Now Free on Kindle!

SweetFreedomCover

All Affra wanted was to find love–real love, but her desperation led her into the arms of an angry, lust-filled man, a man who, like all the others she’d known, used her for his pleasure than tossed her aside. But one afternoon, she met another man–one unlike any she’d known before. Could this man love her, truly love her? And would she let him, or would her past wounds keep her heart barricaded?

He grew up in a God-fearing, loving home. So how did he end up on the streets of California addicted to heroine, not caring if he lived or died?

Not long after learning of her pregnancy, Kelly Liberto’s doctor delivered terrifying news. She had cancer. While pregnant. How could cancer turn into a blessing? When it leads to a deeper unveiling and an even deeper healing–healing of wounds she wasn’t even aware she had!

A night in the hospital plunged Jodie Bailey, author of Freefall, into deep emotional bondage, a bondage that not only trapped her heart, but kept her physically trapped in the four walls of her home. Friends couldn’t help. Psychiatrists were at a loss. What would it take to help her break free of “these” four walls?

Marriage. True love … tainted by an ugly addiction–one that threatened to destroy Joanne Joy Underwood and her precious sons. What would it take for her to break free of her husband’s toxic addiction?

Gail Pallotta, author of Stopped Cold shares a beautiful fictional story of a grandmother who appears to have lost all hope, all drive for living. How can simple slivers of fabric reignite the flame within?

Melissa Finnegan tells a beautiful story of one woman, abandoned by her husband, who needs to learn to love again. But can she release her pain and unveil her shrouded heart in order to do so? (Currently on her blog, Melissa talks about how God led her to write her story, Burned. You can read about that here.)

Tanya Eavanson, author of Unconditional, talks about the freedom found in surrendering our wounds to Christ and trusting in Him and Him alone for our healing. (Tanya will be on television Monday. I imagine you can find out more by visiting her blog and leaving her a comment asking about it.)

Beth Farley’s beautiful poems stir our hearts afresh with love for our gentle, gracious, all-powerful Savior.

Elizabeth Veldboom had every right to be angry, but would feeding her anger and bitterness lead to emotional bondage?

I know many of you have already received the free PDF version of Sweet Freedom. You should be able to read this on your ereader, however, if you’d prefer to download the Kindle version, you can now do so for free! (Through July 7th.) Feel free to share the below link with anyone you believe might be blessed by this compilation. Our desire is that each story will stir your hearts afresh with a deep thirst for Jesus Christ and His freeing Spirit. He died to set you free. That’s how much He loves you and longs for you to walk in His freedom.

Don’t Worry; Be Happy!

Picture2The Bible is full of admonitions not to worry, not to be fearful, to rejoice in the LORD, and to accept Christ’s peace, but how do we do that in the day to day? And what do we do when our emotions rebel against our head? 😉 Today I’m thrilled to have my dear friend, critique partner, and fellow Christ to the World writer back with us sharing her heart on how she believes we can maintain a joyful heart.

Don’t Worry; Be Happy! By Tanya Eavenson1120282_laughter

Do you remember that song by Bobby McFerrin, “Don’t worry. Be happy?” Instinctively I start to sing the next line before my lips can follow along, landing somewhere along here:

“Oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo,  don’t worry  oo-oo-oo-oo   be happy now  Oo-oo-oo”

There’s just something about that song that makes you want to sing and smile. You can’t help yourself.

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Wow, I like the cheerful heart better than the crushed spirit. Don’t you? But sometimes things happen in our lives or the lives of others around us, causing a chain reaction that is out of our control and affects us in some way.

What do we do? Do we humble ourselves and pray, or do we worry?

Philippians 4: 6 says, “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Scripture tells us we should pray; when we do, “7 …the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

God will give you peace in every situation and it’s not just any peace, or one we create for ourselves the lasts one minute and is gone the next. But a peace that we can’t understand that calms us to our very core, one that comes from the Father, reassuring us that we aren’t alone.

At the beginning of Philippians 4, scripture very clearly calls us to rejoice. “Rejoice in the Lord always.” I know it’s not easy to rejoice all the time, but God is saying to choose to rejoice in any and all circumstances. Not because of your circumstances, but to rejoice in Him– Who He is, His love for you, for your life in Him. Rejoice! For the Lord is near!

