Tag Archives: forgiveness

Fiction That Gives Hope

Jennifer Slattery writes fiction that’s entertaining and keeps me turning the pages but at the same time manages to teach me about God’s grace and challenges me to reach out to those around me who are hurting.

    Restoring Love is a follow-up to Jennifer’s first novel, Beyond I Do. Restoring Love shows us what happens to Ainsley’s mom, Angela several years after the events in the first book. Angela is a woman who has made lots of mistakes in her life and had stopped believing her own life could be redeemed until she sees the grace and forgiveness her daughter shows her. As Angela moves on to find a new start, God opens doors for her to show that same grace to Bianca, a struggling mom who lives across the street. With her husband in jail, a rebellious teenage daughter and two challenging young sons, her life is in crisis.

Will Angela be able to give Bianca the same kind of help she herself once desperately needed? And what about Mitch? Why has God allowed this man into her life? Why would any decent man be interested in her ever again? With her history of promiscuity, abortion and manipulation of others, she feels unworthy of love. This story makes me wonder how many people around me are hurting in ways I can’t imagine and who around me needs a word of encouragement or for someone to be willing to give sacrificially. Restoring Love is a love story, a redemption story, a story of hope, a challenge to forgive and a picture of what Jesus meant when He said others would know His followers by their love.

If you want a book that goes beyond being escapist fiction and has the potential to change lives, I highly recommend Restoring Love.

And don’t forget to read Ainsley’s story in Beyond I Do!

Find more about Jennifer Slattery and her other books here:

Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud

Jennifer on Amazon

 

 

 

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Filed under Faith, family, forgiveness, God's love, Grace, relationships

Free Forever

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Heavenly Father,

Before you created the world, you knew I would exist and you loved me!

When you knit me together in my mother’s womb you knew I would choose sin yet you loved me.

Thank you Jesus that you died for me knowing someday I would be selfish, unkind, unloving, willful and stubborn. You knew I would have a prideful, self-focused heart yet you chose to die for me so that I could live. You chose to take my sin and give me your righteousness.

What an astounding gift!

I could meditate on your grace forever and never fully grasp its wonder. Thank you that this incredible gift is there for anyone who will believe Jesus died for him or her.

Undeserved grace.

Life everlasting.

The guilty forgiven.

Ransom paid freely.

Free

Believe

Receive

A gift impossible to earn or deserve.

I am guilty.

I deserve death. I don’t deserve to spend eternity with you. Yet, that is what you offered me. I believed. I do believe and you will never leave me or forsake me.

Anyone who believes can have this gift of grace. Just as they are.

Praise your holy name!

Jesus, open our eyes to see your hand reaching out. Help us to believe.

What does grace mean to you?

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How Do We Make Marriage Work?

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After recently celebrating 32 years together, I was thinking about what keeps our marriage going. These are the first things that came to mind:

Forgiveness is essential! Forgiveness is the cornerstone of our marriage. We’re both in need of forgiveness. Each of us remembering how much we need forgiveness helps us to forgive the other. We’re frail human beings who make selfish decisions and mistakes every day.

Grace. Grace is each of us letting the other be human. It is not our job to judge each other or hand out punishment. We both need grace! God gives us so many good things even though we don’t deserve them. How can we withhold good from each other?

Love. True love (as demonstrated by God) is thinking of the other person before self. True love is choosing to act in love toward another. Every day we choose to give love and build each other up or we choose to withhold it and tear each other down.

Feelings and affection. As we choose to show love in words and actions, our feelings grow stronger. The more we show affection, the more our desire for affection grows. Love doesn’t happen by accident, it is intentional.

Letting go of expectations and the fantasy marriage in our head. We all enter marriage with expectations and this “picture” of how our spouse will behave. There came a point in our marriage when I had to begin letting go of that picture. I have to let him be who he is and love him for who he is.

No comparing! We all will see someone else’s spouse doing something we wish ours would do. We don’t see what that other person does we wouldn’t want to live with. Comparing is futile and creates discontent.

It is not our job to change each other. Any change that happens in each other’s life is God’s work not ours. There’ve been times God worked in each of our hearts to bring about a desired change but it was not because of our efforts.

Prayer! Should be #1. The one most powerful and effective thing we can do for our spouse is pray for them.

Providing a safe haven. It’s a tough world out there. When we come together, we need to know we’ll be accepted (not criticized or nagged) and loved. We need to know we’ll be safe.

Words are powerful! Words of affirmation renew and strengthen while a critical word crushes the spirit. We have tried not to use words that tear each other down but when we do (even if it is non-verbal such as “silent treatment”) forgiveness is key.

Commitment. Knowing we are committed to our marriage and to each other carries us through a lot

Yielding instead of demanding. Choosing to yield instead of always demanding our own way brings harmony and peace. On the other hand, I have learned that expressing what I feel and desire is important. Balance is important. It’s give and take.

The Lord Jesus Christ! He’s most important. Without Him we’re selfish, demanding, judging and critical. He’s the strength of our lives and our marriage and as we spend time reading the Bible and praying we learn to love and give.

Do we do these things perfectly? Of course not! But these are priorities on this journey. We have to make these choices everyday.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:13-14 (NIV)

The tongue has the power of life and death…” Proverbs 18:21a (NIV)

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Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com

What are your thoughts about what makes marriage work?

Share with us here or at Living by Grace.

