Peer Pressure

When we think of peer pressure, our minds automatically go to teens. We are concerned with the friends they have because we know that they will influence their decisions, both positive and negative. Peer pressure is real and it begins a lot earlier than the teenage years. Peer pressure begins the moment we begin to make friends. We are only human and want to be accepted by those in our social circles and so from the time we make our first friend, we begin to experience it.

Peer pressure is a strong driving force but it doesn’t end when we graduate from high school. It continues on through college and as we get out into the workforce. Depending on where we find employment, we may begin to experience something stronger than peer pressure; it is corporate pressure. It is the pressure our corporation puts on its employees to think and conform to its particular agenda, political or otherwise.

If you decide you want to go into public service, you open yourself up to a stronger pressure than corporate pressure, it is political pressure. This pressure comes at you from all sides, political and otherwise as people want their agendas enacted by their elected officials.

If you happen to make it into state or national office, you face an even stronger pressure, it is societal pressure. The whole of society looks to you and pressures you to again follow their agenda, whatever it happens to be at the time. As we know, most politicians buckle under that pressure sooner or later. We all remember the name, Pontius Pilate. He was the governor of Judea at the time Jesus was brought before him. The political leaders wanted Jesus crucified but Pilate realized they were jealous of Him and he didn’t want to give in to them. Pilate would not go along with Jesus’ accusers in the beginning, but when the crowd began screaming for His death, he caved into the pressure.

No one is immune to peer pressure, corporate pressure, political pressure or societal pressure. We must all deal with a certain level of it wherever we find ourselves. So how do we deal with it? We can rely on our own strength and hope we can withstand whatever we are faced with, but I don’t think that is a very strong place to stand. We are all human, and we have been dealing with this pressure in one form or another from the time we were youngsters, and we didn’t always do so well when faced with it.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we must recognize that the only way we will be able to stand in a society that continues to deteriorate morally, ethically and spiritually, is to stand in the strength that He can give us. We must look to Him and ask Him for the strength to stand against whatever we are facing each day.

“Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Ephesians 6:10

Image by Zibal Media, Courtesy of Pixabay.

7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers

Need a good book to read this summer to inspire you to keep writing? I recommend  “7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers.” It is a collection of essays written by writers of InScribe, a Christian Writer’s Fellowship in Canada. I first found it when I was looking through Kimberley Payne’s books on Amazon. Kimberley is just one of the writers of this book.

I would love to introduce you to Kimberley. She is a motivational speaker, author and writer of spiritual and physical fitness topics. Her devotional writings relate to raising a family, pursuing a healthy lifestyle and everyday experiences that include building a relationship with God. Kimberley has written over twenty books (most available on Kindle) for adults and children alike. You can visit her website at kimberleypayne.com.

 

A brief list of her books include: Fit for Faith, Trees in the Bible, Animals in the Bible, Oma Loves Her Grandbug, Feed Your Spirit, Fit For Prayer, The Four Habits of Raising Joy Filled Kids, ABC’s of Psalms for Kids, and Food for Thought.

Why not check them out today on Amazon.com?

Post-COVID Stress Disorder

Have you noticed the news lately? Are you wondering what is going on? We see mass shootings routinely, people on airplanes going bonkers when asked to put a mask on, people in stores attacking others for not wearing a mask. Just a cursory glance at the headlines would make one think that something is up.

There are lots of reasons that crime and disorderly incidents are up and I am not trying to gloss over the fundamental problems of cities that have defunded the police and/or are releasing felons without bail. But I believe that something more is at play here.

Lately when I read the news, I have wondered if many in our nation are suffering from Post COVID Stress Disorder. There is something going on in our society as a whole and I believe that as a nation we have been traumatized by the societal problems created by COVID. I didn’t know if such a condition exists but I recently read an article by Dr. Caelan Soma titled, “Post-Covid Stress Disorder and Pandemic Trauma and Stress Experience.”

The article was written in February before society began to open up and return to normal. People were feeling this stress then and I believe that many are still suffering from it after almost a year of lockdowns and economic hardships. She states that many have suffered traumatic stress due to: “severe illness, hospitalization, witnessing death and extreme exposure to COVID-19 details.”

Many of us have not experienced that level of traumatic stress but most of us have experienced some of these general stressors she talks about: “COVID-19 exposure and quarantine, social isolation, employment and/or income loss, working at home with children, being a caregiver or making difficult decisions about health, education, finances, etc.”

