Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I can't wait to see what happens next...

Jehovah Shalom… It even sounds peaceful doesn’t it?
But what do we do when our life is in turmoil and we have no peace?

In John 16:33, Jesus is talking to his disciples and he clearly states, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
We read this scripture, yet when our world turns upside down what do we do?
We run to our friends, we bury ourselves in our job…we can even bury ourselves in good works.  Some of us even turn back to our old habits…
God’s voice promises us peace in Psalm 29:11.
The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.

Thirty-three years ago, I was “born again,” that is what we called it back then.  We were also referred to as “Jesus Freaks.”   While reading a book, titled “The Satan Seller”, by Mike Warnke, I prayed and asked God to forgive me for my sins and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the same time!  Mike was a high priest in a Satanic Occult and received Christ in a mop closet while serving in the Army.  I was fortunate to meet Mike and hear him speak numerous times.  He would wave his bible around a lot and never hold back on telling the audience that the word of God was the place to find peace.  He would also tell a fabricated story of perfect peace and I’m going to share it with you in my own words…

When life is going great it’s easy to pray those King James prayers:

“Oh, Dear eth Lord eth thank eth you eth for today eth.  Bless eth me eth and my family eth… but what happens when it isn’t a King James prayer day?
You wake up and realize it’s a workday, the alarm didn’t go off and you have thirty minutes to get ready for work?

I decide to pray on my way to work because I sure don’t have time now.  I start the car only to discover my husband forgot to fill up the gas tank after his baseball game last night.  In my mind or maybe I say it out loud, “If he loved me and really cared for me, he would have filled up the gas tank.”  I stop for gas and of course some of the gas splashes on my clothes so now I smell like a gas station.  I zoom off to work and as I’m pulling into the parking lot… guess what?  A flat tire…  I walk calmly into the office building even though inwardly I am in complete turmoil to find my boss sitting at his desk, reading the newspaper, sipping his morning coffee and giving me that “look” over the newspaper.  I say, “good morning” and head for my 5x5 refrigerator of an office for the day.  Lunchtime arrives and I have no money for lunch because I used it for gasoline.  And of course the 10 cups of coffee I have been drinking throughout the day are not helping my mood…   At the end of the day, I still have to find someone to change my tire and the only person available is the Hispanic landscaper, so I use my 4 years of broken- Spanish skills to ask him to change my tire.  He agrees as long as I am willing to give him a ride home in the opposite direction of where I am headed.  Upon arriving at home, I throw my purse and keys on the entry table, my knees hit the floor and I skid all the way down the hall and scream out, “God where are you?” 
He answers, “Not me eth, you eth.” 

This story is not fabricated…

On April 6, my husband joined the ranks of the unemployed and two days later my mom died.  My world turned upside down.  I ran to God.  The scripture that kept coming to my mind was, Philippians 4:7.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Did I feel this way?  No.  What I prayed to God went something like this:

There is no one to blame.  There is no job, God.  There is no certainty.  And I don’t know what you have in mind.
I was alone with God, holy in his determined, unpredictable will.  That was it, a place of both alarming aloneness and tender communion.  I was really frightened.  I cried a lot, worried a lot, questioned a lot, felt lost, and beyond all of that, God began to touch me deeply. 

I started being honest, dreadfully honest.  I didn’t like the idea of my husband being unemployed.  I was angry with God that he would ask me to even consider trusting him in this manner of daily living.  I had questions for which I didn’t think God had the answers, or if he did, he wasn’t willing to share them with me.  And when I asked those questions, a surprising thing happened: what was meant as confrontation became release.  Far from resenting my questions, God welcomed them.  He bore the pain in the questions just as Christ bore the cross.  In expressing what was really going on inside me – the anger, hurt, the loss – he comprehended my pain and translated my helplessness into certain strength.  I don’t know how.  I don’t know much about such grace.

