Category Archives: Inspirational Thoughts

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.

Zimmerman VS. Dunn

Being trapped at home snowed in, I had the opportunity to watch the Michael Dunn’s trial. I had promised myself that after Jodi Arias I was done with trials, but this one caught my attention because of the circumstances around it.

The media and social media have compared this trial to the George Zimmerman trial, and although there are many similarities, there a huge differences in my opinion. I’ll try to stay as objective as possible and try stay within the lines of facts because I know there are a lot of people being affected by this tragedy.martin

Similarities

  • These two cases came out of Florida and caught media attention
  • An adult shot an unarmed teenager.
  • The shooter and the victim were from different races.
  • In both cases the shooter claimed self defense.
  • In both cases the shooter alleged that the victim had a weapon.
  • In both cases the shooter alleged that he was threatened.
  • In both cases no weapon was found on the teenagers.
  • Racism was an important part of the cases.
  • Gun control has been part of the discussion.

dunnDifferences

  • George Zimmerman called 911, in fact more than once before the incident, so he knew police was on their way. Michael Dunn never called 911.  I know I’m trying to stay to the facts, but this part was hard for me to understand. I can understand that he didn’t call 911 from the gas station because he claimed to be afraid. He said he didn’t do anything wrong. I can even understand his perception, but if he was attacked why wouldn’t he call the police to catch his alleged attackers?
  • George Zimmerman stayed at the scene and immediately told the police that he had been the shooter. Michael Dunn fled the scene and although he didn’t deny being the shooter, he waited for the police to find him.
  • The incident between Zimmerman and Martin was in a dark kind of alley under the rain. The incident involving Dunn and Davis was in a well lit parking lot.
  • In the Zimmerman case there was very few witnesses, mostly what people were able to hear in the rain. With Dunn there were multiple witnesses and even some videos.
  • Zimmerman had physical evidence of an altercation. Dunn had no physical evidence of being attacked.
  • Zimmerman was granted out on bond to await trial. Dunn had to remain in jail throughout the process.
  • In the Zimmerman case there was a loud, high level of interest and outrage from the community and certain important leaders. Although the Dunn case has been classified as a high profile case and the local community has reacted to the case, it has not reached the levels that the other case did.

In terms of the results, a jury has decided that George Zimmerman was not guilty and acted in self defense. In the Michael Dunn case, the jury is deliberating as I type this article.

Keep both the Martins and the Davis in your prayers. Both families lost their child in a very tragic manner. They will not able to see their kids get a career, get married, or have children. I lost a sister when I was very young and it wasn’t a tragic death. I know from watching my mother that there’s not a single day where she doesn’t think about my sister and that although time does make things easier, that pain is always there.

Matthew 5:4 – Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

As a society we need to look at ourselves and how we are living. We are in a place of intolerance and violence. Let’s go back to what Jesus asked us to do:

“’Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31

…and remember that your neighbor is ANY human being around you regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, lifestyle, belief, political affiliation, socio-economical status.

Until next time, be blessed

Childlike

quote_0058-childlike-faithI had a beautiful learning experience the other day. I was leaving the church lobby in a rush to go to my ministry obligations. It was a very cold day. A mother was in the lobby with her little girl. She could not have been more than three years old. She had a cute character hat. I told the girl how cute her hat was, if she would let me have it. Without thinking it twice she took the hat off her head and gave it to me.  Then I said that since she was so generous, if she would like to come with me to keep me company as I didn’t have any little girls. Again without hesitation she walked towards me with a smile.

Now, my adult mind was freaked out thinking someone needs to teach this little girl to not be so open to strangers. I crouched next to her and gave her the hat back telling her that my head was too big for it and that it would look better on her. I also told her to go back to her mom, that I was glad she was willing to come with me but that he mommy would miss her. The little girl just smiled. I asked her one last thing, if before she left she would give me a hug. Immediately she opened her little arms and wrapped them around my neck. Her innocence and sweetness really made an impact on me.

When I walked out of the church lobby I could hear the Lord speaking to my heart. He was saying that’s what he means when he said in Matthew 18:3 “”Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”. We may have to discerning with each other because of the world we live in, but we have to totally abandon ourselves to Him.

As I was driving to the next building where I was expected for the night and I was still meditating on the event. The Lord showed me the image of a little child at the edge of a pool jumping into his father’s arms. I know that the absence of an earthly father have made it a challenge for me to be able to jump blindly into my Heavenly Father’s arms in total abandonment. I feel blessed for Him using that little girl to show me how it feels to be loved unconditionally, without fear into his welcoming arms.

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Have you experienced that? If so, share your experience with us. I would love to hear it. If not and you’re struggling with it; let us know as well and allow us to include you in our prayers.

Until next time,

Be blessed.

Snowed Out Atlanta 2014

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I took this on my own backyard.

Starting Tuesday afternoon the south was hit with a winter storm. There are many approaches to this story. We can either complaint or see how God worked through this crisis. At the time I’m writing this there are still people stranded on the roads or at temporary shelters. I’ve heard of five deaths, a baby was born who was named “Grace” and many cars are still on the side of the roads from people who had to leave them and walk to a safe place.

I can rant about a lot of things that have upset me about this situation. The authorities have not IMG_0814accepted responsibility, not for the snow, I think we are smarter than that. We are not blaming anyone for snowing but for how some things were handled. There has been no sense of accountability, partial truths and some total untruths. Which reminds me of Psalms 146:3 “Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there.”

But there’s another side to this story where we saw not only the southern hospitality, but the spirit of community and the Good Samaritan spirit in full action.

Chick- fil- A decided to serve food to stranded drivers. Drivers were sharing any food, water and blankets they had. Some people walked around their streets passing food and water to the stranded motorists. Supermarkets, gas stations and hardware stores (Home Depot)became shelters. Schools had to keep children while their teachers and employees made every effort to make them feel comfortable, ensure that they were fed and kept them safe.

On a routine day we have people whom we like more than others. I experienced the coming together of people whose personalities I see clashing every day. They were checking on each other, praying for each other. The differences disappeared and they focused on what was important, thy neighbor.

So yes, it was a difficult time and it’s not over yet, but I’ve been able to see that there’s still hope, that although the flesh has a tendency to evil, goodness shows up when the rubber meets the road.

My prayers are with those who lost loved ones and with those who have not made it home. Know that this is not just one of those we are praying for you cliché. We Are Praying for YOU! I invite anyone who reads this and it’s home safe to join me in praying, not only for those who are still struggling, but also a prayer of gratitude for the fact that you are home safe and warm.

Matthew 18:19 – Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

If you have been part of this experience and need to vent, have a special prayer request or a praise report, feel free to share it with us. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it publicly, just email me at therisingmuse@gmail.com

Stay warm. Stay safe. God Bless.

Naty

The Patience of Job

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You have probably heard this phrase frequently. When someone seems to be able to tolerate what seems to be intolerable they are often told, “You have the patience of Job” Although I don’t consider myself a very patient person, I have been told that I have the patience of Job. Here’s the thing. I think we miss some of the elements of the patience of Job. We have the tendency to idealize that he never complained, never got angry. If that was the case, not even Job had the patience of Job.

Patience is defined as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. The key wordsimages for me in this statement, without getting angry or upset and the fact that there are no screams, lamps flying or inappropriate language doesn’t mean a person is not angry or upset.

I’ve read the book of Job a little over three times. There are passages where I pushed my bible to the side fearing that just the fact that I read some of his remarks towards God was going to make a thunder come down from the skies.  Here are some examples but you have to read the book, there are a lot more:

  •  Job 3:11 “Why didn’t I die at birth, my first breath out of the womb my last?”
  • Job 6: 8-9 “All I want is an answer to one prayer, a last request to be honored:
    Let God step on me—squash me like a bug, and be done with me for good”
  • Job 7: 11-16 ““And so I’m not keeping one bit of this quiet, I’m laying it all out on the table;
        my complaining to high heaven is bitter, but honest. Are you going to put a muzzle on me,
        the way you quiet the sea and still the storm? If I say, ‘I’m going to bed, then I’ll feel better.
        A little nap will lift my spirits,’ you come and so scare me with nightmares
        and frighten me with ghosts that I’d rather strangle in the bedclothes
        than face this kind of life any longer. I hate this life! Who needs any more of this?
        Let me alone! There’s nothing to my life—it’s nothing but smoke.”
  • Job 9:21-24“Believe me, I’m blameless. I don’t understand what’s going on.
        I hate my life! Since either way it ends up the same, I can only conclude
        that God destroys the good right along with the bad. When calamity hits and brings sudden     death, he folds his arms, aloof from the despair of the innocent. He lets the wicked take over running the world; he installs judges who can’t tell.”
  • Job 10:1 “I can’t stand my life—I hate it! I’m putting it all out on the table, all the bitterness of my life—I’m holding back nothing.”
  • Job 16:8-10 “God, you have wasted me totally—me and my family! You’ve shriveled me like a dried prune, showing the world that you’re against me. My gaunt face stares back at me from the mirror, a mute witness to your treatment of me. Your anger tears at me, your teeth rip me to shreds, your eyes burn holes in me—God, my enemy!”
  • Job 17:6 “God, you’ve made me the talk of the town—people spit in my face”
  • Job 21:4 “It’s not you I’m complaining to—it’s God. Is it any wonder I’m getting fed up with his silence?”
  • Job 23:1“I’m not letting up—I’m standing my ground. My complaint is legitimate. God has no right to treat me like this— it isn’t fair!”
  • Job 30:20-23 “I shout for help, God, and get nothing, no answer! I stand to face you in protest, and you give me a blank stare! You’ve turned into my tormenter—you slap me around, knock me about. You raised me up so I was riding high and then dropped me, and I crashed. I know you’re determined to kill me, to put me six feet under.”

So once again, if your image of the patience of Job is this quiet guy who took everything in longsuffering not getting ever upset, go read the book again, that was not in the one I read. I don’t know about you but I read a lot of griping and complaining. If someone is saying constantly that he hates his life that is someone who is upset.

I’m not saying this to down Job. He was patient and truly waited on God. He endured everything that happened to him, but he vented and complained quite often. Don’t ever feel that when you bring your sorrows to the Lord it means that you are not trusting God.  When you feel the need to vent to God, don’t think that you can’t.  If God is our everything, it means HE will also be THE ONE to whom we should go with our heartaches, anxieties and pain.

One of the things I admire about Job is that he always knew that his life depended on God. He knew he was feeble and that God was sovereign. He never cursed at God, he kept his faith through losing it all and he lost it all. He lost his wife, his sons, all his earthly possessions, his friends and even his health. When I say he lost it all, he lost it ALL; but his faith.

So at least in my case, I may have some of the patience of Job. I whine and whine and complaint knowing that God is there. I give it all to him, but I still say “God is not fair” and God says it’s true, I never said life was fair, but I am fair.

I don’t only want to have the patience of Job. I also want to have his faith and endurance to be able to Praise the Lord no matter what comes my way.

Food for thought.

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Ending 2013

In the years prior I measured my success by the blogs I was able to write, the books I was able to publish and the personal goals I was able to meet. 2013 was a year rich in life lessons that could not be accounted in numbers.

This year I was a lazy blogger. I was being pulled in so many directions in my life that I couldn’t concentrate enough to write myABV blogs. I participated in a few marketing campaigns for my books but nothing major. I was able to publish one book out of pure perseverance and I know I have not done anywhere near anything to market it, so I’m not disappointed with the results because I can’t have any expectations for the work I have not done.

I have not even been consistent working out, so I have some ground to recover once the year comes back. So what are the highlights of this year?

Well, although my goal was to read twelve books, I read eight. Yes, the goal was not met but it was six books more than I read the year before.

I started working with a new ministry at my church in Spanish. Aside from writing, I’ve found another place where I know God has called me to be.

I cooked Thanksgiving dinner, something I had not done in over five years and I’m pretty proud of myself.

But to be honest the highlight of this year was a card that someone I had not talked to in a while gave me. The card said how much I

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had inspired her. I’m not boasting on that fact, I’m just happy that in spite of all my shortcomings and inabilities the Lord still used me to inspire someone. The Glory is for HIM, I’m just glad my imperfect self is still usable for him and that makes up for 365 rough days of 2013.

I’m looking forward to 2014. 2014 is a New Year with new possibilities, new opportunities, new mercies but the same awesome God.

Happy New Year 2014!

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Is Today Thanksgiving?

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.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Do we honor God through our praise?

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

ABVCheck out my new book, A Brother’s Vow… availabe on Amazon.com, Barnes & Nobles and Smashwords

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.

When everything seems wrong

Naty Matos:

I decided to reblog this post that I wrote last year today because somewhere in my heart it’s telling me that there’s someone out there that needs to read this again or for the first time. I know I needed to read it myself again. Since it was a year ago please ignore the promotion at the end of the post, but don’t forget to check out my new book “A Brother’s Vow” for only $3.99 on Kindle, Nook and Smashwords.

Talk to all of you tomorrow, be blessed.

ABV

 

A crazy promise made during a night out with his twin brother will change Randall’s life forever. Will he be able to keep the promise he made or will his past cause him to go against everything he’s worked hard to achieve?
“Randall Benson and his twin brother Brian think nothing will change in their happy, close-knit family. Their parents worked hard to establish a business and a heritage of godliness for their five sons. Randall does his part for the business, but doesn’t buy into that heritage thing. He just wants to have fun, until a series of events convinces him he has to change for the sake of the people he loves. His mother’s selfless love isn’t enough to change him. The protection and example of his brothers isn’t enough. The promises he’s desperate to keep aren’t enough. Are there really forces at work that Randall can’t control on his own?

This is a story about interconnected lives and the consequences of the actions of everybody in the family. It’s not just about one black sheep and his struggle to change. The spiritual lessons you can learn from each member of the Benson family surprise you as you make your way through this complex story and navigate their successes and failures. This isn’t women’s fiction. It’s complex adult fiction with a message for everyone who has promises to keep. By Mary C. Findley”
Amazon.comBarnes & Nobles and Smashwords.

Originally posted on Naty Matos' Blog:

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. He thinks, “Gotcha! Now there’s nothing you can do!”

I’m here to tell you that we’ve all felt that way, that sense of impotence in front of a situation where we feel like we are so ill equip to handle or help the ones we love. God always provides a way and if nothing else there’s always something you can do:

Pray:

“Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants…

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Staying Relevant

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 Bibleabuser (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. legacySupper 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!

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