I had the honor to be on the Launch Team for this book and received an ARC (Advance Reader Copy.) It will be out later this month. If you have followed me very long, you know that Rick Renner is one of my favorite Christian non-fiction authors and teachers. I have learned so much from Rick's writings, both as a believer and as a writer. I used his knowledge of the Armor of God from his book, Dressed to Kill, as I wrote my Tresia series. This new book is amazing. It is a must read for every Christian living in these crazy times. It is available for pre-order on Rick's website, www.renner.org or on Amazon. Here is the back cover to let you know what is included:
I have had this book for over two weeks, but am just beyond the half-way point. That's not because I'm a slow reader, or it's hard to read. It's because every chapter needed to be read slowly, taken into my mind and heart and meditated on as I read. At the end of each chapter are Action Steps. They take as long as reading the chapter if you use them correctly. Last Days Survival Guide must be read prayerfully and honestly. Here are a few of my favorite quotes so far:
"This is not a time for us to get into fear -- it's a time to hear the Holy Spirit's voice."
"You can build a wall of protection to keep yourself and your family safe even in these treacherous times."
"If the devil has attacked you and your family, it's time for you to make the enemy sorry he ever messed with you! With the Word of God in your heart, the Holy Spirit as your Teacher, and the support of those who are qualified to help you, it is possible to rise above anything the enemy has waged against you. This is not the time to be discouraged...God wants you to fulfill the purpose and destiny He has appointed for you on this earth."
Order this book today. It will be a lifeline and an anchor in these Last Days. It is the foundation for knowing how to not only survive in these times in which we live, but thrive.
Speaking of foundations, we have one here at Macs MountainView! This is the footprint of our guest house, Ruby Cottage, and Macs Music Recording Studio! God is on the move. Be BLESSED!
I took a break from blogging and social media through June. It's a good month for me to take a break, and I needed it. With this crazy world we are living in, it was nice to not have to think about what to post for a while. Breaks are good. So is the time when they are over! Today I am introducing a new feature to my regular blog. I wanted a day when I could post whatever and whenever I wanted. So, in line with structure and alliteration of my blog, Jewels for Journey, I added this for whenever I needed it. You will find some guest posts, too. I also decided that I wouldn't follow any pattern for posts except that I will endeavor to post every month. A lot is happening and I don't want you to miss out on a bit of it!
The photo shows where Dennis and I take our breaks here at Macs MountainView. If you look behind the chairs and firepit, you will see that we have begun our building project! This house pad is for our guest house, Ruby Cottage, and Den's recording studio, Macs Music. We are so excited to have the building process happening. Please pray with us as this project goes forward. God has given us many wonderful friends who are helping us get on with our re-firement assignment.
My great news is that I am 2/3 of the way through my new book! When the last book in the Tresia series was published in November of 2018, I decided I would take a break from writing books and concentrate on my blog and Facebook. Living in a camper was a factor, but in May, with a little push from my writing friends, I decided BREAK OVER! I'm writing from my little kitchen table in the camper, but as soon as the guest house is done, we will move in there for a bit, and my office chair and computer will come out of storage, and my camper will become my writing studio! So, I'm practicing. My publisher set a release date of November 1, 2020 and I can't wait to show everyone the cover! This book is non-fiction, but about a concept I introduced in my Tresia series. Be looking for more news about the new book soon. This is the clip artwork that will be the motif for the book. It was designed by my webmaster, Carol, and her artistic daughter, Emalee. Be watching for more news about the release of:
Don't forget to take a break once in a while. It's good for the body, soul, and spirit. But then, get back to your Kingdom assignment and enjoy the presence of the One Who gave it to you. Be BLESSED!
If you don't have our testimony book, this month's freebie is for you. If you would like a copy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your address. I have several copies to give away, but first come, first served.
This is one of my favorite pics of Stacie and me, taken at South Mountain State Park soon after we moved to Morganton, NC, in 2002. Stacie's earthly birthday is next week, but it will be her 8th Heavenly birthday. In honor of that, I would love for you to have this book, it is her story. I promise that it is not a sad book. You may wipe away a few tears, but you will also laugh and be filled with hope at the end. Just like we are.
This year's senior class has missed a lot with school cancelled due to the virus. One of my YAB gals, (Youth Advisory Board) is graduating and her school made and posted on their Facebook page these spotlights for all the seniors. I thought it as a great idea and one that family members could do for the graduates in their lives to honor their years in school.
Not only was Caity on my YAB, she was the model and name for a character in Book II and III of the Tresia series. What made this so fun for me, was that that fact was one of the things her school chose to include in her Senior Spotlight. Congrats to Caity and all the Class of 2020! Stay safe, have fun, and BE BLESSED!
By the time we left the Biltmore Estate a couple weeks ago, it was snowing in earnest. The forecast had been wrong. But inside this amazing library, I was cozy and delighted. I'd been here once before, and didn't think I ever wanted to go back, but I'm so glad I did. And I'm glad that one of our dear friends listened to the Holy Spirit when she decided to offer us the free tickets they had for that day. She had no idea what the Lord was going to do in my heart on this wintery day. Their generosity and obedience gave me and Dennis another day at the Biltmore.
The last time we were at the Biltmore was many years ago. Our daughter, Stacie, had treated us to a tour of the mansion (one of her favorite places) and a concert on the veranda that evening. It is a wonderful memory. But as with a few other special places from the past, I thought that going back would cause more sadness than joy, so I usually avoid doing so. When our friend offered the tickets, I wasn't sure if this would be one of those places. But I did remember the library and it was my love of books and libraries, and old houses, that helped me say yes, we would go. Dennis and I love to walk and we knew that our friends enjoyed the estate because of all the trails, so that was another plus. And walk we did!
I was grateful for my winter hat and scarf that Stacie's dear friend, and now one of our adopted daughters, Kimberly, made for me. Kansas University colors, of course. It was fairly nice outside after we finished our house tour, and we headed down to the gardens and the Conservatory. Every once in a while I would see a snowflake fall. But this Kansas girl loves snow, so that didn't bother me. We decided to keep walking after we left the garden area and found this great bridge. I love bridges, too. However, when we looked at the map and made the decision to continue walking around the property to Antler Village, we had no idea how far that was. After walking for an hour or more, we saw a sign that said two more miles to the village. And more snowflakes were coming down. But we pressed on and enjoyed the day, each other, and God's beautiful mountains in the distance. By the time we got to the village, snow was blowing and sticking to the road and grass. We took the trolley back to our parking lot and were very grateful for the ride!
I have talked about "God Hugs" before, those times when something happens that reminds you how much God loves you. I had two that day. One was in the Christmas Shop where a white rose Christmas Tree greeted us at the door. Christmas and white roses were two of Stacie's favorite things. But instead of the sight making me sad, it brought joy to my heart. The other was the pantry in the house, which was the setting for a hilarious scene in one of her favorite Don Knotts and Tim Conway movies, Private Eyes. Much of the movie was filmed at the Biltmore. Both these were God Hugs and Stacie Hugs for me. God is good.
My heart was full at the end of the day. It had been a day full of joy, not sadness. I was reminded that Jesus bore our griefs and sorrows and in their place He offers us His joy if we only take it. I am glad that I learned that fact very soon after Stacie moved to Heaven. I miss her every day, but once again God showed me His love and care by taking my sorrow and turning it into joy. It's amazing to me, though I'm not surprised, at how he can take the things we tend to shy away from, for whatever reason, and even if it takes us years to find the courage to step out and do them, the Lord will turn it around and make it beautiful. I give him all the Glory. But I also thank our friends for giving me another day at the Biltmore.
If God lays something on your heart to do for someone, especially in this time of crisis, don't hesitate. Your obedience may make a huge difference in their life.
One more picture of the library...! Be safe. Be BLESSED!
Since next week is Valentine's Day, I wanted to share something about this guy. This is our engagement photo taken in 1973. After Dennis graduated from Washburn University in Topeka, KS, he taught music, counseled, and coached basketball for 39 years. It didn't matter where we went, one of his "kids" would always be there to run up and say hi to "Coach" or "Mr. McPhail." He was much more than a teacher/coach to many of his students and players. His friend list on Facebook is proof of that. He still keeps in touch with many of them. Even now, when we go back to KS for a visit, we almost always run into a former student.
I am a proud teacher/coach wife. I have heard so many compliments, both in person and written, by probably hundreds of students over the years, about how much my husband means to them and how he influenced their lives. It's been a blessing on top of all the other blessings of being his wife. (He's making dinner while I type this...)
When he retired in 2018, Dennis decided he wanted to be a volleyball and basketball official. That was fine with me. I don't go to the games. Only once. That was enough. But something happened a couple weeks ago that made me smile and realize that he is still loved by students. After a game at a local Christian school, several of the girls basketball team ran up to him and said, "You are our favorite Ref!"
What more could I ask in a Valentine? Happy Valentine's Day, Den and all my Clan. Tell somebody how much they mean to you on Friday. There's always room for more love. Be BLESSED.
Happy New Year, Clan! This is the perfect time to write about family. My mom was a prayer warrior. She made praying for her family, church, missionaries, and friends a priority every morning. I was her caregiver for seven years and saw her dedication first hand. This is one of the greatest legacies she gave me.
In the eyes of the world, I may be a little short on immediate family, because both parents and my only child are already in Heaven. I don't have to pray for them - they pray for me! Dennis has a stepmom, and we each have a brother and sister-in-law in KS. My brother's three kids and their spouses are spread around the country. They have given me seven great nieces and nephews and another on the way. I am a BLESSED Aunt JA! We weren't able to make the trip to Goshen, IN, where my oldest nephew lives and all the rest of my side of the family gathered at Christmas, but I experienced my first Facetime call and was able to see and talk to all of them! I know I'm behind time on this, but I'm learning new things all the time, kids! Besides our brothers and their wives, we are blood related to around 35-40 more, which includes aunts, uncles, and cousins.
I decided to count up all the others we call special family. This amazing group comes from our daughter Stacie's friends, who call us mom and dad, her former students, who call us grandma and grandpa, (and their kids are our great-grandchildren!) and kids of friends who have graciously shared their families with us and consider us family. The total was over 50, taking into consideration a pregnancy or two. That's a lot of family to keep in my prayers. But it's an honor to fill my mom's shoes in doing so.
At the end of 2019, I decided to divide them up, so I had a certain group to pray for every day of the week. I call it my Family Intercession List. It keeps me in touch with those on the list as they send me special prayer requests, and it keeps me in touch with our Heavenly Father on their behalf.
I am so grateful for my extended family. My daughter chose her friends well, and I have been a beneficiary of those friendships. I love them all. Like family. Several on my list are foster and adoptive parents and kids. That's always been near to my heart, and I love that they have chosen to share their love. Most of these family members names can be found as characters in my books, something I loved doing. Good characters. (I had an agent once who was less than complimentary about my book. She became a not-so-great character...'nuff said.) I would include photos here, but I might forget someone, and there are honestly too many, so will just enjoy looking at their precious faces myself.
As you enter this new year and new decade, I encourage you to put praying for your family, by blood or by choice, into your schedule. It's been a BLESSING to me in so many ways. Also, don't be surprised if we are together and you bring out your pictures of children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews to show me, that I do the same. I have plenty of "family" photos in my phone, too!
In my Tales of Tresia books, I call these amazing prayer warriors "Vanguards" and the prayers they wield for their families are called "Wind Words." What we do keeps the Kingdom from the enemy. It's an important job. Want to join me by becoming a Vanguard for your family? Do it. I promise you will all be BLESSED.
2020! It's almost here! Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are ready for the New Year.
It's been my tradition at the end of a year, to let you all know my "Most Read Author of the Year."
I read 51 books this year; 21 Christian Fiction, 13 Christian Non-fiction, 11 Fiction, four non-fiction, and two juvenile fiction. (I won't tell you how many times I added that up to make sure it was correct. Math is not my thing...)
To be fair, I'm going to have to use two categories this year for my most read authors. I'm giving them both first place, but the most re-read author goes to James L. Rubart at ten books. Nine were re-reads, and his latest, which came out this year, for its first read. Jim was my Most Read Author back in 2016, and I have to say that re-visiting his books was as good or better than the first time around. I can't recommend this author highly enough. He writes the kind of books that I want to write, books that take you deep into the spirit realm and leave you pondering the truths of the story for a long time after you close the covers. One of the highlights of my year was attending Rubart Writing Academy in April. Thanks to Jim for the hours of reading inspiration (again) and his mentorship. Find out more about all things James L. Rubart at www.jameslrubart.com
The other first place Most Read Author of 2019 went to an amazing lady who attended that same academy. D. L. Koontz came in at four books and I am anxiously awaiting three new ones due out next year. D. L. has one of the best author newsletters I receive, and I would encourage all avid readers and writers to go to her website and subscribe. She has great information, fun stuff, and fantastic giveaways every month. www.dlkoontz.com
On a side note, these photos were taken from my "Authors I KNOW" bookshelf. I am so excited to read the sequel to Alara's Call by Kristen Stieffel, another RWA grad. The other bookend to D.L's books was written by my dear friend Barri Cae, then Mallin, now Seif. Many of the Hebrew names in my Tresia series came from her book, The Name Hashem.
By my First Friday post next week, I will have my Reading Nook updated with my favorites and what is already on my reading list for 2020. You can keep up with me by clicking on the Reading Nook button on my homepage. I update it once a month when I send out a new blog post. And while you are there, please subscribe to my blog and twice-yearly newsletter so we can keep in touch right from your inbox! Have a Happy New Year and Be BLESSED! www.jamcphail.com
Rick Renner is a favorite author and teacher of mine. But his wife, Denise, shares some wonderful things, too. This meme she posted on Facebook blended beautifully with my subject matter for this post. Waiting on God is almost always accomplished step by step by faith. If we are patient to take the steps in His order and His timing, we will experience the best Heaven has to offer.
On this journey of beginning a new life and ministry of "re-firement," Dennis and I have learned we must wait on God. Looking back, we see God's hand leading and guiding every step. But sometimes, even though we have come so far, the fulfillment of our vision still seems a long way off. It's been amazing to be on our property and taking steps toward building next spring. But it would be easy to become discouraged if I dwell on living my second winter in a 26-ft camper! I just have to remind myself, on a daily basis, that waiting on God's best plan for us means just that. But waiting patiently. That doesn't mean not doing anything. It means taking the steps we can. The steps He shows us. And taking them with joy, excited for the end result -- no matter how long it takes.
This year I have been studying the book of James. It talks a lot about the patient farmer and how he waits for the harvest. But while he waits, he does what he knows to do. He waters the seeds, pull up the weeds, keeps out the enemies that would tear it up and devour it. And he does it over and over again, every day if necessary. Until the harvest is ready. Then he goes out and brings it in.
Do you have a harvest, a life goal, a vision, that you've been waiting for? Planning for? Something you've dreamed about for a long time? Have you done that last thing God told you to do? Keep doing what you know to do. Take each step God shows you, quickly. If you know it's God, no hesitation! Until He reveals the next step, remember that if you go too quickly, if you rely on your own resources to accomplish things faster, if you skip steps He has planned for you to take, you will miss His best for you, and you may find yourself face down in the dirt. Instead, I encourage you to patiently open your heart to what Heaven has in store. Wait for it. It will surely come.
Happy Thanksgiving. Be BLESSED.
I opted to wait until Sunday to do my regular Second Saturday Scrapbook post, because yesterday I did something for the first time that needed to be included in my scrapbook! One of my assignments from the Rubart Writing Academy that I attended in April was to get myself and my books "out there" in the public. I have now checked that first time effort off my list.
