Brooke Williams #2–Author Interview

Brooke WilliamsDear Friends,

I’m so delighted to welcome Brooke Williams back to my blog. Brooke is such a special lady! She is the type of person who brings joy and laughter wherever she goes. I feel very blessed to have her as a friend! I think she’s terrific!

Danele: Brooke, I’m so glad that you’re able to be with us today!

Brooke: Thank you so much for having me. I’ve gotten so much encouragement from you. I feel it an honor to call you my friend. I only hope we can meet in person someday!

Danele: Wouldn’t that be a blast!! I would love it! I have a feeling that we would end up talking and laughing for hours. Speaking about laughter, has anything happened recently that’s made you giggle?

Brooke: Yes, actually. My older daughter (age 7) and I are both in hand chimes groups at church. At our last practice, the kids’ group was playing, and I was filling in for a child who couldn’t make it. Between songs, I looked at my older daughter and asked her where her sister was (little sis is age 3). She gave me the funniest look. I quickly realized that the sister I was asking about was SITTING IN MY LAP! Not only was she on top of me, but she had her hand up the sleeve of my shirt (what she likes to do when drinking her milk). Wow, where was my mind?! I’m still baffled by that one!

Danele: Oh, Brooke! You just made me laugh!! I can remember tearing the house apart one day, looking for my car keys. They were in my hand the whole time! I have NO IDEA how I was able to remove the sofa cushions while clutching the keys in my palm. LOL!! Now, here’s a more serious question for you. Why do you think it is important to pray?

Brooke: I’ve had fun teaching my girls that they can talk to God about anything. At night before bed, we all say our prayers. My littlest one generally says, “Thank you, God, for cheese and hamburgers…” and anything else that comes to her mind. She’s three and those things are precious in her world! My older daughter came up with something more profound. She’s 7 and deathly afraid of smoke alarms. So often, when she’s trying to get to sleep and alone, she’s afraid. The other day, she told me the following: “At night, when I’m afraid, I just talk to God and ask Him to hug me really close and then I can feel His arms around me and I’m not scared anymore.” I about cried when she said that. And THAT’S why it’s important to pray. Because when you do, God wraps His arms around you and you feel close to Him.

Danele: That’s beautiful, Brooke! I love feeling the peace of God during prayer. It is so incredible! Now, Brooke, there are so many people who are hurting in this world. Is there anything you’d like to say to them?

Brooke: I would tell them that I’m so sorry for your pain. And you are not alone. Not only are there people out there who care about you, whether you know them or not, but there’s a God that cares about you more than anything. Power through. Life is hard, but it’s worth it. And there’s another side to every dark cloud.

Danele: That’s so true, Brooke! There were so many times that I wanted to give up during my illness and quarantine. I’m so glad that I gave God my pain and kept putting one foot in front of the other. Life always gets better. It may take a little time (over seven years in my case) but it ALWAYS gets better. Brooke, I know that being a Christian influences every part of our lives. How has being a Christian influenced your writing?

Brooke: As a Christian, I want other Christians to have something uplifting to read. Life is hard, plain and simple. But I want to take the stress away from them for the time being and help their hearts feel lighter. I also want to give them a clean read that doesn’t dive into anything they don’t want to dwell on.

Danele: That’s a wonderful goal, Brooke! I use reading as a stress reliever, and I love it when a book whisks me away to some faraway place. Although I love to read, I’m always a little worried when I try out a new author. Lots of times, when I go to the bookstore, I will pull an interesting book from the shelf and thumb through it. I read a page here and there, and if I find a dirty place, I don’t buy it. My method doesn’t always work, and I’ve been unpleasantly surprised when some of the books I buy have questionable scenes. A dirty scene always reminds me of a worm in an apple. That’s one of the things that I’ve enjoyed about your books. I’ve read several of them now, and I’ve found that you write scenes that are funny without being crude, and romantic without being sleazy. Can you give us a list of the books you have written?

Brooke: Sure! Accept this Dandelion, Dandelions on the Road, After the Final Dandelion, Mamarazzi, Backwards Christmas, Someone Always Loved You, and Wrong Place, Right Time.

Danele: Can you tell us a little about your latest new release and share a purchasing link?

Brooke: Of course! My most recent release (May 17) is After the Final Dandelion. It’s the third book in the Dandelion series. In book 1, Accept this Dandelion, we see one couple coming together. And in book 2, Dandelions on the Road, a second couple. In this third installment, After the Final Dandelion, we get to see what happens to both couples AFTER their happy endings.

Here’s the back cover blurb: After Renee Lockhart appeared on the local TV dating show “Accept this Dandelion” and found the love of her life, she thought she was done with TV. But when she hears that the entire city has bets on how soon she and her fiancé will break up, she is determined to show that their love is meant to last. When Mike, the KETO producer, approaches her about airing the wedding live, she jumps at the chance. Once she is set up with a famous wedding coordinator, plans take a turn for the worse and the simple wedding they wanted becomes the event of the year. In the meantime, Eva Merida is dealing with her own life changing opportunity. Though she’s in love with her boyfriend, who she met on the second season of the dating show, she can’t turn down the chance to investigate a Hollywood TV show when offered a position. When she runs into an old flame, she questions the stability of her current relationship. Will Renee be able to prove her love for Ben to the city before her wedding falls apart? Who will Eva choose on her own emotional roller coaster? Hilarity ensues as the wedding of the decade melts into the disaster of the year. Because everyone knows weeds take over every garden…

http://www.amazon.com/After-Final-Dandelion-Book-ebook/dp/B01D688DP6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1460397370&sr=1-1&keywords=after+the+final+dandelion 

Danele: Brooke, thank you so much for being with us today! I’ve really enjoyed talking with you.

Brooke: And I’ve enjoyed your unique questions and your overall approach to life! It’s my honor to be on your blog…truly!!

 

Friends, Brooke Williams is such a wonderful person. She approaches life with joy, and her joy spills over into her books. If you would like to learn more about Brooke or her books, please follow the links below. I hope you have a wonderful day!

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBrookeWilliams/

http://www.authorbrookewilliams.com/

Please, Don’t Make Me Dance Like a Chicken!!!!

smile faces 2When I was in high school, I spent a lot of my time feeling EXTREMELY awkward. I tried very hard to blend into the background, but truthfully, blending is a little hard to do when you’re six feet tall. And there was one scholastic event that always made me feel like I was sticking out like a sore thumb. What was it?? It was pep rallies.

GACK!!! The name alone gives me the shivers.

Pep rallies were supposed to be fun. Pep rallies were supposed to be a treat. Most students LOVED pep rallies. My friends adored them. But I hated pep rallies with a purple passion.

Why?

cheerleader 2That’s simple. Sometime during the pep rally, cheerleaders would inevitably dash out onto the gym floor and lead the student body in “school spirit” cheers. Most of the time, these cheers involved you rising to your feet and doing something silly. I HATED looking silly. In fact, every inch of my six-foot frame HATED looking silly. The worst cheer of all was the funky chicken dance. During the cheer, students were supposed to squat down, wiggle their legs in and out, and flap their arms like a chicken.

!!!

I used to have nightmares about the funky chicken dance.

frog danceWhenever a pep rally would begin, my heart would start to race. As the cheerleaders surged onto the gym floor, I would earnestly start to pray: “Please, Lord! Don’t let them do the funky chicken dance. Please, Lord! Don’t let them…” Sometimes, my prayers would work, but most of the time they didn’t. And as the cute, petite cheerleaders with their electric grins would call for us to stand, I would groan. Afraid to be rebelliously disobedient, I would rise to the call and try to make my gangly, six-foot frame look graceful as I danced like a chicken. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible for someone as clumsy and tall as me to flap around in an attractive way. I looked like an utter idiot. And I knew it.

dancing chickensI used to die a little after every “funky chicken” episode. I was certain THE WHOLE SCHOOL was looking at me and seeing how uncoordinated I was. Years later, of course, I realized that I wasn’t actually the center of the universe and that most people didn’t have time to focus on anything other than themselves—but at the time, my teenaged-self was convinced that all eyes were focused directly on me as I danced like a chicken. It was truly humiliating.

