Monday, December 7, 2009

What a Wise Man

What a Wise Man
By Judy Vandiver
© copyright 2009 Judy Vandiver

As I’ve been studying scriptures surrounding the birth of Jesus, I have become intrigued by the man Jesus called Daddy. The scriptures don’t give us a lot of information about Joseph, but what is recorded says much about his faith.

Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us."
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. (Matthew 1:19-25 NIV)
Two things I admire the most about Joseph are his faith and his obedience. He was obviously a man quite like one of his ancestors, King David, as he appeared to be a man after God’s heart. While the above verses mention that Joseph did not want to expose Mary to public disgrace, he made himself, instead, a person to be ridiculed. I imagine he suffered his own type of disgrace.

Recently one of my great-nieces was visiting her “mimi” and stated that the nativity scene was set up wrong. “Joseph is with the wise men, and he was not a wise man,” she said. Such an innocent statement, but I wondered how many times Joseph was told that very thing. How many people told him he was unwise in taking Mary to be his wife, caring for her and her child, not knowing who the father was?

It’s easy to see from scripture that Joseph had his own doubts. But, as a man of belief, he accepted the words from an angel of the Lord. He had to be wiser than many people gave him credit for. He was wise enough to recognize that the angel was a heavenly messenger. He was wise enough to know that the only path for him was in being obedient to the Lord. He was wise enough to be counted as righteous through the ages.

We know so little of Joseph, and we know so much about Joseph. He was a man of faith, an obedient follower of God, and a very wise man.

© copyright 2009 Judy Vandiver

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Christmas Clock

The Christmas Clock
A True Story
By Judy Vandiver

      Little “Dude,” as his family called him, watched his mother as she stood in front of the mercantile admiring the beautiful eight-day striking wooden clock. She stared at it for a few moments, shook her head at the five dollar price tag then turned and walked away. It was in the late 1930’s, Christmas was coming and Dude wanted to buy that clock for his mother.
      One thing, however, stood in his way. Money. It wasn’t that he didn’t have enough money to buy the clock. It was that he didn’t have any money.
      A few days later Clay, a neighboring country boy, asked Dude if he had ever thought of selling his gun. Dude thought of how precious his Benjamin pump rifle was to him. He’d finally been deemed old enough to have a gun. It was an old one that his dad had found for him. He’d put his own mark on it. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it was his.
      He used that gun to shoot a squirrel or rabbit and was always rewarded with a smile from his mother when he helped contribute to the dinner pot. But today, Dude could only think of the look in his mother’s eyes as she had wistfully looked in the store window.
      “I’ll take five dollars for it,” he said.
      “Five dollars? You must be crazy. I’ll give ya three bucks for it,” Clay said.
      “Five dollars.” That’s all Dude would say.
      Clay left, but returned a few days later. “I’ll give ya three fifty for that rifle,” he said.
      “Five dollars,” Dude answered.
      After several more days of trying to negotiate at four and four fifty, Clay returned with five dollars.
      Dude sold him the gun, then he went to town and bought the beautiful wooden clock in the store window.
      Christmas morning, when his mother opened her present, she cried. Together they hung the clock on the wall of her country kitchen.
      His older brothers always said they hated the clock.  “’cause Mama knew when we were coming in late.”
      So, when Mama died many years later, they all insisted that Dude have the clock. He carefully removed it from the wall of the old homestead and took it to his house. He hung it in his kitchen and thought of his Mama each time he passed it.
      Dude had demonstrated true love that Christmas. He was more concerned with what might make someone else happy than what he wanted for himself. He had acted upon a verse his mother had shared with him from John 13:35 when Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
      As Dude grew up, his life was one that continually showed people the love he had for them, always putting others before himself. His home became a place where family, friends and sometimes strangers could find a place to rest their head at night. He sometimes worked two or three jobs to help put food on his table and still be able to give a little something to someone else.
      He once heard of a man traveling across the United States, hand pulling a wagon. He was told that the man would stop from time to time in an area to work odd jobs, earn a little money, tell people about Jesus and move on. And, neighbors said, he was camped just outside town.
      That night, as a chilly winter storm blew in, Dude got in his pickup truck, drove around until he found the man and his wagon and brought him to his home. He and his wife, made the man comfortable in a small guest room. They cared for, visited with and fed the man for several days. Once the storm passed through, the old man was on his way, with a few extra dollars from Dude and his wife.
      I know a lot of people say everyone is only after what they can get for themselves these days, but there are lots of “Dudes” in our world.
      I heard of a woman in our town who is encountering difficulties raising three grandsons alone. Several people came together and helped her with school supplies and clothing for the boys.
      In a home near us lives a woman caring for an elderly man and two mentally handicapped men. All four came down with infectious pneumonia. Two neighbors, at the risk of their own health, took food to them.      
      Yes, there are lots of “Dudes” in this world. We may never know how many. We may never know of all their good deeds. We may never know how their love has helped someone else. But, we can try to pass a little of that same spirit on. And not just at Christmas, but every day of the year.
      Maybe you are wondering about Dude and the rifle and the clock. The clock still hangs on his kitchen wall ticking away the minutes, the hours, the days. The gun? Well, an interesting thing happened with that gun. It ended up in an old junk shop in a town several miles from where Dude was raised and hundreds of miles from where he now lived.
      One day, his wife and his sister went for a ride and happened into that old junk shop. His sister recognized the Benjamin pump rifle. It was Dude’s old gun. It still had his mark on it. Dude’s wife bought the old relic, giving a few more than five dollars for it this time. On Christmas morning, Dude, now an old man, slowly unwrapped the gift in the long skinny box that had been hidden behind the tree.
      Imagine his surprise. His wife and God, had given him his old rifle back. It now graces the wall in the same house with the clock.
      “Just think,” he said, “I got my rifle, the clock and that old boy’s five dollars. Ain’t God good.” 

The Christmas Clock - copyright 2008 by Judy Vandiver

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Here are several thoughts of thanksgiving from blog responses. I pray that you and your family have a wonderful day.

"I'm thankful for my family and friends:) God Bless" (C. Brabham)

"I, too, am thankful for my family & friends! And I'm thankful that we're the ones who can give prayers for others, and not be the ones who need them. But I'm also thankful that my friends are there if I need them." (M. Harris)

I'm thankful for my husband. God has given me a wonderful help-mate who is a Christian. (J.Vandiver)

I am blessed with a wonderful home and surrounded by many friends. God has been so good to me. (G. G.)

I'm thankful to still have a job in today's economy. (unsigned)

My greatest thanks is to Jesus for His sacrificial love. (G. V.)

I'm thankful for a good job and a steady paycheck. (S. R.)

I'm thankful for my children and grandchildren. (S. Vandiver)

I am also thankful for my readers and supporters of my blog. For the last few months, I have been posting a daily blog. Due to a hectic schedule during Christmas and a desire to concentrate on a Bible study that God has laid on my heart, I will begin posting my blog updates weekly, rather than daily. Look for my new postings on Monday of each week. I also ask that you pray for me as I delve into this study and that I learn what God wants to teach me.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Tomorrow we’ll celebrate our American holiday of Thanksgiving. In the tradition of the pilgrims of 1621 at Plymouth Plantation, we’ll share our bounty with family and friends as we take time to appreciate our blessings.