God and I.  And in the dropping of I, just God.  That was it, no answers, and no specifics.  Just of letting go of it, all of it.  In the release of control, I found humbling power.  In the chaos, I found sustaining peace.  God gave no answers, just His presence.  He is my Jehovah Shalom.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Congratulations to the 719 people who entered the goodreads giveaway from December 1 – December 15.  I truly wish I could mail each and every one of you a copy of my book.  However, as stated in the contest, there can only be 5 winners who are selected by the goodreads team. 
And without further ado the winners are:

Eva L. - Middletown, DE
Christy D. – Syracuse, UT
Tara A. – Lubbock, TX
Kathy W. – Winchester, CA
Aimee A. – Beavercreek, OH

After reviewing all the winner’s names, I realized they are all women.  Perhaps in the New Year, I will offer another giveaway for guys only!


First Chapter – IT’S ME, THE KID
First Sentence – Our house was shaped like a cube of butter and was even the same creamy, yellow color.
Last Sentence –
Surely, you didn’t think I would give away the ending?  

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Merry Christmas! Gifts for you... thank you for your support this year!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Beggars Purse (Paperback) by Toni Nelson

A Beggars Purse

by Toni Nelson

Giveaway ends December 15, 2010.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


In all my encounters with the homeless, I have never gone searching for a homeless person, they just find me.  Coincidence?  I don't think so...
Last week I met a homeless man named Kevin.  I asked him if he would like some food and his reply was, "No, my feet are freezing."  He was wearing a pair of Vans tennis shoes with no socks.  The tennis shoes had definitely seen better days.  It just so happens I started a sock drive for the homeless a little less than a month ago.  I told Kevin not to go anywhere and that I would bring him some socks.  As I ran back to my truck, I wondered how many times Kevin had been told, "I will be right back."  Upon my return, Kevin was standing right where I had left him and as I handed him the package of new socks, his reply was, "Nothing makes a man feel brand new like a clean pair of socks."  Sometimes, I have to grit my teeth so I don't cry...

I prayed, "Lord, teach me how to keep my heart from breaking
When I see people starving in ghettos godforsaken.
And help me not to grieve when on some far-off ground
Our army scores a victory and bombs their cities down."
Christ wept, "But you forget their pains and grief I bear
I feel the hurt of millions
I'm crushed with earth's despair.
My heart is always breaking
I still must mount my cross
Because so few disciples feel heartbreak for the lost."
I cried in shame, "Dear Lord, no longer in mere token
Will I claim to be a Christian until my heart be broken."

And what pity He felt for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn't know what to do or where to go for help.  They were like sheep without a shepherd.  "The harvest is so great, and the workers are so few,"  He told His disciples.  "So pray to the one in charge of the harvesting, and ask Him to recruit more workers for His harvest fields."  Matthew 9:36-38

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Today, I have the privilege of interviewing, Pastor Jerry Pineda.  Pastor Jerry and I actually met on Twitter!  He is the Director of The Solid Rock Road Christian Recovery Program, located in Southern, Oregon. 
 His wife Jamee Rae and certified counselor, Sherry Colby, authored the book, Follow the Solid Rock Road, Pathway to Radical Recovery.  I have asked Pastor Jerry to answer a series of questions and at the end of the interview, you will have the opportunity to purchase the recovery book or contact him for additional services.

1. What is the one thing you think people would like to know about you?

 I spent decades in addiction and was on the verge of divorce when I was completely delivered by God (or an angel). He came in the middle of the night and challenged me to get sober, get back to my wife and to turn my life over to Him. I fought against this for about four hours, but finally gave in. As soon as I said, “Okay, I’ll do it,” I fell asleep. When I woke up in the morning, the world looked brighter and I felt hopeful. It was like I had entered the land of the living. Most importantly, I had no desire to drink or do drugs, and have been clean and sober ever since. I reconciled with my wife, got saved and am now a pastor leading a recovery ministry.