Although the funky chicken episodes were pretty horrible, there was another school cheer that was actually pretty cool. I can’t remember all of it, just the words: “Attitude check, how do you feel? —I feel good! Oh, I feel so good!” Down through the years, I’ve repeated those words to myself about a million times. You see, I believe it’s important to have “attitude checks.” Sometimes, when I’m feeling angry, blue, or scared, I will close my eyes and mentally recite the “attitude” cheer.

cheerleader 1James 1:19 says, “Let everyone be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” When I feel myself becoming angry, I get a picture in my mind of those spunky cheerleaders and their electric grins. I picture them clapping their hands and shouting, “Attitude check! How do you feel?” Taking a deep breath, I clamp a lid on my anger and mentally respond, “I feel good! Oh, I feel so good!”

Psalm 41:11 says, “But O my soul, don’t be discouraged. Don’t be upset. Expect God to act! For I know that I shall again have plenty of reason to praise Him for all that He will do. He is my help! He is my God!” When I feel myself becoming blue, I again think of those cheerleaders. “Attitude check! How do you feel?” Brushing away my tears, I pin on a smile and respond, “I feel good! Oh, I feel so good!”

Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” When I am afraid, the cheerleaders dance through my brain, and I mentally chant: “Attitude check! How do you feel?— I feel good! Oh, I feel so good!”

beautiful-day-1388532_1280My years in quarantine were extremely difficult, and there were lots of times when I wanted to give up. But during those years, I learned an important lesson—ATTITUDE is everything. I spent several of my quarantined years feeling miserable, upset, discouraged, afraid, and angry. I really didn’t like how that felt, so I pinned a smile on my lips, and with God’s help, I changed my attitude. Although changing my attitude was HARD—it WAS possible. I’ve learned through bitter experience that no matter what life tosses at me, I CAN be happy. I CAN be content. I CAN be sweet and kind. It all depends on my attitude.

Attitude check! How do you feel?—I feel good! Oh, I feel so good!

You know what? Maybe those HORRIBLE pep rallies were an important part of my scholastic experience after all. Thinking about it, they did teach me something… But regardless, I’m NEVER going to be fond of dancing like a chicken.

Book Cover Reveal for Time Trap!!!

TimeTrap coverDear Friends,

Guess what? I’ve just received the cover for Time Trap!!! I think it’s absolutely beautiful! Time Trap is the second novel in my book series, The Time Counselor Chronicles. If you enjoyed Time Tsunami, I believe that you’re going to love Time Trap!! I’m so excited about this book! Most of the characters from Time Tsunami are back for another adventure, and in this book, I’ve even added cryptograms that you can solve right along with the characters! Time Trap is squeaky-clean romantic suspense with a time travel twist. The characters are Christians, and Christian themes are explored. It is full of romance, action, and comedy. It also has a couple of plot twists that are guaranteed to please! Time Trap was incredibly fun to write, and I hope that it will be equally fun for you to read!

 

Time Trap is scheduled to be released on Friday, June 17, 2016!

 

red light burst 1Time Trap’s Back Cover blurb:

When problems arise during a field exam, Director Peter Matthews and Dr. Laura Nelson are sent through a time portal to investigate.  While they search for their missing cadets, they encounter an enemy who is calculating and brutal—a mysterious nemesis who is holding a grudge against the TEMCO program.  As Peter and Laura race to unravel clues directing them to their kidnapped cadets, their own survival comes into question.  A deadly trap has been set, and they are forced to pit their wits against a serial killer who is intent on playing a deadly chess game through time itself.

 

firework portalHere’s a Sneak Peek at Time Trap!

Light pierced the darkness as the door to Peter and Laura’s prison swung open. In the quiet stillness, Peter stood in the shadows gripping his wire with both hands. Spider, wearing a ski mask and steel-toed boots, put a brick in the doorway and slowly advanced. Muted light shimmered on the barrel of a gun.

Peter began to sweat—his whole body quivered with the strain of waiting. He knew that with a gun in the mix, he needed to get the wire around Spider’s neck on the first try.

Spider laughed lowly as light fell on Laura. Seeing the way he was advancing toward her, Peter lunged from behind the door and wound his wire around Spider’s throat. Spider gave a strangled bellow and began to struggle. Peter grappled with him, dragging his thrashing body away from Laura. Suddenly, Spider’s gun went off. A bullet ricocheted around the room.

