Held

After living in fight/flight/freeze mode for most of my life, I find it necessary to reset my default time and time again. I do that by reminding myself I am not that person anymore. Remembering one’s training amidst hard times is what “soldiers” are supposed to do. Lately, I have recalled several lessons from the past. One of those lessons is the difference between a fortress and a prison.

Prison or Fortress

If given a choice which would you choose? Of course, the answer is clear. The key is knowing the difference between the two.

Prison: A state of confinement or captivity

In the past, I learned when inside a spiritual prison, it is hard to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and to focus on God’s Word. Worry, doubt, and fear seek to chain us, never to be free again. Rather than forge ahead in strength and confidence, we’re unable to move.

But there is hope.

In Romans 15, Paul tells his listeners that God is a God of patience, comfort, hope, and peace. I’m sure we could use all four in our lives, so let us run to the Lord, who can supply our needs.

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost (Romans 15:13).

Fortress: A fortified place, a strong hold, castle or citadel

The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him (Nahum 1:7).

During wartime, townsfolk gathered behind castle walls or inside the castle itself, and remained there until the threat was over.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust (Psalm 91:1-2).

What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee (Psalm 56:3).

When we “dwell” in the secret place, we can hear the Shepherd’s voice. We are not afraid because we dwell in safety and know His peace. Are you dwelling—sitting in the secret place? Trusting in Him?

The Word of God and Prayer

The Scriptures help us to know the truth. When we dwell on His Word, we will have peace. Why worry when we can bring all our cares to Him. Dig into the Word. Memorize it. Pray it. And watch what God will do!

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16).

Songs, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you are aware music is woven into the fabric of my being. I live, breathe, and dream about it. Whether worship, praise, testimonial, or hymns, each has helped me through the storms of life.

Recently, a friend shared “He Will Hold Me Fast” on her timeline. After listening to it for the first time, I went in search of the story that would inspire someone to write such a compelling assurance for the listener. Here’s what I found. 

Robert Harkness, R. A. Torrey’s pianist, tells the story of a convert who feared he could never hold on to his new-found faith. After listening to the young man’s concern, Harkness wrote a letter to lyricist Ada R. Habershon requesting she write songs of assurance for believers.

Months later, Harkness received the songs during a campaign in Philadelphia. Rather than listening to Torrey’s afternoon sermon, he set the words to music. That evening, the song leader Charles M. Alexander introduced He Will Hold Me Fast to 4000 people. Since then, the song has been translated into many languages.

“Walking through a difficult personal season of doubt and uncertainty,” Matt Merker wrote another verse and tune for the song (I love it). He introduced the new version to Capitol Hill Baptist Church in 2013. The video contains that version.

But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more (Psalm 71:14).

Many of us are facing our own struggles during this time of uncertainty. I’d like to take this time and encourage you to remember the promises of God. Remember, through the finished work of the cross, justice was satisfied, grace was extended, and mercy was given. We are NOT parolees still doing time, but children of light. We have been delivered from the power of darkness and translated to the kingdom of Christ. We are precious in His sight. He’ll not let our souls be lost. He holds us fast.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen (Jude 1: 24-25).

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Hymntime

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Bible Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Castle Image by Jonathan Sautter from Pixabay

Women of Faith and Fiction ~ Diana Derringer

I am grateful for the opportunity to work with my next guest. Diana Derringer is one of the sweetest ladies, you’ll ever meet. Let’s get started.

Personal

Who is Diana Derringer?

I grew up in the middle of nowhere in south central Kentucky. Our home was the gathering place, whether for a few hours, a few months, or, after my parents became foster parents, a few years.

My father filled our home with books, led us on long walks in the country, and challenged us to become the best we could be. My mother read to us, chauffeured us to school events, and taught me my first memory verse, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21 KJV).

While still in college, I married my high school sweetheart. Shortly after graduation, I became a social worker on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I also taught occasional classes at Campbellsville University. Other life passions have included serving on mission trips and as a friendship family for international university students, teaching youth Sunday school, traveling with my husband, and singing in our church choir.

My devotions, articles, poetry, drama, planning guides, and Bible studies have appeared more than 900 times in 40-plus publications, including several anthologies. My blog, Words, Wit, and Wisdom: Life Lessons from English Expressions, explains the meaning of English idioms and other unusual sayings. Although originally intended for English as a Second Language students, readers with English as their first language have gradually become my primary audience and now suggest most of the topics for my posts. I also write radio drama for Christ to the World Ministries, which has an outreach to more than 50 countries, many closed to or with severe restrictions on Christian ministry and missions.

Professional     

I enjoyed your “Another Think Coming” post. 😊 Who is your all-time favorite character? This can be one of your own or another author’s character.

I find it hard to choose only one character. However, I have probably quoted from Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place more than any other book. Every year, youth in my Sunday school class hear Corrie’s story. We also role-play her struggle to forgive one of her concentration camp guards. I conclude with Corrie’s words, “I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on his. When he tells us to love our enemies, he gives along with the command, the love itself.”

I love Corrie ten Boom’s story. What is your latest book about?

