Stories of faith, life, and love

Tag: Amy C. Blake

Main Character Monday: Levi Prince

Welcome to Main Character Monday. Today’s interview is a special one because today’s guest is from a YA fantasy book. Let’s welcome Levi Prince from The Fay’s Apprentice by Amy C. Blake. Thank you for joining me.

If you could choose only one thing to buy without money being an issue, what would you buy?

An airplane or a helicopter to transport me between my home in Ohio and Castle Island on Lake Superior. That way I can more easily spend time with my family and with Sara and her parents.

The New Testament tells the story of two sisters who react to Jesus visiting in very different ways. Mary chooses to spend her time with him, while Martha chooses to see to the physical details of his visit. Are you more a Mary or Martha?

As a teenage boy, I can’t say I’ve ever really thought about identifying with either woman, but I suppose I’m more of a Martha trying to become a Mary. I spent the previous two years of my life trying to physically force things to work out as I thought best. This year, I’m trying to live in obedience to God and simply trust Him to work everything out for His glory.

I find that’s always the best choice. And maybe I should re-work some of my questions to better fit the men I interview! Thanks for rolling with it.

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27 – Do you think this verse, lived out would have made a difference in your life? If so, how?

It certainly would’ve made a difference in the lives of two of my friends. My best friend Trevor lost his mom when he was a little kid, and his family has never been the same. His relationship with his dad is wretched, and his older brother is just plain mean. My dad has tried to be somewhat of a father to Trevor, but it’s hard since we live more than two hours apart.

My other friend Morgan is a mess because of her mom’s drug addictions and her step-dad’s nastiness. Sara, Lizzie, and Monica try to help her, but she’s so mixed up from all the hard times she’s been through. If somebody in her family, like maybe her aunt and uncle—Hunter’s parents—were Christians who lived out this verse to her, I think she’d be a lot better off.

It sounds like your friends are lucky to have a friend like you in their corner. 

What scripture verse would you claim as a life verse?

Psalm 20:7: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” In a place like Terracaelum where mormos, monsters, and demon sorcerers are a very real threat, trusting God is crucial.

I think I may have to ask you back for another interview. I’d like to find out more about Terracaelum and your time there. Of course, my readers and I can enjoy your story too, even if we’re a tiny bit over the YA cut-off.

If there was one message you could give those reading this interview, what would that be?

No matter your situation, trust in the Lord for strength. Don’t rely on yourself. He is the only omnipotent one.

That’s a great truth to remember whether you’re in another world or trying to live a God-honoring Christian life wherever you are. 

Just for Fun:

Indoors or outdoors: Outdoors because Terracaelum is awesome!

Reading or writing: Reading

Apples or pears: Pears

Early bird or night owl: Night owl

Describe Amy in three words:

Motherly: because she loves and cares for her children.

Imaginative: because have you read the situations she puts me into?

Growing: because she learns more about God every day, just as she has me doing.

Thank you for joining me Levi. And thank you Amy C. Blake for allowing me to interview him.

Keep reading for more information on The Fay’s Apprentice and Amy C. Blake.

FaysApprentice_FlatThe Fay’s Apprentice (book 3)

On Levi’s third summer at Camp Classic, he’s torn between two responsibilities. On the one hand, his parents expect him to watch over his little sister Abby, who has no clue their summer camp is a haven for mythical creatures. On the other hand, Mr. Dominic wants him to train at Fort Terra, a full day’s hike away from his sister, because of Levi’s previous encounters with the demon sorcerer Deceptor. Although he enjoys training with his friends, Levi finds life at Fort Terra difficult thanks to the ongoing tension between him and Hunter and the stress of having his former kidnapper Regin as his chaperone. When the woman Regin claims to be the evil sorceress Anna appears, Levi faces a whole new challenge.

 

SONY DSCAward-winning author Amy C. Blake is a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mother of four. She has an M.A. in English from Mississippi College and has written articles, devotionals, and short stories for a number of publications. She’s also writing two series for the Christian market, her Levi Prince YA fantasy series and her On the Brink Christian suspense trilogy.

WhitewashedColorblind, and Tie-Dyed, featuring three homeschooled girls on the brink of adulthood…and danger, are available in paperback and Kindle. The Trojan Horse TraitorThe Fall of Thor’s Hammer, and The Fay’s Apprentice, about homeschooled pastor’s kid Levi Prince and his adventures in Terracaelum, are also available in paperback and Kindle. She’d love for you to visit her website at amycblake.com.

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Author of the On the Brink Christian suspense trilogy:
Author of the Levi Prince YA Christian fantasy series:

Full of Character with Amy C. Blake

Today’s author interview is with Amy C. Blake. I’ve enjoyed reading and reviewing her books, and I’m so happy she joined me for Full of Character. Keep reading after the interview to find out Amy’s books and how you can connect with her.

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

Honestly, Jesus is the most influential character from all the books I’ve ever read. As for fictional stories I’ve read, I’ve gleaned from characters in a number of genres. And as for characters I’ve written, Levi Prince from my YA Christian fantasy series has had the most impact on me. Since his is a four-book series about four consecutive summers in his young life, I’ve spent a good deal of time assessing his character growth. He’s also a kind of conglomeration of my own kids (homeschooled pastor’s kids), and so I’m very invested in how he turns out.

What character you created was the easiest to write? The hardest?

Patience from Whitewashed was the easiest because I can relate to her impatient tendencies and her strong desire to accomplish her goals. Christy from Colorblind was the hardest because she’s very sweet and yet, for most of the book, not a Christian because she’d believed her false-teacher daddy’s preaching.

I loved both Patience and Christy. All three of the girls in that series are very different but such good friends. Scripture is full of real people who had character to spare. Which one do you most relate to or enjoy reading about?

I enjoy reading about Peter because he said some of the most audacious and wrong-headed things and yet understood exactly who Jesus was when others still didn’t get it.

It always amazes me that we can get it wrong even when we get who Jesus us, but even more amazing is that He still uses us. Do you plan your characters and their backstories before you begin writing or are you as surprised by them as your readers?

I like to at least have a pretty good idea of their personalities and backstories before I write. However, they do sometimes surprise me with their behavior.

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

My first thought is, why in the world would somebody write a movie about boring old me? If for some reason they did, I don’t honestly know who I’d like to play me. I can think of several actresses I admire, but none that I would really want to play my part.

I’d like to thank Amy, once again, for joining me today. If you haven’t read her Main Character Monday interview with Nat, check out last Monday’s post.

More about Amy C. Blake:

Amy C. Blake
Author, Homeschooler, Pastor’s Wife
amazon.com/author/amycblake
Now available: Whitewashed, my Christian suspense novel about 18-year-old homeschooler Patience McDonough (Book 1, On the Brink series)
Now available: Colorblind, my Christian suspense about 18-year-old homeschooler Christy Kane (Book 2, On the Brink series)
Now availableTie-Dyed, my Christian suspense about 19-year-old homeschooler Nat Montgomery (Book 3, On the Brink series)
Now available: The Trojan Horse Traitor, my YA fantasy novel about 13-year-old homeschooler Levi Prince and his adventures in Terracaelum (Book 1, Levi Prince series)
Now available: The Fall of Thor’s Hammer, my YA fantasy novel about Levi’s second summer in Terracaelum (Book 2, Levi Prince series)

Main Character Monday: Nat Montgomery

tieWelcome to Main Character Monday. Today’s guest is Nat Montgomery from Tie-Dyed by Amy C. Blake. Thank you for joining me Nat.

 

If you could choose only one thing to buy without money being an issue, what would you buy?

Before my grandmother Gigi left me enough money to cover tuition for my art history degrees, I would’ve said cash for college, because school is expensive! But now, I’d have to say a tour of the major art museums of the world.

That sounds like a lot of fun. Given your area of study, I’m sure it would be beneficial for you too.

The New Testament tells the story of two sisters who react to Jesus visiting in very different ways. Mary chooses to spend her time with him, while Martha chooses to see to the physical details of his visit. Are you more a Mary or Martha?

