Wednesday, December 31, 2014

No Freedom of Speech

I have the honor today of welcoming guest blogger and Christian author Lori Hatcher to share a devotion from her new book Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women. 
Facetime: God, I can’t believe she just said that to me! Why shouldn’t I respond the same way?
As we exited the Metro station in Washington, D.C., my daughter and I stumbled upon a crowd of 300 to 500 people huddled under umbrellas around a stage bigger than their gathering. In an article I saw later, Huffington Post reporter Kimberly Winston estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people attended the “Reason Rally” Largest Gathering of Nonbelievers.4
One of us miscounted.
As we made our way to the Tidal Basin that ringed the city, the voice of the rally’s speaker carried clearly across the largely empty grassy area. I only had to listen for a moment to realize two things. First, he was angry. He was railing at people of faith—so angry in fact he was cursing them. I wondered, ironically, what power he felt he had in damning people in the name of a God he didn’t believe in.
Second, as I observed the uniformed police officers with fierce looking canines encircling the staging area, I realized they were there not to censor his speech but to protect it. His right to speak—even hateful, damning speech—is guaranteed by the First Amendment to our Constitution.
This unsaved person was exercising a freedom I as a Christian do not have.
I can’t curse those who don’t believe as I do. I can’t express hate or disdain for those who criticize what I hold dear. I can’t outshout, bully, or taunt them. I can’t exercise the liberty of free speech because I answer to a higher law.
I answer to the Word of God. Jesus told me, bless those who curse you (Matthew 5:44, NKJV), speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
I can choose to say angry, bitter, destructive words to those who disagree with me, but should I? The love of God compels me to do otherwise.
James 3:17-18 reads, But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
That day, walking away from the “largest gathering of nonbelievers,” I chose to exercise my God-given freedom of speech. I chose to pray for those who were despitefully using my fellow believers and me (Luke 6:28, NKJV).
And I did it out loud.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

This devotion is an excerpt from Lori Hatcher’s new book, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women. Like a spiritual power bar, Hungry for God is the nutrition women need to get through the day.
Lori knows what it’s like to be busy. And what it’s like to struggle to make time for God. Her passion is helping women connect with God in the craziness of everyday life. A Yankee transplant living in Columbia, South Carolina, Lori uses her speaking and writing ministry to equip and empower women. She’d love to connect with you on her blog (, on Facebook – Hungry For God, and Twitter @lorihatcher2.

You may purchase Lori's book by clicking the link below:
HFG on Facebook:

Friday, December 19, 2014

What John-Boy Walton Taught Me About Christmas Joy

I love watching reruns of old TV shows, especially during the holidays, because they represent a simpler life of days gone by. “The Waltons” was set in the late 1930s and 1940s, when survival was difficult at best, and life was unencumbered by materialism.

Fast forward to today. It’s rare to find a smiling face among the sea of Christmas shoppers in the mall or at Wal-Mart.

Where did everyone’s Christmas joy go?

I imagine it began disappearing about the same time traditional values in America started disappearing. And, I’ll admit, I don’t feel the same Christmas joy I experienced as a child. I’m sure some of that can be attributed to the fact that in adulthood, life has a totally different perspective anyway. Even so, no one seems to truly enjoy the season anymore. Instead, conversations center around what still needs to be done in the mad rush to the 25th. Everything materialistic, and nothing about Jesus.

Even worse than losing joy is the rise of seasonal depression that ensnares many during the holidays.

So how do we overcome the holiday dread and get our joy back? While a good place to start is refocusing on the reason for Christmas—Jesus’s birthday—some of the answer may lie in what the old traditional shows tried to depict—It’s not about us!

“The Waltons” along with popular shows like “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Little House On The Prairie” had something in common. Though fictitious, the message behind their Christmas shows is as real today as it was almost a half century ago when they were filmed.

Joy means spending time with family and friends, not in the store. The Waltons were based on the real family of author Earl Hamner, portrayed as John-Boy Walton in the series. Growing up in the depression and World War II, the Walton children depended on each other and their finite resources to enjoy any holiday. From making their own gifts to stretching their meager resources for meals, the Waltons’ joy was contagious. Christmas wasn’t about self. Often included in their festivities were neighbors and friends who didn’t have family. Their long wooden table overflowed with people at meal time then spilled into the living room to gather around the piano for Christmas carols.

Joy involves giving to the less fortunate, not to those who already have an abundance of blessings. Giving doesn’t always include material items, nor should it just be seasonal. Although it’s chic to serve at homeless shelters during the holidays, serving people we cross paths with every day is equally important. After all, Jesus didn’t intend for us to just “show up” at Christmas. Give a few dollars to the person on the street corner holding a sign, donate to a food pantry, offer encouragement to a young mother struggling with her children or a simple smile to someone at the supermarket. I've had some interesting conversations with elderly people in the grocery store. Many are alone and appreciate a few minutes of your time. J

There’s nothing wrong with exchanging gifts with friends and family, and many Jewish customs and festivities Jesus would’ve participated in certainly included gifts. But does anything bring greater joy than giving to someone who can’t possibly return the favor?

