Advice, featured, op-ed, Tonya Jewel Blessing

Bottoms Up!

Tonya Jewel Blessing

Recently, I joined my family in tubing down the Tuscarawas River.

Everyone had a wonderful time, except for my great-nephew, a four-year-old. The six-hour adventure was too much for him. My peaceful day of sunshine, cool water, and a slight breeze also included Joey’s repeated interruptions and adamant cries, “Get me out of here!” The cutie even told me a few days later, “Aunt T, I hate tubing!”

At once point along the rolling river, I got stuck by the shallow bank among logs, rocks, and overhanging trees.

A helpful friend told me to lift my bottom and kick my legs.

Soothing Rain is a devotional written by Tonya Blessing and Sue Summers

It was good advice, and I was soon on my way.

In my Appalachian historical novel, The Melody of the Mulberries, the Spanish Flu makes an ugly appearance. The flu pandemic originally occurred between 1918 and 1920 and affected the lives of over 500 million people. My story is set during the late 1920s when there was a small resurgence of influenza. In this excerpt, the granny witch is dying. She has been a nemesis in teacher Ernest’s side, but he comes along to help her.

A mystery apprentice acts as a witness.

 He patted her hand and tried to soothe her, “Granny, I’m knowing you think that I don’t like you, but, in truth, I admire you,” Ernest began.
The weary woman opened her glassy eyes and immediately closed them again. The weight of her chin rested on her upper chest.“You’ve been strong in tough times. You’ve lived in the wilds and did your best to be helping others. Now, I am wanting to help you. I know you believe in God, but it’s important to believe that God sent His Son Jesus to save us. Your time on earth might be coming to an end. I’m gonna pray, and I’m wanting you to pray with me.”

            Ernest motioned for Minerva to join them. They made a hand circle. He closed his eyes and prayed a simple prayer. When he opened his eyes and looked at Granny, she had released Minerva’s hand. The wrinkled worn weathered hand was raised in the air like Granny was reaching for someone.

The Melody of the Mulberries

We are living in unusual times.

If we are not careful, we can easily become entangled along the bank, get stuck, and become immobile.  Granny lifted her hand reaching for God. We can also lift our hands reaching out for hope and the love of a Savior.

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Tonya Jewel Blessing writes and speaks in many types of venues in America, Africa, and Asia
https://www.tonyajewelblessing.com/
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featured, justice, marketplace, op-ed, scales, Tonya Jewel Blessing

Sacred Scales

By Appalachian Novelist, Tonya Jewel Blessing

Has the opinion of someone else unbalanced your properly scaled life? Have you read something untrue or viewed an article or post on the internet that unbalanced your scale?

In my early thirties, I had a part-time clerical job at a science lab in Lakewood, Colorado. During an extremely busy time at the lab, my job position was reassigned to include weighing extremely thin, white, circular filters on a scale.

The filters were about an inch in diameter. They were to be weighed by me, distributed to a specific client, used in some type of filtration system, and then re-weighed to determine pollutants.

After every tenth calculation, the scale was recalibrated to insure accuracy continued. Accuracy was extremely important. The samples and recorded weights were also spot-checked by another employee.

Scales have been used in market trade for ages.

Although scales were documented as useful as early as 500 B.C. in Rome, unjust weight was considered a means of cheating a customer in all countries, and it still is. But an unjust weight can work in the reverse to harm the seller as well if the weight slides out of balance in the other direction. There are numerous references to these types of scales in the biblical book of Proverbs.

Traditionally scales (specifically a two-pan, beam balance) are a symbol of justice. The equipment presents a metaphor about the issues of life being “held in balance.”

IMBALANCED OPINIONS AND FALSE INFORMATION

In an election year, my thoughts and personal opinions, if not submitted to fact checks and used for appropriate purposes, can be an issue as much as any other’s false news. I don’t want to skew the truth. Allowing an imbalance of any kind can have far-reaching effects.

During my devotions recently, I was thinking about how scales become unbalanced. Only God is truly just, and only He can keep our lives in balance. My life scale becomes inaccurate when I allow the opinions of others to overshadow the truth of God. It also loses accuracy when other outside influences are valued by me more than they should be permitted.

