Posted in Christian

The Silent Servant

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There are two things I want to do in this blog today. I want to talk to you about the overlooked areas of service. And then I want to open up and share something from my personal writing journey that most readers wouldn’t know about. I hope you’ll walk away feeling encouraged about your own place of service and enlightened about the life of a common author.

Let’s start by establishing the fact that each individual is gifted, crafted, and designed to perform a different task. Are some jobs worth more than others? Is a doctor’s efforts worth more than a janitor’s? Is the teacher’s job more important than the factory worker’s? Is the police officer’s service more meaningful than the mailman’s?

That all depends on who it is you’re working for.

The Bible tells us that we are to work not unto man but unto God. Everything we do, we’re to do it for Him. For His glory. For His purposes. For His kingdom.
You see, it’s not our work or society’s ideals that determine the value of our labor. It’s unto Who we’re doing it for. Anything done for the Lord is important and of GREAT value.

I love the book of Nehemiah and the image of service God offers through it. The people were rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. This was no small task! Worse than that, they were threatened by their enemies. So much so that half of the men worked while the other half stood guard. What an image! We need people working with us and also people standing behind us, covering our backs with prayers.
But there’s more. The people were assigned a specific section of the wall to rebuild. I hope you noted that word, specific. They didn’t rebuild their favorite sections. They didn’t get bored with their section and work on someone else’s. They worked on the section assigned to them. AND their work was recorded. NONE of it went unnoticed. Not only do we have a record of it preserved in our Bible but God, Himself, has noted everything done in His name and is waiting to reward His faithful servants.

So I come to you today to remind you to do your work cheerfully, not despising the small stuff, because when it’s done for Christ it has great value.

And now I want to tear down that wall between author and reader and allow you to peek inside and take notice of something that you may not have known.

As an author, I’m expected to do one thing: Publish books. And yet I wasn’t able to publish anything in 2016. It wasn’t from a lack of wanting to, or from a lack of story, or any other such thing. I didn’t publish anything in 2016 because the Lord wouldn’t allow it. For reasons only known to Him I was delayed, sick, overwhelmed, and just unable to do all that my little heart desired to do. And yet…I’ve been busy. Much busier than even I knew. While I continued to work on my own manuscript, God enabled me to keep up with a different sort of work on the side. The work of a silent servant. Publication is one of those rare moments when you’re ushered into the limelight. But this work kept me hidden away, which was perfectly fine with me. Despite what this may sound like, I’m not sharing this with you so I can step back into the limelight. I really think it’ll bless your heart to know that there’s so much more going on behind the scenes of your favorite books.

While I didn’t publish anything in 2016, I spent countless hours with other authors. I spent time encouraging them, fellowshipping with them in ways that only another author can do, and even helping them.
My fans are wondering where my next book is, but did you know that I’ve had my hands in FIVE different publications in 2016 alone? I joined critique teams for other authors and offered them sound advice and loving encouragement for their work. While their stories are uniquely their own and their writing styles differ from mine, the same me-ness that marks my pages reached out and touched a few others.
I love to help another author strengthen their work. I love to come along side them as they sweat through the writing process and offer them a cool drink of water and a pat on the back.

As I reflected on my writing year, I was surprised to see that while I didn’t put out anything with my name on it in 2016, the fruit of my labors had gone out. These books are challenging and encouraging readers as we speak. I’m grateful to the Lord and the beloved authors for allowing me to take part in it. And may my experience remind you that the small things we do behind the scenes really do count. You may not be the doctor who saved a life today, but he’s grateful to the one who fixed his breakfast and helped him to get his day started. You may not be the general, but a general is nothing without a regiment of privates. You may not be the pastor, but your prayers are working in his life.

So while you’re waiting for my next release, may I encourage you to pick up something else that I’ve had my hands in? 🙂
Journey of a Letter and Befriending the Beast by Amanda Tero
Hello, Forever and Until Then by Krista Noorman (You’ll want to read this series in order, so start with Goodbye, Magnolia. I was a part of the critique team for that one too. 😉 )
A Love to Come Home to by Alicia Ruggieri (This is another series that you’ll want to read in order. I had the pleasure of helping with books 2 and 3).

 

 

Posted in Christian

God Doesn’t Hand Out Crutches

3.jpgWhat is a spiritual crutch?

