The Unwelcome Stranger

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Early in the Fourth Century A.D., it is a perilous time to be a Christian. Things are about to change as Constantine, the Caesar from the north, has invaded Italia and is about to march on Rome. Livia Arvum, a young grieving widow, is unaware of how these events will soon touch her life. Lucius Marius, a Senatorial Legate, is racing towards Rome with news of Constantine’s plans when he is knocked off his chariot because of the Arvum’s sheep. Recuperating in their home, he becomes infatuated with Livia and decides she is the recompense he wants for the injuries he has sustained.

Will Livia have to betray her beliefs and morals in order to protect her family? Is there any way out of the situation? Will she ever find love again? Come join Livia on her journey as she leaves her home and finds God’s unexpected provision for her.

Available on Amazon, print 12.95, kindle .99  and Lighthouse Christian Publishing 12.95 genre: historical fiction romance

First World Problems

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A few weeks ago my son came over to visit. We were talking and he began the next part of the conversation with, “Mom, I know this is a First World problem, but…” He then proceeded to talk about something he was thinking about purchasing. After he left, I thought about what he had said as far as First World problems went.

We know that in the Third World, many people suffer from a lack of basic necessities, i.e., sanitation, potable water, food, shelter, safety,  and access to basic medical care. Most people are just trying to survive in desperate circumstances. When we go to one of these countries, we are shocked by the conditions that people are living in; that’s what characterizes the Third World.

In the First World, the average citizen has most of his basic necessities. There are people without adequate health care and some live in areas where they are concerned about safety, but in general, most of us have our basic needs met. We then deal with First World problems such as: “Which house or car should I buy?” “Which doctor should I go to?” Which job should I take, the one I like or the one that pays more?” We can indeed be stressed when we are in the middle of these decisions, but if we ask ourselves the right question, we can lower our stress level. 

When we are stressing over consumer decisions, it would do us well to change our perspective and ask ourselves what kind of a problem are we dealing with…First World or Third World? If it is a First World problem, let’s take a few moments, breathe and take stock. Usually, we are not facing issues of survivability, we are facing issues of desirability. If that is the case, let’s lower the temperature in the room and get a grip.  Yes, we will have to make a decision but it will be one born of choice not of necessity. That knowledge alone should give us a sense of peace.

What kind of problems are you dealing with today…First World or Third World?

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

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When I think of change, David Bowie’s song “Changes “comes to mind. The chorus is especially catchy and is expressive of time and the changes we all experience. Which generation would you say has experienced the most technological change throughout history? When I think about it, I believe it is the generation that was born at the beginning of the twentieth century. 

Before the dawn of the twentieth century, men primarily travelled on horseback. They may or may have not had indoor plumbing and they had few machines to help them in their daily lives. Life was still very labor intensive, for both men and women, and their lifespan was considerably shorter than it is today. They were old by the time they reached sixty, if they made it that far at all.

Think about the changes the generation born around 1900 saw during their lifetimes: automobiles, airplanes, indoor plumbing, electricity, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, the atomic bomb, telephones, jets, rockets, satellites, televisions, computers, the lunar landing, and list goes on. They spent their lives adapting to more and more change and by the time they shuffled off this mortal coil, they had adapted to several stages of the burgeoning technological revolution.

When they looked back to what life was like when they were children or even young adults, they must have shaken their heads at what they had seen and experienced. Little did they know that the time they were living in had been predicted in the Bible. The prophet Daniel had several visions and was given prophecies concerning the end times, but he was told by an angel to “shut up the words and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro and knowledge would increase.”

If that isn’t an apt description of the last one hundred and twenty years, I don’t know what is. The technological revolution has brought about an ability to travel to any part of the earth in a matter of hours. In 2017, there were 102,465 flights per day in the world; think about how many more there are today. Knowledge has increased and continues to increase at an exponential rate. What’s interesting about the knowledge explosion are the statistics. To quote David Russell Schilling, When “Buckminster Fuller created the Knowledge Doubling Curve; he noticed that until 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By the end of World War II, knowledge was doubling every 25 years. Today things are not as simple as different types of knowledge have different rates of growth. For example, nanotechnology knowledge is doubling every two years and clinical knowledge every 18 months. But on the average human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. According to IBM, the build out of the “internet of things” will lead to knowledge doubling every 12 hours.”

When I read the angel’s description of the time of the end, I would say we are definitely living in the end times. How does that strike you?

Lessons Learned From My Sons

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Any one who has had sons knows that some of the best lessons in life can be learned from them. The first lesson I learned from my sons was Joy. When they were toddlers they could find Joy in the smallest things, such as playing with the boxes at Christmas more than the toys that were in them. They didn’t need anything sophisticated to provide their Joy, they found it in their surroundings. They taught me to look for Joy in the ordinary circumstances of life.

The next lesson I learned from my sons was an appreciation of Beauty. They found Beauty in things I would have considered common place. When they would bring me a bouquet of dandelions, I would smile and thank them for the “pretty flowers.” They didn’t see weeds, they just saw the Beauty of nature. I learned to see Beauty where I hadn’t seen it before.

When they went to Pre-school and Kindergarten, I learned Tolerance. They did not see color, race or economic status in their fellow students. They just liked who they liked and wanted to play with whomever they met. They had not learned to discriminate against people relating to anything society would later want to put on them. I knew I needed to be more like them and just view people as people…period.

When they were in Elementary School, I learned Generosity. Both of my sons began to see the economic disparity in their classmates lives and were concerned for their them. One son went out for track. He had three pairs of tennis shoes and for the first few days gave the shoes he was wearing away to someone needing a better pair. By the third day he had to make a hard decision. If he gave away his last pair, he would not be able to go out for the sport himself. We all learned that unfortunately, there are limits to where our Generosity can take us.

In Junior High, they taught me to let them have their Independence. Each had to make their own decisions and suffer the consequences for those decisions. Our youngest son went along with all of the other boys in the class and refused to write in a journal like his English teacher assigned. He took a “D” rather than cooperate, and was grounded until he brought his grade up.  Our oldest was suspended for a few days when he turned on a kid who had been harassing him throughout the year. He was ready to deck the kid and the principal told him that if he would just leave the kid alone, he could stay in school and the other kid would be suspended. He said, “No, if you leave me in school today, I will hit him.” He did not hit the kid and took his suspension days having stood up to him. Each had to make his decisions Independently of his father and me. 

In High School, they taught me Consideration and Respect. During a heated discussion with my oldest, he said, “Mom, you always think you are right!” That struck a chord with me as I could be a force to contend with in a verbal argument. I needed to learn to Consider my son’s opinions and not always think that I knew what was best for him. The same lesson came to me also via the younger son. He was a bright child and I wanted him to go to college right after high school. He knew he wasn’t ready and had no desire to go to college then. When I finally quit fighting with him about it; he went about his own way, joined the Army and later worked in the construction industry. Eventually, he did go to college, but it was on his terms pursuing a career he was interested in. I needed to learn to show Consideration for their opinions and Respect my sons’ decisions and let go of my preconceived ideas about what was best for their lives.

My sons have taught me a lot and still continue to teach me in their adult years. They are both intelligent and have deep moral values. They are better able to discern the gray areas in life and because of them, I have learned not to be such a black and white person. I appreciate my sons and all of the lessons they have taught me, and I know I am a better person because of it.   

Wanted to reblog this today!

The Smell of Lilacs

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My Mother died in May when I was very young. It was especially hard on my Father because he had three young children to raise. He was grieving but had to keep going, work and take care of us. At different times when he was especially sad, he would smell Lilacs. It was God’s way of telling my Father that He held him in the palm of his hand. Because of my Father’s experience, Lilacs have always held a special place in my heart. When I see them and smell them, I am reminded that God knows my heart, loves me and is there with me in any pain or sorrow I am experiencing.

For those who don’t have a living Mother today, who may have lost a loved one recently, know that God has you in the palm of his hand…that He cares for you and that He is with you. When you see and smell the Lilacs, look to Him and rest in His love for you.

Thinking of you with love today…Valerie.

“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” Psalm 34:18

The Creator Revealed: A Physicist Examines the Big Bang and the Bible | Michael G Strauss — Reasoned Cases for Christ

Michael G. Strauss is a David Ross Boyd Professor of Physics at the University of Oklahoma in Norman; he earned his undergraduate degree in physical science from Biola University and his doctorate in physics from the University of California in Los Angeles. He conducts research in experimental particle physics studying the fundamental particles and forces […]

via The Creator Revealed: A Physicist Examines the Big Bang and the Bible | Michael G Strauss — Reasoned Cases for Christ