Holiday Help Wanted!

christmasThe only thing better than getting cozy and watching the newest Hallmark Christmas movie is getting cozy and reading a great Christian Fiction Christmas book. I’d like to use my review days this month to highlight some great holiday reads.

Here’s where my “Holiday Help Wanted” comes in. Maybe you’re an author with a book that fits this description. Or maybe you’re just a person who loves to read as much as I do, and you’ve read the best CF Christmas book on the market. It doesn’t matter how you found this book. I want to know about it. It doesn’t mean I’ll be able to read them all before Christmas, but it will give me a place to start. So, think about your Christmas favorites and let me know the title and author in the comments. Thank you for your help!

In It Together

Today I had the opportunity to share in a special celebration. This morning I spent time at a local library with an author friend of mine who was launching her first book with a reading and signing. Nine months ago, it was her sharing in my book launch. It was an honor to share in her day as she did in mine.

Over the last couple of years she and I, along with the other members of our local writers’ group, have stood beside each other in the ups and downs of the writing process. We’re all in different stages, and we each have our own goals and focus. It doesn’t matter. Each member of the group has their own writing strengths and weaknesses. We’re there for each other to encourage each other when the writing gets tough or we find ourselves frustrated and discouraged. We energize each other for the next step. We learn together. And on days like today, we cheer each other on and share in the joys of success.

Writing tends to be a fairly solitary endeavor. It is made much sweeter knowing there’s a group of people in my corner cheering me on and picking me up when I fall.

gates2This feeling is something Anna Marie, the main character in Anna’s Song by Brenda Gates, hasn’t known since her mother and father disappeared without a trace. When her twin sister goes missing too, Anna Marie feels more alone than ever before. Refusing to give up on her sister and confused by mysterious and seemingly impossible clues to her sister’s whereabouts, Anna Marie begins to find people in her corner though she is unsure how she feels about their involvement.

When Anna Marie slips into the past her hopes of finding her sister grow, but the road to finding her isn’t a guaranteed success. And it definitely isn’t easy. Plunged into the middle of the Civil War, she faces dangers and obstacles she is not prepared for. But in these times, Anna Marie also finds what she’s missed in life. She finds people taking the journey by her side. They encourage her to be her best self. They hurt with her when she’s in pain. They teach her about herself and faith through their examples and words.

If she never makes it home and even if she never finds her sister, Anna Marie finds something that makes the sweet things sweeter and the tough things easier. She finds what friendship and family should be, and it makes all the difference.

That’s how it’s supposed to be. Not just for Anna Marie in Brenda’s book. Not just for writers and the writers’ groups they belong to. It’s supposed to be this way for believers too. Actually, it’s supposed to be this way especially for believers. 1 Corinthians 12:26 encourages us with these words. “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”  This is just one of several instructions followers of Jesus are given in how we should interact with one another, and each scripture comes back to loving each other the way God loves us.

When we find this in our churches and with the believers in all areas of our lives, we experience one more amazing gift from God. Allowing God to use us to be this for others makes us the gift to them. Both work in our lives to ease the burden of hard times and increase the joy in the good. And it makes all the difference in the journey of our faith.

 

Join the Parties!

Instead of reviewing a single book today, I’d like to invite you to a couple Facebook Book parties coming up. These are a great way to learn about new authors and get to know more about some of the authors you may already read. In addition to great grand prize giveaways, some of the individual authors are doing some giveaways. For my part, I’ll be giving away signed copies of Faith’s Journey and some handmade Christmas ornaments that were inspired by those in my book.

The first one is the Christian Fiction Lovers Women’s Fiction Party on November 16th. Here’s a little about that party:

4 Featured Authors with 4 Christian Women’s Fiction Novels
Grand Prize: $50 Amazon Card
Runner Up Prize: 4 featured books (Prizes could be eBook or print – author’s choice)

HOW TO ENTER:
• Click you will attend the party.
• Share the party on your timeline.
• Comment on a post by any 2 authors during the party.

Authors may give additional prizes. Winners of all prizes will be announced at the end of the party. Individual authors will post requirements for each individual prize.

