God's Roadmap

Now may the Lord Jesus Christ and our Father God, who loved us and in his wonderful grace gave us eternal comfort and a beautiful hope that cannot fail, encourage your hearts and inspire you with strength to always do and speak what is good and beautiful in his eyes (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 TPT).

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Fragrance of Christ

by Barbara Latta

Department store cosmetic counters are usually full of  various exotic fragrances in multi-colored bottles. Each one has a distinct scent with a purpose for those who partake of the scented liquid.
Perfume leaves a sweet aura

Sales clerks expertly dole out spritzes to those who are willing participants when trying to make a sale. Everyone who accepts the offering leaves the store with a sweet aura around her. However, on one such shopping occasion, I noticed a dirty, foul-smelling woman using as many free samples as she could, but it did nothing to disguise the underlying cause of the odor.   

When we are in Christ our lives are a fragrant offering to God and also to those around us. But when we exhibit bad traits we are layering the scent of the world’s actions and attitudes onto ourselves which leaves the trail of stench wherever we go. Our bad deeds cannot be covered up by doing a good thing or two. The heart issue will show through and be obvious to others by the scent drifting from us.

“For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15 NKJV).

Bad deeds can be like a bad smell
A foul smelling body cannot be covered up by perfume. Instead, the ugly aroma is mixed with the sweet which makes the bad become more amplified despite the disguise. A body that is washed will not be offensive to others. A heart that has been cleansed will result in good works which will waft a sweet savor to God and man.

In Christ, I am clean, but every day I must be careful of what kind of perfume I am allowing to come upon me. The actions I exhibit leave behind the intent of my heart. To those who are perishing my fragrance can lead them to God, and to the saved I am part of the body of Christ, the sweetest offering of all.

Today's Roadmap: I will be more aware of the kind of fragrance my actions leave in the nostrils of those around me. I will wear the fragrance of Christ and draw others to Him.

Leave your comments and join the conversation. How do you exhibit the fragrance of Christ?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Plotting Simplified

Book Review Friday
by Barbara Latta
Write With Excellence

In Plotting Simplified, Story Structure Tips for the Break-out Novelist Eddie Jones lays out a plan for the beginning novelist to follow in their writing journey.

Defining the three elements of storytelling as character, plot, and conflict, Eddie shows the reader the meaning of each and uses examples from books to explain the concepts.
Learning to write interesting characters determines whether a reader will remain focused on the book. The story must contain conflict, characters must have goals to achieve, and the conclusion needs to show the change taking place in the protagonist’s life.

This short, but helpful book, charts the path for those breaking into the novel aspect of writing with instruction on obtaining the needed character development.

Eddie Jones has also written a middle-grade novel, The Curse of Captain LaFoote and co-authored with Cindy Sproles, He Said, She Said: A Devotional Guide to Cultivating a Life of Passion.

All these books are available at Barbara's Bookstore.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hassle Free Travel

Tuesday’s Tips

By Barbara Latta

Are you relocating to a new city? What about traveling for business or a family vacation?
Family travel can be hassle free

Spending countless hours in a vehicle can be trying on the patience of all the passengers, as well as wearing on the body. I have found the following tips to be helpful in alleviating the constant searching for items needed at the last minute.

If you are moving to a new home and all your belongings are packed away in a moving van, keeping important things with you can be made simpler by using a three-ring notebook and plastic zippered storage bags. Gallon size bags work great because they can hold so much. 

With a three-hole punch make holes in the end opposite the opening and place in the notebook. Having the zippered end toward the edges makes it easy to open and close without removing the bag from the notebook. Label the contents with a sharpie and use one bag for receipts, another for school documents, leases and housing papers, medical records, etc.With everything in one place, it will be easy to get your hands on it when needed and the bags protect from moisture and damage.

Keeping cash with you helps in the event you patronize a restaurant or store that doesn’t accept credit or debit card. (Believe it or not, there are still some out there!).
Keep extra change handy
Also, have some smaller bills and change available for tips, vending machines, and toll roads. You may not plan for travel on a toll road, but sometimes you can accidently find yourself on one. This has happened to us before and when you have to scramble for change at the last minute it can cause a panic. This is where another baggie comes in handy or a small zippered purse.

