The Promise of Easter

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning! I hope you’re having a wonderful Holy Week. A time of remembrance and thankfulness. Sing Hosanna!

We are a joyful people at times, especially when we remember the sacrifice. And the ongoing sacrifices of those around us, who give of themselves on a daily basis to keep the message strong and vital. He is risen!

I’m looking forward to Sunday’s special service. But this is also a time of remembrance for me. I keep recalling my cousin’s sweet but silly telephone greeting, “Happy Easter Egg!” Whenever anyone called on Easter, he’d greet them in that way. This is his first Easter in Heaven, thus the reason for my reflections.

The joy of sacrifice. We’ve all been there, especially if you’re a mom or a spouse. Sometimes you’re called upon to give up something, like your leisure time, or that last cookie that had your name on it. Many of you give up something important for Lent. It’s a time to think and pray and remember the greatest sacrifice of all. The One who gave up everything but gained the greatest thing of all. Life everlasting, not only for himself, but for all who believed in Him.

So, Easter is a celebration, but it’s also a time for reflection. I hope it’s a reset for you, like when you reboot the computer or your phone. A renewal that will set the tone for the rest of your year and maybe the rest of your life.

In the final chapters of the last book in my Kinsman Redeemer series, Annabelle Cross gets a lesson in renewal and a second chance. She alone has the power to change her life going forward. In the book, she sings the beautiful hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness. God never changes, His compassions never fail. His mercies are new every morning. And as Annabelle sings the final verse, something truly special happens. To find out what that is, you’ll have to read the book. 🙂

Pardon for sin
And a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer
And to guide
Strength for today
and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside
Great is Thy faithfulness…

P.S.: As promised, a bit of exciting news! The final book in the Kinsman Redeemer series has a name! Yes, Annabelle’s Joy joins Annabelle’s Ruth, and Sutter’s Landing to complete the series. Expected release date is August, 2019.

Also, I am signing a contract with Write Integrity Press for another series. This one will be suspense. Tentative series title: Journey Home, Book 1 title, Illusion. Possible release date for Illusion is Fall, 2020.

A Great Thought

Who inspires you? Who has planted that great thought that changed your life or way of thinking about something?

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning readers! Welcome. I hope you’ll leave here this morning, encouraged to go out and make a difference in the world.

One easy way to do that is to let joy shine out from you.

Here’s a simple truth: If you have joy inside, it will find a way to show off. 🙂 Sometimes a smile is all it takes. A heartfelt one is especially effective.

Notice how the light flows through this open window? Imagine the dark room as your neighbor, a coworker, or friend who’s going through a difficult time. You can be the source of that light.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 says this:

“We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.”

Who inspires me?

I have a couple of dear friends who are going through tremendous difficulty. Yet, whenever I see them, they’re smiling. Not the bland, forced smile, either. The all-out, joy-down-in-my-heart smiles.

I’m smiling right now at the memory! Whenever I’m tempted to feel sorry for myself, I think about them and the countless others who endure daily pain and tribulation.

I’m most inspired by the Word of God that gives me daily strength and inspiration.

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;—Psalm 16:11

So, make someone’s day better today. If you make the effort and are rewarded with a smile, that will make your day better too.

Big news next week! See you then.

Healing Laughter

Isa laughing“Don’t laugh!”

“Don’t you dare laugh!”

My husband used to say this to our sons when they were pouting or crying over something. It never failed to bring a smile to their faces. Within moments, they were laughing.

Laughter heals. It’s a proven fact. When’s the last time you really laughed? Laughed till you cried? It feels really, really good. And a night out with friends who can bring on that kind of laughter is strengthening. A vital element in the healing process.

What if you don’t have friends like those?

  • Watch a funny movie or television show.
  • Find a comedian you enjoy. (There are videos on YouTube featuring your favorite comedian/comedienne.)
  • Spend time with a favorite pet.
  • Hang out with kids.
  • Visit a library’s (or bookstore’s) humor section.
  • Go bowling with friends (Miniature golf, swimming, etc.)

I don’t have pets, but I love to watch those funny videos on Facebook. Facebook provides lots of opportunities for laughter as well.

