Tuesday Tales Snowy Surprise Picture Prompt

I am so delighted to return to the world of sample writing with Tuesday Tales. Here is the picture prompt and my contribution of 300 words!

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10730975_10204202717246945_6505919334161514190_nGusts of wind sent snow dancing across the ground on miniature snow tornadoes. Six inches had fallen overnight — on top of the eight that had fallen the day before. Weather forecasters referred to it as “Snowpocalypse 2014.” Kari didn’t know about that. Every year some storm was dubbed “something-pocalypse.” But the extra layer only ensured that her mark wouldn’t be able to run.

As she skirted the rail fence enclosing the paddock, she slipped on the uneven ground and grabbed for one of the posts to steady herself and take her bearings. Another blast of frigid air stirred up a cloud of white powder as she stared in the direction of the red barn. When it cleared, she spotted her target.

Ian McAllister.

Kari narrowed her eyes and watched as he exited the barn and secured the door. The unsuspecting lout didn’t seem to know she was there. Her breath made little foggy puffs in the cold air as she trudged in the knee-deep snow, following the fence, grabbing it occasionally to keep from falling.

She was within twenty feet when he looked up and his slate gray eyes captured her in his gaze. “What?” He recoiled visibly, jaw slackened. “Kari Beck?”

Good. She’d surprised him.

“I have something for you,” she said between gasps, plunging toward him without slowing her steps. She ripped off her mitten with her teeth and dropped it in the snow as she reached into her pocket and closed her fingers around the hard object inside.

With a burst of energy, she launched herself at him, pressing him against the side of the barn. Casting an evil grin, she whipped her hand from her pocket and held the sprig of mistletoe overhead.

“Gotcha!” she murmured, as she pressed a hard kiss to his icy lips.

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That’s my 300! Return to Tuesday Tales by clicking on the picture below for more wonderful samples.

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Romancing the Rogue Scavenger Hunt

Who doesn’t enjoy a good scavenger hunt? And this one will be easy. Many of you may be familiar with the Regency series I’ve been writing with Kim Bowman, the Like a Lady  SLAL newallal coverseries, featuring A Lot Like a Lady and Something Like a Lady, and coming soon Nothing Like a Lady. The upcoming holidays promise to be a busy time. Lots of you probably have plans for fun and family. But sometimes you just need to unwind. And what better way to do that than to put yourself in the company of a rogue? Well, esKape ePress has gathered no less than TEN rogues for your de-stressing pleasure, including Something Like a Lady.

romancingtherogue3d-1To celebrate this limited edition boxed set, the authors participating are hosting a scavenger hunt with some really fantastic prizes. To see all giveaways and instructions, visit:

https://www.facebook.com/eskapeepress?ref=br_tf

Here’s my excerpt. There’s a quiz, so be watching the above link for my question for a chance to win an e-copy of your choice of one of the my Regency romances,  A Lot Like a Lady, my best selling Christmas Regency, The Toymaker, or my other best selling Christmas Regency, Teach Me Under the Mistletoe, AND a complete e-copy set of Vivian Roycroft’s amazing The Scoundrel of Mayfair series.

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Annabella laid her fingers against his palm, and he lightly grasped her hand. His heart leapt in his chest like a deer crashing through a bramble patch.

“Shall we go, then?” he asked, tucking her hand into the crook of his elbow.

With Annabella gliding gracefully at his side, Jon hardly felt the floor beneath his feet. Their steps matched perfectly as they descended the main staircase from the galley to the salon. Midway down, he paused, unaccountably overcome with emotion at the familiar tableau before him.

Annabella angled her head and smiled up at him. “I trust we won’t have to observe the evening’s festivities from the stairs.”

Jon pulled in a deep breath and released it slowly. By evening’s end, she might well wish they’d remained on the grand staircase. He smiled, and they continued to the bottom.

The butler appeared at Jon’s elbow.

