Mother’s Day: Bitterness Turned to Joy by Sarah Norkus

Mother’s Day is a joyous day for me. But there was a time when it was bittersweet.

So very sweet when I became a mother for the first time forty years ago. And sweet again when my second daughter was born three years later. The joys of motherhood know no boundaries. Your cup is full to the brim with amazing joy that you believe will never be exceeded… and then it overflows. The joy of that first smile as they gaze into your eyes as an infant, that can never be surpassed, but is, by the first utterance of “mama.”

The sweetness of all those homemade mother’s day cards. The first card, made from yellow construction paper, lovingly drawn with squiggles and lines. The next year, drawn with crayons, depicting my huge head and stick body on the green construction paper. As each girl entered Kindergarten, the cards changed to white paper, folded in half with colorful flowers on the front and “Happy Mother’s Day’ in carefully written block letters on the inside page. All too soon the homemade cards were replaced with store bought cards. But the sentiment was the same and my heart knew no difference. I still cherish every card.

But for a time, Mother’s Day was also bitter. My mother ‘checked out’ when I was four. The depression was too much and she turned to pills and alcohol. Three years later, my father hired a nanny and left my mother. There were no loving hugs and kisses that I so desperately craved from my mommy. Only a desperately unhappy woman who barked orders like a drill sergeant. At eleven, I gave my life over to Christ and my mother drove me, while under the influence, to the six classes required before I could be baptized in front of the church. She was a strong Christian, but the depression was stronger. She died the summer I was baptized. She fell down the stairs while intoxicated.

The anger and bitterness were a stone in my heart for the next few years, but when I was twenty, something amazing happened. The date was June 20th, my mother’s birthday. I lay on my bed, darkness surrounding me, thinking about her. I was frustrated, angry, because she could never give me answers to the questions I desperately needed to ask. Suddenly goose bumps pimpled my arms. My eyes were drawn upward of their own accord and I felt…something. Unexpectedly, a thought infused my mind and I knew what I needed to do. I whispered,“ I love you mom… and I forgive you.” The stone left my heart, replaced by the God given peace that passes all understanding. What do I think happened? I will never know for sure, but I believe Jesus sat on the bed with me that long ago night forty years ago, five days after the birth of my first child.


SarahNorkusSarah Norkus was born in Columbus, Ohio, but spent her formative years in Lexington, Ky. At the young age of 18, she married Michael Norkus, who retired as a major in the US Army after 24 years of service. Sally and Mike now live in Virginia, and have two married children, and six grandchildren. She says that writing is in her blood. Her father was the editor of a horse racing magazine and her cousin, Stephen Ambrose, wrote Band of Brothers. and other books on military history.

God’s Best Gift, by Toni Shiloh

On Mother’s Day, the focus is always on the mom. Commercials advertise flowers, chocolates,homemaking tools, and other things that the mother needs or wants. Mothers get accolades, phone calls, and gifts from the ones they love. They’re herald as superwoman, strong, and resourceful.But as important as mothers are that is not my focus in this post. Instead, I want to focus on the children. The reason there is a Mother’s Day.

Without children the title of mother would not exist. It is the children that inspire us (all women) to mother. To nourish, cherish, and love with our whole heart. To put someone’s needs above our own. To encourage and act in the patience that only mothers have. It is the presence of children that gift us the title of mother, mom, mommy. Whether we are birthmothers, adoptive mothers, step mothers, mentor mothers is of no consequence. All the child cares about is the love and affection they receive.

Psalm 127:3 tells us that “children are a heritage of the Lord” (KJV) or as The Message translates, “God’s best gift.” Being a mother is a gift from God. A blessing. Having the responsibility over a little one is no small feat. It can be daunting, stressful, and full of heartache. But one smile, one hug, one compliment from a child and all the negatives fade away. All you can see is your heart connect to theirs.

It’s in those moments that we are offered a smidgen of feeling that God must feel for us. We understand the sacrifices He has made. The grace and forgiveness He offers because we are willing to do the same for our children.

So this Mother’s day, please take a time to love on the children who make this day possible. And whether you’re a birth mother, adoptive mother, step mother, guardian, or mentor I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day.


toniToni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Before pursuing her dream as a writer, Toni served in the United States Air Force. It was there she met her husband. After countless moves, they ended up in Virginia, where they are raising their two boys.

When she’s not typing in imagination land, Toni enjoys reading, playing video games, making jewelry, and spending time with
her family.

