faith, Family Fun & Fitness

30 Days of Forgiveness in June: Love Covers All

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

(1 Peter 4:8, NIV)

Nobuo Fujita was a Japanese aircraft pilot during World War II. One of his missions was to drop bombs over the coast of Oregon. After dropping two bombs, he flew back to his military base. 

Thankfully, the forest area where Nobuo dropped the bombs had an unusually wet season. The ground was saturated, and while one bomb sparked a fire it was easily contained and no one was injured.

Despite the fact that no one was hurt, Nobuo felt deep sorrow over what he’d done. So, he visited Brookings, Oregon, the town that was just miles from where he’d released those missiles.

When he arrived, Nobuo brought with him a samurai sword that had been in his family for centuries. He apologized for his actions and gifted the town with the sword. Despite some controversy, most of the townspeople welcomed Nobuo warmly.

Over the years, Nobuo would periodically return to Brookings. On one visit, he planted a tree where he’d dropped the bombs, as a symbol of peace and friendship.

The town continued to embrace Nobuo, and in 1997 he became an honorary citizen, proving that forgiveness can be stronger than hate. 

God, help me to demonstrate Your love by forgiving those who have wronged me. Let me welcome, with open arms, those that need my forgiveness. 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 encourageme

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!

Family Fun & Fitness

30 Days of Forgiveness: Choose Compassion

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

(Ephesians 4:32, NIV)

Andy lived in a small farming community in Idaho. When he was fifteen, he took a gun to school. He showed it off to his friends, who crowded around him at the lunch table.

While he was handling the gun, Andy accidentally discharged the weapon. Another student, seventeen-year-old Larry, was shot. Paramedics were called, and Larry was taken to a local hospital.

After several days, Larry woke up to the news that he was paralyzed. Overnight, his baseball scholarships had disappeared, and his girlfriend dumped him. But he couldn’t stop thinking about Andy.

“I know most people would think I hated him. But I didn’t. All I could think about was my younger brother. He’s done some dumb stuff, and I couldn’t imagine how he’d feel if he seriously hurt somebody.”

When Andy was brought to trial, Larry was there. He testified on the other boy’s behalf and begged the jury to show mercy. “He’s already changed my life forever….he knows that, and I know it. I don’t want his life to be messed up, too.” Larry explained.

Because of Larry’s compassion, Andy was sentenced to only a year in a juvenile detention center, with a few years of probation following.

Just like Larry forgave Andy and showed him mercy when he didn’t deserve it, God does that for us … every time when He sin against Him … if only we ask (see 1 John 1:9). And, because of that, we are called to show that same kind of forgiveness and mercy to others.

God, thank You for loving and forgiving me. When someone else’s decisions impact my life, let me be forgiving and gracious. Not because of me and what I want, but because of Jesus and the forgiveness He’s granted me. 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!

Family Fun & Fitness

30 Days of Celebrating Moms in May: All Things

“I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

When Danny opened his mouth to speak, he started with the words that had always given him courage, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”

Those words were an important part of Danny’s childhood. They were the words his mother had repeated when she was in a difficult labor with Danny. They were the words she’d repeated over him when doctors had said the tiny baby wouldn’t live for more than a few hours. 

Danny had been born with a neuromuscular disease that paralyzed him. He defied the doctor’s dire predictions and lived. When Danny lived, the doctor told his mom that her son would never be able to do anything. 

As was common at the time, the doctor suggested that the best option for Danny was a group home. Knowing her history, the doctor pointed out her other children, “Go be a mother to them. Danny will only be a burden on your family.”

“But my mother refused,” Danny said, smiling, “And today, I’m graduating magna cum laude from one of the best universities in the state, thanks to the grace of God and the love of my mother.” 

You may not be able to provide your child with the fanciest foods or the best clothes. But you can offer your child the knowledge that you believe in them, and that God can carry them through the toughest times. That gift is far more valuable than anything else you could give.

God, help me to be a sweet encouragement to my little ones. When others see grim statistics or terrible outcomes, let me remind them that You are the God of the possible and impossible. Nothing challenges You, and nothing changes You! 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.

