Sunday, June 8, 2014

summer in the vine

I don't usually post anything on Sunday, but this is a last minute reminder I should have posted much sooner. I let it slip my mind, though, so I wanted to make sure I invited you all t to join me this summer.

No, I'm not taking us all to a beach house somewhere (I wish I could!) or suggesting we get together around a campfire in my parents' field (although that would be fun, too).

This is actually much easier to arrange :)

A friend of mine was thinking about how easy it is to get busy in the summer and let things slide, sometimes without even realizing it's happening. One of those things is devotionals, so Jill decided to do something about it. She invited some of us to join with her in providing daily Bible reading and devotionals, delivered straight to your inbox.
http://journeywithjill.net/online-bible-studies/summer-in-the-vine/

Looking at what all is on the lineup, I'm pretty sure you won't get bored. There's going to be a little bit of everything, really, with everything from a study of Mark to the life of Joseph to a trip through the Holy Land. I'm going to be writing a bit on how faith and science link together, so like I said--a little bit of everything! If you click on the picture above it will take you to Jill's site where you can learn a little more about what to expect.

We would love to have you join us this summer. Jill will be sending the emails out, and I assure you that you won't start getting a bunch of spam. You can sign up here (all you have to enter is an email address).

Also, this will probably be my last post for the month. We're headed south at the end of the week for a much needed trip home to see this beautiful country, and enjoy our vacation. I'll be back in July and I hope you all have a beautiful month!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

chasing a dream

"Writers are not just people who sit down and write. They hazard themselves. Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake."
~E.L. Doctorow

"What we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our gift to God."
~Elanor Powell

"This writing that you do, that so thrills you, that so rocks and exhilarates you, as if you were dancing next to the band, is barely audible to anyone else."
~Annie Dillard, THE WRITING LIFE

A student was sent to talk to my dad a while back. She had said she wanted to be a writer, so the high school counselor told her to talk to Pop. After all, since I had written a book surely he could tell her all she needed to know about how I had done it.

She asked him how I became a writer, in answer to which I'm pretty sure he laughed. He told her that I had been writing and telling stories since I was little (I can still remember taking from the time I came home until dinner was finished one night just to try to tell my family all about the amazing book my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Gray, had just finished reading to us). He told her that I write because I can't not write, and that although I had written a book I definitely wasn't living on what I made from it.

I don't know how she reacted to that information. She probably wasn't looking to hear that--it would have been much more comforting to an aspiring writer if she had heard that I was now supporting myself with my writing. That's the dream, isn't it? To be able to just jump right into doing what you love without any bumps in the road before you get there.

I hope, whatever she thought, that she chases after her dream.
Because, really, that's all I'm doing.

It took me a long time to get up the nerve to do it, and even now that I'm putting books out there it still terrifies me to think about other people--you--reading what I write.

My words are unsure at times, and almost never exactly what I want to say.
I see a picture unfold in my head, but I can't get the description just right.
When asked about my writing, I freeze up--completely.

When I first started writing the story I just published, I was scared out of my mind. It was fiction, a fantasy, and a part of me thought I shouldn't be writing something like that. I should stick to matters of faith, use my writing to glorify God and to help others see Him.

I kept my story a secret from everyone besides my husband, and though he encouraged me to keep writing I was still scared. When I got stuck with that first book, for a while I figured that was a sign that I shouldn't write such a meaningless story. I put my writing away, content to focus on "more important" things.

Then this Healer named Syndria showed up in my mind, and I started writing her story. I still didn't tell other people--writing was just for me, something to get out of my system. But something happened then.

I wondered if maybe, just maybe, somebody else might like reading the story I was working on.

I ventured out into the blogging world with it, and to my surprise somebody did like it. She read every post and responded enthusiastically that she couldn't wait to buy and read the whole thing.

I started thinking that it might be possible that I could write, that I could tell a story and somebody else would get lost in it.

I still struggled, though. I still thought writing fantasy was something for other people to do, not me.

It took me a long time to come to the realization that God made me--every part of me--and He was the One who gave me the desire to write. No, my story wasn't blatantly Christian. It had magic and wizards and kings and battles.

And it was about the ultimate struggle, good versus evil. It was about people trying to come to terms with themselves, trying to figure out who they were in the grand scheme of things, trying to fight evil in any way possible.

So, I write.

I blog here about faith and belief and write blatantly about God, because I know that is the most important use for my writing.

But I also write stories. I get lost in worlds of heroes and magic and hope that through my stories I can let other people get lost, too.

Because the strange thing is, sometimes when you get lost you find your way.

My newest story, HINDSIGHT, is available for free today through Saturday, June 7th. I would love for you to have a copy and to hear what you think! You can also check out all of my books on the "my books" page here on the blog.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

finding rest

Life is busy--sometimes, there's no way around it. We all have responsibilities and obligations that keep us moving full steam ahead.

Other times, though, we choose to be busy because we know that if we slow down we'll have too much time to think; we keep moving forward because we just don't want to look back.

I've never been fond of falling apart. For those who know me, that's probably putting it a bit mildly, huh? I pride myself on being independent, able to handle things on my own. "I can do it myself!" was probably the first full sentence in my vocabulary.

I guess it's a control thing.

The problem is, in Christ we are called to brokenness.

"I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."
Philippians 3:10 & 11

"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. [...] For when I am weak, then I am strong."
II Corinthians 12: 9 & 10b

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise."
Psalm 51:17

You see, when we are broken we have no choice but to cry out to God, to say with the psalmist, 
"Into Your hands I commit my spirit;
redeem me, O Lord,
the God of truth."
Psalm 31:5

So what would happen if we chose to embrace rest?

I'm not saying we should shirk our responsibilities, but what if--just for a moment--we put aside the extra busy-ness that is simply there to hide our brokenness?

Bonnie Gray, the blogger behind Faith Barista, went on a painfully beautiful journey to embrace rest, to live as the beloved. She has poured her heart out for all of us to read in her book being released today, "Finding Spiritual Whitespace."

Through her own memories of being abandoned and unwanted, Bonnie learned a powerful truth:
"He is whispering--
         I am here.
         In between the cracks, where you've left yourself"    (p. 32, Chapter 1)

Jesus is waiting for us, there in the broken, messy part of our souls. He is there saying,

"Come to Me,
all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30


Though we've only met through the blogging world, I've been blessed by Bonnie's words and am grateful for the opportunity to have gotten to know her a little more through her book. If you're looking for rest, Bonnie's journey may help to start you on your own path.

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace
*Linking up with Bonnie and a community of writers for "21 Days of Rest" to welcome Bonnie's new book into the world! You're welcome to stop by and see what others have to say.

Monday, June 2, 2014

joie de vivre

I have a confession to make: when it comes to my kids, I'm a hypocrite.

That may sound a bit harsh, but it's true.

Like parents from all over the world, I strive to raise my kids to follow God. I want them to know Him deeply, to realize just how amazing it is that the Creator of the Universe chose them--that He loves them. I want them to walk closely to Him
and to have the peace that passes all understanding, to realize that their joy is not defined by their circumstances.

The thing is, lately I've let my circumstances steal my joy.

It didn't happen all at once, but there's no denying that my once ever-present optimism and joie de vivre have faded these last few years.

Yes, the circumstances in my life have been hard. If you read through some old posts you can see that it's been a hard decade, one I never could have imagined. I can't change what all has happened, even if I wanted to--life's funny that way.

The thing is, I can change how I react to things.

I can stop pitying myself when things go wrong.
I can choose not to dwell on the negatives.
I can remember that, no matter what happens, I have the only assurance I need:
 "I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." ~Genesis 28:15