12/30/2011

Choosing Between Two Good Things

My dad, who is 74, loves to snow ski. And it’s been so fun for him in the past couple of years to ski with his grandchildren. So off we went to Colorado, the week before Christmas. 

I enjoy skiing, too. And right now I’m in almost the best shape of my life. I would have been able to hit the slopes with ease. Instead, I holed up in the condo for our entire 6 day stay. 

I tried to explain it to my children, but they didn’t quite get it. And I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t have understood at their age, either. You see, I as we readied to go, I became painfully aware that I had to choose between a good thing and a better thing. 

It would have been fun to ski with my dad, my husband, my kids, but I knew that would mean heading home exhausted from early mornings and all day activity. (When we ski with my husband, we arrive at the lifts when they open each morning.) And looking ahead to 2012 told me that the year would not slow down from the new pace at which our lives seem to be running. Add in the fact that once we arrived back home, all the joyous chaos of Christmas and the New Year would be up on us. So I chose better over good. I chose long run endurance over short term enjoyment. I still had fun with the family in the evenings, but my days were filled with restful activities--reading, working a puzzle, going to lunch with my mom. 

I hope I get to ski with my family again one day, but it wasn’t meant for this trip. I knew it deep inside. And thankfully I heeded that still, small voice. I know I’ve been a better wife and mother this holiday season because of it. 

12/26/2011

My Favorite Moment of Christmas

We didn’t grow up going to church on Christmas Eve. It wasn’t that we didn’t attend church. We very much did. But Christmas Eve is my daddy’s birthday, and my mother did all she could to keep that day reserved for him instead of baby Jesus. Which was fine. He needed a celebration of his life just like all the rest of us got on our days throughout the year. 

But when each of us (four siblings) had our own families, we had the freedom to choose our own traditions with our children. And we all chose the Christmas Eve service at church. It’s come to be one of my favorite moments of the season. The carols. The festive atmosphere. But mostly, it’s the lighting of the candles I look forward to. 

When I look across the congregation, a small flame erect in each hand, I get a lump in my throat. Two things always come to mind. The first is that starlit night when Jesus was born, when a girl laid her new baby in a manger, when angel’s appeared to the shepherds, when maybe the star the magi followed shone a little bit brighter. But those flickering flames also give me pause to remember both the collective and the individual aspects of the Christian life. The candles shining in the dark auditorium remind me that together we shine His great light into the world, and yet they show the importance of each of us maintaining our own flame of faith. Guarding it. Nurturing it. Without those small, individual lights working together, the darkness creeps in. We so often forget that. We see our little flames as insignificant. We think no one will miss it if it sputters and dies. But that is not true. And I see that lived out in the candlelight of Christmas Eve. Individual, yet one. The body of Christ. 

What was your favorite moment of celebration this Christmas? 

12/25/2011

A Merry Christmas Sunday Psalm

Image courtesy of www.vintageholidaycrafts.com


Clap your hands, all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy.
How awesome is the Lord Most High;
the great King over all the earth!
    --Psalm 47:1-2

May the wonder and joy of Jesus be yours this Christmas season--and all year long. 

Merry Christmas, from our house to yours. 

12/23/2011

Fortifying Friday at Seriously Write

Come over and read my little gift of encouragement to writers on Fortifying Friday at Seriously Write.

12/19/2011

Now I See


One of the downfalls of being severely near-sighted (and I do mean severely), is that on occasion (read: more often than I care to admit) I get my contacts switched. The right one goes in the left eye and the left one goes in the right eye. Which for most people wouldn’t be a huge deal, except that even in my severe near-sightedness, one eye is much worse than the other!

You’d think I’d notice such a thing right away. Not so. It takes a while. This last time it took around two weeks for me to notice. Not that I didn’t notice my trouble seeing my computer screen. Or the eye strain. Or the difficulty seeing the television or a book. But I attributed my unclear vision to other things. Like tiredness. And dryness. So I added more drops to my eyes and continued on. 

One morning, though, I realized how bad it was. I couldn’t read my Bible. Couldn’t see the words at all. At first, I again cited those other things. Then I thought with horror that maybe my age was kicking in and I needed reading glasses. All through the morning, I struggled, until finally— finally— I thought I ought to switch my contacts and make sure that wasn’t it. 

And guess what? That was it! My world came back into focus in an instant! As I went on with my day, I wondered how many times that kind of thing happens with my spiritual eyes. They get off kilter just a bit. I notice, kind of, but don’t run right away to the most obvious cause, which in the spiritual sense is sin. I attribute it to other things, even to God’s absence from me instead of mine from Him. But in His mercy, the Lord allows my spiritual eyes to dim to such a place that I’m desperate to see, even if it means seeing myself as I really am in that moment. 

I’m so thankful that the Lord has made a way for me to see with my physical eyes, even though they are flawed. But I’m even more thankful that He makes a way for me to see clearly with my spiritual eyes. And it all started with a baby in a manager. 

12/18/2011

A Sunday Psalm

You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.
I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
    --Psalm 4:7-8

12/14/2011

Considering Mary


I’m not really a baby person. I’ve said that here before. I struggled in those early years of being a mother. So I find it quite interesting that one of the things that touches me so deeply during the Christmas season is thinking about Mary as she approached and entered motherhood. 

Maybe it’s my penchant for fictionalizing history, for wondering what really went on in the heads of those who experienced the world-altering events we only read of. Whatever the case, I find that more than any other songs at this time of year, these three bring me to tears every time. 








What strikes you as so poignant about the ideas conveyed in one or more of these songs? 

12/12/2011

My First Radio Interview!

Sorry I didn't get the info out to you before it happened, but last Thursday I was interviewed by Nicole O'Dell on Teen Talk Radio. You can find the podcast here, the show that aired on 12-8-11. My part starts about 18 minutes in.

Enjoy!

12/11/2011

A Sunday Psalm

May Your deeds be shown to Your servants,
Your splendor to their children.
May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
establish the work of our hands for us--
yes, establish the work of our hands.
     --Psalm 90:16-17

12/09/2011

The Work of a Writer


I’ve been fighting with the first draft of a new manuscript. And I think it’s winning. 

Yes, I wrote all through November, but finishing in December has been hard— partly because in December I just want to play, and partly because it seems pointless to write an ending for a story that I know will change significantly when I begin the read-through with an eye toward revisions. And the revisions will be major. 

So I’ve decided that after today, I'll end where I am. To set it aside, finish my Christmas shopping, enjoy my family, read some books and watch some movies. After Christmas is over, I’ll pick it up again and see where we are. But you know what? In spite of the struggle these past few weeks, the thought of digging in and making it better excites me. And I guess that is what it really means to do the work of a writer. 

