First forgive

By Snow

We have been in our new home over three months now, more than a quarter of a year! During the construction process, it often felt like we would never get here, and now we have been here for months.

I’ve mentioned before that this move has been challenging. Multiple days a week, the builder or their sub-contractors are here fixing things that should have been right long before we moved in – like having a front door that properly opens, shuts, and locks. We are also experiencing unexpected expenses of contracting people on our own to get things to where they need to be.

However, JC and I choose as best we can to focus on the blessing of finally being together under one roof as a family. We also love our home and our land, both of which really belong to God. He’s just letting us borrow and tend to them for a little bit. One of us will sometimes falter and be blinded by the negative, but this is when the other provides a reminder to focus on the blessings.

My beloved bride recently heard a strong message from the Holy Spirit – and that is, we must forgive the builder. I am so grateful she shared this with me, because she is absolutely right.

My internal voice said, “I should have thought of this, as the spiritual leader.” This type of negativity will sneak into my thoughts, and I have to be on guard about it. Unfortunately, I don’t always catch it, but this time I did. It doesn’t matter what vessel God uses to convey His will, all that matters is that we hear and obey.

The ability to forgive is a wonderful gift from Jesus. While I will sometimes resist doing so, I always feel so free after doing it. You see, harboring a grudge against a person or a company doesn’t really hurt them. It hurts you.

My Dad completely abandoned our family when I was 16 years old. For years, I held intense anger against him. I didn’t want to hear anything about him, and I certainly didn’t want to be compared to him in any way. Even on his good qualities, which I could no longer see at that time due to my pain at what he did to us.

I reacted sharply against my Mom when she complimented me in some way as being similar to him. I told her I was nothing like him at all and never would be. She responded, “Of course you’re like him sometimes. He’s part of you, just like I am. I loved him, and you have good parts of him that I love in you, too.” This from the woman hurt more by his actions than anyone else.

After Dad died, I eventually realized that I needed to forgive him. I did so, and it felt like a burden lifted. This was before I was even saved, so I didn’t fully understand what was going on. All I knew was, I felt so much better by letting go of my anger against him.

Me and Dad (Image Credit: Mom)

Forgiving my father also reclaimed the good memories I had with him. For years, those memories had been colored and distorted with his subsequent poor choices. But he did love me, and he did enjoy those times together like I did. Forgiving him let me realize that.

So, yes, I forgive our builder. Not for their sake, but for ours.


“When you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”
Mark 11:25 NLT

Holding the flashlight

By Snow

Last time, I mentioned that living in the same home has allowed me to spend more time with my stepson, who is a young adult. One of the projects we’ve been working on together is replacing light fixtures in various rooms with ceiling fans. While I had done some simpler projects about 15 years ago, he did not have much experience working with electricity. I handled the electrical aspects, and he helped by holding things, handing me tools while I was on the ladder, shining the flashlight, etc.

Credit: Snow

The process has been painful at times – due to a combination of my inexperience, the home builder’s ineptitude, and the fans’ sometimes questionable quality.

For various reasons, the last ceiling fan we came to was the one for his room. He asked if he could take the lead on installing this one. I must admit, I felt a mixture of both pride and trepidation when he asked this.

Within myself, I poked at my fear. It’s not like I would let him hook the fan up without turning off the circuit breaker first or by connecting the wrong wires to one another. “Of course you can!” I said. I also said a popcorn prayer in my mind that it would go well.

Later that day, he began installing the fan, while I took the secondary role. When it came time to turn off the circuit breaker, I told him to come to the garage with me so I could show him which one. “You can just do it,” he said.

“Nope, you need to do this yourself.” So we went downstairs to the garage, and he turned off the circuit breaker for his room.

At one point, about midway through, I noted how he was doing a good job installing the fan by himself, while I was pretty much just handing him things. “Yes, you’re like the little kid who holds the flashlight for his father,” he joked. I had, in fact, really been that kid whenever I helped my dad.

