Forgiveness quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.

The deeper the hurt or betrayal, the harder it is to forgive. There was a time when I viewed forgiveness as a self-sacrificing act of obedience. I’ve since realized, however, the enslaving power of nursed grudges and the incredible healing and joy that comes when we relinquish an offense.

My guest today, Tamera Kraft, shares her thoughts regarding a time when someone she cared about hurt her deeply and how God not only met her in that place but helped her move forward in freedom.

Freedom Through Forgiveness

By Tamera Kraft

A close friend decided to ghost me. She stopped being my friend, ignored me, and wouldn’t say why. Once in the grocery store, she saw me and darted to the next aisle to avoid saying hi. Then she started telling lies about me. Though I knew God commanded me to forgive, doing so didn’t feel fair.

My unforgiveness put me in a prison. I stayed awake at night worrying about what she’d done. Every time I went to church, I wondered what she’d said about me and to whom. Who believed her lies? Worse yet, my harbored offense affected my worship and devotional time. It felt as if a wall separated me from God’s presence.

Then I remembered all the times I’ve sinned against God and others, including when I wasn’t remorseful. Jesus forgave me of so much—every evil thought, wayward action, and rebellion I’ve done since my birth. That’s a lot, and He longs for me to reveal His love and grace in how I respond to others.

Forgiveness comes more easily when I consider Christ’s forgiveness, grace, and mercy toward me. quote pulled from post

How could I hold back forgiveness from this woman? I may not be able to trust her again, but I could decide to forgive her. I could the hurt from affecting my life and relationship with God and others. And I could pray for her. I don’t know why she did what she did, but she has to be carrying pain from the past to do this to someone she cared for.

We all need God’s mercy and grace.

I asked for God’s help and chose to forgive my ex-friend. Though the relationship didn’t heal, God healed my hurt from the broken friendship. Trusting my friends not to do this to me again took a little, but God taught me how to open myself again to share love and receive love.

When have you found it difficult to forgive?

How did choosing to forgive help your relationship with God?

Get to know Tamera Lynn Kraft:

Award Winning Author Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in America because there are so many adventures in American history. She is married to the love of her life, has two grown children, and lives in Akron, Ohio.

Tamera is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire For Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist. She has curriculum published and is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry. Visit her online HERE.

Check out her latest release:

Lost in the Storm: Ladies of Oberlin Book 2

Will war bring them love or will they be Lost in the Storm?

Lavena, a journalist during the Civil War, wants to become a war correspondent. She finally gets her chance, but there’s a catch. She has to get an interview from a war hero who has refused to tell his story to every other journalist, and she has to accomplish this impossible task in a month or she’ll lose her job.

Captain Cage, the war hero, has a secret that will destroy his military career and reputation. Now, a new journalist is trying to get him to tell what he’s been hiding. He wants to ignore her, but from the moment she came into camp, he can’t get her out of his mind.

Leading up to the turbulent Battles for the city of Chattanooga, will Lavena and Cage find the courage to love and forgive, or will they be swept away by their past mistakes that don’t want to stay buried?

Meet the Ladies of Oberlin, the causes they’re willing to fight for, and the men who capture their hearts.

Buy it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Before you go, if you haven’t already snatched a preorder copy, make sure to check out Jennifer’s upcoming release, Hometown Healing

She’s home again, but not for long…
Unless this cowboy recaptures her heart

Returning home with a baby in tow, Paige Cordell’s determined her stay is only temporary. But to earn enough money to leave, she needs a job—and her only option is working at her first love’s dinner theater. With attraction once again unfurling between her and Jed Gilbertson, can the man who once broke her heart convince her to stay for good?

If you read Restoring Her Faith, I’d love to hear what you loved most about Sage Creek, Texas. Have you grown to love that sweet little hill country town as much as I have?

 

Christ, the Church, and Marriage

We often go into marriage expecting it to be easier than it truly is. Did you enter your marriage thinking that being a Christian would insulate you from struggles, only to stumble–or witness your spouse stumble–and have to walk a path littered with pain? If you have–or currently are–there is hope!

-Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.-Hebrews 10-23, E

Marriage: a Representation of Christ and the Church
by Toni Shiloh

A lot of us enter marriage with a heart full of love and expectations of happy ever after. When struggles appear we either fold under the pressure or keep trucking on. Then the portrait-119851_640struggles get harder. The tally sheet longer. Until you find yourself at the crossroads of stay married or divorce.

What I’ve learned in my ten plus years of marriage is that easy isn’t a path in marriage. I thought that being a representation of Christ and the Church guaranteed easy. It seemed it should be a representation of purity and righteousness.

Then I stumbled. Stumbled so far I fell into the pit, dragging my husband right along with me. Funny how rock bottom shows you your choices don’t just affect you alone.

Then God happened.

He made me see how sinful I was. Made me realize my need of a Savior and His grace.

Then my husband forgave me. He chose to let love cover a multitude of my sins. Watching his behavior, reading my Bible, talking to God, all of it made me realize the truth of Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.”

Our marriage was a true representation of Christ and the Church.

My husband died to his self and gave his life and dreams, hopes, expectations up all to sunshine-923890_640forgive me. He showed me unconditional love.

I was the church. The bride in need of forgiveness and salvation. My husband acted as Christ, forgiving me. We became one in our union and showed our friends and family what Christ’s actions truly meant.

I implore you, if you’re struggling in your marriage, remember Christ’s sacrifice. Cling to His hope and pick the road to resurrect your marriage. Seek His wisdom and guidance and He will be faithful to give it.

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A Life to LiveMia is headed to the famed Nottingham for a month long vacation. She never imagined she’d run into her high-school sweetheart thousands of miles away from her home town. Why would God throw them back together?

Caleb always regretted the way things ended with his high-school girlfriend, Mia. After a chance encounter in the streets of Nottingham, Caleb feels God is giving him a second chance to right the wrongs he committed. Unbeknownst to him, Mia has secrets that may require his forgiveness. Will her past overshadow his wrongs?

As Mia and Caleb work through old hurts and broken hearts will they let the blessing of forgiveness redeem their relationship?

Find A Life to Live on Amazon and Nook.

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Toni ShilohToni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), an Air Force veteran, and a member of the body of Christ.

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She likes to volunteer at her children’s school. When she’s not writing, she’s reading. An avid reader of Christian fiction, she writes reviews on her blog and enjoys helping other authors find readers.

She self-published a Christian contemporary romance novella, A Life to Live, and is at work writing her next novel.

Find Toni on her website, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and the group blog, Putting On the New.

livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about this: Toni shared from experience how she stumbled in her marriage only to have her husband extend the love and grace of Christ. Have you experienced grace and forgiveness in your marriage? Or have you been the one to extend such love as Christ has for the Church? What Scripture helped you through such difficult times? Share your thoughts in the comments below or over on Living by Grace.

As a fun aside, Toni is highlighting my debut novel, Beyond I Do, on her blog today. Pop over to have a peak-see! I’m also on Jo Huddleston’s blog, talking about how we find our inner strength. Join me HERE.

Then come back Monday, because I’ve got some fun news to share, and some questions I want to ask you. 🙂

 

 

From There to Here

Being a parent can teach us so much. Not just about parenting, but about our relationship with God and how He forgives us. As parents, this is a crucial quality to develop. Our kids will never feel secure in our love if we hold on to anger, bitterness, and grudges. So what does God do with a woman who struggles with forgiveness, for others and herself? Read on to find out.

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Learning to Live in Grace
by Joi Copeland

From there…                                         …to here.

Life is full of changes, isn’t it? As the saying goes, “The only two things we expect will never change are taxes and change itself.” Of course, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So perhaps there are three things that will never change!

Over the last eleven years (my youngest is eleven), as a mom of three boys, I’ve heard many phrases. Phrases like, “Oh bless your heart! You have your hands full!”

“Are you trying for a girl?”

“How do you get anything done?”

But in all actuality, I’ve prayed to be a mom of boys. I love being a “boy’s mom!” I grew up smack dab in the middle of four sisters. I know girls. I know the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Don’t get me wrong. Raising boys isn’t easy. There have been days when I’ve wanted to pick up a glass of wine, and I don’t even drink! Then there are days when I am so brothers-835141_640thankful I have my boys.

