Saturday, December 26, 2009

A STRAY DROP OF BLOOD--Guest Blogger, Roseanna White

My guest today is another writing friend, Roseanna White. I've come to know Roseanna over the past year as we're both members of HisWriters writing group and I discovered a kindred heart. Aside from Roseanna's devotion to Christ I so appreciate this young woman's intelligence. I've asked Roseanna to write a short piece to encourage you to lean on the Holy Spirit.


I've always been one of those people accused of thinking too much. I can't learn something new without trying to weave a story around it. For me, history class was always just fodder for future novels or short stories. But nothing has ever made me think so much as developing my novel A Stray Drop of Blood.

The story's set at the time of Christ, and the pivotal scene is the crucifixion. I had to really stop and examine everything I believed. Everything I've read in the Gospels. Everything I wanted to achieve.

Up until my college experience, I'd never taken much time to question the Christian faith I grew up with. I believed. Soul deep. So why wonder? As a child, it was easy to just accept that the Bible was fact—Jesus is God, all is well, and I'll be living eternally in heaven. But as I entered discussions with people in college who not only didn't share my beliefs but held profoundly different ones, it forced my mind open. I began to see these Gospel Truths in a new way—no less True, but something that could be reasoned through. Dissected. Understood. I began to realize that faith didn't have to be blind. It could be educated.

I was writing A Stray Drop of Blood all through college, as I studied the culture, the texts, the discoveries, and the history of the time. The more involved I got, the more clear my vision became. I didn't just want to do another retelling of a Bible story. Yes, I wanted to incorporate the facts presented in the Gospels. But I wanted to really make people see how epoch it was. How new. How truly miraculous.

We grow up learning that Jesus fed the five thousand with five loaves and two fish. It's taught as a miracle, so . . . sure. Of course I believe.

But can you imagine if you'd heard that story in everyday conversation? You'd laugh it off. “Sure he did. And I bet he just strolled across the sea too, right?”

It would have been deemed gross exaggeration at the least. But it wasn't—it was true. So what must it have been like to hear this fantastical story and then feel that strange tug within, the one that wants to believe?

Another lesson we're taught as Christians is that it isn't always easy, but if we read the Bible and pray, He'll guide us. Very good, very true. But what about before Christians had the Bible? Before they even had the title “Christians”? What must it have been like for them, to live each day in a secular world, surrounded by ungodly people who scoffed at them for their beliefs? Can you imagine how hard it would be not to falter, not to fall into the same sins you lived in before you came to understand the message of Messiah?

They had to rely on the Holy Spirit, and the more I wrote, the more I wanted the kind of faith that could also totally rely on the Holy Spirit. I want a faith that appreciates what it has but exists on a level dependent only on Him.

Am I there? Some days I feel like it. Others I don't. But one thing I know: humanity hasn't changed, and neither has God. Whether in Jesus' day or two thousand years later, when we cry out to Him, He answers. Then and now, there is amazing power in that stray drop of blood that changed my heroine's life.


Christine again: I hope that Roseanna's words have given you room for thought. It's always enjoyable for me to share other authors and their works so that you may check out their books and be inspired.

I know that Roseanna's latest book, A Stray Drop of Blood. will inspire while entertaining you. Not since Francine River's Mark of the Lion series have I been so enthralled with a Biblical historical novel. I found Roseanna's depth of historical detail of the time of Christ mesmerizing. It is a love story, but so much more.

In Stray Drop of Blood, Roseanna created a character, Abigail, a young Hebrew girl, who comes to live in the home of kind Roman soldier and his wife. At first this seems like an overdone idea. But the author truly breathes life into this story from the very first page. Abigail grows up to become an educated and beautiful young woman. But being beautiful can often place a women in the greatest danger. As a vulnerable Jewish slave in a Roman home Abigail comes under the indolent and selfish gaze of her master's son, Jason.

The author impressed me with how she dealt with an immoral situation on the part of Jason in a delicate manner. At first it appears Jason has ruined Abigail, but then the author turns it all around. This story is not typical. Half-way through the book everything changes with the crucifixion of Christ. Through the eyes of Abigail we see and feel what the sacrifice of Jesus did for us. A drop of His blood sets Abigail free in a way she has never been.

