Why I Decided to Get a Tattoo-Part 2

By Jennifer Hallmark

**If you missed it, you’ll find part 1 here...

Hello, world! It’s Sunday, January 21. I’ve just left the church, and I’m driving home. After the service, standing in the parking lot, I showed my daughter my tattoo. I can’t help but smile because I’ve just totally shocked her. I didn’t think it was possible.

She asked if it hurt. In fact, even today, that’s the question I’m asked the most.

Yes, it hurt. A lot.

But really not as bad as I imagined. I’m a writer, and I have a big imagination.  I went in with a large cup of iced coffee and my friend, so I was ready. The artists were very professional and the parlor was super clean, which was the main thing I’d been researching for the last six months.

The lady and I discussed again what I wanted (we’d already been chatting on FB messenger), I paid her, and she went to get the template for the word “fearless.” I’d picked a specific font, one where the letters were in cursive, but the “r” wasn’t joined to the “l.” That way, it could read fearless or fear less.

In life, I’ve always been cautious, conservative, and reserved. Nothing wrong with that except when I let it affect my walk with God and my witness. Or it comes between me and my family and friends. So this year, I want to fear less and faith more.

I love the little story that says, “Fear knocked on the door. Faith answered. No one was there.” That’s how I want to live. I’m not there yet. Every day, I ask God to help me recognize fear and shut the door by my faith in Him.

Anyway, the whole process from when I entered the shop lasted about an hour and a half. I’d already purchased the soap and ointment and things for aftercare. It’s healed well.

Am I ready for another one?

No. I broke through that wall and it is enough. It’s taken me a few months to get up the courage to share it with y’all. I shake my head as I think how crazy I am to get so worked up over a tattoo. But one of my fears throughout my life has been fear of rejection. So, it makes sense.

Why have I shared this over the last two weeks? I guess it’s mostly for me. I have my first novel coming out in June of 2019 with Firefly Southern fiction, and I’m already struggling a little with what people will think of my book. Will they cringe? Laugh? Love it? Or reject it?

I give these fears to God. I like to say I don’t write for God; I write with Him. We laugh and cry together as I pen words that reduce me to a transparent, vulnerable state I’d rather not be in, at times. But it’s a healing place.

And it’s me.

Hello, world!

Click to tweet: Why I decided to get a tattoo. My daughter asked if it hurt. In fact, even today, that’s the question I’m asked the most. #tattoo #faith

Me signing my contract

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Small Acts of Kindness: The Love of a Child

By Jennifer Hallmark

No one can show kindness like a child. Young children have a generally happy, carefree look at life, not yet jaded by the pain and sorrow associated with growing up.

My granddaughter, Phoebe, came to visit one day, bearing the gift of a picture she’d drawn for my refrigerator. The simple drawing of me and her with lots of love touched my heart and I still display it to this day.

If you have children you care for, encourage them to draw or make simple gifts for people around you that need to be lifted up. This doesn’t have to be expensive but it can make the world of difference for someone struggling.

The difference made by the love of a child…

P.S. And I love that she drew me with long hair 🙂

 

Favorite Friday Fiction: Storms in Serenity by Fay Lamb

Storms in Serenity is a complex, engaging story by Fay Lamb. The way she weaves her characters brings them to life and makes you want to know what happens to them. The suspense is terrific and I didn’t want to put it down until I could see how it would end. Another great novel by Fay.

Click to tweet: Favorite Friday Fiction: Storms in Serenity by Fay Lamb. A tempest has been brewing for thirty years, with only one island town in its path. #FridayReads #suspense


Storms in Serenity

How can one man save the town he loves when he’s the reason for the destruction?

Serenity Key, Florida, has seen its share of hurricanes, but this time, one foul weather system is about to collide with another storm, and this one has nothing to do with atmospheric pressure. 

David New has guarded his secrets for years, but when two brothers, John and Andy Ryan, arrive in town and he gets news that the daughter he’s never told anyone about has disappeared, possibly the victim of a heinous crime, and the lives of many of the town residents begin to unravel in the gale force consequences of Jake’s past, he has nowhere else to turn.
God is the only one Who can calm the storms, but can David and the good folks of Serenity Key survive until He does?
A tempest has been brewing for thirty years, with only one island town in its path.

Small Acts of Kindness: A Shout Out to My Writing Friends

By Jennifer Hallmark

“Friends are needed both for joy and for sorrow.” 
~ Yiddish Proverb

I’m a writer and I love writing. But it’s not always easy. Sometimes I struggle with disappointment, fear, tiredness, and apathy.  My friendship with other writers has kept me from changing my vocation.