You can use this link to find and join the party: https://www.facebook.com/events/1787789031343732/

The second party is happening on November 26th in honor of Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. Here are some details about that one:

Join us during this come and go event as fifteen different authors discuss books, Christmas, and yummy recipes. Each author will be doing an individual giveaway during his/her scheduled time, and we’ll be doing a grand prize giveaway of an Amazon Kindle to one individual at the end of the party. To be entered to win the grand prize giveaway, please mark “going” on the party and comment on at least three different posts.

Links to both events can be found on my author Facebook page. So, if you are in the United States (because I’m pretty certain those are the rules to be eligible to win the prizes), you can sign up to “go” to the parties from there. Find me on Facebook by searching @AuthorHeatherGreer.

Oh, and while you’re there, look for my Thanksgiving pie post. If you follow my page and comment on which you think is my least favorite of the four pies, you could win an old-fashioned cook book. I’ll be doing more giveaways on my Facebook page between now and Christmas.

Change and Hope

hopefortomorrowI drove down the narrow tree-lined road and past the trio of houses from my childhood. They looked the same way they’ve looked for years. But they’re not.

I live in the same place I lived when I was a child. I don’t mean the same neighborhood or the same city. I mean I live within a couple miles of the home I lived in until I was five, and I live across the field from the home I lived in from the time I was six until I got married. I walk down the same road, past the same houses, that I used to ride my bike down when I rode to my grandma’s house. It looks the same. But it’s not.

The houses are still there. The flower gardens still bloom in the spring. The roads still rise and fall and twist and turn as they always have. But everything has changed. The houses on that narrow tree-lined road are filled with people I don’t know. My grandparents and aunts and uncles don’t call them home anymore.

At one time I knew everyone on the road by my house. My other grandparents, my great-grandmas, a slew of great-aunts and great-uncles, and family friends that had known each other for years filled ninety-five percent of the houses along the road. I trick-or-treated down that road without coming to the house of a stranger. There are still some I know. A few family members still live there. But I no longer know a majority of the families living there.

The changes wouldn’t be visible to someone who didn’t know the area personally. What’s outside is similar enough, but what’s housed inside is vastly different. Those are the changes that make a difference. Those are the ones that give the neighborhoods a completely different character.

Some changes are like that. They leave what’s on the outside untouched, but the internal changes affect everything. It’s a lesson Logan De Witt is confronted with when he returns to his childhood home in Hope for Tomorrow by Michelle De Bruin. With his father’s unexpected death and no other males in the household, the responsibility of keeping his family’s farm running for his mother and sister falls to him. It’s a duty he’s more than willing to accept even though it takes him away from the church he pastors.

Arriving home, Logan is greeted by the familiar. The farm, the work, and his home are all as he remembers. But the people are not left untouched by the same grief he faces. When the town’s new teacher arrives to board with Logan’s family the toll their father’s death has taken on his sister becomes glaringly apparent. Instead of finding solace and friendship with the new woman in the house as Logan expects she will, Tillie’s internal struggle is vented in her direction. The more the internal bitterness is given space in her life, the less she acts like the sister Logan remembers.

Logan finds himself in a life that looks like it used to on the outside while struggling to make sense of the truth that life will never be the same again. Financial struggles, discontent in his home, fear to love and possibly lose that love, and this new, unwelcome side of his hurting sister combine to make Logan’s transition to this new reality rocky at best. And even if the storms cease, the real substance of their lives will never be the same.

Change is inevitable. We can fight it, or we can grow through it. We are not meant to stay the same. God sent His Son so we can be different. He wants us to become a new creation. He wants the old, sinful things to pass away. God’s desire is for those who believe to develop the mind of Christ.

God doesn’t really care about our outer packaging. Just like with David, God looks at our heart. He wants us to seek Him first. Our priorities, beliefs, and actions should be shaped by His word. When these changes take place, they may not be noticeable just from a look, but it’s the inside that makes us who we are. What is in our hearts determines our character, and our character determines our actions. These are the changes God desires. These are the ones that will make all the difference.

Main Character Monday: Charlotte Stanton

Book Cover _ Under Prairie Skies (Final) (1)Welcome to Main Character Monday. Today’s guest is Charlotte Stanton from Under Prairie Skies by Cynthia Roemer. Thank you for joining Charlotte.

If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go?

I’ve spent my entire life on the Illinois prairie. I can’t imagine traveling too far. However, I would enjoy visiting the mountains I’ve heard about out west. The prairie is flat as far as the eye can see. But I love it.

