings like she’s always told me, a sure sign I was starting to put others first or at least for a quick second.”

*****           Mary E. Sandford

It is important to recognize the children who spend holidays in an orphanage or alone, and if we are able, to show them the love they need and deserve as shown in Mary Sandford’s book, Unwanted.
We also want to thank and show gratitude to those who have opened their doors to children and embraced them as their own with loving and outstretched arms. Thank you for sacrificing your time and energy in order to invest in a life. Thank you for being Jesus to these little ones and saying, “let them come unto me, and do not hinder them” (Matthew 19:14).

To learn more about Sandford and Unwanted, visit HERE.