Before we dismiss the idea that we have not suffered some form of stress from the pandemic, let’s ask ourselves how did it affect us personally? If nothing else, how did it feel to go to the store after the hoarders had bought out the toilet paper, cleaning wipes and most of the canned food? How did it feel to listen to the constant harping about COVID on the news with the death statistics on the screen every minute of every day?

I believe we have all been through a great deal this past year and we should not discount it. Most of us know of someone who died or who became very ill from COVID. Many were unable to work and had to shutter their businesses at great financial cost. We have been through a lot and we have been through it together as a society. Like it or not, the COVID pandemic has affected us all to one degree or another. We will never take for granted buying a package of toilet paper or Clorox wipes at the store. We related to people through a mask for more than twelve months. The social isolation was hell for those who live alone and were not permitted out to visit their relatives or have their relatives in.

While we watch the puzzling behavior of people in the airplanes or at the stores, let’s keep in mind the COVID Stress Disorder. Many are suffering from it and they have no idea why they feel the way they do and why they are acting the way the are. The Disorder is real and many continue to experience the effects of the trauma and stress they have been through.

Photo by Gerd Altman. Courtesy of Pixabay

Broken Crayons Still Color

A few weeks ago, I was listening to Shelley Hitz talk about her story of addiction. She titled it, “Broken Crayons Still Color.” I loved that illustration with the hope it brought to my mind. A few days later, one of my friends was telling me about a daughter she lost. As she was telling me about her, a thought came into my mind and wouldn’t leave, “Her daughter was a broken crayon.”

You see, we are all broken crayons, but some of us are broken earlier than others. Her daughter had dealt with many things most of us don’t have to deal with. She dealt with them from the time she was a child. She was a lovely crayon and her colors were truly amazing when she was younger, but there was a time when she was older that the colors began to darken.

As my friend told us, her daughter dealt with drug addiction for many years. Those of us who have dealt with it or had members of our family and friends deal with it know the darkness that can affect their lives and the struggles they deal with. People outside of the circle of close family and friends may still see their bright colors, but those closest have seen and felt the darker hues as they struggle with the ups and downs, the highs and lows.

When we think of our family and friends who have struggled with those things, let us remember the bright colors they brought into our lives, let the darker hues fade and let’s remember them for who they truly were. Those that wanted to make a clean start and begin a new life each day. The people who bravely faced their struggles and who still held onto hope that someday their lives would be different.

Many of them are whole now; they are no longer broken crayons. They are experiencing the beauty and joy of heaven with a God that loved them from the moment they were conceived. A God who was willing to die for them in order to bring them into his Presence when the time came. For this we can be truly thankful.

As we remember them, let us not forget our own brokenness or that of those around us. Let us love each other and share the beauty of our own colors with each and everyone we encounter. Let us keep in mind that many people struggle in silence and only show us their bright colors but they may be experiencing darker hues in their lives. And above all, let us be kind to each other as we never know how fragile the broken crayon next to us is.

Image by Borka Szalbo’. Coutesty of Pixabay.

Fourth Blogiversary Giveaway

Today is my Fourth Blogiversary! I am so grateful to all of you who have read, commented or shared this blog with others! I want to say a Big Thank You to all of you!

I will be giving away a copy of one of my books to four people.

Rules: You must live in the U.S.

Choose one of the books, comment and choose print or ebook.

I will choose the winners in five days!

Cost vs. Value

Have you ever thought about the way you determine the value of something? Isn’t it usually determined by its cost? Let’s look at a few examples:

MERCHANDISE: Let’s say you get a great deal on something of value; say a ring. You are really happy to have gotten it at such a good price but there is a part of you that doesn’t quite give it the same value it would if you had paid full price for it. It’s just the way our minds work.

INHERITANCE: Have you ever gotten some money through an inheritance? Maybe the people who left it to you scrimped and saved in order to leave it to you. But because it didn’t cost you anything, you may not give the money the same value they did. Possibly you might spend the money on that new truck you have always wanted instead of investing it into your mortgage. You see, free money doesn’t always have the same value as money we had to earn.

SALVATION: We have heard of God’s free gift of salvation many times but because it doesn’t cost us anything, we don’t give it the value it deserves. We want to earn our way to heaven, we want to pay the price for it but that’s not the way it works. Someone Else paid a tremendous cost for it and we must accept it as the free gift it is.