The author has woven a story that not only glistens with historical detail, but draws the reader into a very human drama. The characters, Abigail, Jason and finally Titus, see the change of the world as the Christ dies and comes to life again. Through their eyes the reader learns what it is to be a Christian for the very first time in history. But we also see how these characters are like us. In some ways history has changed nothing. The characters struggle with the same sins as we do today. I applaud the author's ability, by using no graphic images, to show what some would call the sophisticated struggle with human sexuality in all its tender and tormenting moments.

This story is emotionally and intellectually satisfying.Double-click here on the title A Stray Drop of Blood if you wish to purchase it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Like the Beatles sang and rather noisily too—“You say it’s your birthday.” Queue in a really nice electric guitar riff by George Harrison, Ringo on drums, picture John Lennon and Paul McCartney leaning in toward the same microphone, and then belt out along with them, “It’s my birthday too—yeah.”

It’s true. Today is my birthday. If I could, I’d insert a smiley face here. As a bit of a curmudgeon I never bothered much about my birthday. As a December baby there were always so many other things going on and certainly with a different focus. How can one compete with that? I learned long ago that I didn’t want to. As a kid I decided to simply take the Christmas season as the best birthday gift God could ever give me. Growing up in a single-parent family, with little money, my mum and I created a family tradition of decorating the Christmas tree on my birthday and eating Christmas goodies. It made me feel special, especially through those gawky teenage years. You know those times when we don’t feel there’s anything good about us. We feel ugly, stupid, unwanted perhaps. We may even question why on earth God created us. For many of us those debilitating feelings follow us into our later years.

I believe God smiled on my childlike choice to feel special just because I shared the traditional month of Christ’s birth. I think He wants us all to ask—why are we special? What thing in our life—no matter how small—shows that we are unique to God? We all have something. We just need to look. The Lord Jesus encouraged the disciples to bring a young child into their midst one day. It’s often the smallest, most insignificant things that matter to our Lord—the tiniest fibre of motivation in our hearts.

As a mother and now a grandmother, I find that most Decembers my birthday sneaks up on me. The panicked thought arrives on this day, It’s only 5 days to Christmas—Yikes I have so much to do—and oh yeah it’s my birthday.

As of today, there have been 52 Decembers and I look back on my developement as a child of God, and my growing understanding of why the Lord Jesus Christ came to earth. Yet there are many birthdays that I still ponder—what is my purpose, what special thing does God want me to do? Especially these past 9 years as I wondered should I really be spending so much time writing when I could be doing something else, like cleaning the house, like getting a better-paying job, like getting to know my neighbor. But this year the Lord has outdone Himself when it comes to celebrating my birthday with me.

This December I’m still whirling from the fact that He has invited me on an amazing adventure. Admittedly this is a big event in my life. Imagine—at my age—going on my very first overseas missionary trip—and giving me the task of writing the non-fictional story of Pastor Antony Samy and Children’s Camps International. The specialness of it continues to take my breath away. Then there are the extraordinary ways in which He’s been providing—big . . . and seemingly small.

Last week I shared how God had supplied 500 envelopes and thank you cards even before I knew I was going to be a part-time missionary. This week I learned that my support is coming in. I think it’s almost reached the half-way point for the actual trip to Tamil Nadu. Please join me in thanking and praising God for this. Those loving gifts include an extremely generous gift from a church on the eastern coast of the United States—from brothers and sisters in Christ I’ve never even met . . . yet. Balanced on the other end of the scale was a support gift from my 12-year-old niece, Kristen. The five dollars she gave to this missions trip is huge when you think of the cost to her. That too takes my breath away.

These past few Sundays at church as I wend my way through the foyer and halls I am blessed by people who tell me, “we’re praying for you and for what God has asked you to do.”

Some appeared apologetic. “I’m so sorry I can’t give financially . . . I’m already supporting 3 other missionaries, but I will be praying for you.”

I thank them from the bottom of my heart because I know they faithfully will. I know these people—mostly senior citizens living on a pension. When they give, they give out of sacrifice. And I also know how they go out of their way to show kindness to many—the items they create for those who are poor or lonely, the food they make for the hungry. I know the way they reach out in love to everyone they meet. I know these gentle and meek people to be good representations of Christ in their world.

