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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

#WednesdayWordswithFriends welcomes Justin Thomas

Good Morning!

Today we begin our Lenten season of fasting, prayer and alms-giving. Even if you're not Catholic or one of the other religions that participates in extra, focused prayer during these forty days leading up to Easter, it's always a good thing to set aside time to spend with God.

Today's guest talks about his own personal journey through tragedy and grief into new life and purpose. Please welcome Justin Thomas as he shares his journey with us.....

Q: What motivated you to write this book?
A: After losing my father, I went on a soul-searching journey to explore how to carry on his legacy. I assumed this would be just my own personal journey. However, along the way I was exposed to so many life-changing experiences and relationships that I became motivated to share the story with others. This book shares the gift that I was given— a new definition of what it means to become a provider.

Q: You dad's death was sudden and unexpected. What would share with others who have faced similar losses on how to deal with the grief?
A: Unfortunately, a friend of mine texted me just last week asking this question. He told me, "I started reading your book and could not get past page three. I also received a call last night. Same exact thing happened to my dad. I am sitting at the airport trying to tell myself everything will be okay." I thanked him for sharing this hard news with me. This is the first step in dealing with grief: sharing with others. I encouraged my friend to take a firm hold of his family and values during a time when the world beneath him is no longer on solid ground. Conversations and moments like this make me grateful for the experience I have had in order to try and provide for others going through a similar journey.

Q: How do you define a provider and how do you believe scripture defines it?
A: A provider specifically provides blessings and offers protection to others. Here is my provider definition: Provider = Bless + Protect. This is the proven provider process. The exciting news is that anyone can develop the habits and skills to consistently bless and protect others. I share my personal journey with a biblical perspective of what it means to provide. Psalm 23 positioned Jesus as our model provider, one who blesses his sheep by selflessly giving of himself to earn the trust of his sheep. Jesus even called himself the “Good Shepherd” in John 10: “I am the good shepherd. I lay down my life for the sheep.” Scripture ultimately defines a provider as one who is willing to sacrifice for others.

Q: You list “Santa” and “Soldier” on what you call the “Bless and Protect” matrix. Talk about that.
A: When creating the Bless and Protect 2x2 matrix I knew there would be people strong in one area but weak in the other. I evaluated my own life and explored when were times that I was high in Blessing and low in Protecting and vice versa to arrive with the Santa and Soldier quadrant. Santa represents someone who is generous and loving, but lacks the guiding hand of a protector. They default to solving problems and burdens through gifts, which certainly blesses others, but it does not fully satisfy the need. The Santa quadrant allows you to stay in the safe space of giving more and more and receiving praise for your apparent generosity. It’s a fun quadrant to be in, both for the giver and receiver, yet there is a deeper version of providing. The soldier is high on the protect trait, but low on the bless trait. He represents someone who is strong and reliable but lacks the softer, blessing characteristics. On the one hand, people may feel safe around “soldiers,” but hesitant to be vulnerable and open to such a harsh figure. 

Q: Why do you feel teaching men to be providers is important?
A: After speaking with other men, the typical definition of being a provider was the 1950’s Dad figure bringing home a paycheck as the pinnacle of providing. I felt it was important to challenge this baseline definition to change from “bringing in the money” to “blessing and protecting.”

Q: Talk about the C.L. Thomas Fellowship, its vision, and the plans for expansion.
A: The CL Thomas Fellowship offers small groups and online resources to help others become providers. The fellowship was started in 2017 in honor of my father who passed away that same year. The first small group launched from my living room and now we have several groups in the Raleigh-Durham area and Dublin, Ireland as we continue to expand our reach and influence.  Groups launched are led by a mentor or “provider coaches” who believe that each member can be a great provider. The mentor facilitates monthly meetings and models a provider lifestyle. In addition, the fellowship offers a growing library of recorded interviews from experts in different areas of the Provider Wheel. We are building a community of people from all walks of life who strive to help one another become better providers. One of the most exciting new additions is that my wife, Amy Thomas, is now leading a women’s C.L. Thomas Fellowship group. The women’s group takes the same Provider Wheel and calling to bless and protect others through the unique perspective and gifts that God has placed on their lives as women.

