What Makes a Human?

Certainly not what we see, for skin, hair, and eyes have a variety of hues,

height has a vast range, and noses can be snubbed or ski sloped.

Our humanity is neither determined by what we hear,

for some speak with a twang, some with a lisp,

some gentle and soft, some loud and abrasive,

some sing about love, and some shout words of hate,

but all are humans.

So then what makes a human?

Not gender or any interpretation of it.

Not age, because some are unborn and some a very old.

Humanity is more than two eyes, one nose, one mouth, and two legs.

Humanity is something you cannot see or hear.

What makes a person?

A Soul.

You see, God sent His one and only son for SOULS, and everyone has one of those.

So the next time someone tries to tell you that a

soul is anything less because of this or that,

You stand up straight and tall and remind them that

God loved us all so much that He sent Jesus to die

for something we cannot see –

the soul on the inside, even theirs.

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Whispers & Dreams Discussion Guide

Whispers & Dreams Discussion Guide

***Spoiler Alert – Do NOT read this if you haven’t read the novel!!!***

These ten questions can be answered and discussed after you read the novel. These are great for book club discussion or just conversation starters for friends who’ve read the novel. You can also read the questions and comment on my blog or respond to me through social media. I’ve answered the first five questions.

 

  • One of the characters is a metaphor for a Biblical person. Do you know which character that is and who the Biblical person is? What is some evidence of this?

Author answer: Dreamer is a metaphor for Joseph in the Old Testament. Joseph had a coat of many colors that was given to him by his father Jacob because he was the favored child. Dreamer has a baseball cap signed by Adam Wainwright that was given to him by his father Jacob because he was the favored child. When Joseph was kidnapped, his brothers said, “Look, here comes this dreamer.” (Genesis 37:19) In the book, Dreamer is also kidnapped, and recognized by his ball cap. Joseph leads his father, Jacob, and the rest of his family to safety in Egypt. Dreamer leads his father, Jacob, to the Lord. I wanted to add this metaphor in the book to show how special it is for a young person to change the destiny of their whole family. I’ve known many young people like Dreamer, young people who have families that don’t know God, and those young people have made the decision to follow the Lord and led the rest of their family to Him, thereby changing the course of their whole family.

  • Who is the hero of the novel? The hero I had in mind when I wrote the novel, might not be who readers might guess. This person is not a major character. This whole story was made possible because of this character.

Author answer: I wrote this story with the idea that Sierra is the hero. Sierra became so sick after she gave birth to Whisper that she became bedridden. When she was on her sickbed, Sierra started listening to radio preachers and started praying. She prayed that Jacob, Dreamer, and Whisper would come to know God one day. She also prayed that her house would be home to a loving family. Because Sierra prayed, God called Kirk and then Melissa to Diniyoli. If Sierra hadn’t prayed, this story wouldn’t have happened. At the end of the book, Melissa is looking at the clouds. The novel reads, “High above the others is a cloud that has a series of peaks, like a range of sierras watching over all the others.” This refers to Sierra being the hero of the novel, looking down from Heaven, seeing her prayers finally answered.

  • The last paragraph of the novel uses the images of clouds to remind the reader of things that happened earlier in the story. The cloud images also tell the reader something that happened that was not described in the story. What was that?

Author answer: The last line of the novel, “The biggest cloud in the middle of the sky is tall and thin with wispy pieces sticking up and out of the top, like a bride wearing a halo of flowers around her head as she walks through a field of flowers to meet the man of her dreams under the big Oklahoma sky.” describes Melissa and Kirk’s outdoor wedding.

  • Did you identify with any character in the book? Why did you identify with that character? Who is your favorite character in the book? Why do you like him or her?

