Delilah (Ties that Bind, Book 4) by Fay Lamb ~ a review

Contemporary Christian Romance

Delilah

 

As the story opened, I thought, what fun! Court room antics. A judge and a defense lawyer without a clue they’re in love with each other…when their legal colleagues have known for some time.

A line tickled my funny bone where Delilah defined herself: “Hope has a lot more faith in my goodness than I do. If something good happens, and I’m involved, you can be sure you’re at the scene of an accident.” Yes, it was funny, and I’ve read another novel in this series and know Delilah can be self-serving. However, I suspected there was much more to this sassy female defense attorney than she’s admitting to…and author Fay Lamb shows us that “more” as the story unfolded.

Then the story seamlessly transitions from lighthearted romance to a runaway teenage girl and the plight of the homeless in downtown Orlando, Florida. When Libby, perhaps the sweetest, kindest character in the Ties That Bind series, gets set up and is arrested when coming to the assistance of a near homeless woman…Delilah goes into action. Who is this homeless woman and what is her story?

There are plot twists and turns, a bit of suspense, and no end of underhanded court maneuvers to keep the reader turning pages. The author was able to get me so entwined in the character’s lives, dreams, and struggles that I was compelled to keep turning pages. I highly recommend this novel.

He Chose His Mother ~ over his wife

50 Something Woman

I’m no expert on marriage, but I’ve been on this planet several decades and have observed a few things. So, Let’s talk about three couples (nice people) where the husband chose his mother over his wife. Minor details will be slightly changed to protect the innocent…there’s really nobody guilty here. They are couples who went into marriage seeing hearts and roses and made terrible mistakes.

Couple number one: He was raised by his mother in a rural American community after his abusive father abandoned the family. His mother sacrificed and insisted that he go to college, which he did, majoring in business. In his senior year he met and fell in love with a young nursing student who grew up in a middle class suburb of a medium-sized city. They were both ambitious and wanted success in their respective careers, they wanted children in a few years (and had one), they read the same novels and liked the same movies,  went crazy for the same types of food. What could go wrong? Those are similarities in life-style and that’s important, very important. But are these things core values? She was startled and dismayed when he insisted on using money she thought they were saving to go on a luxury cruise to move his less-than-affluent mother to an apartment in their town. He also wanted his mother to babysit their child. She thinks his mother has too much say in their immediate family’s life. The marriage now has serious cracks.

Couple number two: He was born in India and came to America as a teen and grew up seemingly very American. Now he’s a manager in a fast food chain. His parents and cousins live in a close-by neighboring city. He calls them and sees them fairly often. She’s working in the Big Apple and is an energized, happy-go-lucky New Yo’Rican. She’s born and bread in New York City with a family heritage from Puerto Rico. She has some serious family baggage (don’t we all). When they met, she frequently said of him, “He’s amazing.” He commented that she knew how to do so many things. What they shared in common was a burning desire to make some money and build a successful life in New York City. She had no idea that when push came to shove, he’d revert to culturally eastern core values. He’s very close to his mother, and now that his parents are struggling financially, he’s been helping them out in a significant way. His wife is not pleased with the money leaking out of their bank account.

Couple number three: He’s a bit of a buttoned-down middle-management guy who came from a working class Puerto Rican family. His father died young and his mother worked hard to make sure the family of two stayed secure. His wife is a millennial with pink tipped hair and a certified professional in her field. Her family background is more middle-class. They share similar professional goals, want to own a house and be seen as successful. She was shocked when he insisted his mother move from another city (where she had no family) and come live with them. Although his mother is quiet and tries not to interfere, shortly after she moved in, the marriage began a downward spiral.

What I see here is making the mistake of thinking lifestyle choices (what TV shows they’re both fans of, what foods they like, if they’re both athletic) are core values. And yes, these are very important. But they might not be bedrock values. Core values are things that will take precedence. They will rise up and over-rule other likes and lifestyle choices.  Core values might be deeply held religious values. When it comes to raising children, this core value will be very important and could become a source of huge conflict. Core values rise and move to a prominent place when trouble comes. Is it a core value to care for an ailing parent? Then again, what do you want for your children? Is it really totally okay to place small children in daycare while both parents pursue careers? Or is resentment brewing over this choice? What about when he has a picture in his mind of a successful professional couple, then she announces she wants to be a stay-at-home-mom because she’s found profound value in motherhood? Then again, it could be that one partner in the marriage has a firm concept of family legacy and what their children can and will become, while the other partner has a much more lais·sez-faire attitude toward parenting?

