Painful Seasons – Guest Post by Tanya Stowe

Today someone asked me if I tend to fall into a rut during the winter. I paused to consider my answer, suspecting the person’s question went deeper than weather humdrums. I wondered, if perhaps, this friend was wrestling with the melancholy that hits many this time of year. If you can relate, I hope you’ll gain comfort from today’s post, written by my guest Tanya Stowe.

Light and Darkness

by Tanya Stowe

My husband took a new job which required leaving our home in California for training in New Jersey. We left our family in October and headed to our rented East Coast apartment building. It was a long winter without much sunshine for this So Cal gal and I was very homesick.

As soon as the days turned warm, I started taking long walks, more than ready for summer. I could stand on the hill and look across the Hudson River to the New York skyline. I loved the sun and the Garden State’s flowers, especially its giant blue hydrangeas.

Nearby was a synagogue and my daily walk ended just about the time the boys finished their religion classes. As a mother of three grown sons, I loved to watch the little guys come tumbling out. They’d run to the sidewalk, pushing and shoving, boisterous as boys are. But they had shiny baby–like curls on the sides of their heads and backpacks bigger than their bodies. They never failed to make me smile.

So when I heard that one little boy, coming home from religion class, was kidnapped and murdered, it broke my heart. I found myself angry, bitter and full of hatred for the man responsible for such tragedy. He had sucked all the sunshine from my summer. Not just this summer but all my summers going way back to my childhood.

Like a picture book flipping through scenes, I remembered summers past. A four-year-old girl, not much younger than I, climbed in an abandoned freezer. The lid closed and she suffocated. A man trapped nine nurses in their dormitory. In another sizzling summer, a man held San Francisco captive with murder, rhymes and astrological signs. I questioned why these horrors crept into our lives on the coattails of the most beautiful season of the year.

In my own area of Los Angeles, the Night Stalker prowled the streets, broke into secure homes and did terrible things to his victims’ bodies. I was a young wife with two babies and I felt particularly vulnerable. I lay awake night after night, listening to every creak of the house, wondering how this man got in—and sweltering in the heat because I was afraid to crack the window even a little.

That was also the summer I found God. I don’t know if so many sleepless nights finally broke my hard head and pride or if in fear and desperation I ran into His arms. I’m not sure, but I do know my Christian friends exuded calm. They were frightened and sleepless like the rest of us, but there was a peace about them I could sense but not explain. I wanted that peace for myself so I went in search of my God.

I found Him, patiently waiting.

That was many years ago and I like to think that sometimes, I’m that island of calm for someone else. So it made it particularly difficult that summer in New Jersey when an evil man brought such a heavy shadow into my days.

Within one week, I received news that three of my acquaintances were dying of cancer and we were called to pray. Cancer was another shadow, threatening to darken my beautiful summer. In my mind’s eye, I saw it like a black, sticky glob, oozing across a white map, eating up states and lives, leaving behind nothing but days of black misery.

Then I heard that our prayers had been answered. One tumor had shrunk. One tiny pinprick of sunshine broke through in my dark closet.

I knew there must be other shafts of light so I went searching again. I found one in a picture my son sent to my cell phone. His pregnant wife was cleaning house. Their baby grew fussy so my daughter-in-law sat down in the middle of the mess to rock her and they both dozed off. My son walked in and snapped the picture. His love for them glowed from that captured moment.

My daughter called and I heard laughter in her voice as she told me of her family’s vacation adventures.

 Even in my busy apartment building, I was friendless, but suddenly, I found one poolside. We stood in the water chatting until we grew cold. We talked about our homes, our children and oh, by the way, she was a Christian. I laughed out loud and said, “We always manage to find each other, don’t we?”

Silently, I thanked the Lord.

It was a sweet reminder, a gentle nudge in the right direction. So I’m passing it on to you.  Enjoy your summer…no matter what time of year it might be. Walk down the beach hand in hand with your love. Sip tea with a friend under an umbrella. Listen for the shouts and laughter of children. Count your many blessings. Thank Him for them and keep them close to your heart.  Praise Him continuously because he is our hope, our joy and our comfort.

Should that black ooze come to surround you with darkness, reach out. Search for the switch plate and flip on the light.

He will will be there … patiently waiting.

Get to know Tanya:

Tanya Stowe is a Christian Fiction author with an unexpected edge. She is a Publisher’s Weekly Bestselling Author who fills her books with the unusual…mysteries and exotic travel, even a murder or two. No matter where Tanya takes you…on a train down a mountain or a suspenseful journey packed with danger…be prepared for the extraordinary.

Check out her novel, A White Christmas in Arizona:

Can White, Arizona’s bountiful Christmas spirit heal Chad and lead him to a happy ever after?

After his very public break-up from his fiancé, Chad Fletcher is convinced that a healthy marriage and his rising political career won’t mix. Christmas at his Aunt Nell’s home in White, Arizona is a great way to forget. Political watch dog, Tessa Conway, plans to spend her Christmas enjoying her grandparents’ ranch before they must sell it. Neither Chad nor Tessa are pleased with Grandma Sophie and Aunt Nell’s matchmaking efforts…until they accidentally bump into each other and the feisty redhead charms Chad. Is Tessa the perfect antidote to his unhealthy relationships? Can Chad really be as perfect as Tessa thinks or is she just caught up in White’s Christmas pageantry?

Grab a copy HERE.

Breaking Body Image Shame With Rachael Gilbert Faith Over Fear

Do all the parties, cookie exchanges, and holiday meals this time of year prick your insecurities and create anxiety? Do you find yourself simultaneously enjoying home-baked treats and calculating how many hours at the gym each bite will cost? More importantly, do you ever long for the day when you don't stress about your body? In our photo-shopped, filtered, social media culture, is that even possible? Faith Over Fear guest Rachael Gilbert, author of Image Restored, says yes and shares her inside out approach to learning to feel comfortable in our skin, whatever shape it encompasses.  (Scroll down for discussion/reflective questions.) Resource Mentioned: Image Restored: Tear Down Shame and Insecurity to Experience a Body Image Renovation.  Connect with Rachael Gilbert: On her website On Instagram On Facebook On her Amazon Author Page Find Jennifer Slattery: On her website Instagram Facebook Amazon Find Wholly Loved: On their website Join the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group  Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Facebook Group Discussion/Reflective Questions: What resonated with you most in this episode? What body image messages have you absorbed from your social circle? What body image messages have you received from generations before you? How often do you put your thoughts "on trial"? How often do you check your negative thinking against the truth of Scripture? In what ways might a negative body image be impacting your relationships How might your life change were you to feel confident in your skin? What is one action step God might be asking you to take, having listened to this episode? Discover more Christian podcasts at and inquire about advertising opportunities at
  1. Breaking Body Image Shame With Rachael Gilbert
  2. Facing Opposition – Experiencing Jesus
  3. Strength to Thrive Despite Opposition
  4. How God Prepares Us to Face Opposition
  5. When Obedience Leads to Hostility – Standing Strong Amidst Opposition P. 1

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