I’m a blend of the two. I’m willing to sit, read Scripture, and ponder God’s Word, but I do have to call my thoughts back from wandering to all the things I need to do.

Focus is a difficult thing to achieve when the world doesn’t slow down around you.  “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27 – Do you think this verse, lived out would have made a difference in your life? If so, how?

Absolutely. If my mom had lived the “keep oneself unspotted from the world” bit rather than indulging in drugs and live-ins, my childhood would’ve been so much better. Thankfully, Gigi as much as adopted my virtually orphaned self and lived out the gospel before me.

It’s such a blessing when there are people in our lives to help make up for what we’re missing. Your Gigi sounds like a wonderful woman.

What scripture verse would you claim as a life verse?

Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Gigi always pressed this passage on me, and I learned the truth of it more deeply during the difficult events of the summer.

If there was one message you could give those reading this interview, what would that be?

Trust God and His great love, even when your life looks like an abysmal mess.

Just for Fun:

Indoors or outdoors: Outdoors—with my bow. I love archery, though I haven’t found a place to shoot yet in DC.

Reading or writing: Reading, definitely. It takes a lot less effort than writing.

Apples or pears: Pears are my favorite!

Early bird or night owl: Did you read the tactics my roommate sometimes has to use to wake me up in the morning?! Night owl, no question.

Nat, please describe Amy C. Blake in three words.

Tall because she’s 5’8, and I’m . . . far shorter than that.

Restrained because she doesn’t usually make the smart-alecky comments that often land me in the doghouse.

Blessed because, unlike me, she has a set of wonderful Christian parents who taught her the love of Jesus from a very young age.

I want to thank Nat for joining me today. And thank you to Amy Blake for sharing her with us. If you’d like to know the rest of Nat’s story, check out Tie-Dyed available now on Amazon.  And while you’re at it, keep reading to find out more about Amy and her books. 

amazon.com/author/amycblake
Now available: Whitewashed, my Christian suspense novel about 18-year-old homeschooler Patience McDonough (Book 1, On the Brink series)
Now available: Colorblind, my Christian suspense about 18-year-old homeschooler Christy Kane (Book 2, On the Brink series)
Now availableTie-Dyed, my Christian suspense about 19-year-old homeschooler Nat Montgomery (Book 3, On the Brink series)
Now available: The Trojan Horse Traitor, my YA fantasy novel about 13-year-old homeschooler Levi Prince and his adventures in Terracaelum (Book 1, Levi Prince series)
Now available: The Fall of Thor’s Hammer, my YA fantasy novel about Levi’s second summer in Terracaelum (Book 2, Levi Prince series)

 

Trust Issues

tieAs a probation officer, my husband has to dissect his clients’ words in effort to find the truth in any given situation. Before that he spent years as an addictions counselor, another profession that requires carefully weighing what you hear someone say against what you see going on in their life. After over twenty years in these professions, this way of interacting with people has not filtered into his non-professional life. By nature he trusts. Optimism comes easily for him and with it a generally positive outlook on people and their motives.

I am my husband’s opposite. Well, almost. I would argue I’m not a pessimist but a realist. I see the negative outcomes as possibilities while still holding onto hope for and working towards the good. It’s a fine line, but that’s a discussion for another day. When it comes to people, I freely admit, I don’t trust easily. That task of weighing and dissecting words and their meanings that my spouse has had to learn comes all too naturally for me.

For some, like Nat Montgomery in Tie-Dyed by Amy C. Blake, experience teaches them not to trust. Nat’s grandma is the only stable thing in her life. Her mother is a functioning addict who has been in and out of her life since she was a child. Even when she was with Nat, her motives were often selfish. Nat doesn’t know her father. When her grandmother dies it feels like the only sure thing in her life other than faith has been taken from her. As she delves into a message her grandma left her, Nat if forced to question if she could even trust her beloved grandma.

Her grandma’s story plunges Nat into a dangerous quest for answers. Pains from the past mingle with the present pushing those around her to questionable and sometimes illegal acts. Nat’s lack of trust influences her to make poor decisions that could cost those she loves, and it keeps her in a state of confusion about those who seek to help her. When events seem darkest, Nat even questions the trustworthiness of God who has taken so much from her. For Nat learning to trust turns into a matter of life and death.

I doubt my instinct against trust will ever lead to a life or death situation. But there is another issue Nat faces that my own issues could lead me to if I’m not careful. When things go horribly wrong in her life, Nat doubts God’s ability to love and care for her. Is she worth God’s love and if not can she say for sure He does? For those who are a little less trusting, either by nature or because circumstances have taught them to be, the danger is in letting the storms of life erode your trust in the only One who is absolutely trustworthy.

How do you build trust that’s unshakeable? Know the one you’re trusting. God tells us everything we need to know about His nature. He gives us examples of times when He’s miraculously rescued people from circumstances, but He’s also shown us how He’s remained faithful to His children even when the situations remained the same. These examples and hundreds of promises have been given to us in His word. When we spend time in scripture finding out who God is and burying His promises deep in our hearts, we strengthen our trust. As hard times come we can hold onto the things we’ve learned. We can pray them back to God, and we can rest knowing He is the same God in our lives that He’s been throughout history. Each time He brings us through our faith is strengthened and our trust grows leaving it stronger for the next challenge of life.

By the Book: Try keeping a journal of God’s provision in your life. Detailing His work in your circumstances will provide a tangible reminder of who God has been to you for your next dark time.

Main Character Monday – Christy Kane

colorblindWelcome to Main Character Monday. It’s a little different than my regular blog posts, a little more lighthearted. But stick with it, and you just might find some characters you’d like to read more about. And even though it isn’t my usual devotional style, you may still come away with an encouraging word from the Word. I hope you enjoy Main Character Monday!

 

Today’s Guest is Christy Kane from Colorblind by Amy C. Blake. Thank you for joining me.

A life verse is a scripture that has spoken to you deeply, impacted the way you live your life, or become like a theme verse for your life. What would you say is your life verse?

Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose,” is a verse I used to think meant God wanted me to have earthly happiness above all else. That’s what my prosperity-preacher daddy taught before his world—and mine—got rocked by scandal. Now that I understand the true gospel, I cherish this verse for what it really means: that God uses every circumstance and situation for my good as His child, not so I will be rich and beautiful and have everything I want, but so I will be conformed more and more to the image of His Son, Jesus. As a Christian, I can now take comfort when life is hard because I see that God’s goal through my suffering is for my ultimate good, my sanctification.

What person from scripture do you most relate to?

I can definitely relate to the Rich Young Ruler because I was just like him until recently. I was the girl everybody envied with her perfect looks, her rich daddy, and her many talents, but who was absolutely lost inside. Like the Rich Young Ruler, I thought I could earn my way to eternal life based on my own merits. Now, I know I can’t, and I’m so grateful God didn’t leave me in my lostness.

I think that’s something every believer should be grateful for. The New Testament says that all the law and prophets can be summed up in two commands: love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. Which of these two commands do you feel you have the most trouble following?

Over the summer, I’d have to say loving God gave me the most trouble. I felt that He’d betrayed me by letting Daddy betray me.  Because I didn’t understand God’s character, I resented Him rather than loving Him.

Solomon asked God for wisdom. If God gave you the same opportunity, what would you ask Him for?

I’d ask Him for courage. As an aquaphobe, I need Him to help me get past my terror of water. As a daughter, I need Him to give me the guts to speak the truth in love to my parents and to forgive Daddy. As a Christian, I need Him to give me the bravery to use the gifts and talents He gave me for His glory.

If you could give one message to those reading this interview, what would you tell them?

Don’t buy into the so-called prosperity gospel. God did not send His own Son into this world so we could live fat and happy here on earth, gathering more and more stuff while the world goes to hell. God sent His Son to save us because we’re lost in sin, and our only hope of eternal life is through faith in Jesus. God isn’t about our “happiness” here on earth. He’s about our holiness, our justification. Please, read the Bible for yourself and find out who God really is and what He really wants for you. Start in the book of Matthew, like I did. You’ll be glad you did.

