Friday, November 21, 2014

The Slow Simmer of Grace

Chris Webb is a 20 year old senior at Virginia Commonwealth University majoring in Criminal Justice. He enjoys leading his Chi Alpha small group, watching movies, and reading books that enrich his faith.  In his recent blog post"The Goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living" from This Mortal Body Has Grown Weak, I Need Sustenance, he writes: "my academic achievement had done nothing to address my deep-seated insecurities" and how gaining a true understanding of God's grace changed his life. Currently, he is working on his first crime fiction series.

When I started attended my community college four years ago I had one goal: graduate with a 4.0 (and thereby with a better GPA than my older sister, cause I had pride issues like that). I studied day and night, and outside of one classmate and playing a final year of high school basketball (which I was doing for very limited and selfish reasons), I didn’t really have a social life.  

Freshman year ended with a net total of 11 A’s, two new friends, lots of sleep deprivation and stress, as well as a second place finish in the HSPN East Coast championship game that led me to not pick up a basketball for months. I had obtained my academic goal (for a year) with rigorous self-effort but I had no joy.

My sophomore year, I was vice president of the Christian Student Fellowship at my community college (because that’s what extremely successful christian students do) and I continued to collect as many A’s as possible. I succeeded. To the outside, I was the poster child of success but my academic achievement had done nothing to address my deep-seated insecurities. I felt like a hypocrite because I was a Christian that struggled with addiction and couldn’t beat it with willpower (all you perfectionists know how much that sucks). I knew facts about God but I couldn’t have told you who He was to me. All I could do was obtain good grades and even that failed me when I didn’t get a full ride to VCU like I thought I deserved. 

God was distant, my athletic goals had gone up in flames, and when it came to the area of relationships it seemed the universe was conspiring against me. But God had a plan.

Fast forward to today. Getting me to stress about school is like trying to get me to go swing dancing (as in really, really hard). I have the closest group of friends I’ve ever had in my life and God and I talk everyday (I still do 75% of the talking but hey, progress is progress). I still have a 4.0 but I now understanding that it’s a blessing from God that He was generous enough to give me because I asked for it, not something I “earned” because I was smarter than everybody else.  

I’m still single (despite my best efforts) but I’ve had weeks where I truly understood what it means to experience a peace that transcends all understanding.

What caused this radical change, you ask? Grace. Gaining a true understanding of what God’s grace really is and what it means for me. It means that God loves me independent of anything I’ve ever done, am doing, or will do--a revolutionary discovery for me! It means that I have God’s unmerited favor impacting every area of life just because I’m His son and I’ve been adopted into His family. It means I’m greatly blessed, highly favored, and deeply loved. It means that I’m a successful person simply because God is with me. It means I’m holy, just, and good, not because of what I do but because I’m a new creation in Christ.

Now, this change didn’t just happen overnight. As I’ve learned, when God uses his grace to change you, it works really, really, REALLY, slow. But when grace changes you, it’s permanent. It starts with changing how you think waaaaaaay before it changes how you act.

Some of you might be wondering why I decided to share this in a public forum. Well, Proverbs 13:12 says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life”. Up until recently, I could only relate to the first part of this scripture; I was an expert in heart sickness, because I had it. But now, even though many of my hopes are still deferred, I’ve seen desire come and it truly is a tree of life.

I know far too well, what rock bottom looks like: despair, doubt, fear, anxiety, stress, shame, the whole nine yards. I have been intimately acquainted with them. You might think I can’t relate to what you’re going through or have gone through, and you’re right to some extent. I may not be able to relate to the details of your story because it’s your story. But trust me on this, when it comes to the aforementioned emotions…I get it. I wish I didn’t…but I do. 

I just want everyone to know that hope is out there, and you can always find it in Jesus. I know the change I experienced was not of myself because I tried changing myself for years and it didn’t work. If effort and hard work were the only factors, I would have done it (trust me, I have the Upwards Basketball Program blue stars to prove it). My problems seemed insurmountable, but to God they were like grains of sand. He is SO much bigger than anything we’ll ever come up against! He’s the beginning, middle, and end of my story and without him I am nothing.

