After living in fight/flight/freeze mode for most of my life, I find it necessary to reset my default time and time again. I do that by reminding myself I am not that person anymore. Remembering one’s training amidst hard times is what “soldiers” are supposed to do. Lately, I have recalled several lessons from the past. One of those lessons is the difference between a fortress and a prison.

Prison or Fortress

If given a choice which would you choose? Of course, the answer is clear. The key is knowing the difference between the two.

Prison: A state of confinement or captivity

In the past, I learned when inside a spiritual prison, it is hard to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and to focus on God’s Word. Worry, doubt, and fear seek to chain us, never to be free again. Rather than forge ahead in strength and confidence, we’re unable to move.

But there is hope.

In Romans 15, Paul tells his listeners that God is a God of patience, comfort, hope, and peace. I’m sure we could use all four in our lives, so let us run to the Lord, who can supply our needs.

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost (Romans 15:13).

Fortress: A fortified place, a strong hold, castle or citadel

The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him (Nahum 1:7).

During wartime, townsfolk gathered behind castle walls or inside the castle itself, and remained there until the threat was over.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust (Psalm 91:1-2).

What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee (Psalm 56:3).

When we “dwell” in the secret place, we can hear the Shepherd’s voice. We are not afraid because we dwell in safety and know His peace. Are you dwelling—sitting in the secret place? Trusting in Him?

The Word of God and Prayer

The Scriptures help us to know the truth. When we dwell on His Word, we will have peace. Why worry when we can bring all our cares to Him. Dig into the Word. Memorize it. Pray it. And watch what God will do!

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16).

Songs, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you are aware music is woven into the fabric of my being. I live, breathe, and dream about it. Whether worship, praise, testimonial, or hymns, each has helped me through the storms of life.

Recently, a friend shared “He Will Hold Me Fast” on her timeline. After listening to it for the first time, I went in search of the story that would inspire someone to write such a compelling assurance for the listener. Here’s what I found. 

Robert Harkness, R. A. Torrey’s pianist, tells the story of a convert who feared he could never hold on to his new-found faith. After listening to the young man’s concern, Harkness wrote a letter to lyricist Ada R. Habershon requesting she write songs of assurance for believers.

Months later, Harkness received the songs during a campaign in Philadelphia. Rather than listening to Torrey’s afternoon sermon, he set the words to music. That evening, the song leader Charles M. Alexander introduced He Will Hold Me Fast to 4000 people. Since then, the song has been translated into many languages.

“Walking through a difficult personal season of doubt and uncertainty,” Matt Merker wrote another verse and tune for the song (I love it). He introduced the new version to Capitol Hill Baptist Church in 2013. The video contains that version.

But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more (Psalm 71:14).

Many of us are facing our own struggles during this time of uncertainty. I’d like to take this time and encourage you to remember the promises of God. Remember, through the finished work of the cross, justice was satisfied, grace was extended, and mercy was given. We are NOT parolees still doing time, but children of light. We have been delivered from the power of darkness and translated to the kingdom of Christ. We are precious in His sight. He’ll not let our souls be lost. He holds us fast.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen (Jude 1: 24-25).

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Women of Faith and Fiction ~ Sonja Anderson

Good morning, dear reader! This month we have a fifth Tuesday. Woohoo! To celebrate, I want to introduce you to Sonja Anderson.

Sonja, welcome to Women of Faith and Fiction. Please, tell us about yourself.

Sonja Anderson Profile PicI grew up in a small town in northeast Ohio, with a twin sister and two younger siblings, in a Christian home. I loved to read more than anything, and characters in novels were like beloved friends and companions. I actually felt pained when a book ended and I had to separate myself from them. As a result, I re-read my favorite books many times!

College and graduate school took me to exciting cities like Chicago and Boston, and then my first teaching job was at an international school in Tokyo! I’ve been happily settled in Seattle, Washington, for over 25 years now.

Wow! Tokyo. I can only imagine your excitement. I know what you mean about the characters and beloved friends. I have favorites also. When I’m not sure what I want to read, I pick up a favorite. Sonja, this month’s theme is Peace. Please share your thoughts with our readers.

