Tag Archives: faith

FINDING THE OPEN GATE

I have a five-foot-tall wooden fence around the perimeter of my backyard, which has a gate beside the house. I had been working in the yard one day and decided to take a lunch break. As I was eating, I noticed a strange dog in the backyard. Obviously, I had accidently left the gate open.

BackyardSpring

The poor dog started running back and forth along the rear fence. As he reached each fence on the side of the yard, he leaped trying to jump over. Each attempt failed and the dog crashed into the wooden slats, then ran in the opposite direction to try again. The hurdles were simply too high, and the dog lacked the strength and knowledge to find its way to out.

I went to the open gate and began whistling and calling for the dog to come my way—the only way to find paradise. The dog would look my way, but feared me; I was not his master, so he continued trying to get out using his own methods. The dog ignored all my offers to help. I had to find other means to convince the dog I was simply trying to help him find the answer to his problem—I meant no him harm.

Gate

I walked slowly toward the dog, talking softly as I approached. As I got near, the dog ran to the front fence and repeated its efforts, achieving the same results. He ran right past the open gate and crashed into the fence each time. Although the gate was wide open, the dog failed to seize the opportunity I had graciously provided. A simple fence, combined with the lack of faith and trust in me was all that prevented the dog from reaching its goal—freedom. Well, after much coaxing and showing the way, the dog finally saw the light and ran out through the open gate.

This situation made me think about how we often view God the same way as the dog viewed me. For whatever reason, we sometimes act like that poor little dog. God calls us and shows us the way to find the path in our spiritual journey. His messages are very clear, yet we seem to ignore or not understand what He wants us to do in life. We keep trying to do things our way even though we keep crashing into the fence.

Fortunately, God never gives up on us and keeps calling for us to follow Him. He has a plan for each of us if we would only listen. Unfortunately, our fear and free will to make choices also causes us to be stubborn at times—just like the dog. PrayingHandsWhen we learn to take our fences (life-hurdles) to God in prayer, He will listen and show us the way—in His own time. If we have faith and place our trust in God and start following Him, He will lead us to and through the “open gates” in life.

 

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

John 14:5-7 (NIV)

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

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To learn what happened to one man when God called him to follow, read my story “If Tigers Were Angels: With God, All Things Are Possible” available on Amazon or by contacting me at IfTigersWereAngels@gmail.com

 

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

WHO AM I

WHO AM I is a wonderful YouTube musical video (w/lyrics) by Casting Crowns that was posted four years ago by Chabel1982. The music, lyrics, and photos touched me, so I wanted to share it with you. I think it is well worth your time and feel sure it will touch you also. Sit back, relax, turn up the volume, and click on the link!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBcqria2wmg

WhoAmI

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

GOD’S MESSAGE

My wife and I had a wonderful time visiting with three dear friends in Kure Beach, NC recently. Our conversations ranged from the fun we had back in the good ole days to the current problems facing the world. You can rest well now—like most folks, we had solutions for every existing problem. Now, doesn’t that make you feel warm and fuzzy!?! The only thing lacking is the implementation of our well-thought-out solutions. That’s the easy part. Right?

Okay! Okay! You don’t believe me do you? Like most folks, you’re probably a “Doubting Thomas.” I understand how you feel—my name is Thomas, so you don’t have to explain! However, I have no doubt there is One who not only knows all of our problems; He also has the solutions and even knows how to implement them. He has the “Kure” for all problems no matter how large they are. Remember where we were—“Kure” Beach, NC. That no coincidence and should make you feel even better, but I bet you’re still dancing to DT’s music.

The reason I believe our little group was on the right track became apparent when we reached the end of one of our problem solving sessions. God painted the most vivid double rainbow I have ever seen. Every “ROYGBIV” color on God’s canvas was spectacular and remained visible for about fifteen minutes. The sight was breathtaking; we felt His presence as if He was acknowledging our efforts.

RainbowGenesis 9.16

This affirmation of His covenant to all living creatures of every kind on earth revealed itself in a very special way. His timing was perfect, as it always is. We felt blessed to have the opportunity to witness this beautiful display on His canvas in the sky.