One of my greatest blessings has been the readers of my blog that comment publicly and privately. I thank you for the encouragement to keep doing that which I feel God has called me. I appreciate each one of you and pray that your day of thanks becomes a lifetime of thankfulness.

Judy Vandiver

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Goal Reached

A Goal Reached
By Judy Vandiver
© copyright 2009 Judy Vandiver

Mom and I have talked for years about writing a cookbook. We started one a couple of years ago and set the project aside. A few months ago, I suggested we finish our goal. Today the idea of a cookbook became more than a goal. It became a reality.

Mom, Dad, and I were sipping on our coffee, thinking it would be hours before the Fedex truck arrived. Dad stepped outside then was back in a flash, with a grin across his face. “The Fedex truck is here!” he said.

The next few moments went by all too quickly. We flashed pictures, opened boxes, and celebrated. The cookbooks turned out great and we are very pleased with the result.

After Mom and Dad left and I stared at the boxes of books in the foyer, I thought about another goal I have. It is my goal to make Heaven my eternal home. I want to someday see Jesus face to face, thank Him for His sacrificial love, and worship Him forever.

Like the moments when the Fedex guy delivered the boxes, life on Earth will be over sooner than we realize. Take time today to think about your eternal goal. Take the steps needed to reach that goal. Persevere, don’t give up, and trust the Lord. He’ll lead you home.

© copyright 2009 Judy Vandiver

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Yellow Stripe down the Middle of the Road

The Yellow Stripe down the Middle of the Road
By Judy Vandiver
© copyright 2009 Judy Vandiver

It was a beautiful spring day as we traveled West on Texas Highway 7. The sign beside the road said, “Monk’s Lookout – 1 mile.”

“Let’s stop,” I told Steve. “I want to stretch my legs.”

Steve pulled onto the gravel drive and circled around to a lone picnic table. He, the kids, and I piled out of the car and walked to the edge of an embankment that stood above the valley below. What a breath-taking sight.

Sunlight bounced off and glowed from a blanket of wildflowers carpeting the fields of the hillside. The golden buttercups, brilliant Indian paintbrushes, and vibrant bluebonnets danced on a soft breeze. They seemed to wave at us as we towered above them.

Our eyes took in the rolling hills and dales. There were not only wildflowers, but patchworks of fields planted by local farmers. And green grasses of various hues stood as the backdrop for the amazing beauty.

All too soon, we had to get back into the car. No one said anything for a while and I assumed everyone was deep in thought about the beauty of nature, just as I was. Soon, our little David, asked, “Dad, how did God make all those flowers?”

Steve patiently told David how God had created the world and when He did, He had made seed-bearing plants.

“How did He make so many different colors?” David asked.

Steve explained that God had control of the entire world and had made it a place of beauty for us. He shared with our son the verse from Matthew 6 and used it as a lesson to teach David about God’s love.

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Matthew 6:28-30 NIV)

“Dad,” David asked next, “how did God make some of the land flat and some into hills?”

Steve carefully explained that God had created plates in the earth that at a specified time had shifted and moved to craft the Earth into what God wanted.

Throughout this father-son conversation, I listened, joyful that my son realized God had made the spectacular sight we had enjoyed.

Quietly, our little Melissa finally spoke up. “Well, I just want to know one thing,” she said. “Just how did God and Jesus get that yellow stripe down the middle of the road?”

All was quiet for a moment then Steve, David, and I burst into laughter.

Later, I thought about that drive along Highway 7. Melissa was very young at the time and her focus was not on the things that we saw that day. She had not been looking up. With downcast eyes, she had focused on something other than God.

I wondered how many things God had placed before me for my enjoyment, yet I had never seen them. Had I been too focused on the stripe down the middle of the road, rather than the beauty of God’s creations?

I think God’s greatest creation is not the world around us, but that we, humans, are His most remarkable handiwork. How easy it is for us to sometimes overlook the beauty in ourselves and others, while we concentrate on the yellow stripe. It’s all a matter of where our focus is. When our eyes are focused upward, we see Christ. If we focus on worldly things, all we’ll ever see is the yellow stripe down the middle of the road.

Colossians 3:1-2 says, “ Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (NIV)

© copyright 2009 Judy Vandiver

Friday, November 20, 2009

Someone Stole my Yellow Socks

Someone Stole my Yellow Socks
By Judy Vandiver
© Copyright 2009 by Judy Vandiver

“Someone stole my yellow socks,” my eight-year-old daughter screamed.

“Are these the same socks you have been wearing all week? The ones that could almost stand up on their own?”

“Yes, and now they are gone. Someone took them.”

“Maybe I should call the police department and report a break-in,” I told her. “Is anything else missing?”

“No, just my favorite yellow socks. Someone stole them.”

And so goes the blame game. Though this happened many years ago, it never occurred to my daughter that she might have misplaced her socks. If they were not to be found, it was someone else’s fault.

We all have a tendency to play “the blame game.” Defendants of social and hideous crimes sometimes use the defense of their upbringing. They had a bad home life, they were sexually assaulted as a child, their parents were alcoholics, or they were abandoned as a youth. It is almost always someone else’s fault.

Perhaps you have played the blame game at work. “I didn’t finish the report because I had too many interruptions. I was late this morning because a slowpoke was ahead of me on the freeway. I didn’t catch the proof-reading errors because the lighting in the office is incorrect.”

And yes, I admit I’ve played the game too. Honestly, that accident in the new van was not my fault. I rear-ended that guy because he stopped too fast in front of me, and besides, he should not have had such a long trailer hitch on his truck. In addition, the weather was bad that day.

And on and on it goes.

Adam and Eve played the blame game in the Garden of Eden. Eve blamed the serpent and Adam was quick to say, “It was that woman you gave me!” It’s so easy for us to tell God that we didn’t mean to sin, but. . . the other person started our argument. . . I didn’t know the consequences would be so hard. . . the peer pressure is too great. . .

Someday, however, each of us will stand before God and be accountable for our own sins. 1 Peter 4:5 states: “But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” (NIV) and Romans 14:12 tells us, “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (NIV)

As an eight year old, we may get by with blaming someone for our missing socks; but when we stand before God, what excuse could any of us possibly give for ignoring the Son of the Most High?

We are coming into a season designed to give honor to God coming to Earth to redeem us from our sins. I pray that each of us take the time to give Him the glory that is His due. Let us not be guilty of blaming our world, our customs, our society for allowing the hustle and bustle detract from the real meaning of Christmas.

I shall be praying that you, my readers, will feel the presence of God this Christmas season deeper than you have before, and I ask that you also pray for me. We all get busy. But what a shame if we get too busy for God.

© Copyright 2009 by Judy Vandiver

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Trash to Treasure

Trash to Treasure
By Judy Vandiver
©copyright 2009 Judy Vandiver

They call it dumpster diving. Have you ever done it? It’s my husband’s favorite sport. He loves going through people’s trash looking for some discarded object that can be repurposed and reused. Together, we have worked on quite a few projects refurbishing what someone else might have called trash.