“Laura,” Peter shouted frantically, “get down on the floor!”

Laura dove to the ground as the gun went off again.

Spider made horrible gurgling noises as Peter tightened the wire. Peter knew those sounds were going to haunt his dreams. Spider shoved his gun over his shoulder, ramming it in Peter’s face. Peter jerked to one side. A bullet whistled past his ear.

Spider thrashed wildly as Peter gave the wire another twist. Suddenly, the wire snapped—its brittle surface strained beyond its strength. Peter’s heart plummeted. He grabbed at Spider’s neck with his bare hands, but missed. Swinging on his heel, Spider pointed his gun at Laura.

Time froze.

blue eye

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information about my books, please follow this link: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/my-books/

 

Cinnamon Spaghetti and a Reason to Gag!!!

cookingI love to cook—and I’m pretty good at it now—but when I was younger, I was TERRIBLE at it. Some of the meals I presented my family were completely inedible. When I was a kid, my horrible cooking attempts made me realize that I had personality flaw… I guess that doesn’t surprise you much, does it? By reading my blog, you’ve probably come to realize that I have a GAZILLION flaws. But what was the flaw revealed by my fledgling attempts to master the culinary arts? That’s simple. Are you ready???

I don’t like following directions.

pastaThis, of course, is a DEADLY characteristic to possess when you are presented with a recipe. Whenever I would try to cook, I would read the recipe, cock an eyebrow, and decide that I knew better. That’s how my family ended up with cinnamon-flavored spaghetti sauce—a delicacy that NONE of them appreciated. In fact, one my siblings actually gagged after taking a taste… I thought the gagging was rude and overdramatic until I took a bite. That leads me to another character flaw.

I don’t enjoy admitting that I’m wrong.

This unfortunate personality trait prompted me to finish my helping of cinnamon spaghetti and to take seconds. (Of course, that night when I was clutching a bottle of antacids, I had to admit the error of my ways.)

spices 2You know by now that I have an incredibly wise mother. Mom didn’t say much about the cinnamon spaghetti, she simply gave me a chart telling which spices went with which foods and gently suggested that I study it. Being a typical kid, I huffed, rolled my eyes, and shoved the chart in a drawer. I was certain that I knew better than any recipe designer did, and I was determined to try out new flavor combinations. I slathered honey on my chili soup and poured in a cup of sugar. I tried enfolding ginger, saffron, and rosemary into every dish I prepared. I was CERTAIN that measurements were simply suggestions, and I decided that a tablespoon was better than a teaspoon on any day of the week. Needless to say, on the nights I was scheduled to cook, my family always seemed rather anxious. A look of dread would inevitably come over their features as they picked up their forks.

So what changed things? What finally turned me into a good cook?

It was my taste buds. I came to the point where I couldn’t stand my own cooking anymore. I was sick of clutching the antacid bottle, and I was tired of trying to justify my culinary mistakes. Simply put, I realized that I was messing up recipes rather than making them better.

Once I realized the error of my ways, I began pouring over cookbooks in my spare time. Eventually, I realized that measurements weren’t just suggestions and that spices did have their place—but only when called for. Over time, as I followed recipe instructions, my cooking gradually improved to the point that my mother let me cook dinner for company. I felt ten-feet tall when I made spaghetti and NO ONE gagged. In fact, several of the guests took seconds—and one even had thirds. In my mind, that meant I had earned my apron!

cinnamonThe other day, I was cooking spaghetti sauce and saw a jar of cinnamon. The sight made me laugh, and as I strolled down memory lane, I realized that following directions was difficult in another aspect of my life too. Through the years, I’ve read the Bible many times, but when I was younger, there were times when I felt the Bible’s instructions were too strict, too outdated, or that the writers had simply gotten it “wrong.” During those bouts of “fierce independence” I went my own way and let my Bible collect dust on my nightstand. Each of those bouts of “fierce independence” led to disaster and heartbreak.

BibleThere’s something inescapable about God’s Word. It doesn’t matter how you “feel” about it—it always remains the same, and it’s always right. I’ve learned through bitter experience that the Biblical commands I thought were the most “outdated” and “impossible to follow” were actually the commands God was trying to use to keep me out of trouble.

