The Road to Ravenna

In this sequel to “The Unwelcome Stranger,” we find Livia on the run from Lucius Marius. She has escaped the Marius home, married Marcus, and is well on her way to Carthage. A terrible storm suddenly changes everything. Their ship is damaged and they are forced to put in on the coast of Italia. Little does she know that Lucius Marius has come home and discovered her absence. He is on the Emperor’s business moving down the coast and is right behind her. When he doesn’t find her on the ship, he makes other plans to bring her home. He has one of his soldiers, Crispus Cadellus, disguise himself and orders him to find her and bring her back. Marcus and Livia fall for the ruse and take Crispus into their home thinking he is a runaway servant. Will Cripus betray them to Lucius? Will Livia ever be free from her obligation to him? Come join Livia in this exciting story of deceit, betrayal and redemption.

Available on Amazon in print or Kindle. Also available at Lighthouse Christian Publishing.

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A Rorschach Test

Life is like a Rorschach Test. It’s all in how you look at it. For decades, psychologists have given people Rorschach tests. They are shown an image of an inkblot and then tell the psychologist what they see. Everyone perceives them a little bit differently. Life is sort of like that.

Each day, we are confronted with a host of problems and different circumstances. How we navigate them is mostly determined by how we perceive them. For instance, let’s say a truck drove by your house and a small log fell off the back of it. At first you would get the log out of the street and place it on your sidewalk, hoping the truck would come back and pick it up. After a few days however, if it hadn’t been picked up, you would move it onto your property and decide what to do with it.

Some people would just see it as a problem and wonder how they could get rid of it. Others would see potential in the log. One might see it as a plant stand and place it by their front door and put a beautiful plant on it. A woodcarver may see the log and think he could sculpt an image from it. Someone else might think he could cut it up in rounds and make a design on a wall with the pieces. Another might view it as a source of firewood to warm his house. However, if you had a toothpick factory, you would look at that log for what it could yield; hundreds if not thousands of toothpicks. You would view each part of it as having potential. Very few people have the ability to see the log that way.

If only we could only see the problems that come our way with that kind of perspective. Every problem has the potential to help us with our character development and add something positive to our lives. Will we trust God with the problems we face and turn to Him for the answers or will we just gut them out and try to get rid of them? However we decide to face them will ultimately decide the amount of good we will gain as we walk through each one of them.

We all get a choice as to how we view our lives and the problems we face. And just like a Rorschach image, it’s all in our perspective.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Image by Edith Luthil. Courtesy of Pixabay

Heart-jacked

Have you ever had your heart-jacked? We know that when something is hi-jacked it is taken and used for a different purpose. So heart-jacked…what is it? Heart-jacked is when your heart is taken away from the purpose it was set on originally. Think of it this way: you are in a relationship and you meet someone you like better. You break up with the person you are with and start dating another. Voila, your heart has been jacked! Or perhaps you were going to pursue one major in college and you worked in a different field over the summer. You love what you did and so you change your major. Again, your heart has been jacked.

Most of us can relate to how easy it is to have our heart-jacked. In fact, if we are married and we work out of the home, we may have been in a position to have our heart-jacked more than once. It usually starts out very innocently. We start working with a fellow employee of the opposite sex who is attractive to us. We begin to share our personal feelings with that person and we become good friends with them. We continue to become better and better friends until one day, we wake up and find that we prefer spending time with that friend more than with our spouse. We haven’t realized what was happening and now all of a sudden, our heart has been jacked!

Once we realize that our heart has been jacked, we need to take immediate steps to stop the heart-jacking. We have to spend less time with that person and quit sharing personal details with them. If we can’t get away from that person, we may need to transfer to a different department, shift or find another job altogether; otherwise our marriage may end up on the rocks. Heart-jacking is real and it happens every day of the week. Just ask anyone who has experienced it.

As perilous as that example is, there is an equally perilous heart-jacking we must work to avoid if we are believers in Jesus Christ. When we first met Him and entered into a relationship with Him, we were totally in love with Him. We talked about Him with our friends and loved to spend time with Him in His word.

But then after a while, our heart began to get jacked. It may be that our work took primacy in our lives, or perhaps other relationships, hobbies, or even our ministry. Heart-jacking is real and we all have probably suffered from it to one degree or another. When we examine ourselves and find our heart has been jacked, what do we need to do?

In Revelation 3 verse 4, Jesus speaks to this issue when He speaks to the Ephesian church. He tells them, “Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” His advice to them is straightforward, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works.” What exactly does that mean? It means we need to return to the way we were when we first met Him. We need to spend more time with Him in Bible study and prayer. We must focus our thoughts on Him, and be careful about not let our hearts get jacked again.

Heart-jacked? There is an answer…let’s take it! What do you say?

 

Parallel Realities

On Sunday morning, I received a message on Facebook. Normally, I ignore the messages unless they are personal, but this one was flagged and so I looked at it. It talked about martial law soon to be in effect, people getting arrested and President Trump being sworn in again on January 20th.

