Just Like Us – Book Review

I recently read a wonderful book that I wanted to tell you about – Just Like Us: 7 Ways Biblical Women Were Just Like Us (And Why It Matters) by Jennifer Hayes Yates. This book is directed towards women specifically, especially since the focus is on women from the Bible. This book is very special and unique. It touches on different topics that we all deal with – contentment, value, purpose, faith, truth, courage, and hope. When digging deeper into each of these topics, the author presents several Biblical examples that we can learn from, as it unfolds ways we can grow today in present-day circumstances. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and learning more about various people and stories in the Bible.

This book would also make a great Bible study tool, if you want to dig deeper into Biblical stories that are part of your daily Bible reading. For example, one of my favorite stories in the Bible deals with Queen Esther. When reading that book of the Bible, reviewing the chapter on Esther in the book Just Like Us would help bring deeper insight into Esther’s story. This book makes a great supplement to your regular Bible reading.

And on the other hand, when reading through this book, it will help spark a new passion for the Bible. Each chapter offers much insight, which will entice the reader to open the Bible for themselves. For example, when reading in Just Like Us about Ruth, you will want to open up the Bible and read that story for yourself in order to obtain a fuller understanding of the story.

For me personally, this book, Just Like Us, really helped me to appreciate various stories of the Bible from a deeper level. There are some stories in the Bible that I have read before, but the author’s perspective has opened my eyes to new twists that I had not noticed when reading them in the past.

This book also opens our eyes to the love of God. In many of the Bible stories, the women have felt rejected, overlooked, or misunderstood by other people. But God loved them, accepted them, saw them, and understood them. No matter what we are going through, God is there to see us through it, if we turn to Him. He sees our hearts and understands the things we are going through. He will guide us down the right road, if we allow Him to.

Reading this book has been an amazing journey for me. I think it will be for you as well. No matter where you are in your Christian walk, I believe you will get some value out of it. Here is the link to find the book on Amazon.

just like us

 

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What You Should Know by Julie Arduini

Last week I turned 50. It was certainly surreal as usually I like being home and staying behind the scenes, but this year, I had plans to actually celebrate in public. I still plan to do that, because once it is safe to do so, there will be so much more to celebrate than a birthday. I’ve learned a lot in this season. How about you?

One of the things I had planned was I asked people who have crossed paths with me that if I had any kind of positive impact, would they let me know? My thinking was I’ve learned through nearly losing our baby years ago, and losing my dad and in-laws that we are not guaranteed tomorrow. I’d rather encourage people now while I can, and while those people can hear it. I felt the same about receiving letters from others.

For me, words of affirmation is my love language and the author life is lonely. With nearly grown kids and a husband who is often in meetings, there are days it’s me and the dog staring at each other. As a woman who prays behind the scenes, there are many times I receive communications from women in a hard place asking for my time and prayer. But in that, my circle where I share my hurts and requests is small. There are times it’s hard. I hoped that by receiving notes from others I would have a record of impact that would see me through those tough times.

I was blown away. The document where I copied and pasted everything is seven pages long and nearly 4,000 words. I thought perhaps most would come from family and they would focus on writing.

I was wrong.

It was from friends both in that small circle and those I have prayed for over the years. Although my writing was mentioned, by far I realized the biggest way others thought of me was through my faith and ability to believe God and pray.

My passion is to encourage others to find freedom in Christ by surrendering the good, the bad, and—maybe one day—the chocolate.

My husband, normally not one to write, shared ways his life was transformed that I never knew. After 23 years it’s easy to fall into a routine where you talk about work, dinner, church, kids. Superficial and rote. To discover these things and discuss them has taken us to a new place in marriage. To know the depth of his love, I don’t have words. I told him I could have only received his response and it would have been enough. Yet to have him, the kids, and so many others chime in, it truly has blessed me.

I’ve seen on Facebook since we’ve been home as a nation a challenge that asks people to share what that person means to them. I think it’s a challenge worth participating in. Go ahead and lift others up. Encourage others to share a way you’ve made a positive difference in their lives. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and the way God has used you, and I believe it will even direct your steps for this season and beyond.

Julie Arduini

Honestly, I didn’t think I’d need to read those words for awhile. But hearing that this stay-in-place mandate, which is wisdom, is going to last another month, it’s a hit to my mental health. Today’s a day the walls are closing in a little. Overall we are so, so blessed, but I struggle like anyone. I’m glad I have words of affirmation on top of Bible studies and prayer to carry me through.

I’d love to hear what you learn about yourself. You have so much going for you!

