Tag Archives: Featured
Posted on April 28, 2014 by Family Christian
Hello and welcome to my first Christian devotional. This book draws on material from two of my previous books, Life Without Limits and Unstoppable. It is intended to provide you with a series of quick inspirational and faith-building stories to be read daily or whenever you feel you need them. There are no rules other than God’s.
I do want to comment on the title, Limitless, which refers not to my abilities or your abilities but to God’s limitless love and power. As you may already know from my speeches, books, and videos—or you may suspect from photographs— I am technically more limited physically than most people.
I was born without arms or legs. Though I lacked limbs, I was blessed with a loving and supportive family that includes not just my parents and my brother and sister (both of whom came fully equipped) but also many cousins, aunts, and uncles. Even better, I was given the gift of Christian faith.
That’s not to say I did not struggle with my faith, especially when I reached those difficult adolescent years when we all try to figure out our place in the world—where we fit in and what we have to contribute. I prayed to God that I would wake up with arms and legs. Those prayers were not answered. I grew angry and then depressed. Thoughts of suicide drove me to make an attempt on my own life, but I stopped short when I realized my death would burden my loved ones with guilt and grief.
Over time, I came to understand that God had not brought me into the world without limbs to punish me. Instead, He had a plan for me, an incredible plan to serve Him by inspiring and leading others to lives of Christian faith.
If God can take someone like me, someone without arms and legs, and use me as His hands and feet, He can use anybody. It’s not about ability. The only thing God needs from you is a willing heart.
What do you need to live in faith on this earth and then to be blessed with eternal life in the kingdom of heaven? You need a relationship with Jesus Christ as your personal savior. Where you are weak, God is strong. When you walk in faith each and every day, your life has no limits.
You can take that on faith, which I highly recommend, or you can take it from the pages that follow, which offer my life as testimony to the incredible power of the Lord our God. I am a man who is not disabled but enabled. I travel the world on God’s business, reaching out to believers and sinners, rich and poor. I’m allowed to deliver my messages of faith, hope, and love in nations where many Christians fear to tread.
I have a ridiculously good life, and now since my marriage in 2012, I have the honor and the joy of sharing it with a strong Christian wife who is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. In my days of despair, one of my most depressing thoughts was that no woman could ever love a man without arms or legs. I was so, so wrong. My vision was limited. I forgot that ours is a loving God, wise in ways that we cannot comprehend.
Like me, you may not be able to see or even imagine what He has in store for you. My goal with this devotional is to help you expand your vision and build your faith by sharing what God has done for me and for the special men, women, and children I’ve met in my travels around the world.
I hope you enjoy the devotions and you benefit from them. But more important, I hope they help you get on the right track with God so that you are transformed with Him and come to trust that, through Him, all things are possible.
Excerpted from Limitless by Nick Vujicic Copyright © 2013 by Nick Vujicic. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Posted on April 18, 2014 by Family Christian
As Samuel was helping Rhoda gather cards, Landon’s cell phone buzzed, and he reached into his pocket. He usually glanced at it and slid it back into his pocket unless his grandmother was calling. But this time his smile faded, and he held the phone out toward Samuel. “It’s the number from your family’s farm in Pennsylvania.”
Since the only phone for this place was in the barn office and they spent very little time out there when it was below freezing, Samuel had given Landon’s number to his Daed in case of an emergency. The room grew quiet, and all eyes were on Samuel. He took the phone and slid his finger across the screen. “Hallo.”
“Samuel, what’s going on up there?”
His Daed’s tone was severe, and a bad feeling washed over Samuel. “Can you hold for a few minutes and let me get elsewhere?”
Samuel got up, hitting the mute button. “I need to talk to him, but apparently there isn’t an emergency.”
Leah tossed her cards onto the pile. “I’m done.”
Landon and Steven nodded and gathered the cards. Clearly, the mood was broken. Samuel had fielded many more calls from his Daed lately, each one less tolerant of this new settlement than the previous call.
Leah moved from the floor to the couch. “For him to stay this riled, he must be on that Amish chat line again, hearing negative stuff about us.” She sighed and rolled her eyes. “They ought to call it what it is—the Amish gossip line.”
