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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Celebrate Anyway

Tomorrow while many are ringing in 2007 I will be celebrating my 12th wedding anniversary (and ringing in 2007 as I happily say good-bye to 2006).

Here's my PSA about New Year's Eve weddings...It's great for the wedding and awesome to help you remember your anniversary. But BAD with a capital B for getting a baby-sitter when the kiddos join you.

Thankfully, tomorrow grandparents are keeping our kiddos so my hubby and I can spend the night at a near-by Chateau in the mountains. We'll dance, eat some fabulous food, and likely reminisce about our 12 years of married life.

Then again, maybe we won't do the memory lane walk. Why? Because our 12 years have been anything but the happily ever after fairytale. I love my husband and he loves me, but when we got married we still had A LOT of growing up to do. And that makes the normal fights about toilet paper and toothpaste tons harder.

We've weathered Christmases where we didn't think we'd make it to our anniversary still married. There were a few we almost didn't.

But God is still on His throne and for reasons only He understands He would not allow either one of us to sign divorce papers. Where I sit at the edge of 2006, I'm thankful. Very thankful.

God is far from through with me, my husband, or our marriage. And after a few years of far more good days than bad, I can name many reasons to celebrate our anniversary.

Here's the short list:

We have three precious, delightful kiddos and one waiting for us in heaven with Jesus.

My husband and I are now walking in freedom from the addiction that nearly destroyed us.

We know without a doubt God DOES take you THROUGH the hell on earth times. We've lived some of them and survived to see the other side.

God has shown us He is faithful and always present when no human can be.

My husband and I still love to dream together.

We're still committed to helping each other achieve those dreams and teaching our kids that with God all things are possible. Dream big.

After 12 years there are some great photos in our albums to remind us there were good moments.

Those same photos remind us there will be more good times ahead.

We still love long walks and snuggling up by Christmas tree light.

God has used our story to show one more facet of His amazing grace.

We've learned the immeasurable value of growth because we've seen how far we've come.

My husband and I still look at each other like we did on our wedding day when we thought we'd found "the One." We did. We still do.

So even though my husband and I haven't reached the 12 year mark without scars, we have reached it. That alone is a reason to celebrate anyway.

As we look back on 2006, I have a feeling there are many like us who won't be jumping into 2007 without the scars to prove life is hard. But instead of wishing for a different set of memories...

I pray you'll join me in receiving the good things God has for us in 2007. Not grasping for them or striving after the wind and changes that only God can accomplish. But opening your hands and hearts to accept God's very arms around you, carrying you through the tough times, rejoicing with you in the victories, and singing over you all the time.

A favorite quote comes to mind from the pages of King David's life...

"I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God that which cost me nothing." (2 Samuel 24:24)

That's how I look with joyful expectation as I glance back on the last 12 years and then look ahead toward the future. Because I know that with every fallen tear and every hardship endured, in giving them back to God and praising Him still, He will receive the offering.

He will strengthen and settle us.

He will be near us.

He will comfort us.

He will grow us up even more.

And through it all He will sing over us and smile.

Because He knows the end of the story. One day we will too.

But I doubt I'll care a bit about the why's then. Because when that time comes, I'll actually get to see Jesus face to face.

And never again lose sight of His loving smile. Not for a single second.

In the meantime, I will celebrate and praise Him anyway. Because that's what He created me to do. He created me to dance with Him and remember His goodness even so.

Happy 2007!!! May it be for you a leap closer to your Heavenly Daddy through the sunshine and the tears. Here's to the rainbows ahead.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Word for the year

At the suggestion of a good friend and fellow blogger, Mary Griffith , I started praying and asking God to show me a word for the year. One small string of letters to help me focus on God and a word that would summarize what He has in store for the coming year.

For 2006 the word God gave me was ENJOY. A Word for the heart is the post I wrote about the vision God put before me for 2006. Here's a little excerpt...

Enjoy the sunrises I’m blessed to see, the precious moments I have talking with my Daddy before the day swings into motion, connecting with my hubby, the sweet hugs of my girls, talking with my friends, and feeling the pleasure of God as I do the work He’s called and created me to do.

The vision God cast before me, including my word for the year, can be summed up in one simple favorite phrase John Piper slightly altered from the Westminster Shorter Catechism …

The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.

Last night my husband and I sat by the Christmas tree and talked over 2006. Sadness cloaked my heart as I remembered all the ways I'd failed to ENJOY God in the past year. All the sicknesses and my grumbling about them, the pressures of book deadlines, and missed time with my family. I felt heart weary at the realization I'd failed to understand and live out my word for 2006.