Life is unpredictable. Life isn’t always fair. But God’s Word is unchangeable, reliable, and true. When I finally decided to stop doing things my own way and to start following the Biblical “recipe” God provided, my life not only became rich and flavorful—it actually became toothsome and EXTREMELY palatable. If I could go back through time, I’d love to tell my younger-self to stop ignoring God’s Biblical recipe and to stop trying to tweak it. My life would’ve been much easier if I had simply trusted the truth of the Scriptures and obeyed them.

Bible and prayer“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105

“For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit…and it is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16

 

Tracy Wainwright–Author Interview

SONY DSC

Dear Friends,

It’s my honor to introduce you to Tracy Wainwright! I’ve recently gotten to know Tracy, and I’ve been very impressed not only by her enjoyable personality, but also by her strong stance for Christ. Tracy is an author who tries to honor the Lord with her writing. She also tries to honor the Lord with her life. In fact, she just returned from a missions trip to Africa!

Danele: Hello, Tracy! I’m delighted to have the chance to interview you!

Tracy: Thank you so much for having me, Danele. I’m really excited to be with you today. It’s an honor to be invited to share with your readers.

Danele: I’m really eager to learn more about you! Can you tell us when you gave your heart to Christ?

Tracy: I entered into a relationship with Christ by grace through faith when I was thirteen. My grandparents took me to church every summer–which I spent with them–but it was after two acquaintances in the seventh grade witnessed to me at school one day and gave me some Christian tracks that it finally came together for me. I’d known about God for a while, but it was when I was alone in my room with the material they gave me and a Bible my grandparents’ church had given me that I finally understood my need for God.

Danele: That’s beautiful, Tracy. I love how God draws each of us to Him in unique and special ways. I also love how God’s tender care doesn’t stop after we commit our lives to Him. Has there ever been a time in your life when God demonstrated His care in a deeply personal way?

Tracy: Yes. I’ve dealt with depression off and on since I was a teenager. I’m fortunate not to have suffered from major depression, but there have been many times when I felt like I was walking through a swamp just trying to get through each day–sometimes each moment. There have also been times when I just didn’t try very hard, and I let it stop me from living life to the fullest. What I’ve learned, though, is that I can focus on myself during those times, or I can focus on God and His promises. When I do the latter, He always comforts me, walks with me, and gets me to the other side and restores my joy much more quickly. I don’t have a lot of power over the beginning of depression, but I do have power over how I handle it.

Danele: Tracy, your words hold so much wisdom! They’re really resonating with me. It’s true that we don’t always have power over our circumstances, but we do have power over how we react. I think that understanding that fact was the turning point in my own struggle. When I determined to control my attitude and commit my struggle to God through prayer, I started having victory. Speaking about prayer, I know that some people don’t feel it is important. Can you explain why prayer is important to you?

Tracy: I have found that prayer is essential to keep me connected with the Holy Spirit. If I’m not engaging Him in conversation, I’m not going to be as close in my relationship with Him. I’ve also learned that listening in those conversations is as important as talking. I’m still working on taking the time, setting it aside, and getting quiet with the Lord more, but the time I do spend is precious. It has transformed the way I live each day, as I know He is empowering me to serve and love, and I can go to Him at any time with anything. Then I’m not burdened with carrying everything in this life, but I am able to give it to Him to carry and give me wisdom.

Danele: I really love how you explained that! Thank you, Tracy. There are so many people hurting in this world—what would you like to say to them?

Tracy: I recently got to meet some of those hurting people who are living in desperate situations. I went on my first international mission trip to Kenya in April. It was heartbreaking to meet children as young as seven who had no home, who lived on the streets, and who didn’t know when or where they’d get their next meal. Yet, I also met a young man of twenty-three who had been one of those street children. He had been introduced to the Lord and sang, danced, and praised Him with the most abundant joy! Many people aren’t in those kinds of circumstances, but they are hurting from desertion, deception, divorce, discouragement, dire financial circumstances; really, the list could go on. No matter the source of pain, the truth is that God is the great Comforter and Healer. No matter what our situation, God never changes. He is our Rock, our Salvation, our Shelter, our Rescuer, our Friend, and our Savior. He never leaves us. This last phrase is used so much that we almost miss the depth to us. He NEVER leaves us. He is always with us through our pain and offers us everything we need. If we can take our eyes off of our pain, even for a moment, and turn our eyes to Him, He will supply us with the strength to get to the next moment. He never says that in following Him we’ll never have pain, but He does say that He is always there with us through it.

Danele: Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us, Tracy! I really appreciate it! Your words have really touched me! Now, before I let you go, I would love for you to tell us a little bit about your new book release.

Tracy: My most recent release is called “A Transformed Mind: Change Your Thoughts to Change Your Life.” It is the first book in a twelve-part series. The goal of this series is to equip people with the tools to live the transformed, abundant, victorious life Jesus came to give us. Many of us–including me for too many years–live without realizing the full potential of who God created us to be. The first book focuses on our thoughts because that’s the foundation of all other changes we make in life. It’s with our minds that we choose faith in the Lord, and it’s with our minds that we choose the paths, actions, and words that direct our lives. The brain is small, but it has a huge impact on our lives. Just like this book, #smallbutmighty. If you’re looking to transform your life, I think this is the perfect place to start. If you don’t believe you have the power to change your thoughts, you will. If you’re not sure how to change your thoughts, I believe this book will equip you and give you the confidence to do so. The book is only $0.99 right now, so it’s a great deal! (P.S. Book 2: A Transformed Mouth releases June 6!) Here is a purchasing link: https://www.amazon.com/Transformed-Mind-Change-Your-Thoughts-ebook/dp/B01EK3IAQ8?ie=UTF8&keywords=tracy%20wainwright&qid=1462196420&ref_=sr_1_2&sr=8-2

Danele: Your new book sounds wonderful, Tracy! I know that you’ve written other books as well. Can you share a list with us?

Tracy: Sure! Her Whole Self–a novella, Riding the Wind–YA, Counting from Creation–a picture book, and Living Stress-Free–a Bible study.

Danele: Tracy, this has been so much fun! Thank you so much for sharing with us today!

Tracy: Thank you, Danele. It’s been a true pleasure to talk with you today. I can’t thank you enough for having me!

 

Friends, I’m just becoming acquainted with Tracy, and the more I talk with her, the more impressed I am by her! She seems like such an incredible person, and I’m so blessed to know her! If you would like to learn more about Tracy or her books, please follow the links below. I hope you have a wonderful day!

 

tracy_wainwright@yahoo.com

www.tracywainwright.com

www.surrenderedliving.blogspot.com

www.momsforgod.blogspot.com

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTracyWainwright/

https://twitter.com/TracyWrites4Him

https://www.instagram.com/tracylwainwright/

https://www.pinterest.com/tracy1257/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZ4icoyhp-Wqjnv2wYOZ8Sw

The Cranky Bathtub

bathroom 1I have a cranky bathtub. Seriously. The silly thing drives me crazy. My tub is sluggish, and it has a mind of its own. You see, about every eight months, it decides to clog. I can always tell the warning signs. When I shower, rather than disappearing, the water starts backing up. Days later, water is covering my toes. By the time the water level is up to my ankles, I know I have to do something.

Normally, a sluggish tub wouldn’t present a problem. All that’s needed to fix it is a chemical drain cleaner, right? Wrong. I have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, and I can’t use most chemicals—including drain cleaner. That means when the tub decides to go on strike, I have to get down on my knees and use a plunger.

I don’t really care for plungers. They aren’t exactly my favorite invention. They aren’t particularly thrilling or exciting to use, and I always end up getting splashed. I don’t approve of being splashed. I think it’s nasty.

The other day, I was down on my knees plunging my tub. It went something like this: plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge—wipe sweat from brow—plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge—notice there isn’t any change in water level—plunge, plunge, plunge…

After about ten minutes of steady work, I decided to remove my mind from the boring task and turn philosophical. I wasn’t sure if any wonderful, spiritual lesson could be gleaned from a clogged tub and a plunger, but I was determined to find one.

Plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge—I thought about salvation. I couldn’t find a connection…

Plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge—I thought about worship, but it didn’t seem to fit…

Plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge, plunge—water splashed my face—I thought about my wet head.

Ahhh……

drain 2Friends, you will be happy to know that there IS a spiritual lesson that can be gleaned from a cranky bathtub and a plunger. As I wiped water from my eyes, I realized that my brain is like my bathtub. Most of the time, the day’s events swirl down the drain and disappear, but every once in a while, something happens that sticks in my mind. An unkind word. A strange glance. A slighting gesture. When those things happen, if I’m not careful, they don’t disappear right away, and soon my mind is totally focused on hurtful things. When that happens, trouble always follows.

Jesus said in Luke 17:1 that opportunities to be offended are always going to come. In fact, Jesus said it was IMPOSSIBLE for offence not to come.

Proverbs 19:11 says, “A wise man restrains his anger and OVERLOOKS insults. This is to his credit.

Sometimes, I tend to be like a dog with a bone when something hurtful happens. I gnaw on it. I refuse to let it go. I analyze it. I try to figure out why it happened. I try to figure out what I could have done to prevent it. I try to figure out who was at fault. I try to figure out if I said the right thing. I try to come up with the brilliant things I SHOULD have said. Sometimes, I do everything but the things I’ve been instructed to do. The Bible says I should OVERLOOK the hurtful event and FORGET it. In essence, I should let the offense swirl down the drain and out of my mind.

frogs see hear speakThere was a time in my life when I was a very bitter person. I could remember every hurtful thing that was ever said to me–and I could remember those hurtful things in crystal clear detail. Soon, my angry, bitter thoughts started playing over and over in my mind. They were what I thought about before I went to sleep. They were what I thought about when I got up. They were what I thought about when I was washing the dishes or folding the clothes. My angry, bitter thoughts squeezed out any pleasant thoughts that tried to take root.

Was I happy living that way???

Are you kidding? I was miserable. Deep down, I knew that harboring grudges and holding onto hurtful memories was wrong, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I tried to justify my grudges by saying it was the other person’s fault—but I knew that wasn’t true. The other person wasn’t in control of my brain—I was. I was responsible for my own thoughts and attitudes.

Finally, I couldn’t stand the YUCK of my own mind. I knew I had to change my thinking. With God’s help, I began mentally singing a hymn every time a hurtful memory rose up to haunt me. I had to do it EVERY SINGLE TIME. I didn’t give myself any wiggle room. I did not allow any pity parties. I prayed every day for God to help me. I made cleaning up my mind a priority. It was incredibly hard, but after a year, hymns were playing in my mind rather than bitter thoughts.

Deliverance isn’t always easy or instantaneous. Deliverance sometimes takes hard work and determination.

I’ve been down the “Bitterness Road,” and I hate where it leads. It may seem harmless to rehash a hurtful conversation—it may seem okay to analyze a painful memory—but I’ve learned that it is incredibly dangerous. When rehashing becomes a habit, it always ends in slavery.

Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.

daisy 1I’ve learned that anger turns into poison after twenty-four hours. I don’t like poison. I try to avoid it. I definitely don’t play around with it or ingest it. After winning my freedom from bitterness, I try very hard to let hurtful things go as quickly as possible. I’ve learned that waiting for apologies is a waste of time—so is rehashing hurtful events. I’m so glad that God helped me use the “holy hymn plunger” to clear away my bitterness. I still try to sing hymns every day. I think of it as “preventative” spiritual warfare.

You know what? I wonder if preventative plunging would work on my tub? Maybe I should start plunging my bathtub once a month. Two minutes of monthly plunging would certainly be easier than an hour of extreme effort every eight months. Prevention. Instant action. Yes. That’s the key.

The Devil Made Me Do It!

Danele pink dressWhen I was about six, my cousin would sometimes come over to play. I really loved my cousin, and we had TONS of fun together, but sometimes we could really get on each other’s nerves. I suppose it was because we were both a bit strong-willed—or at least I was.

