God is with you, in happiness and in pain

Today I opened my email inbox to find an ad for a new book by a Christian author called “Happiness.” The email’s title was, “Happiness on Earth Is a Biblical PROMISE!” and at the top of the email in bold letters were the words, “HAPPINESS IS OUR INHERITANCE – HERE ON EARTH!”

I’ve been reading the Bible since I was a child, regularly for the past 20 years. I spend two and a half years in a Bible college as a Theology major, have written Bible study materials for the past 9 years, and have focused all of my energy in the past 2 years into building a business publishing Christian materials. Never once have I read “happiness” was our spiritual inheritance or a Biblical promise. Now I haven’t read the aforementioned book, so maybe the author is using all of that as a marketing scheme to lure people into understanding joy through tribulation, but that’s not what it seems upon first reading it.

As a person living in this generation, are you happy? I really hope you are happy, but I have major doubts about your theology if you think happiness is a Biblical promise. What will you do if some tragedy comes your way? Will your faith waiver if you are unhappy?

A few days ago I opened my internet browser and read about some horrible acts taking place in the world. Beheading of an elderly scholar and others. Admission of guilt in participating in child porn. The ripping apart of live babies, to access their brains for research and other body parts for sale. Young girls used as sex slaves in the name of “religion.” The tears began as I wrote those last few sentences, just as they did when I read those news articles.

Do you cry when you read the news? Or are you so “happy” that you aren’t touched emotionally by the plight of victims around the world? Hebrews 13:3 admonishes us we should feel the pain of others as we remember what they are going through.

“Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.” NLT

It’s not fun to cry or to feel emotional pain. Many of us have enough pain of our own; we don’t want to be “bothered” by the pain of others. But the truth is, hiding from pain won’t help us heal. Like a neglected broken bone, leaving pain unattended can lead to us healing in broken and dysfunctional ways, leading to other issues.

I believe our emotional response is a marker of where we are at spiritually, the compassion we hold for others, and our detestation for sin. It may even be a matter of salvation. Ezekiel 9:4 tells the story of the man God sent to mark the people who grieve because of the evil going on around them. Only those marked were spared death.

“He said to him, ‘Walk through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of all who weep and sigh because of the detestable sins being committed in their city.’ Then I heard the LORD say to the other men, ‘Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity!'” NLT

Listen to your God-given emotions. Don’t stuff them, pretending they aren’t there. There is a reason you feel feelings. God can use your emotions to lead you closer to Him, to align your path with His Word, and to show His power through your life. James 5:13-17 offers more insight on what we should do with our emotional states.

“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” NLT

Pray. Praise. Have others pray for you and anoint you with oil, in faith. Confess and pray for one another. But whatever you do, don’t turn off your emotions. Don’t buy into the “happiness” lie. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel pain. It’s okay not to have it altogether. God loves you no matter what happens-past, present or future.

Happiness isn’t a Biblical promise, but God’s ever-present presence is. No matter what you’re facing today, God is with you, and saints around the world remember and pray for you in your suffering.

rachael-kathleen-hartman-1Romans 8:35-39 MSG

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

Psalms 139:7-12 MSG

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
    to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
    If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
    to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
    you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
    At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
    night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

Romans 8:35-39 KJV

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Copyright 2015 Rachael Hartman, share with redirect to RachaelKathleenHartman.com

Free Bible Scripture Coloring Page

I enjoy listening to the Bible. Sometimes I color or doodle as I’m listening. Today I decided to make a coloring sheet to share with you all. You know those coloring books for adults or kids – they can be pretty fun!

Click the link to download a free PDF coloring page based on Psalm119:36 and Romans 8:28. I’d love to see your finished product, so comment below with a snapshot! Bible-coloring-page_Psalm119.36

Here’s my finished snapshot


An excerpt from “Called to Write; Chosen to Publish,” by Rachael Hartman

Hello, Friends. I’m working on a free e-book I’ve titled “Called to Write; Chosen to Publish.” I’d like to share a quote from what I wrote tonight. The e-book will be available via my websites and is an inspirational resource for writers. Let me know what you think; leave a comment and encourage me as I write for you . . .

What you write may be the key for someone to unlock understanding; it may be one more step in the right direction; the one more breath of fresh air they need. The words you write may be the bone marrow match for a reader’s situation, the water they need to live another day, the money to pay a bill.

So write.

Write, even if millions of people have access to the words, but only hundreds read it.

Write, even if writing bares your soul and you’re left alone and exposed.

Write, for your life was meant to bring the hope of Christ to those who know and read it.

And so, God provided “Our Written Lives of Hope . . .”

