Happily Ever After — Or Not

Let’s start out with a quick writing lesson. All stories need a plot. What is plot in literature? It is the sequence of events that make up a storyline. In fairy tales, plot takes place between “once upon and time” and “They lived happily ever after.”

  • Guy and Girl meet.
  • Guy thinks Girl is cute. Girl thinks Guy is cute.
  • Guy and Girl begin to date.
  • Girl meets Guy’s perfect brother but still only has eyes for Guy.
  • Guy proposes. Girl says yes.
  •  Girl gets deam job offer overseas.
  • Guy already has best job ever.
  • There is a standstill. Wedding is off.
  •  Girl moves.
  •  Two broken hearts pour themselves into their great jobs.
  • Guy loses his sense of smell, use of his thumbs, and his job two weeks after perfect brother is hired by the NFL.
  • Guy calls out one name over and over in the grip of agony — Girl’s.
  • Girl learns of this through her best friend’s social media .
  • Girl, who still loves Guy, now faces a conflicted heart and a dilemma.
  • Will true love prevail? Will she return to Guy and care for him until death does them part? Will he attempt heroism and tell Girl to marry his perfect brother instead? Whatever the answers are, we have a resolution — “The End.”
  • Sometimes we get an added bonus: an epilogue. Perfect brother pays for Guy’s  new robotic appendages, marries Girl’s best friend, and a movie deal is made for Guy’s story, resulting in numerous job offers.  What happened with Girl? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out. 🙂

(Well, thank you for humoring me and please keep reading this post.)

Authors have the ability to entertain with plot and resolutions, leaving the reader feeling satisfied because conflicts are solved and wrapped up neatly. Although a reader may have preferred or anticipated another wrap-up, at least they know the end of the story.  However, life isn’t always wrapped up.  We may not understand why a conflict took place and how it will be resolved.

I have recently  completed a Bible study by Jen Wilkin and also had the opportunity to hear her speak. In both situations, she discussed the fact that God is not a limited being who is bound by time.  Indeed, He is limitless. Unlike our Creator, “we are limited

Wilkin

creatures with numbered days and because of that, we don’t always get a plot resolution.”   We might be left with a cliffhanger that has no foreseen sequel.

Most every believer has experienced devastating or dire  circumstances that make us cry out to the author and finisher of our faith, “Why? What are you doing?” These questions force a decision upon us. Do we let confusion, anger, sorrow, and the like consume us and take over our character?  Do we process these feelings through the filter of faith and allow the author to continue His story through us?

When your plot includes difficulties, how well do you trust your Author? Take a look at parts of His bio:

  • Jehovah: possesses all authority; self-complete Exodus 3:13-15
  • Infinite: beyond measurement Romans 11:33
  • Omnipotent: all powerful; we are sustained by Him Jeremiah 32:17-18
  • Good: kind; caring; full of favor Psalm 119-65-72
  •  Love: personal; intimate I John 4:7-10
  • Jehovah-jireh: provider; Genesis 22:9-14
  • Immutable: perfect and unchanging Psalm 102: 25-28
  • Just: fair; equitable; holy Psalm 75:1-7
  • Omniscient: all-knowing Psalm 139-1-6

The list could keep going, but I’ll stop where I started.  In the story of life, we have limited knowledge, but God doesn’t. Combine that with His love, justice, goodness, and all the other traits mentioned above, then wonder why we limited humans so easily default to fear and anxiety over faith.

Think of Job. The Author’s description of him reads like this, “There is none on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”  (Job 1: 8) Yet as the plot thickens, Job’s life is turned upside down. Job never knew the reason why God allowed trials to come his way. However, thousands of years later, we do. We’re part of the on-going epilogue in Job’s story.

In my upcoming sequel, the protagonists struggle to understand “the why” about each other. I allow them to muddle through misunderstandings, feeling hurt and confused; yet I also have the resolution in sight. The circumstances they find themselves in bring them to a crises of faith necessary for “The End” that the author had in mind.  Hum? If a limited being gets this concept for developing a fiction story, how much more should this limited being trust the Limitless Author of our Faith in real life?

