On this last day of 2020, I am determined to not look back on this crazy year except to reflect on what God has helped me to accomplish in spite of circumstances. I choose to look forward to what the Lord wants me to accomplish next.
I’m making some changes in how I communicate and nurture relationships with family, friends, readers, and my fellow writers. I may even go “old school” sometimes. I’ve had more than one person agree that we should bring back letter writing and sending cards rather than only email and text. I have some friends and family who don’t use computers or smart phones. They never see websites or social media posts. I know it’s how we do things these days, but at least for now, there are people who lived in the pre-tech era and don’t embrace it now. They are left out of so much communication. It’s sad.
I had planned a year-end blog post on my website for last Friday, Christmas Day. In keeping with my regular blog theme, it was going to be Fourth Friday Finale. Technology problems kept me from posting. Today I was going to try again, but after MANY tries, both my phone server and my website server refused to cooperate. So I made this a long Facebook post, which hopefully will find its way to my website blog page.
I am not a techy person. I couldn’t do any of this web stuff without Dennis and my brilliant webmaster, Carol Nelson. Keeping up with social media and newsletters and websites has been known to make me want to put my fist through the screen! Like today. Even before these recent complications I had made a decision. I’m taking a break from my blog to concentrate on marketing my new book, writing the next one, and building stronger relationships however I need to do so. You will still hear from me on Facebook and through our newsletters, but not through my blog. I will leave the blog archives up in case you want to see them again. I am excited about a new surprise coming soon on my website. I will update my Reading Nook with my “Most Read Author” of 2020, and keep a running list of what I’m reading this year. There are lots of things to see and do on my website, so I hope you will stop by and browse. If you are into that sort of thing. If you want an old-fashioned pen pal, let me know! I’m in.
I’m ready to put together my new 2021 Vision Board, my fifth one! There are only two things that will remain from this year, and that’s OK. Some dreams take more than one year to come true. I have written down seven goals for 2021, including the two carry-overs, so I will add five more goals to my Vision Board. A couple of my new goals are similar to last year’s, but the emphasis has changed. In 2020 I’ve been concentrating on “Rebuilding” because that was my word for this past year. Now all my written goals begin with my word for next year: Be STILL.
Though we all have stayed at home more and not been involved in a lot of activities over the past months, I’ve learned that my mind keeps racing even when my body is still. I make mental lists, then rush from one task to another in my head, reasoning out how, why, and when to get everything done. Even during relaxation time I have a soundtrack running through my mind, usually accompanied by humming, teeth clicking, or involuntary foot or finger tapping. When asked, I have no idea what song I’m hearing in my head. My brain is just thinking about what I need to do tomorrow and demands a tune to push it along.
I believe God gave me my new Word for 2021 because He wants me to stop and be STILL in His Presence—not for just a few minutes or even an hour during my KIngdom Corner time, but continually. I want to practice His Presence as I work on my goals or during daily activities. I want to always be in an attitude of prayer when He brings someone to my mind that needs His touch. I want to pause and get His direction before I move forward on any decision, great or small.
In 2021 I am going to press on toward each goal, walk forward in every situation with my eyes on Jesus, make progress on accomplishing each assignment He gives, and doing what God has called me to do.
But first, I’m going speak peace to the storms of life and command them to be STILL. I’m going to be STILL and spend quality time in the presence of my Father. I’m going to take time to rest beside the STILL waters and quiet green pastures that Jesus, my Shepherd has provided. And above all, I will listen for, hear, and obey the STILL small voice of the Holy Spirit. I’m ready.
Have a Blessed and STILL 2021.
This was our view last Sunday morning on our way to church. We love the drive through our valley. One of the things that drew us to retire in this part of North Carolina was how the clouds often dip down during the night and mingle with the mountains and trees. We often see this view in the early morning. The other thing that drew us here was our church. These are two of many amazing things that God had waiting for us when we took a step of faith and moved to the place He had prepared for us to go. We know God wanted us here at Macs MountainView while we carry out our retirement (re-firement!) assignments.
2020 has been a unique year to say the least. But in the midst of the pandemic, shut-downs, civil and political unrest and division, and life as we have always known it changing daily, Dennis and I have kept moving forward, step by step. We may not have arrived yet and seen the completed Vision God has given us, but we are excited for every small step and victory He has helped us to accomplish. We are in the middle of building the ministry house (guest house and Macs Music Recording Studio) and my new book went to the printer this week! In the most unlikely of circumstances, we both have made progress day by day. Dennis and friends added concrete blocks and slabs of lumber one after the other until we have a foundation and will soon have a subfloor. I sat here at my little camper kitchen table and beginning in April, I wrote one chapter a week and then the next. My book will soon be available to the world. Even I am in wonder how the Holy Spirit helped me get it done in these circumstances! God is GOOD! (Ordering info will be kept up to date on on my website. Release day is November 1.)
I know the power of saying the Word of God out loud. Speaking it out, gets the Word from your heart, to your ears, and out into the atmosphere where that Word contains the power to bring itself to pass and change things! I speak positive declarations concerning my God-given assignment every day. Doing so keeps me focused. But as our pastor reminded us last night at church, along with the declaring, the speaking, we must DO what we say! We must take steps to show we believe God's promises. Faith and action go hand in hand. One without the other is useless. The woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5, said she believed, but she had to go and touch His garment to receive her healing.
What has God asked you to do in this season of life where you find yourself right now? Are you spending time with Him to find out what His plan is, or what next step He wants you to take? My book title is Kingdom Corner Connection: Where Wonder Awaits. It's about discovering the Presence, Power, and Plan of God. I share how to create a space where you can read and study the Bible and in prayer learn to connect to the Kingdom and the plan God has for you. Anyone can do it. In that place of His Presence, you will find answers for whatever you need. I have proved it for over fifty years of spending daily time in my Kingdom Corner. No, everything hasn't been perfect. But I have always found what I needed to be able to take the next step. God loves you and has a plan designed especially for you. He will guide, protect, and provide for you if you will just take time to go to Him and ask. Then do what He tells you to do.
In the Presence of your Creator is where the wonder of things like accomplishing a dream, divine connections to help you do so, and even little God Hugs like misty mountain views and gorgeous autumn sunsets are waiting just for you.
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
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.