Saturday, September 19, 2015

You Are Your Choices - Choose Wisely


 

For the past few months I have not been myself. This is not a bad thing for I see that God is doing a mighty work in me. Things that used to bother me no longer matter. Things that I thought to be important feel like a waste of time. I find myself totally content with my life instead of being aggravated by life. Does this mean that I am happy? No. It means that I am aware that each day I must make the choice to keep moving towards the goal. I must keep rising and pressing towards the goal. I am finding my focus and learning to be more specific about my choices. I have learned that not everything or everyone for that matter needs my attention.

Martha was wound up. I am sure she wanted to snatch her sister Mary up by the collar. Jesus and his disciples stopped by for a visit and she was busy in the kitchen preparing a meal, a meal she no doubt made the choice to make. She was not happy at all because Mary was not helping her prepare this meal. Mary made the choice to sit at the feet of Jesus in the living room and pay attention to his every word. Both Mary and Martha made their individual choice as to what was important to them. I am sure Martha had that internal grumbling going on. I am in this kitchen doing all of the work and you are out there doing nothing. I am slaving in this kitchen and you act like you can’t help me.  Oh yes, I am sure she was fuming. Martha even went to Jesus and complained about Mary, stating that it was unfair for her to be doing all of the work, and told him to tell Mary to come and help her. Guess what Jesus said, Luke 10:41-42 NLT - But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

We all have the ability to make choices. No matter how we were raised or what life has thrown at us, we have the absolute ability to determine our choice and it is no one’s fault if we have chosen incorrectly. We must live with and learn from every choice, or not. Some choices we need to prayerfully not make again, but we do. We make those life altering choices based on emotion and intellect, not common sense. We make choices based on what Sally did or Sam did. We make choices based off of the hype of television ratings and reality television. We even make the choice to not make a choice by letting someone else make the choice for us and not speaking up for what we believe or stand for.

I encourage you to examine your life and the choices you have made. If you are blaming another, stop it, you made the choices. Own it. All choices are lessons and if studied with intention, will result in you going to the next level. Now, this does not mean that all choices will be positive, if life could be so easy. Making choices are a part of life, growth and awareness. The key here is discernment and you can only get that from our Father in heaven. If we meditate on His word day and night, we will eventually learn how to make more good choices than bad. If we step away from toxic environments and people, we will learn. If we watch what others say and listen to what they do, we will learn. It is about learning and in that learning, you will have made the choice.

Be Blessed

 

 

 

 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Meet Vanessa Davis Griggs


Welcome to September's author of the month, Vanessa Davis Griggs. I read, Redeeming Waters and let me say, the book was a blessing to me in so many ways. The one thing that spoke was the significance of water. Water is a powerful force and when acknowledged, can bring great peace and clarity. At the end of her book I came away with a powerful message. I am not going to hold you. Meet Vanessa Davis Griggs.

Bio:

Vanessa Davis Griggs is a motivational speaker and author of 18 novels, two that were published by BET BOOKS/New Spirit (Promises Beyond Jordan and Wings of Grace) now e-books; twelve published by Kensington/Dafina (Blessed Trinity, Strongholds, If Memory Serves, Practicing What You Preach, Goodness and Mercy, The Truth Is the Light, The Other Side of Goodness, The Other Side of Dare, The Other Side of Divine, Ray of Hope, Redeeming Waters, Forever Soul Ties); the others self-published and/e-book only (Destiny Unlimited, The Rose of Jericho, Promises Beyond Jordan, Wings of Grace, Steely Gray, Countless Blessings). Vanessa is also a contributor of ten devotionals in the Sisters In Faith Holy Bible published by Thomas Nelson.
I asked Vanessa some questions, here is what she has shared:

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
An interesting question. I first considered myself a writer when I finally had a traditional publisher officially acquire my novel. Even though I’d been writing prior to that (as early as elementary school) and had a few self-published books, there was just something about a noted publishing company with its traditional editor that knighted me indeed as a writer. However, I express to writers to speak that you’re a writer/author when you find yourself writing.

Do you have a specific writing style?
I would say that I love writing with an idea and have my characters to take the story and run with it as they give input. I’ve had to create outlines (not too overly detailed though) for publishers that need to know what I’m going to write before I write it. I’m not awfully fond of outlines for my stories because then I end up knowing everything that’s going to happen and it ruins the surprises/twists/turns for me. LOL.  

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their writing?
My favorite author was Og Mandino. I loved the way he put a story together with a touching message. I love how he incorporated Biblical messages into his compelling stories. I do like some other authors, especially those that truly work their craft and it’s obvious in the finished product.