“Leah, kumm alleweil.” Steven’s gentle correction was meant to settle her, and as the only church leader for this new settlement, his words carried weight.
While walking into the kitchen, Samuel turned off the mute. “Hey, Daed. I’m surprised you’re using Landon’s cell when there’s no emergency.”
“It might be a crisis. What’s this rumor I’ve heard about Leah seeing that Englisch assistant of Rhoda’s?”
Samuel pressed his lips together. Which of the new Amish families that had moved here over the last six months had shared that information? Apparently someone intended to end the relationship.
“Leah is in her rumschpringe, Daed.”
“But I let her leave Pennsylvania under your charge, and I’m not going to put up with these rumors.”
Dozens of arguments ran through Samuel’s mind. As he opened his mouth to rebut, he saw movement in the living room that caught his attention.
The three women—Rhoda, Leah, and Phoebe—had moved to the couch. Arie was sitting in Leah’s lap, and her hair had been taken down from its bun. Leah brushed Arie’s hair as the women whispered and giggled. They worked hard and loved deeply. He’d never witnessed the kind of unison they had.
“Samuel,” his Daed growled, “are you even listening to me?”
Samuel’s mouth went dry as angst grabbed hold of him. He’d been clinging to the hope that if he handled the situation right between his Daed and Leah, he could keep all the relationships intact. Had it been a false hope?
The Amish had ways of applying constant pressure when they disagreed with someone’s behavior, and if that failed to change the person’s actions, he or she was shunned. Not officially through the church, but through mandatory actions that said you’re not welcome here anymore unless you change. How could he possibly shun Leah? Worse, how could Rhoda and Phoebe do so? But if it came to the point of shunning her and they didn’t do as told, they would be subject to the same treatment.
Besides, Steven was a church leader now. He and Phoebe would have to uphold the Ordnung, or the consequences would be unbearable. Maybe Daed just needed a reminder of who was the spiritual head here.
“Steven is working with Leah, praying for her, guiding her as he sees fit.”
“He’s young, not yet thirty, and some don’t think he’s handling the Old Ways as carefully as he should. Others doubt he should’ve been chosen since his sister remains under a shadow of doing witchcraft.”
“That’s absurd. Rhoda doesn’t—”
“Save it, Samuel. I heard on the chat line that a bishop in Berks County is thinking of moving his family to your area. If he does, he’ll outrank Steven and bring the kind of order Orchard Bend Amish should’ve had all along.”
Every Amish person who’d helped establish this new settlement firmly believed in the Amish ways and culture, but they had pushed a lot of lines since arriving here sixteen months ago. Their hearts were in the right place, but sometimes the Amish rules got in the way of believers following their consciences. That’s when those on Orchard Bend Farms bent the rules, and Samuel didn’t regret doing so.
Somehow Samuel had to stop his Daed from doing anything that would cause the Old Ways to move into this home like a poisonous gas, choking the breath out of the relationships.
Excerpted from Seasons of Tomorrow by Cindy Woodsmall Copyright © 2014 by Cindy Woodsmall. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Posted on April 17, 2014 by Family Christian
Western North Carolina
To Jesse Bird’s reckoning, any man charged with driving forty head of Overmountain cattle to market best have three things in his possession—a primed rifle, a steady horse, and a heap of staying power. Jesse had the first two, one balanced across his thighs; the other tired, fly bitten, and dusty between them. As for staying power…with miles to go before he’d be shed of those forty beeves, he was making a studied effort
to let patience have its perfect work in him.
Looking back across their brown and brindled ranks, he spotted Cade and the packhorses rounding a bend in the river trace, where sunlight still speared the hazy air in moted streaks of gold. Riding behind the drove at the mercy of its dust, Cade had a kerchief tied across his mouth and nose, hat pulled low to shield his eyes. Though Jesse hadn’t ridden rear guard since midday, the choke of that same dust gritted his throat. Grime coated the foot drovers too, spread out through the summerfattened herd, armed with rifles and staves, eyes darting glances at the crowding wooded slopes.