Laughter is infectious. Laughter triggers positive health changes in your body, like strengthening your immunity, releasing stress, boosting energy. Who doesn’t want that? Remember endorphins? Naturally produced chemicals that make you feel great–yes, I could use a healthy dose of those.

dog-1033155_1280Learn to laugh at yourself. Lighten up! Let go and enjoy yourself. You can totally turn a situation around if you’re willing to laugh when you do something dumb. So you made a mistake. Is it worth getting upset over? Losing your cool, stressing out? I’ve chuckled over my stupidity many times.

I had a favorite aunt who had that down to a science. She was one of the happiest women I’ve known, though she’d seen plenty of trouble in her life. I think of her when things happen. How would Aunt Jen handle this? She’d laugh and make up some funny saying about it. She’d tell the story of what she’d done and make others laugh. One thing she never had a shortage of–friends.

kitten-1040950_1280

Sometimes you have to purposefully inject humor into your life. Set aside time to watch a funny video or movie. Call a friend who always makes you laugh. If it’s difficult for you, start small. Install a humorous screensaver on your computer and/or phone.

Remember to smile, because smiling is also contagious. Yes, others may wonder if you’re nuts, but they’ll probably still smile back.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. — Romans 15:13 NIV

 

Couragious Forgiveness

background-1135051_1280Sometimes, it takes raw courage to forgive.

This is an ongoing theme in my life. Forgiving, even when it hurts (me). Looking back, I see a line of courageous forgivers. The Amish families who lost their children. Corrie Ten Boom. And further back in history, Stephen (early church deacon who was stoned to death for his faith).

The troubles of my past pale in comparison. But they still hurt. The human reaction for most of us is to hold on to them. To hate the one who hurt us. To punish the perpetrator through our ongoing hate.

Deep inside, I know that kind  of possessive unforgiveness hurts me more than anyone else. Those who committed the worst things that ever happened to me are dead now. They’ve met their fate, and they met it without my spoken forgiveness. I came to this knowledge too late. But I have now forgiven them. Their slate is clean with me.

flower-946502_1280Why does it matter? I no longer suffer under the weight of holding on to someone’s guilt. I’ve been spiritually healed of the pain inflicted on me, because of this passage of scripture… “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (John 8: 14-15 NIV)

Pay close attention to verse fifteen. It holds a devastating truth. Don’t overlook it.

Forgiving others sets you free. When I let go of the pain of my past, something died inside of me. But it was a good death. No longer would I be in its death grip. I am free of the pain. And those who caused that pain are in God’s hands. I am completely free.

Here’s another life-giving realization that came to me when I pondered my freedom: Unforgiveness is one of the strongest tools of the enemy. Satan uses unforgiveness–in your life–to steal your joy, your health, happiness, peace. He uses it to kill, and to destroy. With it, he destroys families…lives. Yours. Not the one who sinned against you.

death-1013386_1920I held my hurt and pain in a tight fist for so long, I couldn’t enjoy life. If anything in my life reminded me of what happened, I curled up in a fetal position (inside, if not physically) and felt dead. Others were hurt and confused by my attitude. Until the day I discovered these scriptures and decided it was time to let it go.

It wasn’t easy. Even after the initial spoken forgiveness, I was reminded throughout the day, every day, of what had been done to me. I’m not exaggerating. So I faced it with courage. I took every thought captive. When the thoughts came, they brought pain with them. I forgave all over again. I took a step further and replaced feelings of hurt and pain and hate with love. But not in my name. “Father, forgive me. Replace the hateful memories. Heal my heart and help me love.”

1-Passion FlowerYears have passed since that time. The hurtful thoughts came less and less. My heart gradually healed. Some babies are born with a hole in their heart. Most are healed naturally, as they grow. The hole closes. Their hearts are healthy. That’s what happened to me, but spiritually. The hole in my heart closed up. It’s sealed and strong. It took courage. I would like to take all the glory for that, but I can’t.

It was God’s love. I am so loved by God. “For God so loved the world, He gave his only Son…” As a believer, my faith has made me whole.

I share this so perhaps you can be whole also. If you suffer under the weight of unforgiveness, consider what I said in the paragraph above. How much joy have you allowed to pass by, so you could hold on to this pain? How much peace?

Take a chance. Be courageous. Forgive, that you might be forgiven.