But before I went to bed, God whispered a new word for 2007 and a few needed reminders:

"I will never give up on you."

And that He never measures me the way I do: with a scale, popularity vote, a mirror, or praises. He simply loves me. He loves you too.

2006 is slipping through our hands and 2007 looms large on the horizon. But God has already been there. He knows what's ahead. And He isn't at all upset by what we think we didn't accomplish in the last 12 months. He knew that too.

Last year when the Lord cast the vision before me there was with it a clear reminder to simply trust Him, to rest in Him with a quiet heart.

I failed more than I succeeded.

But God reminded me as I woke this morning there were times I lived my word for 2006. Times I truly ENJOYed Him and the myriad things He sent my way last year. Times when His life was lived through me.

Not my success. HIM.

So my word for 2007 brings me hope that God is indeed not finished with me yet. Because this word includes all the lessons of 2006 that are tucked in my heart, and all the ones I’m still struggling to understand.

God’s word for me in 2007 is REST.

If it’s anything like last year’s word it won’t be the fun I looked forward to with the hope that ENJOY meant I’d have a happy and exciting 2006.

A year wiser, I’m looking forward to the lessons of 2007 knowing there will be hard fought battles, tear filled circumstances, and quiet times of refreshing.

Those battles and tears go hand in hand with the refreshing like two sides of a coin.

This coming year my heart’s desire is again to know God and to step deeper into His REST. I already know He’s there, having prepared in advance the good things He has in store for me to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

For you too. Will you simply trust Him and in rest in Him with a quiet heart?

Or maybe He has a different word for you. I pray you’ll ask Him to show you. When He does, please let me know. I’d love to pray with you about it too.

Together let's look forward to 2007… a year full of promise and possibility.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Christmas Thought

I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.

Their faithful Friend and Servant,
C. D.
December, 1843

And from the first words, "Marley was dead, to begin with." to the famous last ones, "God bless Us, Every One!" this little book of five staves or chapters has held my family captivated and gone beyond raising a Ghost of an Idea.

We've talked about Christmas kindness and charity, and why old Scrooge needed the three ghosts to truly "see." And we've touched on what we need to see too. But today I saw my two favorite lines lived out and just how much I have yet to see.

The first line is from Fred, Scrooge's nephew:

"I mean to give him the same chance every year, whether he likes it or not, for I pity him. He may rail at Christmas till he dies, but he can't help thinking better of it~ I defy him ~ if he finds me going there, in good temper, year after year, and saying, 'Uncle Scrooge, how are you?'"

I love this quote because it reminds me in simple human terms how one small act of kindness, repeated no matter how it's received, has the power to change a heart.

The second quote is one that I can barely read through the emotion tightening my throat:

"... for it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself."

What I saw today that made these lines come alive was my children playing. The application of the second quote is pretty easy to see, but what hit me this afternoon was that Jesus was a child himself.

Maybe you’ve already considered that, but watching my children run for the sheer joy of running brought that thought alive. I can imagine Jesus doing the very same thing.

Me doing that takes far more imagination. Therein is the more I have yet to see.

Another pondering point based on the line about doing a kindness over and over no matter how it’s received came from watching my children go from running for joy to pestering. (Yes, Virginia, my kids really aren’t perfect angels. Though they come mighty close as true messengers of God to this mommy’s heart.)

It’s what I saw next that reminded me of Fred’s lines. After they were told to come inside and asked about their behavior, both sat quietly and prayed. Then they talked to each other and apologized for being mean, asking forgiveness for their actions.

This in and of itself is not a startling thing because it happens at least once a day in our home. We often live the truth that forgiveness is a daily requirement. What opened my eyes was that day after day and year after year my children offer to me and to each other a grand act of kindness… forgiveness. And they do it as a normal part of life.

I have so much to learn in that. And I’m praying I won't need three spirits to hammer the point home. ;-) I like my sleep too much.

I’m sure there are dozens upon dozens of deeper and weightier lessons to be learned from A Christmas Carol. But for today this is what my heart is pondering…

The grand kindness of day after day, year after year forgiveness.

The wide-eyed wonder of children at Christmastime and how I, like its mighty Founder, can be a child too.

May you also come as children this Christmas, regardless of circumstances, and worship. It is a gift we give to our great God and to ourselves at the same time.

Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Family Support

Isn't this picture awesome??? In case it's hard to decipher the details, this picture is all about love.