The point of this post is to say God knows our individual struggles and the problems facing our nation. He will help, but He wants each of us to serve Him by being proactive and spreading His word as modern-day disciples. It is time to end our silence and start reversing the direction our non-Christian government leaders are taking. Let’s not sit back and wait for others to do something—let’s act and encourage others to follow. We are all capable of doing something to help, even small things. For me, I try to do it through my faith-based writing. It’s not much, but it’s what I do best. No matter how small you think your efforts are, do what works best for you, but do something—He will increase anything you do by tenfold.

I will also keep praying that God continues to bless America and hope you feel inspired to do the same. I know that With God, All Things Are Possible!

Rainbow

Genesis 9:16 (NIV)

“Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

YOUTH AND ROLE MODELS

YouthRoleModels

A child comes into this world without knowledge of love, hate, prejudice, greed, good or evil. They learn these things by observing the actions and words of others—role models.

Role models definitely play an integral “role” in shaping the behavior of young people. As children age, they want to “be like” and “act like” their role models; they start emulating things these individuals say and do. It’s great when those actions and words are what we want for our youth, but that’s not always the case.

When I think of role models, the first that come to mind are famous people—athletes, movie stars, singers, etc. Folks like Rickie, Jordon, Tiger, Denzel, George, Julia, Carrie, and you. Who? That’s right, even YOU!

The good news is you don’t have to be famous to be one. In many ways, we are all role models because we influence the actions, behavior, and character of children. That’s a bit scary isn’t it!

Here’s the bad news—YOU ARE a role model for youth in some way, shape, or form. Think about that for a moment. Young folks observe your actions, reactions, and listen to things you say, even when you don’t realize they are doing it. Yep, they’re always watching and listening! Your actions and words often influence (good or bad) their young-impressionable minds. For some of them, YOU may be the most important person in their lives. As a parent, grandparent, relative, friend, coach, or teacher you may spend a lot of time with them. Enjoy the time with them, but try to be a good influence also.

Unfortunately, you are not always at your best. That applies to everyone! There are times in life when you have bad days; it happens! Your frustrations mount as one small thing after another builds pressure within you until you can’t take anymore. You burst like a pinpricked balloon, releasing a volley of gestures or words that are not always representative of good behavior. You react in ways you would never want young minds to witness or emulate.

I think I’ve seen the full spectrum of role-model behavior in my lifetime. For instance, as I watch my grandchildren performing in various events, typically sports, I’m sometimes shocked how some adults act around young folks. Saying it politely, I think some fans and coaches bring their pinpricked-balloon attitudes to the ballpark. They are not exactly the role models I want in the lives of my grandchildren, but they do serve a practical purpose—how NOT to act. More often than not, everyone acts civil, which is good and healthy for the character development of youth.

Just for fun, look at the short list below and select one individual from each line who you think would be the best role model for the young folks you know.

  1. Miley Cyrus                 Carrie Underwood
  2. Al Sharpton                  Dr. Ben Carson
  3. Tim Tebow                   Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner
  4. Tiger Woods                 Jordan Spieth
  5. President Bush             President Obama
  6. Michelle Obama          Condoleezza Rice
  7. YOURSELF                Uncle Joe/Aunt Sue

I’m sure you get the picture. YOU are the best role model for the young folks in your corner of the world. Congratulations! There are probably days when you would choose Uncle Joe or Aunt Sue over yourself—especially on your burst-balloon days. Hang in there because you CAN make a big difference!

So, what are your actions and words teaching children in your sphere of influence? Do you need to do some minor tweaking to your efforts? I certainly do!

Be a good role model… the world could use another one!

 Your certificate: print, date, and sign it—go forth and make a difference!

CertificateRecognition

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor   LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

Author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

THE WRONG QUESTION

It was a time in life long ago in a land far away when I first asked The Wrong Question. The year was 1974; I was a twenty-five-year-old first lieutenant in the USAF. My eighteen-month assignment to the small, remote village of Woomera, South Australia was just two weeks from ending when the fragility of life knocked on my door. The events that transpired in those final days rocked the foundation of my faith.

