The Fullness of Peace

 

I just came back from an early morning walk during which I had an epiphany I wanted to share…I woke up with free-floating anxiety and racing thoughts as I sometimes do and headed out the door but not before reading a passage out of a Charles Stanley daily devotional; today’s reading (out of I Lift Up My Soul on “Experiencing God’s Best” said, “A true indicator of hearing God’s voice will be a new and complete sense of peace. Jesus said that He gives peace ‘not as the world gives’ but a peace ‘that passes understanding.’ His peace, therefore, must be the governing force of each decision we make.” 

I guess it implanted itself in my brain, or heart, or soul because as I walked I started noticing everything around me…the vibrant colors of the flowers and even the grasses and leaves on the trees which are ever so slightly turning to their fall red and gold hues; the sound of a bird and crickets and cry of a hawk that flew overhead; the sweet smell of freshly cut grass which to me smells like cotton candy; the feel of the cool morning breeze. And it dawned on me that mindfulness leads to gratitude and gratitude leads to peace, and this peace filled me with contentment and joy and reverence for God who creates it all.

It was so unlike the “peace” I used to try to force upon myself in my darker days years ago which was really more like an escape from anxiety…an emptying and numbness of mind, heart and soul with the bottle, medications, drugs and whatever it took to not feel anything. This was the peace the world gave. And then God granted me the serenity to accept what I couldn’t change, the courage to change the things I could, and (some days) the wisdom to know the difference. Today I am experiencing the peace that He gives if I stay open to receive it.

Of course the world tries to snatch it away again. I walk in my neighborhood in the suburbs, and while I am very blessed that our neighborhood is dotted with and surrounded by woods, it is not out in the country; noise interrupted with dogs yapping and a car horn honking, sights interrupted with a neighbor coming out who didn’t smile or wave back, thoughts interrupted like worries about all of the things I have to do today and all of the things that are frustrating me…and my peace quickly evaporated. But this morning I was somehow able to grab that peace back again by re-focusing on the beauty of the nature around me and being thankful once again for  “Indian summer” and the change of seasons we in parts of the US are fortunate to experience. I forced myself to be open to God’s goodness which made me mindful, grateful, and peaceful again. It is fleeting, this “peace full” feeling that God gives. But the epiphany was that I can experience it whenever I become open and willing to do so.

I realized that this peacefulness is what my characters in my books (and the Bible figures on which they’re based) really strive for in the end: Seth (Job) in The Faithful One, Chessa (Abigail) in The Peace Maker, Rory (Jonah) in The Runaway Prophet, and Eliza (Eve) in The Jealous Son. They too try to find it through “the world” but ultimately discover that God alone brings true peace as Jesus tells us: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

 

NOW AVAILABLE – KINDLE & PAPERBACK!
For more information on my latest novel, The Jealous Son, a modern murder mystery based on Cain and Abel, or to purchase the book visit my Website “Books” page, order on Amazon or check your local library or bookstore! (or get a signed copy at one of my upcoming events! Find out more: News & Events)

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Scary and Exciting

 

Are you beginning a new chapter or embarking on a new adventure in your life? New class, grade or even school? New job, career or calling? New relationship – marriage, baby, live-in parent, pet? New move, new home or even big new trip? This seems like the time of year for many to make new beginnings or write new chapters – as students and teachers go back to school and others of us start to look toward next year and set out to fulfill new goals, dreams, visions, missions.

I recently took that leap of faith and quit my “day job” and officially started my new career full-time as an author, speaker and book coach helping other writers edit and publish their own books and I have to say it is “scary and exciting” to be completely out on my own again. I love using this term for anything that seems to be new and worth pursuing but also is a little outside our comfort zones.

Like the photo above, I feel as if life has been rushing at me at the speed of sound and I am finally slowing down just a little – to start to breathe again, have some balance, talk to and rely on God and truly appreciate all of the blessings that have come my way. I know He was been there all along during the past crazy month when I officially launched my newest book AND my new career at the same time. It’s scary and exciting to write the next chapter in our lives, but we can rest assured we won’t be alone in our new ventures if we can rely on God – He tells us so in His Word, the Bible.

Our God is a God of adventure – new beginnings and second chances. If we try to hide or avoid His still small voice to act, move, reach out to fulfill His call, and we just stand still out of doubt or fear, I believe we stagnate – and God always wants us to grow because He is a God of creation: Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18) Sometimes it’s hard to do, to move forward not knowing for sure the answers nor the way that lies ahead; but this is where our true faith comes into play. Interestingly, earlier in the same chapter in the Bible, God says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I also know we have to keep balance in our lives so we don’t veer off the road too far in our rush to get to wherever we think we’re going, and to savor the journey. In my latest book, The Jealous Son, Eliza Trellis (aka Eve) starts to unravel as life comes at her too fast – and she self-medicates with pain pills that put her in a state of depression; she becomes an addict and nearly loses her marriage and her will to live until she finally gets the help she needs – and God leads the way. So don’t be afraid of taking steps toward new adventures…just make sure you take God’s Hand to stay on the path so you don’t lose your way and can experience all of the good things He has in store.