Grasshoppers whirred beside the trace, leaping clear of trampling hooves that crackled the weeds. The sun hung to westward, its warmth fading, leaving rivulets of sweat drying on Jesse’s neck, sticking his shirt where the straps of bullet-bag and knapsack crossed. He was thinking they’d reach their next camp a nip ahead of dark, with time to pen the cattle before swimming the dust off his hide, when something with the force of a slung stone clipped his hat brim. Thinking a deer fly had marked him for a meal, he reached for the hat, meaning to swat the pest. The hat was gone clean off his head. It dangled from a nearby tulip poplar, pinned by a feathered arrow.
Jesse gave a whoop, then was out of the saddle and ducking behind a clump of rhododendron, putting his horse crosswise between himself and the beeves. From across the river came a spotty rain of arrows, pinging off rocks, thunking into trees along the bank. The drovers ducked behind the cattle on the hill-slope side of the trace, rifles shouldered.
Jesse’s mind raced. Was it Creeks or Chickamaugas? Either held an everlasting grudge against the Overmountain settlers. Hang it all, it could be Shawnees. With a wordless prayer that it wasn’t, Jesse aimed his rifle at a tawny flash across the river and fired. Powder smoke plumed out white from the barrel. On the tail edge of the report, he heard Cade’s war whoop. An answering ululation came shrill and defiant from across the water, raising the hairs on Jesse’s arms.
The cattle milled and bunched, kicking up a dust blind. One took an arrow in the flank and went down in the middle of the trace, bawling in pain but thwarting the bulk of the herd’s bolting.
Rifle shot cracked. Powder smoke hung on both sides of the river now, sharp and sulfurous. For the moment they had the water for a buffer. The attacking warriors wouldn’t risk exposing themselves to cross unless sure of taking them down. Surprise was a weapon spent.
A brindled cow broke from the jostling herd. It plunged down the riverbank and crumpled in the shallows, shot through the neck. The front of the herd not blocked by the downed cow pressed up against the hillside and then shifted in Jesse’s direction, threatening to stampede off down the trace. More broke for the river. Busy reloading, Jesse could do little but pray his horse stood its ground.
A musket ball ripped through rhody leaves near his head. Back down the trace Cade’s rifle fired. A warrior across the river fell through brush, lay thrashing, and was dragged back into cover. Another such loss and the warriors would likely break and run. If they could hold them off a few more seconds…
New voices shattered a lull in the firing. Tremolo cries like the warble of crazed turkey cocks sounded up the slope behind them.
Fear jarred through Jesse. Faster than thought, he yanked free his belt ax and whirled to throw it—and almost too late recognized the two Cherokee warriors. He shouted to the drovers to stop them firing on the blueshirted figures leaping down the rocky slope, dodging frightened cattle.
The Cherokees took cover on the bank, both with rifles, and commenced to putting them to use.
Jesse blazed a grin of welcome at the younger of the two now at his side, rammed patch and ball to powder, and fired across the river. A final arrow sailed over the cattle’s backs. Then stillness fell, with smoke and dust drifting high on the river breeze.
The drovers moved among the beeves, soothing them with staves and words, settling their own nerves with rapid glances toward the river. The warriors had melted back into the forest, taking their wounded with them. It had been a hunting party, taking their chances on an unplanned raid. If it had been a tracking party out for scalps, there were far better spots to stage an ambush along their steep and winding route from Sycamore Shoals. A second attempt was unlikely. Jesse knew the thinking of such men as well as he did his own.
After sliding his rifle into its saddle sling, he mounted and wheeled his horse after the few cows that had bolted up the trace. By the time Jesse had them headed back, Cade had sorted the herd and ridden up through their ranks, leading the packhorses. His gaze raked Jesse head to heel, relief deepening the creases beside his eyes. He took in the cow with the arrow in its flank, then the dead one reddening the river shallows, and yanked down his kerchief to show a mouth narrowed in regret. “That dead one looks like Tate’s.”