Yes, they fight. And it drives me batty. What they taught me, however, is they forgive and move on fairly quickly. I don’t know about you, but as a woman, it’s tough to let go of my anger and move on. I hold on to grudges, I bring up the past. Even if I say I forgive someone, it takes me a bit of time to get back to normal.

Not so with the men in my life! They fight and argue (we don’t tolerate punching fights…never ok to solve a problem using your fists). Yet, I find that more often than not, within ten minutes, they are fine and all is forgiven. Seriously, ALL is FORGIVEN.

Over the last fourteen years of raising my oldest, I’ve learned to let things go. We’ve had hard days, no doubt. Yet, when apologies are spoken, it is up to me to move on. Holding their sin against them isn’t healthy. Bringing up the past isn’t healthy.

And it’s not how God treats me, either. My sins are as far as the east is from the west. God doesn’t tell me what I do wrong over and over again. I come, apologize, and He forgives. Seriously, ALL is FORGIVEN. Why do I insist on holding on to my guilt? When I yell at my kids, (I know. It’s shocking that I do, but it happens). When I snap at my boys person-1352040_640because I’ve had a tough day. When I gripe at my husband when he doesn’t deserve it, or when I gripe at him period.

My boys have taught me a lot about letting go. I encourage you, as well–let it go. The bad that happened today, let it go. The guilt we feel as moms when we don’t do something correctly, let it go. Being a mom has taken me from there (the place of holding grudges and sins against others) to here (the place of letting go). It’s a wild ride, isn’t it? But life is an adventure, and I love the adventure I’m on with my husband and three boys!

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COPELAND-HopeForTheJourney_cover.inddHope for the Journey:

Kayla Musso has been married to her husband, Brad, for several years. Having just had a baby, Kayla feels her life couldn’t be more perfect. Then one day, Brad drops a bomb shell on her that threatens to destroy everything they have worked so hard for in their marriage. Suddenly she is faced with a choice to forgive or let go of the life she loves so much.

Emily Sorenson had always been the picture of health, but when a trip to the doctor becomes the shock of her life, she is faced with a decision, like Kayla, to either fight the battle before her or give up the life she loves. In addition, her husband Jake has to come to grips with the struggle before them as well. As he does, he begins to question God. How could He let Emily go through such pain? As he wrestles with his questions, he faces his own dilemma. Would he be willing to seek God in his time of despair or will he walk away from everything so dear to him?

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CopelandphotoJoi Copeland is married to a wonderful man, Chris, and has three amazing boys, Garrison, Gage, and Gavin. She lives in Denver, Colorado, but within the year, hopes to be living in Galway, Ireland. Joi’s love of writing began at a young age. She wrote short stories for several years, and in 2009, she began writing her first novel, Hope for Tomorrow.

Joi’s books include: Hope for Tomorrow, book 1Hope for the Journey, book 2Hope from the Past, book 3Letters of LoveChristmas Rayne, a novellaand Sheriff Bride Rob’s Story, a novella.

Find Joi on Facebook, Amazon, and her web site.

Let’s talk about this: Forgiving can be hard, but letting go and never bringing up the past during an argument can be even harder. Has someone ever brought up your past sins to you? How did that make you feel? How have you learned to let go? Share your thoughts in the comments below. We can all learn from one another!

 

Looking Back and Moving Forward

HopeversejpgYou may have heard the expression, you can’t move forward when you remain fixated on the past. When our thoughts are consumed with old hurts or successes we’ve experienced. We may even begin to wonder if God is through with us, but friend, Christian’s don’t have shelf lives. If you’re breathing, God has a plan for you. A glorious, hope-filled plan.

Today, Michael Ehret shares how clinging to the past can hurt us, and shows us through his experience how we can move forward and see what God is doing in us now.

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Where are you reveling?
by Michael Ehret

In high school, I won a couple awards for various things now long forgotten and unimportant. One award, however, stood out for me because I worked so hard to get it and, award-833992_640I must admit, I felt I deserved it.

