Suzy Taylor Oakley

helping Christians share their faith with respect and love

Need a great place to start? Try the Book of John

Is somebody trying to tell me something?

My pastor is preaching a series called “The Gospel According to John.”

Last week, when I finished the short reading plan I had been doing in the Bible App (there’s that app again!), I clicked “discover” to see what plan I might want to start next.

What popped up first?

Two studies on … you guessed it: John! (I opted in to both.)

Bible page - Book of John
Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

Yesterday, Brent preached on my favorite chapter in the book: John 15 (I am the vine; you are the branches).

I’ve loved John 15 ever since discovering a life-changing little book several years ago called “Secrets of the Vine” by Bruce Wilkinson. You really should read it. It’s short on pages but long on impact. (Remember “The Prayer of Jabez” from the 1990s? Same author, same impact: short but powerful.)

In last week’s email, I referred my subscribers to The Bible Project and the John study I had just started. Don’t worry; not every day’s reading contains a busy, fast-paced video. In this plan, some days you’re just reading a passage, no video. Even though I love the videos (such creativity packed with information), sometimes I just want a meaty passage in a textual format. This has the best of both worlds. 🙂 

And then there’s J. Vernon McGee’s 21-day study, “Gospel of John: What it Means to Believe Jesus.” If you want written commentary with your verses, this is your plan.

Layer upon layer, word upon word — whether it’s visual, textual or oral, God is immersing me in the words and teachings of John.

Did I mention I recently finished a reading plan on Revelation? (Insert laughing emoji.)

This immersion is reminding me that I need to be connected to the true Vine, Jesus Christ, if life is to make sense – if I want to have a Kingdom impact on the world.

What about you?

If you’re not a big reader or are perhaps intimidated by the Bible, I think the Book of John is a great place to start. Its language is straightforward and easy to read. Many people suggest the book as a starting place when they encounter a non-Christian who wants to learn about our God. “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.”

Looking for your next reading plan? You can’t go wrong with John!

I must admit that, even though I love John, another book in the New Testament is my favorite (it was my dad’s fave, too). Stay tuned; I’ll let you in on it pretty soon.

Do you have a favorite book, passage or story from the Bible? Spill the beans! Leave a comment and share it with the rest of us.

Blessings,

SuzyOakleySignature

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Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley, writer • editor in reading, 0 comments

A little bitty announcement – I’m a published author!!!

Bruce and I typically don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day — at least in ways that cost money. No offense if you get all giddy about (and dressed up for) the Feb. 14 observance. It’s just not our jam, anymore — at least now that we’re a broke married couple. 🙂

The anthology What We Love is free on Amazon for a few days, starting Feb. 13.

I prefer to celebrate February as Black History Month and American Heart Month.

No, I’m not black, but I did have heart surgery a few years ago and I wear my little Origami Owl locket with the red ribbon charm and the tiny little Heart Beat charm during February. (Scroll to the bottom of this post if you want to support our Force for Good program by purchasing those charms.)

You may wonder what all this red ribbon heartbeat Valentine’s Day talk has to do with my headline. Well …

Feb. 14 is our big ol’ promotion day for the anthology I collaborated on with 100 other authors (yes, this is a book with 101 authors).

The e-book, called What We Love, is out now on Amazon Kindle, and Valentine’s Day is the big push. (So I guess the Oakley household will be celebrating Valentine’s Day this year!)

Good news: Today (Feb. 13) and maybe for a few more days the e-book is FREE.

Also good news: You do NOT have to have a Kindle device to read this book. You can download the Kindle app wherever you download your apps, and then read it on whatever device you use, including your computer.

I don’t know how long it will be free (maybe five days?), so if you want it, you’d better click now and get it before you forget.

By the way, I didn’t participate in this community book project for the money, which is actually $0 for the authors.

That’s right; we authors aren’t getting paid. The editor, Donna Kozik, gets the proceeds, and she deserves every penny. She has spearheaded several of these community book projects, organized dedicated editing binges (the whole community editing one another’s essays together), put up with our endless questions — “Remind me: What’s the deadline?” “When does it go live?” “When do we start promoting it?” “Is there an image of the cover I can use on social media?” “When will it be free?” (until I’m sure she’s ready to flee the country, but I’m sure one of us would still track her down) — hired people to design the cover, promotional graphics and all that stuff, and handled the million other details involved in getting a book published on Amazon and promoted to the world.

She has earned the $$.

I participated in this project for a lot of reasons, even though there was no paycheck. 🙂

And Valentine’s Day is when we hope this sweet little book becomes a bestseller.

