“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe. ~ Saint Augustine
July 27, 2020
I don’t know about you, but I need a heavy dose of faith right now. If there was ever a year, I needed a mustard seed of faith to grow, it’s the year 2020. We’re only mid-way through and we’ve all agreed we’d either like a redo or at least fast forward past everything going on. The problem with those scenarios is we miss reaping the rewards of growing in our faith. Let me start by saying, I’m no stranger to hardships and what it means to believe in the unseen. I’m usually thoughtful about the photo I choose for my blog, and today’s no exception. I selected this picture for a couple reasons. It is one of the many locations in my second novel I’m editing; it represents an extreme moment in my life that required faith, and it reflects a view of more beyond our perspective from where we’re standing now.
Faith is a principal theme in my recently published book, The Counterfeiter’s Daughter, and in my work in progress, set to launch in 2021. It’s a driving force that propels my characters forward, motivates them to keep going, despite trials, and helps them persevere. Unlike ourselves, if we don’t have hope and faith, beyond what we see, we only glimpse the temporary captured by our eyes. We’ll never see beyond the pier in the picture above. Without faith we’ll remain motionless, we’ll never dip a toe into the water that leads across to the shore, or make it to the mountains in the distance and never discover what’s on the horizon. My characters throughout their arcs in my stories come to terms with the challenges of clinging to faith during hardships and, by the end of their journey, enjoy the benefits of trusting in what they couldn’t see in the middle of all the chaos. They had faith.
I recently realized how often I write my characters into near drowning situations. It took a second, but I discovered it’s a way for me to still work through a traumatic experience in my past that required immense faith. Many years ago, my two kids and I were spending the day at a beach club. We’d been there for a few hours and were cleaning up to leave. Both my children were still in the water when the lifeguards called everyone out for a safety break. Perfect time to leave. Except everyone came out of the water, except my daughter. I searched in panic as the water cleared. She was nowhere to be seen until the last person emerged from the water carrying a limp body in his arms. My body stiffened, heart pounding, and I gripped my son’s arm as I dropped to my knees. I cried out to God. I hadn’t been to church in years, hadn’t prayed in who knows how long. I didn’t know if God would listen, but in that moment the only hope I had was to believe with even the smallest amount of faith that my daughter would survive. The lifeguards took turns trying to revive her with no response. After two minutes she coughed and a massive amount of water expelled from her small six-year-old body. I gasped with relief. Later the incident would first take me down a dark path, but not too long after it brought me to a personal relationship with Jesus. I had faith.
Throughout our lives, we need to have hope and faith. There isn’t much else to cling to if we don’t and we’ll only be struggling to survive instead of living out an abundant life. Hopefully, my personal and fictional stories spark a glimmer of how a mustard seed of faith grows, thrives, and leads us to new horizons. I still encounter many trials and tribulations. Even a few years after the drowning my daughter suffered from uncontrolled seizures, not a result of the accident, and had a craniotomy then a temporal lobectomy. Once again a strengthened and renewed faith left her seizure free after the procedures.
It’s in our nature to reason and understand, yet we want to believe in miracles and the unseen. To see and experience something beyond the human eyes and mind, we need to have faith.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Hopefully, you gleaned a little inspiration and encouragement by reading my post. Stay safe and healthy, dear readers.
“This is the power of gathering: it inspires us, delightfully, to be more hopeful, more joyful, more thoughtful: in a word, more alive.”
April 6, 2020
One theme in my upcoming novel, The Counterfeiter’s Daughter, is the importance of fellowship. I write on the subject from personal experience. I’ve led a life of independence and, in many seasons of my life, a solitary existence. More than ever it is a relevant subject during our current crisis of a pandemic. The truth is, there is a large population of lonely and isolated people in the world, living with this daily reality. Some are only recently struggling with depression and loneliness as directed to stay at home to flatten the curve. As soon as they drop the orders, many will go back to their regular lives of thriving in social scenarios and gathering in fellowship. Others that are suffering will remain alone, depressed, anxious and silent.
I challenge my readers that are in a temporary state of isolation to discover and reach out to someone suffering with loneliness within your family, work environment, neighborhood and community. Send them a handwritten note, text, call, message them on social media, and let them know you’re thinking of them. If possible, invite them over for a cup of tea, out for coffee or schedule a movie at the theater or your home, depending on their comfort levels. It is imperative to live outside of our “own little worlds”. Set down your phone once in a while, take a break from streaming and binge watching, acknowledge the people around you and have a face -to -face conversation with people.