SouthAustralia

WoomeraVilliageTwit

My pregnant wife and one-year-old daughter accompanied me to the Australian outback. We felt it was a great opportunity for us to experience life abroad. The scenery, unusual wildlife, and the Aussie people we met did not disappoint us. We were on top of the world, figuratively speaking, in the land down under, where kangaroo-crossing signs stood along the roadside as a warning to drivers. My second daughter was even born in Woomera, which is story in itself for another time.

KangarooCrossing

Although we had enjoyed living in Australia for seventeen months, we were excited about returning home to the States—just two weeks remained. Suddenly, without any warning, our happy little world came crashing down around us. Our three-year-old daughter started having difficulty breathing during the wee hours of the night. I carried her in my arms to the small hospital because we had recently sold our car. In the few minutes it took to walk there, her difficulty breathing appeared to be getting much worse. I was in ultra-panic mode!

When the doctor examined her, he said there was nothing he could do for her in Woomera. The remote medical facility was simply not equipped to handle someone in her critical condition. What? Critical? She was perfectly fine when she went to bed! The doctor offered little hope that she would survive; his facial expression alarmingly displayed his sense of desperation. Typical of most fathers, I would have given anything to change places with my daughter, but that was not an option.

Australian Flying DrThe Flying Doctor Service airlifted my daughter to a civilian hospital located in the city of Adelaide, over three-hundred miles away. I became even more frustrated when told I couldn’t accompany her on the flight. This was definitely the scariest experience of my young life, but things were going to get worse.

Things were happening extremely fast—my head was spinning! I tried to gather my wits in efforts to figure out how I could get us to Adelaide. First, I humbled myself and asked the young Australian couple if I could borrow the car I had just sold them, which they graciously allowed me to do. Then we had to find someone to keep our second daughter while we were in Adelaide for an unknown duration. A neighbor quickly obliged. Next came getting permission from my commanding officer to allow me to go to Adelaide, which he did without hesitation.

We began the long-slow journey not knowing what we would find when we arrived at the hospital. Ahead of us was eighty miles of dirt road before we reached a small two-lane-paved road outside of Port Augusta that would lead us into Adelaide. We were scared and felt helpless knowing our daughter was in the hospital gasping for each breath. We had many hours to reflect on our situation.

We started asking “WHY” God would allow something like this happen to our precious daughter. She was just an innocent little girl who had done nothing wrong. Then we wondered “WHY” God would punish her for something we may have done. We started questioning our faith and belief in God at a time when we needed Him most. WHYThe question “WHY” kept entering our conversation, but we continued praying. Fear of the unknown was consuming us with each mile we travelled. We kept asking “WHY” He would allow something like this happen to our daughter. WHY?!! WHY?!!

When we arrived at the hospital, a nurse escorted us to the ICU area. The sight we saw was one I’ll never forget. My daughter was still with us, but there were tubes and monitors all around her; she was fighting hard to stay alive. We didn’t know if her next breath would be her last, and prayed that it wouldn’t. The fear of losing our precious child was overwhelming.

Our daughter was in the hands of total strangers in a land halfway around the world from our native land. There were no friends, family, or military personnel to comfort us; we were all alone in a great big world. We prayed; we doubted; we bargained; we prayed harder, asking God to spare our daughter and return her to good health. We were completely exhausted from lack of sleep, food, and the mounting fear—we were numb!

PrayingHands

News of the clear and present danger a young American couple was facing with their child spread throughout the hospital. A pastor came by to prepare us for what might happen. Still searching for answers, we asked him our “WHY” questions.

He responded with the gentle kindness of a man of cloth and reminded us that asking God “WHY” was the wrong question. People have and will continue to ask such questions, but no human possesses the wisdom to answer them. We have to accept the cliché that “sometimes, bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people” for reasons known only to God. We must remain steadfast in our faith and place all of our burdens in God’s hands—we should never stop believing and praying. We won’t always get what we pray for because God knows what’s best for us. He has plans for each of us and is always there for us. He reveals His plans to us in His perfect timing.

To say we felt wonderful after talking to the pastor would be a bit dishonest, but he did give us a thread of hope. We continued to pray numerous times each day. More than a week passed before our daughter started improving and ultimately recovered. A true blessing!

To this day, we do not know the answers to our “WHY” questions, but we thank God for sparing our daughter. We have received many blessings from Him since that experience and understand God’s gift of grace. Our faith has grown stronger.

I share this story with the knowledge that many parents ask the same “WHY” questions but don’t always experience the same outcome we did. I know many parents who have lost a child, and my heart goes out to each of them. Having come close to losing my child, I can only imagine how difficult it was for them to move forward with their lives. What I do know is that those who do move on have true faith in God; their knowledge of His love is a blessing that some may never come to understand.

Life can change in a flash, but those who believe and have true faith in God are equipped to handle whatever challenges come their way. They know they Never Walk Alone!

Never Walk Alone Twit

Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Revelation 21:4 (NIV)

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Romans 8:28 (NIV) 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor   LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

Author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Christian Author On Trial Part 4

NEWS Report – 4 of 4

NewsFLashVerdictTwit

Suggestion: Before reading Part 4, please read Parts 1, 2 & 3 for background information. The scenario presented is fictitious, but could something similar happen in the near future?

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JURY REACHES VERDICT

This is Mike Jones reporting to you live from outside the courthouse in Washington with the fourth and final report on the NAG vs Christian Author trial. The jury of four Believers and eight nonBelievers delivered their final verdict today.

This trial began four months ago when a group called nonBelievers Against God (NAG) joined forces with the Justice Department in efforts to remove all references to God in America. They charged Christian author Tom Tatum on two counts:

Count One: Writing books that support the concept of God’s existence

Count Two: Conspiracy to keep God in America

The twelve jurors returned to the courtroom today after deliberating for three days. When the judge asked the foreman if the jury had reached a final verdict, you could have heard a pin drop as Believers and nonBelievers anxiously awaited his response.

The foreman appeared confident as he stood, cleared his throat, and replied, “Your Honor, we have reached a verdict on both counts.”

The bailiff handed the jury’s verdict form to the judge who read, “As to Count One: Writing books that support the concept of God’s existence, how do you find the defendant?”

“We, the jury, unanimously find the defendant guilty.”

The courtroom erupted with cheers of victory from the NAG members who were present. Those who support Mr. Tatum were shocked by the verdict and lowered their heads in disappointment. The judge banged his gavel to restore order and continued reading from the verdict form.

“As to Count Two: Conspiring to keep America a nation under God, how do you find the defendant?”

“We, the jury, unanimously find the defendant not guilty. Your Honor, please note that our verdict for Count One is based completely on a caveat that this court must execute if the verdict is to be considered final. Otherwise, this jury asks the court for more time to continue our deliberations.”

Murmurs filled the air of the courtroom in anticipation of what was likely to follow. Again, the judge called for silence and asked the foreman to explain the jury’s position.

“Your Honor, the caveat attached to our guilty verdict for Count One is in the form of a request. Unlike the punishment the prosecutor demanded this court impose on Mr. Tatum, this jury unanimously requests that you set Mr. Tatum free and reward him by making his book available to every person in America. We think everyone should have the opportunity to read his story, and that includes ALL nonBelievers who choose to do so—nonBelievers are the very individuals who need to read it most. We also hope every person in the world has an opportunity to read Mr. Tatum’s inspiring story.”

The judge seemed amused by the jury’s unorthodox request and remained silent for a several minutes. His silence seemed to last for hours as everyone in the courtroom awaited his response.

I must admit to you that in my thirty years of service as a judge, this is the first time I’ve ever had a jury make such an unusual request. The twelve of you found the defendant guilty, yet you seek to reward rather than punish him. Please tell this court why you are making such a request.”

Without hesitation the foreman responded, “Your Honor, during the course of this trial, all members of this jury started having doubts about the Justice Department’s motives for supporting the NAG organization. It didn’t make sense to us that our government was attacking the Constitutional rights of those who choose to believe in God. As a nonbeliever and American citizen myself, I do not want the government restricting any of my rights, nor do I want the rights of Christians to be restricted because their views are simply different from mine. I respect the rights of ALL citizens to express themselves without fear of “big government” reprisals.

“Furthermore, each juror took the opportunity to read Mr. Tatum’s book during the long holiday break and realized the prosecution’s case had many flaws. The prosecutor was not being truthful with his statements and attempted to mislead us. The demon in this courtroom is not Mr. Tatum—the true demons are NAG followers, our government leaders, and the attorneys who accepted and chose to bring this case to trial.”