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Filed under Faith, family, forgiveness, God, Grace, hope, inspirational, Jesus, life, love, marriage, my husband, peace, personal, relationships

Sour Grapes or New Wine?

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Today I welcome Carol McClain for the fifth step of the Call to Praise Blog Hop. Welcome Carol! Please check the bottom of the page for a link to the next blog stop.

Psalm 103: 2 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:”

Sometimes I’m not a very nice person. Oh, my friends will disagree. My husband will once more enumerate all my wonderful qualities. My daughter tears up when she tells friends about her best friend: me.

They don’t always see my little old patch of cultivated sour grapes. I don’t know why I insist on growing them as they leave a bad taste in my mouth, sicken my stomach, and drag me further away from the Lord. And, when I put the issue in print, my complaints are pretty laughable.

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For example, my debut novel came out four months ago, and I have ONLY eleven reviews. Others, with their book out for thirty minutes, rack up more than a billion. Yuck. That doesn’t signify my disdain for them. It’s the taste of my lack of gratitude.

Shortly before I came to know Christ, I got divorced. For more than twenty years, I remained single. Goofy friends got married pronto. Those two-times married found another mate—shouldn’t they wait until we wallflowers got a turn? Sheesh. That’s not a comment on the favor of God on their lives. It’s the flavor of those darn grapes.

 

I’ve always wanted to be able to sing. At one point I had been invited to join the music ministry—not sure why. I can’t sing. It soon became apparent to the music leader that I sang flatter than a piece of vellum. I was uninvited. I cried for weeks and still secretly plot ways to win The Voice and prove my worth.

And that’s the crux of all my issues. I want to prove my worth when it was already verified for me on Calvary. I want all my perceived blessings owed me, and when that doesn’t happen, I don’t see the true miracles of my life.

I have a secure house, dependable car, good friends, a family and a comfortable income. I’m loved. I live in a country where I’m not beheaded for following my faith or in a country where faith does not exist. But these are not the true benefits of God.

I’m forgiven. Big sins. Little peccadillos. Gone–as far as the east is from the west.

Before I knew Christ, I destroyed my innocence. I’ve found, through my walk, that it had been restored.

And mostly, this world is not my home. It’ll vanish like the morning vapor. Be washed away like dust after a spring shower. Forever, I will live with Jesus in perfection and beauty and holiness.

When I remember these blessings, I can throw away my sour grapes and drink the new wine of a beautiful life.

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Carol McClain is an erstwhile English teacher, a bassoonist and a stained-glass artist with an eclectic array of other interests. She lives in the frozen tundra of northern NY with a husband who thinks she’s pretty swell, and a dog that dotes on her.

 

Her debut novel is DWF: Divorced White Female. In this humorous women’s fiction, sassy and unsaved Cheryl Chandler knows only one thing will save her from her husband’s desertion: a man—any man so long as he’s hot. Somehow she has to find him. Eventually, he has to meet her kids. The first problem is solved by her children who sign her up on an online dating site. The second problem? She’s stuck.

 

Today’s post is the fifth post in the A Call to Praise Blog Hop. You can click below and that will take you to Jennifer Slattery’s blog, where you will find the schedule for the entire study of Psalms 103.)

http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com/a-call-to-praise-blog-hop/

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The next post will be on March 18th at Sarah Rutt’s blog: http://sarahruut.com/

 

 

 

 

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Do No Harm

“LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellow man.” Psalm 15:1-3

Obviously, none of us can be perfect. We can’t be fully blameless apart from the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Yet these verses tell us what is important to God. They challenge us to pursue righteousness. What matters to God? Speaking the truth from our hearts. God hates lying (Proverbs 6:16-17) He wants us to speak the truth. We can’t do it perfectly but we can seek to do better. What matters to God? He does not want us to use our tongues to slander others. Slander involves untruth that harms another’s reputation. It could also be called gossip and King James says, “Backbiteth not”. There is a malicious intention with slander. What matters to God? We are to do our neighbor no wrong. This is an intention to do harm. Jesus took it further when He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself” Matthew 22:39. Proverbs 15:3 says to cast no slur on our fellow man. Many translations say, “Does not take up a reproach”. This means to carry a reproach. This says to me that we decide to carry something in our hearts against our neighbor (friend, fellow-man). And we usually make sure everyone knows about it. God does not want us to make it our job to point out the faults of others or to turn others against each other. He says forgive when someone offends us. Colossians 3:4 “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” God wants us to walk in love, forgiveness and grace towards others and for our speech to reflect that. We don’t have to point out the faults, mistakes or sins of other people.

I wish I could say I do this perfectly! I do not! I fall into sin with my tongue way too often. James 3:8 says, “But no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” But we can grow, mature, repent when we know we have sinned and seek to please Him. I want my heart to be filled with truth and my tongue to speak the truth in love.

Father, please deliver me from gossip, speculation, lies and evil intentions towards others. Help me walk in truth. Help me love others. Holy Spirit, please put a guard on my mouth. Help me stop and think before I speak and to know if what I want to say will  do harm or will help. Lord, I know I can’t be perfect in this. Thank you for your grace. Thank you that you always show me grace, forgiveness and love. Help me grow in this so that I can do better. May your will be done in me.

 

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Filed under Bible, forgiveness, God, Grace, Holy Spirit, Jesus, relationships, slander, speech, words