Now, to be clear, I don’t act perfectly and I’ve not yet learned the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of God’s love for me (although I know much more than I used to). I don’t expect what I’ve written to change anyone’s life, because honestly, it wouldn’t have changed mine based on where I was four years ago. But here’s my hope: that in reading this, at least one person will come to a sense of peace about where they are in life, warts in all. If even one person reads this and comes away with a sense of relief that they aren’t responsible for changing themselves, it will have been worth it. No, the change won’t be instantaneous and yes, you’ll still struggle with stuff a lot longer than you think you should, but it’s OKAY. God has you and when God has you, EVERYTHING will be okay. As I end, I just want to leave you with this: In regards to Christianity, it’s not about what you do, it’s about "whose" you are. So "whose" are you?

 Philippians 1:6 “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”.

Psalm 27:13-14
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!”

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pause and Think...

Below are new excerpts from the nonfiction devotional, Selah: Daily Quotes for Daily Meditation, co-written with my best friend. The Hebrew word, selah, means "to pause and think about".

The book is meant to give readers a nugget-- a thought that compels them to think deeper about a biblical concept.

I often pick a copy off of my shelf and browse through the months until something catches my eye. My usual reaction is: "I needed to read this today".

I'm casually working on a new edition that will make Selah more of a standard devotional than a book of brief original, yet Biblically-inspired quotable phrases. The new version will hopefully include many of the pins that are found in that tab on this site.

Here are a few excerpts from the month of January.

The goodness of God is defined as kind, cordial, benevolent, tenderhearted, and full of good towards mankind. All in all, His unfailing attitude towards all mortal beings is open, friendly, and inclined to give blessings. He takes holy pleasure in the happiness of His children.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11

How do we reconcile God’s benevolence towards mankind with the calamity, disease, and war so rampant in our time? If God has thoughts of peace towards us, then why do we face times of personal chaos?

Scriptures like Ephesians 6:12, 1 John 3:8, and Romans 8: 1-6 present answers to these questions. The reality of evil, propagated by the devil and his demons, and the condition of sin in mankind are not ignored by God, rather He offers victory to those who believe in the crucifixion and resurrection of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.  His orientation towards mankind is compassionate, for only a loving God would care enough to take on the flesh of man in order to offer man a way out of earthly darkness and eternal punishment. Certainly, the negatives we face are the consequences of living in a fallen world, where some people are still trapped and destroyed by their spiritual blindness. Blessed are those whose eyes are opened.


We yearn to trust implicitly. We crave the security in knowing that someone loves us enough never to hurt us. That someone is God. (Psalm 143:10)

Romance novels have a huge audience. Our God given yearning for the security of a safe and intimate relationship finds satisfaction within the seductive covers of this genre. Despite the momentary relief that fictional fantasy offers, real life winks at us when the book is finished.

Allusion suppresses the real pain and loneliness that so many people carry. Those that find God and learn how to lean on His invisible bosom find the comfort, safety, and security that no human being or book can truly offer.


Matthew 27:12 says “And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing.” Why did Jesus stay silent? Why didn’t he defend himself?

How does a man who has healed, delivered, brought happiness and provided food for multitudes defend himself when his deeds are already known by the accusers and are the very thing they find offensive?

He doesn’t. The blind can’t see or understand anyway. The Bible calls them darkened in their understanding. (Ephesians 4:18)

As far as the redeemed, no matter how often the serpent from the Garden of Eden lies to us about our heavenly Father, we must belief only what He says about himself in Scripture. Our daily experiences, some frustrating and some sorrowful, cannot define God. We must allow our good God to define them.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Fall into Books: Sales


Clean Indie Reads, the home of Flinch-Free Fiction, is having a Fall Sale
October 5 thru October 10!

Check out each author's sale items below by clicking on their name.

To celebrate, we are having a blog hop where you can learn more about  our authors and their books.

Our bloggers will also be answering the question:

Do the changing seasons influence your writing and/or choice of books to read?

Readers, We'd love you to join this discussion! Feel free to comment on any blog.

From Author Tina Webb:
Hot spiced cider simmers on the stove. I lean against the wall and yawn, still trying to brush off the morning grog. Outside my kitchen window, a few yellow leaves fall to their final resting place on the ground. Autumn is full of color and smells, varying temperatures and delightfully warm desserts. Inspiration comes easily when my senses are fully stimulated. 

While summer is busy with kid activities and DIY projects, autumn provides me a canvas on which my schedule is fixed and therefore time to write comes more easily.

As far as my reading list, it is determined by the books that our home school curriculum has on the syllabus. This year I'm teaching American Literature. The Legend of Sleep Hollow will be followed by short stories by Edgar Allen Poe for this month.

While I love summer - beaches, day trips, and watermelon, there is nothing like snuggling in a fleece blanket while classical or jazz music plays quietly in the background, as the cider simmers and a compelling plot lies at my fingertips.

