Sunday, August 16, 2015

When the Monsters Come...

Have you seen the movie The Village, starring Bryce Dallas Howard?

It's an intense, somewhat creepy film about the power of suggestion, human nature, and the search for innocence. In the movie, a group of people start a colony to avoid crime. And yet, crime comes just the same. These families live in a secluded clearing surrounded by woods, in which they believe are inhabited by fearsome monsters who are attracted to the color red and repelled by yellow. The villagers and the monsters have an unofficial truce - the people don't go into the woods, the monsters don't come into the village.

Meanwhile, the character played by Bryce is named Ivy, a big-hearted young woman who is blind, and is madly in love with Lucias, a simple man of few words but one who is fiercely loyal to Ivy. He's loved her for years, but would never let her know. Yet she draws it out of him as only she can do.

There's a scene where the monster has violated the truce and is attacking the village. The people are frantic, scrambling into basements, dead-bolting doors, screaming. Ivy is waiting in her sister's cottage for Lucias, her entire family in the basement behind her. Her sister raises the trap door from the floor and demands Ivy get inside. But Ivy stubbornly stands in the open doorway of the house, determined to wait for Lucias. "He'll come for me," she proclaims in a shaky voice. "He always comes."

She's blind, and can't see that the monster is drawing nearer and nearer to the open front door where she stands. Yet we know she senses the danger, because she's sweating and trembling and teary-eyed with fear. Yet she stands, regardless - arm outstretched, fingers waiting. Trusting. Believing he will come for her.

The monster draws closer, Ivy trembles harder, and then, in a split second - Lucias. He appears in slow motion, grabs Ivy's outstretched hand, whirls her around into the safety of the house, and slams the door literally just in time.

It might be the most romantic thing I've ever seen.

It's what every female heart longs for - security. True love. Loyalty. Protection. It's every deep well inside a woman's heart bursting to life in one ten-second film clip. It's almost unbearable to watch. And yet you want to cheer, even while you're fighting back tears, because it's just so beautiful and perfect.

Not that long ago, I opened the door to a bad situation that had me in over my head. I wanted out. I wanted safety. I wanted to slam the door, but was too afraid of the repercussions. I was frozen in fear. Fear of "what if". Fear of "it's too late". Fear of "this is inevitable."

I was so burdened, I almost couldn't breathe. I went into the restroom at work, locked the door, and with my forehead pressed against the wall, I asked Jesus one desperate, honest, gut-wrenchingly heartfelt question.

"What do you want me to do?"

The answer, so swift and personal and intense that I got chills from head to toe, came immediately.

"Hold out your hand."

The scene from that movie I had viewed months before played through my mind, except it wasn't Lucias or a romantic interest twirling me to safety. It was Jesus. The danger was about to plow me over, and He was right there, watching. Ready. Waiting for my cue.

Jesus doesn't force Himself. He longs to rescue us, but He doesn't impose. I had to make the decision to hold out my hand for rescue, or be devoured.

Standing in that bathroom stall, sobbing, I literally shot  my hand out. Arm fully outstretched, fingers reaching..

And that was the end of it. That was all it took. It was over from there forward.

Oh, I had to walk through the tangible steps of removing myself from the situation, yes. But that was the easy part. The hard, nearly impossible part, was that crucial moment of decision. That mental, emotional and spiritual shift that had to take place first. That moment where I realized I couldn't save myself, that I lacked the know-how and desire to carry it out. That only Jesus' strength could be made perfect in my weakness.

Holding out my hand that afternoon changed everything.

What will it change for you?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Door Keeper

There's a girl.

A girl in a storm.

Wind whipping her hair into tangles against her face. Swirling dark clouds gathering fierce. Rain and tears racing in rivulets down her cheeks.

But this isn't a typical storm. This storm is indoors.

And she's running. Down an endless hallway, futile attempt to outrun the tempest overhead. Feet slipping on the wooden floor, rain puddling at her feet. Soaked through, shivering. She can't escape.

