Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Double Good News!

We Have a WINNER!

If you were following the Fall CF Scavenger Hunt hosted by Lisa T. Bergren and you entered the additional drawing on my stop (#25) for a Camille Eide ebook, the winner of that drawing is:

TRIXI OBEREMBT

Congratulations, Trixi!


And for more good news…

1.99 BOOK SALE!

67949841_2519169721512557_6100914182549405696_n

I just found out that in celebration of my upcoming novel, WhiteFire Publishing is offering a special sale price on ALL my previous titles (eBook) for a limited time, one per week for the next 3 weeks. You can browse, read sample chapters, and buy all 3 for 1.99 each HERE.

Or find these titles one by one:

And if you’d like to check out my upcoming novel, Wings Like a Dove, you can read a sample chapter HERE and also find it on my website. It’s now available for preorder.

dodge park sept 2019Are you new to my fiction? I write poignant dramas with a solid love story. My books include both contemporary and historical, serious and sarcastic, and I season it all with hope, faith, and grace. You can find me hanging out on social media, at my website, and you can also join me in marveling about the awesome love and grace of God right here at Along the Banks.

Thank you for following along and sharing the love of story! Drop me a line anytime, I always enjoy hearing from reading friends!

~Camille

Welcome to the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! If you’ve just discovered the hunt, be sure to start at Stop #1, and collect the clues through all the stops, in order, so you can enter to win one of our top 5 grand prizes!

scav hunt 2019 prize photo

  • The hunt BEGINS on 11/7 at 2pm eastern/11am pacific with Stop #1 at LisaTawnBergren.com
  • Hunt through our loop using Chrome or Firefox as your browser (not Explorer).
  • There is NO RUSH to complete the hunt—you have all weekend (until Sunday, 11/10 at midnight MST)! So take your time, reading the unique posts along the way; our hope is that you discover new authors/new books and learn new things about them.
  • Submit your entry for the grand prizes by collecting the CLUE on each author’s scavenger hunt post and submitting your answer in the Rafflecopter form at the final stop, back on Lisa’s site. Many authors are offering additional prizes along the way!

+ + + + + +

Hey there, Hunters!

I’m Camille Eide, and I write poignant, relational dramas with a solid love story. My books include both contemporary and historical, serious and sarcastic, and I season it all with hope, faith, and grace. I also blog about the patience and grace of God here at Along the Banks. For those who like a thoughtful, poignant love story, you can find my books at my WEBSITE, plus follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

4-Cover Wings like a Dove

Wings Like a Dove my upcoming December 1 release, is a historical tale, and while I originally meant for it to be a simple love story, the socio-economic backdrop and racism of the 1930s also added a slightly wider, more dramatic lens angle to the story.

In 1933, Anna, a young Jewish immigrant, discovers to her horror that she is with child. Forced to leave home, she travels in search of her missing father, but stumbles upon six orphan boys in need of a tutor, and their deep-hearted mentor with troubles of his own. She dares not risk staying too long, opening her heart, and letting her secrets out. But with the Klan presence in their small Indiana town growing stronger, and the danger to this family increasing the longer she stays, Anna is torn between fleeing to keep them safe … and staying to fight beside them. It’s a tale of love, loyalty, and the power of grace.

Love and loyalty go hand in hand, don’t they? And some of the best examples of love and loyalty are standing quietly beside us, out of the spotlight . . .

SUPER SIDEKICKS

I’m going to let you in on a secret. Some of my favorite characters in literature are sidekicks.

Samwise

Samwise Gamgee tops the list. Jane Bennet is a close second. I don’t think sidekicks get fleshed out as much as they deserve. They spend most of their time in the shadow of the protagonist. They are often dismissed as a sounding board or foil for the main character; a trope.

