LIVE NOW, LAST DAYS~ new release

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Advance readers said: ‘Who dun it’ came as a surprise!!!

Detective Katerina “Kat” Andruko’s life has not been a walk in the park. Both her parents were killed by a drunk driver when she was a junior in high school. An earlier, first engagement ended up in a nightmare scenario. Yet, it can still be said that in LAST DAYS, Kat faces the most difficult emotional and psychical challenges of her life.

LAST DAYS in a nutshell…

A spry elderly woman has died mysteriously in a Florida coastal town, and the head of a clandestine organization in Washington D.C is interested in the case. All evidence, or lack thereof, points to accidental death, but Detective Katerina “Kat” Andruko has nagging doubts. She also has doubts about a mysterious phone call profiler Dimitri Garmonin, PhD, her intended, took and hid from her.

As if that wasn’t enough, Kat’s former fiancé and fellow law enforcement officer gleefully taunts her, predicting the demise of her relationship with Dimitri. Her future mother-in-law thinks she’s less than demure and not suitable marriage material for her son.

Meanwhile, all leads on the elderly woman’s death go nowhere. Old enemies at the local TV station are calling the police incompetent. They air an unfavorable segment about Dimitri. Just as Kat and Dimitri reluctantly begin to believe the death was accidental, the woman’s neighbor goes missing.

Purchase LAST DAYS on Amazon.

ribbon blue

CD Cover COURTING DANGER, Book One, of the Katerina “Kat”Andruko/Dimitri Garmonin Novels ~ Garnered All Five Star*****Reviews.

Visit Nike N. Chillemi’s Amazon Author Page to discover more mystery novels the author has written.

LD Cover

LAST DAYS ~ cover reveal

LD Cover

 

Advance readers say they couldn’t figure out who-dun-it…

Release Date: March 6!

LAST DAYS in a nutshell…

A spry elderly woman has died mysteriously in a Florida coastal town, and the head of a clandestine organization in Washington D.C is interested in the case. All evidence, or lack thereof, points to accidental death, but Detective Katerina “Kat” Andruko has nagging doubts. She also has doubts about a mysterious phone call profiler Dimitri Garmonin, PhD, her intended, took and hid from her.

As if that wasn’t enough, Kat’s former fiancé and fellow law enforcement officer gleefully taunts her, predicting the demise of her relationship with Dimitri. Her future mother-in-law thinks she’s less than demure and not suitable marriage material for her son.

Meanwhile, all leads on the elderly woman’s death go nowhere. Old enemies at the local TV station are calling the police incompetent. They air an unfavorable segment about Dimitri. Just as Kat and Dimitri reluctantly begin to believe the death was accidental, the woman’s neighbor goes missing.

ribbon blue

CD Cover COURTING DANGER, Book One, of the Katerina “Kat”Andruko/Dimitri Garmonin Novels

Visit Nike N. Chillemi’s Amazon Author Page to discover more mystery novels the author has written.

 

LAST DAYS, New Release ~ in nutshell capsule & read First Chapter.

A palm tree beach

LAST DAYS ~ In a nutshell…

A spry elderly woman has died mysteriously in a Florida coastal town, and the head of a clandestine organization in Washington D.C is interested in the case. All evidence, or lack thereof, points to accidental death, but Detective Katerina “Kat” Andruko has nagging doubts. She also has doubts about a mysterious phone call profiler Dimitri Garmonin, PhD, her intended, took and hid from her. ~~  As if that wasn’t enough, Kat’s former fiancé and fellow law enforcement officer gleefully taunts her, predicting the demise of her relationship with Dimitri. Her future mother-in-law thinks she’s less than demure and not suitable marriage material for her son. ~~  Meanwhile, all leads on the elderly woman’s death go nowhere. Old enemies at the local TV station are calling the police incompetent. They air an unfavorable segment about Dimitri. Just as Kat and Dimitri reluctantly begin to believe the death was accidental, the woman’s neighbor goes missing.  [Cover Reveal To Come]

Chapter One

 Pelican Beach, Florida ~ Mid-March

Det. Katerina “Kat” Andruko

 I had to confront Dimitri. If he was serious about making a total commitment to share his life with me, there couldn’t be secrets.

I took the antique pierced earrings he had given me at Thanksgiving out of my jewelry box. Lovely. Alexandrite set in rose gold. They had belonged to his grandmother. Recalling that moment, I still got a magical rush. With this gift, handcrafted nearly a century ago in St. Petersburg, we’d taken a step into a deeper relationship.