They are people who have discovered the special and unique way that God created them and they are fulfilling their God-given purpose. The prayers of an elderly lady living on a pension or a young unemployed person who cannot give financially may seem a small thing. Yet it is the greatest.

It is the small things that if we look, we can see that God has sent them to make us feel special—to give us a purpose to get up every morning. It is the seemingly small things that we do for God that often matter the most.

Zechariah 4:10 a “Who despises the day of small things? . . .”

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Women ponder. Women store those images of special moments in their hearts. Take Mary, the mother of Jesus—how silently she tucked away for all time what God was doing through her son. Not that men don’t too; it’s just that women seem created to do that. Nothing makes us ladies happier than making an art form of memory keeping, whether it is beautifully decorated scrapbooks or written journals.

The other evening at a ladies’ Christmas ‘do’ at the church we talked about Christmas memories. This year I'm pondering things too. But I’ve always been a forward thinker, and I found myself thinking—like Mary—about what God is doing in my life. Perhaps it’s because a lot of my early Christmas memories weren’t all that great that I prefer to think ahead. It was lonely growing up as an immigrant in a new land—grandparents and most of our aunties and uncles were back in the old country.

Although our few Canadian relatives made up for a lot of what was missing. For past happy memories in Canada, I’ll never forget the feel of my great-aunt Myrtle’s fur collar on her coat when she entered our house from the cold outside. As a child I’d reach up to hug her and kiss her and feel the cold soft fur of that collar against my cheek.

Nor will I ever forget my great-aunt Wilma’s soft round form and gentle face with her gray hair rolled up in a style from the 1940’s. She’d bustled around her home baking, cooking, and creating the warmest and most inviting of homes for relatives and anyone she thought was lonely. I learned about Christ from my aunt Wilma.

My mum did so much with a few dollars. She created magical Christmas’s for us kids on a shoestring. The most surprising feat of all—hiding the worst of my father’s drinking from us, although she couldn’t hide it completely. These are the memories of Christmases past that I keep and ponder. But it wasn’t just my mum that kept me from dwelling on what my childhood Christmas’s lacked. From an early age I learned about Christ—that’s when the forward pondering began. It began with the simple wonderment as a child of what the baby born in a manger was all about. As I matured and learned the reason for Jesus coming to this world as a small human being, I began to wonder each Christmas—what is God going to do in our lives this coming year? That’s why this year as I go about the usual happy gatherings at church and with family I’m not just thinking about Christmas.

As I sat beside the ladies at church last Thursday night at the Christmas tea, stuffing my face with cream puffs and fruit-filled tarts, I was struck with awe over a box of 500 white envelopes at home. Two or three packages of thank you cards sitting on my desk created a stir of excitement more than any expensive gift anyone could give me.

What was even more astonishing was that these items were given to me as a gift back in November. The box of envelopes came from my two young nieces. Their mum works for a large stationary company, and this particular box had been damaged. The envelopes were fine, but for some reason the stores couldn’t use it. These 500 envelopes were destined for the garbage. My nieces brought the box out to me, with the question in their eyes—Could I use them?

At the time I couldn’t imagine how I’d ever use 500 envelopes. Around the same time another friend who had a relative work for a different stationary story had other items also bound for the garbage. That day I received—among other things—two packages of Thank You cards.

It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I discovered God was sending me as a part-time missionary to India. Then I understood the need for those envelopes and cards. My prayer and support letters which couldn’t be sent out via email needed envelopes. As the Lord moves on people’s hearts to pray for this mission’s trip and support me financially, I find myself in need of those thank you cards.

How marvelous that God had put those small things in place even before I knew I would need them. But that’s what pondering is all about. We don’t always recognize God’s provision until later. Then with hindsight, we can see that He was taking care of us all along. Providing what we need.

Looking back, I see God’s hand in my childhood memories—in those who were around to love me and make my Christmas’s special. I thank Him for those people. Most of all I thank Him for sending His son in human form to be my saviour, Jesus.