Jane-Bennet-jane-bennet-9571663-500-348

Sidekicks aren’t expected to do the heavy lifting, don’t have to hit all the story arc points that the Hero has to meet. Like royal offspring, there are inherent expectations of the Hero that a sidekick doesn’t have to deal with. I think sidekicks, like commoners and peasants, are free to be whoever they want to be. Something in me craves that…

Wings Like a Dove contains a quiet but strong sidekick: Sarah Tucker. She’s the young, neighboring farmer’s wife who befriends Anna, the heroine. Sarah is kind, open-hearted, and struggles with a longing for friendship that causes her to seek to be included in a group of women whose agenda troubles Anna. Sarah ponders the pros and cons of joining these women, and throughout the story, we see her carefully weighing the group’s rhetoric against what she feels in her heart to be true.

sarah tuckerAmanda Seyfried: My inspiration for Sarah Tucker

+ + + + + +

What I love most about Sarah Tucker is that while she longs for friends, she doesn’t let her personal needs color her judgment. While prejudice and bigotry are prevalent in her world, Sarah possesses enough “Missouri Mule-headedness” to keep her longings from distorting what’s right and true. While the story follows Anna’s journey, Sarah makes a journey of her own. She must hold up the facts as she sees them, against the hate-speak, the “stories,” the voice of the majority.

You may find yourself cheering for Sarah at a certain point in this story. I can’t say more without ruining the read for you. But sometimes a hero needs a sidekick who is equally heroic. Anna needs a Sarah like Frodo needs a Samwise, like Lizzie needs a Jane.

I wish everyone had a Sarah.

~Camille

+ + + + + + +

Here’s the Stop #25 Skinny:
You can Pre-order Wings Like a Dove on Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Clue to Write Down: Borland
Link to Stop #26 – the LAST Stop on the Loop

BUT — just one more thing before you go: I’m offering one of my full-length novels—winner’s choice of title (eBook)—in a drawing! To enter, all you have to do is sign up HERE for my E-NEWS OR note that you’re ALREADY a subscriber.

Also, additional entries will be given for following me on:

ENTER BY LEAVING A COMMENT BELOW naming my Social Media that you’re now following (a separate comment for each location, up to 6 total) along with a masked email address to reach you if you are a winner. (Example: E-NEWS/ edith (dot) smith (at) cooldomain (dot) com ).

Winner will be announced in a follow up post here on November 11.

Okay, one last thing, I promise: You are invited to attend my online Wings Like a Dove Facebook Book Launch Party on December 1 from 3-5pm Pacific (6/5c), for fun LIVE interaction, drawings, and a grand prize giveaway. Just click on the “GOING” button and you’ll get updates.

Good work making it this far, and good luck on the hunt!

flour sacks printed for reuse

During the Great Depression, money was tight, food and other necessities were scarce, and people quickly learned to stretch meals, make things last, make do with what little they had, or do without.

One resource I found useful while researching my upcoming novel, Wings Like a Dove, was the book We Had Everything But Money: Priceless Memories of the Great Depression. It’s full of interesting, first-hand stories of how people got through some tough times.

People in the 1930s quickly learned to get more than one use out of everything they could — which created a recycling mindset. Feed and flour came in large sturdy sacks, sometimes made from colorful fabrics.

flour sack pink blue

When women started using their empty feed sacks and flour bags to make clothing, manufacturers began printing the bags in brighter colors and prettier patterns. Women would try to collect enough of the same print or design to make a dress or other clothing. Old schoolhouse photos depict sets of siblings wearing clothes of matching fabric.

In Wings Like a Dove, Anna tries to make money using her skills as a seamstress. She mends clothing for her new friend, Sarah, including a dress made from a flour sack in a pretty print. The dress inspires Anna to collect flour sacks in hopes of making herself a new, larger gown, which will soon be needed as she is desperate to keep her expanding belly hidden.

quilt with feed sack fabric

She also collects fabric scraps and sews quilts to sell, in order to earn money both for herself and to send home to her sister (unbeknownst to their mother) to help with the family’s rent.

If you were alive during the Great Depression, or your parents or grandparents were, you may be familiar with the impulse to save things that might have another use. While we should probably avoid becoming hoarders, we might save a few bucks, lessen waste, and maybe invent a cool new hack if we took the time and used a little creativity to get another use out of things.tp-tube-hack.jpg

Okay. While not earthshaking it its originality, here’s one of mine: I reuse paper towel tubes to contain electrical cords on appliances that store in a small space, like the hair clippers, and I also use them for keeping my silicone baking mats tidy.

