Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Do You Believe - A Movie

On Saturday I found a wonderful movie on Movies On Demand entitled "Do You Believe." It showed the lives of twelve different people and how they intersected with one another without realizing the ripple effect we can have on people.

Yes, it was a faith-based movie; yet it showed how people roam through life with a deep sense of loss and confusion; not knowing who they are, where they belong and what their purpose is in life. Add to that the burgeoning impact of so many unsettled societal issues such as "not knowing how to get a detached parent to love you;" "not knowing if you are a pregnant young woman whether to have an abortion or not;" "not knowing who to turn to when someone in authority is encouraging you to break the law;" "not knowing how to quiet the noise in your head when you have served in an overseas war;" "not knowing if it is o.k. to reach out and help a stranger who is homeless for fear of the changes that might occur in your own life;" "not knowing if it is o.k. to share your faith for fear of lawsuits;" and so on and so on! The world is full of questions and very few answers. I know, I have been there and I tried many times to "click my heels together three times" to escape from one situation to another.

In my book "Island Girl: A Triumph of the Spirit," officially released today, August 11, 2015  I share my personal identity crisis with you the reader. Additionally, I share my own experiences of finding a solid answer to all the confusion in our lives through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He tells us "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV). This peace is beyond our understanding and gives new meaning to the old saying, "Silence is Golden!"

I hope you will take the time to find this peace for yourself. I hope you will take the time to read my book as it will lead you step by step—in addition to being a real-life fairy tale with interesting detours!

Availability: Ruth's Attic at The Billy Graham Library, The Word Room at Calvary Church, Park Road Book Store, Tate Publishing.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and you can purchase an autographed copy from my website: normajdougherty.com

Listen to my Radio Interview on WHVN AM 1240/FMHD2/FM 104.3 Saturday, August 15 at 11:00 a.m. If you live outside the listening area it will be streamed live on the net at www.heavenradio.org

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Book Signing at Calvary Church for Island Girl: A Triumph of the Spirit by Norma Joyce Dougherty

For Immediate Release:
June 25, 2015

Charlotte, NC - Island Girl: A Triumph of the Spirit, a memoir of how in 1970, God led a poor, young farm girl from Prince Edward Island, Canada to live out a real-life fairy tale on the world stage.

"This former beauty queen writes honestly about how the Lord destroys the ugliness of sin through His redemption and makes life worth living." From Donna Lee Toney, a colleague of Franklin Graham’s for over 30 years and part of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

"I became a world traveler and overnight success as Miss Dominion of Canada and contestant in the Miss World, Miss Universe, Queen of the Pacific and semi-finalist in Miss International. I found fame and fortune,” she explains, “but I lost my home, myself and a sense of belonging."

Author Norma Joyce Dougherty will be signing her new memoir at Calvary Church in Charlotte NC on Sunday, June 28, 2015 between 9 AM – 1 PM. If you are unable to make the book signing, but would still like a copy, you may purchase the book directly from the author on her website at www.normajdougherty.com. Further Availability: tatepublishing.com for both paperback and e-book, The Word Room, Calvary Church (after June 28th) and Ruth’s Attic at The Billy Graham Library (after July 6th) both located in Charlotte, NC.

“Every young woman seeks approval, validation, and meaning for her life. Tragically many search in the wrong places such as physical beauty and 'worldly success'. Here is an authentic, delightful testimony of the grace of God in the midst of a difficult beginning followed by a fairytale dream come true which in turn was followed by a deep emptiness. Through many struggles Norma finally realized fulfillment is found in a living personal relationship with Jesus Christ who alone fills our empty hearts.”

About the Book

Norma Joyce recounts her story in a lively “fairy-tale” theme as she shares her long journey from a world where lies and deception prevail to one where the truth of Jesus Christ is her power source, her light, her radiance, her beauty, her peace, her joy and her triumph. Women of every age, stage and face will relate with her “identity crisis” ~ a crisis that is all too common in this post-modern era as women search for authentic validation. Teen girls will be particularly inspired by Norma’s struggle to live by the motto: “Beauty is as beauty does.”

About the Author

Norma Joyce Dougherty is a motivational speaker, a conference planner, and a leader of women's Bible study groups. She is a former District Consulting Coordinator and former member of the National Board of Directors for Stonecroft Ministries, Inc. She is currently working with non-profits to bring awareness and prevention of sex trafficking to at-risk young girls within her community of Charlotte, NC where she has lived with her husband and family for the past 24 years.

Find Norma online at www.normajdoughtery.com.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Power In Our Hands

Our hands convey many messages—greeting, angry, loving, touching, and helping messages. These "hand messages" are very powerful. Think about a greeting message for instance. It can be warm or cold and indifferent depending on whether we are happy to see the other person. Angry messages can be harmful, hurtful and cruel. There is great negative power in angry messages from the hand.