Lord, help us to trust in You and Your ways and to not be afraid to embark on new adventures and follow Your call; help us also to find balance, peace and joy and to not lose faith that You always have our best interests at heart.

NOW AVAILABLE – KINDLE & PAPERBACK!
For more information on my latest novel, The Jealous Son, a modern murder mystery based on Cain and Abel, or to purchase the book visit my Website “Books” page, order on Amazon or check your local library or bookstore! (or get a signed copy at one of my upcoming events! Find out more: News & Events)

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The Hardest Job of All

 

Lately, I have been a workaholic juggling two full-time jobs in marketing and as an author, speaker and book coach, but recently made the decision to leave the former (day job) to strive toward the latter (dream job) and see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel (more balance in my life). Reflecting on this I thought back to when I had two other full-time jobs – working in marketing and parenting. I am living in the light at the end of the tunnel now as my three kids and two step-kids are grown and luckily leading healthy, productive lives. We’ve been called the Brady Bunch and recently when we were all gathered (scrunched) around the dinner table I felt truly blessed to have this large blended family.
There have been times along the way raising my kids, however, when I have not been grateful, but felt worried, guilty, sad, stressed, doubtful and burned out. And yet somehow the grace of God got me through the tough times – just as He has done over the past few thousand years. There are many stories of parental struggle in the Bible. The original parents, Adam and Eve, lost not only one but two children when Cain killed Abel and then was banished “East of Eden” (the story on which my new book, The Jealous Son, is based.) Abraham was asked to sacrifice his only son (though his faith spared the child.) Jacob lost his beloved son Joseph when the boy’s brothers left him for dead in the desert. David lost his baby son born of Bathsheba and not only grieved for him but felt the guilt of having brought on the boy’s death by his own sin. And of course Mary grieved over the murder of her son, Jesus.
Just like these Biblical parents of old, all parents have to cope with a variety of struggles – sacrifice, hardship, loss and all of the feelings that come with these. Moms and dads hurt and suffer when their children hurt and suffer. In writing my new novel, which re-imagines the story of Cain and Abel, I drew on the guilt, loss and grief I experienced when I had a miscarriage – and also talked in depth to two friends who lost a child. How did they cope with that kind of loss? Both are women of strong faith and ultimately relied on God to pull them through just like the saints of old did.
I was once told by a friend in struggling with my son who was fighting the demon of addiction that as long as I tried my best to raise him safely into adulthood I had done all I can do. He also said “your children have a God and you’re not it.” I believe we need to remember that our children really do belong to God and that they are merely on loan to us for a time here on earth. Proverbs instructs us to “start children off on the way they should go and even when they are old they shall not turn from it.” (Prov. 22:6) The great hope for all of us parents is that In the end, no matter what, our children will all hopefully return “home” to Him.
I pray that we can count our blessings as parents and let go of the rest…and that we can hold firm to our faith that in the end, we did the best we could and that God will hold all our children in the palm of His hand and lead them home to Him.

AVAILABLE ON KINDLE – COMING OUT IN PAPERBACK AUGUST 13th – Details Below!
For more information on my latest novel, The Jealous Son, a modern murder mystery based on Cain and Abel, or to purchase the book visit my Website “Books” page, order on Amazon Kindle (avail. now), Pre-order the Paperback – or check your local library or bookstore!
(or get a signed copy at one of my upcoming events! Find out more: News & Events)

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Sibling Rivalry

 