What do you enjoy most about connecting with your readers?
Oh, I love my readers! I love hearing how something God has given me has blessed them. I love hearing about people who have felt they were freed following reading one of my books. I love meeting them when I’m out speaking or doing a book signing or just wherever. I love knowing that they’re walking in their own dreams and destiny.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
For a long time, there didn’t seem to be a lot of not writing time. Specifically when I had two books releasing each year. But I really do enjoy my children and grandchildren. I love playing games and doing all kinds of things with them.

What inspired you to write your novel Redeeming Waters?
At the time, I was on schedule to write three stand-alone novels based on Biblical stories. This was to be the second book. I was thinking about David and Bathsheba and was asking God what really happened there with them. Why was Bathsheba outside bathing? I told God that He was there, He knew the answer, and I asked Him to tell/show me. And boy, did God ever show me! I then wrote a contemporary story based on this Biblical story and entitled it Redeeming Waters. 

Are the experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
No, this novel was inspired by God. I loved that I didn’t take the easy route in writing this story and came up with what my character was to do as an occupation different from the obvious conclusion. King d.Avid is a mega gospel recording artist who meets Brianna Waters and things become “complicated.”

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I presently have 18 novels and in each of them, I want people to be encouraged. That’s what I believe is one of my purposes on this earth: to encourage. I also want people to have hope and to keep the faith no matter what they may be dealing with or going through. In addition, I want to tell great, compelling stories. If I can make all of these things work, then I’m a happy camper!

Will there be a book two?
I don’t think there will be a sequel to this particular book although I’ve been asked for another by readers. If I don’t feel there’s an interesting story to tell, I won’t do a book just to keep a story going.

What would you say is the hardest part of writing your books?
The writing is never hard for me. I don’t get writer’s block. But I won’t begin writing a book unless I have it deep in my soul waiting to bleed out on the paper. The hardest part in writing lately is how the economy slowed things down in book buying. E-books also changed the landscape somewhat. Many bookstores aren’t bringing authors in stores because people were coming to see an author but stating they had the book on an e-reader. Some readers would go to book signing at bookstores with their Kindles or Nooks and ask the author to sign their devices since they didn’t have physical books (and wouldn’t be buying one) to autograph. Many authors have decided it’s not worth it to do book signings if people aren’t going to attend them.    

How do you balance writing and family?
My children were grown when I got into this full time so I didn’t have to worry about that part too much like some may. I do like to give my undivided attention to my family, specifically my grandchildren when they’re visiting me. So I try to get things out of the way so I can spend present-attention time with them.

What are you currently working on and when can we expect to read it?
I have a few things I’m writing or have completed, and I’m working on finding them proper homes. So stay tuned… 

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t try to be someone else. Do study and learn your craft. Don’t get discouraged if you’re having a hard time acquiring an agent or legitimate publisher. Don’t pay someone to publish your book and think that means a “mainstream” publisher is interested in your work (traditional/mainstream publishers don’t charge you; they pay you an advance or publish the work without charge). Don’t get discouraged—this is a marathon not a sprint. Do write and don’t just talk about writing. Write and write and write, and repeat.

Do you have anything specific that you would like to say to your readers?
I really appreciate each person who has read any of my novels. I thank you so much for your support! Thanks, Lynette for this awesome interview. If people would like more information about me and my books, my Web site is: www.VanessaDavisGriggs.com. I’m also on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/vanessadavisgriggs.  Twitter: www.Twitter.com/vanessagriggs

Excerpt from Redeeming Waters a novel by Vanessa Davis Griggs. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved



                           Chapter 1                              

The waters wear the stones; thou washes
away the things which grow out of the dust
of the earth; and thou destroyest the
hope of man. - Job 14:19



