From now until Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year for woman, why not pause for a few minutes and soak in the presence of God and His amazing promises. You can read an excerpt of When God Speaks, His Promises on an author interview @ http://livingourfaithoutloud.blogspot.com/2015/11/anita-estes-and-her-forty-day.html

Sunday, November 29, 2015

When God Speaks His Promises: Answers to Prayer

Here is an excerpt from day 15 of When God Speaks, being featured on Lisa Lickel's blog                                  
                                                    God  Promises:

Today’s verse is one that most people, who have walked through a church door know, but don’t necessarily understand.

Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find: knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who ask receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Matthew7:7
Some people think of God as the divine Santa Claus granting their wishes. They come to Him with a long list of their wants—a nice car, a big house, a new job, a better salary and so on. Others don’t believe God is interested in their lives and they shouldn’t bother to ask Him for anything except when they’re in trouble or when someone dies. Both extremes miss the idea of what prayer is about. God wants us to pray in this manner
Ask—according to His will, not ours. “If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”(1 John 5:14). But how can we, in our limited understanding know the will of God? As we spend time with Him in prayer and read His word, we will come to know the heart of God and His will. How do we ask? Jesus tells us, “Ask in my name” John 16:23. What do we ask for? We can ask for God’s protection, His provision, guidance, strength and wisdom. But asking is only the first step. Next we are directed to:
 Seek—to discover. Be actively involved in searching the topic of prayer. In the New Testament, Jesus gave us guidelines when He prayed the “Our Father.” Each phrase represents a certain topic. The prayer begins with praise to the Father, then moves to petition for our daily needs, to confession of sins, to forgiveness of others, and affirmation of God’s position on the throne. If we use this as our guideline when we pray, we will receive a fuller understanding of the role of prayer as communication. We also need to search the scriptures for the many verses about prayer and use them during our quiet time with God. Another way to gain insights is to read books about prayer that broaden your understanding. However, seeking is not enough, we also need to:
Knock—on God’s door. When a person goes to a friend’s home, they first need the right address. When they get there, they knock (beginning of change) on the door, believing their friend will answer if she is home. The same goes for prayer. Knocking gets God’s attention. When He hears it, He draws near to heaven’s gate. Now, we need to knock in such a way that God will answer. Have faith. He is always home, so keep on knocking. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). Sometimes God asks us to persist in prayer and not give up. I’ve prayed for many years about my marriage and my career, and it has paid off.
The first year my husband and I moved to Vermont, I had a good job teaching art. Then I got pregnant and gave up my position to stay home with my precious son. For years I wanted to get back into teaching art, but we moved to an area where there were many artists looking for jobs. I decided to work in a Christian school as a resource room teacher and taught art on the side. I then worked at a college and several public schools, but I continued to pray for a job teaching art. One day I got a call from a director asking me to interview for an art teacher position with special needs children. I went and was hired. God opened the door after many years of my knocking.
But in order to know the right door to knock on, we need to listen to God. Prayer is communication between God and man, so we need to be willing to listen. God speaks to us in His still small voice, through His Word and in the circumstances of our lives. It’s important to listen after we pray and read the Word. Then we will be able to hear God’s answer.
Answer—God always answers our prayers, but we don’t always recognize it. Sometimes He says, “yes,” other times “no,” and more often “wait, it’s not time yet” as in the example above. Now and then His answers come wrapped in a different package than we expected. For years I thought God wanted my husband and I to have a ministry helping people with troubled marriages. While living in Vermont, we thought we would start a retreat center, but that never happened. Instead, we learned a lot about overcoming problems in our own marriage through experience! I hadn’t bargained on that. Now I am able to minister to women in difficult marriages in a different way than I originally thought. God is creative in the way He answers our prayers.
Whether you’ve had a thousand prayers answered or not, I encourage you to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Timothy 5:17). Keep your heart and mind lifted heavenward in all you do. Your answer is awaiting you on the other side of the door or just beyond the gate. Just remember, it might look a little more unusual than you originally thought.


Dear Father,
Praise Your name, O Lord. You are indeed Almighty and on the throne in all situations. Teach me how to pray according to Your will. Let me have Your mind in my prayer life, and not just a list of what I want. At the same time, help me not to shy away from approaching You with my needs. Keep me in touch with your heart and listen to the cry of my heart. Thank You for hearing me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.