Author answer: I identify most with Melissa. I’m an introvert who acts like an extrovert when necessary, and I recharge by being alone. Like Melissa, I keep a journal with random thoughts, prayers and poetry, and I would die if anyone ever read it. I don’t draw like Melissa does, but I wish I could. I like to have a plan and follow my plan to the letter, but God has been teaching me that I need to grow in my trust of Him and not always have to have a plan of my own.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’m also a little like Chelsea. I’m a girly-girl. I love make-up and fixing my hair and getting dressed up. I also have some air-headed tendencies sometimes, like Chelsea. I think Chelsea has some good qualities too, though, like being quick to love and quick to forgive.

Devin is one of my favorite characters. I am nothing like Devin at all. She is tough, strong, and unafraid. She kicks rear and takes names! I love how she is so fearless and wants to make a difference. I wish I were more like Devin.

Dreamer is my other favorite character. I am a mother of three boys, and I want my boys to be like Dreamer. He stands up for Whisper and takes a big brotherly interest in her before he even knows she’s his little sister. He protects kids who are weaker than he is. He is a leader, and he changes the course and destiny of his family. Wow. What a kid.

Kirk is modeled after my husband. He is a hard worker, the life of the party, always has a story to tell, has a passion to lead people to Christ, and is extremely messy. (My husband also always has stains on his clothes.) Kirk is not perfect, but I love him. Just for fun, I gave him a name that starts with K, like my husband Kevin, and I gave Melissa a name that starts with M, like my name.

  • What is The Whisper?

Author answer: The Whisper is the Holy Spirit guiding Melissa. The Bible says that (John 10:27) the Lord’s sheep with know His voice. Melissa is definitely one of His sheep, able to hear and distinguish His voice. Because she listens and obeys, her life is blessed, as are the lives of the people around her. Prayer is a conversation, not one-way talking, and Melissa realizes that over the course of the novel. I think we can all get to that place where the Lord whispers to us and we hear and recognize His voice. The more we obey, the louder and more distinguishable His voice becomes.

  • What did you think of the poetry included in the novel? Why do you think that is included in the book?
  • Do you think this book should have a sequel? What would a sequel be about?
  • What does this book have to say about the spiritual need in rural America?
  • What do you think of the racial issues in this book?
  • What does this book have to say about the impact of an active church upon a town?

 

I hope you enjoyed Whispers & Dreams.– My next book is a novella titled, The Mother’s Day Letter. It will be available in the next couple of days, and I’m so excited to share it with you. It’s the story of Natalie, a wedding planner who gets a letter in the mail on Mother’s Day from her deceased great-aunt. I love Natalie’s story, and I hope you love it too!W&D Discussion Guide

Thanks for reading, and God bless you,  

Martha

 

 

When I have to wake up a little bit earlier than normal

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When I have to wake up a little bit earlier than normal

I wake up every thirty minutes or so

Look at the clock

And do the math – figuring how much longer I have to sleep

But it takes me longer than most people

Because I’m terrible at math.

And then I think,

“Might as well get up and do some Algebra while I’m at it.”

Then I lay still

And quiet

And try to breathe deeply

Because I read somewhere that’s how you make yourself sleep.

Then my husband makes a noise

Kind of a mix between a cough, a snore, and a hiccup

And it makes me laugh

I look at the clock and do the math.

And I have to get still and quiet again.

Feel the breeze on my arm from the ceiling fan

Turn my pillow over

Lay still

And quiet

And try to breathe deeply

Shoot, I have to go to the bathroom.

 

Luke 19:10 (God’s Obsession)

Thought-provoking read. Thank you!

THE RIVER WALK

Gods Obsession

For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost. (Luke 19:10)

Read: Joshua 16:1 – 18:28, Luke 19:1-27, Psalm 87:1-7, Proverbs 13:11

Relate: I remember a time when I was walking through the mall in Syracuse, NY, and I happened to hear a mother sternly lecturing two of her children. I’m not sure which oof the kids spoke or what exactly they said, but the mom’s finger came out and she wielded it in their direction with an angry force. She said, “I don’t care what you want. You sit there and don’t move until I find your brother.” Those two kids sitting sullenly on that bench were preteen or perhaps early teens and my guess was that their brother was the oldest in the family.

