How to Pray

We are so diminutive; so small in the universe.  Think about it for too long and it will surely start to feel like we’re insignificant in God’s realm, because he is so BIG.  But through Jesus, we have been given the gift of prayer; the ability to talk to God like He’s our best friend.  We don’t have to wonder “How do I do this?” or feel awkward that He’s not here or not listening.  To pray, just talk as if you’re talking to your parents or sister or brother or friend.

Jesus gives us an example of a prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. “So when you pray, you should pray like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, we pray that your name will always be kept holy. We pray that your kingdom will come.We pray that what you want will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven. Give us the food we need for each day. Forgive the sins we have done, just as we have forgiven those who did wrong to us. And do not cause us to be tested; but save us from the Evil One.’ [The kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours forever. Amen.]” (ICB)

When you pray, make sure your heart is genuine and true.  Talk to Him in all sincerity, because through the Holy Spirit, your heart speaks.

“Our Father in heaven, we pray that your name will always be kept holy.”

1. Acknowledge how great God is.

Begin your prayer by telling God that you know how great He is, and you  cannot begin to compare to Him. Acknowledge the power that He has, and how His power applies to your prayer.

“The voice of Jehovah is powerful; The voice of Jehovah is full of majesty.” Psalm 29:4 (ASV)

  1. In Suffering: “Lord God, only you can help me.”
  2. In Thanksgiving: “Mighty God, you are great! Thank you for the grace and mercy that you are willing to extend.”
  3. With a Request: “Heavenly Father, please listen to my prayer. You alone are holy, and you have the power to make this right.”
  4. In Sorrow: “Oh Lord, my heart is breaking! It hurts to breath. But I know that You care, God. You care about me. Mend my broken heart, and lend me Your strength. You are strong enough to overcome and outlast anything.”
  5. With Repentance: “God. You know everything. There is nothing I can do, say, or think that You will not know. I cannot escape your presence.”

“We pray that your kingdom will come. We pray that what you want will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven.

2. Give your life to God.

There’s an old American Folk Hymn that sings  “Would you be poured out like wine upon the altar for Me? Would you be broken like bread to feed the hungry? Would you be so one with Me that you would do just as I will? Would you be light and life and love My Word fulfilled?” The second verse responds to God’s call in the first verse, saying “Yes, I’ll be poured out like wine upon the altar for You. Yes, I’ll be broken like bread to feed the hungry. Yes, I’ll be so one with You that I would do just as You will. Yes, I’ll be light and life and love Your Word fulfilled.”  Express it in your prayer.  Let God know that you want to be ready to do His will, no matter what it is.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.” Romans 12:1 (ASV)

  1. In Suffering: “I don’t understand what You want from me, but I am trying to do your will.  Please show me what You want me to do.”
  2. In Thanksgiving: “Use me God! I want to be a part of your awesome plans.”
  3. With a Request: “I want to do Your will, but I need Your help. Whatever it is, help me to do it. Help me know what to do.”
  4. In Sorrow: “God, how can you want this? Help me understand Your will. Help me understand what you want from me, so that I can carry it through as you wish.”
  5. With Repentance: “You have a plan for me. Sometimes I don’t go along with what You have planned, but I’m trying Lord.  My spirit is willing, but my  body is so weak. Tame my rebellious spirit, oh Lord.”

Give us the food we need for each day.

3. Make your request.

Let God know what it is that you want from Him.  He takes delight in your requests.  He wants to bless you.  All you have to do is ask.

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you,” Matthew 7:7 (ASV)

  1. In Suffering: “I’m having trouble Lord, and I need Your help. Please help me understand how to remove this thorn of suffering, or if it’s Your will for me to struggle with it, then help me learn to live with it and grow in faith because of it.  Show me Your ways, oh God. Give me understanding.“
  2. In Thanksgiving: “These earthly blessings that you provide are all momentary, but please help this joy that I feel last beyond today. Help me feel this strength and happiness in You, even when I find myself in harder times tomorrow.”
  3. With a Request: “God, I come to you now with a request, heavy on my heart. I know you will listen to me, and I know you will respond. I wish for your will to be done, Lord; but if there is any way, then could it fit into Your divine plan, for…(continue by stating your request)”
  4. In Sorrow: “Stop the pain, Lord. You are the Father of Comfort; please share your peace with me.  It’s too much for me to handle on my own.  This night is too dark.  Please shine your light on me again.  Help me feel Your joy, so that I can live again.”
  5. With Repentance: “I’m sorry. I’ve sinned against you God.  You know what I’ve done. I’m ashamed of the way that I acted. (Admit to Him what it was that you are sorry for.)  Please forgive me, God.  Help me be better.”

Forgive the sins we have done, just as we have forgiven those who did wrong to us.

4. Acknowledge that you are a sinner, and you need His forgiveness.

Humble yourself.  Tell Him what He means to you. Be sure to thank Him for the forgiveness He extends to you.

“For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23 (ASV)

  1. In Suffering: “You know that I am not perfect. I cannot help myself, Lord.  I shouldn’t even have the ability to speak to You, because of my sins;  but because of Jesus’ sacrifice for me, You listen. Thank you for listening, Lord.”
  2. In Thanksgiving: “I am a sinner, I am not worthy, and yet here I am, before You, able to talk to You as a daughter or son can speak to their father. Thank you God, for this amazing ability to talk to you. Thank you for forgiving my sins, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  All I have to do is ask.”
  3. With a Request: “I don’t deserve what I’m asking. I know that.  But I come humbly before you Lord, as a sinner looking for grace.  Please hear my plea, and remember Your own Son’s sacrifice. Forgive me, so that I may be redeemed and worthy of my request.”
  4. In Sorrow: “I am nothing more than a wild sparrow; no one cares about the sparrows Lord. I feel like I could die today and no one would notice. But you do, Lord.  You care, and you know my pain.”
  5. With Repentance: “I strive to be perfect like you, God; but I’m not. I’m far from perfect.  There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t sin against you, whether in lusts or in lies or in doubts or complaints. I’m sorry, Lord.”

And do not cause us to be tested; but save us from the Evil One.

5. Acknowledge that you are weak, and God is your strength.

Admit that you are weak, and that you need Him.

“Jehovah is my strength and my shield; My heart hath trusted in him, and I am helped: Therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; And with my song will I praise him.” Psalm 28:7 (ASV)

  1. In Suffering: “I am weak. Please be my strength.  I fail You every day, please carry me through this hard time.”
  2. In Thanksgiving: “Tomorrow I may stumble and fall, but You’ll be there for me. You are my fortress, my hiding place.  I know that I am safe with you, God.”
  3. With a Request: “I will never be worthy without you, God. You are the one who lifts me up and helps me conquer my weakness.”
  4. In Sorrow: “Please give me strength. I am weak, so weak.  I can’t stop crying. Help me through the day.”
  5. With Repentance: “I can never be right; I fall short every time. God, help me cross the finish line.  Help me reach our end goal, I want to finish the race with You.  I don’t want to be anywhere but with You.”

“The kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours forever.

6. Praise God for his awesome power, and be assured that you are heard.

Thank God for hearing you, and believe that he has listened.