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New Rules for Living — Or Not

This morning, I read this Bible verse about Jesus sending out the 72 disciples before Him:

Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse or bag or sandals. Do not greet anyone along the road. Luke 10:3-4

The rules for living today are so complex.  Wash your hands, wear gloves, wear masks.  Do not greet each other or gather.  Wipe off your groceries and packages, etc.  These are trying times. The loneliness and inability to check on family members.  Many people are unable to visit sick relatives because the hospital can’t have the contamination.

These times are unprecedented.  But I take comfort in the fact that God knew this would happen.  God allowed this to happen.  So how can we grow in this time spiritually? How can we keep from contributing to the fear and the devastation around us? For God did not give us a spirit of fear  Imagine the 72 going out into unknown realms to preach the Gospel of Jesus! If they’d given way to fear, they never would have gone.

Fear inhibits who we are.  It makes us less-than and it doesn’t help a soul.  Be cautious.  Follow the guidelines, but check on loved ones.  Call friends who live alone.  Ask if you can shop for elderly neighbors.  Do what you can to be of Christ in this situation and not fear.  God knew this virus would happen. Read the Psalms when you get nervous and give way to fear and for goodness sake, turn off the never-ending news cycle that wants us to live in constant turmoil!

God will send His rainbow soon.

(My daughter Elle is here and she planted this cactus for me and it bloomed within a few days.  A nice reminder God is still in control and the world still turns.) Look to the Light.IMG_0952

 

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Fear Not by Nancy J. Farrier

If you are like me you are so tired of talk about the virus and pandemic. I want this to be over and done with, but that won’t happen for a while. Instead, I have the opportunity to learn patience, trust in God, and depend on His timing.

The one aspect that bothers me most about the world situation is the fear I see in people. I want to say I am not afraid. I am not hoarding in case the virus gets bad. I don’t want to give in to that sort of fear and dependency on worldly things. Instead, I want to be wise, but I also want to depend fully on God. With that in mind I’d like to share some scriptures with you that I find comforting, and also a gift from me to you.

“But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” Isaiah 43:1-3a (NKJV)

I love this passage in Isaiah. I am reminded that no matter what happens, no matter how terrifying life gets, God is there. He is with me. He will walk me through. I have no reason to fear as long as I am His.

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.” Psalm 91:1-6 (NKJV) 

When I abide in the Lord, when I shelter under His wings and in His presence, I need not fear what is happening around me. I don’t even need to fear the “perilous pestilence.” That is good to know right now.

Does this mean I won’t get the virus? Not at all. But, even if I do get the virus I have no need to fear. I try to always remember that God holds my life in His hands. If it is not my time to die, nothing on this earth can kill me. On the other hand, if it is my time to die, nothing here can keep me alive. Only God knows that time.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”            2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

I love the idea of having a sound mind. Not thought processes driven by fear that is rampant in the world today, but a mind that trusts wholly in God. There is great power and rest in having that kind of love and a sound mind. I pray each of you strives for a relationship that will yield power, love, and a sound mind, and reject fear.

I want to share with you my books that are on sale and free. The links are below or click on the graphic. Enjoy!

Find the books here:

Bandolero

The Ranchero’s Gift

The Ranchero’s Love

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Listen Up. This Matters… EVERYONE IS IMPORTANT TO SOMEONE IMPORTANT!

Stay Home, Vicki Hinze, Christians ReadThe prayer list for those impacted by Corona Virus grows.  Yesterday, a young man asked for prayers for his grandfather, who had just been put on a vent.  His wife is expecting, and they’re afraid for themselves and for the child.

A different young woman responded that her young, healthy aunt had tested positive earlier and now had hours to live.  Her devastated family couldn’t say goodbye.

Hours later, the first young couple were notified that his grandfather had passed–and I received a note that one of our authors here is possibly infected.

So, bearing all this in mind, why is it so difficult for you to honor the “15 Days to Stop the Spread?”

Adjust. Be flexible. Be advised that these things do NOT always happen to someone else.

Be prayerful, be hopeful, be intellectually and emotionally honest.  Exercise your common sense and do your part, praying hard that others do their part.  For all our sakes.  And remember:

EVERYONE IS IMPORTANT TO SOMEONE IMPORTANT.

