When Faith Hurts

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If I had a dime for every time someone told me that he or she had been hurt by the church, I’d be able to treat us all to a lovely dinner.

Christians seem to have an endless capacity for injuring and insulting those we dearly desire to bring into fold. I don’t know why; there is no scriptural precedent for doing it. Take, for example, the time the Pharisees set Jesus up for a fall, by pointing out a woman who had been found in the act of adultery and asking Jesus what should be done to her: should she be stoned, as the Law commanded?

Jesus wrote something in the dust–we have no idea what He wrote, but some scholars wonder if He might have been listing the sins and shortcomings of the men standing around Him, each of them holding a rock. And then Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” One by one, all of the men left.

Today, all too often, church members find themselves in the same position as the bystanders that day, over two thousand years ago. Our choice is whether we will be the Pharisees or the Lord. When we encounter people who need compassion and understanding, are our faces and hearts hard, like stone? Or do we offer love, understanding and help?

I don’t like the fact that most people, when made aware of my faith, expect me to be judgmental and quick to condemn. I wish that they saw the cross and thought, “Now there’s a person I can count on if I’m in trouble. There’s someone I can confide in without fear of derision.”

But as the graphic above points out, it’s my job to change that perception. I can’t do it by browbeating anyone into understanding that I’m not out to hurt them. I need to prove it by my life, my words and my actions.

Faith means living in such a way that others see me and see joy, hope and peace. I want to live so that those around me want what I have.

After all, isn’t this the point?

 

Faith might not look like you think it does.

Last week, I launched this new weekly feature of the blog. What does faith on Friday mean?

It means that for many of us, it’s easy to have faith on Sundays, when we’re in church, perhaps, surrounded by people who believe at least a little what we do. It’s probably easy to have faith while we’re singing worship songs or timeless hymns, or praying together, or taking part in Eucharist.

But then we go out into the real world, with people who don’t believe what we do and with people who are actively hostile to our faith. The world is not designed to foster an easy growth of faith; in fact, we know for sure that it can be just the opposite. The cares and worries and challenges can erode us until we’re clinging by the thinnest thread to what seemed so clear on Sunday.

So how do we keep the faith when it seems impossible to find? I don’t have tons of answers. I know talking about what’s hard sometimes helps. Realizing that I’m not alone is always comforting. Reading about how others are coping is encouraging, too. And reaching out to lift up others who might be struggling, too, always ends up helping me as much as it does them, if not more.

Realizing.

Reading.

Reaching.

Hey, I didn’t even plan that. But for those of us who are people of faith, that’s not surprising, because we know that the plans of He who is greater than us are far better than our own.

 

 

It’s Hard to Have Faith on Fridays

{For a long time, I’ve had plans to write a weekly post on faith and what it looks like today. I even set up the category on my site here: Faith on Fridays. I hoped to begin at Advent last year, and then again earlier this year. For a variety of reasons, that didn’t happen. But this morning, I woke up and knew today was the day. 

I am an author, and my site is about that. But I am also a woman of great faith, and not allowing myself to express that in some form is not being true to myself. I don’t force my beliefs on anyone else, and I don’t ask that my readers agree with me. You don’t have to read this weekly post. But I have to write it. I hope you’ll stick with me through it, and perhaps comment and start a dialogue, no matter your background and your own beliefs.}

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Cross on top of american flag symbolizing memorial day in United States

Last night, I was just about to go to sleep, skimming through social media for one last check before bed. I saw the first posts about a shooting in Dallas. This time, it wasn’t police shooting an unarmed black man; it was police who were being shot during a protest. I stayed up, watching CNN until I couldn’t take it anymore. When I went to sleep, they were saying ten had been shot and two were dead. When I woke up this Friday morning, the numbers had changed; twelve shot, five dead.

It’s hard to have faith on Fridays.

Earlier in the week, I had been sickened and frustrated and angry about the two black men who were shot by police officers–one in Baton Rouge, one in Minnesota. I was horrified. This is America. On Monday we celebrated the anniversary of our freedom, of our proclamation that ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL. All men. All women. Black, white, and every other color in between or beyond. Regardless of sexual identity, gender affiliation, religion, lack of religion and cultural background. All men are created equal. We have defended that peculiar notion for over two hundred years, we have bled for it and our soldiers have died for it. Yet we do not live it out. Not by a long shot.

It’s hard to have faith on Fridays.

My faith is rooted deep, from seeds planted in my childhood, carefully cultivated by so many men and women and books who helped shape what I believe and in Whom I believe. I follow Jesus, who tells us that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I try my best to make my everyday choices reflect that belief. I know that He is still in charge. I know that He is the ultimate victor. I know who wins this war.

But it’s hard to have faith on Fridays.

Several thousand years ago, on a Friday in Jerusalem, a man of peace, a man of love, Son of God, son of man, of His own free will, gave up His life for me and for you (whether you believe it or accept it or not) in a shameful, horrific death on the cross. He’d been the hope of a generation, beloved of His many followers, and within hours, he was dead, laid in a borrowed tomb.

It’s hard to have faith on Fridays.

If that were the end of the story, then what I believe would be futile. If that were the end of the story, then we could look around our nation and our world and have no reason for hope. If that were the end of the story, we should just give up.

But it’s not the end, because on Sunday, that tomb broke open and Jesus rose again, defeating death.

In the face of pain and horror and devastating loss, communities pull together. We support each other. We love despite differences. We embrace strangers. We march for peace. We hold our legislators accountable for making and enforcing laws that will make our nation safer and stronger, a country where ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL and are treated equitably and with dignity.

It’s hard to have faith on Fridays. But we hold on. We believe for a better day and a better way. We walk in His way, offering compassion and grace and love.

This isn’t the end. Love bats last, and there is not a single doubt in my mind about Who wins.

Keep the faith, even on Fridays.

A Cause for Paws: Romance to Benefit Our Four-Footed Friends!

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What could make seven contemporary romance shorts by award-winning and best-selling authors even better? Add seven sweet, scene-stealing pets . . . and then make the whole project a benefit for animal rescue charities!

That’s just what we’ve done. LOVE PAWS features short stories with a little bit of steam, a little of sweet and happy endings all around. Each story also includes a pet, just to give the romance a little boost.

This anthology releases April 19th, in celebration of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. You can preorder your copy today exclusively through iBooks.

Each author will donate her portion of the proceeds to a specific animal charity.

Today, I am very pleased to announce that the charity I have selected is . . . MuttNationScreenshot 2016-02-25 19.34.21

MuttNation Foundation is a donation-supported organization with the mission to end animal cruelty, neglect, and homelessness. It was founded in 2009 by Miranda Lambert and her mother Bev Lambert.

MuttNation provides aid to animals across the US through efforts such as:

  • Spay and neuter campaigns
  • Medical treatments
  • Adoption events, pet transportation, and pet ownership education
  • Mill rescues
  • Legislative changes
  • Service dog training and placement
  • Food and supplies for animal shelters

Some of their initiatives include:

  • Mutts Across America: 50 States/50 Shelters
    An annual program which provides funds and support to animal shelters in every US state.
  • Redemption Ranch
    A new low-kill shelter located in Tishomingo, OK.
  • Cause for the Paws
    An annual event which has raised over $1.5 million.
  • Partnerships with North Shore Animal League and Red Star Emergency Relief
    Mill rescue and emergency disaster relief.

YOU can donate to MuttNation right here and now. And why would you not? Go here and give–a little, a lot, whatever.

And follow MuttNation on Facebook and Twitter!

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LOVE PAWS

Becca BoydFire Up

Rene FolsomBy Chance: A Playing Games Spin-off Novella

Alison FosterSaving Grace: A Beautiful Ruin Story

Olivia Hardin:  All in the Takeoff: A Rawley Family Romance

Tawdra Kandle: My One and Always (An Always Love Short)

Lyssa LayneDig Deep

Juli ValentiTaunt : A Twisted Wolf Tale

 

 

Five From Tricia Zoeller

Welcome to Five From Friends Friday!

Each week, I’ll share with you five quick and quirky questions and answers

from some of my favorite author friends.

I think you’ll see some familiar faces in here, too.

Quickies from Tricia Zoeller

Tricia is signing this year at Indie BookFest! If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, do it today–they’re on discount for a limited time! And come meet Tricia along with 70 other amazing authors. 

Q: What’s the one nation in the world you’re absolutely dying to visit?

A: France! I feature it in my last novella in The Darkling Chronicles series, Shadow King. My shadowcaster travels through the portal and shadowcasts for a little girl named Celeste. As I was doing research, I got more and more excited about making it happen. It’s definitely on my Bucket List.

Q: You’re on a cruise and Emeril Lagasse is the chef. He offers to teach you how to make any dish you want. What will you and the chef be cooking up?

A: I’m more of a baker than a cook. I’d definitely want him to help me whip up some dessert. Anything with chocolate would be okay by me. Food—any kind of pasta dish would do, but I can’t do spicy.

Q: You strike up a conversation with the bartender in a hotel lobby and he insists on buying you a drink. What will you tell him to pour?

A: A glass of red wine. If it’s something fancy, then a salted caramel martini.

Q: You’re at UtopYA this weekend! A young reader approaches your table and asks what is the one book she should read before she turns 18. What will you recommend?

A: J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series or Jana Oliver’s Demon Trappers Series. Also, I’d hope she’d give The Darkling Chronicles a try 😉

Q: Summer of 2015 BEACH question! What’s your favorite beachside activity?

A: I would have to be shaded in a cabana because I have Lupus. I’m like a vampire; I burst into flames in the sun. Seriously, I can’t do the sun at all. I walk along the beach very early in the morning or at night to watch the sunset. Still love to be by the water.

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Shadow Blues

The Darkling Chronicles #1

(Novella)

LOVE

At the age of four, Patrick Benjamin Solomon becomes Anka Rehmling’s human charge. By eight, he can SEE her. At thirteen, he breaks her heart, and by eighteen, she finds herself fighting for his life.

ShadowBlues_ebookAs a darkling shadowcaster, Anka casts shadows in the human world, harnessing some of the earth’s UV light to bring back to Montenai—a world full of darklings, nymphs, satyrs, phantoms, and dragon lords. Her job is crucial to preserving the vitality and balance in her town of Shadowland. However, Anka has trouble following the strict rules set by the Shadowland Council, a ruling body comprised of three dragon lords.

The lords’ decree states all shadowcasters will abide by the rules or face the penalty of harsh punishment, banishment, or death. Torn between her world and Ben’s, Anka must choose to defy the Council or turn her back on love.

Shadow Fire

The Darkling Chronicles #2

(Novella)

COURAGE

As a darkling shadowcaster, Bianca Rehmling works under the three dragon lords of the Shadowland Council, casting shadows for her human charge on the earth’s plane and harnessing energy to bring back for the balance and wellbeing of her kind. She’s always been a law-abiding darkling, as opposed to her younger sister, Anka. When Anka broke shadowcasting rules over the summer, she suffered the wrath of the council, something Bianca never wants to witness again.

To protect her sister, Bianca harbors some dark secrets, ones that could cause the decline of Shadowland. When a deadly illness called Shadow Fever strikes the village, Bianca fears her own rule-breaking has caused a fatal imbalance in the world of Montenai. She hasn’t been doing her job, her duty, and the dragon lords suspect.

Family or duty? With loved ones suffering, and the dragon lords breathing down her neck, Bianca keeps her nymph friends close and her enemies…closer. When an unlikely ally offers to help, Bianca must decide whether to trust him or brave the heat alone.

Shadow Thief

The Darkling Chronicles #3

(Novella)

SURVIVAL

Natcha is a creature of fire, drawing in shadow to cloak herself from the dangers of the world. She has never known what she is or where she came from, but she knows her wings and claws make her different. The sea cliffs of Montenai are her home, the Aglatian Sea her playground, and the phantoms her family.

All her life, she has hidden in the Faunlier Mountains with her sister Nalene. Only the oath she swore as a child to a darkling father to watch over his son draws her toward the turmoil in Shadowland.

When unrest among the darklings, satyrs, nymphs, and dragon lords begins to bleed into her own life, Natcha wagers the welfare of one against the welfare of many. To protect all she holds dear, she must incur the wrath of Shadowland’s leaders and become… the Thief.

Purchase links for Shadow Blues (Novella 1)

Amazon/Barnes & Noble/Google Play/Smashwords/Apple/Kobo

FREE this weekend!

 

Tricia Zoeller writes fantasy stories filled with mystery, magic, and mayhem. After a decade of working as a speech-language pathologist, she succumbed to the voices in her head andtzoeller wrote her first book, urban fantasy FIRST BORN, published in May 2013. FIRST BORN is a paranormal mystery about a shapeshifter in Atlanta. It is the first book in the Lily Moore Series.

THE DARKLING CHRONICLES is her young adult series that delves into alternate planes, portals, and mystical creatures.

She lives in Marietta, Georgia with her husband, Lou, her little yappy dog, Lola Belle, and her big orange mutant cat, George. Her two stepsons, Joseph and Robert, make stopovers as well, making sure to keep life an adventure.

Writing has always been a part of her life—like breathing and chocolate. For more information about Tricia and her books, visit:

Website/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Amazon