My editor recently requested a backstory on a character in a part of my soon to be released book. It was a good suggestion on her part and the additional info I added would be sure help a reader understand the character better. 

I started thinking about how differently we would view people if we knew their backstory. How might we react if we understood a little bit about what another person had faced? Had survived? Had lost?

So many times we judge a person by their actions. They act arrogantly therefore they must be arrogant through and through without an ounce of humility in them. They appear aloof so they obviously must not care. They seem so negative, always expecting the worst and need an attitude adjustment. 

Oh, we are so quick to draw our conclusions and the truth is, no matter how convinced we are that we have a person all figured out, we don’t really because we don’t have the backstory. 

That parent that seems impatient with their teen may have just bailed her out of jail the night before, but you wouldn’t know that. That surly looking older gentleman may have recently lost his wife of many years, but you wouldn’t be aware. That rude young man may be considering suicide. That demanding customer may be on the verge of bankruptcy. That crying child may have autism or sensory issues and his mom who appears to be ignoring the behavior may be doing so as a part of his therapy and encouraging coping skills. 

I could go on and on, you get the drift. You know what I mean. And this brings me to the real lesson here for us all. Don’t judge people. You don’t know their hearts. You don’t know their backstory. 

This is why God is the only just judge. He knows what they did, all the sordid details. He knows how they acted, what they said, what they chose, where they went. He knows exactly. He is after all omniscient. He not only knows about present behavior, He knows the backstory completely, every tiny detail. He knows their heart. He has the right to judge because He understands. 

Recently someone I love made some terrible choices. I was shocked and ashamed after all, it was shocking and shameful. I was scared for them because I knew there would be consequences. I was sad because the choices led them to a place they never intended to go. I was tempted, oh so tempted to judge them. After all, the evidence was clear, there was no doubt of what they had done. 

Then I was reminded, thankfully, that I didn’t know the backstory. I didn’t know all the details although I knew this person well. I didn’t know their heart, their intentions, their pain, their hurt that led them to the choices they made. 

Now, let’s be clear, I’m not talking about excuses. Excuses are dangerous. Excuses say I can’t be held accountable. Excuses say the bad behavior has a right to continue. Excuses allow a free ride past consequences, or so it may seem. 

No, I’m not talking about making excuses. I’m not talking about them or their actions, choices and behavior at all. I’m talking about us, you and me, and how we respond to those who have stumbled. Maybe they have fallen flat on their face. Maybe they’ve wallowed in the pig pen and stink to high heaven. Maybe they’re so ashamed that they’re incapable of saying so. I don’t know. I don’t know the entire backstory. 

Here’s what I do know. We are not to judge each other and there’s a good reason why. So, although I was sorely tempted to judge this person, here is what I said. “I don’t know why you’ve done this but I know this isn’t who you really are and I’ll be praying for you.” And I meant it. 


How Then Shall We Live?

“Whatever your story is, stay true to your own voice and be assured, someone is listening and it matters.”

This is EXACTLY what I needed to read during my devotion time this morning. Hey, whatever you’ve been dreaming of for a long time and never got around to, today’s the perfect day to get started or start again.

Stephanie Rodda

I have been reading out loud to my youngest five children. They are also my students as we homeschool. Three of them are teens and two are tweens. All five have listened with rapt attention as we have taken our time sauntering through the pages of C.S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew. We have savored the imagery and discussed his style of writing and pondered the spiritual applications.

The kids know that I’m working in every spare moment on my own fictional story. It has been slow going and in fact, years in the making. But, now, I’m at it in earnest and determined to finish with a proof copy in hand and a goal in sight of a holiday publication.

With a life as full as mine I sometimes question my choice to dedicate precious time and energy to a project that has no guarantee of success. There are moments…

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Please take time to read my best friend’s blog this morning about the worship services she is experiencing while in the Mercy Ship. It will bless your heart and leave you inspired and smiling.

Brenda Braxton

There are several options for church for crew members of the Africa Mercy. There is a cooperate worship service held on Sunday nights for crew members. It’s a simple, quiet service, recognizing that people of many different nationalities and denominations are attending. There is also a Thursday night meeting that includes worship and prayer.

There are many community groups and Bible studies available throughout the week. Every shift on each ward starts and ends with a short devotion and prayer.

For Sunday mornings, there are several options. A local group of chaplains holds a service on the wards for the patients. Crew is welcome to attend too. It is very lively worship, but also very crowded.

Now that the HOPE center is open, there are Sunday morning services for the patients living there, and crew is welcome to attend as well. I have not yet made it to one of…

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Worth Remembering 

Thirty-three years ago this month my first baby was due to be born. Thirty-two years ago this past May my second baby was due to be born. I know their names and I know their ages but, I do not know them. Yet. I do not know them yet. Our getting to know each other was delayed but not destroyed. There’s a difference. A really big difference.
This morning as I considered them and how things might have been, my heart was squeezed tight. We were so young. Times were so different. The best of intentioned people said to me what had likely been said to them at similar times. It didn’t help. Please weigh your words carefully when you are speaking to a grieving person.

