Tuesday, July 26, 2016

When Life Gets Too Hard

There's a common saying that "God won't give you more than you can handle." I find that such a sad lie. When a parent's child dies, when a person is starving with no roof over their head, when depression hits too hard, this statement can feel like a person is being told to "get a hold of" themselves, despite the good intentions behind it. But God will be your strength when the hard times come, and with Him we can endure unspeakable pain and suffering--not because of our strength, but because of Him working in us.

Today, my special guest, Tamera Kraft, shares a word with us. Be encouraged!

But first! I have the privilege of announcing the winner of our Mother's Day Giveaway! Congratulations go to Barb Peterson! I'll be contacting you soon to get your mailing address. 

~Jennifer

Does God Give Us More than We Can Handle?
by Tamera Lynn Kraft

I’ve heard the saying many times. God never gives us more than we can handle. But that’s only partially true. Here’s the verse it comes from.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

It says in the verse that God won’t give you a temptation you can’t handle. But trials and difficulties are another matter. He promises we will have difficulties and lots of them. Some of them will be harder than we can handle on our own.

Before I knew this, I used to get mad at God. I didn’t understand why He allowed things to come into my life that were beyond me. Then I learned this simple truth. There are reasons God gives us more than we can handle.

If He didn’t give us more than we can handle, we wouldn’t know how much we need Him. We wouldn’t be on our knees crying out to the only One who can help us through our difficulties. Jesus Christ is the only One who can speak to the wind and waves in our lives and command them to be still. That’s good news because I get in trouble when I think I can manage without Him.

The other reason is to grow our faith and perseverance. The book of James tells us that trials are a good thing. They strengthen us spiritually. When an athlete trains, he works at stretching his limits so he can get stronger. He puts a little more on himself than he can easily handle. It’s the same spiritually. God allows us to stretch ourselves spiritually by putting more on us than we can easily handle so that our faith can grow. When I look over my life, I find there are things I can manage easily now that would have thrown me years ago.

In my novella, Resurrection of Hope, Vivian went through some storms she thought she couldn’t handle. Her fiancé died in the Great War. The same year, her entire family died from the influenza pandemic, and she was evicted from her home because of her father’s gambling debts. Through it all, she found the only way she could handle the things life threw at her was to put her hope and trust in God.


God will put more on us than we can handle, but we can always trust in Him to help us through it.

***






She thought he was her knight in shining armor, but will a marriage of convenience prove her wrong?

After Vivian’s fiancé dies in the Great War, she thinks her life is over. But Henry, her fiancé’s best friend, comes to the rescue offering a marriage of convenience. He claims he promised his friend he would take care of her. She grows to love him, but she knows it will never work because he never shows any love for her.

Henry adores Vivian and has pledged to take care of her, but he won’t risk their friendship by letting her know. She’s still in love with the man who died in the Great War. He won’t risk heartache by revealing his true emotions.

Resurrection of Hope is available at Desert Breeze PublishingAmazon eBookAmazon PaperbackBarnes and Noble, and All Romance eBooks

***

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. There are strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in her stories. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest and has other novellas in print. She’s been married for 37 years to the love of her life, Rick, and has two married adult children and two grandchildren.

You can contact Tamera online on her website, http://tameralynnkraft.net, and on the Word Sharpeners Blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Let's talk about this. When facing a tough time, has anyone told you, "God won't give you more than you can handle?" If so, how'd that make you feel? Looking back on some of your more difficult times, can you see the truth in Tamera's post? Can you see how those times brought you closer to Him or strengthened you emotionally and spiritually? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another. 

Additional resources you may find helpful:
Thinking Right When Things Go Wrong
How To Deal With Unemployment
Why Would an All-knowing God Test Us

Aaaaaand, before you go, an introduction. To my (Jennifer's) alter ego. As some of you know, I write more emotionally intense novels--about the homeless, orphans, single moms with insanely busy and unpredictable careers. And I still will, under my real name. BUT, I also want to write fun! Without confusing you all regarding genre. (In other words, I want you to know what to expect when you purchase one of my novels.) For this reason, I decided to launch a pen name. Meet her HERE!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Throwing Hissy Fits


I ran across the hilarious above video on Facebook. Note Mama following Baby around, watching him take his first steps, hovering, then getting in Baby's face. Baby doesn't like it and starts growling. Mama doesn't care. She's going to stick right there with Baby because she knows what's best for Baby, even if Baby doesn't agree.

Mama gives Baby a love tap.

Oh no! Baby doesn't like that! He throws a major hissy fit! Mama doesn't back off, in spite of Baby reading her the riot act. Mama finally walks away but quickly returns and puts her nose right in Baby's face as if to check his temperament.

By the end of the video there's a little bit of love and playfulness, but Baby hasn't completely given up the attitude.

This video is so much like our relationship with our children. Our kids need our constant, watchful love and care. We patiently endure push-backs and temper tantrums. Like Mama above, we may step away for a moment to take a breath, but we come back.

It's always a balance between hovering and allowing children to navigate difficult situations on their own. Sometimes children must learn by mistakes. When they don't want to heed our advice, all we can do is step back and pray. We pray that God takes over and leads someone mature to step in and guide them.

