Monday, August 25, 2014

A Pinprick of Doubt

When will satisfaction come? How much more does the Lord have to supply us with before we’ll be content?

A publishing contract? A bestselling novel? A thousand emails a day from pleased readers? A loaded bank account? A two-story home with a wraparound porch and a huge tree shading the front yard? A wedding ring and a walk down the church aisle?
I’ve got to tell you, I wouldn’t complain if God saw fit to give me those things.
Except…maybe I would.
Oh, come on, how could anybody complain about any of that, right? Well, let’s see. Maybe the contract comes from someone other than my “dream” publisher. Maybe the bestselling novel comes along with some nasty reviews on Amazon. Maybe the thousand reader emails overwhelm my inbox and my mind. Maybe the home with the porch isn’t in my preferred location. Maybe the wedding ring ignites fear of an unstable marriage. Maybe the loaded bank account…actually, no, I can’t see that one being a bad thing. ;)

Get what I mean? We humans have a knack for finding every excuse to not be satisfied.

The children of Israel were rescued from bondage in Egypt. They witnessed miracles like the parting of the Red Sea and water flowing from a rock. Yet, they still complained. When I heard those stories in Sunday school, I used to think, “Good grief, what was wrong with those people? All they had to do was listen to God.”

Now I realize I am them. “Lord, I’m tired of manna. Can’t you make something else miraculously fall from heaven? Maybe some Three Musketeers? Or some hibachi fried rice? Or hey, a new car would be nice!”

Surely the Lord is watching me, shaking His head. He doesn’t lose His patience—He’s more than familiar with my knack for wanting more. But He’s disappointed.

He wants me to know He’s enough.

You might’ve heard that I’ve had a pretty successful summer. I’ve done well in some contests, signed with an amazing agent, been supported by newsletter subscribers…

The doubt still comes though, like a pinprick. You’re still not published, you know. You might never be. No one wants to read your books. You’re just a twenty-something girl—you don’t have a thing to offer the world.

I’d be a liar if I said I don’t let thoughts like that bug me. Sometimes, I straight up wonder if I do have anything to offer the world.

Then the Lord answers, “No. You don’t.”

Well, great. Good to know.

You don’t, you stubborn girl. But I do. And I want to use you.”

How does God tell me this, you ask?

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (II Corinthians 12:9)

“If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” (II Timothy 2:21)

“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (I Corinthians 15:10)
I ought to be content. Satisfied. And I’m learning to be.

We can chase success, do everything possible to make ourselves feel accomplished. We can secure the highest-paying jobs, buy the most luxurious cars, and build gigantic homes with twenty-foot ceilings and wide balconies. We can do all these things and still want more.

Or we can acknowledge the blessings God has given us in this present moment and thank Him. We can pray for the wisdom to be content, knowing He will give us what we need in His timing. We can ask the Holy Spirit to brush away the doubts and help us live a pleasing life.

When doubts come, He is enough. When success seems like an imaginary creature, He is enough.

He will always be enough. If you have Him, you have everything.

Are you relying on Him for your contentment? Or are you searching for the next “accomplishment” to make you happy?

Complaining is super easy. Let’s try to ease up on that.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Never-Ending List

This past week I've had no time to write. Or blog. Or read.
I tend to become a tad grumpy when I can't write. Or blog. Or read.
Forgive me?
Next week should be less busy, meaning I'll have time to catch up on writing duties. Yay! Melissa Jagears's new novel A Bride In Store is next on my reading list, and there'll be a review as soon as I finish it.
Oh, and fun news--I'm a finalist in the RWA Lone Star Writing Contest. Yay again!
Do you get a little grumpy when you don't write/read/sleep? ;)
Is your to-do list never-ending?

Monday, August 18, 2014

$50 Amazon Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I promised another Amazon giveaway. Here it is!
Y'all have blessed me so much with your support.
So, what would you buy with a $50 Amazon gift card?
(My answer would be books...that doesn't surprise you, right?)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Image via Bing
Miracle in a Dry Season is a beautifully unique novel brimming with Biblical truth and plenty of conflict. Set in West Virginia in 1954, this story starts by introducing us to Casewell, a righteous man with certain ideas about what his future wife will be like. He’s a believer in strict right and wrong and steers clear of controversy. When he meets Perla Long, a pretty woman new to town, and her daughter, his ideas are challenged.
First Lines:
"Caeswell's stomach grumbled. He hoped no one in the surrounding pews could hear it. He'd thought to eat some warmed-over biscuits this morning, but the barn cat had slipped into the house and found the bread wrapped in a dish-cloth on the back of the stove. Even though most of a biscuit remained, Casewell knew better than to eat after a cat."
Sarah Loudin Thomas's writing style is different from anything else I've read. She captures the feel of farm life in the 1950s perfectly. I became so caught up in the drought plot line that I considered it a blessing when my town got rain--talk about having trouble separating fiction from reality.
The beginning of the book drags the tiniest bit...but the storytelling is so rich, so authentic (not that I lived in 1954 West Virginia). Casewell isn't the typical hero--there aren't long descriptions of his appearance. Perla isn't your average heroine. But they meld together in a sweet way that'll keep you smiling. 
I loved that the book explores the relationship between Casewell and his father as well. Everything about this novel feels so...real.
The only unreal part for me was Perla's "gift". I didn't really get it, but that might just be me.
Ms. Thomas's next novel will be on my wish-list when it's released. You should give this story a try, for sure. You can buy it here.
There's a free novella you can read as well.   
From The Back Cover:
It's 1954 and Perla Long's arrival in the sleepy town of Wise, West Virginia, was supposed to go unnoticed. She just wants a quiet, safe place for her and her daughter, Sadie, where the mistakes of her past can stay hidden. But then drought comes to Wise, and Perla is pulled into the turmoil of a town desperately in need of a miracle.
Casewell Phillips has resigned himself to life as bachelor...until he meets Perla. She's everything he's sought in a woman, but he can't get past the sense that she's hiding something. As the drought worsens, Perla's unique gift divides the town in two, bringing gratitude and condemnation, and placing the pair in the middle of a storm of anger and forgiveness, fear and faith.
*I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Grace Part Two