12/07/2011

Twelve Days of Christmas



I still have to watch this video a few times every Christmas season. Enjoy!

12/05/2011

A Post to Help Poverty

NOTE FROM ANNE: This post was written by Jessica Dotta at www.inspireafire.com. As I dug around a bit, finding out more about this ministry. I was impressed. Why? Because this ministry saw others doing good things but needing funds to do more, so it focuses on raising and funneling funds to those who are already doing the work or who are starting work where there is a void. I love that!


We have much to be judged on when he comes, slums and battlefields and insane asylums, but these are the symptoms of our illness and the result of our failures in love.” -- Madeleine L'Engle


When my brother traveled to the Sudan he had an encounter that changed his life—and as it ends up, mine too.

He stood in Darfur at an orphanage filled with children leftover from the genocide. There were over 800 children, and during the night wild dogs were dragging them off and killing them.

My brother already felt shell-shocked from the travesties he'd witnessed in Uganda.

The day was hot. The sun beat down upon him. His camera had nearly been ruined from all the dust. He'd barely slept. His gear was heavy. Yet his conscience was seared by the numbness he felt, so he turned and confessed to a Sudanese pastor.

"We shall pray right now that your heart will be opened," he was told.

Not long after that prayer three young children approached Joshua and started to follow him. After a bit, his father nature kicked in and he stopped and sang Father Abraham. It didn't take long before the four of them were dancing and going through the motions.

When they finished, he asked the children to tell him how they came to be there.

The oldest, a girl, answered. "The soldiers came and shot my mother and father, so I came here."

The two other children nodded in agreement. "Me, too."

He was grief struck, but it was what transpired next that tore my heart. "Do you have a Mommy?" The little girl asked my brother.

"Yes," he answered.

"And a Daddy?"

Again, his answer was yes.

"Oh," she said, her voice hinting at a strange intermingling of numbness and grief.

Her question stirs me still. For I believe it came from her soul and revealed the thoughts of her heart. She didn't want to know what his country was like, what kind of food he ate, or what he did for a living. She had her own bullet holes leftover from the genocide. Her world consisted of this single question: Who still had parents and who didn't?

In her questions I heard her worry and fear. Imagine being trapped in a war-torn country, a land of famine, drought and disease. Imagine trying to survive it as an orphan with death threatening you every hour. No matter how much she's endured, at the end of the day, she's still just a little girl. And all she really wants is her Mom and Dad.

I imagined my daughter living as an orphan in the Sudan. If I were shot and dying, it would be my hope that my brothers and sisters would care for her. But what if her aunts and uncles were killed too? What was it then, that her parents hoped?

As members of the body of Christ these children are not alone. They have aunts and uncles. Multitudes and multitudes and multitudes of them. Talk about staggering! These kids are our nieces and nephews! Mine. Yours.

So who, I wondered, within the church has the responsibility to step in?

I didn't like the answer that came. Earlier that week I was shocked to learn that globally I was one of the richest people in the world—even though as an American, I'm pretty poor.

Like it or not I was the rich aunt. I had knowledge of the situation. That made me accountable.
I wasn't comfortable with the knowledge then, and I'm not comfortable with the knowledge now. But I am determined to do something. Anything.


That day Joshua had in his possession a picture book that someone had asked him to give to someone in the Sudan. It was a children's book with a story about how we have a Heavenly Father who always loves and cares for us. Joshua read the book and gave it to them.

An American woman took it upon herself to raise the money to build shelter. Every person who donated, even a dollar, helped to create a place where the little girl now sleeps safe from wild dogs.

When Joshua told me he's going to start a branch of Watermelon Ministries called Media Change, a non-profit encouraging Americans to give up a portion of the money spent on entertainment to serve those fighting world hunger and thirst, I wanted to support it.

For seven years he's helped non-profits raise money that serves the "least of these." He's seen the impact a small investment can have. This is a brand new initiative. He's not quite ready to launch, but you can sign up and be kept updated at www.mediachange.org. His first goal is garner the support of 10,000 people who are willing to give $10 a month. I'm number #3.

This is only a blog post, but who knows what one blog post can do.

What if the task of helping others isn't as overwhelming as we make it?

12/04/2011

A Sunday Psalm

Your ways, O God, are holy.
What god is so great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
You display Your power among the peoples.
With Your mighty arm You redeemed Your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
     --Psalm 77:13-15

12/02/2011

Wings of a Dream -- Large Print Edition




Did you know that Wings of a Dream releases in a large print edition today? If you have someone on your Christmas list that needs large print books, consider this one! It is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Of course you can always give Wings of a Dream as a regular print paperback and or an ebook to your favorite reader as well. ;)

11/30/2011

An Introvert is an Introvert


I remember when I took the plunge into blogging six years ago. It was a dip of an introvert’s toe into the waters normally stirred by extroverts. Eventually I got more comfortable, though my readership remained minimal. Often I felt like I was just talking to myself! But for a definite introvert, that wasn’t really out of the ordinary.

At the advent of social media, I wondered if this would be the platform to pull me out of myself, to allow me to interact with others from behind my computer screen. Surely that couldn’t be as daunting as trying to make conversation in real life or in real time. I pictured myself blossoming into an online extrovert, especially when my book actually hit the shelves and I became a published author. 

But you know what I’ve discovered? An introvert is an introvert--even online. 

How do I know this? For one thing, when I attended a writing conference this fall, I observed that those who are extroverted online are the same ones that are extroverts in person. They simply know how to interact with others, no matter the format. Another way I know this is from my own social media experience. I can’t tell you how many times each day I type a sentence or two into one of those little boxes (facebook, twitter, even blog comments) and delete them. Yep. The same uncertainty, the same second guessing that happens to me in a live conversation happens online. Sigh. 

Just like in my “real” life, I have a few good friends online. I enjoy connecting with them, and with new people, too. But I’m not one that draws the attention of the masses. Online or in person, I tend to hover around the edges of the crowd, looking for a friendly face. In the end I’m simply learning (again) to be content with the way God created me--unique, and not to be compared to anyone else.

What about you? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Are you different online vs. in person? 

11/28/2011

Repentance vs. Perfection


Sometimes I don’t pay enough attention to the negative statements in the Bible. 

Case in point: Psalm 7:11-13

Psalm 7 is a Psalm of David, appealing to the Lord to save him from his enemies. A familiar theme, yes. But then I read these three verses:

God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day.
If a man does not repent (emphasis mine), He will sharpen His sword;
He has bent His bow and made it ready.
He has also prepared for Himself deadly weapons. (Psalm 7:11-13)

God, as a righteous judge, will bring his judgement on whom? Those who transgress? Yes, but there is a condition. Not just those who sin, but those who do not repent. 

As I mulled this over, it struck me that it is this attribute— repentance— that sets David apart from others. He sinned, yes. Sometimes even as a clear choice, as in when he numbered the people. Yet he always repented. Not just an “I’m sorry, God. Now please make it all better,” but a true repentance, a godly sorrow along with an acceptance of the consequences to follow. And a moving forward with a firm belief in God’s forgiveness. 

I, on the other hand, so often put the emphasis on perfection, not repentance in my own life. In fact, if I am honest, I put the emphasis on perfection instead of repentance in the lives of those closest to me, as well. But I think the negative statement in Psalm 7:12 indicates that my indignation, like God’s, should be saved for those who do not repent instead of those who fall short of perfection but whose lives are marked by the true humility of repentance. Because a life characterized by repentance is a life focused on conforming to the character of God. And isn’t that the work He is perfecting in each of us anyway? 

11/27/2011

A Sunday Psalm

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to You,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
    --Psalm 61:1-3

11/25/2011

Novel Morsels -- .99 on Kindle!



Starting today and through this weekend (I believe), the cookbook Novel Morsels is available as a .99 kindle download! This version does not have all the color photos of authors and book covers, BUT there is a code at the beginning and end of the kindle version that also allows you to download the full color PDF version for free. Can you get a better deal than that?

Head on over here and download your copy today! Even if you never make a recipe from the Novel Morsels pages, it makes for great reading about authors and their books!


11/21/2011

I've Got Plenty to be Thankful For

If you've been around here long, you know I love the movie Holiday Inn. So for this week of Thanksgiving, I thought I'd put up the clip of Bing singing "I've Got Plenty to be Thankful For." Alas, embedding is disabled for this one, so you'll have to click here to get to it. Better yet, put on the movie and get in the holiday mood.

This week I'm thankful that my college kiddos are home and that our family feast is at my sister's house! :)

I am blessed beyond measure. I hope you know that you are, too.

Glory to God in the highest.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

11/20/2011

A Sunday Psalm

Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them.
The unfolding of Your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
    --Psalm 119:129-130

11/18/2011

Report from the Writing Cave

Just thought I'd give you a quick update from the writing cave. I'm 30,000 words into the new story, set in central Pennsylvania and revolving around a Home for Orphan and Friendless Children in 1910. Yippee!


That's the good news.


The bad news is that I'm 8,500 words behind where I wanted to be by now. And so it goes. I'm hoping to make up at least some of those words, but if I can even hit just 50,000 by month's end I'll be way ahead of where I started.


Ok, now back to writing. :)

11/16/2011

The Final Seventeen


I haven’t been a terribly sentimental mother. I don’t get teary-eyed when my kids move from one stage to the next. But then again, I haven’t enjoyed any stage so far as much as I’ve enjoyed the high school years— although so far the college ones are looking to be a very close second. 

But today my baby boy turns 17, and it hurts my heart just a little bit. Why 17? I think because it goes along with that junior year, which I’ve always told my kids is the best year of high school. (Out of the doldrums of being the “younger” ones, but not yet completely into the pressure of choosing a college or of being conscious of every “last” of the senior year.) 

17 seems to have put behind it much of the drama of the early teens. It has been driving for 2 years— one with an adult, one on its own. 17 is just shy of the I-don’t-need-you-because-I-know-everything stage of 18-21. (Of course you can enjoy those years when you don’t see them on a daily basis!) All in all, 17 has been a bit idyllic with my kids, or maybe I have just seen it that way. 

So as this last year of 17 begins, I feel a little sad. This time next year we’ll say good-bye to 17-year-olds forever. We’ll be the parents of three adults. A good, new place to look forward to, but with a twinge of nostalgia for the days that were 17. 

11/14/2011

The Joy of Conversing with Readers


Each “author” event that I’ve been part of so far has offered a unique experience. Such continued to be the case on Saturday, when I meet with some lovely ladies of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship. Part of their Women’s Ministry involves fostering book clubs among their members. This event fell under the Book Club heading. 

I didn’t know exactly what to expect. In accordance with instructions, I prepared a couple of short talks— about my book and about my life and writing journey. Honestly, I felt a bit awkward through those. But at the first break, when I got to chat with several of the ladies one on one at the book table, I felt a bit more at ease. Then as I stood before them again, I read an excerpt from Wings of a Dream then asked for questions. And things changed. 

Turns out several of the ladies had already bought the book on their Kindle or Nook and had begun reading. They asked questions and made comments about where they were in the story. This spurred further dialogue about the writing process. Which, in turn,  sparked more questions about the book. 

Suddenly I felt completely alive. It wasn’t me talking at them. I was talking with them. It was conversation. And conversations that revolve around books and writing and faith are my absolute favorite.

I left there energized in a new way, knowing I hadn’t just made it through a public appearance, but I had made some new friends. 

11/13/2011

A Sunday Psalm

I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify Your name forever.
For great is Your love toward me;
You have delivered me from the depths of the grave.
    --Psalm 86:12-13

11/11/2011

The Baker's Wife by Erin Healy


When I went to the ACFW Conference this past September, I took one the best and most helpful writing classes ever. It was taught by an editor and an author that frankly I’d never heard of. But when she finished the class, I went to the conference bookstore and bought her new book without even reading the back cover copy. 

And let me tell you— this book did not disappoint me as a reader or as a writer. 

The Baker’s Wife by Erin Healy is contemporary fiction, with elements of suspense and of the supernatural. It is a story of redemption on several levels, of sharing one another’s pain, of trusting God to guard your reputation and to reveal truth. 

As a reader, there were so many levels of this story that I connected with, not the least of which was that it caused me to think more deeply about how the Holy Spirit speaks in our lives and what it means to enter into the pain of another person. I loved the pastor-turned-baker who didn’t defend himself against the lies responsible for his dismissal from the congregation. He was such a Christ-figure in this book. I loved his wife Audrey, who by a gift of the Holy Spirit felt the pain of those she was called to minister to. Literally felt their pain. I loved how human she was— frail in some moments, strong in others, but with a great desire to act as the Lord wanted her to act, in spite of herself. Then there was the son, who wondered after he’d fallen into sin if the Lord had any use for him anymore, and the woman who’d tried to do right but in the end had been punished and wondered if restoration was only a pipe dream. Not to mention the antagonist, a character determined to put God in a box and who inspired in me the same pity as I feel for Javert in Les Miserables.

