Category Archives: forgiveness

Do You Gossip?

I find around the holiday’s people tend to engage in gossip more than usual. Sometimes the holiday’s brings the worst out of some people.

Gossipers preface what they have to say with, “Promise you won’t say anything…”

Courtesy of Creative Commons

But, do they know, that the information will eventually get back to the person their gossiping about?

When I get wind of someone who has gossiped behind my back, while smiling at my face, I want very little to do with them. I honestly do not care if they are family either.

If a so-called family member or friend has the audacity to talk garbage about me (or those I love) behind my back, I want nothing to do with them.

I forgive them, but I keep it moving. Life is too short to be around those who speak ill of you.

I’ve come to the conclusion that those who engage in gossip, don’t have your best interest in mind. They only care about themselves and whatever thrill they get in bashing other people behind their backs.

Gossip is negative and destructive, causing unnecessary harm and irreparable damage to relationships.

The Bible says, whatever is hidden will be brought to light. (Luke 8:17). The light pierces the darkness and truth is always revealed.

The person who engages in gossip, talking negatively about others, is actually causing themselves more harm than good.

Think about it… if you continued to hear from different sources that someone, whether a family member or a friend is talking badly about you, wouldn’t you distrust and lose respect for them?

An individual who engages in defamation or slander of another person, thinks they are not doing anything wrong, but it’s quite the contrary.

Gossipers cause harm and stand more to lose than gain.

Once the information finds its way back to the person, the gossiper is found out, and well, they will never be looked at the same way. No matter how much they smile and act nice, the damage is done.

If you engage in gossip, whether it is casual or consented, please think twice before doing so. Why not start the new year fresh by asking the Lord to help you not talk about other people behind their backs? I know it’s easier said than done, but gossiping is hurtful and the damage it creates is irreversible.

Do you gossip? Have you ever been a victim of gossip by family members, close friends or coworkers? How did it make you feel?

Author Interview – Julie Cantrell

I have the sincere pleasure of welcoming another one of my favorite authors, Julie Cantrell. I first discovered her after reading her debut novel, Into the Free. I can’t emphasize enough, how much I loved this book. I fell in love with the characters and story, so when Julie Cantrell came out with a sequel, When Mountains Move, I was excited. These two books are on the top of my list.

Julie Cantrell is such a gifted writer. The characters and story do not reflect her life at all. They are works of fiction and the story is entirely made up from her imagination. I can only dream and aspire to write like her.

Without further ado, Julie Cantrell.

  • When did you decide to become a writer? or When did you discover you were a writer?

Writing has always been my way of processing the world around me. When I was a young girl, I kept a journal. As a teen, I wrote poetry, song lyrics, and short stories. And I’ve always loved to write letters to friends and family across the miles. But when I told my high school teacher that I wanted to be a writer, she quickly nipped that dream in the bud. She told me not to waste my scholarship to study writing, saying that I would be lucky to write greeting cards but that I would never get beyond that. I happen to think writing greeting cards would be a fun job, but she meant it as a criticism. The problem is, I believed her.

I spent the next decade writing only my college assignments, and I never took a writing class. I would walk past the English and Journalism buildings every day and want to sneak into those classes. I ended up studying to become a speech-language pathologist because I am fascinated by language development and communication in all forms. Plus I love to help people. It has been a wonderful career for me. But, I am happy that now, after twenty years, I finally realize that teacher was wrong. I am glad I took the leap and dared to write a novel; and I’m thankful readers are taking a chance on Millie’s story.

  • Which writers inspire you?

I am inspired by the authors who blog with me at Southern Belle View: Beth Webb Hart, Rachel Hauck, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and Lisa Wingate, as well as dear author friends I’ve met the last two years of my journey. Just a few include Christa Allan, Missy Buchanan, Judy Christie, Lynne Gentry, Kellie Coates Gilbert, Kathy Harris, Ann Hite, River Jordan, Michael Morris, Kathy Patrick, Jolina Petersheim, Karen Spears-Zacharias, Carla Stewart, Michel Stone, and Renea Winchester. I’m also inspired by authors in my local community, (Oxford, MS.) such as Katie Anderson, Ace Atkins, Beth Ann Fennely, Tom Franklin, and Neil White, and by those represented by my agency (WordServe Literary), many of whom join forces to blog at www.wordservewatercooler.com.

  • What are your favorite books?

I have WAY too many favorite books to list, but here are a few that surface in my brain at the moment (in no particular order): The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver; Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren; Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand; The Samurai’s Garden, by Gail Tsukiyama; Life of Pi, by Yann Martel; Looking for Alaska, by John Green; I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb; The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini; The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls; Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen; and The Last American Man, by Elizabeth Gilbert.

  • What books help shape you as a writer?

I send a big shout-out to the classic, Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. A friend, Katie Anderson, loaned me her copy of this screenwriting manual. Of course, I’m still learning new things every day…but this book (actually it is one of a set of three) is a wonderful tool that can be used to sculpt a three-act plot structure. While it is written for screenplay writers, it can easily be adapted for a short story, novel, stage play, etc.

  • What is the hardest thing about writing?

Writing. And by that I mean, the actual physical act of sitting down and diving into that fictional world. I have to enter a different mental zone to really get a good scene down on the page, and that’s not always easy in the midst of a hectic life. It’s also difficult to find time to enter that sacred creative space because so much of my day is spent on the other part of the job…emails, social media, interviews, phone calls, mailing books, etc. I fantasize about having an intern someday who could handle some of that “other stuff”…ahhh…the dream.

  • What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

Insomnia. And a bucket list. And a very strong nudge from Millie, my main character, who gave me her story and insisted it wasn’t mine to keep. (Thank you, Millie!)

  • How did you come up with your characters and story?

Honestly, it really did just come to me. The original spark for the first novel, Into the Free, was a blurb I had read years earlier about a gravesite in Meridian, Mississippi. Kelly Mitchell was buried there in 1915, and her tombstone reads: Kelly Mitchell, Queen of the Gypsies. This fascinated me, and I thought I’d write about the Romany Travelers who roamed through the southeastern segment of the US (and continue to do so today). The Roma ended up being a thread in a larger coming-of-age tale about Millie Reynolds.

  • Where do your ideas come from?

I’ve always been a daydreamer, so most of my ideas come from that strange realm of imagination. I also rely on sparks, like the blurb I mentioned regarding Kelly Mitchell’s grave. And from my real-world experiences, although I never write about real people in my life and hope no one ever worries that I’ll put them in a book. People tend to assume I’m writing about myself, especially because I write in first-person, but the works really are fictional, and Millie’s story is not my own.

  • What is your writing process?

I tend to write freestyle, meaning I don’t outline or do anything by following a routine. I write without worrying about edits, and when I come to a space where more research needs to be done or I might need to go back in the story and confirm a detail matches, etc…I just insert *** in that spot and then work out the kinks later. I don’t let those little holes slow me down as I’m writing the story. All of that can be tweaked after the story has roots.

I’m a gardener, so I see the act of building a story much like that of building a garden. Seeds first. Then the roots. Then the stalk. Then the stems. Then the leaves. Then the pruning. Then the blooms. And finally…the fruit. It’s a process that takes time, patience, and a bit of hard work. If you’re afraid of getting dirt under your nails or sweating a bit…writing is not for you.

  • Do you write every day?

If I’m lucky.

  • Do you write full-time or part-time?

I have been teaching English as a Second Language to Kindergarten and First Grade students until this year. Now, I am writing fulltime. It became a little too tricky to juggle teaching, farming, writing, volunteering, and … my top priority … mothering. While I love all the segments of my life, something had to give, and I feel very grateful to have quiet time now to write during the day while my children are at school. I’ve always been one who believed in Family First. Now, I no longer have to work while everyone else sleeps, and I admit…it’s divine.

  • Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?
  1. If you feel called to write, then write. No excuses. Just write.
  2. Don’t worry about what anyone else will think of your work. Write as if no one will ever see it. Write as a gift to yourself, as a tool to stretch your soul, expand your mind, and free your spirit.
  3. If you do decide to venture into publishing, don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t get caught up worrying about reviews, sales figures, awards, or shelf space. It’s all part of the business of publishing, but your job as an author is to create. When the other stuff begins to steal the joy of the creative process, remember to put things back in perspective and celebrate the gift you were given. Write because it’s who you are and because you can’t NOT write. Write because it makes you happy and brings you peace. And if you are nudged to share the stories you are given, share them to make others happy and to bring them peace. Nothing else matters.

Pilar, thanks so much for inviting me here today. It’s been an honor to chat with you about writing, and I am grateful that you have dared to pull Millie’s story from the shelf and enter her world for a while.

Thank you, Julie. The honor is mine.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julie Cantrell has served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. She is the author of two children’s books as well as Into the Free, whichreceived Christy Awards for Best Debut Novel and Book of the Year 2013 as well as the Mississippi Library Association’s Fiction Award. Cantrell and her family live in Mississippi where they operate Valley House Farm. Her second novel, When Mountains Move, released September 2013.

Learn more:

Website: www.juliecantrell.com
Blogsite: www.juliecantrell.wordpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/juliecantrellauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulieCantrell
Email: julie@juliecantrell.com

When Mountains Move by Julie Cantrell

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (September 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781404258
ISBN-13: 978-0781404259
Price: $14.99
Purchase: Amazon | CBD | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

It is the spring of 1943. With a wedding and a cross-country move, Millie’s world is about to change forever.

If only her past could change with it.

Soon after the break of day, Bump will become Millie’s husband. And then, if all goes as planned, they will leave the rain-soaked fields of Mississippi and head for the wilds of the Colorado Rockies. As Millie tries to forget a dark secret, she hasn’t yet realized how drastically those past experiences will impact the coming days.

For most of Millie’s life, being free felt about as unlikely as the mountains moving. But she’s about to discover that sometimes in life, we are given second chances, and that the only thing bigger than her past … is her future.

Review

When Mountains Move is the sequel to Julie Cantrell’s debut novel, Into The Free. I absolutely loved Into The Free that I was ecstatic when the sequel arrived.

Julie Cantrell does it again. She does not disappoint. What a beautiful story. I am in love with her writing and characters. Julie Cantrell is a phenomenal writer. I can not say enough about her.

When Mountains Move picks up where Into The Free leaves off, which I was thrilled about. As I wanted to know what was going to happen. I was left with an expectation with Into The Free that needed to be satiated.

When Mountains Move does that and more.

I don’t want to spoil it for you by giving anything away. This is the kind of book you must read for yourself. But please, do read Into The Free first.

Julie Cantrell has become one of my favorite fiction authors. I can’t wait for her next book.

In conclusion, I want to thank Wynn-Wynn Media and David C. Cooke for the complimentary advanced copy of this amazing book.

Julie Cantrell is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Into the Free, which won Christy Awards for Best Debut Novel and for Book of the Year 2013 as well as the Fiction Award from the Mississippi Library Association. Cantrell has served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. She and her family live in Mississippi, where they operate Valley House Farm. Her new novel, When Mountains Move, is the sequel to Into the Free.

One Thing I Don’t Regret

Yesterday I came across a story that crushed my spirit. I couldn’t sleep. All I could do is think about this precious boy in China.

AFP

For the life of me, I can’t understand how anyone, much less a woman, could gauge out the eyes of an innocent child.

His uncle says he asks why the sky is always dark … and why the dawn still hasn’t come.  Heartbreaking.

How does one explain to a six year old he is blind for life by the hand of a cruel stranger?  How is he suppose to understand this? I feel heartbroken for him, his parents and family. No child should have to go through something like this.
******

At three-thirty in the morning, I cried out to God, asking Him why? Why this little boy? Why any child for that matter?

Silence.

I fell back to sleep eventually and had a dream. I saw Jeremiah 29:11.

Every now and then, God speaks to me through dreams. I count it a blessing when He does.

He is kind and thoughtful, unlike this cold, callous and cruel world that hurt this boy.

Yes, God made the world beautiful, much like the Garden of Eden, until evil destroyed it.

God reminded me in Jeremiah 29:11, that He is with me, even when my heart feels like it will explode from the pain.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

What a hope. What a promise! One I will grip on to tightly in the days ahead.

*****

When I look over my life, I have a lot of regrets. But the one thing I don’t regret is giving my life to Jesus Christ.

If there is one thing I did right in my life, it was that.

Since giving Him my life, there were plenty of times He could have turned His back on me, but He didn’t.

He loves me unconditionally, something I have a hard time grasping, because I think I need to earn everything.

But grace can’t be earned. He gives it freely.

Which is why I can’t wait for the day I meet Him face to face.

I need to stick around for my boys sake to make sure they are standing on their own two feet. But I can’t wait to experience His uninterrupted love 24/7. Where there will be no evil, tears, pain, hurt, sickness, tragedy or death.

I’m grateful I am a child of God. When things look bleak and I grow weary, I am glad I have His hand to hold.

He is my only hope in this world. I can’t fathom living life without Him.

I remember when I didn’t know Him. What a dark and hopeless place that was. I never want to live like that again.

I wish the woman that gauged the boy’s eyes out knew Him. If she knew Him, she wouldn’t have committed this heinous crime. If she knew His deep and abiding love, she wouldn’t have been consumed with evil to harm him.

My heart is heavy today and I am weary. My prayer is that the darkness which is consuming hearts will be replaced by Jesus’ love and light.

Is Jesus your only hope?

Never Say Never by Victoria Christopher Murray

Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Touchstone; Original edition (June 4, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1451695772
ISBN-13: 978-1451695779
Price: $15.00
Purchase: Amazon | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

In this emotionally charged and inspiring novel about a love triangle, secrets between best friends threaten to blow up friendships and a marriage and change lives forever.

When Miriam’s fireman husband, Chauncey, dies while rescuing students from a school fire, Miriam feels like her life is over. How is she going to raise her three children all by herself? How will she survive without the love of her life? Luckily, Miriam’s sister-friend Emily and Emily’s husband, Jamal, are there to comfort her. Jamal and Chauncey grew up together and were best friends; Jamal and Emily know they will do all they can to support Miriam through her grief.

Jamal steps in and helps Miriam with the funeral arrangements and with her children, plus he gives her hope that she has a future. But all the time that they spend together—grieving, sharing, and reminiscing—brings the two closer in ways they never planned. . . .

Review

There is one word to describe Never Say Never, scandalous.

Victoria Christopher Murray does it again by this cleverly written novel.

Never Say Never is heart wrenching on many levels. I had trouble reading this book because it was so realistic and emotionally challenging.

Victoria Christopher Murray is a masterful writer and storyteller, she lures you in at page one.

I do not want to get into the specifics of Never Say Never, because I do not want to spoil it for you.

But if you want to go on the ride of your life, I highly recommend reading Never Say Never. You won’t be able to put this book down.

Personal Disclaimer: For mature audiences only.

Victoria Christopher Murray is the author of ten Essence bestselling novels, including Too Little, Too Late and Lady Jasmine. Her most recent novel, Destiny’s Divas, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work (Fiction). Winner of the African American Literary Award for Fiction and Author of the Year, she splits her name between Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Publisher: Random House
ISBN-10: 1400064163
ISBN-13: 978-1400064168
Price: $28.00
Purchase: Amazon | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

Review

Where do I even start? How can I review this incredible book? With Amazon having almost 5,000 reviews at a five star rating… what or how could I possibly add to it, except that this is probably one of the best creative non-fiction books I have read in a long time.

A pastor friend of mine recommended that I read Unbroken a year ago. I just picked it up recently and finished it over the weekend. I couldn’t put it down.

This book stretched me as a reader, because it’s not the kind of book I gravitate to. I’m not into books about war. So I’m guilty of judging this book on that premise alone.

I admit, I had to put the book down a few times because I was struggling. At the same token, I kept picking it back up because I needed to find out what was going to happen next.  I am glad I persevered and finished it because the ending is unbelievable.

There were times I thought, did this really happen? The story seems surreal, it completely boggles the mind.

If I summarize this book; it was about humanity (the good, the bad and the ugly), the will to live and the resilience of the human spirit.

Unbroken will surprise, refresh and give you hope. It’s a beautiful biography of an American war hero, Louis Zamperini. Someone I never heard of before, but now one of my heroes.

Laura Hillenbrand is a brilliant writer, Unbroken is amazing and I can’t recommend it enough.

Laura Hillenbrand is an American author of books and magazine articles. Born in Fairfax, Virginia, Hillenbrand spent much of her childhood riding bareback “screaming over the hills” of her father’s Sharpsburg, Maryland, farm. A favorite of hers was Come On Seabiscuit, a 1963 kiddie book. “I read it to death, my little paperback copy,” she says. She studied at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, but was forced to leave before graduation when she contracted Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, with which she has struggled ever since. She now lives in Washington, D.C, and rarely leaves her house because of the condition. Hillenbrand married Borden Flanagan, a professor of Government at American University and her college sweetheart, in 2008. She described the onset and early years of her illness in an award-winning essay, A Sudden Illness.

 

No… I’m Not Stupid.

My morning began with commenting on my friend’s Facebook thread. The thread had to do with yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling.

Courtesy of tomharveytraining.com

As most of you know, I’m a Christian. The word Christian connotates a variety of definitions nowadays.

What I mean by Christian, is that I believe in the inerrant, infallible Word of God and I try to live it out to the best of my ability, which is flawed and imperfect. However, this does not take away from my sincerity of faith and willingness to learn and grow in Christ.

There were those on the thread who opposed what I believe. I was well aware in stating my beliefs that I was the minority. However, I respectfully wrote my stance and then was indirectly accused of being a coward, wasting my brains, intellectually lazy and basically, stupid for lack of a better word.

This person did not display an ounce of respect, kindness or tolerance toward me or my beliefs. They just condemned Christians as being unloving, biased and narrow minded.

However, this same person couldn’t see that what they were doing was precisely what they were accusing Christians of.

This person showed absolutely no tolerance for my beliefs, but accused me or people like me, of having no tolerance for others. Meanwhile, this person doesn’t know me to make such an outlandish accusation. This person was basing their opinion on their own limited experience.

This person falsely judged me. They don’t know me, they don’t know my history, education, background or life experiences. They simply threw me into the same batch as everyone else they’ve encountered.

There were a number of things I would have liked to have said to this person. But I held my peace. I knew debating with them wasn’t going to get me anywhere. They were determined to be right. They prided themselves on their intellectual and academic prowess. As if they’re above it all, having all the answers and condescendingly looking down at Christians, like me, as a pathetic, stupid and lazy.

As I’m getting older and maturing, I realize that trying to prove I’m right is futile and a waste of time. Winning a debate or argument all stems from pride and high-minded arrogance.

Jesus didn’t argue or try to be right. He kept silent most times. He demonstrated His love in actions. He was humble.

God gives grace to the humble. He wants us to be humble; not prideful, arrogant or argumentative.

I want to demonstrate love toward those who are vehemently against me and Christians, instead of trying to be right or having the last word.

Trust me, it wasn’t easy for me to keep silent. It’s not in my character or make-up to do so, especially when I’m being provoked or disrespected.

But I’m glad I listened to the Lord and didn’t feed into it, because now I have a peace that passes all understanding. I pray this person experiences the same one day.

What about you? Have you been persecuted, condemned or disrespected because of your faith? How did you handle it? Did you respond or keep silent? Please share in the comment section below.

The Artist’s Daughter by Alexandra Kuykendall

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Revell (April 15, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800722051
ISBN-13: 978-0800722050
Price: $13.99
Purchase: Amazon | CBD | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

It takes a lifetime to know what–and who–defines you.

When Alexandra Kuykendall became a mother, she knew she had to go back to the beginning. To that hot July afternoon in Barcelona when she met her father for the first time. The only daughter of a single, world-traveling mother and an absent artist father, Alexandra embarks on a soul-searching trip into the past to make sense of the layers of her life–both the memories she experienced and the ones she wished for.

The Artist’s Daughter will take you on a journey of discovery through childhood, marriage, and motherhood. Through short vignettes full of both wonder and heartache, Alexandra seeks answers to three life-defining questions: Am I lovable? Am I loved? Am I loving? If you long to better understand the path your life has taken, where it is heading, and who is guiding you, this revealing and refreshing story will push you toward those answers as it changes your heart.


Review

I guess I should call myself a book reviewer of memoirs, since I seem to predominantly read them. The Artist’s Daughter does not disappoint.

Alexandra Kuykendall pens her story with such uniqueness and authenticity. I saw my reflection in many of the pages. I identified with her struggle for identity. Many of the questions she poses, I have asked myself. Reading her memoir, gave me permission to look deep within the recesses of my heart and evaluate if I am still harboring hurts, resentment and frustrations of unfulfilled expectations that were not met in my life.

Her journey parallels mine in many ways. I especially loved reading the truthfulness of her relationship with her father, her marriage and her experiences of motherhood. I appreciated the fact that she did not sugar coat or make it seem that all was perfect. I find many Christians hide behind a veneer of image and show, instead of keeping it real.

Alexandra Kuykendall doesn’t do this, she is honest as she exposes truth, even if it was messy.  I appreciated the fact that she was vulnerable in telling her story with abandon.

There is something to admire and respect about her memoir. Her struggles as a woman, a wife, a mother, a friend, a daughter, etc… I told her this in a private message and I will say it again here… Well done.

This is a beautiful memoir I highly recommend to women, whether single or married, with or without children.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Revell Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book to review.

Alexandra Kuykendall is on staff at MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers) where she encourages mothers of young children to keep growing as they take on their new mothering identity. She is a regular contributor and consulting editor to MomSense magazine, Connections magazine, and the MOPS blog. A frequent speaker for MOPS, Alexandra has been featured on Good Morning America. As the mother of four young children, she continues to refine her mothering identity. She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband, Derek, and their daughters.

Loving Your Enemies

“If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty give them water to drink.

You will heap coals of shame on their heads, and the Lord will reward you.”  Proverbs 25: 21-22

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Who actually loves their enemies? Do you?

Recently, I am being met with challenges I didn’t think I would have to contend with in my walk. These situations have caught me off guard and by surprise.

What I’m realizing is the enemy never sleeps. He is always busy inciting others to stir up problems.

This time it’s involving a neighbor. A neighbor that we have been nothing but kind and respectful toward has been maliciously gossiping and spreading false accusations against my husband and I for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

I can’t tell you how troubling this is for me, especially given the fact that we have had no issues with any neighbor, much less this one.

It just boggles my mind, hurts my heart and discourages my spirit.

I keep trying to remind myself that this is the work of Satan and to not allow my faith to be shaken.

It’s times like this, when my faith is being tested and pushed to the limit.

This week the Lord showed me the above verse in Proverbs, and I had been meditating on it. Little did I know I would be contending with this very issue this weekend.

I can’t tell you how many scenarios I’ve entertained in my mind of what I would love to tell this neighbor in response.

Adrenaline coursing through my veins, wanting nothing more to confront and give them a piece of my mind.

Until I heard the Lord say, “Do not do or say anything, keep silent. Vengeance is mine.”

I was so upset when I heard the Lord say this to me. I want to tell this neighbor off and put them in their place. But I realize if I do so, I would be disobeying the Lord and stepping outside of His will and protection.

So here I am writing this and stewing in my anger toward this evil neighbor.

Yet God says for us to love our neighbors, love and pray for our enemies. This is probably the hardest thing for me to do right now and I can tell you that my flesh has absolutely no interest or desire to do so.

My practice and inclination is to confront and put people in their place when they are doing wrong. I have no qualms about telling someone what I think, what is harder for me is to keep silent.

What about you? Are you able to love your enemies? Have you experienced anything similar? If so, how did you handle it and what was the outcome?  I would be interested in reading your comments.

This is a song that I have gone to time and time again through the years. It’s called Psalm 3 by Salvador, here are the lyrics and You Tube video. I hope it blesses you:

Many are those that rise up against me
And many are saying of me
God will not deliver him (repeat)

Arise oh Lord and deliver me
Oh my God
Oh my God (repeat)

I cry upon my Lord
And He answers me
From His holy hill (repeat)

Arise oh Lord and deliver me
Oh my God
Oh my God (repeat)

I will not fear the tens of thousands
Drawn up against me
On every side

Arise oh Lord and deliver me
Oh my God
Oh my God (repeat)

Tales of the Defended Ones by Beth Guckenberger

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Standard Publishing; First edition
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0784736979
Price: $8.99
Purchase: Amazon | CBD | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

Ben and Joseph lose their mothers, but find a family looking just for them. Antonio is rescued from what seems like a hopeless situation. Caitlyn dares to trust that truth will set her free. Jorani is delivered from slavery into the arms of grace.

Follow these real-life stories on a journey to foreign places and extreme struggles. Travel through their challenges and see the hand of the great Storyweaver — our Defender God — shielding and defending the defenseless in amazing ways.

These are the tales of the ones left wounded…

Review

You know how much I love children and causes protecting children. So when I received this book to review, Tales of the Defended Ones, I jumped on the opportunity.

I’m so glad I did. What an amazing and powerful book this is.

I enjoyed Beth Guckenberger’s writing style; it was simple, easy to read and descriptive. I finished this book in a couple of hours, I couldn’t put it down.

I journeyed to different parts of the world and learned about precious children. Children that perhaps seemed to have been forgotten, but weren’t. Our heavenly Father watched over their lives and had a specific plan for each of them.

Beth Guckenberger refers to God as a Story Weaver. God is writing different chapters of their lives, our lives and the generations to come. We may not see the entire mosaic, but He does. He intricately weaves people’s lives and stories together in His perfect timing.

I was relieved and thankful there was a happy ending for each child mentioned in this book. Because while I was reading about these children, I couldn’t help but cry. I also thought about all the other children in the world who are undergoing similar situations and need intervention too. I get overwhelmed with emotion just thinking about it.

I admire people like Beth Guckenberger and her husband, Todd for caring enough about children in need. They were willing to offer up their lives as a sacrifice and help children. I honestly wish I could one day serve in this capacity without fearing for my life, financial security and a host of other things. I admire their courage and the work they with Back2Back Ministries.

I highly recommend reading Tales of the Defended Ones, you will definitely be stirred, moved and motivated to action.

Beth Guckenberger and her husband, Todd, live with their family in Monterrey, Mexico, where they serve with Back2Back Ministries. They both graduated from Indiana University with degrees in education and between biological, foster, and adopted, are raising nine children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words Are Cheap

I’m sure you heard the expression, “Actions speak louder than words”. Well, it’s true, it does.

This is something I strongly believe in. I do not want to hear someone talk about their faith as much as I want to see it demonstrated in their lives.

What’s the point of spouting off Scriptures at someone, when you turn the corner and are living a double life?

I know about that because I used to be one of those people. I would quote bible verses and then later be rolling in the hay.

Such hypocrisy, I get repulsed just thinking about it.

I would say how much I loved Jesus one minute and be fornicating the next.

Obviously, I wasn’t going around advertising, but sadly, this is how I was living for years.

Perhaps I thought I was fooling those around me, but I wasn’t. I was living in sin and God was grieved.

And so was I. I was not happy living a double life, I was miserable. I knew I was living a compromised life and even though I tried to make justifications for it, I knew deep down it was wrong.

I felt guilty as charged and masked it by doing good works.

I would go to church faithfully, attend bible studies, read my bible, prayed, sang in the choir and even did missions work.

You see, I thought by “doing” these things it would justify my wrongs somehow.

Sin is sin. There is no justifying doing wrong with doing good works.

I wasn’t fooling God or anyone when I was living in sin. I was only hurting myself.

You see, God forgives us, but we still have to pay for the grave consequences of our wrong choices.

We reap what we sow. It’s the law of life, you just can’t get around it.

If we say we love Jesus, then we have to demonstrate it in our actions. In our lives. Not just what comes out of our mouths or in our “acts” of phony piety.

We just cheapen His grace and exploit His salvation.

If you are struggling as a Christian, then be honest about it. Don’t hide or perform or act.

Pray and ask the Lord to give you the strength to repent and turn away from it, whatever “it” is.

Just don’t accept it or believe God will forgive you anyway. Yes, He forgives and He loves you, but He’s also a just God… and I can tell you from my own personal experience that I paid a heavy price for “choosing” to live in sin.

I don’t know who I’m speaking to today, but for whatever reason, I was lead to write this just for you.

Jesus loves you and wants you to get it right. Whatever you are doing isn’t going to lead you to experience His peace, joy or love.

All you have to do is repent today and He will give you the strength to overcome whatever it is you are struggling with.

He did it for me and I know He will do it for you too.