Keeping a prayer journal is a great idea to encourage your prayer time. On each day, write down one thing to pray about. For example, Monday pray for family needs, marriage, children etc. Track whether you have received an answer—remember there are three choices: yes, no or wait. Add prayers to your list, as you feel appropriate.

Night Time Reflection

He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel, shall neither slumber or sleep.  Psalm    121: 3-4
Do you sometimes feel like your prayers are bouncing off heaven’s gates, posted with a “Do Not Disturb” sign? If so, be reassured that God is watchful of everything, but like a parent He doesn’t always interfere. There are lessons we need to learn without God directly intervening. However, He is watching. Like a Father, He cheers for us on the sidelines.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Author Spotlight: Out of the Darkroom, Into the Light

      Let me introduce you to the author of Out of the Darkroom, Into the Light: Tracey Casciano is a passionate speaker and writer who is ready to shine a light for Jesus. She shines that light through encouraging words as a blogger, speaker, and writer to help others who may be suffering or doubting themselves on their current path in life.  After a childhood with an alcoholic mother and abusive father, her love for the Lord helped rise above her past. She describes this in her book, Out of the Darkroom, Into the Light: A Story of Faith and Forgiveness After Child Abuse." She is happily married and in the midst of raising four wonderful sons. Tracey has a background in Special Education, has been a missionary in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. Join her on her blog http://ephesians2v8.wordpress.com.

Out of the Darkroom, Into the Light  is  Tracey's powerful testimony and journey of faith. In this book,  she chronicles how her search for God and eventual relationship with Jesus helped her survive a life of emotional and physical abuse from her  parents. She wrote the book after feeling God leading her  to share her story to help others who have struggled with similar issues, particularly with forgiveness. Her book is available on her website www.traceycasciano.com and also on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com.  

Free Preview
One Sunday morning in the spring of 2013, I sat in church listening to a friend lead the band in worship.  So while I am far from a good singer, I did my best to join in. Next to me, my husband sat smiling and singing, and as I scanned the auditorium, I recognized many faces. I felt welcomed and happy to be there as part of this congregation that had become my church family.
When the worship music ended, I sat down and looked at the program laid out for this mornings service. Before the pastors message even started, Id taken note of the title and could feel my heartbeat quicken. FORGIVENESS,it read in large capital letters.
As the pastor began speaking, I felt as though a spotlight was on me. Nothing else was in focus. The pastor was talking directly to me. He read out a Scripture passage: If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you (Matthew 6:14 NLT).
I started sweating and felt as though I couldnt breathe. I broke away my gaze from the pastor and looked around to see if anyone was looking at me. Giving my husband a weak smile, I thought to myself, How could I possibly forgive my parents for all the pain they caused me as a young girl? They dont deserve it.
As the pastors message continued, I began to fidget and move around in my seat. After years of carrying my burden and hurt from a life with an alcoholic mother and abusive father, I didnt want to forgive them. I felt that would be letting them off too easily. By the time the service ended, my stomach was in knots. As my husband and I left the church with our four sons and walked to our car, my husband noticed my silence.
Are you okay?he asked me quietly.
I waited until we had arrived back home and had some privacy before I told him, I think the pastor was speaking directly to me. I am supposed to forgive my parents. But how? Why?

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Dividing Stone: No One Can Escape It!

After many years in the incubator, the long awaited novel, The Dividing Stone, will soon hit the bookstores! Peppered with mystery and intrigue, The Dividing Stone is sure to draw you in and keep you wondering. This supernatural novel  engages the reader with interesting characters, an exciting plot, and a dash of historical fiction. The tale focuses on a treacherous plot to destroy Christian marriages and divide churches. But a young potter, Margo Pierson holds the key to victory--a tattered letter, an insatiable curiosity and empowered prayer!

Set on a quest to discover her mysterious ancestor, Margo Pierson, is catapulted into a battle to overcome a sinister society bent on annihilating Christians. On a hunch, she and her husband uncover a cryptic stone that thrusts them headlong on a path of destruction. While others are caught off guard, Margo senses an evil presence and comes face to face with the master manipulator, Bill Guiles. Through his devious devices she gets tangled in his web, until she is rescued by an unlikely character. In a struggle to posses the stone, the dark secrets of its origin  are revealed.

