Thursday, May 17, 2012

Please Welcome Our Guest Martha Rogers

Writing--Using Our Own Life's Journey
by Martha Roger
My new release, Spring Hope, was one of the most difficult to write for me. I had no problem with the plot and story line, but the hero’s journey mirrored one of my own at a very hard time in my own life. All of my books are about forgiveness and reconciliation, the day finally came when I had to write about forgiveness of a sin that goes against everything I believed and advocated.


Sexual sins are some of the most heinous of crimes, and as a Christian, I believed it would never touch me as I would never have anything to do with such acts. However, when those sins came from a family member, everything changed.

As a teenager, my brother began a life of drugs and sex that took him into a dark world about which I knew nothing. Instead of trying to understand and lead my brother away from that life, I turned my back on him and shut him out of my life completely. Despite pleas from my parents, I considered my brother dead.

After years of trying to ignore his lifestyle and keeping it hidden from my friends, it all came to light and I had to deal with it. In jail for sexual assault of minors, my brother faced a life sentence because of his prior convictions.

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When my mother told me about her pastor visiting John in jail and that John had made a profession of faith and had turned to God as the only source of help and salvation, I scoffed and sneered. Why would God love somebody like that?

In my book, the hero is faced with the decision to forgive the heroine for lying to him about her identity and for the life of prostitution from which she had escaped. It didn’t matter that she had been forced into the lifestyle by an abusive father. When both the father and the daughter come to the Lord and profess their faith in Christ, the hero must forgive both of them before he can move on. His journey is my journey and the battle I fought with myself in forgiving my brother.

Today let's talk about how our own lives make their way into our books. Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a copy of Spring Hope.

Spring Hope
Can runaway Libby Cantrell finally get a new start?

Libby Cantrell’s life has gone from bad to worse since her mother’s death. After working in a brothel to support her abusive father, she sees no hope for her future until one cold winter night when she finds the courage to escape.
When she collapses in Portersfield, Texas, exhausted, ill, and hungry, Sheriff Cory Muldoon finds her and takes her to the doctor. Against Cory’s better judgment, Seth and Erin Winston take her in and offer her a job as a nanny for their young son. As a minister, Seth sees it as his duty to take care of her. As a deputy, Cory needs to know the truth about her even as he is attracted to the waif of a young woman.
As Cory’s feelings for her grow and winter becomes spring, will he be able to accept her as she is now and truly forget and forgive her sordid past?

About Martha:
Martha Rogers is a freelance author of both fiction and non-fiction and a speaker. Her stories and articles have appeared in a number of compilations and magazines. Her first fiction novella was released in 2007.
Her experiences as a public school teacher, Sunday school teacher, youth leader, First Place leader, Mom and Grandmother give Martha a unique field of ministry.
Martha is am alumni of CLASS and is available to speak at Women's Retreats, conferences, and luncheons on topics of interest to women of all ages.
As an author, she is available to speak at writing conferences and workshops on a variety of topics of interest to writers.
Martha is the author of Becoming Lucy; Morning for Dove; Finding Becky; Caroline’s Choice; Not on the Menu, a part of a novella collection with DiAnn Mills, Janice Thompson, and Kathleen Y’Barbo; and River Walk Christmas, a novella collection with Beth Goddard, Lynette Sowell, and Kathleen Y’Barbo. A former schoolteacher and English instructor, she has a master’s degree in education and lives with her husband in Houston, Texas.


Martha's website
Martha's Blog

48 comments :

  1. Hi Martha:

    I really enjoyed your deep POV workshop in Tulsa this month. You are a great teacher and very polished speaker. I hope to see you again at future functions.

    I always have one big problem with ‘forgiveness’ – especially when you hear a person forgive the murder who killed their spouse – and that is what is meant by forgiveness.

    Is forgiving a person like giving them a pardon? They can walk away free? Or do you forgive them and still go to the execution.

    Does it mean: I accept you back as a full family member as if you had not done the bad deeds?

    Can you forgive a spouse who cheated on you and still not take them back? Or would that prove you did not forgive them.

    I have never heard a preacher define what was meant by forgiveness.

    Do you have a view on this?

    Vince

    P.S. I’d like a chance to win your new book.

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  2. I think the closer you are as the author to a problem in the book, the better the story and the more it touches people. So here's to hoping this book is a real winner for you!