If you’d like to help make that happen, please download the book here — remember it’s free for a few days (and always free on Kindle Unlimited) — write a review if you’re so inclined, and feel free to share this post or the link to the book.

Thanks in advance!

Blessings,

SuzyOakleySignature
Origami Owl has these charms available in its Force for Good section. Proceeds aid charitable organizations and individual families.
Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley, writer • editor in books, reading, writing, 0 comments

How can we forgive? Hear from someone who’s been there

If you’ve known me for more than 30 seconds, you know I love me some Bible App. 🙂 

I’ve been using this digital version of the Bible for several years now (on my phone, my iPad and my computer), and I’ve done many of the devotional plans — some yearlong (read the entire Bible in a year) and some just a few days.

The video below is from a five-day plan I’m loving this week, and each day’s video is a blessing and a challenge. Forgive those who persecute me? Love my enemies? Ouch!

But let the Rev. Dr. Bernice A. King challenge you to love, forgive and be a light in the darkness. Dr. King certainly has reason to harbor bitterness, but let her show you how she has learned to overcome it (and it is still a journey, she admits).

This 3-minute video is from Day 4 (because that’s the day I’m on as I write this), but every stinkin’ one of these messages is awesome. I’ve wanted to share all of them with you every day!

If you want to watch all of them, go to the Bible App and sign up for Cultivating a Heart of Mercy.

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley, writer • editor in Bible, forgiveness, 0 comments

A new direction — making Jesus known

I’ve been blogging since 2007, starting with Suzy & Spice, where I shared things about my life. I still love that “big sister blog,” but it hasn’t been my primary means of communication in a couple of years. In 2015, a year after being certified as a wellness coach, I started To Well With You, which I referred to as my “fitness, wellness and running blog.” My tagline was “Your travel companion on the journey to well-being.”

There, I defined wellness broadly. It could mean physical fitness, spiritual health … even the health of your family relationships.

I was trying to be all things to all people. I wanted to reach everyone with my message. But I wasn’t laser focused on what my message was.

It’s been said that when you try to reach everyone, you reach no one.

In other words, I need to “niche down,” as they say. To narrow my focus. I want to attract the people who are truly interested in my message that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

So that’s what I’m doing.

Throughout all my pursuits, my main aim has been to share my Christian faith — sometimes out in the open, sometimes simply in the way I interact with people or how I write about a topic. Jesus has always been the foundation of my life, my writing and my work, even when His name wasn’t explicitly stated.

Now, His name is going to be mentioned a lot in this space. I’m dedicating it to Him.

Along the way, I’m studying Christian apologetics (that’s a fancy way of saying: knowing what you believe and why you believe it so that you can “give an answer … for the hope that is in you” — 1 Peter 3:15)

At first I thought I would share my apologetics journey on the To Well With You blog (I even thought the name was still fitting 🙂 ) and that I’d keep  SuzyOakley.com as my author and editor site (I offer freelance editing services when I’m not at my day job, and I’m writing a book about my experience of being a Christian married to an atheist). But after getting some feedback from fellow writers and website experts, I decided to keep everything here, stop trying to post everywhere (or fret when I failed to) and have SuzyOakley.com be the home base for all my blog content.

As I write this, the site is somewhat under construction. The menus might lead you to a “hire me” page … or they may lead you nowhere. I apologize in advance for any confusion or inconvenience.

Please be patient as this evolves. I’m tweaking the content, as well as the navigation and the look of the website (images, fonts, colors, menus) and anything else I run across the needs updating.

I’m not sure whether I’ll try to relabel my social media accounts, but right now they are branded with To Well With You. (I’ll be consulting with my social media friends about that.)

If you have expertise in these areas or notice something I missed, please feel free to let me know. I’m sure there are a million things I’ll miss as I update everything. (Thanks in advance.)

If you subscribe to To Well With You and would like to transition to the SuzyOakley.com mailing list, let me know. If you want to unsubscribe from all my content, I understand (and we can still be friends).

I love everyone who has supported me thus far, and I look forward to being with you on the new adventure.

I hope this all makes sense. I’ve stayed up past my bedtime to write it, and that is always dangerous!

Blessings,

SuzyOakleySignature
Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley, writer • editor in reading, 2 comments

Chapter 2 of my Christmas novel

This may not end up as Chapter 2 in the final version of my Christmas novel (it’s actually the fifth chapter I’ve written), but today it’s what I’m sharing.

Thank you for coming on this journey with me. I’ve been having a blast getting into fiction mode lately — it’s a new thing for me to write fiction AND to be confident enough to put it out there in public. So it means a lot that you’re reading it.