As a writer who had listened to Erin teach about knowing when and how and why to push certain styles of writing beyond the norm for a story, I was fascinated with the use of a more omniscient point of view. It worked. And while I haven’t asked Erin personally why she made this choice for the story, I appreciated it as a reader because of the intense emotions within the story. I’m not sure as a reader I could have handled it in a deep POV. And to understand the supernatural element (Audrey’s “gift” feeling the pain of others), a little bit of distance from her deep POV was necessary, in my opinion.

All this to say, I highly recommend this book. Besides being a good story (there are twists and turns I never saw coming!), this book will challenge you to think more deeply about your own faith and your interaction with a hurting world. At least that’s what it did for me. 

11/09/2011

The Subjectivity of Art


Over the years I’ve been in this writing life, I’ve thought often about the subjectivity of art, specifically of the written word. But never more so than when my first book hit the shelves. 

Here’s the thing: As readers, we realize that some books we connect with, others we don’t. Some books that move others to tears, we toss aside. Others that critics ignore, we cherish as meaningful and worthwhile. So why, as writers, do we expect any different variant of responses from the readers of our work? 

I am so very grateful for the many positive reviews for Wings of a Dream. But every now and then a comment will rankle. It will poke at my heart, causing an outburst of explanation or indignation to my inanimate computer screen. But as I mutter my displeasure, I suddenly recall a book I couldn’t finish--one that one garnered awards and has many admirers. Or a book that was well written but simply didn’t interest me. I didn’t connect with the story, though many others did. 

I appreciate the Lord’s constant reminder of this truth: that He created each of us with a unique combination of personality, likes and dislikes, and experiences that all simmer together and result in a point of view no other person has exactly. So the art that spills out of my uniqueness may not speak to yours. And that’s okay. Because my work will speak to someone. And someone else’s work will speak to you. And if we all admired exactly the same thing, wouldn’t the beauty that is art be dimmed somehow?

In the past two months, I’ve decided I’d rather endure the occasional misunderstanding or dislike than surrender the diversity of our creativity. After all, we serve a multi-faceted  God, each of us responding in greater or lesser degrees to different aspects of His character. If it doesn’t bother Him that we don’t walk in lock-step in our relationship with Him, why should it bother us that we don’t all walk in uniformity with each other? 

I do hope you enjoy Wings of a Dream and all my other books. But if you don’t, please know it is okay. I can give you grace to appreciate the art that moves you, even if it isn’t mine. 

11/07/2011

And God Continues to Amaze . . .

The official, signed contract came back in the mail on Friday. I'll be writing two more books for Bethany House! I continue to be humbled and amazed at what God has done and is doing, how He is orchestrating this unique journey and using a girl who had become perfectly fine with sitting in the background. I cry every time I think about it.

So we're up to four books, just in case you're counting. Here's how it looks on the calendar:
  • Wings of a Dream (available now)
  • At Every Turn (September 2012)
  • 3rd book (Fall of 2013)
  • 4th book (Fall of 2014)
Thank you to all who pray and read and open your heart to this crazy lady with the wild imagination! I love y'all!


********

Don't forget to let me know before Friday if you'd like a coupon code to receive a free copy of Novel Morsels! (Click the title to see the post with the details!)

11/06/2011

A Sunday Psalm

All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
for those who keep the demands of His covenant.
For the sake of Your name, O Lord,
forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
Who, then, is the man that fears the Lord?
He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.
    --Psalm 25:10-12

11/04/2011

Novel Morsels

Ever wonder what your favorite novelists (or their characters) are cooking up for dinner?  Thanks to my friend and fellow novelist, Nicole O’Dell, you can find out!


Introducing Novel Morsels, an e-cookbook!

 (Do you see the spine for Wings of a Dream in that lineup?)

Currently, Novel Morsels in only available on Nicole O’dell’s website as a pdf ebook for $2.99, but will soon be available as kindle and nook downloads. In fact, it will be a free kindle download the weekend after Thanksgiving!  

But what if you don’t want to wait that long? 

Because I love my readers and I’m so thankful for you, I’ll give you a head start. For the next week, I am offering a coupon code to download the book from the store on Nicole’s website for FREE. Yes, FREE. 


Are you interested? Just comment on this post (leave your email addy unless you know I have it!) or comment beneath this post on my facebook page sometime before Friday, November 11th, and I’ll send you the code. It’s that easy!

After you have the code, click here or on the Novel Morsels button on my sidebar to purchase the book. Enter the coupon code at checkout and you’ll not only have a cookbook full of new recipes to try, but you might also discover some new books and authors along the way. 

Reading and eating. Is there any better combination? 

11/02/2011

Life:Beautiful

I ran into the magazine Life:Beautiful because I heard that there was a mini review of Wings of a Dream in the current holiday issue. I have it tell you, it's a wonderful magazine! The pictures are beautiful and the articles are engaging. I got my copy at Walmart, but Barnes and Noble carries it as well. Check it out!


10/31/2011

Write a Novel in a Month


Long, long ago in a life that now seems far, far away, a friend I’d met in an online writing class convinced me to join her in the NaNoWriMo challenge. If you aren’t a writer, you might be scratching your head. NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writers Month. The challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. 

In spite of the fact that my November 2001 calendar boasted my baby’s birthday (his 7th), Thanksgiving, and a trip as chaperone on my daughter’s 5th grade outdoor education trip (I think it was 2 nights/3 days), I signed up. By the end of that month, I had written just over 50,000 words. Suddenly I had a finished novel— and no idea what to do with it. It was a huge turning point. God led me to a writer’s group. I learned about revisions and submissions. I attended a writers conference. I got rejections. I finished three other novels before beginning the one that would become Wings of a Dream.

In the joy of finishing that first book, I never imagined that ten years later I’d be standing at the precipice of another such writing challenge, this time with fellow historical authors, all of us needing a jumpstart on our books. My third to-be-published book. With Bethany House, no less. Who knew what amazing things the Lord would do in one short decade! 

So starting tomorrow my fingers will spend four weeks flying across the keyboard, exploring new characters, a new plot. And while I have a general idea where this story is going, I confess I’m wildly excited to see what surprising things each new day will bring. I’ll continue to blog, but forgive me if some days are a quick historical tidbit instead of a longer post. And I’d be grateful for your prayers as I explore this new story.