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Clinging to God in the Pandemic

My husband brought one of our dogs to the vet on Monday. They called it “curbside service.” One of the ladies came out to the car to retrieve our dog and bring him inside. But my husband had to stay outside. This is just one of many changes we have seen over the past few weeks. There is no doubt that we are all in new territory. We all have had to completely change our lives. And we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But as Christians, we do know Who holds tomorrow. And that makes a world of difference. Here are a few things I learned to do during all of this:

1 – Limits. I have to limit how much time I listen to the news and how much time I talk about this with others. Too much time causes me to have more fear. But as children of God, our faith should be greater than our fear.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. – Psalm 16:5

2 – Focus. It is vital to keep our focus on God. When we are facing a storm, He can calm the storm. When we are facing a mountain, He can move the mountain. Yes, this pandemic is serious business. But our God is bigger than anything and everything.

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. – Psalm 16:8

3 – Praise. When I have felt anxious or worried, I praised God. This always helps turn my feelings around. It is a reminder of just how magnificent our God is. He is bigger than what we are facing.

I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. – Psalm 16:7

4 – Psalms. This falls in line with Praise. I have been reading through the book of Psalms. This is bringing me peace and comfort in the midst of storm.

Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. – Psalm 16:1

5 – Pray. Praying to God about what’s weighing on our hearts is important. He hears all of our prayers. And more than that, He wants to hear from us. Prayer helps bring peace in the battle.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” – Psalm 16:2

6 – Gratitude. I have been grateful for so many things in the midst of this. The things we are grateful for might vary with each of us. Thank God if you still have your job, if you have not had to do without food, if you have loved ones to spend time with, if you have neighbors who look out for you, etc. There are many things we can find to be grateful for in all of this.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body will also rest secure. – Psalm 16:9

7 – God is still God. One evening in the midst of all this, my husband and I were walking around our yard, as we talked about some of the latest developments. Meanwhile, my friend Lorraine also texted me about some things she heard. All of the news was weighing heavy on my heart. But then God showed up and opened my eyes. The sun was setting and I noticed how beautiful it was. It felt like the world was falling apart… but in the midst of chaos, the sunset was still a beautiful sight. I felt God reminding me that “God is still God.” No matter what we are facing, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Which means we can rely on Him in the good times and in the worst of times. My worry was replaced with peace, as I felt the Lord remind me that He was still there. (The picture below is of this particular sunset I am talking about.)

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. – Psalm 16:11

Ultimately, this should be a time when we cling to the Lord and grow closer to Him. He is there for us at all times. He will help us get through anything, when we run into His arms.

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Letter to Leo by James R. Coggins

In the course of my historical research, I came across the following letter in the Russian Archives.

Books for Today Publishing Company,

123 Fourth Avenue, New York, New York

Dear Mr. Tolstoy:

Thank you for submitting your book War and Peace to our editorial department. We think this novel has considerable potential. However, some changes to the manuscript will be necessary before we would agree to publish it.

The primary issue is length. Marketing surveys have determined that people prefer books in the 200-250-page range, so considerable cutting will have to be done to your manuscript. We suggest you drop the historical references; surveys show that people today are not interested in history. Similarly, the religious references could be cut; God is currently out of fashion. However, you might also consider adding a few elements. Stories with vampires and quirky sex seem to be selling well at the moment. We at Books for Today highly value creativity and originality, but we have found that, to be successful, authors need to conform their thinking to modern popular culture.

One final thing. Our marketing experts have determined that the current title will not attract many readers. We suggest the book be renamed Natasha’s Romance.

We hope that you will take what we have said very seriously, Mr. Tolstoy. If you are willing to work with our media and marketing experts, we are convinced that we can turn your rather unwieldy manuscript into something worth publishing.

Sincerely,

Thomas O. Day,

Senior Editor

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For Your Downtime (by Hannah Alexander)

I wholeheartedly endorse what Vicki said yesterday, and what other buddies of mine have said here about the world pandemic. All I have to add to is that: Mel and I are in our third week of fever and cough and fatigue after a coworker of his tested positive for COVID19. This stuff is more contagious than anything we’ve seen in a long, long time. We’re getting through it but it lasts much longer than we expected. I would advise that you not get it if you can prevent it.

However, even sick, we have been able to read–most of the time. I placed one of our books free with Kindle for today and tomorrow, so if you want to read a fast-paced romantic suspense along the lines of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, click and read at no cost.

May you be safe and blessed and covered in God’s peace today and throughout this time of questions and alarm. God is still in control.

Someone has murdered Dr. Sable Chamberlin’s grandfather and she’s next on the list. Can she and her very stalwart trust fund cowboy paramedic (say that three times fast!) Paul Murphy escape the killers and uncover the conspiracy before more people die? When an ice storm strands them in their hideaway with a busload of suspicious strangers, Sable and Paul can trust no one but each other. Their only hope of escaping her grandfather’s tragic fate is to uncover the secret he was seeking and expose the identity of the mastermind behind the evil. But danger lurks in every shadow when they discover they have a stalker.

Find it here: https://amzn.to/39f8dYN

http://www.hannahalexander.com

 

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War and Sacrifice by Vicki Hinze

Vicki Hinze, War and Sacrifice, Christians Read

 

In previous wars, much was asked of people.  Arm up, hit the front lines, shoot and be shot at.  For those not “off to war,” the mission was clear:  protect the home, the children, and keep home together so that when war was done, those fighting it elsewhere had a home to return to.  Many sacrifices were made on all fronts.  Many paid with blood and treasure.

 

We are now fighting a different kind of war.  One in which we’re asked to “stay at home,” to “socially distance from others,” and to “wash hands, cover sneezes and coughs,” and to not clog up hospitals and doctor’s offices for testing to see if we’re infected when we’re exhibiting no symptoms.

 

As wars go, while not diminishing the challenges presented with the “15 Days to Slow the Spread,” the sacrifices in this type of war are easier on us mentally, physically and spiritually than in other wars.

 

Last night, I saw an awful lot of whining on social media.  From “I’m bored” to “I hate being under house arrest” to complaints of missing friends and even one griping that the virus made her equal to others when she was accustomed to preferential treatment. 

 

And then I spotted what I consider a perspective changer.  A young woman posting that if she couldn’t have a funeral for her grandmother, others could stay off boats and the beaches.

 

It’s difficult to imagine anyone defying the 15 Days to Slow the Spread to go boating or to the beach.  The logic in that decision, honestly, escapes me.  Who puts themselves in a situation where they don’t know who is nearby, how seriously those people have taking the self-preservation instructions, or how cavalier they are about who else they could infect? 

 

With more data now available, we know it isn’t just seniors or those with underlying medical conditions who get sick.  There’s a 6-year-old boy here with it.  40% in ICU were between 20-54.  Everyone is vulnerable, so everyone needs to do their part—for themselves and for others.

 

As wars go, we’re being asked to do very little.  I’ll post the instructions below for those who haven’t seen them.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out just how important these things are.  Simply put:

 

If you reduce the number of people exposed, you reduce the number who get infected and then infect others.  The virus dies off sooner and we all get back to living our normal lives.  Don’t slow the spread and the virus thrives and more and more get sick and make others sick.  The longer the virus thrives, the more people and businesses are impacted.  Eventually it will die out, but we’ll have a lot of unnecessary deaths—people and businesses—and getting back to normal will take a lot longer because much more of what was normal is destroyed.

 

So there’s the choice:  buckle down for a couple weeks and beat this thing.  Businesses remain intact, jobs remain intact and waiting, and normal life remains more closely intact than not.

Don’t buckle down and beat this thing quickly, and everything changes.  Businesses go down, so there are fewer jobs to go back to. Personal challenges get bigger—rent, utilities and personal wealth take bigger hits.  And when “normal” life returns, it’s a lot different than it was and it takes a whole lot longer to rebuild a new normal life.

 

This is an easy choice.  Sacrifice a little now or a lot later. 

 

We can all do our part.  Stay home. Stay away from others.  Enjoy your power and water and heat and cooling.  Enjoy your electronic devices, your food supply, your comforts of home.

Be grateful that no one is shooting at you, and you aren’t having to shoot at others. 

 

I have to tell you.  I’ve watched what the government is doing with a jaundiced eye, and I’m incredibly impressed with the creativity and speed with which it has moved.  Common sense measures are ruling the day, and priority is being given to people and workers and protecting their jobs.  Do you realize how significant that is to when this virus passes?  Having jobs to return to?  We’ll roar back to normal, not be forced to crawl from the ground up in rebuilding because our businesses who employ us are gone.

 

I’m watching businesses and how they’re voluntarily stepping forward to retool their manufacturing and produce what we need right now.  Like the one yesterday who is delivering thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer to New York.  A car plant retooling to produce ventilators.  Another making masks and gowns and gloves.  It’s an awesome thing to see business and government working together to meet the needs of the people.

 

To be honest, I’m a little miffed at what happened in the Senate yesterday.  Republicans and Democrats negotiated a week on a deal to relieve people and businesses (keeping them intact means we have jobs to return to), coming to an agreement, then the Speaker of the House flies in with what was described as a “wish list” and blows up the deal.  This isn’t the time for political games or for unrelated issues.  I hope today they will get back to business and take care of the people’s needs.  If not, it is incumbent on us all to take names of those playing political games with our lives and to vote accordingly.

 

We’ve got tough times ahead, especially for the next few weeks, but there are definitely reasons to be hopeful and calm.  And there is every reason to follow the recommendations to slow the 15-day spread.  We’re in Day 8.  We don’t know if 15 days will be enough, but we’ve reason to remain hopeful.

 

So, like in wars of those who fought before, we need to stop griping, whining and complaining, and do our part.  We need to adopt an attitude of gratitude that we’re not dodging bullets or firing them.

 

These are the times that build character.  Where we discover who we are and what most matters to us.  Let us all be strong and choose wisely.  Our future depends on it.

 

 

 

 

WHAT TO DO DURING THE STAY AT HOME

 

 

  1. If you see or hear of price gouging, report it to that state’s Attorney General’s office.

 

  1. If you know someone who is living paycheck to paycheck and you can help them, do it.

 

  1. If a grocery store in your area has a supply of needed basic items, get on a neighborhood watch group and let your neighbors know.

 

  1. If there are elderly or fragile in your neighborhood, phone check on them to see if they need anything from the pharmacy or grocery store.

 

  1. If you’re cutting your grass and the neighbor’s needs it and you know they have health issues, cut theirs too, so they can stay in and guard their health.

 

  1. Be thankful. Grateful.  Let those who are putting themselves at risk to assist others know their sacrifices are appreciated.  Medical professionals and health care workers all, first responders and police officers and firemen.  But also the folks stocking the grocery shelves, driving the supplies to the stores, delivering mail and packages.

 

A note on that.  Truck drivers can’t drive their rigs through drive-in windows.  And they can’t get served walking up to a drive thru window.  So if you see a trucker at a drive-thru, ask if they need food ordered and do it for them. 

 

  1. Get creative. If you see people in need, think outside the box on how those needs can be met.

 

This is a time to help one another. To pray for one another—all of us.  This is a humanity issue, not a political issue. 

 

Every night at 8 PM, people around the world are praying for all the people of the world. In gratitude to specific groups of people.  Join in.  Make it a family event.

 

Here’s the 15-Days to Slow the Spread: 

https://www.whitehouse.gov/articles/15-days-slow-spread/

 

I posted the link because the guidelines are updated as warranted. This way, you’ll have the latest information.

 

Be well, be strong.  Be blessed!

 

Vicki

 

 

 

 

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Reflections on a Pandemic

Unique world events offer a unique opportunity to learn new lessons. Here are a few we have had an opportunity to learn recently.

1. It’s a small world.  The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically demonstrated how interconnected the modern world is. A virus from a remote part of China has reached almost every other country in the world through multiple diverse routes. We can no longer pretend that what happens in one place does not matter to those of us in another place. As John Donne observed over three centuries ago, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

2. It is a rich world we live in. Consider the closures and cancellations that have occurred. Sports, both those we enjoy as spectators and those we enjoy as participants. Concerts. Plays. Movies. Church services. Museums. Historic Sites. Swimming pools. Skating rinks. Recreation centers.  Restaurants of all varieties. Exercise classes. Schools. Art galleries. Libraries. Bookstores. Ski hills. Planetariums. Zoos. Nature walks. Drop-in centers. Social gatherings. Game nights. Parties. Many of these things are now being denied to us, and they are things that we have often taken for granted. Our temporary loss of these things should remind us of how blessed we have been, and we should be grateful.

3. Social distancing is unnatural. Human beings are social creatures. From the beginning, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Social distancing and self-isolation have seemed shocking to us. They remind us of the many social interactions that have been available to us. Again, being denied social interaction reminds us of the great blessings of living in society, in families and neighborhoods and communities and nations, and we should be grateful for that opportunity.

4. There is much that remains. Despite its flaws, we have a medical system that is widely accessible; it offers medicines and treatments and knowledge that were not even thought of just a few centuries ago. We should perhaps also be reminded that just as the virus has spread over the world, so also can treatments and vaccines and knowledge be spread, as we learn from each other’s experience. We have governments that, despite their flaws, provide a coordinated effort to deal with plagues and other disasters and that provide law and order. We have a well-developed commercial system that makes food, clothing, and abundant quantities of many other goods from around the world readily available to us. We take it for granted that if we need something, we can simply go to a store and buy it. And, no matter how many churches close, the Church remains, for God is not frightened or hindered by any virus.

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Let's C.H.A.T. by Nancy J. Farrier

Have you ever heard a juicy piece of gossip? One that didn’t sound like gossip, but like the truth? Then you jumped to conclusions about this truth and the person(s) involved. You were ready to march up to the person(s) and confront them. 

Maybe you haven’t, but I know I have. This also happened to the Israelites in the book of Joshua. I learned a great lesson from them and the way the leaders handled the upcoming confrontation and the Israelites’ anger.

The whole book of Joshua is the story of the Israelites coming into their promised land. They defeat their enemies. They make some mistakes. They divide the land and are dismissed from fighting to inhabit their areas of the country.

In the opening chapters, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh wanted to remain on the far side of the Jordan River. Joshua agreed as long as they would cross over first and help their brothers conquer the land. Once that was done, they could return over the Jordan and inhabit their cities and tend their herds and crops.

In Joshua 22, Joshua releases these men, thanks them for their help, and cautions them to remain true to the Lord their God. They go back over the Jordan and all should be well. 

However, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half-tribe of Manasseh are so thankful to God, they build an altar as a reminder of His goodness. A “great, impressive altar” as stated in Joshua 22:10. 

That’s where the trouble starts because “someone” (vs 11) sees that altar, which is on the Israelites side of the river, and runs to report to the Israelites. I found it interesting that the person is not named, meaning this is gossip passed along, and no one knows who started the rumor. 

The reaction is intense. All the rest of the Israelites gather to go to war against their brothers. To war. Over a piece of gossip. Has this ever happened? You bet. 

The good news is that even though the men were armed and ready to fight, they decided to have a chat first. Let’s look at their chat and think how we can apply these principles to our lives.

C – Confirm: The first step they did was to confirm the validity of the rumor. They didn’t search out the person who started the gossip. Instead, they chose Phinehas, their spiritual leader, and a leader from each of the tribes on the Israelite side of the Jordan, to approach the children of Reuben, the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh. Granted, these leaders were a little upset, but they took the time to listen and find out why the two and a half tribes built this fancy altar. Joshua 22:13-20 We could take note and remember to check with the source and not trust to gossip or rumor.

H—Hope: I Corinthians 13:7 (NKJV), says love, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Even when they believed the worst about their fellow Israelites, Phinehas and the leaders held out hope. They were willing to meet and to see if they were wrong about their suspicions. They didn’t immediately start a war. Oh, how often we would avoid conflict if we looked at others through the eyes of hope. If we carried that seed of love in our hearts and extended grace to the one we believed had done wrong.

A—Approachable: Even though they were confronted with having committed “treachery” the two and a half tribes were still willing to be heard. They didn’t take offense, but listened and presented their case. In fact, they were horrified that someone might think they were doing wrong against God. Joshua 22:22 (NKJV) says they replied, “The Lord God of gods…He knows, and let Israel itself know—if it is in rebellion, or if in treachery against the Lord, do not save us this day.” Wow, they were serious. They were willing to die if they had been in the wrong against God. That is some serious humility we can learn from if someone questions our actions, even if they are accusing us of something we haven’t done.

T—Talk: The leaders talked with the tribes in question. They listened to what Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh had to say about building this altar. And, they realized the gossip they heard had been a supposition of wrong, not an actual fact. Joshua 22:30 (NKJV) says, “Now when Phinehas the priest and the rulers of the congregation, the heads of the divisions of Israel who were with him, heard the words that the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and the children of Manasseh spoke, it pleased them.” The willingness to talk and listen to one another saved them from needless war and bloodshed.

I like to believe these men approached this situation with plenty of prayer. For me, prayer is key any time gossip and word of mouth brings about conflict or a strong emotional response. I pray that I will be open to C.H.A.T. instead of allowing anger or hurt to rule the day. Perhaps, that upsetting news isn’t truth at all but only a misunderstanding.

Instead of preparing for conflict, let’s C.H.A.T. 

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Be Kind to Your Future Self

We have a saying at our house, “Be kind to your future self.” Usually we are referring to some sort of household chore. Perhaps there are clothes in the dryer and we don’t feel like hanging them up right now. We might say, “Be kind to your future self.” This means if we hang the clothes now, we won’t have to hang them later on (and remove the wrinkles after sitting in the dryer). Or maybe there are dirty dishes in the sink, but we are really tired and just want to go to bed. If we are kind to our future selves and wash the dishes after dinner, we won’t have to worry about them the following day.

This bit of advice could also help improve many other areas of our lives. Our health for instance. If we get up and exercise, instead of making excuses, we are being kind to our future selves. Or if we cut back on eating sweets, we are being kind to our future selves. Learning to drink plenty of water each day, is something my husband and I have been doing, and this is also being kind to our future selves.

Another area where this might be helpful is in our goals and dreams. I am sure you have heard the saying, “Do something today that your future self will thank you for.” What is one step you can take today to get closer to accomplishing your dreams and goals? Sign up for a class. Start writing that book. Work on designs for your portfolio. This is being kind to your future self.