Until I married JC, I had never been a father. So it is a road I am navigating with much prayer. In working on projects with my stepson in particular, I realize that I am distilling information that I learned from my own father as well as other father figures I have known over the years.

My dad had various issues, as we all do to varying extents, but I try to choose from the best of him – because he did have his fatherly moments.

One of the aspects that I wish had been different with Dad, however, is that he never let me move beyond the “helper” role. I don’t learn nearly as well by watching someone do something as I do by actually doing it myself. While I have good memories of watching Dad work on stuff around the house, outside in the yard, or for the car, it has been a struggle at times to do those kinds of things on my own in the decades since his death.

This is one of the reasons I was glad my stepson wanted to lead the way on his fan. The installation itself went very smoothly. Part of that was because we were able to apply lessons learned from the previous fans and part of it was because this fan was better crafted and not as persnickety going up. Thank You, Jesus.

Near the end, though, there was a tricky part that caused him to struggle, so he asked me to double check it. “Hey, I’m just the little kid who holds the flashlight,” I reminded him before confirming he had indeed properly installed the piece.

Once we were done, he was very happy and proud of his accomplishment. He even showed off his fan and its features to his mom when I wasn’t around. He mentioned to me regretfully that, since this was the last fan, he would forget what he learned by the time he had to do one again years down the road.

“Oh, don’t worry about that,” I told him. “There’s still a few light fixtures that you can swap out with new ones around here.” His face fell. “And I’m sure some of the neighbors could use your help, too,” I continued joking. He scampered off before I could add more to his imaginary task list.

The whole experience represented multiple answered prayers. It was also just fun to watch someone I love apply things I have taught him. As I said, thank You, Jesus. I am so grateful.

“Let my teaching fall on you like rain; let my speech settle like dew. Let my words fall like rain on tender grass, like gentle showers on young plants.”
Deuteronomy 32:2 NLT

Murphy vs. Jesus

By Snow

As soon as I click “Publish” on this post, I will have already equaled at the beginning of 2023 the number of Beloved Walks entries I made in all of 2022. I sure didn’t plan to write so little here last year, but I allowed a super-busy schedule to infringe on this blog. Lord willing, I will do better this year.

I am living a blessed life, full of so many answered prayers. JC and I are married now and recently moved into our first home together. We spent much of last year in the construction process – which proved to be both time-consuming and stressful. Needless to say, we chose our home for the land and not for the builder. She is ours now, though, and we are grateful for her.

In the midst of what otherwise would have been the happy occasion of taking ownership of our home, though, a beloved family pet passed away – tears of sadness instead of happiness. I found myself asking, “Why today, Lord?”

We also encountered Murphy’s Law (“Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”) in full force on just about every aspect of the move and settling in. I must admit, there were times where I was angry at God for allowing yet another mishap beyond our control but obviously within His.

But you know what, I had to keep truing back to something (certain times I was more successful at this than others). Yes, things were going wrong. Sometimes, horribly so. But I was finally living with my beloved bride and stepkids. How many thousands of times had I prayed for these moments? How dare I allow any earthly problem to overshadow those spiritual blessings.

Credit: JC

Just living in the same home as my stepson, for instance, has allowed us to get closer than when I was a frequent visitor. He and I have worked on a number of projects around the house together. He’s learning to trust me – that I won’t bite his head off or belittle him when something goes wrong. We make any mistakes together and learn from them.

The truth is, I’m not exactly handy. I am more of a technologically-inclined person than a mechanically-inclined one. And even my technology instincts have started to wither as I become older. But, with God’s help, as well as a little Googling, I am able to figure out enough to get by. A home improvement task that should take an hour often takes me four, but I do eventually get there – most of the time, anyway.

I have never been a father before, and I now have three wonderful kids! I love them, and I thank God for them.

Each morning when I wake up, no matter what is ahead on that day, I like to gaze at my beloved bride next to me. How blessed I am. How blessed. No day that begins with her at my side can be all-bad!

