Monthly Archives: April 2017

My Lord and My God…

I admit I never set out to write Modern Day Bible Stories…it was not my idea that got me where I am today. I hadn’t even read the Bible all the way  through and when God hit me with the thought, “you should write a modern day novel based on the Book of Job” (which later became my first published book, The Faithful One) I thought in reply, “What?!” At times along my journey I have felt totally unqualified, even fraudulent. I have asked myself and God, “Who am I to re-imagine Bible stories into contemporary novels?” But since He has kept nudging me, I finally surrendered to His will. And three books later (I’m writing my fourth), I have come to believe that this is truly God’s plan for me, and I’m okay with that. In fact, I have come to love this calling of mine.

Still, I am a “doubting Michele” at times when things aren’t happening fast enough and to my liking with my author career.  Have I been obedient or faithful through the journey over the past several years? Hardly. In fact, although I research each book on which I’m writing, I am finally just now finishing reading the Bible cover to cover (I got stuck a few times on books like Numbers and Leviticus). But, like Thomas in yesterday’s Gospel reading, I have made some progress in my faith. So I will choose to focus not only on Thomas’ belief following his doubt, but on the Gospel writer’s call to all of us to continue to believe even when we doubt too: “Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”  Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”(John 20:26-29)

A friend of mine was recently quoting the Bible and I must admit, although I do know several Bible passages and where to find them, I am still not a Bible whiz. But Thomas’ response has replayed itself inside my head over time, especially recently…for example, when I’m taking Holy Communion, when kneeling in awe before the cross like on Holy Friday, and right now, in meditating about my recent doubts and realizing, God is still here…and has been there all along…supporting me in this calling, in this author journey. And so I hope you pray with me, with hope, faith and love, “My Lord and My God!

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The Battle for Joy

The picture says it all…I was happy in the moment with my granddaughter celebrating her three-year-old birthday sitting beside me and my new one-week-old baby grand-niece in my arm on Easter Sunday. It was a beautiful day filled with joy at our house, celebrating with my sister’s family, my son’s family and some of our own family having fun with the traditional ham dinner, Easter egg hunts, dying eggs, the “picking eggs” game and more. I was a little anxious at first but ultimately happy to host Easter at our house for the first time. Yes, we missed those who couldn’t make it, and yes it was a lot of work (my husband was a huge help), but I was overjoyed at how the day turned out. And now the morning after I feel like a balloon punctured, back to work, thinking about things that could have gone a little better…and although I know those thoughts don’t lead anywhere good, sometimes I get mired in them. And then, poof, there goes my joy! Out the window.  So how do I fight to get my joy back, or more importantly, how do I fight to keep it? How do I resist this emotional “hangover?” I think the answer lies in fighting back, or resisting the bad habits and thoughts that creep in…wanting to crawl back in bed (which would make me ultimately feel guilty I wasted time getting nothing accomplished)…wanting to have more fun instead of go back to work (which pays the bills so we can have more fun and not feel guilty about it)…wishing for things to come or worse, wishing things had been a little different (instead of being grateful for all of the good).

If any of you were fortunate to view the “Best Lent Ever” program with Matthew Kelly of Dynamic Catholic, you would know that we actually have to “slay” resistance every day, sometimes multiple times a day, in order to have true happiness and be open to moments of joy. But first we have to know what makes us happy. Of course being with family, especially my granddaughter, makes me happy…but I can’t have that every day, it can’t be Easter Sunday every day. Today is Monday and it’s cloudy and rainy and back to reality. So how do we sustain happiness? Like Matthew Kelly, I usually can have a reasonably happy day if I spend a little time with God, (praying, reading something inspirational/spiritual, etc.), exercising, getting some writing or work done, and if the opportunity presents itself, being of service to others. Just writing these words lifts me out of that “day after” blues because I know I have been through this battle before, and I can win it if I take one step at a time and stay in the present…and focus on the good and let the rest go.

So I’ll end with this Bible quote from today’s Mass reading: “But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it. For David says of him: ‘I saw the Lord ever before me, with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope…You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence’…God raised this Jesus…(and) He poured forth the promise of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:14 22-33) Don’t worry, be happy, He has risen!