To purchase by check or for questions, e-mail anitawriter7@yahoo.com.
Here's what others have to say:

 “Move over, Frank Peretti. Meet Anita Estes, an upstate New York author, who appears to have a winner with her latest book The Dividing Stone. The book has all the elements Peretti's fans crave: intrigue, action, suspense and most importantly, spiritual warfare and the ultimate power of prayer. This is a real page-turner for those who like an engaging read where good overcomes evil.”                                                              Paula Ann Mitchell — Hudson Valley Journalist

The Dividing Stone: a thought provoking, thrilling story which chronicles the struggle of good
versus evil in a complex world of deceit, darkness, and power mongering. Both the protagonist and author share a voracious curiosity that leads to illumination. Read it, breathe it, hear it, feel it!”   
                                                           Evelyn Gross Whitebay – Educator, Advocate, Speaker

"The Dividing Stone shrouds the reader in intrigue, suspense, and mystery, then infiltrates your thoughts of good vs. evil.  A wickedly good and exciting adventure that takes one through a labyrinth of fascinating twists and turns. I consider this book a valued treasure in my library and mind."                                                   Amy L. Levis — Author, Educator, Illustrator

  "A suspenseful read  that you won't want to put down. Darkness and light collide in this compelling tale. Spiritual battles come to life in this mysterious cauldron of  events."                                                          
                                                                Cheryl Peterson--Children's Book Writer

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Be Encouraged, Equipped and Empowered

 Today I'm featuring author, Pamela D. Smith, and her new book,  E3: Encouraged, Equipped, Empowered, which is an inspirational read that discusses everyday life topics while providing tips that will Encourage you to face each day with grace, Equip you to handle life's difficulties, and Empower you to live the abundant life that Christ came for you to live.
 Have you ever found yourself in a season of discouragement or ever felt ill-equipped or dis-empowered? It's normal to experience seasonal low points but oftentimes we get stuck in those seasons and we don't fight for what's rightfully ours. You have a right to live a full life. E3: Encouraged, Equipped, and Empowered is a book that will give you a deep urgency to change. It will give you the desire to make lifestyle changes, do some soul searching and begin to develop spiritually.  It's not a two-step exit plan out of Corporate America or a promise of riches but it will motivate, uplift, and inspire you to a point where you can deal with everyday life.

Excerpts from the book:

Sometimes we search outside for answers that can only be found within. Life does not stop just because you face a hardship. You will continue to remain discouraged if you keep making emotional decisions. There should come a point in life where you trust your spirit. 

 Purpose and Power: When you begin to seek your purpose you will begin to crave more from life. Your desire won't be limited to just surviving.  Discovering and operating in your purpose is a display of power. Not everyone has the courage to do so. Do not allow every area of your life to be defined by someone or something else. If you really want to discover your purpose you must be engaged in what is "now" occurring in your life. There must be an awareness. In the United States judicial system a discovery is made by evidence being disclosed. An interrogation may take place by the opposing parties. This allows the other party to build a defense. The only way you will discover your purpose is by searching your soul for evidence of what you were created to do. Be warned though: your opponent will surface and try to interrogate you and talk you out of moving into your purpose.

Image and Integrity: There are some characteristics attached to a person of integrity. When your image is coupled with integrity you do not just wear makeup that makes you look flawless but you are "made up" of honesty. You are not just dressed in the latest fashion but you are also clothed with kindness. It's not okay to be cute but a con. It's not okay to be trendy but not trustworthy. What makes your image the part is when you exemplify the fruit of the Spirit.

Other chapters on:  Gratitude and Giving, Grace and Growth, Gossip and Grudges

Healing and Wholeness: In order to be whole you must first be healed. In order to be healed you must first have a mental transformation, second you must accept love and grace, and third you must change the things about yourself that you know are depleting you.

Prayer and Perseverance

The Word or the World: Your help comes from the word and not the world. You can't always conform to the world's way of doing things. There must be enough word in order for you to not be seduced by the world. 