Yet loving messages, touching messages and helping messages communicate powerful positive feelings like compassion, empathy, sympathy, concern, tolerance, kindness, mercy and charity. Have you ever thought about this? Have you ever felt the difference between a negatively charged message and a positively charged message from the hands of another? I believe we have all felt this in one form or another throughout our lives. Our hands can be used to separate or unite.

The questions we need to ask ourselves is what do my hands convey? Do I separate or do I unite? If we convey positive messages to others then we earn love, respect and trust from those with whom we are in relationship. This is so important to strong, loving and lasting relationships with family and friends. It is important to show sincere care for another.

As I think about the power in our hands, I am reminded of the loving hands of God. I recall all his hands have done including creation, birth, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. I recall how his hands, through the Holy Spirit, directed other's hands to write the Holy Book; and I recall his messages of love written within those scriptures. Because of his loving hands, he draws us into an eternal, trusting relationship with himself and he teaches us to imitate the same powerful love from our hands toward others. Do we have this trusting relationship with God? Can we learn to truly imitate the power of his love through our hands? He promises to help us. Let's all yield to his loving hands. He even displays his hand in the clouds as a reminder to follow his love and his lead.
"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you,  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" Isaiah 41:10 (ESV). Picture posted on  Billy Graham FB page by CM DeCuir

Monday, May 4, 2015

Jasmine & Discipline

This morning I spent an hour or so pruning our jasmine that had been damaged during the winter months. There were so many dead leaves and vines that the new growth was unable to put out its fruit—little white flowers of extraordinary fragrance. While cutting away the dead vines I could see some of the blossoms hiding underneath, waiting to "put forth."

As I worked on this project, I thought of a lesson Jesus taught his disciples in the Gospel of John. He said,“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful" John 15 1-2 (NIV). So I ask, have you ever received God's pruning? I have! It comes in the form of gentle and  loving discipline; yet it is so strong you know without a doubt it is from the heavenly Father. I remember the first time it happened to me, I wanted to go sit in a corner and stick my thumb in my mouth because I realized the truth in the matter. It is a very humbling experience.

And just like the jasmine that were waiting to "give out" for our pleasure and enjoyment, God's pruning helps discover and develop the good in us that is waiting to "give out" for His pleasure. The good in us is the sweet fragrance God enjoys when we are fruitful, serving Him and loving others with His love. However, I must stress, we cannot do this in our own humanness—and that is "the rest of the story."

Jesus went on to teach his disciples. He said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned" John 15:5-6 (NIV). I know from my own experiences that apart from Jesus I can do nothing! Apart from Jesus my love withers and dries up; but while I am connected to the vine, it fills up and overflows. When this happens to me I am thankful for His pruning, His correction and His discipline. It is another beautiful way He has of telling me I am His child.

My child, don't make light of the LORD's discipline, and don't give up when He corrects you. For the LORD disciplines those He loves..." Hebrews 12:5-6 (NLT)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Heart Matters: Part II

"—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also"
2 Corinthians 6:13 (NIV).
Are you like me, striving to find purity of heart? It is not easy is it? One moment we think we are doing well and just like that —wham—our thoughts can take us to another place where we are not doing so well. We let our heart be, as God said, "deceitful above all things." (See my Heart Matters Blog on 4/1/15).

We constantly struggle in our humanness asking how we can control this flip-flopping of the mind and heart. The mind wants to do one thing, the heart another. What lessons do we need to learn? Where can we find the help we need? For me, I found the necessary help in developing, by faith, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I learned that Jesus purposely sent a "Helper" and a "Teacher" to guide us––the promised Holy Spirit. His teachings are so very precious. Through his teachings we develop the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. 

His fruit fills us, guiding us in our decisions, in our thoughts and in our actions. Our job is to daily open our heart to his leading and guidance. And before we know it, an amazing transformation takes place whereby we begin to do what the Holy Book describes: "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV).
"When I started on this exciting journey to find a personal relationship with Jesus, I had made a mistake. I thought what I needed was to learn to love Jesus “with all my mind.” But it was not my mind after all that needed to be opened, protected, and nurtured. It was my heart that was all tied up with rubber bands. I needed to learn to love him 'with all my heart.'” 
(Excerpt from Island Girl: A Triumph of the Spirit, soon to be released.)

As you can see from the excerpt of my memoir, I struggled to open my heart; to give my life and my will to the Lord. However, once I learned the value in trusting a sovereign God, my whole life changed. I encourage you to also open your heart to the discovery of these amazing treasures.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Heart Matters

In the Holy Book, the Lord makes the promise, “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart” (Ezekiel 36:26, NLT). Furthermore, God tells us he knows something about us that we do not like to hear, to acknowledge, or even to admit about ourselves. He tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things…”(Jeremiah 17:9, NIV).  (Excerpt from “Island Girl: A Triumph of the Spirit,” soon to be released in April.)