Here are a few examples of some of our finds and the finished projects. This first one is an old table a neighbor threw away.

What you don’t see is that prior to taking the photo, we had removed layers of old linoleum flooring that had been nailed to the top of the table.

After filling in the nail holes, sanding, painting, and applying a faux finish with a gold leaf edge, we had a very cute bedside table.

Another project was the result of seeing a cabinet in a furniture catalog. Here’s the original inspiration.

Here’s a furniture piece we found in someone’s trash. Some of the drawer fronts were missing and others broken. We removed them all, sanded on the old dresser. . .

Our finished version included cute little baskets and decorative cloths. Much cheaper than the original.

One of grandest trash to treasures was when we bought an old farmhouse.

And turned it into a cute country home. (Don’t live there anymore. We like to redo and move on.)

But I thought about the greatest trash to treasure project in my life, and it wasn’t anything my husband or I redid. It was one of God’s original restoration projects. He took this:

And made this:

Isn’t our God awesome? Thank you, Lord, for all you do in my life.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Branches from the Family Tree

Branches from the Family Tree
by Judy Vandiver
© copyright 2009 Judy Vandiver

Last night I put up the Christmas tree in the living room. Today I put up a second one in my office. The one in the living room is pretty, but the one in my office holds special memories. No, it’s not a tree I’ve had in my home before and the ornaments are all borrowed. But what special ornaments they are.

You see, my mom let me use the photo ornaments this year. The clay ornaments, hand-made by my sister-in-law have pictures of family members from over the years. As I hung each ornament, I thought about the people in the photos and the special times we have shared. I call it “The Family Tree.”

What a delight to see old photos of my children when they were young. David and Melissa have grown up, but they’ll always be like the small children in the photos to me. I smiled at a picture of my “Uncle Boug,” and remembered how he always threatened to cut my ponytails off. Was that really over fifty years ago?

I prayed for each niece and nephew as I hung his or her ornament on the tall skinny tree. I thought of all the special Christmas celebrations with my siblings as I hung pictures of them and their spouses. I remembered the prayers of my grandparents as I tied their ornaments to the wobbly limbs. And I treasured the photos of Mom and Dad.

I’m glad I put this tree in my office and that I put it up early for “the season.” I’ll have longer to enjoy these smiling faces as I work each day in my office. As I type at my computer, it’s almost as if they are cheering me on. I know each one has prayed for me with my writing and will continue to do so. And isn’t that what families are about? Being there for each other, standing beside one another, praying for each one.

I thought about Jesus’ Family Tree. If there were picture ornaments on it, He might have hung a photo of Abraham, King David, Boaz, and even Rahab. Then a very dear friend and fellow writer, Barbara Oden, reminded me that He would have our pictures on there too, because we are His family. We share the same Heavenly Father. He’s my big brother. And each of you who have accepted Christ as your Savior are my brothers and sisters.

So, as I look at the ornaments on my tree and say a prayer for each one, I’ll ask God to bring my Christian family to my mind. As He does, I’ll also say a prayer for each of you.

“He replied, ‘My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice.’" (Luke 8:21 NIV)

© copyright 2009 Judy Vandiver

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thank You!

Thank You!
from Judy Vandiver

Thanksgiving is next week, but I'm thankful everyday for those who encourage me with my writing. My blog has been a great discipline for me and helps me stay in God's Word. To be able to do as the Lord has instructed and write devotionals and Bible studies, it is a must for me to search the Scriptures on a daily basis.

Very few people comment by pushing the comment button at the bottom of each blog. And only a handful make comments on facebook about what I write. But I hear from so many of you privately. The occassional word of encouragement or telling me how a particular devotional fit your day does much to confirm the Lord's leading in my life.

I write for several reasons. One is because I want to help spread the Gospel. When God said to "go ye into all the world," He meant each of us. This is my way of reaching those that I can. Another reason I write is because God has given me a gift that I can do nothing with unless I first give it back to Him.  I also write because I feel it is what God has called me to do with my life. And last, I write because it is so much a part of me, that for me to not write is almost like not breathing.

I don't write for any praise. I don't write for applause. And I don't write to please man. However, those who have written to tell me what my being faithful to God has meant to them, are always an encouragement and confirmation that I am doing what the Lord wants for my life.

So, this is my early "Thanksgiving" message. Thank you to all who have written me. Thank you to all who read my blogs, whether I ever know about it or not. Thank you to those who have shared in spreading the gospel when you tell others about my blog. And of course, thank you to the Lord for giving me a gift and talent that I enjoy to the fullest.

Between now and Thanksgiving, I'd love to hear from readers about the gifts and talents God has given you. I'd love to hear about the people or things that you are most thankful for. Please drop me a private email, share your thankful blessings, and I on Thanksgiving day, I will post a list of all our blessings. When you email me, let me know if you wish for your thankful blessing to be listed anonymously, with your first name only, full name, or how you would like to share it with others.

I look forward to reading all the things you are thankful for.

In love and gratitude,

Judy Vandiver
Email me at

Monday, November 16, 2009

Don't Drink the Kool-Aid

Don't Drink the Kool-Aid
by Judy Vandiver

©copyright 2009 Judy Vandiver

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. Some of the Pharisees asked, "Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?"

Jesus answered the, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions." Then Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." (Luke 6:1-5 NIV)
As I read the verses above, I thought how the Pharisees thought they had all the answers on how one was to live spiritually and please God. They believed they had it all figured out. And yet, because of their interpretation of God's commands, they didn't recognize the one who gave the commands when He was in their midst.

Many years ago, I taught a group of fourth and fifth grade students in Sunday School. One Sunday, I had them help me rearrange the room. I told them that we had to face a certain direction so God would hear our prayers. I told them that they had to pray a certain way. I kept adding rule after rule after rule. Finally, the students began to question me, which is exactly what I wanted them to do. Then together we sat on the floor and read what God said about prayer. I reminded them that regardless of who told them something was the way a Christian would act or something a Christian would or should do, that the only true authority was God himself. I told them that any instruction they received outside of God's word had to be confirmed in His word. Otherwise, it was no more than what the Pharisees did. It was simply making up rules.

Not only did the Pharisees interpret God's word to fit their rules, they tried hard to make the Creator himself fit their rules. They insisted that Jesus do things their way. It reminds me of a parent setting boundaries and rules for a child and the child twisting and turning the words until it fits what they want. In addition, the child then tries to make the parents follow their interpretation of those rules. As a parent, I can almost laugh at this idea. But as a child of God, it becomes a different situation.

Do I ever try to interpret God's rules to allow me to do what I want? I'm sure I've been guilty of it. Does God call me down on it? Many times He has and I pray that He will continue to do so.

I read something recently that talked about the passage above. The writer spoke about how the Pharisees were looking for an excuse to accuse Jesus. The author warned that we should listen with an open heart and accept the messages in our churches, rather than be as critical as the Pharisees were. However, I also believe that we should do as I tried to instruct my Sunday School class years ago. Don't accept every word you hear, even if it's from an established teacher, preacher, or well-known Christian. Ask yourself if God's word confirms what you hear. Ask yourself if what the speaker or author says contradicts the word of God. Be diligent in studying God's words so you know the truth and you know the half-truths.