Just for Fun:

Dark or Milk Chocolate? Milk chocolate, because it’s sweeter.

Autumn or Spring? Autumn, because then swim season is over for a while.

Coffee or Hot Cocoa? Coffee, because hot cocoa doesn’t wake me up.

If you could describe Amy C. Blake in three words, what would those words be?

Graceful, because she, unlike me, can walk across a room without tripping over her own feet—most of the time, anyway.

Blessed, because she has had decades of sound Biblical teaching and preaching to guide her.

And, finally, not to be rude, but I’d have to say unskilled, because she can’t even play the piano anymore.

She may not be able to play the piano, but I think we can both agree she has a talent for writing. I want to thank you, Christy Kane, for joining me today.

If hearing from Christy has piqued your interest in getting to know her better, you can get your own copy of Colorblind by Amy C. Blake from Amazon. While you’re at it, be sure to check out Amy’s other books including Whitewashed, the first in this series, and her newest book, Tie-Dyed.

The Oxford Comma and Truth

The oxford comma is a controversial little piece of grammar. I, personally, am a fan. For those who may not know, the oxford comma is the last comma used in a series of items. It may seem like an unimportant detail, but it can clarify a writer’s intent and keep misunderstandings from happening.

The people I look up to the most are my parents, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. The meaning of this sentence may leave readers believing I’m delusional. The Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny are my parents? One comma makes a huge difference. Try it again. The people I look up to the most are my parents, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. Admittedly, I still seem a little crazy if I consider the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny people to look up to, but at least I don’t think they’re my parents in the second scenario. The oxford comma can be the difference in understanding my message clearly or being left to interpret it in an unintended way. I prefer to keep my message as clear as possible.

Misunderstanding wouldn’t be devastating in the silly example above. Many times, a misunderstanding can produce embarrassing results that turn into stories friends can laugh over in years to come. But there are times when having a proper understanding of things can make all the difference in the world.

Christy Kane, the main character from Colorblind by Amy C. Blake, learns this lesson the hard way. Christy’s father is her hero. He’s the one who has been there for her every step of the way, encouraging her in her pursuits. As the pastor of a mega-church, he is also the one who has taught her who God is and what it means to be a Christian. Her life revolves around what he considers the driving force of Christianity; that our happiness makes God happy. A life of peace and success awaited her and other believers simply because they loved God. Sin and the need for salvation were only things used to weigh down believers and keep them from knowing true success in life. Her whole outlook on faith and life were shaped by these beliefs.

Her devotion to her father is what makes the fall even harder when his affair is made public. Add to that charges of embezzlement, and Christy is devastated. Not able to face her father or his God, Christy goes to complete a summer internship with a distant relative she’s never met. Her future is up in the air, and her faith is shaken to the core. Yet in the middle of the pain, discord between the other summer volunteers, and mysterious happenings that echo events of the past, Christy is faced with the idea that her father’s faith may have been less than what God intended.

Christy fights against statements that her father is preaching a gospel not found in scripture. She may not feel it at the moment, but she does love him. He’s her father. She is convinced he only preached the truth. However, with events working out like they are in her life, Christy is finally able to consider the possibility that her father’s beliefs may not be as grounded as she’s always thought. God uses her painful circumstances to open her heart to searching out the truth of scripture for herself.

It’s these misunderstandings of scripture that can make a huge impact in our lives. When we base our values and lifestyles off faulty or partial understandings of scriptures, we build our lives on shifting sands. When the storms come, it can wash away our faith completely. This is why 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Then in  2 Timothy 2:15 we are encouraged to “Be diligent (study) to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” There is a right way to handle scripture and a wrong way. God has given us scripture so we can “renew our minds” and be “transformed” into His image as Romans 12 tells us. This doesn’t come from handpicking the verses which seem to fit our ideas of who God is and what He desires of us. It takes dedicated study of the Word in its entirety. It takes a willingness to open our hearts and minds to ideas that we may initially find hard to swallow. It requires more than reading for knowledge or to check off our daily list of good Christian behaviors. It takes reading God’s Word with the desire to listen to His message and apply it to our lives.

