Today I Choose

By Jennifer Hallmark

“This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 NKJV

Today I choose to be kind to myself.

Today I choose to be positive and think of the good in my life, not concentrating on the bad that calls so loudly…

Today I choose to enjoy all of my life, not just the parts that I call good…

Today I will write, love, laugh and be…my concentration will not be on doing…

Today I will be thankful for all the people in my life…people placed by a God who loves and cares for me…

Today I remember the people who have gone on to be with the Lord who influenced my life and I am grateful…

Today I will slow down and take time to enjoy the beauty of nature that God freely bestows on us daily, regardless of season…

Today I will tell people that I love them because I don’t know what tomorrow holds…

Today I will look for people to encourage, for there are people all around me who need to be uplifted…

Today I will not worry about what people think but meditate on what God thinks of me…

Today I will let the minor problems and inconveniences go and give the major ones to God…

Today I will remember the price that Jesus paid so that I could have abundant, eternal life, the price of His own life…

Today I will stop, listen and learn whatever God is trying to teach me through whatever means He is using…

Today I will ask God to help me display the fruit of His Spirit toward all the people I meet…

Today I choose to love myself as God loves me and not belittle myself any more…

Today I choose to live…

Click to tweet: Choice: Today I will tell people that I love them because I don’t know what tomorrow hold. #kindnessmatters #smallactsofkindness

Small Acts of Kindness: Closure

By Jennifer Hallmark

A New Year approaches and with it, a fresh start. In 2017, Ellen and I have enjoyed sharing small acts of kindness that affected us and also displaying kindness through the posts of guest bloggers. But there is one more act of kindness you can do for yourself before the New Year begins.

Several years ago, I was discussing the New Year with a friend and she told me how she was already praying about the New Year and setting goals.

“That’s always good to do. But I have one question for you,” I said. “Have you brought the year 2017 to a point of closure?”

Click to tweet: Finding closure before entering 2018. #NewYear #goals

She asked what I meant. I explained that in the thesaurus, the word closure compares to conclusion, end, close, and finalization. Had she brought this old year to a close? Have you? Below are several questions you can ask yourself so you can successfully end the year 2017.

(1)    Have I taken a moment to examine all the people in my life to make sure there is no bitterness or unforgiveness against any of them? The point is not whether they deserved to be forgiven even if they hurt you badly. When Jesus went to the Cross and suffered like He did so we could go to heaven, His love erased any excuse we might have to hold unforgiveness towards anyone for any reason. Reconciliation is not always possible, but with the help of God we can forgive.

(2)    Have I looked at all the events in my life and come to a place of peace/acceptance? Some things that happened to me this year were not good. Have I reached a place where I can move forward? It helps me to write my feelings down either in prayer form or a declaration. In a catastrophic event like the concert shooting in Las Vegas or the hurricanes that ravaged so many areas, I put into a prayer my thoughts and feelings of that day.

In an event, such as sickness or pain, I first write what the doctor said, then what God said in His Word. At the end, I write a declaration that I have chosen to believe God over man. I don’t deny the diagnosis. I simply believe God for healing, either in this lifetime or the next. During hard times, I can go back and read and remember, using these prayers and declarations to strengthen my faith and give me hope.

(3)    Have I examined my goals and dreams I had for 2017? Which goals did I reach? Which ones were probably unrealistic to begin with? As I look back at my accomplishments and the things I didn’t accomplish or finish, it will help me to set new goals, plans and dreams for 2018. I can also release my goals and dreams back to God and believe He has a purpose and plan within it all.

2018 offers a clean slate. Make sure and take a moment to bring 2017 to a point of closure. Then you’ll be free to start the New Year with faith and hope in the One who makes all things new.

Annabelle’s Ruth by Betty Thomason Owens

betty owensToday I’d like to say welcome to my friend, fellow author, and blogger, Betty Thomason Owens.

Pull up a chair and sit a spell. Now for the first question:

What inspired you to write Annabelle’s Ruth? Where did this idea come from?

Betty: I’ve always loved the Book of Ruth. I’ve read it many times, seen several of the movies. A couple of years ago, I’d just read through the book again and I wondered, what if I wrote a story similar to Ruth’s, but set in more modern times? Say, the 1950’s, and what if…

That’s really how it began. Then I had the idea to blend in elements of my mother’s early life, a story I’d heard throughout my childhood, but more often now, as she ages. Mom was 17 when she met my dad, a sailor temporarily stationed in the Puget Sound. He was 19—they were both just kids! They eloped, and Mom ended up with his family in West Tennessee, far away from her home in Seattle. Far away in many ways. A step back in time, a different culture. You can read more of the story here in a blogpost I wrote.

That was the beginning. The characters I developed were loosely based on people I’d met near the location of the book, both friends and family. And it’s mostly written in southern—one of my favorite languages.

My favorite language also.  Please tell us…

What was the inspiration for Connie’s character?

Betty: Well, first of all, Ruth. She’s actually a combination of the Ruth character in the Bible, and a couple of real people in my life. I named my character Connie, short for “Constance,” because of her determination to stick with Annabelle. My first inspiration came from my mother, who made a similar long bus trek in the early fifties to marry my dad. Like Connie, she suffered culture shock, since life was quite different among my dad’s family.

The other inspiration came from a cousin, who happened to inherit a dark complexion from her father’s side of the family. She had thick, curly, black hair and dark brown eyes. She tanned especially well after a hot West Tennessee summer. So the kids at school teased her and called her an unkind name. She went home in tears. I’d heard that story many times. Why did I choose to bring this element into the story? Because prejudice is a fact of life for so many.

 It is and we’ve seen too much of that in the news lately. 

That brings up a question. Why the element of prejudice? Isn’t it cliché, when writing about the American South?

Betty: It can be cliché. But it’s not just stereotypical of the South. Unfortunately, it’s typical of the world. I chose to include prejudice and exclusion, so I could show love and inclusion.

Great answer. The next question comes from my Bassett Hound, Max. 🙂

I love the character of the dog in the book. Is he based on a pet you owned at one time?

Betty: Hi Max! I love dogs, especially a loyal pet like Samson. He dropped on the scene as I began writing Alton’s character. I guess Alton needed a good dog. I’ve always loved hounds. They are so reminiscent of my visits to my grandmother’s house. Lying in bed at night, I’d hear the coon hounds baying. I’m fond of beagles, but the “Blue Tick” coon hound’s coloring always drew my eye.

So what’s next for you, what are you working on now?

Betty: Right now, I’m marketing this one and also another collaborative novel, Unlikely Merger, for Write Integrity Press. I’m finishing up the second book in the Legacy Series for Write Integrity Press, Carlotta’s Legacy. Then I plan to write the second book in the Kinsman Redeemer series. I can’t wait to see what comes next for Annabelle, her neighbors, and family. I intend to visit the real-life Trenton this summer and do some additional research. You can check my Pinterest page for Annabelle’s Ruth to see pictures from the actual town. I’ll be updating that after my visit.

I can’t wait for the next book. Thanks so much for dropping by!

Anabelle’s Ruthannabelles ruth

“If you think you can come back here and throw yourself on my mercy, you are quite wrong.

After their husbands perish in a fishing boat accident, Connie Cross determines to follow her mother-in-law, Annabelle, from Southern California to Tennessee. Her misgivings begin as they cross the bridge over the muddy Mississippi River. In their new town, where living conditions are far below their previous expectations, they must set up a household and hunt for work to survive. Thanks to the kindness of Annabelle’s handsome, young cousin, life begins to settle down. But Connie has a secret that could uproot them once again.
Inspired by the Book of Ruth, Annabelle’s Ruth is a 1950’s era “Ruth” story, set in western Tennessee.  How will Connie adapt to her new life amid the cotton farms, racial tension, and culture shock? 

Betty Thomason Owens writes romantic comedy, historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She has contributed hundreds of articles and interviews to various blogs around the Internet and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group. She’s also a mentor, assisting other writers. She is a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers, and a contributing editor for the online magazine, Imaginate.

Annabelle’s Ruth is the first novel in the Kinsman Redeemer Series for Write Integrity Press. Her 20’s era romance, Amelia’s Legacy, Book 1, Legacy Series, released October, 2014 (also Write Integrity Press). She writes contemporary stories as a co-author of A Dozen Apologies and its sequels, The Love Boat Bachelor and Unlikely Merger, (2015). She has two fantasy-adventure novels,The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM.