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

Lavender vs Mackey ‘ACTS OF MALICE’ ~ which of the 4 Classic Temperaments are they?

AOM Cover

Phlegmatic, Sanguine, Melancholy, Choleric

Lavender Raines: Diplomatic, Appropriate

Mac “Mackey” Mackenzie: Guardian, Tough Guy

 

I use the Four Classic Temperaments when viewing my main characters in terms of similarities, complimentary attitudes, and conflict. I don’t use personality charts because personality can be something that is acquired over time to cover something deeper. Temperament is that deeper part.

Most people aren’t just one type. They are dominant in one and recessive in another. I see Lavender as Phlegmatic/Winter Dominant/Sanguine~Spring Recessive. And Mackey is Melancholy/Fall Dominant~Sanguine/Spring Recessive.

AAA 4 Temperments

Lavender and Mackey hardly know each other. Their temperaments appear to be in opposition to each other. He is emotionally shut down about his life, but protective of others. She is a pillar of strength in her family, but distrusting of Mackey and guarded around him. Her husband was brutally murdered right before the holidays, and the FBI isn’t telling her anything. She’s afraid for her life, her daughter’s, and her mother’s. She afraid of tough guy Mackey, but he could be the only one who can find her husband’s killers. Can they find common ground amidst the treachery, lies, and turmoil?

Excerpt:

Chapter Eight

Lavender Raines

 Wrapped in my ratty robe, I sat in George’s recliner with my feet dangling off the raised end in equally shabby, fluffy slippers. Savoring my first mug of coffee, I watched a favorite home buyers, renovators, and flippers cable show. On this morning’s episode, a petite woman with aqua combs in her frosted hair, and an artistic bent, shopped for a tiny house.

My mother waltzed into the living room in her kimono, carrying a steaming mug.

I pointed at the home improvement show. “Isn’t that A-frame adorable? I can see myself in it.”

“Oh, sure. I see you bumping your head when you climb that silly ladder trying to get into the loft to go to sleep.” She sat on the sofa.

“It’s got wheels. I could move anywhere I wanted. There are so many places I’d like to visit.”

“And just how would you haul that thing around?” Her laugh conveyed skepticism.

“I’d buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee and tow it wherever I went.”

My mother stared at me. “Lavender, I think you’ve lost your mind since George died.”

I lowered the sound. “Why? Tiny houses are the new rage. Lots of people, from all walks of life, buy them or build them.”

“Well, Strickland’s don’t do that sort of thing.”

“Mother, I’m no longer a Strickland. Haven’t been one for a long time. I’m a Raines.” What she could never be told was why I longed to run away. The problem was, I’d take the image of George’s tortured body with me wherever I went.

She placed her mug on the coffee table. “Lavender, darling, for your own good, I think you should come live with me for a while.”

I turned off the television. “Mother, I appreciate your offer. I do, but I’m going to stay right here. I’m not running off in a tiny house on wheels, as appealing as that might seem.”

“You exasperate me. I’m worried about you.”

I walked over to the sofa, sat beside her, and hugged her. “I love you.”

“I never doubted that. I love you too.” She stood and swiped at a tear. “How about some more coffee?”

I followed her into the kitchen and sat at the table while she brewed a fresh pot.

She turned to face me. “Kendall and I will be leaving this morning. She can’t miss any more classes. Duke will be only so forgiving.”

“Yes, she has to get back to school.” I stood and wrapped an arm around my mother’s waist. “Thank you for chauffeuring her.”

She stepped back and took a long look at me. Her head bobbled for a moment. “Really, Darling, you must do something with your hair. That bun is falling apart.”

“It’s a loose chignon. It’s a mess right now, and I don’t care one bit.” I laughed and gave her a quick hug.

“Darling, I swear, somebody switched you at birth. You can’t be mine.” She emptied the old coffee out of our mugs and filled them with fresh brew.

I placed two percent milk and artificial sweetener on the table, added a splash of the milk to my coffee, and doused hers with both the sweetener and the milk.

We sat at the table in somewhat companionable silence, drinking coffee.

I placed my mug on the table top. “I have to review our finances to see if Kendall can remain at Duke next year. We’re not broke by any means. George always did the responsible thing and, of course, had a life insurance policy. That only goes so far, and we don’t have George’s salary coming in.”

Mother blinked twice.

Oh, my, I didn’t dare laugh. She’d already put on her false lashes.

She stared and blinked again. “I’ll pay for Duke. Kendall is not going to some state school.”

Resisting her would be emotionally exhausting, and she’d drag Kendall into it. “Thank you, Mother. Kendall loves Duke. I know she’ll appreciate your generosity.” I took a sip of coffee. That was one thing off my plate.

Kendall would be happy at Duke. That left two things.

How I was going to get the information, I didn’t know, but I had to find out what had happened to George. Agent Lightfoot had stopped returning my calls.

And what was up with Randall Creston? Why was he intimidating Abigail and Olivia?

 

Day Ten, Morning

Mac “Mackey” Mackenzie

The water sluicing over my body was bracing, but in an abbreviated wetsuit, not frigid. I kept swimming out to sea. The waves were with me. I caught a big one and rode it farther out. The return would be the trial.

My dive watch told me I’d gone far enough, so I stopped and treaded water.

Through a pair of military grade goggles, I fixed my eyes on the shore and began the strenuous swim back. My thigh muscles strained as my legs sliced through the waves, which were now against me. I hadn’t worn flippers intentionally, to make the swim more difficult. When I reached the shore, I was winded.

Sunrise Boulevard ran north and south along the beach. It had a bike path and sidewalks on either side but no parking along the road. Three large public lots intruded onto the beach, having hard-packed sand due to constant vehicle usage. They were spaced evenly apart along the beach front. I walked to my graphite colored Jeep Wrangler, parked in the lot at Sunrise and Beaumont.

I shed my wet suit, slipped a pair of jeans over my swimming trunks, and fastened a clip-on holster to my belt. Then, I stowed my wetsuit in the four-by-four’s cargo space.

A seagull swooped low over the vehicle as I opened the driver’s side backdoor. I removed the floor mat, punched a code into a tiny panel, and lifted the cover of a custom-built secret compartment beneath the floor. I pulled out my Berretta, and secured it in my holster. After I threw on a black untucked, long sleeved shirt, I was good to go.

That’s when I noticed Lavender Raines walking on the sidewalk next to the bike path. The early morning sun, rising over the ocean, played with an occasional red strand of hair in the bun that looked as if it was about to fall apart. Her hair was lush and dark, but not quite as dark as I had thought.

“Mrs. Raines.” I waved. No time like the present to do as The Old Man requested. Check up on her.

She stopped and placed the flat of her palm over her eyebrows, to ward off the morning sun, as she tried to figure out who I was. Then she smiled.

I trotted to her. “It’s good to see you. How are you doing?”

She clasped her hands together. “I’m fine. Thank you for asking. Mackenzie, is it?”

“Yes, ma’am. It’s so good to see you again.” I’d never been accused of having a way with words.

“So kind of you.” She backed up a step.

Awkward.

A kid on a skateboard propelled himself forward by repeatedly striking his foot on the sidewalk. He lost his balance and the skateboard left the pavement, flying six inches off the ground, directly at her.

She let out a small, frightened cry.

I grabbed her and turned her away from the wooden missile. We both staggered backward.

The skateboard grazed my calf. I winced.

“Ouch, my ankle,” she cried.

The kid ran after his board, and we never saw him again.

“I’m sorry, ma’am. I tried to get you out of the way.”

She held onto my arm. “Don’t apologize. I’m grateful to you. Are you hurt?”

“Nothing much at all.” I’d have a bruise and would feel it for a while.

She took a halting step but found it difficult, painful. “I think I twisted it.”

Her leg buckled. As she collapsed to one side, she tried to break her fall by grasping my waist. Her head jerked and her eyes opened wide. She withdrew her hand from my weapon as if a snake had bitten her. If she hadn’t known I carry concealed, she did now.

I lifted her, holding on to her until she was able to stand up more-or-less straight. “Keep your weight off your foot.”

“I’ll do my best.”

“If I brace you on one side, can you hobble to my Jeep?”

“I’ll try.”

We took a faltering step, then another. A three-legged dog could’ve done much better. When she whimpered, I scooped her up in my arms and carried her to the Jeep.

Once I got her comfortably settled, I ignored her protests as I untied her running shoe, slipped off the sock, and examined her foot. “There’s nothing major broken. Still, you could have a hair-line fracture. Would you like to go to the emergency room?”

“No. No, thank you. I was on my way to my friend Emmi’s house. It’s on Beaumont off of Catalina– not far from here. If you could drop me there.”

I shimmied the sock back onto her foot over pale-pink painted toes that matched her fingernails. Then, I slid the shoe back on. After I tied the laces, I gently patted the shoe. “All done.”

When I got behind the wheel, she looked directly at me. “A lot of men in Florida carry concealed, but you’re more than you appear to be. From what George told me, Mr. Agard, he’s pretty important in the government.”

I looked straight ahead. “I don’t know that much about what Mr. Agard does.” True, very true.

“At the funeral, you said you knew my husband. Do you know what happened to him? He said he was going to New Orleans and they found his tortured body in Caracas?”

“I can tell you with absolute certainty, it had nothing whatsoever to do with another woman.”

“I already know that,” she snapped. She closed her eyes and took a breath. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to take it out on you.”

“No apology necessary. Your world has been turned upside-down. I’ll take you to your friend’s house.” I fired up the engine, determined now more than ever to learn what had happened to George Raines. The man should be home with his wife.

Which of the Four Classic Temperaments are you? Leave a comment. I’d love to know!

PURCHASE ACTS OF MALICE ON AMAZON

NIKE N. CHILLEMI’S AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE