A Peak Into My YA Romance: “Counterfeit”

Athena looked around the crowded room filled with the rich and snobby. They were just the kind of people that she hated, fake smiles, fake boobs, fake teeth, fake tans, and real money. That was exactly why she had invited each one. She gave her own fake smile to the elderly man with the orange tan that had just agreed to a large donation and quickly made her escape. Athena hated lying, but what else was she supposed to do? Trying to make it as truthful as possible she said she had something she needed to check on. He doesn’t need to know that the “something” is my aching toes.

She quickly passed through the side door, and found her way to the little room she had found earlier while setting up. There was enough light coming into the storage room that she didn’t bother turning on the light. No reason to let anyone know that the room is occupied. She eased down onto a wooden crate and sighed. Easing one of her ridiculously uncomfortable high heels off, she rubbed her aching toes.

Suddenly she heard a soft “bing” and she tried to figure out what it was. When she notices a soft glow coming from back in the corner of the room, behind some stacked chairs, she stood and limped over that way. Fully prepared to scream bloody murder if she had to, she unconsciously held her shoe with the sharp stiletto heal, like a weapon. As she peaked around the chairs she could just make out the glow of a cell phone between some fingers.

“Who’s there?” she asked in a stage whisper.

“You can put down that shoe, I’m not dangerous, just hiding,” came a manly voice.

“Why are you sitting in the dark?” Athena insisted.

“Why didn’t you turn on the light?”

“Oh, right,” she muttered. “Sorry, I’ll leave.”

“I take it you are hiding too,” he asked as she turned to leave.

“Well just for a minute. My feet are killing me and my head is starting to hurt,” she admitted.

Suddenly the phone came up and she could just make out the face of the person sitting in the corner.

“Landon?” Athena asked in surprise.

“Yep, that’s me. Aren’t you the hostess?”

Athena sighed again, “Yes.”

They both were silent for a minute.

“You don’t have to leave, I can go. I won’t tell a soul I saw you,” offered Landon.

“No! You were here first, I am sorry I intruded,” she stammered.

“Hey, I already wrote a check, you don’t have to worry about offending me.”

“Oh, that isn’t it,” she lied again.

He just looked up at her. Even though there wasn’t a lot of light in the room, she could tell he was calling her bluff.

“Look, I had my few minutes of escape,” he said checking the clock on his phone. “In fact in a few more, I can leave without stepping on any toes.”

“As long as they aren’t my literal toes, feel free to leave the building, after all, you already wrote the check,” she quipped.

When the Crap Hits the Fan Our Religion Falls Short

John 16:33 (NLT), “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus was very plain, we live in this corrupted, fallen world, and here, there is going to be trouble. He also prayed later in John 17, “Not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.” So, we are here till He returns or until God calls us home. So trials and sorrow will be part of our lives. Tribulations and turbulence will be in our future.

So what do we do?

Being “religious” isn’t the answer, going to church, reading your Bible, memorizing scripture isn’t the solution. Though the last three are great things, they are only a means to an end. The end, the final solution, is a close, intimate, and personal relationship with God. Knowing who He is, listening to His voice, getting to know Jesus, talking to Him in a way that isn’t just a list of “do for me” things. Because when the crap hits the fan, our religion falls short.

Jesus said that in Him we might have peace. We only get in Him, when we totally surrender our hearts to Him and allow Him to be Lord of our lives. Just saying a prayer doesn’t change us, or build a relationship. Yielding and pursuing Him does. And only a close and personal relationship with God will get me through the rough places in my life.

A great example was Jairus. He was a religious leader during Jesus time on this earth in human form. His daughter became sick and his religion couldn’t help her. There is no worse report for a parent than your child is a deaths door. This great need, with no religious solution, sent Jairus to Jesus. He had heard about His healing power. He humbled himself and sought the answer. After meeting Jesus and His quick agreement to go with Jairus, someone comes and tells the man that his daughter is dead. Sounds like misplaced faith, that the father was too late, that the answer wouldn’t come.

But Jesus! He assured Jairus that his daughter would be well. His daughter wasn’t just healed that day, she was raised from the dead.

Knowing about God doesn’t save us. Knowing Him does.

Love Dwells Here

 

“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.” I John 4:17-19 (TheMessage)

God is love. Not “God has love,” “God exhibits love,” no, “God IS love.” Who says? He did in His word. The scriptures also tell us that when we surrender to Him, accept His finished work of the cross (He became my sin so I could become His righteousness), then He is in us and we are in Him.

