Author Archives: grelanmuse

Human trafficking opponent in Houston to launch initiative

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By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

For seven Super Bowls, Nita Belles has brought attention to the troubling occurrence of human trafficking that takes in-our-backyard-human-traffickingplace during major sporting events. And this year is no different.

Millions are awaiting the big game between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons, scheduled to take place in Houston, Texas, the host city of Super Bowl 51, on Sunday, February 5, 2017, but as in previous years, human trafficking is a real concern to many, especially Nita Belles.

Belles is the founder of In Our Backyard (IOB) — http://inourbackyard.org/ — and Jan. 28 she officially announced the launch of the “Convenience Stores Against Trafficking” (CSAT) initiative. She did so during her appearance as keynote speaker at “Vulnerable: A Conference on the Issues of Gender, Race, Poverty & Human Trafficking,” held at South Main Baptist Church, 4100 Main St. in Houston. The free conference kicked off at 1 p.m.

“The Houston Super Bowl was the right time to launch the campaign,” Belles said. “Houston was very accepting and welcoming of the program. Greater Houston Retailers Association put CSAT materials and training out to 1,900 convenience stores.”

IOB will also work with local law enforcement and other groups responding to the anticipated increased sex trade activity in the Houston area. Days before the launch of the initiative, on Jan. 24, KTRK-TV, the ABC-affiliate in Houston, reported a 21-year-old woman — who said she was brought to Houston specifically for sex trafficking at the Super Bowl — was raped in downtown Houston by a pimp. According to the report, a Good Samaritan rescued the woman and took her to Ben Taub Hospital for treatment.

In addition, Belles said her organization have unveiled a major social media drive aiming to boost awareness of human trafficking during the events surrounding the February 5th game. The anti-human trafficking campaigner said she hopes for a quarter of a million shares of the new Thunderclap video, “Link Arms Across America,” during the first quarter. The short awareness message features former victims holding signs of things they were told by their traffickers.

“Thousands of women, children, and even some men across the country are caught up in the horrors of sex trafficking, convinced that there is no way out, and convenience stores can be a first line of help for these victims,” Belles said. “Businesses like these can be heroes in this fight; we’re so glad for their support.”

Since founding IOB in 2006, Belles has become widely recognized as a leading voice in the fight against human trafficking. A frequent speaker to law enforcement, medical, civic and community groups, she has also been an adviser on anti-trafficking legislation to legislators in several states and authored the authoritative book “In Our Backyard: Human Trafficking in America and What We Can Do to Stop It.”

“Human trafficking happens 24/7, 365 days a year, in every zip code in America,” Belles said. “But working together, we can bring an end to this atrocity.”

Belles said volunteers are being recruited for the event to help canvas convenience stores in the Houston area. Visit the IOB website (http://inourbackyard.org/) to sign up.

© 2017 Inside The Pew

Connection between MLK Jr. and Martin Luther goes beyond names

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By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

Jan. 16 is the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. While churches and numerous organizations throughout the land will martin-luther-king-jr-and-martin-luthercelebrate this day, King’s legacy goes beyond his unselfishness to stand up against social injustice. Beyond his words, King is a solid rhetorician with the ability to communicate a powerful message orally (“I Have a Dream”) and in print (“Letter From Birmingham Jail”).

As a graduate student, I was fortunate to research and write an expansive study of Martin Luther King’s letter. I consider it a concrete piece of rhetoric; it is King’s best. Although the letter was intended to address the criticisms from fellow clergy members, the letter took on greater meaning for all readers.

The storytelling and direct reference to historical “extremists” (King’s reference) is impressive, to say the least.

  • Apostle Paul – “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”
  • Martin Luther – “Here I stand; I can do none other so help me God.”
  • John Bunyan – “I will stay in jail to end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.”
  • Thomas Jefferson – “We hold these truths self-evident that all men are created equal.”
  • Abraham Lincoln – “The nation cannot survive half slave, half free.”

King’s use of Paul, Luther, Bunyan, Jefferson, and Lincoln as extremists is part of the letter’s impressiveness. On this day, take a moment to celebrate King and read his letter in its entirety.

Martin Luther: 500 years of influence

The legacies of Martin Luther and MLK are forever linked, thanks to MLK Sr.

According to the organizer of the Luther commemoration, LutherCountry, Michael King, visited Germany in 1934. The elder King was moved by the life of the Protestant Reformation leader that Michael King Sr. changed his and his son’s names to Martin Luther King senior and junior.

MLK is one of many who found inspiration for their protests through Luther. This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which began with the posting of Luther’s 95 Theses on the door of Wittenberg’s Castle Church on Oct. 31, 1517. Luther’s 95 outlined his discontent with the Roman Catholic Church’s use of indulgences (selling salvation). He believed the only way to salvation is through faithfulness to Christ and adhering to his teachings, not by purchasing sacraments. Instead of accepting the punishment levied against him by the church, Luther stood behind the word of God.

“It is almost impossible to write the history of western civilization without mentioning Luther,” said Oxford University theologian Alister McGrath in “Martin Luther: Driven to Defiance.” We should stand up for things we believe. The idea that every person is precious in the sight of God.”

Luther’s protest in 1517 has inspired, and continues to inspire, Americans. Thousands are planning to visit LutherCountry in 2017, to walk in Luther’s footsteps. Those, who cannot travel to Germany in the celebration year, can still join in the commemorations in a very 21st century way: online.

For further information, visit www.visit-luther.com, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

© 2017 Inside The Pew

How to honor God with your money and achieve financial freedom in ’17

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By Jeff Rogers
Special to Inside The Pew

Saving more money and getting out of debt always rank as some of the most common New Year’s resolutions. But resolutions are easy to break, especially if not backed by a strong sense of purpose. This New Year, consider what God is really wanting you to do with your finances. How did you do last year in this area? And what do you want to improve on this year, to better honor Him?

This fresh start of 2017 is a perfect time to evaluate your finances in light of God’s Word, and work towards managing them better, in the way He has called us to in scripture.

So, here are some tips to honor God with your money and achieve financial freedom in 2017. 2017 can be your best money year yet if you follow these simple, God-honoring principles.

Research what the Bible really says about debt.

One of the biggest chokeholds that Satan has on many Christians is excessive debt. Debt brings bondage, not freedom. If you have a strong understanding of how God really feels about debt, you will be more prone to avoiding it. Research scripture and spend time praying about how and why God wants you to avoid debt. As Proverbs 22:7 says “…the borrower is slave to the lender.”

Set long-term goals.

As a financial advisor for over 33 years, I’m sometimes amazed at how many individuals or couples have never setjeff-rogers-stewardship-legacy-coaching long-term financial goals. As the old saying goes “If you aim at nothing…you are sure to hit it!” God’s Word speaks wisdom in this area in Ephesians 5:15-17 (AMP) “Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil. Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.”

Build liquid reserves & savings to respond to emergencies and unexpected expenses.

Many otherwise good financial plans are ruined or suffer a setback because they don’t have the liquid reserves and flexibility to respond to emergencies or unexpected expenses. We recommend setting a goal of building 3-6 months worth of your household budget in liquid reserves/savings. It will take some time, but paying off debts can free up money that can build your liquid reserves as can using things like tax refunds, bonuses, overtime pay, etc.

Spend less than you earn

As the old saying goes, “If your outgo exceeds your Income, your upkeep will be your downfall!” Nobody (the government, corporations or you and I) can spend more than what we bring in for an extended period of time without running out of money. Develop a spending plan and budget, and stick to it. You may find it is easier than you think!

Rejoice in generosity

Have you ever noticed that some of the most unhappy, bitter people are those who are stingy and who hold tightly to every dollar? Have you also noticed that many of the most joyful people in this world are generous (toward God and towards others)? In fact, I’ve heard one Christian leader say “I have never seen an unhappy…generous person!” And you know what, neither have I! As the late Larry Burkett said, “Nothing breaks the chains of materialism like generosity.” I learned a lot from Larry’s teaching and that was one of the most valuable lessons and has transformed my life. Have you allowed generosity to transform your life, your marriage, your family? If you want to break the bondage of materialism and selfishness in your children or grandchildren, read the Kingdom Assignment and do a generosity project with them; or take them to your local Rescue Mission or a third world country where they can experience real poverty and hardship. They will likely come back changed…and so will you!