Thanks to my dear friend and fellow writer, Georgia Wilson, Saturday, Oct. 12, I shared her booth at the Mountain Glory Festival in Marion, NC. A first for me, but Georgia is an old pro at these street festivals and she showed me the ropes. She writes fiction and short stories, many about local history. Find out more about her books at georgiaruthwrites.us.
I took along some special friends of mine, my doll Winny, and her dog, Ginny, two of the main characters in my Tresia series. I could have sold both of them many times over! But they did bring many people by the booth wondering about them. It was mid-afternoon before I made any sales. One was to a grandfather looking for books for his twelve-year-old granddaughter that "would steer today's young people in the right direction." He asked many questions about the books and I shared with him how the stories had spiritual truths underneath the plot, such as the Armor of God in the form of a hat, an umbrella, and a cane. I told him I was inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia, and though he had not heard of Narnia, he did know C.S Lewis, the author. He bought the trilogy. I was thrilled.
Next was a sweet young girl of eleven who wandered over to our booth when she spied "Winny and Ginny" perched on the end of my table. When she found out that they were characters in my books, she told me how she loved to read! She wanted to know how much they were and when I told her, her face fell. "I'm on a budget today and I don't have that much money left" she told me. I said I would sell her Book I for what her budget allowed. Her dad joined us and she told him that she wanted the first book and that she had enough money to buy it. He asked questions about the books and I told them both to read the back cover copy for more information. The daughter read for a few seconds and hugged the book to herself and declared, "I can tell from the first few sentences that I will love this book!" I almost cried. Her dad took a card, so they could order the other two books online. I hope they do. "You made my day, honey," I told her as they left. And she did.
Another special thing about the day was the family in the booth next to ours. They sold paintings and things made from re-purposed items. I bought Dennis a painting on an old LP album of a musical staff. It will be perfect in his recording studio. The mom told me that as she painted it, they had talked about a buyer who had a music room, but were happy to learn it would hang in Macs Music Recording Studio. She took one of my business cards and said she would be homeschooling their daughter in a couple years and would need books for her. At a nudge from the Holy Spirit, I gave her a copy of our daughter's story and family testimony, "I Will Not Fear: A Chosen Life." The couple serenaded us throughout the day with banjo, guitar, and some good 'ol bluegrass singing. Their music business is called "Chirp! On the Mountain." I love that. The art website is: NITSA-ART.CO
When the day was over and Dennis and I were on our way home, I was tired, but grateful for the two people who bought my books and to Georgia for sharing her space with me. Now that I have that festival under my belt, I'm going to watch for local festivals where I can do this again. It always helps to have friends show how things are done the first time around!
This morning in church, our pastor shared something he saw this week: "The devil tries to keep you worrying about what happens next, so you won't take time to enjoy the blessings you have right now." I was guilty. I had worried and stewed about the preparation needed for this weekend, the early morning set-up time and almost 3-hour trip, what if nobody talked to me or bought any books, etc. The only thing I was sure of was that I would greatly enjoy spending the day with Georgia. But God, in His infinite mercy, took my worries and turned them into a day of amazing fellowship with my friend, strength and energy to get through the long hours, confidence in (and even having fun!) talking to strangers about my books, two encouraging sales to a grandpa who was concerned for today's children, who invested in my books believing they may fill a need, and one wonderful little girl who made my day when she hugged my book! All-in-all, a most scrapbook-worthy day!
I encourage you, as this verse always does me, to "be strong and courageous" like Joshua. Get out there and share your talents and expertise with the world. The Lord has given each of us a special assignment to accomplish what He has equipped us to do. The best part of His individual Plan for each of his kids, is to give us something to do for Him that we enjoy doing. I have enjoyed most of my jobs, but as I was reminded this weekend, being an author is my calling for this season. I am excited, grateful, and ever so humbled today, to embrace and pursue that calling. I pray that you will pursue your calling and experience your own scrapbook-worthy days! Be BLESSED
J.A. McPhail is the author of five books, has been married to Dennis since 1974, enjoys living in the North Carolina mountains. and is an avid collector of books and book related stuff.