A spiritual crutch is anything you turn to for comfort, for peace, or for security.

Looking at that basic definition, we may not be quick to say that we use spiritual crutches. By that definition, these crutches sound an awful lot like a false god and we know better than to worship lifeless idols. Don’t we?  But let’s look a little deeper at what they are and see if we don’t have a pair of worn out crutches sitting in our room.

Do you ever turn on the tv in order to find something to distract you from your troubles? The tv has become a spiritual crutch.

Do you ever grab a book to read in order to hide from issues surrounding you?
A book has become a spiritual crutch.

Do you ever create art: paint, draw, knit, color, etc. to escape and unwind?
Art has become a spiritual crutch.

Do you exercise to deal with the things you can’t handle in life?
Exercise has become a spiritual crutch.

Do you eat in order to better handle a bad day?
Eating has become a spiritual crutch.

Clearly, we could go on and on for days but I think you get the point, and maybe by now you even have your finger on the spiritual crutch or crutches in your life.

Why are spiritual crutches wrong?
Spiritual crutches are a problem for the Christian because we are trusting in something to woo us back into our happy places instead of relying on the Living God to do what He said He would do.

Have you noticed that spiritual crutches look an awful lot like hobbies? So…are hobbies sinful? Are we to give up the things that give us pleasure?
Hobbies are not sinful. I believe the Lord gives us desires and talents and allows us to enjoy them. And why wouldn’t He? He gave us taste buds to enjoy food. He gave us the sense of smell to enjoy the wonders around us. He gave us sensual pleasures to enjoy the duty of procreation.
He often showers us with delightful add-ons just because He can and it pleases Him to do so. So what’s the problem with these hobbies-turned-crutches?

The problem is when you turn to your pleasures instead of God when you’re going through difficult times. The problem is when you reach for your “fix” instead of your God.
How often do we say something like, “I’m having a terrible day but a good cup of coffee will make it all better.” Or we might turn up the radio and drown out the sorrows. Let the base rock the tension out of our shoulders.

The problem is not in the things. It’s in our placement of these things. Here’s a good example:
I’m around readers through several social platforms, and I’ve heard this dozens of times. They’ll say something like, “I can’t concentrate on this book I’m reading. It’s a great book, but I have so much going on at home (dog died, sister is in the hospital, child ran away, and they lost their job). I just want to get into a book and get lost. But I can’t and I’m frustrated.”
Of course, they’re frustrated!! Why wouldn’t they be? They’re trying to cover the gaping hole in their heart with a Looney Tunes band-aid! It doesn’t work that way. We don’t work that way. We weren’t created for this at all.

The Lord is our safety net. He is our perfectly sized, never falls off, medicated band-aid. The truth is, you don’t need anything else. You don’t need a backup plan. You don’t need God and that cup of coffee. You don’t need the smell of paints and a little Scripture.

You need to put your focus on Christ and only Christ.
Recite scripture to yourself and see how quickly your day turns around. No need to spend $3.99 for yummy calories.
Sing praises and hymns and watch your mood shift from night to day. You won’t even have to use a bookmark or recharge your kindle.
Read the Bible and notice how clarity floods your soul. You won’t even have to pull out your art supplies.
Pray to the God who is always listening and see how quickly peace enters in. There’s no need to hit the gym again on your way home.

It’s not that hobbies are bad. It’s that we often accept them in place of something so much greater. I’m not suggesting that you stop enjoying things you love. But I am saying that the next time life overwhelms you, turn to God first. Let Him heal you in a way that only He can. THEN enjoy all the extra stuff. You can’t empty your mind by numbing your mind and that’s what these crutches offer. Instead, empty your mind by handing over everything that is bugging you. Hand it over in prayer and turn those prayer requests to praises.

How can I be so sure that God can heal me, mend me, and turn my attitude and my perspective around? Here is just a sampling of what God says in His Word:

Psalm 121: 1,2
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 120: 1
“I call on the Lord in my distress, and He answers me.”

Psalm 71:1, 5, 14, 23, 24
“In You, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame…For You have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth…As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more…My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to You-I whom You have delivered. My tongue will tell of Your righteous acts all day long for those who wanted to harm me have been put to shame and confusion.”

Psalm 62:5-8
“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.”

Psalm 54:1, 2, 4
“Save me, O God, by Your name; vindicate me by Your might. Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth…Surely God is my help; the Lord is the One who sustains me.”

Psalm 42:5
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”

Psalm 28:6, 7
“Praise be to the Lord, for He has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him.”

In the face of such evidence, how can we continue to turn to a donut for comfort? All we ever have need of is hidden in Christ. Let us remember this the next time we reach for a crutch. After we have been healed and our hearts are whole, we can enjoy our hobbies. But as believers, we have to stop letting our hobbies become the crutch that allows us to hobble through our day. We were never meant to hobble.

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Posted in Christian

The Trouble with a Hallmark Christmas

15I shamelessly confess that I LOVE to binge watch Hallmark Christmas movies. Is anyone else raising their hands right now? 🙂 Welcome, friend! 

What this post isn’t: a call to boycott Hallmark Christmas movies.
What this post is: An encouragement from one believer to another based on a trend that I noticed during one of my movie marathons.

While I appreciate Hallmark for staying clean and family-friendly, the company isn’t expressively Christian. Therefore there will be times when their views won’t line up with ours like the one I want to talk about today: Losing the Christmas Spirit.

Without Christ at the center of Christmas, then Christmas is just another holiday. And we can take or leave it.

But Christmas is so much more than what we’ve let it become.

I cannot count on my fingers and toes the number of movies Hallmark has churned out with the theme of at least one prominent character losing their Christmas Spirit. Every one of these characters attributed this loss to something traumatic like the loss of a loved one of the betrayal of someone they held dear during the Christmas season. And as I watched movie after movie where someone struggles to gain the Christmas Spirit, aka the joy of traditions and lights, the more it weighed on my heart.

How many Christians live this way every year?

How many born again believers have fallen into the mindset of finding no joy in the things associated with Christmas?

I think it’s worthwhile to stop and ask ourselves what Christmas really is.

If Christmas is only long-held traditions, lights, trees, gifts, food, and merriment then people will be apt to losing the Christmas Spirit when their Christmas memories become tainted or when the joy has left their world.

But as Christians, we know that Christmas is more than that. We cannot lose our light because Christmas is a celebration of the Light coming down. While we celebrate with the aid of traditions, the holiday is a reminder of something so much bigger than ourselves and our feelings. Christmas is joy. Joy that the Holy One became Emmanuel: God With Us. Joy that the sole purpose for the manger was the cross.

I’m not suggesting that missing loved ones no longer pain you. But I am suggesting that we have something so much more to celebrate than the rest of the world. If you know Christ, then you can say with conviction that He came for you. And in that humbling thought, you’ll find your Christmas joy.

True Christmas Spirit isn’t an appreciation of trees and lights. It’s an appreciation of Christ and all that He did on your behalf.

For any believer that has fallen into the mindset of depression where Christmas is concerned, I encourage you to view Christmas in a new light. In a holy light.
I encourage you to spend the rest of the season praising God and then turn around and give to others. Where you might be feeling loneliness, I encourage you to pour your time into someone else who is lonely. Seek out a friend without family. Make a new friend. The nursing homes are filled with lonely souls. So are the streets and the homeless shelters. So are our workplaces, schools, churches, and neighborhoods.
Help out the single mother. Assist the new mother. Or the young couple staying far away from their family.

Offer yourself as a gift to others this year just as Christ offered Himself. And know that God will bless it. The joy you give to others will be poured back on you.

And I picked out some Christmas songs that I felt like put all the focus of the holiday back on Christ. Of course, these aren’t the only songs that do. But give them a listen and let your heart meditate on the truth they bring.

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Posted in About the Author, Christian

Standing Before the Burning Bush

Who are you trusting? Yourself or God?

How about when you’re challenged with a difficult task and you’re way in over your head? Are you trusting yourself or Christ?

Sometimes even the most dedicated Christians stumble here. Moses did. Let’s go back to the moment in history in Exodus and examine the scene:
Moses was minding his own business when he walked upon a bush that while on fire wasn’t consumed or being burnt. The angel of the Lord spoke to him from inside this bush. It was here, that Moses learned of his assignment: Go back to Egypt and bring the Israelites out. Out of bondage. Out of Egypt. Out to worship the One True God in a way they had never known before. This was no small task. The Pharaoh was powerful. The people were stubborn. It would have been risky enough to slip back into Egypt and rescue just one person in the cloak of night, but to rescue ALL right in front of the entire Egyptian army and the mighty Pharaoh? Who would dare to do such a thing?

A man called by God.

But in spite of this calling, in spite of the awesome signs God had shown him right there on the spot, in spite of the fact that the Lord, Himself, spoke to him through a burning bush, Moses made a list of reasons why he wasn’t qualified.

In that moment, he stopped seeing how great and mighty God was and could only see himself. He saw his own shortcomings. His failures. His inabilities. And Moses had them. These were not pretend ailments but real issues that anyone could see. In fact, God didn’t deny them. But what did He say?
“Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

God told Moses that He would fill him with Himself. He would teach him. Sadly Moses continued to argue and God was angry. But He had mercy on Moses sent his brother Aaron to help him. But what about you? What about me? Have we ever stood before a burning bush and argued with God about how He intended to use us?

I have.

Four years ago, God laid it on my heart in a way that couldn’t be ignored to start writing for the public. I had already been writing privately but now I would allow others to read and criticize my work. And to make matters worse, the story on my heart included Civil War letters. I would actually be in charge of writing letters as if they came off the battlefield! How in the world a meek little woman, who had never so much as been in the army for an hour, write with authority? How would I make it sound real? I wasn’t capable of this task. And I knew it. Much like Moses, I made my list of reasons why I wasn’t qualified. I’m not smart enough. I don’t have the commanding personality to be in the public eye. I don’t know enough. I’m not talented enough. I wasn’t there in history’s past.

And like with Moses, God never denied my list. I never felt the Holy Spirit comfort my heart and remind me that I am good enough. That I am talented. That I am smarter than those around me. The God who created me knew He made me with some shortcomings. He also knew He was able to fill them.

He reminded me that He is the I Am. Everything I lacked would come from Him. He would teach me, guide me, and fill me. He would take my weaknesses and show off His strengths. Alone, Moses could do nothing. With Christ, Moses would storm Egypt and turn the world upside down. The showdown was so powerful and so mighty that we still talk about it today. My task would be much smaller, but I would still make the impact that God had ordained.

But what does this filling look like?

God didn’t fill me outside of my own efforts. That means that He didn’t zap me with His God-gun or insert powers into my body like the spider did when he bit Peter Parker. He didn’t come over me in a cloud. I didn’t fall into a trance at the computer and write a 400-page novel.

No. I sweated every word out. One word at a time. One line at a time.  And, yet, He was there.

Every time I studied, He was opening my mind. Every time I researched, He was bringing me closer to history. Every time I corrected my writing, He was giving me understanding. He brought others along side of me. He opened doors for me that had previously been closed.
I never worked alone. But I did work. And the same is said for repentance. God doesn’t zap us with a do-better ray. Instead, He changes us from the inside as we turn away from our old sinful behaviors. The more we turn from sin, the more we detest it. God is always working with us. But we’re always required to show up and do the work.

I once stood before a burning bush (figuratively, of course) and I argued my merits. I somehow thought that in spite of the great miracles I had read about in the Bible and in spite of the proof I had witnessed in my own life, God wouldn’t be able to use someone who had so little to offer and use them in such a powerful way.

And I was proven wrong.

God delights in using the simple and the weak. It’s not an ego boost to know it. But it is a comfort.

I stood before another burning bush two months ago. I made my list of failings but this time, I smiled and handed them over. God will use them. And I will get a front row seat. I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store. Are you curious to know what the new assignment is?

It’s a new adventure. A new series!

In spite of the fact that I’m in the middle of 5 books series. In spite of the fact that I’ve had mono for over 200 days now and counting. In spite of the fact that I’m also struggling with a Vitamin D deficiency. In spite of the fact that I’ve had to set aside the revisions of my third novel, falling months behind my personal schedule. In spite of everything, God pressed on my heart in a clear way that it was time to start a brand new series. I have begun writing the new novel and I intend to work on both series, side by side.
It’s true, I don’t have enough time or enough energy. Some days, I don’t get any writing done at all because my strength is zapped and my body is drained. But Jesus is the I Am. What I am not, He is. Where I lack, He fills. As I work, He’s working in me.
From where I stand, my progress looks like a snail’s crawl, but I trust my Master. My weakness will show off His strength and I’m looking forward to it.

Now, I might have sparked your curiosity. What is this new series? Fans of Christian Fiction, Christian Historical Fiction, and especially fans of Multi-generational series will love to learn more about my new series. I invite you to the Facebook party that I’ll be hosting where I reveal all the secrets concerning this new series. There’ll be games, giveaways, and good, clean fellowship. Set the date for Oct 1 at 10 am, central. I hope to see you there! But if you’re not able to make it, look for the blog post later that night where I reveal all the details for those that missed the party.

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Posted in Christian

The Blessing of Sorrow

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Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

If comfort comes after mourning, why are we so quick to run from sorrow?

I have found myself making a habit out of trying to escape. I cannot count on both hands how many times in the recent weeks that I have been heartbroken over the sad events around me, or how many times I have searched for a distraction to separate myself from such pain.

Let’s get honest with ourselves for a moment. How often do you come across a painful situation, and after only a moment of weeping you leave that place behind in search of something more light-hearted? Something to distract your attention from the painful events? We all know someone that has a loved one that is terminally ill. Have you ever skipped over their facebook post because you weren’t in the mood for more bad news? I know I have. Over and over again, there has been one question that has convicted me every time. Why am I so quick to run from pain?

What’s wrong with hurting? Let’s face it, most of us are self-centered people that would happily live in a bubble all of our lives without getting our hands dirty with the despair around us if we could. It seems healthy at the time to fill our lives with only good news, so we never have to feel sorrow a moment longer than necessary. But is this really healthy? What does the scriptures say about this?

How many of the psalms start off with a grief-stricken heart only to end in joy? Is there something to be said by allowing grief to run its course instead of running from it? What good could come from hurting?

Psalm 30:5 “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

It’s a known fact that the very thing that strengthens the Christian the most is not the hill top experiences but the valleys. The deep, dark and depressing areas; this is where we find strength, courage, and endurance. This is also where we hunger for that close relationship with our Lord. Do you not seek the Lord more earnestly when you are hurting compared to when you are satisfied?

James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Romans 5:3-5 “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance,; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

If there are such great benefits from walking through the valley, then why are we so quick to run from it? Maybe it’s because we have a choice. When the problem at hand doesn’t touch our lives very closely, it is easy to brush it aside and move on. How many prayer requests do we see on facebook that we quickly scan past before searching for the game requests?

Am I the only one that has found themselves weeping over a situation only to dry my eyes and harden my heart? “I have to forget this,” I tell myself. “I’m not strong enough to carry this and it hurts to bad to think on it any longer. I don’t want to hurt anymore.” So I reach for something mindless and fluffy. Something that will bring the smile back to my face. Something that will help me to forget.

God has convicted me again and again. Just because I can walk away doesn’t mean that I should. What would happen if I shared another person’s sorrow just a little longer? What would happen if instead of stuffing my feelings aside and reaching for happy entertainment, I allowed my grief to bring me to my knees? Do you think that maybe that’s why we see so little change in our nation? In our friend’s circumstances? Don’t you think that God can see through our superficial sympathy? What if our sympathy turned into empathy?

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not suggesting that in order to be super spiritual we should be seen with long faces, complete with sad and solemn personalities. But I am suggesting that instead of running from pain, we embrace it instead and allow it to do what God had designed it to do. Allow it to turn into prayer. What if it turned into sending an encouraging word or visiting with one who hurts? When was the last time your fears and sympathetic feelings led you to fasting and prayer? If you have walked through the valley at all in your Christian walk then you could easily testify to finding a closer relationship with Jesus during that time. And isn’t that the purpose for pain?

The Lord has been teaching me that to be healthy, I must stay broken. When I’m broken, my heart is tender. When my heart is tender, I will ache for those around me. When I ache for those around me, my pain (if not ignored) will turn to prayer. And prayer always turns into action.

James 4:2 “You do not have, because you do not ask.”

When was the last time you cried on behalf of another? When was the last time you were broken over your own sin? When was the last time you cried during the preaching of the Word? When was the last time you came to church with puffy eyes and a tear stained face from having a heart to heart with the Lord Jesus before the service ever began? What a difference our churches would experience if we allowed ourselves to feel pain. Pain over sin. Pain over neglected orphans. Pain over our country. Pain over the state of the Lord’s Church. Pain over the childless mother or the mother that just buried her child. Pain over the lost and the perishing. Pain over twisted laws that threaten our faith. Pain over the safety of our schools. Pain over the common message offered to our families through the media.

Do yourself a favor: Let go of your pride and let go of your comfort. Come broken before the Lord and allow Him to heal you. And maybe then, we will finally see the changes that we all desire.

Psalm 30:5 “You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.”

Posted in About the Author, Christian

Editing Novels or Life’s Mistakes

I had fallen into a little slump shortly after finishing the draft of In the Shadow of Thy Wings. After prayer and a season of regrouping, I walked away feeling refreshed. I want to share this encouragement with you. I’ve come to notice some similarities between editing a novel and overcoming bad habits. Everything I’m about to share can relate to either group so I hope you’ll find something that will encourage you where ever you are today.

Finding Common Ground:

404There is some excellent advice floating around for authors that are writing their first draft. — My nonwriting friends shouldn’t hang up on me just yet. I promise you’ll see the connection in just a moment. — The idea is to just write the first draft. Don’t fret over mistakes. Don’t focus on getting every sentence perfect. Just write. There is a connection with the idea of “write whatever, just finish the 1st draft and worry about it later” and life’s policy of doing what seems easier for you now and worrying about the consequences later.

But what happens when “tomorrow” finally gets here? When you can no longer push off the mistakes you made? When yesterday’s easy going becomes today’s terrible habit? How do you fix it then? What if things don’t correct as effortlessly as you had imagined? Is it time to give up? Time to trash it and start over? How do you persevere? And why should you?

Now, I’m not saying this writing advice is wrong. It certainly was helpful in getting the draft here, but now that it’s here, I’m tired of scribbling “Rewrite” on the edge of my paper. The ending seems further away than ever. Now what do I do?

Persevere:

Persevere in its simplest form means to “hang in there.” It’s never easy, but it’s always worth it. Don’t stop trying to walk away from your bad habit. Don’t give up on your crappy draft. Don’t give up on your health plan. Or your marriage. Or yourself. Below are several warm and fuzzy thoughts to help you stick to the tough road. I own none of these quotes. Take what you need. 🙂

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Posted in About the Author, Christian

Learn How To Climb Mountains

0I’m often asked what writing advice I’ve received that impacted me the most. Without fail, I always turn back to this dark hour. But this advice, while directly applied to my struggles as a new author, also carries a great word of correction and encouragement for everyone. I originally posted this on Facebook a year ago, but this lesson continues to be one that I’ve carried with me every day since then. It’s so powerful that I believe it’s time to share it again in hopes that someone else will be strengthened. While this message does have a place in the heart of an author, I believe it’s something that everyone can relate to and apply to their hearts. I hope you’re blessed and encouraged…

I have recently found myself overwhelmed by a very serious and challenging deadline. I have a small window of opportunity to get my novel edited during the summer months. But in order to do this, I have to have a complete draft ready for its grammar cleaning. If it’s not ready by the end of May, I could find myself waiting an entire year before publishing. I told you it was serious.

Every day that ticks by is another reminder that I’m not finished. Every day feels like an entire week’s worth of productivity has vanished when in reality it was only 24 hours. At this moment, the rough draft for Where Can I Flee is sitting at 73%. Not too bad. But not finished. And once the rough draft is complete there is still a whole other editing process to endure before it’s ready for the grammar editor. It’s mid-February, but in my mind it feels like the first of May. There is a mountain of work ahead of me, and I’m anxious to see it finished. I had become so anxious that it became crippling instead of motivating.

As I prayed through this rough spot, something amazing happened. I came across this quote: 0224

It was one of those moments when you know you have just found the very thing your soul needed. I read it again and again and again. I connected with this quote so fully. Writing really is that hard. And I’m discovering, that it really is that easy.

I had been making the mistake of trying to write an entire novel in one day, in one hour, in one sitting. It can’t be done. If I’ve learned anything in the last 19 months, it’s that writing a novel word by word, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter is a tedious process. Nothing is fast. Since I’ve found this enlightening quote, I believe I’ve quoted it to myself every day as I approached the computer screen. I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat down with little idea of what I would write about. It’s overwhelming to know that you have to fill up a page with words when there doesn’t seem to be two words that go together in your entire brain. But I’ve finally grasped the concept that I don’t need an entire chapter floating around in my head to be productive. All I need is one word. One word. Then one more. Then one more. And before you know it, I have a page, then a chapter.

But this isn’t anything new. How often do we find ourselves staring at a mountain? Today my mountain is unwritten novel. What does your mountain look like? Are you approaching your mountain one step at a time? Or are you like me, trying to leap over the entire thing in a single bound? It’s stressful when you stare at the foot of a mountain wondering how you, in your strength, can ever leap up and over that thing. Compare that to the peace you find when you understand that all you need to focus on right now is one single step. You can not, you will not, it is not physically possible, to take more than one step at a time. Each body is designed to move one leg at a time. Why then, do we keep trying to take more than one step when all we need is one? Why are we so determined to climb every mountain in one day? To answer every problem in one hour? To work out every detail in one afternoon? To make every step into one single leap? To write every page at once?

For me, it was time to repent of my foolishness and start doing things God’s way. One step at time. Trusting and relying on Him with every step and not stressing over the steps that I’ve yet to take….the words that I’ve yet to write. Is it time for you to repent? Is it time for you to finally learn how to climb a mountain instead of attempting to jump over them? If you’re a leaper, I hope you will see the wisdom in climbing because you’ll find peace in nothing else.

Today, one year separates me from the time I wrote this. It is, once again, February and, once again, I have a novel to finish. The remarkable thing is, I’ve finally learned to do it one word at a time. As you know, Where Can I Flee was finally published and is now loved by readers other than myself. Today, its sister novel, In the Shadow of Thy Wings, is now a finished draft and nothing can replace the lesson I learned last winter. I hope my difficulties will help you in overcoming yours. God bless! 

Posted in Christian

A Message for the Queen Elsas

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Queen Elsa: “No, no I can’t. I don’t know how…Oh I’m such a fool; I can’t be free! No escape from the storm inside of me! I can’t control the curse!”

Princess Anna: You don’t have to be afraid. We can work this out together. We’ll reverse the storm you’ve made…. We’ll face this thing together.”

Queen Elsa has been a favorite for both the young and the old alike. What is it about Elsa that people connect with so easily? Is it because a part of us can relate to her? Okay, maybe we can’t relate to her icing abilities, but is there some part of us that struggles with something internally? Something we hope that no one else finds out about? A struggle that seems to win no matter how far you run or how many “gloves” you wear?

I was watching Frozen one afternoon when I was struck by how similar Elsa’s song was to my own heart at different seasons in my life. The need to be free. The need to control the curse born within. But let’s pause a moment and talk about this curse…

Elsa was born with the power to turn things into ice. We were born with a sin curse. The Bible says,

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thought.”

Like Elsa, we cry out, “I can’t be free. There’s no escape from the storm inside of me.” We try. We put on a brave face. We wipe our slate clean and start over. We run. We hide. We layer on the gloves. But inside the storm brews. Inside we’re reminded that we can’t really escape. Elsa built herself a wonderful palace. She changed her dress; she changed her hair. But in an insist, she was reminded of the mess she had made. The old familiar fears crashed in on her. The curse that she tried to escape, never really left. Anna suggested that she simply fix it, to which, Elsa wisely answered, “I can’t. I don’t know how.” She had done all that she knew was right and proper. She stuffed feelings – and people – aside. Suddenly, a tall castle, a better dress, another pair of gloves wouldn’t do. There’s no escape from the curse inside….BUT CHRIST.

“For the wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

The message for us is clear. And thankfully, it’s simple. Anna echoes the words of Christ, “We can work this out TOGETHER.” The message isn’t to run to your sister. But to run to Christ. Without Christ, there is nothing to deal with the curse inside of us. The sin curse we were born with will continue to consume us until it takes us to our grave…and then to Hell. It’s the work of Christ on the cross that confronts this curse head on. As Elsa later learned, it’s an act of true love that defeats the curse. It’s the sacrifice that changes their condition. A heart of ice is made new. Our heart of ice is made new by the sacrifice that Christ made for us on the cross.

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

For the Queen Elsa that cries out, “I can’t control the curse,” all we need to remember is that Christ’s sacrifice has defeated the curse, and we’ve only to turn to Him.

“For if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.” John 8:36

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Ezekiel 36:26,27