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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Putting Your Worth Into Someone's Hands?

Any of us can be tempted by discontentment. Just ask Leah, one of the many women in the Bible. She is a very needy woman who puts her sense of worth into her husband's hands. From the very beginning, she is considered the inferior sister to her favored younger and beautiful sister, Rachel. Thus jealousy, envy, and discontent are born in Leah's heart. 

Maybe she fantasizes how having a husband would propel her to a better status and make her feel loved. And as the older sister, society said she should have married first. But the stranger, Jacob, falls in love with the younger, Rachel. Her father, Laban, pulls his tricks substituting Leah when Jacob is expecting Rachel to be there on his wedding night.

We can only imagine how Leah felt as Jacob wakes up in the morning and discovers a much-less pretty wife than Rachel. In fact, Genesis 29:25 says, "And in the morning, behold, it was Leah!" 

And then Jacob angrily tells Laban, "What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?" 

Did Leah's heart sink in disappointment? Maybe she thought she had really pleased him on their wedding night and Jacob's heart would be bonded to her. 

How would you have felt if you had overheard your new husband say that to your father? My heart would have sunk to my toes.  I would have felt even more terrible about myself.

Our hearts hurt for Leah and we can understand her discontentment. She continues to seek peace through trying to force her husband to love and favor her through having his children--which is highly valued in their society. Her sense of value and lovability is definitely held by her husband. 

Tweet that: "Her sense of value and lovability is definitely held by her husband."

I understand Leah's feelings and her belief that her happiness was determined by whether her husband loved her. I felt the same way years ago when Larry and I had been married for seven years. He worked 2 full time jobs and also flew a plane for a hobby. I felt left out and justified in being angry and discontent.

But then God convinced me I could be content and joyful regardless whether Larry treated me well. God loved me and could provide the sense of worth and value like no person ever could. 

Tweet that: "God loved me and could provide the sense of worth and value like no person ever could."

Surprisingly, the more content I became in God's provision of emotional strength, the less angry and hateful I became toward Larry, and the more he was drawn to me. As a result, our marriage was healed and now we've been married 46 1/2 years. Wow! 

Did you know that Leah finally did come to peace. Genesis 29:35 says, "And she [Leah] conceived again and bore a son, and said, 'This time I will praise the Lord.' Therefore she called his name Judah."

Commentators believe this indicates her trust in God and being at peace.

I can tell you without a doubt how good it is to feel that kind of peace. Although Larry was willing and wanted to respond to my decrease in anger, bitterness, and nagging, we may not always receive the results we want. But what better result could there be than experiencing God's gift of peace and contentment. 

If you are discontent because your needs aren't met by someone else, consider giving up expecting that person to be responsible for your contentment and happiness. You'll have God to thank!

(This is an adapted excerpt from my women's Bible study book Choices of the Heart: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series.)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

What is Jesus' Tone of Voice? Rebuke or Wooing?

Remember Martha and Mary? Of course we all do. And remember Jesus' words to Martha? "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:41-42 ESV). 

How do you hear the tone of Jesus' voice? Is it a harsh rebuke or a gentle wooing? 

I'd like to suggest it's a gentle wooing.

How we hear Jesus' voice in our hearts can indicate a lot. Tweet that!

Maybe we were scolded more than praised as a child. Maybe we grew up thinking we didn't deserve any praise, and we only expected to be reprimanded and not acknowledged for our efforts.

You might want to "try out" different tones as you speak Jesus' words out loud. What emotion does a soft and encouraging tone bring up inside you? Also, try to say Jesus' words with different words to communicate several possible meanings.

Perhaps, "Oh, sweetie, please don't worry about making a lot. We'll be full after one of your delicious dishes. I'd rather you chose being at my feet like your sis has. Come and join us now. I love you even if we starve in your house."

I'm confident that Jesus' words conveyed love along with His body language. How do you picture His eyes? Was he leaning forward to reach out to her or pulling back? 

Pay attention to how you envision the scenes in the Bible as you read. It might be helpful to picture something different. 

(This is an adapted excerpt from my women's Bible study book, Choices of the Heart: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

"Making It Through the Winter Seasons of Life." by Mikaela Vincent

The 2 winners of Raising a Young Modern-Day Princess are:

Drum Roll....Kathleen Ruckman and Michele Mobley!

Congratulations ! Please email me your mailing address to KathyCollardMiller AT gmail DOT com. I'm so happy for you both. You will receive one copy of the book from one of the authors.

Thank you to everyone who entered the drawing. I appreciate it and so do Doreen Hanna and Karen Whiting.

And now here's another treat. I'd like to share the wise thoughts of a wonderful friend of mine on "Making It Through the Winter Seasons of Life." I met Mikaela Vincent by traveling to a country where it would be dangerous for her if I said where she lives and ministers. But she has a powerful ministry and also is a writer and speaker. I hope you enjoy her thoughts and be sure to check out her website http://www.MoreThanAConquerorBooks.com and her books that are mentioned at the end of the post. There, she is offering a free "Guide to Knowing God’s Voice."

Making It Through the Winter Seasons of Life 
by Mikaela Vincent

“He found him in a desert land and in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. As an eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings, so the Lord alone led him.”  Deuteronomy 32:10-39 (NKJV)
Not long ago, I walked through what I call a long “winter” season. For six years straight, family members and others we loved died from cancer, suicide and other tragedies. But we were not alone in our loss, for several close friends also lost loved ones and came to our home one by one to cry. Meanwhile, my best friends who had encouraged me and ministered together with me for many years moved away and changed. Some broke promises and fell into lies and attacks. Others fell to mental illness, sin, divorce. Some even left the faith.
I could share with you the other tragedies that occurred during those years, but I think you get the point. “Harsh” doesn’t even begin to describe that long winter.
Stripped bare of so many people close to me who I had leaned on and loved for so many years, I found myself in a lonely place a bit like a cold wasteland. But the Lord reminded me that He too was betrayed, He too lost those closest to Him, and He too knows what it’s like to suffer alone.
And yet, I wasn’t alone. For He was with me. He hand-fed me from His Word, and His voice and His touch warmed me to the core. He spoke truth into my pain and set me free from things I didn't know I was captive to--without a barren wilderness to bring them out into the open.
I wouldn’t wish what we went through on anyone, but I can tell you without a doubt that the eternal rewards of drawing nearer to Christ and becoming one with Him have far outweighed the trials (2 Corinthians 4:7-18).
If you’re going through a hard time now, know that you’re not alone. Not only are others around you also going through hard times, but the One Who carries you is with you
Don’t waste this trial. If you rely on your own strength to make it through, the difficulties may indeed change you, but not for the good. Let the One who will never leave you or forsake you transform the hard things (including your heart) into beautiful things. 
Then your winter will pass, and “spring” will surely come. Song of Songs 2:10-14.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. … Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:7,  6-17
Thank you, Mikaela, for sharing with us. I know personally of your victorious life in spite of many challenges and I trust your words have encouraged the hearts of my readers.

Mikaela has graciously offered you a Free "Guide to Knowing God’s Voice,” which is on the home page of her website, www.MoreThanAConquerorBooks.com. Or you can write her directly for it at MoreThanAConquerorBooks@gmail.com.

And please also check out Mikaela's website to read about her books, which are for both adults and teenagers:

Any proceeds from her books go toward carrying the Light into dark corners of the world where few have heard of Christ and Christians are persecuted.  

Here is more about her:
Mikaela Vincent is the author of “Delight to Be a Woman of God” (https://www.createspace.com/6673859) and other inspirational novels, Bible studies, devotionals and children’s books available at www.MoreThanAConquerorBooks.com and Amazon. She and her husband live and work in a dark area of the world where few have heard the name of God, much less Jesus. As a wife and mother who has raised her children under difficult circumstances, Mikaela knows the reality of spiritual warfare and the battles God’s people face today. She has a heart for mentoring teens and adults to learn to hear God’s voice, follow His lead, and break free from sin habits, lies and strongholds that control our reactions rather than the Holy Spirit. A writer and conference speaker, Vincent also leads personal spiritual retreats for individuals, couples, teams and others who want to walk as one with Christ and His body. Her Bible studies and novels for teenagers, leaders, singles, men, women and children offer deep truths that not only inspire, but transform.

Friday, March 10, 2017

See Displacement Behind Your Anger

Did you already put your name into the Give-Away Drawing for Raising a Young Modern-Day Princess by Doreen Hanna and Karen Whiting that was in my previous blog post? Don't miss it! 

Now, let's think about parental anger. One of the very helpful things I learned as I overcame mommy anger was the aspect of displacement. I didn't know how it operated. Here's what I learned, starting first with an example of displacement.

Elizabeth and her two-year-old daughter are in Judy’s home, visiting with Judy and her four-year-old son. Elizabeth and Judy are talking as the children play on the floor. Elizabeth’s daughter continually yanks Judy’s son’s toys away and makes him cry. Elizabeth tells her to share. Again and again the little girl yanks the toys away and Elizabeth becomes more and more embarrassed. 

She thinks, I bet Judy thinks I’m a terrible mother. Elizabeth continues to try to help her daughter play cooperatively, but nothing works. As she worries about Judy’s possible critical thoughts, she becomes more and more upset. Finally, in a burst of exasperation, Elizabeth grabs her daughter by the arm, slaps her bottom hard and reprimands her, “You start sharing right now or we’re going home.” Looking away from Judy’s startled glance, she blushes in embarrassment and tries to distract her crying daughter with a toy. 

This scene is an example of displacement. Displacement is the transference of an emotion to an object which is logically inappropriate.

Did you notice how Elizabeth transferred her embarrassment into anger at her daughter? 

As I reflect back to how I reacted uncontrollably angry toward Darcy, I can see how I displaced my feelings. I usually was irritated or angry with my husband, Larry or myself, but because I couldn’t manage that situation, I leveled my frustration against an innocent bystander, Darcy. She usually had not done anything to deserve my blow-up; she was just the nearest object that couldn’t strike back. (And by the way, there's never any justification for us taking our anger out on a child.

Unfortunately, I usually blamed Darcy for my outbursts, thinking her disobedience caused my anger. Now I know it was only the straw that broke the back of my patience. Other situations and relationships were at play, but I didn’t see their influence or significance. 

If we can begin to see the possibility of displacement, we’ll be on our way to learning godly reactions to their disobedience. The best way to prevent displacement is to deal with each situation or problem as it occurs, instead of storing them up. Also, by recognizing when we are about to displace anger, we can stop ourselves from spilling out frustrations over other problems onto our children’s misbehavior.

Now, let’s go back to Elizabeth and revise that scene. As Elizabeth and Judy talk, the children play on the floor. Elizabeth’s daughter continually yanks the little boy’s toys away, making him cry. Disconcerted with her daughter’s behavior, Elizabeth comments to Judy, “I feel so embarrassed when my little girl doesn’t share. I just don’t know what to do about it.” 

“Oh, don’t worry about it,” Judy responds. “It’s perfectly normal for a two-year-old not to share. My son has learned to share only in the last couple of weeks. Just continue teaching her.” 

“Oh, really? Well, I guess she’ll learn someday, too!” Elizabeth breathes a sigh of relief and settles into the sofa to enjoy the visit. 

Of course, not every situation will turn out perfect just because we share our feelings. But by recognizing those feelings and trying to deal with them, we can prevent displacement. Even if we cannot change our situation, we still will release the pressure that is building inside us. 