Those empty margarine tubs with a lid make perfect water bowls for traveling pets.

Keeping a flashlight and small tools in a plastic shoe box insures you will be able to find what you need. Maybe put another flashlight in the vehicle console so you can find the toolbox in
Have tools available in the car
the dark.

Hopefully, these tips will keep your travel experiences as hassle free as possible.

Enjoy the road and share any other helpful advice you may have.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Walk In Love

Barbara Latta

On one of my visits to the airport a banner hung above the escalator which proclaimed, “Welcome Home, Troops” to all who looked above the stairs. USO volunteers in red vests were ready to greet the returning soldiers with small gifts of thanks as they arrived. Family members waited impatiently behind a rope partition clutching flowers, flags, and yellow ribbons.

God first loved us
As one soldier received his token from the greeter, he turned toward the family waiting area and spied a young boy. The man got down on his knees, opened his arms, inviting the toddler into his embrace. The boy ran toward the invitation of his father and was covered in strong hands that lovingly held him tight.

This is how God wants to love us. He opens Himself, waiting for us to run to him. We can love him because He first loved us (I John 4:10).

 But how do we love one another, especially someone who isn’t acting in a godly manner?

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:1-2 NKJV).

Sometimes we think it’s impossible to do, but Christ has instructed us on more than one occasion to love each other. It’s easy to love our relatives and friends when they love us in return. When everyone is acting like they should and being nice, it takes no effort to follow God’s command.

Anger can be diffused with love
But what about the grumpy sales clerk, the person who cuts us off in traffic, or the angry boss? Our inability to love the unlovely is difficult when we define love as the emotion we feel when we use the word love.

Treating someone the way Christ would treat them in an undesirable situation has nothing to do with emotion, but everything to do with action. God’s unconditional love is a choice not a feeling.  It will be a daily decision we make when we encounter those who are difficult.

How can we withhold love, the greatest gift God ever gave to man, from others? He didn’t withhold it from us.

Today’s Roadmap: I will make a conscious decision today to show the love of God to all those I encounter. I will not depend upon my feelings, but I will guide my actions by God’s commands. 

Share your thoughts about loving others.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Becoming A Woman Of Interior Elegance

Book Review Friday

By Barbara Latta

Become an elegant woman
La-Tan Roland Murphy defines elegance by showing us how our inner workings seep into outer actions and affect our lives and those around us.

Each chapter in this book highlights a different aspect of a woman’s life and gives guidance on applying scripture to the part of our personality that may not be reflecting elegance.
Chapters such as “Removing the Masks” compare our behavior to Miss Chameleon by showing us how we adopt the colors of our surroundings and refuse to stand out.  Our attitudes can become like a chameleon’s eyes which can look in all directions. La-Tan asks the question “How much time do you spend looking back to days gone by?”

Are our eyes operating like the chameleon with one looking forward and one looking behind?

Each chapter contains spaces for journal entries and a prayer for meditation. If you want to become more elegant on the inside, this book is a perfect guide.

This book is available at Amazon

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring Cleaning

Tuesday's Tips

 by Barbara Latta

Spring is in the air and so is pollen and dust. Despite spring fever and the urge to lie under a tree and soak up the warm air, this is also a good time to clean and refresh the house. Here are a few ideas to help wash away winter.

  • Clean windows with dish detergent mixed with water. Wash the windows with a micro fiber towel full of the solution and squeegee off the excess. For the outside of windows hard to reach, use  purchased cleaners  in a bottle that attaches to a garden hose.

  • Use a clean broom to go around corners and ceilings to wipe away any accumulated cobwebs that may have wintered in hideaway places.

Time for spring cleaning
  • Change air conditioner filters, vacuum air ducts. If needed, hire a professional duct cleaning service.

  • Disinfect sponges by placing on the top rack of dishwasher.

  • Run an empty dishwasher on a cycle with a small amount of bleach to kill bacteria.

  • Get rid of clutter by cleaning out closets and drawers. Throw out or give away anything not used in the last year.

  • Go around each room and pick up anything that doesn’t belong there and place in a designated box. Later take the items from the box and deliver to the proper place.

  • Shake out rugs that cannot be washed. Leave outside to air out.