Spend some time this New Year praying through what God wants for you and your family financially. By following these tips, lots of prayer and a little bit of self-discipline, 2017 can be one of your best money years yet. For more tips visit http://stewardshiplegacy.com/blog/

Photo cutline: Jeff Rogers

Jeff Rogers is founder and chairman of Stewardship Advisory Group and Stewardship Legacy Coaching.

To make a difference you have to be different

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By Shirley Weber
Special to Inside The Pew

Do you know your identity? To me this question was one I could not really answer without confusing myself even more. As I became a teenager up into my early adulthood, I went through an identity crisis.

An identity crisis is a period of uncertainty and confusion in which your sense of identity becomes insecure.

I spent a lot of time trying to fit in. I would wake up in the morning feeling miserable before I would even get out of bed. One day as I was walking home a neighbor’s daughter invited me to church. I really did not want to attend but she would not give up.  The pastor played a film about Jesus dying for me. He died so I could have life and life more abundantly; that night changed my life. I was so curious that I started searching for answers by reading the word. In reading and studying, there are three topics that gave me confidence in knowing my identity.

  • The Lord made me special. “Then God said let us make man in our image in our likeness and let them rule.” (Genesis 1:27, NIV)
  • The Lord chose and loves me. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” (Ephesians 1:4-6, NIV)
  • The Lord has placed me in his royal family: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9, NIV)

When knowing your true identity, your faith will grow stronger and develop; you focus on your identity in Christ. Knowing who you are will restore your joy, bring contentment, and change your life.

I discovered the tools to overcome obstacles in my life such as not knowing my true identity, being fearful all the time, and waking up depressed day to day. The tools that I used were the word of God that renewed my mind each day as I applied the scriptures to my situations. I transformed from insecurity to confidence, from depression to vibrant living.

Shirley Weber is author of “To Make A Difference, You Have To Be Different.” She and her husband, Pastor Larkin Weber Sr., are founders of Couples Night. For bookings, call Shirley Weber at 225-933-5816.

Do you have a Christmas heart?

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By Carol Round
Special to Inside The Pew

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” –Isaiah 9:6 (NIV).

Are you ready for Christmas? I’ve been asked this question by friends, as well as those I meet at the grocery check-out, in the post office line and other public places where I’m waiting.

Children are also waiting. Waiting to see what’s underneath the Christmas tree, wondering if they will receive the desires of their hearts. Time seems to stand still as they count down the days until Christmas.

Others I’ve observed while shopping reveal faces void of hope, a knowing that there won’t be much to unwrap. The desires of their hearts, as well as many of their needs, will go unmet.

In a devotion excerpt by author Ann Voskamp, she wrote, “What we’re really getting ready for is love. Preparing for the holidays is primarily a preparing of the heart. Because what comes down is love, and the way to receive love isn’t to wrap anything up –but to unwrap your heart.”

With the approach of Christmas Day, the season of Advent is almost over. It’s a time to prepare our lives for Christ to enter in. Voskamp says, “Is that the ultimate purpose of this life—the preparing for the next life?

“Is this why Christmas, Advent, unlike any other time of year, glimmers with a glimpse of heaven—because it’s the time of year we’re fulfilling our purpose, preparing for Christ and His coming again? The Christmas tree’s been lit for weeks, a beacon, a preparing, an anticipation,” she adds. “Then, why is it easier to make Christmas cookies than to make our hearts ready for Christ?”

Why is it so difficult for us to reject the lure of commercialism and turn to the heart of the One who came down for one purpose? Why do we find it hard to simplify our physical preparations, instead of preparing our hearts for His coming?trailer movie

American newspaper columnist George Mathew Adams said, “Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide-open heart that thinks of others first. The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world of the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years… Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart.”

What does a Christmas heart look like? In “Our Advent Journey,” Mark Zimmerman wrote, “This Advent we look to the Wise Men to teach us where to focus our attention. We set our sights on things above, where God is. We draw closer to Jesus… When our Advent journey ends, and we reach the place where Jesus resides in Bethlehem, may we, like the Wise Men, fall on our knees and adore him as our true and only King.”

Let Him fulfill your heart’s desire this Christmas.

Round is available to speak at women’s events or to lead prayer journaling workshops. Email carolaround@yahoo.com

 

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His instructions are clear: watch and pray

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By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

President-elect Donald Trump is moving on past his victory on Election Day. Yet, based on the Trump reactions I’ve read on socialphilippians 4 19 the message media and seen on news shows, there are still Americans who are not satisfied with the Nov. 8 results. It is OK to hold a bit of dismay because your candidate didn’t win, but how long will you wallow in despair? It is time to let it go. While this column is not intended to endorse Trump, it is to tell Christians to never forget what God has assured believers.

The madness revealed after the election at the hands of the enemy has led people to become misguided. You know what the Bible has outlined for us; he will supply all your needs (Philippians 4-19). The people who are upset are the ones who are situational Christians. If you completely believe the world is going to hell in a handbasket because of Trump, put the brakes on refer and back to God’s instructions (I Peter 5:7). To rise above anything, you have to believe in Him.

When you understand His instructions, He clearly tells us to watch and pray. Matthew 26:41 tell us to “watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” There is a reason that God tells us to watch and understand who your enemy is, comprehend His tactics, prepare by knowing His word, and to pray without ceasing to win the battle.

When the Almighty tells us to watch, it is the Christian’s duty to know what the enemy is doing to destroy His people and His church.

Due to fear and lack of recognizing what the enemy’s capabilities, people begin to believe the prophecy of those whoGrelan Muse Sr. don’t understand God’s intent. Fear is a feeling derived from people who have not faith in the words of God; He tells us not worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34).

Christians truly understand that it time to heal from the presidential election. In this process, we all must become humble and accept what God has allowed with a clean heart and renewed spirit.

Grelan A. Muse Sr., a Baton Rouge resident, is founder of Inside The Pew and Pew Talk Radio.

© 2016 Inside The Pew

 

Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank receives $1.4M from FEMA

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Special to Inside The Pew

The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank has been able to continue its feeding mission with the help of a nearly $1.4 million FEMA grant.

The grant reimburses expenses to dispose of debris, clean and disinfect property and equipment and restoregreater baton rouge food bank refrigeration and freezing at the Choctaw Drive distribution facility damaged in the August flooding event. It also provides the food bank with a temporary facility to support its essential community service.

The nonprofit stores food at the distribution facility that faith-based and community groups then distribute to pantries, meal sites, homes, shelters and soup kitchens in the Baton Rouge area.

The funds were made available through FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) program. The program reimburses expenses to eligible local and state government and certain private nonprofit entities in 26 designated parishes to repair or replace disaster-damaged facilities and infrastructure.

The 26 designated parishes eligible for PA funding are Acadia, Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Cameron, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Livingston, Point Coupee, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vermilion, Washington, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana.

FEMA typically reimburses 75 percent of eligible PA expenses. However, applicants will be reimbursed 90 percent of eligible PA expenses given the magnitude of the August floods. The federal portion is paid directly to the state, which then disburses the funds to the applicants.

How to deal with loneliness at Christmas

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By Rusty Wright
Special to ASSIST News Service

MOUNT HERMON, CA – ‘Tis the season to be … gloomy?

Feeling low this Christmas season? You’re not alone. Amid cheery songs, festive parties, gifts and good wishes, many

loneliness-and-christmas

lonely people are crying or dying on the inside. Maybe you’re one of them. I was.

During a horrible year, my wife of twenty years divorced me, my employer of 25 years fired me, and I had a cancer scare. As I drove home one night, lovely Christmas music came on the radio. Melancholy aching evidenced the deep pain of abandonment and loss that I was still processing. No fun.

Blue Christmas

Romantic estrangement, family strife, and bereavement can make your holidays dismal. One of Elvis Presley’s most popular songs was “Blue Christmas.” A lonely crooner mourns heartbreaking lost love. Performers from The Beach Boys to Celine Dion, Loretta Lynn, and Jon Bon Jovi have recorded it.

Does even thinking about that song make you depressed? The spoofed “Porky Pig” version could get you laughing. Google will take you there. But please … wait until finishing this short article to search, OK?!

Several factors can produce Christmas blues. Hectic activity can bring physical and emotional stress. Overspending can produce financial pressure. Year-end reflection and focus on loss can magnify sorrow.

McGill University psychologist Michael Spevack notes, “Over eating and over drinking combined with a decreased amount of sleep is also a formula for extreme emotional swings.” Depression can lead to thoughts of suicide, especially among the socially isolated, he says.

The ‘Empty Chair’

Is your family apart this season by necessity or choice? Maybe an “empty chair” reminds you of your pain. Does Christmas “Ho, Ho, Ho” contrast with your deep anguish?

One widow recalled how she felt during the Christmas after her husband’s death: “Little mattered to me. I didn’t want to hear carols. I didn’t want to be cheered up. I didn’t want to look at perky Christmas cards. I wanted the same thing I’d wanted every day for eight months: the strength to force myself out of bed in the morning, to brush my teeth and to eat.”

One possible influence, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a form of depression the medical community doesn’t completely understand. The Mayo Clinic says genetics, age and body chemistry could be the culprits. Mayo recommends seeing your doctor if you feel down for days and have motivation problems. Symptoms can include changing sleep patterns and appetite, feeling hopeless, contemplating suicide, or seeking comfort in alcohol.

Coping

How can you cope with Christmas loneliness? Some suggestions:

Spend time with people, especially positive ones who lift your spirits. Perhaps you’ll be grateful for their cheer.

Exercise regularly.  Blood pumping can help clear your mind.

Eat right. Chocaholics beware. Overindulgence can mean temporary highs followed by disappointing flab.

Lights on! Enjoy sunlight, outdoors if possible. Brighten up your home and workplace. Light therapy sometimes helps SAD.

Budget your gift spending and stick with your budget. Prevent January bill shock.

Talk about your feelings. Keeping them bottled up can mean anxiety, ulcers, sour disposition, and/or explosion. Need a trusted, listening friend? Try a local church.

Give to others. Volunteer. Medical professor Stephen Post, PhD, is convinced that giving is essential for optimum physical and mental health in our fragmented society. He says some California physicians give volunteerism “prescriptions” to their Medicare patients.

Seek counsel. I used to be embarrassed to obtain professional counsel. Now I recommend it. We all can use good advice navigating life’s storms.

Develop spiritual roots. I’m glad that before my dark days began, I had a friendship with God.

Now, I realize you may not agree with me about spiritual matters. But – with sincere respect for you – may I politely mention a few thoughts that have made sense to me, and which you might wish to consider?

Tired of friends who betray, manipulate, disrespect, or desert you? God won’t. He cares for you, values you, will listen to you and comfort you. You can trust Him. He always wants your best.

One early believer put it this way: “Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else?” His point: God loved us enough to send Jesus, his only Son, to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our wrong, our sins. What a demonstration of love! I can trust a God like that. Then Jesus rose from the dead so he could live inside us and become our friend.

Your Choice

Would you like to meet Jesus, the best friend you could ever have? Wouldn’t Christmas season be a great time to place your faith in him? You can tell him something like this:

Jesus, I need you. Thanks for dying and rising again for me. Please forgive me, enter my life, and give me eternal life. Help me to become good friends with you and learn to follow your lead.

Did you just trust Jesus to forgive you and enter your life? If so, ask the person or group that gave you this article how you can get to know him better. Even if you’re skeptical or undecided, ask them your questions. I have a hunch they’d love to talk with you.

About the writer: Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents.  He Rusty Wrightholds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. www.RustyWright.com

This article first appeared in Answermagazine 15:6, November/December 2008.  Copyright © 2008 by Rusty Wright. Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Holy Christian Orthodox Church announces the sainthood of MLK

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Special to Inside The Pew

Archbishop Timothy Paul, president of the World Bishops Council and Patriarch of the Holy Christian Orthodoxsaint martin luther king, the holy christian orthodox church, sainthood Church (HCOC) and Christian leaders from across the globe, along with local and national civic leaders will gathered together last month for the glorification of Saint Martin Luther King.

In June 2013, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was nominated for Sainthood by the HCOC, a convergence communion of churches comprised of over 4 million churches globally. The Holy Christian Orthodox Church, also known as the Communion of Churches embraces the Eastern Orthodox Church tradition of glorification, which differs from the Roman Catholic Church in terms of canonization, which is followed by beautification.

The Eastern Orthodox Church tradition is canonization to glorification. Glorification includes that the person in sainthood will get an icon. However, martyrs require no formal glorification. The self-sacrifice on behalf of their faith and lack of evidence of any un-Christian behavior at the time of death is sufficient.

This icon depicts King, one of the martyrs of the 20th Century. He was an ordained minister of the Baptist Church. From 1955 until his death, he led a campaign of nonviolent resistance in the United States against racial oppression and injustice. The number he wears around his neck is from a “mug shot” taken one of the many times he was arrested by American police for resisting unjust laws. The prison bars behind him represent the occasions he was placed in jail, and also the oppression and slavery of African Americans in the United States. The text on his scroll is from his speech in Albany, Ga., on Dec. 14, 1961. The Greek inscription by his head reads, “Holy Martin.” Since the 18th century, the faith of African American Christians in America has been tied to the struggle for freedom. Martin Luther King renewed the bond between faith and political action like the Old Testament prophets. Although his life was threatened many times, he continued to expose himself to danger. He was shot on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn.

The glorification ceremony included the unveiling of the Saint Martin Luther King, Jr. icon and the inclusion of the sainted martyr in the All Saints Day observance in Christian calendars around the world.

Bestseller or not, we all have a story to tell

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By Deanna Nowadnick
Special to Inside The Pew

I never expected to write a book. Mom had asked me to write a book, but at the time my boys were little and I couldn’t get a grocery list put together. Later when the boys were in high school, Mom asked again, but I deferred, deanna nowadnick“Writers write books.” After Mom’s death, Dad reminded me that Mom had wanted me to write a book. With no more excuses and time to reflect, I wrote a book. Then I wrote a second book.

When I wrote Fruit of My Spirit, I’d just wanted my boys to know how I met their father. My adult sons knew there was more to the story; they knew I hadn’t been studying in the library that fateful night. Before our discussion digressed into tee-hee moments, I began writing, making our family’s story part of a bigger story, a story shaped by God’s love and faithfulness, not the misplaced priorities of a young 18-year-old.

One story on love became two stories, a second one about joy. Then came one on peace. Soon a fruitful theme developed and I was exclaiming to everyone, “I wrote a book!” Then I wrote another book, Signs in Life, this time sharing driving antics, again connecting stories to a bigger, more important message of God’s love and faithfulness.

At an early book signing, a friend approached me and with a shy smile, her eye sparkling, said, “I have a story to tell…” She went on to talk about her family who emigrated from Norway, first to Canada and then to the United States. Her father died just after their arrival. With five children in tow, the youngest only a year old, her mother embraced a new life in the land of promised opportunity. Irene said her own father had been their Moses, leading them from the old country to the new. She added that her mother had been their Joshua. Then she looked away and said, “I could never write a book.”

Perhaps not. Last fall I met with a book club who’d been using Signs in Life for a devotional.  They’d just finished Maya Angelou’s memoir. At the time a reality star had just published her own memoir. I asked the group about their own stories, wondering aloud where our stories fit in. And then we talked about being part of God’s story, wondering where our own stories fit in. I walked with Moses in my second book, but I’m certainly no Moses. I’ve had struggles in life, but I’m certainly no Maya. But surrounding the cross are all our stories, stories that don’t have to be found somewhere between Genesis and Revelation to matter. They don’t have to appear on Amazon’s best-seller list to count. Our stories are more important than that, because they’re chapters in God’s great story. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan friar, said, “The genius of the biblical story is that, instead of simply giving us ‘seven habits for highly effective people,’ it gives us permission and even direction to take conscious ownership of our own story at every level, every part of life and experience. God will use all of this material, even the negative parts, to bring life and love.”

You and I may be traveling different roads, but we’re traveling with God’s divine direction, leading us where we’ve chose to go and also where we haven’t. Now that’s a story to tell!

Deanna Nowadnick is the author of two books, Fruit of My Spirit: Reframing Life in God’s Grace and Signs in Life: Finding Direction in Our Travels with God. Both are inspirational memoirs. When not writing, Deanna serves as a registered investment advisor with The Planner’s Edge, an investment advisory firm in Washington State. She’s active in her church, playing the violin Sunday mornings and serving on the leadership team. She loves Bible study and delights in meetings with various women’s groups. Deanna’s a Pacific Northwest native who’s been blessed with a wonderful marriage to Kurt. Deanna is also on Facebook at Deanna Nowadnick—Author, Speaker, Mentor and Twitter @DeannaNowadnick.