I know that if I start down the “give up” road, I can call or Facebook message one of “these” friends and they’ll talk me off the ledge of quitting. They’ll share a story about a time they wanted to give up or remind me of the way I’ve grown over the years. We laugh and send emojis and before you know it, I’m ready to sit at the computer once again and start a story or blog post.

Some of my friends are authors, others are unpublished for the moment. I know editors, publishers, and agents. They get tired just like I do and I hope I can often encourage them in return.

Because we all need a little encouragement now and then. Thank you to all my writing friends. There are too many to name but you know who you are.

“If you want a friend, be a friend. “
~ English Proverb

Click to tweet: I’m a writer and I love writing. But it’s not always easy. My friendship with other writers has kept me from changing my vocation.  #amwriting #friendship

Favorite Friday Fiction: The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

For my February classic favorite, I chose The Return of the King, the third book in the Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R Tolkien. Over Christmas, I rewatched the three movies and decided to read The Return of the King once more.

An epic fantasy novel, it never disappoints as I once again enjoyed a world full of men, elves, dwarves, evil creatures, and, of course, hobbits.

Click to tweet: One of my favorite classic novels is The Return of the King. Here’s why… #amreading #Fridayreads


The Return of the King

The third volume in J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic adventure THE LORD OF THE RINGS 

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

As the Shadow of Mordor grows across the land, the Companions of the Ring have become involved in separate adventures. Aragorn, revealed as the hidden heir of the ancient Kings of the West, has joined with the Riders of Rohan against the forces of Isengard, and takes part in the desperate victory of the Hornburg. Merry and Pippin, captured by Orcs, escape into Fangorn Forest and there encounter the Ents. Gandalf has miraculously returned and defeated the evil wizard, Saruman. Sam has left his master for dead after a battle with the giant spider, Shelob; but Frodo is still alive—now in the foul hands of the Orcs. And all the while the armies of the Dark Lord are massing as the One Ring draws ever nearer to the Cracks of Doom. 

Today I Choose

By Jennifer Hallmark

“This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 NKJV

Today I choose to be kind to myself.

Today I choose to be positive and think of the good in my life, not concentrating on the bad that calls so loudly…

Today I choose to enjoy all of my life, not just the parts that I call good…

Today I will write, love, laugh and be…my concentration will not be on doing…

Today I will be thankful for all the people in my life…people placed by a God who loves and cares for me…

Today I remember the people who have gone on to be with the Lord who influenced my life and I am grateful…

Today I will slow down and take time to enjoy the beauty of nature that God freely bestows on us daily, regardless of season…

Today I will tell people that I love them because I don’t know what tomorrow holds…

Today I will look for people to encourage, for there are people all around me who need to be uplifted…

Today I will not worry about what people think but meditate on what God thinks of me…

Today I will let the minor problems and inconveniences go and give the major ones to God…

Today I will remember the price that Jesus paid so that I could have abundant, eternal life, the price of His own life…

Today I will stop, listen and learn whatever God is trying to teach me through whatever means He is using…

Today I will ask God to help me display the fruit of His Spirit toward all the people I meet…

Today I choose to love myself as God loves me and not belittle myself any more…

Today I choose to live…

Click to tweet: Choice: Today I will tell people that I love them because I don’t know what tomorrow hold. #kindnessmatters #smallactsofkindness

Favorite Friday Fiction: Quo Vadis by Henryk Sinkiewicz

Happy New Year! I’m starting off this year on Favorite Friday Fiction with a classic, Quo Vadis.  It’s a historical Biblical fiction of sorts dealing with the persecution of early Christians in Rome.

The book has unsurpassed details of that period of time and won the author a Nobel Prize in literature in 1905. A little long and hard to read at times, the story to me is worth reading.

Click to tweet: A classic read about the early Christians in Rome. #historical #fiction

Quo Vadis

Quo VadisRome during the reign of Nero was a glorious place for the emperor and his court; there were grand feasts, tournaments for poets, and exciting games and circuses filling the days and nights. The pageantry and pretentious displays of excess were sufficient to cloy the senses of participants as well as to offend the sensitive.

Petronius, a generous and noble Roman, a man of the world much in favor at the court of Nero, is intrigued by a strange tale related by his nephew Marcus Vinitius of his encounter with a mysterious young woman called Ligia with whom Vinitius falls madly in love. Ligia, a captured King’s daughter and a one-time hostage of Rome, is now a foster child of a noble Roman household. She is also a Christian.