One day, my cousin and I began to fight. Being the sweet, lovely natured child that I was, I decided to end the argument in a thoughtful, direct way. I shoved my cousin in the coat closet and locked the door. Being the highly intelligent child that I was, it never occurred to me that my mother and aunt were sitting fifteen feet away drinking coffee in the kitchen. Naturally, my cousin began to yell, and my mother and aunt came to investigate.

At that exact moment, I realized things were about to get extremely sticky…

Danele in kitchenAfter freeing my cousin, my mother took me firmly by the arm and demanded to know why I had done it. In my sweet little six-year-old brain, I ran through a mental list of excuses, but seeing the fire in my mother’s eye, I knew that none of them would be acceptable. Clutching my hands beseechingly before me, I lifted my innocent, doe eyes to hers and did the only thing that I thought could get me out of the hot seat—I played the religious card. Sighing sadly, I said in a soft, mournful voice, “I’m so sorry, Mommy. The devil made me do it.”

! ! !

Those three exclamation points express the lightning-fast three seconds it took for my mother to turn me over her knee and give me a spanking. Afterwards, she looked at me sternly and said, “The next time the devil tells you to do something, tell him to shut up and go home!”

Needless to say, I got the point.

I wasn’t an exceptionally brilliant child, but I was smart enough never to pull the “devil card” on my mother again. I knew that blaming things on the devil was an excuse that would NEVER be acceptable in her eyes.

baseballsAs I grew up, I faced different challenges, but the lesson I learned at age six stayed with me. No matter what curve balls were thrown my way, I knew I was responsible for how I reacted to them. I was responsible for my own actions, and I needed to own up to them. Unfortunately, sometimes the lessons you learn tend to become blurred over time. Although I never blatantly said the devil made me do anything, I began to let a defeatist attitude creep into my thinking. If I blew my diet, it was because I wasn’t “strong-willed” enough to keep on it. If I allowed bitterness to take root in my soul, it was because the other person had been mean and I wasn’t able to overcome it. If I allowed angry words to spill out of my lips, it was because of my genetic makeup and my human nature. I began to use every excuse in the book. I began to see myself as a helpless victim who was unable to battle the horrible things around me. In essence, I was saying by my attitude and actions that the devil was calling the shots.

bull 3One day, as I was mourning over another defeat in my life, I began to see a picture in my mind. It was of a huge, strong bull being pulled toward a pit by two tiny little creatures. The bull looked limp and defeated—and that puzzled me. I knew the bull was incredibly strong, I could see the muscles rippling beneath his skin. I knew the bull could defend himself—he had strong, sharp horns. I couldn’t understand why the bull didn’t stand up and shove the silly little creatures away. Even as mused, I felt God’s voice down deep in my spirit. He simply said, “Why look down on the bull when you are doing the same thing?”

Sitting up straight in my chair, I blinked.

Suddenly, John 8:36 came to my mind, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” Right afterwards, I remembered John 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

cookiesAs I sat there, I remembered my cousin and the closet. I remembered my mother’s instructions, “The next time the devil tells you to do something, tell him to shut up and go home!” As the memories echoed through my mind, I realized that I needed to take responsibility for my own actions. My diet wasn’t broken because I didn’t have enough will power. My diet was broken because I wanted a cookie and decided that instant gratification was more desirable than skinny jeans. I wasn’t bitter because people had been mean—I was bitter because I liked feeling as if I were better than the people who hurt me and because I was trying to force the whole world to acknowledge my poor hurt feelings. I didn’t lose my temper because of genetics; I lost it because I didn’t want to expend the effort to control it. The devil may have been tempting me to live badly, but I was allowing him do it. I was the who was eating the cookies, rehashing hurtful events, and flying off the handle. I was the one to blame.

bull 4That afternoon, I found a picture of a bull in a magazine. I cut it out and taped it to my bedroom wall. Every time I looked at that bull, I reminded myself who I was. I was a strong child of the Lord. I was someone who was capable of tackling the evil tendencies of my human nature and defeating them. I was someone who had been created to live in VICTORY. I knew that God had given me the Bible, a strong mind, and a strong will. I just need to use them to defend myself. I didn’t have to lie down like a weak, pitiful, defenseless thing and be dragged wherever the devil wanted to drag me. I could stand up, toss my bindings aside, and walk free. All I had to do was DECIDE TO DO IT.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11