Christian Authors on Tour – Blog Talk Radio Interview with Rachael Hartman

pr-halfsheetI was honored to be interviewed on Blog Talk Radio today with Christian Authors on Tour (CAOT) ~ The interview is now available online. I spoke about my upcoming book Plastic Reality, my first book, Angel: The True Story of an Undeserved Chance, the beginnings of Our Written Lives and the authors I’m working with. You can listen to the interview, which was recorded live, via the link below.

A Writer’s Approach to Life

1af10e2In graduate school, I had to cite an academic source for everything that I wrote. If there wasn’t research to back it up, then I couldn’t use it. Common sense, my opinion and personal beliefs were never enough to give validity to anything. I admit that I would often purposefully look for research that backed up my opinion, and I could usually find it. This type of research is what I am going to dub “top-down research.” I wasn’t really learning anything new, I was only validating that I knew what I was talking about.

“Bottom-up” research occurred when I started reading research without an end goal in mind, or when I stumbled upon something new, or when I couldn’t find research to back up my opinion and had to change my opinion.   I was thinking about my approach to grad school research last night, and came to the conclusion that my approach to life should be “bottom-up.” Instead of going around looking for answers to validate my opinions and prove to myself that I am someone special because I “know,” a bottom-up approach to life makes me teachable.

More importantly, the way I approach God must be a bottom-up approach. Instead of coming to God and listening for the answers that I want to hear, or even searching the scriptures of verses to validate my personal beliefs, I want to prayerfully read the Bible and allow the illumination of the scriptures to inspire me with new concepts from God’s perspective.   I often used top-down research when I was in a rush. It didn’t take me long to plan the outline of a research paper when I knew what I want to write about and I knew the point I want to prove. In 15 minutes I could plan a 30 page paper, in a few hours I could find all of the sources I need to back me up, and in a few more hours, I could have the paper completed.

When I wrote Angel: The True Story of an Undeserved Chance, it was bottom-up learning. In each interview, I had no idea what new information or insight was going to come at me next. I listened to the information, then I wrote it, and the organization came naturally. I was amazed at how the chapters naturally ordered themselves to approximately the same lengths as each other. The order of the book swiftly came together as well. When all of the information was in front of me, the patterns practically jumped off the page and I was able to sort it out and put every puzzle piece in place.

Life comes at me in the way that Angel’s story came in the interviews. I never know what to expect next. It feels like a jumbled mess as I first begin to process my life. Over time I’m able to look at it and see how everything seems to come together and make sense. Yes, I’m still waiting on some missing pieces. And there are some pieces of my life that seemed to have been put in the wrong puzzle box. I want to reject those pieces, say they don’t belong to me, but they do, and one day, I will see God’s plan and how it will all come together to make a complete picture.

Fences ~ a poem by Rachael Kathleen Hartman

© Rachael Hartman
for My Brother, Jeremy Hartman
March 1, 2014

With barbed wire
Line the entrance to
Keep us safe from attack
While loved ones fight
Far away for freedom
And we wait behind
Living in homes
Built for heroes’ families
Playgrounds, commissary, PX
All there, the card-carrying
Community inside
Rising in rank
To reach the top
The Flag flies, bugles play
Reveille and Retreat
At the center of
Always the sign
Of home away from home
American soil around the world
Always moving, meeting new
Friends, remembering
Old ones waiting by
And one day
No longer a child yet
Still feeling the draw of Green
Hearing calls of cadence
As we are kept out of
Wandering, lost
On the outside, with
No orders and nowhere to go
We search aimlessly
Fit nowhere and
Draw us, call us
Until violence ensues and
We once again are surrounded,
Bound to the security found
On the inside of
With barbed wire
Lining the entrance and
Exit of this new cold place
That keeps the world
From those behind
Towering high
Uniforms of new colors
And chains no longer on necks
Are now on hands and feet
Locking us in and out of
A community of
Criminals with recorded
Histories we know not of but
Now are brothers of the
System built with

Rachael Hartman is an experienced writer and author. She has worked as a full-time newspaper reporter, and as a freelance contributor to magazines. She writes high school Sunday school material for Word Aflame Press as well as lessons for Project 7 (P7) student-led Bible Clubs. She enjoys health and exercise, reading, art, and playing with her two dogs Darla and Danny. She owns Our Written Lives of Hope, an online bookstore and publishing house in which she helps others share the message of the hope of Jesus Christ and promotes holistic health. Check out her web site at www.owlofhope.com and link to her on Facebook.

I have a Life Coach; His Name is Jesus

I have a Life Coach; His Name is Jesus.

What’s a Life Coach? A Life Coach is someone who helps someone else overcome roadblocks in their life in order to reach their goals. My goal is to grow my business for the glory of God and His Kingdom. My obstacles are many, but with God guiding me I have no doubt I’ll reach my destination.

TheHopeCoachI recently interviewed for what many would consider an “amazing job” at a Fortune 500 international corporation. I was nervous as I waited for the interview and the nerves grew when I was escorted to a room with six people waiting to grill me and my resume. Overall, I felt like the interview was positive. They people were very nice, smart, respectful. At the same time, I didn’t really feel like I fit.

I sent a thank-you email as my job coach instructed me to. The hiring manager respectfully replied he was still interviewing candidates and they would notify me when they make their decision. I don’t expect to hear back anytime soon. I know in my gut I won’t be selected for the position, and I’m at peace with that. I don’t have an aspiration to make a ton of money, or to rise in leadership and be in competition for a higher paying job. Thinking about that world stresses me out. I wasn’t made for it.

Since my interview, I’ve done a lot of praying about what I am supposed to be doing for work. I feel at peace when think about focusing on my business. That peace is the spiritual confirmation I need to know I’m right where I need to be.

The rational part of me says I need to find a job and make enough money to pay all of my student loans off in a year (haha!)… I know that’s not going to happen. As I apply for job after job and the doors continue to slam shut, God continues to open doors for me through my business.

Today, I made some great contacts. It looks like I’ll be starting another book project soon! I have two potential books waiting for contracts with their authors and one potential ghost writing job. I have two freelance jobs I’m working on now and one book that is in the publication process.

I also just started a Life Coach certification course which I’ll use to teach classes in my community on life skills such as anger management, stress management, grief processing, self-talk, attitude, motivation and desire, goal setting, communication, time management and more. I will also be able to take on individual clients that want to work one-on-one to reach their goals.

Today I met a lady who runs a girls home in north Georgia; she has three life coaches on her staff. I am already making plans to go there to visit and observe, and to talk to the life coaches on staff. I can see how being a life coach and working with my publication clients goes hand in hand. It’s the missing piece to my business and career. It’s a good fit.

I’m so thankful for my Life Coach and the doors He opens for me. He provides for me daily and I have everything I need. Living for God – it’s amazing! I love the peace I have when I’m in the center of His will. I don’t have to make anything happen; God will guide and open the doors.

Rachael Hartman is an experienced writer and author. She has worked as a full-time newspaper reporter, and as a freelance contributor to magazines. She writes high school Sunday school material for Word Aflame Press as well as lessons for Project 7 (P7) student-led Bible Clubs, Link247. She enjoys health and exercise, reading, art, and playing with her two dogs Darla and Danny. She owns Our Written Lives of Hope, an online bookstore and publishing house in which she helps others share the message of the hope of Jesus Christ and promotes holistic health. Check out her web site at www.owlofhope.com and link to her on Facebook.

No fear in love . . .

there-is-no-fear-in-love“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

I’ve experienced a lot of fear in my life. I’ve questioned why I have fear. I used to read this verse and believe that if I felt fear at all, then I must not be a loving enough person. I thought if only I loved more, the fear would go away.

One day I came to the point where I started seeing this verse in a whole new light. It was something about this part of the verse: “He that feareth is not made perfect in love…”  The sentence I just quoted passive. “He” is not the “maker” of perfection. “He” is the object of the sentence. If “He” is fearing, WHO hasn’t made him perfect (mature) in love?

The subject (the doer of the verb “made”) is not in this sentence, but is found throughout the chapter. The “WHO” of Verse 18 is the other believers who are not true, or the false prophets.

Here are a few key scriptures that I’d like to bring to your attention from this chapter:

Verse 1, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

Verses 7-8, Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”

Verse 11: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”

Verse 21: “And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”

After studying 1 John Chapter 4, I came to realize that when I fear, it is a good possibility that I am not around people who are loving me. We fear when we are in danger. We fear when we are insecure. We fear when we believe people are out to get us or are attacking us. We fear when we are rejected, neglected or forgotten. We fear when we are abused. We fear when we are not loved.

That doesn’t mean there are no irrational, sudden over powering fears that have nothing to do with other people. There are, as seen in Proverbs 3:25-26, “Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” In this verse, God was telling us not to have irrational fears about things that haven’t happened yet, even if they are on the way. God is our confidence.

I wish there were enough room on this blog post to type out all of 1 John, Chapter 4. The chapter is about love: God’s love and the church’s love for one another. If this blog post speaks to you, I recommend you read the entire chapter and allow the Spirit of God to put the message of 1 John 4 into your spirit.

Rachael Hartman is an experienced writer and author. She has worked as a full-time newspaper reporter, and as a freelance contributor to magazines. She writes high school Sunday school material for Word Aflame Press as well as lessons for Project 7 (P7) student-led Bible Clubs, Link247. She enjoys health and exercise, reading, art, and playing with her two dogs Darla and Danny. She owns Our Written Lives of Hope bookstore & publishing services. Check out her web site at www.owlofhope.com and link to her on Facebook.