And this is the boldness which we have toward him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he heareth us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of him.” 1 John 5: 14-15 (ASV)

  1. In Suffering: “Thank you for caring about me. Lord, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.  You are with me. Thank you for being with me. God.  Thank you for listening to me. Deliver me soon.”
  2. In Thanksgiving: “You are always there. And you listen, even to me! Thank you, thank you.”
  3. With a Request: “But I have nothing to fear, because You are with me. You know my heart, You know what I want.  You also know what’s best, Lord. You are omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. I trust you.”
  4. In Sorrow: “I feel so alone, but I believe You’re here, with your arms around me. Help me believe, Lord!”
  5. With Repentance: “Thank you. You will never leave me.  You forgive me, no matter what I do or how many times I mess up.  You are so great.”

Amen.

7. End your prayer with the name of Jesus, so that God can be glorified.

Be sure to end your prayer in Jesus name.

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” John 14: 13

“In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.”

Misfortunes of a Factotum

Lori Greiner had it right when she said, “Entrepreneurs: The only people who work 80 hour weeks to avoid working 40 hour weeks.” That’s us!

Kat and I have been posting three times a week on our blog: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It’s been grueling, but that’s ok; we felt compelled to show others how dedicated we are as writers, as artists and designers, and I thought it would be a good exercise to keep us on our toes, teach us a few things about social media and marketing. However, between videos and artwork and Zazzle products and stories and research and all that goes into making games, our  weekend tasks have been spilling into our weekdays, overlapping each other, and to get it all done, it’s almost too much! Something’s gotta give. So… any entrepreneur can relate, right?

We’ve made the decision to schedule 2 blog posts per week, publishing Monday and Thursday, to have more time to work on our games Jabber Worthy and Escaping the Lair (pending title). They’re so awesome and deserve our time, they really do. I am certain gamers will fall in love with the built-in stories and characters from both games, and we want to work harder on art and stories involving these fictional worlds, both to post here and in stores. Just too much to do, sometimes!

We will continue to work our hardest to provide quality posts, and I hope you truly enjoy reading them.

Let us know which blog posts have been your favorite so far. Christian? Recipes? Fiction? Please support us by writing a friendly comment below.

Sketching Anne-Dieu-le-Veut

Through years of practice, Kat has learned how to adapt her penning and shading to match different periods in history. In this video, you can see her drawing like an old style, the artist, Domenico Ghirlandaio, having drawn the picture to the left. Although Ghirlandaio is a Italian Renaissance painter, pen and paper were used even in the 1600’s, during a time known as the Baroque period, with chalk and charcoal also popular. The Baroque period is where our Jabber Worthy story is set, the time when pirates lived.

The character in our video is Anne-Dieu-le-Veut, which in English means “Anne-God-Wills-It”. She was a female pirate living in history, born in the mid 1600’s, who has an awesome story to say the least; her personality is what makes it exciting; she requested to duel with a man to avenge her husband’s death, then fell in love with that man she wanted to duel! Yo ho ho, the complicated life of a pirate, I tell you, always willing to die quickly, always wanting to love passionately, staying loyal to those worth standing shoulder-to-shoulder with, while being redeemed or staying forever greedy. What’ll happen next! The pirate life is quite unpredictable.

Anne-Dieu-le-Veut will be in our Jabber Worthy stories and game. In fact, lots of pirates will be. It’s a blast! A cannon blast. Hardy haaar!

In the video, Kat adds shadow by drawing lines, some darker tones of mahogany brown, some lighter tones, and with different angles on the face then on the dress, etc. The lines are knit on top of each other, in different angles, to create the darkest shadows. Also, she used digital art brushes to replicate the paper texture. I’m really proud of her for all that she’s learned how to do.

Understanding the Concept of Love

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (ICB)

“Fig trees may not grow figs.
There may be no grapes on the vines.
There may be no olives growing on the trees.
There may be no food growing in the fields.
There may be no sheep in the pens.
There may be no cattle in the barns.
But I will still be glad in the Lord.
I will rejoice in God my Savior.
The Lord God gives me my strength.
He makes me like a deer, which does not stumble.
He leads me safely on the steep mountains.”

Take joy in life. No matter how disappointed you are of the turns that life takes, always be grateful that you are alive.

Life isn’t fair. It won’t always go the way we plan, and sometimes it feels more accurate to say that it never goes the way we plan. But even when things take a turn that we don’t expect, possibly even for the worse, we can still glorify God. He’s with us in the good times and the bad times. In fact, it’s when we’re struggling that we notice His presence and call out to Him. So don’t lose hope; God hears the prayers of those who love Him and strive for His commandments.

If you want a truly fair life, then visit Romans 12:9-21 in your Bible.  It doesn’t fail to  tell you what a “fair life” looks like to God and His people.

1. Your love must be real.

This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.

“My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.” 1 John 3:16-20 (MSG)

2. Hate what is evil, and hold onto what is good.

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.” Galations 5:16-24 (NLT)

3. Love each other like your brothers and sisters.

You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you. And to all these qualities add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity. The peace that Christ gives is to guide you in the decisions you make; for it is to this peace that God has called you together in the one body. And be thankful. Christ’s message in all its richness must live in your hearts. Teach and instruct one another with all wisdom. Sing psalms, hymns, and sacred songs; sing to God with thanksgiving in your hearts. Everything you do or say, then, should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, as you give thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:12-17 (GNT)

4. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves.

“‘We are allowed to do all things.’ Yes. But not all things are good for us to do. ‘We are allowed to do all things.’ Yes. But not all things help others grow stronger.  No one should try to do what will help only himself. He should try to do what is good for others.’” 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 (ICB)

5. Do not be lazy but work hard, serving the Lord with all your heart.

“Now as to the times and dates, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know perfectly well that the day of the [return of the] Lord is coming just as a thief [comes unexpectedly and suddenly] in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety [all is well and secure!]” then [in a moment unforeseen] destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains on a woman with child, and they will absolutely not escape [for there will be no way to escape the judgment of the Lord]. But you, believers, [all you who believe in Christ as Savior and acknowledge Him as God’s Son] are not in spiritual darkness [nor held by its power], that the day [of judgment] would overtake you [by surprise] like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We do not belong to the night nor to darkness. So then let us not sleep [in spiritual indifference] as the rest [of the world does], but let us keep wide awake [alert and cautious] and let us be sober [self-controlled, calm, and wise]. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we [believers] belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope and confident assurance of salvation. For God has not destined us to [incur His] wrath [that is, He did not select us to condemn us], but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died [willingly] for us, so that whether we are awake (alive) or asleep (dead) [at Christ’s appearing], we will live together with Him [sharing eternal life]. Therefore encourage and comfort one another and build up one another, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (AMP)

6. Be joyful because you have hope.

Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:2-5 (NLT)

7. Be patient when trouble comes.

“Brothers and sisters, be patient; the Lord will come. So be patient until that time. Look at the farmers. They have to be patient. They have to wait for their valuable crop to grow and produce a harvest. They wait patiently for the first rain and the last rain.”  James 5:7 (ERV)

8. Pray at all times.

If any of you are suffering, they should pray. If any of you are happy, they should sing. If any of you are sick, they should call for the elders of the church, and the elders should pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. Prayer that comes from faith will heal the sick, for the Lord will restore them to health. And if they have sinned, they will be forgiven. For this reason, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve. Elijah was a person just like us. When he earnestly prayed that it wouldn’t rain, no rain fell for three and a half years. He prayed again, God sent rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” James 5:13-18 (CEB)