I grew up in Illinois too, and I’ve never seen the mountains out west either. But I’ve heard they’re beautiful. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Which of these traits do you find easiest to display in your life?  Which of them is the hardest to display?

Oh, I could use more of all of these traits. Given certain circumstances, I can be gentle and loving. Patience and self-control are definitely not on the top of my list of virtues.

What is your favorite story from the Old Testament?

I love the story of Esther. Her courage and willingness to do the right thing, despite the dangers she faced, is so inspiring.

Doing the right thing even when it’s hard. You’re right. It’s a great lesson for all of us. What is your favorite book in the New Testament?

I’m ever so convicted by the book of James. He gives such practical advice on how one should live. If only I could put it all into practice!

If you could leave us with one message, what would you want us to know?

I want you to know that change it possible. That God can soften hearts and mold us into the people He wants us to be. Just as iron sharpens iron, he uses people to sharpen each other’s lives.

It sounds like you know this from experience. I guess readers will have to check out your story to get all the details!

Just for fun:

Sunrise or sunset? Sunset

Pie or Cake?  Cake

Tulip or Iris? Tulip

Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate

What three words would you use to describe Cynthia? Quiet, loyal, outdoorsy

Thank you Cynthia Roemer for allowing Charlotte to visit with us this evening. Please keep reading for more on Charlotte’s story and Cynthia Roemer.

BOOK BLURB FOR UNDER PRAIRIE SKIES

~ Beyond shattered dreams lies a realm of possibilities ~

Illinois prairie ~1855

Unsettled by the news that her estranged cousin and uncle are returning home after a year away, Charlotte Stanton goes to ready their cabin and finds a handsome stranger has taken up residence. Convinced he’s a squatter, she throws him off the property before learning his full identity. Little does she know, their paths are destined to cross again.

Quiet and ruggedly handsome, Chad Avery’s uncanny ability to see through Charlotte’s feisty exterior and expose her inner weaknesses both infuriates and intrigues her. When a tragic accident incites her family to move east, Charlotte stays behind in hopes of becoming better acquainted with the elusive cattleman. Yet Chad’s unwillingness to divulge his hidden past, along with his vow not to love again, threatens to keep them apart forever.

AUTHOR BIO: 

Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational writer with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. She writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband and their two college-aged sons. Under Prairie Skies is Book Two in her Prairie Sky Series.

 

Contact Info:

 

Cynthia Roemer can be contacted at:

 

Website:  http://cynthiaroemer.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com@cynthiaroemer

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCynthiaRoemer/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16785237.Cynthia_Roemer

Author Newsletter Sign-up: http://cynthiaroemer.com/

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=cynthia+roemer

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/under-prairie-skies-cynthia-roemer/1128471176?ean=9781945094446

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/cynthia-roemer

Dread and the Bad Haircut

haircut-834280__340Have you ever had a bad haircut? If you haven’t, you’re lucky. If you have, do you remember the moment of dread that comes before this experience?

You’ve signed in and are waiting for your appointment. Doubt flickers when the person who calls you looks like their own hair was cut with a weed trimmer. Still, you march bravely forward and sit in the chair. You show the stylist a picture of what you want. You’ve searched the internet for days finding the perfect style. You ask if this cut will work with your hair. You’re assured it will, and the stylist rattles off some simplistic description of your holy grail of hairstyles.

As the stylist picks up scissors to begin working on your transformation, she mentions something that doesn’t make sense.  No, you don’t want only an inch taken off. Your hair is down to the middle of your shoulder blades and the style in the picture barely grazes the shoulders.  On what planet is that an inch?

The tiny doubt you knew when you saw the stylist blossoms into dread. That dread is multiplied as you watch your haircut’s progression. How is this going to turn into the style in the picture? Can that even be possible?

The stylist you see in the mirror is the picture on concentration. And doubt. It’s the doubt that takes your feeling of dread to near panic. You know this is going south at an alarming rate, but there is nothing you can do about it. You can’t walk out mid-cut.  And there’s only so much hair you’re willing to lose.

Why did you come to this salon? Why did you agree to sit in this stylist’s chair? When are you going to learn? You give a weak smile. It’s too late anyway. You pay and leave. Once in the safe confines of your car, you pull out your phone and google how long it will take the bangs that are now two finger widths above your eyebrows to grow back. Then, you reschedule your family pictures for a couple weeks later than that. Next time, you’ll listen to that feeling of dread. Maybe.

