faith, Family Fun & Fitness

30 Days of Forgiveness in June: The First Martyr

Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

(Acts 7:60, NIV)

Stephen was a Christian living shortly after the ascension of Jesus. Though little is known of his life, he first appears in Acts 6. At the time, some of the widows within the church were being neglected.

The apostles recommended that seven trustworthy men be chosen to distribute goods to the widows and care for them. Stephen was one of the seven chosen, and the writer of Acts notes that he was

“a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit”

(Acts 6:5, NIV)

Stephen performed several signs and wonders among the people, most likely because of his close relationship with the Lord. Although others tried to debate his theology, Stephen was known for his wisdom.

Because he carried so much wisdom, some members of the early church were unhappy with him. They put him on trial, bringing his case before the Sanhedrin (or counsel).

Stephen eloquently defended his beliefs, but he was dragged outside. As his accusers began to throw rocks at him, Stephen looked to Heaven and called out for Jesus to receive his spirit.

Then he made a humble plea:

“Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” 

(Acts 7:60, NIV)

At that moment, most people would be tempted to make a different request. Perhaps, “Lord, avenge me,” or “Lord, deliver me.” But Stephen, knowing the full power of God, did not ask for vengeance or deliverance.

Instead, he accepted his death, and his final thought was not of himself but of those who were hurting him. What a beautiful testimony to his faith.

Jesus, when others are hurting me, help me not to focus on how I can get even. I long for others to come to know You, no matter what the cost is to me personally. In the name of Jesus the Messiah, I pray. Amen.

If you liked this story, you might also like the sweet second chance romance novella Believe in Me, by Mishael Austin Witty. Available now on Kindle for only 99 cents!

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30 Days of Forgiveness in June: Carried to Jesus

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”  

(Luke 5:20, NIV)

They called themselves The Three Musketeers as kids. Liam, Noah, and Jackson were friends since elementary school. They did everything together and were constantly playing pranks on each other. 

Instead of going their separate ways after high school graduation, they decided to rent an apartment together. But shortly after turning twenty, Liam became very ill. He had no family to look after him so Noah and Jackson took turns caring for him. 

They brought him to doctor after doctor. No one could explain why Liam had suddenly lost the ability to walk. Noah and Jackson suspected he had a neurological disease but neither knew enough to help their friend.

So, when they heard about a man named Jesus that was healing people, they decided to bring their friend. “Maybe this Jesus guy can help you, buddy,” Jackson said as he carefully loaded his friend into the back of his car.

Noah grinned. “Who knows? Maybe you’ll be running a marathon by this time tomorrow.”

But when Jackson and Noah arrived, they quickly saw the crowds were thronging Jesus. “There’s no way we’ll get close enough to get his attention,” Jackson said.

“Hold on, I have a crazy idea,” Noah said. The two men gathered a tarp from the trunk, made a makeshift gurney, and then carefully moved their sleeping friend. 

They climbed to the roof of the house where Jesus was and peeled away shingles until they had a large opening. Then they lowered their friend down until he was right in front of Jesus. Jesus not only forgave their friend, but He also healed him from his disease.

Sometimes, God sends people into our lives to help us seek His forgiveness. It might be a friend that prays for you faithfully, a parent that won’t give up on you, or a sibling who always has your back.

Thank You for the friends that carried me when I’ve been hurt, God. Let me return that kindness and carry someone else to You when they need it. In the name of Jesus the Messiah, I pray. Amen.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d like to invite you to join my free private Facebook group where mothers can connect for support and encouragement in the Lord.

If you liked this story, you might also like the sweet second chance romance novella Believe in Me, by Mishael Austin Witty. Available now on Kindle for only 99 cents!

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3o Days of Forgiveness in June: Loving Boundaries

“You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.”

(Psalm 86:5, NIV)

Mary grew up with an alcoholic father. “When he wasn’t drinking, he was a good father. But as I got older, the times when he was sober became fewer.” 

By the time Mary graduated from high school, her father was rarely sober. “He wasn’t physically abusive. He’d just yell and carry on about everything. Anything could set him off,” Mary explains.

For years, Mary struggled with the concept of forgiveness. Then one day, she was having dinner with her friend Shannon when the topic came up. Because Shannon was a dear friend that she trusted not to gossip, Mary shared her past with her. 

“He’s not a bad person. He’d like to see his grandkids. I know I’m supposed to forgive and forget. I just don’t want him to damage my kids the way he damaged me and my siblings.” 

Shannon listened as Mary shared her heart. Then she said, “We’re not commanded to automatically forget someone’s actions. 