“Good evening, Samuel,” greeted Jon with a smile. “I see her grace has not yet come down. How many for dinner this evening?”

The butler’s face took on a pinched expression. “Other than yourselves and her grace, the number is five, my lord.”

Jon nodded as a caustic sensation invaded his belly. Five…

Annabella tittered behind her fan. So she could behave like an insipid young lady after all. “To look at your face, one would think you are about to head for the gallows instead of a dinner party. Do you not like your grandmother’s guests?”

It wasn’t his like or dislike Jon was concerned over. “Annie, there’s something I should—”

“Gladys Cecily Siler Durham, the Dowager Duchess of Blackmoor,” announced Samuel from the bottom of the stairway.

Too late.

Her face devoid of expression, Gran held her head with regal grace. Dressed in rich crimson velvet edged in gold, with a gossamer veil that cascaded from a jeweled head ornament and fell over her right shoulder, she looked more like a queen than a dowager duchess, and the glide in her step belied her true age. She halted at the base of the steps and waited.

Jon’s breath backed up in his lungs. She hardly seemed to have aged in the time he’d been away. Her dark hair had been shot with streaks of gray for as long as he could recall. In contrast to Annabella’s elaborate style, Gran’s tresses were pulled into a chignon at the nape of her neck from which not a single strand dared escape. Her gaze touched on him briefly before moving on to Annabella, and then to the butler, to whom she gave a barely perceptible nod.

Samuel’s voice rang across the salon. “Announcing Queen Dorothea.”

Annabella turned her head toward the doorway then looked up at Jon, confusion pinching her forehead the tiniest bit.

Resigned, he inclined his head toward his grandmother. Though the dowager made no movement, her gown fluttered near her feet. A sleek gray-and-brown striped figure emerged from behind her, nose in the air. Her slanted green eyes seemed to survey the room as she struck an aristocratic pose and remained perfectly still except for the tip of her tail, which waved back and forth like a miniature flag.

Annabella tensed and curled her fingers, digging painfully into the tender part of Jon’s inner elbow. “That’s a cat!” she accused, her whisper sounding amazingly like a hissing feline.

“Correction, Lady Seabrook.” Jon patted her hand with his until she loosened her grip. “That… is my grandmother’s favorite cat. So smile and—”

“If you finish that statement with the word ‘curtsey,’ I shall kick you,” Annabella said through gritted teeth. She lifted her lips into a stiff, forced smile and added a little too sweetly, “My lord.”

“Lord Felix and Princess Tabitha,” intoned Samuel.

Two footmen appeared at the top of the staircase. Each cradled a fat black feline against his chest. The animals seemed content to be carried down the steps.

Annabella dug her fingers into his arm once more, and Jon winced. “Those are cats,” she whispered again.

“I had no idea what an astute judge of the obvious you can be,” murmured Jon through a smile that had become excruciating to maintain. He wasn’t certain who he wanted to choke more — his verbose wife or his unconventional grandmother.

“Sir Julius and Miss Celia,” announced Samuel.

Two more footmen appeared. The marmalade tabby on the left had bright orange eyes that darted about the room, clearly marking his means of escape. Poor sot. He hadn’t a chance of leaving before the end of the evening. The cat on the right lounged uncaring as the footman trotted down the steps. Long blue-gray fur stuck out at angles, lending the illusion of a badly-combed, misplaced wig.

“I am not socializing with a pack of cats,” said Annabella quietly, her voice dripping with derision.

“Don’t fret, my darling. They don’t wish to take their meal with you, either.” Seabrook gave her hand another pat. “They have their own table.”

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The Braided Cord: Authors Helping Authors

A braided cord is stronger than a single stranded one. Authors are a funny lot. Really we are. We run the gamut on social skills from being 100% hide-in-a-cabin-in-the-woods reclusive to 100% life-of-the-party outgoing – and everything in between. But when one falls on hard times, we are always there for that person.

I first met Monique O’Connor James on Facebook in a writer’s group. She had several monique1pieces up on Smashwords and I became fascinated by her stories. We became friends, and though we wrote different genres, our love of the craft drew us together. We brainstormed stories, helped each other through rough patches when stories wouldn’t quite come together. Joked. I used to love reading her social media postings. She had an incredible sense of humor and a heart as big as the sun, and her words of wisdom were brilliant. Sometimes I used to think she was an angel in disguise.

When she found out our friend, another fellow author, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, she was right there offering support to Kristine Cheney. And that couldn’t have been easy to do since Monique lost her own mother to cancer.

But then something went terribly wrong in Monique’s own life, and her time on earth was cut short by her sudden death. Her death is a huge loss to her family and friends, the world of writing. Really, to the whole world period.

Monique O’Connor James on Amazon.

Kristine Cheney and I met through both of us publishing at Astraea Press, and I’ve also done some freelance editing for her. This is another loving, wonderful, caring person. Wife, 10257674_10151972390156741_5348641005561524424_nmom, grandmother. And very talented storyteller. I’ve never met someone with quite so much energy and personal style. The world is indeed blessed with Kristine in it.

Kristine Cheney on Amazon

Last year, this family was battling cancer in her granddaughter. This year, it has struck Kristine. And cancer – even with insurance and special programs – is devastatingly expensive. I think if Monique were here, she would be right there helping every inch of the way.

But, sadly, she’s not here. No matter how many mornings I wake up and wish her death did not happen, it did and she is no longer here with us. However, I am. So I dedicated my latest release in part to Monique: friend, sister author, wonderful soul. And as a tribute to her, the first two months’ royalties I receive on The 13 of Hearts (October and November 2014) will be sent to Kristine’s cancer fund in Monique’s name. Because I believe that is exactly how Monique would have wanted it.

……………………………………………………………..

The 13 of Hearts by Kay Springsteen

13ofHearts_453x680Peter “Rabbit” Kincaid wasn’t always superstitious but after several deployments with the US Marines, he’s picked up a few quirks. His last tour of duty didn’t go so well, and now he’s back home recovering from injuries and awaiting clearance to get back in the fight. The fight is about to come to him in a different way.

Melinda “Lin” Doyle is a two-time US Marine widow on the run from the fallout of an incident that threatens to separate her from her two children. Making their home in a motel where she works for board and half pay, with her oldest child attending school under an assumed name isn’t her idea of being Mother of the Year. Then again, neither is being at the center of a murder investigation.

Rabbit believes everything happens for a reason so when he and the young family cross paths multiple times over the course of a couple of days, he pays attention. Lin would rather the handsome Marine officer take his attention elsewhere before he ruins everything. How can they ever get along when everything they do appears to be at cross purposes?

Find it on:
Amazon/Kindle          Barnes & Noble/Nook

Thank you, and God bless you all.
~Kay

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Highlighting E.A. West – Different

Anything can happeDifferent453x680n when the rules change.

Jezebel Smith is different. She can’t talk, she doesn’t look like anyone in her family, and no matter what she does it’s always the wrong thing. God accepts her for who she is, but He’s the only one who does. Then she finds an unconscious man in her favorite cave, and her life is turned upside down. New people and new rules collide with the old, leaving Jezebel unsure of which set of rules apply to her life. When the strangers in town attempt to help her out of the nightmare she’s grown up in, it promises to change her life forever.

 

Please enjoy a taste of Different:
The distant drip of water echoed off the rocky walls as Jezebel Smith wandered through her cave. Pungent fumes from her kerosene lantern stung her nose, and she wished for a flashlight. But her family would miss a flashlight. They never noticed when she took the old lantern from the barn.

Turning her face away from the lantern, she caught a whiff of the familiar scent of the rocks around her. She loved the fresh, earthy smell of her cave. Through countless hours of careful practice, her hiking boots barely produced a whisper on the bumpy path leading to her special cavern. If she swung the lantern on its creaky handle, however, she could fill the cave with a creepy echo that reminded her of Halloween.