But what if he wasn’t? What if their brother wandering around that mall was only five? What if he didn’t get caught up…

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Whispers & Dreams Discussion Guide

W&D Discussion Guide

Whispers & Dreams Discussion Guide

***Spoiler Alert – Do NOT read this if you haven’t read the novel!!!***

These ten questions can be answered and discussed after you read the novel. These are great for book club discussion or just conversation starters for friends who’ve read the novel. You can also read the questions and comment on my blog or respond to me through social media. I’ve answered the first five questions.

  1. One of the characters is a metaphor for a Biblical person. Do you know which character that is and who the Biblical person is? What is some evidence of this?

Author answer: Dreamer is a metaphor for Joseph in the Old Testament. Joseph had a coat of many colors that was given to him by his father Jacob because he was the favored child. Dreamer has a baseball cap signed by Adam Wainwright that was given to him by his father Jacob because he was the favored child. When Joseph was kidnapped, his brothers said, “Look, here comes this dreamer.” (Genesis 37:19) In the book, Dreamer is also kidnapped, and recognized by his ball cap. Joseph leads his father, Jacob, and the rest of his family to safety in Egypt. Dreamer leads his father, Jacob, to the Lord. I wanted to add this metaphor in the book to show how special it is for a young person to change the destiny of their whole family. I’ve known many young people like Dreamer, young people who have families that don’t know God, and those young people have made the decision to follow the Lord and led the rest of their family to Him, thereby changing the course of their whole family.

2. Who is the hero of the novel? The hero I had in mind when I wrote the novel, might not be who readers might guess. This person is not a major character. This whole story was made possible because of this character.

Author answer: I wrote this story with the idea that Sierra is the hero. Sierra became so sick after she gave birth to Whisper that she became bedridden. When she was on her sickbed, Sierra started listening to radio preachers and started praying. She prayed that Jacob, Dreamer, and Whisper would come to know God one day. She also prayed that her house would be home to a loving family. Because Sierra prayed, God called Kirk and then Melissa to Diniyoli. If Sierra hadn’t prayed, this story wouldn’t have happened. At the end of the book, Melissa is looking at the clouds. The novel reads, “High above the others is a cloud that has a series of peaks, like a range of sierras watching over all the others.” This refers to Sierra being the hero of the novel, looking down from Heaven, seeing her prayers finally answered.

3. The last paragraph of the novel uses the images of clouds to remind the reader of things that happened earlier in the story. The cloud images also tell the reader something that happened that was not described in the story. What was that?

Author answer: The last line of the novel, “The biggest cloud in the middle of the sky is tall and thin with wispy pieces sticking up and out of the top, like a bride wearing a halo of flowers around her head as she walks through a field of flowers to meet the man of her dreams under the big Oklahoma sky.” describes Melissa and Kirk’s outdoor wedding.

4. Did you identify with any character in the book? Why did you identify with that character? Who is your favorite character in the book? Why do you like him or her?

Author answer: I identify most with Melissa. I’m an introvert who acts like an extrovert when necessary, and I recharge by being alone. Like Melissa, I keep a journal with random thoughts, prayers and poetry, and I would die if anyone ever read it. I don’t draw like Melissa does, but I wish I could. I like to have a plan and follow my plan to the letter, but God has been teaching me that I need to grow in my trust of Him and not always have to have a plan of my own.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’m also a little like Chelsea. I’m a girly-girl. I love make-up and fixing my hair and getting dressed up. I also have some air-headed tendencies sometimes, like Chelsea. I think Chelsea has some good qualities too, though, like being quick to love and quick to forgive.

Devin is one of my favorite characters. I am nothing like Devin at all. She is tough, strong, and unafraid. She kicks rear and takes names! I love how she is so fearless and wants to make a difference. I wish I were more like Devin.

Dreamer is my other favorite character. I am a mother of three boys, and I want my boys to be like Dreamer. He stands up for Whisper and takes a big brotherly interest in her before he even knows she’s his little sister. He protects kids who are weaker than he is. He is a leader, and he changes the course and destiny of his family. Wow. What a kid.

