A Former Bully Finds Love in ‘A Chance at Forever’ #SoulBookSunday #ChristianFiction

 

a chance at forever
Cover Design by Koechel Peterson & Associates +Others and Bethany House Publishers

 

A Chance at Forever by Melissa Jagears(Teaville Moral Society, #3)

Bethany House(2018)

ISBN(Print) 978-0-7642-1753-1

This is my first Melissa Jagears novel and I truly loved the sweetness and real-ness of the book. I think the strength of the story lies within the subplots and the overall truth about real forgiveness though. There is just one thing I wish would happen in the story…

First, check out a snippet of the book taken from Amazon :

In early 1900s Kansas, Mercy McClain, determined to protect Teaville’s children from the bullying she experienced as a child, finds fulfillment working at the local orphanage and serving on the school board. When Aaron Firebrook, the classmate who bothered her more than any other, petitions the board for a teaching position, she’s dead set against him getting the job.

Aaron knows he deserves every bit of Mercy’s mistrust, but he’s returned to his hometown a changed man and is seeking to earn forgiveness of those he wronged. He doesn’t expect Mercy to like him, but surely he can prove he now has the best interests of the children at heart.

Will resentment and old wounds hold them back, or can Mercy and Aaron put the past behind them in time to face the unexpected threats to everything they’re working for?

 

A story about the bully and the victim, growing up all wise and mature and possibly finding love in each other’s arms, is number one on my swoon chart. Mercy definitely tried to stay away from Aaron and his soft, lingering eyes and large hands but then how long could she resist? Aaron, on the other hand has a sordid past, and much of why he tormented her as a child comes out in bits and pieces(his story is very sad) but he is a man on a mission to right all of his wrongs with anyone he has hurt- but most of all, he needs Mercy’s forgiveness.

“She could not fall for her tormentor-she just couldn’t. She tried to march up the stairs, but her feet felt as if they slogged through molasses…She wouldn’t have slapped any other man who’d made her feel as if the world had stopped in awe of her.”(Jagears, A Chance at Forever: p.127)

The book kept it real: forgiveness does not happen when someone asks for it. It is organic. Happens over time. The characters in the story(some of them) were very snotty and cruel.

However I truly wish there was more interaction between Aaron and Mercy. At nearly the end it seems the author tried to place more sparks between the two.

Then again, I have to remember this is a Christian story, not those “other” novels I read from time to time.

Having said that, have a Happy Sunday and stay tuned for more Soul Book Sundays!

*Book provided for my unbiased review from Bethany House

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The Finale: When the Gods Spoke #PurposefulShortFiction

Easter is nearly here. On April 1, 2018 most of America will wear their Sunday Best and go to a church to give respects and honor to God’s Son who rose on the third day. Still…

Who is God, why does he seem kind and most diabolical? This short fiction is a combination of pondering and biblical research with a mixture of fantasy but the core of the story remains: Just who is God and does he love us as much as the bible tells us?

Enjoy!

*If you have not already, do read parts 1 and 2 of this spiritual fantasy. Thank you!

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Beautiful One pulled himself back from Silver One and regarded her as one would a difficult puzzle. “You’ve visited my planet already. Do you not see how much I love them?”

She shrugged. “I see. I really do. But they are in pain all the time. I may not see the light in my creation’s eyes, but yours has so many spirits in one flesh! They are so tortured. You have allowed them to create their own systems of beliefs when you decided to keep silent, then punish them eternally when they do not know you? Yes, Beautiful One. I am perplexed.

“You’ve walked among your people, whereas I have not. However, I have danced with them many moons ago, I’ve implanted my essence in their dreams and song. I have programmed them to be healthy and strong. All of them have made shrines in my image without having seeing me in this generation. I do not hide my face as you do.”

When Silver One spoke, her voice was soft, melodic. Not accusing in any way, but more of stating the facts. Beautiful One stroked his beard and suggested they stay on this planet longer. They both inhabited the bodies of ivory-toned women sipping coffee at a coffee shop(so no one knew who they really were). It was quiet and some bookish jazz music played softly in the background.

Beautiful One had to broach the subject, because there is one area all humans are fond of. “Silver One. My people feel pain and some even hail it as pleasure.” A sly smile grew on his face. Or rather, a pleased one.

Silver One exhaled and blew cool air over her coffee. “Ok. I’m all ears.”

“Take sex for example. That one act can cause affliction of the heart and can heal it. My humans have choices of how they wish to explore it and many times it goes against what is written. I am holy, therefore they must be…but I am kind. My humans have…rhythmic bodies, souls. They hurt, they cry, they moan and shout and interestingly enough, these same outward cries of pain can be one of pleasure. Oftentimes, even under a vow when their bodies belong to just that one, they share their bodies with another. Now their souls are split in two because they still love their first, although they will not admit it. What a funny lot!”

“Hopeless, Beautiful One. You are hopeless. You can regulate their pleasure. Make them faithful only to that one.”

“Silver One,” Beautiful One smiled and sipped a bit on his tea. He ordered green tea macha with sprinkles of cinnamon and they got it just right. “Who says I do not regulate anything?  Some are very faithful, almost to the point of obsession and that is also a fine line to walk.

He continued: “Who says I cannot tell the future? Listen: I see infinite possibilities of each one of my own. It is always the final possibility, right before death that intrigues me. Not their death beds, but the last ten or few years before their death when their possibility is no longer corrupt. When they know who they really are. Right as they begin to burn brighter than the stars I’ve hung.”

“And the children who are sick and dying on your world because you refuse to heal them?” Silver One countered.  “What do you see of their futures, or did see of their futures at all?” Silver One leaned back in her chair casually, a winning smile upon her attractive face.

Beautiful One did not hesitate to answer: “Sometimes there are moments before a human copulates when I peer down on them and wonder if the little signs I gave them would be enough.” He looked into his tea as if searching for more validation of why he allow babies to suffer. He found no way to explain. “All children deserve to be here but…I am God and my creation disobeyed me. All must suffer because they are Eve and Adam’s child..”

Silver One said nothing at first. She let it sink in her mind and drank up some more coffee. “This is what I mean, Beautiful One. You go back to announcing who you are as to why innocents must suffer. I know who you are and most atheists care not to know you but they know wind and chaos did not create them. Still, you understand your people’s anguish. No?”

“As I said. One may see years as years. I see generations as one day. Adam and Eve disobeyed me and then their spawn did as well, but I allow them to live and grow and make mistakes. Parents do that, Silver One.”

“Were they the first to make the mistake?”

Beautiful One gave a knowing smile again. Silver One liked when he smiled. “Oh no. They are not. The ones who got it right, survived a perfect ten thousand years before I began with Adam and Eve. This time when I made man, I used the earth and the wind of my breath, and water. Water is a current that moves constantly and can be beautiful and deadly, like people, Silver One. You may not understand my methods, but if there ever were a war between mine and yours, mine has so much drive, so much pain, so much passion- they will endure. It will amaze you.”

“Maybe one day we can arrange a War of the Made, how’s that sound?”

“Good.”

They both got up and anyone watching the reflection in the glass would see one was a tall proud bald silver woman while the other was the color of jasper with a long white beard. Not necessarily giants but they shone like the stars.

They both took a stroll down a well lit park and spoke of things not so cosmic and profound but joked and laughed about mundane things, simple things like how rabbits chase foxes on Earth 2 and how the men are more “sensitive” than women here as well. They also do not understand television and laptops, and social media at all. They understand it, but find it amazing what people tinker with.

After their stroll, Silver One took Beautiful One’s hand. “We are so different but I am glad we have these talks. Do you see why I run things like I do now?”

Beautiful One covered her hand with his own. Who said gods do not love or fall in love? Her large eyes were discs into unknown futures of futures and her lips were pouty as well and skin dusted with light from the moon and stars above, making her glow. “Silver One, you do what you must. I will do the same. You have given me…thought in my actions, or lack thereof.”

Silver One nodded but Beautiful One would not reveal to her his true nature. It would scar her poised shell and leave her blistered in the void. He will not tell her that he is neither male nor female. He will not reveal to her that she is an extension of himself. He will never tell her that these brief talks with her(himself) is what he needs all the time to balance himself.

“Oh! I forgot! What about Satan. Is he still around?” She asks letting her hand slip from his. “It would be cruel if he is still hanging on to tempt people.”

Without a second thought, Beautiful One took Silver One’s slender hand and pulled her hard and fast to his body so he could whisper in her ear: “The light bearer still lives.”

Silver One shivered as confusion riddled her face.

The Beautiful One was still cruel as fresh molten lava spitting upon the innocent in its path.

The End…Maybe.

Copyright 2018 Erica Jean Smith

Filtered, A Conversation Between Two Gods #ShortFictionFromaCrazyMind

abstract cloud.jpg
Photo Credit: Pixabay

 

In this short story, two gods meet across realms to discuss how they govern humans. Could both methods be wrong?