Olivia, in A Desperate Love by Jessica McCarty, knows the feeling of dread that comes withMRP-A-Desperate-Love-360x569 poorly made decisions all too well. When her fiancé’s ship is attacked by pirates, Olivia mourns his loss while still maintaining the hope that he lives. When her father and mother decide it’s time she moves on into an arranged marriage, Olivia wants nothing to do with it. Desperation drives her to leave home in disguise. Her choice brings with it apprehension, but Olivia pushes through determined to do what she must to find her fiancé.

When her journey leads her to an inn filled with rough men, she feigns confidence and joins them in their gambling so she can glean information from them. She gets more than she bargains for when a strange offer is put on the table. Join the captain’s pirate crew to help them with a job, and the captain will help find her lost love. Instinct tells Olivia this isn’t a wise plan. She does it anyway.

In her time on ship, Olivia fights the demons of fear inside her, grows from skillful to masterful with a sword, finds bravery she didn’t know she had, and learns what life can be like when you allow yourself to lean on friends. But these revelations don’t keep the dread from popping up every time she’s faced with a new, less than moral choice. Olivia does her best to limit her involvement in the things she knows are wrong while living up to her end of the bargain she struck with the pirate captain. Learning to balance the two is the only way she can hope to save her fiancé.

Olivia faces her moments of dread after each step down the bad paths laid in front of her. While we may not face impossible choices with life or death consequences, I’m sure we’ve all known that catch in our spirit when make a poor choice and veer from the path God intended. It’s that feeling of heaviness that tells us we’re making a mistake. It’s God warning system for His children.

When Jesus was living on earth, He was able to show His followers how He expected them to live. When they made poor choices, Jesus dealt with it. When the disciples let fear steal their peace in the storm, He reminded them to have faith. When Peter denied Jesus, he went out and wept over his failure. When Jesus returned to them after His resurrection, He restored Peter. Jesus was with them to warn them and guide them back when they strayed.

We don’t have Jesus walking the earth with us, but He didn’t leave us alone. Jesus said He would send a helper to live inside every believer. The Holy Spirit would take up residence and work as our teacher, warning system, and the one to guide us back to the right path. When we make a sinful choice or a series of sinful choices, the Holy Spirit is there creating that feeling inside that tells us what we’re choosing is wrong. It’s a gentle nudge that if listened to can help us avoid painful consequences. That gentle nudge becomes a persistent sense of conviction when we stubbornly cling to our chosen path.

It’s not pleasant, but it can’t be. The Holy Spirit means to get our attention. He wants to keep us from sinful choices. It would be wonderful if we listened to the quiet prodding when we felt the first stirrings. Too often we don’t. Then, it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict us of the sin we’ve let in. This dread or conviction is heavier because the situation demands it. But when we heed the warning and turn back from our sin, God restores and we are freed from the guilt and dread that weighs us down.

Full of Character with Michelle De Bruin

FC-Hope for TomorrowWelcome Michelle De Bruin to today’s Full of Character Interview. Michelle is a new author with Mantle Rock Publishing. Her first book, Hope for Tomorrow, releases on October 23rd and is currently on pre-order on Amazon.
What character from the books you’ve read has impacted you more than all the others?
Almanzo Wilder, Laura’s husband. He is said to be a quiet, gentle man with a charming sense of humor. He also persevered through the difficulties of health challenges, losing a child, and farming on the prairies.
I’ve always loved that series. It’s always made me want to go back to that time, at least until I realize I wouldn’t have air conditioning! What character you created was the easiest to write?
Logan De Witt was the easiest. I wrote my dad’s personality into him. In a way, I grew up with Logan so know him quite well.
 What a sweet way to honor your father. What character was the hardest?
His mother’s character, Sandy De Witt, was the hardest. She required me to create a farm wife sort of character true to the early 20th century, someone very different from myself and the times we live in.
Scripture is full of real people who had character to spare. Which one do you most relate to or enjoy reading about?
I appreciate the rugged character of Elijah. He took a stand for God in the face of threats from a wicked queen. His faith changed the course of Israel’s history and earned him a place at Jesus’ side during the transfiguration.
Elijah’s story has always fascinated me. I even named my oldest son after him. Do you plan your characters and their backstories before you begin writing or are you as surprised by them as your readers?
I usually have them pretty planned out. I’ve discovered that careful development of characters early on leads to a better strategy for introducing the surprises.
That is definitely one way of developing a great story. If someone wrote a move about you, who would you like to play your character? Why?
Julie Andrews. She’s adorable as a deeply religious young lady who has the gift of teaching the von Trapp children how to sing, and of reminding the captain how to fall in love. Anyone with that much tenacity would go farther than I ever could bringing my character to life.
She is a wonderful actress. I want to thank you for participating in a Full of Character Interview. It was great to get to meet you in this way, and I look forward to reading Hope for Tomorrow. Readers, remember to pre-order your copy from Amazon so you have it the day it releases on October 23rd. And while you wait, check out Michelle’s website and social media.
Where to find Michelle De Bruin:

