How did we get into April? I am loving the lilacs, lawn mower sounds, and general themes of new life and beginnings. If nothing else happens in April, I was giddy to be over March. That was a tough month full of adversity and challenges.
What made things extra hard was that they were not my challenges. Both our kids were facing things that left them hurting and asking God why. I’ve faced prayer times that I thought were difficult, but seeing their pain nearly broke me.
One night we grieved and prayed together. We asked God tough questions and requested wisdom, discernment, and direction.
Not everything has changed, but here are three things God whispered to my heart to prepare for and to apply to the challenges.
- Close the current door with grace. We had an opportunity that we knew wasn’t working. It was time to leave, but feelings were raw and the true defeated one was trying to leave us in a quake of anxiety and depression. It would be easy and tempting to walk away angry and bitter. God’s whisper was to close the door with grace. More than that, the same manner we close one door is the exact way we open the next. We definitely wanted to act wisely.
- Use your voice. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but “praying in your head” doesn’t have the power that praying out loud does. I don’t think God is looking for us to stand in the middle of a park and start talking in King James Bible translation, but when we use our voice and pray, heaven moves and hell quakes. I’ve seen it. As I prayed with the kids, that phrase kept coming back. They needed to push back fears and bring down heaven’s promises to earth with declaration. That takes a voice, and in their hard times, I believe God is developing a powerful voice to speak on His behalf.
- Hands off. They are toddler rules, but I need to hear them. It is my personality to run way ahead of God, turn around, and ask Him how I’m doing. I call it living, “Sarah, Plan B,” and it is not a lifestyle you want to emulate. Sarah ended up with an “Ishmael” of a problem. I hate seeing the kids hurt, but I’ve been around long enough in faith to know that what’s happening is a refining fire. He’s taking everything that isn’t going to work in serving Him and melting it away through affliction. What’s left is pure Him. In their hard times I’m seeing a new level of faith from them. They are pressing in, going to Him and not giving up. I can’t orchestrate that or manipulate it. I’m not going to lie, being an observer of the process was one of the hardest things I’ve come up against as a parent.
I believe with this season and God’s whispers, the kids will look back and credit the time as a spiritual marker—a time they mark as when God changed everything.
Have you gone through a searing time of adversity where God whispered to you?
FINDING FREEDOM THROUGH SURRENDER-A 30 Day Devotional features the characters and issues from ENTRUSTED, ENTANGLED, and ENGAGED to encourage you as you let go of fear, loss, change, regret and dreams. I also share my own stories where I was broken and in need of surrender. If you’ve read my contemporary romance series, you’ll be familiar with the characters and inspired. If you’re new to my writing, the devotionals will introduce you to characters and situations you can relate to. Purchase HERE.
Road’s End is comprised entirely of senior citizens whose kids have grown and left for greener pastures. Hugh, Melanie, and Bristol (one of the few sane people in town) are faced with a crumbling church in desperate need of repair and renovation, a dwindling congregation of opinionated, ornery senior citizens, and a camel—yes, a camel. And if that’s not enough, the trio and the rest of the Road’s End residents, are soon mired in danger and intrigue when a group of gun-toting drug dealers arrive in town, bent on killing the church handyman, and conspiring to ruin the doggonedest record-breaking blizzard the town has ever seen.
Poor drug dealers.
Is it wrong to call a mystery “fun?” I don’t care. Deborah Dee Harper’s Misstep is a wonderful mystery that is laugh out loud fun to read. There’s Hugh and Melanie, a couple looking for a quiet retirement when they are called to the pastorate. Before they can process the news there’s a chicken. A blizzard. Vandalism at the church. People confessing murders. A camel. Bad guys holding the women hostage. And then there’s the oldest virgin Mary the church has ever seen.
I read this in an evening because Misstep is full of comical characters and a heartwarming story, wrapped in mystery. Deborah has a strong writing voice and an army of strong characters that make Road’s End. I can’t pick a favorite character because they were all rich.
As for the mystery and the Christmas miracle, I never saw any of it coming. I’m pretty good at figuring out mysteries, I’m rarely stumped. This plot twist was brilliant.
To purchase Misstep, click here.