Each year the drama department of our high school would hold an awards ceremony—our own little Oscar night in Elkhart, Indiana. My tribe then was the drama and choir folks. As far as we were concerned, these awards were it—the be all and end all of the year.

In my senior year, I almost didn’t attend the banquet because tradition held that the “Best Actor” award went to the male lead in the fall musical. I did not get that role (Georg Von Trapp in The Sound of Music) after tryouts and was still sore about it because I really wanted that “Best Actor” trophy—and now I wouldn’t get it and would have to pretend to congratulate the guy who would get it. Talk about a “Best Actor”-worthy performance!

But I went. When my name was called as the winner of that coveted trophy, it was a true shock. But it shouldn’t have been. Because I had done considerable work on the stage in other productions that year (and, truth be told, I was a senior—there are benefits).

I thought of that moment in my life when I came across this passage of Scripture the other day:

Eternal One: Don’t revel only in the past, or spend all your time recounting the victories of days gone by. Watch closely: I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as i speak, and you’re about to see it. I am preparing a way through the desert; Waters will flow where there had been none” (Isaiah 43:18-19, The Voice).

 

When I think about winning that trophy now, and I do frequently, it’s not an altogether happy memory. Looking back, I can see how my anger at not getting that one role (that ended up not mattering) colored my whole year. And I see a selfish young man that God has had to do considerable work with.

I’m grateful for that soul work, but there remains much to do in my life because Isaiah’s admonition to the Israelites—and to me—is still instructive.

I’ve forgiven the young me for his selfishness in the past, but until recently I was still living (reveling) in the past in other aspects of my life, namely my writing. I’ve dealt with this in other places recently (Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE), so I won’t go over that again today.

Today let’s look forward. Today let’s look at Verse 19: “Watch closely: I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak, and you’re about to see it. I am woman-591576_640preparing a way through the desert; Waters will flow where there had been none.”

When Isaiah cautions against reveling in the past he does so not because looking back and learning from the past is bad, but because excessive looking back can keep you from looking forward—can keep you from seeing what God is doing (or wants to do) now in your life.

This is exactly what I did when I allowed a bad editor appointment to derail my writing for years. I gave up on many opportunities that God might have set in front of me because I was glued, pie-eyed, to the video in my brain of that editor telling me my writing wasn’t ready (it wasn’t). I looked back because I was afraid to look forward.

Don’t let that happen to you, whether you’re a writer or not. Look back at the past to learn from it—to gain motivation to look forward. But don’t look back so much that you end up living there. There’s no real life in the past.

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a418a046dd1af61c5a01697fccf6257fMichael Ehret has accepted God’s invitation and is a freelance editor at WritingOnTheFineLine.com. In addition, he’s worked as editor-in-chief of the ACFW Journal at American Christian Fiction Writers. He pays the bills as a marketing communications writer and sharpened his writing and editing skills as a reporter for The Indianapolis News and The Indianapolis Star.

 

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livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about it: Today, Michael shared his experiences with reveling in his past and how he moved on. Are you struggling with letting go of something now? Have you had something from the past you used to hang on to? How did you move beyond it? Share your thoughts on Facebook at Living by Grace or in the comments below. We can all use some encouragement and help!

If you follow me online, here’s where I’ve been this week:

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting with Mary Vee where I spoke about how God can use deep pain and sorrow to bring about eternal gain. Read it HERE. I also had the privilege of being interviewed on Lena Nelson Dooley’s blog. You can read it HERE–and there’s a giveaway of my latest release, Breaking FreeFinally (Friday was a busy day!), I spent some time with Robin Lee Hatcher in an interview. Join in the conversation HERE, and don’t forget to subscribe to her newsletter for another chance to win a copy of Breaking Free.

On Monday, Robin E. Mason highlighted me on her “New Week, New Face” feature where I wrote about the personality of a writer–I’m truly normal…or as normal as one can get. Come talk with us HERE.

Tuesday saw me over at The Singing Librarian for an interview you can read HERE. She also reviewed Breaking Free, which you can read HERE.

If you’re local, I’ll be at Divine Truth Christian Bookstore in La Vista, NE this Saturday for a book signing. I would love to see you there!

