Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's Turtle Time!

(Not this kind!)

It’s that time of the year. Time to make the most luscious of Christmas treats, the turtle. Thick, gooey, homemade caramel loaded with fresh pecan halves and covered with a delectable blend of the best chocolate.

Sound dreamy? If you’ve had them, then you know they are.

I have been making them for roughly twenty-five years. They have been shipped to relatives and friends all over the place. I have to admit though, this year I’m a little nervous about making them. You see, for the last 25 years, I have been making them in Wisconsin. Now, we’re in Oklahoma. What’s the difference you say? Well, I’ll tell you.

Chocolate is a finicky. Yeah, it’s delicious but all that “delicious” can be difficult, especially when used as an ingredient. If you are using chocolate as a coating, and you don’t want to use the plastic chocolate (bark etc.) then you have no choice but to deal with it.


You see, if you don’t melt the chocolate perfectly, it will not behave for you. This process is called tempering. If you heat the chocolate too much you will burn it. If any moisture gets into the chocolate, it will seize. Basically it will develop the look of cottage cheese…which is not a pretty site on turtles.

I have seen chocolate which has turned white or has spots of white. This process is called “bloom” and is caused by the cocoa butter rising to the top in aging chocolate. It also happens when chocolate gets too warm. Using fresh, quality chocolate is a must!

See? There are many factors to perfecting chocolate. Temperature and humidity also play a huge part in getting your chocolate just right. While humidity is not so much an issue in Oklahoma, 80 degree days in December are. That is what I am trying to factor in before I attempt the turtles.

The good news is, I see cooler days in the forecast. As soon as we go below 45 degrees I am doing nothing else until the turtles are safely tucked away in my refrigerator!

Because I am a writer and because I am a Christian, my mind drifted to tempering and how it affects our every day lives.

What, in our Christian walk, must be tempered? I can think of a few things but what comes to mind is love. Of course it does…I’ve been on a “love” kick lately!

And by tempering love do I mean love less? No. Do I mean love carelessly? No. Recklessly? No. Tempered love, to me, means responsible love. When tempering chocolate the correct amount of heat has to be applied in order for the chocolate to turn out right. With love, we must use the truth as our tempering agent.

The world’s definition of love never offends or points out the truth. It means we embrace anything and everything without condition.

And to an extent, I agree. We must love everyone. It is commanded that we do. The difference though is God’s definition of love is not the same as the worlds.

Just last week I was told that it is pharasetical for a Christian to judge another Christian. The person that said this calls herself a Christian. My question is, how does a Christian come to this understanding?


I will tell you why. Because as Christians we have drifted to the world’s definition of love and we are no longer tempering love with Truth. Love all by itself is not love. And speaking truth without love as the motive leaves a distaste in one’s mouth. The two must be combined, tempered with one another so to speak, to be lasting, unconditional and effective.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's All About the Love!

I have heard it again and again. Jesus is love. He wants us to love one another. He wants us to embrace each other and be all about the love.

Is this the 60’s all over again?


What about the time Jesus was angry and over turned the money tables in the temple? Should we remove that from the Bible?

If Jesus got so angry over money…over people cheating one another in His house, then I wonder how angry he is going to be over abortion? I have heard people justifying their voting because come on, let’s face it…we can’t change it. So, what’s the point? Yeah, I’m glad I didn’t use that argument cause I don’t think it’s going to fly standing face to face with God. Oh…what I am saying? I forgot…God is all about the love. Ooops. My bad.

See, I’m all about the love too. But I understand one important concept the world is forgetting about…and some Christians too…and that is, grace is dependent upon repentance. Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more. He didn’t give her a hug and say, honey, I love you…just keep on keeping on. It’s all about the love!


I have heard the teaching, and I completely agree with it, that our actions elicit reactions from God. We sow…he produces the harvest. We work…he brings the increase. We trust, he provides. We repent, he forgives. But, if repentance is removed from the equation…then God has nothing to react to. Do you now see a problem with the current thinking and teaching in many churches today? We are not preaching repentance. It’s all about the love.

If it’s “all about the love” then what happens to these verses?

Luke 13:3: No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

Acts 3:19: Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,

Acts 17:30: The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, (did you catch this one? There will be no excuses. How many people will look to you and say…but you said God loved me no matter what?)

How about Matthew 3:2: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Folks, these are all New Testament verses. I shudder to think how long this blog post would be if I included even half the verses from the new testament, let alone the old testament.


Are you getting this? Do you understand? Love by itself is just love. Love coupled with repentance…well that is another story! Many churches are going to stand before God and they won’t be able to do any fancy talking. See, it’s not all about the love. God even loves those people who choose to spend eternity in hell. See, the “love” isn’t going to save them. It’s repentance that leads to spending an eternity with our Father.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

In a Fog

Last night I found myself sitting in the ER. The pain in my back was to the point I couldn’t move my head without a spasm ripping through the middle of my back. I have no idea what it is all about…I guess I need an MRI. That would mean a doctor visit with a referral. I’ll have to think about that.

Let’s get to the fog.

I was prescribed a narcotic to help with the back pain, a muscle relaxant and another type of pain pill similar to Ibuprofen.

My husband doled out the drugs with my supper last night (chicken and wild rice soup…man was it good!). He gave me the maximum pills I could take for each prescription. I was fighting to stay awake during the last few bites of my meal.


I slept from approximately 8:30 last night to 9:30 this morning. I kept waking up to drink water (one drug causes dry mouth) and to go the bathroom (from all the water!).

When I finally got up I was in a daze. I couldn’t see properly. I couldn’t function properly. My thoughts were skewed. My reaction time was slow. Basically, I was in a fog.

I was unable to accomplish the things I needed to accomplish because of the fog. My world had turned upside down, leaving me confused and wandering aimlessly. I didn’t like it.

I remembered giving the thumbs up to the doc when he told me he was going to hook me up with some good painkillers. I was pretty excited about that. I like being able to operate without pain. Now, after the first 24 hours of “relative comfort” (not all the pain was gone…although they did help tremendously), I wasn’t too sure masking the pain was the correct way to deal with the problem. I don’t like being in a fog.


This whole ordeal got me to thinking and thinking resulted in a series of questions. Here we go, you ready? (By the way, I exited my “fog” a couple of hours ago…so I am thinking straight again!)

Why are we Christians walking around like we are in a spiritual fog? Why are we wandering aimlessly from one “feel good” teaching to another? Why are we refusing to stand up boldly for our faith? Why do we feel like we have to walk around on eggshells so we do not offend anyone and everyone?

Are we embarrassed by our faith? Are we embarrassed of God or of His Word? How about Jesus, the lover of our Souls…you remember, God becoming man to die on a cross for us…are we embarrassed of Him? No? Then what is our problem?

You don’t know? I’ll tell you. In 2nd Corinthians 6:14 we are told “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

But…that doesn’t sound loving! We are supposed to love everyone!


And being bff with the world is loving it? Why are we so bent on having the world’s approval? Why do we care? In John chapter 15 Jesus tells us that the world will hate us just like it hated him.

I was called a bigot the other day because I said that homosexuality is wrong. Let’s see. Because I made this statement, I am by definition “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.”

Wow. That is pretty deranged thinking. And all because I had the audacity to speak the Word concerning sin. I’d say the hatred and intolerance was coming from the other side of the conversation.

Christians, it is time to roll back the fog and breath in some fresh air. We have a world dying and going to hell, all because we are afraid to speak truth. Do yourself a favor, better yet do someone else a favor and speak the truth into their lives!

John 18:37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”










Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The People's King

Yesterday we saw history in the making.

Yep, we saw a nation succumb to empty promises to appease their lust for themselves.

My thoughts immediately went to a land and a people from long ago, another people who wanted a deliverer. They wanted someone they could see and hear, someone they could depend on to lead them to prosperity and they unilaterally decided that someone would need to be human being, a king like every other nation had. God’s desire for them was that they would trust Him. But, they refused.

How like Israel are we?


Let’s begin in I Samuel 8:6-9. But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So, Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I have brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day-with which they have forsake Me and served other gods-so they are doing to you also. Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”

Do you see any parallels here?


God brought our founding fathers out of an oppressive land so they could be free to worship Him as He has ordained. He brought them out of bondage and led them into freedom. We have always had God’s hand of protection but have we gone too far? Have we forsaken the God who has given us everything? Have we turned our backs on Him? Have we rejected the King of Kings?

Beginning in verse 10 Samuel warns the people of all the horrors that this king will administer to the people. But did they listen? No. They listened to everything Samuel had to say yet they did not hear.

Does this sound familiar?

Today this warning might have sounded something like this:

If you choose this man as your king, then you will see the following. Your innocent children will be murdered. Your young men and women will live in sin going against everything that is natural and instead show affection one to another. The institute of a Godly defined marriage will be scoffed at and rebutted. Everything that you work for, everything that I have blessed you with will be laughed at and mocked. He will do his best to rob you of your blessing. You will in essence become his servants and all you work for will be at his disposal. No one shall be able to rein him in because those who worship him consider him a god. He will answer to no one and will do nothing but wreck havoc upon this nation he is entrusted with.


And possibly his greatest offense of all, the one that will destroy him and the very nation he is put over, is the fact that he will not stand by Israel as an ally, for his purpose is her destruction. And in that day all the land will cry out because of the oppression of this king they have chosen and the Lord will not hear their cries.

But did the people heed the warning?

No, they did not. They shouted from the rooftops, we want him for our king! The people could care less about the heart of God. They wanted what they wanted. Just like the people from long ago, the people of America have shouted and have received their answer. They got their “king.”

And as the people of Israel did so long ago, the people of America will cry out for relief and God will not hear their cries. Judgment is coming to this country. We will see God turn his back on this land. No longer will we be united under God, but we will be a disjointed nation, living in fear and trepidation of the days that will follow. We have come to this place of our own accord, at our own insistence.

Do not be mistaken; this was not God’s will, but the will of the people. His heart is broken by the actions of a selfish people.

As children of God we have not been given a spirit of fear, but we can rest in his promise that He is our deliverer and our fortress in times of trouble. Those that remain faithful to the end will see all God’s promises fulfilled. God is still on the throne, no matter whom the people elect as their “king.” No one can take that away from us!

May God have mercy!
Darlene



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month.

Yeah, it’s some bad stuff.

I recently released a novel that focuses on Domestic Violence and depicts what someone in an abusive relationship might be going through, might be feeling. I have been told the dynamics of this story are very accurate.


I’m not here to promote Forever Blessed so much as to raise awareness for an issue that has divided families for generations. The statistics are staggering. Here are a few:

· One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
· An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
· 85% of domestic violence victims are women.
· Most cases of domestic violence never get reported to the police
· Almost 1/3 of female homicide victims that are reported in police reports are killed by an intimate partner.
· In 70-80% of all intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, the man physically abused the woman before the murder.
· Witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next.
· Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.


If that doesn’t make you sad, then I don’t know what will. Every day women live in fear because of what their spouses, partners or boyfriends might do. They never know peace. They fear for their children, for themselves. They have been threatened, manipulated and controlled for so long, they know longer know who they are.


My grandmother was abused. In a letter to the reader at the front of my novel, I tell this story:

The idea for this novel is based on the life of my grandmother, Ella Louise Lafferty. While she was a victim of spousal abuse, this is not her story. She was the mother of eight children, the wife to one husband. She had more lines etched around her kind eyes than a woman of 62 years should carry. She lived a hard life.

What broke my heart the most was after her passing she left a stack of Harlequin Romance books in the common room of her apartment building. Her marriage was built on fear and trepidation, not love and certainly not romance. She read hundreds of books, living a life of romance through each page she turned. Her self-imposed guilt kept her from sharing her quest with her family.

I rejoice in the fact that she entered heaven’s gates and looked upon the ultimate face of love, that of Christ Jesus. She never knew the romantic love of a man while on this earth. She saved herself for the best.


Blessings,
Darlene Shortridge

If you are being abused…call:

The National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
The National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline: 1-866-331-9474

Thursday, October 11, 2012

It's Not My Fault...OR IS IT?

The climate is politically charged, can you tell?

I can. I am a political kind of gal. For this current election I have tried to maintain some kind of emotional control. It’s not easy for me. Certain things get me riled up. Certain issues are hot buttons for me.


I am a staunch conservative. I am not middle of the road. I’m like as far to the right as right goes. Yeah, I’m for guns and for freedom of speech, I’m against abortion and the definition of marriage being expanded to include, well, you know.



I say all this to say I am pretty proud of myself this year. While I have stood up for what I believe in, I have not gotten into any arguments with anyone. Well, almost. And a couple of rounds of comments don’t necessarily define argument…do they?

I guess what really gets me going is the abortion issue. I’m against it, of course. Well, today I had the opportunity to rationally discuss my opposition and I realized that, besides the obvious reasons for being against it…you know, the part where innocent babies are murdered…I found another very good reason that I am compelled to state my obvious displeasure with this barbaric practice.

It is simply this. I cannot stand when people do not take responsibility for their own actions.

The person I was discussing with actually said my comments indicated I thought the woman was at fault for getting pregnant.

Really? I mean REALLY?


And exactly whose fault is it?

My response was this: It is a woman’s fault she gets pregnant. Unless it’s rape, she can say no. Yes, she needs help in getting pregnant…but, without her there is no pregnancy.

That response opened a can of worms.

Why is it that taking responsibility for one’s own actions is almost unheard of in this day and age? Why do we want to pass the buck?