Our relationship with God is like this doggie video, too. He hovers, guides, lovingly holds onto us. We push back. God lets us fall and learn. But His voice is always there, guiding us, leading us. His desire for us is to grow in faith and maturity.

We can't be like the puppy above forever. We can't throw fits and get angry with God. He knows best. We also must be open to hearing and following God's guidance and the good advice offered from Godly people.

1 Corinthians 14:20
"Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature."
My mom, giving my daughter some good advice.




Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Broken Flower

Freeimages.com. Bethany Carlson

Eighteen-month-old Mia*tottered through the lush grass at a nearby park. In one chubby fist she held the long stem of a dandelion; in the other, the flower head. She stopped in front of me, pouting, as I stretched out on the lawn. Tiny arms extended, face cropped by adorable dark curls, she urged me to fix it. Fix the broken flower. 

I swallowed hard. How I wanted to oblige her. But no amount of finagling would fuse stem and flower. 

At last, she toddled away, seeking another adventure in what to her must’ve seemed like a massive yard. 

My heart ached as I studied the broken flower. Mia was one of those broken flowers taken in as an abused foster baby at three months old by my daughter and family. 

Now 17 months later, she thrives. Happy, content as part of our family. The only family she really knows.

While my daughter and family want to adopt her, the judge may decide otherwise on July 19. Even though social service workers will recommend she stay with her foster family, the court may decide she return to her unwed teen mom. This is a very real possibility for which we are preparing ourselves.

Yet we pray that God, our heavenly Father, will do what is best for little Mia.

Just as He has done and will do for all His broken flowers who reach out to Him for healing and wholeness. 

We are each created in His image, fashioned to enjoy a forever home with Him.

Yet sin within and without has broken our connection with the Creator. 

In His amazing grace, He’s provided the way for us to become a new creation in Him, through the work of Christ on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:20-24). Isaiah, chapter 53 expresses His deep love for us in such compelling terms. He carried our infirmities, our sorrows, our sin, our suffering, and “by His wounds we are healed” (Isa. 53:5d). 

Stephen Seamands, pastor, seminary prof, and author, develops this theme in his book, Wounds That Heal: Bringing Our Hurts to the Cross. The back cover copy spells out the contents.

Available on Amazon
"By his wounds we are healed"--Isaiah 53:5. We are wounded people. In this fallen world, people are hurt and exploited. Children are abused. Marriages are broken. Tragedies of all kinds afflict us and the ones we love. Woundedness, it seems, is simply a fact of life. But we are not alone in our suffering. Despite our emotional, psychological and physical injuries, God has not abandoned us. God is not distant or aloof. On the contrary, through the ministry of Jesus, God enters our painful situations to bring healing and redemption. Balancing sound biblical exposition with sensitive pastoral care, Stephen Seamands examines the profound implications of Jesus' crucifixion for our healing and restoration. Because Jesus experienced abuse, shame and rejection, he understands the hurts we experience today. And his response to pain and suffering gives us hope that we too can experience forgiveness and new life. Filled with real-life stories of people’s brokenness and healing, Wounds That Heal offers comfort for our wounded souls. Ultimately, we take heart that God not only understands our pain but has done something about it. Encounter here the promise that the wounds of Jesus are wounds that heal. 

As I pray that little Mia, no matter what the outcome of the court hearing on July 19, will find her brokenness restored through Christ and her ultimate home with Abba Father, I pray, too, that each of us will do the same. 

We are broken flowers, but God in His amazing love and grace has provided the way to healing and wholeness through Jesus Christ, our connection to our forever Father. 

(*Name changed to protect privacy).

Eileen Rife authored Masquerade, a novel about redemption for a post-abortive woman and a foster mom. 
Available as an ebook on Amazon


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

It Was Quiet ... Too Quiet



by Carole Towriss

I had been coughing all weekend. Coughing and sleeping. That’s a bummer any way you look at it, but my kids left yesterday morning for a week at our denomination’s national youth gathering, and I could barely say goodbye. I was afraid to hug them and get them sick before they left.
    But I had seven days of peace and quiet coming, and I wasn’t going to spend it sick. So to the doctor I went. He diagnosed me with bronchitis.
    I had to stop at the store to get my prescription, so I thought I’d pick up a few things for the week while I was waiting.
    My husband’s a vegan (don’t get me started), and pretty much takes care of his own food. I got a beef roast, so I could slow cook it for the rest of the day while I rested. I can eat tacos every day, so I thought this would last most of the week. I added some tomatoes and a Vidalia onion.
     I got microwave popcorn so we could watch some movies without someone bursting in saying, “Make her get out of my room!” or “He’s following my friends on SnapChat!” or just “Mooooommm!”
    I got some brownie mix. Don’t worry – I also got bananas and apples and milk. I didn’t go completely off the rails.
    I must admit it was weird shopping for two instead of five. It was weird enough when I dropped from six to five after my oldest left for college. But this was weirder.
    The house is oddly quiet. I don’t think I’ll be one of those who mope around, complaining of being an empty-nester. (My husband might.) We had our kids late, and I am ready for a break and some time alone with my husband. And three teenagers at the same time for five years, and two at once for two more, is wearing me out. 
     But I’m in any hurry to get rid of them, either. I spent far too many years praying for them.

~~~~~~~~~~



My newest book, The Walls of Arad
will be on sale next week, 
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Only .99 for the Kindle eBook. 
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