        2.  How would you describe the book, Follow The Solid Rock Road to readers?  

Follow The Solid Rock Road: Pathway to Radical Recovery takes readers on an experiential journey where they learn to fight and win the battle for their own souls. Promoting 10 Bible-based principles for clean and sober living, this book is filled with spiritual truths and solid Christian theology. It takes people from the Yellow Brick Road that leads to smoke and mirrors, and onto the Solid Rock Road (the foundations of Jesus) where real freedom from addictions is found. The authors – Jamee Rae Pineda and Sherry Colby – offer hope, personal stories and practical help to addicts. They have also provided an outstanding recovery resource for pastors and recovery ministry leaders.

3.   What has been your biggest obstacle in life?

Without a doubt, drugs and alcohol. 

        4.   What are you currently reading?

 I just started reading a book sent to me by a Twitter friend, Christopher B. Wolf. It’s titled, Giving Faith a Second Chance. (Of course, I read the Bible nearly every day.)

        5.   How can readers contact you or purchase your book? 

Readers can contact me directly at 541-778-8680 (PST).  People can also visit The Solid Rock Road website at www.TheSolidRockRoad.com, or our blog at www.thesolidrockroad.blogspot.com.
We’re also on Twitter at www.twitter.com/solidrockroad or www.twitter.com/thesolidrockrd, as well as on Facebook.
Click on the title of this blog post above, RADICAL RECOVERY and the link will take you directly to The Solid Rock Road website.  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

YES or NO?

Have you ever wondered about the thought process a person goes through when responding to an event on a social media site?  Recently, I was invited to an event on facebook and the options to choose from were YES, NO and MAYBE.  I started thinking about the word MAYBE and its meaning.  Webster’s Dictionary defines it as another word for PERHAPS.

Searching through the Rolodex of my mind, I used the word MAYBE quite frequently as a teenager to respond to an invite in hopes that a better offer might come along…  Don’t deny it, you have done it too.

Having raised two boys who were always asking questions, which required a YES or NO response, they quickly learned what their father’s responses truly meant.  If he responded with MAYBE, it really meant, “No, don’t even think about it because no way in heaven is it going to happen.”  If he said, “I will think about it,” it pretty much guaranteed that it would transpire into a YES.

I remember a shopping trip with my grandson, Ben, when he was three years of age.  He was sitting in the seat of a grocery cart and as I pushed him down an isle, he tugged on the sleeve of my blouse to get my attention and asked me, “Grandma, can I have chocolate?”  I responded with, “in a minute, Ben, grandma has to finish her shopping.”  More than a minute passed and again, Ben tugged at the sleeve of my blouse and asked, “grandma, can I have chocolate?”  My response was, “grandma needs to finish her shopping, Ben.”  As I turned the shopping cart to go down yet another isle, Ben placed both of his hands on my forearms, starred point blank at my face and said, “grandma, YES or NO?”  I have laughed over this story many times but the simple fact was, Ben just wanted a YES or NO answer.

I was just thinking, when we are waiting on an answer to prayer, God will in His time answer with a YES or NO. I don’t know about you but I’m sure glad He never uses the word MAYBE.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Aargh Matey! Trick or Treat?

Halloween is on October 31st, the last day of the Celtic calendar.  It was originally a pagan holiday, honoring the dead.  Halloween was referred to as All Hallows Eve and dates back to over 2000 years ago.

All Hallows Eve is the evening before All Saints Day, which was created by Christians to convert pagans, and is celebrated on November 1st.  As the Christian debate marches on, celebrating Halloween is a preference that is not always viewed as participating in an evil holiday.  Halloween is often celebrated with no reference to the occult.

While there are many versions of the origins of Halloween, some have remained consistent throughout the years.  Different cultures view Halloween somewhat differently but traditional Halloween practices remain the same.

Halloween culture can be traced back to the Druids, a Celtic culture in Ireland, Britain and Northern Europe.  Strong roots lay in the feast of Samhain, which was annually on October 31st to honor the dead.

Samhain signifies "summers end" or November.  Samhain was a harvest festival with huge sacred bonfires, marking the end of the Celtic year and the beginning of a new one.