Kirk is modeled after my husband. He is a hard worker, the life of the party, always has a story to tell, has a passion to lead people to Christ, and is extremely messy. (My husband also always has stains on his clothes.) Kirk is not perfect, but I love him. Just for fun, I gave him a name that starts with K, like my husband Kevin, and I gave Melissa a name that starts with M, like my name.

5. What is The Whisper?

Author answer: The Whisper is the Holy Spirit guiding Melissa. The Bible says that (John 10:27) the Lord’s sheep with know His voice. Melissa is definitely one of His sheep, able to hear and distinguish His voice. Because she listens and obeys, her life is blessed, as are the lives of the people around her. Prayer is a conversation, not one-way talking, and Melissa realizes that over the course of the novel. I think we can all get to that place where the Lord whispers to us and we hear and recognize His voice. The more we obey, the louder and more distinguishable His voice becomes.

6. What did you think of the poetry included in the novel? Why do you think that is included in the book?

7. Do you think this book should have a sequel? What would a sequel be about?

8. What does this book have to say about the spiritual need in rural America?

9. What do you think of the racial issues in this book?

10. What does this book have to say about the impact of an active church upon a town?

 

I hope you enjoyed Whispers & Dreams! – Martha

 

 

Truth in My Fiction

It was something we did every summer when I was a teenager – the annual “missions trip” to Longdale, OK. My parents and their church still go to Lonsdale every year and put on a camp for any kids who want to come. They also do a lot of mowing, painting, and all other types of manual labor for the wonderful people who live there and the precious ministers who have lovingly ministered there for so many years. Last summer my youngest son and I tagged along for a day, playing with the kiddos all day on hot, beautiful Oklahoma July day.

I will never forget my summers at Longdale. Even now, decades later, I find myself thinking about the kids of Longdale. One night I was daydreaming and praying about what I wish could happen for the mission and the community there, an idea for a book was born in my mind. I opened a document on my computer, titled it “New Book – Longdale,” and started writing. Over the months of writing the book became “The Whisper,” and then it finally became “Whispers & Dreams,” the title that stuck. In the book, I changed the name of the town to “Diniyoli”, which means  “children” in Cherokee.

I still dream and pray for the precious people of Longdale, especially the sweet kids.

Whispers & Dreams copy

How To Have a Drama-Free Life Step 2

Drama-Free Life Cover

Step 2 – Get Away!

I have a confession to make.

I have a messy closet. Shoes are scattered all over the floor. Too many shirts on hangers are jammed onto the rod. Scarves are everywhere. My twenty-year-old high school yearbooks, a few of my now teenage sons’ baby blankets, old trophies, and other treasures I can’t part with are thrown onto a shelf.

I certainly didn’t inherit my closet organizing ability from my mother.

You should see my mom’s closet.

My mom saves all of her shoeboxes and keeps her shoes in them. She neatly stacks the boxes and arranges them according to type and color. She has color-coordinated bins that are meticulously labeled for items such as belts and scarves. She regularly purges her closet, and only clothes that are in season hang on the rack.

Oh well. I guess I’m gifted in other ways.

Have you ever heard of the term “prayer closet”? There have been times in my life when my kids were younger that I had to tell my husband to watch the kids and I would go to my messy closet and shut the door so I could have time to focus and pray. In a closet when you’re alone with God, you can be honest with Him about everything going on in your life.

Mary was honest with the angel when she told him that she didn’t understand how God’s plan was going to work. She didn’t hide her fear or her questions. Luke chapter two shows us how Mary responded to the angel. In verse twenty-nine, it says that “she was troubled,” and in verse thirty-four, she asked, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (NKJV)

In our culture we’re told to be tough and strong and to never let them see you sweat. If we’re not careful we can relate with God that way as well. Take time to pray daily. When you pray, don’t recite something you’ve memorized or rattle off a paragraph that means nothing to you. If you really want to get a handle on the drama in your life, if you really want to be able to respond to the trials that surround you with the peace and patience of a mature Christian, you must communicate with God sincerely when you pray.

 

We need to take time to get away – get in a closet if we have to and be real and transparent with God. That’s the only way to avoid an over-emotional, stressed out, overwhelmed response . . . in other words, drama.

 

Self – Reflection Questions

Do I pray daily?

Do I pray real, honest and transparent prayers?

Do I have a set place and time that I get away and pray in every day?

How to Have a Drama-Free Life Lesson 1

Does it feel like your life is a chaotic roller coaster of emotions? Extreme highs and extreme lows? Maybe you’ve got too much drama in your life. I’ll be honest, there was a time in my life that I had too much drama, but God taught me how to live a drama-free life. Doesn’t that sound awesome? A drama-free life? Sign me up!

This book is part workbook, part girl-talk, part devotional. Feel free to read it with a pen and write your responses in the margins and next to the questions and doodle your thoughts all over. It’s my desire that this book will help you to break free from the exhausting drama-filled life, and that you will find the peaceful, abundant life that God has prepared for you.

Drama-Free Life Cover

What do I mean by “Drama”?

 

The word “drama” has many meanings. It can be a play performed in a theater or it can refer to the art of acting. It can also refer to stories or movies that are serious in nature. Lately, I’ve noticed that “drama” has become slang for the craziness that invades our lives. The phrase “Save the drama for your mama” and calling an overly emotional person a “drama queen” have both become popular.

For the purposes of this study, I’m going to define drama this way:

 

Drama – A chaotic, frenzied response to the trials of life. 

 

Years ago I was a high school drama teacher. I had a student who was a serious behavior problem. She was very disrespectful and difficult to handle in class.

At a parent-teacher conference, her mother said, “We don’t know why she doesn’t do better in your class. She is a very dramatic person.”

I wanted to tell that mother that being a dramatic person and doing well in drama class are two totally different things.

Let’s think about the opposite of drama. Words like peacefulness and patience and self-control come to mind. It’s interesting that those attributes are listed among the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, and yelling, tearfulness, rage, moodiness, uncontrolled emotions, being stressed out, or exaggerated reactions are not included.

 

How can I have the fruit of the spirit?

 

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (NKJV) are called the fruit of the spirit. That means they are the outcome of a life lived in the spirit. These attributes are not something you can force yourself to do in your own strength for very long. You must have the Holy Spirit living in you and you must abide in the Lord, as described in John 15:1-17.

 

The Foundation for a Drama-Free Life

 

When you know that Jesus is your savior, that everything on this earth is temporary, and that you will live eternally with the Lord, that makes the trials of this life far less concerning, and you can start to live a life free from drama. Have you received Jesus as your savior? That’s the foundation for this life of peace.

 

How can I receive Jesus as my savior?

Just remember your A, B, C’s . . .

 

  • Ask – Ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins. According to Romans 3:10 and Romans 3:23, we have all sinned. Sin is anything that we have done that separates us from God, and the blood of Jesus that He shed on the cross is the only thing that can wash away our sins.
  • Believe – According to Romans 10:9, Acts 4:12 and Acts 16:31 we must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved. We must believe that He is the only son of God, the sinless sacrifice for our sins, and that He arose from the dead and is alive in Heaven and will return for His church one day.
  • Confess – Use your voice to pray and declare that Jesus is the new Lord of your life, ask Him to cleanse your sins, and tell Him that you will try to turn your back on your sin. Romans 10:9 and I John 1:9 tell us that confession is a vital part of salvation.

 

If you Asked, Believed, and Confessed just now, I am so happy for you. Congratulations! It’s your Spiritual Birthday! Write it down on your calendar, and circle this day in red. It’s the day you became a follower of Jesus. Luke 15:10 tells us that the angels in heaven are rejoicing right now because you have repented and come to Christ.

