Author Archives: Naty Matos

Tsunami

By Holly Michael

Landing in South India, ten days after the 2004 tsunami, my husband said to our contact there, “Send us to the worst affected area, where no agency or person has yet provided help.”

Already weary from nearly thirty hours of travel, I mentally geared up for mission work. My husband, a pastor and native of Tamil Nadu, South India hadtsunami lived and worked in the affected region for more than twenty years and was aware of the living conditions of the fisher folks in the remote seaside villages. He was certain we’d find decimation and desperation.

Back home in Arkansas, we had raised a large sum of money during a week-long, major fund-raising event. As a freelancer for a Guideposts magazine, I planned to cover the story of a teenage survivor. My husband’s predictions rang true and I had no idea how difficult, yet fulfilling, this experience would be.

Ten years later, we are now preparing to head to South India for a follow-up visit. I plan to write a “then and now” book and release it on the anniversary of the tsunami: December 26th, 2014.

Ten years ago, we provided immediate assistance for the villages and people also helped many tsunami orphans. We arranged for the village headman to bring the children to the local bank where we identified them and put funds in CD’s to be collected ten years later (2014). This would give them money to begin their lives as adults. We also provided help to other small villages by purchasing boats for them.

I’m excited to return and see how the children—now adults—are doing and discover their future plans. I’m also curious to see how the once decimated villages have recovered.

On the ten-year anniversary, December 26th, 2014, I’ll publish, “Tsunami 2004: Then and Now. Devastation from the Sea. Help from Beyond. (Working Title).

It’s said that you should write what you know. This is true. Traveling to India several times since 2004, I have enjoyed and absorbed the cultural experiences and have since used them in my writing.

This past July, I released Crooked Lines, my debut novel, inspired by stories told by my husband and his friends who left their villages in India as teenagers to join a religious order. Crooked Lines threads the lives of two determined souls from different continents and cultures. They struggle with spirituality through despair and deceptions in search of truth. I’m so pleased that Crooked Lines had reached #1 in Inspirational Fiction Category on Amazon.com.

Here’s my back cover blurb: On the shores of Lake Michigan, Rebecca Meyer seeks escape. Guilt-ridden over her little sister’s death, she sets her heart on India, a symbol of peace. Across the ocean in South India, Sagai Raj leaves his tranquil hill station home and impoverished family to answer a higher calling. Pushing through diverse cultural and religious milieus, he labors toward his goals, while wrong turns and bad choices block Rebecca from hers. Traveling similar paths and bridged across oceans through a priest, the two desire peace and their divine destiny. But vows and blind obedience at all costs must be weighed…and buried memories, unearthed.

Without giving a spoiler, some scenes from the novel were taken from my own experiences in South India after the tsunami. I’m also working on my sequel to Crooked Lines that I hope to release in February.

Maybe your travels won’t take you to far-away places, but we all travel along many emotional pathways and carry unique experiences in our hearts. As writers we should go back to the places of decimation, see how far we’ve come, and use this in our writing to help others. No matter what our background or culture—like in Crooked Lines—we all share similar emotional experiences. Matters of the heart are universal and worth writing about.

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TWO CONTINENTS. TWO  CULTURES. TWO SOULS
  …SEEK HOPE & A FUTURE

On the shores of Lake Michigan, Rebecca Meyer seeks escape. Guilt-ridden over
her little sister’s death, she sets her heart on India, a symbol of peace. Across the ocean in South India, Sagai Raj leaves his tranquil hill station home and impoverished family to answer a higher calling. Pushing through diverse cultural and religious milieus, he labors toward his goals, while wrong turns and bad choices block Rebecca from hers.
Traveling similar paths and bridged across oceans through a priest, the two desire peace and their divine destiny. But vows and blind obedience at all costs must be  weighed…and buried memories, unearthed. Crooked Lines, a beautifully crafted debut novel, threads the lives of two determined souls from different continents and cultures. Compelling characters struggle with spirituality through despair and
deceptions in search of truth.

hollyHolly Michael
Website: http://www.hollymichael.com/
Blog: www.writingstraight.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorHollyMichael
Twitter:@hollymichael

link: https://twitter.com/HollyMichael
www.HollyMichael.com
Debut Novel, Crooked Lines, now released! http://amzn.to/1jZsrLH.
 

WF: Overcomer

I read this devotional by Joyce Meyers and I wanted to share it in its entirety and I think it goes perfect with our worship song for today.

More Than Conquerors

As Christians, we often hear people quote Romans 8:37, which says we are more than conquerors. For years, I have pondered what being “more than a conqueror” actually means.

I’m sure other people have different interpretations, but I have come to the conclusion that being “more than a conqueror” means you have such confidence that no matter what comes up in your life, you know that through Christ you can handle it. You know before you are ever faced with a problem that you’re going to have victory over it. You believe you can do whatever you need to do in life. Therefore, you don’t dread things, you don’t fear the unknown, and you don’t live in anxiety about what’s going to happen. It doesn’t really matter what the specifics of each situation are, you know you will be victorious through Christ.

Power Thought: I am more than a conqueror through Christ.

From the book Power Thoughts Devotional by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2010 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved.

#WhyILeft

Naty Matos:

As many of you know one of the causes I dearly support is Domestic Violence. When the Ray Rice case came out, like the writer of this post stated, a hashtag was born #WhyIstayed. It was heartbreaking hearing the stories of many survivors explaining how debilitating is the process to leave and even when they had finally realized that they were not treated well, they stayed a while longer.
In this post the author gives this theme a spin and talks about #WhyIleft

Originally posted on Nikewrites Blog:

Instead of posting the usual #FlashFictionFriday piece, I’ve decided to post a poem for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  This piece is a continuation of the #WhyIStayed hashtag discussion that was started on Twitter last month.  You can read my piece “Why I Stayed,” here.

Photograph: Johner Images / Alamy/Alamy As seen on: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/apr/27/save-money-holiday-costs

Why I Left

Because I was tired of being controlled and manipulated

Because I was tired being told I was crazy

Because I was tired of being told I didn’t measure up

Because he wouldn’t, didn’t protect my heart

Because being alone in the world no longer mattered,

Especially since I was so alone in my relationship.

Because the love was clearly one-sided.

Because I learned how to love myself more.

Because my child didn’t need to witness another fight.

Because I caught a glimpse of my strength

And his weakness was exposed.

Because it was…

View original 25 more words

A Biblical Definition of Wisdom

How do you define wisdom? For some it’s measured by a person’s level of knowledge and learning or by one’s level of education. Dictionaries define wisdom as philosophic and scientific learning. Other definitions of wisdom include sound judgment, good insight, or common sense. Native Americans believe wisdom is earned only after living a long life that brings learning and experience.

These definitions have merit, but they fall short of a biblical definition of wisdom. Biblical wisdom can be defined as the ability to see things from God’s point of view. As Christians, our wisdom grows when we understand and accept God’s point of view. The same is true of nations; they show wisdom when they align their policies with God’s view.

Without wisdom people can find themselves in trouble and countries risk disaster. The further a nation strays from God’s point of view, the closer it comes to being a nation under judgment.

We live in a nation that prides itself on being “one nation under God.” We ask for God’s blessing in songs like “God Bless America” by Irving Berlin. Our Supreme Court opens every session with “God save the United States and this Honorable Court.” The president and other politicians pandering for our votes give speeches that end with “God bless America.”

But what does it mean to be “one nation under God?” Have the words become merely a patriotic slogan? Do they have value only in times of national crises, when we feel threatened? Are we a nation asking for God’s protection and blessings while turning away from His point of view?

As a nation “under God” do we see things from God’s point of view when shaping national policies? Or have we lost our wisdom as a nation?  When we create polices on hunger, homelessness, poverty, protecting the environment and marriage, are we following God’s point of view – or a political agenda? What does it say about our values when one of every fifty children lacks sufficient food, in a nation that wastes 40 percent of its food? These are important questions that must be asked if we value being a nation “under God” because the answers may point to a nation moving away from God’s point of view and losing its wisdom.

Christians cannot escape our responsibility to hold those we elect to public office accountable for crafting polices that reflect God’s point of view. If our nation is losing its wisdom – its ability to see things from God’s point of view – we have a responsibility to advocate for change and to elect leaders who believe that “one nation under God” is not merely a political slogan but a call to action that will bring our policies into line with God’s point of view.

Our Founding Fathers knew that we could not indefinitely exist apart from God’s point of view. George Mason warned that providence would punish national sins with national calamities. Thomas Jefferson said “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just and that his justice cannot sleep forever.” These great men understood that our nation’s future rests on its commitment to live by the words “one nation under God” and that we must create national polices that reflect His point of view rather than policies that conform to a political agenda.

Have we lost our wisdom as a nation – our ability to see things from God’s point of view? Ultimately the answer to that question will determine if we are headed toward being a nation under judgment. Read more about a biblical definition of wisdom in A Nation Under Judgment. The book is available on Amazon and at http://www.anationunderjudgment.com

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WF: Beautiful

When someone is in an abusive relationship they feel devalued. People often ask how someone could allow another person to abuse them. The reality is that abuse is a slow systematic process. The abuser recognizes the vulnerabilities on their object of abuse and preys on those vulnerabilities.  It doesn’t happen overnight, but eats slowly at the core of the one suffering the abuse.

Once the chains of abuse have been locked, several things extend or perpetuate the abused to stay with the abuser. The lies that were believed, the toll to the self-esteem, the dependence on the abuser (emotional, financial, cultural, etc.) will make the smartest and most educated person stay in an abusive situation. It is very hard for someone who has not lived or is not living in an abusive relationship to understand. This isolates the victim even more.

Questions like: Why do you allow it? Why don’t you leave? And comments like: You are in this situation because you want to; do not help but alienate more the one that desperately needs help. And sometimes the only help that you can provide is a listening ear.

But my point in this Worship Friday is to tell you out there to stop believing the lie. Stop believing that you are not worth it. Stop believing that you are not special, that you’re unloved. Stop believing that you’re not attractive. You are perfectly made. You’re beautiful. I hope this song encourages you in the darkest hours and gives you the strength to know that to He who created you, you are all.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

If you need to prayer or to share your story, don’t hesitate to email me at therisingmuse at Gmail dot com

WF: Worship Friday

Enough With The Horror Stories

I’m sure that just like me; many of my sisters out there have heard horror stories about mammograms. I don’t know why as horrorwomen we have the tendency to create horror stories about those things that relate to our bodies. We heard horror stories about how our menstrual cycle was going to be. We heard the horror stories about our wedding night, child birth and many other things. And in a latter part of our life we have heard those same stories about our preventative checkup for breast cancer.

I admit that the horror stories kept me away from getting tested for a couple of years. I would go to my annual checkup. The doctor would give the order; the nurse would schedule my appointment and then I would miss it. Ironically I’ve been supporting the Breast Cancer Awareness Cause for about the same amount of time that I’ve been avoiding getting tested.

This year, a coworker who has promised to share her story with us later in the month, went through the experience of breast cancer. She used to have this pretty long beautiful hair and I had not seen her in a while. We ran into each other in the bathroom and I felt confident enough to ask her if something had happened. She briefly told me her story. I will not anticipate the details of her story, but it was preventative testing what help detect her cancer at an earlier stage. I told her about my fears and how I had been avoiding it. She encouraged me to get tested and I promised her that this year I would.

To be honest I had already missed the original date of my test. So, I called my doctor’s office and reschedule. The morning of the test I didn’t want to get out of the bed, but I decided to get up and go. I was late to my appointment. I think I secretly wanted for them to tell me that they couldn’t see me, but that was not the case. I was finally in my gown waiting to be called into the testing room and in my mind I was thinking Should I just get dressed and leave. Nah, I made it this far.

no more excusesLet me tell you that I felt like a fool after the testing was done. The tech told me that it is true that in the past, this was a painful test, but that technology has advance and now everything is done digitally. The whole process takes about 15 minutes. No pain, no discomfort, no horror stories to share. It was almost like taking a chest x-ray.

As soon as I left the office I thought of writing this post. I know that someone out there has been running from this the same way I did. If the blessing that God has given me through this forum saves one life, it is worth telling my story. If like me, you’ve been running to get tested. Stop listening to the horror stories. I’m living proof that it was the greatest experience ever and that next year I will not hesitate to go.

Stay Healthy

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“ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE TO HIM WHO BELIEVES”

John 2:1-11 is the narrative recounting the first recorded miracle of Jesus at the wedding in Galilee.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

John 2:7 (NIV)

Everyone has a designated time and place when they are to connect with their God-given purpose and the plan God has for them.  There are times when we try to advance too soon and other times, we sit back waiting and possibly missing the proper time.  Based upon the scripture, someone miscalculated and the wine supply ran short, to which, Mary, the mother of Jesus looked to her son for a solution.  He replied to her, “My time has not yet come.”

Mary, didn’t let that stop her, she issued a directive to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”  What was he to do, his mother had now placed him on front street, guess what, whether he wanted to believe it or not, it was show time, his time had arrived.

During these days, weddings were carried out over a week-long period and conducted as festivals with everyone around being invited.  So, running out of anything during these times of elaborate celebrations would be considered, highly embarrassing and violated the laws of hospitality.

Mary saw a potential heartfelt problem for the hosts and looked to her heart, her son, who she knew was more than a mere human man to find a resolve.  Jesus’ mission is/was to save mankind by entering into a personal relationship, so by stepping up outside of his perceived time indicated how he would go about in his assignment – helping others, speaking with true authority, and being relational with those around him.

As servants of Christ, we should follow the command given in John 2:7, to fill the jars with water and fill them to the brim.  It should be our goal to be obedient to Christ as we do our part to the best of our abilities, while trusting and believing in Him, to reveal His glory through our obedience.

We should believe He can do more with what we offer to Him than what we ourselves can.  When He does it, He produces the best, choice miracles that defy the odds.  What He produced was fresh and new, it had never been done before.  It was impressive and abundant for all to enjoy.

At that wedding, He launched His miraculous ministry his time of preparation time was over.

What He did that day confirmed the belief in the hearts of His disciples and it should confirm in yours.  I want to encourage you today to fill your pots and fill them to the brim and then take an evaluation of those things God has placed within your heart and pray about the timing of His plan for your life.

I admonish you to align yourselves with Him and follow His commands and don’t wait until you’re close to running out or being on empty or even saving the best for last.  Do what He says now, trust and believe Him, and watch what will happen next…it will be nothing short of a miracle!

ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE TO HIM WHO BELIEVES

 

IMG_5_smallShakira R. Thompson, a natural born storyteller has submitted to her God-given talents and have allowed them to transform her into an author, publisher, and entrepreneur.

She is the founder of Believer’s Choice Media, an inspirational content company dedicated to encouraging believers to live the life they were created to live on earth and beyond.

She has recently launched her debut novel, “High Noon Justice,” a series based upon Psalms 37 to a loving high-noon-justiceand accepting audience.  These days, Shakira now believes she is living her life according to Ephesians 2:10:

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (KJV)

With a renewed sense of purpose, Shakira is ready and prepared to not only find the plan of God for her life but also fulfill it.  Shakira is a proud Alumni of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida where she holds a B.S in Business Administration as well as an M.B.A. with a concentration in Supply Chain Management.

Born and raised in Fernandina Beach, Florida, she now resides in Orlando, Florida with her family.  www.shakirathompson.com and believerschoicemedia.com

Book Release: Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches

Join me celebrate with my author friend Renea Winchester in her launch of her new book  Farming, Friends & Fried Bfarmologna Sandwiches by Mercer University Press.

If you are in the Atlanta area on September 6th, please come to the book launch (See attached invitation). Bring the family, bring your friends.  If you are out of town on that date, the City of Roswell is hosting an event September 13th from 1-3 pm.

Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches is filled with stories about neighbors, friends, and visitors from as far away as Puerto Rico, Farming captures the small-town community feel that was once prevalent and is rapidly vanishing. Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches is chocked full of easy-to-follow recipes and tips that will benefit both the inexperienced and veteran farm2gardener. In short, it is a love letter, a Southern-Style “Thank You” to the people who make the South one of the best places in the world to call home.

About the Author Renea Winchester is the daughter of Appalachia who is passionate about literacy and growing heritage flowers and vegetables. She rescues flowers from development and distributes them throughout the community. She grows her great-grandfather’s heritage corn and personally grinds it into cornmeal. Recently she raised money to help preserve the historic Monteith Farmhouse in Dillsboro NC. Her writing has won many awards including the Wilma Dykeman Appalachian Heritage, and the Denny Plattner award. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned a nomination for the prestigious Southern Independent Bookseller Alliance Award. Contact her for an interview at renea.winchester@yahoo.com Where to Buy?: Purchase Copies at Amazon, B&N, or have your local Independent Bookseller reserve a copy for you. All Bookstores can order copies for you. Mercer University Press offers a 20% Discount and FREE shipping when you ask for the Facebook discount. Their number is 866-895-1742.  E-copies will release late fall. If you haven’t read my first book about Billy, download it here

farm 3

http://www.reneawinchester.com

 

Open your eyes, the help is here.

Those close to me know that the last two months have been quite rough. Several incidents have happened and all of them were quite significant hits.WW

Before becoming closer to Christ I use to have this image that it was the world against me and I needed to be strong for me and for everyone around me. Once I understood what it says  in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  I understood then that I had to give all my troubles to the Lord and that if I was feeling burdened was because there was something I was holding on to. I had learned that his yoke is easy and if he trusted me with things, he always made a way for things to get done while I kept my peace.

I also learned what says in Ecclesiastes 4:12 “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” So when the first bullet hit, I rounded up my accountability team, fought my battle on my knees and although I was wounded I was still up and kicking.

Then a grenade came over, it’s OK. I went back to my prayer warriors to start covering me. I was still on my knees fighting the good fight. I reached out, pulled all those resources that I’ve learned in my walk. I was bleeding, but I was fighting.

While this was going on, and on one of my personal times with God the scripture for study that night was Numbers 11:11-17

 He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me?  Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors?  Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’  I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me.  If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”

 The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the tent of meeting that they may stand there with you.  I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone.”

As a leader, the scripture caught my attention, but it really went over my head. I was still standing in faith that the bleeding and the pain would get better and I would be able to move forward. The enemy saw my determination and that God still trusted more on me, so he decided to send a missile. It’s not that I was caught off guard, it was that I was already wounded, so I fell down holding on to everything that had been entrusted to me. I continued to pray, but there was so much smoke that I couldn’t see. I kept crying out for help, but I couldn’t even hear my own voice. I trusted God in this “valley of the shadow of death” but I felt like I was drowning. I kept hearing voices coming for help but I couldn’t see their hands. I didn’t know what to give them from everything I was holding on.

mosesLast night when I finally did what I should have done and had done the first two times, I surrendered and everything fell off my hands.  The fog lifted and the Lord showed me the image of Moses holding his arms up during the war against the Amelekites. When his arms were tired and Aaron and Hur held his hands up and even placed stones under his arms so that he could remain with his arms up.  Then I understood. I had been surrounded by angels who were just waiting for me to see them. I was not on the floor as I thought. I had been surrounded all this time and I just couldn’t see it. It was very humbling to hear that I had been held, that I was being supported and surrounded by love all along. All I needed to do was allow God to open my eyes.

If you’re struggling right now, allow me to pay forward what has been given to me. You can comment on the blog or send me an email to therisingmuse@gmail.com and I’ll be standing behind you in prayer as many have been standing for me through this storm.

Until next time, be blessed.

Book Review: Promises of the Heart

PoH“Promises of the heart” is the first book of author’s Scarlett Rains Sister’s of the Heart Series. The book setting is in London England and it’s a historical fiction. I’m not a fan of historical fiction, but this book was able to capture my attention. To me it was ironic to have the main character to be a sweet precocious child, when in my own books I chose that name for an adult serial killer. So the first thing was that I was interested in seeing how this Amelia would react to her surroundings.

Amelia’s behaviors are way advanced for her age and the time in which she was living, which got her in trouble with the adults in charge of her. The loss of her parents creates a grand distress in her life as she now is not sure of who would take care of her. She ends up being assigned Rachel as a governess. As she grows she starts receiving unwanted attention from the opposite sex, which confuses her. She wonders about the real intentions of her cousins and her own feelings for them.

I don’t want to reveal more, but the end leaves you looking for the second book immediately. It’s a nice read cuddled up in the sofa in front of the fireplace.

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