Here's a verse of scripture that I consider very wise instruction: "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isaiah 8:20 KJV)

Many of you, no doubt, know the story of Jim Jones and the many people who blindly followed him, doing what they were told, even to the point of mass suicide. In 1978, more than 900 people drank poisoned kool-aid because they followed a man rather than God. The Bible warns us that many false prophets will preach empty words that sound good. Apparently, Jim Jones was one of them.

1 John 4:1 says, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (NIV) My personal paraphrase of this is, "Don't drink the kool-aid." It is my desire that none of us be deceived and all of us follow what the Lord has commanded.

©copyright 2009 Judy Vandiver

Friday, November 13, 2009

Just Don't Let Go

I am please to share a devotional by a guest blogger today, Melissa Phelan. This is her first devotional and I am very proud of her. Melissa is my daughter and along with God, I won’t let go of her. I’m glad she has learned to see God in the everyday moments of life, letting Him speak to and encourage her. (Judy)

Just Don’t Let Go
By Melissa Phelan
©Copyright 2009 Melissa Phelan

I lay in my bed tonight pondering the wonderful day I had with my boys. I could not help but think that I wouldn’t have received a special joy of the day if I were not divorced. Sounds silly, I know!

As I pulled in my driveway from picking Dustin up at school, I told him, "Today’s the Day." He looked at me with confusion. I said, “Let’s get in that garage, take off those training wheels and learn to ride that bike without them.

"Sure" he said. We tried this about 5 months ago and he couldn't get the hang of it. But today, we went into the garage together and he sat next to me on the floor as I took off the training wheels. It was kind of neat doing it together. Dustin watched me and I felt an excitement for both of us as I managed to get the wheels off. He grabbed them and tossed them aside and I saw determination on his face. He was ready to do this.

He ran into the house and grabbed a pair of gloves, tugging them on as he came running back outside. He jumped on his bike, looked back at me and said, "Just don't let go, Mom."

“I won't let go until you’re ready,” I told him. I gave his bike a push, hanging on and running forward for a few car lengths. “I won't let go, but you’re doing it," I yelled.

“I know. I know. I can do it, it’s ok, Mom," Dustin said.

I let go but kept running next to him. "Look, I am not holding you. You’re doing it all by yourself," I said.

"I know. I know," Dustin continued to say as a smile beamed across his face.

I continued to run beside him. I started clapping for him. I was so happy inside. Finally, I told him I was going to stop running.

“That will be alright, Mom. I’ll be okay.”

I watched him continue for another two or three car lengths then yelled for him to just put his foot on the ground when he wanted to stop. I watched as he put his foot down and the bike fell to the ground - but Dustin didn’t. We were both so happy.

We spent the next few hours together. I taught him how to stop without the bike falling and without my help. Then I taught him how to start without holding on to me. The first time he did it, I watched as he came down the street with a grin as if he was so proud but was trying to contain it.

It was so AWESOME!!!! I was so PROUD!!!! Later I taught him to turn around without stopping the bike to get off. Then we sat on the curb and I taught him how to flip the bike over and fix his chain that had come off. We got greasy, but it was bonding and a mom’s moment. Then Dustin went and got his older brother’s bike, which is little bigger. He hopped on it and took off. I beamed inside and out!

Soon Tyler, who still refused to learn to ride a bike, came outside to see what Dustin had accomplished. He said he wanted his bike back.

"But you won't ride it," I told him.

He told me he wanted to learn now. He took his bike, got on, and it only took him about 2 minutes, but without my help was off and riding. I couldn't believe it. WOW! WOW! I was thrilled.

Tyler decided my bike was better suited for him and Dustin likes Tyler’s better. I don't mind. Hey, they are all riding as if they have been doing it for years. At 8:00 pm, I finally made them come inside for the night. It had become dark at 6pm. But I stayed outside with them the whole time. I didn't want to miss anything. They rode for 4 hours. I can't get over it.

So, as I lay in my bed pondering the day, I am utterly on a high! So happy and proud of my boys! Then I thought that if I was still married, my now-ex should have been the one to do all that. Taking off the training wheels, running with Dustin, showing him how to fix his chain. He would have received that joy, that precious bonding intimate time. I'm glad I got that all to myself. It was moving for me and something I will always remind the boys of.

So, I guess today showed me that divorce isn't all bad times. God has always been there holding on to me as I yell, "Just don't let go. Just don't let go," even though he knows I can do it. I won't let go of God and He won't let go of me, but there are some things I needed to let go and I haven't wanted to. I know it will be ok if I do. God will still be there running next to me. I may fall but I will get right back up.

©Copyright 2009 Melissa Phelan

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What is a Devotional?

What is a Devotional?
By Judy Vandiver
© copyright 2009

We’ve been looking this week at devotional times with God and I suppose we should ask ourselves exactly what is meant by a devotional time. What does it encompass? What is it and what is it not?

The word devotion means to show our allegiance to something or someone. To devote yourself means to consecrate or make and declare something sacred. Therefore I take the word devotional to mean a time of declaring God as sacred and showing my allegiance to Him.

The length of a set-aside devotional time does not have to be long. In fact, the word devotional has come to also mean a short religious message. The key, however, is in the dedication. In Proverbs 23:16, God says, “My son, give me your heart and let your eyes observe and delight in my ways.” (Amplified Version) A paraphrase from The Message states that verse like this: “Dear child, I want your full attention; please do what I show you.”

To me, a devotional time can be reflecting on a Bible verse, singing a song of praise to God, or reflecting on the beauty of His world. It may include prayer. It may include reading from a book of short writings meant to be used for devotional time. It is a time of giving God our full attention.

We’ve already discussed this week how life demands so much of us and our time. While I remain devoted to God 24/7, my devotional time is a short period of my day that I set aside for Him and Him alone. That’s the reason it’s important for us to carefully choose the time and place of our devotions.

One thing I try to remind myself of, however, is what a devotional time is not. A devotional time is not Bible study. During devotional times, I try to absorb the presence of God. During times of Bible study, I try to absorb the knowledge of God. Paul wrote to Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” Bible study, therefore, is the diligent application of learning the meaning behind the words of God.

I find that times of devotions and times of Bible study are very different. They both encompass God, who He is, what He says, but they serve two different purposes—learning about Him and knowing Him.

Some people like to read a short verse for a devotional time and contemplate on it. Some like to use a book of short writings by other Christians that give them spiritual insight into experiencing God. Some choose to read several verses of the Bible. Some use their devotional time to try to read through the Bible in a year. I’ve said it before on my blog and will repeat that God is not as interested in how fast you read your Bible as in how well you apply it. Whether it takes you a year or a lifetime to read your Bible, the important thing is to read it, ask God to help you understand it, and apply what it says.

Tomorrow we’ll take a quick look at a short devotional written by a guest blogger. This is the first devotional this person has written, and it’s a good example of how someone takes a moment where they find themselves and declares God as sacred. It shows how God sends us messages through everyday examples. It shows someone giving God the attention He deserves as He gives us His undivided attention. And that, my friends, is what devotions are about.