Sibling rivalry…It’s been around since the beginning of time. Cain and Abel were the first example in the Bible. Cain let his jealousy of his little brother Abel consume him and set out to destroy him. Then there was Jacob and Esau. Jacob was jealous that his older brother Esau would get his father’s blessing (or inheritance due the eldest in those times) and wore a disguise to trick his dad, who was blind and on his deathbed, into thinking he was Esau, and thus stole his brother’s birthright. There was the story of Joseph and his brothers, who were envious of their father’s special love for his youngest son. They abandoned Joseph in the desert and left him for dead. And they are just a few stories from the Old Testament. In the New Testament we see Jesus’ cousins, Martha and Mary, squabble when the Lord visits them one day. Martha, working hard cooking and cleaning while Mary sits with Jesus to enjoy His company, complains that she’s doing all the work; she’s jealous that Mary is slacking off (in her opinion) while she slaves away. And we hear the parable of the Prodigal Son in which the “good” older brother gets jealous and angry at his father when he welcomes his little brother, the prodigal one who squandered his inheritance, get rewarded with a party replete with fatted calf – while he never even had a skinny goat to share with his friends.
Clearly, God is telling us sibling rivalry is a reality of life…and sometimes a painful one. But why? Why did God give us siblings and what does He want us to learn from them? All of these sibling stories in the Bible have a common thread of jealousy, comparison and competitiveness, and a belief (on one sibling’s part) that life is unfair. I believe He wants us to learn how to love despite our feelings of jealousy, anger, fear, and our thoughts that we aren’t getting our fair share…to learn to get along and perhaps be friends with our siblings and love them unconditionally even when it seems to us they don’t deserve it.
I’ve heard it said that friends are the siblings we get to choose. And while it’s good to have friends, isn’t it nice to also have siblings – someone to share family stories and memories with, someone that uniquely knows and understands where you’re coming from, someone to practice “playing in the sandbox” with, someone who will help take care of parents in their later years? If you don’t have a sibling, you do get to choose. But for the rest of us, I think we need to be grateful for God’s choice of our siblings and the life lessons they teach us, and hope that, despite our differences, we can be friends and love each other in the end.
I wrote The Jealous Son, a modern-day murder mystery based on the story of Cain and Abel, because I could identify with the gamut of feelings that comes with sibling rivalry, both as the oldest of two sisters and as the mother of three grown children and stepmom of two more. We have all had “love/hate” relationships over time – but I’m blessed to say that in the end we always choose love. My newest novel, although fiction based on a Bible story, is real and relate-able today because it delves into the relationships between siblings, their parents, and all of the family issues that most of us have to deal with in our lives – and I hope will bring readers God’s message of hope, faith and love in finding ways to cope, overcome, and grow into our best selves.
“If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4:20
I pray that we look at our siblings as blessings from God to help us learn life lessons and become our best selves. 

AVAILABLE ON KINDLE – COMING OUT IN PAPERBACK AUGUST 13th!

(or get a signed copy at one of my upcoming events! Find out more: https://michelechynoweth.com/news-events/

For more information on my latest novel, The Jealous Son, a modern murder mystery based on Cain and Abel, or to purchase the book, visit my website “Books” page: https://michelechynoweth.com/books/#the_jealous_son
or: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07S7FKL8P/ref

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Is the Bible really relevant?

The more we read and understand the Bible, the more intimately we can get to know the Author…and isn’t that what we all seek in the end?

Do you ever feel like you could use an instruction manual for life, or at least some of the things you have to deal with? A manual on how to be a good parent, grandparent, sister or brother, co-worker, friend, on how to deal with stress, uncertainty, pain, loss…the list goes on. I believe that God gave us that very manual – the Bible – and that it is a guide for us today just like it has been for centuries.
I’ve been asked or told some of the following when I’ve tried to explain my “genre” of books – suspense novels that “re-imagine” Bible stories: “No offense but I don’t want to read anything religious”; “Your books will never sell because they aren’t exactly typical Christian fiction and they’re not racy enough to become bestsellers”; and even, “Why don’t you write something else more marketable like ’50 Shades of Grey’?” Believe me, I have tried, like Jonah, to run from this calling of mine. I never asked for this. I tried to write more mainstream fiction – but God had another plan, calling me to write on Job, then Abigail, then Jonah, and now Cain and Abel. It forced me to read the Bible. And I truly fell in love with reading it, beginning to end, and found answers in it that deepened my faith.
Sometimes we have to just do the work God directs us to do or puts on our hearts and let go of the outcome. Amazing things have happened for me as a result, blessings and rewards despite my resistance. If you’ve never read the Bible, or haven’t read it in a long time, maybe it’s time to try picking it up…opening it to a random page or looking up a topic that’s on your mind. Trust me, it’s all in there. I think it helps when you pray and meditate to find a passage to focus on, and a message to remember in times of need. I have a few favorites I wanted to share (There are so many more but only so much space! And please send your favorites back to me!):
“For I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  – Phil. 4:13
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
“(Jesus said) I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6
I pray that when we are at our lowest points, we can recall passages from the Bible to help us see the light and be the people God calls us to be…and that we continue to live our best lives through His Word.


For more information on my latest novel, The Jealous Son, a modern murder mystery based on Cain and Abel, or to purchase the book, visit my website “Books” page: https://michelechynoweth.com/books/#the_jealous_son
or: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07S7FKL8P/ref

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A New Freedom and A New Happiness

This morning I woke up thinking about a deadline I missed that involved entering my book in a major contest. I simply forgot since I had so much going on in my life with family, career, life. There was nothing I could do about it and yet it consumed my thoughts and I beat myself up and further still, didn’t pay attention to the words and feelings of those around me. I finally had to keep telling myself to “let it go.” I realized I needed to pray for freedom from my obsessive thoughts and regrets and things over which I have absolutely no control.