The celts believed the souls of the dead roamed the streets at night.  Since not all spirits were thought to be friendly, treats and even gifts were left out to pacify the evil spirits and ensure next years crops would be plentiful.  This custom evolved into trick-or-treating.

What are your thoughts on trick-or-treating?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Excerpt from A Beggars Purse, chapter 1...

I would scoot my chair up to the red Formica kitchen table, as close to my grandpa as I could possibly be, and watch him devour the feast.  My breakfast consisted of a warm cup of coffee with two heaping teaspoonfuls of sugar and half a cup of milk.  Mind you, I was only eight years old.
     The red Formica table sat on its stylish chrome legs under a huge window about the size of a sheet of plywood that faced out onto what we called the playing field.  Our refrigerator stood like a knight in shining armor against the back wall of the kitchen.  To the right of the fridge was our back door.  The back door had a window in it so my grandma could see who was standing on the back porch when someone knocked on the door.  The window had what I called a secret screen...

As a child, what was your fondest memory of the house you grew up in?

My Grandfather Mac and me (the apple of his eye) 1951

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Blog Update

Flying from Vegas, to Frisco, to Canada to L.A. to Vegas.
Glad Jesus is with me because He isn't nervous.
See you next week.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How about you? When you were a child was church fun?

Excerpt from chapter 4 in A Beggars Purse...
My grandpa never spanked me, but sometimes my grandma would spank me with the little plastic belt she wore with all her dresses.  One time I even got a spanking on Easter Sunday after church.  I was wearing brand new, shiny, white patent leather shoes.  Well, the shoes rubbed a big water blister on the heel of my right foot, so I took off both of my shoes during the church service.
     When the church service was over, my grandma didn't even wait for the Easter egg hunt to start.  She grabbed my hand in hers, took me around to the back of the church, and spanked me with her little plastic belt.  It really didn't hurt that much and I told her that I didn't even like church.  I also told her that church wasn't any fun anyways.  She bent down so close to my face, I could smell her body powder.
     She took my chin in her hand and said, "Tonia Kay, you listen to me, and you listen good, church is not meant to be fun."

I attended this Methodist church with my Grandmother Katherine and Aunt Evelyn who was also my Sunday school teacher year after year.  The church was built in 1880 in Santa Barbara, California.  In 1892 it was cut into three sections and moved along the coastline on horse-drawn flatbed wagons twelve miles to its current location at 800 Maple Street, Carpinteria, California.  It has been the Carpinteria Valley Baptist Church since April 1, 1969.

How about you?  When you were a child was church fun?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


This morning as I headed out on my two-mile trek, I couldn't shake off the question rolling around in my mind from an alumni friend on Facebook.
"So, besides your book, what else is going on with you?"
Since I have been quoted as being "one of the happiest people on the face of the Pahrump Planet,"  I surely didn't want to reveal to him that I was feeling down in the dumps... or did I?  Maybe this was my moment to reveal some gut wrenching feelings.  My response in a private note of course went something like this:

"Besides trying to market my book, my hubby being unemployed since April 6 and wondering if the modification for our home is going to go through, I have been questioning God's plan for my life."  I promptly hit the send button and immediately thought, "why did I say that stuff?"

I said those things because I am a real person and God wants us to be real in every way.  I'm glad today is a new day and I would like to rewrite my response right here on this blog spot.
"Besides marketing my book which I know everyone has been inundated with my numerous contests, and posts on Twitter and Facebook, my hubby and I have been actively seeking God's will for our lives. Since he has been unemployed, he has been able to use his talents to remodel a garage for a family in our church, which had set idle for two years.  He is currently busy laying the tile floor in the foyer of our new church and even though the move-in date is scheduled for this Sunday, August 29 he repeatedly asks our Pastor if we can move in any earlier... J
We haven't heard a peep from our loan representative regarding our home loan modification but we still have a roof over our head and food in our pantry.  As I thought of this current revision, I gazed down at my walking shoes and the scripture that came to my mind was,

"Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?"  (Matthew 6:26, NKJV).

