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Posts tagged ‘Forgiveness’

A Legacy of Forgiveness by Betty Thomason Owens

Group of People Holding Cross and Praying in Back LitOne of my favorite things, as a child, was digging through Grandma’s box of black-and-white photos. Some of these dated back to the early 1900s. One caught my eye and I always drew it out first—a professional portrait of a couple, dressed up for an outing. It was the 1920s, and the woman in the picture wore a dress that skimmed the tops of her knees. Shocking! Grandma said the woman was her cousin, who lived in Chicago, and the man was her “intended.”

Grandma’s cousin also wore white stockings and high-heeled shoes and a ribbon around her forehead. I memorized the photo, making up stories as I gazed at it. Of course, she was from a big city. According to Grandma, decent girls around her small town in West Tennessee wouldn’t dream of dressing like that. In the early sixties, about the time I was pawing through her pictures, Grandma still wore a dress while she worked in the garden and the field.

Grandma married in 1920, at the age of fourteen. Grandpa was seventeen. They moved in with his parents and younger siblings, where Grandma was given the daily task of cooking, keeping house, and watching the youngest children, while the rest of the family worked in the cotton fields. And she was only fourteen. Maybe that’s why no one she knew dressed up in the flapper costumes.

One thing they did do in the Mississippi Valley was make and partake of … moonshine. It was outlawed, of course, as was all strong drink. So there was money to be made and two hundred-proof swill to guzzle. Unfortunately, my grandfather died in his thirties as a direct result of the alcohol he drank.

When I set out to write the story of Nancy Sanderson, I remembered that photograph and set the story in the 1920s, an era that had always fascinated me. A few of the remote facts of my family’s history found their way into the story as well. One of the characters in Amelia’s Legacy has to dodge the law because of his connection to the moonshine-running industry.

As I wrote and worked on the story, I noticed a recurring theme running throughout—of forgiveness. Forgiveness has been an ongoing issue in my life. I think it so often finds its way into my writing, because it’s been ever present in my life. I find great joy in the fact that I am forgiven. And not only has God forgiven me, He has blotted out my sins, according to Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

Forgiveness is so important to God, He places a demand on us to forgive (Matthew 6:14-15). Forgive, so that you may also be forgiven. The Message Bible goes on to say, “…if you don’t do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.”  And how many times do we forgive a transgression? Seventy-times-seven (Matthew 18:22). I don’t know about you, but I don’t keep count, because I’m hoping no one keeps count of the number of times they’ve had to forgive me.

Nancy Sanderson achieves forgiveness and begins to turn her life around then suffers a setback when her past catches up to her. How often does this happen? She deals with it the best she knows how, which isn’t very well, and definitely isn’t the right way. Thanks to a loving family, she eventually finds her way. But it comes down to a final question of forgiveness. Can she forgive the one who set out to destroy her?

In my heart I desire to leave the reader with a basic knowledge of the practice of forgiveness. Or at least a prompting in the heart and desire to make things right. It’s like getting up in the morning and deciding to smile and have a good day. Sometimes, that’s what you have to do. Smiles are contagious. If you smile, other people return your smile. Forgiveness is similar. If you forgive, others will be much more likely to forgive you. God knew this, you see. It is really for our benefit.

It still all comes down to that amazing Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Betty Owens 2About the Author:

Betty Thomason Owens lives in Kentucky with her husband, Robert. They have three grown sons living in the area, along with their daughters-in-law, four beautiful granddaughters (one more on the way!), and two handsome grandsons.

Betty is semiretired, and spends most of her time writing, studying about writing, and critiquing other peoples’ writing. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group, and attends regular local meetings. She’s also involved with Bluegrass Christian Writers, a lively group of Kentucky writers, who meet quarterly in a Lexington, Kentucky bookstore.

Betty has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale Books, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell Press.

She also writes historical fiction. Her most recent release, Amelia’s Legacy is the first novel in the Legacy series for Write Integrity Press. In addition to the ’20’s era romances, Betty also writes contemporary stories as a co-author of A Dozen Apologies and the upcoming Love Boat Bachelor.

Visit her webpage or find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.Amelia's Legacy FRONT CoverMore About Amelia’s Legacy:

It’s the Roaring Twenties and anything goes …

Orphaned and living with her grandmother since the age of six, Nancy Sanderson desires only her freedom from her strict grandmother, Amelia Woods Sanderson, who divides her time between Nancy and a successful career. Her grandmother’s plans include a wealthy, smart, and well-connected young lawyer named Robert Emerson, who bores Nancy.

Instead, Nancy seeks the company of the wild-hearted Nate Conners. When her rebellion turns deadly and her dalliance with Nate leaves her in trouble, Nancy turns to Robert, who promises to protect her. But Robert has underestimated Nate’s thirst for revenge.