“We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.”  2 Corinthians 1:8-11 (MSG)

9. Share with God’s people who need help.

What should you do then, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each person has a vital role because each has gifts. One person might have a song, another a lesson to teach, still another a revelation from God. One person might speak in an unknown language, another will offer the interpretation, but all of this should be done to strengthen the life and faith of the community.” 1 Corinthians 14:26 (VOICE)

10. Bring strangers in need into your homes.

“Don’t forget to extend your hospitality to all—even to strangers—for as you know, some have unknowingly shown kindness to heavenly messengers in this way.” Hebrew 13:2 (VOICE)

11. Wish good for those who harm you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemies.’ But I say to you, love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you. If you do this, you will be true children of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on good people and on evil people, and he sends rain to those who do right and to those who do wrong. If you love only the people who love you, you will get no reward. Even the tax collectors do that. And if you are nice only to your friends, you are no better than other people. Even those who don’t know God are nice to their friends. So you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48 (NCV)

12. Be happy with those who are happy, and be sad with those who are sad.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is the Father who is full of mercy. And he is the God of all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble, so that we can comfort others when they have trouble. We can comfort them with the same comfort that God gives us. We share in the many sufferings of Christ. In the same way, much comfort comes to us through Christ. If we have troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we have comfort, then you also have comfort. This helps you to accept patiently the same sufferings that we have. Our hope for you is strong. We know that you share in our sufferings. So we know that you also share in the comfort we receive.” 2 Corinthians 1: 3-7 (ICB)

13. Live in peace with each other.

“Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and everything that is evil. What of the wisdom from above? First, it is pure, and then peaceful, gentle, obedient, filled with mercy and good actions, fair, and genuine. Those who make peace sow the seeds of justice by their peaceful acts.”  James 3:16-18 (CEB)

14. Do not be proud, but make friends with those who seem unimportant.

“Then Jesus noticed that some of the guests were choosing the best places to sit. So he told this story: “When someone invites you to a wedding, don’t sit in the most important seat. They may have invited someone more important than you. And if you are sitting in the most important seat, they will come to you and say, ‘Give this man your seat!’ Then you will have to move down to the last place and be embarrassed.

“So when someone invites you, go sit in the seat that is not important. Then they will come to you and say, ‘Friend, move up here to this better place!’ What an honor this will be for you in front of all the other guests. Everyone who makes themselves important will be made humble. But everyone who makes themselves humble will be made important.”

“Then Jesus said to the Pharisee who had invited him, “When you give a lunch or a dinner, don’t invite only your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. At another time they will pay you back by inviting you to eat with them. Instead, when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, and the blind. Then you will have great blessings, because these people cannot pay you back. They have nothing. But God will reward you at the time when all godly people rise from death.” Luke 14:7-14 (ERV)

15. Do not think about how smart you are.

“Where are the wise? Where are the legal experts? Where are today’s debaters? Hasn’t God made the wisdom of the world foolish? In God’s wisdom, he determined that the world wouldn’t come to know him through its wisdom. Instead, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of preaching. Jews ask for signs, and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, which is a scandal to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. But to those who are called—both Jews and Greeks—Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom. This is because the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” 1 Corinthians 1:20-25 (CEB)

16. If someone does wrong to you, do not pay him back by doing wrong to him.

“And now this word to all of you: You should be like one big happy family, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t snap back at those who say unkind things about you. Instead, pray for God’s help for them, for we are to be kind to others, and God will bless us for it.

“If you want a happy, good life, keep control of your tongue, and guard your lips from telling lies.” 1 Peter 3:8-10 (TLB)

17. Try to do what everyone thinks is right.

If your brother is being hurt or offended because of food [that you insist on eating], you are no longer walking in love [toward him]. Do not let what you eat destroy and spiritually harm one for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what is a good thing for you [because of your freedom to choose] be spoken of as evil [by someone else]; for the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking [what one likes], but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For the one who serves Christ in this way [recognizing that food choice is secondary] is acceptable to God and is approved by men. So then, let us pursue [with enthusiasm] the things which make for peace and the building up of one another [things which lead to spiritual growth]. Do not, for the sake of food, tear down the work of God. All things indeed are [ceremonially] clean, but they are wrong for the person who eats and offends [another’s conscience in the process]. It is good [to do the right thing and] not eat meat or drink wine, or do anything that offends your brother and weakens him spiritually. The faith which you have [that gives you freedom of choice], have as your own conviction before God [just keep it between yourself and God, seeking His will]. Happy is he who has no reason to condemn himself for what he approves. But he who is uncertain [about eating a particular thing] is condemned if he eats, because he is not acting from faith. Whatever is not from faith is sin [whatever is done with doubt is sinful].” Romans 14:15-23 (AMP)

18. Do your best to live in peace with everyone.

The servant of the Lord must not participate in quarrels, but must be kind to everyone [even-tempered, preserving peace, and he must be], skilled in teaching, patient and tolerant when wronged. He must correct those who are in opposition with courtesy and gentleness in the hope that God may grant that they will repent and be led to the knowledge of the truth [accurately understanding and welcoming it], and that they may come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:24-26 (AMP)

19. Do not try to punish others when they wrong you.

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone hits you on one cheek, let him hit the other one too; if someone takes your coat, let him have your shirt as well. Give to everyone who asks you for something, and when someone takes what is yours, do not ask for it back. Do for others just what you want them to do for you.” Luke 6:27-31 (GNT)

20. Do not let evil defeat you, but defeat evil by doing good.

“Keep on being brave! It will bring you great rewards. Learn to be patient, so that you will please God and be given what he has promised. As the Scriptures say, “God is coming soon! It won’t be very long. The people God accepts will live because of their faith. But he isn’t pleased with anyone who turns back.”

“We are not like those people who turn back and get destroyed. We will keep on having faith until we are saved.” Hebrews 10:35-39 (CEV)

“Through these he [Jesus] gave us the very great and precious promises. With these gifts you can share in God’s nature, and the world will not ruin you with its evil desires. 

“Because you have these blessings, do your best to add these things to your lives: to your faith, add goodness; and to your goodness, add knowledge; and to your knowledge, add self-control; and to your self-control, add patience; and to your patience, add service for God; and to your service for God, add kindness for your brothers and sisters in Christ; and to this kindness, add love. If all these things are in you and are growing, they will help you to be useful and productive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But anyone who does not have these things cannot see clearly. He is blind and has forgotten that he was made clean from his past sins.

“My brothers and sisters, try hard to be certain that you really are called and chosen by God. If you do all these things, you will never fall. And you will be given a very great welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:4-11 (NCV)

 

 

 

The Talk Show

“You know, when I invited this newly bestselling, Southern Christian author to My Skanky Late Night Show, I didn’t actually think he’d take my invite!” The hostess threw out an emphatic line from her script, waiting for the live audience to react. They did, with loads of “haha!” and “oh!” and “hmm”. She continued to mock her guest for the fun of it, like she always did, on her comical talk show that wasn’t any more appropriate than the title suggested: My Skanky Late Night Show.

Meanwhile, her guest, Jason Applebee, was sandwiched among the audience with his book agent who wasn’t very happy.

“Are you sure you want to do this? We could leave right now and she’d look like a fool, but at least it wouldn’t be you,” he hinted.  His blonde brows furrowed to show his concern. “I’ve told you a thousand times, Jason. This is a trick! She’s an atheist. She doesn’t WANT your book to sell.”

This book agent only had one thing running through his mind. Why in God’s name would Jason Applebee want his first book interview to be on the skankiest, most ungodly talk show in TV history?!

“There’ll be gag reels, bullying…”

“Don’t worry, Ben.” Jason bent in close and replied quietly. “I’ve prayed about it and I’ve looked to the Bible for guidance.  It’s what God wants. I’m not going to question His plan. Just go with the flow.”

Jason straightened his back, glancing around at the audience he was mingled with. He found it odd that he was placed in the midst of the people applauding. He was quite aware that usually, guests of a show wait backstage for their turn. Maybe Ms. Skanky’s method was different.

“This guy has the cleanest police record, I couldn’t even find anything to poke “em with when I did a background check,” Ms. Skanky joked. “You probably recognize his book cover if you’ve been to the store for pancake syrup this week.”

With those words, the screen behind her lit up with a caustically realistic parody of Jason’s book: Dead at Last.  The book cover was illustrated with an artificial looking face of Jesus.  His smile was uncanny and fake, and he loomed over the hospital bed of a deceased patient.

“That is not your book cover!” The book agent objected when he saw how the crowd laughed. “See? That. That is a blatant attack! Pure blasphemy. I am appalled.”

“I have no idea what this world is coming to, seriously. Death in the pancake aisle?” Ms. Skanky smiled at herself, and everyone including her clapped – a harrowing thing to do after that prank – when cameramen steered towards the entrance of the backstage. “Give it up for Jason Applebee!”

Jason knew that was his cue, and he also noticed the cameras were not pointed at the audience where he was.  They had set him up.  Ben was right, but he didn’t let that change his determination to glorify God with the interview. Though it wouldn’t hurt to let the drum roll hold out for more than they expected…

Instead of getting up and wading through the crowd, he remained seated and bent over again to talk with Ben. “Nothing she can say or do will rob me of God’s mercy. If she wants to play unfair, I’ll play fair enough for the both of us. Just pray for the light of the Lord to shine through all the darkness that fills this studio.”

Ms. Skanky, who’s real name was Cate Blithe, acted surprised as the empty entrance lingered. “And Jason is not joining us onstage,” she said with a faux face.

The cameramen continued to record the deserted door when suddenly; a crewman peeked out and shrugged, speaking without a mike.  Cate sauntered over and repeated him loud enough for everyone to hear. “Jason is not backstage!” Her eyes panned the audience seeing if anything was happening.

When Jason didn’t come, the HD screen blinked, showing a news report of an action car race.  There was one red car, speeding along the highway, flying fast with a trail of cop cars behind it.  Scrolling across the bottom of the screen was the report: “Police car chase at 10:45 in the Manhattan area. Jason Applebee is on the run, currently driving 80 MPH in a red sports car on I-495.”

The sound of guffaws filled the studio as a UFO floated onto the screen. In a flash, the car vanished with a beam of light.

Of course, it was another prank. My Skanky Late Night Show was fabricating a story to demean the Christian author, before he even said the first word of his interview. Jason had been warned… but he said his God’s plan was higher.

“A Jesus UFO!” Someone in the audience screamed out.

Cate shined her smile at the interjector.  Then her eyes met Jason’s as she pretended to spot him for the first time. “…Wait, that’s him!” The cameraman aimed his camera into the audience.  “That’s Jason. Harry? What’s he doing in the studio?”

Harry, the producer, grabbed a mike so that everyone could hear him. “I have no idea, Cate.  I didn’t see him come in.”

“Wasn’t that Jason on the news report?”

“It was…” Snideness soaked the studio as the cameras zoomed in on where Jason was seated. “But uh, that’s him.  Somehow, he is in this building. I’ll call the police to come pick him up after we’re over.”

There were laughs. It was a load of sarcasm.  Lies. In fact, it was difficult to see the truth when the entire script was one big string of lies, but Jason reclined in his chair, taking it all in.

“Well, you’re here now!” Cate appeared friendly and signaled for Jason to join her on stage. “Sorry about your police record! All that driving and then the higher powers just bamph! chose to teleport you to the last place you want to be. Smackdown in New York City.” The screen popped up with a phony photo of Jason wearing “I HATE NY” on his t-shirt and a frowny face.

“Ha, ha, ha!” went the crowd. “Ha, ha.”

Jason let his expression show that he didn’t take the jokes personally. “Yeah, God’s awesome like that.” He glanced around him thoughtfully, observing the woman next to him in the audience. “It’s funny though. The guy you called Harry is the one who told me to sit here. I thought for sure I was going to have to interview this fine woman beside me.” He bent close to the woman and gave her a charismatic smile before getting up to pass her, stepping onto the aisle that led to the stage. “I’m sure she’s got just as lovely a story as me.

“There are so many people here with stories, I’m honored that you chose mine to tell.” Jason looked for his place to sit before turning to the cameras that had followed him.  “But I’m afraid you’re mistaken if you wanted the author of Dead at Last. My book is a beautiful story of my late wife and her journey through cancer. It’s the one you might have heard of, called Home at Last.”

The audience grew quiet from the humor shift. Another kind of spirit filled the room.

That made the book agent beam proudly. Ben prayed Ms. Skanky learned a lesson or two for all the muck she spread around. God would have to pull his own prank on her before the hour was over.

If God answered Ben’s prayer, which Ben was sure He would, it would be a night to remember. This night God will gain the victory on TV. I’m sure of it.

“So Jason, about your book, Home at Last… Let’s talk about it,” Cate said, sitting down in her chair after Jason took his own seat. It’s about your late wife?”

Jason couldn’t hide the smile as he thought back to the woman who made his life so rich. “Yeah… Misty.”

He turned his gaze to the hostess and spoke. “Ms. Blithe, you would have loved Misty. Everyone who knew her did. Her kindness was like a summer breeze, touching everyone around her. She never allowed herself to see bad in people.

“Misty never had a bad thing to say about anyone…” Jason let his mind wander from the stage as he thought about his wife’s struggle, and the strength that she blessed him with to the very end.  Even now, he could feel her memory lending him the strength to face Cate and her deliberate tricks.

“She was my angel. A little piece of heaven in my life. And a glimpse of what forever is going to be like when my life is over.”

Cate was attentive. “So your wife Misty, she was a Christian and she’ll be in heaven when you get there.” She shot a joke towards the audience. “Because in order to get to heaven you need to read Jason’s book, guys, he’ll tell you all about it.”

“Ha! Ha ha ha.”

Another attack! Ben turned his face away from her newest attempt to jab Jason for being Christian and living by the book, God’s Word.

Jason, on the other hand, didn’t let Cate’s pokes affect him. “Yes, she’s waiting for me in heaven, but if you think my book is the go-to guide to reach eternal life, you’ll be disappointed. It’s actually just an ordinary book about the life of a simple Christian woman. The focus of my book is Misty’s battle with cancer and the struggles that my wife had while fighting for her life, as well as the hopes that kept her strong.  My goal with this book is to help others who face similar challenges to find hope in little things.  Little things like hand lotions, mint candies, fuzzy socks and soft wraps to keep the chill off their skin.  Friendly hellos or welcoming smiles were always encouraging, but kind words were the biggest form of hope that Misty received.” Jason shifted a little, trying to get more comfortable.  The chair was harder than it looked.