She passed through an opening in the wall and entered a large cavern with several ledges in one end. As she approached the lowest ledge, the glow from her lantern touched an unfamiliar lump on the floor below the rocky shelf and she froze. She knew every inch of this cavern — every rock, ledge, and bump in the floor. No one ever came here. Nothing ever changed unless she changed it. The cave was the only thing she could count on to always stay the same.

This time, however, there was something new. The cave had broken its own rules, adding a boulder where one didn’t belong. She crept toward it, fighting tears of hurt that the cave would trick her like everyone else, and the golden light of her lantern revealed it wasn’t a boulder after all — it was the still form of a man. Her pulse pounded in her ears, so loud it threatened to drown out her own thoughts. Where had he come from? Why wasn’t he moving? Her heart skipped a beat. Was he dead?

Want to read more? Find your copy of Different today!

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Different-E-West-ebook/dp/B00M0E4ZU0

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1119984134?ean=2940149685615

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/460703

About Author E.A. West:
E.A. West, award-winning author of sweet and inspirational romance, is a lifelong lover of books and storytelling. In high school, she picked up her pen in a creative writing class and EAWest_300hasn’t laid it down yet. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, knitting, and crocheting. She lives in Indiana with her family and a small zoo of pets.

Where to Find Me:

Website: http://eawest.mcphitty.com

Blog: http://thewestcorner.wordpress.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/EA-West/34280264617

Twitter: http://twitter.com/eawest

Google+: http://plus.google.com/107709864908331978411/posts

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/authoreawest

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/eawest

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The Heartsight Series Military Romance

In honor of Independence Day, the first book in my Heartsight, U.S. Marine series, is on sale wherever e-books are sold.

HeartsightHeartSight_453x680

On a secluded beach in North Carolina, three lonely people find hope in each other.

Trish Evers is an artist and single mother, who has inherited her grandmother’s Bed and Breakfast in a North Carolina coastal town. Though she must sell the house, she decides to bring her daughter to the beach for one last summer vacation in her childhood town.

Bella is a six-year-old girl who has Down syndrome. Rejected by her father, Trish, is the only parent she’s ever known. Bella likes to explore the beach and has a tendency to wander off. One day, Bella goes exploring on her own, and Trish finds her in the company of an intriguing stranger.

Dan Conway is a U.S. Marine, who had been born into a family of Marines. Now blind as a result of combat injuries and unable to “suit up,” he feels he no longer has a purpose in life. He’s come home to the beach, where he spends his days in solitude. Dan must learn to believe in himself and to love life again, which he begins to do through his interactions with Bella and Trish. When a hurricane strikes, and Bella wanders off again, her only hope for rescue is Dan.

Working within the confines of his blindness, he must overcome his fear of failure and recall his training in order to search for the little girl and bring her to safety.

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Heartsent 500 x 750Heartsent

With her strict no-dating-within-the-department rule, Firefighter Lina Standish has a nickname in the Salem Hills Fire Department: Lina “Standoffish”. But Firefighter Kevin Daly has had his eye on Standoffish ever since a locker room incident nearly a year earlier, and now he plans to break all her rules. With the help of his niece and a hot-air balloon, he gets Lina’s attention and she agrees to “hang out” with Kevin as friends off duty, to take it slow and see where things go between them. Then Lina’s life is turned upside down by a surprise miracle who doesn’t even have a name. Kevin’s ready to step up, but is Lina?

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Operation Christmas Hearts 453x680Operation: Christmas Hearts

Ashley Torrington never cared much about Christmas before. But this year she’s having a particularly blue holiday because Marine Special Operations Team member, Nick Turner got under her skin just before he was deployed to Afghanistan. With her neighbors’ precocious daughter Bella volunteering Ashley for a special project at school, and a mysterious white-haired stranger named Estelle in town buying gifts from Ashley’s shop, not to mention the odd assortment of presents Ashley’s been receiving from an anonymous source, she shouldn’t have time to worry about her guy. But when he and his team go missing the week before Christmas, she realizes only a Christmas miracle will reunite them.

