More on Perspective

Yesterday put all my whining (even the whining I didn’t voice!) of late in perspective. No, I haven’t had much writing time. And I sacrificed more if it Wednesday and Thursday to go with my son to the regional track meet almost 4 hours from home. He’s qualified for regionals all four years, every year in a different event, though track is by far his least favorite sport. In fact, he only participated this year out of loyalty to his coaches.

This year he qualified in all three of his events: triple jump, 4 x 200 relay, and 4 x 400 relay. He knew his jumping distance would probably render him in last place at this meet. He ended up 7th out of 8. The 8th place finisher scratched on all his jumps! The coaches replaced him in the 4 x 200 relay in hopes of getting that team to state, which happened. And my son, who always puts the good of the team ahead of his own personal glory, was so excited for them. Finally, the last race of the meet: the 4 x 400 relay. My senior son and three sophomores, he being the slowest leg.

He ran a personal best. His team finished 3rd, qualifying to run again at the state meet.

And I cried.

I cried because it is the most amazing and unexpected way to end his four years of football, basketball and track. And I cried because I got to witness it.

If it takes me a week longer to get my revisions done because I went, then so be it. I’ll still make my official deadline, it’ll just be my pride that gets scuffed in missing my personal one. But I realized yesterday that there are very few things I wouldn’t gladly sacrifice to get to experience these last few events with my son. Next year, he’ll spend more time at college than at home, and I guarantee I won’t look back on these two days in April and wish I’d spent more time on my book.


Righting My Skewed Perspective

Sometimes my perspective gets skewed. It happened this week as I’ve tried to work writing around baseball games that get rained out and moved to fields two hours from town, track meets that require overnight stays, day-long shopping trips that prove unproductive, and a husband clomping around in a boot to hopefully stave off further damage to an Achilles tendon.

I’ve wanted to pull my hair out, to run screaming into the night or even just throw myself on the floor and pitch a fit. After all, writing is what the Lord has called me to do. It is my worship. Instead, I sat down with my journal, ready to delve into the Word of God, knowing my desperation for Him in that moment.

I tend to read through Scripture from beginning to end but on no set schedule, just day to day from where I ended the day before to where I feel satisfied on this day. Sometimes that is a few verses, sometimes a few chapters. So feeling completely overwhelmed, I opened to my place marker. Genesis 22 greeted me at the top of the page—along with a handwritten caption for the chapter: The Lord Will Provide.

I read on with a different perspective than before, seeing Abraham’s long waited for child as my own long waited for book contract. Abraham loved Isaac—the first use of that word in the Bible—yet God sends them out to worship, also the first use of that word, with Isaac as the sacrifice. Maybe Abraham’s perspective got skewed in his joy over the child. Maybe instead of worshipping God because of Isaac, maybe he’d come to regard Isaac as of greater consequence to his heart than God. Whatever the case, Abraham obeyed (also the first use!) and God rewarded him for his obedience.

Abraham set out with all the tools required for him to offer a burnt offering to the Lord: the wood, the fire and the knife—even the sacrifice. Yet he tells Isaac on their journey, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering.” And suddenly it occurred to me that God still proves Himself by providing the “meat” of our worship. That part isn't up to me. In the words of a Matt Redman worship song “We have nothing to give that didn’t first come from Your hand. We have nothing to offer You that You did not provide.”

So today I’m choosing to trust God to provide the “meat” for my worship of Him through my writing. I’ll gather my tools, go on the journey, trust Him to provide when and what He desires. And I’ll believe that whatever ends up on the alter of my heart will be His doing and bring the most glory to His name. I want to love and worship God, not the thing He’s given me to offer up as worship.

Have you noticed your perspective skewed in any area of your life lately? How did God reveal it to you? How did you right it?


To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer

I love it when a novel entertains and engages me as a reader while at the same time impressing me as a writer. Add in a story and characters that ring true and spiritual truth that makes me you think and it equals a book that is very hard to put down!

To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer is just such a book.

Eden Spencer is a librarian who hates violence. As does blacksmith Levi Grant. They have two more things in common as well: their love of God and their love of books. It seems a match made in heaven. But Eden has no idea of Levi’s past. She only knows the changed man he has become. When she learns of his former life, Eden must confront her own hypocrisy.

Karen has an amazing way of weaving deep themes of grace and acceptance, forgiveness and repentance through a lighthearted romance, of making you think while keeping you entertained. As a writer, I greatly admire that skill. It is not easy to accomplish! Her characters seem to live and breathe, their strengths and weaknesses those with which we can all relate. Her cast of secondary characters is just as memorable. And of course I always love the late 19th century Texas setting.

If you are a historical romance fan—or even just a historical novel fan—I encourage you to read this one. It’s characters and its truths will stay with you for years to come.

*I received this book free from the publisher.


The Hope of Change

It’s amazing how many times we read God’s Word in the same chunks, grouping certain chapters or verses together in the same way. So I love getting out of my box, reading until some new juxtaposition of things strikes my heart. It happened again the other day in Genesis.

First I read of Sarai and how God protected her from the Pharoah of Egypt when Abram claimed her to be his sister instead of his wife. (Genesis 12) And in that moment, Sarai seemed to be a woman I attained to be—a woman who trusted God even when her husband made a wrong choice.

But fast forward 4 short chapters to Genesis 16. Now we see what I imagine to be a frustrated Sarai—probably feeling like a failure because she isn’t pregnant and Abram keeps saying, “But God told me I’d have an heir.” In exasperation, she gives him her maid, Hagar. When Hagar becomes pregnant and her husband says, “Do whatever you think best,” she doesn’t take his words to heart but instead mistreats her servant who had no choice in this matter in the first place! Not a woman I need help emulating here. In fact, she seems more like the shrew I don’t want to be.

Then comes the amazing part. Though we aren’t told of the intervening thirteen years, we assume Sarai made her peace with the having Hagar and Ishmael around. Though she’d started by blaming Abram for the situation, maybe she came to the conclusion that she’d been wrong in the first place. Maybe as the years passed she made her peace not only with her husband, her maid and Ishmael, maybe she made her peace with God, learned to trust Him no matter if His word appeared impossible to accomplish. But whatever happened in those years, we know this: the woman who had been a shrew suddenly becomes a woman blessed by God. He changes her name to Sarah, explaining that she will be the mother of nations and kings. (Genesis 17:15-16)

Does that encourage you in the same way it does me? An imperfect woman, frustrated by the things she can’t control, goes from impatient wife and harsh mistress to a woman God chooses to bless, a woman God holds up much later as an example of a godly wife. (I Peter 3:6) I find great hope in that today.

What Biblical story has given you hope lately?


Springtime of the Spirit by Maureen Lang

I’ve learned that with all good things come not so good things, too. For me, publication curbs what has been the love of my life: reading. It isn’t that I don’t run for a book in every spare moment like I used to, it’s just that those spare moments are harder to find.

That’s the reason it took me way longer than I wanted to finish Maureen Lang’s newest book Springtime of the Spirit. It’s the third book in The Great War series and it took me to a place I’d never been before: post WWI Germany. I learned all kind of fascinating things as I followed Christophe and Annaliese’s journeys to find themselves and each other. I’ll admit I tend to ignore most of the politics of the past. They have just never interested me as much as the social history—the lives of everyday people. But as usual, Maureen sucked me in with great characters and their own personal conflicts. In spite of myself, I learned some political history. (Of course it doesn’t hurt that I truly love this time period!)

This book can definitely be read as a stand alone, but I love that all three of the books in this series tackle a different time period of those war years in Europe. It really helped me put things in perspective as a whole, especially since most of my own study of the decade of 1910-1920 has focused on America, which had a very different experience from Europe. So if you are looking for a good story in a unique time and place, I encourage you to find all the books in this series: Look to the East, Whisper on the Wind, and Springtime of the Spirit. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!


A Sunday Psalm

I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.
I delight in Your decrees; I will neglect Your word.
     --Psalm 119:14-16


My Testimony in Three Songs

In spite of the fact that I am a writer, I often wish for someone else to put words to my feelings, my experiences. And that’s where music comes in. All my life I have looked to songs to help me articulate my feelings and my experiences.

I remember several years ago when I first heard two songs that encapsulated where the Lord had taken me in my journey with Him. I wept for two reasons: that someone had captured my experience so completely and that someone else had obviously journeyed a similar road. Not long ago I ran across another song that touched me in the same way. However this song spoke to where I had been before the Lord and I got down to real business.

So today I wanted to share with you those three songs that seem to so completely convey my testimony. Maybe they won’t seem so amazing to you—or maybe you’ll identify in part or in whole. Either way, I hope you enjoy each one.

Do you have a song or songs that seems to have captured your feelings at a specific time in your life?


Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson

Free Kindle books work as a marketing tool. Why do I know this? Well, several weeks ago I downloaded for free Lisa Samson’s YA title Hollywood Nobody. Now, I love Lisa Samson’s books. And I love YA books. So I figured this would be a great read. And it was. I absolutely loved this book. But here’s the catch: it was the first of a four book series!

When I finished Hollywood Nobody while accompanying my husband on a business trip, I immediately downloaded Finding Hollywood Nobody. By the time we got home, I’d finished it, too. Life intervened, but when I was about to hop a plane for another trip, I thought about what I’d want to read. Yes, my Kindle is full of books (mostly free downloads!), but I wanted to know what happened to Scotty and Charley on their crazy life on the road. So I downloaded book three: Romancing Hollywood Nobody. I finished it in the airport between flights. By now there was no turning back. Good-bye Hollywood Nobody zipped through the air and onto my Kindle.

So there you go. One free book led to my purchase of three more. If you like YA, if you like Lisa Samson—if you like a well-told story full of quirky characters, laugh-out-loud humor and punch-you-in-the-gut spiritual truth, pick up the Hollywood Nobody series. I really think you’ll like it.

Have you ever bought an author’s book after being introduced to that author or that series through a free book (a download or a gift)? Tell us!


A Sunday Psalm

The works of His hands are faithful and just;
all His precepts are trustworthy.
They are steadfast for ever and ever,
done in faithfulness and uprightness.
He provided redemption for His people;
He ordained His covenant forever--
holy and awesome is His name.
    --Psalm 111:7-9


Happy Birthday, Mr. Man!

I knew this baby was special the minute he arrived in the world, with his round face and—gasp!—blond hair. Add the blue eyes and dimples and he was irresistible. He grew into a stocky, serious toddler, then a tall, lanky teenager with a very dry wit. He’s the one who takes care of us all—and the one we all adore.

Today he turns 18. Happy birthday, Mr. Man!


My Cool Twitter Story

Social media. Love or hate it, I think it is here to stay. And in spite of some issues with it, there are some really cool things about it, too. I jumped into Facebook pretty quickly. Fun to reconnect with people I hadn’t seen in years. I especially enjoyed catching up with high school friends before our 25th reunion. It made the time so much more fun because we could disperse with all those initial questions.

For some reason I was more hesitant with Twitter. But I finally dove in. Not long after, as I began to connect with people, a pastor at a church we attended as young marrieds followed me. I followed him back. At some point he retweeted something of mine. All of a sudden my twitter account showed a new follower. I didn’t recognize the name. Then a direct message popped up, signed with a first and last name, a name I hadn’t seen in years. And I cried.

Long ago, as young mothers, I’d confided in my friend Becky my dream to write historical fiction. She had declared her willingness to help with any research I needed to do. More babies arrived. She moved away. I completely lost touch with my friend as the years passed.

It felt so good to be reconnected with her. We emailed. We even called. But that wasn’t enough. I wanted time to catch up, to hear her journey through the years, to share mine. She mentioned that her offer of research still stood. And in my mind, a plan hatched. A research trip I needed to take would put me close to her house. And it would help to have another set of eyes and ears and hands for note taking. And at meals and at night, we could catch up without any time limits.

So today she is with me on our way to Indianapolis. I’m so grateful for the gift of friendship—for the friends that have been there in the past, the ones I have now, and the ones God has prepared for me in the future. But there is something very sweet in the gift of a friendship rediscovered after so many years. I’m so glad God prepares good gifts for His children!

Have you ever “rediscovered” a friendship from the past? How did you happen to reconnect?


A Sunday Psalm

Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to Your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.
Why do the nations say, "Where is their God?"
Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him.
     --Psalm 115:1-3


Grappling with Control

I know what if feels like to hold myself back from a relationship. I often did it when I knew a friend would be moving away or changing schools or we’d be leaving when summer camp week ended. I’d distance myself, keep the other person at arms length in hopes that I wouldn’t feel the separation so intensely.

For the past decade or so I’ve recognized this tendency and made a conscious effort, by the grace of God, to remain engaged in spite of impending change. But just like so many times when I conquer the foe of self, it rises back up again in a little different form, subtle enough to confuse me into ignoring the root issue.

Last week I realized I’d been shutting off my heart to new characters. I’ve been afraid of them, somehow. Afraid they’ll hurt me by not having a story compelling enough to attract my editor’s attention. Now I know some of you are rolling your eyes and muttering, “But those aren’t real people! Give me a break!” But you see, those characters—and their stories—are the way God has wired me to connect both with Him and with other people. So when I hold myself distant from my characters, I essentially hold myself distant from the Lord. I cut myself off from the creative flow He has designed me to carry. When I don’t let these characters into my heart, I can’t learn from them. Nor can others.

In the eleven months leading up to my first contract, I prayed to hold this journey of publication loosely, to not grasp after it but just to follow as the Lord leads. But refusing to embrace the pain of possible rejection of a character I’ve come to love is just as bad and trying to make something happen in my own power. Both are an assertion of my control versus God’s control. Which brings it all back around to those real people I distanced myself from. I wanted to control the amount of pain I felt at losing their friendship or even just their presence in my life. And once again, that phantom self has to die.

Have you dealt with an issue in your life that came back around in a different form and surprised you?