Cate glanced away for a silent moment before inquiring.

“Jason, I don’t mean to turn this into a debate, but while you’re here, can you go ahead and give your own spin on the popular question? Why do bad things happen to good people?”

Her dark red lips formed her next, memorized words. “We’re all aware why bad things happen to bad people, after all.” The audience supported her sarcasm with sighs and chortles. “But Misty didn’t deserve cancer. Explain to me why you never gave up on your so-called ‘God’.

“I mean, take the tabloids, for example. They say I’m on heroin again and you don’t see me knocking on their door, wanting answers from them on how I’m doing,” she joked. “Well, I don’t know why you’d want to sing happy songs every Sunday to ‘God’ when ‘He’ puts cancer into your life and then blames you with the tragedy.”

“Ooo! Ha, ha,” the crowd said.

Jason furrowed his brows, trying to grasp Cate’s comparison. Finally, he laughed along with the crowd. “Well, Ms. Blithe. First of all, if you ever actually went to one of our services, then you’d know that our songs are not always ‘happy songs’. They’re meant to uplift and encourage us as well as praise God.  And second of all, I don’t understand your comparison.  God’s Word is not the tabloids. One is truth, and the other is what sells.”

Jason shared a secret with the audience. “You know, just between you and me, God doesn’t ever tell us that only good things happen when you’re good.” Jason glanced at the camera to connect with the people on the other side.  “What He does tell us is that He’ll be with us all the time, and help us get through the troubles no matter how bad they are.”

Ben egged Jason on quietly from his seat in the audience. Cite Romans! Come on! There was a verse – Romans 8:18- that spoke of sufferings and how small they were up next to God’s glory… Ben knew it would smack that sarcasm right out of the ballpark! Spirit, come on. Work with us!

“Wait, lemme see if I get this. You’re saying, while Misty was puking and losing all her hair thanks to chemo, ‘God’ gave her an irreplaceably warm and fuzzy feeling that you consider ‘God being with her’.” Cate passionately confronted Jason’s faith.

“She felt ‘God’ in every kind word anyone spoke and ‘He’ was the one who was with her through all those trips to the oncology center… day after day… week after week… Don’t you think that’s kind of  undermining humanity to credit some… omniscient mass for what friends and family are responsible for? Jason. I would think you’d want the credit for being there.”

Jason gingerly shook his head, as if in dismay. “No one in their humanly right mind would want to stay with a sick chemo-patient. Ms. Blithe, what do you think kept me at the side of my dear Misty?”

Cate has a beautiful smile, Jason thought. It’s a shame she’s poisoned with bitterness.

However, his question seemed to affect her, so this time, her expression was pure in the mere, unguardedness of her feelings.

“Why don’t you… tell me yourself, Mr. Applebee. This is your chance. You may not be aware of it yet, but I am interviewing you.”

“Ha, ha, ha.”

Jason affirmed, “all right.” He glanced at the camera, but then decided to give Cate his attention. “The only thing that was keeping me at my wife’s side during her treatments and sickness was love.  It’s what keeps anyone together during hard times. Without it, no one would spend their time nursing a friend, a companion, back to health.  Especially when you know the worst is inevitable.” Jason rested his elbow against the arm of the chair. “And God is love.”

A verse came to Jason’s mind and enticed him to use it against the atheist’s arguments. He and Ben encouraged each other with it during hard times. Romans 8, verses 17 and 18: If we are sons, we are also heirs of God; but we are also co-heirs with Christ in such a way that we will be glorified with him.  The sufferings of this life are not worthy to even be compared to the future glory that will be revealed in us.  Jason’s spirit burned inside him. Christians would alone understand the message.

…as silence lingered, Harry the producer signaled to Cate, away from public eyes. Come on, the next gag reel was due! It was her job to say her lines so it could happen.

Cate saw him, but chose to let Jason talk instead.

“Can you expound on that, Jason?”

Jason continued to struggle on whether to quote Romans. He wanted to, but a gentle peace fell over him with the realization of another verse, one that his wife would always turn to.  Jason knew, at that point, God wanted him to forgo his own knowledge so that his wife’s wisdom could be spoken.

“Misty and I would always encourage each other with truths from the Bible. She would always remind me of an important passage at the beginning of 2 Corinthians. Christians are told that God, the Father of our lord Jesus, who is also the Father of mercies, comforts us in all our troubles and in all of our sufferings, so that we can comfort others who are afflicted.

“I, as a Christian, am called to comfort you with the same comfort that my wife and I received from God. You, my dear Cate Blithe, will not find anyone on this earth who hasn’t been touched by love. And the love of God comforts those who are weary from the troubles of the world.”

Jason narrowed his eyes daringly, considering whether to keep silent, but then his eyes twinkled as he realized his next words weren’t unacceptable on My Skanky Late Night Show.

“There are lots of bad girls like you in the world. You wouldn’t want your life to be nothing but bad all the time, would you?”

Cate could almost feel a poke-back from the Southern Christian man. Her smile widened. She was also charmed by the respect he had for her as a woman.

“Well. Karma: do good and good comes back to you. That is a popular theory, you know.”

“Ha ha ha ha…” The audience was baffled. Was Cate flirting with Jason?

Ben, Jason’s book agent, was surprised by the sobriety that was present. He was also suspicious when he noticed how active the crewmen were offstage. Watching them carefully, he hoped to spot a clue or answered prayer.

“Karma’s a nice belief as long as you’re a person with good karma.  If you’ve got bad karma…” Jason shrugged. “…well, let’s just hope you’ve got good friends who love you enough to stick around through the tough times.” Jason slid forward in his chair.

“God isn’t that. Where karma gives you what you deserve and lets you fend for yourself, God experiences life with you. He builds your faith, your courage and your self-confidence, and then He’ll help you overcome whatever it is that you’re going through. All He asks is that you love and trust Him in return.”

“Oh. Ok, um, let’s go back to talking about your book.  Did you know early on that Misty’s story was bestseller material? Or… were you doing it as more of a… Therapeutic way to … like, move on after she was gone?”

One of the crewmen sent Cate more signals behind Jason’s back, but she ignored his warnings.

“I wasn’t aiming to make a top-selling book.  I just wanted to share the comfort that my wife and I found as we lived through our struggles. Sure, it helped me find my own comfort after Misty was gone, but that’s not why I did it. Not at all.”

Jason reached out and touched Cate’s chair with his fingertip. “I did it for you, or for the woman in the audience, or for the man I met in the parking lot. Anyone could be going through a tough time. They might need to know that they’re not the only ones in the world who’s living an unfair life.”

Cate let Jason’s words sink in. She glanced at the camera, trying to figure out a joke to keep her audience interested.

“This guy? Believe it or not? Hasn’t been anywhere outside of Southern Oklahoma before today.”

“…” The crowd was blank.

Cut it! Harry slid his finger across his neck. It was time to wrap it up. Cate acknowledged it this time.

“We’d love to keep you on for another hour, Jason, but that’s what you get for being the last guest on my show,” she joked lightheartedly. Cate stood up from her chair and reached out to take his hand and shake it.

Ben’s leg was shaking in anticipation. No more gag reels? No bullying? Cate was being too nice. Too fishy.