“As children of God, we are called to forgive. But it’s also wise to be aware of how your father affected you and how he might affect your children. You can set boundaries to protect yourself and your kids, such as not visiting your dad when he’s drunk. It’s healthy to set loving limits in your relationships.”

God, help me to set healthy boundaries with the people I’ve forgiven. I want to be kind, but I also know You don’t want me to be a doormat. Help me to stand up for myself and shine Your love at the same time. In the name of Jesus the Messiah, I pray. Amen. 

If you liked this story, you might also like the sweet second chance romance novella Believe in Me, by Mishael Austin Witty. Available now on Kindle for only 99 cents!

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30 Days of Forgiveness: Welcome Home

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.”

(Luke 15:13, NIV)

Jordyn was the daughter of a wealthy businessman. One day, she approached her father and demanded her portion of her inheritance. She wanted to live it up while she was still young, she told him. 

Though her father’s heart was saddened by his daughter’s decision, he still gave her the value of her inheritance. He texted her each day she was gone, hoping for a reply. He followed some of her antics in gossip magazines, watching as she seemed to morph into a different person.

One morning when he texted Jordyn, he was surprised to receive a reply. It was short and got his attention instantly: I messed up, Daddy. I know that now. Can I come home?

With shaky hands, her father texted her back: Yes.

When Jordyn told the taxi cab driver to turn down her street, she couldn’t believe what she saw. There, on the front lawn was the biggest party she’d ever seen. As she stepped out of the cab, her father rushed to embrace her. 

Jordyn sniffed and stepped back, “Who are you throwing a party for?”

Her father gave her a watery smile, “It’s for you, baby girl. Welcome home!” 

It can be tempting to believe that you’ve gone too far to be redeemed. But you don’t have to hide out. Your Heavenly Father is waiting to welcome you home, beloved!

God, thank You for Your grace! When others discover Your love, let me be the first to join the welcoming committee! In the name of Jesus the Messiah, I pray. Amen. 

Will Sin Make You Lose Your Relationship with God?

If you liked this story, you might also like the sweet second chance romance novella Believe in Me, by Mishael Austin Witty. Available now on Kindle for only 99 cents!

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30 Days of Forgiveness in June: The Love Itself

“Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

(Matthew 6:11-12, NIV)

Corrie Ten Boom was a watchmaker living in Haarlem, Holland. She was a devout Christian, and when the Nazis invaded her country she longed to stand up for the Jews who were being targeted.

She devised a plan to help Jews escape from Holland. Since she was a watchmaker, her family’s tiny watch shop provided the perfect cover because people could come and go throughout the day without suspicion. 

When Jews looking for refuge came to her store, she would guide them to her family’s home on the second floor. There, in a bedroom, was a hidden closet that could hold six people at a time. If there were inspections, Corrie would sound a warning buzzer throughout the house, giving the refugees time to hide.

But Corrie and her family were betrayed. She was sentenced to a concentration camp with her sister. After months of being in the prison, Corrie was released due to a clerical error.

Years later, when she was sharing messages of God’s forgiveness at a church, a man approached her whom she recognized. He had been a guard at the camp where Corrie was imprisoned. He greeted her and held out his hand.

In that moment, Corrie struggled with what to do. She sent up a prayer but couldn’t move a muscle. So, she prayed again, asking for the strength to forgive. She described the moment in her book, The Hiding Place:

“As I took his hand, the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. 

“And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness, any more than on our goodness, that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”

God, give me the strength to forgive my enemies. Grant me the love I need to fulfill Your command. In the name of Jesus the Messiah, I pray. Amen.

If you liked this story, you might also like the sweet second chance romance novella Believe in Me, by Mishael Austin Witty. Available now on Kindle for only 99 cents!

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30 Days of Forgiveness in June: Who Is This Man?

“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery.”

(John 8:3, NIV)

Since her father had died, caring for her sick mother and younger siblings had fallen to Adina. She couldn’t keep her grades up while working as a waitress. So, she dropped out of school and struggled to make ends meet for her family.

Then one day, an older woman ordered a latte and stayed around to chat. She was dressed in beautiful clothes and carried herself like she was wealthy. 

Then the older woman told her about a way to earn more money. “It’s like being a girlfriend for an evening,” she explained. “You just go to dinner with wealthy men, and they pay you for your company.”

Young and innocent, Adina didn’t realize the con until it was too late. Now, she was trapped in a life as a teenage prostitute. 