It would also be helpful to remember this principle in our spiritual lives. Being kind to your future self might mean spending time with God every day, reading the Bible, and praying. Or perhaps it could mean reading a Christian living book, listening to a good sermon, or even going to church. With any step we take in our spiritual lives to draw closer to God, we are sowing a seed, and it will always produce fruit.

The Bible says that we will reap what we sow. And being kind to your future self falls in line with this principle. If we sow good seeds, we will reap good rewards. If we sow bad seeds, we will be lacking when harvest time comes.

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. – 2 Corinthians 9:6

What can you do today to be kind to your future self?

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The God Who Sees by Julie Arduini

If you know me well, you know my vision isn’t great. I pay a small fortune to shave my lenses down because my prescription is so high. The same for contacts. There are mornings I reluctantly play a game called “Where are my glasses?” Sadly, I can’t see without them. Things are blurry, and it’s not fun.

It reminds me of a time my husband suggested we take a little family vacation to a water park. To me, the lazy river with a handful of folks is my kind of fun time, but this park featured high slides, fast speeds, lots of people, and some contraption I thought was a big toilet bowl that swallowed swimmers.

I didn’t think much about planning for myself, I was more concerned with our daughter as she has some motor skill delays. When we arrived, there was a sign that said no glasses.

I did not bring contacts.

I attempted the rides without glasses and contacts. I couldn’t read signs. I couldn’t picture people. I couldn’t see what was ahead. Honestly, I could barely see. It was a wet blur.

I was so anxious I started to cry. Even the lazy river was a terror excursion.

The visual (see what I did there?) of that memory is easy to attach to what we’re going through in this unprecedented season of isolation, social distancing, and flattening the curve. This is new territory where we can’t see the virus, but the effects are real. We don’t know what’s ahead.

—Julie Arduini

And it’s scary.

That water park experience was a harsh truth that I struggle with control. I know God is in control of all things, but not having glasses or contacts that day made things spin out of control, and I hated it.

We don’t know who is infected around us. We don’t know if our kids are returning to school. We don’t know if high school and college seniors will walk at their graduation. We don’t know how long people will hoarde toilet paper. We don’t know how long small businesses will be affected. We don’t know how long senior citizens will be vulnerable and self-isolating.

We don’t know. We can’t see. We’re not in control.

But, God.

He is not shaken, nor is He surprised. He is not the author of this pandemic, but He is the finisher. He will take what was meant for evil and turn it for good.

And of one His names? El Roi. The God who sees.

Trusting Him is a blessing because our Heavenly Father knows us. We can’t see what’s ahead, and that’s scary. We want to be in control, but we know we aren’t.

What got me through that water park was my husband. As much as he yearned to fly through that toilet bowl ride and climb the slides with the high risk level, he offered his hand and led me through the easier rides, including the lazy river. He told me what was where and what to watch for.

That’s the help Jesus gives. Because of His love, we have access to Him, our encourager/teacher/guide known as the Holy Spirit, and God because of Christ. His nail-scarred hands lead along the paths we don’t know and understand.

Honestly? I don’t know how people who have not called on Jesus as their Savior are managing. My life with Him isn’t easy, but it sure feels like living with my glasses on. And after that day at the water park, I don’t want to be without them.

My prayer is that you are trusting and leaning on Him during this time. I wanted to announce a couple resources that may be an encouragement to you.

  1. As long as I’m able to provide, Entrusted is being offered on BookFunnel as a free download. This is the first book in Surrendering Time and a clean, contemporary romance. Usually it is only offered as a thank you to those who subscribe to my newsletter, but I know there might be readers who need a break. May this bless you. (I do have a download limit to keep this affordable, so access sooner than later so you don’t miss out.) ENTRUSTED DOWNLOAD.

ABOUT ENTRUSTED

Jenna Anderson leaves her Ohio hometown for the unknown in Speculator Falls. She’s determined to make her new job as senior center work and become one of the locals.

Ben Regan’s family is the backbone of Speculator Falls and he’s made a vow to protect the rural village. When his grandfather passes away and his former girlfriend leaves without even saying goodbye, Ben’s determined to prevent further transition in his life.

But Jenna produces a lot of change for Ben in a book about surrendering the present fears we have about change and wanting to belong.

2. FaithGateway.com is bringing back free online video access to Max Lucado’s Anxious for Nothing. This practical study is a life-changer and I know that first hand. There are 5 free videos and additional resources when you register for free. The study and/or book include a purchase, but if your budget is tight, the videos are excellent. If you can order at least one, I recommend the study. REGISTER FOR ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING HERE

I wish you abundant peace, health, and provision as we navigate these murky waters.

