God’s New Puzzle

I have heard so many people talking lately about God putting the pieces of their puzzles back together again. But, my circumstances happened a little bit differently.

After my divorce many years ago I was shattered into a gazillion pieces and had no idea how I would survive. One Sunday morning I was singing in the choir and we sang a song about God putting the pieces of our puzzles back together again. I remember I was crying profusely and asked God, “Dear Lord, how can even you put all the pieces of my puzzle back together again when all of the pieces were not there anymore?”

God answered me, not in a still small voice, but in a gentle quiet voice and said, “Child, I’ll simply build you a new puzzle.” And he did just that. My life today is nothing like it would have been with the power of God in my life.

Dear Friends, if you are feeling shattered today, don’t give up or give in to the fear. Give your fear to the one who said repeatedly in his word, “Fear Not”. Jesus is still the answer, the only answer, to whatever you’re heartache is today. Regardless of how your life was shattered, God will make you whole once again.

Learn more about God’s healing in my new book, Pathway to Healing, recently released by my new publishing imprint, Hat Rack Books, LLC. and available on Amazon.

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Oath of Honor Book Review

Author Lynette Eason weaves wonderful, suspenseful stories with strong characters who always seek to bring about justice. For Oath of Honor, the first book in her new series Blue Justice, she does not disappoint. Izzy St. John lives a life that is the definition of suspense. She comes from a law enforcement family. She and her siblings grew up with her partner Kevin and his brother Ryan are also law enforcement. When her partner is killed unexpectedly, she and his brother team up to find his killer and solve some major crimes in their city that have baffled the police long term. Enjoy the read while you try to solve the crimes right along with Izzy. Experience the twists and turns, the unexpected solutions and surprises along the way as Eason begins her new series.

Disclaimer: My thanks to the publisher Revell for providing the book to me in exchange for an honest book review.

Book Review

As a mother and grandmother, I am always on the lookout for a good devotional for mothers. I found just that in, Praying for Girls, Asking God for the Things They Need Most, by Teri Lynne Underwood. She offers a devotional and prayers for a daughter’s identity, heart, mind, relationships, and her purpose. She then speaks a little wisdom to mom for herself and how to speak to her daughter whether she’s a little girl, middle girl, and older girl. She finishes it off with two special sections just for Mom, something many devotionals don’t consider. I’ll be gifting this book to my own daughter and her little girl.

Why She Doesn’t Just Leave by Mina R Raulston

One of the most common questions people ask when domestic violence is discussed is, “Why doesn’t she just leave?” Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be posting about the many reasons why a woman, or a man, doesn’t “just leave’.

For this first post, I’m going to start with a response I heard from a survivor in a video for a domestic violence awareness training video with our local shelter.

In the video, we learned that the woman lived in an apartment complex with her abuser (not sure if they were married or not). They were constantly fighting and one day she and the man were in the parking lot, and he was making quite a spectacle about mistreating her verbally and physically. Another tenant taped them. He gave the tape to the apartment manager and proceeded to insist that the couple be evicted because they were disturbing the peace of the complex. The interviewer asked the woman the predictable question. “Why didn’t she just leave?”

I loved the woman’s response. “Why should I have to leave? He is the one who broke the law. I was the victim of his assault. He should be the one to leave.” And she is right. That’s what society seems to forget. Whether it is a stranger on the street or the person you share a home with when one person physically assaults another person its a crime. Assault is against the law. The person who commits the assault should go to jail. The victim should not have to leave their own home and go hide somewhere to be safe.

Now, I know from experience this is not always possible. So, my future blogs will discuss other reasons why a person experiencing abuse do not “just leave”.

 

Book Review for Living Lies (author Natalie Walters) by Mina R. Raulston

From beginning to end, Living Lies by Natalie Walters keeps you reading for what happens next. A moving story about dealing with depression in the face of how other people view you, this book tells the tale of a small community dealing with depression, murder, art theft, and drug cartels. Natalie Walters has been a writer for some time, but from what I can find this is her first book and she’s done a wonderful job of combining romance and suspense. I have a few authors who I follow diligently, and Natalie may just join their ranks. I’ll be watching for the release of the next book in this series, Deadly Deceit, due November 4, 2019.

I am thrilled to be a part of Revell Publishers review bloggers and receive copies of great books like this to enjoy and find new authors to read.

What’s Wrong with Being a Girl (or a Boy)?

Everywhere I look in the news and on Facebook lately, I see articles about people proclaiming that they are a different gender than the body they were born with. Others proclaim their right to make such claims. I see articles of parents who insist that it is good to raise their children as gender neutral. Supposedly they can raise children, with definite gender specific bodies, with no gender training.

How is that even possible? Boys and girls are different. I’m not talking about what colors they wear. Male and female bodies grow differently. When they approach puberty, those differences become even more noticeable. How do you not teach them about those differences when their bodies are changing differently than their friends? Children and teenagers are curious by nature. How do you convince them those differences are in flux when they are not? And, how can any parent subject their children to medical intervention to stop puberty? That is simply medically dangerous to a child. That is abuse.

But, today, rather than debate something that neither side will budge on, I’d like to approach this subject from a different angle.

What is wrong with being how you were born? What is wrong with being a girl? I don’t mean that a girl has to be frilly and lacy. A girl can wear frills and lace or she can wear jeans and shirts, or even suits or dress pants made to fit a female figure. Male and female anatomy are different after all. She can wear her hair long and curly or she can wear it short. But, she can still be a girl and everything that means. She can be a stay-at-home wife and mother or she can have any career of her choice. And she can still be a girl and everything that means.

What is wrong with being a boy? I don’t mean that a boy has to be all macho, rough and tough without any artistic talents or nurturing instincts. A boy can wear jeans and t-shirts, or he can wear suits and ties. And he is still a boy. I don’t think I can go for a boy wearing dresses and such, because well, he is still a boy, and male and female anatomy are different. A boy can wear his hair long or short and still be a boy. He can work a hard physical job, or work in a corporate office, or work in an artistic career. And he is still a boy.

All of this talk of people thinking they are a different gender than they were born is ridiculous. There is nothing wrong being who you were born. How can you expect others to accept you if you can’t accept yourself?

I am not a frilly, lacy girl. But, I am a girl. I like being a girl. I liked being a wife, except for the abusive behavior of my ex-husband. But, if I found a good man who loved God and loved me as Christ loved the church as the Bible teaches, then I would love being a wife again. I love being a mom. I bore and raised two wonderful kids, a boy, and a girl. I taught them how to be the man and woman of God that the Bible taught me. I wear pants, but they are women’s pants. The same goes for shirts. They just wouldn’t fit a man’s anatomy. I wear my hair short, but it’s a haircut that accentuates my face, not whatever is the current fad. Once in a while, I wear a skirt or dress just because I choose to do that, not because I’m required to wear one. No one has ever mistaken me for a boy. Yes, I dealt with gender inequality in the workplace. But the solution isn’t to change my gender. The solution is to fight the discrimination by fighting for gender equality. My generation has won great victories in this even if we haven’t won all of them.

But, seriously, what is wrong with being a girl or a boy? Why do people have to be so contrary? And raising a child without teaching them your faith is bad enough, but not teaching them how to understand their bodies is just plain abuse. Our bodies are different for a reason, meant to work together. The human race needs both male and female, real male and female, not those who are surgically manipulated to be one or the other, in order to survive and thrive. After all, medicine and science teach us that two males or two females cannot produce a child independently. It’s just not medically or scientifically possible.

And, once again, what is wrong with being a girl or a boy? I don’t mean just accepting that you are a girl or a boy, but celebrating that you are a girl or a boy.

These beliefs that there is no such thing as a gender, inborn from conception, is simply not realistic. Regardless of whether you believe in God, which I do, it is a fact that when babies are born they are born either male or female. And, no teaching can change that reality. No surgery can change what a person is at the chromosome level, and all the surgery in the world can’t change your chromosomes.

I’d like to see real women stand up and celebrate that we are women. We are smart and talented and unique and gifted and beautiful in our own individual way.

I’d like to see real men stand up and celebrate that they are men. They are smart and talented and unique and gifted and handsome in their own individual way.

We don’t have to be something different because society is pushing a different belief. We need to learn to be tolerant of one another as we are individuals, but we need to be totally intolerant of teachings that feed poison into us regarding who we were born to be.

When a teaching says that who you were born to be is wrong or is not enough then that teaching is harmful. It’s not supporting you. It’s insulting you.

I encourage everyone to take joy in who you born to be. I was born a girl and rejoice in being a girl. I don’t need a psychologist to help me deal with that. I don’t need surgery or medicine to make me something else. I don’t need to make myself over into something else to please anyone. And if anyone expects that of me then they don’t respect me as a person.

So, one last time. What is wrong with being a girl or being a boy?

Overcomers by Mina R Raulston

Revelation 12:11 (KJV) says, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony…”

OVERCOMING TO HELP OTHERS

Every one of us has experienced something in their life that we have had to overcome. No one is immune. I’ve had people tell me sometimes when I try to encourage them that they are not as strong I me. I quickly tell them that I do what I do, or overcome what I’ve overcome by my own strength. I have overcome through Christ, literally by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony. I remember times when my strength was gone. I remember when I was hanging on my fingernails, crying out to God to save me. And, God in his grace and mercy heard and answered my prayer.

A few years ago I published my first book, Home Should Be Safe: Hope and Help for Domestic Violence Victims. That was my first book length attempt to use my experience with domestic violence to help other people to understand the who, what, when, where, and why of domestic violence. I told my testimony of healing in the last chapter of the book. I struggled for many years about whether or not I should say more, but I held back because there were people I knew well who told me I needed to stop talking about it and “get over it and get on with it.”

But, God wouldn’t let me get away with what was comfortable to me or other people. You see, when God healed me I asked him to show me what he did in me so I could help others. Soon after that God gave me three visions in answer to my prayer. Now, when I read my Bible, whenever God gave someone a vision, it wasn’t a gift. It was an assignment. And, God has let me know that my first book didn’t completely fulfill my assignment. God continued to bring my story to mind, along with the scripture from Revelation 12:11 to let me know that even though some may not want to hear my story, many need my story of healing and wholeness to show them that they too can be healed, delivered, and restored.

BROKENNESS

Some victims of domestic violence were broken by the abuse, while others were already broken before the abuse. Regardless, even after they escape they don’t know what wholeness looks like. They either forgot or didn’t know what it looked like before the abuse. They need to read my story to know that God does care about them. They need to that healing and wholeness is possible, and they need guidance in how to get from their present brokenness to complete wholeness that is only available through Christ.

So, after three mis-starts, I have completed my first draft of my book and it is with my four Beta readers so I can obtain some feedback on what might need changed, tightened, relaxed, or left out. So far I have heard back from two of them. I appreciate their opinions.

PICKING A GREAT TITLE

One thing I’m working on is the title. My working title up to this point is, “Roadmap to Healing.” Although I do lead readers through my journey to healing, I’m not convinced the Roadmap is the best way to describe it. Although it has been a journey that word doesn’t feel right either. I think journey has been overworked and overused in recent years. I’m considering several possible titles.

VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE TITLE

  • Roadmap to Healing
  • Finding Your Path to Healing
  • Pathway to Wholeness

 

I look forward to your responses.

The Masterpiece – Book Review

My daughter gave this book to me as a Mother’s Day present. She does know her mother well. Over the years I have read many of Francine Rivers books both fiction and non-fiction. Her newest book, The Masterpiece, is one of the most riveting books I have ever read. Two people who seem so different on the surface, yet have much more in common than they ever thought possible, come together in this book to discover what God has in store for their lives. Each has their own dark past. One hopes for a better future, while the other has given up believing that hope is possible despite a hunger that can’t be denied.

Roman Velasco, a well-known artist, formerly a teen gang tagger, has a near-death experience while on a road trip with his personal assistant Grace Moore. Although he’s only in his mid-30’s he has a sudden heart attack on a restaurant sidewalk. While others work to bring him back to life, he experiences the terrifying grasp of demons pulling him down to the depths of hell. After just discussing Jesus Christ with Grace, Roman screams for him to save him. The next thing he experiences is seeing a bright light and feeling Jesus take his wrist and pull him to safety while telling the demons to release him.

That scene alone overwhelmed me because many years ago, after escaping an abusive marriage and finally finding healing in Jesus Christ, I asked God to show me what he did in me so that I could help someone else. God gave me three visions. One of those visions was a similar, though not exact, scene that Rivers describes with Roman. Even now, more than twenty years later, I can still hear the demons taunting me. I can still feel the heat from their grasping fingers trying to pull me off that sharp cliff. I can still remember trying to hang on by my fingernails feeling that I was lost. I can also remember Jesus Christ coming to my rescue and demanding that the demons release me because I was his child.

If you have ever doubted that God is real. If you have ever wondered if Jesus will really save you. Whether you are new to the faith or have never had the gospel shared with you, you have to read this book. Rivers writes stories that are realistic, putting her readers in the midst of the story. I promise that once you start this book you won’t be able to put it down until you reach the end. Even though it’s more than 400 pages, I finished it in two nights of reading. Get your copy as soon as possible.

Book Review – Together Forever (Jody Hedlund) by Mina R Raulston

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres because it is an interesting way to learn about history. Much more interesting than simply reading a history book. Stories about the orphan trains of the mid-1800’s give us a view of the challenges of people to survive during a time of great economic struggle. The first book in this series, With You Always, told about something new to me, that of single women going out on the same trains as orphans, but to obtain employment since there were no jobs left in New York City at that time. This second book tells about the actual orphan trains and the agents charged with placing out children who either had no families or whose families gave them up for one reason or another.

Hedlund uses the tale of the orphan trains to tell the story of two agents, Marianne Neumann, sister to Elise Neumann from Book 1, and Andrew Brady, a teacher, and pastor. Marianne is searching for her youngest sister Sophie while Andrew is escaping a painful past. As the two of them travel west on the train, attempting to find suitable homes for the children in their charge, they learn about each other and about God’s provision in their lives. Hedland tells a wonderful story about history and about God’s unconditional love for his children. I have already put Book 3 in this series, which tells the story of Sophie, on my wishlist for its release later this year.

I want to thank Bethany House for the opportunity to be one of their early readers and obtain books from them in return for posting honest book reviews. For an avid reader, this is an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.