Joy means putting aside differences at a time when the world desperately needs to see Jesus. In the memorable Andy Griffith show where local businessman Ben Weaver tries to hijack Christmas until he realizes he’s actually missing out, Sheriff Andy Taylor extends grace to this old man when he could have easily thrown the book at him. While we’re desperately trying to bring the unsaved into the arms of Jesus, the best way to do this is to extend Jesus’s grace to someone undeserving.  Nothing reflects Christmas like grace. John 3:17 says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” The joy you experience in extending love to someone, instead of condemnation, will radiate through your life all year long. And, in turn, you bring them joy.

If your spirit still needs a boost, why not find an old Christmas rerun of “The Waltons” or another of your favorite old TV shows? Maybe John-Boy and his family will help you get your Christmas joy back.

If you’d like prayer, please leave a comment or email me confidential requests. I’d love to pray for you. J Also, I don’t discount the fact that some people suffer with serious depression due to real crises during the holidays, perhaps even the loss of loved ones. Please know you have a special place in my prayers and heart. There is a tab at the top of the page with mental health resources, as well. Please don’t hesitate to utilize these.

God bless,

© Laura Hodges Poole

Thanks to everyone who bought "A Christmas Chance" and posted reviews on Amazon, helped promote it, or sent me encouraging emails about how the story touched you. On Sunday, 12/21/14, the price will be permanently reduced to 99 cents, so if you haven’t bought a copy, there’s no better time.

My next book, “While I’m Waiting,” will be available on Amazon in January. Based on some of my most popular blog posts, the devotional is about walking through trials while waiting on God to answer prayer.  It offers encouragement to live with hope instead of despair during the tough times in life. Check back for more information on the release date and a chance to win a copy of the book.

“Old Handmade Nativity Scene” image courtesy of digidreamgrafix/
“Woman Near Christmas Tree” image courtesy of marin/

Monday, December 1, 2014

"A Christmas Chance" On Sale For 99 Cents!...and...Opportunity To Win Amazon Giftcard

My Christmas novella, "A Christmas Chance," is available on Amazon this week for 99 Cents (Kindle edition)! If you've been waiting to buy it, now's the time. 

Brief description of the book:

Distraught that she and her husband are facing another childless Christmas, bakery owner Maddie Oliver tries to rescue every needy child who crosses her path. As the couple jumps each hurdle to adopt or become foster parents, they’re always disappointed. Then eight-year-old Chance Simmons comes into Oliver’s Bakery with his elderly grandmother, and Maddie is immediately smitten. Chance’s impish personality draws her in. Determined to stop focusing on her own problems, Maddie sets out to make this the best Christmas ever for the little boy and his ailing grandmother. What she doesn’t count on is him capturing her heart in the process. Will God orchestrate an even bigger Christmas gift than Maddie could imagine, or will she lose Chance for good when the Simmons family suffers a setback?

God’s timing is perfect, even if it doesn’t feel like it while waiting on something you desperately want. His grace is sufficient to fill any emptiness. He sees all of our needs and cares when we hurt. God provides what’s best for everyone involved in a situation. Ephesians 3:20 is an underlying theme, that God “is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.” We have to trust Him to get it right.

So many people during the holiday season are hurting and sad. I pray that everyone who reads Maddie's and Chance's story will be touched by this message and feel hope instead of despair.

Would you like to help me get the word out about this sale? Click on the links below for tweeting or copy the Amazon link (here) and create your own tweet. 


99 cents! #CyberMonday sale. 5-Star review:“This story should be on the Hallmark #Christmas lineup!” #Inspy #holidays (Click to tweet.)

Love a good #Christmas book? Take a moment to check this one out. 5 Stars On sale for 99 CENTS! #amreading #TeamJesus (Click to Tweet.)

99 CENTS! “A heartwarming story about the power of unconditional love & faithfulness of God.” @Laura_Poole #Christmas  (Click to Tweet.)

Want a heart-warming #Christmas book? "A Christmas Chance" is only 99 CENTS this week. #chrisfic #Kindle @Laura_Poole  (Click to Tweet.)

99 CENTS! “A #Christmas Chance,” a story of hope, love, and family. 5 STARS on Amazon. @Laura_Poole #adoption #Inspy (Click to Tweet.)

You can also tweet, Facebook, Google Plus, and Pinterest this blog post by clicking on the icons at the bottom of the post. 

Thanks so much for helping me get the word out about "A Christmas Chance." 

Visit my Facebook author page for a chance to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card!! Details for eligibility will be listed there on Monday, December 1. "Like" the page to stay in touch with my latest publishing news and contests. 

God bless,