Think about it this way. Someone leaves you a beautiful house. It is free to you but it is going to cost you a lot to live in it and maintain it. That is the way Salvation through Jesus Christ is. He gives it to us freely, but we will be paying a cost as we go along. If we accept it, it will:

Cost us our friends at the bar when we quit hanging around there every night.

Cost us our popularity when we quit sleeping with every person we date.

Cost us our money when we quit selling drugs and have to get a minimum wage job.

Cost us our job when we quit lying for our boss who is stealing from his boss.

The list goes on and on. Each one of us can write a list of things that our salvation has cost us. But the value of it, the sheer eternal value of it is priceless.

Don’t confuse cost with value or you will miss the greatest life-changing opportunity you will ever get.

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Matthew 16: 24-26

Image by Steve Bussime. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Pearl

Friday evening I read a summary of Dana Perino’s book, “Everything Will Be Okay.” She offers advice for young women on how to pursue a successful career. One of her pieces of advice is, “Get a mentor.” She then talked about some of her mentors and then mentioned that one woman was a mentor for her whom she had not actually met. She was inspired by her example and followed her example in giving to others.

As I lay in bed Friday evening, I thought to myself, “Who would have been a mentor for me in my writing journey?” The first name that popped into my mind was Pearl. Pearl? Why I had not even begun writing when I met her and we never even talked about writing. Then I began to think about her life.

When I met Pearl, she was already in her seventies. She was sweet, shy and retiring. If you were in a crowd, Pearl would probably not speak in front of a a lot of people. She was the quiet one in the background. Again I asked myself, “Why Pearl?” And then memories of her came flooding back.

For decades, Pearl had written tracts with Bible verses on them. She started doing this years before the computer age. She would type them out, take them to a printer and then use them to reach others. Her daughter told me she remembered her mom taking her throughout the neighborhood sharing them with the people she met. She also remembers her sharing them with the homeless.

I remember Pearl going to our one and only mall in the small town I lived in. She would go there, sit and visit with people. She would share her faith and share her tracts. If they had a problem, I am sure she would pray for them. She continued to do this even into her eighties when she couldn’t drive. She would get a ride to the mall, stay there for several hours and then get a ride home. She must have impacted hundreds if not thousands of lives.

So why was Pearl a mentor for me? For starters, she began writing on her own. I’d bet money she never took a seminar or class on how to do it. She wrote what she wanted to say, took the initiative and had her work printed. She used her work to share the gospel with those that needed to hear it. Aside from raising her family, I believe this was probably Pearl’s life’s work. She continued doing this until she was no longer able. For me, she was an example of quiet courage.

When I started writing, I didn’t know any woman authors. I didn’t know any one who was doing what I was doing. As time went by, I met people who encouraged me, taught me and helped hone my skills. Eventually, I met authors and writers who were also following their calling and pursuing it. Each one mentored me in their own way, but it was Pearl who gave me the courage to strike out on my own and do what I felt called to do.

So thank you, Pearl. Although, you have gone to your reward. I want to say “Thank you for being such an example of quiet courage.” Your example gave me the courage to start and stay with my calling.

Image by M. Magge. Courtesy of Pixabay.

The Unwelcome Stranger

“I really enjoyed this wonderful book with a great story of faith. Also I was really obsessed with experiencing the weaving of hope, loss and love in the lives of people you will come to really care about while reading this book. A highly recommended book and a very well written work of fiction.” Ramona Portelli (for entire review, visit Ramona Portelli.com)

Book Summary: Early in the fourth century, 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 injured on the Arvum’s property. 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.com in print or ebook.

genre: historical fiction/romance

It was Love that held Him there…

Sometime between 1574 and 1577, St. John of the Cross was in Avila, Spain. He had a vision of the crucifixion of Christ and later made a drawing of what he saw in his vision.  Salvador Dali saw St. John’s drawing and then added his own interpretation in order to make this painting. What I love about this painting, is that if you look closely, you will see that Christ is hanging above the earth and has no nails holding His hands or feet to the cross. He is held there by the love He had for humanity. We are looking down on Him and see Him from The Father’s perspective. You will also see seven mountains below the cross which represent the seven continents, signifying that Christ died for the entire world. In the foreground, there is a boat with men standing by ready to go out as they prepare their nets in order to fish for men. 

Of all the paintings I have seen of Christ on the cross, including those dating back several centuries, this is my favorite. To me, it signifies the universality of Christ’s death. As you think about Christ on the cross this week, I hope you will keep this image in your mind also. Remember, it was Love that held Him there.

“Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29