Divine Truth April 23

And if you’re within driving distance of Omaha, I do hope you’ll join me at the Wordsowers Conference where I’ll be teaching how one can craft characters that grab hold of readers on a deeply emotional level.

One last thing. In August, I’ll be in Nashville for the first Christian Fiction Reader’s Retreat. Head HERE to read about who will be there and to register. I would love to see you there!

Other resources you may enjoy:

Releasing the Past to Live in the Now 

A Woman With a Past, a God With a Future by Elsa Kok

Forgive, Laugh, Pray

woman-1006100_1920It’s incredibly painful to live with a stranger you once called your best friend. It’s the kind of feeling that causes your heart to literally ache and your gut to knot. I remember, and may I never forget.

Those of you who’ve been following my blog for any length of time know it’s only by God’s grace alone that Steve and I are still together–and in love!–twenty years after we said our “I dos.” Seventeen years after we almost said our “I’m dones.” (You can watch a video of our story HERE.)

Today’s guess, LoRee Peery shares her experience of marital isolation and how God intervened. As you read her post, prayerfully ask what God is wanting to show you through it.

-Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.-Ephesians 4-32, ESV (1)

Forgive, Laugh, Pray
by LoRee Peery

Forgive ~~ Laugh ~~ Pray

In no particular order, these three elements are vital to a marriage relationship. Bill and I have been married over forty years, and will tell anyone God is the only reason we’re still together.

Forgive, laugh, pray. Too bad I didn’t take those verbs into account during the years we struggled. We both came from dysfunctional, alcoholic homes. Each is the oldest in the family, strong-willed and stubborn. Bill and I are what was once termed “Type-A son-388523_640personalities.” We didn’t agree on most things, especially when it came to disciplining our children.
Our Lord has done wonders in each of our lives.

When our children were small I cared for them physically and loved them as much as I was able, but I feel I failed them by not listening and giving them credit for having their own voices. Bill admits to being absent. I admit to being wrapped up in surviving as a single mom with my oldest, and distracted by grief as I fought PMS during three impressionable lives.

We attended church but it wasn’t a priority until the Lord brought me to Himself two years after we wed. Bill focused on providing. I kept busy with the children, caring for the house, and church activities. He often missed children’s and church activities during the week. He did become involved for weekend soccer.

I’m admittedly a hard person to live with, grumpy when I fight chronic pain. Bill lost breakup-908714_640himself in fix-it-up projects out of town, neglecting what needed to be done at home. I started writing, which placed my energy and focus on projects rather than all the little things that once bugged me to distraction. (I first typed that word as destruction. Apt, without the Lord’s intervention.)

Our marriage survived because the Lord used women’s Bible studies. Through one of those associations, Bill met biblical men. Unknown to me, two of those men revealed to Bill how a lifestyle practice affected his personal testimony in a negative manner. It took six months of going to lunch until the Light came on. Bill changed.

I changed as well. God worked on our hearts individually. We attended couples’ Bible study. We never did agree on child-rearing, especially discipline, but I gave Bill and our holding-hands-752878_640children to the Lord. The control and responsibility wasn’t mine to hold on to.

We remain two imperfect people striving to glorify the Lord by action and attitude. We fail every day, but fall back on our faith, and attempt to accept one another as we are. I know what makes Bill valuable. Christ died for him. And that man God put in my life loves me. He’s always protected me and had my back.

Forgive. Laugh. Pray.

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Touches_revamp_300_FrontTouches of Time:

A decades-old unsolved homicide.

A grieving single mother-to-be.

A cold-case investigator.

Sarah Bishop goes through her deceased mother’s belongings and becomes immersed in the details of her grandfather’s unsolved homicide. Determined to find who was responsible, for the sake of her unborn baby, Sarah vows to seek out the answers her mother had failed to find.

Cold Case Investigator Ford Melcher is intrigued by Sarah’s dogged drive to solve the old mystery. His current case has reached a frustrating dead end, but he comes to believe it is somehow linked to Sarah’s quest. His desire to protect her from further hurt is put to the test, especially when he has secrets he’d rather not disclose.

