What Is a Normal Reaction to Being Falsely Accused?
—Grace & Truth Linkup

I Did What???

We’ve all had this happen to us: a false accusation.

Someone has said something about us or to us about a flaw in our character or our behavior. And we know it’s not true.

How do we respond?

The normal reaction (which recently was mine, too) is anger. Sometimes a lot of anger, depending on the accusation.

And does that help resolve the situation? Rarely.

I Take My Coffee Black

In Tyler Merritt’s new book, I Take My Coffee Black: Reflections on Tupac, Musical Theater, Faith, and Being Black in America, Tyler tells about being falsely accused of sexual misconduct when he was a youth minister at a church.

He knew it was not true. And it made him angry.

But even though he was innocent, he couldn’t shake the voices who accused him. Or even the voices in his head fueling more shame.

It took his mama’s voice to shake him awake to his true identity:

Tyler writes,

“My mom said, ‘Do not believe those lies. Do not let this man define you. Do you hear me, son?’ I could hear her, but only barely, because I was sobbing. This was the first time in weeks that anybody had confronted that loud voice of shame and dared to shout back.
Quiet, you.
Shut up!
You are a liar.
This does not change Tyler’s life.
This does not change Tyler’s effectiveness.
This does not change his worth.

I sat on that bench, soaking it all in, gulping it down like a man emerging from a desert. Sometimes, you just need to hear your mama’s voice reminding you of who you are.”

I Take My Coffee Black

Tyler recovered by listening to voices of hope.

Before You Call the Cops

Tyler’s memoir continues with other stories about bad times and good times and everything in between. He’s brutally honest in his book about what it’s like to be six foot two and black with dreadlocks.

Tyler also writes about a time he was walking down the streets of Nashville wearing his wireless headphones, his sunglasses, and a bandana around his head. As he approached a crosswalk he saw an older white woman in a truck ahead of him.

And he knew. When he got closer, she would be afraid of him. Just because of who he was.

So before he approached her, he took off the hood of his sweatshirt to expose his face, he removed his sunglasses so she could see his eyes, and he put on the biggest, brightest smile he could.

But it didn’t help.

When the woman saw him, she still lost it. She was terrified.

If she’d only known she had nothing to fear.

Tyler was sad about it. He was angry about it, too.

And eventually he made a video to tell the world to see him, really see him, so they wouldn’t be so afraid.

Watch all 3 minutes here of “Before You Call the Cops.”

It’s incredibly moving.

Before You Call the Cops video

Featured Post

We each have our own stories of people reacting wrongly to us. It makes us mad. Rightly so. But there are additional ways we can respond than simply stewing in anger.

For our featured post this week, Theresa shares 5 things we can do when we’re wrongly accused. (She also reminds us of how Jesus responded to false accusations, i.e., he did not engage.)

Read all five things here at Theresa’s blog. (I really appreciate her godly wisdom!) Then add your own links below.


Have you been wrongly accused? How did you handle it?

Share your thoughts in the comments

My thanks to NetGalley + Worthy Publishing
for the review copy of I Take My Coffee Black

I’m linking at these blog parties


1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).


Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

TAMMY KENNINGTON – Restoring hope. Pursuing peace.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

When It’s More Than an Empty Hole

Cut It Down

They’re cutting down the tree today.

Buzzzzzz. That’s the sound I hear through my ears.


But the sound I hear through my heart is louder. Children laughing. Leaves tossing. Dogs being petted. Bubbles being chased.

All under the shade of that tree.

But now? Gone. Replaced with tears. Loss. Emptiness.

With every limb that drops, a memory drops with it.

But it’s more than the tree that’s breaking me.

Two Trees

We have (well, had) two trees in our front yard. One is the required Yoshino cherry tree per our neighborhood’s original covenant. Everybody used to plant one. In the spring the neighborhood was lit up with beautiful light pink cherry blossoms. It was fabulous.

But times change.

As the years went by, either the neighborhood covenant was no longer passed around, or the residents discovered no one enforced it, so why bother planting a cherry tree.

There are still enough cherry trees in the older yards to make it worth your drive through the neighborhood though. I’m glad about that.