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  3. Wow, what a story! And I think crimes against children would be the very hardest to forgive. Crimes against my own children would be impossible. I think there's a movie called 'The Woodsman' (I may have that totally wrong) with Kevin Bacon that is about a man who is finally ;reased back into the community after serving time as a predator. I've never been brave enough to watch it.

    Thank you for tackling such an intense topic. There are millions of Christians struggling with those same questions.

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  4. Dear Martha,

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is those painful places that often make the most impact on people. Life is not simple or easy. Sometimes, we get confused about forgiveness, thinking it is just "forgetting" or is just for the other party.

    I can't tell you how much your post meant to me this morning. Thanks again.

    Would love to win the book.

    Peace, Julie

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  5. Martha, so glad you could be with us in Seekerville today and thanks for sharing your struggle with your brother. I know Spring Hope will touch many because of the authenticity you brought to the story.

    Responding to Vince's comment, forgiving a person does not mean we condone the wrongful action.

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  6. Wow, your new book sounds like a great read. I love the topic of forgiveness. I think it's one that is close to everyone's heart because we all have someone (at least one) that we need to forgive. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I can't wait to read Spring Hope.

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  7. I'd like to respond to Vince's question, too: I think we have to forgive the way God forgives us. We're not perfect, and we'll never forget the insult/crime/whatever, but I think we have to wipe the slate clear. It doesn't mean we return our trust to 100% percent or take our spouses back if they wrong us. I'm not sure if this answers the question at all, but when I forgive someone, I'm usually thinking about all the wrongs I've done and how God has thrown them all away. He's forgiven me and he loves me. He'll never stop.

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  8. Welcome to Seekerville, Martha! Your experience is touching. I'm sure your book will impact many readers who struggle with forgiveness.

    To me, forgiving someone doesn't necessarily mean I can trust them. Every situation is unique so what will come from that forgiveness will vary. But not to forgive is not only a sin and separates us from God, but it's destructive to the one holding the grudge.

    Janet

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  9. Martha, thank you for sharing your story. Forgiveness, such a complex topic and sometimes difficult thing to walk out. I've heard it defined as giving up the right to get even. It also requires more than that. It seems like it is also giving up the anger and being willing to work through the hurt that comes from an offense. Which of course, takes time. And, I've probably said too much.

    Martha, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on what's been shared today. Your story sounds like a beautiful one.

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  10. Hi Martha, Welcome to Seekerville. And what a topic.

    In response to Vince's question, I think forgiveness has more to do with yourself and not letting the anger, disgust, judgementalism keep you away from your relationship with God.

    As Debby said, it doesn't mean condoning their actions, but having compassion and love for them in spite of their actions. Like Annie said, loving the the way God loves us.

    I have discovered that I can love someone but not like them. Does that make sense? Probably need to work on that too. sigh

    Thanks again Martha and enjoy your day.

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  11. Martha, welcome! We're so glad you joined us.

    You know, I've found that often my books become about what God is teaching me at the time. I learn as I write!

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  12. I think there is a human side and a Godly side to forgiveness.

    God forgives 100 percent.

    As humans we struggle with the aftershocks of sin..trust, remembering, hurt and pain, sorrow, and revenge.

    The important thing for me as a human to remember is that there are no degrees of sin in the bible, (except blaspheming the Holy Spirit). There are no traffic ticket pricings for sin. You get the same ticket for unforgiveness as you do for stealing or for adultry.

    My sin is a sin.

    My brother's sin is a sin.

    Period.

    Now that's a tough concept for all us fair minded human creatures who like to hand out tickets.

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  13. I agree with you Missy.

    Books are painful to write if we go ahead and let God teach us as we are writing them.

    OUCH!!

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  14. I think (And I can take it if you disagree) that it's one thing to forgive it's another thing to trust.
    I'd like to believe that there is no one so evil in this world that I don't wish they could make their peace with God and spend eternity with him.
    That is my version of forgiveness.
    However, that doesn't mean I'm going to trust a predator alone with my child, even a repentent one.
    And, I know people who, if I went to them and said, "I forgive you."
    They would spit in my face and say, "I've done nothing wrong."

    So how do you forgive that? Your forgiveness then has to be between you and God. And forgiving someone unrepentent doesn't change who they are and it doesn't mean you don't know them and treat them as someone untrustworthy.

    Is that too harsh?

    I do know a few people who make me sort of hope there is a purgatory.

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  15. As for using my life in a story, well, I think of my first book, Petticoat Ranch, as my husband's story. He's from a family of seven sons and we have four daughters. And watching him be mystified and frustrated and confused by girls, while at the same time just loving them completely, can be pretty comical.

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  16. My series now called The Historical Society Murders (formerly The Maxie Mouse Mysteries) and now published as ebooks by that rascally Mary Nealy, are me just taking every quirk I have and applying them to young skinny heroines.
    Fear of mice.
    Insomnia.
    Clutziness.
    Forgetfulness.
    Plus my own 'write what you know'
    Small towns
    Newspaper reporting
    Big families.
    Everyone in town knowing your life back five generations.

    Those books are all me.....except for the skinniness as I mentioned before. And also I haven't seen any dead bodies!

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  17. Welcome Martha! Thank you for sharing with us and for writing a book so close to your personal life. You just never know the impact you'll have on someone as you share your personal struggles. ~ Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

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  18. Wow - that's a tough one.

    I use real life experiences all the time, but none quite that tough.

    [and since I'm at Panera and supposed to be writing, I should probably do that...]

    I'd love to win the book :).

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  19. Hi Martha,

    What an amazing story! And how brave of you to share it with the world!

    Your book sounds wonderful - along the lines of Redeeming Love.

    I love the themes of forgiveness and unworthiness - they occur a lot in my stories as well. A lot harder to do in real life!

    I'm sure all your trials and tribulations along the way will make for an even stronger book. Wishing you every success with sales, as well as touching many people who need healing in their lives.

    Cheers,
    Sue
    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

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  20. Hi All:

    Can you forgive someone when you don’t have standing in the situation? Can you forgive someone who has harmed a third party? Is it even your business to forgive the killer of someone else’s child?

    Should you forgive someone who is unrepentive? If you are forgiving a person for your own benefit, your own peace of mind, to end the corrosive effects of hatred and get on with your life, then should it make any difference if the person tells you they would do it all over again if they had the chance?

    Forgiveness does not mean anything until you can define what forgiveness means.

    Rather than forgive some one who has killed your child you might say, “I am going to ‘let go and let God’ take it from here. I am not going to hate you and have it harm me.” I’m not even sure you have standing to forgive the killer of your child. I think only your child has the standing to do that.

    I think ‘forgiveness’ is one of the most difficult concepts in Christianity and one that is the least well defined. I would like to know what your duties are after you forgive someone? I'm not sure any two people mean the same thing by forgiveness.

    I don't have the answer but I am interested in what others think.

    Vince

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  21. Martha, it's been so long since I saw you! I'm so happy to see you here in Seekerville! Welcome!!!

    Martha charmed me at a table at an ACFW years ago and I decided she was about one of the nicest most real people I've ever met.

    I still believe that.

    And I brought delicious food to celebrate your visit, woman! Here are some decadent chocolate chip/white chocolate chip/macadamia nut cookies to pass 'round the table.

    Forgiveness.

    A hand up.

    Oh, Martha, these are lessons all of us need to hear and grasp! Bless you!

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  22. Oh, Martha, Spring Hope sounds WONDERFUL!! And what therapy the Lord must have provided for you through this book. I suspect this novel, as hard as it was to write, may well become your dearest one.

    Thank you for coming to Seekerville to share your story -- it blessed the socks off of me!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  23. Hi Martha,

    Thank you for sharing your story and how it affected your writing. I think one reason writers write is to wrestle with questions about our own lives that we don't have answers to.

    I write Amish stories as a way to understand and learn to know my Amish and Mennonite ancestors. What made them make the decisions they did? What caused some of my ancestors to shift to a different Anabaptist denomination? What caused me to change to another denomination altogether?

    And Vince, you've brought up a real stinker in your forgiveness question.

    Tina mentioned the human side and Godly side to forgiveness. God forgives completely - on His terms and in His way.

    We humans can and should strive for that, but we're fallen beings. All sin and fall short of God's glory. Our sin is wrapped up in our brother's sin, which makes it personal. We can forgive, but forgetting and trusting after we forgive is a whole new ball game. And how many times have I forgiven, just to have to forgive all over again when my memories dredge up the past?

    But you asked for a definition: Forgiveness is letting go of our self's right to feel a need for revenge against the one who wronged us.