Q: What is something you’ve been surprised to find comes in handy for a completely new use?

Speaking of keeping a sharp eye out for good stuff, join me and dozens of award-winning authors THIS THURSDAY for the Fall Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt, beginning Nov 7 at 12 noon (MST) at http://www.LisaTBergren.com! Get ready to have some fun, and I hope to see you there!

scav hunt 2019 prize photo

Broken

My friend lost her husband without warning. She kissed him goodnight, and in the morning, he was gone. Her single-parent (of 8) life quickly became an overwhelming nightmare, and anger became her solace.

brokenAnd so did alcohol.

Grief and anger sent her into a dark, vicious downward spiral of addiction. Though she loved Jesus and tried to put on a brave face and cope with every bit of strength she had, my friend was shattered beyond repair. She tried, but didn’t have the strength to give God all the pieces.

I think it was one of the hardest things she’s ever done, but my friend agreed to enter a Christ-focused residential rehab program. It took more than a year for her to crawl out of the bottle and into the light of day, the kind of day that dawns one at a time, wrapped in God’s fresh, new mercy. The kind of day that slowly, carefully, and sometimes painfully, restores the broken shards of hopes and dreams that at first seemed utterly impossible to put back together.

God has been restoring my friend’s heart and life one jagged piece at a time, and the new woman emerging radiates grace, humility, precious surrender, and most beautiful of all, hope. Some people might call her a recovering alcoholic.

I call her incredibly brave.

I have seen broken. I have been broken. And maybe you’ve been broken at some time or another. Maybe you’re broken now.

Maybe you’ve looked at a person failing to hold it together and wondered why they can’t just dust off, grow up, and fly straight. But my friend’s experience reminds me that everyone’s brokenness doesn’t look the same, and we should avoid passing judgment on what we think we see. We should remember there is much we can’t see, whether it’s well-hidden, or a matter of our own short-sightedness.

My friend’s experience also reminds me that I need to extend the same grace and understanding to someone else’s brokenness that I would want shown to me.

We have a tendency to see through the filter of our own experience, the grid of what’s familiar. But this limits our ability to understand when it comes to the struggles, challenges, and pain others face. What wouldn’t phase me might give you PTSD, and vice versa. We may judge someone whose brokenness drives them to drink. Or to walk away from their spouse. Or into deep despair. Or debt. Depression. Anxiety. Food. Rage.

We are all breakable. Fragile. To be handled with care.  And none of us can fix our own brokenness any more than a cracked pot can fix itself.

But there is Someone who can.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3

shattered-cambion-artAuthor Roseanna White posted about Broken Vessels on her blog today, and I found myself nodding as I read it. She said, “…our Lord is described as a potter. He knows all about these fragile vessels He’s made. He knows how easily we break. Shatter. Fall to pieces. And He knows how to fix us. More, He knows how to take the pieces and make something new. Lord, use us in your mosaic. Fix us where you can, filling our cracks and holes and empty places with you.” [Read the rest of her post HERE.]

 

This is what the Lord says—he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: “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 43:16-19

Maybe in your life, you’ve faced overwhelming struggles or unspeakable horrors. Or painfully unmet expectations. Whatever brokenness you’ve suffered—or are suffering, I hope you have someone caring and strong to turn to. If you haven’t yet, cry out to Jesus. He cares more than you know. And he can make you whole.

 

Take Heart…

p-rugrats-christine-cavanaugh-chuckie-finsterWhen my kids were little, they watched Rugrats on Nickelodeon. Not a fan? That’s ok. I didn’t care if they watched it, as long as they didn’t pick up Angelica’s bratty behavior and attitude. But while I folded laundry or cooked dinner and listened to the show, I found myself rooting for timid little Chuckie, the one who was always afraid. Because somehow, Chuckie often summoned the courage to be brave and face his fears. I think Chuckie was the character written with the five year old in mind, the one kids could identify with.

I marvel at those who seem fearless. Do you know anyone like that? Aren’t they amazing? But what amazes me even more are those who are terrified and somehow summon courage even when they’re scared spitless.

