Christina Rich

Inspirational Romance… Weaving a Threefold Strand


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Surrending the Past for A Bright Future ~ Lisa Belcastro

Please welcome Lisa Belcastro back to Threefold Strand!! Welcome, Lisa!!!!

DSC_0036_1belacastroBetrayal and loss. Pain and grief. Is there anyone alive who hasn’t experienced loss? Or Betrayal? And the pain and grief that follows? How do we go on after a husband’s affair, the death of a spouse, a friend’s backstabbing, a child’s rebellion, a pink slip at work, or a failed relationship?

If we are blessed to have faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, then we know that God can and does heal our hurts and sorrows if we surrender our sufferings to Him. Healing may not be instantaneous, and more often than not takes longer than we’d like, but God’s grace and compassion are available to all who call on the Lord.

Melissa Smith, the heroine in my latest novel, Shenandoah Dreams, felt the sting of betrayal when her husband cheated on her and left her for the other woman. Melissa surrendered her anguish to God, and in Him she found peace. In time, she forgave her ex-husband and released the bitterness in her heart. Through her family, friends and teaching job, Melissa experienced happiness and a good life.

Isaiah Reed lost his wife to scarlet fever. He mourned her death, and as Melissa had, Isaiah also released his pain to the Lord. He, too, treasured his family, friends and his profession that allowed him to sail at sea. If anyone had asked Isaiah, he would have said he was pleased with his life.

When a twist of fate brings Melissa and Isaiah together, they each come face to face with the pieces of hurt they have held onto. Though each would have told you that they were happy with the lives they were leading, Melissa and Isaiah both have built walls around their hearts. Melissa loves many people, but she has closed her heart to romance. Isaiah is no different, having sworn off women and marriage for twenty years.

As Melissa and Isaiah are forced to spend time together, they discover an undeniable attraction for one another. But the walls around their hearts are high and thick, and each is afraid to topple their defenses. They want more, holding their desires close as they cling to their fears.

From the earliest pages of Genesis (2:18), we see that God destined our hearts to be part of a three-part cord – man, woman, and God tied together in holy matrimony. God created Adam in His likeness and desired fellowship with him. But God saw that Adam needed a spouse, a partner, a helpmate, and so He created Eve. The best life for Adam revolved around relationship with God and relationship with Eve.

To receive God’s best for their lives, Melissa and Isaiah will have choices to make and fears to face. Will they trust that God has brought them to this place in time for a purpose and that the purpose is for their good? Will they seek God’s will for their lives? Will they surrender the remainder of their hurt, deconstruct the walls they have so carefully built, and allow God to give them a new heart?

Writing the conflict scenes in the later part of Shenandoah Dreams, allowed me to reflect on my life, and examine places in my heart where I had unresolved hurt and anger. I identified with some of Melissa’s anguish as well as Isaiah’s. As my characters prayed for healing, I asked God to cleanse and restore my heart, to make me new as only He can.

Have you felt the sting of betrayal? Has death shaken your world and left you on rocky ground? Has the end of relationship torn your heart in two? God is there, in the midst of your pain. He wants to dry your tears, heal your heart, and give you a new life. No matter how great or small your heartache, will you join me and Melissa in surrendering the past to the One who wipes away all our tears and brings joy to our futures?

Shenandoah_Dreams_FRONTBack Cover:

“It’s just a dream. It’s just a dream,” Melissa Smith whispers as her eyes focus on the two men standing before her. She lives in the twenty-first century. She is chaperoning her sixth-grade students on an educational sailing trip. They are not visiting Plimoth Plantation, or the Boston Tea Party Museum, or the Concord Bridge reenactment. They are sailing over the waters of the Vineyard Sound around the island of Martha’s Vineyard. So the men before her, dressed as though they’ve stepped off the set of a movie about the American Revolutionary War, cannot possibly be real. She’s dreaming. She will wake up.