So, I won’t let Murphy get me down. Instead, I will focus on Jesus. I am grateful to Him for His blessings of today and, Lord willing, the promises of tomorrow.

Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you throughout 2023.

“I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease.”
Lamentations 3:20-22 NLT

Someday is now

By Snow

Tomorrow, I will return to the office where I work for the first time since March 20, 2020. When I left my desk that day, I thought about how weird it would be not to return for a few weeks or maybe even months. Now, almost two years later, it feels weird to return at all. I have gotten used to working in lock-down mode. As an introvert, I prefer it, and, in some ways, I am actually more effective than I am in person. The world wants its “normal” back, though. Who am I to argue with the world?

Jesus blessed me many times over during those two years, and that is where I want to keep my focus. In addition to staying free of the virus, there are wonderful things happening in my life now that would have only seemed like distant dreams in March 2020 – things that I prayed would happen “someday.”

  • Someday, I will be married to my beloved JC, who is the love of my life.
  • Someday, I will be forming relationships with my stepchildren, who I love no less than if they were my very own.
  • Someday, my beloved bride and I will be building a home together.

There are more blessings than I could possibly list here. Every single one of them came from Jesus. Before I accepted Jesus in 2018, my life was empty. He has been re-molding me back into who He created me to be. This clay still struggles sometimes, but the Potter continues to shape it.

I thank God for Jesus and for my beloved.

Yes, I will be back in the office tomorrow – but He will be right there with me. Like He always has been.

Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you as He has blessed me.

Credit: JC

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.”
Philippians 4:19-20 NLT

The Big Pause

Credit: JC

By Snow

It has been over five months since I last posted here on Beloved Walks. I’ve had a number of wonderful things happen in my life since then, yet other aspects have been stagnant. I should focus on the blessings. I try to do that, but I often fail. Instead, I think about the stagnation. Hearing from God on just about every topic except the ones that are most important. He has shown JC and me a beautiful destination, but barely a glance at the path actually to get there. It almost feels cruel, yet I know our God is not cruel.

I have journaled with pencil and paper a number of times, but even that I begin to drift away from. The more I sense the stagnation, the less I want to write. I have no desire over and over to keep writing, “It is another day. I prayed for wisdom into X and Y. I have heard nothing. Maybe tomorrow.” It ultimately serves no purpose.

This frustration carries over to my writing in general. I find that I don’t want to write here. I don’t want to share my story anymore, because there’s nothing worth sharing. Just stagnation.

Perhaps God is freezing me out because of some unconfessed sin? Yet, as mentioned, I hear from Him on other topics – just not the biggest ones. We fasted a couple months ago. It seemed promising at first with insights into the destination, but ultimately, unfruitful because there were none about the path. I don’t even like reading my journal from that time because it begins full of bright hope and ends in dark discouragement 40 days later.

I still feel that way. God owes me nothing, yet I feel let down. That is the honest truth. We are fasting again now, but my heart isn’t really in it. Last time, I dutifully kept a daily fasting journal to capture all of the insights. This time, I haven’t journaled at all. “Why bother?” I think. “It is just going to chronicle yet another failure.”

I’m tired of failure. I’m tired of the way things are, that I’m not good enough, that I’m not strong enough, that I’m not smart enough to accomplish much of anything. I am blessed to have JC in my life, but outside of her, I often feel alone. I look at the news, and so-called Christian churches are doing idiotic and harmful things in His name. They have allowed Earthly politics to infect them. I see no answers there.

Any answers will come from God and His Word. I still believe that, despite my discouragement.

Tomorrow, I face another day of sameness. Doing a job that I am blessed to have but, in my heart of hearts, hate. It chips away at me little by little. In many ways, I am inherently lazy, so that is probably why God leaves me there to rot. I deserve it until I can prove otherwise.

And yet, I don’t feel like proving otherwise. I don’t feel like pretending anymore – pretending that I care about projects that mean nothing to me. Oh, I know all the quotes about how I am actually working for God.