And if you missed it, here’s the whole Dynamic Catholic “Best Lent Ever” series:   http://dynamiccatholic.com/bestlentever/category/lent-reflections-2017/

 

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If Peter Could Do It…

“Peter built the church on the rock of our faith, his banner over me is love.” I remember the line to this favorite children’s song I learned in Bible school growing up as I sat down to write my weekly Monday morning blog.  I have always thought Peter was a really cool figure in the Gospels. I guess because I could really relate to him. He was so passionate, and yet so flawed…so enthusiastic, but then sometimes too impulsive. He walked on water, and then fell into the water and nearly drowned when his faith wavered. He told Jesus that He couldn’t die as planned because it just didn’t make sense to him, but he couldn’t see God’s plan. He told Jesus he would never deny Him, and then when he was afraid, he denied Him three times. And yet, Jesus picked him, Peter, to build the church. Even though Peter had all of those failures and flaws, Jesus never wavered in His faith in him or love for him. Which should be very comforting to the rest of us. We can make mistakes and we will still be forgiven “seventy times seven” times. (and since seven is a number that represents infinity in ancient Jewish times, this means a lot!)

But I think even more importantly, Peter’s story shows us that we can all achieve greatness despite our failures and flaws, if we have unwavering love and faith in Jesus in the long run. We can all start anew like Peter, put aside the guilt and shame of our mistakes and start over, walking the path and purpose God lays for each of us. For some of us, we will be called to do great things like Peter. Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48) and “…whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12) If I stop to reflect on these statements by Jesus, I realize they sound a little scary. I have been given much…and of course I am here on earth to do God’s work while Jesus is still with the Father in heaven. So what great works am I doing, and what will I be asked to do in the future? If Jesus asked me to walk on water to get to Him, I know I would get out of the boat like Peter and try. But do I have enough faith not to turn back when the storms come and the tide gets rough? I guess only time…and my faith despite my failures…will tell.

This week is the Passion week of our Lord. I pray we have the passion of Peter, despite our faults and failures, to keep building the church and following Christ. If Peter could do it…well, so can we!

 

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What’s It Gonna Take?

It seems like God has been trying to get our attention forever…from the Old Testament days of Genesis  when He saved Noah and his family on the ark and sent a rainbow and of Exodus when He parted the Red Sea and sent manna raining down from heaven, to His works through Jesus in the Gospels – sending His Son to be born of a virgin, turning water into wine, healing the blind man, the lepers, and so many, many more, converting tax collectors and murderers into disciples and saints,  and even raising Lazarus from the dead! And yet, despite so many miracles recorded in the Bible, there are so many stories of people who actually witnessed these miracles and still did not believe. So what about us today, two thousand and seventeen years later? What signs from God are we getting and perhaps ignoring? What do we have to go on to keep believing?

At first, when I asked myself this, I felt a bit uneasy. I actually found myself wondering why God is taking so long to come back to us, for Jesus to appear and do some more “magic” acts, healing acts, miracles. Of course, as soon as that thought crept in I felt guilty. How dare I question God’s ways? And where is my faith? And more importantly, do I forget so quickly what it says in the Bible…that not only is He coming again physically: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” (a promise at the very end of the Bible in Revelation, 22:20-21) but He is present among us – within us – right here right now spiritually, and that we are and need to be God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit for each other here on earth – that WE are and need to do and be the miracles for each other. (“And it was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers…to build up the body of Christ until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God.” Eph. 4:11-13)

If I stop long enough to reflect on all of this, I realize I have seen many miracles in my life…the birth and growth of my own children,  the continued sobriety and spiritual awakening in the rooms of recovery both of my own self and of others, finding true love with someone who helps me to be a better person, the start of healing in my father who has cancer, the changes in others’ lives I’ve made through my Bible-based novels (the idea to write them was a God-given miracle in the first place), and so much more.

Lord, let me not grow weary in my faithfulness, and remember that if and when I doubt, I can turn to Your Word for the proof I seek.

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