I have heard it all. The reason I do what I do is because: My parents didn’t raise me right. The kid next door bullied me. My teacher ignored me. My older sibling used to beat me up. The dog ate my homework.

Come on! When is it going to end?

My junk is my junk. All the good, the bad and the ugly in my life are my responsibility. Only I can take responsibility for who I am and the things I do. It’s no one else’s fault. It comes down to me.

Ladies, I will always deplore abortion. You will not change my mind on this. But, if you want me to respect you, take some responsibility for your actions. Own it. Don’t pass the buck. Yeah, the guy is 100% responsible for his own actions as well, but that doesn’t give you a pass.



Friday, October 5, 2012

FREE Kindle Reads!

I have a few great deals for you! Over the course of the next few days, the following books will be offered for free on Amazon for your Kindle.


If you do not own a Kindle, most e-reader devices now offer Kindle apps for their products. I know this to be true for iPads as well as the Nook. You can also download an app for your PC and read the books on your computers.


If you take advantage of these generous offers by the authors, please take the time to leave a review. Reviews help authors gain a readership and follow up sales. We really do appreciate you taking the time to do this!


First book on the block is my husband’s book entitled, Tips on Tips, a Server Training Program by Daniel Mawhinney. If you are a restaurant server, or you know someone who is, then you’ll want to get this book free between today and 10/8/2012.

Tips on Tips, a Server Training Program

Next up is Susette William’s Accidental Meeting, a witty romance is available from 10/5-10/7/2012.


Accidental Meeting


A drama, Love For Delicious, by Cynthia Hickey is also available from 10/5-10/7/2012.


Love For Delicious

Elaine Littau's Elk's Resolve is available today, 10/5/2012.


Elk's Resolve


Finally, my novel, Until Forever is available 10/5-10/7/2012 for Free as well.


Until Forever: Women of Prayer Series


Please take the time to show your appreciation and leave those reviews. We really do covet them!

Blessings,
Darlene

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Traditional Vs. Self Publishing

I read a post yesterday morning about working together as authors. I liked what I read except I had no idea the imaginary line drawn in the sand was so long and so wide. I truly had no idea that traditionally published authors thought that much less of us indie published authors. I mean, my novels are doing great on the charts, I’m getting great reviews and I’m even making a little pocket change. Why would someone want to discredit me?


Still, the blog post was well written and I agreed with it. Let’s work together instead of expending all our energy battling one another. Good concept.

Imagine my surprise when I went on over to the ACFW’s website and found out there is no place for a self-published author like myself. I can join. That is true. But the only thing I can really partake in is handing over my money.


Here I had been planning on joining to learn to be a better writer. Isn’t that what we all desire? Is to become better at our craft?

I’m feeling snubbed and I don’t particularly like it. I guess I thought what qualified me as a writer is the fruit of my work. I never realized that you have to have a stamp of approval by a certain group, publisher or literary agency before you can actually be a writer. Wow am I na├»ve!

I chose to self-publish. I had other choices. I could have published with a small but reputable traditional publisher. I chose not to.

So, my question for those of you whose entire worth as a writer is based on acceptance to such a group as the ACFW by way of a traditional publishing house contract is, why?

Why do you want to be traditionally published by a Christian Publishing powerhouse? Is it because you can get the message of Christ out to the masses? Is it because you will have the means to support your family?


Well, it can’t be the money. A friend of mine was recently offered a five thousand dollar advance for one her titles. Wow, right? I mean, that is so cool. If she accepts the deal, she’ll get a check for five thousand less her agent fees. It is going to take a year to a year and a half for her book to be released by this traditional publisher. Then, she is going to need to earn back the advance before she sees another dollar from her hard work. Odds are, it will take years before she sees any more profit from this book, if ever.

Okay, so it must be the author wants to get the gospel message out to the masses, right? You are using your gifts to glorify Christ in the best way you know how. Okay, take a trip to Amazon and look at the prices of most traditionally published e-books. Now, take a look at the rankings. Make sure you are looking at new up and coming talented authors who just got their five thousand dollar advance. Where are they in the rankings? That should give you a pretty good idea of how many e-books are flying out the door, right? I guess that negates reaching the masses.


Now I am at a loss. What exactly makes a traditionally published author an author and me not one? I mean, my message of salvation and hope has now reached well over 60,000 people. Until Forever has an average reviewer ranking of 4.6 out of 5 stars. Forever Blessed has an average reviewer ranking of 4.5 out of 5 stars. So, it can’t be reader approval. Is it because my e-books are priced at only $2.99 and $3.99 respectively? Well, I suppose my prices are lower, but I justify that because how many more readers have the opportunity to hear the gospel while they are being entertained.




