Plastic Bags Are Fragile by James R. Coggins

I have an acquaintance who, through no fault of her own, is a single mother. No matter what their skills and resources, single mothers have it rough. The responsibilities are heavy.

A while back, I got a call for help. My acquaintance had cleaned the cat box in her basement and put the litter into a plastic bag. She was carrying the plastic bag to the trash when it broke, spilling litter all down the carpeted stairs. When she attempted to clean up the mess with the vacuum cleaner, the vacuum cleaner became clogged and stopped working.

Hence the call for help.

I managed to help get the mess cleaned up and the vacuum unclogged. She was deeply discouraged that she had not been able to solve the problem on her own and needed help.

I reminded her that plastic bags are fragile. If you put too much weight and stress on them, they break. Sometimes it is necessary to double bag.

I also reminded her that human beings are fragile. If they are put under too much stress, they, too, can break. We all often need help, and we cannot do it all on our own.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”

Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.”

It is not good for anyone to live alone. We weren’t designed that way. Human beings are fragile, we need each other, and we cannot make it on our own.

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This Picture!

I’ve seen this picture many times before, but for some reason, this time, the sacrifice that was made for us by the family of a fallen soldier really got to me.

As an author, when I create heroes for my novels, I usually gravitate toward military men and women. I’ve even written about some who have died while serving their country, but understanding the pain that goes along with that loss isn’t easy for someone who hasn’t lived through it personally.      

So many times, Memorial Day comes and goes without us really thinking about its true meaning.

It’s wonderful to have a three-day weekend to spend with family. A chance to barbecue and maybe go swimming. We consider Memorial Day to be the official kickoff for summer, and vacation time, which are all great things.

But take a look at this picture. Can you imagine your spouse going off to war and never coming home to you?  

An act of sacrifice so great is hard for me to imagine, but I’m grateful to all those who know with heartbreaking clarity what it feels like.   

John 15:13 says, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Today, I want to say thank you. Thank you to all the families who have lost someone they loved who served in the armed forces.

Your sacrifice can never be repaid, but we can honor your loved ones by always trying to be worthy of what they gave up for us as a county and as an individual.  

Many blessings!


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Remembrances by Nancy J. Farrier

Photo by Jill Dimond on Unsplash

Every year on Memorial Day, my parents would take us to visit the graves of family members who had died. We took flowers, water, and a trowel to plant flowers next to the headstone. Reading the inscriptions helped to learn a little about the person if it was someone we hadn’t known, but also my mom or dad would tell stories about them to keep them in remembrance.

Some people might view this as morbid, visiting the dead. Or perhaps they would see it as unnecessary. I saw it as a way to learn family history and was fascinated by stories of people I was related to and what happened to them. Sometimes the story would be a funny memory and sometimes a very sad one.

I grew up in the Midwest but moved to the Southwest and raised my family there. We didn’t have family to visit on Memorial Day, but I did try to keep alive stories I’d heard as a child. There was the story of my grandfather telling my uncle he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn after he missed a shot at a rabbit. My uncle responded that he could hit grandpa’s hat if he threw it. Grandpa threw the hat (his favorite) and my uncle shot a neat hole right through the hat. Grandpa was not happy. I also shared about the triplets born before I was born and the three only lived a few hours. So very sad.

Remembering and keeping a memorial is something taught in the Bible. It was important that events and commands would be repeated and passed on to help people remember what was important. This is what God said about the importance of passing on His commandments. They were to be remembered throughout the generations.

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (ESV)

We are also, as Christians, called to remember Jesus and the sacrifice He gave for us. And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:19 (ESV)

Memorial Day is not just about remembering family members that might have passed on before us, but can also be a time to reinforce the practice of remembering Jesus and what He did, how He gave His life for all people. For us, and for those around us, remembering Jesus is the most important memorial of all.

Take time today to share with someone about the incredible gift Jesus gave to us all. Bring out those proverbial flowers, dig in the soil, plant and water. Grow remembrances that will last a lifetime.

Have a blessed Memorial Day.

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Are We Called to Write?

Many years ago, I read a blog post about whether a writer is called by God to write. Since that time, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that blog and whether I was called to write or if I’m writing and offering it up to God as an act of service.

When I first started writing I was about as far away from God as a Christian could be. You know, one of those carnal Christians Paul talked about in his letter to the Corinthians. Why, I even lived in Corinth. Not the Biblical Corinth, of course. But twenty-five years ago, I realized just how far into the wilderness I had traveled and recommitted my life to Christ. I laid my writing on His altar and picked it up in His power rather than my own.

I imagined I would have a contract within the year.

It would be fourteen years before my writing would be where He wanted it. And part of that time was spent on a six-year side trip—teaching the abstinence curriculum I co-wrote with a friend.

Then, one day after the curriculum was finished, I was having my quiet time and a woman popped into my head and told me someone was trying to kill her. YES! (Imagine me sitting there pumping my fist.) God had given me my beloved suspense stories back.

That woman was in my first published book, Shadows From the Past that released in February of 2014. In the nine years since, I’ve written fifteen more books and four novellas. My latest just released—Counter Attack, and I’m making edits to the one after it that will release in February of next year. And I’m starting book seventeen.

When people ask how I write these stories, I always reply that it’s a gift from God. After all He’s the Master Creator.

I am being obedient to honor the gift He gave me by choosing to write day in and day out—an offering. And as I plan out my next series set in the Smoky Mountains, I feel compelled to write a certain story—a calling.

Again, answering my own question…I believe writing is both a calling and an act of service.

How do you view your writing?

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Glory by James R. Coggins

On the night before His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus prayed for His immediate followers and for those of us who would become His followers in the future. This prayer is recorded in John 17:1-26. I had read this prayer many times, but, on my last reading, I was struck by something I had not noticed before. In verse 22, Jesus told His Father, “I have given them the glory that you gave me.” The Greek word for “glory” is doxa, which means dignity, glory, honor, praise, worship. This is astounding. In the Old Testament, God’s glory was displayed as a shining cloud that was so bright and awesome that it was death for a human to look upon it (see Isaiah 6:6). When Moses was granted the privilege of seeing God face to face, Moses’ face shone with the reflected glory of God to the point that the Israelites were afraid to look at him (Exodus 34:29-35). And now Jesus said that He has given this glory to us. Paul described this in 2 Corinthians 3:7-18: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” How can we have the glory of God? The word “Spirit” is a clue. We have God’s Holy Spirit shining within us, so that when people look at us, they see God. That is hard for us to believe.

What does this look like in practice? John 17 offers some clues. Jesus prayed, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (verse 4). We glorify God (enhance His reputation in the eyes of the world) by performing the works He has called us to do. Jesus also said, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one” (verse 22). We glorify God by displaying the same unity that exists in the Godhead. The Trinity is a profound mystery, and theologians have wrestled for centuries with how to distinguish the three persons of God. When people look at the church, do they see that we are so united that they can’t know where one person is separate from another, where one person’s work is merged with other people’s work? Jesus also said, “The world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (verse 23). Jesus said that God loves us as much as He loves His own Son. That also is astounding. Jesus said earlier in the Gospel of John: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35) When we do God’s works, when we are united, when we love and are loved with the same love that exists in God, then we glorify God. We reflect the glory of God to the world around us. And yet the glory of God goes far beyond any one aspect. We are all aware of how imperfectly we reflect the glory of God. And yet Jesus said that He has given us His glory. He is shining through us even when we are least aware of it.

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The Fountain of Youth Conspiracy by Peggy Webb

I recently saw a TV ad that made me stand up in my chair and say to the screen, “No! Just no!” I wanted to kick furniture, but I was afraid of breaking my toe, so I refrained. The ad was for a book titled, Forever Young–that overworked conspiracy targeting woman and designed to make us believe that anyone ten years past puberty should set to work immediately making repairs to our lined faces, our gray hair, and our sagging bodies

We are exhorted to buy all kinds of makeup and skincare products that will restore the bloom of youth, and to spend every waking moment worrying about eating calories that will add to our waistlines. We are bombarded with ads for exercise equipment that shape us up on treadmills and such that will take us away from a meaningful life of enjoying family and friends, working, playing, attending church, and being productive members of our communities. 

Whatever happened to reverence for age? Where did respect for the elderly go? Who decided that wisdom and a life well-spent are not as important as the fresh-face and brashness of youth? And who on earth decided that women are the ones who should remain forever young, while men get to enjoy losing their hair and sitting in a comfortable chair with their arms resting on a paunchy belly? 

When my hair started going gray, I let it. When lines started appearing on my face, I made more by smiling a lot. When the beauty experts at the cosmetics’ counter recommended a mind-boggling number of skin care products with an astronomical price tag, I went to the drugstore and bought baby face cleaner and a baby moisturizer, dirt cheap by comparison. 

My parents taught me to respect and honor the wisdom and the lifetime achievements of the beautiful, wizened women who had blazed a trail for me. They taught me the difference between a shallow woman with an attractive façade and a woman of character and substance, who has made a great contribution to society.

Don’t try to sell me anything that promises eternal youth. I plan to live the kind of giving, loving, purpose-driven, Godly, faith-filled life will give me eternal life.

God is good.

Peggy Webb    

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Romantic Poetry by James R. Coggins

She asked for my help in studying for her English exam. She is an accountant and does not get poetry. It gave me an opportunity to reacquaint myself with English poets of the 18th and 19th centuries.

This was the era of “Romantic Poetry.” This poetry was not about courtship between men and women but part of an important and often underestimated philosophical and cultural phenomenon called the Romantic Movement. It was a movement focused on nature and emotion. To a large extent, it was a reaction against the Enlightenment with its focus on reason and the rise of science with its emphasis on rational investigation and proof. Romantics did not approach nature to catalogue and investigate it as scientists did. They did not approach nature to exploit it as the capitalists of the Industrial Revolution did. They did not approach nature to see the hand of the Creator God behind it. They approached nature to commune with the divine spirit within nature. The religion of this movement was Deism, which sees God as being part of nature rather than as a conscious Being behind nature.

William Wordsworth was one of the central poets in this movement. He wrote “There is a spirit in the woods” (“Nutting”) and “To her fair works did Nature link the human soul that through me ran” (“Lines Written in Early Spring”). He described “a presence that disturbs me with the joy of elevated thoughts…a motion and a spirit, that impels all thinking things…and rolls through all things” (“Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey”).

Matthew Arnold wrote about “The Scholar Gypsy,” a university student who grew tired of the academic rat race and went off into the countryside, where he became a sort of ghostly presence fused with the spirit of nature. In contrast to this seeking of a deeper meaning in nature, Arnold described the “languid doubt” of the nominal Christianity of his day, the empty ritual of the established church. He described Christians as “light half-believers of our casual creeds…who hesitate and falter life away” instead of really living. Most famously, in “Dover Beach,” Arnold described Christian faith as a belief that was receding like an ebb tide: “The Sea of Faith was once, too, at the full…But now I only hear its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, retreating.”

The impact of the Romantic Movement is often overlooked and underestimated. It is the foundation of the modern environmental movement. Its ripples can be felt in the charismatic movement in churches, which is strong on emotion and weak on systematic theology. In popular culture, it can be found in the music of John Denver and “the force” in Star Wars.

 And yet that is not all that was going on in the 18th and 19th centuries. While the established church was dying, this was also the era of the evangelical revivals and the Great Awakening, which brought tens of millions of people in England and the United States to faith in Jesus and sparked reforms that profoundly changed society for the better.

And there was also the poetry of Robert Browning, particularly “An Epistle Containing the Strange Medical Experience of Karshish, the Arab Physician.” This long narrative poem is supposedly a letter from a first-century scientist traveling through the Middle East and sending specimens and observations back to his colleague and mentor, Abib. In his travels, Karshish comes across a man who was raised from the dead by a traveling Jewish holy man. We, of course, recognize this man as Lazarus. Having experienced eternity, Lazarus has a profoundly altered understanding; he is almost indifferent to physical danger but highly alert to spiritual danger. In encountering Lazarus, Karshish unexpectedly encounters the reality of God, and it astounds him: “So, the All-Great were the All-Loving too—So through the thunder comes a human voice.”

As we ponder the decline of Christian faith in our own modern Western world, this is a helpful reminder that the tides of philosophy and culture do not all flow in one, inexorable direction. Underneath, there are unseen and unsuspected undercurrents, flowing in ways we cannot predict. God is at work, often in times and ways we do not expect.

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God’s Lessons Found in Christian Suspense

I love the lessons that can be found in Christian fiction, and God bless the authors who strive to include God’s love and forgiveness in their books.

No matter what the hero and heroine are facing, God is there with them. Whether one or both are believers at the beginning of the story, they can see God working in their lives.

In AMONG THE INNOCENT, God brought two people connected to the same past together to grow their faith and to give them both the answers they’ve both been searching for.

God wrote the greatest love story of all time when He loved us enough to send Jesus to die on the cross. In Christian suspense, most stories feature two people who may or may not know each other at the start of the story, but as they face down danger, they draw closer, and risk everything to protect each other.

In AMISH WILDERNESS SURVIVAL, two people who are complete strangers to each other are forced to work together to figure out what happened to their kidnapped loved ones. By the end of the book, they have fallen in love, and put their trust in God to bring them through an uncertain future.

Just like we as Christians face an enemy, so do the hero and heroine in suspenseful fiction. How they deal with the challenges the villain throws at them, especially when things seem hopeless, can be a wonderful example of how Christians overcome whatever Satan brings our way through God.

In SINS OF THE PAST, the villain is a serial killer known as Judge who has appointed himself judge and executioner (sounds like someone else we know).   

I’ve always been a huge fan of Christian romantic suspense. It’s why I write it. I love how God’s love and forgiveness can be seen throughout the chapters of the story as well as His salvation.

So, the next time you set down to read a Christian fiction novel, I hope you will be able to feel the love of God that the author has painstakingly placed in the pages of their story.

John 21:25 says, Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.  

 Until next time,

I wish you God’s blessings!


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A Special Trip by Tara Randel

Florida offers a variety of memorable locations to enjoy. That’s one of the reasons I love living here. The weather is pretty awesome, so I can take a day trip and enjoy both the sights and the sunshine. Here we have incredible beaches, theme parks, beautiful gardens and small towns waiting to be explored. But twice a year, the most popular destination in Florida is Daytona International Speedway.

We’ve been to NASCAR races multiple times. There’s always excitement in the air. Once the engines fire up, the noise is so loud, there’s no point in talking when the cars careen across the front stretch. The cars are so fast, they speed by and then you hear the grumble of the motors. It’s an experience like no other and being at the track brings back lots of memories.

Last weekend, my husband and I took a day trip to Daytona for Jeep Beach. The speedway opens the infield to vendors who sell all things Jeep related. Since we don’t go to races these days, just being in the stadium is fun. But this year, I was able to walk on the track. That’s right, walk on the track.

Once we paid to get into the event, I expected a tram to take us to the show by way of the tunnel under Turn One. It’s the way fans get to the infield. This year, they opened the fence and we walked across the track to get to get to the show. I didn’t really think about where we were walking until the stands loomed up beside me and I realized I was on the track that holds so much motorsports history. Needless to say, I stopped, took it all in, the proceeded to take pictures because… I was standing on the track!!!

Have you ever had that one place that evokes such a strong response? I suppose I really felt the emotion that day because going to Daytona Speedway was my oldest daughter’s favorite place to be. And in all the years we attended races, we never got on the track. And since she isn’t with us any longer, I just wanted to yell, “I made it onto the speedway!”

This place is really impressive.

After that, we finally got to the Jeep show. Long aisles of Jeep stuff, and this is the only picture I took, LOL.

I guess a Barbie Jeep is a dream for someone.

Since we’re coming up on summer, I hope you are able to make some trips that are meaningful to you. Next time I hope to write about a different location I’ll be visiting.

Have fun!

Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author. Family values, a bit of mystery and of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Look for her Harlequin Heartwarming romance, HER SURPRISE HOMETWON MATCH, available now. For more information about her books, visit Tara at Like her on Facebook at Sign up for Tara’s Newsletter.

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Never, Ever Give Up by Julie Arduini

I love a good underdog story. I’m energized when I see potential in someone and they start to believe it.

But I also tend to isolate myself from people who in my opinion ignore God’s love, their calling, and the enormous potential I see in them.

Sadly, over the decades I’ve isolated a lot. If I don’t think the person is interested in changing, I move along to the one who does. I’ve tried to improve as our church adopted principles, and one of them is “Every life is redeemable.” Still, I struggle. Why would people embrace garbage choices when they are such a treasure?

If you struggle in this way like me, take heart. I’m seeing amazing transformations that honestly, I gave up thinking would happen. These were folks who were on fire for Jesus but walked away. They seemed forever stuck in the miry pit, clinging to the world’s answers instead of their Savior.

But, God!

Now? They are out of the pit. Showing up to church no matter how hard it is, even if they come without anyone in their family. They raise their hands to be baptized. They go forward for altar calls. They are telling others what Jesus has done.

It’s nothing short of miraculous.

In my time frame, their situations seemed hopeless. I backed away, much like a Michael Jackson moonwalk. I thank God for His grace with me, and His love for them.

If you love someone who seems far, far, FAR away from what you believe they could be in Jesus, don’t give up. Keep praying. Then, pull down those promises from heaven and start decreeing who they are in Jesus. Believe.

Julie Arduini

And watch Jesus get the glory.

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AI, Good or Bad?

AI= Artificial Intelligence

Should authors use AI in writing their books? Will AI replace writers? Is AI evil? Is it wrong to use AI to research characters…These are questions I’ve seen addressed for weeks now, but since I had not used AI, I didn’t have a horse in that race. (Can you tell I watched the Kentucky Derby Saturday?)

That all changed when I couldn’t come up with a good motive for my antagonist in my last book. The deadline was looming. I knew who “did it.” What I didn’t know was why other than generally why. I wanted something deeper.

So I brainstormed with a friend who had been fooling around with AI. She put the information into her program and came up with several backstories that could fit the character and give him a motive.

As I read the profiles the AI program spit out, one of them triggered an idea that in turn gave me a motive. The profiles also made me think about several aspects of the story and character that I hadn’t thought of. It also created a clearer picture in my mind of the antagonist.

AI can be a great tool for writers to help flesh out books, but I don’t believe it will ever replace writers. In Genesis 1:26, God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…”

AI will never be made in God’s image, and can never replace the creativity God put in writers to tell stories.

I’ve read several blogs where the writer asked AI to create a scene in the style of a particular writer. What AI returns is a pale imitation of that writer. And never any dialogue. And no “voice’ whatsoever.

Ai is technology, a tool, that a writer can use. Like atomic energy, it is neither good nor bad. There will be those who abuse AI and already are. Agents have told me they’re getting proposals that have obviously been written by AI. My question is, why would anyone want to use artificial intelligence to create a story? What satisfaction would that bring?

One of my greatest joys is having the scenes in my head to come out through my fingers on a computer. How could a writer have that joy when they didn’t create anything?

And last of all, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…”

AI can’t do that.

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Love and Hate by James R. Coggins

I had read John 15 many times but never noticed the juxtaposition of a passage on love and a passage on hate. In John 15:9-17, Jesus commanded His followers repeatedly to “love each other as I have loved you.” In John 15:18-25, Jesus warned His followers that they would face hatred and persecution: “You do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

There are only two options in life. We can choose to follow Jesus’ way of love or the devil’s way of hatred. In John 13:34-35, Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

This is a comforting promise, that we can choose to join the Kingdom of Jesus’ love. But it is also a warning and a test. We may be overconfident, blithely assuming that we belong to Jesus’ Kingdom rather than Satan’s. But if we want to have a clearer idea of whether we actually do, we should examine ourselves and ask the hard question of whether we love or hate the people we come into contact with, including sinners and those who are not faithful to Jesus. Are our actions motivated by love or hate? We can all think of people who claimed to be part of Jesus’ Kingdom but whose lives have seemed more focused on hate than love. But that is none of our business. Our business is to make sure that we are not among them.

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God’s Children by Peggy Webb

Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me. Mark 9:37

Sam is one of the adorable children in the Sunday school class I co-teach with Donna Rogers in the little country church built by my ancestors. Our church is small by any standards, quaint and quiet, with a dedicated congregation who feel like family, and simple, stained-glass windows that were given in memory of the faithful members who came before us.  

As a result, our class is small, ranging from six children to only one or two each Sunday. The excitement they bring into the Sunday school room is palpable, and the joy they give us each week is immeasurable. Each child is distinctive…and so very loved. They come to us with big personalities, innocence, eagerness, and a simple love of Jesus in their hearts.

Sam is our quirky, down-to-earth, straight-talker who charms us with one glance of those big brown eyes.  He has opinions about everything, and is bubbling over to share them. This past Sunday, we had him all to ourselves, and what a grand day it was! He came into the room—as all the children do—spilling over with the things that were on his mind. He lost his great grandmother recently, and treated us to a stream-of consciousness monologue about her death and death in general, which always includes his fantastical stories about dogs.

Donna and I listen to our children. The things on their minds give us cues for guiding them. Sam’s concerns about death led to hugs and a discussion about the sadness of losing someone we love, as well as the promise of eternal life. Then we were on to our lesson. 

I teach directly from this beautifully illustrated Children’s Bible, and Donna creates crafts that help illustrate the lesson. Our goal, Sunday after Sunday, is to ensure the children know that Jesus loves them and to instill in them a love for Jesus. Still, these little angels amaze me in their capacity to learn and understand scripture in a clear and uncomplicated way. 

Sam was so excited about Sunday’s lesson on the Holy Spirit—what is it, when did it come, why did it come—that he declared, “I just want to hug God!” 

I wanted to race out and say to the serious-minded adults, “See! This is how it should be! We should love God like a child.”

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. Luke 18:17

There is so much more I could say about Sam, as well as all the children we teach. How he loves to ride the antique rocking horse in our classroom. “Where are you going, Sam?” I’ll ask him. “To Wal Mart,” he’ll say, with that sly little grin on his face. How he prays with such fervency and simple faith. “God, thank you for peanut butter.” But I’ll bundle up all that joy and share it with you another day.

Let the little children to come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Luke 18:16.

God is good.

Peggy Webb

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A Moment to Forgive by Nancy J. Farrier

Photo by Alex Shute on Unsplash

The last week of April we were in California prepping for my daughter’s wedding on the 30th. I planned to do a post about the wedding but something happened prior to the big day and I had to share that with you. 

I was chatting with some family members and in the course of the conversation about a subject very sensitive to me I blurted out, “I still haven’t forgiven them for…” As soon as I said that I knew it was wrong, but I was so caught up in the deliberate offense of what had been done that I didn’t see my error. 

Those involved in the misdeeds had been in the wrong. People lost jobs. There were huge fines laid down. The illegality had been handled by those in charge—who were not me. It was not my place to judge or to hold a grudge, yet I did.

We all face these times of unforgiveness when something cuts deep and the hurt is so bad we stuff it down inside rather than dealing with it and letting go. People say or do something to us or a loved one and that seed of anger festers until we have condemnation ruling our hearts.

A few months ago, in Bible study, one of the sections dealt with this issue. The teacher pointed out that we are to pray and forgive, but sometimes one prayer doesn’t do the job. If the offense is very heavy we need to be conscious of the fact that we still harbor ill feelings. It can take months to get rid of every bit of the hurt and anger, but we must persevere. 

Every time a thought of the inciting incident pops up we must assess if we still have animosity toward that person. If we do, we must pray more, asking God to help us forgive until we have no ill will toward those who did the slight. Depending on the depth of the wrong done, this can take a little time or a long time. But, if we continue in prayer, there will come a day when the thought of that hurt will no longer bother us. Then true forgiveness has happened.

As I’ve thought about my statement of not forgiving, I’ve realized God brought that to the surface so I can deal with something I harbored deep within for way too long. Stuffing our feelings down deep instead of dealing with them is easy to do, but God is faithful to point out areas where we need to change. 

What I held on to for several years was ridiculous. It wasn’t anything I could change by harboring that anger and hatred. It was detrimental to my health and my relationship with Christ. 

Now that I realize it’s there, I am praying to be rid of this area of unforgiveness. I pray that you ask God to show you any hidden hurts that you have and begin to pray and get rid of those. They are not worth carrying around even if you don’t think of them every day. 

It only takes a moment to begin the journey to forgiveness. With God’s help you can do it.

“…and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12 (ESV)

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Nora’s Review of: The Weight of Air by Kimberly Duffy

The Weight of Air by Kimberly Duffy

Published by Bethany House, 400 pages

NORA’S REVIEW: My husband and I were memorized by our Cirque Du Soleil experience this past Christmas. Wow, it was a magical event under the big top tents, I’ll never forget.  So, when an opportunity came to read this story, I jumped at the chance to review it.

I was swept up into this adventure with all the amazing acts, the drama, and the enchanting atmospheric circus backdrop. Mabel McGinnis was known as the strongest woman in the Manzo Brothers Circus. She had done the act with her father her entire life. She tried to do the act without him but could not. Not only that, but she didn’t know who she was without him. The circus is going to give her one more chance. If she can’t perform, she’d have to find another job. As the Manzo Brothers Circus was getting ready to move to the next town, Mabel finds hidden letters in her father’s belongings, addressed to her from her mother. He said she died. Why did he lie to her? This changed everything. Forget the circus act, she had to find her mother and, in the process, find herself.

Isabella Moreau, America’s most celebrated Aerialist, is losing her edge. She is racing against the clock as she hopes will power alone will keep her in the air, but she feels her body betraying her. It’s not as strong as it used to be. She struggles with this and the regret and losing her daughter. Isabella heard the news about her husband’s passing. Could she re-connect with her daughter? Their situation was complex, how could they rebuild their relationship after all these years?

Jake Cunningham feels protective of Mabel and wants to help her on her quest to find her mother. Jake is dealing with loss and grief too. Maybe he’d find the next thing to do. He was done being in the circus. He hopes this trip will stretch them both to become what they were meant to be, not what others labeled them. Jake and Mabel find the truth and a freedom they’d never known before. There was more to life than being the best act, drawing big crowds, would they have the courage to walk on a new path?

I appreciated the natural spiritual thread that sheds light and gives hope in the dark topics the author talks about like postpartum depression, suicide, abuse, loss/grief, abandonment, sexual harassment, and fear. The author also shows redemption, grace, and forgiveness.

I enjoyed the growth of the characters throughout the story. This is a beautiful escape, with a complex cast of characters in a layered story, with a depth and fascination that kept me up late. I adored every minute reading about these broken, flawed people making their way through life and circumstances that occurred beyond their control. The message throughout was that our self-worth is not based on how we look, or how well we perform, but our hope and strength come from above, and from the one who never fails us.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I requested and received a copy of this book by the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent

TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! 

The Book Club Network blog

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