John 17:20-24 (BSB), “I am not asking on behalf of them alone, but also on behalf of those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You. May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. I have given them the glory You gave Me, so that they may be one as We are one—I in them and You in Me—that they may be perfectly united, so that the world may know that You sent Me and have loved them just as You have loved Me. Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, that they may see the glory You gave Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”

Jesus said that we are in Him and He is in us, that we are one with the Father, just as He and the Father are one. This isn’t complicated. Very simple really.

God is love and He lives in me. LOVE dwells in me.

So I can be loving, I can easily forgive any wrongs, I can show kindness and generosity, I can show the world that God is love. I John 4 says that if we don’t love, we don’t even know who God really is. We have to love! It isn’t just a command from God, it’s who we are.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” – C.S. Lewis

Do we take chances when we love? Yes. Can we be hurt when we love? Yes. Will our hearts possibly break? Yes, but didn’t God say that a broken heart and a contrite spirit is lovely to Him.

That’s a heart He can Heal and He can use!

Anything less than complete, lavish, passionate love, is fear. Perfect love, God’s kind of love, that love that lives in us, is perfect!

I know Him. I know His love, intimately and personally. I know without it I am nothing and can’t accomplish a thing on my own. So I accept His love and allow Him to work in me and through me. He is in me and I am in Him.

Love dwells here!

Be Vulnerable

The Israelites had been under the hands of the Medians’ for seven years when the Angel of the Lord came to pay Gideon a visit. He said to him, “The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior.” (Judges 6:12) That is a statement birthed from a vision because Gideon was anything but valiant. He was hiding and shaking in his sandals. But God called him valiant.

When we think of a valiant warrior, we picture a big muscle bound man, maybe like Samson, or one filled with courage and who runs to the battle, like David. What we don’t picture is a man who has been put in a vulnerable position. In fact Gideon is so unsure, he asks God to give him a sign, twice.

When they finally go to battle, after God had weeded out the 32,000 warriors until there was only 300 men left. Talk about vulnerable! That still wasn’t enough for God. Let’s read about His plan for Gideon’s big battle.

Judges 7:16-19 (BSB), “He divided the 300 men into three companies, and he put trumpets and empty pitchers into the hands of all of them, with torches inside the pitchers. He said to them, “Look at me and do likewise. And behold, when I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. When I and all who are with me blow the trumpet, then you also blow the trumpets all around the camp and say, ‘For the LORD and for Gideon.’”

Let me set the stage. It’s dark. Gideon’s men make a circle around the Midian camp held 135,000 trained soldiers. The Israelite soldiers each had a piece of pottery with a candle inside and a horn. When the signal was given they were to break the pottery, leaving themselves totally exposed and lit up. And just to make sure the enemy really took a good look, they blew their horns to attract their attention.

Ok, being honest here. I would probably told Gideon he was crazy when he wanted to fight with 300. When he outlined his big plan, I would have left. Good thing I wasn’t there that day because they won. Were they vulnerable? You bet they were. But God had gone before and placed a dream and the rumor mill in the Midian camp. They were already afraid of Gideon and had never even faced him. When they saw the lights and heard the trumpet blowing, the enemy turned on themselves and were totally destroyed. Gideon and his men never even lifted a weapon… other than the shout, “For the Lord and for Gideon!”

God wants us in a vulnerable place like Gideon with his candle and horn.

When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable we sometimes get broken. But God uses broken people in a magnificent way. For Glory needs an openness- light needs an openness. Unless there are some cracks in our pot how can the light come through?

He showed us how to be vulnerable, didn’t He?

For what’s more vulnerable than the God of the Universe clothed in humanity? What’s more vulnerable than the Word made flesh? What is more vulnerable than our Maker handing on a cross?

Can you trust Him like Gideon did?

“We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone – but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.” – Walter Anderson

The Same Glory

I Peter 4:14 (NIV), “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”

Living for God, from Heaven, in Jesus, may lead to some insults, slander, and hatred. No big deal, not really. Not if you compare it to having His Glory rest on us. Pause and think about that for just one minute.

When Moses went up on the mountain to talk to God face to face, he came down off that mountain with the Glory of God literally shinning all over his face. The people were so freaked out by it they asked him to cover his face.

That Glory.

John 17:20-23 (NIV), “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Jesus glorifies the Father here on earth. God the Father shared His glory with the Son. Before He left, Jesus prayed that we would all be one, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and Body of Christ. In Jesus’ own words, He gave us the same glory the Father had given Him. He gave it to us to bring us into complete unity.

That Glory.

Then the whole world will know that God sent His Son and that we are all loved.