Captain Nicholas Turner never backed down from challenges—on the battlefield or in his personal life. But he’d never met a challenge like Ashley, who doesn’t want to be anyone’s “girl back home.” Now he’s on the other side of the world, wanting to be anywhere but in Afghanistan for Christmas. About to embark on one of the most dangerous missions of his life, he needs Ashley to know she’s much more than the girl he’d left behind, and he does plan to come home to her. But in the meantime, a little Christmas magic would be appreciated. Little does he know, he’s about to get his wish.

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Heartfelt 453x680Heartfelt

The story that began on a North Carolina beach with a blind marine, a divorced mother, and a child with Down syndrome continues as the young family struggles to adapt to a new addition. Now eight months pregnant, Trish worries about her baby, her daughter, and her husband. But maybe she should be more concerned with herself. Dan struggles to prove himself at work in the face of what others consider his disability. As he wrestles with his job, he is also concerned with life at home and the impending birth of his son. How will he connect with a son when he’ll never even be able to play a game of catch with hi

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Coming fall 2014 from Astraea Press!

The 13 of Hamerican_heartearts

Pete “Rabbit” Kincaid has spent more time deployed to war zones than he’s been home over the past decade, and he’s built up a lot of superstitions over the years that he’s convinced have kept him safe. But his last deployment ended in disaster on a fateful Friday the 13th mission. Now Rabbit is “back on the block” and chomping at the bit to be cleared for more missions in his quest to save the world. When a woman with obvious and potentially deadly secrets crosses his path, along with her two children, the fight just became more personal, and it’s right on his doorstep. Melinda “Lin” Doyle doesn’t like living in a motel and hiding her identity. She’s painfully aware she’s giving her children anything but a normal life. But what’s a single mother to do when going home means facing possible murder charges and losing her children forever?

 

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Welcome Krysten Lindsay Hager

Krysten Lindsay Hager

 

 

 

Please welcome young adult author  Krysten Lindsay Hager, who is visiting today to show off her new release, True Colors.

 

 

 

True Colors by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Tagline: A little competition can really bring out people’s true colors.

Back Cover Blurb: Every day I walked down the sidewalk to school and wished I were one of the interesting popular girls who ran up with exciting news. Just once I’d like to be one of those girls instead of the being the one who didn’t get invited to things because people “forgot” about me.

Landry gets pushed into trying out for the American Ingénue reality show modeling competition with her two best friends. She doesn’t think she stands a chance, but she advances to the next level in the competition and her friends ignore her when they get cut.

Enter the gorgeous Devon, who also makes the first cut and includes Landry in her clique. Devon becomes the perfect best friend, but can their friendship survive the competition?

Landry hopes her big break could come at any moment, but soon sees there’s much more to modeling. She begins missing out on being with friends and has the chance to have a boyfriend when she meets a boy named Vladi from another school.

Part of Landry wants to be famous (and have her hair look good for once), but part of her just wants to be accepted. She learns about friendships, being true to yourself, and that a good hair conditioner doesn’t hurt.

Excerpt: TrueColors453X680

The competition was for girls between the ages of thirteen and seventeen, but it felt like Ericka, Tori, and I were the youngest ones there. I only saw a couple of girls from school, and the lineup looked more like something you’d see on a music video set. All the girls were gorgeous, and they had these curvy womanly bodies. I looked like a skinny little kid next to them. The first girl walked out, and I heard the judges say she “owned the runway,” and, “walked like a gazelle.” I was starting to feel ill. I wasn’t sure which way it was going to come, but I knew I had to find a bathroom — fast. I started to get out of line when Ericka grabbed my wrist.

“It’s almost time,” she said. A tiny bit of spit flew out of her mouth and hit my cheek.