Today we lose sight of the fact that marriage is a contract. That’s why they had a longish period of “courtship” in days gone by. It’s important to take the time to intentionally find out if this other person is really suitable to be your life-partner and the parent of your children. It’s important to discover who your in-laws are and how they live…and if you can live with that. Because that is what you are doing. You are entering into a life and living contract with another human being. That’s marriage.

 

A Generational Curse ~ plagued me all of my life

ShameMy mother and I grew into a love/hate relationship. She was a good person, don’t get me wrong. I honor her for the upstanding individual she was. Her word was her bond and she was as moral  as the day was long.

However, very early on, I perceived her attitude toward me as one of suspicion and condemnation where the opposite sex was concerned. As I grew into my teenage years, it seemed to me she was obsessive in that area. I’ve always been bemused by this, I’m absolutely sure I didn’t exhibit any behavior in my pre-teen years to warrant this type of extreme scrutiny on her part…which was when her censure began.

I wasn’t allowed to date in high school.  And it was during my high school years when I overheard my parents discussing their fear that I would get pregnant. I was extremely hurt. Why would they think that? I was socially awkward around boys. I said and did the wrong things. I’d try to fit in with them by being one of the boys and quickly found out most teenage males didn’t enjoy a girl more quick witted than themselves. And they weren’t attracted at all to a girl who was one of the guys. By my senior year, I’d begun to flirt and that got me some male attention. Still, I didn’t fall into the ‘dateable material’ category in their books…not a problem. I wasn’t allowed to date anyway. But I was allowed to attend my proms. Out of the fear that I would have no date for either one (more than fear…stark reality), I asked boys who I thought would in no way be asking any girl to the prom. And so, I did attend both proms. The Lord has gifted me with the skills of a planner and with determination. Both those talents have stood me well in life.

When I got out of high school, it was like being shot out of a cannon. I went to live with my older cousin and her husband in New York City and I got into the dating scene, which at that time was the singles bar scene. Enough said.

Later, I married a funny, great looking, and highly intelligent guy. My mother is gone and I was at her side when she passed. It’s been a number of years that I’ve forgiven her for her obsessive hounding, scrutiny, and condemnation of me as a girl.

I’m now semi-retired, a widow, and I have an ongoing, growing relationship with the Lord that is indispensable to my life. It wasn’t long ago when the Lord not only opened my hear to see where my mother was coming from lo those many years ago, He impressed upon me that I was to share this publicly…hence this blog article. Sharing this was not what I wanted to hear or do. I knew it was God, even though I might’ve wanted to play that game: is it really God asking me to do this?

I also was aware of the sad history of my third youngest aunt (one of twelve children, born to legal immigrant parents, my grandparents). This aunt got pregnant at age 19, told her older sisters, and was whisked away to a sister’s house in another state. This was so my grandparents would never know and the family wouldn’t be embarrassed in their small town. My aunt was kept hidden away during the pregnancy and must’ve felt intense shame. At any rate not long after the baby was born and given up for adoption,  she was diagnosed as schizophrenic.

Secrets do get out, and when my grandparents found out about the pregnancy, they were in extreme pain that they had a grandchild ‘out there’ somewhere they would never know. My aunt’s schizophrenia was very hard for the family to deal with. She was institutionalized in a state hospital. In the 60s when the state institutions were closed, she went to a group home. I recall visiting her as a girl at the state hospital, and then as a young adult at the group home.

What the Lord made clear to me in my heart about my mom was that her fear of me becoming pregnant came out of a generational curse brought on by the intense pain and suffering the family went through with my aunt’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy and birth and her subsequent schizophrenia. I’ve never been sure if my mom and her sisters believed the strain of this pregnancy and birth triggered the schizophrenia. And maybe it did…or maybe she was going to come down with this awful disease in her 20s at any rate. Maybe the oncoming schizophrenia caused her to make poor choices with a boy and that resulted in the pregnancy. Which came first, the chicken or the egg, the cart or the horse? I’ll never know.