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”
Colossians 3:23

I try to do this, but I just can’t see it. Does God really want me to do such meaningless work?

Apparently, He does, for He hasn’t whispered any other paths forward into existence for me. He has only shown me a destination, so perhaps I should walk by faith and not by sight?

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”
2 Corinthians 5:6-7

Maybe He is expecting me to take action instead of waiting on Him? Perhaps I should quit my job and have faith that He will provide?

Yet, taking matters into our own hands is not always the answer, either. When Abraham and Sarah took that approach, they named the result “Ishmael.” So, maybe that is not the way to go.

Instead, I wait. But for what?

What if the answer never comes? What if He has no intention of showing me how to proceed? At what point do I just take a step?

Beyond the job considerations, there are also housing considerations. The lease on my apartment is almost up. This has been a wonderful place to heal, but I tire of it and the area. I want to live elsewhere, but, again, what move can I make without hearing from Him on such an important decision?

I guess the default answer is to stay in place until hearing otherwise from Him. In other words, more stagnation.

How do I break this pattern?

I am an indecisive person, but adding in this wait to hear from God into every major decision is just taking what was already a slow process and bringing it to an apparent halt. Before, I could at least, eventually, after much thought and analysis, decide something. Except maybe for jobs. I was never great about deciding to leave those on my own. I tend to fall from one job I dislike to another. I stay at a place until the job is literally gone, sometimes for 8 or 10 or more years of misery. Then I take the very next one offered to me. Oh, I yodel about how this time will be different, and I will finally find a job that means something to me, that I love. Then the next corporate job comes along and I take it and the misery that comes with it. Bills must be paid.

This is a useless and negative post. I imagine the three people who read this blog are like, “Finally, a new post!” and then are disappointed to find this. It is simply how I feel.

Maybe tomorrow.

The battle

Part 1
By Snow

A chapter of the Bible I turn to often is Romans 8. Perhaps it is because this is the chapter JC instructed me to read and re-read after she first led me to Jesus nearly three years ago. The final 12 verses of the chapter represent some of the most powerful words ever written in human history, and I find them uplifting whenever life seems a mess.

Becoming a follower of Jesus is not a magic elixir to fix all of your woes. Bad things happen to Christians every day. What it does change, or at least what it should change, is your perspective on dealing with those situations. In 2019, I faced an onslaught of events that no doubt would have emotionally and spiritually crippled me had it not been for my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I was fired from my job, signed away my house, and saw my ex-spouse for the last time. And that was just one day out of that year.

Through it all, I did my best to stay focused on Jesus. I trusted Him and He gave me hope. He surrounded me with love, including by sending JC to me. A verse that we both turn to when facing challenging events is:

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Romans 8:28

As humans we are, of course, incapable of comprehending God’s Plan in its full nature. Our minds can only grasp bits and pieces of it. One of the amazing and exhilarating aspects of being a Christian is occasionally seeing God put Romans 8:28 into practice.

When I lost my job, for example, He also provided for me. I was able to take the time to really heal from an emotionally and financially abusive marriage. I was able to take the time to really learn to trust Him. Would such depths of discovery have been possible while I was still pulling 50 or more hours a week at a toxic organization? These are just a few ways that He used losing my job for good. I could name several more.

I should be clear, we won’t always see how God uses apparent negative events for good. We may never see the connections this side of Heaven. But when we do, wow. We are seeing God’s fingerprints.

While I read the Bible in full about twice a year, I don’t separately refer to Romans 7 nearly as often as I do Romans 8. So, this next excerpt only recently jumped out at me.

“Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God’s good commands for its own evil purposes.”
from Romans 7:13

In many ways, this verse represents the opposite of Romans 8:28. While Romans 8:28 reassures us that God will use everything, including evil, for good, Romans 7:13 tells us that sin can use good for evil.

For me, this is a reminder of how humans corrupt everything – even when we begin with good intentions. It is unfortunately part of our sinful nature.

We ultimately know that we fight from victory. Not because of any strengths we bring to the battle, but because we are part of God’s Army. Our Father is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving. While sin may be able temporarily to bring about evil, God indeed is able to use even that as part of His Plan.

“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”
1 John 4:4

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Credit: JC

Part 2
By JC

Sin might attack us even when we did nothing to invite those circumstances. Romans 8:28 is God protecting us from those attacks. Even when we do sin, however, He still uses the consequences for good.

Romans 7:13 represents a full-on attack. Evil is using God’s commands to come at us. It is a warning to be on guard and fight temptation.

Sin mocks God because:

  1. Satan hates him
  2. Sin cannot create
  3. It is easier to lure humans with the slightly twisted rather than the completely outlandish

It is like the serpent with Eve. Compare what God actually said about the tree to what the serpent claims He said and to what Eve thinks He said.

“The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the LORD God warned him, ‘You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.'”
Genesis 2:15-17

“The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, ‘Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?'”
Genesis 3:1

“‘It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, “You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.”‘ ‘You won’t die!’ the serpent replied to the woman. ‘God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.'”
Genesis 3:3-5

Satan knows Scripture. He even quotes it to Jesus.

“Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, “He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.”‘ Jesus responded, ‘The Scriptures also say, “You must not test the LORD your God.”‘”
Matthew 4:5-7

In that vein, evil can literally use the Bible as the map to attack us. That is why we must know the Word of God and wield it as Jesus did.

Romans 7:13 shows us that evil knows the Bible. How much more should believers know it?

Not a scratch

Credit: JC

By Snow

Fortunately, I had locked the door. She was erupting on the other side of it, trying to force herself in to the home office that had become my sanctuary. For years, I had felt trapped. In my marriage. In my job. In my life.

I had known for over five months that my toxic marriage needed to change. I actually wanted it to end, but God had told me not to suggest that, but to take a slower path. I was reluctant, but obeyed.

I had been praying throughout the day of and in the weeks leading up to a difficult conversation about my requested changes. The end result was that my spouse decided to end the marriage anyway.

I was at peace. As she hurled insults and false accusations against me, I answered them calmly. The calmer I was, the angrier and louder she became. The angrier and louder she was, the calmer I became.

I was secure in who I was. I knew what I had done and had not done, and God knew as well. What anyone else thought was really beside the point.

The sheer rage on the other side of the door told me to keep it sealed. While I certainly would not have hit back, a physical confrontation would have done neither of us any good. I had been trapped in my marriage for years. What was a few hours more in my little room?

Less than eight months before, in that very same room, on the verge of suicide, I had accepted Jesus. I was a new person now, and I was filled with His peace. Even if my old life was in the hall yelling at me.

I stayed awake that night with the door sealed, even partially barricading it. Just in case. I spent the time praying, informing my loved ones, starting to pack for a now inevitable move, and shutting down my credit cards. I would be my spouse’s debt mule no longer.

Eventually, things settled down. As things do. That was the last real day of my marriage. The remaining eight months were primarily spent on legal transactions to undo the whole mess. As I have mentioned before, I ignored or missed several warning flags when getting married. It was the biggest mistake of my life, and I am grateful that Jesus has given me a second chance to experience the life He intends for me.

Yes, I once thought I was trapped. That my fate was sealed. Only through faith did I learn that Jesus was there all along, working behind the seal.

No, I was never truly trapped. For God was always with me.


“The king was deeply troubled, and he tried to think of a way to save Daniel. He spent the rest of the day looking for a way to get Daniel out of this predicament. In the evening the men went together to the king and said, ‘Your Majesty, you know that according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, no law that the king signs can be changed.’ So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to him, ‘May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.’

“Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried out to the lions’ den. When he got there, he called out in anguish, ‘Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?’ Daniel answered, ‘Long live the king! My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.’ The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God.”
Daniel 6:14-16,19-23