Magdala – Lesson from the Promised Land

The Home of Mary Magdalene

One of the greatest treats of our trip through Israel was our stop at Migdal, more commonly known as Magdala. This stop was special because the site is not yet open to the public. The dig was still in progress.

My pastor happened to be friends with Father Kelly who oversees the entire project, hence, our ticket in, to see what had been discovered thus far. The Catholic Church purchased the plot of land on the shore of the Sea of Galilee with the intent to build a retreat for women. As they began to dig the foundation, they unearthed ruins. In Israel if that happens the project is halted until archeologists figure out what has been dug up.

It turned out they had discovered Magdala, the home town of Mary Magdalene. The most exciting find was a carved stone pedestal unearthed from inside the synagogue. A replica of the menorah had been carved into its side from the Temple in Jerusalem. This proves the existence of the Jewish Temple during that era, which some would like to discount.


But what really caused my bells and whistles to go off, was knowing the chances are quite high that Jesus unrolled the scriptures atop that very stone pedestal. Scripture tells us He taught from synagogue to synagogue around the Galilee.

As yet, we don’t know much about the town of Magdala, but we do know something about a woman that was born there. Her name was Mary, who later was called Mary Magdalene. She had an encounter with Jesus that completely revolutionized her life. We don’t know the type of things she was involved in before she met our Lord, but one thing we do know.

Mary Magdalene was demon-possessed. She was possessed with not one demon, but seven. This was a woman who lived in torment. Most likely her life was hell on earth. Then Jesus came along, delivered her, and great was her deliverance. Her life was never the same.

Mary was one of the women who followed Jesus from town to town ministering to His needs and to the needs of the disciples. She did this at her own expense, because she had been forgiven and delivered from much, and she loved much. She was at the cross when Jesus died, and she was at the tomb soon after His resurrection.

Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene after He rose from the dead. What an honor! She was the first with proof that He had risen.

Are you tormented by something in your life or struggle with something you can’t conquer on your own? Take it to Jesus. He is the great deliverer.

A Diamond in the Rough,



The stories you write undoubtedly have casts of varying numbers, descriptions and personalities. And while every character in your manuscript works together to tell your story, they each perform a different function depending on the roles you assign them.

In fiction there are four tiers of characters. These are:

• Primary Characters
• Secondary Characters
• Bit Players
• Extras

Read more.

Nancy and Kelly

Time Management

My good friend Marilyn once asked me how I found the time to write. I simply replied, “you don’t find time to write, you make time to write.” How do you do this?

1 — Make Writing a PRIORITY not only for yourself, but your family unit.

When I received a five book contract with Realms in 2010, I realized in order to finish my manuscripts on time, I would have to set aside specific times to write. I sat down with my wife, Sherry, and my kids and told them about the opportunity to be published. I said: “I will need very specific times during the week when I can write uninterrupted unless there is a life and death situation. Do I have your permission, and most importantly, your support in writing this book?” Find out what happened by clicking here.

Kelly and Nancy

The Sea of Galilee – Lessons from the Promised Land

Jesus and the Sea of Galilee

The early morning sun peeked through the rising mist as we boarded the boat bobbing on the Sea of Galilee, also called the Lake of Gennesaret. The crisp air was full with expectation and whispered the name of Jesus. We were on calm and hallowed water.

The mere mention of the Sea of Galilee and one thinks, Jesus. It was on this body of water that Jesus manifested His divine power. He calmed the raging waves and howling wind with just a word, walked on water, and caused men to fall to their knees proclaiming He must be the Son of God.

From my boat, I took in the distant shorelines around me. Jesus began His ministry in the Galilee area and walked along those very shores. What did He do along them? A good share of His ministry happened on those beaches and in the various surrounding towns and villages.


Peter, Andrew, James and John were picked to be Jesus’ disciples at the water’s edge. He told them to cast out their nets again, even though they had caught nothing all night. They followed His instruction and caught more than their nets could handle.

In small boats, He preached from the sea to get space from the pressing crowds. He healed the sick at its waterside and cast out demons restoring people’s lives. He sent Peter to throw a hook into its water to catch a fish. In the mouth of the fish, Peter found money to pay their taxes.

Jesus made the Sea of Galilee and the surrounding area a miraculous place. He changed the world from a small and insignificant spot on earth.

After His death and resurrection, He told his disciples to go to Galilee and He would meet them there, and He did, concluding His ministry in the Galilee area by appearing to His followers. Jesus came to His tired disciples, who had fished all night, but had caught nothing. He called to them to cast their net to the other side of the boat. When they did, their net came up full. As they came ashore, Jesus had fish and bread cooking on a fire, and He served them breakfast.

Jesus died so that man could approach God from anywhere on earth. He is always near. What is your need? Seek Him. Follow Him, just as the crowds of the Galilee did, and He will meet you.

A Diamond in the Rough,


The Doldrums

What are the Doldrums? Here are the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary definitions:

1. a spell of listlessness or despondency
2. a part of the ocean near the equator abounding in calms, squalls, and light shifting winds
3. a state of period of inactivity, stagnation, or slump

Do you ever feel that your writing is in the Doldrums? You can overcome the Doldrums by applying some of the principles I’ll outline here.
First, recover.

You’ve just survived a squall of surgery or a long illness. You’re suffering with grief. You’re stressed because of tensions on the job, a difficult relationship, or an overwhelming to-do list. Take time to care for yourself.

1. Get to bed on time. Maybe even take a nap.
2. Exercise.
3. Eat right.

Second, set your rudder.

You won’t go anywhere if you can’t steer. Learn more.

Kelly and Nancy

Shiloh – Lessons from the Promised Land

Hannah’s Peace with God

While still in the West Bank, we visited the archeological remains of Shiloh. I was quite excited to go because the story of Hannah happened there, and that story is very near and dear to my heart.

Shiloh was the place where the first permanent tabernacle was built. Its walls were constructed of rock and its roof was made of cloth to remind the people that this was not God’s final temple or house.


In this very tabernacle Hannah begged God for a son. Hannah lived in a difficult situation. Although her husband loved her very much, he also had another wife called Peninnah who had given birth to several children.

For some reason Peninnah enjoyed rubbing salt into Hannah’s wound of barrenness. The scripture says, “she would provoke Hannah bitterly because the Lord had closed her womb.” The struggle of infertility is tough enough, but can you imagine another woman taunting you constantly about it? It troubled Hannah so much she could hardly eat.

Yearly, Elkanah, Hannah’s husband, would take the family to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord at the tabernacle. On one of these trips Hannah went to the tabernacle and poured her heart out before the Lord, begging for a son whom she promised would be given back to the Lord.

Eli, the priest, thought Hannah was drunk and told her to stop drinking. Hannah explained that she was oppressed in spirit, and was pouring out her soul to the Lord. Eli then said to her, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked Him.”

In that moment peace came to Hannah. She heard a word from God that she kept in her heart. She went her way and ate, and she was no longer sad.

Hannah did receive a son, whom she named Samuel. She was faithful to her promise and gave Samuel back to the Lord. God blessed her with five more children.

The Lord brought peace into Hannah’s heart and also into her situation. One of the names for God is Shiloh. It means peacemaker. The God of peace brought Hannah peace in the city of peace.

Do you need peace in your heart or in a situation in your life? Go to the great Peacemaker. He will grant you peace.

A Diamond in the Rough,


Writing Scene Breaks

Descriptions of a scene and section break are simple. A section break can be another characters point of view or closure of a particular scene. A scene break within the same scene will show days or hours later in the story; or the character’s advance to a new location.

A challenge to include them in a flowing manner is not only worth the effort, but a must for any writer. Reaching such goals can be a learning experience.

Often, as a new writer who doesn’t plot, it’s easy to enter a scene break without realizing the end result. The author knows how he or she wants the story to proceed, but can get in a hurry. If readers feel you ‘jumped around’ too much, they will not back track to reread where you left off. They will lose interest. Read more.

Kelly and Nancy

Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim – Lessons from the Promised Land

The Mounts of Curses and Blessings

While we visited the West Bank, we gazed out upon two mountains. To my eye, they looked like a couple of hills, since I live at the base of the Rocky Mountains.

As we took in the sight, a Rabbi shared the story of Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim. In Deuteronomy 26:16-19 the Israelites declared God to be their God. They committed themselves to walk in His ways, keep his statutes, commandments, ordinances, and listen to His voice.


As a response, God declared them to be His people.

This happened toward the end of Moses’ life, and he gave the Israelites instructions of what to do when they crossed the Jordan and entered the Promised Land. Moses charged them to stand six tribes in front of Mt. Ebal and to stand the other six tribes in front of Mt. Gerizim. In the valley between the two mountains, the priests were to recite the curses.

After each curse the people were to say, Amen.

Then the blessings that were to come upon them, if they obeyed the Lord, were to be recited by the priests. Moses commanded them to do this as a reminder of how to live as a Godly people. By hearing the curses for disobedience and the blessings for obedience, they would be given the opportunity to determine to live their lives for the Lord and receive the blessings promised to them as a nation. (Deut. 27 & 28.)

When Moses was no longer with them, Joshua led the people across the Jordan and into the Promised Land. At Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim, Joshua and all the people (even the smallest child) were careful to follow the instructions given them by Moses, declaring the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as their God. (Josh. 8:30-35.)

Have you declared the living God to be your God? Are you living for Him? Can we expect the blessings of the lord to come to our point of need, if we are living in disobedience and sin? If you haven’t asked Jesus into your heart, why don’t you do it now?

A Diamond in the Rough,


Social Media Manners

How is your social media platform doing? If you are a writer, it is very important to keep on track of this and spend time each week with readers. This article is informational and discusses what do during those awkward social media moments.

The holiday season is almost here, and this is a good time to use relevant subjects on your social media. However, please be aware that you may open a can of worms. Don’t be afraid of it; just proceed with caution.

I like to ask questions that get my friends and followers thinking and revealing bits of their personalities. “Which is your favorite Girl Scout cookie?” was the seemingly innocent question I asked on my personal Facebook page. It was Girl Scout cookie season after all, and I was looking forward to a relaxed and friendly conversation about something that’s almost a national pastime. Many people have either sold or at least enjoyed a Girl Scout cookie at one time or another. Read more.

Kelly and Nancy

Need Encouragement?

My brother got married a couple of months ago, and our family forever changed. I gained a new sister, a new twist on life, AND a bigger family. My dad performed the ceremony and I sat with him and my brother two nights before the wedding around our kitchen table listening to them go over the vows – vows to honor and cherish and grow old.

Vows carry a certain kind of weight. In the past few weeks, I’ve found it necessary to make a different kind of vow. Not a vow to another person, a job, task, or event. I am making a vow to myself. Read more.

Nancy and Kelly