In my mind, exposure would be one good reason to go with a publisher. They do have the means to get a title in more places. Although, from what I am hearing, the author is now supposed to do most of their own marketing. I guess there are more questions than answers.

Here is my humble opinion. The business of self-publishing is growing by leaps and bounds. Forward thinkers will benefit greatly from this progress. Those who feel compelled to live by the old rules will wish they had taken advantage of the opportunity while they had the chance. I will continue to use reader response and the amount deposited in my checking account as my validation. I am thankful I can be about the Father’s business without feeling the need to impress those who have placed themselves in lofty places.


Darlene Shortridge, Author, Speaker, Singer
www.darleneshortridge.com





Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Forever Blessed...for FREE!

I’m writing a super short post this week. Hopefully things will be normal at our house very soon…although who really wants normal?

But, seeing as how we are still not quite settled and seeing as how I have a big promotion coming up this weekend, I thought I would simply provide the information and wish you a wonderfully blessed week.

On Friday, September 7th through Sunday September 9th, Forever Blessed will be free for your Kindle on Amazon. Yes, that is correct. You can download a copy for free this coming weekend.



Pass this info on to everyone you know who enjoys good Christian Fiction that makes a difference.

I pray you have a wonderful week!

Darlene Shortridge, Author of Until Forever and Forever Blessed, Fiction that makes a difference! Visit my website at www.darleneshortridge.com.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

Recently, we started looking for a house to live in. We have been living with my parents for the past couple of months while my husband got situated at his job. Once he was established, we began the tedious job of house hunting. We were looking to rent.

In some ways, we felt we should wait a little while longer. In other ways, we decided it was time.

I was crying out to God; that He would show us His will. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that something big is about to happen. I just know. Sometimes I know things. I can’t explain it except to say it’s a God thing.


While I know this, my heart was still longing for a home. Some place my family and I can work in, live in and be a family in. So, I began looking on Craigslist. We wanted something in our price range (we were going for cheap so we could spend a good portion of our income on marketing).

Sundays after church became our day to drive around and look at properties. We called and left messages, we emailed, we drove by and we visited. Nothing. We received one email reply, which was spam. I was becoming discouraged. I cried out. Lord, do you not see me here? Asking for your grace and mercy?

This past Sunday we were on our usual pilgrimage. We applied for one two-bedroom house. It was small, but it would have worked.

We looked at my notes and we saw a phone number with a rent amount of $650.00 next to it. No additional information. We figured it wouldn’t hurt to call. The lady answered the phone and told us the address and to come on by. She was waiting for another possible tenant to show up.

When we arrived at our destination, our son took one look and said, “I’m not going in there.”


I replied, “Oh yes you are. We will not be rude to these people. We told them we wanted to look at the house and we will. We can always thank them then leave.”


The house looked to be in bad shape. The driveway was buckled from a tree root. The fenced in front yard was overgrown and miscellaneous junk was lying about, including a baby playpen with wood in it. To top it all off, six or seven people were sitting on the small front porch, pretty much looking like they had just stepped off the set of “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

My husband later told me he wanted to put the car in reverse and back up. I’m ashamed to say we pretty much all felt that way.

We approached the group of people, which was quite intimidating. By the outside of the house, we had very little expectations for the inside.

When we walked in the door, my husband described the experience as such: It was like when Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz left her world and entered this grand world of color. It was amazing.

I was confused. I expected to see a run down dirty house and what I was seeing was the complete opposite of that, by a long shot. It took me a little while to catch up to what my brain already knew. This house was beautiful. I glanced at the kitchen and didn’t really see it. I could see the gleaming hard wood floors but, again, I didn’t really see them. When I peered into the bathroom and my mouth dropped at the oversize tiled shower with an overhead as well as a side showerhead, I began to get it. This house is not what I expected it to be.


The landlady leaned over and whispered, “What until you see the master bedroom.”

I looked at the front bedroom and office then found my way through the hallway to the master suite. This room was huge. The walk in closet was big enough to be an office. The master bathroom had a giant Jacuzzi. French doors with stained glass opened up to the horrible back yard. We laughed.

I suddenly found myself wanting to see the kitchen again. Wow! Brand new cupboards, new dishwasher, disposal, everything is new and beautiful and gleaming. I couldn’t get over the difference between what we thought we were going to see and what we actually saw.

We will be moving in this coming weekend. The people who were supposed to come never showed up. It was like God set this gem of a house in the midst of chaos and said, this is for Darlene. I want her to be blessed, because I love her and want the best for her. I know that God did this for me. To know that He loves me that much has brought me to tears many times over the last few days. We serve a wonderful God who plans to prosper us and to give us a future.