But the second tree in our yard was a water oak. It’s the tree nearest my daughters’ two bedrooms.

We bought the tree as a sapling when we moved into the house in 2001. It was a little crooked, a little malformed, so we got it cheap.

It started small, but after 20 years, it’s grown straight and tall and round. And big.

So big that its limbs brush against our roof. Its leaves clog the gutters. Its roots threaten the foundation of our house.

It took a lot of convincing, but I finally agreed. Okay. Cut the tree. Take it down.

No Turning Back

But now that it’s happening, I want to change my mind. I know it’s not reasonable.

Seeing the bareness left behind is too much because I’m in a season where other things have also been cut out of my life.

Things I didn’t agree to lose. Things I have no control over. Things that are far more important to me than any tree.

But now it’s done.

The spot where the tree once grew is now empty.


Empty is how my heart feels too. The front yard is a visible reminder of it.

In time, maybe we’ll plant something else. Something further from the house. Something that won’t cause us damage one day. Smaller. More manageable.

But today’s not the day. Today is the day we pay the tree trimmers our money and they take away our tree.

I feel the cuts in my heart. But my heart is still beating. I still have multiple joyful reasons to live and laugh and love.

I change my gaze from the front to the back yard. The back yard has so many trees I can’t count them. We planted very few of them ourselves. Most are here as gifts of time and grace and God. Strong, healthy, beautiful.

But one day they will be gone, too. Nothing here is forever except the love of God. Refusing to accept the impermanence of everything in our daily existence only causes extra suffering.

As I grieve my losses, I’ll try to remember to take in the whole picture, both front and back, both the things that have already changed, and the things that will surely change later.

And say thank you, God, for the blessings of today, the ones still here in the moment.

There are many.

Share in the comments.


Why Fiction and Nonfiction Books Are More Alike Than You Think
—4 Book Pairings I Recommend



I’m nearing the end of the latest novel I’m reading (That Summer). I can’t wait to see what happens next, to see how it will all turn out.

You don’t always get tidy conclusions when you read nonfiction books. In real life, things don’t always come to a final conclusion like they do in a novel. Life goes on and on.

But in novels the story doesn’t always conclude either (I don’t like those kind of novels, btw!).

So what else do fiction and nonfiction books have in common? They are more alike than you might think.

While we often read nonfiction to learn more about the world and other cultures, we can get the same benefits by reading fiction. Through the stories in fiction, we can learn to increase our empathy levels as we put ourselves in the shoes of the characters, understanding different cultures and different personalities than our own.

Also, as with nonfiction, we can also be encouraged through fiction. The stories can inspire us to be kinder, more courageous, and more loving in our real lives, just like characters in a book.

So whether we’re grabbing a novel or a nonfiction book, with either one we can be entertained, be encouraged, and be educated. You choose.

Week 2’s focus for Nonfiction November is Book Pairing with Katie at Doing Dewey.

See Week 1’s focus here: 7 New Nonfiction Books to Make You a Better Person.

4 Sets of Fiction and Nonfiction Books That Go Together

Here are 8 books I’ve read this year that go well together.



by Stephen King

This suspenseful novel goes back and forth in time surrounding the JFK assassination.


Zero Fail
The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service
by Carol Leonnig

This is fascinating look at how the Secret Service responded to the JFK assassination and every other major Presidential event in the modern era.



American Dirt
by Jeanine Cummins

This is a moving story of a young Mexican mother and her 8-year-old son forced to escape Mexico due to horrific gang violence.


Abuelita Faith
Women on the Margins Teach Us about Wisdom, Persistence, and Strength
by Kat Armas

A second-generation Cuban American shares how faith is shaped through generations of everyday women both in own lives and in women of the Bible.



The Book of Longings
by Sue Monk Kidd

This is the fictitious story of Ana as Jesus’s wife, and her journey from a curious girl in a wealthy family to Jesus’s death and resurrection.


The Making of Biblical Womanhood
How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth
by Beth Allison Barr

Beth teaches us about “biblical womanhood” by taking us on a tour throughout the history of religion.



Black Buck
by Mateo Askaripour

Twenty-two-year-old Darren is a Black salesman on a mission, starting out at Starbucks but rising to the top of a tech startup through a crazy set of events in New York City.


Becoming Kareem
Growing Up On and Off the Court
by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Learn about Kareem’s childhood in New York City and his rise to basketball stardom as a young Black man.

* * *

What fiction and nonfiction book would you pair? Share in the comments.

More Reading:


sharing at these blog linkups

What Does It Mean to Give and Receive Grace?
—Grace & Truth Linkup


It started as just a little tiff Wednesday night.

Jeff took out the kitchen garbage. When he came back in, he walked right past the trash can without putting in a new bag.

I asked if he could put in a new bag. He said he already was going to. I said it looked like he wasn’t. He said he always does; why wouldn’t he this time? I said we disagree on that; I usually have to do it.

And so it goes.

Have you participated in these conversations, too?

Where is the grace?

Nowhere to be seen.

We didn’t go on too long. Neither of us were in the mood for it. We didn’t have enough fight in us. We were tired.

We moved on. We knew it was silly. 

We let it go. It was the right thing to do this time. 

There is the grace. For both of us. 

Giving grace doesn’t always come naturally to us. Receiving grace doesn’t always come naturally either; we don’t want to feel indebted to the grace giver.

But the best way to live life is to give and receive grace freely. Daily. To any and all who come our way.

As God gives grace to me for all the ways I mess up, I should have a huge stockpile by now to pass along to others, including to my sweet husband Jeff, who did put a new trash bag in the trash can (and will probably never forget again).

Featured Post

Amy linked last week about the Polish priest, Maximilian Kolbe, and the greatest gift of grace that he gave a fellow prisoner in an Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II.

Read all of Amy’s post here, then link your own post below.


Have you received a gift of grace lately? Given any grace? Share your thoughts in the comments.

I’m linking at these blog parties


1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).


Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

TAMMY KENNINGTON – Restoring hope. Pursuing peace.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Camera On or Off? How to Bear Witness

No Video Please

I snuggle into the recliner in my living room on this Sunday afternoon. I open my laptop. The Zoom event will begin in 5 minutes.

I click the “Join meeting” button.

I’m in.

But I’m looking for another button now to turn OFF—the most important button today—the “Start Video” button, the one I will disable so I can see without being seen.

Because I’m still stewing.

I just had to get my hair cut this morning. I couldn’t wait another day. So I rushed to a come-anytime hair salon 15 minutes away. I’ve had luck there before.

My hair is short; I only need a trim; anybody can do it, right?

Not this time. When the lady cutting my hair is almost finished, she says she’ll do a final little cleanup on the sides.

And she brings out the electric razor. And makes one too many cuts, including of my pride.

I walk out of the salon and look at myself in my car mirror. Do I cry? Do I scream? I just go silent.

This may be the worst haircut I’ve ever had.

Three hours later, sitting at my computer now, I find and turn off the “Start Video” button on the Zoom call. 


No one is going to see me today.

Elysha’s Request

One of our video hosts, master storyteller Matthew Dicks, comes on my screen to applaud us for showing up 5 minutes early, even though technically I’m not showing up live; I’m only a still photo in the group.

I’m fine being just a photo.

Then Matthew’s wife Elysha gets on.

Elysha also welcomes us. She’s glad we signed up for this virtual Speak Up Storytelling event. We’ll be hearing six beautiful human beings share their personal stories of trauma with us, a group of strangers on the other side of a screen.


All is well. I settle deeper into my chair. I’m excited to listen.

But then everything changes.

Before introducing the first storyteller, Elysha asks a favor of us, the audience. She reminds us that we’re here to bear witness to these stories, to these people. If we were gathered in person, the speakers would see us and watch our body language and absorb our attention as they speak.

But because we can’t be in person today, Elysha says we can still give the speakers our presence in a different way: Please turn on your computer cameras.

  • Let the speakers know you’re here.
  • Let them see you listening.
  • Let them see your online applause when they’re finished recounting their stories.

But my hair, Elysha! You haven’t seen my hair today! I don’t want anybody to see me.

Yet her plea moves me.

I unclick “Stop video.”


My face now shows up live among the sea of faces in the online crowd.

I’m now fully here.

Who Cares Now?

I sit still and listen to the stories.

  • From a Rwandan refugee who saw atrocious killings of her family members.
  • From a teenage boy whose mother escaped a Bosnian genocide to make it to America.
  • From children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors who saw the lifelong scars they bore. 

The more I listen, the more I forget about my hair. My hair, for crying out loud.

Who cares about my hair?

Not me. I am here. I am breathing. I am alive.

After the last storyteller speaks, we all hold our hands in the air and wiggle our fingers in virtual applause. I dry my tears (I’m on my fourth tissue).


I click “Leave Meeting.

I search for the “Donate” button to contribute to the co-sponsor of the Speak Up Showcase event, Voices of Hope. I want these stories to continue to be heard. Their voices need to be listened to.

Not just by those of us on the Zoom call. But also by others.

When we listen, we are bearing witness.

  • We are showing up to validate lives.
  • We are affirming our support.
  • We are making a statement that I hear you, I see you.

But we also bear witness by letting ourselves be seen. By keeping the camera on.

I’m still sitting in the recliner with my computer in my lap.

Yet somehow it’s not the same me that was sitting here an hour ago.

My hair hasn’t grown yet, but maybe I have.

Do you keep your camera on or off for zoom meetings? Share in the comments

Related Reading:

sharing at these blog linkups

7 New Books to Make You a Better Person
—Nonfiction November


We read books for a variety of reasons.

The reasons vary as much as the people do.

But one reason we often read is this:

To become a better person.

Looking over the nonfiction books I’ve finished so far in 2021, here are 7 new books that carry potential to make us better people. But only if we practice the good ideas in them.

I’m guilty to often just read the words, but not live them out. The message lies dormant if I don’t let it move me into action.

Reading alone won’t change us. 

But reading can inspire us to put in the work and be changed. These 7 books below are inspiring me to change. See what you think about them. And add your own book suggestions in the comments.

(Note: books that help don’t all fall into the self-help category; helpful books are found in every category!)


Four Thousand Weeks
Time Management for Mortals
by Oliver Burkeman (2021)

Four Thousand Weeks

The average person’s lifespan is around 4,000 weeks. This book isn’t about organizing your time per se, but about realizing you can’t squeeze it all in. So choose wisely.

[My review here of Four Thousand Weeks—“How to Win Your Fight with Time”]


White Awake
An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White
by Daniel Hill (2017)


If we want to be better human beings, we need to be aware of own culture (even when we think we don’t have one) and how it affects other people. As painful as it sometimes is, this book lays it out for us from a moral and spiritual perspective.

[More book suggestions here on racial inequity]


We Need to Talk
How to Have Conversations that Matter
by Celeste Headlee (2017)


Practice these five strategies to have better conversations: be curious, check your bias, show respect, stay the course, and end well. While we often would rather avoid having hard conversations, sometimes relationships can’t improve until we do.


Think Again
The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know
by Adam M. Grant (2021)


Don’t forget to sometimes question what you think you already know. The way to learn new things is to question old things. Doubts are beneficial when we use them appropriately.


The Power of Writing It Down
A Simple Habit to Unlock Your Brain and Reimagine Your Life
by Allison Fallon (2021)


Writing isn’t necessarily about publishing. Having a personal, daily writing practice can help us better understand ourselves and each other, even when no one else will ever read our writings.


The Comfort Book
by Matt Haig (2021)


Haig compiled little notes and stories in this book that show love and light in the world. This small book is packed with nuggets of wisdom to help us all be kinder to each other and to ourselves.


If God Is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk
Finding a Faith That Makes Us Better Humans
by John Pavlovitz (2021)


At a bare minimum, can we Christians at least stop being jerks in the world? Pavlovitz is brutally honest about how Christians can come across to others. And how we can do better. Jesus said our one job is to love. We have room for improvement.

[My review here of If God Is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk—“Are We Failing at Our One Job?”]

What is your favorite nonfiction book of the year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

Share in the comments.

Related Reading:

This is Week 1, “Your Year in Nonfiction” for Nonfiction November. Visit Rennie to link your own posts.


Also check out the daily Instagram photo challenge here with Jaymi @theOCBook Girl.