This week we in the United States celebrate our nation’s freedom, and our various freedoms as Americans to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  But what about our personal freedom? Do you feel truly free in the ways that count? Free of fear, regrets, resentments, anxiety? Free of addiction, loneliness, the need to control, judgement of or comparison with others, people pleasing, co-dependency, low self esteem? Perhaps it’s time to look at ourselves and question how free we really are, and if we don’t like the answer, to work to become completely free from our egos, our self-restraints, our self-bondage.

In the 12-Step recovery program’s “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, there is a list of promises that the program says will come true if you “are painstaking” about your development and work for them.  These are the “The Promises”: “We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”

 It is a spiritual program, which means if you truly work to become closer to God as you understand Him and become less self-centered and more focused on serving others, you will have a “new freedom” and “new happiness” that results.  I appreciate my freedom as an American. But it is not enough, or doesn’t mean anything, if I am not right with God and free from my own negative thinking, my own addictions or compulsions, my own self-centered ego. My dreams and aspirations don’t mean a thing if I don’t share them to help others.  As St. Paul says to the Galatians in the Bible, “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.”

I pray that when I get too deep in self-centered or negative thinking, worrying about things over which I have no control, or obsessing over regrets or resentments, I can “let go and let God” remove whatever is ailing me or blocking me from being my best spiritual self, and be truly free to not only be a proud American but to enjoy the personal peace, joy and love God wants me to experience through knowing and serving Him and others.  

HAPPY 4TH of JULY!

For more information on my latest novel, The Jealous Son, a modern murder mystery based on Cain and Abel, or to purchase the book, visit my website “Books” page: https://michelechynoweth.com/books/#the_jealous_son
or: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07S7FKL8P/ref

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Digging Deep…

Have you ever felt as though your well has run dry? Like you are completely exhausted, burned out, have nothing left to give? I believe that is when we need to dig down into our souls to find the strength and renewal only our Creator can give. Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed again, lining up too many commitments in my zest to say “yes!” to book promotion events, book coaching projects (of really good books I must add that I could not deny) and speaking/teaching engagements to spread the Word or help other writers. But these noble “calls” have left me a bit crazy to the point where I lost my cell phone on the plane trip home to Maryland from a Kentucky writers conference. If you’ve ever lost your cell phone, you know the dread of losing all of your contacts and photos and your only means of communicating with the world. So I panicked a little and then dug down deep to pray for peace, and got a new phone. Fortunately everything was backed up on the I-cloud! 

I realized I need to slow down, find balance again, and refill my empty well – or better yet, allow God to fill it.  And that’s where the digging down deep comes in. When I get in over my head, I tend to ‘suck it up’ and think I just need to put my head down and charge ahead on my own strength, thinking if I can just spend a little more time and energy (even though there’s not much left), I can plow through my work pile and somehow survive. But what happens to a well (or picture a plant or earthen vessel of some sort) when it undergoes more pressure and heat? It cracks and eventually breaks, sometimes beyond repair. We are those earthen vessels and in order to keep giving (pouring out refreshment for others) we need to be filled up from within – from God.

But how? We can fill up our dry, thirsty souls with God’s Word, with prayer and meditation and by spending time with God, by believing we are enough.  We need to have faith that God will help us to overcome our difficulties and obstacles, even our overloaded schedules, if we let go and let Him. Just like He did for the questioning Samaritan woman who came to draw water.  “Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’  (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’ ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?’ Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life’.”  (John 14: 7-14)

We need to dig down deep to not only survive but to live peaceful, joyful lives. In my new novel, The Jealous Son, Eliza Trellis eventually “loses” her two children and completely goes off the deep end, not wanting to live under the weight of such tragic loss. Her faith eventually brings her through it all. I know women, friends, who have lost children and have managed to go on and live joyful lives.  I also remember when my father was diagnosed with Stage 4, inoperable pancreatic cancer over three years ago. He was given a few months to live. At first he didn’t want to go on…but then he dug down deep for that will to live, started going for treatments and since has seen the college graduation of one his grandchildren, the birth of two great grandchildren and celebrated his 80th birthday with friends and family.  Although I cannot (and hope I never have to) imagine the immense pain that comes with losing a child or finding out you have cancer, I hope that I would be able to draw from the reservoir of strength and hope I have from building my relationship with God.

I pray that when life’s challenges, no matter how big or small, come our way and we feel burned or burned out, we can dig down deep within and allow God to fill our “wells” (souls) with His refreshing peace, joy and love so that we can in turn let it flow out to others who are thirsty.

 

For more information on my latest novel, The Jealous Son, a modern murder mystery based on Cain and Abel, or to purchase the book, visit my website “Books” page: https://michelechynoweth.com/books/#the_jealous_son
or: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07S7FKL8P/ref

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