If you would like to do a study on the attributes of God, here are two links you can click for resources I recommend.

  1. Bible Navigators: Praying the Names of God  https://tinyurl.com/y7wkh4jw
  2. Jen Wilkin resources: https://tinyurl.com/y7v673hs

 

 

 

 

 

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The Myrtle

wild crepe myrtleI have a confession to make. People ask me how my book title, Among the Crepe Myrtles, relates to the story.  It doesn’t. Well, let me clarify, at least it didn’t until I made it fit. I was reading the Minor Prophets when I came across the phrase “among the myrtle trees” in Zechariah 1:8.  I can’t explain why, but I knew at that moment my book title would be “Among the Crepe Myrtles.” I’d tried out several other titles, but none gripped me like that phrase. So, to be accurate, I did research about crepe (or crape) myrtles growing in Texas. Bingo. It was very rewarding to weave the title into the story. Since then, I have done more research on the crepe myrtle. To my pleasant surprise, my research revealed information that fit much of what my characters in the story struggled with and also what God was trying to do for them.fullcover

You may know the crepe myrtle as a shrub. You may know it as a tree. Indeed, it is both, and even to a girl whose green thumb is non-existent, the myrtle tree is quite interesting. (My neighbor has one planted next to the fence between our yards. I admire it as though it were mine. Truthfully, I am glad the tree does not belong to me, for it would have ceased to exist. That exact thing happened to my bonsai crepe myrtle.) The myrtle tree made its way into more than one story in Greek mythology. Perhaps the most noted is that of Adonis and Aphrodite.  In many cultures, the myrtle represents beauty, love, paradise, and immortality. To the Jews, it can represent sweetness, divine generosity, peace, God’s promises, and recovery.

I find that the characterisitcs of the myrtle tree offer us some symbolic lessons.

  • These trees and shrubs have the ability to grow in stony soil.  Even in circumstances that seem unfavorable, the myrtle is designed to grow, thrive, and do what it was created to do.  When believers allow God to do His work in us, we have joy and peace. He restores what the circumstances of life may have made bare.  See Isaiah 55:12-13
  • The myrtle tree is an evergreen designed to continually keep growing, always offering life. Colossians 2:6-7 tells says “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 your were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
  • The myrtle tree is adaptable to grow in the wilderness, a setting that is not ideal. See Isaiah 41:19. Everyone of us can think of a time where we felt life left us in Sinaia harsh situation. A wilderness may not offer thriving fountains and beautiful florals, but it is not void of all life .
  • Myrtle tress produce an aromatic beautiful blossom.  2 Corinthians 2:15 reminds believers that we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ to those around us.
  • In Zechariah 1, this tree is seen as an emblem of peace. In this chapter, God is asking His people to return to Him from practicing immoral, ungodly practices. As a result, peace is promised. This same offer exists to us today. God promises inward peace that passes our understanding to those who have a growing relationship with Him.
  • HadassahThe Hebrew name for Esther, Hadassah, means myrtle. Esther is symbol of righteousness in an evil world. Esther allowed God to place her in a situation that she did not ask for and use her to represent Him.

I  never cease to be amazed at the treasures found in the Bible and in Creation. I am  grateful to God for His Word.

 

(Acknowledgment to Carolyn Roth Ministries: God as a Gardener and to flowerinfo.org)

 

Bon Appetite!

food-pot-kitchen-cooking.jpg

 

I loved the way my Mom cooked. As a very young girl, I would tell her she was the “bestest cooker!” The title stuck through the years and continued to make its way to her ears into my adulthood.  Mom always took great delight in loving on people through her food

Our Heavenly Father is no different than my Earthly mother in this regard.  He, too, takes great delight in loving His people through His food — the Word of God. He has “cooked up” a buffet of wisdom, encouragement, and direction throughout the Bible. Tickle your taste buds with these samples from His table. They’ll need no further seasoning from my keyboard.