I don’t know what Chuckie based his courage on. But as I thought about this character (yes, I like to analyze characters and I love to learn from them), what really struck me was the fact that Chuckie’s courage wasn’t based on an absence of fear. The poor kid was always afraid. There are those who just don’t get scared—like Navy Seals, maybe, and they’re awesome, of course, but they’re not much help to me, you know? So maybe you’re a Navy Seal who is totally in your Zen zone hanging out underwater in a 300lb diving suit with oxygen being pumped down to you by some guy topside who might sneeze and trip over your air hose and accidentally rip it loose, or fall asleep or get distracted by puppies on facebook. And I’m glad you’re at peace with that guy in charge of your oxygen. But for the rest of us who are petrified of drowning or suffocating, the idea of mustering the courage to do something like that, for me, is huge.

In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat faced a frightening situation when he and his people were surrounded by an enemy too numerous and powerful to withstand. I love that he didn’t posture bravado. He was Freaked. Out. And was not afraid to admit it. In unabashed humility, he uttered this prayer to the Lord:

“For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”

Which was great, but even better, the Lord answered and said,

“Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.”

The battle belongs to God! That’s so cool! And, somehow, so easy to forget.

One of my earlier novels gives a nod to the Old Testament story of Daniel’s young friends as they face the fiery furnace, and the main character (Emily) is reminded that if she has to face a fiery trial, the Lord will be right there with her, standing with her through it all. A wise book reviewer (Carrie of Reading Is My Superpower) made this lovely meme quoting a line (inscribed in a fictional children’s book) from the story.

like-theres-no-tomorrow-quote

Courage is not an absence of fear, or enemies surrounding our camp, or trials, or taxes, or fiery furnaces. Courage is stepping out in faith in spite of fear. It may help to remember that the battle is not ours, and is already won (YES!!) and that the Lord stands with us, right beside us, and will never leave us. Or accidentally trip over our air hose.

Personally, I admire the timid soul who summons the courage to trust God when afraid. I think taking a step of faith and trusting God in spite of fear is incredibly brave—maybe even more brave than a Navy Seal in the 300lb diving suit.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. -Psalm 27:14

Question: Care to share a moment when you were afraid and had to summon the courage to jump or step out in faith?

hot buttonHot buttons. We all have them… those things that bring out the less flattering side of us when the right one gets pushed.

As a believer, I know I need to see with the eyes of grace. I need to rise above human failings and offenses. Need to step back and think of the bigger picture, the spiritual principle, the eternal significance of a wise, well-placed word.

Sometimes, I remember this.

And then… there are those other times. The times my particular hot button gets pushed and the last thing I want is someone pointing out that Jesus would never call that driver a bonehead. Jesus would never take offense at being falsely accused and fire off a text. Jesus wouldn’t see someone coming toward him in the store and spin and duck down a different aisle.

There are times that my lack of grace for others does not reflect well on me. That my negativity or complaint or harsh view of someone’s behavior doesn’t reflect well on Jesus and his spirit living in me. Do I have to like others’ idiotic driving? No. Do I have to take harsh treatment? No.

But what does my response to others’ failings and flaws and thoughtless choices reveal about the state of my heart?

When I’m more inclined to react “in the flesh” (meaning my hot button has been pushed) I need to really take a look at why. Is it the other person’s fault? Well, duh, if not for other humans, I’d be all sweetness and light all the time.

But… since I have been known to seek the Lord’s ways instead of my own, and ask for the ability to see people or situations with eyes of grace instead of with my nearsightedness, I realize that grace is a supernatural reaction, and is therefore possible. Not just possible, but expected of those saved by grace.

So why are some situations harder to respond to in grace than others?

In my observation, most people have at least one hot button. That one thing that flips our switch and has us off and running (or swearing, or slandering, or responding) before we have a chance to ask ourselves What Would Jesus Do?

What’s missing? I don’t know about you, but I find that a day began and bathed in prayer and the word is a day I’m more inclined to look at things through a spiritual lens, rather than just the natural. When I don’t begin the day focused on the Lord, it’s like using my phone all day and then forgetting to plug it at night, then trying to use it the next day. It needs to be recharged. And not just once a week, but daily.