“’Fraid so,” Jesse said. It was always a risk, pushing beeves down the mountains under the noses of Chickamauga warriors eager to cripple the Watauga settlers who depended on the sale of their stock. Jesse and Cade had hired on for this drove each September since the war with the British ended, tracing the Watauga River east to its mountain headwaters, then down to the Catawba River and the Carolina piedmont. The beeves were bound for the market cow pens, Jesse and Cade for Morganton to barter furs and hides for supplies and then hire on as guides for any settlers heading back Overmountain before snow fell.
“We’d have lost more’n cows had these wild turkeys not flushed from hiding.” Jesse nodded at the late arrivals to the fray, both Overhill Cherokees. While the drovers cast half-wary looks at the two, Cade and Jesse slid off their horses to greet them.
“Friends of yours, Cade?” asked the white drover, owner of ten head of cattle and the two slaves helping drive them.
“Yours too, I’d say.” Cade looped his mare’s reins around a sapling and grasped the arm of the elder Indian, a stocky man with gray threading the hair flowing from under his turban. “Whatever brings you across our path, brothers, you’ve our thanks.”
Despite Cade’s half-breed Delaware blood, little distinguished his looks from the men he greeted, save that his black hair was tailed back, not plucked to a scalp-lock, as was the younger Cherokee’s. Cade’s hat brim, pinned with a hawk’s feather, shaded eyes one expected to be as dark as the battered felt but were instead as golden brown as Jesse’s—nothing to remark upon for a man of Jesse’s coloring. In Cade’s tawny face, they often drew a second look.
“Thunder-Going-Away,” Cade said, naming the elder Cherokee first, by way of introduction. “And Catches Bears, his son.”
The drover gave a wary nod. “Elijah Rhodes.”
“Jabez and Billy,” Jesse added, with a nod at Rhodes’s slaves. Billy, fourteen and on his first drive, was shaking in the wake of the attack—with excitement as much from shock, Jesse thought. “Think one them Injuns was Dragging Canoe? Them bad Injuns, I mean,” Billy added with a sidelong look at the Cherokees.
“Doubt it.” Jesse grinned at the boy, who’d prattled on about the infamous Chickamauga war chief since starting from Sycamore Shoals.
“Dragging Canoe would’ve crossed right over that river and lifted our scalps. Ain’t you heard? He can swim like a fish and fly like a raven.” The boy’s eyes whitened around the rims.
Jabez, an old hand at droving, slapped Billy’s back, raising dust. “He pulling yo’ leg, boy. Canoe ain’t no demon-bird. Just a man like me and you.”
“Huh,” Billy said, looking unconvinced.
Cade was eying Thunder-Going, a question in his eyes. “You’re a long way from Chota.”
Thunder-Going raised his chin, nodding back toward the northwest. “Tate Allard said we missed you by three sleeps. We trailed you.”
“Not hard to do,” Bears said, nostrils flaring wide, “with the stink these cows leave.”
Thunder-Going hid a smile in the lines carved beside his mouth. “We meant to catch you coming back from Morganton, to invite you to a feast. My daughter is to join blankets with a husband.”
“White Shell? ’Bout time.” Three pairs of eyes turned to Jesse when he spoke. The Cherokees and even Cade were looking at him as if he ought to say more on the matter. “What?”
Bears snorted. “You see? He does not know.”
Jesse frowned. “What don’t I know?”
“My sister wanted you,” Bears said. “But you had no eyes to see her, so she chose one who does.”
“My daughter was not the one for you,” Thunder-Going said and shrugged away what looked to Jesse like mild disappointment. Then the Cherokee inquired of Cade, though he still eyed Jesse, “Is it to be Allard’s girl, who follows this one like a puppy?”
Jesse cut in before Cade could answer that. “I have not found the one. I will know when I have, and maybe then I will tell you about it.” They’d fallen into Tsalagi, the Cherokee tongue. Switching to English, he said, “Oughtn’t we to be pushing on?”
Rhodes was in agreement. “How far to the next camp?”
“Mile or two,” Cade said. “Have to tend the downed cows first.”
Bears and his father exchanged a look. Thunder-Going said, “You go on with the herd. We will skin out the dead one. Better the hide than nothing, eh? For a share of the meat, we will bring that along as well. As much as we can carry.”
The plan agreed to, Jesse mounted up. Behind him Cade said, “Where’s your hat got to, Jesse?”