Personal Bible Study

1. Other than spiritual things, name something you feel devoted to or have ever felt devoted to?
2. What did being devoted to that thing or person entail? What did it really mean to you and why?
3. How did you demonstrate your devotion to that person or thing?
4. How does that compare with showing our devotion to God?
5. Memorize Proverbs 23:16 from The Message: “Dear child, I want your full attention; please do what I show you.”
© copyright 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Daily Devotional Time - Part Three

A Daily Devotional Time – Part Three
By Judy Vandiver
©copyright 2009

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35 NIV)

The last two days, we’ve looked at the verse above as an example regarding a daily quiet time with God. Like Jesus, we are encouraged to find a time and place where we can be alone with our Heavenly Father. Christ chose a time that probably wasn’t convenient and He left the crowded house to find a spot as free from distractions as possible.

But even for Him, interruptions were inevitable. The next two verses state: “Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!’” (Mark 1:36-37 NIV) The scene reminds me of the one I told you about two days ago when Dad locked himself in his pick-up truck just so he could eat in peace and quiet. Sometimes there is just no getting away from the crowds.

Your crowd may be a crowd of ten or a crowd of one. Your crowd may be the telephone, the doorbell, or the ticking of the clock. Nevertheless, our “crowds” push and shove their way into our devotional times. They look for us, find us, and abduct us.

I’d like us to look at the words used in that verse. The NIV translates two forms of the word look and one of the verb find. The first time the word look is used, they “went to look for him,” the verb is used much like our common use of the word today. The Greek word used here was katadioko which means to hunt down or search for. And when John Mark reports that they “found” him, the word he used was heurisko which means to find or to see something.

But of interest to me was the second use of the word look in the NIV translation. The Greek word John Mark used was eukairōs which translates into our English today for opportunity or when the opportunity occurs. Therefore a more precise translation of the latter part of verse 37 would be, “All want an opportunity with you.”

I searched to find other places where eukairōs occurs in the scripture. John Mark uses it again a few chapters later in Mark 14:11. Judas Iscariot had just gone to the chief priests to betray Jesus. The chief priests promised to give Judas money so “he watched for an opportunity,” to hand Jesus over. The word used for opportunity here is eukairōs. One translation used the word convenient for opportunity. We’ll discuss that in a moment.

Another place where this word was used was in 2 Timothy 4:2. Paul writes, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” The word eukairōs has been translated here as “in season,” meaning at every opportunity.

Therefore we can easily see that when someone seeks an opportunity they could be seeking it to gratify self or for their own convenience. Or they may be looking for an opportunity to promote the gospel. So which was it with those who sought Jesus that early morning when He tried to have solitude with His Father?

I believe they were seeking an opportunity for self. They didn’t yet know of the Gospel. They didn’t know Christ had come to save them from their sins. They only wanted the immediate benefits they could receive from Jesus.

Many of our interrupters will not have our best interest at heart. Many of them will be seeking what is convenient for them. But interruptions are a part of life. What did Christ do when the crowd sought and found Him? He got up and moved on with the job the Father had given Him. “This is why I have come,” He said.

Seek your solitary and quiet time with the Lord, but when the world seeks and interrupts you, remember to go about doing the task the Father has for you. You may have to tell the world to wait, or you may have to do as Jesus did this particular morning—move on to the task at hand.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at what a devotional time is and is not. See you then.

©copyright 2009 Judy Vandiver

Personal Bible Study:

1. What are some usual interruptions into my quiet time with the Lord?
2. Are these legitimate interruptions or are there things I can do to eliminate them?
3. What can I do to make my devotional time as distraction-free as possible?
4. Jesus knew what His purpose was for being on Earth and made that His priority. Do I know what my purpose on Earth is?
5. Memorize Mark 1:38: “Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages —so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” (NIV)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Daily Devotional Time - Part Two

A Daily Devotional Time – Part Two
By Judy Vandiver
©copyright 2009

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35 NIV)

Jesus was a busy man. The verse quoted above shows us the actions of Jesus on a particular morning. Let me give you a glimpse of what had transpired the day before and what the upcoming day held for him.

Jesus and some men that He had asked to follow Him had traveled to the city of Capernaum earlier in the week. Their method of transportation was their own two feet. They had walked the dusty, uneven terrain, no doubt their feet hurt, and their legs ached. They may have even had a blister or two worn on the soles of their feet by the rough, primitive (at least to us) leather sandals.

We don’t know when they arrived in Capernaum, but when the Sabbath came, Jesus went to the synagogue. As was the custom, the visiting rabbi was asked to read the scripture and teach. He preached in such a manner that the people were amazed, because, they said, “he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law” (Mark 1:22 NIV.) Can you picture the group of men gathered there, leaning towards one another, whispering, amazement etched into their expressions? As I read these words, I can almost hear the murmur as it travels over and through the crowd, until everyone sits up and takes notice.

I would love to know what his sermon topic was that morning. Whatever it was, Satan didn’t like it and he didn’t like that people were recognizing the authority of this person named Jesus.

Suddenly a man possessed by an evil spirit cried out, demanding to know what Jesus wanted to do with him and if Jesus was going to destroy him. He proclaimed the true identity of Christ as the Holy One of God. The man must have been shouting because Jesus told him to be quiet. I’m thinking that this evil spirit was scared that he had come face-to-face with Jesus. He probably wished he had not gone to the synagogue with the man that morning. He not only knew who Jesus was, but exactly what kind of authority Jesus has. And when Jesus commanded the evil spirit to leave the man, the evil spirit did the only thing he could. He obeyed. He could not resist the power of Jesus. Mind you, he shrieked and cried, but he obeyed.

The people who were still in the synagogue witnessed this event. People were abuzz with what this Jesus could do. Can’t you see them on their way home from the synagogue, stopping, talking, asking, “Did you see? I was up front, you know. I got a good look at what happened. Who is this man?” The Bible tells us that news soon spread to the surrounding area. Even with limited travel on the Sabbath, the word quickly spread through the region. (A little more on this later.)

Amid the chattering and amazed crowd, Jesus and his disciples leave “church.” They are probably hungry and it’s time for “Sunday afternoon lunch.” Simon and Andrew, who apparently shared one home with their combined families, said, “Hey, let’s go to our house to eat,” and off they trod.

But when they arrived at the home of the two brothers, it was discovered that Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a fever. Jesus bent over her with concern, touched her, and healed her instantly. As the fever left her, she began to help get the “roast and potatoes” on the table, jumping right in with a grateful spirit.

Again, can you see the reaction of those in the house? The disciples, the women preparing the food, the combined households, any servants they might have had must have all talked about what had just happened. And now they hurry to serve this one who seems to have so much authority.

What I want you to see here is the activity around Jesus. Stop for a moment and think about a large gathering where one person has done something that has the whole group talking – good or bad – it doesn’t matter. With this large a crowd, Jesus could not help but be aware of the commotion within the house. And somehow, word leaked from that house to the surrounding community. I picture the news traveling from house to house to house, until it reached a distance beyond what the people were allowed to travel. The law may have banned the people from traveling a certain distance, but the law could not stop the word and the news about Jesus.