Even though God and I worked things out with each other during our walk this morning, I couldn't wait to get home to kick off my walking shoes.  You see, the inside of my left shoe was disintegrating and I could feel a blister forming on my heel.  I realized I had purchased my walking shoes in 1996...
Jesus knows me, this I love.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I'm late, I'm late for A very important date.

I'm late, I'm late for
A very important date.
No time to say hello, good-bye,

I'm late, I'm late, I'm late...

Since the official release date of A Beggars Purse on July 6, I have felt like 
 Alice In Wonderland spiraling out of control down the rabbit hole.  Don't get me wrong it has been an absolutely flamboyant adventure with many a twist and turn... however, I must apologize to all of you for sending out my invitation 9 days late!

YOU ARE INVITED to a Spread the Word Blog Tour Contest for

A Beggars Purse

This event is being sponsored through Christian Speaker Services.

The contest started (ouch) on August 1 and will continue
 through August 31.  
Please cast your vote today and help send

A Beggars Purse

on tour.

Vote here...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Poem written by Rick Nelson, page 102, A Beggars Purse...

Torn up, ragged, worn and beat,
Who is the man from off the street?
He's lost and hurt, broke up inside,
He steals, he cheats, he's full of lies.
Who is this person that we see?
No way, I say, that can't be me.
My life was never quite that bad
Deny the truth again, so sad.
What motive lies within this man?
I almost turned away and ran.
Don't even know just why I'm here
All I know is pain and fear.
A chance to change is here for me
I've been so blind I still don't see.
That person you say that's deep within

I've forgotten all about him.
I said okay, I give up I'll try
Even though I don't know why.
Let us help you they said to me
We know who can set you free.
Slowly things began to change
My life I had to rearrange.
I finally had to give it up
And let God fill my empty cup.
Day by day the old man died,
A new hope and joy sprang up inside.
The hurt and pain has been replaced
By love and peace and a smiling face.
This person that you see today
Has had to change in every way.
This road I walk is long and straight
But leads me to the pearly gates.
Those lumps and bumps from yesterday
Have taught me how to kneel and pray.
To face tomorrow come what may
And trust in God to show the way.
                                                    Rick Nelson

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

When Do You Make The Big Bucks?

Since the official release date of my book on July 6, the number one question I have been asked is,
"When do you make the big bucks?"

In answer to that question, I was always taught that it wasn't polite to ask a person how much money they make.  Other questions I am continually asked to answer after a book-signing event are:
  1. Did you make a lot of money?
  2. How many books did you sell?
  3. Do you get paid to be a guest speaker?
  4. You have to pay for your own books?
  5. Since I've been your friend/family for "x" amount of years aren't you going to give me a book for free?
 I prayed over these questions all week long and decided to respond in a way that may step on a few toes but after all is said and done, I am just the messenger.

Money cannot buy loving relationships or peace of conscience.  It can support a Christian college, send a missionary to Africa and help fill a food pantry.

 It is not money that is "a root of all kinds of evil," but the love of money (1Timothy 6:10).  Jesus condemns money when it becomes an object of devotion equal to God (Matthew 6:24).

 God is the ultimate supplier of all wealth.  He enables us to have it and has a right to say what we do with the money.  The questions I would love to hear are:
  1. What is your book about?
  2. Was your story God inspired?
  3. What is your ministry?
  4. What is it like being an author?
  5. You can fill in the blank with your own question... _________________________?
When God asks you to step out in faith and gives you a passion, which in return creates an income, I promise not to ask you, "When do you make the big bucks?"

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What ever happened to Christmas in July?