Ben knew to expect more mischief from this celebrity. She had a history with drugs, fashion, sex, and criminal activity, both under the radar and publicly. Ben wasn’t one to judge, but with the way her skin sagged and her face was doused in makeup… it was impossible not to believe she had gotten herself in trouble again. Tabloids aren’t usually right, but they can’t always be wrong when the proof is sitting right in front of you.

Jason reached out and took Cate’s hand. “I’m glad that I could be here.”

*  *  *

After the wrap but still within the hour, Cate strutted down the backstage hall that led to her costume room.  The producer met her there.

“Where was the gag reel? I couldn’t say my lines without the gag reel, Harry,” Cate caught his collar for a minute, speaking quietly to keep the volume low, before she sped up her pace to get ahead of him.

Harry was louder. “Don’t you blame this one on me, Skank! It was you. We were waiting for you!”

Cate rolled her eyes.

Harry cursed at her insolence.

Cate’s assistant walked towards them and had her own words to say. “The show wasn’t good, was it?!”

Cate reassured her. “No, it was fine.”

The producer disagreed. “I don’t know why you were asking him those questions, Skank. It was irrelevant to the show!”

“It was fine,” Cate reassured.

“No, I’m not so sure you get it! Ever since you bounced back to heroin and your fiancé ditched you-“

“I said it was fine!!” Cate threw her hands up. Finally, she found her door. ‘Cate Blithe’ was posted on it. This room was as close to home as she’d ever had and right now she really needed a rain check!

“Besides, you can’t fire me!  I AM the show!”

The producer stormed off, calling Cate names.

Before she could close her door, her assistant started ranting about the latest. “It’s already in the Daily Dibs. You’re bridezilla from Hell and Brad’s talking all about you.”

Cate walked into her room and collapsed on the couch.

“You’re still on drugs, according to Brad.” She waited for Cate to react.

“I don’t want to do this right now. I need a cigarette.”

Cate reached for the coffee table, where a pack of tobacco killers rested, waiting for her attention. What does it matter? She asked herself. I’ll just be dead, anyway. She retrieved the lighter from her back pocket and flipped it open.

“So it’s true?” The assistant lingered. “Brad knows you better than anybody.  You were together for 5 years.”

“Ughhh… My lighter’s not working, Zoe. Find me another, could you?”

“Do you realize what this’ll do to your career? All of us? Don’t go down that road again!”

“Zoe! I said I don’t want to talk about it!”

There was an awkward silence.

“I’ll get you a lighter ONLY AFTER you tell me that you’re on heroin.”

Cate’s eyes glazed over from the stress. What does it matter if I am? I’d be dead. Finally. Her thoughts changed when she thought of the book cover her designers had worked so hard to prank Jason with. Dead at Last.

Zoe started out the door.  “Fine. By the way! Our guest Jason Applebee asked me to deliver that. I’m sure he’s the last person you wanna hear about right now.”

There was a basket filled with an odd assortment of items next to the ashtray. Assorted mints. A pack of extra soft handkerchiefs. Some hand sanitizer.

Cate waited until Zoe closed the door. She slowly stood up, grabbing the square silk pillow from the couch and her unlit cigarette, retrieving the note that was nestled among the gifts, and reading it as she stopped in front of the vanity desk.

It’s not a batch of flowers, but do you know how deadly flowers can be to a cancer patient? Since Misty’s battle with cancer, I’ve been giving a different kind of gift, one that doesn’t interfere with a person’s health. Thanks for inviting me to be on your show. God bless.

Cate pressed the pillow against her chest and stared down at the message. A sudden softness fell into her heart. Not like a pillow, but not unlike it, either.  It was a feeling she didn’t recognize. She set Jason’s note on the desk and pulled out the seat, stiff and lifeless. Then she sat down and read the message once more.

Running her fingers through the auburn hair on her head, Cate pulled on it until it was resting in the bed of her hands. What was left was a head without hair. She gazed at herself in the mirror.

Anyone who saw Cate thought many things.

“She has an eating disorder,” one magazine said.

“She’s depressed after her breakup with Brad.”

“Her plastic surgeon messed her face up!”

So many opinions and now, Brad “confirmed” the rumors about her relapse as a heroin addict. Nobody knew the truth.

Only one person in her life knew the truth – Brad- and he denied it to make Cate look skankier.  For what? Money.

But that was all right.  Good publicity for the show, right? The more she needed rehab, the more stories to tell.

Cate pushed the answering machine on her desk when she saw the red light blinking, punching in the security password. It beeped and a man’s voice started to speak.

“Cate Blithe, this is Dr. Reilly from the oncology center. You didn’t come to see me for the results on your blood work yesterday, but I have some really great news.  You did really well in your last round of chemotherapy. I want you to know… You’re clean. Your cancer is in remission.

“I will go ahead and schedule an appointment for some follow up scans, but it looks like you’ve got yourself an angel, because you’re free.”

The cigarette fell onto the desk as Cate listened to the voice machine change her life with new words.

New life.

New possibilities and for what? Why?

What had she done?

Knock knock.  “Your lighter.”

Silence.

“Cate?”

Cate put her wig back on, picked up Jason’s message, and quickly opened the door.

“Yeah, um. Thanks, Zoe. Set it on my desk.”

“Where are you going!?”

“Out.”

*  *  *

“I have no idea what happened out there, but you held your own.”

Ben defended Jason as he backed out of the parking lot. They weren’t going to stay for the after party. It was late and good to be headed to the hotel. They didn’t owe anyone anything!

“Whatever pit they dug for you, they fell in it,” he laughed. “Because you didn’t have any problems.”

Jason let his fingers trace the dashboard of the rental car, thoughtfully. “It was a success, I’ll agree with you there.  I just wish I knew what I was called to do. Doesn’t Misty’s legacy deserve more than some lame, sick jokes on a late night TV show?”

Jason flipped open the glove compartment and let a book fall out into his hands.  He caressed it gently, admiring the double exposure photo cover, showing in one place a woman laughing with the blue sky behind her, and in another the hands of two people, clasped in the affectionate symbol of love. Centered at the top were the words “Home At Last”, and the bottom corner showed Jason’s name in smaller lettering.

“I didn’t even make a difference. I prayed to show someone kindness, so it could help them turn their life around, but… there’s really no hope for any of them, is there?”

In the car’s rearview mirror, Ben caught a glimpse of someone’s silhouette, exiting the backdoor of the studio. Before he could examine to see who it was, a light blinded him.

HONK!!

“These New York drivers are mad!” Ben stepped on the gas. The faster they could leave, the better!

“Never say never, Jason, but honestly! I don’t think our place is in this world! We’re best keeping our ministries down south where people are resilient! I mean, I’m not trying to say it’s a hellhole up here, but I don’t really think I need to say it…”

Jason let the book slip into his lap as he looked over at his friend.

“I left one of Misty’s signature care baskets behind. It’s what she would have wanted. If anyone can make a difference, it’s her.”

“That’s great, man. ‘Go into all the world’. That’s what Misty’s doing,” Ben said as he reached over to grip his best friend on the shoulder. “At least as long as you’re here to keep her legacy alive.”

Jason smiled when he thought back to the pleasure his wife had in giving gift baskets to others, even during her painful hours of treatment. She found strength in the charity she so tirelessly worked to do.

“She always was my better half.”

Jason gripped the book and finished his thought in a prayer to Misty. No more pain or troubles, Misty. You’re home at last.

Casting My Vote

Accusations, being pointed from both sides; “He did this”, or “she did that”.  Are the Trump accusations real?  What about the Clinton email scandals? In a generation where movie cinematics are popular and videos can be made by middle-schoolers, its hard to believe the audio, the video, and the emails that are leaked against them both.  It all seems like a very bad political espionage story that’s gotten out of hand.

The truth is, Trump supporters think Hillary lies. And Hillary supporters think Trump lies.  I personally choose to support Trump and trust him.  Whether he’s done what he was accused of or not, Trump has prayed for forgiveness for whatever was on his conscience, and has apologized.  As a Christian, I must forgive him of whatever he has done, or God will with-hold the forgiveness that I seek when I sin.  In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus tells us a story of an unforgiving servant and his fate: when the servant’s master forgives him of his own wrong and releases him of any responsibility, the servant is shown mercy. But when the servant refuses to forgive another servant, throwing him in prison to punish him, the master calls the unforgiving servant back and punishes him, because he wasn’t willing to show the same mercy that the master had shone. Jesus says in verse 35 that “this king did what my heavenly Father will do to you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”  (ICB)

Also, in Luke 17:3 we are told “So be careful! If your brother sins, tell him he is wrong. But if he is sorry and stops sinning, forgive him.  If your brother sins against you seven times in one day, but he says that he is sorry each time, then forgive him.” (ICB)

It’s a harsh message, but true.  If I don’t forgive Trump, I will not be forgiven.  If Hillary seeks forgiveness and I don’t forgive her, then God will not forget any wrongs that I do in my own heart.

So with God’s law in mind, I must forgive and forget what is held against Trump.  I have to strip away the accusations that were said against him; which leaves me with only one way to judge who to vote for: to think of the promises that they make, the policies that they name, and the actions that they take.  You can tell a lot from someone by watching them and listening to their words.

Now, there are 2 other candidates that Americans can vote for, but for anyone who wonders why people still vote for Trump, let me tell you why I choose to support him in this election:

Read more

To Be Lonely

The heart wrenching scene at a grove of olive trees: Jesus, the Son of God, told his friends he was sad. “My heart is full of sorrow and breaking with sadness. Stay here with me and watch,” he asked Peter, James, and John. Loneliness and dread loomed in his head. He didn’t want to be led into the hands of bloodthirsty men, men who wanted him dead, but God the Father needed it to be so. There was no turning back; Scripture had it recorded from centuries ago; prophets set it in motion; but in the hour before it happened, earth’s Savior found himself needing comfort. It was almost too much, and no one but God and the angels were there for him.

You can hear it be said, loneliness is a feeling everyone feels. Yet a single person feels alone so intensely, individually, and without support of another. Would a person have to feel lonely, if others felt it, too? Is it some strange joke that every person in the world feels by oneself, alone, and secluded from others, in a pit of dark thoughts, if we all feel lonely from time to time? What an ironic thought that a lonely person could stand inside a population of lonely persons. Where is a mind, when one is lonely, that he or she cannot feel the warmth of love, or the company of others, even when they may be sitting in the same room?

Jesus felt lonely at the garden of Gethsemane, when his three friends were snoring while he was crying with the weight of the world on his shoulders. “Well, if he had wanted our help, he wouldn’t have gone over there to pray under the tree. I figured I’d just nap while I wait,” James might have said. Then there was introverted John who probably watched Jesus, trying to figure out what he could do to help his friend, yet doing nothing from his own sleepiness. Meanwhile, after the soldiers came to take Jesus away, Peter, who had just woken up from his slumber, in a rage cut off a soldier’s ear; maybe he felt guilty for not supporting his friend in their last campout together.

We can’t know for sure, but the Bible gave us the only information we needed to know; that Jesus was ministered to by the angels and that prayer is the response we should have to our loneliness.

So if a person has a problem with chronic loneliness, meaning it happens a lot, is prayer enough? “Praying isn’t physically intimate enough. Can’t someone in the physical world help me? Why is that too much to ask?” One might wonder. The solution for that is in three steps you can take, although keep in mind Jesus in the garden and the weakness of others to deliver help:

First step: before you seek help, really do pray. Go to a room, close the door, and talk to God until you know how to communicate your feelings with another person. You can cry to God, work it out with him, yell at him, get angry, complain, even express to him why you hate the way it is. Forget about the clock; keep praying until you feel like you can open up to others.

Second step: find your spouse, family member, or friend and express yourself. Tell that person you are lonely and in need of help. Follow the third step according to their response:

Third step:

  • Response: “Yeah, I’m lonely, too.” Do an activity you both can mutually benefit from.
  • Response: “So?” Explain why it matters. If the person is a caring person, you can say how it affects your day to be lonely. For example, if your brother said “So?” when you said “I’m lonely”, you can tell him how hard it is to cram for your test when you’re lonely, and how it would be easier if you weren’t. Maybe if he’s nice, he will let you sit in his room with him or he will help you study.
  • Response: “I can’t help.” Investigate why the person can’t help. You need to understand why before you give up, because it may be that he or she wants to help and just has no idea what to do.
  • Response: “I don’t want to help.” Ask that person if it’s ok to go to somebody else. Like if it’s your wife that says that, ask if she’s ok if you go to somebody else for help, and if she isn’t ok with it, ask her for help again in a little bit of a different way, kind of like a bargain.
  • Response: “I don’t know what to do.” Figure out something that person is capable of doing. For example, if you go to your husband and you hear this from him, ask him something specifically: to rub your back, to watch a movie, or to sit by the fire and talk.
  • Response: “Not my problem.” You may want to find someone else to help you, if it seems the person doesn’t care. There’s nothing wrong with finding help elsewhere if someone really isn’t invested in your burdens.

Getting others help is more complex than getting God’s help, because humans are fickle and subject to their own bad moods. You have to become inventive in ways to get others to help you. Since they aren’t you, you may have to get on their level, to help them help you, by involving yourself in what they’re doing rather than them doing what you want. But if it is physical contact you need, work around the limitations of the physical, and keep trying. Never give up on anyone, including yourself.

If your loneliness is pesky, and you literally cannot find relief from people, there are creative outlets you can take to express your loneliness. A few ideas…

  1. Paint. Use colors to express your mood. You can draw a crying face, a splash of abstract tones painting a stormy sky, or even wilted flowers. It’s amazing what art does to help artists from falling into despair.
  2. Play music. Music heals. It truly does. By expressing yourself with sound and lyrics, or by listening to music, you can get out your most painful thoughts, translating them into something that sounds good and lifts your spirit into some kind of meta-physical realm.
  3. Make a video of yourself talking. Honestly, if you do this, I would suggest not posting it up on social media or Youtube, and just make it a private hobby. It really is easy to get even lonelier if nobody responds to your video. However, if you want to be brave and post it, just remember not to expect anything; do it for self-benefit; you can choose to disable comments on Youtube so that it will discipline your mind not to expect anything, if you start to feel lonelier after posting it on public, and getting no response (or worse, negative response).

If all else fails, repeat step one. Go behind the closed door again and pray. Take the Bible with you this time and open it up and read somewhere, anywhere, until the words began to form new thoughts in your mind. It really can help.

In conclusion, loneliness is not a sin. Sometimes the way we feel when we’re lonely stirs our sinful nature, and we stumble in our weakness, causing us to sin, but the feeling itself is not a sin. If you do make a mistake, God will continue to love you; even if you continue to make the same mistake a million times, like if you feel lonely and start to think of ways to fill the emptiness yourself, for example through lust or substance abuse, God will always continue to love you, forever and ever.

 “ For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:11-12 (NIV)

 

 

Halloween Sweet

Are you looking forward to Halloween?  If you’re like me, then you’re eagerly waiting for (or already enjoying) the sweets that it brings.  Tootsie Rolls. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Hershey’s chocolate bars.  Bubble gum. Nerds. Twizzlers. Jolly Ranchers.  Skittles. M&Ms. Taffy. Lollipops and suckers.

When I was little, I didn’t like chocolate, unless it was white.  No chocolate cake, no chocolate candy, but there was one exception: Oreos, dipped in milk.  The white filled center made the chocolate worth it.  (The peanut butter filling for the Reese’s cup finally won me over to liking chocolate.)

I’ve grown into a love for the smooth rich candy.  Dark chocolate is my favorite, although I like any kind of chocolate.  Of course, you may not be looking forward to the Halloween candy as much as you’re eager for the costumes.  Wiches, zombies, superheroes, cowboys, pirates… maybe even a video game character or a movie star from the past.

As kids, Lacy and I would dress as Disney Characters (I was Esmerelda while she was Pocahontas), Power Rangers (I was pink, she was yellow), and my personal favorite was our angel costumes.  Our mother made our angel costumes made of lace, with little store-bought angel wings and halos that light up.  We had to wear 3 layers of coats and clothes to stay warm that autumn, but everyone on our block marveled that kids would choose to dress as angels instead of witches and ghouls.

Of course, then we moved to Germany and learned of St. Martin’s Day.  And of course, since Lacy’s birthday falls just a day after Halloween, we quickly got into the habit of celebrating her birthday by going out to eat instead of trick or treating.  (Although we did have fun with pumpkins well into our teen years.)  November 1, All Saint’s Day, a great day for a birthday, yes?

But whether you’re looking forward to candy or to costumes, I’m sure you’re excited to celebrate Halloween with parties.  Whether you’re getting together with friends, or you’re meeting at the office, or you’re throwing your own block party, you should definitely bring a batch of mouth-watering brownies or other sweet treats for your friends.

We’ve ordered a few of our own new products to test them out and see what kind of quality they are.  Here’s a video of Lacy showing off a few of our products.

If you’re attending someone else’s party or if you’re hosting your own, you can impress your friends with some totally awesome refreshments or grab bag gifts to give out.

Pirate Stripes Bandanas & Special Edition Pirate Stripe Bandanas

Me mateys! Would ‘ee b’wantin ta look like a pirate this Halloween? Why don’t y’try wearin’ tis pirate striped bandana? The special edition shows a skull on the forehead t’give yer look an “Arrg!” fierce scallywag pirate impression. Check t’shop fer over 50 colors!

bandanastripes       bandanastripescrossbones


cute-lanternbrowniesCute-O-Lanterns

Great brownies for a Halloween party. Surprise, amuse, and tickle your friends. Cute-O-Lantern is a member of a brownie family including: Wink-O-Lantern, Tongue-O-Lantern, Mask-O-Lantern, and 7 more! Check our store for a variety of treats. Oh… and trick or treat! =^_^=


candycorntissue

Candy Corn Halloween Party 10″ X 15″ Tissue Paper

Our Halloween tissue paper brings your gift bags to life, with WILD and VIVACIOUS rows of sweet candy corn.  Add a gift bag from Zazzle for only $2.00 or browse our store and find a designer style gift bag.

 


candycornribbon

Candy Corn Halloween Kid Crafts Satin Ribbon

Our Halloween pattern brings your crafting to life, with WILD and VIVACIOUS rows of sweet candy corn.

 

 


frogcandytinsPack of 10 Chocolate Frog Candy Tins

Rectangle     Big Round    Small Round

Are you a teacher? Give this simply adorable candy tin out to your class this Halloween! Your students will love the cute frog who is as sweet as the candy inside. You can change the quantity before purchasing.

 


piratepartyfavors

12 Skull and Crossbones Chewing Gum Party Favors

“Dead men tell no tales” SO THEY SAY… Har har! We know o’better. Don’t we? Whether yer theme be scary Halloween, Talk Like a Pirate Day, a haunted birthday party, or just horrifying entertainment, these chewing gums are the best. Pick yer flavor and be on with it! Yar, matey.

witchbrewWitch’s Brew: Hot Chocolate Drink Mix

A great Halloween treat, and a fun treat for kids and adults. The colorful drink mixes will seem like magic to the senses of your guests at the party you throw, but you know what it really is: it’s a witch’s cocktail, brewed right in your own kitchen.

 


pumpkinspicemugPumpkin Spice Mug

11 Oz     15 Oz

The Pumpkin Spice mug would be a truly “feel good” addition to your kitchen cabinet. It’s for that comforting time of year, when the air is chilly, during September through December. Whether you like coffee, hot cocoa, cider, or tea – even egg nog goes great in a mug! – it’s going to be SO good with the orange reminder of the season.

 

 

Black Beans and Tofu Tacos

My family loves taco night. They basically boycott the restaurants now because nothing is healthier and more delicious then tofu tacos. I know, sounds weird… tofu is primarily known for its Asian origin, because its soy, but making a great meat substitute, it is a good source of protein and has less fat than beef.

My tacos are not the easiest ones around to make, but they’re not too hard, either. You will need to use an oven to heat the shells, a skillet to heat the meat, and a knife to chop fresh garlic and onions. You’ll also have to have tissues to wipe your crying eyes (haha).

Ingredients

  • 1 package (14 oz) extra firm tofu
  • 3 to 6 fresh garlic cloves
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 12 taco shells

Step 1: Prepare.  Gather all your ingredients and get them ready to use.

Step 2: Finely mince the tofu, the onion, and the garlic.  After you drain the tofu and pull it out of the package, mince the three ingredients; the finer you mince, the better the chance you can hide undesirables from a picky eater. For example, my family doesn’t like big and noticeable onions, and prefer the tofu not to be in big chunks, so there will be more balance to the flavor.

Step 3: Put the tofu into the skillet with 2 tablespoons of oil. Mix the onion and garlic into the skillet with the tofu. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring frequently to keep the tofu from sticking to the pan.  Once the tofu begins to stick, it will  begin to look a little brown on the pan. At this point, do step 4.

Step 4: Drain the black beans and pour them into the skillet.

Step 5: Mix the taco seasoning into the tofu-bean mix and cook using the directions of the seasoning.  When we cook tacos, we like to use half the seasoning package, because there are some who have trouble eating foods that go heavy on the spices. If you use the whole package, like you’re meant to do, the tofu is going to turn out more orange and look less like a “black and white” mixture.

Step 6: Arrange the taco shells onto a pan.  Sprinkle cheese into the bottom of each shell and place it in the oven for 5 minutes.

Step 7: Remove the taco shells from the oven and divide the tofu mixture evenly into each shell. Then put the tacos back in the oven and cook for 5 more minutes.

You can prepare your tacos any way you like.  My family typically likes to have it with lettuce, tomato, salsa, sour cream, black olives, and extra cheese sprinkled on top.   We also make Quick and Creamy Pinto Beans and Natural Avocado and Lemon Guacamole to serve with flour tortillas, when we have the ingredients on hand.

tofutacorecipe