 

Now that you’ve laid the foundation, let’s look at ten steps you can take to build a drama-free life on that foundation. We are going to find these ten steps in the life of a true Bible hero.

 

Our Example – Mary the Mother of Jesus

 

I think we’ve all had seasons of life that have had too much drama. Maybe you’re in one of those seasons right now. Maybe you’re not, but you’d like to learn how to respond without drama when you’re faced with trials of life the next time they come.

The best source for wisdom and help is God’s Word. It’s helpful to look at Bible heroes and learn from their lives. In this study, we’re going to look at the life of Mary the Mother of Jesus, and learn ten steps we need to take as we face the trials of life without being overcome by drama.

 

Step 1 – Recognize that God Knows

 

Let’s think about Mary for a moment. She was a young, unmarried teenage girl. The angel told her that she would have a baby, and Mary was honest. She said that she was afraid. If you or I were in her situation we would be afraid too. She couldn’t tell her fiancé, Joseph, that the baby was his, because she was a virgin. How would Joseph react? He had the power to stop the wedding, and to tell everyone she had cheated and ruin her reputation, possibly destroying any chance Mary would have to ever get married.

The Lord helped Mary in her situation. He sent an angel to talk to Joseph. Joseph decided to believe the angel and obey God. So many times we focus on the fact that God chose Mary. That is important, that her character was highly favored and she was chosen, however, I think it’s also important to point out that God chose Joseph, too. I believe that God orchestrated the engagement of Mary and Joseph, because He knew Joseph would be the sort of man who would listen to the angel and obey.

Mary’s trials were prophesied about thousands of years before they actually happened. At the very beginning, in the Garden of Eden God prophesied that the offspring of woman would crush the head of the serpent. (Genesis 3:15 NIV) thousands of years before Mary was born, the prophet Isaiah prophesied that a virgin would conceive and bear a Son. (Isaiah 7:14)

Mary’s dilemma didn’t catch God off guard. He didn’t cause her to conceive and then think, “Oh no, how am I going to get her out of this?” Not at all. God is infinite in His wisdom. We can’t comprehend the height and depth of His knowledge and wisdom. He knew exactly what Mary would face.

Just like Mary, God knows all about our trials in advance, before we ever experience them. Why is that important for you to know? It’s important, because God is not distant. He is not a stained-glass window or a porcelain figurine. He is real, and He is an active part of your life. It’s important to know that He knows, because He loves us. God loves you. According to John 3:16, God sent His son, Jesus, to die for the world because He LOVES us. Be aware, a tactic of the enemy is to get people to think that God doesn’t love them.

Just because you have difficult circumstances doesn’t mean God doesn’t love you.

This life can be hard. I know that some right now are facing sickness, divorce, the death of a loved one, financial hardships, and it’s tempting to think that God doesn’t love you when you are in the middle of those hard times.

You are important to God. According to Luke 12:7, He knows the number of hairs on your head. Our society has put such a low value on human life, that we forget the high value God places on human life. He loved humanity so much that He sacrificed His own son. God loves you, and you are important to Him.

Remember that God has planned a path for you through the trials. Galatians 4:4 says that in the “fullness of time” God sent His son to be born. God’s timing is perfect. It may seem insane for me to say that to you. You may have just had a horrible incident in your life, but God’s timing is perfect. He WILL use that horrible thing that just happened to you and make something good out of it in your life. (Genesis 50:20) The enemy may have attacked you, but don’t despair, God will use that situation to make you better and so that you may be a blessing to others.

 

How should we respond?

 

First, we should trust God and acknowledge His authority in our life. Proverbs 3:5,6 (KJV) – Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Second, we should take the path He has planned for us.

I Corinthians 10:13(b) – God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape that you may be able to bear it. (NKJV)

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV)

The preceding verses tell us that God has made a Path, a Way, and a Plan for us. His Path, Way, and Plan are the best. They might lead us through trouble at times, but they are still the best, because He sees where they are leading. Only God can see into the future. So get on the Path, Way, and Plan the He has prepared for you!