Easter Thoughts by Lynellen Perry

Easter is the center of the Christian faith.

Without the Passover death of the Lamb of God, we have no way to be forgiven for our sins and are thus eternally separated from God. But this offered gift of love must be individually accepted by each person, and it involves relationship.

I recognized a picture of this today in my interaction with my dog, Terabyte. I was eating dinner and Terabyte was begging. She would put her front feet on my leg and lean toward my food to get a good sniff. The problem is that Terabyte doesn’t like to show me love. She doesn’t like to be held. She doesn’t like to be touched. She doesn’t like to snuggle. She has no interest in playing doggy games like Fetch. But she has no shame about asking me to give her good gifts from my plate, even when she just finished her own food. My joking reply to her begging is to say, “Hello, do I know you?” I tell her this because our relationship is only one way… she wants things from me but will not give me anything in return.

But we humans do this same thing to God. We regularly and frantically ask for blessings and for answers to prayers, but we are not as diligent about acting in a way that makes God happy.

What is your relationship with God like? Is it a one-way street? When we die and appear before God, will he say “Well done, good and faithful servant” or will he say “Hello, do I know you?”


LynellenPerry2011aSMLynellen Perry is President of Chalfont House (www.ChalfontHouse.com), and its fiction imprint HopeSprings Books (www.HopeSpringsBooks.com). She serves as the Mid-Atlantic Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) as well as the Treasurer for the ACFW Virginia Chapter. She loves spending girlfriend time as a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant (www.MaryKay.com/lynellen). Lynellen has a B.S. in Computer Science, an M.S. in Software Systems Engineering, and a PhD in Computer Science. She writes the monthly column “Publishing Perspectives” at www.AlmostAnAuthor.com. She also creates and sells machine embroidery and embroidery designs at www.etsy.com/shop/lynellenLynellen Perry is the President of Chalfont House Publishing and HopeSprings Books.

In Like a Lamb (of God), Out Like a Lion (of Judah) by Heather Gray

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

Do you remember that poem from childhood? I do. We learned it in the first grade back when I lived in Nevada and we had actual real-life seasons. I moved to Arizona in the second grade, and I don’t ever remember hearing that poem again…

Easter — or Resurrection Sunday as some call it — falls in March this year. That got me to thinking about the old childhood poem. After all, Jesus is both the Lion and the Lamb, isn’t He? At first I thought March was too early for Easter, but now, after remembering that poem, I have to say — I think it’s just about perfect.

Believers — me included — sometimes struggle with a lopsided view of Christ. Without meaning to, we often shape Him into either the Lion or the Lamb depending on what our current situation is. When we need someone to defend us, protect our reputation…or take vengeance on our behalf, we call on the Lion. When we need forgiveness, though, we call on the Lamb.

Jesus isn’t an either/or kind of Savior, though, is He?

In my Bible, the heading to Revelation chapter 5 reads: The Lion is a Lamb.

To anybody else, it might not make sense. To the believer, though, it is comfort and assurance. Our Savior is the Lion of Judah, the one who will open the scroll and break through the seals. He is a conqueror, filled with strength, power, and might.

That same Savior is a lamb, though — our sacrificial lamb. He put all of humanity before Himself. He loved creation enough to die in order to redeem it. He gave up His life out of selfless love knowing that, in doing so, He would give us all abundant life.

What a Savior we serve!

He is both power and love, strength and tenderness, vengeance and forgiveness.

Yes, indeed. The Lion is the Lamb and the Lamb is the Lion.

May you have an Easter filled with blessing and the remembrance of who Christ is and what He has done for you.


heatherHeather loves coffee, God, her family, and laughter – not necessarily in that order! She writes approachable characters who, through the highs and lows of life, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her. And, yeah, her books almost always have someone who’s a coffee addict. Some things just can’t be helped. You can find Heather online at: www.HeatherGrayWriting.com

The Value of Singleness by Megan Whitson Lee

“I would just encourage Christian single people to ask, ‘For this chapter in my life, while I am single, what is it about my singleness that could make me especially fruitful for Christ?’ And then I would encourage them to give themselves to that.” – John Piper

I always wanted to be married. As a young girl, I was sure I’d be married by the time I was eighteen. While my friends in high school were planning for their careers, I was planning for my wedding and my future as a wife and mother. The only problem? There wasn’t a guy in sight.