It is important to God that scales are balanced. When things are weighed, the standards and scales must be accurate for all.

BALANCING PERSONAL TIME

Personal time is an area of struggle for me. How do I balance time spent in different ways in my life?

How do you spend your time? Have you ever written down the things you do during the day, like a timekeeper must do to invoice clients for personal time clocked on their behalf? Listing your day’s activities for a time is a good way to inventory how you are really spending your minutes and hours. Here is an online timer you can easily use.

Are you being pressured by others, or feel that your life is becoming unfamiliar? Or is it in balance with what the Lord has asked of you personally?

How about your own thoughts? Is there anything that you have embraced or welcomed into your life that has diminished the truth of God? Maybe someone or something is pushing extra weight onto your scale to produce a false reading.

The LORD hates false scales, but he delights in accurate weights.

Proverbs 11:1 ISV

Tonya Jewel Blessing writes about redeeming injustice not only in her Appalachian historical series, Big Creek, but she also writes devotional pieces for groups of leaders who mentor others. Her book, Soothing Rain, is a 52-week devotional resource for women, especially, seeking to offer food for thought and conversation starters for groups. Book Tonya now for your next speaker event.

@Tonya_Jewel
Soothing Rain is a devotional written by Tonya Blessing and Sue Summers
Conversation starter. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/828380925202409883/
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Standard Questions from Strangers

By Novelist, Tonya Jewel Blessing

I recently read an internet article from “The California Globetrotter” written by an American expat, Lady Lola, living in Germany.

“No matter where I go and who I meet, there are always the standard questions everyone wants to know about America, and they ask me because I’m an American.

https://www.caliglobetrotter.com/15-questions-im-asked-as-an-american-living-abroad/

“Sometimes I feel like a monkey behind a cage, everyone looking inside wanting to look at it and ask questions about why it’s doing what it’s doing. But I remind myself, everyone is just curious about the American culture and people, and they want to hear it straight from the source.”

Some of the common questions Lady Lola receives as are follows: Did you vote for President Trump? Is there really so much gun violence in America? Is racism still a problem? Do you really drive everywhere? Why are Americans so loud? Have you actually met a famous person? Why do Americans smile all the time? And, Why do Americans put bacon on everything?

Questions often present an opportunity for growth

Recently, I feel plagued by questions where the answers are not readily available.  In some cases, I have kept concerns to myself. I am worried about being judged for my personal beliefs or even misunderstood in what I am saying or refrain from saying. Questions often present an opportunity for growth.

There is an interesting question-filled story in the Bible in the Book of Judges chapter 13. There, a woman, who is unable to have children, experiences an angelic visitation. The messenger tells her that she is going to have a son and gives instructions about how to parent this unusual boy. The woman then tells her husband, Manoah. The Bible says in verse 8 that Manoah prays to the Lord asking for answers to specific questions. God is not offended by Manoah’s inquiry and, in fact, responds with the needed information.

Have you been asking heartfelt questions lately? Maybe you have voiced some of those questions, or maybe you have felt intimidated to make inquiries. Rest assured that God wants to hear your concerns. He wants to help you and to bring clarification to your queries.

Manoah and his barren wife sacrifice a ram to the angel of the Lord (above); Manoah’s wife wears a wimple in Eustache Le Sueur‘s The Sacrifice of Manoah, 1640-1650.
Tonya Jewel Blessing

Tonya Jewel Blessing and her husband, Chris, manage their ministry in South Africa, Strong Cross Ministries. They have been hunkered down with a variety of hospitable family members through the Covid-19 world-wide crises, and separated from those they long to be helping. Tonya, having grown up partially in West Virginia, the Appalachian hills and hollers, is the author of unique fables: The Whispering of the Willows, and sequel, The Melody of the Mulberries. Those who have read the first two installments are hounding Tonya for her third book in the series.

Readers' Favorite Novel ISBN-13: 978-0997162547
This is Capture Books’ best-selling American-gothic novel by a Golden Writer.

A sequel is coming soon!

Synopsis: Fourteen-year-old Emie Ashby has been raised by an angry and repressed father since the end of WWI. Her mother cannot take the risk of defending her children. Instead, she turns a blind eye. In this way, she becomes part and parcel of the abuse of her daughters. Emie enters into trouble times as Aunt Grace provides a way to possibly survive it. How does Emie navigate the road that lies before her with so many threats nipping at her heels?