For me, it is most difficult to hear God telling me that my heart is deceitful. I’m sure it feels the same way for you, doesn’t it? However, it is a hard awareness we must face daily when we look into God’s mirror of truth. And it helps us to understand why he makes the promise above, to give us a new heart and a new spirit.

As we face this coming Easter weekend; as we attend church services, probably for the first time this year; as we worship and offer our love, and our thanks to God for the saving gift of his son Jesus, can we be sure that our heart is not deceitful? It is a very hard thing to do.  Yet I encourage all of us to cry out as the Psalmist, David did: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:10-12, NIV).

Sustenance, from God is what we need in this difficult world. The greatest blessing God gives us is his divine presence and we can only have it when our hearts are made pure. Remember, there were two criminals hanging on a cross on either side of Jesus ~ one whose heart was doubtful and conceited; the other whose heart was pure ~ this one believed in Jesus by faith and he is now spending eternity with Christ in paradise.  Isn’t that our desire as well?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Have you ever felt like this? Totally stripped of strength, totally worn out, totally exhausted and weak? I bet as a young mother, you have felt this way from time to time, or maybe quite often!

It was Friday afternoon. I was feeling weary, tired, down in the dumps and not well physically. I had many responsibilities to face over the weekend. I was not sure how I would be able to do it. I felt like giving up, feeling sorry for myself. I wanted someone to come and bail me out, to take over my responsibilities, to give me a break. But I knew that was not going to happen. I felt like crying. Tears were on the edge, stinging my eyes.

Then suddenly, I remembered Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 12: 9-11 (NIV)....But he (the Lord) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Hmmmm, I thought, all right Lord. If that is truly the case, then you need to get me through this weekend. I need your power. Not only do I need the power of your strength, but I need the power of your love, the power of your joy, the power of your peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. In other words, I need refueling. I need your grace Lord...let it be sufficient for me.

I wasn't testing God to keep his word to me. I was truly that low. And you know what? God did give me his strength; he kept refueling me moment by moment when I needed his perfection in my weaker moments. When I took my eyes off my circumstances, off my weakness, off my self and placed them smack on God's almighty grace and power, I was able to overcome. And another thing I could see is this: There wasn't this one big, amazing change that occurred. No, it required a steady dependency, a steady, moment by moment leaning on God. That is what gets us through...this steady, consistent leaning. 

So continuing with Paul's words in 2nd Corinthians: "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 

Lean on me: "My grace is sufficient for you."

I can honestly say that I am not going to actively seek out weakness, or seek out being stripped off my strength. Yet when circumstances and difficulties occur that make me feel that way, I can know for certain that "when I am weak, then I am strong."

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26 (NIV)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Celebrating True Love

Did you know that in the beginning Valentine’s Day was celebrated because of martyred love?  According to Wikipedia.org, historical facts outline numerous early Christian martyrs named Valentine. Saint Valentine of Rome was one of the first to be martyred for his unwillingness to convert to Roman paganism. Instead he declared his allegiance to Christianity and was executed.  Yet, before his execution, legend has it that Valentine performed a miracle by healing the jailer’s blind daughter, Julia and writing a letter to her signed “Your Valentine.”

Many other legends have grown out of this sense of sacrificial, martyred love. Yet today, in modern times, we celebrate Valentine’s Day from the perspective of amorous, erotic love. The question I have is this: Do we really know the difference between Eros and Agape love?

When I attended university and studied Philosophy, I learned about Eros and Agape love.  Eros is “erotic love” that comes from a physical attraction to each other, thinking he or she looks great, and we want to be with that one to satisfy our physical desires. It is a self-centered love because at its center is the satisfaction of one’s own pleasure. There is a strong pull for erotic love because of the desire to please or satisfy oneself, thinking our fulfillment will come in meeting this desire. Erotic love makes me “happy.” Erotic love only sees the best qualities in a relationship, and it neither sees nor learns to accept another’s bad qualities or faults.

Agape love is unconditional love that is also sacrificial love. One partner makes a choice to give to another partner even if they get nothing in return. Agape love is God-centered, based on the sacrificial love of Christ when he gave his life for us. It is the highest form of love, above eros. It is a type of spiritual love. I believe God desires his children to learn this type of love. His son’s life on this earth is a perfect example of how we ought to live and love. We can go through many trials and tribulations as a couple, each partner making deliberate self sacrifices, in order to learn agape love. However, in the end, it is the most beautiful “love experience” on earth. When a couple reach this level of love, it is usually unending love. Couples who live together for a lifetime will invariably say they have shared agape love. 