What the Lord recently showed me was while I lived for many years wondering, due to my mom’s condemnation, if she truly loved me…this extreme behavior on her part came from irrational fear. She was absolutely beset by a spirit of fear in this regard. And it was also love. She wanted to protect me from what had happened to my aunt. It had never occurred to me that my mom’s crazy behavior had anything to do with love, but it did. And I hope my sharing this will help set someone free who had a condemning parent.

There is such a thing as a generational curse. It’s a very complex subject matter, not a parlor game. I’ve only touched the mere surface of this subject. If you identify in any way with this scenario, pray about it.

 

Our Closest Relationships ~ how we damage them

Friends 3RELATIONSHIP, perhaps one of the most important and powerful words ever.

I’m a firm believer that my relationship with God is the most important relationship I have. It’s the one that upholds everything else in my life.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” ~ Genesis 2:18 [New American Standard Bible]

We were created to have relationships. In our society today we seem to be so isolated, lonely, even desperate. Depression seems to be epidemic. I know that in my life, building relationships with other people has been the key to happier days.

Yet, relationships are so easily damaged. Here is a list of five things (done to me, done to others, or I’ve done) that I’ve learned, from painful experience are huge NO-Nos. We could each make up our own list, and in fact, that’s a great idea. Make your personal list. Here’s mine.

1. Don’t take loved ones for granted and stop putting in effort. Don’t think they’ll always be there. For one reason or another, one day they won’t. Don’t stop treating them like they’re special. Don’t forget birthdays, anniversaries, school events and other occasions, family celebrations.

2. Don’t demean your loved one/friend in public. Don’t show greater respect to someone of higher status, of greater wealth, or who is just plain flashy…when that person will mean nothing to you in the long term and will have little impact on your life. Don’t constantly correct your loved one in public (or in private, for that matter).

3. Don’t constantly show you can do things better than your loved one. When your spouse, child, sibling, parent, friend washes the dishes, don’t pick up the water glasses, inspecting for spots and then begin to wash them over. This is an example. Anything in this vein is an insult.

horse laughing

4. Don’t engage in negative joking and banter, as a practice, with the ones you love. Have you noticed on reality TV these days the couples and/or family members are constantly belittling each other in the form of a joke? This is not good. This is hurtful. Because we are bombarded by this type of behavior on TV, doesn’t make is a healthy thing to do in our relationships. Habitual put-down jokes are very destructive.

5. Don’t lie…don’t sneak…and don’t cheat. Self-explanatory. Self-evident.

Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. ~ Luke 6:31 [New American Standard Bible]

 

 

Remembering Mom and Grandma ~ on Mother’s Day

Grandma, Grandpa, Family

I’ve got tons of snap shots of my mom, her mother, and my father’s mom, but nothing digital except this one. I wouldn’t have this photo if my cousin Bruce hadn’t sent it to me a few years ago.

My mom, Helen N. Navor, is the second from the left in the first row. My grandmother, Catherine Novogrodsky, naturally sits in the center.

Thinking of them all on Mother’s Day.

 

Thanksgiving Day ~ what it means to me

Thanksgiving Turkey

When I came across this turkey in the oven photo, it reminded me so much of the way my grandmother roasted her turkey. Boy did that bring back fond memories.

Thanksgiving Day, here in America,  is a time to gather with family and friends to hang out and enjoy each other’s company, to give thanks,  watch a game, go to a parade or watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television. Everyone has their own favorite float or balloon. I personally, always wait for Santa at the end of the parade.

Thanksgiving weekend is the most traveled weekend of the year. It’s a time when loved ones make the effort to be together. This is a grand American tradition, complete with long lines at ticket counters.

Yet, everyone I know who is celebrating this holiday has personal issues, sadness, or tragedy. Sons and daughters are in the military and are stationed in dangerous locales, or simply stationed far from home and can’t get leave. A beloved family member or friend is battling an illness. Some are in dire financial straits. Others are going through a divorce. Yet others have lost a loved one.

I am grateful for all the people in my life who lift their chins and walk-the-walk, making it one-day-at-a-time. I’m so very grateful for them and they are an inspiration to me. I’m grateful to God for the role He plays in my loved ones lives, blessing them, even when they don’t realize He’s blessing them.

I’m also grateful for the Americans who came before me, who built this great nation. I’m grateful to the founding fathers, but I’m also grateful to the men who built the railroads, the bridges and tunnels. I’m grateful to women factory workers, farm workers, teachers, nurses, doctors, police, and many more. And don’t forget the IT guy. I know without a doubt that I’m standing on the shoulders of giants.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, may you be blessed beyond measure in all ways.

 

2 Corinthians 9:11-12 Living Bible (TLB)

11 Yes, God will give you much so that you can give away much, and when we take your gifts to those who need them they will break out into thanksgiving and praise to God for your help.

12 So two good things happen as a result of your gifts—those in need are helped, and they overflow with thanks to God.

WAR ROOM, the movie – a review ~ What is a prayer warrior anyway?

War Room

 

First, I need to say the movie is an accurate portrayal of committed, sold out evangelical Christian life. So, for believers who have simply been waiting for that, go see the movie. For nonbelievers who don’t have a clue and would like to know what that is, go see the movie.

I’ve read and/or skimmed some of the professional reviews, the respectful ones and the snide, and I’m thrilled this wonderful, powerful, and joyous movie is now number one in the box office. Many of these reviewers must now be scratching their heads. As to a rating, this movie is for every audience, ages 13 1/2 to 113 1/2. I give it Five Stars.

The movie opens with Miss Clara narrating. She is the age old believing matriarch and she’s counseling, “We fight for power. We fight for riches. We fight for rights. We fight for freedom. There always seems to be something to fight about. Very few of us know how to fight the right way.” She’s talking about fighting the real enemy, the spiritual  enemy, the one who comes to kill, steal, and destroy…Satan. Karen Abercrombie, who by-the-way is at least two decades younger than the Miss Clara character she plays, is marvelous.

Elizabeth Jordan, played by African American author and speaker Priscilla Shirer, is an attractive  upper-middle class wife, mom, real estate agent married to a power-house, often cold traveling pharmaceutical sales rep. She’s exasperated and exhausted by constantly quarreling with her husband Tony, played with a vengeance by T. C. Stallings. Elizabeth is upset overhearing her pre-teen  daughter (Alena Pitts) tell her DoubleDutch girlfriend she wished she lived at her house. So, Elizabeth’s not quite, but almost ripe for the pickin’ when she arrives at Miss Clara’s door to help the older woman sell her home.  You see, prayer warrior Miss Clara had been praying for someone she could share with what she’s learned about the strategy of prayer. And the way Miss Clara does it, it is indeed strategy. It’s war. Hence the movie’s title, WAR ROOM.

One of the professional reviewers called Elizabeth practically falling into Miss Clara’s lap contrivance, or the miraculous. The second of those is closer to the truth. Actually, believers know it’s quite normal and usual for this type of prayer to be answered in just this way.This reviewer also wrote, “All the major characters in “War Room” are black, which may be another reason why some underestimated the movie’s ability to draw flocks to megaplexes.” I had to laugh at that one. The true Christian church is much more color blind than they know. Another reviewer wrote, “The movie equivalent of repeatedly being punched by a Bible, War Room is so brazen with its Evangelical agenda and curbed by its lackluster cinematic approach that nonbelievers will find it laughable.” It’s a given, both of these men have never been to a senior citizen church lady’s home for coffee.

This movie doesn’t utilize contrivance as a vehicle. Those who think that misunderstand the power of prayer. The movie tells a compelling story, but it’s also a study in how to pray…or one method of prayer. What director Alex and producer Stephen Kendricks have given us is an authentic portrayal of the impact a prayer warrior can have on another individual in desperate need. Do prayer warriors always have this type of success? No. Is it atypical? Also, no. It’s not unusual for this type of blessing to emanate from sold-out prayer.

The “war room” is an actual place in Miss Clara’s house. It’s her favorite room…well, actually a large closet with a chair, a Bible, and sheets of paper with prayers written on them tacked to the walls. Miss Clara waits until just the right time to show Elizabeth her war room. Eventually, Elizabeth clears out her closet and adopts this method of prayer for herself. It’s a viable method of prayer, and certainly not one created by this movie making brother team. This method of strategic prayer is used by many real life prayer warriors. Do all Christians spend an hour or more praying? No, but prayer warriors do, and most churches have a few of those. This is a movie about a prayer warrior mentoring another fledgling prayer warrior.

I went to see the movie with Christian writer Jenna Victoria who had already seen it once, wanted to go again, and contacted me. About halfway through, she pulled out a package of tissues took one for herself and passed me one. I had been wiping tears from the corners of my eyes, and so had she.