Dr. Rubin puts it this way in The Angry Book: “Big blow-ups are really accumulated results of repressed potential small air-cleaning blow-ups.” (page 153)

Monday, March 6, 2017

Book Give-Away! "Raising A Young Modern-Day Princess"

Book Give-Away! In fact, 2 books will be given away to two different winners of Raising a Young Modern-Day Princess by Doreen Hanna and Karen Whiting! Isn't that the best? 

Read below how to win but in the meantime, let me tell you what Doreen says about this book.

Karen Whiting
Doreen Hanna
"When I (Doreen) was a budding author, and a Princess with a dream, I was passionate to share what God had put on my heart and had the privilege of seeing him at work in the lives of  those who had implemented the Christ centered rite-of-passage into young womanhood.  

"I took great joy in sharing these amazing results that launched me excitedly on my quest to be published. After pursing various publishers for 7 years and 12 book proposals rejections later, Focus on the Family, my dream publisher, embraced our Raising a Modern Day Princess proposal (co-author, Pam Farrell).  
I  never thought a second dream would come true.  With great surprise, Focus On the Family asked Karen Whiting and I to write Raising a Young Modern Day Princess, that was released in late Fall of 2016.

"We, Karen Whiting, my co-author, and I, chose to focus on developing the Fruit of the Spirit in little princesses’ hearts.  

  • Our goal was to equip and encourage moms, dads, and grandparents (a reality for many today) with practical ways to grow Christ like character in the hearts of their little girls.  

Each chapter contains true heartfelt and sometimes humorous stories of the authors, and other contributing moms, of their attempts to grow the Fruit of the Spirit in their little girl’s heart. It gives hope for every mom or dad who have felt they might have failed.   

There are over 100 activities included within the pages of the book. Each chapter’s activities focus on that particular Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

  • It also includes a Dad’s Tool Box for dads or men of integrity who are influencers in a young girl’s life that will empower them to help nurture each Fruit in their little girl’s life, by example as well as by instruction and suggested activities.

Doreen continues, "I pray many parents and grandparents will find this book a resource to assist them in growing the Fruit of the Spirit in their girls' lives and they will enjoy the fruit of their labor."

To put your name into the drawing to be one of two winners, make a comment here on my blog, or email me: KathyCollardMiller AT gmail DOT com. I'll pick the winners next Monday, March 13th and announce it on my blog Tuesday, March 14th.  

If it's too long to wait and you want to make sure you have a copy, go to your local bookstore or order it online. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Letter From God: Your Prayer Helpers

My precious Princess and Daughter:

When you pray, you do not pray alone. My Spirit cries within you. And my Son sits at my right hand interceding for you. We want our best for you. We know you don't always know that. Sometimes you don't even know what to pray for.

The accuser, Satan, comes before me but I know the truth about you. He thinks he’s tattling on you—as if I don’t know everything. He thinks he will sway me away from loving and accepting you unconditionally. But that’s impossible. Absolutely impossible. Please hear me when I promise you have immediate, continual access to my throne. You are my child and my Princess.

Your performance has nothing to do with me hearing you because Jesus died on the cross for your sins to wipe away any separation between us. My Son and my Spirit are your ever-present Helpers.

Talk to me. Our times of close fellowship are important to me—and to you. I see Jesus’ robe of righteousness wrapped around you, and you are acceptable and perfect in my sight. Have no fear. I have not left you helpless. Remember, we are in you and we are much greater than Satan.


Your heavenly Father, the King

Sunday, February 26, 2017

My Journey of Writing

I recently was interviewed for a writers conference where I'll be teaching in Southern California in June. Check out the SoCal Christian Writers Conference website. I'd love to see you there.

I thought you'd like to find out more about my writing journey. Here is the interview.

Kathy, why did you choose to devote yourself to writing?

Even as editor of my high school newspaper, I had a love for writing but didn't know what being a "writer" entailed. Then after God delivered me from being a child abuser toward our two-year-old daughter, I wanted to share what God had done. My husband, Larry, saw an announcement in our town's newspaper about a community class on writing. I attended and learned about something called a "query letter." I sent off a query to Moody Magazine in 1978 suggesting I write my story. They accepted my personal experience article and I was hooked! I still didn't consider myself a writer but whatever happened, I dedicated myself to following where God led in a writing ministry. Now, many years later, I still am amazed at God's work that I have over 50 books published. God truly works far beyond what we can think or imagine.