Selflessness and Service: The most important assignment that we have been given is that of service. Yielding yourself to service will bring a satisfaction that money cannot bring. Everything is not about you. It's for the greater good of all of humanity. When you serve others you are giving yourself completely to God and allowing yourself to be used for His purpose.

Love and Losses: Love is the most powerful force in the universe. When you operate in love you are operating at your highest self.  Love is also a creative force. If you disperse love into an atmosphere of chaos, a spirit of calmness will overtake it.  When you release the divine power of love you will experience miraculous transformations. 

About the author:  Pamela D. Smith is an author, speaker, and Christian teacher and mentor. She is passionate about spirituality and personal development. She is known for her motivational speeches and her inspirational writing. She has spent numerous years on her own inner personal development and has learned how to gracefully navigate through life encouraged, equipped, and empowered. She is available to speak at women conferences, seminars, and churches. She is also available to teach at bible study and Sunday school classes. Her first level of ministry is within her home. She is a wife and the mother of 3 boys.

Why she wrote the book: I have known for years that God was calling me to encouraged other women. When He revealed to me why I had gone through so much discouragement, spent so many days being ill-equipped and dis-empowered I figured that the book would be a great way to start my ministry and reach people that I may not ever come into physical contact with. 

Inspiration for writing  the book: Having gone through and taking what I felt like was a long time to get through I wanted to give people tips and tools that I did not have available. I wanted to tell them things to help them that no one ever told me. I believe that all of humanity has a responsibility to give as we get. I came to a point in my life where I felt so Encouraged, Equipped, and Empowered so I wanted to do something to give the same to others.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

God is in the Details


Two years ago a friend and I planned to see the Newsboys Christian band up at Lake George, but as often happens other more important commitments prevented us from going. I was a little disappointed as I loved the Newsboys songs and lyrics, especially the old ones. Well, life continued and I heard the group was breaking up or reforming and losing some of their original members. I figured that was an opportunity that God didn’t think was that important, so I forgot all about it.

A month ago, I passed by a marquee announcing that the lead songwriter/singer for the Newboys would be playing at a local church. Wow! Here in our little city. It wasn’t the whole band, but at least it was one of the most important ones. I figured I’d ask a friend and we’d go. But of course, I never got around to purchasing a ticket because, as a teacher, September is just too busy to think of hardly anything else but school (and editing my debut novel, The Dividing Stone). So was again that event was pushed to the back burner even though I passed the sign everyday on my way home from work.

Then the neatest thing happened. A friend texted me that she won tickets to the concert and asked me if I wanted to go. I responded in the affirmative and was excited. But there was one little snag; I was getting my tooth pulled that day and my husband warned me of the horrors of it. Still, I held onto the hope that I would be able to attend. I wasn’t sure how good it would be with one guy playing and singing, but I still wanted to go. I figured I’d just take some aspirin after.

When I got to the dentist’s office and read all the horrifying things that could happen from a tooth extraction, I nearly fainted. I could die in the oral surgeon’s chair. Wow! Maybe I didn’t need to get that tooth pulled! Yet, the surgeon said it needed to come out. Ok, I said meekly and was lulled into accepting laughing gas, which I didn’t find funny at all.

So cutting to the chase, my friend and I were able to go, to her surprise and delight. The warm up band at the venue, Changepoint Church was so good I thought it was an opening band. The worship was terrific! Then came the Newsboy, PeterFurler and two other musicians from Audio Adrenaline, one of my daughter’s favorite bands. They rocked the house! Peter started with Beautiful, one of his newer songs, which I love. Then he played a series of songs I like and my favorite song , “I’m Not Afraid” with the famous line, “I’m not afraid to speak the name of Jesus Christ.” It was if the whole band was there and I worshiped in complete joy and surrender. God knew how much I wanted to hear some of these amazing songs, and Peter played them all—“He Reigns”, “Shine”, “It is You”, “I’m Alive” and one I love that I didn’t know he wrote, “I Am Free. With the spots lights and floodlights, replete with smoke, sweeping the church’s chambered ceiling, I was in heaven. Tears whelmed up in my eyes and nearly spilled over. God had provided everything! I didn’t even have to buy the tickets or do anything, but let my friend pick me up and drive there. God is just so awesome. He figured out every detail for me, so I could relax and enjoy both the music and worship, even with a tooth extracted that morning.
Isn’t He incredible? He’s in every detail of our lives, if we let Him be!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Missions Organization SCOREs Big with Water Systems