Let’s move forward a few hours. It’s now nearing sunset and perhaps the household is quieting down. Maybe Jesus will have time to catch his breath from all the day’s activities and the hustle and bustle that has brewed around Him since arriving at the Synagogue that morning. But no. Just as the sun dipped below the horizon, people began bringing the sick and demon-possessed to Jesus.

Remember earlier when we discovered the people were talking as they left “church” that morning? They had talked about the authority that came with the words spoken about Jesus and about the casting out of an evil spirit. Word had spread farther than the people were able to travel on the Sabbath. But as soon as the law would allow, they hurried to see this man who could heal the sick and cast out demons. Notice that they knew both of these things had happened earlier that day. This is how we know that the group from the synagogue as well as the households of Simon and Andrew had been spreading the word.

Scripture tells us that the whole town gathered at the door. While scholars are unsure of the population of Capernaum at that time, it was a small fishing village, and estimates are that there were anywhere from 600 to 1700 people living there at the time. Let’s go with a conservative number somewhere in the middle. I’ll choose 1,000. Suppose you did something at church this morning and word got around that you had spoke some amazing words. It’s later in the day, you are tired, and maybe you are thinking of retiring for the day. There’s a knock at the door. Someone else answers it and yells to you, “Hey, you better come here. Something’s going on outside.” You look out the door and there are 1,000 people lined up. A thousand….

This is no small number. I can only imagine this kind of scene in front of my house, the line extending down the street, wrapping around the corner, the head of the homeowner’s association wanting to know what is going on. But then I remember he would have known. Everyone knew what was going on. The entire village had come to see Jesus.

John Mark continues in the scripture telling us that Jesus healed many who had various diseases and drove out many demons. I wonder what time He eventually got to bed that evening. Maybe not at all.

And that brings me to the point of today’s blog. We (and I include myself in that) so often use the excuse that we are too busy or too tired for a daily time with the Father. I know that I’ve never been as busy as Jesus was that particular night. I’ve never had 600 to 1,000 or more people standing at my door waiting to be healed. I’ve never had a whole town turn out to see what I was doing, press in around me to see what was happening, or perhaps just want to touch me.

Do you realize that if Jesus had only spent 30 seconds with each of the more than 1,000 people it would have taken Him over 8 hours to see each one? Therefore I doubt He slept at all that night. The last one was finally healed. The last demon had been cast out. The disciples, no doubt, had nodded off hours ago. The last villager hobbled down the dusty road. The sun would be up soon and Jesus knew that another busy day stretched before Him.

He didn’t lie down and try to grab a quick nap. He didn’t complain about how tired He was. He slipped off into the darkness, found a solitary place—away from distractions—and talked with His Father.

Christ’s example shows us the importance of prayer and devotions over everything else, including bodily rest. I believe the next time I whine to the Lord that I am too tired for devotions and will catch up later, I’ll try to remember just how busy Jesus was this particular morning.

I have been so tired before that I have fallen asleep in the middle of my devotional time. I believe God understands. Our Lord certainly knows what it feels like to be “bone-tired.” However, He honors our efforts and comforts us in our humanness. And He doesn’t say how long our time of devotion to Him should be. The important thing is that we choose some moments from our day that are just for Him.

Tomorrow we’ll look at what happened as the tired and exhausted Jesus tried to catch a few moments of solitude.

Personal Bible Study:

1. How important to you is a daily devotional time? Is it important enough to make it a priority?
2. What excuses do you find yourself giving the Lord for not setting aside moments from your day just for Him?
3. Think of a time when you have been very tired or others demanded a good deal of your time. How might that compare to what Jesus felt on this particular morning?
4. Why do you think Jesus didn’t tell some of the people to come back at another time?
5. Memorize Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

© Copyright 2009 by Judy Vandiver

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Daily Devotional Time

A Daily Devotional Time
By Judy Vandiver
©copyright 2009

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35 NIV)

As Christians, we are urged to have a daily devotional time with God. I asked myself if this was a biblical command or a tradition passed down through the ages; are bible study and devotional time interchangeable; and what is a good model for a time of devotions?

While I do more study on the biblical command and traditions associated with our devotion to God, I’d like to spend a few days looking at a model for our time spent with God. And at another time, we’ll look at the differences between devotions and bible study. For now, I’d like to share my thoughts regarding a good model for a time of devotions, whether it be daily, weekly, or at a time interval you and God set, a devotional time is instrumental in your worship to our Lord.

We’ll start with an example set by Jesus. In Mark 1:35, John Mark, who accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey, tells us: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (NIV)

I think this verse shows us two key elements to incorporate into our moments of consecration to God. We can find examples of when and where. And of course, as you look at the verse, it’s easy to see when and where Christ had a moment alone with the Father. But we must also look at why He chose his “when” and “where.”

Christ found a few moments to be alone with God early in the morning. Does this mean our devotional time needs to always be in the morning? I don’t think so. I don’t think the time of day is as important as the reason behind the time we choose. Jesus chose this time because He knew that His days were hectic and busy. He might not have another chance to get away with His Father. Surrounding verses show us that people were coming to Him all through the day and into the evenings, but we’ll talk more about that later this week. For now, it’s important to note, however, that Jesus chose a time when the demands of His ministry were not at their peak.

When we choose our alone time with God, it is important to follow this example. Maybe you are not what is considered “a morning person.” I’ve always been a combination of a morning and night person. I’m a rare person that needs very little sleep and finds it difficult to sleep more than a few hours. I’m sure I was a hindrance to my own parent’s devotional time. Not only was I up late at night, but by the time their feet hit the floor in the morning, I was standing next to their bed ready to greet them into the day. And if I wasn’t there, probably one of my sisters or my brother took my place.

If your day is crowded and busy, it’s possible you may have to do as Jesus did. You may have to get up “very early” in the morning. It may be that evenings are a quieter time with fewer demands on you. If so, that may be a better time of choosing for a devotional time. What if you have a “little Judy,” that is up before you and awake long after you retire for the night? I’m sure that over the years, there were plenty of times my parents had to find a distraction for me, so that I did not continue to become a distraction to them. And that is the key. Find a time that is as free of distractions as possible. As we study this verse this week, you’ll see that even this time for Jesus was not distraction free. But, Christ took the moments offered Him within His busy schedule. He found the time. We can do the same.

The second thing Jesus teaches us with this example is where He had His time to commune with God. He left the house. Okay, if as my parents did, you have four small, active, and curious children, physically leaving the house may not be an option. Especially if you are thinking of going very far. (And if you have four small children, you may be thinking that very thing.)

The verse also tells us that Jesus went off to a solitary place. I don’t know that leaving the house was as important as this part of the example. They key idea is that He withdrew from others. He removed Himself from obvious distractions.

So, if we look at a few practical ideas of how to follow the example of Christ, what is a busy person living in the 21st century to do? Maybe you can’t go far from the house, but can you go to a front or back porch? Do you have a tree that offers quiet shelter? If you look hard enough, you’ll find something.

I remember one year when my siblings, our spouses, and all our children converged on my parent’s home for Christmas. During the night we had bodies strewn everywhere. During the day, we ran into each other constantly. One morning, Mother stood in the kitchen and made pancakes. As each plateful was done, she’d call someone’s name and hand out a plate. She called my name, I grabbed my plate, and tried to find an empty spot at the now crowded dining table.

As each person came in, the chatter around the table increased. At last, Mother came into the dining room to be sure everyone had a plate of pancakes. She counted heads. “Where’s your daddy?” she asked. Everyone looked at each other. No one knew. Soon a search party, headed up by grandchildren thinking this was a game of hide-and-seek, began to look for Dad. It took us a while, but we eventually found him. My brother called us to the back porch and pointed to Dad’s old pick-up truck parked behind the house. There sat Dad, in his truck, the windows rolled up, and the doors locked, eating his plate of pancakes in peace and quiet. I think all the chattering, running into one another, and business had become more than he expected when they invited us for Christmas. The point is, however, that when Dad wanted to find a quiet spot, he was inventive. If necessary, go lock yourself in your vehicle to have some quiet moments alone with God.

Of course, your quiet spot doesn’t have to truly be outside the house. Don’t lose sight of the importance here. The key element is that Christ withdrew to a place of least distractions. We’ve all heard of moms who have locked themselves in their bathrooms just to have a quiet moment. If that’s where you must have your devotions, do that. Or maybe it will be a quiet spot in your bedroom. Maybe you’ll have to literally make yourself a prayer closet. But I urge each of you to find a spot where the distractions are at a minimum, spend some time with God, and talk to Him.

One thing I want to caution as you choose your time and place for your devotions. Just as talking on a cell phone, eating, and putting on makeup while you are driving can be a hazardous distraction, if you try to have your devotions while commuting to and from work, the driving will become a distraction to the devotion. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be talking and listening to the Lord during this time. It’s just that I, personally, do not count this as my time “alone” with the Lord. For years, I commuted to downtown Houston for employment. I tried calling my drive time by another name—devotional time. I can tell you from personal experience it was always good to know that God rode with me, but that time did not adequately fulfill what a solitary place can do for my time with the Lord.

For the next few mornings, I will dedicate my blog to this verse above and a few things we, together, might learn from it. Please feel free to leave comments about your own struggles and personal answers to a time and place for a quiet time with the Lord. Your comments may help or inspire someone else. If you are struggling, another reader may have faced the same problems and be able to offer a suggestion.

Tomorrow, we are going to look at one of the most common excuses to having a daily devotion. And later, we’ll look at what having a devotional time really means. See you in the morning,


©copyright 2009 Judy Vandiver

Personal Bible Study:

1. Where would my ideal spot be to have daily devotions? If I can’t arrange that at this time, what might be a good substitute?
2. Am I a morning person or night person? What is the best time of day for me to plan to get alone with God?
3. What is a major distraction to having a daily, or even weekly, devotional time with the Lord?
4. What ideas can I think of to remove that distraction?
5. Memorize Mark 1:35: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

Friday, November 6, 2009

Book Review - Simple Everyday Cooking

Book Review
Simple Everyday Cooking
by Myra Guillot and Judy Vandiver
book review by Judy Vandiver
 copyright 2009

Joy is the fulfillment of a long-awaited dream. Did you notice that my name is listed above twice?  We did it!  Mom and I finally wrote our long-talked-about cookbook. And it will be out in time for Christmas. What a joy and celebration.

The cookbook is filled with recipes that are easy to prepare and just right for hungry families. And guess what?  You won't have to hunt down specialty stores for exotic ingredients. All the ingredients used in these recipes can be found in most grocery stores and probably within your own pantry. 

AND we have a website up where we'll share more recipes, cooking tips and hints, and an easy place to order your copies of our cookbook.  The website is:

Here's the blurb from the back cover:

Do you wonder what to fix for supper, what to cook for company, or what to take to a pot luck dinner? Simple Everyday Cooking gives you many fast, easy ideas with 212 recipes made from ingredients found in most modern day pantries.

Authors Myra Guillot and Judy Vandiver have put together their collection of recipes handed down by grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and good friends. They enjoy cooking, but prefer recipes that are easy enough for everyday. But don’t think the meals are bland or boring. Your family will think you went to cooking school when you serve Shrimp Scampi or Popcorn Rice. They’ll enjoy comfort foods like Cream of Potato Soup or Purple Hull Peas with Smoked Sausage. And your guests will be impressed with Warm Melting Chocolate Cake and Circuit Riding Preacher Cookies.

With more than enough Cajun roots, Myra and Judy include recipes for Roux, Gumbo and Individual Crawfish Pies. But you’ll also find recipes for Italian, Oriental, and American dishes. And if you live a busy lifestyle and like to cook ahead, try Make-Ahead French Toast or Pizza Spaghetti Casserole.

Ask for the cookbook at your local bookstore (ISBN: 978-0-578-04026-4) or place your order online. We'll be happy to mail you copies for yourself and friends.     

About the authors: 
Myra Guillot, born and raised in Louisiana, is well-known for her many Cajun recipes. Her home has always been a gathering place for family meals, church suppers, and a good cup of coffee. Myra and her husband, Herschel, owned and operated a popular Cajun restaurant, The Cajun Corral, for a number of years. Customers loved to gather around a large open-pit fireplace watching a pig roast over the slow turning spit, eat roasted peanuts, enjoy chicken gumbo, shrimp étouffée, or fried catfish. Many of those succulent recipes are among the pages of this cookbook. 

Myra and Herschel raised four children, Bruce, Judy, Chris, and Gwen. They have nine grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren, with another expected very soon. Myra and her husband now reside in Pearland, TX. They retired from Sears, Armco Steel, and  the restaurant business, but family and friends still gather for their great cooking or a good cup of coffee. 

 Judy Vandiver (hey - that's me!)  is Myra’s oldest daughter and learned to cook by watching her mother perform what she considered “magic” in the kitchen. One of her first jobs was waiting tables and learning to cook in the family restaurant. Judy has saved many of the recipes used by her mother, grandmothers, and aunts, adding a few new favorites along the way. She has won several local cooking contests with versions of recipes found on and in the Simple Everyday Cooking cookbook .

Judy and her husband, Steve, reside in Pearland, TX—just a few doors down the street from her mom and dad. They have two grown children, David and Melissa, and six grandchildren. Judy and Myra enjoy sharing recipes, teacakes, and a daily cup of coffee. Judy also enjoys writing magazine articles, devotionals, church skits, and bible studies. You can learn more about Judy or read some of her devotionals and bible studies by going to her personal website,

The new cookbooks are set to arrive by November 30, 2009, but may be here sooner.

Place a pre-order today by going to our new website dedicated to bringing you more recipes.  But hurry. Limited quantities available.
Order extras as Christmas gifts. 
Published by: Writing for God's Glory

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Book Review for 
The Forgiving Hour by Robin Lee Hatcher
Review by Judy Vandiver
© 2009 Judy Vandiver

This week’s blog has been dedicated to reviewing some of my favorite books. I had a particular fiction book in mind for today’s review. It is a good book. It's an entertaining book. But, God put a check on my heart. I couldn’t seem to pull the right words for the review from my brain and I felt God reminding me of my theme for my blog, my business, and my life. Writing for God's Glory is more than the title for my blog, editing business, and new publishing endeavors. It has become my mission statement. The book I had chosen didn't seem to do anything for promoting God or His glory.