Don’t over look what God may have for you because it doesn’t look like your expectations. It may be something much much better.








Friday, July 6, 2012

God's Divine Favour

Have you ever gone through something hard and wondered, Lord, for what purpose am I enduring this hardship?

I have. In fact, quite a few times. For instance, my husband and I have had the opportunity (I am using the word “opportunity” loosely here because I believe in looking at everything from a positive side of view) to witness up close and personal, several pairs of husbands and wives in an intimate, prolonged setting.


Yeah, it wasn’t always pretty. But, I learned a thing or two. I believe if you grow through it and learn from it, then it must have been worth it.

My husband and I believe in the very near future we will have a couple’s ministry. This time of learning has been invaluable and we’ll be putting together our material for speaking at couples retreats, valentine’s dinners and conferences very soon. We’re looking forward to it.

One of the things God has brought to our attention has to do with submission. Ladies, stay with me here. Guys, your turn is coming up, so don’t go anywhere.


I know. Submission is a hard word. Some would venture as far as calling it a bad word. Let me tell you something. It’s not. Submission is an awesome thing. It’s a Godly thing. And if you don’t do it, then don’t ask for anything else to do. Just sayin’. He isn’t going to expand your territory until you learn to submit to the authority in the territory you are in right now. Want to lead worship? Want to head up a women’s Bible study? Then learn to submit to your husband.

I know that was a hard sentence to grasp, so let me say it again. He isn’t going to expand your territory until you learn to submit to the authority in the territory you are in right now.

Yes, your home is a territory. Yes, your husband is your authority figure. If you are not submitting to his authority, you might as well not pray the prayer of Jabez. Or at the very least, leave the line out about increasing your territory. God will not give you more until you can handle what you have.


Husbands, the same goes for you. If you are not loving your wife like Christ loved the church, if you are not taking care of your territory, yes, your wife and children are your immediate territory, then don’t ask God for more until you do. If you care more about the family dog’s well being than the mental or physical stability of your wife, then God will not bless you for ministry. Your efforts will be fruitless. Your ministry will not be blessed. David was not allowed to build the temple, both because he was a man of war and because he did not have his house in order.

The things we have seen and heard over the past ten months or so make us cringe and shake our heads. And we wonder why the family is in such a sorry state.


In Christian homes, we have seen husbands treat their wives like they are dirt. We have witnessed men that are too proud to change and accept they can do wrong. We have seen men dismiss ideas their wives have because no one could know more about the subject at hand than they do. Pride, wasn’t that the sin of Satan?

Wives do not trust their husbands’ judgment and won’t honor them. They hide financial information from them; they are cunning and proud and refuse to defer to their husband’s good judgment. Wasn’t Jezebel this type of woman?

Ladies and gentlemen, husbands and wives, if you want to increase, if you want more, then learn to operate in the territory you have been given.

This type of behavior is happening in laymen’s houses, pastor’s houses, deacon’s and elder’s houses. I can assure you, the increase that has occurred has been by the sweat and sheer determination of such offenders of the faith, because God will not give increase if we are not taking care of what we have been given.


I love these words by Charles H. Spurgeon regarding Psalm 127. “God's blessing on his people as their one great necessity and privilege is here spoken of. We are here taught that builders of houses and cities, systems and fortunes, empires and churches all labour in vain without the Lord; but under the divine favour they enjoy perfect rest. Sons, who are in the Hebrew called "builders", are set forth as building up families under the same divine blessing, to the great honour and happiness of their parents. It is THE BUILDER'S PSALM. "Every house is builded by some man, but he that built all things is God", and unto God be praise.”

Psalm 127:1 “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it.”

Are you experiencing God’s divine favour? Do you want to? Then learn to live the way God has called you to live. Wives, submit to your husbands. Husbands, love your wives and be willing to die for them.

Blessings!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

City on a Hill

There once was a city, ravaged by forces so brutal, so tremendous that the city forgot how to breathe. On occasion it would gasp, sucking for air, trying to give the impression of life, of vitality. Only a fool would be convinced of its longevity, for certainly death was knocking at its gate.



The people of this city were afraid. They saw monsters behind every closet door and heard creaks and moaning, even when there were none. They hid in their homes, behind closed doors fearful of what might come next.

Upon entering this city, a visitor felt the oppression. The heaviness would weigh on his shoulders, increasing the load he must carry. He soon felt the desire to flee the city in a desperate attempt to preserve what hope he had left. If he waited too long the city would overtake him and his thoughts of flight would be no more.