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Be Still and Know…

I have a sign on my computer that reads, “Fear or Faith? You Choose.”  I think that sign is so appropriate as we go through our “shelter-in-place” plans.  My parents and brothers were supposed to fly out to see me this week, but for obvious reasons, they are staying in California.

At the same time, I’m getting instructions from all my friends in Silicon Valley and these are very scary times.  Our lives, in other words, are being disrupted.  How easy it would be to give in to fear since we are facing the unknown. We all like having a routine and knowing what we’re meant to do in a given day.

I don’t want to make light of anyone’s situation as I know it’s difficult to have kids and home and have to explain why you can’t just go hang out at the trampoline park in town.  But we are called to have faith and not give way to fear.

My son is on the base where they flew American citizens in from China.  My other son is in Los Angeles and finally, I have a son in a California university that has not canceled his labs. But I’m choosing to not fear and just work during this time.  To write humor and make light of life because that’s my gift and I want to use it now.

I realize the instructions are changing daily and it’s easy to turn on the television and take in the fear 24/7, but I’m asking you to stay aware, but turn off the constant news cycle and know this virus is NOT bigger than God.  We can use this time to reconnect with the family God gave us.  If we live alone, we can connect via phone and social media.

When I go out and walk the dog all of my neighbors wave at me, like “Hey, we’re braving this together!”  I love that. This country needed to be reminded we are all one.  How sad that it took this virus.

“I cared for you in the wilderness, In the land of drought.”  Hosea 13:5

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Creative Procrastination by Yvonne Lehman

The Ladies’ Winter Bible Study, held in January and February on Tuesday mornings was nearing. “I don’t have time to go,” was my response to some friends. “I am so busy with writing and all that it entails. After all, just daily living is a full-time job!”

But, I lectured me, should I procrastinate and take the morning off just because…?
1. My faith could use some strengthening
2. Relating to friends is refreshing
3. Being with 4-500 women is energizing
4. The setting in the panoramic mountains of western North Carolina is breathtaking
5. The history, meaning and purpose of the Cove (Billy Graham Training Center) are significant
6. The prayers, music, Bible study, worship, are awe-inspiring
7. The presentation of the lunch food line is mouth-watering and eye-feasting
8. Devouring the food is gratifying, to say the least
9. Struggling up the 60 steps instead of taking the shuttle to parking burns calories

Well, I talked me into it and made the sacrifice.

The leader, Jane Derrick, who has led these studies for 22 years, told of when she began to speak. After her second time, a woman came to her and said, “If you don’t get any better, you’re going to lose your audience.”
If I don’t continue to become a better writer, I will lose my reading audience.

Speaking about a worship service, she said, “What good is the message if it leaves us just as we are?”
What good is my story, if it leaves the readers just as they were when they began reading it?

She had us pray about any problems or needs.
We give problems and needs to our characters. Then it’s up to them (ME) to solve those problems. Then, perhaps I’d better pray for my characters (ME) to find the right answers.

How can my character live a full life if I don’t?
How can they entertain if I’m not entertained?
How can their faith be strengthened if mine isn’t?

Jane mentioned the glory of people worshipping, praying, singing in one accord. That reminded me of the analogy I used in my novel, The Gift, in which a music teacher explains that 100 pianos in a room may be of one accord, not by being tuned to each other, but being tuned to the tuning fork. We, as a group, are in one accord because each is tuned to our Creator and Lord.

We’re all alone when we write. Perhaps we should think of the hundreds, and thousands, and more, writers doing what we are doing daily. We have a common purpose – to learn and grow in the writing profession and to worship God through our writing and make a difference in the world. We may be alone, but at the same time we are in one accord with a multitude of other writers.

Yes, I could stay home on Tuesday mornings and exercise the craft of writing. But, I not only write, I live. If I live life fully, then my writing will be enhanced and more creative.

Incidentally, that study was on the beatitudes. Well… talk about being blessed!!

The Gift
Great Plains Prairie – Omaha, Nebraska 1910
Katie McKenzie left the prairie to further her education in Omaha, but when she returns for a visit, she finds her feelings for Daniel Wentworth remain. Pushing aside her reservations, Katie extends her visit as she tries to help a young woman grieving over her sister’s death. Determined to conquer that schoolgirl crush she had on Mr. Wentworth before she left, Katie pours herself into helping sixteen-year-old Mary Frances resurrect her love for singing. When Daniel comes calling with an invitation for Katie to remain on the prairie, she wonders if her gift of hospitality and help might be a second chance at love.

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