The hallway is lined with doors. Tall doors, short doors. Ornate doors framed in gold. Doors painted blue and doors painted red. Doors lined with ivy and doors with frosted glass.

She tries one, desperate for escape. It's locked.

She tries another, eager hands wrestling slippery knobs. It's locked too.

All the doors are locked.

The realization sinks in reluctantly, a scratchy wool blanket on wet skin. The storm is pressing in, and she has no where to go. Frantic, she beats her fist against one door, then throws her full weight against another. She yells, screams. Her voice echoes in the stillness as she bounces like a pin ball from door to door. No entry. No admittance.

The doors are locked.

Weary, she sinks to the floor, pulling her knees against her chest. Her breath comes in heaves, her body wracked with cold and fear. Panic grips, cutting colder than the rain clinging to her clothes. She has no where to go. She can't open the doors.

She can't fix this.

She can't control this.

She's stuck in the hallway.

Half numb, she vaguely remembers the last time she was there. The last time she knew the firmness of those doors, the hardness of that floor. It'd been so long. How had she gotten out that time?

Muscle memory moves her fingers into her tangled hair. Finds a bobby pin wedged into a curl. She frees it, studies it between limp fingers. Then she remembered.

Last time, she'd picked the lock.

She'd forced her way in.

She tightened her fist around her only hope. She could do it again. She held the key to her freedom.

But had it been freedom? Somehow, she'd still ended up back in the same hallway. Back on the floor.

Thunder cracks above. The clouds release a fresh torrent of rain. She huddles deeper into herself, the pin biting into her clenched palm. She had to get up. Pick a lock. Force it open.

Force her path.

If she didn't, who would?

He told you to wait...

The whisper came, a breath on the wind, so faint a reminder she'd almost missed it. Who had told her to wait? Oh, right. Him. The Door Keeper. He'd told her to wait in the hallway.

But surely He hadn't known about the storm coming. Why would He tell her to wait in the storm?

She slowly sat upright. Ready to stand. The bobby pin burned in her hand. It would do the trick. Then she wouldn't have to wait anymore.

Wait...

His voice came again, from inside her this time. Familiar and painful and too wonderful to contain. She swallowed against it. She was cold--so cold. She needed to get warm. Pick a door, and get warm. If The Door Keeper wasn't taking care of her, she'd have to take care of herself.

Please wait.

Thunder shook the hallway. She couldn't breathe, she was so cold. She had to fix this.

Trust me. And wait. 

She couldn't ignore Him. The pin dropped from her fist.

She shifted her weight, rolling onto her knees. Lifting her face to the rain. The doors were still locked. She was still trapped. And it was still storming.

Yet... I trust you.

Instant warmth flooded her body, coursing through her veins. Surrender wrapped a down-soft blanket over her shoulders, casting off the damp. The intruding rain couldn't seep in now. No, it flowed straight off, taking layers of self-sufficiency with it. Removing the outer grime of pride. Washing anxiety and doubt right clean until all that was left shone blood-red and white as snow.

And at the end of the hallway, the simplest of doors flung wide open.

The Door Keeper had come.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Winner of LOVE ARRIVES IN PIECES is...

Thanks to all who entered the giveaway! I sincerely loved reading your comments :)

I randomly drew a winner for the autographed copy of LOVE ARRIVES IN PIECES and that winner is....


CARRIE SCHMIDT!!


CONGRATS! Please email me at betsystamant@yahoo.com and let me know your mailing address. I'll get this free autographed copy to you ASAP!

Thanks again, guys, and check back for more posts and giveaways! :) Also, follow me at my author FB page for even more opportunities at https://www.facebook.com/BetsySt.Amant


Sunday, June 7, 2015

LOVE ARRIVES IN PIECES GIVEAWAY!

Enter to win an autographed copy of my brand new release 

LOVE ARRIVES IN PIECES 

It's simple :)  

Just leave a comment on this blog answering any (or all!) of the  prompt questions below,
and ta-da! You'll be all signed up. I'll draw a winner Monday, June 22nd!