When we take time with God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will teach and convict us of the truth. We will be able to see the false teachings in the world and even in some of our churches and church leaders. We will come to understand more of who God really is and be protected from believing the teachings of those who have misunderstood and mishandled the Word in order to make God in their image rather than letting Him remake us in His.

By the Book: When was the last time you spent time searching God’s truth with an open heart on a subject you have a hard time accepting?

Main Character Monday #6

amyWelcome to Main Character Monday. It’s a little different than my regular blog posts, a little more lighthearted. But stick with it, and you just might find some characters you’d like to read more about. And even though it isn’t my usual devotional style, you may still come away with an encouraging word from the Word. I hope you enjoy Main Character Monday!

Today’s Guest is Patience McDonough from Whitewashed  by Amy C. Blake. Thank you for joining me.

What is your favorite book of the Bible from both the Old and New Testament?

After the pastor’s sermons this summer, I’d have to say Esther is my favorite book of the Bible. Learning more about her journey has challenged me in many ways.

If you could meet anyone from scripture, not including Jesus, who would it be?

I’d love to meet Esther herself so I could ask her questions about what it was like to be in her position. I’d also like the inside scoop on life in the court and on what it was like to put her own life in jeopardy for the sake of her people.

Jesus had twelve disciples. Which one do you feel you are most like?

Peter, no contest. He got himself into trouble with his impatient words and actions on so many occasions, I can’t help but identify. Like him, I’m headstrong and impatient, quick to speak and slow to listen to counsel. I’m learning, though, just as Peter did.

Jesus says we are to be the light of the world. What does this mean to you?

It means I need to add more mercy to my interactions with others. I have to view them through the eyes of love, as Jesus did. I absolutely need to speak the truth of the gospel to them, confronting them in their sins as needed, but I must do so with more gentleness and loving-kindness than comes naturally for me.

If you could give one message to those reading this interview, what would you tell them?

Follow the plans God has for you, not simply the plans you’ve devised for yourself. Always, as you speak to others, sprinkle mercy on your truth statements, showing grace to them as Christ shows grace to you.

Just for Fun:

Dark or Milk Chocolate? As a pre-med major, I have to say dark chocolate. It’s full of antioxidants.

Roses or Daisies? Roses because they’re bolder and more decisive than daisies could ever be.

Salad or Soup? Salad. Mississippi summers are too hot for soup.

If you could describe Amy C. Blake in three words, what would those words be? Lazy, idle, slothful. If she worked anywhere near as hard as I do, she’d have twenty novels under her belt by now, not just four.

Thank you for joining me for another Main Character Monday. I hope you enjoyed getting to know Patience from Whitewashed by Amy C. Blake. If you would like to get to know her even more, you can buy Whitewashed (along with Amy’s other books) at Amazon. 

Forgiving Isn’t Easy

“Say you’re sorry and give each other a hug.”

Growing up, it’s likely we all heard this phrase. After the heartfelt “sorry” mumbled under the offender’s breath, the adult would turn to the offended. The new mandate became, “Now tell him you forgive him.” The offended would then mutter an equally heartfelt “I forgive you”.

The idea is good. Teach children to accept their wrongful actions or attitudes, while simultaneously giving them a lesson in forgiving wrongs done to them. Now, I’m not knocking the use of this tactic. I’m sure I even used it with my own children. Looking back, however, I can see some problems with the method.

Think about it. Was their ever a time when you followed your parent’s request with sincerity? Probably not. More than likely, you were still heated about whatever got you riled up enough to do whatever you did that you shouldn’t have done. Your apology, even asking them to forgive you, was empty of real feeling just like the hug that followed. The offended didn’t want your hug anyway. They definitely didn’t want to forgive you. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out from the glares and hateful mutterings that took place when parents weren’t watching.  The plea for forgiveness and the giving of it were meaningless, except to get you out of hot water with the adults. Besides, this method also teaches children that to extend forgiveness, forgiveness must be sought after by the offender. What happens when they run into people who hurt them without regret? Will they simply hold onto the wrong done to them?