Agua pura, crystal clear pure water—that’s  what Joe Salvagni, a SCORE Missionary, is helping to provide in the Dominican Republic. Joe’s story began with one of his first trips to the DR when he was working in the village of El Pinon. At the end of the day, he went to drain water from a cooler where packets of clean water were stored for the volunteer workers. As he tipped the container, three boys yelled out in horror, “Pared” Stop! They came running over to him and begged him not to waste the clean water. Stunned, Joe consented as they ran over a mile home to get a container to hold what they considered a very precious commodity.

At that moment Joe’s thinking was transformed as God touched his heart. He knew he had to do something to bring purified water, something we take for granted, to the area. When he returned home, he immediately got together with his father who had just retired from thirty three years in the water authority system. Together they researched different systems and decided on one that utilized the reverse osmosis process, capable of producing a thousand gallons of purified, disease free water an hour, which makes it unique from others.

With the support of his church, Northside Baptist Church of Syracuse, New York, “Water at Work” ministries and SCORE International, Joe returned to the village and installed the first water house with a price ticket of $20,000. Yet Joe considered it well worth it to provide drinking water in an area where even large gallon jugs of bottled water, which many villagers cannot afford, have parasites living in it. That is the testimony of one of the pastor’s whose village, San Jose, now has a new water house installed. His children no longer have to drink water that made them sick since 100% of tap water in villages, towns and small cities is not potable. Where one of these reverse osmosis houses are located, thousands of gallons of clean water is available for bottling and distributed freely or for a nominal cost.

Since then Joe’s been on a mission to provide more towns with these water houses, which can serve both their own communities and others as well. With monetary, physical and spiritual support, Joe has installed seven more water houses and trained a team of Dominicans to keep things running smoothly and maintain the systems. A byproduct of this is providing locals jobs, which are desperately needed in the DR.

So how does the team decide where to install these wellsprings? Joe looks for places where clean water is desperately needed and unavailable. One such small city of 4,000 lost their entire water supply due to the government’s decision to divert the water to irrigate the sugar cane fields, the largest cash crop of the Dominican Republic. However, this left the villagers with no water at all. When Joe visited one day after a rain storm, he saw a little boy in the town scooping out muddy runoff with a plastic cup from the side of the road. It’s scenes like this that propel Joe Salvagni forward.

Joe doesn’t have to look far to find places in need of pure water in the Dominican. A girls’ orphanage, supported by SCORE, was his next stop. Before Joe and his team installed the purification system, all the girls had parasites and were unhealthy. When Joe learned this, he and his team went to work and installed another “house of living water.” Afterwards, the doctor examined the girls again and gave them a clean bill of health. That’s the miracle of clean water.
Mr. Salvagni’s latest project was inspired by an airport. As Joe was heading for a flight, which he often does, he saw an automatic water dispenser, which eliminates the need for bottled water. That was all he needed to give him the idea to install three of these, along with an ice machine to cool the water at the SCORE head quarters at Juan Dolio. This facility, which can house over a hundred twenty missionaries, will save them $30,000 a year. The savings are being funneled to help the community with its various projects around the small city.

          According to Mr. Salvagni most of the water houses are intentionally installed on church property so that villagers can not only receive physical, life giving water, but spiritual as well. He uses the story of the woman at the well as the guiding principle. “Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ ” Since Joe has been installing these living water houses many have been healed physically, but the greater benefit is that the Dominicans are seeing the love of Jesus Christ poured out in a tangible way and receiving Christ as their Savior. Though their physical need will lead them back to the water houses, their thirst for meaning and eternal life is quenched in Jesus. 

Those of us who accompanied Joe Salvagni on his recent Mission trip to the Dominican Republic can testify that all of this is true. SCORE has done much to alleviate unhealthy conditions and impure water in the DR besides helping to wipe out spiritual poverty, ignorance, prostitution and abandoned orphans. If you would like to learn more or donate to this cause click on Water Project.
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