This newest novel by Cindy K. Sproles is a well-written tale about a time in the history of the Appalachian mountains when influenza and typhoid tore through this isolated territory. She tells a painful tale of a young woman who made difficult choices and endured terrible hardship that she was not prepared to face. Ms. Sproles goes deep and tells a heart-wrenching story that rings true of the people and the time. It was a little too emotional for me, but she couldn’t have written it any other way and still be true to history.
Category: Christian Testimony
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.
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.
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 – Breaking the Fear Cycle: How to Find Peace for your Anxious Heart by Mina R Raulston
I am so grateful to Revell Books for the ability to participate in their Blogger Book Review program. They provide me with a list of books to choose from and I write an honest review of those books. Most of the time I can give a positive review. Unfortunately, I cannot do that with this book.
The author, Maria Furlough, speaks about fear from her personal experiences. She has evidently lived a life overwhelmed with the spirit of fear, a fear that grew from simple worry to outright panic. It was also compounded by the diagnosis of her unborn child with a syndrome that would cause his death within minutes or hours after his birth. I can’t imagine the pain she endured during her pregnancy and delivery, followed by his death.
But, I do know that her method of fighting fear is not workable for me. She searches countless scriptures about fear, which is fine by itself. But her battle tactic is to read the scriptures to herself and journal her fears in detail. I was taught to fight the devil and his minions with the Word of God directly. When Jesus was in the wilderness and Satan taunted him and tempted him Jesus set the example for how to fight the devil off. He spoke the Word of God back to him. An example is in Matthew 4.
In II Timothy 1:7 it says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Then, in James 4:7 it says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
I grew up with a mother who was the embodiment of the spirit of fear. If I had given voice to my fears through journaling and speaking about them I would have been overtaken by them. But by learning to rebuke the devil and the spirit of fear I have been able to overcome that fear. Does it still attempt to attack me? Yes, on occasion. But, then the Holy Spirit reminds me of the full Armor of God and how to fight the devil with the Sword of the Spirit.
If this battle tactic works for Mrs. Furlough then I pray she becomes adept at it. I would never tell someone to stop fighting in a way that helps them. I just know the more direct approach works for me.
Many people have been sharing the things for which they are thankful. My heart is full indeed. I have many things to be thankful for, provision, protection, promotion, instruction, lightness of heart, freedom of spirit, and fullness of heart.
But, the greatest blessing God has granted me is my two children, their spouses, and my four wonderful grandchildren.
My childhood home was not religious. My parents were not happy for me when I married, nor were they very pleased when I announced coming grandchildren. My mother said she only saw the upcoming burdens of adding children to our home since we were already struggling financially. My mother-in-law decided to copy her mother-in-law and say that she had too many grandchildren. Frankly, I’ve never heard such as thing as too many grandchildren. God’s word says that children and grandchildren are a blessing both in our youth and our old age.
My father was orphaned as a child and grew up in an orphanage, so much of my ancestry has been misplaced in various public records. I’m not sure if I’ll ever have the time or the resources to find any of my Grandmother Mina Frost’s history or her family’s history. I know I’ve enjoyed having her name, my only connection to her. I’ve always loved her father’s name, unusual to my generation, but probably common to his. My great-grandfather’s name was Major Frost.
My mother’s family is large, but was never close, at least not close to us. My ex-husband’s family was not loving or kind, at least not to me and my children, especially after the divorce. We were forgotten to them.
Many in my former church family were not supportive of me and my children after the divorce. I can’t worry about them. They must walk their own path. But, there were a group of brothers and sisters in the Lord who stood with me and my children. Some of those have gone to be with the Lord in Heaven. But, those who remain have stayed as true friends to me and my family. Thankfully, God has also blessed us with many brand new friends in the last year.
But, in all of this, I am most thankful that God received this little girl from a family that wanted no part of him. He called me out of generations of unbelief. He made a place for me in His family. Then, despite the fact my husband and the father of my children also rejected him, God blessed me with two wonderful children. That son and daughter married. My son and his wife have three children and my daughter and her husband have one child. Now, it is not just me standing alone serving God. Now it is me, my children, their spouses, and my grandchildren, standing together in the Spirit of God and serving him. We may be in different geographic locations, but we stand in agreement in our service to God, our Father.
Book Review: Cherished Mercy
Tracie Peterson wraps up her series Heart of the Frontier series with Cherished Mercy. The youngest of three sisters, Mercy has grown up on the frontier. She survived the wagon train west. She survived the Whitman Massacre. Now a young woman she has a desire for peace between the natives and the white man, while many only want the natives gone. Travel with this brave young woman who goes to live with a missionary couple to help the wife with a difficult pregnancy. While there she survives the hardships and the loss of her friends but develops a relationship with the couple’s adopted child and the brother of the missionary. Walk with her as she grows as a woman and a missionary in her own right. A wonderful historical read by Peterson.
Disclosure: Bethany House Publishers provided me with a copy of this book to give an honest 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.