    Self (Ego) is a hungry creature, always wanting more. Anger and hurt feed the self's desire for attention and pity. That's why it's so hard to forgive. And that's why Christ is so adamant that we do so. Anything that feeds self stands between us and God.

    Forgiveness really doesn't have anything to do with the other person - whether they're repentant or not, whether they ask for our forgiveness or not, doesn't matter. Even whether we tell the person we forgive them doesn't matter - they probably don't know they did anything against us anyway.

    Forgiveness is Grace in action. Grace from God is getting something I don't deserve - we extend grace to others when we forgive them.

    Forgiveness is also Mercy in action. Mercy from God is not receiving the punishment I deserve - we extend mercy to others when we don't take revenge for wrongs done.

    Forgiveness doesn't let the other person off the hook - if there are consequences from their actions, those consequences should be administered in the proper way.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts about forgiveness. One thing we can all agree on, I think, is that forgiveness is a command. We don't have a choice.

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  24. Martha, thanks for sharing with us. I think it takes courage to write from such a personal place. I love fiction like that. I can only strive and hope to write in similar vein.

    Forgiveness is a funny thing. So easy to want, so hard to give.

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  25. Oh, my. You all have blessed my soul today with your comments. Although my brother is still in prison, and will be for another two and half years, he is a forgiven child of God and I love him. I am his only means of support right now, and although I could never condone what he did, I accept him as he is today. He says that therapy and the support group have taken away the desires he once had, and now he leads a Bible Study Meditation group in prison.

    That experience helped me through another more recent rift in my family among our three sons for some things discovered about one of them. Healing is slow, but it's in process.

    Forgiving someone, to me, doesn't necessarily mean accepting that person back into the family or into my life. All situations are different. I am to forgive as Jesus forgave me, even if the person will not accept it. Then I will let Him guide me as to what will happen from there. Hope that makes sense.

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  26. I'm writing on a novella I'm calling FORGIVEN. The research took me to my grandparents on my father's side. My grandfather, who I never met since he died before I was born, has always been characterized as a very bitter man. After the research and writing some of his story, I can see why he might have held bitterness. I also could see how forgiving with God's help, could've given him a more pleasant life. Harboring unforgiveness only hurts the one holding it.
    I believe most every story I've written has some tidbit of truth which is where I find the deepest emotions poured out - normally the best writing comes through here.

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  27. Hi, Martha. I'm glad your brother has made his peace with God. And you have healed and found forgiveness for him.
    You're right that no one has as much to forgive as God, who had to watch his son be killed. I need to always remember that. That's the level of forgiveness we need to reach.

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  28. Martha, I'm glad you could come to Seekerville today. I think it must be terribly hard to write about a subject that is so close to home and the cause of so much pain. I really admire you for doing that. Your books sounds wonderful and very heart-felt. Most of us don't have the courage to write about whatever causes us pain.

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  29. Martha/Vince

    We had a situation in our local town where a man attemted some sexual acts w/an 18 year girl, a friend of his daughter. He wasn't successful in his attempt, but...he tried.

    This man attended Church w/us. He had a wife and 2 teenage kids. He came forward, confessing his sins before the entire congregation and asked everyone to forgive him. We did. We all knew he would still have to face punishment w/the laws of the land, but he wanted to get help w/his problem.

    We did not blame the girl or her family for being furious and for trying to put him away for as many years in jail as they could get. (Their family went to church at another place in town.) But our small congregation was called the Church of the Devil by several in the community for not ostricizing him.

    These are tough situations and emotional for everyone involved.

    I don't think just because they are forgiven, they go free. I don't have to hold anything against them though.

    And I agree w/Mary and everyone else. I wouldn't leave my kids alone w/them.

    It's not fair to the one who committed the act or to the child. I wouldn't leave a child alone w/someone who is tempted by them anymore than I would serve alcohol to an alcoholic.

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  30. MARTHA,

    I just went to your website. Your debut novel came out when you were 73! WOW. That is so cool.

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  31. Thank you for the post! I'm not sure how my life fits into my books, but I know my emotions sure do, even if the circumstances are different in my plots.

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  32. Martha, the honesty shared through your talent will reach, and touch, others ... and your book will undoubtedly oftimes arrive in hands at just the right moment.

    Forgiveness. One of the most powerful books I've read was not about forgiving others but about a man forgiving himself. Part of his forgiving himself was the soul-wrenching realization that he couldn't have done anything other than what he had done ... that he wasn't 'all powerful.'