Grief is a crippling emotion.
This world is full of sadness--deaths, tragedy, and thousands of other signs of the times. As I type this, my heart is overflowing so much that I have no choice--I must write.
According to the world, powering through despair means you are strong. But that's not true. You and I are not strong. We are weak; our hearts are malleable; and our emotions are traitorous.
The strong One is the Lord. Our strength radiates from Him.
Often I go to bed at night and pray until I fall asleep. This isn't because I'm some super-Christian. No, this is because I know how unworthy I am to be saved, to have a place in Heaven, to escape Hell. I lie awake and pray for the ones who don't know the Lord. The ones who are strangers to His peace, who haven't trusted in His cleansing blood to wash away their sins. I fear for them. I fear the deception the world feeds people. The world says "RIP" means a person truly will rest in peace once they leave this earth.
But if that person doesn't know Jesus, he (or she) won't rest in peace.
I was eighteen years old when Something gripped my heart. I'd grown up in church, remembered praying in my childhood bathroom for the Lord to come into my heart. I'd gone to church camp and cried tears at a wooden altar. I'd prayed.
But there was something wrong. I realized that during a week-long revival at my church. During that week, I struggled to sleep at night. Searched my mom's Bible for the note that said when I'd trust Jesus as a little girl. I wanted proof.
 That Friday night, the preacher preached about a train coming. He told the story of two boys who ran away from a place situated near railroad tracks. They walked along the tracks in the moonlight, but soon they grew tired. They agreed to rest their heads on the tracks. Surely they would hear a train approaching. They would have time to move to safety.
They didn't. A train came, and they didn't wake.
They'd grown accustomed to the train's whistle and rumble while they lived near the tracks.
 After the preacher preached, a man stood up to give His testimony. He told us how he'd believed he was saved as a young boy, but the Lord showed Him that revival week that He wasn't.
After that, while people sang a hymn, I abandoned my seat to find my mom. My heart was wild in my chest. Something was wrong. Very wrong. Was I on my way to Hell? Why was I so scared?
I blurted the truth to Mama out in the church hallway. "I don't know if I'm saved or not."
She took me to the back end of the hallway, a dark space for us to pray. She prayed out loud, and I talked to God in my heart. I don't remember what I said. What I do remember is my fear and the realization that I needed to turn to the Lord. I was a sinner--me. I needed forgiveness. I would spend eternity in tormenting flame if I didn't go to Jesus.
I figure the Lord saved me before Mom took me down the hallway, before we knelt on the carpet to pray. He was watching when I stepped out of my seat to find Mama, and He rejoiced.
I'm still not worthy of Him.
But His grace is never-ending. 
 I want the entire world to know Him. I want my friends and family to have a personal relationship with Him. To experience the Hope He offers. The love He demonstrated on the Cross.
This world is full of grief.
Still, the Lord Jesus Christ is the safe place. The refuge. The shelter.
He suffered--literally suffered--for me and you. Because He wants to save you. Because He wants to cocoon you in His grace and deliver you from this present evil world. Because He wants to give you a home in heaven.
Why would you turn Him away?
He's all that matters in this world, and He's concerned about you.
Do you know Him? Or do you simply know of Him?
He's waiting...
Will you go to Him?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Because You're Awesome

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My Facebook page has passed 200 likes! To show my extreme joy, here's a giveaway!
Go ahead...enter.

(Contest opens at midnight.)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Infertility and My Heroine

A character without real-life issues isn't believable. My favorite characters deal with problems I can relate to. I don't read solely to learn a lesson, but the best books do inspire me to live a life more pleasing to the Lord.
A few examples of these types of books include Courting Cate, A Broken Kind of Beautiful, Listen, My Stubborn Heart, etc.
The heroine in one of my novels was diagnosed with severe endometriosis as a teenager. Complications led to surgery, and now at twenty-six, she has no hope of holding her own child.
She is a strong-willed character for several reasons, but her infertility drives the story.
 One of the fun parts of writing is "becoming" your characters. Delving into their circumstances, their personalities, imagining their emotions. For this heroine, I had to mull over some questions. How far would I go to gain the family I've always yearned for? Would I rearrange my life? Sacrifice the heart of the man I love? What if I had the chance to adopt a family member, my own niece or nephew?
Could I give up that opportunity to save my relationship with the guy I've always dreamed of marrying? Could I surrender my plans to the Lord, even if I hadn't felt His presence in a long while?
As these answers melded, my heroine became real. She became a woman I could imagine knowing, one I could imagine lounging on the couch with watching our favorite Food Network competition show and talking about the hero.
What makes a character believable to you? Do you like a character with a good dose of flaws?
Know anyone diagnosed with endometriosis? 
And on another note, which would you prefer for a snack--peanut butter fudge or spicy buffalo chicken dip?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Call

July 31, 2014 will be a date I always remember--the date I received "The Call."

My search for a literary agent began in May 2014. I'd read articles on Seekerville, searched agency blogs, and asked a writer friend of mine about potential agents.  
All I knew was I wanted someone who loved my story and cared about more than the business side of things (I didn't want to simply be someone's ticket to a paycheck). Researching agencies became my favorite pastime. I checked my email inbox approximately 10,000 times a day, waiting for that message.  

Fast forward to July.
 Picture me sitting in my car in the bank drive-thru, Southern gospel music humming from the radio, the air conditioning cooling my cheeks. My phone dings as I'm waiting for my deposit receipt. A message for me.
My eyes catch a few words as the message blinks on the screen. I gasp.
Nope. This could not possibly be happening. No way.

My fingers tap until I can read every word. Heart thumping, I start laughing.
Laughing by myself in the bank drive-thru.
Mary Keeley wants to read my work.
Seriously? An agent from Books and Such is interested in me?
Thank You, Lord.

I collected my deposit receipt and zoomed out of the parking lot. Didn't waste a second spreading the news to my family. A little while later, Ms. Mary requested a phone call. That threw me off a little bit. I'm not a phone conversation person, especially if the call has the power to change my future. My nerves tend to trip my tongue and paralyze my brain.
Supportive friends and family were praying for me, though. The Holy Spirit calmed me enough to ward off a heart attack. Ms. Mary was wonderful.
And the call ended after I accepted representation.

I'd fretted over choosing the right agent. Stayed awake late at night praying for both patience and peace. Wisdom. Understanding. Guidance.
God answered my prayers in a way I never ever would've imagined.

Me after officially signing with Mary Keeley.

 He has shown me so much grace. So many blessings. I'm undeserving.
My agent, Ms. Mary Keeley. (Wow, that's fun to type.)
How has the Lord surprised you with blessings? Has there been a time when His goodness has drawn tears from your eyes (possibly in a bank drive-thru)?
How did you receive "The Call"? Pretty awesome, huh?
"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

Monday, August 4, 2014

Almost A Giveaway and What I'm Reading

Hi y'all!
Fun weekend? I about sweat to death watching a softball tournament Saturday. Church was wonderful yesterday. A guest played piano somewhat like this guy, and I was reminded that I ought to have paid more attention when I took piano lessons.
My newsletter has become a big topic for me. Partly because seeing y'all's support is so sweet. Plus, I'm planning a surprise giveaway when we reach a certain number of subscribers--only about 17 more to go!
Now let me share what I'm reading.

Image via Bing Images

After reading a couple chapters, I decided I'll purchase Sarah Loudin Thomas's next novel whenever it releases. Her style is unique, perfectly country, and even breaks a few rules. I must give her credit for using names I'd never seen before too--Casewell and Perla.
Looking forward to reading the rest of this one.
And yet I'm also not because I don't want the story to end...

Want to try this one? Go ahead here!


Friday, August 1, 2014


Last night, as I relaxed in my cozy bed, a pillow covering my ear to block extra noise, I couldn't stop telling the Lord thank You.
If you've joined my newsletter, you know why. (And that happy news will be shared here soon...)
He is why I write what I write. Grace. His grace. With every story I try to showcase the grace He has shown me. My characters are not a bit perfect--some of them are downright ornery. Their circumstances sometimes defeat them, making them believe God isn't truly involved in their everyday lives...
But He is. I've seen Him working more and more lately. Especially after those nights I squirmed in bed, unable to get comfortable, my heart too burdened to allow peaceful sleep. He was there with me. I doubted Him, but He didn't abandon me. Instead, He used amazing blessings to show me, "Hey, I'm here, and I'm watching out for you."
Do you ever doubt Him? Do you ever roll onto your back in bed, stare at the popcorn ceiling, and ask Him to increase your faith?
He doesn't always use blessings--at least He hasn't always for me. Disasters--whether huge or small--are sometimes necessary for us to realize how much we need Him. Tragedy might pierce our hearts, but pain can shepherd us closer to Him.
I much prefer the blessings though.
Grace : God giving us what we don't deserve.
Sturdy homes. Air conditioning (especially if you live in the South). A bookcase full of your favorite novels. A church family...
He offers us grace. Have you accepted it?
My hope is that I'll always remember His goodness.
And I'll whisper many more thank you prayers.
Next week I'll fill you in on a recent example of His grace in my life.
In the meantime, how has He revealed His goodness to you recently?