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” 
(John 15:13 NASB).

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An Era of Ridicule? (Part II)

Did Last Week's Blog Cause You To Think?

Last week, I wrote a blog about ridicule, criticism, perfection, compassion, humility and so on within our culture. I challenged my readers to spend the upcoming week "considering others better than yourselves." This challenge may be easy for those who are confident and who love themselves. However, it can be a difficult challenge for those who do not have confidence in themselves and who do not love themselves. I know, cause I had been there at one time.

When we look at another woman/girl on television, in a magazine, in the classroom, or in any group setting, for instance, and we think of her as better than ourself. It may become a "personal putdown." Negative thinking and personal putdowns are harmful to our personal growth. Negative thinking can keep us stuck in a pattern that hinders our assurance, our sense of security, and our identity.

Research shows that close to 70% of women in America have a personal identity crisis.
Are you one of them? 

Recently, I heard Jennifer Lopez interviewed on TV.  She claimed she herself had to learn positive self-affirmations rather than negative thinking in order to build a successful self-image. She said you have to learn to "love yourself" before you can truly love others. I believe this to be true. To me, loving oneself comes when we know who we are, where we belong and what our purpose is in life. It comes more powerfully when we learn who we are as a child of God. This has been the most incredible knowledge I have ever learned.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’" Matthew 22: 37-39 (NIV)

Armed with this knowledge, we can overcome ridicule, criticism, striving for perfection, learn more compassion, humility and love for one another. With it, we will know what God meant when He said to "consider others better than yourself" and we will not fall into the trap of negative thinking and personal putdowns. Can you believe this to be true?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

An Era of Ridicule?

I'm Hearing The Cry:
It's interesting! I just started doing social media in September, 2014.  I'm surprised at all I have learned, especially on Facebook. I particularly love the inspiring posts on the part of many.  But what speaks the loudest to my heart is reading the comments and the cries such as:
  • Why are we so critical and judgmental of each other?
  • Why are we hurting, hating, bullying and killing others we do not like or who are unlike us?
  • Why do we compare ourselves to others?
  • Why do we set such high standards and strive for an unreasonable level of perfection?
  • Where is our compassion, our kindness, forgiveness and our acceptance of others?
Hearing these cries does make me ask the question: Are we really entering an era of ridicule? Are we succumbing to a mindset of criticism? Whatever happened to The Golden Rule? It says, "Do unto others as you would have them do onto you." Has it been forgotten or does it not belong within our moralistic code anymore? 

To all my Facebook friends, I say, "Keep sharing your inspirational messages, keep striving for a higher level of compassion, rather than a higher level of perfection." Let's not become so paralyzed by our pursuit of perfection that we lose our voices.  Rather, let's become the voice that echoes God's standard, not our own contrived standard. When we echo God's standard, our voices will be powerful and mighty!

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than ourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others." Philippians 2: 3-4 NIV

As we go through each day during the next week, let's strive to "consider others better than ourselves." Perhaps we will be more inspired than ever!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

R U Aware?

What is awareness anyway?

To me awareness is not just knowing about a subject matter it is, more importantly, discovering God's heart for a topic. In discovering God's heart for the topic "Human Trafficking"... awareness then leads one to acquire a passion to learn more; and also, to acquire a compassion to take action. At least that is what happened to me. 

I believe this is what happened to Linda Smith, Founder and President of Shared Hope International. In reading Linda's story, I found that she was a member of the U.S. Congress when passion and compassion struck her. She gave up her coveted position in order to start a global concern for women/girls/boys who are being trafficked. Out of her passion and compassion, Linda made a major, sacrificial decision. 

My passion to learn more also led me to connect with several local groups in Charlotte, NC. These talented leaders have also acquired a compassion to take action. I truly honor them and the personal sacrifices they are making to build a better future for victims and survivors of sex trafficking. 

During this AWARENESS MONTH, I challenge you, my readers to find your passion and compassion by visiting their websites and/or locations. Let's see if God will not only reveal His heart for these precious children, but that He will also break your heart as He did mine.

Here are the groups, in alphabetical order, with whom I have had the opportunity and privilege to connect:

You may find more. If so, please share. Together we can do more.  
Average age of minor sex trafficking is 12

"Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed-and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors-and they have no comforter" Ecclesiastes 4:1 (NIV).

To think that the "oppressed have no comforter" in their time of need was so overwhelming, I wanted to do something to bring the message of Jesus's love to them. It is my hope that these precious children will learn to sing "Jesus Loves Me This I Know." Perhaps some day when their tears soak their pillow, they can rock themselves to sleep at night with these words in their heart.  The least we can do as followers of Christ is introduce them to the Comforter. Let me know if God gives you a passion and a compassion to help.