The city walls began to crumble, some from the terrible force that evaded and some from the lack of care by its inhabitants. Truly, this city had been read its last rites.

There was another city, which was also attacked by brutal forces. For a moment, this city forgot to breathe. Then as if a life giving force whispered in its ear, this city found its feet and clamored from the ground that wanted to envelop it.



The people of this city shed their fear. They exposed the monsters behind their closet doors and eliminated the occasional creaks and moaning. They threw open their shades and unlocked their doors. They embraced the future and looked forward to a bright sunny tomorrow.

Visitors felt the electricity upon entering this city. It was a place they could put down roots. They felt alive and free, ready to embrace this new world to which they traveled. The possibilities seemed endless and the opportunities were abundant. Visitors did not wish to leave, but instead grafted into the vine of the bloodline of this city, becoming one of its own.

The city walls were built up, fortified. Expansion was within the realm of possibility. New met new and the old passed away. The air was intoxicating and invigorating. Truly, this city was a city of life.

Which city are you? Are you a city dying at the hand of ravaging storms or are you a city that breathes deep and becomes stronger when trials and tribulation come your way?



Are you a city that lies down, defeated? Or are you a city that fortifies and conquers when adversity strikes?

Are you a city hiding in a valley from which visitors flee? Or are you a city on a hill, a beacon to the lost?

Matthew 5:14 You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.




Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ella

She wasn’t petite and poised. She wasn’t polished and politically correct. Her hair wasn’t dyed and perfectly coiffed. Her teeth were not her own and her facial hair spoke volumes in regards to her age.

My heart broke when she died. It was a Sunday morning and we were getting ready for church when I got the phone call. I clutched my stomach, bent forward and wailed. It wasn’t fair. I needed her. My daughter needed her. She was too young to die. But she died anyway.


Heart failure. She had been to the doctor but she wasn’t worthy of fixing. She was on a very limited income with less than a hundred dollars in the bank. She didn’t own anything. She lived in an income based senior living center and either she walked wherever she went or we picked her up and took her. The medical powers that be decided operating on her wasn’t worth their time. What did she have to offer? Nothing.

Of course, I begged to differ. But, my pleading did absolutely nothing to change the plan. Nor did my begging give her the desire to keep on living. She was tired. She had had a hard life, a life that zapped her of her energy. Married once with eight children would have been enough to tire anyone. Add an alcoholic and abusive husband to the equation and one has to wonder how she made it as long as she did.

Her whole life was spent in abject poverty. We spent time at food pantries and goodwill. She never knew the “good” life, at least according to the world’s standard. Her meals were simple; cornbread and beans, fried potatoes and fried bologna. She had a tin of bacon grease that sat on the stovetop. Everything tasted like bacon at her house. No wonder I love bacon so much.



She had made me executor of her estate. None of her children knew. Shortly before her death she came to me and told me she was changing her will because “they” would skin me alive. You see, the apples fell far from the tree. Even though she had nothing, let the fighting begin. I kept my distance. One child took the rings off her dead body and the meat out of her freezer. The meat came from the food pantry. Hope they enjoyed it. The bad apples decided I was not to be allowed in her apartment after she died. I wasn’t concerned; I knew they would be calling.

You see, I wasn’t worried about it because she knew what would happen. So, before she died she gave me certain items that meant something to her. Things like her silver plated table service and her lion footed round table. Again, worthless in the eyes of the world, but to me they are priceless. One of my cousins spoke up and insisted that I be allowed in my grandmother’s dwelling place. You see, I was the one who picked her up for church, bought her groceries, took her out to eat and visited her several times a week. I was the one who made sure she had what she needed and made sure she was comfortable.

It wasn’t long before the phone calls began. The most important missing item was an Autoharp. She had given it to me because she felt I was the only one who would truly appreciate it. The pure sugar dripping from the phone line was deplorable. Not twelve hours earlier they were insisting I had no part in anything to do with the funeral. Some serious back tracking was happening.


I listened to their pleas. The Autoharp was a gift from my uncle. He was killed in a tragic accident my senior year. My aunt appealed to my emotional side and petitioned on behalf of her’s and my deceased uncle’s son, the one to whom she wished to give the Autoharp. I’m sure threats were uttered under heated breath in the event I would not come to my senses and acknowledge the proper owner of the Autoharp.

After being reassured that said cousin would indeed treasure the instrument and learn to play it, I caved. I knew she’d understand. She was never a material person. What mattered most was the time we spent together while she was alive. No one could take that away from me.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bits and Pieces

Every once in a while, you need a re-vamp. A new look. A new do. A new you!