DevilThe prosecutor’s faced turned as red as the stripes on the American flag as he jumped to his feet shouting, Your Honor, I object to you allowing the foreman to speak in this manner! This is highly irregular! I demand you strike the foreman’s comments from the record and force him to sit down and remain silent! This court must punish Mr. Tatum in the manner I stated.”

“Mr. Habeeb, your objections are duly noted, but you are not in charge of this court. Now, please sit down before I have you removed from this courtroom. The foreman is making more sense than anything presented thus far from the prosecutor’s side during the course of this trial. This court should be allowed to hear what the foreman has to say. Please proceed with your statement, Mr. Foreman,” replied the judge.

The prosecutor reluctantly sat down, but it was obvious he disagreed with the judge’s remarks. The foreman then continued with his statement.

Thank you, Your Honor. As I was saying before being rudely interrupted, “Mr. Tatum is guilty of writing about God, but he has every right to do so. No court should deny his right to write about his beliefs. Yes, I am the spokesperson for this jury, but my comments are the thoughts composed by all members of this jury. With that said, we all feel that America was created as a nation of God—the founding fathers were wise enough to create documents that were supposed to prevent trials such as this one. Nowhere in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence do the words, ‘separation of church and state’ exist. Those words originated in an 1802 letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut. They were in Jefferson’s written response to an inquiry addressed to him about Connecticut’s law being oppressive to their religion.

“Jefferson’s statement was, ‘I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law regarding an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.

Constitution“The wall is to protect citizens from government intervention. The Constitution of the United States denies the federal government the ability to interfere with the religious rights of ALL the people for which it was written. The words ‘separation of church and state’ is not a legal decree. It’s simply a talking-point phrase promoted by the biased media, nonbelievers, and others who are ill informed about the law in order to support their efforts to remove God from America, willfully persecute Christians and all who believe in God. Anyone who understands our Constitution knows the government is over-stepping its bounds in this regard, and the biased media ecstatically supports their efforts. America’s foundation supports a nation of God and she should remain such. We want America to continue to be a great place to live—the land of the free and the home of the brave, with liberty and justice for all. May God continue to Bless America!”

The judge smiled, stood, and started applauding, as did all those in the courtroom. The judged thanked the foreman for his well-informed history lesson and said, “This court agrees with your statement, and I hereby grant your request to reward rather than punish Mr. Tatum.”

The judge wrinkled his brow and looked toward Mr. Habeeb as if awaiting a vigorous response. When the prosecutor said nothing, the judge dismissed the jurors and banged his gavel to end the trial. The fuming prosecutor and his NAG assistants stormed out of the courtroom. The silence in the room erupted into cheers as everyone in the courtroom started singing God Bless America

GodBlessAmerica

Gretchen, I interviewed two of the jurors off camera, both nonBelievers, and asked if their views about God had changed during the trial or if it was more about first amendment rights. Both said it was more about rights, but they now have more tolerance for Christians and all Believers. They said the story and statements made by the defense attorney in his closing arguments were very compelling. However, they acknowledged they had a long way to go before they could say they were Believers. It appears Tatum’s story and this trial had a few twists that NAG and the Justice Department didn’t anticipate. Both jurors also suggested that everyone should read Tatum’s book before rejecting God.

I also managed to talk to Matthew Jackson, the defense attorney. He said, “I am pleased the jury found Mr. Tatum guilty on count one and applaud their suggested reward. This jury of four Believers and eight nonBelievers sent a powerful message to the government and NAG’s who wish to delete all references to God. AMERICA IS A NATION OF GOD!

“Satan and his evil followers lost a small battle in this courtroom today, but his efforts to win the war will certainly continue. He will always tempt people to follow him, and it is unfortunate that most of them have no idea what is happening. Their beliefs about life and morality are leading America on a path toward destruction.