Brianna Bathsheba (Wright) Waters looked out of the window of their three-bedroom, one-and-a-half
bath house, at the rain. “A starter home” is what her twenty-three-year-old (three years her senior) husband of eight months, Unzell Michael Waters, told her over two months ago when they bought it.
“Baby, I promise you, things are going to get better for us down the road,” Unzell had said after they officially moved in. “I know this is not what either of us envisioned we’d be doing right about now. But I promise you, I’m going to get us into that mansion we talked about. I am.”
She’d married Unzell at age nineteen, a year and a half after her high school graduation, as Unzell was finishing his final year at the University of Michigan. Unlike most women she knew, Brianna wanted to marry in December. The wintertime was her favorite time of the year. She loved everything about winter. It wasn’t a dead period as far as she was concerned. To her, that was the time of rest, renewal, anticipation, and miracles taking place that the eyes weren’t always privy to see. Winter was the time when flower bulbs, trees, and other plants could establish themselves underground; developing better and stronger roots. Winter was the time when various pests and bugs were killed off; otherwise the world would be overrun with them. Brianna loved the rich colors she would be able to use in a winter wedding—deep reds and dark greens.
But she equally loved summertime. Summer was a reminder of life bursting forth in its fullness and full potential after all seemed dead not so long ago. Summer now reminded her of her days of playing carefree outside, truly without a care in the world.
So she and Unzell married the Saturday before Christmas. It was a beautiful ceremony; her parents had spared no expense. After all, this would be the only time they would be the parents of the bride. Her older brother, Mack, might settle down someday. But even if he did, they would merely be the parents of the groom, which was a totally different expense, experience, and responsibility.
Unzell Waters was already pretty famous, so everybody and his brother wanted to be invited to the invitation-only wedding ceremony. Unzell was the star football player at the University of Michigan and a shoo-in for the NFL. As a running back, he’d broken all kinds of records, and the only question most had was whether he would be the number one or number two pick in the first round of the NFL draft the last Saturday in April. Unzell was on track to make millions—more millions than either he or Brianna could fathom ever being able to spend in several lifetimes.
Still best friends, Alana Norwood had been Brianna’s maid of honor. Alana had grown wilder than Brianna, but Brianna understood Alana…and Alana understood her.
“Girlfriend, I’m glad you’re settling down so early, if that’s what you want,” Alana had said when Brianna first told her she and Unzell were getting married in a year. “But I plan on seeing all that the world has to offer me before my life becomes dedicated to any one person like that.”
Of course, when Alana learned just how famous Unzell was even before he was to go pro, then heard about the millions of dollars sports commentators were predicting he’d likely get when he signed—no matter which team he signed with—she said to Brianna, “God really does look after you! Of course, He’s always looked after you. People on TV are talking eighty-six million dollars, over five years, just for one man to play…one man, to play. And you’re going to be his wife? I know you used to say all the time that you were God’s favorite. Well, I’m starting to believe maybe you really are.” “Alana, now you know I used to just say things like that. I don’t really believe God has favorites,” Brianna said. “The Bible tells us that God is no respecter of persons. We’re all equal in His sight.”
“Well, we may have the opportunity to be equal, but it’s obvious that not all of us are walking in our opportunities. Not the way you do, anyway. So you’re definitely ahead of a lot of us, not equal by any means. All I know is that you spoke that Word of Favor with a capital F over your life, and look what’s happening with you so far.”
The wedding was absolutely beautiful, every single detail and moment of it. But with the championship game being played the first week in January, Brianna and Unzell were only able to spend one day of a honeymoon before Unzell was off again to practice.