I am one of the authors affiliated with the publisher and received this from Write Integrity Press. However, all thoughts are my own and the only expectation was that I read it and be honest.
CAPTIVE, based on a miraculous true story that drew the attention of the entire nation, is a thrilling drama about the spiritual collision of two broken lives. When Brian Nichols – on the run as the subject of a city wide manhunt and desperate to make contact with his newborn son – takes recovering meth addict Ashley Smith hostage in her own apartment, she turns for guidance to Rick Warren’s best-selling inspirational book, The Purpose Driven Life. While reading aloud, Ashley and her would-be killer each face crossroads where despair and death intersect hope.
The movie stars David Oyelowo, who played Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the recent film, Selma.
Click HERE for a special greeting from David Oyelowo
I remember Ashley Smith’s story well. She was the single mom who was held hostage in her home and read The Purpose Driven Life to her captor. She went from victim to instant hero with an onslaught of publicity. It was obvious she wasn’t comfortable with the attention and as time went on, I heard bits and pieces of her story. She was a recovering addict. She didn’t even have custody of her daughter. And then, the story disappeared.
Captive is a haunting read because in Ashley’s words, she re tells her story and puts the reader right there in the apartment with her. I was completely absorbed into the story and read it in an evening. As the scenario unfolds it is obvious God had His handprints all over this. It’s amazing for all the places Brian Nichols went, he arrived at Ashley’s neighborhood. She was in the process of unpacking. She was new. Faith was a very new thing for her and it was her lifeline. But she had a plan B. She still had a stash of drugs.
I loved Captive because it’s an intriguing story that shows what God can do with a willing vessel. What I found surprising was she didn’t read a lot of The Purpose Driven Life to him. I had the impression she read chapter after chapter. I came away thinking God guided her conversation. She kept talking to him. He was a churched man. And that’s what made his story so sad.
I Googled the two to see “where are they now?” Ashley is married with two more children. It appears as if she is doing well and is active in her relationship with Christ. Brian Nichols? I see no mention that he transformed for the better after all the conversations he shared with Ashley.
This is going to be a major movie this month and I believe it will be not only solid entertainment, but a solid message, too. Captive, the book, was. I hope you read it.
To Purchase Captive by Ashley Smith, click here.
Have you ever felt the need to bite your tongue or grit your teeth? Grin with Grace explores ways to genuinely smile in the face of adversity and challenging circumstances. Sometimes, we just need to grin with grace! God blesses us with His grace, and it impacts our relationship with Him and with others.
Each chapter features five sections:
• Grin with Grace contains real-life stories and observations. You’ll laugh at the humorous confessions and wacky insights, and relate to Kathy’s transparent honesty. Be inspired to see grace in your everyday life.
• Grow with Grace features a grace word study. Kathy examines Bible verses and personalizes the meaning to your situation. Workbook prompts allows you to write down your thoughts as you read along.
• Go with Grace offers life application. Pick one action step and make it work for you, or pick all of them—but do something to live out your grace-walk.
• Give with Grace advances life application further, equipping you to become an instrument of God’s grace to others. You’ll be inspired to take what you’ve learned and give it away to others. This is when faith becomes ministry—when your focus expands to see the needs of others.
• Your Grin with Grace Challenge describes a grace-challenging scenario to give you an opportunity to exercise your newfound grace. It allows for speculation and judgment calls, to prepare you for the what-ifs that happen in life.
I love an authentic Bible study. I don’t want to read someone who has life all together because I know it’s a lie. Kathy Carlton Willis is transparent and downright funny as she shares her own stories as well as Biblical and word accounts that all are about grace. From corn abundance in the bathroom to having grace in your speech when the other person isn’t giving the same—Kathy covers it all and does it well.
This is easy-to-read with things to think about and work on when it comes to grace. I think it’s a great study for any level of faith—from the beginner just learning the Bible to someone who has been walking in faith but needing a refresher in grace.
I highly recommend.
I received Grin with Grace in exchange for an honest review.
Treasured time with my husband.
Houseful of children—now grown.
Amazing grace—Jesus love.
Knowledge and wisdom.
Family— immediate, extended, church, work, friends.
Unconditional love from my dogs.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
And I thankful for Julie’s editorial eye :~)
Writing to encourage and entertain~