“I pray that this is the beginning of turning the evil tide that flows against Believers and serves to start spreading tolerance for God throughout America? It could very well be, but only if all Christians and Believers start raising their voices in harmony by taking a stand for their beliefs and becoming proactive in the war to sustain individual rights. Believers must start speaking out against the direction nonBelievers are taking America and help reverse the trend before it is too late. The ‘Devil’ has already taken prayer out of schools—Merry Christmas is now Happy Holidays—nativity scenes, Ten Commandments, and other religious symbols can no longer be displayed on public grounds. The list of efforts to remove God from our nation continues to grow. All these things happened while Christians and Believers silently did nothing to stop the insanity. Join the effort to HELP KEEP AMERICA A NATION OF GOD. Flood all elected government leaders with demands for them to wake up and fight the evil. Don’t stop until they take appropriate action. It’s time to Wake Up America!

Gretchen, I also asked Mr. Jackson about the story he shared in his closing arguments, and if he had any regrets about being a Christian. Listen to his response.

“Regrets? Yes, I have one. I regret that I wasted so many years of my life before RaysI finally saw the ‘light’ that reflected off a tiny glass in the desert. You see—the Christian who survived the desert experience with me was Mr. Tatum. It was long before he wrote his book. God placed Mr. Tatum in my life and he helped me find the Lord. Having the opportunity to represent him in this trial was a blessing for me, and is evidence that God truly does work in mysterious ways. I am proud to call myself a Christian.”

This has been Mike Jones reporting live from Washington. Now, let’s go back to Gretchen in the studio.

Thanks for your reports on the trial, Mike. I bet that verdict surprised many folks out there. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens in the future. Folks, I understand you can obtain a copy of Tatum’s book If Tigers Were Angels: With God, All Things Are Possible from most online bookstores. Check it out and let us know what you think about the book and the trial. Now, stay tuned to ATILBnews with Barry Brown. I’m Gretchen Jones wishing you a great day. God Bless America!

Twit Tiger

Tom Tatum – 2015

Author of faith-based novels

(1) If Tigers Were Angels: With God, All Things Are Possible

(2) On Green Diamonds: Pursuing a Dream

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

Author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Blog: http://www.atimeinlife.wordpress.com

Charleston Strong

ChangeThisToThis

I have never before experienced A Time In Life when I was more proud to be a South Carolinian and yet feel such overwhelming sadness also. The range of emotions created by the horrible event that took the lives of nine Christians last week in a Charleston, SC church covers the full spectrum.

I’m saddened because one man was so full of evil that he chose to go into a church and visit for an hour before killing nine people who had welcomed him to join them. It makes me want to ask the question, “Why would God allow this to happen in His house?” However, I know that is the wrong question. I also know the reasons for this tragedy may never be fully understood, but through my faith, I realize the event will serve a greater purpose.

I’m proud how the families of the victims have responded with such amazing grace as a testament of their true faith and belief in God. They have forgiven an accused murderer of their family members and have asked him to repent for his sins. They want him to find the Lord so he may have everlasting life through the grace of God. In their time of great sorrow, they have shined a bright light on South Carolina and our nation. The character and faith of these Christians should serve as beacon for all to follow.

I am proud how South Carolinians have joined together in peaceful events in Charleston and throughout our great state. The blue and white images have become icons across all social media platforms to show a united outpouring of love. This love has now spread around the world.

I pray for the victims to rest in peace in God’s house of many mansions, and for their families to find comfort and understanding as they continue to spread His word through their thoughts, words, and deeds. I pray that our nation will stand united by this tragedy and God continues to bless America. Amen.

Tom Tatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

Author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Five-Stars Isn’t Enough!

I am no different from most authors. I appreciate readers taking their valuable time to post their honest reviews about my books. This 5-star review on Amazon from author Denise Rezsonya touched my heart. I am feeling truly blessed by her kind comments.

Tiger Review By Denise1

If Tigers Were Angels – With God, All Things Are Possible

A review by Denise Rezsonya:

Five Stars Isn’t Enough!

