Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!


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Happiness is …

I’m so pleased to welcome guest blogger Amy McGuire to Faith~Driven Fiction, sharing her inspiration about what it means to be happy.

Recently my Ladies Bible Study group decided to do a small devotional on happiness.  We were to each bring something that made us happy or could be of encouragement to the other women in the group.  Well, anyone who knows me know I don’t go for small, so I made it into my own personal ‘Happiness Project’.

I started to think, when am I happiest and how does this translate into a little devotional for the group?  The one thing that stuck out strongest in my mind as the Holy Spirit spoke to me, was peace.  I am happiest when I’m at peace.  I suppose a lot of us could say that to be peaceful is to be happy.

Peace in this world is not an easy thing to come by sometimes.  Often we have to carve out time to be by ourselves, spend time in the Word and just be still.  One of my favourite Psalms makes me feel peaceful whenever I read it.

Psalm 23 says, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.  For you are with me.  Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me, in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Talk about a peaceful, comforting, happy passage!  It seems a little less-so when you read ‘the shadow of death’ but considering that we won’t be afraid and we’re going to live forever with the Lord, that’s pretty happy.   The sound of the wind and water make me feel especially peaceful.

The Morning Calm - Lake MichiganIn my ‘multi-media presentation’ as my friends jokingly called it, I included a few pictures of the waves crashing on the beach on my last vacation in Florida, as well as one picture of the waves almost completely calm.  I included a short video of the waves rolling in and out of the beach, the sun sparkling on them and was reminded that as they don’t change from season to season, neither does God.

As I was researching for my project I was reminded of how, when I’m really stressed, saying to myself, ‘be still my soul’ helps me calm down.  The Holy Spirit led me to the old hymn, Be Still My Soul which I read out to the group and want to include here as well.

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side; Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; Leave to thy God to order and provide; In every change He faithful will remain. Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end. Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake. To guide the future as He has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake; All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know. His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below. Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart. And all is darkened in the vale of tears; Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears. Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay. From His own fullness all He takes away. Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on. When we shall be forever with the Lord, When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone, Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored. Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past, All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.”

So basically, no matter what’s going on in our lives, we can be at peace because God’s in control.  I need to remind myself of that whenever I feel like life is just getting too overwhelming.  When I feel like a bad mother, wife and daughter.  When I have a deadline for something and I just can’t motivated to get on it.  When my daughter is lying on a hospital bed in the ER with her third febrile seizure in less than a year and it’s Christmas Day.  When the bills are high and the funds coming in are low.  When my book isn’t doing as well as I’d hoped I would.  When the world seems to have it in for me and it just feels like a bad day to get out of bed.  The list goes on and on.  But through all of this, I can have peace knowing God’s in control.

In my new quest for lasting happiness, not the kind that comes only when things are good, I’ve started reading Joy Every Morning by Muriel Larson.  It’s a small book, in something like 4×4 format with only 124 pages but it’s becoming a big element of my morning devotions.

Today was on getting up in the morning, telling God you love Him and then thanking Him for everything you can think of.  I tried it this morning and definitely felt more happy and peaceful.  Being grateful for what I’ve been given instead of begrudging what I don’t have or wishing my life was a little less stressful is already starting to change my outlook.

I love how the author started out this book.  She says, “I am convinced from God’s Word that it is His will for every Christian to be joyful.”  Whoa.  That single sentence packs a punch and reminds me that I need to find my happiness in Him.  He has given me the opportunities to be peaceful and rest in Him and I just need to take advantage of those.

Happiness and peace are definitely interconnected in my life.  Gratitude helps kick start the whole thing but God is the author of happiness.  I’m so very, very glad He chose me to be His child.  Maybe I can help others finding that lasting happiness that I’m just now starting to really get a hold of.  After writing this, I’m feeling so peaceful, I think I’ll go take a nap.

Amy lives in Toronto with her husband, their daughter and two cats.  The child of missionary parents in East Africa, she grew up with a rich knowledge of the diverse and interesting world around her.  She developed a love of English Literature at a young age and considers William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice two of the most romantic books ever written. Since the moment she could pick up a pencil, she has been writing stories for her own enjoyment.  It wasn’t until 2009 when she was working on books one through three of The Hope Valley Saga that she considered putting her works out there for people to read and enjoy.  Her favourite way to spend a sunny afternoon is on a lounge chair with a good novel, some chocolate and soft tunes off her rather eclectic collection of Cds.  The Heart’s Discovery is her first published novel and A Tiny Drop of Sunlight is her first published poetry compilation.

Buy the Kindle version of The Heart’s Discovery.
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Buy the epub or pdf version of The Heart’s Discovery in my online bookstore:

Buy the Kindle version of A Tiny Drop of Sunlight.
Buy the epub or pdf version of A Tiny Drop of Sunlight in my online bookstore:

You can check out my blog at: http://shesanauthor.com/apps/blog


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RSS Feeds – Part Two

I had a few questions from my first article – find it here. David wanted to know which was better, RSS feeds or email subscriptions. I actually do have an answer to that.

I liken it to my teaching days. Every student came into class with different needs and histories and my job as a teacher required me to teach each of the kids, not the class. It’s a semantics thing, but I taught students. In order to reach each one of them, I had a toolbelt of different strategies. What worked for one didn’t necessarily work for another.

The same is true with following blogs. For me? I like them to go straight to my reader. That way I know where to find them and don’t have to weed through other notes to get to them. I can see why some might prefer to have them more handy in a mail but mine just get lost among the junk mailings, course questions and other notes. So neither is actually better; both should be offered IMO.

The second question I got from both Anna and Joanna, about how to set up an RSS feed on your blog. First let me tell you that I’m no expert and I have a rotten memory so I had to create an entirely new blog – to be used soon, hopefully – and place an RSS feed on it.

Now I’m using a WordPress freebie blog, and I know different places set up differently, but this is what I did.

  1. On the appearance tab in the widgets section, I moved the RSS link (Link to your blog’s RSS feed) to the right column.
  2. Now in that right column are all sorts of sections (Footer Area 2, Showcase Sidebar). You want to use the Main Sidebar. If your layout (theme) doesn’t have a sidebar, it won’t show up. And mine doesn’t show up on my separate article pages – not sure why.
  3. After I moved my link, I saw this box open up. This doesn’t change anything about the links, it only makes a difference in the display. The title is what will show up above the link on my blog page, so it is the title to this app – like “Follow my posts!” The feeds to display give your readers an option to follow just the comments or the posts themselves. Not sure why someone would only want to follow comments, but again – tools, something for everyone. The format is whether you want the word RSS feeds or the little icon and if you want the icon (I did) the settings pop up for the size and the color.

That’s it. No heavy lifting. No weird code. I got confused at first and used the other RSS widget that would put someone else’s blog feeds on mine – need coding for that one. But not this one.

Because I have a Blogger blog, I could set up an RSS there as well. I have to admit, it’s even easier. I clicked the gadget to add the RSS feed and all it asked for was a title to the link. Done.

Both of these were super simple to place on my blogs. But note that if you’re using Google Chrome as a browser, it holds true to form. Google (maker of Blogger) doesn’t play well with WordPress. Issues? So while I can hit RSS feeds on Blogspot blogs with no problem, the browser won’t speak to the feed link on WordPress blogs. I’ve gone back to Firefox.

Your turn: How do you like to follow blogs? (Oh and have you followed this one, yet?) 🙂