Michigan’s team was the team to beat with #22, Unzell Waters, being one of the main obstacles standing between the other team having even a semblance of a chance. Brianna was at the game in Miami watching it along with her family. With two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Michigan was already a comfortable three touchdowns ahead. In Brianna’s opinion, there really was no reason for Unzell to even be on the field. She, her grandfather Pearson Wright, and father Amos Wright were saying as much when that play happened—the play that would alter Unzell’s career and life. One of the other team’s players grabbed Unzell by the leg, as he ran full speed, and yanked him down—pulling his leg totally out of joint. With him being down, everybody on the other team (it appeared to Brianna) piled on him (truly unnecessary roughness), merely for piling on sake. Unzell was badly hurt. Instantly, his prospective stock for the NFL plummeted. Then came the doctor’s prognosis. Even with the two necessary surgeries, Unzell would never be able to play football at that level again.
Brianna assured him things would be all right. “God still has you, Unzell.”
“Yeah, but if God had me in the first place, then why would He allow something like this to happen to me…happen to us?” Unzell said as he lay in that hospital bed. “God knows both of us. He knows us, Brianna. He knows our hearts. God knows we would have done right when it came to me being in the NFL. So why? Why did this happen? And if God is a healer, then why can’t He heal my leg completely? Why can’t He make me whole again?”
“I believe that God can heal your leg, Unzell,” Brianna said. “But right now we have to deal with reality. And from all that the doctors are saying, football is out for you, at least for now. So you and I need a new direction, that’s all. We’re going to be all right though.” She lovingly took hold of his hand, then squeezed it. “We are.” She smiled.
“So, you’re not going to leave me?”
Brianna frowned as she first jerked her head back, then primped her lips before forcing a smile. “Leave you? Where did that come from?”
“Face it; I’m not going to be making millions now. In fact, I’ll be doing well just to find a job, any job, at all in this economy.”
“First of all, Mister Waters, I did not marry you for your money or your potential money. I’ve known you since we were in high school. You were in the twelfth grade; I was in the ninth. You didn’t have any money then and I fell in love with you. So if you think I married you for your money, then maybe I should leave you.” Brianna put her hand on her hip.
“I know, Bree-Bath-she,” he said, calling her by the pet name he sometimes called her. “But do you know how many women wanted me because they saw dollar signs?”
“Yeah, I know. I’m not stupid. I even think you thought about getting with a few of them. In fact, who knows, maybe you did. But still, I married you for you. And I married you for better or worse; for richer or poorer.”
“Come on, Brianna. Nobody really means that part when they say it. Who truly wants to be with someone poor? Sure, we may feel that’s where we are at the time, but all of us believe our lives are going to get to the better and the richer at some point—sooner rather than later, not worse or poorer.”
“Well, if me staying with you now after you’ve lost millions of dollars—that if I’m not mistaken, you never really had anyway—means I meant what I was vowing when I said those words, then please know: I meant them when I said them. Okay, so those in the know were saying you’d likely get a contract worth eight-six million dollars over five years with a guaranteed fifty million and now it looks like you won’t. So be it. I’m just glad you’re okay. You could have been paralyzed on that play. You and I will do what we need, to be all right. Besides, you’re graduating in May. You’ll get your Electrical Computer Engineering degree. Do like most folks and either get a job or start your own business. Regardless, Unzell, I’m here to stay. So deal with it.” Brianna flicked her head.
Unzell smiled, then looked down at his hand. “God has certainly blessed me richly.” He looked up. “God gave me you.”
“Oh,” Brianna said all mushy as she kissed him. “That was so sweet.”
Brianna couldn’t help but think about how far she and Unzell had come since that fateful day. Following Unzell’s two surgeries and the rehabilitation period, she’d suspended attending college and gotten a job as a secretary, living with her parents while he finished his final months of college in Ann Arbor. After Unzell graduated, he moved back to Montgomery, Alabama. He was relentless about getting a job, even when it felt like no one was hiring. He was diligent, beating the pavement and searching the Internet. In four weeks, he landed a job as an assistant stage manager setting up stages for music concerts, but was told if he wanted to excel in this business, he needed to be in Atlanta. So that’s what he and Brianna did; moved to Georgia.


Thank you for stopping by and getting to know Vanessa. Make sure to visit her website and follow her on Twitter. You can also find Vanessa's books at www.Amazon.com wwwBarneandnoblecom.

 


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Looking Ahead In Faith




I am often bewildered by many who speak despair and defeat. This seems to come from more Christians. Even though they are serving and praising, praying and fasting, many are living their lives as if every negative thing that happens to them is surely the end of the world. Many speak defeat not realizing that the words are thrust into the atmosphere and when done so, the enemy and his band of thieves takes them and uses it against them. The spirit of lack and despair is prevalent in today’s society and if not checked, will make for continued and uncomfortable living.  Is this you?

As a young teenage mother, I often felt defeated not knowing which way is up, not knowing what my future would hold and how in the world was I going to raise my now 35 year old son. Then, here comes my now 32 year old son by the age of 21.  I was on welfare living in my mother’s apartment after she passed away in 1979 right before my oldest son was born in 1980. This in and of itself was a very hard time for me as a young 16 year old mother. But God.

God saw fit to cover me and keep me. I was aware of God and His word so I knew to pray, I knew to have faith and to trust Him.  Hebrews 11:1-3 says, Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God's command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

I kept that faith. Fast forward to today to the age of 53, the sons are now grown and with their own children, a marriage ended, and countless relationships were a bust. I have attended college, worked many jobs, experienced many setbacks and health issues, and for all it I am so thankful that I serve a God of many chances and many blessings.  Nothing and no one in our lives are permanent. We will face trials every day. We will falter in our faith, we will become discouraged and even angry, but know you have the choice to go through each experience with joy and gladness. We have the choice to either rise up or lay down. We have the choice to smile and look in the mirror and say, this too shall pass.  I encourage you to rise up.  You will look back on this day and say to yourself, WOW, I was frantic for nothing, look at me now. You will be able to share your testimony in its time with someone who is in the place you have risen from and encourage them.

I encourage you to really know God and His word by eating on the mana that will fill you up. This mana will never stop flowing. This mana is life sustaining. This mana is God’s manual for our lives. We cannot know what God has to say if we are not reading His love letters to us and what beautiful love it is to know that He will grant us the desires of our hearts if we believe and have faith. Get centered in God’s word and apply it to your life. Start and end each day in prayer, praise and thanksgiving. Seek out someone that you can bless with a visit, a phone call, even a greeting card or flowers. I find that focusing on another helps me to be reminded that it is not always about me. It’s about the ever loving and present help of Jesus.

Be encouraged and blessed