When a hotel room door opened and she was dragged naked into the streets, she closed her eyes. Shame burned in her, coloring her cheeks. She hadn’t meant to find this life. 

Thrown into the middle of the town square, she heard a booming voice, “The Law commands we stone her. What do you say?”

Adina opened her eyes, wondering who the judge before her was. She held her breath and waited for his response. Instead, He just wrote on the ground, seeming to ignore the whole scene.

When he was asked again, the man turned and softly said, “Let those without sin cast their stones.” 

Adina watched as the crowd around her slowly melted away. But still, she waited. Who is this man who stood up for me? she wondered.

After a moment, he spoke, “Where are your accusers? Have they condemned you?”

“No, sir.” She whispered the words.

“Then neither do I,” the man said, “Go and leave your old life behind.”

God, thank You for Your grace. You have compassion on me always. Help me to extend that same compassion to someone else. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d like to invite you to join my free private Facebook group where mothers can connect for support and encouragement in the Lord.

If you liked this story, you might also like the sweet second chance romance novella Believe in Me, by Mishael Austin Witty. Available now on Kindle for only 99 cents!

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30 Days of Forgiveness: Healing Power

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.”

(Ephesians 1:7-8, NIV)

Michael Rowe was part of a drug gang in New York. In 1992, he and two of his friends killed another drug dealer. 

He was arrested and sentenced to twenty years in prison. He used this time to better himself. He earned his GED, then went on to get his associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree. He married his girlfriend and fathered three children with her. 

In September of 2006, Michael was working in prison when he glanced up to see Anthony Colon, the brother of the man he killed. Anthony had been there to visit another inmate, unaware that Michael was there.

Michael tried to duck out of sight, but it was too late. 

Anthony had seen him. 

Michael’s heart sped up, and his mouth went dry as he wondered what Anthony would do to him. Would he yell at him? Cuss him out? Spit on him? Start a fight?

When Anthony approached him, Michael tensed. But the other man held out a hand and said to him, “I’ve been praying for you. I forgive you. I was praying for a chance to see you again and tell you that.”

Years later, the two men are friends. After being released from prison, Michael went to work with Exodus Transitional Community Center, the same organization where Anthony volunteers. 

God, help me to accept forgiveness when it’s offered, and to grant others that same mercy. Teach me to be gracious in giving and receiving forgiveness. In the name of Jesus the Messiah, I pray. Amen.

If you liked this story, you might also like the sweet second chance romance novella Believe in Me, by Mishael Austin Witty. Available now on Kindle for only 99 cents!

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30 Days of Forgiveness: Freedom from Hatred

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

(Colossians 3:13, NIV)

Samereh Alinejad lives in Iran. Her eighteen-year-old son was stabbed to death when he got into a street fight. She’d already lost one son, and losing another only added to her heartbreak.

Her son’s killer, Balal, spent seven years in prison, awaiting his death sentence. But, as the time for his execution drew near, Samereh said her son appeared to her in a dream, begging her to forgive his killer.

When family came to visit in the days before the execution, no one pressured Samereh to forgive. They showed up to offer support and condolences. Still, Samereh couldn’t sleep that night.

The next day, she showed up at the gallows with her husband. She watched as a noose was placed around Balal’s neck. This was the moment she had waited for, the one that she’d thought would bring her peace.

Instead, she found herself calling out to free the young man. The anger and hate she’d been holding vanished, and for the first time in years she felt free. 

Balal’s mom had also been present at the execution scene. When she saw the display of mercy, she knelt to kiss Samereh’s feet in gratitude. But Samereh lifted the woman up and embraced her, the two mothers united in the middle of their shared pain.

God, forgiveness is a struggle. But I want to show mercy and kindness to those who have hurt me. Give me the strength to release this burden and live free. In the name of Jesus the Messiah, I pray. Amen.

If you liked this story, you might also like the sweet second chance romance novella Believe in Me, by Mishael Austin Witty. Available now on Kindle for only 99 cents!

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30 Days of Forgiveness in June: A Heavy Load

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”

(Matthew 5:23-24, NIV)

A seminary professor had a habit of starting each new semester the same way. He would pass out a bag to each of his students. At the front of the room, he had a large bin filled with hundreds of baseballs.

He would invite all of his students to come to the front of the classroom. Then he would hand out markers. He instructed each student to write down every wrong they’d ever suffered. 

When they were finished writing, they would put the baseball into their bag. After they were finished, the professor looked at the class. “Now, I want you to carry these bags everywhere you go until our next class. You take them everywhere, from your dorm to the cafeteria to your job. Keep it with you always.”

A week later, many of his students arrived with their bags. The professor pointed to a young man in the first row. “Tell us about your week…how do you feel?”

The young man sighed. “Tired. Lugging that thing around was exhausting. My neck ached from it.”

The professor nodded. “That heavy bag represents unforgiveness. Every time you hold onto a wrong, you add weight to your bag, and it’s a weight that God didn’t intend for you to carry.”

God, help me to put down the load I’ve been carrying. I don’t want to hold onto unforgiveness. Show me how to release this burden, so I can walk in freedom and healing. In the name of Jesus the Messiah, I pray. Amen.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d like to invite you to join my free private Facebook group where mothers can connect for support and encouragement in the Lord.

If you liked this story, you might also like the sweet second chance romance novella Believe in Me, by Mishael Austin Witty. Available now on Kindle for only 99 cents!

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30 Days of Forgiveness in June: Building Bridges

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” –

(Psalm 133:1, NIV)

James and his brother William were close friends growing up. Whatever one did, the other was sure to follow. Their mother sometimes joked that the boys were actually twins she’d had two years apart.

When the brothers grew up, they decided to become farmers. They bought hundreds of acres and started planting their crops. They shared their tools and knowledge with each other freely. When one succeeded, he was quick to help the other.

Then one afternoon, a fight broke out between William’s hired hands and James’ helpers. Both were so convinced the other was wrong that they let their sweet bond sour. As the years passed, they both kept to their own farms.

When a handyman appeared at William’s farm begging for work, William brought him outside. He pointed to a muddy area. “A stream used to run through both our lands to water our livestock, but my brother has built a dam. It waters only his acreage now.” 

Then William showed the handyman a grove of trees and bushes. “I want you to make a fence there,” he explained. “Build a big privacy fence, so my brother will forever be a stranger to me.”

The handyman agreed, and William brought the man all the tools and lumber he would need. He left to go handle more business on his farm and finally returned that evening. 

He stopped in his tracks as soon as he saw the handyman’s work. Instead of a fence, there was a beautiful bridge. The work was intricate, and the details were breathtaking.

Before he could ask the handyman about it, William saw James running across the bridge. “You built a bridge to welcome me back! What a special day this is!” 

When someone hurts you, it’s natural to want to shut them out. But instead of ignoring them or sending them away, look to restore fellowship with your friend or loved one.

God, let me be a bridge builder, not a fence builder. Let me be quick to forgive others and warmly welcome them back into fellowship. In the name of Jesus the Messiah, I pray. Amen.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d like to invite you to join my free private Facebook group where m

If you liked this story, you might also like the sweet second chance romance novella Believe in Me, by Mishael Austin Witty. Available now on Kindle for only 99 cents!

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30 Days of Forgiveness in June: Facing Grief

Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Matthew 26:38 (NIV)

It was a mild August day when Amelia climbed into the passenger seat of her car. She and her husband were headed to the beach to celebrate her promotion. “We’d only been married five months at that point. We were newlyweds, and I was still learning so much about him.”

But Amelia and her husband never made it to the beach that day. Instead, they were hit by a drunk driver, who crossed into their lane. He hit their car, head-on. 

Amelia’s husband was killed on impact, and she was left with life-threatening injuries. She had broken her back in two places, needed stitches in her face, and had a serious concussion.

Her body began to heal, but her spirit felt broken. “Everyone told me to just forgive the other driver. I got a lot of pressure to move on from other people. One person told me if I didn’t forgive, I was worse than the drunk driver.”

Then came the day Mary showed up in Amelia’s hospital room. She was a widow from a local church who often reaches out to other widows. 

Amelia shared her story, crying through parts of it. “How am I supposed to forgive?” she whispered.

Mary squeezed the woman’s shoulder. “Right now, your only job is to grieve. You need to process what you’re feeling. All of the sadness, rage, and pain. Let it come.” 

Sometimes, it can be tempting to tell someone going through an injustice to “just forgive,” but that advice can stunt the grieving process. 

“It only compounds loss,” Mary explains. “So, now we have someone who’s grieving, and they feel this guilt and sense of isolation added with it. Many people don’t realize this, but Jesus grieved in the Garden of Gethsemane. Grieving is an important part of the healing process.”

God, help me to grieve with those who grieve. Let me be a loyal friend who welcomes the broken into Your presence. In the name of Jesus the Messiah, I pray. Amen.

If you liked this story, you might also like the sweet second chance romance novella Believe in Me, by Mishael Austin Witty. Available now on Kindle for only 99 cents!