And this year—with a secretive little smile—I thank the Lord for 500 envelopes and stashes of thank you cards.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

LET THEM EAT CAKE--Guest Blogger, Sandra Byrd

Today I am interviewing Sandra Byrd, the author of newly released Let Them Eat Cake. Like all of us, Sandra has experienced her share of sad times, but God is using her. I hope you'll enjoy hearing how the Lord has guided and inspired Sandra in her calling, and that you will be encouraged to follow the calling God has placed on your heart. The review for Sandra's book is after the interview.

Christine: Tell us a little about yourself Sandra.

Sandra: I live in greater Seattle with my husband, Michael, and our two teenagers. Oh yeah. All four of us obey our dog, Brie, a Havanese-Maltese mix who runs the household

Christine: Do you believe you have a calling to write?

Sandra: Absolutely. There are many verses which speak of this, but here are two I love: "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10; "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord ... " Psalm 37:23

Christine: Tell us about your first awareness of God in your life, and how you came to know Jesus.

Sandra: I remember having conversations with the Lord very early in life, as a child, feeling His presence. I grew up in a churched, but not Christian, family. At about the age of 12, that closeness with Him disappeared ... for a while.

When I was in my second year of college at the University of Denver I walked past a phone pole that had a Baptist Student Union flier stapled to it. Even though it seemed as though I had everything to live for, my life was empty. I went to the Bible study and was instantly drawn to the leader and his wife, who became my spiritual parents. At a retreat a few months later I met my future husband. He was a very godly man already and modeled true love for me from the start. I accepted Christ on my dorm-room bed and was baptized four months later.

Christine: What was the darkest hour of your life, and how did God bring you through it?

Sandra: I have had several very dark hours in my life, as have most of us, I suppose. I don't talk about them all publicly because they involve people other than myself and I try to be conscientious about respecting boundaries. But God was always with me. He sent people to hold my hand, to pray for me, to deliver both love and gifts, and to whisper scripture to me. Now that I have passed through those deep waters I hope to be a scripture-whisperer to others still treading.

Christine: What message do you hope your readers will come away with after reading your novels?

Sandra: That God is good, all the time, and that He really does, somehow, some way, work all things together for good. That He has a sense of humor and playfulness and fun. That He loves us unremittingly, that He is faithful and emotional and yearns for our affection. That He is holy and not to be trifled with. I hope I create a desire for my readers to live a fully engaged three-dimensional life: physical/mental and emotional/spiritual.

Christine: My favorite question--What is your most audacious prayer?

Sandra: First, that he would give me, a formerly infertile woman, children.

And now? Please make the Ladies in Waiting series an amazing success. Not for sales or fame. They are the books I've wanted to write my entire life. I just want to see that hope fulfilled. "...a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12b

Christine: Now the hard part—did God answer your prayer?

Sandra: I have two fantastic children. We'll wait and see on Prayer # 2!

Christine: Thank you Sandra for taking the time to tell me a little about yourself. And now this it what I think of your novel 'Let Them Eat Cake'.

‘Let Them Eat Cake’ was a scrumptious surprise for me. Normally, I’m not a reader of contemporary women’s fiction, but in Sandra Byrd’s latest I was truly enchanted—even won over to this genre. If you are looking for something light yet heart-tugging, funny yet realistic, something that draws you in with a gentle but riveting story then I recommend this highly. It’s about dreams coming true in a real way, without the tired, overused type of ending. A happy ending yes, but satisfying on so many levels.

The main character Lexi Stuart is like any other young woman—she needs to move out of her parents’ house, she needs a career, she wants to experience a true and lasting love, and to have a fulfilling life. She wants what we all want—if no longer for ourselves then for a beloved daughter, granddaughter, niece, and so on. But where to begin; especially when everything Lexi has tried so far has failed as miserably as a sunken cake. While Lexi is out job-hunting one day, through a humorous incident she uses her skill with the French language and gains a job in a French bakery. Then voilĂ , over the following months God surprises Lexi and stirs her growing faith.

As an added bonus—if you love food, cooking or baking, then like me you will find your taste buds working overtime while you visualize the delectable concoctions described on the page. Sandra Byrd has spun a soul-satisfying story with as much skill as a master baker spinning sugar and egg white into a glistening meringue. She even threw in the most delectable recipes. Highly recommended.