Prompt questions:

Do you believe there is truth in fiction? (why or why not?)
Was there ever a time when your life was significantly impacted by a novel? (if so, tell me how!)
Why do you love to read?


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Confessions from an Over-Thinker

Sometimes I take myself WAY too seriously.

Please raise your hand. Tell me I'm not alone?

Sometimes I over-think (okay, I always over-think) Everything can be FINE. Good, even. And then, somehow - I'm sucked in. Sucked down. Mood change sweeping in like a cloud cover. Dark gray, swirling mass, for no real reason at all. Fear of this, fear of that. Regret from this, ache for that. Worry over the future that crowds out the joy of now.

It's so easy. That swirling dark mass of mood comes and hovers and lingers and casts long shadows of lies. Lies that don't even make sense when you really break them apart. What's wrong? NOTHING.

Yet somehow, everything.

And then I think about people that have "real problems" and guilt seeps in like rain soaking deep. It just makes the mass thicker. The sun is up there. Somewhere. But that mass refuses to let the light of Truth penetrate.

Raise your hand?

There is nothing on this earth that truly satisfies outside of God. It sounds so preachy, but cliche truth comes from truth anyway, and it's there none the less, and until we really grasp that fact, we'll be swinging aimlessly at clouds that refuse to surrender to our wispy-thin blows.

No relationship, no friendship, no thing, no object, no item, no song, no feeling, no financial figure, no car, no routine, can satisfy for more than a short time. And those who believe that somehow they can, are constantly fighting to obtain that next thing. And then the things take over, and the swirling mass becomes thicker, darker, heavier...heavy with all the things. And we're swinging at clouds that won't dissipate, wondering what on earth is wrong with us, and it's just us, and we're alone in the gray madness.

Raise your hand?

See. We're never alone. All these struggles...they're not new to man, and they're not new to Jesus. (such grace there). The Bible says there is nothing new under the sun (Ecc. 1:9) No new struggle, no new mood swing or bad day or failure. We all fail, and fear, and regret, and ache, and long, and strive, and struggle, and carry things not meant for us. It's so easy to take it all on and instead of enjoying the beauty of now, we glimpse and then focus on that one potentially dark cloud on the horizon. Just the acknowledgment of that cloud makes it grow.

What-if's develop so, so fast. And are far more dangerous than a hurricane.

I'm reminded lately of James 1:17. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows..."

God gives us good gifts. Good relationships, good friendships, good music, good family, good feelings and food and provision. I can attest to this. These are gifts from Him. All is grace. But He is still the ultimate gift. He never changes. He never fails. He never lets go. He loves. He gives. He provides.

The Father of the heavenly lights...

The only Light that can break that swirling mass of mood-clouds, the only Light that can penetrate Truth through the dark places of fear. That can pierce the hovering what-if's.

We don't have to keep swinging wild to break up the clouds. We can rest. And His light burns that fog right away, and we bask in His light. His love. It's the only permanent Thing, the only real Thing, that can help us to enjoy the beauty of the things He gives.

Count your blessings today, count your gifts. Count the beauties of now, and get your eyes off the horizon clouds that might or might not even make it to you.

And then watch the Light start shining through.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It's Time To Wake Up

Someone asked me several months ago if I'd ever written or recorded a spoken word. I hadn't. Had never even thought about it. 

Until this evening, when God put a phrase in my heart during worship time with my local ministry group that wouldn't go away. I started scribbling like a madwoman. He gave me another snippet on my way out the door, and another when I got home. I sat down at my computer, and the rest poured right out. 

I can't even read it without crying. I hope the Holy Spirit uses it to urge your heart as well.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/jo59h371zl4a1ht/Voice%20023.m4a?dl=0


A Wake Up Call

As a nation we’re overworked and overwhelmed
We’re overachievers, we’re overwrought because we’ve overlooked and overpaid
But if we can’t be overcome by the presence of God
Then our nation will just be over.