  • Psalm 18:25-26 The good people taste your goodness; The true people taste your truth.
  • Psalm 34:8 Open your mouth and taste; open your eyes and see–how good God is.
  • Proverbs 8:7 My mouth chews and savors and relishes truth — I can’t stand the taste of evil.
  • Proverbs 16:24 Gracious speech is like clover honey– good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.
  • Matthew 5:13 Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt–seasoning that brings out the God-flavored of this Earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste Godliness?
  • Ephesians 5:5 Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that.
  • Psalm 63:1 God–you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I worked up such hunger and thirst for God…so here I am in the place worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory.

(Scripture from The Message translation.)

Here’s one of my favorite recipes from Mom’s collection during my teen years.

Chili Chicken
Shirley White

> 16 oz uncooked noodles
> 1/2 c chopped onion
> 2 TB butter
> 3 cans cream of mushroom (10.5 oz cans)
> 1 4 oz can pimento (optional)
> 2 TB chopped pickled green peppers
> 3-4 cups cooked chicken
> 2-3 cups shredded, sharp cheddar
> Salt/pepper to tast

Heat oven to 350. Cook noodles as directed. Drain. In large skillet, cook and stir onion until tender; stir in soup, pimento, and chili peppers.

In greased 4 qt casserole, layer half the noodles and half the chicken; season. Top with half the soup mixture and half the cheese. Repeat layers.

Bake uncovered 45 minutes

Bon Appetite!

 

 

Celebrations!

 

 

 

The last three months in my household have been filled with celebrations. Jake and Sarah married. Thanksgiving. Baking day to honor my Mom’s 7th year in heaven. ( She loved to cook and bake.) Christmas. A New Year. Two birthdays (plus three more if you go beyond my immediate family).  I enjoy celebrations because we get to love on one another. We get to eat lots of good food. I’ve certainly consumed more than my fair share of goodies recently. (Oh, and I finished a manuscript that is now in the early editing stages.)

I slowed down the last few months and thoroughly absorbed these celebrations. (What deep joy it was to celebrate the answer to a lifetime of prayer as I watched my son marry his beautiful bride.) Sometimes I think life seems to get so  busy for folks that slowing down to celebrate can seem like an interruption, no less inconvenient than getting a flat tire.  Maybe you don’t struggle with this scenario. Perhaps I can because my nature is to move from one task to another in my personal life and my ministry life.

God celebrates! What phrase repeats itself in the Creation account? ‘”It was good.” When God created guidelines and laws for the Israelites to point them to Jesus, He included celebrations — the feasts of remembrance.  These seven annual feasts recognized God’s deliverance, redemption, rest, blessings, gratitude, and new beginnings.

The Psalms are filled with verses that tell us to praise God with song, music, dance, prayers. Psalm 150:1-6 is beautifully written.  Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud, clashing cymbals. 

Ecclesiastes 3:4 reminds us that there is a time to laugh. Verse thirteen of that chapter tells us to take pleasure in our toll — enjoy the people and things that God has given us in our daily life as we work and serve Him.  Luke 15:3-10 gives us a beautiful picture of celebration in the parable of the lost sheep. In Luke 2 the angels celebrated the birth of Jesus.

One of my favorite accounts in the Bible is from Joshua, chapter four. The Israelites had miraculously crossed over the Jordan on dry ground. Joshua had instructed that twelve large stones  be placed together as a monument of sorts to remember and retell the miracle God had done in letting them cross on dry land.  The incident that these folks celebrated wasn’t easy in coming. Years of wandering and waiting in the desert had preceded it as they stood and faced the unknown.  Loss of family members had taken place.  Sometimes in life, celebration is more about God’s faithfulness than it is about our circumstances.