It is believed that it actually started in Europe as a way to celebrate Christmas in the summer.  The untimely Christmas festival is also linked to a group of Irish tourists who vacationed in Sydney's Blue Mountains in the summer months of July 1980.  Being away from the summer heat in their own country they were overjoyed at the sight of snow.  It is said that the tourists convinced the proprietor of a local hotel in New South Wales to hold a party called
 "Yule fest".
On the other hand it is commonly said that retail merchants who wanted to benefit from a holiday in July, which is otherwise a dull season for business and has few marketing opportunities, dreamed up the occasion.
Then there are others who are reluctant to acknowledge the event in July.  They argue that this untimely celebration of Christmas makes a mockery of the birth of Jesus Christ.
My suggestion:
During this scorching month of the year, you might want to head on out to an air-conditioned mall and do some retail shopping.  Better yet, why not hike to your favorite mountain retreat, pop open a cold refreshing beverage of choice and have a chat with Jesus?
I don't think He will mind if you celebrate Christmas in July...


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Why The Brown Paper Bag?

Do you know that when you order a signed copy of my book, A Beggars Purse, you will receive an additional gift?  For those of you who have already received your copy, you are well aware of the gift.
That's right, it's a brown paper bag!  Here are some ideas for the use of the bag...

* Place your book in the bag and carry it with you wherever you go.  It's a great icebreaker.
* Pack a lunch in it and hand it to a homeless person.
* If you can't afford to pack a lunch, place a bottle of water and a food bar in the bag.
* How about some toiletries or even a clean pair of athletic socks?

I realize not all of you have a passion for the homeless population like I do and some of the above mentioned ideas may make you feel queasy or even weak in the knees.  I challenge you to just try it one time... let the paper bag do the talking for you.

* Place some canned goods in the bag and drop it off at your local food bank or the food pantry at your church.
* Use it as a visual reference as an act of gratitude.  Attach the bag to your bulletin board, refrigerator or the dashboard in your vehicle.  Be thankful my friends that you have a roof over your head and a satisfied stomach.

The majority of my friends know that whenever a homeless person approaches me and they ask me for food, I will not hesitate to find them a meal.  On the other hand, some of my friends have told me that "those street people" are using me.  I am embarrassed to say this quote has been conveyed to me numerous times by people in the church.
     My question to them is, "How is a person being used when in fact God gives us freedom of choice?  Am I being used by the so-called street people, or am I being used by God?"  I believe the Bible refers to the term as being a servant.  Page 87, excerpt from A Beggars Purse.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Today is the official Birthday for 
A Beggars Purse!
Join the Celebration at 
Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Take the Lifestyle Lift to the highest level and minimize the signs of aging…

Laughter is a gift of God that brightens our good times and lightens the rough ones.  Laughter even has a healing quality to it.  People have recovered from serious diseases by learning to laugh each day.

Proverbs 17:22 says that a cheerful heart is good medicine.  Laughter can draw others to you.  When you begin to laugh at life and at yourself you gain new perspective on your struggles.
A life without laughter quickly becomes a breeding ground for depression and a critical spirit.  But a laughter filled life unleashes the spirit of celebration.

So cultivate the spirit of celebration in your life by making room for laughter.  Smile at someone today and find something worth laughing about.  You just might discover the meaning of another proverb:  “The cheerful heart has a continual feast” (v.15).

This post and photograph is from an actual believer.
A Beggars Purse, page 41.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Time To Press On...

Carpe diem… do you know that carpe actually means to pick or pluck?  Horace used the word to mean,  “enjoy, or make use of.”  I must admit while entertaining the idea of my first pre release event, the word never even entered my mind.  Often times our minds wander as we walk and I definitely did not see the boulder that was strategically placed in my path.  No one else in the parking lot saw it either.  I did not cascade gracefully as one does in a ballet but rather as if I were sliding onto home base. The contents of my purse and book basket were spewed across the parking lot as well as the blood dripping from my kneecaps.  Even though my black silk pants looked as if they had been plucked and picked apart, I knew all my body parts were still in tact.  A knight in shining armor, actually he was wearing a three- piece suit ran to my rescue.  He helped me up from the black top and asked if I was all right… through the embarrassment, tears and laughter, (you know how you laugh when it hurts so bad), I managed to shout, “oh, its going to be a great day!”  I will always remember my pre release event and yes, I did enjoy it… moral of my story is to always carry an extra set of clothes and band-aides.  Perhaps its time to start a blog…