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analysis, Big Creek Appalachia, Faith, featured, leadership, op-ed, rethink, scrutinize, Summertime, Tonya Jewel Blessing

LEADING THE WAY

By Tonya Jewel Blessing

I am a leader. As a woman in leadership, some days I feel great about leadership and other days. . . not so much.

Leadership is the ability to influence others into following your lead. It comes in a variety of forms and is defined in numerous ways. Making presentations, forming a company, bookmaking, posting articles, publishing blog posts, teaching and coaching, and other expressions are readily available to peruse principles for leading others.  
 
I train leaders. I am a partner in ministry. I teach, inspire, and preach in a variety of settings. I also write books. For me, one of the key ways I measure leadership is through effective communication. Am I communicating biblical principles in what I do and what I say?

In a time when there is great fear… LEADERS are more necessary than at any other time. (anonymous)

In order to communicate biblical principles, I need to experience daily intimacy with God. I want to use tactical, God-inspired, insights in my communication.
 
Another way is to gauge whether others are able to hear my words. Lately, I’ve been testing whether I communicate in ways others can hear, not merely the way I voice my vowels and consonants but also hear me in a way that they are able to live out those words in their own world. It isn’t just once that my husband has told me I have talked around issues of importance so that when I am done speaking, I may have left people wondering about the heart of what I have said.

T-Junction

I’m working on direct and healthy communication by a method of asking some questions. Have I presented my point? Have I given applicable examples? Have I given too little information, or have I rambled and overwhelmed the audience with too much?
 
It is likewise vital to me that others can emulate my leadership. I want my strides along the paths we walk as leaders to be in a clear direction not just speak about guiding lights as principles. Combining my words and actions, is my model of leadership effective? Can others put Jesus-living into practice?
 
As women in leadership, my prayer is that each of us becomes great communicators through words and deeds. I hope that those who view our lives and listen to our words are personally moved forward and are able to move those around them in a good and wise direction.

Tonya Jewel Blessing
Tonya Jewel

Tonya Jewel Blessing is a sought-after teacher and speaker. She is the author of The Whispering of the Willows and The Melody of the Mulberries. Her writing leads the way for Christian authors to write difficult scenes of gender and sexuality in fiction.

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The Metaphor Bridge

By Tonya Jewel Blessing


A bridge is a meeting place, a possibility, a metaphor

Jeanette Winterson

Last Sunday, Chris and I, along with my sister and brother-in-law, toured the covered bridges in Ashtabula County in northeast Ohio. The region borders Pennsylvania. We viewed approximately ten bridges located almost exclusively on hard-to-find backcountry roads. The weather was delightful, and the homemade fried pies we found at a roadside stand delicious.

The quote by Jeannette Winterson is a new favorite of mine. As an author, I am also looking for a meeting place with other authors and readers; a possibility of sharing my books on numerous platforms; and direction, even in the form of a metaphor, about how to engage people with my writing.

Most of the bridges we viewed were old and worn, yet sturdy in form and function. Since my novels are set in the late 1920s, I understand the old and worn. I enjoy writing about legends, history, folklore, and people of the past. As an author, with the help of wonderful editors, I stick with writing form and function as much as possible. I do, however, lack form and function when it comes to marketing. I am constantly and consistently looking for new platforms to promote my books. Capture Books, a publishing house, has been extremely instrumental in helping me and has thankfully spurred me onward. Laura Bartnick is my representative. Her innovative ideas keep me on my toes.

This month, I am pleased to say that some new bridges have been crossed. An organization that promotes books that feature minority characters, Diversity Between the Pages, wrote an amazing blog about my latest novel. I have a podcast interview set up for next week. I am in the processing of writing an article for a Christian magazine, and I am excited about an virtual book tour with Prism Book Tours, on June 22-26.

Whether you are a writer, singer, teacher, leader, or dreamer remember to engage in bridge meetings, entertain possibilities, and examine metaphors.

Tonya Jewel Blessing

Tonya Blessing is an international speaker and author. You can plan to book her today through her agent, https://booksforbondinghearts.com/contact/.