10/30/2011

A Sunday Psalm

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it;
let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy;
they will sing before the Lord, for He comes,
He comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in His truth. 
    --Psalm 96:11-13

10/28/2011

Learning from Rehoboam


It is said that studying history will help us to avoid the mistakes of the past. That is sometimes a fearful thing when you so easily recognize yourself in stories from the days of old. For that reason, I both love and hate reading the books of Kings and Chronicles in the Bible.  

Take, for instance, King Rehoboam. As the son of King Solomon, the grandson of King David, he expected to step right in and rule Israel. Instead, he unwisely listened to his friends rather than his father’s older advisors and all but Judah and Benjamin rejected his authority and followed another king. (1 Kings 12:1-17; 2 Chronicles 10:1-16) This foolishness might be excusable in a youth, but Rehoboam was 41 years old! (1 Kings 14:21; 2 Chronicles 12:13) He obviously wanted to exert his authority, to prove he had power rather than be kind and gracious and to humbly lead the people God has given him to rule. A large portion of them walked away, leaving him, I’m sure, open-mouthed and sputtering. 

As kings (and we) are wont to do when authority is spurned, Rehoboam gathered his people to war against his brothers turned enemies. But the Lord came to him and said no. So they put down their weapons and didn’t fight. (1 Kings 12:24; 2 Chronicles 11:4) Rehoboam listened to the Lord’s instructions, apparently now content with the small portion of Israel that the Lord had given him to rule. And things were good. All the priests and Levites came to live under Rehoboam’s rule in Judah. (2 Chronicles 11:14-15) As did “those from every tribe of Israel who set their hearts on seeking the Lord, the God of Israel.” (2 Chronicles 11:16) For three years, Rehoboam led Judah and Benjamin as they walked in the ways of David and Solomon. (2 Chronicles 11:17)

Great story, right? 

Not exactly. Here’s the part where I cringe— and maybe you will, too. “After Rehoboam’s position as king was established and he had become strong, he and all Israel with him abandoned the law of the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 12:1)

Ouch.

Once Rehoboam and his people were established and strong, they disregarded God. We are told that God sent Egypt to discipline them in the 5th year of Rehoboam’s reign. (1 Kings 14:25; 2 Chronicles 12:2) Just two years to go from walking in the ways of David and Solomon to abandoning the law of the Lord and falling into great depravity. (1 Kings 14:22-24)

Rehoboam and the leaders humbled themselves before God after the Egyptians arrived. (2 Chronicles 12:12) God graciously regarded their repentance. But there were still consequences for their sin. Consequences that lingered beyond their own generation. Consequences that still speak to me today. 

As I read these annals of the past and see my own fickle heart, the words of Come,Thou Fount of Every Blessing sprang to mind. 


Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above. 

This is my prayer today. Is it yours, too?

10/26/2011

True Romance

A couple of months ago I got on the schedule for a great blog that highlights stories of true life romances-- mostly from authors. Then on the last morning of the ACFW conference, I sat beside a sweet lady at breakfast. We got to talking, and guess what? Yep. It's her blog! It was so fun to meet Shannon Vannatter, author of Christian romance novels and blogger.

So, if you want to hear a little more about my true life romance, hop on over to Shannon's blog. Today (Wednesday) will be the story of how I met my husband. Then on Friday will be the most romantic thing he ever did for me. C'mon. You know you want to know! Oh--and there will be a drawing for Wings of a Dream, so leave a comment! See you there!

10/24/2011

A George Bailey Moment


Every year I watch It’s a Wonderful Life at Christmastime. And every year I cry (read: bawl like a baby) at the end, when George Bailey realizes how many friends he has and how much his friends and family care about him. 

I’ve been feeling a bit George Bailey-esque these past few weeks. I’ve had some amazing book signings due to an influx of friends and family. Honestly, I never realized I had so many friends! Each one has touched my heart with their willingness to support me with the purchase of a book (or in some cases, many books) only because they knew I wrote it, not because they had any knowledge of me as a writer. Kind of like George Bailey’s friends who just came running when he needed them without asking questions. Like George Bailey, I’m quite humbled at the outpouring of support. 

If you have made the effort to come to one of my book signings, thank you. If you’ve spent your hard earned money on a copy of my book, thank you. If you’ve taken the time to read my little story, thank you. And if you’ve stepped out and told someone else about it, whether personally or as a review somewhere, I am more grateful than you know. 

While my heart always swells with joy for George Bailey at that final scene, I have a feeling that this year the moment will be even more poignant. No longer will I imagine how he felt. Now I will know. 

10/23/2011

A Sunday Psalm

The Lord reigns, He is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed in majesty and is armed with strength.
The world is firmly established;
it cannot be moved. 
Your throne was established long ago;
You are from all eternity.
      --Psalm 93:1-2

10/22/2011

Winner of Reclaiming LIly

Thank you to everyone who left a comment about Reclaiming Lily. I know Patti appreciates your interest in her book. And thanks to random.org, who supplied the winning number.

And the winner is . . .

Mountain Mama

Congratulations! I'll be emailing you to get your mailing information.

And thanks to Patti for hanging around and commenting. You are awesome, Patti!

10/21/2011

Stuck


Do you ever get stuck? I’m in that place right now. I guess you might have noticed I didn’t post on Wednesday. It wasn’t that I didn’t have time to write something. In fact, I had a piece written and ready to go. And then I second guessed myself. I took it down.

I find myself doing that a lot lately. Writing a facebook status— then deleting it. Writing a tweet— then deleting it. Even writing pages of prose— then deleting. 

I’m stuck. I say what I have to say, or what the story says to me, then I read over it. I waffle. Not that what I’ve had to say is in any way bad. Or mean. Or inappropriate. But I worry that it is stupid. Or irrelevant. Or just . . . forgettable. Suddenly I’m so much more conscious of what other people will think about my words. Or worse yet, if my words will cause anyone to think of me at all.

In many ways, therein lies the answer. I’m thinking too much of myself. Assigning too much importance to the markings on my screen. And so I pray. Again. Fervently. I pray for words to flow and for my only concern to be whether or not the Giver of Words notices and approves. If they make Him smile. If they bring Him joy. 

I’m stuck. But I’m working to get unstuck. Or rather I’m trying to be still, so that the Lord can free me from the mire of my own making. 

10/17/2011

Reclaiming Lily by Patti Lacy


Heads up! I’m giving away a copy of this book! Read on for details. 

I met Patti Lacy in cyberspace a couple of years ago. Though published, I learned she had signed a contract with Bethany House right after I did. Then I read one of her books, The Rhythm of Secrets, and was blown away by the emotional punch it packed. Last month, I finally got to hug her neck in person at the ACFW conference!

Needless to say, I’ve been very excited about her new book, Reclaiming Lily. The premise had me hooked the moment I read it. A daughter adopted from China, straddling two cultures that have collide in an out-of-control teenager. The Chinese sister she’s never known now a doctor in the US with family medical history that is a ticking time bomb. A perfect recipe for drama.

What surprised me about the book was that I expected  the American family to be center stage. But Reclaiming Lily is truly Kai’s story. I found myself enthralled with her history through the cultural revolution in China. How it changed and shaped her. How it propelled her into the conflict in which she finds herself in the story. Of course we learn about the adoptive family, too, but I found myself glad that Kai carried the story because I was fascinated by her thought processes and her history. In the end, they all felt like family. 

Obviously I’m not going to give the story away, but suffice it to say I enjoyed the journey. Patti’s tag line for her fiction is Spanning Seas and Secrets. Reclaiming Lily does exactly that. 

I happened to get two copies of this book, so I’m giving away one. (It’s contemporary fiction, in case you didn’t pick that up.) Just leave a comment and you’ll be entered in the random drawing. You have through Friday, October 21, to comment for a chance to win!

10/16/2011

A Sunday Psalm

But I am like an olive tree
flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever.
I will praise You forever for what You have done;
in Your name I will hope, for Your name is good.
I will praise You in the presence of Your saints.
    --Psalm 52:8-9

10/14/2011

Interview and Giveaway

Andrea's Take

Andrea is having a Birthday Bash on her blog this week and today she chose to interview me and give away a copy of Wings of a Dream! Click here and come to the party!

10/12/2011

What Are You Trying to Teach Me, Lord?


In my mind, this was the week to settle back into my writing routine. I looked forward it. Planned for it. By Monday morning i was almost giddy in anticipation. 

Then, as often happens, life intervened. A sick child. Errands that demanded attention. Suddenly my day had slipped away. I did a little bit of writing, but not what I’d intended to accomplish. At first, I was frustrated, determined to recover those lost hours later in the night. To push myself harder and longer. But as I sat down with my Bible and my journal, I found a question rolling around in my mind.

What are you trying to teach me, Lord?

So many times when situations batter my well-laid plans, I sniff Satan in the air. But this time, I stopped to consider. Was this a moment for pushing through the obstacles— or for embracing them? 

It occurred to me that perhaps the Lord didn’t want me to start  fumbling around with the new story yet. Perhaps He desired me to slow down, not speed up. To enjoy a day of my son at home, albeit sick, when I hadn’t seen him for almost two weeks. Perhaps He used those situations to stay my hand, to let ideas simmer a little longer, to allow some new thought or situation to invade the story world. To trust that when He said, “Go,” that He would keep unexpected distractions at bay, as He has so often done before. 

I pondered this. Took a deep breath and set aside my lofty agenda. Not in laziness or procrastination, but with a firm belief that the Lord was asking this of me. Only time will tell, I guess, if I read the situation rightly. But given the peace that took control of my heart that day, my guess is that I did. 
Sometimes God doesn’t ask me to accomplish. Sometimes He just asks me to be. 

10/10/2011

Making the Most of Opportunity


When I signed my book contract, I made a few commitments to the Lord for the new journey. One of them was that I would embrace every opportunity He brought my way to promote my book. Now, if you know me well, you know this didn’t mean I’d be a marketing machine. That’s just not me. It did mean, however, that if an opportunity came my way—even if it was out of my comfort zone—I’d do it.

So a couple of weeks ago, when an independent bookseller called and asked if I’d like to participate in a book signing with a NYT bestselling romance author, I said yes, though it tied my stomach in knots. I understood from the first it wouldn’t be about selling tons of books. It would be about making new contacts and gleaning wisdom from a writer who’d walked this road longer, and apparently walked it well. And I was okay with that. At least until the day arrived. Then I found myself dreading sitting quietly to the side while people swarmed the other author. But I knew the Lord had opened this door—I’d done nothing to seek it on my own—and so I prayed He would show me very clearly why I was to be there.

I arrived to find a flurry of people, though not as many as I’d anticipated. And I learned that award-winning, bestselling author Jodi Thomas had brought one of her award-winning co-authors, Phyliss Miranda, with her. I set up my books next to Phyliss, feeling like a wallflower at a high school dance. But I needn’t have worried. Phyliss struck up a conversation right away and made me feel at home. When she and Jodi discovered that this was my debut novel, they gave me several sheets of their “autographed copy” stickers to put on the books I signed, something they do whenever they meet a debut author. 

Phyliss, Me, and Jodi

Over the course of the evening, I actually sold a few books, but that wasn’t why I was there. I was there to get to know and to learn from two gracious and humble ladies. What did I learn? That the number of books sold at an event isn’t as important as the connection with the booksellers. That some books take longer to write than others, and sometimes, even after 20 years of writing, it takes time to understand exactly what story you are trying to tell. That it is hard to do events where you have no relationship with the store or its employees. That you should network with readers and book reviewers every where you go. 

Some of these things I’d heard before, of course. But it helped to hear them again. Mostly I drank in their encouragement. I left there with three new friends--two authors and a bookseller. And I thanked the Lord that He’d given me that opportunity. The one I’d been dreading all morning. 


Phyliss, Me, Jodi, and Gayle, the bookstore owner

10/09/2011

A Sunday Psalm

Praise be to the Lord,
for He heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in Him and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.
The Lord is the strength of His people,
a fortress of salvation for His anointed one.
Save Your people and bless Your inheritance;
be their Shepherd and carry them forever.
    --Psalm 28:6-9

10/07/2011

There You'll FInd Me by Jenny B. Jones


I still very much enjoy reading YA (Young Adult) fiction. A good story is a good story, no matter the age of the protagonist. 

I also very much enjoy reading things written by those authors I call friends. And after spending time with a new friend in July at She Speaks and then again in September at ACFW, it made it very natural to pick up Jenny B. Jones’s newest YA book, There You’ll Find Me. 

Of course, being a sucker for anything set in the British Isles, I immediately took to this story that takes place in Ireland. But it was more than the setting that kept me reading. I loved her characters, loved the unexpected twists and turns in the story, loved the “realness” of the issues. 

It is a novel about letting go, about leaving behind control, about navigating the messiness of life and not being embittered by it. Jenny says in her note at the end that this book “kicked her tail” trying to get it right. Well, my friend, I think it worked. You got it just right.

10/05/2011

Glad To Be Home!


We are finally home! After five days at the ACFW Conference in St. Louis, a quick two days at home--ending with participating on an author panel at a library event, we (Jeff got to go with me on this trip!) then embarked on a seven day excursion to Jeff’s hometown of Huntingdon, PA. 

My sweet in-laws and the extended family came out in droves for my book signing on a cold and rainy Saturday. A few people ventured in after reading about me and the book in a sweet article in the local newspaper by my new friend April Feagley. (She loves to read historical fiction and she loves Jesus! We instantly clicked!) Of course I told you a little about the great researching--and the Lord even brought to light some long-hidden records on our last day in town!

I’m (again) climbing out from under the piles that have accumulated while I’ve been away. But don’t worry. You’ll find me back here on Friday--hopefully with something new to say! In the meantime, here are a few pictures from my book signing at Harmony Christian Store last weekend. Enjoy!






10/03/2011

Adventures in Research


I spent Thursday and Friday of last week researching. In fact, I’m headed back to the library to look through old newspapers this morning, too. I came looking for specifics about the Huntingdon Home for Orphan and Friendless Children, a private “orphanage” that began in the late 1800s but did so much more than take in orphaned children. Really they were a ministry to poor and neglected children whether their parents had died or not. 

At first it seemed as if there would be few details to find. Then Kelly, head of the Huntingdon County Historical Society, decided to call her predecessor, Nancy Shedd, who has done extensive research herself into the orphan home. 

Nancy graciously met me and as we talked through what was known, she suddenly thought of a place she hadn’t searched for documents--the Juniata College archives. She made a phone call. Later that afternoon, the archivist emailed us both with a list of items in her possession. Nancy and I made our way to see them on Friday. And what a treasure trove we found! I came away with most of what I wanted to find out, and with a new friend as well. It is always fun to spend time with others who share your passion for research, especially when it is on the same topic!

And the really cool thing about Nancy? Her great-grandmother was the first matron of the home after the founder, David Emmert, relinquished that role!

I love how God connects me with just the right people when I venture into these adventures of research!

10/02/2011

A Sunday Psalm

I will listen to what God the Lord will say;
He promises peace to His people, His saints--
but let them not return to their folly.
Surely His salvation is near those who fear Him,
that His glory may dwell in our land.
    --Psalm 85:8-9

9/28/2011

The Climb


After a decade-long uphill climb toward publication, I reached the summit— or so I thought. I signed a book contract. But even as I penned my name on the line, the Lord whispered in my ear. 

This is just a ledge. Catch your breath, we’re climbing higher. 

By that I knew exactly what He meant. Not that I would climb to heights of fame and fortune, but that I would climb a steeper, narrower path, one that required a strengthening of the faith He’d grown in me thus far.  

And I was right. 

First it was writing a new book, research to revisions. On a deadline. During my son’s senior year of high school. Then it was deciding what to do next, discovering what story ideas might take root within me. (I’m still climbing this one. Not sure if they’ll want the next ones or not!) 

The book released— yet another steep slope to navigate as pebbles slipped under my feet and careened into the abyss. Now it is managing time and energy, both limited resources being pushed to the limit. 

My climb might be slower than some. I might lose my footing on occasion, find myself tumbling downhill until the Lord puts a boulder in my way to stop me. But my desire is to set my face heavenward, eyes fixed on Jesus rather than seeking the top of the mountain, shrouded in clouds. I don’t want to worry about what’s up ahead or when I will reach a more restful plateau.  

Today my faith muscles are sore. My feet ache and my eyes sting. Yet I take another step, reach for another handhold. Moving forward, uphill, confident that my God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory— even if that supply consists of a rock to break my fall. 

9/26/2011

Desperately playing catch up

Hey y'all!

I'm home from the ACFW Conference and desperately playing catch up. But while I'm working, y'all can hop on over to Margaret Daley's blog if you want a chance to win Wings of a Dream. You have all week to post comments to enter. I'll try to be back here tomorrow. I've missed you!

9/25/2011

A Sunday Psalm

Show me Your ways, O Lord,
teach me Your paths;
guide me in Your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in You all day long.
     --Psalm 25:4-5

9/23/2011

A Necessary Deception by Laurie Alice Eakes


One summer, several years ago, we went on a library spree. We didn’t go to the small library in our little suburb/town. Instead, we went to the one a little bit larger, in the town that butted up against ours. An older, larger town. 
What I loved about its library was the vast collection of older books. Not old as in collectables, but old as in really good reads that you sometimes don’t run across anymore because space in libraries made way for newer titles. 
That summer I discovered a new-to-me author: Patricia Veryan. She wrote novels set in England but they weren’t the drawing room dramas of Jane Austen, though they covered much of the same time period. No, these stories had adventure and intrigue. More along the Scarlet Pimpernel lines. I devoured them--somewhere around 15 or so--that summer. 
Fast forward. In one of my online historical writer groups, I became friends with Laurie Alice Eakes. I remember getting excited when she mentioned Patricia Veryan in one of her posts. And when she told me she’d been contracted for a series of Veryan-esque Regency novels, I was so excited I could hardly stand it!
I received my copy of A Necessary Deception last week and it did not disappoint! Lady Lydia Gale, a widow, is determined to help her sisters do what she could not--make a happy marriage. But nothing turns out as Lydia expects. She is unwillingly drawn into a world of spies and national security in order to save her family from scandal but when two different men present themselves as her contact, she doesn’t know who to trust. A Necessary Deception is an adventure, a love story, and a spy story all rolled into one. And with an important spiritual thread to hold it all together!
Not only did I thoroughly enjoy this book, it left me eagerly anticipating the other two books, which will focus on Lydia’s sisters Cassandra and Honore. I just wish I didn’t have to wait so long to read them! 

9/21/2011

Off to ACFW Conference!

I'm as excited as a two-year-old going to a birthday party.

Or Disney World.

I'm off to the ACFW Conference today. I missed last year, which means I haven't seen many of my writers friends for at least two years. Besides that, I'm really excited about actually getting to meet some of those who I've only known online. And my awesome friend and crit buddy Mary DeMuth and I will be rooming together! Not to mention great classes on writing, great food, and great times of prayer and worship.

But don't worry. I'll still be around a bit. I've got a special post all ready for you on Friday. And you still have the rest of the week to chime in on my interview over at K Dawn Byrd's blog for a chance to win Wings of a Dream. 

9/20/2011

A Chance to Win!

I'm over at K Dawn Byrd's blog. Come read the interview and leave a comment for a chance to win Wings of a Dream.

9/19/2011

Leslie Wilson's website

I'm so excited for my dear friend and critique partner, Leslie Wilson. Her new website is up! If you don't know Leslie, she is one of the funniest people I know, and yet truly practical as well. She's been a mommy speaker and newspaper columnist for years.

Go on over to her new website and welcome her to cyberspace. And click around. She has some really fun things to find!


9/18/2011

A Sunday Psalm

Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as You have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
May Your deeds be shown to Your servants,
Your splendor to their children.
May the favor of the Lor our God rest upon us;
establish the work of our hands for us--
yes, establish the work of our hands.
    --Psalm 90:14-17

9/16/2011

My Actions, God's Work


The other day I came across this amazing chapter in 2 Kings. (Yes, 2 Kings. I know, you usually blow through that book, if you read it at all. Of course, being a history nut, I tend to enjoy some of those Biblical books that seem dry to others.) 

2 Kings 4 tells four short stories from the life of Elisha the prophet. Four scenarios that are very different, yet, surprisingly, so very much the same. 

Scenario 1: A widow of a prophet is destitute, about to be taken into slavery along with her two young sons. She appeals to Elisha. Elisha asks her what is in her house. “A little oil,” she replies. Then he gives her three tasks to do: gather empty jars from her neighbors, shut herself in her house with her boys, and pour the oil into all the jars, filling each one. 

None of those tasks met her immediate need, which was money. But when she did what Elisha asked of her, the Lord multiplied the oil to fill every jar she’d collected. Then the oil stopped flowing. She sold the oil to first pay her debts, then support her small family. God did the miraculous, but He did it after she’d obeyed His instructions, ones that probably made little sense to her in the moment. 

Scenario 2: A woman graciously feeds Elisha on his trips past her house. Then she builds him a small room so he can stay whenever he wants. He wants to repay her gracious hospitality. She and her husband are childless. Elisha tells her she will have a son. Fast forward several years. The son falls ill. He dies. The woman seeks out Elisha and throws herself at his feet. He returns to the house with her, prays, and the son is restored to life. 

The Lord used Elisha to breathe new life into the woman’s son. But didn’t receive him back until she asked. And my guess is that the humility with which she appealed to Elisha, who then appealed to the Lord, had much to do with His answer. Again, an action on her part followed by a miracle on God’s part.

Scenario 3: While eating with the prophets, poisonous plants get put into the stew. The men are dying. Elisha throws flour into the pot— an ordinary substance— and suddenly it is okay to eat. Two interesting actions in this story. Elisha had to throw the flour in the pot, but the prophets with him had to chose to eat it again. 

Once more, faith put into practice resulting in a work only God could perform. 

Scenario 4: A man brought bread to Elisha. “Give it to those with me,” Elisha says. A hundred hungry men. Only twenty loaves. Reluctantly, the man did as Elisha instructed. The bread not only fed the men, but they had left overs. (Sound familiar?) Another simple act of faith that didn’t solve the predicament. Another instance of God’s hand providing for the need. 

Why did this chapter jump out at me? I guess because as I walk this journey of life and writing, I’m understanding more and more that the Lord asks me to do something before He shows His power in a given situation. Often the task set before me seems inconsequential or maybe even ridiculous. And it certainly won’t remedy the situation in and of itself. But once I have made that step of faith to trust and obey (yes, there is no other way!), His all-powerful hand can work. It isn’t that He couldn’t act prior to my action, it’s that He chooses my action to be His invitation to step in and do what I cannot. 

What has the Lord asked you to step out and do today? 

9/14/2011

Extravagant Generosity


I’ve been rolling this phrase around and around in my head since the day of my book launch signing: extravagant generosity. 
I consider myself a generous person. I give of my time. My money. Other resources. But that weekend of my book signing, I realized that my generosity hasn’t always been extravagant. Not in the light of family and friends and friends of family and friends who arrived to buy my book. At full price instead of online at a discount. Not in the light of others who spent much time, money and energy to provide a lovely dinner to celebrate afterwards. 
Oh, on occasion my generosity could be defined in a similar way. But as friends and friends of friends flowed through the book line, and as friends ate and chatted and enjoyed the book-related decorations at the dinner, I realized that my generosity toward those beyond my inner circle of family and friends was more often calculated. I weighed if I could “afford” to give instead of just giving what sprang up in my heart. Again, not just money but time and other resources. 
And as usual, all this pondering circled back around to Jesus. To the ultimate example of extravagant generosity. 
But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
If I want to be like Jesus, I have to live a life of extravagant generosity toward all— not just those closest to me. I don’t think that means giving foolishly, but it means when the Lord pricks my heart to bless another person, I need to do everything that is in my heart without pulling back to measure it first. That is how people gave to me a few days ago. Extravagantly. It blessed me. It humbled me. It pointed me back to Jesus. And because of their extravagant generosity, I will never be the same. 
What gift of extravagant generosity from another person has humbled you, made you realize anew the free gift of love God demonstrated towards us through Christ? 

9/12/2011

10 Years Ago . . .


On 9/11/2001, I remember . . . 
  • Turning on the TV because my husband called.
  • Watching in bewilderment, along with the TV commentators, as the 2nd plane hit the 2nd tower. 
  • Praying, praying, praying.
  • My neighbor and best friend bursting through my backdoor, asking if I knew.
  • Weeping for the families of those whose loved ones came home to them--and the families of those who didn’t.  
  • Trying to figure out how to explain what happened to my 10, 8, and 6 year old kids.
  • Being grateful my husband wasn’t traveling that day. 
  • Hugging my children hard when they came home from school.
  • Wondering how it would change our world. 
Later in the week, I attended a prayer service at our church. I remember sitting in the pew, praying, singing “It Is Well With My Soul”, and, strangely enough, wondering if that feeling of agony and fear, of the uncertainty of the future, was the same as those who sat in pews and prayed after Pearl Harbor. In that moment, I felt a kinship with the past, with those who lived through other horrific events and survived. 
I thought about all that this weekend, with the rubble cleared away and new construction moving forward on the ground that absorbed such tragedy. Again, I prayed. Again I listened to stories of tragedy. But I also heard other stories, new stories of hope and redemption. Stories pieced together through years of wondering and searching or lived out in the midst of great pain. And in those I remembered again that this world has a Creator and a Savior. One that brings beauty from ashes. 
Oh, Lord, may we see Your hand in everything, bringing light into dark places, bringing life out of death, bringing hope in the midst of pain and suffering. Be near to our hearts, O God. Be near.




**********


I'm guest posting on Cara Putman's blog today--and she's doing a giveaway! You'll also find my book on a variety of blogs this week on my CFBA blog tour. See you around cyberspace!

9/11/2011

A Sunday Psalm

The Lord watches over you--
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm--
He will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
    --Psalm 121:5-8