We need to plug in to the Source and seek the Lord for daily renewal. We need the word, worship, and prayer. And we need to take the truths of scripture to a more intimate level, to press those truths deeper, from the mind to the spirit, from the natural to the supernatural, where God’s grace and wisdom transcend the world and the flesh and our rights and our petty grievances and our offended, wounded pride and being disrespected and a hundred other hot buttons. In quietness and prayer, the One who wrote the word speaks truth into me, lives in me, breathes his life into me, makes me new, gives me strength and power to overcome, gives me victory over sin and tailgaters and false accusations and offense.

If I begin my day in the spirit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 is one of my favorite verses:

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.

Because when I begin my day in the spirit, I have a better chance at responding not in a natural way but supernatural. It shields me from the careless, the thoughtless, and it helps me rise above, gives me perspective. Creates a protective shell so that my nerves aren’t so exposed, so sensitive. It allows time for grace to fall like a blanket of snow and cocoon the situation, and perhaps helps me to see a bit like how God sees.

And when I don’t begin my day that way, well … oh wow, would you look at the time!

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.  -Galatians 5:16-26

If you’re willing to admit it, what’s your hot button? Does beginning your day in the word and in prayer make a difference in the way you respond when your buttons get pushed?

Okay, here’s the question I really want to ask: Can you show grace to those who should know better and yet sometimes trip and fall right on their hot button? Do you, like me, tend to forget that other humans have moments of weakness, when maybe they’ve run their battery down and are in dire need of a recharge?

I hope I’m not defined only by moments of weakness, moments when my response doesn’t reflect well on me. It’s hard to remember to give the same grace to others that I would like shown to me. It’s also hard to not define a person by a mistake or an unflattering action. (Or am I the only one who struggles with this?)

Or do we expect everyone—except for us—to be perfect?

Have you ever found yourself struggling in your walk of faith in the area of surrender, or “dying to self”? Have you, like me, ever had to figure out what surrender is supposed to look like?20180707_101429.jpg

Some of us not only had zero boundaries growing up—we’d never even heard of them.

For me, the book Boundaries: When to Say Yes and How to Say No by Cloud & Townsend has been very useful in recognizing how my skewed, naive baby Christian ideas about being a servant were doing me more harm than good. I won’t go into my journey of discovery here, mainly because it’s long and I’m still on it, but … I would like to briefly share something that Jesus spoke to my heart, in case it resonates with someone else.

One Sunday during worship, I was asking the Lord to help me let go of my grip on my time and my energies and do a lot better at giving to others when asked, to help me be more willing to surrender myself. See, he knows what a total brat I am about sharing my time – I rather hoard it like a kid who hit the jackpot at Halloween. It was no easy prayer to utter. It may have been accompanied by some deep inner growling.

Basically, I was asking the impossible.

I fully expected him to answer this obviously good and proper prayer. And he did—almost immediately. I felt like he answered me very clearly.

He said, “You don’t have to surrender to everyone. Just to me.”

Wait, what? Aren’t I supposed to give cheerfully and serve unselfishly?

“Yes. But just because needs cross your path, that doesn’t mean it’s automatically on you to answer every one. Sometimes you will help, and that may be deeply sacrificial. And when you give, you’ll sense My Spirit guiding and empowering you. Not depleting you. Not pressuring you. Not violating any of the boundaries that became necessary for your healing. But sometimes, what others need from you is not a sacrifice of your time and energy, but loving encouragement to bring their need to Me.”

I’m still processing this, still learning to listen to God, to discern when to say yes with a willing heart, how to gently say no, and when to say, “Let me encourage you and pray with you and not take this over for you.”

I suppose the key to Christian surrender is that we not allow ourselves to be pulled in so many directions that we’re pulled to shreds, which would make us useful to no one, but that we be willing to present ourselves daily as a living sacrifice to the Lord, and then allow him to send us, and work through us by his love, grace, and life-giving power, as he directs and enables.

Let’s be careful to take our orders from the One we serve, who does not enslave and burden, but who guides, empowers, and gives generously.