The setting of the narrative was prepared with utmost care. Henryk Sienkiewicz visited the Roman settings many times and was thoroughly educated in the historical background. As an attempt to create the spirit of antiquity, the novel met with unanimous acclaim, which earned the Nobel Prize in literature for the author in 1905. As a vision of ancient Rome and early Christianity it has not yet been surpassed, almost a century later.

Small Acts of Kindness 2018

By Jennifer Hallmark

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”-Aesop

The Small Acts of Kindness blog is built upon this quote, one that resonates within my soul.  I began blogging about kindness on May 18th, 2015.  Mondays seemed to be the day when people could use a shot of good news. So, with the help of others willing to share their stories, I embarked on a journey to share kindness, one small act at a time. Ellen Andersen liked the idea and soon joined me as a contributor and friend.

I took a parable from the teachings of Jesus to illustrate what kindness means to me.

Jesus says in the Bible, Luke 10:30-37:

 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him,and departed, leaving him half-dead.  Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.  So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’  So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”

And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, Go and do likewise.”

I want to do likewise, showing mercy and grace in the world around me. It hasn’t been easy much of the time. It’s not hard to make a phone card or send an encouraging card to a friend or family member. But when it comes to people that don’t treat me well or a stranger, I don’t often do like I want.

My melancholy and introverted personality mixed with a tendency to be timid and fearful make stepping out to make a difference difficult . But I still want to. So I often do it afraid.

A few days ago, I’d taken my mother to the eye doctor. We sat across from an elderly man with an Air Force cap on. It took me about twenty minutes to work up the courage to say ‘hello’ and then ask if he served in the Armed Services. His countenance immediately brightened, he smiled, and shared with me a little about the years he served (right after World War II). I thanked him for his service to our country. His smile grew bigger.

After that, we went back to watching a show on HGTV that played overhead. But when he left, he smiled again and wished me a Merry Christmas. I truly believed that small encounter helped him better enjoy the day. And, except for the uncomfortable moments where I wrestled to bring myself to say something, it really wasn’t that hard.

Click to tweet: Being kind is something we all can do. #kindnessmatters #payitforward

In 2018, I plan to share more kindness, even if I have to do it afraid. I hope you’ll join me!

Small Acts of Kindness: Closure

By Jennifer Hallmark

A New Year approaches and with it, a fresh start. In 2017, Ellen and I have enjoyed sharing small acts of kindness that affected us and also displaying kindness through the posts of guest bloggers. But there is one more act of kindness you can do for yourself before the New Year begins.

Several years ago, I was discussing the New Year with a friend and she told me how she was already praying about the New Year and setting goals.

“That’s always good to do. But I have one question for you,” I said. “Have you brought the year 2017 to a point of closure?”

Click to tweet: Finding closure before entering 2018. #NewYear #goals

She asked what I meant. I explained that in the thesaurus, the word closure compares to conclusion, end, close, and finalization. Had she brought this old year to a close? Have you? Below are several questions you can ask yourself so you can successfully end the year 2017.

(1)    Have I taken a moment to examine all the people in my life to make sure there is no bitterness or unforgiveness against any of them? The point is not whether they deserved to be forgiven even if they hurt you badly. When Jesus went to the Cross and suffered like He did so we could go to heaven, His love erased any excuse we might have to hold unforgiveness towards anyone for any reason. Reconciliation is not always possible, but with the help of God we can forgive.

(2)    Have I looked at all the events in my life and come to a place of peace/acceptance? Some things that happened to me this year were not good. Have I reached a place where I can move forward? It helps me to write my feelings down either in prayer form or a declaration. In a catastrophic event like the concert shooting in Las Vegas or the hurricanes that ravaged so many areas, I put into a prayer my thoughts and feelings of that day.

In an event, such as sickness or pain, I first write what the doctor said, then what God said in His Word. At the end, I write a declaration that I have chosen to believe God over man. I don’t deny the diagnosis. I simply believe God for healing, either in this lifetime or the next. During hard times, I can go back and read and remember, using these prayers and declarations to strengthen my faith and give me hope.

(3)    Have I examined my goals and dreams I had for 2017? Which goals did I reach? Which ones were probably unrealistic to begin with? As I look back at my accomplishments and the things I didn’t accomplish or finish, it will help me to set new goals, plans and dreams for 2018. I can also release my goals and dreams back to God and believe He has a purpose and plan within it all.

2018 offers a clean slate. Make sure and take a moment to bring 2017 to a point of closure. Then you’ll be free to start the New Year with faith and hope in the One who makes all things new.