Q: What is the Provider Wheel? 
A: The Provider Wheel is a visual I created to highlight the eight characteristic traits of a provider. We spend one month on each trait during the course of the C.L. Thomas Fellowship small groups. The Bless and Protect Matrix is another visual I use to show what happens when we do not bless and protect others, we fall from the "provider quadrant" and into other quadrants that limit our impact of effectively becoming a provider.

Q: What do you hope readers will gain from this book?
A: Here’s what I hope for this short book: that readers will commit to being a great provider based on the incredible, imperfect legacy of C.L. Thomas or “Pop,” as he was known to my family. And that readers will change their definition of “provider” in which they make a covenant to bless and protect anyone who needs their specific gifts. I want readers to remember that providing on Earth is ultimately an imitation of Jesus and His life’s example.

Justin Thomas is the co-founder of the C.L. Thomas Fellowship, a nonprofit that coaches men and women to become providers based on a biblical worldview. He is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach and is COO of EHOP Health, a chronic disease reversal company. He previously served as CEO of CrossComm, a nationally-recognized app development studio, and was named “MBA Student of the Year” at Ireland’s leading business school. He lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina with his wife and family. Visit www.clthomasfellowship.org.

Find out more about Becoming a Provider and the CL Thomas Fellowship by watching these two videos: https://youtu.be/4LyjuCt0zD4 and https://youtu.be/HAOWHTRw9Lg

Thank you so much, Justin for sharing your heart, book and ministry with us! We certainly wish you the best of luck and God's blessings.

Well friends, hope you enjoyed today's guest. This is the last Wednesday Words with Friends post for February and Saturday is the last spotlight so be sure to leave a comment and be entered into my monthly gift card giveaway!

Until next time, take care and God bless.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

#SaturdaySpotlight is on D.K. Christi and Ghost Orchid!

Good Morning!

Baby it's C-O-L-D outside but at least the sun is shining. I am so. very. tired. of. the. rain and gloom!

Today's guest is brand new to me and our blog so please give D. K. Christi a huge, warm. W-E-L-C-O-M-E as she shares her book, Ghost Orchid with us.

Two parallel love stories twist and turn around family secrets beginning with Mel whose nondescript life has a moment of renewed passion before tragedy strikes and she's unable to reveal her hidden secrets to her estranged daughter, Neev.

Neev, raised by a loving foster family in Germany and educated at Oxford finds modeling a bore but joy in the other side of the camera chasing the endangered species of the tropical jungles. Her mentor, Roger Andrews, shapes her talent and her love life though a young tour guide in Africa is exciting. An amateur photographer, Jack, is in the shadows as he discovers the ghost orchid that brings all the pieces together in the mystical discovery of eternal love.

Excerpt: She stepped out of the shower, toweled dry, and slipped her naked body between the sheets, satisfied that everything would get back to normal soon. The highs and lows would go away. The beauty of the swamp would give her serenity back. The challenges of her work would occupy her mind. Friends and family were scattered about. She would make a better effort to spend time with them.

A trip to Germany was now a necessity that could no longer be ignored. She decided to dump the email and the email provider without delay so she had no opportunity to change her mind. She turned the computer on for just a minute. A flash of green shocked her resolve.

“Do you still have the room key, and will you come back?” flashed on the screen.

She was lost. 

“Yes.” She responded and turned off the computer. She dared not risk looking again or thinking again. She could only act on instinct. Her instincts told her they were not, after all, finished. She quickly threw on sweats, combed back her still-damp hair with its silver threads, and packed a few things in a backpack in case they were up all night and she had to leave from the hotel for work.
The story she was prepared to reveal might take all night. She made no attempt, this time, to look any better than who she was. She’d already endured what she believed was his rejection. If he called her back, it was his heart speaking to hers. The exterior did not matter.

She drove through the fog that was coming in from the Gulf in dense clouds that hid the changing colors of the traffic lights. The key he’d handed her at check-in was like a gesture of habit, and she really had not thought much about it at the time. She found it still tucked in the side of her purse. That made it easy.

 He called her on the cell phone to be sure she was on her way. She thought he might have changed his mind. She thought she might change hers as she followed the winding road through the fog with the tower barely looming ahead. He wanted to be certain she was okay, that she was truly coming back.

 She parked in the garage and took the elevator to his floor. She slowly entered the key in the lock, lightly tapping on the door at the same time. He opened it, half dressed. He had a hanger in his hands, neatly putting away his slacks, standing just back from the door’s opening in his shirt and socks. Only the bathroom had a light. The room itself was dark except for a little glow from the full moon that challenged the fog.

Wow....D. K., what an intriguing blurb and excerpt! We certainly wish you the best of luck and God's blessings with your book and in your writing career! Now please tell us a little about yourself....

Who is D. K. Christi?

D. K. Christi, M.Ed. has over twenty years grant-writing and public relations success, five years as an editor for an international CPA firm, nine years magazine and newspaper writing, three published novels, BAMBOO RING, ARIRANG and GHOST ORCHID and stories published in seven anthologies.

"Themes of friendship surviving tragedy, love conquering adversity & the triumph of the human spirit over the hardships of life serve to uplift and inspire...through her stories perhaps discover something new about yourself. " -- Amazon.com

Christi interviews celebrities and notables from Jack Hanna to Rob Reiner, Whoopie Goldberg, Newt Gingrich, Jeb Bush, Marlo Thomas, Chris Gardner and more. She lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the Caribbean and spent three years sailing the Caribbean Islands from Ft. Lauderdale to Venezuela.

A polished platform presenter and professional voice with multiple writing and publication topics, she also has an entertaining and informative approach to Sex, Myth and Magic - The Ghost Orchid, popular at book club, book store, environmental and orchid events.

"The beauty of the Everglades shines through on every page, the ghost orchid the heart and soul of the story." -- National Public Radio

D. K. Christi has been executive director, president, CEO and founding board member to successful philanthropic and corporate entities such as the Community Foundation of Collier County, Florida begun in 1985 with currently over 400 funds,  $64 million in assets, and $64 million in grants distributed.

From technical writing to general literature, Christi travels the gamut of literary expression and takes her readers along for an emotional and enlightening ride.

Find out more about D.K by visiting her Website. Get your copy of Ghost Orchid at Amazon.

We've only got one more week in February so be sure to leave a comment and be entered into my monthly gift card giveaway!

Until next time take care and God bless.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

#WednesdayWordswithFriends welcomes Denise Broadwater

Good Morning!

Have to rush out the door this morning so no time for chit-chat. Earlier this month we met a brand new (to us) author Denise Broadwater when she shared her book with us, so please welcome her back as she shares more experiences about A House with Holes.....

Greg is my life and world and as my husband of many years, it is as it should be.  We have three wonderful, employed children with lives of their own.  His career is going well and my book has been on Amazon for four months.  But days like today, I cannot help but be overcome by fear.  Will this renovation, our house filled with holes get the final billowing laugh, “See, I got you.  You gutted my insides, weathered all the storms, and are nearly done, but in the end you didn’t make this final cut.  YOU ARE GOING DOWN. “  The house draws us into conflict and stress.  As close as we are to being done with the major construction projects, I wait for the proverbial shoe to  drop.  Sometimes, I wonder if we as a couple will survive our renovation in Charleston.

“Denise, stop daydreaming…nail gun.   Please, come out of your head and think about what you are doing.  We have to get this done.”  Like a surgeon’s assistant, I stand next to Greg physically ready to anticipate the next tool, but I get bored.  Greg’s demands increase now to a rant because he’s been frustrated most of the morning.  I know I need to stay focused.  He words play like a TV in the background.   It appears I am listening, but I am looking for any reason to zone out.  Afterall, I’ve heard it all before:  my absentmindedness, why can’t I focus, everyone else is priority and he needs me. 

“Denise, if you hang in here with me, we can finish this floor today.  It’s crunch time, baby, each thing builds on the other.  I know it’s not what you want to be doing right now.”  I smile and roll my eyes in an extended blink.  His banter and sarcasm flow over me.  Right.  What woman could have survived these past years?  And these last days, the little things drive me mad. Looking around I see the layer of dust covering the bar, tools on the rug in the dining room, and paint cans stacked in the fireplace.  Refusing to let Greg’s last words penetrate, I blankly stare at his extended hand. 

“Hammer, Denise!”  I startle back into helper-mode and hand him a hammer.  One of the advantages of my scatteredness is the freedom to zone when convenient.  We quickly fall back into the rhythm of work.  As we near the end of the laying the last pieces of flooring, Greg looks for another box of material.

“Denise, I am afraid we are short one box of flooring.”

He runs back into the master bedroom and in a few minutes has searched every crevice for flooring.  Yelling from the back room, “I let the flooring specialist calculate the material and he must have gone short.”  Greg disappears to the courtyard where we have been cutting all day.  None of the pieces are long enough to give consistency.  “These pieces are not going to cut it. Let’s call and see about getting a new one.”

I look for the number, then press call and put it on speaker.  Still open on the morning of Christmas Eve, but this is not the time of year to be in this pickle. 

“Mr. Broadwater, I hate to be the bearer of bad news.  This flooring’s been discontinued and there isn’t a box of flooring left in South Carolina.”  We both look at each other like this cannot be happening right now.  “Let me do a company search and maybe we will have a box left in Georgia or North Carolina.  Give me a few minutes.”

Greg mutes the phone.

“Denise, what are we going to do.  We are this close to being done.  I hoped we could leave for Christmas with the furniture moved back into place.”

We both stand staring at the phone, waiting quietly afraid of this man’s answer…

“We found three locations in Georgia with a few boxes.  Two are outside Atlanta:  Kennesaw, and Duluth and Newsome, near Valdosta.  If you have it delivered, there will be a large surcharge.”

“Give us a minute.”  And Greg presses the mute button, again.

“Valdosta is out, why don’t we go to Duluth the day after Christmas?  We don’t have much choice. ”

“Sure, this is happening.  Of course, this is the shoe dropping though it was not exactly to my worry. ” I shake my head.  We are both so done with obstacles and issue surrounding our project.    Greg’s eyes close and his head tilts down.  There is a weary tiredness even sleep don’t touch.  It’s through both of us, but Greg is bad.  He’s more tired than I have ever seen him.  He presses the phone speaker on again.

“Reserve those in Duluth and we will pick them up.”

“So, I know we should be grateful we found the flooring, but I hate cutting Christmas short to go to Atlanta.”

“It’s the sacrifice we have to make to get this done and behind us.  You are still with me, aren’t you, Denise.”

“This house is NOT going to win.”

Denise Broadwater has been a licensed professional counselor in South Carolina for ten years, treating anxiety, depression, life adjustments, and marriages. She has an MA in clinical counseling and began her career as a family therapist working with at-risk families and youth. Additionally, Denise has an M.Ed in education administration with several years of teaching experience in private education. She is a wife and the mother of three children and recently added “Nana” to her list of titles. She enjoys rowing at the gym, cooking new recipes, sewing quilts, and blogging at Life Lights Blog (emptynestmarriage.com) and Charleston Renovator Blog  (www.freedmanscottagerenovation.blogspot.com).

A House with Holes can be purchased at Amazon.

Thanks for sharing Denise! Best of luck and God's blessings with the house and your book!

February is winding down friends so be sure to leave a comment and enter the drawing for a $15.00 gift card of your choice.

Until next time, take care and God bless.