Sophia's Quest Sonja Anderson

Sophie Topfeather’s search for peace is a major theme in Sophie’s Quest, so I’m delighted that this is your theme for the month! Isn’t God amazing the way he puts things together like that? When I think of peace, I think of John 16:33, where Jesus prepares the disciples by saying, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I also remember the song that compares peace to a river, and it reminds me that when I have Christ’s presence in me, I don’t need to react to the world’s commotion with anxious ups and downs. Christ steadies me and carries me, no matter what else is happening.

I am continually amazed how God directs our paths! Now, life is a continual journey of learning, applying, and transforming. Have you ever experienced a season when you found it difficult to have peace? How did you overcome?

The two times in my life when I seriously questioned Christ’s presence in my life are, of course, as I look back, the two times when I found it the most difficult to have peace! The first time was when I lived in Japan and knew many lovely Buddhists. How could they all “be wrong”? I dove into a Bible study with friends and took God at His Word in a way I had never done before. When I read a promise, I held Him to it. By the time I returned to the United States, I was stronger in my faith than ever before and wanted to share Jesus with everyone in sight.

I thought nothing could shake my sense of peace again until I began to write Sophie’s Quest. I worried—could I discuss different religions in a way that respected the people God created and show Jesus to be uniquely Immanuel, God with us? I began to seriously wonder if a book like this should be written, despite the fact that I had felt clearly called to write it. My peace was shattered. One night, I was washing dishes and distinctly heard a voice behind me asking, “Are you sure Jesus is the only way?” I nearly panicked and prayed earnestly that God would clearly answer that question. The very next Sunday, I was visiting a church in Oregon, and the minister preached on this very question! Now, I work in a public elementary school in a very diverse community, and Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus check out my book every day. What a privilege and a blessing!

 Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Sonja. I know others who’ve dealt with similar situations. It’s good to know we’re not alone. True, God’s always with us. But it’s comforting to have a kindred spirit on our journey. 😉

In what genre do you write and how does your faith influence your writing?

My published novels are children’s fiction for ages 8-12, my favorite genre to read, too! I’ve also written several picture book stories that also point children toward God, but I’m still waiting for God to point me toward the right publisher!

My faith has everything to do with my writing. It is my dearest hope and prayer that kids will find their way to Jesus through these novels. In fact, I almost stopped writing completely when someone once challenged me to “leave Jesus out of the novel” so it could get published more easily!

I also try to point kids to the idea that reading the Bible is an amazing adventure. One of my happiest moments since the books were released was a day in my public school library when two girls (who had just finished reading Sophie’s Quest) began crying over who would get to check out the only real Bible we had at the time. To me, that meant “Mission accomplished!”

I would have to agree with you, Sonja! Thank you for sharing your heart with us today.

To learn more about Sonja and her fantastic book visit:

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Finding Peace

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3

Good morning! For this month’s theme, I chose the word peace. Who doesn’t appreciate a little peace? I know I do! But what about those times when peace seems to allude us even when we’re doing all the right things? You know, those times when we’re showing symptoms of Martha syndrome.

For example, as vessels, we are in need of filling. If we’re filled to the brim with everything around us, we have no room for the things of God. Empty, we have nothing to offer those we meet along the way. That is why we must take the time to rest, rejuvenate, and connect with the Prince of Peace.  Such was a time for me this past week!

As I pondered on this month’s posts, colorful visitors kept dropping by to say hello. Less than ten feet outside my office window, their bright colors kept catching my eyes and diverting my attention from the monitor. It was as if the Creator was inviting me to come away for a moment and enjoy His gifts.

My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. Song of Songs 2:10-13

Mama Flycatcher CHW-1

O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. Song of Songs 2:14

At times, finding peace is as easy as changing our focus.

Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:31

Perfect Tree Canopy CHW-1

Sometimes, it’s as close as lying beneath the shade of an oak contemplating our blessings.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights… James 1:17

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Peace can be as close as our backyard!

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Psalm 19:1

 Sunset 3-1

Such wondrous beauty we often forfeit when we fail to take the time to appreciate God’s gifts. Creation is a testimony of His greatness. Take a look around and drink your fill. I promise you won’t leave thirsty!

What are some things you do, other than reading your Bible and praying, to connect with the Prince of Peace? Let me know in the comments!