Answers could remain elusive as to who struck Sarah’s grandfather and left him in a ditch. Will the search for those answers open doors for her to discover the life God planned? Can she accept that plan if it includes a man who wasn’t forthright with information?

Find it on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

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Have I got a storyInspirational romance author LoRee Peery strives to remember the Lord’s redeeming grace each day when she surveys her sense of place in Him and where He has placed her. She clings to I John 5:4 and prays her blended family and dozen grandchildren see that faith. Her Frivolities Series and other publications are available at Pelican Book Group.

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livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about this: Many marriages start off rocky because of different upbringings–or similar ones, sometimes–and there are a lot of adjustments to be made. If you’re married, did you and your spouse have a period of adjustment? Did you have differences of opinion in important things such as raising  your children? How did you work through those opinions? How did you see God moving in your marriage? Share your thoughts in the comments below or over on Facebook on Living By Grace. We have a lot to learn from one another.

But before you go, if you’re local, I want to invite you to join me at the Oakview Barnes and Noble in Omaha this Saturday where I’ll be signing copies of all my books.

FB Cover PhotoPop by to say hi and grab a mocha at the store cafe’! And if you live in the Lincoln, NE area, join me at their SouthPointe Barnes and Noble next Saturday where I’ll be doing the same.

For those of you who follow me online, here is where I’ve been this week:

Tuesday, I was honored to be on Wordsower’s Author Showcase before their conference at the end of the month. You can read my interview HERE. I also had an interview with Anne Weaver HERE.

And last Friday, I visited Carole Towriss’ blog for an interview. Join me HERE. I also ventured over to visit with Debra Butterfield to talk about removing cliches from your characters. You can read it HERE.

I was tickled to see Intertwined highlighted on the RIRS site last week. You can check that out HERE.

And… the highlight of this week? Tomorrow I have the opportunity to speak to local elementary school 3rd graders on crafting “reality fiction.” I have a feeling I’m up for an adorable morning! If you’d like me to speak to your school, university, or writing group, shoot me an email at jenniferaslattery(at)gmail(dot)com. And if you’re local, I do hope you’ll join me at the Wordsowers Conference where I’ll be teaching how one can craft characters that grab hold of readers on a deeply emotional level.

4 Relationships God Wants Us to Cultivate: Part Two

As I mentioned yesterday, relationships are hard. Tanya wrote about two relationships God wanted us to cultivate–our relationship with Him, and our relationship with our spouse–and how we can do that. But there are two more relationships we must nurture: our relationship with…well, read on to see what Tanya says.

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4 Relationships God Wants Us to Cultivate: Part Two 
By Tanya Eavenson

Yesterday, I wrote about cultivating our relationships with God and with our spouses here. Today, there are two more relationships God calls us to cultivate.

3) Cultivate your relationships within the church.

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One way you can cultivate relationships within the church is through regular attendance and getting plugged in.

  • There are many areas in your church that need helpers, like teaching a Sunday school class, helping out in the nursery, designing a church website, answering phones, or even being a part of the clean-up crew after events. You’ll never know the needs a church has until you ask.
  • Be active. Have you ever considered joining a women’s ministry? Do you participate in a Bible study? Attend conferences that encourage and refresh your soul? As Hebrews 10:24-25 says above, we gather together to encourage one another. So be active.
  • Pray for the staff and ministries. One of the most crucial and most powerful acts of love a church can offer is prayer for their church staff, ministries within the church, and those who serve in those ministries.
  • Reach out to others. Whether it’s a card, text, or phone call, reach out to others for their birthday, bereavement, thinking of you, or any occasion. It means a lot to know someone cares and is lifting you up in prayer.

4) Cultivate your relationships with those who don’t know Jesus Christ.

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Did you know that if you claim to be a Christian, you’re a testimony of God? It may or may not surprise you, but people are observing us. How we handle heartaches and difficulties, the way we love our spouses, how we talk, how we treat others, and even our joys, accomplishments, and blessings represent who God is. Not that we must worry about being perfect. We all make mistakes. The Lord knows we aren’t perfect, but while we strive to follow Him in this imperfect world, there are several things we can do to reach the lost.