I understand why adults try to instill the idea of seeking out and giving forgiveness. Children don’t realize how crucial these practices are to having healthy relationships, not just with others but with God. I’d wager a lot of adults don’t get it either. But harboring a grudge, not forgiving wrongs done to us, puts us in a dangerous place.

The residents of Hades, Mississippi found this out for themselves in Whitewashed, by Amy C. Blake. As she returns to her grandparents’ home to begin her journey into adulthood as a student at the local college, Patience believes everything is working out perfectly for her. It doesn’t take long for her path to become rocky. Verity College isn’t all she expects. Built out of an old plantation, the school is more run-down than she remembers. Add to that the sordid past of the plantation and undercurrents of distrust and dislike among the small town’s residents, and Patience soon finds herself tangled in a web of deceit and facing a mystery that could end up costing the lives of those she loves.

As the plantation’s past and Patience’s present are woven together, Patience has to work to find the truth before it’s too late. Patience’s quest for understanding is muddied by those who haven’t allowed themselves to forgive past wrongs. The grudges they carry make them all seem guilty, and Patience can’t see past that to find truth. In some, the hatred and lack of forgiveness has left them bitter and susceptible to rash actions. In one, it’s led to a broken mind and a sick plan to bring vengeance down on those who are seen as committing the wrongs. Finding truth would have been much easier for Patience if the people of Hades had practiced forgiveness.

While it takes a very broken person to let an unforgiving spirit lead them to a place of psychotic action, it doesn’t mean harboring an unforgiving spirit is safe for any of us. Forgiveness works to accomplish several things. For the one who offended, forgiveness can show the love of God. It can start the people involved on a path of healing for their relationship. It can help the offender more clearly relate his or her actions to the consequences of those actions for the one they hurt. Seeing first-hand the pain or hurt they caused can help keep them from practicing those behaviors again.

But what if the person doesn’t want or seek forgiveness? There are still benefits to forgiveness. First, scripture tells us that we are to forgive as God has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:31-32, Matthew 6:14-15, Colossians 3:13). That means we are to forgive freely, often, and before forgiveness is even sought. It’s not an option. When we withhold forgiveness, we sin. Our sin puts up walls between us and God. Forgiving others helps keep our relationship with God strong. Another positive effect of forgiving is that it frees our emotions from being controlled by what the other person has done. As long as we harbor a grudge against someone, we give them a measure of control in our lives. Because we are called to forgive as Christ forgives us, doing so helps us have a greater understanding of what Christ has done and continues to do for us.

Just because God asks us to forgive doesn’t mean it’s easy. There are some hurts so deep that giving up the right to hold those hurts against the offender is a definite struggle. Our temptation is to pick the pain back up each day, holding it close as a protective shield to keep from getting hurt again or fuel to keep our anger burning. This is especially true when the hurt comes from a betrayal or when the sin has hurt someone we love. In times like these, forgiveness may have to be a daily decision. But the good news is that forgiveness is not a feeling. It is a choice, and it is a choice that will make a huge difference in your life.

By the Book: Is there someone you are withholding forgiveness from? Consider how God has forgiven you. Ask Him to help you learn to extend that forgiveness to others.

Side note: It’s important to remember there is a difference between forgiving and putting yourself back into a bad situation. God requires forgiveness, but forgiveness does not always require a relationship to continue. Pray for God’s leading if you feel remaining in a situation may not be God’s best for you.