Jesus is coming in a cloud of glory, and we just have our heads in the clouds.
We’re focused on what’s been and not what’s coming.
We’re looking behind in the rearview
And that picture is larger than it appears,
And it’s blocking our view
Of what’s ahead.

We’re dragging around chains that Jesus already broke
We’re holding parties in our jail cells instead of walking out our freedom.
We’re not walking in faith, we’re walking with blinders.
Blinded to the poor and the hungry, the orphans and widows
We’re so caught up in how we look to others we’re not looking at what’s in front of our face
We’re so blinded by social media and our latest clever status
That we miss society dying before our eyes.
Dying for a faith we won’t fully own.
Dying for truth while we’re peddling lies.
All in the name of religion.

We’ve forgotten the name of Jesus.
The name above all names, the name that is lifted high,
the name that will one day bring every knee low.
We’ve forgotten the authority we have in Christ,
Trading in our blessings for bowls.
Substituting temporary pleasures and feasts
While our souls and the souls around us starve.

We cast judgments on what we can’t control
We’re afraid to be real.
Afraid to bleed in public, afraid of the mess
While the walking wounded stumble around us
Believing they’re alone.

We’re a weary and broken generation.
We’re holding the shards of our hearts
And He’s holding the glue
But we won’t be still long enough
To let it set.

We’ve got to wake up.
We’ve got to stop hitting snooze and put our feet to our faith
We have to be the hands and feet of Jesus
We have to not just believe His word but obey it.
Our nation is in trouble.
This isn’t a game
Yet we’ve rolled the dice too many times
The get out of jail free cards have run out.
It’s time to wake up.
This is real life with real people, real souls, a real heaven and a real hell
 If we don’t put our feet to the fire
We risk losing our family and friends to eternal flames.
If we don’t stand up and step out
We’ll just keep walking in circles.
It’s time to risk it all.
At the sake of failure
At the sake of rejection
At the sake of poverty
At the sake of humiliation
It’s time to choose a side.
The crossroads is before you
Life or death?
Get right or get left.
God spits out the lukewarm. Get hot or grow cold.
Let your heart blaze with passion for the things of God
Or let your heart freeze over right hard.

It’s time to wake up.
The clock is ticking minutes we don’t have to spare
Passing seconds by the hour and our days are numbered
Numbered like the hair on our heads,
Like the stars and descendents God promised Abraham.
We’re numbered. And we matter. But if we don’t treat others like they matter
They’ll never recognize their worth.
You can’t save someone on your own but Christ in you might be the only Saviour someone sees.

It's time to wake up.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A letter to Satan

Dear Satan,

Well played.

I have to admit, you manipulated that round well.

You've successfully twisted the mind and thought processes of the majority of the human race. You manipulated and sold the lie to millions, if not billions, of searching teenagers and lonely adults. You've managed to use social media, peer pressure, school curriculum, Hollywood, and even Christian leaders to embed a lie so deep into the hearts of the human race, that the truth seems almost laughable.

You've convinced mankind that your way is better than God's when it comes to sex.

Somehow, despite God's Word, the Holy Bible, being exceptionally clear, obvious, and concise, you and your crew have managed to get millions, if not billions, of born-again believers to hide their sexuality away in a box and compartmentalize it away from the rest of their Christian walk. You've managed to convince them that God is an over-achieving, fun-hating, rule-stickler who wants nothing more than to control and make them miserable when it comes to their sex life. You've managed to convince them that your way is more fun, more fulfilling, and more obtainable than God's way.

So, because of you, because of your lies, because of your manipulation, millions if not billions of people, yes even Christians, are tangled up in undefined, confusing sexual relationships. They're trapped in suffocating, heartbreaking, soul-aching webs. Webs that confine, bind, and torment. No one knows if they're together, dating, "talking" or just friends. No one knows if they are committed or casual.

When all the time, both parties typically want the same things - security, love, friendship, commitment. Yet no one speaks up to set the boundaries. Men don't take the lead anymore because of their insecurity, because of their fears and doubts. So they follow the woman's lead, which is incredibly dangerous, because a woman caught up in this web is typically damaged, broken, searching and desperately longing for a man to be a man.

So they follow each other in an unending circle, stumbling, bleeding, each seeking something from the other and trying to provide it until the well runs dry. Trying to provide water from a draining source that should have never been utilized in the first place. Not without a ring, not without a ceremony, not without a commitment of the heart and soul.

Because of you, Satan, because of your sticky, long-reaching claws into Hollywood, media and entertainment, you've convinced millions, if not billions, that it is completely normal, even expected, for marriage to come way after sex. If even then. Well played, Satan. Well played.

You've convinced the masses that marriage is simply extreme dating, that they can bail anytime they'd like for any reason they'd like. You've convinced them that once they've been divorced, that God's wisdom on sex is no longer applicable to them...that they can sleep around as they please to mask the pain of rejection. That they're adults and it's different now than when they were signing True Love Waits pledge cards in church. You've convinced them that God doesn't really mean what He says. You've convinced them that it's normal or amusing to sleep with someone on the first date, not shameful. That it's completely acceptable to cheat on their spouses, live in an open marriage, or become swingers to spice up their marriage. You've convinced even more still that adultery and pornography aren't one and the same.

Well played.

But personally, I'm tired of your lies. I'm tired of a romantic scene in a movie being displayed as the man proposing in bed after a raunchy night. I'm tired of tears from women who don't know if their boyfriend cheated on them or not because they aren't sure if they're even in a relationship in the first place. I'm tired of commitment being a 4 letter word. I'm tired of couples taking each other on a test drive before committing, as if sex defines a marriage or as if they don't believe God is capable of giving them the chemistry they need. I'm tired of the false image of God you've broad-casted that forbids sex and makes it dirty and something to be hidden. God created sex, Satan, and you distorted it. You can't create anything, you can only try to twist and maim what God made perfect. Every good and perfect gift is from above, Satan. What you've done is thrust your distorted views up from below.

You've convinced believers to dance on the edge. You've convinced them that bending the rules isn't the same as breaking them. You've convinced them that because of the magic church-y word, "grace", they can do whatever they want with zero consequences.

You're right. They sure can. Grace does cover all of a believer's sin. Every last one. But there are always consequences. And what you know that they don't, Satan, is what I'm starting to realize too. That God doesn't make rules for His children because He's a control freak. He makes rules to protect their fragile human hearts. To avoid the confusion, pain and heartache of an undefined sexual relationship. To spare them of the guilt, shame and other wretched morning-after feelings that come from playing in the web. To give them that commitment, security and love that they so badly desire from someone who is ready to give it, from someone who will treat their heart like a grand prize rather than a honorary achievement.

You've convinced too many souls that being alone is worse than being with someone who treats them horribly. You've convinced those who have waited and are growing weary that their dream will never come to fruition, that God can't be trusted with their love story, and that they better hurry, pick up the pen and get busy writing their own.

Well played.

But even though you're a master of darkness, even though you're an expert at twisting God's Word and principles into lies - you can't smother the light. You can't snuff out the truth. And if everything I wrote above is a lie you've twisted, than the opposite is true. God's Word IS true. God's Word CAN be trusted. God IS good. His way IS worth it, even if it's temporarily hard or lonely. He knows what He's talking about, and He tells us these things for our own good. For our protection. For our joy.

Your get rich quick mentality might work on some, Satan, but it's not going to work on me. And I pray that it won't work any longer on those reading this post, who are tired of the confusion, the heartache, the pain, and the tears. Tired of the exhausting undefined sexual relationships. Tired of giving permission to those taking advantage of their hearts, souls and bodies. Tired of never knowing where they stand with those they love the most. Tired of playing house with a bare ring finger. Tired of feeling as if there isn't anything more or better for them.

I'm praying their eyes will be opened, and any ground you've gained here in this battlefield will be lost in Jesus' name.

You've won a few battles. But the war isn't over. I've read the last page, and it doesn't go well for you.

Sincerely,
Me