It still hung from the poplar, neat as on a cabin wall. Cade reached it first. He wrenched out the arrow, his face gone a shade like greened copper. In his eyes a heap of words clamored to be said, but he handed Jesse the hat and went to deal with the wounded cow on the trace. Fingering the hole in the hat’s brim, Jesse watched Cade snap the arrow nearer the wound, leaving enough to grasp. Cade urged the cow to its feet. If the cow made camp, he would take the arrow out there.
Thunder-Going descended the bank toward the cow lying dead at the river’s edge. With a wolfish grin, Bears drew the hunting knife from his belt. “If the other cow does not make it, leave it lying. We will see to it as well. Then you can tell Allard and the rest you got every one of their stinking cowhides to market.”
Excerpted from The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton Copyright © 2014 by Lori Benton. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Posted on April 16, 2014 by Family Christian
The girl with the haunted eyes reentered his life on the other side of a lowering casket, humidity and the shrill song of cicadas tangling together in the South Carolina heat. Aunt Marilyn pressed trembling fingers against her lips and swayed as if the wet ground had risen up and pitched her forward. Davis Knight tightened his grip beneath his aunt’s elbow and looked away from her pain. That’s when he saw her—standing like a statue, her waif-like form shrouded in grief.
Ivy Clark. All grown up.
A distant rumble of thunder rolled across the blackened sky, leftover remnants from a tropical storm. A raindrop brushed his ear; another grazed the tip of his nose. Pastor Voss bowed his head. So did everyone else, including Ivy. A slight breeze ruffled wisps of hair around her downturned face and fluttered the butterfly sleeves of her dress. The last time he’d seen her in the flesh, he had just returned to Greenbrier for a short summer stint after completing his freshman year at NYU. Ivy had been twelve going on fifty. Tall and gangly with eyes too large for her face—twin souls the color of honey, staring and deep as if she saw and understood every sadness in the world.
Then she had disappeared, and so did he, in a way. A few years later he began following her career because it was in his interest to follow it, but even with all professional motives stripped bare, he would have followed it anyway.
Pinpricks of sweat beaded along Davis’s temples. His sister, Sara, wrapped her arm around his and squeezed. Pastor Voss’s prayer ended in time for Ivy Clark to look up and catch him staring. Familiar territory to her, no doubt, given her career. Not so familiar to him.
He would have looked away, but her awareness of his attention triggered an intriguing metamorphosis. It seemed her eyes had learned some tricks over the years. Like how to bat in just the right way. How to dance in invitation. How to swallow the grief that had wrapped around her shoulders moments ago, when she thought nobody watched. She smiled a smile Davis knew well, one he’d seen hundreds of times on a hundred beautiful faces—the type of smile that had lost its allure two years ago.
He glanced down at the grass—thick green blades framing his black loafers—and patted his sister’s hand, his own personal reminder of why a woman like Ivy Clark could not be a part of his life. Ivy belonged to a world that took and took and took so subtly and connivingly that a person didn’t notice until there was nothing left to give. It was a world he never wanted to be a part of again.
Still, he looked one more time. Ivy stared back, a smirk on her face.
“Now’s not the time to talk about this, Ivy.” Bruce strode through the long grass toward a line of cars parked along the brick path, texting a message into his phone.
The drops of rain turned into a mist that settled over Ivy’s arms, cooling her skin. If only the drizzle could quench her fear. Who was he texting? She lengthened her stride, trailing him like a long evening shadow. “You’re the one doing business.”
“How do you know it’s business?” He dug into his pocket, pulled out his keys, and clicked the button on the remote to unlock the car doors. Two short beeps interrupted a chorus of chirping birds hiding somewhere in the Spanish moss that dripped from gnarled tree limbs overhead.
Ivy rolled her eyes. Only Bruce would lock his car inside a cemetery in Greenbrier, South Carolina. “This isn’t New York City.” The two places existed on opposite poles. “I don’t think any burglars are prowling around waiting to break into your car.”
He stopped in front of the black Lexus with rental plates.
She stopped too. “I need to know, Bruce. It’s my future we’re talking about here.”
