Monday, September 15, 2014

The Full Measure of Joy

"I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one… Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified." ~Jesus  (John 17:13-19 NIV)

Have you noticed after a natural disaster like a tornado, hurricane, or even a simple house fire, survivors make statements like, “Thank God we survived. Nothing else really matters.”

In the midst of total loss, people often find the silver lining. Jesus prayed the above prayer shortly before being arrested and crucified. Yet, in the midst of asking God to remove the cup of crucifixion from him, he also speaks of his joy. He longs for his disciples to have the full measure of his joy within them.

I’ve known many discontented people in my life, as well as a few contented folks. The stark contrast is those with little are unencumbered by this earthly life. They’re more likely to praise God for the little they have than to whine about the things they don’t have. Even when faced with more loss, or possible death, they find the words and joy to praise God.

Maybe the key is found in Jesus’ words. “…for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.”

Striving to live by the world’s definition of success will rob you of Christ’s joy. Acquiring more “stuff” won’t fill the empty space intended to be filled with Christ. Embracing the cross of Christ means being able to praise God even when life circumstances scream at you not to.

A book I read many years ago, These Strange Ashes, by missionary Elisabeth Elliot, records her first missionary journey as a young single woman in 1952 into the jungles of Ecuador. Her work included devising a written alphabet so a written language could be established for the Colorado Indians. She spent nine months living among them in a primitive lifestyle. She entrusted a fellow missionary to return to the city with her work and then went to another part of the jungle to study the Quichua. A short time later, Elisabeth received a letter from the missionary informing her that the suitcase carrying all of her work had been stolen. This is an excerpt from the book:

I read the letter again and again. The filebox, the notebooks, the charts—all of it gone. All of it, of course, in my own handwriting. There were no copies of anything.
It was, after Maruja’s and Macario’s deaths, Lesson Three for me. Another experience of stripping. The tenth Psalm came to mind: “Why dost thou hide thyself in times of trouble?” And, as before, I heard no reply to that and other questions. There was no light, no echo, no possible explanation. All the questions as to the validity of my calling, or much more fundamental, God’s interest in the Colorados’ salvation, in any mission work—Bible translation or any other kind—all these questions came again to the fore. 
To be a follower of the Crucified means, sooner or later, a personal encounter with the Cross. And the Cross always entails loss. The great symbol of Christianity means sacrifice and no one who calls himself a Christian can evade this stark fact…There is a certain reticence to infer that our little troubles may actually be the vehicles to bring us to God. Most of us simply grin and bear them, knowing they are the lot of all human beings, and our memories being marvelously selective, we simply cancel them out, none the better for the lessons we might have learned... 
But there was nothing to be done about it at all, no hope of recovery, and that was that…It was only gradually during the months that followed that I saw that to God nothing is finally lost…Loss and death are only the preludes to gain and life…Faith, prayer, and obedience are our requirements. We are not offered in exchange immunity and exemption from the world’s woes. What we are offered has to do with another world altogether. (These Strange Ashes, 129-132)

Elisabeth married Jim Elliot in 1953, and moved deeper into the jungles to establish contact with the Auca Indians who’d never successfully mingled with outsiders. Jim and four other missionaries were killed by this tribe in 1956. Elisabeth, along with her toddler daughter and a few other wives, chose to stay and continue the work started by their husbands. They eventually succeeded in leading the Auca Indians to Christ.

It’s our choice to give in to despair or choose joy when faced with hardship. Joy tells you, no matter what, God is there. He cares. He will provide peace and comfort that nothing and no one else can. Cling to that promise today. 

Laura Hodges Poole is a 2014 ACFW Genesis semi-finalist and a 2012 RWA Emily finalist in Christian fiction. She is also an Associate Editor with Christian Devotions ministry, as well as a ghostwriter/collaborator. Her passion is encouraging others in their Christian walk through her blog, "A Word of Encouragement." She may be contacted at Follow her on Twitter @ Laura_Poole. 

©Laura Hodges Poole

“A Woman Jumping” photo courtesy of Kongsky/
“House With Money” photo courtesy of hywads/
“Autumn Twilight” photo courtesy of Evgeni Dinev/

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Interview with Carrie Fancett Pagels

Thanks for having me on your blog, Jodie!

What is your favorite book or work that you’ve written?  Why?
Yes, I have an as-yet-unpublished manuscript that is my favorite. It is currently titled “The Overseer’s Daughter” and I simply loved the heroine, the hero, and their story as well as the setting. The story made the rounds to most of the CBA publishing houses, except a few. Still praying it will be published traditionally.
I’m also very fond of my Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance novella because of the theme of obedience plus a cast which includes multi-racial characters—something you don’t see too much of in inspirational fiction.