As I stood looking at my bookshelves, I asked myself some questions. What fiction book have I read that I came away feeling that the author knew God intimately? What book made me want to be as Christ-like as one or more of the characters? What book left me pondering the spiritual message for a long time after-wards? I knew immediately that the book that did that for me was not on my bookshelf. It was one I had downloaded and read on my Kindle. The book was The Forgiving Hour by Robin Lee Hatcher.

The Forgiving Hour is a well-written story of love, betrayal, trials, and forgiveness. The setting is contemporary, but the story is timeless. The main characters, Claire, Sara, and Dakota, could be any one of us. And, while their circumstances may seem extraordinary at first glance, they are not so different from what each of us experience in our own lives.

The novel spins it’s tale around the two women, Claire and Sara, who both love Dakota, but for different reasons. Claire is his mother and Sara is his girlfriend. When the two women meet face-to-face, there is a problem. Old hurts and wounds surface for both women, as well as for Dakota.

The story has twists and turns that held my attention. It has mysterious surprises. It’s fast paced and I quickly cared about the main characters. But it also has a lesson. Through her writing, Robin teaches that true love also holds true forgiveness.

I cried as I turned the pages. For weeks, I dwelled on the lessons from this book. I wanted to love the way this book taught. Yet, I found hidden hurts in my heart. Times I felt I had been wronged. Turning those hurts over to God has freed me to love completely.

This is a book I intend to read again. I think it’s too easy to let old memories that can hurt us creep into our hearts. A gentle reminder of how Claire, Sara, and Dakota faced their problems will always do me good.

As I prepared this review, I popped off an e-mail to Robin Lee Hatcher and asked if she would answer some interview questions to go along with the review. Within an hour, she graciously responded. Below are my questions in black and her answers in red.
Dear Robin, I know this is very late moment for an author interview for tomorrow, but I am being bold in asking if you might answer a few questions via e-mail.

Hi, Judy. Glad to help you out. . . The Forgiving Hour is no longer available in hard copy except as used copies. However, it is now available for the Amazon Kindle.

What got you started in writing?

I was an avid reader from first grade on and I was also what I call a compulsive writer. I was always scribbling something. But I never thought about doing it professionally. Then in my late 20's, a series of events caused me to decide to try writing a book. It took me nine months, working nights and weekends mostly, writing longhand and then using the office typewriter on my lunch hours to put it in manuscript form. It was published not quite three years after I wrote the first line of the book. (Since it was a general market romance and not among those I encourage readers to find, I'll skip giving the title.)

How long have you been writing and how many books do you have in print?

I've been writing for 28 1/2 years. I'm currently working on my 63rd release.

Of all the books you’ve written, which is your favorite and why?

I don't have a favorite. Each book was written for a reason and was the best book I could create at the time. I believe some books are better written or better told than others and some have more of a punch (The Forgiving Hour, Ribbon of Years, Beyond the Shadows, & Return to Me among the latter). But no favorites.

What sparked the idea behind The Forgiving Hour?

The Forgiving Hour began with a dream. I dreamed the prologue, and when I awoke, I knew it was the opening for a book in which God would have to be a central character. It was also a story where a great deal of it would be lifted from experiences in my own life. But I was still writing for the general market at the time and had never written a contemporary story, so I didn't think I'd ever actually get to write it. (Man plans, God laughs.) Then doors began to open and within about six months, I was contracted to write The Forgiving Hour and two other books.

Did you go through any difficulties as you wrote this book?

Actually, it is one of the few books in my career that I didn't struggle with. It is the longest of all of my novels but I wrote it in the shortest amount of time, just over three months. The words just poured out of me.

Did God speak to you through this book?

Because I've experienced the heartbreak of infidelity and because God called me to forgive the other woman, I was writing lessons that God had taught me many years before. Judging from my reader mail, God did speak through this book, but it wasn't to me so much as my readers.

Can you give us the underlining premise for The Forgiving Hour?

Forgiveness isn't a feeling. It is an act of obedience. We are told to forgive those who hurt us, and we must make the choice to obey. And God can give us the strength to walk through the difficult times.

What is the one thing you would hope readers take away from reading The Forgiving Hour?

The act of forgiving another person sets us free to live as God wants us to live.


My thanks to Robin Lee Hatcher for her quick response and her willingness to write for God’s glory.

I purchased my copy of The Forgiving Hour as a Kindle® book. It is still available in paperback as a used book. I’ve included a link below to some used copies selling on Amazon and to a link for all books written by Robin Lee Hatcher that are listed on Amazon. I hope the links help you.

Also, be sure and check out Robin's web page at  I laughed as I read her bio, where she shares her journey with her writing career. And tears came to my eyes as I read her faith story. She also has a free-book offer on her web site. I hope you enjoy her books as much as I do. 

Robin Lee Hatcher books on Amazon   OR


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Book Review - Beyond Death's Door by Maurice Rawlings, M.D.

Book Review
Beyond Death’s Door by Maurice Rawlings, M.D.
Review by Judy Vandiver
© 2009 by Judy Vandiver

Another old book from my bookshelves. One I’ve read several times, loaned to friends, had it returned, and read again. The subject matter: New Evidence of the Existence of Heaven and Hell.

Author Dr. Maurice Rawlings was an atheist until dying and dead patients, convinced him of the reality of heaven and hell. In Beyond Death’s Door, Rawlings recounts several incidents where he has resuscitated patients who have had what is commonly termed “near-death” experiences. Rawlings, however, refers to them as “after-death” experiences. He tells of the repeated similarities told by patients of what happened when they died.

In today’s market, many who share incidents of “near-death” or “after-death” give the account of a pleasant life-after-death experience. Rawlings, however, has had the opportunity of witnessing patients experience horrifying events as they literally succumbed to hell.

Dr. Rawlings writes: “I was resuscitating a terrified patient who told me he was actually in hell. He begged me to get him out of hell and not to let him die. When I fully realized how genuinely and extremely frightened he was, I too became frightened. Subsequent cases with terrifying experiences have burdened me with a sense of urgency to write this book. Now I feel assured that there is life after death, and not all of it is good.”

Not only does Rawlings give many accounts that sustain his new beliefs, but he also includes information on how to be sure you are going to heaven rather than hell, how to deal with the dying, and how to properly administer CPR.

If you have ever wondered about the validity of life-after-death, I urge you to purchase a copy of this book and read it through. Many people who might not read a Bible, are interested in this topic. Maybe get a few extra copies for gifts. It’s a great way to bring the reality of hell to a lost and dying world.

The copy of Beyond Death’s Door. . . that I have is a hardback copy printed in 1978. It was already in it’s fifth printing. The book has been reprinted several times since that date. The latest edition is a paperback version that was published in 2008. I’ve included a link below, again from Amazon, for your convenience, should you decide to order this book.

Book Review for Beyond Death’s Door by Maurice Rawlings, M.D. –review ©2009 by Judy Vandiver