We had the hope of others, more children without any notion that we would never achieve pregnancy again. Infertility? What was that? Whatever it was surely wasn’t anything we needed to know about. We were young and healthy and deeply in love. Of course, we were assured, there would be more pregnancies and other children. We were naive when it came to such things.
The biting remarks started early on. How can I remember some of them when thirty years has passed? I suppose that is proof of their impact.

Only years later did I realize the full impact of the losses we had experienced and allow myself to grieve. It was then that our babies had proper names and a proper place in our heart. It was then that God began to heal my broken heart. It was then that we answered the call to foster children. They needed parents albeit sometimes very temporarily. We needed children to nurture and love until we would one day be reunited with our Jacob Jeremy and Tessie Alicia. We had experienced great loss. These children were experiencing great loss. We could love them with an understanding.

Forty-five children entered our homes and lives. Seven of these became our forever children through the miracle of adoption. Others have found permanent places in our hearts although we did not adopt them legally. I call them my spiritual children. I am a #momofmany. I am blessed beyond measure.
Yet, today I remember my first two children. Today I wanted to tell you about them so you would remember with me. Today, my heart squeezes a bit as I consider the great loss of not only two children, but, two lifetimes of memories and experiences and opportunities. They are worth remembering. They are worth celebrating. Every child is a blessing, even when we have to wait a while to hold them.

If you have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, allow yourself to grieve. Just remember, don’t allow grief to have you. A few short days from now is a Remembrance Day. Light a candle, say a prayer, write out your feelings, seek support, remember those worth remembering. Then, wipe your tears and live your life with great hope. Our loss is temporary. Our reunion will be sweet. Then, we will be complete.

When is Thanksgiving Day?

Did you know that today is Thanksgiving? No, not here in America. But our northern neighbors are celebrating their national day of thankfulness today.  We will celebrate ours in six weeks with just as much abandon as they do today. 

When I mentioned to my children (whom I homeschool) that Canada was celebrating Thanksgiving today they were astounded. ‘We thought that was just for Americans.’ Never say something like that to a homeschooling momma. There will be consequences. 

That response led to a day of studying how other cultures (yes there are more than Canada and the U.S.A.) celebrate Thanksgiving. It’s really quite interesting. Did you know that during World War II the Americans and Filipinos celebrated Thanksgiving in secret while the Japanese occupied the Philippines?

The common theme for all Thanksgiving days is of course thankfulness. All forms of the celebration began as a way to express thankfulness for the bounty of the harvest. There are some feasts that even pre-date Christianity such as the Saxons who celebrated by giving the first sheath of corn to their fertility gods. When Christianity arrived in Britain, the thankfulness continued. 

As for me and my Christian household, we celebrate with a heart of thankfulness for far more than a good harvest. Our family has a lot to be thankful for and I bet yours does as well. At the top of our list would be that we are a family. You see our family was not formed like most. Our family was formed by determination, extraordinary circumstances, answered prayer, hurting hearts in the process of being healed and then finally forged together in the fiery trials of  battles fought and won. And who are we thankful to for this miracle of family? We are thankful to God, Jehovah, Yahweh, our Heavenly Father, the creator of this universe, the one who sent Jesus to redeem us.

The truth is, every day and every season is a good day to be thankful. Thankfulness is good for the heart and soul of every human being no matter where they live or what they believe. 

Today and every day I will be thankful. Let me tell you a few reasons, just a few, for there are many. 

1. I am thankful that after a dozen years of infertility God answered my prayer and began to fill my heart and empty arms with an amazing number of lives. We fostered for fifteen years, adopted seven of those and continue to have living relationships with many others. Because of this astounding opportunity for love I am thankful. 

2. I am thankful for this season of life where I am being given opportunities to write. It wouldn’t be happening without the support of my family and friends who encourage me and help me in countless ways. I am so happy to see my fiction books in print and especially happy to have the opportunity to write articles about adoption with the hope of informing and inspiring others about this beautiful way to form a family. 

3. I am thankful for my faith. Believing that God is who He is and that I am not on my own in this life, is a great source of strength. Believing that this life is not all there is and the end of this life is only the beginning of eternity, is a great source of comfort. Believing that I am a small part of something much bigger than me, is a great source of inspiration. 

Beautiful Brokenness 

Are you in a place of brokenness?
Are you in the process of mending?
Are you in a place that causes you to reach out for help, to trust, to turn to Jesus?
If so, you are in the right place to become whole again, to be made even more beautiful because of your brokenness.
“kintsukuroi” the art of repairing brokenness so that the vessel is more beautiful than before it was broken.

Stephanie Rodda

People are strange creatures sometimes. Don’t you think? Well, I know I certainly can be. I tend to be much more open about past struggles. You know, the ones I’ve faced and already came out on the other side of.
But, when I’m struggling in the moment, as in this very moment, I tend to be very quiet about it. When it would seem I should be yelling for help or in alarm, I take a step back and wait and watch. Perhaps I need to see how it all turns out first? Maybe I’m just not sure what to say?
So it has been the last few weeks. It all started with five of my children being diagnosed with mycoplasma (walking pneumonia) and then shortly thereafter one of my teen daughters having an appendectomy. Now, none of this was fun but, it was doable. You go to the doctor…

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