Why do you write?
I only write because God calls me to do so. Logically, I see no good reason for people to write Christian fiction—it has to be a calling. It’s very hard work with little return. God has encouraged me through people he’s put around me to lift me up on my journey. And when I’ve been ready to give up—He’s granted me awards or lovely reviews, etc., to urge me to keep writing.

What’s the hardest thing about publishing?
The hardest thing is cutting a story while still maintaining the integrity of what you’ve written. Writing the story “Snowed In” for Guidepost Books A Cup of Christmas Cheer was one of the easiest and most enjoyable things I’ve done (on the first draft). It was awesome “spending time” during 1945 at my great-grandparents’ log cabin (which is where it was set.) But when I had to trim 20% of the story down (which was within the guidelines of what was contracted for, so I’m not complaining, I’m simply stating the facts) that process was so difficult that I had to enlist two freelance editor friends to help me do so. Lesson learned. I’d stay at the lower end of guidelines for future submissions.

You have a new novella out. Is one of the characters your favorite?
Absolutely!  Josephine Christy wouldn’t leave me alone until I’d finished writing The Fruitcake Challenge! The story is inspired by my mother, who died four years ago. There’s a lot of Ruby in Jo Christy. She loved my husband, Jeff, and found him funny but rarely did she get to observe Jeffrey in
his “I’m almost always right” mode—which is what my character Tom Jeffries stays in until his character arc changes. Mom started life out in Kentucky and was then dragged off to the northwoods to lumber camps, by my grandfather but she found her way out of the camps by getting jobs in the last community where they’d lived. So I’d say Jo is my favorite character for her determination and spunk and because she reminds me of my mother!

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
Don’t ever give up hope! God has a plan for you. It may not look like anything you wanted to do. In fact, it might look like the exact opposite of what you were aiming for. Trust God and He’ll bless you with a future better than you could have imagined for yourself!

Thanks for having me on your blog, Jodie! 

Short Bio: Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D.
Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D. ( “Hearts Overcoming Through Time,” isThe Fruitcake Challenge, releases September, 2014. Her short story, “Snowed In,” appears in Guidepost Books’ A Christmas Cup of Cheer (2013). She’s the Amazon best-selling and top-rated author of Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance (2013). Her Historical Genre winning short story, “The Quilting Contest,” will appear in Family Fiction’s The Story 2014 anthology. Carrie is a finalist in the 2014 Maggie Awards for Excellence for her unpublished novel, Grand Exposé.
an award-winning Christian historical romance author. Carrie’s novella,

Novella Title: The Fruitcake Challenge
The Fruitcake Challenge blurb

When new lumberjack, Tom Jeffries, tells the camp cook, Jo Christy, that he’ll marry her if she can make a fruitcake, “as good as better than the one my mother makes,” she rises to the occasion. After all, he’s the handsomest, smartest, and strongest axman her camp-boss father has ever had in his camp—and the cockiest. And she intends to bring this lumberjack down a notch or three by refusing his proposal. The fruitcake wars are on! All the shanty boys and Jo’s cooking helpers chip in with their recipes but Jo finds she’ll have to enlist more help—and begins corresponding with Tom’s mother.

Step back in time to 1890, in beautiful Northern Michigan, near the sapphire straits of Mackinac, when the white pines were “white gold” and lumber camps were a way of life. Jo is ready to find another life outside of the camps and plans that don’t include any shanty boys. But will a lumberjack keep her in the very place she’s sworn to leave?

Giveaway: I will give away an ebook copy of “The Fruitcake Challenge” novella and an autographed paperback copy of my novella Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance.

Contact info
Carrie Fancett Pagels

Links to purchase
A Cup of Christmas Cheer, Guidepost Books

Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance 

God’s Provision in Tough Times

Friday, September 12, 2014

Confessional Friday

I participate in a weekly blog link-up called Confessional Friday, where bloggers share tidbits about their week--things they may not normally share.

So, I thought I'd do a Reader Confessional Friday.

I confess that I often check reviews after reading a book just to see if other people agree with me.

I confess that I currently have 297 books on my kindle to-read list, just waiting for me.

I confess that doesn't count the hundred or so books on my book shelf waiting to be read.

I confess I have a small--okay large--crush on the hero of whatever book I'm reading at the time.

I also confess that I usually forget about said hero (and most of the plot) by the next week. So, when a character sticks out, I know it's a five-star book.

I confess I'm a sucker for a bad boy in a book.

I confess I get annoyed by heroines who are weak or co-dependent. I like feisty, independent characters.

That's it for today.

What's your reader confession?

Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered into this week's giveaway!

Laura Jackson serves as the librarian of an elementary school and writes YA novels at night. Her first book Worth the Wait released in February, and the second book in the series (Worth the Time) comes out in January 2015. Connect with her on FB, Twitter, or on her website.