I just finished reading this book and couldn’t get to my computer fast enough to write my review. I LOVED IT. If I could give this book more than 5 stars, I would. If you love inspirational Christian fiction, like I do, you MUST READ THIS book. I was hooked immediately on the first page and couldn’t put it down this weekend until I finished it. I love being moved and inspired, and this book achieves both. It provides us with hope in this world of darkness. It helps us understand ways that God tries to communicate with us and why we must encounter suffering. This story addresses how our plan may not be the one God has called us to, but how His plan is so much greater for us than we could ever have imagined. Throughout the book, the main character’s faith is tested and yet it is always strengthened. The author wrote this story with such conviction and integrity, I could truly feel God’s message oozing from every page deep into my soul. Get this book – I know you will love it!

Denise M. Rezsonya – Christian Author of

“Be The Light” (Volumes 1 and 2) – Christian-based reference books for today’s youth – available from Amazon.com

Denise’s website: www.denisemrezsonya.com

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor    LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

Author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

 

MY FIRST PET

When I was about six years old, my parents gave me a dog. It wasn’t anything special and looked much like Petey on the popular television show from long ago, The Little Rascals. I didn’t even know what kind of dog she was, but that didn’t matter—she was mine.

I named her Inky because of the large black spots that were scattered randomly all over her body. Inky became my best friend and followed me everywhere I went, which was all over our neighborhood. We were inseparable, and I loved that dog.

I was completely responsible for her. I had to feed, bathe, and make sure she had water to drink. Caring for her was actually good training for me, as it taught me a lot about responsibility.

Inky and I had been together for about three years, and my love for her had grown stronger each year. I came home from school one day and couldn’t find her. I searched all over the neighborhood looking for her. I kept calling her name, but there was no response. I thought she was lost. I was devastated.

I continued searching for hours, and finally I saw her under the house. Back then, our house didn’t have a foundation curtain wall around the perimeter. There was nothing to prevent you from seeing under the house. I called her name, but she didn’t move. I crawled under the house to get her. When I put my hand on her, she still didn’t move and felt cold. I continued talking to her, but there was no response.

I ran inside the house and told Mama I found Inky but I couldn’t make her wake up. Mama came outside with me and called to Inky, but she still didn’t move. That’s when Mama hugged me tightly and started crying. I didn’t know what was going on, but I figured it wasn’t happy tears, as she sometimes called them. This was very different—I could sense pain as she started talking to me in a shaky voice.

“Inky is. . . um, Inky went to dog heaven to be with Jesus,” she said.

“No she didn’t! She’s right there. Mama, make her wake up!”

“Tommy, Inky’s spirit is in dog heaven with Jesus. She’s not coming back home. You need to bury Inky’s body because her heart has stopped beating. I’m so sorry, but Inky is not coming back. . . she’s dead.”

I shouted, “No! No! No! I want Inky to come back! Please let Inky come back to me,” I yelled as I ran to my secret hiding place up in the huge oak tree in our backyard. I climbed up as high as I could and sat there crying my heart out. I wanted Inky to come back home to me. I sat there for about an hour, I guess. To me, Inky was just resting. . . nothing else. I knew she would come back out from under the house to play with me.

Then Mama walked out to the tree with a shovel in her hand. That was the day when the frailty of life hit me hard. I had never considered that Inky could be dead. I didn’t really even know what being dead meant. I had never experienced anything like that before, except for the fish Dad and I caught. Even then, I didn’t think about the fish being dead. It was the process we went through in order to eat them.

“Tommy, I know you’re upset, but this is something that happens to all living things. They are born, they live for a while, and then they go to heaven. Now come on down. It’s time for you to bury Inky. She needs to have a proper funeral. You can put her grave over there by the fence.”

I came down from my hiding place, and Mama handed me the shovel. I could hardly see because of the tears in my eyes. All I could think about was I didn’t want to bury Inky, but it didn’t matter. Mama told me I had to do it. She handed me a plastic bag and told me to place Inky in the bag before I buried her.

I started digging and my tears continued streaming down my cheeks onto the soil. I cried so much while I was digging that I think I ran out of tear juice. I placed Inky in the hole and covered her with the tear-soaked soil. When I finished, Mama came over and handed me a cross that had “INKY RIP” written on it. I placed the cross in the ground at the head of her grave. Mama said it was time for us to say a prayer for Inky.

I bowed my head as Mama said, “Jesus, Inky is in dog heaven with you now. Please take good care of her. She was a good dog, and I know she will be good for you too. Amen. Do you want to say something, Tommy?”