The title of Beyond Bethlehem and Calvary: 12 Dramas for Christmas, Easter, and More! reveals its content. The story behind the book is not so obvious. I originally sent these short dramas for a large collection CSS Publishing planned. When their big book idea fell through, they asked if I wanted my dramas back or to leave with them for future consideration. Rather than reformat for another publisher, I left them with CSS for smaller collections. To my surprise, about a year later, they sent a book contract.

Flexibility, ease of production, and themes that meet us where we live make Beyond Bethlehem and Calvary suitable for large or small groups, whether in a church setting or on the most rugged mission trip.

Thank you for sharing the story behind the book, Diana! Now, what is your latest read about?

Betty Thomason Owens’s Annabelle’s Joy, the last in her Kinsman Redeemer series, offers a nostalgic but realistic look at southern life in the 1950s. From the moment I stepped into Annabelle’s world of loss, struggle, uncertainty, humor, and faith, I felt welcomed and gradually grew to love the people and places she loved. With all their issues, quirks, and failings, I found myself cheering for them and celebrating with them. When Annabelle finally embraced her new life and love, I closed the book, satisfied that, for a moment, all felt right in the world.

Annabelle’s Joy is a keeper. Please, tell us about your writing/reading process.

I am a list maker. I keep lists of books to read, tasks to accomplish, writing plans, and assignments. I hope a windstorm never hits the inside of my house. Unfortunately, my lists outpace my time, so I must prioritize their contents, praying for guidance in choosing each day’s focus. Yet, once I get into writing mode, my thoughts grow freer and I go with the flow. The finished product often looks far different from my original plan.

Isn’t it amazing what we end up with when we leave it in the hands of God?What is your best marketing tip?

Build strong relationships. Whether in person, on social media, in workshops, or any other setting, offer something of value and offer it in a way that says, “I care about you. I hope this meets your need.”

I love that! Do you choose a word or a scripture for each year or each story? Please share.

I don’t choose a word or scripture for each year or story. However, I do have several scriptures that offer daily guidance. A favorite, Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) reminds me, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” I also begin most days with a prayer for God to work through me in everything I say, do, and write.

Perhaps I should choose the word still. Many times I must remind myself to slow down and be still in God’s presence. When that happens, I usually quote Psalm 46:10 or sing Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Be Still and Know.” 

Steven Curtis Chapman is a great artist. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Read, learn, and write faithfully. Read what you want to write, read to sharpen your skills, but also read for fun. Attend conferences; subscribe to blogs, podcasts, and other online resources; and take advantage of one-on-one opportunities with experienced writers and authors. Write, edit several times, let your writing simmer, and edit again before you submit. Establish yourself and hone your skills with articles and other smaller pieces before tackling a book.

I believe it’s important to encourage each other in our daily walk. Would you share a word of encouragement with our readers?

Learn from every experience and remember the hardest times often offer the greatest lessons. That applies personally as well as professionally. Our family has experienced multiple health crises since 2004. I offer a snapshot of those events in my blog post “Tough Cookie.” As in the Charles Dickens classic A Tale of Two Cities, so also in life, the best and worst of times often coexist.

As a writer, enjoy acceptance notices and the opportunity to share, but also learn from rejections. Explore new publishers, rework submissions, refine skills, and seek God’s guidance every step of the way. I am so thankful several of my early submissions were rejected, as they were definitely not ready for publication.

Remember to rejoice always,pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV).

Great advice, Diana! We must learn from rejections or we lose the ability to grow. Moving on… Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes and no. As I mention in my website “About” page, I loved books before I could read and scribbled thoughts before I could write. However, other than a Christmas story in the local newspaper when I was a high school senior and a couple of articles shortly after my college graduation, I never published anything else or seriously thought about it until 2005. The most significant turning point came when I attended the 2008 Kentucky Christian Writers Conference. My writing changed from hobby to profession, and I have not looked back.

Inspirational

I believe connecting with other Christian authors will change your life. Final question, Diana. From where does your inspiration come?

Inspiration comes from anything and everything: people, billboards, sermons, travel, troubles, nature, the Bible, memories, random thoughts that pop into my head after I go to bed … I keep pen and paper or my phone with me most of the time to record thoughts before they escape. Rather than writer’s block, I suffer from writer’s overload. Every day offers new surprises and new opportunities to share a bit of good news with a hurting world.

Diana, thank you so much for joining me and sharing with our readers. Readers, you can learn more about Diana here:

Website

Facebook author page

Twitter

LinkedIn

Pinterest

Goodreads

Instagram

Amazon author page

Build strong relationships. Whether in person, on social media, in workshops, or any other setting, offer something of value and offer it in a way that says, “I care about you. I hope this meets your need.” ~ @DianaDerringer via Women of Faith and Fiction @GailJohnson87 #marketing #interview #amwriting

The Difference

The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will. ~ Vince Lombardi

Good enough? Have you’ve asked yourself the same question? If so, here’s the thing. We learn with every stroke of the pen. It’s true. Practice makes perfect. Keep writing. Keep learning. Don’t quit!

Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🇬🇧 on Unsplash