The Beautiful One, shining like jasper, sits upon an invisible throne and overlooks his creation. It has been millennia and more since he made them. He wound the clock, set them up and enjoy watching them from his heavenly view.

“Old Friend!” Beckons Silver One. “Are we well?”

“As well as can be,” Beautiful One looks down on a couple holding hands. His heart paces faster as they engage in a kiss and the soon to be groom plucks a hair behind the bride’s lovely ear.

“If you look to your left, Oh, Beautiful One, there is sand kicking up in that land over there.” Silver One’s platinum fingers rest on Beautiful One’s shoulder. Silver One laughed like a beautiful witch,  yet had the build of a gladiator.

Silver One would remind you Silver Surfer, but could be male or female.

“Yes. I see.”

“Will you not send your messengers to stop it? I hear the cries of the hungry too. They are akin to mewling kittens.”

Beautiful One chuckled, although with a long face full of sadness. “Some of the sand will stop. Someone is praying and they are strong.”

Silver One leaves Beautiful One’s side. He(or she) pulls out a very light, thin device. It is flat and similar to an iPad or a smartphone but much lighter. Silver One plugs in a few codes.

“Whatever are you doing now?”

“Someone’s thoughts went awry. Can’t have that. You know I saw her future ten minutes ago? She was literally going to stab the ones who made her. In their sleep!” Silver One cast white eyes back to the pad. “I’m signaling a messenger now to stop two couples from procreating. I think I may issue death by heart attack before the sex begins. Maybe he will topple over her.” He tsk tsked. “Bad programming or a bug.”

Beautiful One wanted to intervene, tell Silver One that would not be right, but Silver One was a god, just like him. Who was he to tell him(her) they were wrong? Perhaps this was best.

“This keeps you busy then.”

“Yeah. I have a filtering system built into all my humans. Some of them go off code and I have to turn them back to their true selves.”

“I’m quite surprised you allow them to reproduce.”

“Allow? No. Each one has a set time to procreate, dear Beautiful One. Keeps the population balanced.” Silver One clicked away on the device and mumbled something about goblins and guns. “I purposely selected a few to remain sterile for experimental reasons.”

Beautiful One turned his attention back to his people. Someone over in the Americas  was praising a flag before sport and the chorus of a single one lifted to his ears. Such beautiful notes from a people who choose to idolize fabric! To idolize his land!

Silver One was watching too. “If my own did that, I would have no problems with it.”

“Really?”

“Really. I have programmed their bodies to shut down if they ever did something like that.”

“How cruel.”

“You? Call me cruel?” Silver One’s face bunched up in disgust as if tasting something foul. “You unlovable goat. “You are the same one who sat by and watched some disgusting punk of flesh abuse and give his betrothed AIDS. Now you still have a poverty problem and let’s not get into race issues which should have been deaded long ago. It was only asleep.” Silver One’s eyes rolled.

Beautiful One took his old friend’s words with a pinch of salt. They always got into the same tired arguments when they cross lines like this.

“There was a time I did intervene,” he bowed is head. “No sense in doing that anymore.” Beautiful One was still as wrathful as ever and Silver One witnessed his pulsing fury. He deals with things in due time.

“They are disobedient!” Silver One spat. “They harm each other and then curse you! What of that? You could have eradicated the putrid squirt from the male as soon as it emptied into-”

“If you pay attention, you will see that even the bad works out for their good. Even in dark cruelty, I provide all they need to be strong. Are your people strong, Silver One?”

Silver One smiled. “They are because I made them that way.”

“But will they be able to face unique situations. Situations which makes them hardy?”

“Of course. I have programmed them for strength.”

Beautiful One stroked his majestic white beard. A stark contrast to his honey countenance. Endurance was the word he was looking for. People should be able to endure. Be stretched, pulled, come forth as gold by fire. Isn’t that right?

No. It is right. More than right.

Silver One’s attention went back to the device. Beautiful One knew what he(she) was up to. Clicking away to control another person.

After a moment, Silver One looked up. “For example. As soon as a cry enters my ear, I rush and help. There is no poverty, no murder, no unwanted babies. A perfect utopia.”

“Then what will they have to look forward to when they die? More utopia?”

“Haha. Very funny. It will better than where they are now.”

“Better,” Beautiful One repeated. “How will they know and realize what better is? May be boring.”

Silver One placed hands on their hips. “What would you know? You’re a tyrant. Your people write about how you are love and I hear their cries all over my universe too! They cry and you allow them to be maimed and mowed down and amazingly the same ones still believe in you- but with a different opinion of you.”

“Yes,” Beautiful One agreed with some anger. “They kill one another and have uncalled for prejudices. I made them all different for a purpose. I am an artist, a Designer. Beautiful flowers like the ones on our earths.”

“Big mistake, big guy, but you are a poet” Silver One pat him on the back softly like a comrade. In many ways, he was. “So much difference. So many different psychologies, so many different experiences, produces wicked results. And Moses! He struck a rock in anger and you made him miss out on paradise.”

“He’s in paradise. Not on earth of course.”

“Well of course not on earth. Your earth is a cesspool. Come, let’s go over to my earth and you will see how my people live.”

Beautiful One did not think “live” was a good word. More like programmed.

However, he stood up and joined Silver One as they embarked on visiting Earth Utopia 2.

To be continued…

Copyright 2018 Erica Jean Smith

I hope you liked this one. I’ve been reading some Christian Apologetics books and I have tons of questions about freedom, choices, and divine intervention. Let me know what you think!

~Ericajean

‘The Two of Us’ by Victoria Bylin #SoulBookSunday

the two of us

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Pick up The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin

Published by Bethany House (2017)

ISBN: 978-0-7642-1738-8(Paperback)

*Provided free for an unbiased review from Bethany House

The Two of Us is one of those Christian romances that defines exactly how a Christian romance should be written. The main character Mia Robinson is a nurse practitioner who already had two broken engagements in her life, and when she meets Jake Tanner, even with his relaxed manner and handsomeness-  she protects her heart. Jake, ever the patient man has experienced loss in his life but the two of them will discover they have a lot more in common than they thought.

From the first chapter, I was engaged with the story. Mia represents women who already know the power of heartbreak and does not want to experience it ever again. She puts her trust totally in the Lord and believes that the doors opening for her as far as missionary work overseas, is a sign from God.

Jake Tanner, from the moment he laid eyes on Mia, knew she had a story. So does he. As a former cop who lost a partner in a terrible accident he wants to do all he can to prove he can continue to help save lives, but the one life before him needs saving in a new way. He falls for Mia but will he ever conquer her heart? Will he be the one man to prove that not all men are after one thing?

There were a few subplots going on in this story worth mentioning. All of them demonstrate the power of holding on to God while understanding we are all human too. Mia’s sister Lucy is the opposite of her- Lucy grabs life by the horns while Mia assesses a situation first, then plan. Then there was the problem of Jake wanting to honor his partner’s memory by starting a camp for teens, but with increasing violence in the town, the community clashes with Jake’s plans to bring more troubled youth there.

I can share a million thoughts on the direction that was taken but just know if you are looking a sweet, Christian romance that has all the power of real love embodied by God’s enduring love for us, pick this up.

Stay tuned for more books like this on Soul Book Sundays!

You Can’t Read This Book Like Any Other Book

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

 

 

**This is not meant to be a “preachy” post. Sorry. It is a post for those who love to read, but who discern the contents of any collected writings. Enjoy!

The bible is one of the most popular, bestselling, beloved and hated book of all time.

Even so, people still worry over whether the book containing “Dead Sea Scrolls” is really the voice of God, or stories penned from wildly imaginative people trying to give others hope.

I remember one discussion with someone years ago who stated, “It is not right to read the bible from Genesis to Revelation because then you are treating it as you would any other book.”

I did not have a comeback for that because I questioned myself: “Lord, am I disrespecting you for reading the bible front to back?”

Silly me.

Listen.

I love reading all kinds of books and the preferable start is at the beginning of a story. You get maximum entertainment that way(unless you are reading choose your own ending books). However, the bible is different.

Since that discussion, I have “bible dipped”, choosing to read chapters and verses I felt I needed to read or that God whispered to me to read.

Then one day, I felt an urge to begin at the…

Beginning.

From the garden of Eden to the lake of fire.

I had to do this because when a person just dips into the center of the bible often, there is a whole journey that could be missing. There are still books of the bible I am unfamiliar with!

One day, I may feel the need to read from Revelation to Genesis. That would be cool.

The point I am trying to make here is that it is impossible to read the bible as a fairy tale whether you begin at Genesis or elsewhere. Impossible. It is a collection of prophecy, history, and divine letters.

This is not a post to preach, but hopefully an encouraging word for those bookworms who are Believers and who may have had this discussion before. I have read maybe hundreds of books in my lifetime so far, and let me tell you, when you are about to begin a book with collected writings of over a thousand years, you can never just read it as you would any other book.

Because it is not any other book. Even those who are not Believers can attest to this.

Anyway, these are just my morning thoughts. I love being random like this.

Don’t be afraid to subscribe and share, and I welcome comments!

~Ericajean

Tap into ‘The Wisdom of God'(a review)

the wisdom of god
Image courtesy of Bethany House Publishers

Tapping into the wisdom of God is a pretty big feat to accomplish. God is an unseen being, an intelligent Creator. One who sent his son Jesus to die for us all so how can we tap into His wisdom and allow it to order our steps? A.W. Tozer’s writings on this subject is quite simple but is easily recognizable and in some cases come off as extremely biased.

 

Tozer starts off describing what Wisdom is. Wisdom is an “afflatus”, a breath created by God and appears in the form of a woman in the biblical writings. Wisdom, also called Sophia, cries out to us. This divine breath. A.W. Tozer references throughout the work, is given freely. He cites  the Wisdom of Solomon. A.W. Tozer repeatedly reminds us that the Wisdom of Solomon is not divinely inspired of God like the other 66 books of the bible, yet gives us a picture of what wisdom truly is.

That was a slight problem with this work. This could be because of my own personal stance on Christianity now as to why I am cautious of what I read and believe. Why isn’t the Wisdom of Solomon included in the 66 books of the bible and who deemed it so?

After learning about wisdom being a “divine lady breath”,  Tozer begins to help us understand the activity of wisdom. Chapter by chapter he teaches us: “The Root of Divine Wisdom”, “The Benefits of Eternal Wisdom”, “The Practicality of God’s Wisdom”, and so on. Each chapter brings you closer to understanding the beauty of wisdom.

There is one teaching that really stuck to me though. In the section on pursuing wisdom, Tozer breaks down Proverbs 1:20-23’s meaning of the scorners, the fools, and simple ones. These are the ones Wisdom will “pour her spirit onto”.

“The point is, though he believes those things, he lives as if they were not so. The man who lives as if the truth were not true is as bad as the man who denies the truth.”(The Wisdom of God, Tozer, pg.108, 2017)

Some troubling areas which came off as biased(again, this could be because of my own feelings as of late about Christianity) stems from over-radical beliefs that is unproven.

For instance, Tozer says: “Millions are in hell because they simply could not resist imitating others”(pg.57) and who are these people in hell Tozer mentions? Smokers and drinkers are one of them. This part is very complex and odd because how do he know who is in hell and how does drinking and smoking land someone in hell? It is bad for health- but hell?

Also, when describing the “strange, evil woman” he calls her sophisticated and smart and “can’t remember when she last attended Sunday school”…? That was pretty low and what does being strange and evil have to do with sophistication unless she is using people and is conceited, I don’t see anything wrong with anyone being sophisticated and intelligent. Perhaps a better example could have been used.

Perhaps I can chalk it up to Tozer’s time period. He lived around 1897-1963 so his views on some things may seem myopic and biased but he is still one excellent theologian and writer.

Overall, the book had great insight and I advise readers to take note on some pages because understanding the wisdom of God is important for the Christian walk. That much I do agree with.

4heart1This book earns four hearts from me and was received for free from Bethany House.

Prayers for an Anxious Heart( a review)

Prayers for An Anxious Heart

Compiled by Barbour Publishing Staff(July 1, 2017)

ISBN: 978-1-68322-171-5

*Book received for free from Netgalley

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These prayer collections(there’s many of them!)published by Barbour, are really hard not to love.

If you are a Christian Woman then this neat little devotional is definitely for you.

Now, if you are not Christian or just need a pick me up to remind you of what’s really important- then the soothing words of this book is for you too.

“Just when I think I might have it all together, something happens to remind me that I am not in control.”(Prayers for an Anxious Heart, 2015)

The everyday stressful moments that seem to stunt our spiritual growth is real but having this powerful book with prayers in it is a great way to begin or end your day.

I think the beautiful factor of these books is that it offers biblical guidance without the need to bash you over the head with rules and structures on how to pray.

For instance, many of the “prayers” offered in the book are inspired by life and Scripture. Well, Scripture is life, but you get the drift.

You can take the prayers and tailor it to your life. Not repeat it word for word. But if you must repeat the prayers exactly, that is your choice too. Hey, it could strengthen your prayer life!

In sum, there is nothing bad to say about a neat book for women who face real troubles.

Five purple hearts!

P.S. I will try to post more reviews of the Spiritual/Christian nature on Sundays or once a month! Please subscribe if you’d like more reviews  and writing tips!