I woke up at 12:45 a.m. and wrote this chapter a couple of days ago. I just couldn’t stop thinking about the characters and getting the story fleshed out, so I fired up the iPad and got busy.

I hope you enjoy it.

NOTE: I won’t be publishing EVERY chapter here, so if you’d like to get insider news about my writing and see previews of this book and my other projects, join my mailing list and I’ll send you updates. (Click here and leave a note that says “add me to your mailing list” or fill out the form that pops up on this page — so sorry; I hate pop-ups but am still trying to find a work-around with my email service provider.)

You can read Chapter 1 here.

Chapter 2: A Trip to the Emergency Room

Within 15 seconds of the loud crash, six of Joel Stewart’s seven co-workers were huddled around him in his small office, trying to avoid stepping on huge shards of glass.

“Are you OK, Joel?” said his assistant, Elizabeth, watching wide-eyed as the accountant reached for a towel from his gym bag to try to keep the blood from staining his white dress shirt — or the brand new cream-colored area rug.

“What happened?” said Lee, whose office was next door to Joel’s. “It sounded like you fell through the roof!”

Joel laughed, which was a huge mistake, because it made him ease off the pressure he was holding on his forearm. Blood gushed from the wound, and Kaitlyn thought she might faint from the sight of it.

“Well, first, I think I need to get to the emergency room. Can someone drive me? I’ll explain on the way to the hospital. This cut seems to be kinda deep.”

Joel, standing there bleeding, was a bit annoyed that he had to point out the obvious. And accountants were supposed to be details people.

Stepping cautiously around the broken glass, Andre took Joel’s good arm and navigated him toward the door.

“Kandus, would you grab Joel’s coat and his cell phone while I grab mine from my office? Keep pressure on that arm, Joel. I’ll meet you in the reception area in a minute.”

As Kandus gathered Joel’s belongings and escorted him out to meet Andre, the others began picking up the pieces of tempered glass that, until five minutes ago, had been Joel’s fanciest office furnishing.

The small accounting firm had struggled for years, experiencing one setback after another — bad hiring decisions, an ill-advised marketing campaign that had made Goldman & Blackburn the laughingstock of the local industry association, even a lawsuit from a disgruntled client (who was now serving a 15-year prison term). They just hadn’t been able to catch a break, and for too long the office always seemed to be in crisis mode — until recently.

*******

Since the beginning of the year, and especially once the frenzied pace of tax season had passed, things had started to settle into a nice rhythm.

No one was calling in “sick,” employee interaction had become more pleasant again — conversational rather than borderline confrontational — they landed a big client, profits had jumped accordingly and the boss had made a couple of decisions that put everyone in a chipper mood:

“First off,” Kim began, “this firm is starting to look more like the company that Dad and his best friend established 45 years ago.” She looked around the conference room at the faces she had grown to love since she took over after her father’s death 10 years earlier.

“And it’s about time. We’ve had to overcome a lot these past few years. You don’t know what your loyalty has meant to me. Although, I must say, a few mornings I woke up afraid I might discover a mutiny when I arrived at the office.”

The group laughed politely — except for Terrance, who let out a guffaw so loud it made the others stop and stare for a moment.

Kim continued.

“So, because we’ve had three positive quarters in a row, and because you’ve all been troupers and have stuck with me throughout so much uncertainty, you’ll all be getting Christmas bonuses this year!”

That brought a loud collective cheer. It had been three years since the last bonuses.

“Also, in time for Christmas, we’re going to spend a little money upgrading this tired old space. There’s enough in the budget for each of you to have $700 to decorate your office spaces as you please — within reason, of course. No psychedelic sofas or moose heads on the walls. You get what I mean. This is a dignified accounting firm, after all.”

Another round of laughter and a few minutes of chatter about this positive turn of events, and soon it was back to business. But the announcements had lightened the mood of Goldman & Blackburn Accounting, and the hum of productivity was accompanied by smiles rather than furrowed brows.

(What Kim hadn’t said was that the decorating stipends meant she wouldn’t take home a paycheck in December; business had been good this year, but not that good. She still wanted to exercise caution. Nevertheless, she felt that her employees deserved a reward — and the workspaces did need a bit of sprucing up.)

*******

No sooner had Joel finally settled into liking his fancy new glass table — with no small bit of convincing from Elizabeth, who had picked it out — than it all came crashing down.

It was a good thing he had Andre around to pick up the pieces.

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley, writer • editor in reading, writing, 1 comment

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