I wasn’t sure why she was so intent on me going through with it, but she had a death grip on my arm, so I didn’t have much of a choice. Her number was called and she walked out to the stage. One of the other girls said she walked like a kid with sand bucket stilts on her feet, but she came back with a smirk on her face like she knew she’d get chosen.

“They said they had never seen such long legs,” she said.

Tori was next.

“She walks like a gorilla at feeding time,” said the girl behind me. I went next, and I tried to focus on not tripping over my feet. My mom’s pumps had a rubber sole on the bottom, which probably wasn’t the brightest idea seeing as my shoes were making squeaking noises as I walked. I was so nervous I couldn’t stop smiling as I walked. I looked like the plastic clown who blows up balloons with its mouth at the Pizza Palace. When I got to the end of the runway, I tried to cross my feet to turn like the other girls had, but I over rotated and ended up doing a full spin which made my kilt fan out and gave the mall walkers a view of my blue underpants. I tried to act like it was intentional and did an extra turn. One of the judges put her hand up to stop me, and I held my breath as she started to speak.

Author bio: Krysten Lindsay Hager is an author and book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and also writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. Her debut novel, TRUE COLORS, will be out June 17th from Astraea Press. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows.

Book Purchase Links:

Amazon

 

Author Links:

Website: www.krystenlindsay.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KrystenLindsayHagerAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KrystenLindsay

Instagram: http://instagram.com/krystenlindsay

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22444090-true-colors

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96jxcUH54hU

 

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From Judgment and Condemnation to Forgiveness and Love

207850_101606019849429_100000000949045_47857_3829894_nEaster is a Christian High Holy Day. Egg hunts, jelly beans, pretty foil-wrapped chocolate, and fluffy bunnies and chicks aside, it is the most solemn and serious of all the holidays celebrated by Christians. Easter is a season that is actually longer than Advent (Christmas), for Easter begins at Shrove Tuesday/Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, and ends with the celebration of Jesus’ ascension to Heaven on the seventh Sunday after Easter (Pentacost). But while Christmas is about the bringer of our Salvation, Easter is about the method of salvation itself. The supreme sacrifice – the sacrifice made with the intention that man could stop leaving blood offerings on the holy altar.

From the second the first sin of disobedience was committed in the Garden, this sacrifice became necessary. God asked one thing: Do not eat from the tree of knowledge. As soon as Adam and Eve sinned, they lost their blessed innocence. We know this because they became aware of their nakedness before God and were embarrassed by it. God clothed them, perhaps to show compassion for their discomfort. To do that, he slaughtered two animals for their skins to provide clothing. The first blood sacrifice – the price of the sin committed by those two in the Garden.

“The wages [cost that must be paid] of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23) Sacrifice (livestock, sometimes crops) became a way of life in payment for the many sins that mankind went on to commit. But animal sacrifice wasn’t going to be enough. Sure, the animals died, they paid the sin price. But that was a temporary fix, because it became too easy to look upon that as payment for the privilege of misbehaving. Lie about your neighbor? Take an extra chicken to the altar. Steal something belonging to another? Offer up a cow. When David coveted another man’s wife and sent that man to his death in battle because Bathsheba had become pregnant with David’s child, the man’s death was on David’s head. Sacrifice had to be made for the sin against the commandment not to kill. The very child that had been at the heart of the controversy fell ill and died. Man could not go on this way, though. Something else was needed, something that would have the power to permanently conquer sin. God would have to offer up part of Himself. A holy sacrifice.

Enter Jesus. The Lamb of God. The sacrifice that held the power to save humankind. And all the people had to do was accept the gift. But man could not be simply handed the sin price like an allowance. It would have been easier for God to just make the sacrifice Himself, I’m sure, just as it’s sometimes easier to bail our children out of tough situations instead of letting them find their own way. But what do they learn if we pay the price for their wrongs and they bear no consequences?

God, as our very wise heavenly parent, did make the sacrifice that absolved us of our sins, but first He gave us a refresher course in His expectations of us – His rules. Jesus’ message while he walked this earth was as simple or as complex as anyone wanted it to be. Through all the teachings of Jesus ran one solitary, priceless thread. It’s the basis of good cross in liliesrelationships, otherwise known as The Golden Rule: “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” Other cultures might call this Karma. Some might call it the rule of “what goes around comes around.” But the bottom line is, the Golden Rule is really part of the admonition against judgment. One of the most well known warnings in the scriptures comes from Luke 6:37. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.” If we follow Jesus’ teachings about loving others, if we follow the Ten Commandments, if we’re righteous people, why then, should we have been instructed to not judge others who fall short of these ideals? This is partially explained in Matthew 7:3, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” You see, we also have faults; we’ve all done things wrong, made mistakes upon occasion, made poor choices. Because of these things, we are not capable of truly impartially judging others. We have a tendency to blind ourselves to our shortcomings and look more harshly at the failings of others. No one is exempt from this trait. In fact, this fact is driven home in Romans 3:22-23 with a very pointed statement that none of us is better than the next person in the eyes of God. No matter how hard we try, how righteous we aspire to be, how like Jesus we walk, we are all sinners. “…even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” GOD is our judge, the only One qualified to judge any one of us. And in His eyes, we will be found lacking every time. So we don’t want Him judging us by the standards we use to judge others. Hence, don’t judge others or you will be judged. If you condemn a man for his mistakes, your own mistakes will be held against you.

But wait! We are asked to go even further. Did you know that the verse warning against judgment (Luke 6:37) goes on to say, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven”? So you see, we have not been instructed to remain passive when it comes to reflecting Jesus’ teachings. Not only are we to refrain from passing judgment on others and condemning them, we are called on to actively forgive them instead. Jesus told Peter that we must forgive those who wrong us not once or twice, not a mere seven times, but seventy times seven times if that’s what it takes. (Matthew 18:22). And as if forgiving is not enough of a burden to lay on us, we are told to love others. Jesus explained the greatest commandment as: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) But don’t stop there, He adds, for the second greatest command is nearly the same: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)

And there it is; the key to living our lives as a reflection of Jesus in this ugly world. Don’t judge or condemn, but forgive instead. And then love. Love everyone of our worldly neighbors – not selectively but collectively. Love the elderly shut-in who sometimes can’t remember her name as much as you love the tidy, smiling children in the Sunday School class. Love the impoverished mother who works two jobs and still qualifies for state assistance to help care for her children but also love the prostitutes on the street corners, for they may not know any other way to survive. Love the teenager who boosted your car and crashed it, the boss who made you work late so he could go on vacation. Love the bully who tormented you in high school, the terrorists who flew planes into buildings, and the disturbed young man who shot up an elementary school. Love these people by first forgiving them.

Do you require an example of how to follow this instruction? You need look only as far as Jesus’ last moments on the cross, as imparted to us in Luke 23:32-43. After the persecution, the ridicule, the lies, the denials, the beatings… the judgments. After nails were pounded into his body affixing him to the cross… as the sacrifice was underway, with the sins of all mankind – past, present, future – being heaped upon the shoulders of Jesus making Him into the Sin Price upon the altar… As he hung dying, two men joined him in his misery. Criminals, each one also nailed to his own cross, one to the right of Jesus, the other to the left. While soldiers cast lots for His clothing and awaited His death, Jesus prayed to God, speaking of those who had tortured Him. “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” One of those criminals hanging alongside him hurled insults, asking if He was who he claimed, why he did not save Himself and them too. The other man pointed out that the two of them were suffering justly for their crimes, but that “…this man has done nothing wrong.” That man turned to Jesus and pleaded, “Jesus, remember me when You arrive in Your kingdom!” With that man’s sins joining those of the rest of humankind and laying heavily up Him, Jesus forgave the man and showed him love in his answer: “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

IMG_3153Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
~1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Have a blessed Easter 2014

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