It’s that time for Team Shortridge. We have moved from steadily coasting along to lightening speed high gear. We’re talking excessive speeds and sharp curves, only see the tail lights kind of change. Fast sports cars and never mind, we won’t go there. But, you get the idea. Things are changing here…and it’s all for the better.
First, if you’ve previously visited my blog, you’ll notice it has changed. Majorly. If you like what you read, we’ve made it easy for you to share with your friends. On the right, you’ll see every share button you can imagine, and then some. Please, share at will. As time goes by, you will also see some content changing within the blog. I am going to be doing more author interviews and promotions as well as bits and pieces that make up this thing called life.

My goal is that you will get to know me, the author. That you will enjoy visiting me here and that you will be reluctant to leave. When you leave, your heart should be full and a song should be on your lips.
The second change you will see is right below this portion of script. Until Forever has a brand new look. Exciting right? What’s even more exciting is, Until Forever is now available as an E-book on Amazon for only $2.99. It is also available for the new low price of $14.97 as a Paperback. Wait, it gets better. I’m giving you the heads up now because if I bought something, then learned it majorly went on sale right afterward, I’d be ticked. So, as my Mother’s Day gift to you, the e-book version of Until Forever will be absolutely free to you through Amazon on Friday May 11th, Saturday May 12th and Sunday May 13th. . What a deal, right? I do ask that you share this with anyone and everyone because everyone loves FREE!
Third, is my daughter’s new hair color. Well, let’s skip that cause she doesn’t like it anyway.
Fourth, and this isn’t so much a change as it is a reminder, I’m constantly looking to grow as a person as well as a writer. Please leave a comment whenever the mood strikes you. Your ideas and thoughts may be just what I need. One mind is good. Two minds are great. Three or more…let us think together and just imagine what we can accomplish! I look forward to hearing from you!

Until we meet again, use every Bit and every Piece to make your life a great one!

Love ya bunches!

Darlene

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Little White Lies

Lies. Everyone tells them. Okay, maybe almost everyone tells them.

What happened to folks like George Washington and his “I can’t tell a lie, Pa?”
What happened to truth and honesty and virtue? What happened to a person’s word being their bond? Why have we traveled down such a broken, rutted road and treat it as if it is the autobahn? Why have we gone so far off the path of righteousness?

Many lies are deemed unacceptable. As mothers and fathers, we abhor any lies told to us by our children. We want the truth, and only the truth. In days gone by, a child could expect a touch of soap to the tongue if caught in a lie.
When we sit on the witness stand in a court of law, we must vow to tell the truth and only the truth. Not speaking the truth on the stand will result in perjury and can be punishable for up to five years in prison. For a country of people who consistently lie about a plethora of topics, this is fairly extreme, right? Of course, this is only when the authority of the courts is usurped and a miscarriage of justice results.
All kinds of people lie. We expect criminals, politicians, lawyers and car dealers to lie. We don’t expect mothers and fathers, teachers, doctors, and clergyman to lie.

Recently someone I thought I respected caused my jaw to drop to the floor. This person was boasting about their eating habits and how they haven’t eaten pork since their college days. Imagine my surprise at this bold faced lie because the week before this statement was made, this same person was eating bacon straight from my frying pan. What? Really? So, what else have you been lying about?

Believe it or not there are some things we are expected to lie about.

When I tell people we do not participate in the socially expected norms of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, I am looked upon as something of an anomaly. I am taking things too far if I won’t tell my children there is a Santa Claus!
When did a white lie become as acceptable as the truth?

I like this quote by Austin O’Malley, “ Those who think it’s permissible to tell white lies soon grow color blind.”

Why do people lie?

Well, some people lie to fit in. Sometimes women lie to hide their age or their weight. We want to be sociably acceptable so we lie about our incomes, our jobs, our experience, our talents and our associates. We all know it’s who you know in this world that counts.

What happens when we’re found out?

I have known people who have become physically sick to their stomachs when they know a lie they have told is about to come to light. Some people are so used to lying and believing their own lies, they no longer know the difference between a lie and the truth.
When it comes down to it, lies are all about self. We want to be something we’re not. We want more people to like us. We want to fit in. We want to be revered and envied.

The part that breaks my heart the most is when Christians lie. We are supposed to die to self and live for Christ. How is it that, like in the case of the bacon story above, we as Christians can advocate lying?

Here is what the Word of God says in I Peter Chapter 2 verses 1-3 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

If you call yourself a Christian, choose today to stand for truth. Let’s follow the standard set for us in the word of God instead of slowly allowing the world’s obscured measuring stick of right and wrong to lead us. Will you stand for truth?
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