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Intentionally Removing the Bitter Root

Inch Plant Bloom“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” -Hebrews 12:15

We have an interesting plant in our yard. It’s called an Inch Plant. The flowers on this plant are a pretty shade of pink. The rest of the plant is a purplish, kind of leafy vine. It’s trying to take over the yard.

My husband has learned that if he trims the plant, he can take the trimmings and plant them in other parts of the yard where they’ll produce new plants. If he doesn’t pick up the trimmings and do something intentional with them, though, they will take root where they fall. And if he never trims the plant, it really will take over the yard—perhaps the whole neighborhood—and fast!

Bitterness is like that Inch Plant. When someone hurts us, we may choose to forgive—and even mean it. But memories tend to linger like the plant trimmings. If we don’t do something intentional with them, we may find ourselves dwelling on the memory, then on the pain. Just like that, bitterness can take root in our minds and hearts again.

Inch PlantTo be intentional, we need to take hold of the memory as soon as it forms. We need to remember that we chose to forgive and reaffirm that decision. Then we need to take the memory to God. Forgiving doesn’t mean that justice won’t be done. It means we choose to trust God’s method of handling the matter—without our action or input. We remove ourselves from the judgment seat—and even from the witness bench.

Then, instead of demanding justice or dwelling on how we were wronged, we can talk to God about how we felt when we were hurt and tell Him about whatever feelings returned with the memory. We can tell Him that we choose to forgive yet again—just as He’s forgiven us. We can ask Him to heal our hearts and take away the pain. We reaffirm our faith in God’s care and go on our way full of His peace.

Interestingly enough, God’s peace can grow and spread just like bitterness can. We can (and probably will) pass either along to the people around us, too. Rehashing a bitter memory may tempt us sometimes, but peace is a healthier option to let take root in our hearts and minds.

Father, remind me to treat bitterness like a weed and root it out whenever it appears. I choose to forgive those who’ve hurt me. I trust You to work in their lives—just as I know You are working in mine. Help me to surrender painful memories to You to cultivate Your peace in my life. Amen.

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Book Review: A Deadly Business

A Deadly BusinessIn the opening chapters of A Deadly Business by Lis Wiehl with April Henry, Seattle prosecutor Mia Quinn experiences one of the worst days of her life and embarks on two new investigations, one professional and one personal. The latter is forced on her when Detective Charlie Carlson discovers evidence that her husband’s death, seven months before, may not have been an accident. Charlie is determined to help Mia discover the truth, whether she wants to or not. The result is an emotional story that’s hard to put down.

A Deadly Business is the second book in the Mia Quinn Mystery series. Each of the mysteries is self-contained within each book; Mia solves her cases, making her boss and her readers happy. It’s her personal story that we get to follow from book to book. Mia is a strong character. She’s a newly widowed mother of two, forced to go back to work to provide for her family and to pay off debts discovered after her husband’s death. She has a lot to juggle, but she always fights for what is right for her family, for her community, for victims who need justice.

In this book, however, one thing Mia has to determine is who needs justice most. When a teenage prank goes horribly wrong, Mia must determine whether or not to try the boys as adults. This opens dialogue into one of the social justice themes of this book: at what point (if ever) does society give up on someone, lock them up, and throw away the key? Wiehl and Henry use other criminals in the book to add considerations to the debate. They also bring in other related issues for readers to think about as they enjoy the story: election integrity, media influence, society’s responsibility to care for those who can’t care for themselves—limitations and the overwhelming burden, the slippery path of seemingly harmless wrong choices. Wiehl and Henry don’t give clear answers, rather they explore the many facets of each issue, presenting angles of which readers may not be aware.

I’m looking forward to reading about Mia’s next case and to learning the outcome of some of the personal decisions she made in this book. If you enjoy a thought-provoking mystery, I recommend A Deadly Business. Thomas Nelson Publishers sent me a complimentary copy in exchange for this honest review.