All I could manage was, “I love you, Inky. Please come back home.”

I then climbed back up into the tree to my hiding place and sat for a long time. Mama didn’t say anything else and went back inside the house. Having Inky with me for three years was great, but having her go to dog heaven was tough on me.

When I came home from school each day, I went out to Inky’s grave and knelt down beside her. I talked to her, but I never heard her bark in reply. I did this every day for about a month. I managed to live through the experience, and I guess it helped me appreciate the time I did have with Inky…

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

+++ BACKGROUND INFORMATION +++

The preceding is a true story from my youth. I changed the name of the boy and used the story as a scene in my novel ON GREEN DIAMONDS: PURSUING A DREAM where one of the main characters (Gabe) reflected on an experience from his childhood. There are many other life lessons throughout the book. Hope you have a chance to read the full story, which is available from most online bookstores in eBook, paperback, and hardback formats.

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

contact Tom by e-mail at OnGreenDiamonds@gmail.com

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

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Finding Dad

FirstGameNoDadWPFond memories often invoke some sad ones too. My dad came to every baseball game I played from little league through American Legion. He and my mom were obviously the most loyal fans I had watching me. Mom was more of a spectator while Dad taught me everything I learned about the game. Just his presence at the ballpark was a stabilizing mental factor for me, serving as an anchor for my performance during the games.

Each time I took the mound, I looked around the fence line to see if Dad was there to watch me play. I knew he would be, but it was tough finding him sometimes because he never sat in the stands. He liked to walk around the field, perching himself in different locations, and never stayed in any one spot very long. He’d always tell me to concentrate on my game and forget about him being there or where he was.

I never listened to him though. I would look around the field every inning until I found his new location. Seeing him standing quietly by the fence gave me the self-confidence I needed to perform at my very best. It was as if we were playing a little game of hide-n-seek within the baseball game itself.

The first time I pitched without Dad watching me occurred at my first college game. It was very difficult for me. Even though I knew he wasn’t going to be there, I still searched every foot of the fence line around the field in hopes of finding him. You see, a heart attack had taken Dad away from us three months earlier at the young age of forty-five—the very number I chose to grace my uniform. The thought he would never be there to see me play baseball again was a tough reality I had to accept.

I was scared, nervous, and had more anxiety than ever before. The butterflies in my gut were about to push me to the point of feeling as though I was paralyzed from the neck down. I sat in the dugout before the game wondering how I was going to pitch that first time without Dad being there. I wanted to play—heck, I needed to play our little hide-n-seek game within the real game, but he was nowhere to be found. I felt all alone on the green diamond for the first time in my life. I finally collected myself and found enough courage to force myself to run from the dugout out to the mound for the first inning. It was the longest run in my baseball career.

It was time for me to suck it up and do exactly what Dad had taught me to do—BELIEVE IN MYSELF! With my back facing home plate, I removed my cap and looked up at a puffy, white cloud in the sky. I prayed, not for God to help me, but for Him to let Dad somehow be with me that day. I tossed the rosin bag to the ground and then faced the batter. My whole body was shaking as I toed the rubber for my first pitch in a game without Dad being there to give me that much needed confidence.

I took several deep breaths as the catcher signaled for a fastball with his index finger pointing straight down. Visions of Dad doing the same thing a million times flashed before me, causing a warm feeling to spread throughout my body. I felt an inner peace, and my self-confidence quickly grew stronger. I realized I had found Dad’s new location and felt his presence in that puffy cloud high above the field.

My anxiety seemed to vanish as I hurled my first pitch of the game and heard the umpire yell Dad’s favorite word, “Stttriiikkkeee!” It was exactly the sound I needed to hear at that critical moment in my life. From then on, I knew exactly where to find my Dad at the ballpark—he was always looking down at me with a big smile on his face, and that was all I needed.

Dad, thanks for all the things you did for me, but most of all, thank you for all the things you did WITH me…

If you are a player, I hope your parents are there supporting you the way mine did. If you are a parent, be there and cheer for your child, but let the coaches do the coaching. Your presence means more to them than you can possibly imagine.

Topic from the novel, On Green Diamonds: Pursuing a Dream.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

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