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. 


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!


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


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! 


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. 


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.


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!


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


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? 


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? 


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!


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


The 2nd Hottest Summer

To say it’s been a hot summer in Texas is like saying it’s a bit chilly in Siberia. It’s been HOT!  In fact, by the numbers it has been the second hottest summer on record. (I lived here through the first hottest as well, in 1980.) We’ve had 68 days where the high reached the 100 degree mark or above--40 of those coming on consecutive days. But another statistic I found about this summer really summed up the heat. In the past 115 years of keeping temperature records in our area, only once has our highest low temperature been 85 degrees. (Read that again. 85 degrees as the low for the day.) Once until 2011, that is. We hit that 85 degrees or higher as our low mark on nine  days this summer. The hot was hot and didn’t abate when the sun went down.

So where am I going with this? Of course I’m going to the God who shows us spiritual truth so often through the natural world.

On September 3, I woke up and made my usual trek to the coffee machine. I noticed my husband outside in a chair on the deck. I opened the door to ask him why he was out there, but my breath caught in my chest before I could utter a word.

He looked up at me. “75 degrees. Isn’t it wonderful?”

My coffee and I joined him outside. As if that weren’t enough, the following morning was so cool (68 degrees with a brisk wind) that I had to put on my lightweight sweatpants and wrap a blanket around my shoulders in order to sit outside with my coffee.

As I thought about this summer, it has reminded me again of how God often works in our lives. We walk through scorching hot trials, where the sweat rolls and the heat refuses to back off even in what ought to be the cool of night. Day after day after day with no respite. We begin to believe that life will forever be marked with hot. Cool— autumn— will never again appear. We will live from one 100 degree day to another, with no end in sight. We convince ourselves we simply have to learn to endure the heat, and we soldier on, determined yet wishing we could remember what it felt like to be cold.

Then one day, the door of our lives opens to a fresh breeze that whispers cool across our skin. In the blink of an eye, when we’d quit watching for the end, life changes. The fire of trial dies down, perhaps not retreating to nothingness, but at least no longer alive with blazing intensity. We lift our faces to heaven and understand once again that He hasn’t left us to wither in an unrelenting sun.

So that’s what I learned this summer. How about you?

* * * *

Today I’m over at my friend Jen AlLee’s blog. Come join in the conversation!


I've Missed Y'all!

So I guess you’ve noticed that I’ve kind of had an impromptu blog tour that has been taking up my blog space. At first, I was relieved to just post where I was each day and not have to write something new. Between getting my kids situated in college and high school and preparing for the official book launch, I was stressed and figured not blogging was one less thing on my to do list.

But during these past couple of weeks I discovered something. I missed blogging. I missed you, my blog readers! So in light of that, I want you to know that I’m returning to my regular posting schedule (Mon, Wed, Fri, and a Sun Psalm). At the bottom of each post, I’ll let you know if I’m being featured on another blog so you can visit and comment and keep me company in new places.

 *  *  *  *  *  

Still time to comment for a chance to win Wings of a Dream at: Debbie Lynne Costello’s blog
                                                                                                       Janalyn Voigt’s Novel Books


Tea (or Coffee) and A Good Book

My friend Susie, at Tea and a Good Book, had me tell ten things about myself. Some of them might surprise you!


The Book is Launched!

Wow! What an amazing book signing and celebration! My friends and my family made it a day I will never forget. Here are a few pictures. Wish you could have been there, too!

Want a chance to win a copy of the book? Comment over at Novel Books.

Join me at Novel Books

While I'm still compiling the pictures from Saturday's book signing, please join me at Novel Books today with Janalyn Voigt.


A Sunday Psalm

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
    --Psalm 32:1-2


Are You Ready for a Book Signing?

I'm not sure I am! But ready or not, here I come! If you are in the area, I'd love to see you. Here are the details:

Barnes and Noble
Firewheel Towne Center
Garland, TX
Saturday, Sept. 3, 2-4 pm

I'm super excited that we are doing this in conjunction with a book fair that will benefit the library at my kids' school. I look forward to connecting with you there!


Wings of a Dream Release Day!

Hey y'all! Today's the official release day! I stand in humble amazement of all God has done and continues to do through this imperfect woman. And I know that none of it is for me or about me. It's all about Him. His glory and His fame. Oh, that His name would be praised in all the earth! Selah.

I'm celebrating the release of Wings of a Dream with a two day interview over at the Barn Door Book Loft. Stop over and leave a comment for a chance to win the book!