As hidden truths become known, can Nancy find the strength to forgive herself and gain true and lasting freedom?

Character Interview: Carol Daniels from Janet Sketchley’s Secrets and Lies

Secrets and Lies webToday’s guest is Carol Daniels from Janet Sketchley’s novel, Secrets and Lies. Carol, thank you for being with us today.

Let’s start out by having you tell our readers a little about yourself.

It’s nice to meet you, Fay. I’m a single mom, husband deceased, raising my teen son and trying to keep a low profile. We’ve had some threats, and I don’t want to be found. <sighs> Except now we may be in danger again. Enough of that. You didn’t invite me here to whine. What can I say about myself? I work in a small café, baking desserts and waiting tables. Art, especially from Impressionist painters like Monet, refreshes my soul. So does a good cup of tea. Peppermint’s my favourite—it smells like freedom. I love classic rock, especially Billy Joel. When I’m stressed, I bake and clean—and I get nightmares.

You have suffered the one loss that I know without a doubt no parent ever wants to go through. Carol, how do you deal with the loss of a child?

I don’t know, Fay. I really don’t know. The one thing that kept me from giving up was I still had Paul. We helped one another, I think. He needed me, so I had to keep going, keep working, and providing for him.

You still have Paul, another son, with you. Is it hard for you to allow him his freedom? If so, how do you manage to loosen the reins on him to let him live his own life?

Paul’s surprisingly well-adjusted, and he’s a great kid. But you know sixteen-year-olds. They think they’re indestructible. He’s not taking this danger as seriously as he should. He keeps his curfew, lets me know where he’ll be, and there’s no sign of drugs. I know what to look for, after Keith. Paul hangs out with his friends a lot, even does his homework with them. So far his grades are okay, and although it’s hard to let him out of my sight, everything seems to be okay. Aside from drugs, the one non-negotiable is music. Listening is fine, but he’s not to play guitar, not to join a band. I want him to grow up to be a responsible husband and dad—not a deadbeat like his father!

I found you an incredibly brave heroine. Your life took a twist—more than once—but you persevered. To what or whom do you credit your resilience?

When anyone you trust will let you down, you can’t break. I’ve never had anyone to rely on, not since my mom died when I was a child. <pause> That’s how it feels, anyway. To tell the truth, I’ve had a few listening ears who’ve made a big difference. Before my son Paul and I fled Calgary, my friend Jackie was great at cheering me up. Now here in my new home, I’ve made phone friends with a late-night deejay, Joey. He’s so welcoming when I call, and he never judges or tells me how to run my life. <snickers> He even says he’ll pray for me, and so far it hasn’t done any harm. Not that I’m in a hurry to try it myself.

Carol, you struggled with prayer. I’d love for you to share those struggles with our readers and then to tell them how that struggle impacted your life.

I believe God is real, but I keep my distance. Prayer hasn’t worked for me. I’m afraid to try it again. I told you my mom died? Well, shortly before that, she “found Jesus” at a tent meeting. My father took it personally, like she was cheating on him. He turned abusive. He didn’t kill her, it was a traffic accident. But he might as well have. Did I pray? All through that time. So did my brother. But Dad didn’t change, and she died. Then my son, Keith… <sniffs, wipes eyes> I’m sorry. It’s been two years now, but some things you never get over. I had a friend, at least I thought she was a friend. Prayer healed her of a brain tumour. Cancer—gone! She taught me how to pray for Keith, said he’d break free. We  prayed it and claimed it. I was so relieved. The next week, Keith was gone. She blamed me. She’d had faith to be healed, so it wasn’t her. My failure killed my son. Joey says God’s not like that. I wish I could believe him, but the stakes are too high for Paul and me. I don’t dare risk prayer. But I don’t think I can handle this on my own. If I break, who’s left for Paul? Or for me?

Thank you for being with us today. I look forward to talking with your author, Janet, on Wednesday.

Thanks for the chance to chat. I didn’t mean to spill so much angst, but it’s been good to have a caring listener.

That’s what Inner Source is all about. Getting to know the heart of the characters and the Truth that drives them. I’m so glad you shared so readily.

More about Secrets and Lies

A single mother must protect her teenage son—from organized crime and from himself.

Carol Daniels thinks she out-ran her enemies, until a detective arrives at her door with a warning from her convict brother. Minor incidents take on a sinister meaning. An anonymous phone call warns her not to hide again.

Now she must cooperate with a drug lord while the police work to trap him. Carol has always handled crisis alone, but this one might break her. Late-night deejay Joey Hill offers friendship and moral support. Can she trust him? One thing’s certain. She can’t risk prayer.

Besides the Amazon link given above, Secrets and Lies can also be purchased at Createspace, at Amazon Canada, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.

Janet Sketchley headshot 350x350About the Author:

Janet Sketchley is the author of Heaven’s Prey and Secrets and Lies, two novels of suspense and redemption. She also blogs about faith and books. Janet loves adventure stories, worship music, tea and Formula 1 racing. Like Carol in Secrets and Lies, she loves music and tea. Unlike Carol, Janet isn’t related to a dangerous offender, has a happy home life, and has never been threatened by a drug lord. May those tidbits continue to hold true! You can find Janet online at her website.  Fans of Christian suspense are invited to join Janet’s writing journey through her monthly newsletter. You can also catch up with Janet on the Secret and Lies website, on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon Author Central, and Pinterest.

 

Threads of a Tapestry by Susan Anne Mason

Susan Anne Mason (427x640)Thank you, Fay, for having me here to talk about my debut romance Betrayed Hearts, which released through White Rose Publishing this past August.

I have always loved themes of forgiveness, self-sacrifice and worthiness. Originally I called this book Threads of a Tapestry, mainly because of an interview I heard on the radio with actress Ellen Burstyn, who had experienced quite a lot of emotional upheaval in her life. The interviewer asked Ellen if she could erase all the bad moments and all the bad relationships from her past, would she do it? Ellen gave such an amazing answer that it stuck with me. She said (paraphrasing here) that no, she wouldn’t erase the bad things in her life, because the good and the bad moments were like the threads of a tapestry that were intricately woven together to shape her into the woman she was today.

That idea stayed with me, and when I created the character of Lily, I knew she would be someone who had also suffered many bad moments in her life and who had become jaded because of them. I wanted her to come to know God’s great love by way of a wonderful hero, who saw past the barriers she had built to protect herself and who discovered the wounded but loving person inside. A man who appreciated her outer beauty, but who more importantly valued her inner beauty above all. Lily had only known men who used and abused her, and I wanted her to experience the unconditional love of a good man who connected with her soul. A man who demonstrated God’s unconditional love for his children. And through Nick’s unselfish example, Lily would at last come to believe that she was truly worthy and return to God’s loving embrace.

Both Lily and Nick experience moments of self-sacrifice in the book. Lily struggles with putting her own desires ahead of her sister’s best interests. Nick struggles with wanting his career as a minister, but wanting Lily as well. When it seems like the two are mutually exclusive, he is forced to make the toughest decision of his life.

I hope Lily’s story will demonstrate that no matter how many mistakes a person makes, or how far away from their faith they have fallen, it is never too late to ask for forgiveness and receive God’s great mercy.

I hope you will all find a little piece of Lily within yourselves and come to know the type of unconditional love she has found, both in Nick and in God. And if you like the quirky characters in Rainbow Falls, you can travel back there again for Lily’s friend, Maxi’s story! Wayward Hearts releases in early December. Thanks for sharing this time with me!

Blessings,

Susan

BetrayedHearts_medium (1)More About Betrayed Hearts

Lily Draper comes to Rainbow Falls in search of her biological sister, the only blood relative she has left. Emotionally scarred by her preacher father, Lily avoids religion at all cost. Her new landlord, an aspiring minister, soon has her questioning her views. Can she learn to trust Nick’s heart or will her sordid past destroy their love?

Nick Logan hopes to take over for the retiring minister who has groomed Nick for the job. But Reverend Ted seems to feel the position requires Nick to marry an upstanding woman, namely Ted’s niece. When Nick finds himself falling in love with Lily Draper, the woman least likely to become a minister’s wife, his problems escalate. And when Reverend Ted gives him an ultimatum, Nick faces an impossible choice.

Can he accept God’s will and still find a place for Lily in his life?

WaywardHearts_medSusan’s next book in the Rainbow Falls series, Wayward Hearts, will be released in December 2014.

Hairstylist Maxi North is living her dream in Manhattan, poised to become junior partner in one of the city’s classiest salons. Her father’s death puts her plans on hold while she travels home to face her past. There, she is forced to confront unrequited feelings for her former best friend, Jason Hanley, as well as her deeply buried guilt over her younger brother’s death.

Fireman-in-training, Jason Hanley knows how badly Rainbow Falls needs its own fire station. As a new Christian, he pledges to serve the people of his community and to help open a new fire station as soon as possible. When his friend, Maxi, and her mother almost perish in a fire, Jason becomes involved in helping them re-build their farmhouse. Soon he finds himself wondering if he and Maxi can ever put aside their differences to find a future together.

Fighting to Forgive by Jennifer Slattery

headshot2013It was a beautiful spring day. Praise music drifted from my car speakers, and I didn’t have a care on my mind…until I stepped from the vehicle. Standing with my hand on the gas hose, my thoughts took a wayward, and very unexpected turn. Out of nowhere, a memory resurfaced, bringing with it a surge of anger.

Dazed, I finished filling my tank and tried to make sense of the situation. I’d forgiven this person long ago. Lord, don’t you remember all the prayers I sent out? Don’t you remember the tears I shed? Don’t you remember my surrender?

At first I felt defeated. Maybe my forgiveness hadn’t been genuine. So I poured my heart out to God once again, asking Him to remove this sudden surge of anger, committing myself, yet again, put the “offense” and offender behind me.

Since then, I’ve learned forgiveness isn’t always a one-time event. Nor does it always begin with emotion. Rather, it begins with a decision to forgive, a teeth-gritting commitment followed by a desperate cry to God for help. Then, as we continue to draw near to Him, surrendering our hurt, angry, and bitter thoughts, He begins to align our feelings to match our commitment.

But while God’s working to bring us wholeness and freedom, our adversary the devil’s devising counter measures to keep us in bondage and isolation. The last thing Satan wants is unity, but he probably won’t attack us when we’re in the middle of prayer. No, he’ll wait until we’re caught up in life to bombard us because then, just maybe we’ll be surprised enough to give in.

Satan is a thief and destroyer. He wants to rob us of your joy, victory, and peace. He wants to destroy us and our family. (John 10:10) The minute we take a step toward healing and wholeness, Satan begins plotting ways to steal it from us.

But here’s the good news. If we are in Christ, Satan has absolutely no power or authority over us. Though he wants to destroy us, Christ, who defeated Satan on the cross, came to give us life.

Each day, we have a choice to grab one or the other. We grab onto life by drawing near to Christ in surrendered obedience, regardless how we feel. He takes care of the rest.

James 4:7-8 is one of my favorite verses, one I claim as a promise. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

About the Author:

Jennifer Slattery writes Missional Romance for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently available in print and e-book format for under $10! You can find it at Amazon in the link below as well as CBD.

Jennifer loves helping aspiring authors grow in their craft, and has editing slots open beginning in November. Find out more here: http://wordsthatkeep.wordpress.com/

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. 

BeyondIDocoverAbout Beyond I Do:

Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

Marriage … it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

Be sure to read Inner Source’s interview with heroine, Ainsley Meadows, and with her author, Jennifer Slattery.

Character Interview: Taylor Dixon from Mary L. Hamilton’s Speak No Evil

SNEfinalcoverTaylor, thank you for sharing with us here today on Inner Source. First of all, I’d love for you to introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a little about your life away from camp and what brings you back to Rustic Knoll this year.

Hey, my name’s Taylor Dixon. I’m fifteen and like most guys my age, I’m pretty much into cars. I’d really like to drive racecars when I get older, but first I have to get a driver’s license. I wasn’t even planning to come to camp again this year, but then my little sister, Marissa, decided she wanted to go, so Mom and Dad said I had to go, too. They’ve always expected me to keep an eye on her. Plus, they probably wanted me out of their hair for a while.

Last year at camp, you really were the bad guy, always causing trouble to Brady, Steven, and Claire. So what changed this year? Did you grow up, or is Claire right when she said that you must be hiding a nice guy inside somewhere, and you should bring him out a little more often?

I don’t know about Claire. She’s pretty cool, but I wasn’t really the nicest kid around camp this year either. I guess when you’re angry inside, it’s hard to be nice on the outside. But Brady and Steven forgave me for what I did to them last year and acted like friends. And then Mr. Rodriguez—Roberto—let me work on his car with him and believed in me, even when I lied to him. I don’t understand that. All week, Zeke kept asking, “What’s in your heart?” Roberto helped me see that jealousy and anger and pride is just as bad to keep inside me as the dirt that clogs up a car’s engine. I really needed an overhaul.

Your father is a no-nonsense fellow. He’s critical and demanding. I’ve always heard that we sometimes think of God in the way that our fathers treat us. Is that true of you? If not, when you arrived at camp, how did you think of God?

I never thought of it like that, but yeah, you’re probably right. Dad never really took time to do anything with me. But he was pretty quick to jump on us kids whenever we did something wrong. That’s pretty much how I pictured God. I figured he wasn’t interested in me until I messed up. And then I was better off avoiding Him.

Your sister is a handful, I think. She’s adventurous and daring, and you’re kind of caught in the middle of things with her. How does that affect you at home and at camp?

Marissa can be a lot of fun, and she’s the only one who really believes I can be a racecar driver. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been told to watch out for her. So when something happens, it’s usually my fault. Like when she was little, she climbed up on a short bookcase we have at home. It fell over on her, and Mom and Dad blamed me for letting her climb it.

When Dad said if I wanted my driver’s license, I had to prove I was responsible by staying out of trouble, I figured the only way to do that was to keep Marissa out of trouble. But at camp, that kind of thinking got me into more trouble than I’ve ever been in. Sitting in the back of a police car can be pretty scary.

You found a steadfast fast friend in Roberto. He took you under his wings, and he allowed you to learn from him as the two of you rebuilt a car. Is there anything else that Roberto might have taught you in the time that you spent together?

Oh, yeah. I learned about friendship and loyalty. And I learned that God wasn’t quite like I had pictured Him. It’s weird to think an old car engine could show you how God works. But that’s what Roberto used to show me I needed to clean up my life, and that I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed Jesus to remove all the gunk and restore me, like Roberto did with the engine.

I gotta ask you this one for the girls, even though I know the boys will scrunch up their noses? Do you think you’ll have a chance with Claire next year at camp?

Haha. I hope so. But if she’s interested in anyone, I have a feeling it’s Steven.

Oh, ho. Now, you have my attention.

Thank you, Taylor, for sharing with us today. I truly loved your story.

More about Speak No Evil:

Taylor Dixon knew having his younger sister at camp would be a pain, but he never expected the pain to go so deep. At 15, Taylor dreams of getting his driver’s license and driving race cars when he’s older. His sister, Marissa, is the only one who believes in his dream, but her adventurous spirit keeps landing him in trouble. Consequently, Dad won’t let him get his license and predicts Taylor is heading for the same jail cell as his once-favored older brother. Taylor returns to Rustic Knoll Bible Camp expecting softball, swimming and sermons. Then he finds a classic Mustang in the camp’s garage and jumps at the owner’s invitation to help restore it. But when Marissa falls for his snobbish cabin mate, the war of words and pranks escalates until it threatens both the car and his dreams for the future. Will Taylor fulfill Dad’s prediction and end up in jail? Or will he finally learn the Truth found in the old car’s engine?

HearNoEvilModifiedFront5-5x8-5More about the first book in the Rustic Knolls Bible Camp series, Hear No Evil:

Summer camp is no fun for Brady McCaul. The girl with the cute dimples thinks he’s immature and childish. The camp bully targets him with cruel taunts and teasing, and flips Brady’s canoe to keep him from winning the race. But worst of all, his mom won’t let him come home. She doesn’t want him living with her anymore. Brady wonders if even God cares about him.

Can Brady figure out what he did to earn Mom’s rejection and change her mind by week’s end? Or will he have to live with his workaholic dad, the guy who left when Brady was seven?

All seems lost until a surprising secret changes everything.

Hear No Evil can  also be purchased at Barnes & Noble.

Mary HamiltonAbout the Author:

Mary L. Hamilton is the author of Hear No Evil, Book 1 in the Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series for tweens. She grew up at a camp much like the setting for her book. When not writing, Mary enjoys knitting, reading and being outdoors, though not all at the same time. She and her husband live near Houston, TX within range of their three grown children who will attest to the power of these words in their life.

Connect with Mary at her Website/blog, on Facebook, on Pinterest, and at Twitter.

 

Divorce and the Grudge Factor by Sharon Srock

MeHi, my name is Sharon Srock and I am a recovering grudge holder.

That admission does not come easily. I’m a Christian. I know about forgiveness since I’ve been forgiven. I’ve heard all the sermons, read all the scriptures, and  I understand the concept. God forgave me and He expects me to forgive others.

In fact, if I don’t forgive others, I might have my own forgiveness revoked. Seriously? Let’s look at a Bible story.

Matthew 18:21-35.

This is a story Jesus told about a servant who owed a huge debt to the king. When it came time to pay up, the servant begged for forgiveness because he had no way to pay the bill, the king took pity on him and forgave the debt. The servant skipped out of the throne room a debt free man.

Now here’s where the story gets real interesting. It says that the forgiven man went out of the presence of the king and found a fellow servant who owed him a much smaller debt and demanded to be paid in full. Not months later, after he might have had time to forget the kings generosity, but right then, the same day. He went out from the king’s presence, grabbed this second servant by the throat, and demanded his money, right now, in full, down to the last penny, with interest.

The servant fell down and begged for forgiveness. And it was refused. What was the king’s response? Verses 33-35.

“Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses.”

And one more verse for good measure. Mark 11:26. “But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

Wow, that’s pretty powerful stuff. Now, I know that we tend to try and rationalize this out. What if someone destroys your family? What if someone breaks your heart? What if someone murders your child or grandchild? Surely God didn’t mean we had to forgive those things. If you step on my toe…if you steal my money…if you tell a lie about me…if you hurt my feelings…I can forgive those things, but the big things…I’m supposed to forgive those things…even if you don’t ask?

Funny thing about God. When he tells us to do something He usually doesn’t give us a lot of qualifiers. He just says do it, and I think He has a good reason for that.

When my first husband and I got divorced, there was a lot of hurt and anger in the situation. He said, she said. He did, she did. There was a lot of unclaimed baggage and finger pointing and our three children were caught right in the middle. Now, I like to think that as the years marched by some of those feelings mellowed out on both sides. We are both happily remarried, we continue to attend the same church. Our spouses get along with each other better than we ever got along together. But I have to be honest with you. There wasn’t a lot of mellowing, but there was a whole lot of indifference. You stay in your little sphere of friends and I’ll stay in mine.

That’s a trap! Indifference is not forgiveness.

Did you read the sentence in the paragraph above that said we continue to attend the same church? My ex-husband, his wife, me and my current husband and the kids when they are all in town. How’s that for a potential soap opera? I’ll be the first to admit that this hasn’t always been a good thing.

A few years ago my girls asked a favor of me. They wanted to have one big family Christmas instead of two partial ones. I balked for a lot of reasons, but when I examined my heart, I realized that unforgiven hurts lay at the base of my hesitation. Old words and actions that had never been apologized for and, if I’m honest, probably wouldn’t have been sincerely forgiven if he had offered an apology. I had a choice forced upon me. Grudge or forgiveness. I’m happy to report that we’ve had four family Christmas celebrations and no one died. Forgiveness is always the right answer even when it takes twenty years to get there.

About the Author:

Author Sharon Srock went from science fiction to Christian fiction at slightly less than warp speed. Twenty five years ago, she cut her writer’s teeth on Star Trek fiction. Today, she writes inspirational stories that focus on ordinary women using their faith to accomplish extraordinary things. Sharon lives in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma with her husband and three very large dogs. Her books include: The Women of Valley View: Callie and The Women of Valley View: Terri, both of which are currently available. The Women of Valley View: Pam will release 11 April 2014.

Receive Sharon’s newsletter; connect with her at www.sharonsrock.comFacebookGoodreadsPinterest:

Please visit her AMAZON page to find current info on her books:

Get a free PDF: MEET THE WOMEN OF VALLEY VIEW.

Get a free Novella: FOR MERCIE’S SAKE

perf5.500x8.500.inddAbout Pam (The Women of Valley View):

Pam’s divorce broke her heart. The cruelty of her ex-husband broke her spirit. A bottle of sleeping pills almost took her life. Four years later the scars of Alan Archer’s emotional abuse are beginning to fade under the love of her new husband. When Alan returns to Garfield, Pam must learn that buried secrets and carefully cultivated indifference do not equal forgiveness.

Alan Archer has returned to Garfield with a new wife and a terminal heart condition. His mission? To leave a Christian legacy for his children and to gain Pam’s forgiveness for the sins of his past.

Two hearts hang in the balance waiting for the delicate touch of God’s healing hands.

Pam and the other books in The Women of Valley View series can be purchased at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and from Pelican Book Group.

CallieAbout Callie (The Women of Valley View):

Three dire circumstances. Three desperate prayers. One miracle to save them all.

Callie Stillman is drawn to the evasive girl who’s befriended her granddaughter, but the last time Callie tried to help a child, her efforts backfired. Memories of the tiny coffin still haunt her.

Samantha and Iris Evans should be worried about homework, not whether they can pool enough cash to survive another week of caring for an infant while evading the authorities.

Steve Evans wants a second chance at fatherhood, but his children are missing. And no one seems to want to help the former addict who deserted his family.

For Steve to regain the relationship he abandoned, for his girls to receive the care they deserve, Callie must surrender her fear and rely on God to work the miracle they all need.

TerriAbout Terri (The Women of Valley View):

Despite a bustling day care center and a new foster child, Terri Hayes hungers for a family of her own. Then a plumbing mishap leaves her homeless and questioning God’s plan. Steve Evans’s gracious offer of his basement apartment as a temporary solution is an answered prayer.

Steve is a successful writer and a good father, but Terri is horrified when Steve’s book research leads him to a harsh confrontation with the parents of her foster child. She needs to distance herself from Steve, but her efforts fall short as his two scheming daughters plot to make Terri their new stepmother.

Will harsh words and sneaky plans drive a family further apart and put a wedge between Terri and Steve, or does God have another plan in store?

Inner Source interviewed Pamfrom The Women of Valley View series, on Monday and her author, Sharon Srock on Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

But I Didn’t Mean to Do It … by Kelly Irvin

Love RedeemedPhoebe Christner and Michael Daugherty didn’t set out to do anything wrong. They just wanted to get to know each other. A simple—if a little selfish—decision leads to a terrible tragedy. They didn’t mean to do it, but it happened. Are they responsible for the consequences of their actions? Accidents happen, after all.

How often have you said those words? Or your children? I often “discussed” accidents with my husband, who had little patience for the kind of accidents that occurred when our children were young and excited and anxious to have fun. I argued they didn’t mean to break the glass on their way to pour more lemonade or damage the cupboard door because they were running in the house or burn the top of the cooler with a sparkler on the Fourth of July. My husband argued that their actions had consequences and they should be held accountable for them.

Regardless of whether Michael and Phoebe mean for the tragedy to occur, it does. They both feel guilty, remorseful, and full of grief. As we all would. They’re fortunate to be surrounded by Amish family and friends who embrace the biblical concept of forgiveness in a way that the secular world around them seldom does. It’s a forgiveness that makes me feel small and mean at my own grudges held on to for years. Phoebe’s parents forgive her and Michael, even as they struggle to come to grips with their loss and their own guilt and remorse. Katie and Silas wonder if they had been stricter parents could this tragedy have been avoided. They too feel lost and alone.

Often the biggest challenge when our failures result in bad things happening is being able to accept forgiveness from others, to forgive ourselves and to believe God forgives us. That’s certainly true for Michael and Phoebe. Phoebe thinks she needs to be good, she needs to be a better person, she needs to prove to God that she’s learned her lesson. It’s only with time and the counsel of a wise woman who also has traveled through this dark valley that Phoebe learns she need only ask and God will forgive her. She can never be good enough. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He wants us to accept the gift of grace He gave us when He sacrificed his only son for our sins.

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever, but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:18-19)

God not only forgives us, he tosses out our sins, tramples them underfoot, and forgets them. We have to do the same. Learn from our lessons and let our guilt and remorse go. We are honed and our rough edges smoothed by the difficult lessons we earned. We learn empathy and compassion for others. Then we are given the opportunity to share what we’ve learned with others when the time comes.

We know that our Father, our Yaweh, has experienced the loss of a child. He understands. He grieves with us and gathers our children into his arms. It takes time, but ultimately we can come to accept the joy of knowing they rest in Him.

Thus, comes joy from the darkness.

KellyFinal1 (427x640)About the Author:

Kelly Irvin is the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Hope Amish series, both from Harvest Housing Publishing. Her latest release is Love Redeemed, set in Amish country in Missouri, which debuted March 1. She is currently working on The Beekeeper’s Son, the first book in the Amish of Bee County series, for Zondervan. She has also penned two inspirational romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine.

The Kansas native is a graduate of  the University of Kansas School of Journalism. She has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years.  Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-six years. They have two young adult children, one gorgeous new granddaughter, two cats, and a tank full of fish. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors. You can meet up with Kelly online: her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

About Love Redeemed:

Strong Enough to Heal

Phoebe Christner is thrilled when the families of her close-knit Amish community decide to spend a week at the lake. She feels she’s earned a break…and it doesn’t hurt that Michael Daugherty will be coming along. They’ll find ways to spend time together—she’s certain of it—and their romance will have time to blossom.

But when tragedy strikes, Phoebe and Michael are torn apart by their pain and the knowledge of their guilt. As they both cope with the loss of a loved one, they will come to discover that they can be forgiven not just by their community, but by God.

 A tender novel of faith and family set in the heart of Amish country.

Love Still StandsAbout Love Still Stands, the first novel in the New Hope series:

The New Hope Amish. In the first installment, Love Still Stands, a group of dedicated families leaves Bliss Creek to establish a new community in Missouri. Among them is Bethel Graber, a beautiful young woman with a passion for teaching. But after being disabled in a terrible accident, overseeing a classroom is out of the question…and romance seems a long-lost dream.

Bethel begins physical therapy, determined to make a fresh start. But that won’t be easy in the town of New Hope, where the locals seem anything but eager to welcome their new Amish neighbors. Amid growing intimidation from the community, Bethel must find the strength to face her many challenges and the faith to believe that God still has a plan–and a love–for her life.

If you enjoyed Kelly’s interview, you want to read Inner Source’s interview with Phoebe Christner, Kelly’s heroine from Love Redeemed.

If you enjoyed today’s post from Kelly, you’ll enjoy Inner Source’s interview with the author and with her character, Phoebe Christner.

Character Interview: Phoebe Christner from Kelly Irvin’s Love Redeemed

Love RedeemedWelcome, Phoebe, please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do? What story did you bring to your author?

I’m originally from Bliss Creek, Kansas, but my family moved to New Hope, Missouri, a little over a year ago to start a new district. I help out the teacher at our school, but mostly I like to play with the children. I’m good at games. Don’t get me wrong, though, I also help out home, cooking, baking, cleaning, doing laundry, sewing. I’m not the best cook, but my mother says I’ll get better. Practice, you know. My story has to do with falling in love and getting in a big hurry. I’m always in a hurry. That’s what my father says. This time being in a hurry to spend time with Michael turns into a terrible thing. I didn’t mean for it to happen, but it did and now I have to live with it.

You learned a valuable lesson but at such a dear cost to you, to your family, and to the man you love. I can’t imagine the pain of knowing that if you could only have one moment of your life back, it could undo something that you wish you could undo. Will you share a little about how you bore the pain and the grief?

At first, I couldn’t bear it. I couldn’t eat or sleep or think straight. I tried to pray, but the words wouldn’t come. I truly wanted to die. I could hear my mother and father saying that they forgave me, but I couldn’t believe it. How could they? How could God forgive me? I did something selfish and self-centered. That’s the opposite of what my parents taught me. Always but God first and others second. I knew better. That’s what makes it so horrible. I only wanted to spend time with Michael and get to know him and see where we were going. Instead what we did drove us apart. It’s been a long road back, but we’re all getting there.

You weren’t the only one who held regret and felt the burden of guilt for what happened. You mother, your father, your sister, Michael, and Michael’s friend carried that weight with them as well. If you could speak to someone today who feels they are responsible for a horrendous wrong, what would you tell them?

God knows that we’re not perfect. We’re human. We make mistakes. We sin. His grace is so deep and wide it covers all of us. We have to learn from our mistakes, accept God’s forgiveness and go on. It will get easier to do that. With time.

The next verse that I want to mention is not one that I would pull out to offer comfort to someone newly grieving, but I believe that throughout your story, this verse, though not mentioned, played a big part in how your community handled the tragedy. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” When God says, “all things” I believe He means even the bad things that happen to us. Did you find this to be true?

Yes. The bad things that happen to us hone our character. We pass through the fire and come out on the other side, wiser, more loving, more caring, more aware of how our actions affect others. If nothing bad happened to us, imagine how shallow and uncaring we would be.

Is there scripture or a biblical concept that you lean upon to help you through your crisis or a Scripture that might offer comfort to someone who has suffered the same type of loss?

I trust in God’s will and his plan for me and I encourage others to do the same. Give control to God and be obedient to his desires and not your own. Know that your loved one rests in his arms. Your loved one’s days on this earth are complete. Yours are not so prepared to do God’s will and rest in the knowledge that He will do the rest. I receive comfort from Proverbs 3:5-6, which says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him,  and he will make your paths straight.”

Thank you, Phoebe, for visiting with us today. I look forward to talking with your author, Kelly Irvin, on Wednesday. 

KellyFinal1 (427x640)About the Author:

Kelly Irvin is the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Hope Amish series, both from Harvest Housing Publishing. Her latest release is Love Redeemed, set in Amish country in Missouri, which debuted March 1. She is currently working on The Beekeeper’s Son, the first book in the Amish of Bee County series, for Zondervan. She has also penned two inspirational romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine.

The Kansas native is a graduate of  the University of Kansas School of Journalism. She has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years.  Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-six years. They have two young adult children, one gorgeous new granddaughter, two cats, and a tank full of fish. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors. You can meet up with Kelly online: her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

More About Love Redeemed:

Strong Enough to Heal

Phoebe Christner is thrilled when the families of her close-knit Amish community decide to spend a week at the lake. She feels she’s earned a break…and it doesn’t hurt that Michael Daugherty will be coming along. They’ll find ways to spend time together—she’s certain of it—and their romance will have time to blossom.

But when tragedy strikes, Phoebe and Michael are torn apart by their pain and the knowledge of their guilt. As they both cope with the loss of a loved one, they will come to discover that they can be forgiven not just by their community, but by God.

 A tender novel of faith and family set in the heart of Amish country.

Love Still StandsAbout Love Still Stands, the first novel in the New Hope series:

The New Hope Amish. In the first installment, Love Still Stands, a group of dedicated families leaves Bliss Creek to establish a new community in Missouri. Among them is Bethel Graber, a beautiful young woman with a passion for teaching. But after being disabled in a terrible accident, overseeing a classroom is out of the question…and romance seems a long-lost dream.

Bethel begins physical therapy, determined to make a fresh start. But that won’t be easy in the town of New Hope, where the locals seem anything but eager to welcome their new Amish neighbors. Amid growing intimidation from the community, Bethel must find the strength to face her many challenges and the faith to believe that God still has a plan–and a love–for her life.

If you enjoyed Kelly’s interview, you want to read Inner Source’s interview with Phoebe Christner, Kelly’s heroine from Love Redeemed.