Mere moments after giving me the earrings, Dimitri’s phone rang. He turned his back on me and informed the other party I was in the room. The enchanting romance of the moment evaporated, but I let it go. It was Thanksgiving. My sister and her chef Nick Anastos had closed the restaurant and prepared a feast fit for royalty, a family tradition my Larissa proudly kept going. She and Nick ran the Andruko Chophouse, the restaurant my parents started. She, Mari, and I lived in the upstairs apartment. 

A knock on my bedroom door jolted me to the present. “Come in.”

The twerp stuck her head in, or should I call her Your Royal Highness Emo-Princess Mari? Her BFF had recently chopped my niece’s lush brunette hair into an uneven chin-length do, if you could call it that. I thought my sister was going to have a cow when she first saw it. The entire head of hair was now dyed purple.  “Hey, what’s up? You going out?”

“I wasn’t planning on it. I’m not on the schedule for a shift today.”

“Oh, thought maybe you were cause you’re holding those fancy earrings. Thought you might have big plans with Dimitri.” She drew out each syllable of his name and offered a self-conscious grin.

“No plans.” I shrugged.

“Mom brought fresh-baked baklava up from the restaurant that Nick just made. Want some?”

“You bet. I’ll be out in a minute.”

“If you don’t hurry, I’ll eat them all. Fair warning.” The door slammed behind her.

I took a last, long look at the earrings, and placed them back inside the jewelry box, then sighed. The holidays had been a whirlwind of merriment, rejoicing, and romance. I’d given Dimitri ample opportunity to explain that mysterious phone call. I’d even tossed out a few leading questions.

“Which he dodged.” Whoa, I surprised myself by stamping my foot as the words blurted out.

Even though it bothered me, I hadn’t found the right time to pin him down. His mother came from New York for Christmas and New Year’s. She was polite as could be but hovered over him displaying etiquette that could only be described as old world.

Then he announced he had a special Valentine’s Day planned. He brought a dozen pink roses and a box of chocolates to the apartment. But that wasn’t the special part. He whisked me away to a Cooking Class for Lovers at the Pelican Beach Hospitality Institute. Along with three other couples, we prepared a fine French meal. It was served to us by a few of their full-time students acting as waiters. And now his birthday was approaching. There would always be something. I had to do what I had to do.

I sighed again and hustled into the kitchen. Mari hadn’t been kidding. She sat at the table, stuffing her face with the honeyed confections.

“Save at least one piece for me.”

She half-stood pushing out her chair. It screeched against the floor as she swallowed the last morsel and licked her fingers. “I gotta go. I’m meeting Ashley.” With that, she rushed out the door. Her sneakers pounded down wooden steps leading to the back door of the restaurant and reserved spaces for family and employees in the parking lot.

Larissa turned from the sink where she’d been washing dishes. “Her behavior has been so much better since the holidays.”

“I don’t want to cast blame, but without Carla’s influence, she and Ashley have grown up a bit in the responsibility department.” Carla had been one of Mari’s closest friends who had not set a good example. She’d been murdered by a serial killer the previous fall.

Larissa dried her hands. “Have you gotten all the arrangements finalized with Mackey for Dimitri’s birthday party?”

“I better have. It’s in three weeks.” I took a quick bite of baklava to hide the frown about to overtake my face.

“And Chef Hote has the menu?”

“Yup.” I took another bite and glanced away from her.

“Did you place a birthday cake order with that Christian baker we want to give business to?” She took a step toward me.

“Yeah, she closed her shop and is running the business from her house. I understand it’s going well for her.”

Larissa nodded once, slowly. “You’ve got the party room booked, decided on a menu, ordered the cake. So, what’s wrong?”

I backed toward the door, grabbed my beige bomber jacket off the pegged coat rack on the wall. “Nothing’s wrong.” With that, I shot out, closed the door behind me, and rushed down the stairs.

Larissa yelled after me, “Now you’re acting like your niece, and that’s not good.”

I climbed into my lightning-blue Ford Fusion, my pride and joy, and sat there for a moment. My heart pounded, and it wasn’t from having run down the steps. If I confronted Dimitri, would it end our relationship just as it was about to begin?

I took a circuitous route to his beach house, wending my way through side streets, as my thoughts roamed to a few not very cozy places. Finally, I pulled into his drive. The house sat across the street from the ocean upon ten-foot-high cinder block pillars. This was to protect it from the highest storm surge after a violent hurricane. I drove under the structure, into his personal carport, and parked next to his white Chevy Tahoe.

I climbed the twenty-five steps to his small porch and front door. I’d counted them more than once. When my heart rate lowered, I rang the bell.

Dimitri answered, wearing a pair of cut-offs and a worn tee. He was barefoot. “Hey, my love, I just made coffee. Want some?” His voice had a slight Russian accent which I found alluring. After he closed the door, he kissed me lightly on the corner of my mouth.

Now, how do I get past that and deliver a one-two-punch ultimatum? Maybe I’d better soften it a bit. I brushed my cheek against his and murmured, “Love you, too, and I’d love a cup.”

The serving and sipping of coffee would give me time to organize my thoughts. I sat and tried to make myself comfortable on the cushioned couch in the open-concept great room.

He brought out two mismatched mugs. One was a Florida Gator’s mug– orange with a gator’s green head on it. The other said: Profilers Do It With Good Behavior. He’d gotten that one via Secret Santa at the department’s Christmas party. The consensus of opinion was Detective. Danny Lee had given it as a gag-gift. Lee shrugged and said, “If you knew, it wouldn’t be Secret Santa, would it?”

Dimitri and I both took our coffee the same way, with a splash of milk, or black on the job if that’s all that was available. I leaned forward, took the profilers cup, and took a sip. “Good coffee, as usual.”

He sat next to me on the couch. “I got it at the Surfside Motel. They started serving their guests Jamaican Blue Mountain roast and are also offering it for sale. I ran over and bought a bag. I get whole beans because, as you know, my favorite part is the coffee maker’s grind-and-brew feature.”

I cleared my throat and shifted my position so my back was straighter. “Dimitri, I want to talk to you about something.”

He was about to take another sip but stopped. “I see.”

I launched right into it and told him I was disturbed about the mystery phone call. “I’ve tossed out quite a few leading questions about this in the last few months, and each time you’ve changed the subject.”

He looked directly at me. “I guess I have. I swear to you on my mother’s life, it has absolutely nothing to do with another woman.”

Dimitri’s mother was precious to him. For him to make that assertion was startling. I took a breath. “I didn’t think it did. I think it’s related to something in the last murder investigation. That Pentagon weapons designer was our prime suspect. Then his assassination was quickly hushed up. It was like he’d never come to town. You and Mackey both disappeared for two days. Then you came back, and both of you acted as if nothing had happened.”

“We took a couple of days off and went to his hunting cabin. Nothing illegal or nefarious.”

“I didn’t know you and he were such good friends, or that you hunt.”

He shrugged one shoulder. “We weren’t terribly good friends. It was spur of the moment, and I do hunt. We’re friends now.”

“You forget, I’ve seen your hunting skills, and I’m not so sure you hunt four-legged, furry creatures.”

He laughed. “You don’t miss much, and that’s why you’re becoming the world’s greatest detective.”

“You’re charming, but that’s silly.” I took another sip of coffee.

He reached out and touched my hand. “During that phone call an elderly gentleman asked me to check on the safety of some people here in town on the down-low. As he requested, I checked once a month over the last three months, and they seemed to be doing fine. End of story.”

“Well, if that’s all it was…”

Set Your Faith Thermostat ~ higher

 

 

Raise up your faith level…

This winter more than half the USA is in a deep freeze. Temperatures in many of the fifty states are in double digests below zero. This brought to mind an illustration about faith I’d heard Pastor George Pearsons of Eagle Mountain International Church give. He said that you have to set your faith thermometer higher. I think that is so good, especially if you were not born into a Christian home where they talked about faith on a daily basis. I was not born into a Christian home and, as an adult, had to first start learning about the wonderful gift from God of faith.

So, what exactly is faith. Well in Hebrews 11: 1-3 the Bible tells us exactly what faith is. In my opinion, the Bible is written to everyone, but it’s for Christians, and the part that is the Old Testament is also for Jews. It’s to everyone in a historical literature sense, you might say. You could read the Bible to find out how some ancient religious peoples lived and interacted with their God. And then you might wonder how this book, this Bible has impacted the world over the course of centuries. However, to Bible believing Christians, it’s so much more that that. It’s teachings are the way we live out our lives on a practical daily basis. It’s the ‘Owner’s Manual’. If you own a car and you want to know something about how the thing is supposed to operate, you turn to the manufacturer’s ‘Owner’s Manual’. If you’re smart, you do.

So, we want to know what faith is, and we turn to the ‘Owner’s Manual’ in Hebrews 11:1 to see what the Manufacturer has to say about it. This is our foundational Scripture for this study.

Now faith is the certainty of things hoped for, a proof of things not seen. ~ Hebrews 11:1, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

There is so much in this one Scripture. First off, it tells us that ‘faith is’. Faith isn’t in the past or in the future. It’s now in the present. And it’s the present ‘certainty of things hoped for’. So, faith is the present certainty. So, as we believers raise our faith level, we become more and more certain of what we hope for. As we raise our faith thermostat, we become certain in the present that what we have hoped and prayed for is ours, as long as it’s within God’s will. We find out what God’s will in by studying the Bible.

And the Bible tells us we can hope for things because faith is ‘a proof of things not seen’. I like the NASB because it strives to be as close to the original ancient Greek language as possible. Some Bibles are translated to be easy to read. Some Bibles strive to use more modern vernacular. Some Bibles are not translations at all but are paraphrasing. I like the NASB because it is a translation following as closely as English can to the original Greek. It says, ‘a proof of things not seen’. So, for believers there could be other proofs besides your faith. You might have a godly dream or some other sign that your children have come to know God and are saved, or that you are healed, or that you have a new and better working vehicle, or a good home for your family to live in, or that your church has grown in numbers and in the faith. These may not be realities in the natural, but you see them as being, as existing in the spiritual realm.  These are all things. They are good things and they fall under the faith umbrella. All of the ‘things’ mentioned above are all things that according to Scripture God would not be against you having. These other ‘proofs’ might include another Christian having a strong inner witness to pray for your children to be saved, or your bills to be paid, not knowing that is what you’ve asked God for. This would be spiritual confirmation (proof) to bolster your faith and would help to keep your faith strong. Sometimes faith brings about the desired result quickly, sometimes it takes years. As we mature as Christians, we build the muscles of our faith when we have to stand in faith for a long time.

Getting back to the illustration of the thermometer. What we do is set our faith above what we naturally can achieve, or above what would be easy for us to achieve. If we can, at the snap of our fingers, achieve it, we don’t need faith. Is there a dream in our hearts that we feel is from God? Something we come back to in our imagination…in our deep desire? Pray. Seek the Lord, and if it’s from God, why not go for it. Raise the faith thermometer a bit. What is the first step?

Another Christian teacher I admire is Joyce Meyer. She says, “Put your big toe in the water.” Find out what you have to do to prepare, find out what skills you need and begin the process. Don’t jump into the pool over your head, but do put your foot in the water. And keep that faith thermometer raised above what you of yourself can easily achieve and/or obtain. If believers keep exercising their faith for what God has for them, then they will  have an exciting and fulfilling life. For certain, it won’t be dull.

 

 

Genre Confusion ~ in mystery fiction and crime fiction

A crime scene

Not Who ‘dun it, but what is it?

Mystery Fiction and Crime Fiction are often lumped together as if they are part of one fiction genre. I believe they are their own separate genres (for clarity sake). Further complicating things, today’s mystery and crime fiction works overlap and often slip-and-slide into each other. Then within the genres a novel may fit into more than one category so that determining what genre and/or category the novel falls into is often subjective. My novels have been called detective stories, murder mysteries, and cozy thrillers. Of course, the reader is always right. However, I’d like to shed some light on what we find in the world of today’s mystery and crime fiction novels. BTW, according to the list below, most of my novels fall into the mystery fiction genre and the soft-boiled detective story category. ~~ Below, I’m looking at novels written in English, mostly in American English.

Mystery Fiction

The Murder Mystery Novel:  This is a classic whodunit, a puzzle. The reader follows the clues as the sleuth discovers them which leads to who committed the crime. It’s usually a murder but can be arson, a bombing, kidnap, cyber crime, theft, embezzlement, stock manipulation and fraud, and a host of others. The author will create red-herrings (false clues), making it difficult for the sleuth and the reader to determine who the criminal is. In the end , the sleuth will catch the bad guy, and hopefully the reader will be surprised.

Detective Stories (hard boiled/noir):  Featuring a professional law enforcement officer (police detective, military police, forest ranger, canine detective and his/her dog, District Attorney’s investigator, a state investigator or state trooper, a private detective, military police, cyber crime detectives, and the like. They are often fighting their own demons such as alcoholism/drug addiction, an abusive past, etc. The murder and perhaps also other crimes happen in unsavory or bleak settings with rough and coarse or disreputable secondary and tertiary characters. Quite often there is coarse or vulgar language. The violence is most often graphically described.

Detective Stories (soft boiled):  These feature professional detectives, but are lighter in tone. There will be more psychology and less action, sometimes humor. The main character(s) will most likely have personal issues but these difficulties will be disclosed in a less gritty manner. Secondary and tertiary characters will be a mix of upstanding and disreputable. There will be less explicit or no explicit language and less violence.

Procedurals: The main character is a professional detective (as described above) or a medical examiner, a forensic behavioral psychologist (a profiler), a forensic scientist (pathologist), and so forth. They stress realistic police operations and/or realistic science where the investigator is constrained by law and department regulations. Departmental politics, even town/city politics will have some bearing.

The Cozy:  This style has traditionally featured well bred characters and a closed community setting. However, today’s cozy could just as easily have a bartender or trailer park owner as its main character instead of a leader in the community. Often there are charming or eccentric characters. The modern cozy doesn’t have to stay in a closed community, but could cross state lines as well as crossing national boundaries. The crime entails minimal violence, may have happened before the story began or occurred off-scene. It may be described, but not graphically.

The Caper:  This is a crime story with a high degree of comedy. In many ways, this is a cousin to the cozy. It may feature an incompetent amateur sleuth who solves the crime by accident (Pink Panther). Or the investigator is competent but a series of zany and outlandish occurrences continually happen to thwart him/her. Or she/he has contrary and/or eccentric family members, or business partners, or whatever that mess things up in a humorous manner. Still, he/she manages to catch the criminal.

MIXED-CATEGORY: Romantic Suspense: Romantic suspense most often falls under the mystery fiction genre as it’s usually on the soft-boiled side and has a happy romantic ending. However, we are seeing more and more gritty romantic suspense novels where the twisted mind of the villain is openly on display. Romantic Suspense is actually a combination of a genre (romance) and a category (suspense which falls under the crime fiction genre). Historical Romantic Suspense: As above, but the story is set in the past. Supernatural/Paranormal Mysteries: This is also a mix of a genre (mystery) and a category (paranormal which falls into the speculative fiction genre). Fantasy Mysteries (a mix of two categories, mystery and then fantasy which falls into speculative fiction).

MYSTERY FICTION SUB-CATEGORIES: heists (often told from the criminal’s point-of-view), historical murder mysteries, legal mysteries, medical mysteries, pet detectives (most often cats in a cozy novel or series, but can be a police dog or bomb or drug sniffing dog in a police procedural, or another animal), equine mysteries. More that are usually cozies – cooking/food mysteries, knitting/sewing mysteries, tea/coffee mysteries, granny mysteries, mommy mysteries, bridal mysteries, and many more. Location based: there are a slew of Florida based mysteries, British Isles mysteries (set in the British Isles, though not necessarily written by a citizen of the UK), Cape Cod mysteries, New Orleans and Mississippi River mysteries, Caribbean Island mysteries, and many more.

Crime Fiction

The Suspense Novel:  This type of story is designed to take the reader on an emotional roller coaster ride and can be quite psychological. There is a murderer or some other type of heinous criminal, and the main character’s job is to catch him/her. The depravity of the criminal’s mind is often displayed. This can be done quite graphically, bringing the story into a noir designation. The protagonist might not be in law enforcement, or could be. There is always a high level of danger either to the main character, his/her loved ones, community, or even her/his nation. The main character may not know what motivates the criminal and must find out. Why, is a big question. Often, at some point, the tables turn and the highly intelligent criminal pursues the main character. How can the protagonist stay alive is the other big question.

The Thriller: There is a threat to the social order, an affront to societal norms and decency. This category most often lands on the noir side and can get very dark before the light comes. The criminal or crime is introduced right up front in most cases, although the motive may not yet be known. The story may have a forensic behavioral analyst (profiler) either as a main or secondary character. There will be tension from the outset and the threat level will increase from there. The protagonist or her/his loved ones will be threatened by a highly intelligent criminal.

Thriller Sub-Categories: the psychological thriller, the spy/espionage thriller. In the legal and medical thriller, while investigating the crime against the community or nation, the lawyer or doctor (or their loved ones) will personally be threatened by the criminal outside of the legal or medical settings.

An Over-Arching Subcategory: Multi-Cultural and Diverse Subcategory. Over-arching because it can be found in both the Mystery and Crime Fiction genres, and in any of the categories and sub-categories.  These novels provide mystery and suspense while giving readers a peek into new ethnic or racial communities and cultures. Another Distinct Subcategory: The Racial/Ethnic Subcategory. This is written, most often, by a member of a racial or ethnic group for the enjoyment of members of that same group. Still another, Over-Arching Subcategory: Christian and clean Mystery and/or Crime Fiction. These novels can be found in either genre and any practically any subcategory but not all. There will be no on-page sex, no profanity, and limited violence and no glorification of these. The Young Adult and New Adult Subcategory: These are also mixes of genres (YA and NA) and the various mystery and crime fiction categories. The extremely dark categories would not be appropriate for this subcategory. Middle-Grade Mystery is a combination of mystery (a category) and (middle-grade which is a genre). These novels must be appropriate for pre-teens and under (Nancy Drew, Lady Grace Cavendish).

 

Snakebite to the Soul ~ and the anti-venom

God’s Word has an answer for every problem you have…

The Apostle Paul knew about snakebite. First, the primitive tribal people of Malta thought he was a murderer and worthy of death by snakebite. Then when he shook the offending snake off and lived, they wanted to worship him. That’s the fickle nature of humanity. Paul had to explain to them that he was not a god, but that the God he served saved him from death by snakebite.

As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on the hand. The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other, “A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.” But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed. The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn’t harmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god. ~ Acts 28: 2-6, New Living Translation [NLT]

Today, although it is possible that believers could be bitten by a reptilian snake and that God could save their lives, it’s much more likely that they will become the victims of poisoning of their soul. The enemy (the deceiver, Satan) can do things to poison our soul, but it’s just as likely that we are the ones poisoning our own souls with strife, unforgiveness, bitterness, malice, etc.

 Is it possible we’re choked with bitterness, we’re continually caught up in anger, persistent resentfulness, or we’re planning revenge? The godly antidote for this is forgiveness. Forgiveness is not an emotional issue. It’s a spiritual decision. We decide to be obedient to the Word of God and we forgive. Yes, we even forgive our enemies! We commit ourselves to the Lord and His Word no matter how we feel. We feed on Scripture as our prescribed medicine. We read and say the corresponding Scriptures aloud. Such as…

25 And whenever you stand praying, if you find that you carry something in your heart against another person, release him and forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also release you and forgive you of your faults. ~ The Passion Translation [TPT]

21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” 22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! ~ New Living Translation [NLT]

It’s so interesting that the decision to forgive and the act of forgiveness is releasing to the forgiver. We are releasing the offending party from our consciousness. They have been taking up far too much space. We may have to do this act of releasing (i.e. forgiving) seventy times seven times. First, we have to realize that as long as we are consumed (bound) with hatred, anger, resentment, thoughts of revenge…the offending party is dominating our mind, will, and emotions…which spiritually in the Bible is our soul. We need to get free of the offending party. We need to perform an act of our will and forgive them. However, God didn’t make us stupid. We don’t have let them into our lives again. If we can’t avoid them because they are a member of our extended family, or we work with them…we don’t have to trust them, we can beware of them (be aware of their actions and schemes, having spiritual discernment with prayer. Pray for wisdom and protection). And avoid them as much as possible.

Are we murmurers and complainers? I have to confess that I had whining down to an art form. I’m sure my friends got tired of listening to me and thought, there she goes again. Over time, God dealt with me about this. I began to see that thankfulness (a posture and attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude) was the antidote to murmuring and complaining. If you come from a dysfunctional family like I do, you’ll understand how whining over the doling out of love and the short supply of positive reinforcement, continual disappointment, disillusionment, the embarrassment and shame due to ruined situations we thought should’ve been good, and much more has led to our whining. Through intimacy with God, and also with some good and sound teaching on the dangers of murmuring and the benefit of thanksgiving, I have largely walked out of habitual whining. First of all, whining, murmuring, and complaining are useless. They do no good and put other people off. That’s not a good return, not profitable. The Lord began to lead me back (and this was painful and still can be painful) to look at the people and early situations that disappointed, embarrassed, and shamed me. These were the ‘seeds’ of a habitual attitude on my part of whining and complaining. He showed me how (not just that) many of the people early in my life who hurt me were themselves broken people I should have compassion for. He began to show me little gems of joy, happiness, laughter in my early life that I could savor as memories..and give thanks for. Yes, give thanks. Many of the people in my early life were not saved. Even if they were, they didn’t have teaching on how to live a joyous and prosperous life. They were average Americans, from immigrant roots, trying to make a life and often blundering along the way. I now choose to remember the good while not denying the broken. When a painful, shaming memory comes to mind, I can chose to ‘quickly’ replace it with one of those nuggets of early happiness, fun, peace. When the enemy says, “Your family didn’t have it together much, did they?” I can now ‘quickly’ push him aside with memories of my grandmother’s good cooking and her love of feeding people. I can recall my dad, the high school teacher, reading bedtime stories to me and my brother. I can recall my mom baking her ‘Alaska Logs’ Christmas cookies on Christmas Eve. I can’t tell you how much this has freed me and made my present life a happier place. I’m not longer enshrining the pain.

Do we have deep sadness and are we in a state of mourning? Did we lose a spouse, a child, a parent, sibling, or friend far too young. As a widow, I know what sadness and mourning are. I’ve also lost two dear friends far too young. And, I’m also old enough to have lost both of my parents. Did you lose a house, a job, a business? As a maturing Christian, I know mourning is a process we have to go through to be healthy. Still, there is a time we must leave that deep state of mourning behind and get on with life. While, there is no cure for mourning, the very real feelings will surface from time to time,  they should not kill our joy. Our joy comes from the Lord.

Here are two Scriptures from the Word of the Lord to help us when we seem lost in grieving…

This one from Proverbs is one of my Scriptures. I claim it. It’s good to laugh, to have some fun, some lightness of spirit, even during mourning…maybe especially during mourning.

22 A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones. ~ Proverbs 17:22, New King James Version [NJKV]

This one from Isaiah is so deep on so many levels, it’s good to study and meditate on when in the grip of mourning that seems consuming.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. 4 They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. ~ Isaiah 61: 1-4, English Standard Version [ESV]

So many times in her life, Detective Katerina “Kat” Andruko experienced sorrow, abandonment, and betrayal. She’s just starting to trust the city’s handsome forensic profiler, but she can’t shake that he could be a murder suspect.  COURTING DANGER

Desire of the Heart (Yellowstone Series, Book 1) by Anne Perreault ~ a review

Desire of the Heart

Women’s Christian Fiction, Romance…

Cady Jackson and her cousin Ashley are on vacation in Yellowstone National Park. Cady and Ashley grew up in a strict Christian family that owns a farm in upstate New York. All Cady wants is to enjoy a week in the gorgeous national park when she encounters a grisly bear, twists her ankle, and has to be carried to safety by handsome park ranger Grant McClintoch. He immediately becomes annoyed because this is about to ruin his well planned morning schedule. She knows she’s in the wrong (shouldn’t be alone on a trail) but something about him irritates her. Yet, they’re both attracted to each other.

Cady is determined to follow the rules of her ultra-strict Christian family, yet she’s tempted by this handsome stranger. Grant is a Christian man with a past…a sad past that almost ruined his life. He’s burdened by a tragic loss. He has to accept that he isn’t responsible for working things out for himself and others, God is.  She has to grow-up a little and begin to see who she is as an individual in the Lord.

The author has a facility for humor. One of the most charming aspects of this novel is Cady thinking of him and calling Grant: Ranger McGrumpy, Ranger McMuscle, Ranger McKnowitall, and so forth. This really tickled my funny bone.

This is a clean and sweet romance dealing with the Christian theological issues of waiting until marriage for intimacy, as well as honoring parents while finding freedom in the Lord.  A sweet romance in a rugged setting. This is an appropriate read for ages 14 to 114.

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Harmful Intent 400 P Action packed detective story.  A back stabbing BFF, a drug lord, Brooklyn gal PI in rugged west Texas trying to clear her name. Funny, gritty, with class. HARMFUL INTENT #99c #cleanread #inspy #ChristFic https://amzn.to/2C8jSeg