  • Pray for God to give you opportunities to share the Gospel with someone as you go along your day. Ask Him to give you boldness to proclaim the joy of God’s word.
  • Give forgiveness. Forgiveness is what sets Christianity apart from other faiths. If someone has offended you, treat them kindly, with love, regardless of how they’ve mistreated you. We truly don’t know what others are going through. Perhaps what they need to hear is they aren’t alone and there is One who will be with them through it all.
  • Share your testimony of what God has done in your life. It doesn’t have to sound professional: just honest. Sometimes our testimonies can bless others and be an encouragement to those who now walk where we’ve walked.
  • Show love to the lost. The Bible also clearly states in James 2:15-16, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?”

The Lord has called us to share who He is with the world, and this often requires tangible actions. He calls us to go and love others by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for widows and orphans, visiting those who are sick and those in prison. Find a need within your community, your neighborhood or in another country and fill that need. How? It’s up to you. Contact your local church to see what ministries they offer, but most importantly, tell people about Jesus. It could be something as simple as passing out a Bible to a co-worker or to a stranger at the mall that leads people to Jesus and eternal life.

I’ve listed several practical ways to grow your relationships with the Lord, your spouse, your church, and with the lost, but it takes action. Cultivating anything takes time, energy, and a desire for something to grow, including our relationships. So why not start today?

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Restored_1400x2100 (1)Dr. Steven Moore is known nationally for saving lives. If only he could save his own. Unable to deal with his cancer prognosis, he retreats to a happier time in his past—to the woman who once stole his heart.

Four years after the death of her beloved husband, bookstore owner Elizabeth Roberts still struggles to sustain her faith and joy in the Lord as she raises her two sons. She strives to find a way through her family’s grief, never suspecting a man from her past might offer hope for her future.

But how can there be a future when he’s only come to kiss her and says good-bye?

Buy Links:
Amazon
iTunes
Barnes & Noble

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Tanya Eavenson enjoys spending time with her husband, and their three children. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Word Weavers International, and writes for Christ to the World Ministries. You can find her at her website http://www.tanyaeavenson.com/ on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google, or on Amazon.

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Where I’ve been: Please join me over on Stitches Thru Time with Crystal L. Barnes today!

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Let’s talk about this:
 Over the past two days, Tanya has shared  four relationships God wants us to cultivate. Yesterday’s were God and our spouses, and today’s were the church and those who don’t know Christ. How do you cultivate your relationship with the church? What about those in your community? What keeps you from tending these relationships? What motivates you to seek these relationships out? Share your thoughts in the comments below, because we can all learn from one another!

4 Relationships God Wants Us to Cultivate: Part One

Relationships are hard work. I don’t know about you, but there are times when I get so tired, all I want to do is squirrel away by myself and ignore what should be done. However, relationships can’t be ignored or neglected. And shouldn’t be. Today–and tomorrow, a treat!–Tanya Eavenson talks about the four relationships we must invest in. And don’t forget to come back next week when I’ll share the rest of my thoughts on the S word and what biblical submission looks like in a modern day marriage.

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4 Relationships God Wants Us to Cultivate: Part One
By Tanya Eavenson

With spring fast approaching, many people are preparing for warmer days. Spring break. A quick getaway. Perhaps you’ve starting thinking about what your family will wear on Easter morning. Maybe your thoughts have turned to gardening: the type of plants to purchase, the items needed to start the project, or the weekends to complete the task. In these instances, how much time do you think it will take to cultivate a plan, prepare to execute it, and then get it done? Days? Weeks?

In the same way, how much time do we spend planning, preparing and cultivating our relationships? Here are four relationships I believe God desires us to grow, care for, and nurture for our benefit and His glory.

1) Cultivate your relationship with Him.

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The first and most important relationship you have in this life is your relationship with Christ. But cultivating a relationship with the Lord in our own strength is impossible. How many times have we forgotten to read scripture or pray? If you’re anything like me, it’s tough raising children, being a helpmate, working outside of the home, etc. These aren’t negative things; on the contrary, family and children are a blessing from the Lord. However, we can’t use people or things around us as an excuse. We have to make time for the Lord.

You might be saying, “Yes, I want to have a deeper relationship with the Lord, or I used to have that closeness being in His word, but how can I get that back?” Here are several practical ways to cultivate your relationship with the Lord.

  • Prayer is one of the most important aspects of a Christian’s life, affecting his or her relationship with the Lord. Scripture says that even Jesus withdrew to quiet places, alone, and prayed. So if Jesus needed to spend time talking with His Father, how much more do we need to be before Him ourselves?
  • Remove idols from your life. There’s a misconception of what the word ‘idol’ means. Years ago, an idol was a wooden, metal, or gold statue built in the image of a god. People worshiped this idol. Today this meaning still remains, but it also includes anything that takes priority over the Lord’s place in your heart and life. Is there anything in your life that you’ve put before God?
  • Read the Bible. Designate a time during the day to set aside to read God’s love letter to you. Whether it’s morning, afternoon, or evening, find a time that works best with your schedule.
  • Memorize Scripture. The Bible says the word of God is a lamp that lights your path, showing you direction when you’re lost or uncertain. It’s also called a sword: a weapon for protection against the enemy. Memorizing scripture is exactly that: protection for your mind and strength to carry on in a world that tries to rob, conquer, and destroy our joy.

2) Cultivate your relationship with your spouse.

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Have you ever considered that marriage was created by God, not only for the sake of two people coming together as Adam and Eve had done, but to bring glory to Himself? We are to show our spouse the same sacrificial love that Christ showed for us, not only giving up ourselves for another, but being an example for others so when they see us, they too will be witnesses of God’s love. Here are a few practical ways to strengthen or to begin re-cultivating your relationship with your spouse, and in the process bring glory to God.

  • Pray: for your spouse. For your marriage. For the Lord to protect your marriage.
  • Be intentional. Did you know the word “love” is a verb: an action word? Put your love into action. Spend quality time together. Go on a date. Go for a drive. Just go—do something together.
  • Offer forgiveness. Ephesians 1:7 says, “We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” We have forgiveness through Christ for the countless things we’ve done, so how can we not extend that same forgiveness to our spouses? When we offer our forgiveness, we are glorifying God in our actions, honoring God and our marriage, and possibly being a witness to others around us.

Please join me back here tomorrow as I write about the other two relationships God wants us to cultivate.

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Restored_1400x2100 (1)Dr. Steven Moore is known nationally for saving lives. If only he could save his own. Unable to deal with his cancer prognosis, he retreats to a happier time in his past—to the woman who once stole his heart.

Four years after the death of her beloved husband, bookstore owner Elizabeth Roberts still struggles to sustain her faith and joy in the Lord as she raises her two sons. She strives to find a way through her family’s grief, never suspecting a man from her past might offer hope for her future.

But how can there be a future when he’s only come to kiss her and says good-bye?

Purchase here:
Amazon
iTunes
Barnes & Noble

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DSC_0729bTanya Eavenson enjoys spending time with her husband, and their three children. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Word Weavers International, and writes for Christ to the World Ministries. You can find her at her website http://www.tanyaeavenson.com/ on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google, or on Amazon.

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For those who enjoy following me all over cyberspace… Here’s where I’ve been this past week:

Tuesday, my article on training our children to stand strong against spiritual warfare went live on Crosswalk.com. You can read that HERE.

Read about my heart behind my latest review on my publisher’s website HERE.

Tuesday I shared a fun book-lovers romance story on Faith, Friends, and Chocolate. Read that HERE.

Wednesday I shared one of my favorite culinary inventions on Country at Heart. Read that HERE.

Join me on Shannon Taylor Vannatter’s Inkslinger blog as I share how my wedding absolutely didn’t go as planned. I’m back on her blog today to share an excerpt from Breaking Free. Visit me HERE.

I stopped by Trisha Perry’s blog to chat about my novel, my favorite city, and a novel I read and loved and think you will to. Read more HERE.

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Let’s talk about this:
When you think about your relationship with God, how do you work on strengthening and growing it? How do you work on your relationship with your spouse (if you’re married)  or other significant people in your life? Share your thoughts in the comments below, because we can all learn from one another!