Full of Character with Cynthia Roemer

MRP-Cynthia-Roemer-Under-this-Same-Sky-360x570Today we’re going to spend a little time getting to know author Cynthia Roemer. Cynthia writes historical Christian fiction. I’ve read both Under This Same Sky and Under Prairie Skies. You can find my reviews of them and a Main Character Monday interview with Becky Hollister from Under This Same Sky in my archives. If I’m lucky, I may even get to sit down with Charlotte Stanton or Chad Avery from Under Prairie Skies for a new Main Character Monday interview one of these days. But for now, let’s find out a little more about their creator.

What character from the books you’ve read has impacted you more than all the others?

Probably Jo from Little Women.  I can identify with her tomboyish ways (I was also a tomboy growing up in the country with sisters.) and her resistance to change. I’m a stickler for tradition and find change difficult when it comes to those I love. I identify with her desire to keep her family together and unchanged, though we all know that isn’t possible or for the best. As with novel characters, growth and change in relationships are what keep life exciting.

I hate to admit it, but I’ve never gotten around to reading Little Women. I need to add it to my TBR pile. What character you created was the easiest to write? The hardest?

Hmm. The easiest would probably be Becky Hollister from Under This Same Sky. I understand her emotions and tendencies. There is a lot of me in her. One of the most challenging for me to get into the skin of was the heroine of Under Prairie Skies, Charlotte Stanton. She was such a brat in the first book. It was a real challenge to stretch and grow her personality into someone I liked and admired. But I fell in love with her character throughout Under Prairie Skies as I sensed her vulnerabilities and why she acted the way she did early on.

Scripture is full of real people who had character to spare. Which one do you most relate to or enjoy reading about?

I dearly love the story of David. He had such a heart for God. I love his simple trust as he faced Goliath and his desire to honor God in everything he did. I also love the story of Ruth and her devotion to Naomi. She was committed to doing the right thing, no matter what. Both of these characters had hearts of compassion and faithfulness—two traits that I hold in highest esteem.

Do you plan your characters and their backstories before you begin writing or are you

as surprised by them as your readers?

A little of both. I start with a good understanding of who they are, but allow for God’s leading as the characters develop and change.

If someone wrote a movie about you, who would you like to play your character? Why?

Oh, wow! I have to think about that one.  First of all, I can’t envision someone making a movie about my life. LOL! Secondly, I’m not up on many modern-day actresses, but I would want a Christian actress (hard to find). The best choice would likely by Chelsea Noble (wife to Kirk Cameron). Though I’ve not seen her act, she is a woman of faith. That’s good enough for me.  =)

Before I let Cynthia tell us a bit more about her newest release and herself, I want to thank her for taking the time to participate in this interview. Feel free to leave a comment or a question for Cynthia below.

UNDER PRAIRIE SKIESBook Cover _ Under Prairie Skies (Final) (1)

~ Beyond shattered dreams lies a realm of possibilities ~

Illinois prairie ~1855

Unsettled by the news that her estranged cousin and uncle are returning home after a year away, Charlotte Stanton goes to ready their cabin and finds a handsome stranger has taken up residence. Convinced he’s a squatter, she throws him off the property before learning his full identity. Little does she know, their paths are destined to cross again.

Quiet and ruggedly handsome, Chad Avery’s uncanny ability to see through Charlotte’s feisty exterior and expose her inner weaknesses both infuriates and intrigues her. When a tragic accident incites her family to move east, Charlotte stays behind in hopes of becoming better acquainted with the elusive cattleman. Yet Chad’s unwillingness to divulge his hidden past, along with his vow not to love again, threatens to keep them apart forever.