Forgiving Isn't Easy

“Say you’re sorry and give each other a hug.”
Growing up, it’s likely we all heard this phrase. After the heartfelt “sorry” mumbled under the offender’s breath, the adult would turn to the offended. The new mandate became, “Now tell him you forgive him.” The offended would then mutter an equally heartfelt “I forgive you”.
The idea is good. Teach children to accept their wrongful actions or attitudes, while simultaneously giving them a lesson in forgiving wrongs done to them. Now, I’m not knocking the use of this tactic. I’m sure I even used it with my own children. Looking back, however, I can see some problems with the method.
Think about it. Was their ever a time when you followed your parent’s request with sincerity? Probably not. More than likely, you were still heated about whatever got you riled up enough to do whatever you did that you shouldn’t have done. Your apology, even asking them to forgive you, was empty of real feeling just like the hug that followed. The offended didn’t want your hug anyway. They definitely didn’t want to forgive you. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out from the glares and hateful mutterings that took place when parents weren’t watching.  The plea for forgiveness and the giving of it were meaningless, except to get you out of hot water with the adults. Besides, this method also teaches children that to extend forgiveness, forgiveness must be sought after by the offender. What happens when they run into people who hurt them without regret? Will they simply hold onto the wrong done to them?
I understand why adults try to instill the idea of seeking out and giving forgiveness. Children don’t realize how crucial these practices are to having healthy relationships, not just with others but with God. I’d wager a lot of adults don’t get it either. But harboring a grudge, not forgiving wrongs done to us, puts us in a dangerous place.
The residents of Hades, Mississippi found this out for themselves in Whitewashed, by Amy C. Blake. As she returns to her grandparents’ home to begin her journey into adulthood as a student at the local college, Patience believes everything is working out perfectly for her. It doesn’t take long for her path to become rocky. Verity College isn’t all she expects. Built out of an old plantation, the school is more run-down than she remembers. Add to that the sordid past of the plantation and undercurrents of distrust and dislike among the small town’s residents, and Patience soon finds herself tangled in a web of deceit and facing a mystery that could end up costing the lives of those she loves.
As the plantation’s past and Patience’s present are woven together, Patience has to work to find the truth before it’s too late. Patience’s quest for understanding is muddied by those who haven’t allowed themselves to forgive past wrongs. The grudges they carry make them all seem guilty, and Patience can’t see past that to find truth. In some, the hatred and lack of forgiveness has left them bitter and susceptible to rash actions. In one, it’s led to a broken mind and a sick plan to bring vengeance down on those who are seen as committing the wrongs. Finding truth would have been much easier for Patience if the people of Hades had practiced forgiveness.
While it takes a very broken person to let an unforgiving spirit lead them to a place of psychotic action, it doesn’t mean harboring an unforgiving spirit is safe for any of us. Forgiveness works to accomplish several things. For the one who offended, forgiveness can show the love of God. It can start the people involved on a path of healing for their relationship. It can help the offender more clearly relate his or her actions to the consequences of those actions for the one they hurt. Seeing first-hand the pain or hurt they caused can help keep them from practicing those behaviors again.
But what if the person doesn’t want or seek forgiveness? There are still benefits to forgiveness. First, scripture tells us that we are to forgive as God has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:31-32, Matthew 6:14-15, Colossians 3:13). That means we are to forgive freely, often, and before forgiveness is even sought. It’s not an option. When we withhold forgiveness, we sin. Our sin puts up walls between us and God. Forgiving others helps keep our relationship with God strong. Another positive effect of forgiving is that it frees our emotions from being controlled by what the other person has done. As long as we harbor a grudge against someone, we give them a measure of control in our lives. Because we are called to forgive as Christ forgives us, doing so helps us have a greater understanding of what Christ has done and continues to do for us.
Just because God asks us to forgive doesn’t mean it’s easy. There are some hurts so deep that giving up the right to hold those hurts against the offender is a definite struggle. Our temptation is to pick the pain back up each day, holding it close as a protective shield to keep from getting hurt again or fuel to keep our anger burning. This is especially true when the hurt comes from a betrayal or when the sin has hurt someone we love. In times like these, forgiveness may have to be a daily decision. But the good news is that forgiveness is not a feeling. It is a choice, and it is a choice that will make a huge difference in your life.
By the Book: Is there someone you are withholding forgiveness from? Consider how God has forgiven you. Ask Him to help you learn to extend that forgiveness to others.
Side note: It’s important to remember there is a difference between forgiving and putting yourself back into a bad situation. God requires forgiveness, but forgiveness does not always require a relationship to continue. Pray for God’s leading if you feel remaining in a situation may not be God’s best for you.

© 2020 Heather Greer

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