After years of verbal abuse, I finally realized I had lapsed into helplessness and hopelessness. A friend once said to me, “Susan, you need hope.” I loved and served and prayed to Jesus and believed He was fully capable of rescuing me from my prison of pain.
During this time, I lead our church’s women’s ministry, and spent time encouraging other women and teaching them.
But I was stuck. I began to realize I was thinking and acting like a victim. A powerless victim. The more I read and understood about verbal abuse (which includes financial abuse and neglect and more), the more I began to seek the help I needed to grow and thrive even in the midst of my difficulty. Oh, I still cried, but I grew in my confidence and my ability to find the good in the midst of the pain.
I still struggled for hope that I would ever one day be released. The wonderful news is by the time I was, I was ready for the new life God had in store for me. The fears from the past had melted away. The belief that I was inadequate and unable to stand on my own, was gone. When God opened that door, freeing me, I was ready to walk into my new life without fear. He provided for me every step along the way and looking back I can only say it was by His grace that I made it, because on paper, I should never have been able to.
By God’s grace, I became a hero, a protagonist in my own story, not a pathetic byline. Now ultimately Jesus is the real hero. It was He who saved me at 15 years of age and has walked me through all of this. What a wonder that He could give me hope – in HIM and blessings beyond what I could have ever wished for.
In what ways do you perhaps feel a victim in your life? Look to Jesus for your hope. Change doesn’t take place overnight but He can move you and use you for HIS glory in the midst of your pain and in the future use that experience to bless others. Hold on, dear friend.
I was getting ready for a craft fair and decided to include an excerpt from one of my novellas inside my brochure that lists all my books and contact information. Why? Because whether someone likes my stories or not, the most important thing is their relationship with God. Hopefully, all my stories have some thread or truth of the Gospel in them without being preachy it is usually covert. In my novella Slam-Dunk Christmas, I had a more overt moment, so this is the excerpt I took from that story.
“So tell me what’s on your mind.”
How did he know? “I think God is trying to get my attention.”
Blake grinned. “He’s been trying that for a long time, Sam.”
“Maybe so. I was too busy to listen. I guess I want to make sure I’m not heading down a wrong path. I’m trying to pray…”
“That’s a good start. Let me ask you a few questions.”
Sam nodded. “Go ahead.”
“Do you realize that you are a sinner who can in no way match up to God’s holiness?”
“Duh. Of course. I’ve done and thought unconscionable things. I’m sure every day I screw up in some way in spite of my best of intentions.”
“Do you believe that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again as the perfect solution to your sin problem?”
“Maybe I’m doing this wrong. Hold on.” Blake rose and left the room, returning with his Bible. “Here we go. Romans 3:23 says, ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ Do you agree with that?”
“Of course, after all the evil we’ve seen on this planet, it would be hard for anyone to deny that.”
“Romans 6:23 says, ‘For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’”
“I’ve seen enough of death,” Sam said. “I want to know more about that life part.”
“Great. Romans 5:8 says, ‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’”
“So like a criminal who is convicted of a crime, Jesus has taken my death sentence upon himself. Interesting. A substitution.” Sam marveled. He’d read stories about Jesus, but he’d never really studied the Bible or its tenets.
“Exactly. In Romans 10: 9-10 it says: ‘If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.’”
“So, I just need to accept the gift. Believe and state it out loud, much like we professed our commitment to the military once upon a time?”
“Correct. Verse 13 states, ‘For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ And when we look back at chapter 8:38-30 we see a wonderful promise, ‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’”
“Whoa. That’s amazingly all-encompassing. So the punishment for my sin is gone, I can live a life with Jesus forever?”
“I want that.”
“Would you like me to pray with you?”
“I think I need to do this myself. Thank you, Blake. Can I borrow your Bible?”
“You can keep it. I have several, and the verses are underlined in here.”
“Let me know how it goes.”
Sam nodded, took the book, and his coffee and headed to his room. Once he was inside, he closed the door. How did someone do this? He placed the book on the bed and knelt on the rug that was there, leaning against the mattress he folded his hands. He hadn’t read that this was important but he’d seen images of people praying that way so he figured it wouldn’t hurt.
“OK, God. You’ve been trying to get my attention and I’m ready. I know I’ve made some big mistakes. What did Blake call it? Oh, yeah, I sinned. I am a sinner, and desperately need You to rescue me from that. You’ve already done that, and I need to accept the gift You graciously offer me. So Jesus, I proclaim You to be the Lord and my Savior. My rescuer. My salvation. I desperately need You to help me live the rest of my life in a way that would honor you, my Commander-in-Chief. Thank you for dying for me, rising again, and finding me, calling me, to be Yours. Amen.”
How about you? Where do you stand with God? HE is the greatest gift of all. Let me know if you’ve taken that step. I’m praying for you!
Reading Time: 2minutesFinally, my mom has put me into a novel. I know, it’s not really me. I don’t like to talk about my past personally. I’m a rescue dog much like Shazam/Cooper is in book six of her Orchard Hill Romance Series: Donuts & Detours.
B.J. is a young mechanic in a volunteer ministry that fixes cars for single moms. She finds a dog in the trunk of a donated car. She rescues the animal and hopes to adopt it. Titus (aka Ty), decides to adopt the dog. He also wants to reach this young mechanic but doesn’t realize the boy is not quite what he seems.
He’s really a she.
Bethany Joelle has a rough past not too dissimilar from the rescued dog and is hurt when Ty adopts the dog before she can. Ty is also showing interest in Bethany Joelle but letting him close means risking her closely held secret–that she is really B.J.
Titus has his own dark past that he carries around. Secrets collide and are revealed making for some interesting relationship challenges.
Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.
Of course, the best part of the book is the dog which I know my mom based on me. Titus showed up in Bratwurst & Bridges so it’s fun that he finally gets his chance at love. I give this book five bones because I’m a dog and don’t have thumbs.
Reading Time: 2minutesIt’s not too early for a Christmas story, is it? I don’t think so, especially when mom snuggles up to me to read it. Snow Angels is Cathe Swanson’s debut novel.
Lisa is a widow still locked inside a prison of grief and self-recrimination. Pete is not who he initially appears to be. She thinks he’s homeless but has potential. Pete thinks Lisa is bossy and treats him with disrespect. Never mind that he was kind of mean to her when they first met at Thanksgiving at the Community Center, or that his beard was raggedy and his clothes and smell were more like a hobo than the director he really was.
Misconceptions abound as Lisa works through her grief and finds new purpose that snowballs far beyond her original plans to help one man. She gives him a job that employs many more and he allows it because, in spite of her bossiness, she’s doing great work.
Going outside her comfort zone puts her face to face with someone else who struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and who chooses to stay stuck. The mirror reflects Lisa’s own reality and as she struggles to come to grips with her past, she’s also forced to acknowledge a growing attraction to the shabbily-dressed man she’s tried to help.
As truths come to light, both Pete and Lisa have to come clean. Without using the Scripture, Cathe Swanson illustrates the concept that God washes us white as snow. It’s not always an easy process but the relationships we build on the way make the journey worthwhile.
This book is a novella -but a long one which means I got extra snuggles as she read it. It is well worth the read for a glimpse into our own misconceptions about the homeless and downtrodden as well as moving past our mistakes into a “new normal.” I applaud Ms. Swanson’s debut effort! It’s a Christmas story that goes deep to the heart of what really matters. I give it five bones, because I’m a dog. I don’t do stars.
Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.
Reading Time: 2minutesA complex and satisfying romantic suspense came out this year, by author Candace Clavert. Rescue Team makes the most, once again of Calvert’s experience as an ER nurse. She not only takes you behind the scenes at a hospital Emergency Department, but in this novel, opens up the world of Search and Rescue operations.
Kate Callison has a tragic past but it catches up to taunt her when a baby is found delivered and dead on the bathroom floor. Did the mom check in at the ER desk? Is she responsible for abandoning her baby when Safe Haven laws would have allowed her to give it up? Who is going to be held accountable for this? As Kate runs the ER it ultimately falls on her shoulders and she had even spoken to the woman in obvious distress. Should she have pushed harder to help her? If only she had known . . . But Kate is burdened with overcoming the spectre of the fabulous nurse who had been previously in charged. Much loved and murdered. How does one compete with a dead woman?
Wes Tanner specializes in finding lost people. Having once been lost himself as a young man, he has nver forgiven his mother for abandoning him before she killed herself, nor has he forgotten the feeling of being found again. Something about Kate Callison intrigues him. Her walls are up, but just who is she hiding from? She denies being lost, but is that true? Confronted with his own demons from the past, can he overcome his resentment towards his mother and love Kate in spite of her own past?
Throw in a swarmy lawyer, a repentant father, a cast of characters who are friends and Wes’ family and a flood, and you have a story that keeps you enthralled and wondering how it would ever be possible for these two lost souls to find God–and each other. When they both realize God never lost either of them, well, that’s when the magic happens.
Reading Time: 2minutesSex trafficking in the United States is an unlikely backdrop for a story. In Deliver Me From Evil, Kathi Macias takes the reader into the world of slave trading and gives a glimpse at the terror and pain of the victims of this crime. That would seem like a pretty dark topic to read about, but Kathi handles this with a master stroke in that she weaves together the tale with a look at various aspects of the industry from international sex slavery, to intra-national. She then adds in faith as one young man, Jonathan, is not only confronted with this evil, but his then compelled to wrestle with his role in it.
When one is confronted with unspeakable evil that one doesn’t fully recognize even exists, how does one react? Jonathan’s path is one of inner struggle and guilt over not knowing, but with the support of his family and new-found faith, results in courage unheard of in one so young.
The angle of the church is touched in here as well, the need for the faith community to take up the cause of abolition, not fear it but to enter into this battle wisely and well- informed. The reality of how few people want to engage in this ugly war is highlighted as well instead of treated as a “the church will save the world” fantasy. Oh, that it would be otherwise but Kathi Macias treats that as well with a just hand, neither excusing the church’s lack of involvement or making it something other than what it is.
I’m grateful that Kathi has helped us see beneath the staggering and mind-numbing statistics of human trafficking and does not even mention specific numbers but instead draws us into the thoughts, fears and hopelessness of those involved.
This book should be a wake-up call for all Christians. There is real evil in this world and it is a dangerous battle that is fought first and foremost on our knees and then through wise and considered action. This book does an excellent job highlighting this without bringing the reader to a point of depression. Instead, there is hope, and one life at a time we can make a difference.