When I was still unmarried at the age of twenty-seven, I joined a singles’ group at my church in the hopes of meeting Mr. Right. When I didn’t meet him there, I switched churches and attended another singles’ group. I didn’t meet anyone there either. By the time I was thirty, church evolved into a painful Sunday experience as I watched all the married folks file into the sanctuary with their children. How had this happened? I felt like an outcast—like I was trying to get into “the club” and wondering how the others had managed it.

Obviously, my heart condition was not right; I was far too focused on what I lacked and not on the advantage of my unencumbered status. There were a great many things I could have been doing to further the Kingdom—missions, volunteering, etc., but I chose to idolize the marriage state instead. That’s a story for another time and another blog spot.

Now married (I finally met my husband at thirty-four), I regularly encounter singles going through many of the same problems I did. These are men and women who feel singled out of the main population—especially at church. In a culture where having a relationship is touted as the key to happiness, the way to completion, the path to salvation from singleness, it can be difficult for someone called to singleness or someone waiting on God’s best to feel valued and valuable.

Since being married, it is always heartbreaking to hear the conversations of family and friends as they talk about single people with tones of pity.

“Bless her heart. She just hasn’t been lucky in love.”
“You think she’ll ever find anyone?”
“I just feel so sorry for him. He looks so unhappy.”

In the 2001 movie, Bridget Jones’s Diary, based off of the 1997 novel by Helen Fielding, there is a wonderful scene in which Bridget is interrogated about her “love life” by a table of married couples. After enduring a slew of humiliating commentary about the need for young women to hurry up and find a partner because time is ticking by, Bridget obviously feels like the leprous outcast. When one of the “smug married people” (as she calls them) asks, “Why is it that there are so many unmarried women in their thirties these days, Bridget?” Bridget responds, “Oh, I don’t know. I suppose it doesn’t help that underneath
our clothes our bodies are completely covered in scales.”

The fact of the matter is, singles often do feel a little like a leper in the midst of perfect, whole-bodied people. This skewed perception is exacerbated when the single person is talked about as if something is wrong with them. Even though people are usually well-meaning in their questions and advice, by insisting that the single person’s status must change in order for their life to begin, the person inadvertently denigrates the single’s immediate value.

Singles are just as needed as anyone else—especially within the body of Christ. Paul makes it clear that singles have a special role in the Kingdom:

“An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.” –1 Corinthians 7:32-34

Marriage is not the end-goal for the Christian. Whether we marry or not has nothing to do with our salvation in Christ (and praise the Lord for that!). And this is certainly not to downgrade the importance, sanctity, and beauty of marriage. It is God-created and wondrous. God bestows upon us a healthy desire to experience this union so that we might serve Him and sacrifice for one another. But many churches are geared around those who are married and have children, sadly excluding the single. On
the other hand, singles’ groups too often devolve into spousal hunting grounds, rather than a place of encouragement and preparation for serving God (whether in marriage or in singleness). It’s a delicate balance. It’s a fallen world in which there are no perfect churches and no perfect people. Marriage is hard…so is being single. Both states require the sinner to look up and look to the Lord for peace, guidance, and opportunities.

Several of my friends and acquaintances have remained single into their forties. Some of them have gone on to do great things for the Lord. One of them is Vice-President of an anti-human trafficking, anti-sexual exploitation organization. She has traveled all over the world teaching about the evils of the industry, delivering speeches at the U.S. State Department and even the Vatican. Her specific service to the Lord would prove difficult with a husband, home, and family to tend.

Singles are prized, necessary members of the body of Christ. Statistically speaking, most people will marry at some point in their lives, so how much more valuable and precious are those who do not, but instead serve God in the special calling of singleness. Let us not undervalue their worth.


MeganLeeMegan Whitson Lee writes inspirational fiction dealing with loss and love and involving characters standing at the crossroads of major life decisions, crises of faith, and moral dilemmas. Her novels depict characters confronted with real-life problems, address universal spiritual and moral struggles, and offer messages of hope, recovery, and redemption through God’s saving grace.

Megan lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, a retired racing greyhound, and a rescued Italian greyhound. She is passionate about animal rescue and adoption as well as social issues involving human trafficking. You can find her online at http://www.meganwhitsonlee.net/

Living a Life of Dedication by Heather Gray

A hundred thousand years ago, back when I first accepted Christ, I didn’t have any sort of inkling about what it meant to dedicate my life.

