We live in a world where hate seems to be the norm. People say they hate other people, whether it's celebrities, neighbors, or politicians. It's not unusual to see post after post on social media that details how much a person hates something or someone. And the more I see it, the more I wonder why the focus is on the hate. That's why this quote stands out to me.
Instead of saying "I hate someone," why not direct your energy towards love? Instead of dwelling on that part of a person you don't like, is it possible to find something that you do? If not, wouldn't it be more beneficial to shift your focus to the positive?
How much better would we be as a nation if we eliminated the word "hate" from our vocabulary? Oftentimes, we use it to explain our feelings for someone or something we disagree with when we don't actually hate. When you say you hate, you're saying you're repelled by, you're revolted by, you regard the object of your hate with disgust, and you shudder at, or recoil from that person or thing. Is that the type of emotion we should allow to consume us so much that it's all we talk about?
An article in Everyday Health illuminates the destructive power of hate. saying "the more you feed it, the stronger it becomes." Hate has the power to take over your life, to become the main focus of your existence. I know because I've seen it. I've watched it destroy lives which is why I don't talk about the things I hate. (I'm not saying I've never done it before, but it's a habit I've made an effort to break.) I talk about the things I love, the people I love, and the places I love. I may not like something someone does, but do I hate them? No. Because I refuse to allow someone's actions , beliefs, or personality to control my emotions.
And when you think about it, we only know a part of the celebrity or politician we see that we claim to hate. That person might have beliefs that don't align with yours, but does that make them deserving of your hate? They could be a wonderful father, brother, sister, or mother. They could donate their time or money to charities you know nothing about. They could honestly want what's best for this world. We don't know their hearts, and we can't step inside their minds. So what's wrong with giving people the benefit of the doubt? (I'm not talking about truly evil people that only seek to destroy lives like serial killers and the like.) And if that's not possible, wouldn't it be better to spend less time talking about how much you hate them and more time focusing on the things and people you love?
Hi everyone! Thank you so much for allowing me to share today.
I’ve known I wanted to write since I was twelve. However, at age 30, God called me to write Christian fiction. I’d just begun writing book three in a secular series when God dropped this new directive on me, and I told Him, “Sure, Lord, just as soon as I finish this novel.” Can you imagine that conversation?
God: “I said I want you to write Christian fiction.”
Me: “And I said I would—after this novel.”
Me: “You can’t ask me to shift gears now!”
God: “Um, I’m God, and I just did!”
For a month, I wrestled with Him before I finally surrendered. Once I did, God told me to continue with the story I was writing but bring the characters to Him.
That was my first foray into writing Christian fiction.
In the past sixteen years, I’ve written a lot of stories, and there’s been some level of a Christian element to almost all of them. However, in writing my latest, Sand Creek Serenade, I experienced God in a very different way than I have with any other story.
From the moment the story took shape in my mind, I knew there would be a stronger spiritual arc than in any story I’d written before. As I began to pray about that, God gave me a Bible verse to pray over the story. Psalm 2:8—"Ask of Me and I will give you the nations…” While I’ve chosen a verse I felt paired nicely with the theme of a story before, I’ve never had God give me a verse. So I have prayed this verse over this story for well over a year.
Then, as I began the actual writing, a certain song kept coming up—on the radio, in church services, just about everywhere I turned. Bethel Music’s No Longer Slaves.
Every time I heard the song, I’d get such a sense of the story’s hero and heroine. I could imagine them clearly. I finally put the song into my playlist and started listening to it before I’d sit to write each day, and each time I heard it, upcoming scenes I needed to write would begin to play like a movie in my mind. In fact, that experience began to spill over into church worship services.
As we’d begin to praise God through song week after week, He’d give me “downloads” of upcoming scenes in movie form. These downloads were so vivid I’d go home and write them out. To my astonishment, I finished writing the story in a record four months.
While I have sensed God’s direction or help while writing other stories, I’ve never experienced His presence in the ways I did in writing Sand Creek Serenade. I’m excited to see where He might take this story or how He might use the novel to reach readers. It should be exciting to watch what unfolds starting tomorrow when the story releases!
Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West.
Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions and been on the ECPA best-seller list numerous times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker.
Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.
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Everyone who knows me knows I'm a big fan of suspense. I watch it, write it, and read it. But I've never been into mysteries like Murder She Wrote or Matlock. I always wanted books and television shows with more emphasis on the suspense. But yesterday changed all that!
I went to Barnes and Noble just to look which never actually happens. I'm hoping one day it will which is, I suppose, why I keep trying. At any rate, I strolled through the books, pausing at my favorite authors, and something drew me to the mystery section. First, I stopped at the new books section which had a couple of cozy mysteries displayed. I opened one, and the first line immediately caught my attention.
So then I head to the section where ALL the mystery books are displayed, and one by one, I started checking out the opening lines. If a book hooks me from the start, I'm in for the long haul. One of the first books I picked up was A Potion to Die For by Heather Blake, which is the first book in her A Magic Potion Mystery series. Check out the first line:
If there was a Wanted poster for witches, I was sure my freckled face would be on it.
Oh, yeah. I was caught, and the book went home with me...as did five others, all cozy mysteries that I can't wait to read. I started with Heather's book, and I'm over halfway finished. I've been laughing all the way through it. How have I let myself miss out on these?
A Potion to Die For is warm, funny, with a hint of romance and magic—everything I love to read in books! And the heroine, Carly Bell Hartwell, is someone I'd love to be friends with. I'm so excited to have discovered a new-to-me author and genre!
“Ow!” A suitcase landed on top of my shoulder as I attempted to wrestle my carry-on into the overhead bin.
“Sorry about that.” The man behind me didn’t sound sorry, but I held my tongue. It was going to be a short flight, and I’d endure a little inconvenience since it was getting me one step closer to my dream.
I side-walked into the seat row and found my spot next to the window, adjusting the shade to hide the sun from my eyes. I turned in time to see the man who’d accosted me with his suitcase dropping into the seat next to me. I shifted and gave him as much room as possible. He was well over six feet tall with long legs and broad shoulders so this wasn’t going to be a comfortable flight for him no matter what I did.
“I really am sorry about that suitcase. I thought I could catch it.” His brown-eyed gaze landed on my face, and one corner of his lips quirked upwards in a half-smile. “I guess I’ve never been good at deducing the speed of gravity.”
Surprisingly, I smiled back. “It’s okay. I doubt it’ll even bruise.”
The flight attendants began their safety presentations, but I’d been flying for most of my thirty years and had them memorized. Apparently, so had my seatmate for he hadn’t changed his focus.
“You look familiar.” The minute the words left his mouth, he held up one hand. “I swear that’s not a pickup line. I really have seen you somewhere before.”
“If you watch WTCL News, that’s where you’ve seen me.” An anchor for the past two years, I’d just been offered a prime position with a larger news station in Charleston, SC.
He snapped his fingers. “That’s it. Julianna Bridges.” He extended his hand. “Doug Rickards. Nice to meet you.”
I took his hand in mine, and the warmth of his palm unnerved me. Quickly withdrawing, I pretended to make sure my seatbelt was snug when the plane began accelerating down the runway. The force of the takeoff pushed me back against the seat. Seconds later, we were airborne, and I glanced at Doug, surprised to find him still watching me.
He didn’t apologize for staring. “You had the biggest smile on your face during takeoff.”
“Did I?” My face flushed. “I’ve always loved flying. There’s just something about soaring high above the clouds, leaving all of your worries far below.” Realizing I was babbling, I lowered my gaze and tucked a strand of hair behind my ear.
“Can I buy you a drink, Ms. Bridges?” The husky rumble of his voice made my toes tingle.
I’d never met a man on an airplane before. I mean, I’ve met men, but none that I’d consider dating. But this one... I realize he’s waiting for my response. “Absolutely, and it’s Julianna.”
He pressed the overhead call button.
Feeling a bit like a giddy school girl, I asked, “So what is it you do, Mr. Rickards?”
“It’s Doug, and I’m the news director for WDBD in Charleston.”
My heart shot up to my throat then the smile faded from my face. “Which means you knew all along who I was. Why the ruse?”
His eyebrow lifted. “Ruse? I’m not following you.”
“Really? You don’t know that I’ve just been hired to work for WDBD as the six o’clock anchor? That wouldn’t be something that would get past the news director. In fact, I believe all new hires have to be approved by you.” My ire rose with my voice. “I’ll bet you even engineered our seat assignments, didn’t you? Well, let me tell you this, Mr. Rickards, whatever game you’re playing, I’m not interested. We will be business colleagues and that is it.”
With a sniff, I sit back against the seat and try to stare a hole through the window. It’s only when I hear chuckling that I shift my glance. He’s laughing. At me. My temper boils, and I wonder if I should tell him right then and there that I won’t be taking the position after all.
“Ms. Bridges,” I correct icily.
“I suppose I should have added that I’m the outgoing news director. My successor hired you.”
“I’ve taken a position at a rival station.”
“Oh.” I want to sink into my seat. “I see. I suppose I should apologize. I mean, I do apologize. I’ve always made jumping to conclusions an Olympic sport.”
“Does that mean I can still buy you that drink or maybe dinner once you get settled?”
“Let’s start with the drink.” I turned in the seat to face him. “If that goes well, you’ll know where to find me.”
I'm starting a new segment here on my blog to introduce you to authors you might not know about or even to highlight authors you do know. It may be an author interview, an excerpt from their newest work, or something altogether different. I'll leave it entirely up to the author! I'll be posting these once a month, maybe twice, depending upon the demand.
I'm excited about one of the upcoming authors--C. Hope Clark, who writes about mysteries on the banks of the Edisto River (Edisto Island Mysteries) which is not far from my home town. So check back to meet your next favorite author, get a sneak peek at what they're working on, or learn about something you don't know. You never know what you'll find here!
If you've decided this is the year you're going to read more books, Girlxoxo has you covered with a master list of the 2019 reading challenges. Any challenge you can think of, this list has it, including one that we all probably need to use: Beat the Backlist which encourages us to read all the books we've already purchased but haven't yet opened. Our shelves would thank us.
This Master list has something for everyone, no matter what type of challenge you're up to this year! So go ahead and take a look and pick your challenge. It's never too late to start reading more!
A Facebook friend recently posted about thinking about mortality. She asked if others thought about it and how they dealt with those thoughts. The responses varied from those who didn't dwell on it to those who gave it a passing thought every now and again.
I lost a good friend on December 10th, who was only 54. Her death hit me really hard, and I'll admit I started thinking about the brevity of life. Regardless of how long someone lives, it seems like the time goes by so fast. And while I don't dwell on the future or life that will take place after I'm gone, I do have moments of "Wow. One day I'm not going to be here." I think everyone does, and Mark Tyrell, a psychotherapist, advises us to "not try to not think about it." In other words, don't try to put it out of your mind if the thought arises.
But you can't let what the future holds keep you from living, either. I'll admit that, as a Christian, it helps knowing where I'm going, but I still try to live each moment of each day to the fullest. I want to leave a legacy behind, to matter, in essence. Don't we all? It might be easier said than done, but I believe that dwelling on life instead of death can help us live a better life.
Do you think about the end of your life? What helps you when the thoughts come?
For Christmas, I received a book with 300 writing prompts. One of the questions was if television was a complete waste of time or is beneficial in some way by providing enrichment and relaxation. I do watch TV to relax and to be entertained, but I also watch it to be educated, especially historical programs, cooking shows, and design shows.
Watching TV allows my brain to stop focusing on the work that's still left to be done and any problems of the day. For however long I choose to watch, I can tune out the world. That kind of relaxation is important because you can't be "on" 24/7.
Keith Rhys, who works with health professionals to help them become online authorities, says that watching TV can help you change your perspective and inspire creativity. He has gotten blog post ideas from watching television as have I. Inspiration is essential for writers, especially when we might be going through a bit of a slump.
Of course, moderation matters. If you're zoning out in front of the television for several hours a day, that might not be a good thing. LIfeadvancer.com says that, according to a 2015 study by JAMA Psychiatry, people who watched more than three hours of TV a day performed worse on cognitive tests than those who didn't watch as much. And we all know that sitting in front of the box for too long isn't good for you physically. So restricting how much you watch can also be a good thing.
What's your take on watching television?
I'm choosing topics from various blog challenges this year, and the first one that really spoke to me was: If you could rid the world of one thing, what would it be?
I had so many answers for this one. Things like hate, greed, homelessness, and hunger. Any one of these would work as I agree that they all shouldn't be a part of our world. But I think the one thing I would love to get rid of in this world is partisanship in politics.
I know it's unrealistic because everyone likes to choose sides, but if we could ever get to the point where a side isn't trying to win, if there were no Democrats or Republicans, just Americans, this world...our world...might be a better place. I'm sure other countries could reap the same benefit if parties didn't represent the people.
I mean, think about it. If our political world was a mixed blend of people who disagree on issues and they weren't backed by a party, they would have no choice but to work together. If, instead of parties against one another, we had Americans working together for a common good, imagine what could be done for this country! There would be less name-calling like "libtards" and "repugnants" in our vocabulary. We'd have to make compromises on every issue.
Maybe this is pie-in-the-sky and I'm not seeing things clearly. It's possible, but this is the one thing I'd choose to erase from the world.
Every year I set goals rather than resolutions. Goals give me something to work toward while resolutions can be a bit intimidating, especially if you vow to do something every day and end up missing a day. So I set small goals, medium-sized goals, and big goals. I usually try to get the small goals out of the way first and slowly work my way up to the big ones, depending on what they are.
Years ago, when I first started writing goals, I would set deadlines to have my books published. Well, we know that's not always in our control so I changed it to getting the book finished or sending the book to the publisher. Those were goals I could control.
I encourage you to choose five REALLY BIG goals that will change your life like finish your first manuscript, enroll in college, or take the trip to Spain, if you can. Big goals should be big for a reason; they should make you have to push yourself to achieve them. And it really helps to use a planner to keep track of these as you can write each week what you've done to work toward that goal!
Happy setting, and welcome to 2019!
My thoughts, experiences, challenges, and goals. Right here. At least once a week or so. Oh, and opinions, too. Those will definitely come in. Join me!