But can a dream man touch her and send bolts of electricity through her veins and ignite a fire in her heart the likes of which she’s never felt before? Can a dream man serve her food that tastes divine? Can a dream lasts for weeks on end?

And if she’s not dreaming, then she’s traveled back in time, which is impossible. But here she is, in 1770, uncertain how she arrived, how she’ll get home, and if her heart could bare to be parted from Captain Isaiah Reed. Only time will tell if Melissa is given a chance at love with Isaiah or swept forward once again to her previous life.

 


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One Day!!!

One day left until the release of The Warrior’s Vow! I’m pretty excited. Romantic Times Reviews gave it 4 Stars, which is absolutely awesome!!!

Sarah posted and awesome review on her blog Thank you, Sarah!

Today I’m taking off my writer’s hat at The Sword and Spirit and talking about Hosting God. It’s an important subject. I’m also giving away a copy of The Warrior’s Vow there.

You’ll also find various interviews this week at Inner Source, Writing Prompts and The Most Important Thing. I’ll be posting links to those throughout the week on my facebook and I’ll add them here as they go live.

I want to thank all of you for your constant support, encouragement, and prayers.


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Fear

I don’t think those who know me realize how deep fear was rooted in me. There were times I feared going outside my house, feared sleeping, feared breathing. Yes, it was that bad. If I went outside I might literally step in the wrong spot and inadvertently cause harm to another person. If I slept, nightmares took over. I literally feared being taken from my bed while sleeping. If I breathed, I worried I might say the wrong thing, or breathe in the wrong air space. And I always feared rejection.

I remember the first time I entered a church as an adult. A young adult, but an adult. I think I was around twenty years old and with a two year in tow. My husband and I weren’t married at the time, but he’d gone the week before and for some reason I had stepped beyond my fear and allowed a complete stranger to pick me and my daughter up and take us to church.

No sooner had we arrived through the doors, someone escorted us to the nursery, a room away from the sanctuary. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know it was okay to say no. I didn’t know it was okay for me and my child to sit in on the adult Sunday School class. My fear of rejection took over and I felt as if we were being hidden away, that children weren’t welcome, that unmarried mothers weren’t welcome. Sure, the people were welcoming, and as I continued to attend that church I knew how loving and kind they all were, but at the time I was doing what I was told and I had no understanding of how things worked.

When we walked through the nursery doors, we were met with the sound of gut-wrenching sobs. I’ll never forget the image of that woman curled on the floor hiding behind a rocker. My heart went out to her, but I didn’t know her. I wanted to leave. The person escorting us quickly left, leaving me standing there with my daughter. My fear of not doing as I was told kept me from leaving, my fear kept me from offering this unknown woman words of comfort.  Within a few minutes our escort returned with the pastor. The look of disbelief on the pastor’s face, the outrage, crushed me. Was he mad at the woman? At the situation? At me? Most likely. Growing up, it seemed like I was always a disappointment in one way or another. It seemed like I could never measure up, was always judged and found lacking. So, it was automatic that I assumed, the pastor was angry with me, but I didn’t know why. After all I was doing as I was told.

During the sermon, my fears were confirmed. I had done something wrong. I’ll say it now, it’s so much easier for the human mind to remember words of negativity than the positive ones. The pastor stood behind the altar and told the congregation that he’d witnessed the rudest thing he’d ever seen earlier that morning.  Tears sprang to my eyes. Even when I was doing what I was told I couldn’t do it right.  Every muscle in my body flinched, ready to flee, but if I did, then every single person in that building would know I was the offender. They probably did anyway, but my fear of being seen, kept me rooted to the chair in the very back of the church.

I understand now that I should have stepped out of the room and allowed the woman her privacy, but then, my fear of breaking some sort of rule kept me from doing so.Silly, I know. But that was the trap of fear.

Over the years I’ve seen my various fears settle on my children. It took me a long time to realize they were taking on my fears. My oldest daughter could only enter the mall from one door, never the ten others, without having a panic attack. My second oldest would have panic attacks at the thought of going to the grocery store. My son gave up on trying to measure up to expectations and ended up behind bars for a time. I sort of understand, I mean why try if you’re never going to be good enough? My youngest has anxiety issues with cars. My kids are so strong in so many ways,  but the spirit of fear that led me around, and still tries, like a dog on a lead has leaked into their lives as well. Okay, maybe leaked isn’t the right word: FLOODED.

2 Timothy 1:7 says, For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (KJV)

I’ve been a Christian for a long time, but there is constant growth. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I understood the power of praying scripture over people, especially my children. The following video brought me a sense of peace. I’m not alone. I’m not the only mother out there who suffered from fears, who allowed her fears to settle on her children.

I’m not going to lie, I have to constantly recite 2 Timothy 1:7, sometimes daily. Sometimes while I’m sitting on my bed, rocking back and forth with tears streaming down my cheeks. The more I allow Jesus to take over my life the easier it gets.

I hope this video from Lisa Bevere and Joyce Meyer blesses you.

http://bcove.me/vey1md79

Father,

I lift up those to You who are struggling with the spirit of fear. May the stronghold taking over their mind be broken and replenished with a sound mind, a mind focused on Heavenly things, Godly things, pure things, things of goodness and mercy. And Father, I lift of the children of all those who’ve suffered from living in fear, free them, Lord. Free them from the bondage of fear! Release the power of the Holy Spirit into their lives.

I ask all these thing by the authority given to me from Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen


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Powerful Stuff! Twofold!

Powerful, powerful stuff! 

The altar from which God gives us the gift of himself is not for exploitation by insiders who grab and loot. In the old system, the animals are killed and the bodies disposed of outside the camp. The blood is then brought inside to the altar as a sacrifice for sin. It’s the same with Jesus. He was crucified outside the city gates—that is where he poured out the sacrificial blood that was brought to God’s altar to cleanse his people.

So let’s go outside, where Jesus is, where the action is—not trying to be privileged insiders, but taking our share in the abuse of Jesus. This “insider world” is not our home. We have our eyes peeled for the City about to come. Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name.

Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hebrews 13:10-16 (MSG)

If you take a moment to read Matthew 23, you’ll see that Jesus came against hypocrisy, especially against the Pharisees. The came at people with condemnation, withholding grace, mercy and compassion, when they themselves did not keep the law.

 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides!You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

Matthew 23:23-24 (NIV)

I am fortunate to know many people who live what they preach. They humble me. They inspire me to do the same. I thank God for them.

***********************************************************************************************************************************

What’s funny is I did not even come over here with the intention of posting this, but this is where God led me. What I did come over here to post is this:

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.

Hebrews 13:15 (NIV)

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;make known among the nations what he has done.

Psalm 105:1 (NIV)

And whatever you do,whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17   (NIV)

Praise—Praise—Praise—

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Psalm 22:3 (KJV)

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (MSG)

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)

Praise, praise, praise, praise, praise, praise. God inhabits our praise. Invite Him in by praising Him.  Continually invite Him in by continually praising Him!

 


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My Writing Process Blog Tour

First, thank you Kate Breslin for inviting me to join in this blog tour.

What am I working on at the moment?

You may be curious to know that my second book, The Warrior’s Vow, releases this July. I recently turned in another book set in the Greece isles in the mid 600 b.c. I’ve since turned in a proposal for a contemporary set in a fictional small Kansas town. I also have several other stories ready to be written, or they will once I get a chance to work out the plot.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

To be honest, I don’t really know as far as historical Biblical romance is concerned. The only Biblical fiction I’ve read has been Francine Rivers and her main characters are based of actual characters from the Bible. My main characters are fictional.

Why do I write what I do?

I write the stories God lays on my heart. :)

How does my writing process work?

My writing process is a little chaotic as I’m really trying to discover what works best for me. Sometimes I’ve had nothing but a dream of a character, other times it’s a smidgen of conversation, a pastor’s sermon, driving through down town with my daughter with foil in her hair. ;) Once I have an inspiration I think of all the different possibilities of how my story could evolve. When I wrote The Warrior’s Vow I had no idea who Jesse’s heroine was going to be until after I started writing the first chapter. Once I discovered she was a princess nobody knew existed everything fell into place and I wrote the first draft very quickly.

Typically, I write everyday. The next day I read over what I wrote the day before, making edits if needed and then I continue. The process has worked very well, but as of late I try to write the first three chapters so I can hopefully get to know my characters, and then I write a loose synopsis before going back to write the rest of the story. Of course, all through this process is constant research.

 

I was supposed to continue the blog tour by nominating another historical blog (or three) but I forgot to ask anyone, so keep checking back.

 

 


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Yay, God!

It’s funny, I’m a writer, and yet I don’t know exactly how to write what I’m going to attempt to write. So, I ask the Lord to help me brag on Him just a moment.

In 2007, I met a woman at a small writer’s conference here in Topeka who confessed to me that her greatest prayer was that God would turn the hearts of men back to their homes. That God would raise up men, young and old alike to take their place as God meant them. To be Godly leaders among their communities and within their homes. She was specifically talking about African American homes, but I saw the need in all homes! My heart cried out at the time, Yes, Lord! Yes, Lord! May it be so!!!!

For decades, churches have been filled with women who have sought to lead a Christian life, who have sought to teach their children and raise them in the Lord the best they could, many attended without their husbands and then went home to a place where her husband (if she had one) was the authority, not God.

Now I don’t know about you, but I believe God set things up in a certain manner for Christian households. Actually, if you believe scripture is God breathed (2Timothing 3:16) then you should too. I’ll probably get a lot of flack for bringing this up, but it’s scripture. However, I will state right here and right now, that I do NOT believe God wants anyone to be in an abusive relationship.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church,his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:22-24 (NIV)

As a woman this can be a hard pill to swallow, especially if said husband isn’t holding up the next verse, and let me tell you, I thank God for the Godly man He has yoked me with, but trust me my husband hasn’t always led the way I would have liked, or even in a Godly manner (another blog for another day), just as I have not always submitted to my husband.

Husbands, love your wives,  just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy,cleansingher by the washing with water through the word,and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Ephesians 5:25-28 (NIV)

 

Wives, we are responsible for ourselves. If we believe God’s word then we are to submit to our husbands, but how are we to submit to an ungodly man when were are trying to live a Godly life? Not easy and I suppose you can imagine the chaos created within an unequally yoked household. A Godly woman trying to lead her family, but yet submitting to the authority of her husband, who may or may not believe in the Lord, but who isn’t cleansing his wife through the washing with water through the word, therefore leaving the wife frustrated and confused and the children in the middle.

What’s a woman to do? Pray and according to 1 Peter 3:1-6

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

And do you know what Abraham asked Sarah to do? Read Genesis 20 and see for yourself.

Anyway, ever since our little church closed it’s doors a few years ago we’ve been looking for the right place, and we both believe we’ve finally found our home. No, that’s not the Yay, God (well it is, but not the one I wanted to share). The Yay, God?— I have never seen a church, ever, filled with so many young adult men who are loving and rejoicing, dancing, clapping, praising the Lord the way these young men are doing. It’s such a sweet, sweet fragrance. I can hardly contain the emotion as I sit here typing. God is doing an amazing thing! Yay, God!!!!! Yay, God!!!!! Keep drawing them Lord.

Thank you, JD and Callie for being obedient to the calling God has put on your lives. Thank you to the prayer warriors and to the praise team. You are starting a rumble right here in the heart of America that will leach out into the corners of the world, a rumble of young people who will not settle for mediocrity, but will go forth and praise the Lord as He was meant to be praised; in truth and in spirit. May you send out mighty warriors.

In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams. Acts 2:17 (NIV)

 

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