Family Fun & Fitness

30 Days of Celebrating Moms in May: The Comfort of God

“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you…”

Isaiah 66:13 (NIV)

When Cindy’s daughter was a toddler, she had a fear of the dark after an older sibling accidentally let her see a scary movie. Cindy would put her little one to bed, only to have her up a few minutes later, asking her mom to check for monsters.

Each time she asked, Cindy would put down her crossword puzzle to come check. She would look under the bed, in the closet, and anywhere else her daughter wanted her to investigate. Again and again, Cindy was patient, remembering how fearful she’d been as a child, too.

Eventually, Cindy’s daughter grew into a teen. Because of the sweet relationship Cindy had nurtured, her daughter would come to her for advice and guidance on just about everything.

One night, her daughter called out to her in the night. Cindy stumbled from her bed and went to comfort her child. The girl was upset over some cruel text messages she’d received. Cindy stayed up most of the night, talking with her daughter and encouraging her.

Just as Cindy always ran to reassure her child, God does the same thing for His children. It doesn’t matter if you call on Him in the middle of the blackest night or in the deepest distress of your life, God will always come to comfort you, His precious child.

God, thank You for the gift of Your presence. You promise in Your word that You will never leave me on my own (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). You come to me when I’m sad, discouraged, or in need. Thank You for that! In the beautiful name of Jesus 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.

Family Fun & Fitness

30 Days of Celebrating Moms in May: Building Your House

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”

Proverbs 14:1 (NIV)

When her kids were home from school, Dana felt like she spent the entire time nagging them to do their homework and chores. More than once fights broke out, and she spent her afternoons arguing with her children.

She felt like her home was in chaos and wasn’t sure what to do. On the weekends, she worked as a volunteer at a hospital. The volunteer coordinator was a warm, elderly woman named Elizabeth.

When she shared what was going on, Elizabeth listened sympathetically. Then, she shared Proverbs 14. “Someone once told me that, every day, a woman either builds her house or tears it down. When you nag, it’s a way of controlling the situation. It may make you feel better temporarily, but it rarely gets results.” 

Dana nodded. “So, how do I get results, instead of yelling and insults?”

Elizabeth said, “Remind your kids once about what to do. Share what the consequences of not obeying are, and let them make their choices. If they don’t listen, then gently but firmly allow them to suffer the results. That’s what God does for His children.”

Dana took Elizabeth’s words to heart. It was hard at first because her kids challenged her resolve to see if she’d stick with the consequences she’d laid out. But, after seeing her stand firm, her kids quickly began to listen to her. 

This decreased Dana’s stress and made her afternoons with her children more relaxed and enjoyable.

God, help me to build up my house. Give me wisdom when it comes to training my kids and others that are under my influence. In Jesus’ name 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.

Family Fun & Fitness

30 Days of Celebrating Mothers: Mother in Search of Identity

Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”

Genesis 29:32 (NIV)

Perhaps there’s no story in the whole Bible more poignant than that of Leah … the girl who was used by her father and who was basically unloved by her husband. At least, I’ve always felt that Leah’s story was a sad one.

Leah watched as her sister, Rachel, flirted with Jacob. She watched as they courted. She saw the secret glances they stole at each other when they thought no one else was looking. She watched in admiration (and maybe a little jealousy) the way Jacob worked for seven years just so he could marry Rachel.

Then her father came, just hours before her sister’s wedding. He shoved the bridal clothes at Leah, demanding she slip into them and marry Jacob in her sister’s place.

The next morning, she could hear Jacob shouting at her uncle, demanding to know why he’d been betrayed. Then, seven years later, Jacob finally married Rachel, the sister he truly loved. And Leah had to wonder where that left her.

But God had the answer to all her questions … He always does.

Leah was trapped in a loveless marriage, but God saw her misery. He sent her a son, and she named him Reuben. She was certain that now her husband would love her. In doing so, she made the mistake of placing her sense of worth in her husband and her children, rather than God – the one who had given her both, and even her very life. That’s why she spent years feeling so empty as she chased after Jacob.

But somewhere along the way, Leah accepted her true identity as a favored daughter of God. She understood that God loved her unconditionally, and she let His love fill her with peace and joy.

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.