AUTHOR BIO: 

Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational writer with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. She writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband and their two college-aged sons. Under Prairie Skies is Book Two in her Prairie Sky Series.Cynthia R

Contact Info:

Cynthia Roemer can be contacted at:

Website:  http://cynthiaroemer.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com@cynthiaroemer

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCynthiaRoemer/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16785237.Cynthia_Roemer

Author Newsletter Sign-up: http://cynthiaroemer.com/

Purchase Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=cynthia+roemer

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/under-prairie-skies-cynthia-roemer/1128471176?ean=9781945094446

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/cynthia-roemer

When Truth Hides

background-2013633_960_720Truth is important, but sometimes it’s hard to find. We see polarizing stories on the news every day that threaten to tear our nations apart. Sometimes they even threaten to tear God’s people apart. But if we take a step back, we realize each side of these debates have often latched onto one small idea or event and run with it. Even our news sources have lost objectivity. It used to be “just the facts” and let the people decide. There is nothing objective about any news source today.

Each side twists and highlights the things that make them look better and the other side look like the devil himself. Each side has an agenda. The stories they cover, the issues they bring to light, may be important. People may need to know these things, but the way the stories are presented breeds hatred, discontent, and divisiveness. Each side claims truth. Each side has proof. Honestly, each side has people paid to make the “facts” work in their favor to push their agenda. That’s why each side can come up with data, polls, events, and numbers to back up their idea. If you know the right way to frame it, you can find information to back up anything you want. And that’s exactly what each side does.

But simple, honest truth being hard to find sometimes doesn’t mean that it’s not important. In fact, I think it makes it more important. No one understands this better than Sergeant Caleb Dockery in Her Place in Time by Stephenia H. McGee. When Lena shows up out of nowhere in the plantation house turned civil war hospital where he’s recuperating, Caleb doesn’t know what to think. She claims to be from the future. She claims to go back and forth between the two times by putting on a yellow dress. It makes no sense. She speaks in strange ways. Her manner and customs aren’t at all like ladies of his day. A lot of what she says and does is controversial and even scandalous, but is she really from the future? Her methods of nursing wounded soldiers lend credence to her claims. But she slips away unseen at times, and she’s admitted she doesn’t believe in the south’s cause in the war. Could she be a spy?

Even as Caleb wrestles with his doubts, he can’t deny he’s attracted to her, and she seems to be attracted to him as well. His doubts about her trustworthiness, her honesty, keep them at arm’s length. He can’t quite reconcile what she’s saying to be truth, and she won’t give her heart to someone who won’t trust her. What she’s saying seems impossible, too impossible to accept as truth. Besides, she’s still trying to figure out what is really going on and why it’s happening. The only question that remains for us is if either of them will find out the truth before they lose what God’s trying to give them forever. It all comes down to truth.

In an age where people try to dress lies and nuggets of truth as the complete truth, Christians are sheep in the midst of wolves. We need to take Jesus’ directive to “be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves” to heart. We can be part of the problem or the solution. It’s easy in today’s social media crazed days to spout off about everything that irks us. Even in those of us who find loving people easier than others can find our patience and acceptance stretched to their limits. We preach the necessity of loving everyone but then demonize those on the opposite side of the situational fence. We read a simplified post that agrees with our view point and forward it to all our friends, expressing disgust at anyone who dares see things from a different perspective.  In essence we’ve been neither wise nor innocent, instead becoming one of the wolves.

If we are to be wise, we need to start being responsible with the truth. When we see issues dividing those around us, we need to take a step back. Believers can’t hide their heads in the sand. We can’t ignore the things going on around us, but we can make sure all we say, do, and post falls under the umbrella of love and truth. We need to go beyond sound bites of media and seek out all the information we can get before choosing to speak. We need to seek God’s will before we choose to make a move.

In seeking truth and God’s will on how to respond to that truth, we allow ourselves to become wise while staying innocent. We refuse to be part of the problem. We allow room for healing in places where divisiveness once reigned.

By the Book: Do you seek truth instead of giving in to a knee-jerk emotional reaction to what you see or read? Do you seek God’s wisdom and way before you decide what steps to take?