His Will, His Work, His Way

I have had this battle cry going through my head for a few months now. I really don’t even think too much about it most of the time, it’s just been there. “His will, His work, His way.” Sometimes I say it out loud, sometimes it just rolls through my noggin, and sometimes I hear it in my Spirit as that mind shattering call, with sword drawn and raised, with banners flying, heart pumping, and an assurance of victory. Occasionally, I read something that answers the call, or as in last Sunday’s service, hear something over the pulpit that causes me to voice in under my breath with a nod and an Amen.

So, what’s it all mean?

His will; not ours, we lay down what we think we want and need and instead pick up what He has to offer. It’s always better in the long run.

Ephesians 1:11-14 (NIV), “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

His work; that’s seems pretty straight forward, and at first I thought so. We lay down our work and again pick up His. We don’t quit our jobs, unless He tells us to, but we do our work unto Him. Find His purpose for us there. We also use our gift and talents to do it, you know the ones He gave us. But, it also means letting Him work in us and through us. His work is always to do good, to bless, and to mold us into the image of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2:13 (HCSB), “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.”

His way; His path, let The Spirit of God, that lives on the inside of you, lead you. Let His word illuminate the way. Find His path and walk in it.

II Samuel 22:29-40 (NASB), “For You are my lamp, O LORD; And the LORD illumines my darkness. For by You I can run upon a troop; By my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the LORD is tested;  He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. For who is God, besides the LORD? And who is a rock, besides our God? God is my strong fortress; And He sets the blameless in His way. He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, And sets me on my high places. He trains my hands for battle, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, And Your help makes me great. You enlarge my steps under me, And my feet have not slipped. I pursued my enemies and destroyed them, And I did not turn back until they were consumed. And I have devoured them and shattered them, so that they did not rise;  And they fell under my feet. For You have girded me with strength for battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me.”

Now that my friends sounds like a battle cry! Shout it with me, “HIS WILL, HIS WORK, HIS WAY!”

Book Review for “Fatemarked”-Fantasy

What the book is about: In the spirit of fantasy epics like George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, The Fatemarked Epic promises immaculate world building, an ancient prophecy, a mysterious source of magic, interesting characters, war, political intrigue, and romance.

The Hundred Years War has ravaged more than three generations of kings, queens, and citizens across the Four Kingdoms. Corrupt rulers dominate. Religious intolerance runs rampant. The cycle of vengeance continues to turn with the seasons.

An ancient prophecy by a legendary oracle has been long forgotten. The prophecy promises the return of peace to the Four Kingdoms on the backs of a chosen few, the fatemarked, individuals marked at birth and blessed with specific magical powers. One shall be the Kings’ Bane, and will bring death to the warmongering rulers, using fear to force peace; another shall be the Peacemaker, bestowed with the rare ability to heal. Opposite sides of the same coin, dark and light, death and life, the Kings’ Bane and the Peacemaker are responsible for the fate of an entire continent.

As they fight to achieve their destinies, adversity will hinder them in every realm: in the frozen north, assassination attempts and a brutal power struggle; in the holy west, a vicious queen and her self-righteous army of warriors; in the mysterious iron-clad forest of the east, revenge and glory rule the day; and in the southern empires of Calyp and Phanes, maturing dragons, slaves, and a civil war.

To truly fulfill the oracle’s prophecy of peace, both the Kings’ Bane and the Peacemaker, as well as the other fatemarked, will need to overcome those who seek to destroy everything in their pursuit for power.

 

My Review: I am a huge David Estes fan so of course I joined his mailing list to hear about all of his new books. In one mailing he was giving away some ARC copies of his newest book. Most of his books, and my favorites are dystopian for YA. “Fatemarked” is the first in a series of epic fantasy. I entered the drawing and won a copy. I was a little nervous due to the different genre of this one. I so loved it! I do enjoy a good fantasy and this one does not disappoint. One of the things I like about Mr. Estes’ writing is he has a tongue in cheek type of humor. He understands people and relationships. So my rating is a strong five star. I can recommend for teens and up. Now I have to try and be patient for the next one.

 

 

About the Author: Get the David Estes Starter Library (FOUR books!) for FREE when you sign up for his mailing list: http://s.privy.com/0yzhuRA

David Estes has written more than 20 science fiction and fantasy books. He has a love of dancing and singing (but only when no one is looking or listening), is a mad-skilled ping-pong player, an obsessive Goodreads group member, and prefers writing at the swimming pool to writing at a table. He loves chatting with his readers, all of whom he considers to be his friends. David lives in Hawaii with his beautiful Aussie wife, Adele, his asthmatic cat, Bailey, and his rambunctious son, Beau.

 

Get your copy: Here