Find a similar post here: https://camilleeide.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/surrender-brings-freedom/

5348

At Easter this year, I heard several sermons on the Resurrection that reminded me that those who had spent significant time with Jesus were heartbroken and scared by his death, and were later confused by the disappearance of his body from the tomb. The people he had forewarned about his death and resurrection were shattered by his death, and when his body disappeared, they didn’t even consider the possibility that he had risen from the dead as he had promised.

In the last few years, I’ve made more of an effort to be in the word and in biblical teaching daily, starting each day in an atmosphere of worship and the word that helps me focus on the Lord. But though I’m more focused on God and on seeking his presence, I still have moments of doubt. Will he ever answer my prayer? Does he even care? Is he even there? Is this all a joke? What if I die and there’s nothing?

We don’t like to admit it, we believers. After all, we’re distinguished by the fact that we, unlike others, believe. Do other believers ever doubt? I mean real serving, committed, bible-quoting believers? And if they do, do they ever admit it? I rarely ever hear anyone speak of doubt. It’s like a four-letter word to Christians. I think we’re too ashamed to admit it. Some might look down on our faltering faith that we’ve professed it to the world, after all. If we admit we have doubts, people will think we’re hypocrites, frauds, or worse, suckers.

Do you ever experience doubt? If so, what do you do with it? Are you disturbed, unsettled by it? Wonder if there’s something wrong with you, or with your faith?

Doubt Is Understandable

The Bible is FULL of people who doubted. People who should have known better. People who made choices we would never make… hello, Golden Calf? Moses hasn’t been gone five minutes on the mountain of God and they’re already melting earrings and making a new god to worship. A cow, of all things. Were they abysmally stupid? Or were they humans who by nature have a hard time really listening to God?

Those closest to Christ suffered some seriously egregious doubt. These are men who walked with Jesus, ate with him, listened to him teach and watched him heal and forgive and deal with people. Saw the miracles, the power firsthand. Saw the one person on the planet who never slipped, never sinned, never missed a chance to obey his Father in heaven.  We know they followed him constantly, heard him teach, believed him and believed in him. And yet, there are so many instances of them quickly forgetting what he had just done for them and responding to unpleasant or difficult situations with worry and fear, hiding, even lying.

Don’t we all suffer from short-term memory loss when it comes to God? Although I have seen God answer more prayers than I can ever count, I still forget his faithfulness, his attentiveness, his provision. He has proven himself faithful time after time after time, and yet I struggle to hope and trust he will provide or take care of or resolve something. Why?

I think doubting God is not as strange as we may think. It’s not strange that we read the Bible and pray and share our faith and still forget about his goodness, still wonder about his eternal kingdom and plan and preparations for us, still wonder and worry that he won’t answer and do what we believe and say he will.

The Israelites quickly forgot all the miracles, provisions, promises, lessons, kingdom declarations, and presence of God.

The disciples quickly forgot all the miracles, provisions, promises, lessons, kingdom declarations, and presence of Jesus.

The women at the empty tomb and the eleven disciples quickly forgot what Jesus had told them about his death and resurrection repeatedly, and recently. And audibly. And in the flesh.

What I’m wondering is this: If the people closest to Jesus had such a hard time believing him, how can we expect to never entertain some doubt?

…And have mercy on those who doubt. Jude 1:22

Doubt is Forgivable

The Israelites in the days of the Kings had lost sight of God and turned to idol worship, and this had gone on for so long that the people eventually forgot the Lord and his decrees. When young king Josiah ruled, a copy of the Law was found during the repair of the temple. When it was read aloud, Josiah was grieved and moved to make changes.

The pair on the road to Emmaus had quickly forgotten what Jesus had said. We notice that Jesus didn’t show them who he was. He had done plenty of miracles; clearly those weren’t enough, and actually, miracles weren’t the point. Instead of proving them wrong, he took those sorrowful, distraught men to the word of God, to the scriptures. And he didn’t just quote a couple of key verses, he took them back through all the scriptures that told the story, from the beginning and up to this point in history, about the Messiah’s coming, about what the prophets had said, up to the necessary fulfillment of all these things. He patiently addressed their doubt by taking them back to the perfect plan of God, from the Word of God.

So why hadn’t these men seen it? Perhaps they had heard Jesus speak of God’s coming kingdom and latched onto the parts they wanted to hear or their interpretation of what they wanted it to mean and tuned out what he was really telling them. They had been looking for a political hero, an immediate fix to their unpleasant situation, their discomfort, their discontent. They had allowed their daily, earthly difficulties and challenges to cloud their understanding of God and his bigger, eternal picture.

RMlogoEp.43HowtoListentoOthersWithoutBeingSwayedbyThem

Either we are just short-sighted in our desires, or our heart wants to hear only what we want to hear. We can’t imagine what he’s telling us, so we focus on what’s in front of us. We seek him for help, and he answers, but we aren’t really listening to what he’s saying. Thomas had heard, as had the others, that he would rise from the dead, and even with a resurrected Christ standing before him, his doubt was so huge that he insisted on touching Christ’s wounds.

Jesus said, “You believe because you see, that’s good. But blessed are those who believe without seeing.”

Doubt is Treatable

The people in Josiah’s day had been without the Book of the Law for 57 years. Josiah was only 26, and had likely never even heard of it.

2  Kings 22:11-13  When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”

They fell into idol worship and disobedience from a lack of God’s law, his word. I think some disobedience is marked by defiance, but sometimes marked by disbelief.

So, what do we do? How do we combat doubt?

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.  Romans 10:17

We can combat doubt with faith, which comes from hearing. Reading the Bible, listening to truth. And with prayer. Charles Spurgeon said, “Prayer is doubt’s destroyer, ruin’s remedy, the antidote to all anxieties.”

In addition to attending church and hearing excellent biblical teaching, I hear (read, hear on audio) the Bible daily. But perhaps I need to be a better hearer. Perhaps I need to dig more deeply into God’s word, and learn to really listen.  Be willing and open to hearing his voice, his truth, his love, his nature, his plan, his word. Be more willing to allow it to speak to me, to be more open to understanding what it means. And maybe to take it a step further and put myself in a position to apply all that it says, not just the parts I like, and to see his truth, power, and love in action.

Come boldly, O believer, for despite the whisperings of Satan and the doubtings of thine own heart, thou art greatly beloved.  -Charles Spurgeon

Do you struggle with doubt at times on your faith journey? Don’t despair. While I too struggle at times, I also believe that God can handle our doubts, strengthen our faith, and remind us of the truth and relevance of all that we have come to believe and understand. Let’s come boldly ask and allow our loving God to do just that.

Bread: The Stuff of Life

Bread Basket shutterstock_208501699_0BREAD …

Do you salivate just hearing that word?

Bread is a staple of so many world cuisines. Mix flour, oil, water & salt and you have a tortilla. And good heavens, some bread is more addictive than street drugs (just a guess, Mom). Have you ever buttered a slab of homemade bread still hot from the oven? Sunk your teeth into a freshly-baked cinnamon roll? Guarded that sweet, spongey little center knob with a hiss that would scare off a coyote?

Don’t give me that look, you know what I’m talking about.

Bread symbolizes Life in so many ways, don’t you think? It’s so universal, so basic a life-giving staple that we ALL need, recognize, and can relate to. I wonder if Jesus referred to himself as the “Bread of Life” for this very reason.

Because my upcoming novel, Wings Like a Dove, is the story of a young Jewish woman, let’s talk about Challah (pronounced: KHAH-luh). This is a Hebrew, ceremonial bread eaten on Shabbat and Jewish holidays. Have you ever baked it? Eaten it?

In the story, Anna often bakes bread for the boys she tutors, and sometimes, it’s challah. For her, there is special meaning in the baking and sharing of this bread. For example, she explains to young Samuel that the braid symbolizes unity and mankind’s interdependence, that people need one another in order to succeed. For Anna, this is a belief perhaps discussed by her family as she grew up taking part in Shabbos. But in the story, as Anna’s journey progresses, this philosophy will be put hard to the test.

I am not Jewish, but I do like to bake, and I used to bake bread quite often. We didn’t have a lot of money and it’s such a ridiculously cheap but delicious treat. When my kids were younger, I found a recipe for challah and made it a handful of times, to my “if you bake it, we will come” carb-a-holic family’s delight. The challah recipe I used came from a magazine (remember those??).