Thanks for visiting the Clean Indie Reads Blog Hop. Below you will find my featured item as well as links to the other sites on this blog tour. Some authors are offering free giveaways. We appreciate your interest! Book reviews are always very appreciated.
Enjoy your Fall! -Tina


Readers enter the realm of pre-Adamic Earth -- its unblemished natural splendor, magnificently constructed edifices and its first tenants, celestial beings commissioned by Abba, the Creator to develop this wondrous world. Time is taken to paint such a utopian world. The reader must understand the enormity of what is stolen in order to grieve with the friends that are betrayed and the God who is forsaken. Ironically Daystar’s insecure thoughts are easily empathized with, but when the brutality of sin mutilates the innocent and destroys now-tainted Earth, we solemnly applaud Abba’s fiery anger in the face of evil.
As the book concludes, the evacuation of those who remain loyal to Abba and the brutal destruction of beautiful Earth shouts defeat until Abba announces a plan.

“It's a wondrous world you've constructed, w/ the visuals woven in like they are characters” 

 "An excellent book!" "I've not read anything like it before!"

On Sale only on these sites:

Paperback only $6.99 on Amazon

Clean Indie Reads Blog Hop Schedule
(please note: not all bloggers will be offering giveaways):


October 5
October 6:
October 7:
October 8:
October 9:
October 10:
October 11:
Disclaimer: Comment by 11:59:59 PM Central time on October 10, 2014 for your chance to win. Please leave your email address with your comment. Winners will be contacted by the blog owner by October 13, 2014. Only one entry per ISP address. The contest is open to international readers unless stated by the blog owner. No purchase necessary to enter. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. The giveaway is the sole responsibility of the blogger. Clean Indie Reads is in no way responsible for providing prizes during this blog hop. Void where prohibited

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Blog Posts on GraceNFaith4U

I have had the privilege of writing a few blog posts for  I’d like to share these posts with you.

In My Tear Stained Shoulder, I share my faith journey supporting my unmarried best friend who had waiting for “the one” for many years.

“Not long ago I sat on her couch, my arm around her shoulder, as she wept. The longing for marriage never left her. It only succumbed to temporary band-aids of divine longsuffering. My shoulder had been drenched with her tears many, many times. This time was no different. I sat and comforted her with my presence, my arm and my silence.

A month before this post, she met a guy and I’m happy to say that the wedding was Sept 5, 2014.

My guest post, Light The Way, discusses our internal cry when life puts new situations and challenges before us and our fears beg us to retreat into our comfort zones.

“Although our fears beckon us to stay put in places or seasons of comfort and security, we have a divine mandate for progress. We must not sit idly allowing our souls to stagnate with the familiar. We are made to venture into the unknown”. 

The post features the single “Light The Way” by Calie Garrett and City Church Worship. Available on ITunes:    

My third post, Reflection: Would God Endorse My Books? highlights the challenge of Christian writers to allow the content of their work to be culturally relevant without compromising their God-centered conscience. In reality, when looking at the whole canon of Scripture, a writer realizes that:

 “The Bible has all sorts of stories with all sorts of ratings. However, they all have one thing in common- they reflect the opinion of God on a subject. Consider the Song of Solomon in the Old Testament. Paragraphs in this poetic book would make some of you blush. There are underlying meanings to certain passages that would be given an R rating according to our standards today.”

Survival: A Literary Theme and Present Day Reality presented the timely subject of survival in a global environment of war, pandemics, and economic instability. As a child and teenager I was always attracted to books whose characters struggled to either stay alive or not have their sense of purpose and identity stolen by a community that stressed conformity. Whether the setting is Europe during the Holocaust, the volatile Jim Crow South, or an island in the Caribbean, these books speak toour human need for death to be overcome by life, struggle to be overcome by victory, and weakness to be overcome by strength.

“…there is also a foreboding in my soul as I watch the news about Iraqi Christians, African children abandoned by mothers dying of Aids or taken by rampaging militants. Sometimes I quickly turn my ears when I hear people talk about food storage and emergency preparedness. Yet I remember 9-11 and the plots of my youth.

I hope you enjoy these articles. Please take time to read the other posts on by other wonderful writers.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ages and Stages Part 5 Perfect Parent? Not!

Perfect Parent? Not!

It’s great to see the reception that this blog series, “Ages and Stages” has received.  The 4000+ views tell me that we, as parents, desire a sense of camaraderie and affirmation. We will never be perfect parents, but we can always be perfecting our parenting.

I wasn’t sure what to write for this last post, but sure enough a few conversations with my adult children brought to light a subject that all parents need to face at some time: wounds of the past.

Once my children became young adults I hoped that opportunities would become available for them to reconcile anything in their past that caused them struggle. I didn’t want them to carry baggage of childhood rejection or adolescent confusion into their adulthood. While we don’t have to do anything to guarantee our children’s physical maturity--nature does that—we do need to do a few things to guarantee our children’s emotional maturity.

Conversations this past week with my adult children were hard. To hear the stories of fear and loneliness; rejection and unclear teaching about relating to the opposite sex; and self-imposed isolation and emotional suppression shocked and saddened me. I never knew. This may seem hard to believe since I am a home educator who is pretty much around her kids all of the time.  How can a child be lonely in a house full of people?

Physical proximity does not mean emotional intimacy. In our culture we bond via internet and texting. Those on the other side cannot look into our eyes and see the reality of our souls. Another cultural challenge is our frenetic lifestyles. We can be so busy! I’ve learned that more often than not, we must take the time to knock on our child's or teen’s door, and enter their world.  We need to talk - no, listen to them, expecting at first to be met with the phrase, ‘I’m fine’. But we must keep knocking and making ourselves available; not just to be cheerleaders at sporting events or ballet recitals, but to be shoulders to cry on and hands to pray with.

Unfortunately, most of us did not get this as children and teens. We entered parenthood with handicaps and didn’t even realize it.

Long ago, I heard someone say that we can only do the best we can and we must trust God to fill in the rest. This is the truth. We are not perfect. Hopefully we will tell our kids that when they are young! Aging as a parent has to do less with our numerical ages and more with our emotional health. Do we react or do we respond? Do we admit when we are wrong or do we play the blame game? Do we suppress our own emotions and deny our own weaknesses, or do we present ourselves as clueless and thankful grace-recipients on a journey to learn how to love well.

Blessings to you and your family! Thanks for reading some snapshots of my life as a parent who is learning as she goes.

Psalm 27:10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.
Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Malachi 4:2 But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves.

Lord, You are Jehovah-Rapha, God our Healer. Heal the minds and emotions of our children so that they can move forward into the next stages of their lives without hindrance. Comfort our aching hearts as we acknowledge our failures and mistakes over the years. Remind us of Your promise that healing, restoration and satisfying life come to those who humble themselves before You. We love You God and we are thankful for Your tender mercies.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ages and Stages Part 4 Mommy or Me: Who is 1st?

Mommy or Me: Who is first?

I think I was in my upper-twenties when the dawning occurred. "I" had become lost in the role of “Mommy”. The decision to be a stay-at-home mom cost us financially but rewarded us with the certainty that we could completely oversee our children’s formative years and we could home educate them, teaching each subject according to a Biblical worldview.

Sure, I loved strolling to the playground, attending story-time at the library, and visiting friends 3-4 times per week. But I also loved writing, playing the piano, and learning whatever I could about God.

I never wanted to forsake my "personhood" for the roles that I’ve been blessed with. As much as being a wife and mother delighted me, I knew that I had been endowed by my Creator with certain gifts, talents and missions to accomplish while on this earth.

Some young mothers get caught in the cage of “I have no time for me.” Ladies, whether we work in the marketplace outside the home, from home or not at all, we have to make time for ourselves and I know it isn’t easy. I thank God for the friends that became like family. They encouraged me to nurture my interests even though my husband worked 80-90 hours per week back then.

Opportunities abounded. I joined the church worship band as a substitute pianist and background vocalist. Original bedtimes stories became the inspiration for a fiction series that I started called The Ages of Laus Perennis. My passion for prayer, teaching and personal ministry grew as my husband and I began to attend various East Coast conferences that equipped us for future roles within our local church.

Many times I had to volunteer to host something in order to be a part, especially when there was no money for a babysitter. My kids would play quietly in their rooms or be in bed while a prayer meeting or bible study was going on, or the “baby at the time” would just sit on my lap.

I remember playing piano for a Baptist church, sitting my one year old daughter on my lap and teaching her to keep her hands on her thighs so that I could reach around her to play the piano. Since I had no babysitter I had to make it work.

You know the adage: “where there is a will there is a way.” Really, this is quite true. God wants us to enjoy life. Since He doesn’t want us to shrug off our key roles, He will show us how to juggle the duties of these roles with the wonderful interests, talents and missions that make us come alive. After all, He gave us those interests, talents and missions.

Don't get me wrong. I wouldn’t trade motherhood for the world! I’m a strong advocate of parental rights. I love having so many children and I love their wide age range. It isn’t always easy, but I applaud God for the choice He made for my life.

What opportunities are waiting for you? What doors are open but you haven’t noticed them? Being an author, intercessor, friend, gardener, DIY-er, home chef ( I LOVE to invent recipes), songwriter, worship musician, Castle TV show junkie, and home educator enables me to be fully me.

We are better parents when we give ourselves time and attention, not by neglecting our kids or spouses, but by heeding the wisdom of our Father.

Proverbs 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Father, Your desire is to continually guide us, for our desire to be satisfied in scorched places, and for our bones to be strong; so that we will be like a watered garden. (Isaiah 58:11) As we faithfully fulfill our family roles and spend time with You, show us how to use every deposit that You’ve given us, that You may be glorified and we may be satisfied.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Potty or Parent Training: Part 3 of Ages and Stages

One would think that I am a potty-training expert since I have six children. Nope. My youngest, although he saw his four year old older brother go through this rite of passage a year ago, has no intention of using his potty.

Drew turned two in December. 
His adamant nature showed itself about two months ago. He has purposely aimed his “pee pee water” towards the tub drain hole only twice. He frowns at the Elmo toilet insert I bought. In his opinion, the other baby potty is only useful for standing on to brush his teeth. 

My other sons were closer to three years old when they decided that potty-trained was a worthwhile endeavor. I suppose I should be encouraged that at least Drew stands next to his four year old brother as he models the standing up option to relieve himself.

So although various cultural traditions, some experts and other daycare-attending toddlers prove that a 2 ½ year old boy can relinquish his disposables, pull-ups or cloth diapers to the world of No More, I’m just going to wait until he is willing. I’m not going to force the next stage of his life. It’ll come.

I share all this to say, I’ve come a long way as a parent. The toddler tantrums, the pubescent mood swings for both males and females, the whining, and even the dishes left in the sink by one of my legally adult children, don’t raise my frustration to 212 degrees in 2 seconds anymore.

My twenty year old son, Chris will start his senior year this Fall. He was the first one to actually “move out” and go to another city for college after two years at our local community college.  He is in the normal stage of desiring more respect. Here is a scene from early May:

(I turn the car off after arriving home from picking him up after final exams)
Me: You are driving tomorrow to town for our chiropractor appointment.
Him: (silence)
Me: (looking over)
Him: Could you ask me first?
Me: (putting a lid on my initial reaction) Well, before you drive my car around this summer, I want to ride with you one time. Plus I get tired of driving
Him: (nodding his head while holding in his own thought bubbles) I’d at least like to be asked, not told.
Me: But then you can say no, and I don’t want that. (a slight smile)
Him: This is true…
Me: (the "aha" moment happens. I read 
Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs so I know what men need...even sons) 
Me: Since I don’t want to give you the option of saying no, because I am still your mom and this is still my car, what about: I’d like you to drive tomorrow
Him: Yeah, that’s better.
Me: (shocked) Really?! So it’s just the wording?
Him: Yes.
Me: Okay, I’ll remember that. (The following silence echoes the conversations that he and I have had in the past year that have healed, restored and brought mutual understanding and a deeper appreciation of one another.)

I’m stepping into a new season of parenting adults. Pray for me!  However, this next stage will help the whole family put to practice all of the valuable teaching that we’ve obtained through Christian books on relationships, communication, emotional honesty, and gender differences. It will be a good summer.

So, since I’m done with some of my daily “author” work, I’m going to start on the summer chore schedule for my oldest four kids. How do you assign chores for teens and adults that have entirely different schedules and have the house in order the way you want it all the time????? LOL

My expectations are too high. I will forget my Better Homes and Gardens  fantasy and settle for maintaining basic neatness and cleanliness.  

Ecclesiastes 3
New King James Version (NKJV)

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,
    And a time to die;
A time to plant,
    And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,

    And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
    And a time to build up;
A time to weep,

    And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
    And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,

    And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
    And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,

    And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
    And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,

    And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
    And a time to speak;
A time to love,

    And a time to hate;
A time of war,
    And a time of peace

Lord, help us know the times and seasons that You are ushering us into as fathers, mothers, daughters, sons and guardians.

Part 4: To be posted early July

Part 5: The End (late July)