Can you tell us about what you are currently working on and what inspired it?

I'm currently working on the next expanded version of a women's Bible study book called At the Heart of Friendship. This is one of the twelve books in my Daughters of the King Bible Study series published by Elk Lake Publishing. That series first came out in the 1990's with David C. Cook Publishing. Interestingly, early in my writing career, I'd always wanted to write Bible studies but didn't feel qualified, although I had taught them for years. I hadn't even graduated from college much less studied theology. At one point I sent off a book proposal to Mary Nelson at Accent Publications (later bought by David C. Cook). Mary replied and said, "We aren't looking for this particular topic but we are interested in developing a women's Bible study series. Would you be willing to submit some ideas for that?" Would I!!!! Yes! I sent off some ideas and that became the twelve women's Bible study books in my series. God again worked beyond what I could have thought or imagined. In this series, Choices of the Heart and Whispers of My Heart are already available as women's studies for individuals or groups.

What is your writing process like?

I'm a non-fiction writer. My projects are most often based upon what God is teaching me in my personal life. I have the blessing that I don't have to make myself be at my desk. I have to make myself do other things. My process is to gather material over a period of time when I sense a particular idea might be a future project. I look for ideas from magazine articles, sermons, books, and my own journal. I'm always jotting things down and filing them away, either as a piece of paper or into a computer file. Then what it's time to work on the project, I use a 10 step process for organizing the research I've done and then preparing an outline to follow for each chapter. If you want to hear the 10 step process, come to the conference and I'll be sharing it in my continuing sessions on Beginning Non-Fiction.

What do you want your readers to gain from your writing?

I am passionate about helping my readers develop a greater trust in God because they know the truth about Him and His character. I think we don't trust God because we believe lies about Him, like He's not loving, trustworthy, kind, etc. If we truly know His nature, we will be strengthened to put ourselves in His loving hand. In our book, "Never Ever Be the Same" co-authored with my husband, Larry, we help the reader discover where their distrust of God came from--usually from hurtful experiences in childhood. From those experiences, we form ideas about God that aren't true. Those ideas become "strategies" for not feeling the emotional pain we felt in that experience. Our book helps readers to correct the lies, turn from their sinful strategies, and put themselves trustingly into God's loving and capable hands. It's a thrill to hear from readers who share they are set free of their distrust of God through our book.

What is the most rewarding part of teaching at the conference?

Seeing the light bulbs come on in the minds of those attending and being able to connect personally with those looking for help. I remember being at my first writers conference in 1980 and seeing "real" writers and editors reach out to me. I'm privileged to be able to pass it along.

What session at SoCal CWC 2017 are you most looking forward to?

Having the joy of extended time with those attending my Beginning Non-Fiction continuing class. I love having several days to interact with them and answering questions, along with hearing their passions. I'm truly given a gift that is priceless. Sometimes the classroom feels like a sacred place as I see God working.

What do you hope attendees will get out of this conference?

Power, Hope and Desire. Power by knowing that if God is calling them to serve Him as a writer, He will provide everything they need. And Hope that He can open any door He desires for them--but also can sovereignly close any door that isn't good for them and the Kingdom. And ultimately a desire to bring God glory regardless of the cost. One of my new books which will be released this Spring (2017) by Elk Lake Publishing is "Pure Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God's Glory." God has been giving me a passion to see God glorified regardless of the cost. And then I'm truly blessed.

Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re planning to present and share at the conference?

My plan is to present every aspect of what a beginning non-fiction writer will need to fulfill God's calling: research, preparation, organization, editing, marketing, and promotion. Along with encouragement for having a submitted, humble, trusting heart that if God is truly calling that person, there is nothing that will prevent God's glory from using that writer.