“If you were so concerned, you should have kept your mouth shut.”
“I made one lousy suggestion. You’re telling me O’Banion’s getting bent out of shape because of one small—”
“It’s not your job to make suggestions, especially not to a photographer like Miles O’Banion.”
Ivy’s stomach knotted. What would happen if that one slip cost her two years of security? Her twenty-fifth birthday crept closer each day. As hard as she tried, she wasn’t getting any younger and people were starting to notice. If she wanted to continue modeling, she needed that contract. Bruce ran his hand down his face. “It’s your job to keep your mouth closed and work for the camera. That’s what you get paid for. Nobody cares about your opinions.”
“So I’ve been told.”
“Then why didn’t you listen?”
A small group of women dressed in black stopped conversing. Bruce painted on a smile and gave them a polite wave. He leaned close to Ivy and spoke from the corner of his mouth, his smile unwavering. “We’re not talking about this here. Let’s show a little respect.”
Her muscles coiled. Respect? James didn’t deserve her respect. She didn’t care how touching the eulogy, how beautiful the flowers, or how crowded the funeral. Why should she care about losing a man who never wanted her in the first place? Why should his unspoken I love you echo in her mind? She refused to pretend her father’s death had any bearing on her life. Because it didn’t. She wouldn’t let it. She gathered her mounting anger and stuffed it in the empty place inside her chest.
Bruce opened the passenger-side door. “Get in the car.”
She folded her arms. “If you know something, as my agent, you have no right to keep it from me.”
“I don’t know anything. And when I find out, we can discuss it back in New York.”
“Why did Annalise tell me I lost the contract?”
“Because Annalise feeds off gossip, or haven’t you figured that out yet?”
Despite the stagnant heat, a chill crept across Ivy’s skin. As her friend, Annalise wouldn’t have pulled this out of thin air. It had to have some substance. She gripped her elbows, as if the harder her fingers dug into flesh, the less any of this would matter. “Gossip always starts with a seed of truth.”
“Look, either get in the car or I’m leaving you here. Your choice.”
Ivy looked over her shoulder at the rows of polished tombstones. Her throat tightened. She hugged her arms and stepped closer to the car. “I want to go to the airport.”
“We’re going to the luncheon.”
“He was my brother and your father. We’re not leaving now.”
“He was hardly my father.” The emptiness expanded, carving her out like a pumpkin-turned-jack-o-lantern. She was nothing but a shell. A beautiful, empty shell.
An SUV pulled out from behind them. An engine rumbled in front. Except for a few stragglers in the distance lingering over her father’s grave, the cemetery cleared.
Bruce drummed his fingers on the top of the car.
“I’m not going to sit in that house, eat cucumber sandwiches, and pretend to care that he’s gone.”
“You don’t have a choice.” Bruce opened the door wider.
Her shoulders sagged. Ivy slid into the passenger side, pulled the seat belt across her body, snapped it into place, and stared straight ahead. Why had she said anything to O’Banion? So what if he wanted to keep her in the same overdone pose? She shouldn’t have said a word. If there was one mistake to avoid in her world, it was wounding the pride of a notoriously prideful photographer.
Bruce’s door opened. He got inside and set his phone in the cup holder. As soon as he started the ignition, the phone vibrated, rattling loose change in the console. He swept up the device and held it against his ear. “Bruce Olsen.”
Nothing but the unintelligible chatter of a female voice from the other end.
A muscle pulsed in Bruce’s jaw. He scratched his chin and looked out the window, hiding his expression. “I’ll be back tomorrow. Could we meet then and talk this over?” He clicked his seat belt into place and nodded. Another long pause. More unintelligible chatter. A sigh from her uncle. “I understand. Thanks for getting back to me.”
He hit the End button and started the car.
Ivy pressed her fingers against her sweat-dampened palms.
Bruce pulled out onto the brick street and steered toward the iron gate. “It seems Ms. Reynolds wants a fresh face for her cosmetic line.” He flipped on the radio. Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” blasted Ivy’s ears. “Sorry, kid. They’re not renewing your contract.”
Excerpted from A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert Copyright © 2014 by Katie Ganshert. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.