Genesis 29:35 (NIV)

At least, she stopped having children for a while. We know that she had five more children after Judah – four more sons of Jacob, and his daughter Dinah. Leah may have been unloved by her husband, but she was favored by God in motherhood.

Her sister only had two sons. And neither one of those was the ancestor of God’s promised Messiah. Leah’s son Judah was.

God saw Leah’s her pain. He knew all that she had been through. And He used it all for her good (and for the good of the rest of us throughout history too) … and, of course, for His glory.

God, help me to remember my worth does not come from my relationships. Like Leah, let me rest in You, content with the knowledge that I am Your beloved child…and You will work everything that happens in my life out for Your glory. 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.

Book Reviews, General Book Stuff, Writing

BELIEVE IN ME: The Story Behind the Story

In recent weeks, following the amazing free Kindle download days for BELIEVE IN ME (June 1 and 2, 2013), I’ve gotten several new reviews on it, including two one-star reviews from people who seemed to not really get what I was trying to do with the story. I thought the story description – especially the tagline – said it all: Reconciliations can occur. Broken hearts can be mended. If you believe. But maybe I was wrong.

 

BELIEVE IN ME is, at its core, a story of RECONCILIATION. The dictionary definition of “reconciliation” is “the condition of being reconciled”…which is not very helpful unless you understand what “to reconcile” means. The Merriam-Webster definition is this: “to restore to friendship or harmony”.

 

Why would a friendship (or, in this case, a marriage) need to be restored? Because something’s broken. Something destroyed it, and now it needs to be repaired…or else abandoned altogether. People in today’s society are often way too eager to abandon a marriage (or, indeed, most ANY relationship) when it ceases to “work” for them.

 

The fact is that people are imperfect. Everyone makes mistakes. And when you put two imperfect people together in a close relationship like marriage, you’re going to have problems. Ultimately, it’s how you deal with those problems that dictates the success (or failure) of your marriage. You have to be completely committed to each other – and to the relationship – no matter what the personal cost.

 

Here’s what one of the one-star reviewers said (in part), “Everybody is basically self-centered and doesn’t do anything with any common sense. If my mother sided with my husband and sister and treated me like I was the bad guy, why would I go to her house for Christmas? Didn’t take too long to read but I stuck with it hoping for someone in the family to come to their senses; didn’t happen”.

 

I mean, maybe I didn’t do a good job (as the author) of explaining the obligation. In the opening scene, Trina didn’t want to go to her mother’s house, and she certainly didn’t want to meet with her sister. But she felt a certain sense of duty that pulled her into that situation. The family relationships were more important to Trina than her own desires…so I find it particularly interesting that this reviewer thought every character was being self-centered.

 

The other one-star review? I seemed to really touch a nerve with this person. “I am so pissed at this family that I am trying to see where the sweet romance is going to come in. Unlike Steve Harvey, I believe once a cheater always a cheater. Besides, the mother sets her up, has her drive 5 hrs for Christmas without telling her the soon to be ex-husband is also staying for the holidays! REALLY, you would do that to your own kid? That would be one ex-mother for me!” An ex-mother? Once a cheater, always a cheater? Seems like this person really doesn’t understand the meaning of the word forgiveness.

 

And that’s what BELIEVE IN ME really is. It’s a story of love – real, sacrificial love – and forgiveness. It’s a tale that shows the magic that occurs when two people realize that they both played a part in making a bad situation worse, but they can both change their attitudes and turn things around to make it right again.

 

This book is a romance story, but it’s not a romance in the traditional sense of the word. There’s very little sex (really, none at all), but there is a happy ending. Sort of like a fairy tale with no real heroes/heroines and a very Christian message (even though there is some mention of adultery and premarital sex – big “no no’s” in the Christian market).

 

As the author, I can honestly say that it hurts that these two individuals didn’t like the story, but I loved the fact that they hated it enough to share their thoughts on it. At least I elicited some emotion from them. Still, I can’t help wondering if I failed in some way by not getting the true message of the story across in a more completely.

 

Now that you know the story behind (and the true theme of) the story, maybe you’d like to view some excerpts of BELIEVE IN ME. Those can be viewed by clicking here. Thanks for reading, and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Just leave me a comment (or a review on Amazon, if you’ve already read the book).

Mishael Austin Witty