I was kind of in shock at the thinking and showed the message to my husband. I then called a girlfriend and told her about it. I asked, “Am I living in an alternate reality?” In my world, the message seemed so out of touch with reality than I couldn’t comprehend how someone could believe that it would be happening. On Monday, I heard from a few people that thought that the President might actually be sworn in on the 20th. I then watched the riots on January 6th and heard what some people thought was going to happen when they went to D.C.

It made me realize that we are living in a country where people are living in parallel realities. There is such a divide, such a disparity in the news services that no one really knows the truth. One group listens to one news service and believes what it says. Another group listens to another news channel and believes what it says; hook, line and sinker. What bothers me is that there seem to be so few people in the center, so few people that are willing to look at both sides of the problems and issues. Is there any way we can bridge the divide between both realities?

It seems to me that we must stop getting our news from just one source. We must listen to disparate points of view in order to find the truth. We must stop listening to politicians and believing everything they are telling us is the truth. They should be the last people we rely on for the truth as they have a political stake in most outcomes. We must also stop demonizing people who are on the other side of the political spectrum. No one is all good or all bad. No one person or side has THE ANSWER to all of the problems that we face as a nation. Somewhere in the middle lies the truth and the answer for most of our problems.

Do you see what I see concerning parallel realities? If so, what do you think can be done to help bring our country back together and bridge the divide?

Image by Octavia A. Tudose. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Holding My Breath

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Right now, I am holding my breath and praying:

Heavenly Father,

I pray for a smooth and orderly transition of power in our government. Please place your angels around every elected official and protect them from any workers of darkness who would bring violence against them.

I pray this in the Mighty Name of Jesus. Amen.

Photo by Alexandr Ivanov, Courtesy of Pixabay

A Bridge Too Far

No matter where you stand in your political views, you must admit that what happened in Washington D.C. yesterday was A Bridge Too Far.

As a nation, we must learn to come together as Americans. The Tribalism that has divided us must stop. It doesn’t matter if you are on the left, right or a centrist, we must stop demonizing those that don’t agree with us.

Let this be a wakeup call. We must not try to disenfranchise any one group. We are all in this together. And please, let’s stay away from the Wing Nuts on the ends of the parties. They will only cause problems and lead us towards A Bridge Too Far. And really, as we just saw, we don’t want to go there.

Invisible Prison Cells

We can all agree that 2020 has been a year for the books. We have all been impacted by the lockdowns to one extent or another depending on the state we live in. For some who have lived in states with tighter rules, they have felt like they were living in prison within their own homes. 

There is a worse kind of prison than the lockdowns though. Many people live in invisible prison cells of their own making. Their prison cells confine them to a limited life. They may not even realize they are in prison because the cells and bars are invisible, but they are there nonetheless. Perhaps you are living in one at the moment.

Cell Block U is the largest cell block within this Prison System. Those who refuse to forgive someone or something that has offended them live here. Unforgiveness has affected most of us at one time or another and we were imprisoned until we were able to forgive those that offended us. Perhaps you are one who is living in Cell Block U at the moment.

Cell Block A is smaller but still has a significant population. Those who are angry all the time live here and their anger spills out on others as they pass by their cells. Much of their Anger may be related to Unforgiveness but until it is identified, they remain in this part of the prison system.

Same for those who live in Cell Block B. Bitterness reigns here and it repels those who come near those imprisoned by it. Their Bitterness may  also may be related to Unforgiveness but again, until it is identified, they remain in Cell Block B.

The Good News for all of us is that these cells are not locked, neither are the prison doors. We each can make a choice to let go of those negative emotions that are harming us and choose to live in freedom again. As we get ready to start the New Year, let’s take a look at our lives and where we are living. If we even have one toe in one of those cells, let’s get out. Let’s open those cell doors and refuse to live there any longer. We might not be able to change the Lockdown Rules that keep us imprisoned in our homes, but we can certainly change those things that keep us imprisoned in our lives. Let’s make a break for Freedom!

Image by Kalhh. Courtesy of Pixabay

Christmas Gift

The first Christmas I spent with my Dad and second Mom, she greeted me with “Christmas Gift.” It was a tradition in her family that this was the first greeting you gave a person on Christmas morning. I didn’t know what to think of it at first, but after spending a few moments thinking about the greeting; yes, I got it.

Jesus is and was the Christmas Gift. He is the one we celebrate today. What a Gift He is to the world and what wonderful gifts He brought with Him. Gifts like Peace, Love, Joy, Forgiveness, Eternal Life, Healing, Restoration and Renewal. 

And just like two thousand years ago, we need Him as much or more than the people of His generation. Our world is just as lost and broken as it was then. Thinking about how He came as a baby in a manger touches my heart. Even then, He came in a way that anyone could relate to. He broke societal barriers then and He is still breaking them today.

It doesn’t matter who you are, what you have done, or where you have come from: He is your Gift. All you have to do is reach out for Him. He is there waiting for you to ask Him into your heart and make you a new person. 

He is truly the “Christmas Gift.”

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3: 16

Image by Cheryl Holt. Courtesy of Pixabay