If we take a step back and look at our lives, not our circumstances, but what Christ has done for us and His grace, we can only rejoice. And if you’re rejoicing, your heart is a cheerful heart and good medicine for your soul.

Which do you choose?

Tanya Eavenson and her husband have been involved in ministry for fifteen years teaching youth and adults, and doing counseling. Tanya enjoys spending time with her husband, and their three children. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee and reading a good book. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and writes for Christ to the World Ministries sharing the Gospel around the world.

Visit her online:

Website: http://www.tanyaeavenson.com/

Google +:  https://plus.google.com/111621198804346509165#111621198804346509165/posts

Twitter: http://twitter.com/@Tan_eave

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tanya-Eavenson/129609683872033

Blog: http://guidedgirls.blogspot.com/

And check out her debut novel, a beautiful story of God’s unconditional, ever-reaching, ever-healing love:

Unconditional:

Elizabeth Roberts can’t remember her past, and the present is too painful. She turns to nightclubs and drinking to Unconditionalforget her infant daughter’s death, her husband’s affair.

When his wife’s coma wiped out the memory of their marriage, Chris Roberts found comfort elsewhere. He can’t erase his betrayal, but with God’s help he’s determined to fight for Elizabeth at any cost.

She wants to forget. He wants to save his marriage. Can they trust God with their future and find a love that’s unconditional?

Let’s talk about this:

When talking about fear vs. faith, worry vs. prayer, I often think of the verse Tanya referenced, Ephesians 4:6-7. Read it again, taking notice of the words in bold:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

When you present requests to God, how often have you paused to thank Him for what He’s done? I’ve found, when I do so, suddenly, my current problems diminish in light of His power demonstrated by His faithful acts. For example, if I’m concerned about our finances, when I pause to thank Him for all the ways He’s provided for our family in the past, I remember He’s always provided for our needs, so why should this instance be any different?

I’ve often found negative thinking breeds negative thinking and fear, if left unchecked, begets more fear. But how can actively determining our thoughts, or, as the Bible says, taking our thoughts captive, help us combat fear?

What are you worried about today? What aspects of God’s nature combat that fear? I encourage you to write ten things you know to be true about God. Keep those written attributes with you, and when you begin to feel fear creeping in, pull them out and pray them, thanking God for being who He is.

(If you struggle with fear and/or anxiety, you might find the following article helpful: Battling Anxiety.)

***

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on Living by Grace, or join our online Bible study. We’d love to have you!

Click to join ProverbsStudy

Click to join ProverbsStudy

Should We Fear God?

Picture2This is a frequent topic in many Christian circles, and one we’ve covered not long ago. In fact, in my Yahoo Bible Study group, the  question of what it means to fear the LORD led to quite a discussion. A discussion that evoked enough questions that reminded me of how important the answer is to our Christian walk. You see, how we view God often radically impacts how we relate to Him. We all have gut ideas of who God is, but the question we must continually ask: How close do our impressions mirror reality? Today, debut author and Christ to the World writer Tanya Eavenson invites us to dig a bit deeper, laying aside our preconceived ideas so we can receive God in His fullness.

Today’s Reading: Proverbs 15

This week’s memory verse: Proverbs 15:15 For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.

Today’s focal verse: Proverbs 15:33 The Fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom….

Should We Fear God by Tanya Eavenson

 I don’t care much for the word “Fear.” The Webster Dictionary defines it as “to be afraid of.”

Personally, I avoid anything causes me to be afraid. For instance, you’ll never find me sky diving because I fear falling —and I don’t like heights so that would definitely be a problem.

So why would Solomon use the word “Fear?” Why does he tell us “To fear God?” Not a great way to make people want a relationship with Him.

But wait. Webster also says to fear means “to have reverential awe of.”

In the first 6 verses of Proverbs, Solomon says his reason for writing the book is for you to know God.  Chapter 1, verse 7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Solomon wanted us to have the same knowledge and wisdom he himself grasped. How did he get it? The same way we can today—by building a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Jesus once asked his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” What about you—who do you say he is? Does God seem like someone who hovers somewhere in space waiting for you to sin so he can condemn you? Maybe you think of God, but He’s not as important as your family because you can’t see Him? Maybe you have faith in God but you can’t remember the last time you picked up your Bible outside of church. Let’s look at what God says about his relationship with us.

Jeremiah 33 says, “This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: 3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”Faith

Solomon is saying to know God, is to know WHO He is, the Maker of the heavens and earth. The One who formed the earth, formed you and loves you with such passion and intensity, He sent His son, Jesus to die in your place. God doesn’t want an acquaintance; He wants you. Your heart, mind and soul. Not to control you, but so you will have His heart for the lost, your mind to know His will for your life, and your soul so you can spend eternity with Him. He wants you. He wants to love you.

As Jeremiah says, call to Him. God WILL answer you. He’ll tell you great things, unsearchable things, a knowledge and wisdom that only comes from Him.

So how can you obtain this wisdom? By putting God in His rightful place in your life and calling upon Him. He alone will teach you wisdom.

Tanya Eavenson and her husband have been involved in ministry for fifteen years teaching youth and adults, and doing counseling. Tanya enjoys spending time with her husband, and their three children. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee and reading a good book. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and writes for Christ to the World Ministries sharing the Gospel around the world.

Visit her online:

Website: http://www.tanyaeavenson.com/

Google +:  https://plus.google.com/111621198804346509165#111621198804346509165/posts

Twitter: http://twitter.com/@Tan_eave

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tanya-Eavenson/129609683872033

Blog: http://guidedgirls.blogspot.com/

And check out her debut novel, a beautiful story of God’s unconditional, ever-reaching, ever-healing love:

Unconditional:

Elizabeth Roberts can’t remember her past, and the present is too painful. She turns to nightclubs and drinking to Unconditionalforget her infant daughter’s death, her husband’s affair.

When his wife’s coma wiped out the memory of their marriage, Chris Roberts found comfort elsewhere. He can’t erase his betrayal, but with God’s help he’s determined to fight for Elizabeth at any cost.

She wants to forget. He wants to save his marriage. Can they trust God with their future and find a love that’s unconditional?

Let’s talk about this:

How does your view of God affect your faith?

We all have a gut-knowledge of who we believe God to be. This gut knowledge is often based on numerous things–things we’ve heard, past experiences, interactions with imperfect humans. But God is real–a Person, and just like I can form all sorts of opinions and assumption about my spouse or friend or people I encounter, just because I believe something about them doesn’t make it so. To get to know who they really are, I need to *come to them.* Spend time with them. Listen to who they say they are. 

I believe we all have false ideas of who God is that creep in when we are not aware. As I’ve said, these ideas often operate on a gut level, meaning, they are rooted in feelings or assumptions outside of Scripture. I’ll give an example. Prior to getting sick, I had a general lack of compassion for others who were sick. I saw sickness as weakness that could be overcome. (Sorry!) Then, I got sick, and despite my best efforts to “man-up,” I stayed sick. My hidden assumption based on a faulty gut-impression? God was punishing me for my lack of compassion previously. As you can imagine, this gut-impression, which was not based on what God has or is showing me in Scripture, affected my relationship with Him–began to hinder my prayer life, and instead of turning to Him on tough days, I began to shy away from Him. Instead of receiving His comfort, I assumed judgement and disappointment. Luckily God is ever-gracious, gentle, nurturing, and supportive, always drawing us to Himself and His truth as revealed in Scripture, and despite my faithlessness, He showed Himself loving and faithful. But I suspect we all have those gut-impressions–those thoughts that, as untrue as we know them to be, threaten to steal our peace, joy, and divine intimacy. Today I encourage you to spend some time in prayer, asking God to expose your false ideas of who He is, then inviting Him to replace them with truth.
You can share your thoughts in the comments below or join our online Bible study:

Click to join ProverbsStudy

Click to join ProverbsStudy

Perseverance

This month flew by and our summer right along with it. 🙂

Last month, God taught me to walk with an eyes-wide-open approach, ever-alert to the open doors He provided. This month He’s been teaching me perseverance. I’m a doer by nature, and I like to see results, but walking by faith means obeying even if we never see the why or what. It means giving, expecting nothing in return, loving even when our love is spurned, and committing to a life of prayer even if it feels our prayers amount to naught.

It means clinging tight to God’s promise that tells us our work in the Lord will be rewarded. The ultimate reward, I believe, will be seeing men and women gathered at the throne of God, having crossed over from spiritual death to life. But as we continue to share God’s love with others, we need to remember, each person reaches that bridge at a different bend. Only God knows when. All we can do is obey with full, faith-filled, love-saturated surrender, leaving the rest to Him.

Virginia Hamlin’s story, Transformed by Love, touched me deeply. Watching the same homeless men and women come in and out of Taking it to Streets every Wednesday and Friday, I can easily become discouraged. (You may remember the post I wrote about this very thing the previous Saturday. You can read it here.) But Virginia reminded me to keep moving forward, to keep loving, to keep serving, because we never know when our Melodie will arrive.

“My husband and I were involved in our church’s compassion ministry for over five years from 2002-2007.

We helped prepare 100 meals each Sunday to feed the homeless in a local park. (We enlisted the help of other s to serve and sometimes play worship.) My husband would give a message and then we would break bread with the homeless. Yes, we would sit down at the picnic tables and get to know people. It was during one of those times that I was inexplicably drawn to a woman, Melodie, who was seated alone. We only talked briefly, but I knew God had ordained the meeting. I invited her to our home Bible study and ….” (Read the rest here.)

In Are You in Over Your Head, Katie Ganshert’s post reminded me it isn’t about me–my abilities, talents, or resources. Instead, it’s about the awesome, all-powerful God standing behind me. Watch her vlog here.

Tanya Eavenson reminded me to love without an agenda–unconditionally, with no strings attached. This is a hard one. We all want to receive this kind of love from others, but oh, it’s so hard to give out! Unconditional love–the kind God shows us–says, “I love you even if you never love me in return.” It’s a love exemplified in Christ who, while we were yet sinners, while we spurned Him, rebelled against Him, turned our back to Him, He died for us.

“The Bible clearly states in James, “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?” But what happens when the poor aren’t responsive to your help?

I’ve recently been faced with situations like this. How do you share the love of Christ with a man who’d rather live in the woods and give his every last cent to his addiction? Or the woman who would rather sell herself to prostitution instead of receiving help to start over?

Do I give up?” (Read the rest here.)

I’d love to hear from you. What reach out story impacted you most and why? What lessons has God been showing you this month? Is there a loved one you’ve been praying for, reaching out to, for decades? In what ways has God encouraged you to keep pressing on? Tell us about it!

I also want to give a final shout out to my July Reach Out donors:

Elaine Marie Cooper with the Road to Deer Runand the Promise of Deer RunSandra Robbins with Shattered IdentityKatie Ganshert with Wildflowers From WinterJoAnn Durgin with Awakeningand Ann Lee Miller with Kicking Eternity

Do you have a Reach Out story to share? Send it to me at jenniferaslattery(at)gmail(dot)com.

Authors, agents, and publishers, if you or one of your authors/clients would like to donate a book to one of the Reach Out gift baskets, shoot me an email at the above address.

When They Spurn Our Love

Twenty years ago, I was far from a fully devoted follower of Christ. In fact, I imagine many who encountered me back then thought I was a hopeless cause. God began reaching out to me at age four (or five) through a precious Good News Bible club leader named Dorothy. He followed me through my childhood years, placing loving Christians in my path each day. But the results weren’t seen for over a decade. In fact, for a while, it appeared I was slipping in the opposite direction. (Listen to my chat with Lisa Buffaloe, host of Living Joyfully Free Radio.)

Consider where I might be now if God had given up on me. Or if any one of those patient, initiating, gentle, and loving Christians had said, “Oh, she’s not worth my time. She’ll never change.”

As you read Tanya’s story, I hope you’ll pause to consider:

1. All we see is the outside. Most often, deep, deep pain lies buried beneath a walled heart. Pain that won’t heal with a quick “Jesus loves you.” It could take decades of sacrificial love before the wounded truly understand what love is and trust it for what is it. We also can’t see what God’s doing in another’s life. As I said, had you known me at 17, I believe many would have deemed me a lost cause. But God was working, loving, healing, in His way and His time.

2. Love is patient. I love Senior Editor of Christ to the World Ministries, Dr. Art Criscoe’s quote: “In our Western culture conditioned by television programs where everything is ‘wrapped up in a package’ and resolved in thirty minutes, we are not accustomed to waiting. We have forgotten that it took William Carey seven years in India to win the first convert to Christ, and it took Adoniram Judson six years to win the first convert in Burma.”

         When the homeless say, “No,” by Tanya Eavenson

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

The Bible clearly states in James, “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?” But what happens when the poor aren’t responsive to your help?

I’ve recently been faced with situations like this. How do you share the love of Christ with a man who’d rather live in the woods and give his every last cent to his addiction? Or the woman who would rather sell herself to prostitution instead of receiving help to start over?

Do I give up?

I’ve always held a deep desire to help those less fortunate, to provide for their needs. My job provides the opportunity to do just that as I portion out government checks and manage funds. In my work, I search out housing, buy groceries, or find avenues to help people with their financial needs, but I’m also able to provide for their spiritual needs like giving out Bibles. I love being able to spend time in prayer with someone who has cancer or another whose mother has told her she could never come home. But there are times when people won’t accept my help. They would rather shiver on the streets, sell themselves, or live in jail and pass up living arrangements it took me two weeks to arrange.

More than once my emotions have gotten to me and I’ve cried at my desk. One particular day, I asked, “Why can’t they accept my help? Why do they turn away from Your mercy? Are they not listening?”

An example from Jesus own life came to mind. Scripture records He left Nazareth because “He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief.”

I rose and wiped my face. An image ran through my thoughts. A picture of a man. He was beaten and bruised, skin torn, almost unrecognizable. He wore a crown of thorns, carrying His cross down the Via Dolorosa willingly to suffer and die for my transgressions. Not only mine—everyone I meet.

Jesus was 33 years old when He cried out “It is finished.” Was there still more work to do in telling people about the Father? More mouths to feed? More people to help? Of course. However, Jesus had done everything His Father asked and not everyone believed or turned from their life styles. So how much more should I obey the Father in helping the needy, the poor, or the lost? I should never give up, but press on in perseverance to what God has called for me to do no matter the circumstances or rejection I face. I need to be as obedient as Jesus was taking up His cross.

Jesus is the example.

Has there ever been a time in your life when someone rejected your help? If so, were you able to help after all or did you walk away and leave it in the Lords hands? Jesus promises we are never alone and He will help us to never give up.

Or maybe you’ve been on the other end. Has someone reached out, consistently and patiently to you? What barriers did their love help to break down? Tell us about it.

***

Tanya Eavenson grew up in a non-Christian home, catching a bus to attend church as a child. She accepted Christ at a young age after walking down the reddest carpet she’d ever seen. At sixteen, she received her first Bible for Christmas. Never in her wildest dreams did she think God would use her to reach others for Him. But that is exactly what she’s been doing since God called her and her husband into the ministry. Tanya is also writer for Christ to the World Ministries, has written for Novel Editions Reviews, Reflections In Hindsight, and The Bookshelf Newsletter. She is a member of ACFW and was a semi-finalist in the 2011 Genesis contest.

Visit Tanya online:

Guided Girls

Proof, See the Evidence

Thanks to July’s Reach Out Donors: Elaine Marie Cooper with the Road to Deer Run and the Promise of Deer Run, Sandra Robbins with Shattered Identity, Katie Ganshert with Wildflowers From WinterJoAnn Durgin with Awakeningand Ann Lee Miller with Kicking Eternity

Do you have a Reach Out story to share? Send it to me at jenniferaslattery(at)gmail(dot)com.

Authors, agents, and publishers, if you or one of your authors/clients would like to donate a book to one of the Reach Out gift baskets, shoot me an email at the above address.