I was intrigued by the fact that the recipe called for extra egg yolks, which makes the finished bread golden yellow. The yolks also gave the loaf a rich, satisfying flavor. We loved the bread, but none of us had any idea what challah was actually meant to be used for. All we knew was that we loved to inhale it, and the more butter we could slather on it, the better.

So since we are breaking virtual bread together, I asked my Jewish friend, Donna Cohen, if she would share some thoughts about challah with us.

“I am no expert in Judaism but I sure do love my challah! The interesting thing about challah is that, while it is associated religiously with Shabbos (the Sabbath) it is also associated culturally with the Jewish people.  In our home, leftover challah is used for making French Toast, garlic bread, PB&J, and just plain toast!

For me, baking my own challah is part of the spirituality of Shabbos. On Shabbos, two challahs are set on the table representing the double portion of manna that came from G-d. The process of making the dough, braiding the bread, and the amazing smell of the bread helps to put me in the spirit of Shabbos.

Here is an important fact: There is no such thing as a typical challah. There is a basic challah recipe but so many variations from that recipe. Some use sugar, others use honey. Some use white flour, others wheat flour. Some use oil, others margarine. Some may have raisins, others do not. Many have a combination of these. There are even recipes for gluten free challah.

Actually there are certainly hundreds of recipes (and that is probably an understatement)!  I have a cookbook devoted only to challah. Not only does it have recipes, but it includes rituals related to challah as well as instructions on how to braid challah (there are many techniques using various numbers of strands and different ways to create various shapes). The most common types are probably plain, or topped with poppy or sesame. I’ve seen them made with other toppings as well such as garlic, sprinkles, or even chocolate chips (usually pareve which means non-dairy as in kosher homes meat and milk are not mixed). Some people get extremely creative! In my assortment of various other kosher cookbooks, there are inevitably a few recipes for challah. YouTube has many tutorials as well.

Challah baking is more than bread baking. It’s tradition, it’s a personal and spiritual experience, and it is a way to bring blessings into the home. I’ve experienced “Challah Bakes” where hundreds of women get together to bake. It is amazing to feel the energy in that room. All over challah.
Donna C Bread photo
Here’s a picture of my plain challahs that I baked for Shabbos. Wish you could all join us for a taste! To those who celebrate, Shabbat Shalom!”  -Donna Cohen

Thank you, Donna! So my question for Donna is why the two different types of braids in the pictured batch?

There are many options as far as recipes and styles of challah, but if you want to give it a try, here’s one fairly basic recipe that I found online. And please feel free to share your bread recipes and stories, challah or any other kinds.

Let’s Talk:

  • What is your favorite bread to eat? To bake?
  • Have you ever baked or tried challah?

If you have not and are now determined to try challah, I hope you’ll come back and comment (or email me) and share your challah baking or sampling experience.

Blessings!

-Camille

Impossible Grace

trillium 1

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

There are people who, based on their actions, seem absolutely bent on making it impossible for me to display grace and forgiveness. But this doesn’t change the fact that I must forgive. Tirelessly, and totally. Jesus made that very clear in Matthew 18:21-35.

 

Who must I forgive?

EVERYONE, no exceptions. Even my enemies.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:44)

When?

Whenever they offend me.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)

How?

Completely. No holding back.

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:2)

Why?

Because I was forgiven a debt I could never pay, and I am expected to do the same for others just like me.

JUST. LIKE. ME.

Wait—I don’t act like HER … I’m not a bad as HIM

Wait—in whose book did I deserve the grace I received?

he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. Psalm 103:10

Some people are hard to forgive because they are hard and unforgiving. Are they a lost cause?

Not to God.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9).

How will my bitter neighbor ever learn to show grace and forgiveness if I, a recipient of undeserved grace, can’t show him what it looks like?

Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little. (Luke 7:47)

…bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:13)

If it’s not my responsibility to exemplify undeserved grace, then whose is it?

What if you and I are the only example of Jesus that an offensive person will ever know?

i love u bc God loves u

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Let’s Talk: What has the Grace of God taught you, and how has it changed you? What does it allow you to do that you couldn’t before/on your own?

-Camille

%d bloggers like this: