Tuesday, December 13, 2011


We struggled to get out of bed this morning...yesterday, too.  Pookie slept in by an hour both days.

photo source

I found it strange until my husband jokingly said waking up this morning was like coming out of hibernation.  Maybe he's put his finger on it: we are all ready for some hibernating, some resting, some release from busybusyness.

December can be full of hustle and bustle and pretty lights and treats and programs and songs and movies and gifts and wrapping and parties and traditions and cards.  It's tiring just to list, not to mention actually do all those things.

So, we're doing something we've never done before: we're staying home on Christmas.  Since it falls on a Sunday, we'll go to church, but then we're having dinner at home, making Jesus a birthday cake together after naptime.

We'll travel beforehand and make our rounds and have a few happy but hectic days, sure.  But above that, we will hibernate, luxuriate in each other's presence (instead of presents).  Read of the God-man's birth and just let the sweet mystery of it flood our dreams and days.

This blog will be hibernating, too, until the new year, when I'll be back with resolutions and new goals and, hopefully, a healthy, well-rested glow.

Merry Christmas to you and yours; see you in 2012.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Coming Up Short

{I started this post 11/29, which explains why I was still writing about finishing NaNo.  For the record, I did reach 50K.  It wasn't pretty and a lot of it will be scrapped, but I made it.}

Tomorrow is the last day of NaNo. I'm behind in my wordcount; by tomorrow night, I need another 8,000ish words.  Doable...except for one minor detail.

I've run out of story.

I have one more chapter in my outline and thought of one I'd like to write to insert back toward the beginning, but otherwise I've got nothing!  I even wrote an epilogue to fill up word space--I hate it and will certainly delete it later, but for now it's 1,000 words!

So, I've been praying about my story and asking God to fill in where I've come short.

And He offers a world of parallels...

I had to go back to the dentist for a financial consultation--never a good sign.  The damage is workable, but that appointment and other recent events made my financial worry radar leap into high gear.  And I realized...I put a lot of stock in money.  In my savings account.  In my ability to squirrel funds away for a rainy day--all to the point that I was putting more faith in my money than I was in God to provide.

So, I've been praying about my trust issues around money and asking God to fill in where I've come short.

I worked in the church nursery one Sunday, which is usually pretty tame.  Unfortunately, a little girl cried the entire time, and I found myself smugly thinking, "Boy, I'm glad my kid doesn't do that."

The next night at a fellowship dinner, a boy came from the nursery calling out that my daughter was...crying.  The girls working in the nursery looked exhausted.


Smugness never prospers...So, I've been praying about my pride and asking God to fill in where I've come short.

That little girl in the nursery (and another kid) was sick, which means, of course, that my family got sick a few days later.  My red nose puts Rudolph to shame.  I emailed my mother and I'm not sure I used full sentences.  I've snapped at my daughter and wanted to cry as I watch my husband stuck doing the dishes...again.

I'm human and I'm ailing; I'm bound to come up short.  So in this time of tissues and Gatorade and Netflix and hacking coughs and hearing Pookie throw up at 2AM which leads to chaotic laundry/bath/changing/soothing midnight pandemonium.

I need grace because I come up short.
I need grace because I'm not perfect.
I need Jesus because I'm not perfect.

So here's to being on the mend...and Gatorade.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Grumbles and Gratefuls

photo source
Upon releasing Regardless, I reached a dream, a lifelong goal.  And though I didn't expect to rush to the top of the bestseller's lists or get interview requests from major networks, I did somehow have some preconceived notions.  And when life went on as usual, I got a case of the grumbles.

But is that the attitude of someone resting in Christ?  It shouldn't be.  So here's an honest list of my grumbles of late and the matching "gratefuls," the turning of those grumbles into praise and thanksgiving.

1. Emergency root canal.  It ate my time, it ate my money, it ate my tooth.
2. Pookie is growing...an attitude.  She can be cranky, whiny, and selfish in completely new ways.
3. I've been behind on word count for NaNo this year and fear my story won't even be long enough to cross the 50,000 word finish line.
4. My house is always messy.  Always.  Messy.  After I clean, I'm afraid to blink because the Mess Fairies will move in the nanosecond my eyes are shut.

Phew.  That's enough grumbling.  How about some thanking?

1. I found a new dentist's office and love it: Christian music the moment I walked in, friendly people, fancy goody bag as I left, affordable pricing.  And my tooth feels waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better.
2. Pookie is becoming more of herself; we are seeing more of her own personality.  I need to lean more on the Lord for guidance in training and bringing her up--which I didn't notice as much when she just cooed and ate and filled her diaper.
3. I caught up on my word count!  I genuinely like the direction my story is taking!  I have major editing in my future, but unlike last year, I can already see how to fix the major holes and how much stronger the narrative will be for it.  Plus, my characters are developing, so it's fun getting to meet them.
4.  I have dishes to watch because tummies are full.  I have laundry to wash because we are clothed.  I have rooms to tidy and floors to scrub/vacuum and tchotchkes to dust because God has given to us so abundantly.

Pookie says "ah-muh" (amen) at the end of prayers, meals, stories, and so on.  As I take time to be thankful for what I have, instead of the things that gnaw at my soul and make me grumble, I want to say it with her.

"Ah-muh" to you and yours.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hating the Word "Religious"

Some words just clang against my ears, like a singer way off pitch or feedback from a microphone.

Being called "religious" is one of those words.

courtesy of dictionary.reference.com

I used to be religious.  I used to be concerned with "exhibiting religion," showing others that I followed the rules and regulations and traditions of my church.

And then I met Jesus.  And Jesus wasn't religious.

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" Matthew 9:14

Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat." Matthew 15:1-2

But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, "Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath." Matthew 12:2

 The religious Pharisees didn't like what Jesus was doing and He didn't bend to their will.

For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. John 6:38

Jesus did not come to pursue religion; He came to pursue the will of the Father, to do what the Father asked of Him.

So what does the father ask of us?

And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27

Don't get lost in pursuing "religion"; pursue God, pursue loving your neighbors--that is, everyone you meet: your spouse, your kids, your family, your friends, the cashier at the grocery store, even your literal neighbors.

Love them because you are loved beyond measure, not to check something off a religious to-do list.

What about you?  Does the term "religious" bother you?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Scared like Moses

The morning I posted Regardless to Nook and Kindle, I was so anxious I took Pookie out thrift store shopping to take my mind off my impending publication.  A vintage tea cup and a diaper change later, it was naptime and I found myself glued to the computer for updates.

My book had gone live on Kindle.  As in, people could buy it.  But would anybody?  Would it sit, unwanted and rejected, making me look foolish?  Worse, would people buy it and hate it, demand their money back (possible) and their time (impossible)?

Steady breath.  Step back.

Remember all those prayers on bended knee?  Husband at side, praying "God's will be done"?  Who is this about, anyway?

Not me.

I think of Moses.  Moses was scared, maybe even heart-palpitating, close-to-vomiting scared like me.

Then Moses answered, "But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, 'The LORD did not appear to you.'" Exodus 4:1

Then God turned Moses' staff into a serpent.  He promised to be with Moses the whole way.  And Moses had just watched a bush burn without crumbling.  Wasn't that enough proof that God was with him?

But Moses said to the LORD, "Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue." Exodus 4:10

Moses has another excuse: I'm not good enough.  I can't do it.

Moses is missing here the word I miss when I rely on myself: I can't do it alone.  I want to, I want to rely on me, myself, and I, but I can't.

And I shouldn't.

None of us can do whatever it is we were called to do alone.  We must rely on God daily for grace and strength and growth and death of self.  Because only when we die to ourselves--our fears, our desires, our sins--can we see and do what the Lord has for us.

We know the rest of Moses' story, that he accomplished what God called him to...but he didn't do it alone.

What have you been trying to do alone?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Keeping Christ in Your Creativity

I recently heard an author speak about how easy it is to go through her day on her own, that she can write this chapter, edit that one, get dinner made, prepare for that speaking engagement--without really relying on God.

Don't we all?  Then I go one step further: I think that I'm doing a great job and that God doesn't really need to rule over X, Y, or Z.

And then He pitches me upside down, shakes the crazy out, and waits patiently for me to rest in Him in order to right my world again.

You would think after walking with Christ for going on six years, I would have learned a thing or two, but that's the thing about sanctification; there's always more to be done.

So how do I keep Christ in my creative pursuits when part of me says "I can do it alone"?  I do a few things:

1.  I pray.  When I sit down to write, I have to remind myself to turn to God first, to share with Him what I plan to write about or do, to ask Him to direct me where He has planned, and for the wisdom and humility to put my own plans aside.

2.  I sing.  This is a very new habit.  I've developed this nasty other habit of using TV to "transition" from mommying time to writing time but realize now that it's not beneficial.  Today I chose hymns instead...definitely a better use of my time.

3.  I pray.  Yeah, I already said it, but it bears repeating.

4.  I hold my desires loosely.  The Bible does not say that ambitions, dreams, or goals are bad...but there are plenty of places where we are warned that desires contrary to God's will or work can lead to sin.  So I keep the things I hope for in my head and heart, sharing them with God, knowing that some might be part of His plan and others will not.

5.  I pray.  Are you seeing a pattern here?

6.  I read the Good News.  This reminds me that I can do nothing of lasting value apart from Christ and His work to save my soul.  So why would I then choose to toil at writing this or that when it will only turn to chaff in the end?  That is both humbling and inspiring.

So, how do you keep your work Christ-focused?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Story, My Testimony

We've talked about how scary it can be to share your testimony...well, today I'm putting my money where my mouth is (especially as the still shot for this video makes my mouth look oh-so-cute...or not)...

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Book Is Now Available!

Regardless is now available for your ereader and...in paperback!  A plethora of links follows below, but first, the back cover blurb in case you've missed it:

When Abir agreed to listen to a preacher named Peter, he had no idea how that one decision would turn his entire world upside down. Now a member of the Way, a group of men and women who believe Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, Abir must face persecution by Saul of Tarsus, bitterness from an old neighbor, and his own selfish desires. 

Meanwhile, an Egyptian man who was sold into servitude under Saul of Tarsus is eager to escape from his zealous, bloodthirsty master and run from his own dark past. 

These men are entrenched on opposite sides of the gospel of Christ, but circumstance forces them together in ways they never expected…and for survival.

So, here it is for Kindle

For Nook

And in paperback from Amazon

OR you can get it from CreateSpace (an Amazon affiliate) for $10 here with discount code 6SRUFL8L

It's hard to describe the feeling that it's finally here...for now, I'll just say that it's great--and God is greater!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

You Have Been Commissioned

A missionary spoke in our church one Sunday a while back.  I had trouble focusing...and I noticed a lot of other people did, too.  But that's okay: the man who spoke is not a preacher by nature, nor is preaching the focus of his ministry.

But he got up and did it just the same.

Toward the end, I was able to focus in better and was struck when he talked about the people in our lives who "fly under our radar."  We reach out to new neighbors with baked goods and encouragement, maybe even boldly professing our faith...but what about the neighbors who have been on this block for years and years?  Or the guy two cubicles down?

I must confess something: as I sat there, I began nodding vigorously, thinking of all the people in my husband's life to whom he hasn't reached out.  His boss, his closest co-worker, a fellow student in his lab who has since moved onto a different part of the country.  The guys who he eats lunch with on occasion.  The professors he's worked with before and still sees around the building.

Green Heart (And the Green Grass Grows All Around, All Around)  

And then God tapped on the shoulder of my heart and whispered there, "But what about you?"  And the average day in my life flashed before my eyes: the grocery store clerk who when I mentioned Easter last spring pointed out that she was a pagan in a tone that screamed for love and attention.  The single mom at the gas station where I sneak to buy treats and we talk about coupons and babies...but never Jesus.  The gaggle of young moms at storytime, the mall's play area, the playground at the park.

There are people in even my little life as a stay-at-home mom who could first hear the Good News of Jesus from my lips.  That is a fearsome thought but also an awesome opportunity.

I have a responsibility: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19a).  Now is not the time for me to go to Africa or even another state, but now is always the time to be making disciples wherever I happen to be going.

Are you fulfilling Jesus' call  to tell of His name wherever you are going?  Can you share wisdom, encouragement, or your own struggle in this matter?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Platform to Meet in the Middle

I mentioned previously that when we create art or stories or homes or what have you, we also create a platform for the Gospel, an opportunity to share the salvation we have in Christ.

Rashid Solo
photo source

Do your hands rain sweat at the thought of preaching in the street?  Do you clam up when you see the opportunity to steer a conversation toward Jesus, particularly with someone you don’t know well?

I am right there with you: the status quo is far more pleasant.  Chit chat and small talk with acquaintances, nods of acknowledgement to people on the street.  That’s as far as I comfortably step out of my shell.

And then I started writing a book, a novel with its plot lifted right from the book of Acts.  To keep myself accountable, I told everybody I came in contact with that “I’m writing a book,” “Well, this book I’m working on,” “Say, have I mentioned I’m writing a book?”

After being bombarded with the news, friends, family, moms at the library, the checkout guy at the grocery store all asked the natural next question: “What’s it about?”  

To tell them about my book, I couldn’t not tell them about Jesus.

I had to tell them how perilous life was for my main character just after Jesus’ death and resurrection.  I had to tell them how Jesus changed the hearts of my characters…and how heart-wrenching it was when characters walked away.

So far, these conversations haven’t led to conversions.  No one has asked me to pray with them, study the Bible with them, or where I go to church.


People have listened and without running away.  No one has turned away or reached for a topic change, which leads me to believe that creative work that points to Christ can open doors to share the Gospel in a way that makes both parties more respectful and less defensive.

A lot of people are turned off by street preaching.  A lot of Christians are afraid to do street preaching.  Why not meet in the middle?

P.S. I have tremendous respect and appreciation for those who can stand up and witness among total strangers, ministering to the world in a much-needed way, but I also recognize that it's not something God calls everyone to do.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Manifesto for Christian Creatives

God created man in His own image (Genesis 1:27).

Pottery Making 6
photo source

God created. Heavens, earth, birds of air, fish of sea, plant upon plant.

God created, and so man desires to create. We feel an inward, irresistible pull (dare I call it a need?) to manipulate the world around us to bring something beautiful into being.

Paul instructs that "whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). We do a lot of things we could discuss, but for our purposes, let’s paraphrase: whatever you create, create for the glory of God.

Painters create paintings, authors stories, homemakers homes (by making rooms and meals and boo-boos go away)--imitating our Creator all the way.

But we can do more. Believers and skeptics alike imitate God in their creation because they bear His image; only believers can reflect Him by allowing their work to point back at the One who made it all possible.

And so, in whatever we endeavor to create, we also create a platform for the Gospel, an opportunity to add to the Kingdom beyond home or painting or song or story.

We can influence hearts.

So what is it that you do? And how can you move from imitator to reflector?
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