Category Archives: Inspirational Thoughts
Growing up I remembered the joy of Thanksgiving Day. I would wake up early to watch the Macy’s Day Parade, while my mother would be in the kitchen making our Thanksgiving meal. She cooked for our lunch as our neighbor across the street always brought us a plate from their meal for our dinner. So it was super neat. You got to eat turkey twice but different turkey and sides.
As an adult for some reason Thanksgiving was the highlight of the holidays for me. I was always invited somewhere for Christmas and we had a neighborhood tradition for New Years Eve, so I hosted every Thanksgiving. The day before, I cooked until late hours in the night. I made sure my Christmas tree was up because in my mind it was going to be my only chance for others to see it. It was a very exciting time.
I know times change, but there’s something very wrong about what I see starting to happen this year. I get the whole Black Friday thing. I’ve never participated and if you ever catch me at 2 am in the cold waiting for a store to open to buy anything, you have my full permission to commit me. But I do get the chase for a sale, the opportunity to buy things at a better price for the holidays (although those are not really sales, but that’s a different argument). However this year we have moved it to Thursday. There are stores that are opening all day on Thanksgiving Day for people to go buy stuff. Can’t we just wait a day?
I also understand that there’s people that rather be in the stores than at home with their families for whatever reason, but sometimes we have to think about others as well. This is a time to be thankful for everything we have, and sometimes we do not realize how much we DO have? If you’re reading this post, it means you have some kind of device and internet access to read it. It also means that you are literate, when there are tons of people without the ability to read. It means that you’re not blind, when some wish they could see anything. If you are standing by the door of a store or find yourself in one, it means you have means of transportation, that you have health, that you have money or balance on that credit card to make the purchase. Those are things to be thankful for. But you also have a choice, the person working at that store doesn’t.
When you sign up for a career as a doctor, a nurse, a fireman or a policeman you know that the job has no holidays. When you where hired for a retail store you expected that you could spend the holidays with your loved ones.
Do you remember the movie Scrooge? Do you remember Tim’s mom who was forced to go to work on Christmas Day out of her boss’ greed? She was a single mother trying to provide for her kids and all she wanted was some time with them. How many of those men and women we have taken from their families today over a sweater, a tablet or a television set that could have waited until tomorrow?
In case you’re missing it, this is what is really about:
Stay warm, be safe.
This past weekend I went to get my nails and feet done. This is one of my once a month guilty pleasures that I’ve learned to keep up as my to do thing for myself. While I was waiting for my “nail guy”, someone else had started my pedicure. In the meantime I was reading a bible study on my phone and I came across this scripture…
Mark 7:6-13 NLT ”Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.” Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition. For instance, Moses gave you this law from God: ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you let them disregard their needy parents. And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others.”
Some twenty minutes later my “nail guy” and we were carrying on a conversation. He pointed out to a guy who looked a lot like him. It was his younger brother. The young fellow didn’t look happy. He explained that the guy had been at home without a job or schooling and their mother, the owner of the shop, had made him come work with them. The guy was not pleased, but didn’t feel like he had a choice, so he had been coming to work.
This narrative reminded me of the scripture I had just read. And there’s so many things that I got from this scripture.
- The religiosity in our world, where “believers” operate by religion and not love
- The ideas and doctrines that we see that stray from the teachings from the bible.
- The disrespect that we see against the older generations
- The lack of respect that we see in our younger generations towards their parents
My mother lives in an independent living place and when I visit her she tells me the stories of many of her neighbors who are sick or in need of help and support but there’s nobody to attend their needs. My question to her always is do they have family? The sad answer is always yes.
The way I saw the last part was when people go to church, are very involved, but do not have time to tend to their elderly parents. Those who help every charity, but their parents are in a home without anyone who would buy them toothpaste or a soda.
