Friday, April 26, 2013

A Guest Post by "The Writing Career Coach" Tiffany Colter

Tiffany Colter loves to write and she is fortunate to be able to do it for a professional career with her work appearing in national magazines, local papers, E-Zines and blogs.  

When I first found Tiffany, it was through an article she wrote for an issue of the ACFW Journal Magazine. The acronym stands for American Christian Fiction Writers. The article described Tiffany as "The Writing Career Coach” who provides “affordable options to aspiring writers”. As a person who loves to write, I knew I had to make a connection and thought perhaps Tiffany could coach me in my professional writing endeavors. So I found Tiffany’s e-mail (it was in her author bio at the end of the article) and I wrote a note. She responded to my inquiries and gave me a few pointers on how to take my writing to the next level. 

A few months into corresponding with Tiffany, I invited her to contribute a guest post to my blog, "God is Love" requesting that she write about an issue that’s on her heart and talk about how her faith in God helped her through the journey.  Tiffany came up with two themes: salvation and adoption and then wrote a story that beautifully correlates the two. So without further ado, here’s a word from Tiffany Colter. 


What God taught me about Salvation through Adoption 
By Tiffany Colter 

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Romans 8:15, NIV) 

Three times in Romans, once in Galatians and once in Ephesians the apostle Paul uses the idea of adoption to describe the salvation message. I’d read it many times but just glossed over it. The idea didn’t hold much meaning to me. I knew people who were adopted. Growing up it was one of those secret things, something you learned about when you were an adult. To be honest, I used to secretly believe that I’d been adopted. I think it was my way of articulating a deep sense of rejection and “otherness” that I felt as a child. It wasn’t that my parents didn’t love and care for me. In fact, although my parents divorced when I was 5, my step-mom had had always treated my brother and I as her blood children. My mom and dad went to great lengths to give us a normal life and to show my brothers and I that they cared for us. My parents tried to express love to me, but I’ve always felt unlovable.

Despite my own issues, this story isn’t about me, my upbringing, or my hang ups. It is about what God showed me in March 2005, just before I began the hardest 7 years of my entire life. That month of that year we were in the midst of finalizing paperwork to fly from Detroit, MI to central Siberia to adopt a 4 ½ year old deaf little girl. We had 3 biological children, but we’d decided after our first was born that we’d give birth to 3 and adopt our 4th from Eastern Europe. This was a result of seeing a special report [I think on Dateline] about the large number of orphans over there. Since I was fluent in sign language we further decided that if all of our biological children were born hearing we’d look for a deaf child to adopt.

If you’ve ever tried to deal with the US government, you know it can be a trying experience. Now try dealing with TWO governments. And try doing it with 3 small girls [ages 6, 4, and 2] running around your feet. The cost of the adoption [including travel, legal documents, and all the rest] was about $55,000, slightly more than our family’s annual salary. We’d raised the money selling everything that wasn’t nailed down, getting donations from friends and, in the end, about $15,000 in debt. Even then there was no guarantee the Russian Court [through the Ministry of Education] would ultimately give us our daughter. I cried many nights from Aug. 2004 when we began the process until April 2005 when we boarded the plane. My heart broke each night knowing she was our daughter, but that she was over there going hungry. Each night she went to bed alone, not knowing that we were moving heaven and earth to get there as fast as humanly possible. She lived each day not knowing that on the opposite side of the globe, a 12 hour time difference, her family prayed for her every night.

And then, only about two weeks before we left America to go get her, I received a daily devotion in my email that had this verse at the top. Suddenly I saw it. I am a broken, fallible human who messes up every, single day. I am at times selfish, at times angry, and at times without faith. I pray at night that God will heal any wound I may have caused in my daughter’s hearts.

Yet even I, this imperfect human, anguished, suffered and sacrificed [along with my family, of course] to adopt this child we’d never known. She was our daughter before she even knew we existed. We loved her and welcomed her and fought for her harder than even our biological children who came…in shall we say…the usual way.

And if we could love and accept this little girl who’d never done a thing for us. If we could sell things we treasured most to pay the cost of her freedom. If we could welcome her in our family.

How much more God? How much more a loving creator who has loved me since the beginning of time? How much more the one who broods over us like a hen for her chicks?

The day I opened that email God began the process of intense healing. I saw that I was God’s little girl. He took what was most precious to Him and gave Jesus up to pay the cost of my freedom. And even though I’m imperfect and am not always a perfect Mommy, God is a perfect Daddy. He will never fail me.

After we adopted Viola we faced many challenges. Some were adapting to her, but also 6 months after the adoption my then 29 year old husband was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. In my scary moments I curled up in my Heavenly Daddy’s lap and remembered that I was his adopted little girl. I remembered He loves me. I remembered that everything would be okay.

And now our little girl is 12 ½. On April 11th we celebrated her 8th Gotcha Day and my husband is 6 ½ years cancer free. She knows she was born to another country—another Kingdom, if you will—but she also knows that we are her family. Despite her language delays the sister closest in age to her recently explained salvation to her. Viola accepted Christ and told everyone about it. She understands the full meaning of adoption. She understands what it feels like to be suddenly plucked from loneliness and lack then delivered to love and provision. Those verses the Apostle Paul wrote will have special meaning to her as she grows older.

And they will carry her through dark days when they come, just as they carried me.


Author bio:

Tiffany Colter, The Writing Career Coach, is the author of dozens of books, CDs, webinars, DVDs and articles. This mother of 4 girls—tween up to teen—is married to her best friend, Chris, and they live the dream on their hobby farm with 2 sheep, a few ducks, 3 chickens, a dozen or so cats and 3 big guard dogs. [To keep the boys away]. She speaks across the country on radio, at conferences, to writer’s groups and at business events. She also shares tips on earning money with writing on her website,

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thankful Thursday: A Lesson in Trust

It’s Thursday and I’m thankful for God teaching me a lesson in trust.

Learning how to trust God is a lesson I take on a daily basis. Not just trusting Him with the basics: to wake me up in the morning, guide me throughout the day and lull me into a good night’s sleep. But learning how to trust him with the BIG things in life: career, relationships, bills that need to be paid. And learning how to be grateful for the SMALL things in life: finding my favorite pens at the store (the multicolored "Profile" series by Paper Mate), hearing my newest favorite song on the radio or YouTube (“I Need You Now” by Christian artist Plumb) and spending free time with family.

Learning to trust God, as easy as it seems, is not always simple. It’s not simple when you don’t know what’s going to happen next in your life and are trying not to worry about tomorrow. But like a card I bought from a Christian bookstore years ago says about having a relationship with God, “TRUST is a MUST” and it’s completely true. I may not always be able to sense God’s presence or feel Him near or know exactly what He has planned for me but I MUST and WILL continue trust Him with my life, dreams and future because only He can provide me with a “peace that passes all understanding" (Philippians 4:7) and "keep me in perfect peace" (Isaiah 26:3). And how do you get that peace? You receive it by placing your TRUST in God.

Today, I am especially thankful for the devout Christian people/artists and inspirational pictures God leads me to find online, all of which encourage me to trust Him more. So if any of you, my dear readers, are struggling with trusting God, I would like to encourage you by sharing a word from Christian author/speaker Lysa TerKeurst and by showing you a photo I found on a blog post by Ashley Larkin called "Anxiety's antidote":

Lysa TerKeurst says (Facebook status on her professional page dated 4/25/2013), Soak in these words tonight before you go to bed:

- God is the solution for every single one of my troubles
- God is within me and perfectly equips me to know what to do
- God is with me therefore there is nothing I’ll face alone
- Evidence of His constant work is all around me if only I will choose to see it

And here's the picture with words to ease any anxiety you may have:


Always remember, GOD is in CONTROL and HE works ALL things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). So press on dear readers (and I'm talking to myself here too), have faith in God because He won’t EVER fail to provide you with everything you need in this life, starting with a trust in Him.

God bless you!



Monday, April 8, 2013

Book review: Free Yourself to Love

I have to admit, it took me two years to read this book but once I determined to read it through, I was so grateful and blessed by the message. 

Free Yourself to Love: The Liberating Power of Forgiveness is the brainchild of bestselling author Jackie Kendall. Jackie is a writer with talents for teaching and counseling and she’s been devoting her life to that threefold ministry for more than 30 years. She is the president of Power to Grow Ministries and very in demand to speak at conferences to people of all ages and walks of life. Jackie is known for sharing her heart through her personal story of abuse. She captivates her audiences with her transparent nature that is not afraid to expose her own vulnerability and she is committed to honesty but speaks the truth in love. 

So when I say it took me two years to read Jackie’s book that was at my own fault of not finding time but I assure you if you take time to read this book, you will benefit because Jackie uses her skill of sharing her heart and speaking the truth in love to a positive effect. Jackie shares her own heartbreak and past abuse and then uses the facts in the form of research, statistics and personal stories she’s heard first hand during her ministry of 30 years. 

The pages of Free Yourself to Love are filled with pearls of wisdom that effectively draws from Scripture. In the Chapter 7 which is titled “Held Hostage by Revenge Fantasies,” Jackie writes, “You can throw something hateful at the one who offended you, but it ends up swinging right back into your life. I would rather be chased by God’s blessings than by a boomerang heading straight for my head. “Trouble chases sinners, while blessings reward the righteous,” says Proverbs (13:21, NLT)."

Ample evidence from real life scenarios support every point Jackie makes on the necessity of forgiveness. In Chapter 8 ("Held Hostage by the Incubation of Anger"), Jackie shares a story about a time when she as college student, accepted an invitation to spend a weekend at the home of her English literature teacher Dr. Evangeline Banta and Banta’s husband. The weekend provided time for Jackie to closely examine the love relationship between the Banta’s and she witnessed a love she thought was only found in literature. So impressed by what she saw, Jackie asked Evangeline to share her secret to such a beautiful love relationship that has lasted for over 40 years. Evangeline answered Jackie with Bible based advice about not letting the sun go down on your anger (Ephesians 4:26). “We made a commitment on our wedding night that we would not go to sleep angry with one another,” she said, making an indelible impression on Jackie which when she wrote this book led Jackie to tell her readers with a bit of humor, “Going to bed angry with one’s mate will only result in dragon breath come morning.” 

Perhaps the best advice in all of the 224 pages of Free Yourself to Love is found on page 214 where Jackie shares a story of how she personally took time at a conference where she was the speaker to tell each of the girls present to “place her hand over her heart and continually whisper this prayer to Jesus: “Heal my heart wound, Lord.”

While Jackie is a realist in the sense that she tells her readers healing from a broken past or great offense will take time but there is hope because Jesus Christ will, if you let Him, turn your broken into beautiful. 

My recommendation for this book goes out to everyone and anyone who’s suffering from a broken past, a painful present and an uncertain future. Read this book, apply the advice and you will find yourself not only free to love but leading as Jackie says, “the freedom march of forgiveness.”