Parents as Educators
Parents as Educators – First published in the Church of God Evangel Magazine August 2006
There has been much controversy regarding the type and quality of education our children receive. The public schools complain that the parents take no interest in their children’s education and blame low grades, truancy, and delinquency on that belief. The parents, in turn, blame the schools, citing lack of discipline, lack of dedicated teachers, and poor teaching methods as the reason for low grades, truancy, delinquency, and adult illiteracy.
Some parents have chosen either to homeschool or to enroll their children in private schools as their solutions. Most parents, due to finances, job demands or larger families, have had no choice but to keep their children in public schools. The parents demand a better education for their children. The schools cry out for more money, even though many question the allocation of current funding. This has become a vicious cycle with parents and schools on opposing sides, and the children are stuck in the middle, without voice or empowerment regarding their own education.
I am a single parent of two grown children and have dealt directly with public schools and private schools on these issues. I decided upon a different course of action with each of my children when the situation became intolerable in our public school system. This was done after much prayer and research based on their individual personalities, gifts, talents, and future plans.
I pulled my son out of public school in his junior year due to an assault and battery in the classroom between classes. I homeschooled him for the remainder of the school year, and he earned his GED at age 17. He went to work full-time and soon found a job with a small computer manufacturer, where he learned how to build computers. He later moved to a larger computer company, where he studied and became a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) at age 21.
The counselors at our public school had wanted to push him toward a college-prep program, but I knew my son has always been a hands-on learner with no desire to attend a four-year college. What this large, inner city school was not able to do was give students individual attention for their specific learning styles and talents or to consider their future goals and plans.
When my daughter was in middle school and planning for high school, this same school district took a very different approach. She was put into the traditional, general program, even though her grades were high, her work was always done early, and she had declared her major and college choice at ten years old. When she asked for more challenging work, they told her to “read a book.” My daughter actually lost interest in reading because of this forced, dry, continual excuse for not challenging her academically.
When I tried to withdraw her on open enrollment, the school refused to release her, based on some measurement of racial balance. Since I knew the violence there was not a temporary problem but a long-term one, I decided to homeschool her for one year and then I enrolled her in a Christian high school in a neighboring city. This school is a long-established, college prep, fine arts school that made it possible for my daughter to attend with the help of financial aid. My daughter went on to earn her education at her college of choice and is now a music teacher at a music studio.
She would never have been properly prepared for this by our local public school because they had pigeonholed her in the wrong category in middle school. Throughout this decision-making process, I researched at great lengths the pros and cons of home education and private schools versus public schools, based on the options available to me. I believe I made the best, most informed decision for my family.
For those who are still facing these decisions, there are many things to consider. Some strong proponents of public school argue that only public schools offer the best opportunities for extracurricular activities. I found that this Christian school offered the same extracurricular opportunities. Also, some homeschool groups join together to offer their children these same opportunities.
Some say public schools do offer their high academic standards, and I agree. I have found, both in my personal experience and in my research that academic standards vary with each individual school, whether it’s public, private, or homeschool. I also found that fine arts opportunities are rare in anything but a private school.
Finally, some argue that parents who choose private schools or home education are overprotecting their children by sheltering them from unsavory conditions that they likely will eventually have to face in the world. To this argument, I answer an adamant, yes! Our children are precious gifts from God. He has given us our children as a heritage and a reward (Psalm 127:3-5). They come to us as tender, innocent lambs, and it is the parents’ responsibility to protect them and shield them from as much danger and evil as possible. Parents are their children’s first and most lasting teachers (Proverbs 1:8, 9).
God has commanded us as parents to train, teach, and protect our children (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4; Deuteronomy 6:1-9). In all things, we are to demonstrate our love for them. This is a mirror of God’s love for us. God created each human being in His image, and our children are the most precious fruit of the Kingdom. They are the only things of this life that we can take to Heaven with us. We must pass down a Godly heritage to them if they are to continue to carry God’s Word to the world and enjoy His blessings. We must teach them that no matter what wind of doctrine is presented, the final authority is God, and this authority is found in God’s Word.
Each family must choose the best education for their individual children based on their needs and their situation. This must be done prayerfully. Some families may find they are blessed with good, quality, public schools with many opportunities. Others may be stuck in an inner-city school with no other options. Still others may be able to utilize home-schooling or private schools.
Whatever decision is made, we must actively teach basic Biblical foundation at home. God never intended the church or school to be parents. We need to instill in our children their rightful identity and heritage. They are created by God, in His image. We and our children are not simply higher forms of animals that are bound by uncontrollable physical desires. Neither are we our own gods or creators, able to improve ourselves by our own power or override God’s laws.
Let us pray constantly for our children’s protection and for God’s wisdom and guidance for the wondrous task of training them to reflect the image of Christ in their lives. Then, when our children are properly equipped, they will be able to go out into the world and carry out the Great Commission, which was given to us by Christ just before His ascension into Heaven.