    I have no doubt what has shaped me influences my writing. But at the same time, there's a lot of imagination. A lot. I want the story to 'read' real but I sure hope a reader doesn't think I've done some of the things my characters do ;-)

    Nancy C

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  33. Thanks for sharing Martha! When I look back at some of my stories I'm surprised by how much the characters remind me of myself. I don't intentionally put it in, it just come out.

    Forgiveness is a subject that develops in my writing all the time. I've found when I hold a grudge the only one that suffers is me.

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  34. Wow, Martha, looking forward to reading this story. Not only will it probably be very touching, as it was something deepy personal, but I also have a story featuring a reformed prostitute.

    As for inserting myelf into stories, I tend to write heroines similar to myself in interests and opinions. The 17-year-old heroine in my novel is a huge ABBA fan, just like me!

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  35. Martha, so great to see you in Seekerville!
    (This is where I hang out for my writer fix between our Writers on the Storm monthly meetings.)
    Ruthy, I'm grabbing some of those cookies and I agree, Martha is one of the sweetest people I have met.
    Please enter me for the drawing. I have Summer Dreams and Autumn Song and Spring Hope would look so nice next to them on the bookshelf. And the next time you speak at WOTS I need to snag Winter's Promise =)

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  36. That book cover is so beautiful!

    I am so grateful that God's mercies are new every morning. For me when I'm struggling to forgive. For the person who has wronged me or someone else. For me when I transgress.

    God is good.

    And yes, Mary, I'm writing! See you tomorrow! :D

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  37. Thank you, Nancy. You're a sweet person, and I enjoy having you at our WOTS meetings. Yes, God is good and His faithfulness and His mercies are new every morning.

    Thank you for all the wonderful comments and observations. Ruth, I remember meeting you at ACFW. That's where so many friends are made. Looking forward to seeing a lot of you in Dallas.

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  38. Hi Martha,

    Forgiveness is such a needed topic in today's world. No matter how many times I read a work about forgiveness, God always points out areas I need to improve in my life. I also believe God works through our writing to grow us as Christians and consequently help the readers of our stories. It seems when the author has faced the same struggles as the characters, the story glows with authenticity.

    Thanks for posting!

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  39. Hi Martha,
    I'm coming late to the party, but in case you read this, I wanted to tell you how much your post meant to me. Blessings to you.

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  40. Martha,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I, too, had to forgive someone and it was very hard to do. I always remind myself "Jesus loves the sinner, but hates the sin."

    I would love to read your book!
    edwina(at)edwinacowgill(dot)com

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  41. Thank you for sharing such a personal story.

    I would love to read SPRING HOPE thank you!

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  42. My experience was with my Dad. He was a 'social drinking alcoholic', which means he could go days and weeks without drinking but let him take one drink and he couldn't stop, until he passed out. Then the next day he could be sober again, key word, "could". Anyway, he tried to kill my Mom a couple of times & she finally gave up and filed for divorce. I was 13 years old and for several years after the divorce I would have nothing to do with my Dad. If I saw him in a store I would make sure I left the store so I wouldn't have to talk with him. That was all before I was born again. Once I came to know Jesus I forgave my Dad and we became very close again and his drinking had stopped. Unfortunately, I will never get those 'estranged' years back again. My Dad passed away just after my 30th birthday and praise the Lord, he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior just before he died.

    I would love to be entered to win a copy of Spring Hope. Thank you for the opportunity!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  43. Martha, your story of a part of your life touched me deeply.
    I think that we all put ourselves into our stories is some way.
    Thank you for being so candid!
    Jan

    And, I would be very interested in reading your book!!!

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  44. Great cover Martha.

    I find that snippets of my life and struggles find their way into each piece I write.

    Blessings,
    Jodie Wolfe

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  45. Oh, Cindy, so sorry you lost your Dad, but what a wise woman you were to repair your relationship with him.

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  46. wow. this was a powerful post to read along with all the comments. i think the book will touch a lot of people. thank you for writing it and being transparent with your own struggle. i find it quite helpful.

    thanks for a wonderful post reminding us of the power of forgiveness. i would love to be in the running for a copy of the book.

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  47. Thanks to all for your comments and encouragement. Also thanks to the ladies of Seekerville for having me.

    Martha

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