For one of my childhood birthdays my parents threw me a surprise party. We had recently moved into a new house, and the front walk and yard were not complete. I don’t recall what we did, but my dad had taken me from the house, obviously  to pass the time before the party.  I remember that when we returned to the house it was raining outside, and I didn’t like being out in it. Little did I know as I walked across wooden boards to avoid the muddy yard, that just inside the dry, clean house a celebration was waiting for me.  When we go through a time of waiting or sorrow or challenge, we may not realize that a time of celebration is just around the corner. We think in terms  minutes, hours, days, and years.  God doesn’t.

Celebrations can be elaborate or simple. Herein lies the lesson to myself. I need to pause throughout my day to day life to appreciate my salvation, my blessings, God’s faithfulness, the people around me, the beauty around me…and the list goes on. Perhaps if I put “stop and celebrate” on my to do list I might actually do it — slight exaggeration. When my children were young  we’d  sometimes see a beautiful morning sky on the ride to school.  We’d proclaim that it must be someone’s birthday and the sky was God’s present to them.  I’m not sure if stored that memory, but I did, and it has proven to be joyful one and a good lesson for me along the way.

So what do you have to celebrate? Who do you have to celebrate? Enjoy.

And if you pass day to day,  give me a Celebrate Challenge!

(Great! Now the song “Celebrate” is stuck in my head.)

 

 

Kinship

img_2594“Kinship is bred in what people hold common.”  In my book, Among the Crepe Myrtles, a friendship is formed between two unlikely characters, Gabe and Sammy,  simply because of a common thread that runs between them. Kinship comes from what we hold common within us.

I hope I never forget the first time I vividly experienced my own unlikely kinship. In the late nineties, I traveled with fellow staff members to an area several hours beyond St. Petersburg, Russia.  Our role was to train the attendees in ministry to children and families. Working through translators was fun, but when everyone present  gathered for a worship service, we all sang a hymn together. Our English words mingled with their Russian words in a common expression of praise to God. Our language and lifestyles were as different as night and day, but our bond in Christ made us kin. More recently, I have experienced braceletsthis same kinship with friends in India. These times are such a beautiful picture of heaven — every tongue and tribe united through Christ.

Another unlikely kinship is the one that can exist between God and man.  I say “unlikely”  because it amazes me that Almighty God would want to relate to me.  However, a close look at God’s Word shows that the relationship between God and man is the most likely kinship that should exist. In Genesis 1-2 we see where this kinship began. God created man, prepared a beautiful place for his existence, then communed with  them. We also see in this account how man broke that bond. Still desiring kinship with us, God made a plan to restore that relationship.  The entire Old Testament points to that plan which is fulfilled in the New Testament — God’s Son coming to earth to restore what was lost back in Genesis.  Simply put: Jesus came to die to forgive our sins so we can live eternally with Him in heaven. (John 3:16).

However, there’s plenty of kinship with God right here and now:  He’s our Father (Romans 8:15-16). He’s our Friend (John 15:15). He’s our Comforter (2 Corinthian 1:3).  He enjoys us ( Zephaniah 3:17; Psalm 147:11).  He wants to be near us (James 4:8). He’s   attentive to us (Psalm 116:2).  I could keep going with examples, but they all lead to this one truth: If you don’t have a relationship with God, it is because you have chosen not to.

I’ve always like the word “kinfolk.” It’s fun to pronounce. (Try it with a Southern drawl — “key uhn foke”)  Since kinfolk share blood lines, human beings discover similar voice inflections, body movements, habits, and what not with others.  For example, I curl my toes under when I sit barefoot, and some before me, beside me, and after me do the same. I wonder how far back that trait goes. Was there a toe-curler on the Mayflower?  I realize from  a human perspective that not all traits are “good ones,” and I also realize that just because we share the same traits with someone doesn’t mean we always share the same values or perspectives.  That’s takes me right back to kinship — what we hold common within us.  As a believer, we are kinfolk through the blood of Jesus and should carry His traits. I John 2:6 says that the one who say he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. Can observers look at your lifestyle and habits and see that your are kinfolk with Christ?

Kinfolk and kinship. What an amazing offer from God through Christ.

It’s a Boy!

blog baby picMy husband and I are going to be grandparents!  (Go ahead and just refer to me as “Nanny.” I’m suspecting that’s what I’ll be called since the name runs in my family.  However, our little grandson can call me whatever he likes!)  Our daughter and son-in-law recently shared the good news with our family. How do my husband and I feel about this?  We’re ecstatic! We’re excited! We’re giddy!  (Is the masculine form of “giddy” pronounced “gaddy?” If so, that better describes how my husband might feel.)

This wonderful announcement comes in the midst of wedding plans for Jake & Sarah — whom you met in the last blog.  My heart is overflowing. I physically feel the happiness.  God has chosen to grow our family and surround us with more people to love for a lifetime. I am grateful to Him for this. I guess you could say, “We’re in a good place.”

However, as a believer, I should always be “in a good place.”  I’m held in God’s hand (John 10:28), and no one can snatch me from Him. I’m gathered in his arms ( Isaiah 40:11.)  There are numerous illustrations in scripture of God’s nearness and protection, but these two are very alive to me right now as I think about nestling  a newborn family member.  Being in a good place isn’t about everything being good. It’s about having peace for the present and hope for the future through my relationship with Jesus Christ, whether my circumstances are good or bad from a human perspective.

In the midst of the good things we’ve experienced in the last several months, my family has also faced some challenges. Situations that rocked our emotions. Situations that made us feel helpless. However, we were still “in a good place.” We know that life has its ups and downs. God is there to  guide us in both. So be encouraged. Humanly speaking,  you may not be “in a good place” right now, but another day you will be. In the meantime, cherish the fact that  your relationship with God isn’t reliant on a feeling. It’s reliant on the eternal security He provides.

Katherine, a character in my book, challenges her friend, Ben with the fact that as humans  we tend to accept  the good things that come our way from God.  (Indeed, we may even toss a little prayer of appreciation His way.) However, we blame God or dislike Him when bad things come our way. Job 2:10 poses a good question. “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”  Ecclesiastes 7:14 gives us advice for handling the bad times. “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this, God has made the one as well as the other. ”  The truth is, life is filled with good and bad things since the events of Genesis 3.

I recently read about the concept of “moralistic therapeutic deism” in the book Gospel-Centered Teaching by Trevin Wax.  In a nutshell this thinking proposes that God created us and the world, but remains at a distance unless needed.  He wants us to do good so that we can be happy and feel good about ourselves and earn a spot in heaven. Therefore, God doesn’t need to be involved in our lives unless we need Him to solve a problem that has made us unhappy. This thinking saddens me. I am thankful I don’t have to do good things to obtain Heaven. I would constantly be evaluating or second guessing my motives, intentions, and performance level.  Heaven is obtained for me through Jesus, if I choose to accept the offer. (Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. Titus 3:5. )  And, to think that I must always feel happy. Quite honestly, there are plenty of times that life makes me feel sad, uncertain, or overwhelmed. When I do, I can rely on the peace that passes human understanding that God gives me and not on myself.

Believers aren’t off the hook, though, when it comes to good works. Our works are the result of our salvation, not the source of it. If I am growing in my relationship with Christ, I will produce works that honor him, stem from God’s Word, and modeled by Christ. What about those good feelings mentioned earlier?  They come to believers, but once again, they are the fruit of being rooted in Christ and His Word, and these fruits are tasty for both the individual and those around him:  love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, longsuffering. and self-control.

Speaking of self-control (or lack thereof) — did I tell you I’m going to be a grandmother?

 

 

She Said Yes!

A few weeks ago our son got engaged to beautiful, sweet Sarah. They both love Jesus. My husband and I couldn’t be happier or more grateful. Just like we did with our daughter, we’ve prayed for our son’s spouse since the day he was born. I remember sitting in the hospital listening  as my husband held our newborn son and told him to grow up to be a good boy and make good choices.  He did both.

The engagement happened just as this son started his high school teaching career. He’s drinking from a refreshing fire hydrant!  I think back to one year ago and remember that it looked like Jake would end up doing his student teaching in a difficult school far from the area where we live. He had no special lady in his life.  Turns out, he was assigned to the exact school he wanted and he met his wonderful girl a few weeks later.  Even before these two events,  God had shown me  that all my desires are before him (Psalm 38:9).  Wow — God cares about what matters to me, but He also wants me to trust Him with what matters to me.  ( BTW, he is now employed at that same school.)

They’re having a November wedding.  I’ve always loved November.  engagement

As they make their wedding plans, I see them working to balance the stress of decisions, ideas, opinions, and  to-do lists while still focusing on why they are getting married in the first place — each other.  I think they are doing a pretty good job of it all, though I am sure it may not feel that way to them.  They have been moving things into the home where they will live  — most notably, Jake himself. That makes my husband and I official empty nesters.

Speaking of empty-nesting, I’ve learned something about myself in the last few years. I like to fix things. Nope, not repair things. Yep, make things better/solve problems. You know…super hero type stuff. I guess I first became aware of this “fixation”  when our daughter got married in 2011, and now it stares me in the face. I realize I cannot fix everything for my adult children. I get the pleasure of seeing them enjoy good times, but when my adult children face an adult problem or decision, I usually can’t fix it. Long gone are the days when a band-aid made everything better.  Now, don’t think that my children have totally shunned my husband and me. They still come to us for advice.  But, for the person with a “fixation,” giving advice can feel like receiving a Participation Ribbon. Where has this “fixation” dilemma landed me?   On my knees. I have to trust my Heavenly Father with “my” children. He reminds me that as much as I care for them, He cares more. He is also far more capable of “fixing” things than I ever would be. Besides, He knows exactly what the “fix” needs to be.

It is a privilege to pray for my children, but it isn’t always easy for me to leave their problems with Jesus. Sometimes, I get off my knees and have to plop right back down. (Okay, the knees thing is basically symbolic. My knees aren’t too cooperative. In reality, I’m sitting most of the time when I pray.)

In reality, there are many woes and sorrows that God alone can fix. I think of my salvation. I am so grateful that I didn’t have to fix my sin problem or try to work my way into Heaven or pick the best option.  Goodness! I’d be in panic mode. But, God, graciously fixed that problem for all mankind through Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He doesn’t force the fix on any of us. We each must choose to accept the fix.  I hope that you will if you have not already.  If you confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus Christ, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9.

Meanwhile, back to the wedding. I need an easy fix for shedding a few pounds before the big day. There isn’t one. Someone once told me, losing weight is one food decision after another. That’s good advice. Well.

Thanks for reading. And by the way, Ben, a character in my book,  Among the Crepe Myrtles, struggles a bit with his own self-reliance and “fixations.”  (Not sure who inspired that when I wrote him. Cough. Cough.)  Does he overcome this tendency? My advice is to read the story and find out. Ha!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Say You’re Sorry

KBDADWhen I was growing up, if we three siblings mistreated each other, my Dad would make us tell one another we were sorry and that we loved each other — whether we meant it or not. I know this, because I didn’t always mean what I said. (Sorry, Dad. And, I mean it.) I remember one time my brother and I got tickled because I didn’t pause between the two statements. My apology came out “I’m sorry I love you.”   Although I may not have always meant what I said, the significance of the statements stuck with me. We confess and forgive each other because we love each other.

 

Confess. Forgive. Both are personal, humble acts.

Confess Forgive. Both are deeper than Excuse.

Confess. Forgive. Both can restore relationships.

If you have ever held a grudge against someone, then you know that the anger or resentment harms that particular relationship. What you may not want to accept is the fact that the grudge harms you as well.  Unforgiveness  — yes, let’s call a grudge by its given name — is a weight that burdens and harms the carrier.  It seems unfair that when harm or ill will is cast on me, I then have to choose to forgive.  ( Whoa. CHOOSE to forgive.)  There is not a human being who has not needed to forgive or to receive forgiveness; we all are imperfect — yes, let’s call imperfection by its given name — sin.  (Romans 3:23) This imperfection put a rift in the relationship God desires to have with each person.

As humans, we tend to categorize sins into sort-of-bad, bad, really bad. Bad is bad. What you might need forgiveness for may be lesser in your eyes than what someone else needs to have forgiven, but that does not take away the fact that forgiveness needs to happen. Once we forgive, we probably still won’t be able to forget. Dwelling on the memory of someone’s offense or our own mistake, can create the need to forgive again, and again. You may have to forgive someone who is not sorry. You may have to accept an apology that was never given.

Often, we can find ourselves holding a grudge against God because He allowed something to happen in our lives that we don’t like. We are shallow and childish enough to believe He owes us only good things, forgetting that life in general is filled with both good and bad. God’s love doesn’t fluctuate like circumstances. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Sometimes the most difficult person to forgive may be yourself. If we are not able to accept God’s forgiveness, we will struggle with the burden of our own mistakes. God’s grace is extended to each one of us. He made a way, through the death of Jesus Christ, to have our sins forgiven. Unlike human beings, when God forgives, He forgets and casts our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). That is grace.  That rift I mentioned — God took the initiative to restore it.

So, do you need to say you’re sorry? To someone? To God? Do you need to forgive someone who may or may not have told you they are sorry? Settle the matter. (Isaiah 1:18.)

Unforgiveness can harden a person, Wendell in Among the Crepe Myrtles.

(Picture: Dad, brother, me, before sis was born.)

 

 

 

 

 

Read the Author’s Notes

I’m a voracious reader.  I have been since middle school. I admit that I read many books more than once — many times over.  My tastes cross several genres from leadership to Jane Austen, but where I nestle in these days and truly relax is in Historical Christian fiction. Hum. Who knows why. Over the last few years, I developed a new habit when I read I book. I began reading the Author’s Notes. What treasures of information I have gained by doing that.

Hidden within those pages of the book I have learned what drove the creation of the story or a character. I have learned something personal about the author. I’ve seen who helped and influenced the author along that particular writing journey. I’ve even learned history.  I’ve been reminded that we are all imperfect human beings who need to give and to receive help, encouragement, forgiveness, laughter, patience, and much more from one another. Despite my personal library, a glimpse inside my being will show everyone the book that feeds my soul — God’s Word, the Bible. The book was written for me personally and for all mankind personally.  Its pages are filled with Author notes that offer treasures, challenges, forgiveness, hope, and peace.

As I read the book, I learn that the author of God’s Word

  • Created me: Psalm 139:13-14 You alone created my inner being. You  knitted me together inside my mother. I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of that. 
  • Planned for me: Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord…”
  • Delights in me: Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord you God will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, he will rejoice over you with singing.
  • Hears me: Psalm 17:6 I call you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
  • Seeks me out: Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. 
  • Never sleeps: Psalm 121:3 He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.
  • Knows the number of hairs on my head: Luke 12:7 Indeed, the very hairs of you head are numbered. Don’t be afraid. You are worth more than sparrows.
  • Humbled Himself: Philippians 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even the death on a cross. 
  • Died for me: John 3:16 For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but shall have eternal life. 
  • Forgives me: I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
  • Restores me: I pEter 5:10 …the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
  • Sticks closer than a brother: Proverbs 18:24  …there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
  • Directs me: Proverbs 16:9 In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. 
  • Understands me: I Samuel 16:7…but Jehovah sees into the heart.
  • Knows me: Psalm 38:9 All my longings be open before you, Lord.

If you’ve never read the book that feeds my soul, I highly recommend it for the first time. For those of us who have the book on our shelves, phones, tablets, and computers, join me in reading it many times over.

Thanks for joining me!