How does this relate to my nail salon experience? I’ve seen teenagers and young adults snap at their parents when given a directive. This young man, although he didn’t want to be there, he respected what his mother asked of him. Even more, the one telling me the story has been working in that shop for 6 years, although he’s licensed to do something else that he eventually wants to pursue. But he always tells me that he will be there while his mother needs him. He plans to train his brother to see if that would be his opportunity to move on, but until his mother is covered he will not move. And he does his job with excellency even though its something he doesn’t care for.
It makes me reflect on the following questions:
- Have I honored God by properly honoring my parents?
- Do I honor what God wants me to do? Or do I follow my wishes?
- How is my worship? Is it heartfelt or do I just follow the tradition and customs?
I think is a lot to digest but a great food for thought
Just $3.99 See how this family dynamics worked together and how honoring or dishonoring each of these characters were to their parents and to the will of God.
Also remember that the book giveaway is still open, read more about that here.
Have you ever been in a situation where everything that could possibly go wrong does? and then you think, well…what else could happen? and it does. A pastor friend of mine used to tell me the bigger the attack, the bigger the upcoming blessing. So after you’ve fought your own battles and are finally coming out for air; the enemy comes and goes after a loved one.
by Deborah Heal
A Dangerous Trend
I don’t believe fiction, especially Christian fiction for young people, needs gratuitous violence to make the plot exciting. I was happy to discover Wall Street Journal book reviewer Meghan Cox Gurdon and her Imprimus article, “The Case for Good Taste in Children’s Books.” In it she gives examples of unbelievable violence taken from current, best-selling young adult fiction and then makes a compelling case for why this is a dangerous trend:
What I do wish is that people in the book business would exercise better taste; that adult authors would not simply validate every spasm of the teen experience; and that our culture was not marching toward ever-greater explicitness in depictions of sex and violence. Books for children and teenagers are written, packaged, and sold by adults. It follows from this that the emotional depictions they contain come to young people with a kind of adult imprimatur. As a school librarian in Idaho wrote to her colleagues in my defense: “You are naïve if you think young people can read a dark and violent book that sits on the library shelves and not believe that that behavior must be condoned by the adults in their school lives.”
. . . Let me close with Saint Paul the Apostle in Philippians 4:8: Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. And let us think about these words when we go shopping for books for our children. (Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.)
I wholeheartedly agree with her position. You can read the rest of her excellent article HERE.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
But in writing fiction, you do have to have bad guys. I believe that to be compelling, relevant, and useful Christian fiction should honestly address the difficult issues of our times. How will the good be revealed unless it is contrasted to the bad?
One of the minor themes that developed in Unclaimed Legacy is spousal abuse—not a pretty topic to be sure. This is why I don’t recommend it for younger teens, even though I kept the violence to a minimum and mostly offstage.
It wasn’t easy writing about domestic violence, but it is a part of daily life for so many families that I felt I couldn’t gloss over it in telling Reuben and Franny’s story (the historical backstory in Unclaimed Legacy).
As the blurb for Unclaimed Legacy says, sometimes when Abby and John are “time-surfing” they learn more than they want to know about people from the past. (Read the full blurb and a free chapter of Unclaimed Legacy HERE) Sometimes, when I’m researching for my books, I learn more than I want to know too! I discovered some shocking facts. Futures Without Violence.com says:
One in four women has experienced violence by a boyfriend or spouse.
Seven million children live in families in which severe violence occurs.
On average 500 women are raped or sexually assaulted each day in the U.S.
Trish Jenkins says in her book Treasures of Darkness—which I highly recommend, by the way—that the prison nurse estimated that 96% of her fellow inmates had been the victims of sexual or other physical abuse. (You can see my interview with Trish HERE.)
And domestic violence begins earlier than I ever dreamed—with dating teens! According to the Joyful Heart Foundation, 51% of all 15-22-year-olds in the United States know a victim of dating violence or sexual assault.
And lest you think Christian families are immune, think again. Religion Today tells the story of “Marleen” whose husband was an upstanding member of the church—a deacon and a Sunday School teacher no less. When “Marleen” went to her pastor for counsel, he advised her to “try to submit more.” Two weeks later, she was dead, murdered by her husband. I think there will be a special punishment for this kind of thug.
The Worst Fictional Bad Guy I Could Imagine
And I imagine that the horror and and psychological damage of domestic violence must be much worse where perpetrators use the Bible (misinterpreted and bent all out of recognition) to justify their crimes—as my fictional character Bertram White does.
When I needed a bad guy for Unclaimed Legacy, I couldn’t think of a worse thing than that he would be a man who quoted the Bible while beating his wife. I kept the photo of this unknown angry man over my computer while inventing Bertram White.
Meet Bertram White in this excerpt from Unclaimed Legacy:
Bertram White slowed his buggy and turned into the lane, eventually coming to a stop in front of the barn. He lumbered down from the buggy and unhitched his lathered mare. Slapping her rump, he turned her out into a pasture that lay beyond the board fence that ran behind the out buildings. He took off his gray felt hat and wiped his face with his handkerchief. His face was red, his mouth set in angry lines, a vein prominent on his nearly bald head.
Kicking at a chicken that was in his path, he stormed across the yard and up the steps onto the porch, the boards creaking under his weight. The screen door wailed softly before banging shut behind him. He walked into the dim kitchen and looked around in disbelief. Supper not even started. He swore in disgust and started down the dim hallway, his boots falling like sledge hammers on the wooden floor. When he reached the parlor at the front of the house, his footsteps were hushed by the Oriental rug, but still an aura of violence followed him into the quiet room. He saw that his wife sat staring out the tall front window, its mullions casting a cross-hatched shadow on her face.
He flipped open his pocket watch and she jerked out of her reverie and turned to him. Her face drained of color and she stood, stumbling against the chair leg in her haste.
“It’s getting on to six o’clock,” he said, snapping the watch case shut. “But for some strange reason I don’t smell supper cooking.” His voice was like angry hornets looking for the farmer that had stirred up their nest.
“I was watching for the stagecoach.” She made her lips turn up in a smile, because sometimes she could jolly him out of a bad mood. “Only two riders today, Bertram. We’ll miss seeing the stage coaches go by, won’t we?” A little breeze pushed its way into the stuffy room, shushing the burgundy damask drapes and playing with a few strands of dark hair that had escaped from her chignon. She lifted a pale, thin hand and nervously smoothed it away from her face.
“Well, I for one, am happy to see the railroad come, but that’s neither here nor there. I warned you about having my supper ready on time.”
“I’m sorry, Bertram. I’ll get right in the kitchen and I’ll—”
“It’s too late for your excuses now.” He took off his jacket, laid it neatly over the arm of the settee, and unbuttoned his top shirt button. Even that didn’t take away the angry redness from his face.
“You have to obey me! The preacher said so, ‘Wives, submit to your husbands.’ Ephesians 5:22.”
“I will. I promise I will.”
He whipped his leather belt through the loops on his pants. The snapping sound caused her to flinch.
“You make me do this,” he said, grabbing her arm.
John snapped the laptop shut and stalked off. “That’s enough,” he said, exhaling loudly.
In the gloom of the museum theatre Abby could barely see him, but she heard his breath coming in a sort of wheezy pant. Then she realized she was wheezing too. “I wish there was a way to call the cops on him.”
“I wish there was a way I could get my hands on that sanctimonious toad for just one minute,” John said.
Abby sank onto a seat in the front row. “He’s so full of hate. Guess he forgot that next verse about men loving their wives. I feel a little sick to my stomach.”
Merri sat down next to her. “And I thought my parents’ marriage was bad. Please don’t ever make me go inside that guy’s head again. And why did we, anyway? One minute we’re watching that woman waving at us and the next—”
“I was trying to lock onto her, but we’re too far away from Shake Rag Corner. So it locked onto that Bertram White guy when he drove up.”
John came and sat on Abby’s other side. “I wish we could get closer,” he said.
Abby blinked. But then realized John meant get closer to Shake Rag Corner. She wished he would put his arm around her and hold her for about an hour. She was sure if he did, the hate and violence of the scene they had just witnessed would go away.
What Would Meghan Say?
I think Meghan Cox Gurdon would approve of my handling of the subject. (Now if only she’d post a review of Unclaimed Legacy in the Wall Street Journal!)
I pray that if anyone reading this is in a violent relationship you will be rescued from your misery. If Christians—even pastors—are telling you that you are obligated, as a good wife, to endure the beatings, I want you to know that I and many other Christians—even especially pastors—would tell you that you are not! Flee to safety! The first step might be calling the National Domestic Hotline. 1-800-799-SAFE. Meanwhile, know that I’ll be praying for you.
I am the author of the Time and Again time-travel mystery series. I was born not far from the setting ofEvery Hill and Mountain and grew up “just down the road” from the setting of Time and Again andUnclaimed Legacy. Today I live with my husband in Waterloo, Illinois, where I enjoy reading, gardening, and learning about regional history. We have three grown children, four grandchildren, and two canine buddies Digger and Scout. I love to interact with my readers, so I hope you’ll leave a comment below.
For a limited time, Unclaimed Legacy is available for 99 cents!
In the last couple of weeks I’ve heard different people, who don’t even know each other, say that someone is so stubborn that they have been compared to a burro. In the animal kingdom we know that when a donkey or burro decides to sit, they would stay there and not move no matter what you do.
So what do we do?
I have been thinking about this for a while. I thought it was interesting to hear the same analogy from people who didn’t know each other. We have many “burros” in our lives. Those are the people we define as being quite stubborn and will not even think of considering another’s point of view. But we have to try.
I went searching for the answer and this is what I found.
“First make sure your donkey is not sick and is a healthy .Practice leading in a small space before attempting to go out into the open as donkeys are really strong. Make sure you have the verbal commands, walk, whoa, backup, over (porcupine game) in place before stepping out into the open for walks. In the beginning small cut pieces of carrots and a green apple help with learning how to lead I do train with treats in the beginning and surprise them every now and again later.”
When I look at it within people and within faith it is not too different.
Make sure that they are not sick.
How many times do people have issues that make them react the way they do? How many times do our issues make us react the way we do? We have to be sensitive to those situations instead of jumping on the judgment bandwagon. We should be a witness for those people with issues and acknowledge our own issues in order to work on them.
Practice leading in a small space before going out in the open.
This reminds me when Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:19-21 “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.” Sometimes we need to come down off our “christianese” high horse and remember that we were a mess before Christ, and we’re still not perfect in order to understand other people’s struggles.
Make sure you have verbal commands
I have to admit that I’m one that sometimes thinks, “They should know better”. I have to be honest with myself and know that there were times when I didn’t. Guess what? They may not know either. Sometimes you have to tell the truth in love. Sometimes people don’t know of the other options in life to resolve things.
In the beginning cut small pieces of carrots and apples
Do you remember how long it took you to actually get it? I know it took me a lot of time and sometimes I still miss what God is trying to tell me. We should not be preaching and giving small portions of knowledge without losing the relationship. At some times we just need to share times and have a relationship with a person before you can even get a word regarding the Word into the conversation. Remember, small pieces of carrot not and apples and you will move the burro, otherwise he won’t move. The same goes for people; you can’t give them what they are not ready to receive. Be conscious and graceful.
Train with treats in the beginning and surprise them every now and again.
Let people in your life know that you care about them. If you are preaching to them all the time instead of building a relationship, YOU are the one missing the point. God places people in our lives to make community and to love, not to change them. If you want to make an impact in someone’s life, you first have to be an example that they want to follow. Then you have to have someone they want to be around. How do you like extremely religious people? There’s your answer.
I promise, I’m not trying to compare humans to burros, but I know I have been a burro and I’m grateful for those who had patience with me. I would not have made it where I am without them
Until next time… Be blessed.
We are all pursuing true love. God created us as social beings, yes even those of us who don’t enjoy being around people. The reality is that those who don’t enjoy being around people, are just protecting themselves from being hurt, if you look deep down. As loving creatures we crave love, just as much or more than we crave food or water.
But as we pursue love, are we willing to give love, real love? At the end of the day, what is love? The word of God tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends.”
So having that as a base, are we patient with the ones we love?
I know that this is a hard one. We all have expectations for ourselves and for those around us. Sometimes we know the potential of our loved ones, but they may not be ready, don’t realize it or simply don’t want to. Are we patient enough to support them through their journey?
Do we always want to get our way?
Ask yourself this, do you rather be at peace or right all the time? Sometimes we have to compromise in all kinds of relationships. Yes, we obviously think that our way and our thoughts are the best ideas, but when we love someone we need to take a step back and give grace and allow others to go at their own pace, their way and support them and love them through the process.
Do we really believe in them?
In spite of the faults and weaknesses that we see in the ones we love, do we truly believe in the best for them? If we love someone we can’t show our love being critical of them. Instead we should encourage their dreams, their desires and their hopes.
Do we hope for all things?
When things are at their darkest point we need to place our trust in God and not necessarily on the other person. At the same time, do we allow the Lord to work the situation or do we just give up at the first sign of being uncomfortable? Let’s not forget that “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who has been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
So we know everything will be alright even on the darkest of nights. Remember, when Jesus came to earth, the worst that could happen to the apostles was to lose him and he died…but then he was resurrected. In every dead area of our lives we need to hold on to the hope that he will either will be resurrected or make it brand new.
Can we endure all things?
Life and relationships are not easy. Even identical twins are different human beings. We need to learn to accept people for who they are. When we are committed to love somebody, we need to be prepared for trouble to come, not because we want to, but because it’s life. Sometimes issues happen because a situation happens or because there’s a disagreement. When we truly love, regardless of the type of relationship, we need to be prepared to work through our issues instead of disregard the relationship. If we decide to love like Jesus did, let’s do the right thing and express true love.
Until next time… Be blessed.
When we are worn out with the challenges of life, usually life just throws us another curve. I tend to tell myself that’s what life uses to keep me on my toes so that I don’t get bored. I’m never bored. And when that extra curve comes; have you noticed that it’s usually related to the ones closest to us?
Our loved ones have the key to our hearts, and what they do, don’t do or what happens to them, tends to hit us harder. A harsh word makes us evaluate how could this be happening after all the love that we have given? A painful incident makes us feel powerless from being able to protect them. A bad choice makes us feel helpless to the fact that there’s nothing we can do about other people’s choices.
Somehow it makes us feel like we are losing the battle…
But remember that when Jesus went to the cross, he went for the same reasons. He was able to DO something, die for our sins. But it also hurts his heart when we make bad choices and because of the freedom we have he is powerless of doing anything unless we decide to turn to him. After the love that He has given us, he too experiences rejection, neglect and abandonment from us.
But in the hour that counted, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:24). At the moment where we were attacking him the most, he begged for our mercy in spite of his pain.
Don’t we want to be more like Jesus? Then let’s pray that he helps us be graceful with those who hurt our hearts. Worship with me today and until next time… Be Blessed…..
The other day,, a coworker and I went for our early morning workout. When we made it back to the office we were happy, energized and giggling. We were talking about our lives and about the things we had to do that day. The day was sunny; we had just brewed the perfect pot of coffee. It was a good day.
As we sat to work, we started talking about a common challenge. As we discussed the issue, we both started painting the possibilities of the worst case scenarios and how we could handle those. The conversation continued for a little while, and all of the sudden there was silence.
Now, bear in mind we are both very chatty people and we continued almost until noon working quietly, which is a very rare instance. All of the sudden I turned to her and asked her, “What did we just do? Did we just depress ourselves? Her answer was yes.
We had started the day energized and happy, but we had allowed negative thinking to enter into our lives. Even at that point when we had both agreed that even if worst case scenario played out we both believed that God would make everything work for what was best, we didn’t regain our joyful demeanor.
The truth is that in general we all have the tendency to do that. . We allow the enemy to enter our minds and guide us to the landfill of doubt and discouragement. We allow the fear, anxieties and doubt to take the place of faith and trust in God, leaving us hopeless.I had to go to the Word and remind myself that I need to stand in God’s promises. That just like Jeremiah 29:11 says, ” For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
I also had to tell myself that if I put my trust in God I have to know that “we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)
What lie is the enemy feeding your mind today? What is making you look at your circumstances instead of the face of God?
Cast all your fears and doubts at the feet of Jesus. Remember, he already paid the price. He always loves you.
1 Peter 5:7
Let Him have all your worries and cares, for He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.
I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
Until next time, be blessed
The other day I was talking to a friend whom I appreciate but who complaints a lot about other people. Some days she tells me all about how good this person is with her. A few days later she tells me how terrible this same person is towards her. Now if we allow ourselves to be honest with ourselves we all have those same moments with people in our relationships. Everyone has its good days and their bad days. The reality is that we don’t feel the same way about people all the time.
I remember long time ago I was working with this lady who had been married for a long time. I asked her what her secret was. She told me that in love, in any kind of love, you have to love someone everyday and that doesn’t mean you like them every day. I’ve thought about that statement and it’s very true. We are called to love one another, not to like one another. We may not approve of someone else’s behavior, but we are still called to love them. That is exactly what God does with us, that’s the expression of unconditional love, to love people in spite of how they think, act or behave.
But this is not a post about unconditional love. It’s about searching our souls for what it is that annoys us about the other people around us. I’ve learned through my journey to become closer to Christ is to become the 4yr old and ask why, why, why? I don’t do that to annoy my Heavenly Father. I do that to learn a lot about myself.
As someone who works in the behavioral health field, I understand that some of our thoughts and behaviors are not always conscious and mostly are a result of our heritage and life experiences. So when something happens, before jumping to a decision on how to deal with the situation, I want to know, why it bothers me so much? Most of the times I’ve had to discover that there’s a part of me that acts exactly the way of whatever it is that annoys me.
How is it possible that something that really bothers me in others, is also a behavior that I display? I have come to the conclusion that God presents us with those situations, so that we can see ourselves in the mirror and know how annoying we can be to others. I know that I complain about that same person that I was talking about at the beginning of this post. I complain about the way some days she’s very negative and complaints about others. But some days I talk about how much of an instrumental key she’s in my life. You see… I do the same thing that she does and that annoys me.
The bottom line is that I can’t change anyone, but I can change me. I appreciate every opportunity the Lord gives me to show me who I am to perfect me into a closer image of Jesus Christ.
Until then, be blessed
Spending time amongst fellow believers at a conference this past summer, one of the things that I heard a lot was about people having many hats in their ministries. I’ll admit that I joined the choir of complainants. A dear friend looked at me and reminded me the following scripture:
He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Luke10:2
When I looked up what are we supposed to celebrate today, this is what I found that Labor Day “celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers.”
So from the world perspective here I honor or all those who in one way or another contribute to our economy and society.
From the church perspective I honor all those volunteers that week after week make everything happen. Those who make meals for those in need, who take care of the children of others and teach them the Word of God, To those who prepare in prayer the Praise and Worship for our services, set up chairs, clean the bathrooms, work the parking lots under the sun and the rain…
To all of you:
I also encourage that if you are not plugged within the Body of Christ, don’t take it lightly. We truly need you and we are hurting without you.
Until then, be blessed.