The Friend List

friendship-2156174_960_720 I met Craig at camp the summer between my seventh and eighth grade years. Living three hours away from each other, we only saw each other one other time, but he became my best friend. We wrote letters regularly, and I could tell him anything. God brought him into my life at a time when I needed that kind of friend.

I don’t make friends easily, and my grade school friends were going in directions that I couldn’t go in. We talked at school, but I couldn’t hang out with them anymore. I couldn’t go to them and get the kind of advice I was looking for. I needed someone I could trust that shared my beliefs. God brought me Craig. Though our friendship changed and eventually after we both married we lost touch with each other, that friendship will always have a special place in my life. God knew exactly what I needed through those years, and He provided.

God does that. It was never more than one or two at a time, but He always brought someone into my life when I needed it. At high school and outside of class I had Justin and Brian. I could talk them honestly. They shared with me. Though I know neither would have considered me in their best friend list, I did them.

The same goes for Jamie. God brought her when I needed a good girl friend. She was by my side through the last half of high school and into my early married life. She stood with me at my wedding. She could get me to loosen up and have fun better than anyone I knew. And she didn’t mind telling me when I was messing up. I needed that too. I’d had other girl friends in the past, but none were around as long as Jamie. I’m thankful God brought her when I needed her most.

Jodie was in my life when our children were young. As a mother with three small children and one not so small child at home, I needed someone who could relate to the idea that I was more than a mom, though it was my most important role. Our friendship allowed me to develop the side of myself that didn’t enjoy Blue’s Clues and Dora the Explorer. We had adult talk while our children played. We shared crafting hobbies and a love of books. God provided Jodie so I wouldn’t lose track of who I was outside of motherhood.

He hasn’t stopped providing. As a ministry minded married woman, I needed someone to confide in. It was especially true as a pastor’s wife. That’s when God brought Laura into my life. I actually met her through her husband’s time serving as chaplain in the youth camp I direct. We used to email almost daily.  Since she’s a pastor’s wife, I can talk freely and honestly with her and not worry about being misunderstood or judged. During the hardest time in my life, she was there. God knew I would have been completely lost without her strength and encouragement pointing me back to His truths. We don’t see each other much anymore, but I still count her as my best friend.

Now, as my children are quickly reaching adulthood, my husband and I find we need couple friends. God has blessed there too. While we have a few we see every now and then and love dearly, two have entered our lives on a more regular basis. Tom and Kim are not only church family but as our children marry in September, they will become real family. We met David and Reatha through camp, and we have been blessed to develop friendship outside of that ministry. I can’t imagine our lives without these two couples in them.

There are many more people God has brought into my life at just the right time. Some have come and gone quickly. Others have become life-long friends. Some are partners in my writing adventure, bringing with them encouragement and expertise. Some get me through my day at work with my sanity intact. I’m thankful for each one.

Charlotte Stanton from Under Prairie Skies by Cynthia Roemer would probably understand this sentiment well. Living on the Illinois prairie in the 1850s, choices for friendships were limited. She is closest to her sister, Esther and her father. When this closeness is threatened Charlotte begins to develop a jealous and hateful heart that destroys the possibility of friendship between her and her cousin Becky. But God doesn’t leave her to fend for herself. Like He did for me, God provides just what she needs though in an unexpected way.

As Charlotte gets water from the creek by her uncle and cousin’s empty cabin, she runs into a squatter. Knowing her uncle and cousin are due back any time to reclaim their home, Becky takes matters into her own hands and confronts the man. It’s not a great start to a beautiful friendship with newcomer Chad Avery, but at least they’ve met.

Misunderstanding, past hurts, and pride all conspire to keep friendship from growing. But a spark of attraction and respect keeps them coming back together. When Becky comes home and receives a full helping of Charlotte’s hatefulness, it’s Chad who pulls Charlotte to the side. He’s gotten a glimpse of what’s beneath the hostility, and he doesn’t want to see her give in to the nastiness he’s seeing directed toward Becky. He confronts Charlotte with the behavior in an effort to help her see what she’s doing to herself.

Chad’s words don’t magically work to change her, but they start the process. As they face life challenges, both have to take a look at what they’re holding onto versus what their friendship has to offer. Misunderstandings work against them. It’s up to God to work in both their hearts to prove their friendship is exactly what each of them needs.

Like in my own life, they have to find the truth in Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.”

By the Book: Who has God brought into your life at just the right time? Have you been that person for someone else?