My main character, Madelyn Brighton, wears a brave face. She is authentic and genuinely cares with a tender heart for people. Especially, neglected, abused, abandoned women and children. Madelyn has no family that she is aware of and although she lives in the overcrowded city of Orange County, California, she feels an emptiness, an unbearable loneliness that she keeps tucked away deep inside and buried behind protective, emotional walls she built for herself. It takes her to be forced into a situation beyond her control to experience heartfelt help, encouragement, and allow herself to partake in the beauty of true friendship along with the gift of gathering in fellowship.
Hopefully something in this blog has resonated with you and you’ll feel compelled to take action. Whether you are a social butterfly that is temporarily caged or are like Madelyn Brighton, living the daily hardship of an isolated life, I implore to take notice of how serious and detrimental loneliness has on mental, physical and spiritual health. If you’ve only now recognized how connected humanity is through our worldwide suffering, consider it a wake up call that we are in this together and we need each other. Please love well and generously.
Thank you for taking the time to visit my website and read my blog. If you enjoyed this post or would like to be kept updated with news about my books and exclusive content, please click on the subscribe button for my newsletter. Stay home and healthy. Take a deep breath, hug those you can at the moment, and be grateful for the gift of today.
“Your best chance for moving on is to accept forgiveness doesn’t change the person forgiven, it changes you.” – Jake Nolan, The Counterfeiter’s Daughter
May 27, 2020
Many factors come into play when addressing the word and meaning of forgiveness. In The Counterfeiter’s Daughter Madelyn Brighton wrestles with the emotional battle of feeling burdened by her estranged father’s offenses in the past. She expresses a longing to be set free and makes choices based on her attempts to forget her father’s wrongdoings. Deciding to forgive requires a separation of feelings and actions. We tend to place our emotions at the forefront of making decisions in our lives. Emotionally charged thinking will lead to a prolonged sense of disappointment.
To forgive a person or an offense involves a purposeful action. The individual must choose their course of personal resolution. It’s often assumed that forgive and forget are interchangeable. In my opinion that erroneous approach leads to the dissatisfaction of missing the feeling of freedom. The goal is to discover the route that allows you to achieve your autonomy by staring the offenses down and accepting they can’t be changed or hidden away. The sense of freedom comes from the psychological effects of forgiveness. A mental healing begins with the course of action to forgive.
I’m speaking with being an authority on my experiences and personal testimony. The path I chose to forgive the offense I incurred against me and my kids was to recognize the hurt, destruction and lifelong mental impact imposed on us wouldn’t change the offender. However, if I continued to hold on to resentment, it would’ve created irrevocable damage to myself and my children. Suppressing bitterness has a deep emotional consequence that manifests itself throughout our lives, even if we’re unaware of the repercussions.
Jake Nolan, a major character in The Counterfeiter’s Daughter, offers Madelyn biblical advice on forgiving her father’s misdeeds. Jake expresses he’s only capable to offer forgiveness with the faith-based truth that he can forgive offenses toward him with the knowledge his transgressions are first forgiven by God. He also claims that he falls short in this area and other aspects of his life too. Jake suggests that Madelyn choose a path that brings her peace by stating, “Your best chance for moving on is to accept forgiveness doesn’t change the person forgiven, it changes you.”
The concept Jake explains is based on the transliterated Greek word aphesis, used sixteen times in the New Testament. In most of the passages it is in references to the offender admitting their transgressions and repenting of their behavior. Jake is acutely aware forgiveness takes place after confessing our indiscretions to God and letting go. Jake’s choice of drawing from the use of aphesis in scripture illustrates it requires a conditional action to achieve freedom.
Since this is a simple blog about the theme of forgiveness in my book, I will not write a dissertation on the use of forgiveness in the New Testament. For starters, we translate four Greek words with one English word and therefore require an extensive study of the usage of all four translations to understand each rendering for a clear conception of forgiveness in the bible. I’ll clarify that I’m not recommending excusing and keeping abusive people in your life. I also reference the Greek transliterated word apoluo, used sixty-two times in the New Testament. Fourteen times it appears regarding setting free, letting go and in most passages refers to divorce.
In conclusion, regardless of the translation of the word forgive or forgiveness, one thing is always necessary to achieve inner peace- accept that you’ve been forgiven, whether you’re a believer in God and received grace or someone you’ve wronged in your life has forgiven you and you’ll make a distinct decision to forgive based on action rather than emotions.
Thanks for joining me on my writing journey. I hope you’re all doing well, remaining healthy and reading books while staying at home!
Please subscribe to my newsletter and receive a free prepublication copy of a short story about Jake Nolan, written for oursharedtales.com, scheduled to post on June 22nd. 2020. You can also pre-order The Counterfeiter’s Daughter, available July 5th, and experience Jake’s adventures and personal growth.