Starting now on spring cleaning can prevent the to-do list from getting too long.

What tips do you use for freshening up living space after winter?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

What is Pride?

by Barbara Latta

“What shall we say then? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 NKJV).

I was always a shy child. I was never the first one to start a conversation, promote a game, or volunteer to answer questions or do anything that required being in front of the class at school. Giving book reports or being called on by the teacher caused major stammering and face reddening. I had an inferiority complex.
Pride is a double sided coin

Most of us think of pride as arrogance, egotism, or greed because these traits promote self. But someone who feels inferior or shy is also focused on how they appear to others.
To put it simply, pride is selfishness. We are merely concerned about what others think of us. Whether it’s arrogance or inferiority, they are both merely flip sides of the same coin. We want to blame our feelings on our personality, genetics, or circumstances, but they are really learned traits.  

What is the remedy for this malady we all suffer from in some way or another?

Focusing on God and what He thinks of us will change the image we have on the inside. While we will never completely be rid of self while on this earth, we can turn in the direction of becoming more like Christ.

We are instructed not to think or ourselves more highly than we ought to (Romans 12:3), but to use the gifts God has put in us to serve the body of Christ. While one who is arrogant may consider he or she should have a higher position, a person who feels inferior may feel they cannot accomplish what they have been called to do. Each mindset is prideful because the focus is not on the kingdom of God.

God's Way is the only way
The gifts God has bestowed upon us have come from Him so who are we to argue with that? If He gave it, it is for the purpose of serving one another and lifting up Christ.  We are not here for self- promotion, and not for self-debasement.

Today's Roadmap: In every circumstance I face today, I will think about how my behavior affects the kingdom of God and not my world. I will put Christ first in my thoughts, and He will give me His favor. I do not need the approval of man to excel in life.

We can do all things through Christ, no matter which side of the coin we come from as long as we will focus on Him.

Join the conversation and share your thoughts.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Hope for the Hoidays

Book Review Friday
by Barbara Latta

Authors: Mary Connealy, Julie Lessman, Ruth Logan Herne, and
Hope for the Holidays
Myra Johnson

This romantic historical collection will warm your heart as you read the tales of women from pioneer days to the early 1900’s. Christmas is celebrated as each family overcomes hurdles, misunderstandings, and surprise gifts.

I always love a Julie Lessman book and I had never read any of the other authors but these stories did not leave me disappointed. If you are a fan of historical romance, you will love this set.

This is not the time of year most people read a Christmas book, but the stories are short and if you want to go back to holiday memories this is the place to go.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Signs of the Times

  by Barbara Latta

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of God, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4).

Sound familiar? All we have to do is pick up a newspaper or watch a television report of the latest happenings and these verses come to life. In the wake of the recent German airliner crash, we are reminded again about the catastrophes that can happen in the earth.
Attitudes are contagious

Attitudes and values, as the above verses portray, are another sign of the end times. This week the news was inundated with the Religious Freedom Laws, particularly in Indiana and Arkansas. Some politicians are caving to the demands of homosexuals because the elected officials think they are being tolerant and fair to all. The truth is when these laws are changed the verbiage will be nothing but another way to persecute Christians; because we will be the only ones NOT protected by the law when it passes.

Jesus will return to earth soon
Even though all these things have been happening to some degree since the beginning of time, never before have we seen such atrocities, catastrophes and blatant hatred as we have in the last decade or two. The clock is ticking and all signs point to the return of Christ and the end of the age as we know it.

But as terrible as these things are we, as the body of Christ, are not to be fearful. Jesus told His disciples when they asked about the signs of the age, to rejoice because it means our redemption is drawing near (Luke 21:28).

It would be easy to get discouraged if we let our minds focus on the evil in the world. But our remedy is:
  • Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)
  • Don’t conform to this world (Romans 12:2)
  • Know that He will complete His work in us (Philippians 1:6).

He lives!
We can voice our stand on social issues to our representatives because we do still have that constitutional right. But our elected officials are not our savior. Our faith has to be in God.

The next time you hear an evil report of any kind, shine the light of God’s Word on it and rejoice, look up, and know your redemption is near.

How do you stay focused on God and not the world? Join the conversation and have a Happy Resurrection Day. Because He arose, we are redeemed.