I was a kid, after all. What did I know?wedding-322034_1920

Then I grew up, got married, and had children.

There’s something about committing to live the rest of your life — till death do you part — with another person that helps you understand dedication. Not to mention that day you hold a screaming bundle of beautiful baby in your arms and realize you would die to protect that little person. Then day in and day out, you feed, change diapers, bathe, nurse, and teach that child. Now, that’s dedication.

What, though, does that same dedication look like when we apply it to God?

Hm. I’d love to give you a blanket answer, but the truth is, I think God asks something different of each of us. Not because God is different, not because He changes…but because you and I are different and because we change.

As a relatively young mother, when I reached a point where I decided that “being saved” wasn’t quite enough for me, I dedicated my life to living for God. What that looked like then was very different than what it looks like now. It meant teaching my children about Jesus, setting a godly example in my own home, making sure we were faithful in church, and honoring God in how we lived our lives — from parenting to marriage to finances.

I’ve grown a lot in the intervening years. Thirteen of them, more or less. During that time, I’ve loved deeply, and I’ve lost painfully. I’ve seen God do wonderful and miraculous things, and I’ve been on the receiving end of a “No” that I don’t expect to fully understand until I get to heaven. I’ve learned to trust Him in the daylight and when I’m blinded by the darkness of night.

holding-hands-858005_1920Today, when I think of the word dedication in relation to God, it paints an entirely different picture on the landscape of my mind than it once did. Now, it means understanding the immeasurable mercy He’s shown me and loving Him enough to share that mercy with others. It means studying the life of Christ so that I can be more like Him, serving my fellow man, and doing it all with joy. It means accepting that that bad comes with the good and knowing that the life we live here on this earth is a tiny miniscule snapshot of who we are and what our eternity will look like. It means laying it all down for God, holding nothing back from Him, and letting Him invade every single part of my life, heart, and mind.

And I imagine that in another thirteen years, I’ll have an entirely different explanation for what dedication to God looks like. Because as much as I feel like I’m in a good place with God right now, I don’t want to stay here. I want to keep growing closer to Him every single day for the rest of my life. I want to live a life dedicated to Him.

What about you? What does dedication to God look like in your life? How has that changed over the years?

Organization by Jerry Eicher

“The hour arrived–and it became a wandering mass of shapeless flame, A pathless comet, and a curse, the menace of the universe…” –Manfred

bindung-610196_1920Everyone must be organized. I don’t think there is much disagreement there, even if you take the position that disorganization is its own organization. You need enough organization to achieve an acceptable level of productivity. Because that’s what we all want: fulfillment, reaching goals, achieving things, being happy, that sort of thing.

Some people are born with a natural sense of order and organization. Such people wake up in the morning and place their feet on the same spot of the floor each day. Which is good? Right?

Not necessarily. Some people are too organized. I am too organized. I find it is, after-all, the simplest way to live. You run the road once, and the second time is easier. Why shouldn’t the third time be even better? And there we go. Organization. Doing the same thing over and over again.

Don’t believe me. Try it. It’s not that complicated. The sun comes up each day and it sets at its appointed hour. No deviations of even a few seconds. The stars come out whether there are clouds or not. The rain falls from above, the same as always. Droplets don’t rise from the ground. That’s how it goes. The holy grail of organization is nothing more than the mundane that walks the same path at the same time of the day, for each day after each day.

Which is why I think most people avoid organization like the plague. They feel like the humdrum must be broken. Like new vistas must be seen. Fresh air must be breathed. But this is not the path to productivity. True production comes from the grinding out of the daily bread, the turning of the wheel of time at a steady pace.

I wish, like many of you, that the world was a random chaos of beauty and light-that the mundane was not necessary. Only, I really don’t and neither do you. Each breath we take is as the one that came before. The Lord help you if it isn’t. Each day the sun shines again. If it doesn’t, well…you get the point.

So how do you become organized? The first lesson, I believe, is to love order. Draw close to God and feel the eternal, everlasting ways that gave birth to order. And if you end up kneeling in front of the altar of organization instead of the Lord, get up and move on. Try something new. The same order will await you there. Tomorrow is another day where you will breathe in again and take another step. In the presence of the Lord we have the unchanging and the changing all blended together into a beautiful whole.

That’s organization, and blessed is the one who knows the secret. Embrace the ways of God, but kneel only before the Almighty.