And the support my awesome family gives me every day.

My middle princess gave me this card printed with "famle mal" on the outside. (That's 'family mail' phonetically since she did this all on her own during a quite time one afternoon.)

On the inside is her rendition of my first book cover and the keyboard that I'm attached to many days.

She gave it to me beaming a smile alight with six-year-old pride not only in her gift, but that mommy does something mommy loves and she's a part of it.

She's also beaming because mommy is taking some much needed time off to do cookie baking and ornament making. I'm loving that too. We're not doing much hustle and bustle now that the ballet recital is over and the twenty dozen cookies are mostly all given away to teachers and neighbors. We'll be spending the last few weeks of this year reading The Christmas Carol, singing songs, and sharing giggles.

I'm also going to take my little girl's advice written on the inside of this special card. She wrote simply, "Dear mommy, have a fun Happy Birthday God!"

I hope you will join us in wishing Jesus a very special Happy Birthday with a few moments of restful quiet wrapped up in family.

Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 04, 2006

What do you wish you'd have known?

A good friend of mine got me started doing these lists about life and once I typed one, I couldn't stop. So now you all get to hear them. ;-) Below is my list about what I wish I'd have known about life. If you'd like to hear more, check out this blog of Tricia Goyer and her GenX blog too.

10 Things I Wish I'd Known about Life
by Amy Wallace

1) What many people didn't learn in Kindergarten, they didn't learn in college either.

2) Choosing to be kind might not get you further "up the ladder" but it will make falling asleep at night much easier.

3) It really does take more muscles to frown than to smile and that's energy wasted.

4) A good night's sleep covers a multitude of sins you might otherwise commit.

5) Chocolate might not be good for the backside, but it's great for the heart.

6) Walking probably is better than chocolate, but it's not near as much fun.

7) A good kiss burns far more calories and less bridges than a fight.

8) Words spoken in anger have the worst boomerang effect.

9) Chocolate body paint only sounds like a fun idea.

10) Each day is a precious gift best unwrapped after a strong cup of coffee and a good dose of prayer.

If I'm spreading the list addiction, please leave me a note with your great list ideas in the comments or email me and I'll share your ideas with a link to your blog too.

Merry Christmas y'all!!!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cool stories for parents and kids!

I'd like to introduce you all to an author whose website is as cool as his books. My kiddos have yet to make it through a Narnia book, but when they do I'll be heading to the store for the books highlighted below...

Christian parents are finally offered a true Potter alternative...All the adventure of Harry Potter...None of the sorcery!

Landon Snow and The Island of Arcanum
by R.K.Mortenson, published by Barbour Publishing (October 2006).

About the AUTHOR:
R.K.Mortenson is an ordained minister with the Church of the Lutheran Brethren. He has been writing devotional and inspirational articles since 1995. He currently serves as a navy chaplain in Florida and lives with his wife, daughter and son in Jacksonville.

Randy got the idea for this series one late night, when flute music woke him from a sound sleep. As he stood at his window, trying to locate the source of the sound, he spied a library across the lawn. Suddenly, he envisioned an eleven-year-old sneaking out of his bed and stealing to the library in the dead of night...And thus Landon Snow was born.

In the latest adventure of Landon Snow And the Island of Arcanum, Landon, once again visits his grandparents in Button Up, Minnesota. If your familiar with the first two books, Landon Snow and the Auctor's Riddle, and Landon Snow and The Shadows of Malus Quidam, you'll know that Landon's adventures always start at the Library in Button Up.

This time, Landon's most dangerous journey yet, begins in a rowboat-shaped tombstone that floats. And it's lucky for him that it floats because a few drips from the library ceiling turns into a powerful waterfall.

The stone turns into wood. The stone book propped up in the prow of the boat turns to paper. The left page says "ANCHOR". The right page says "AWEIGH".

"Anchor aweigh?" said Landon.

Holly whispered, "Did you hear that?"

No one has time to respond, however. The next instant saw the water before them dropping away as the water behind them grew into a giant swell, pitching them headlong into the abyss.

Landon will have to protect his two younger sisters, Holly and Bridget, who wind up in the boat with him headed towards The Island of Arcanum. On the Island, the animals of Wonderwood are imprisoned and the evil shadows of Landon's nemesis, Malus Quidam lurk!

With the help of some old friends, a horse named Melech, an odd fellow named Hardy, a girl named Ditty, and the poet/prophet Vates--Landon seeks to unlock the island's dark secrets and escape with the animals intact.

But first, he must navigate his way through unchartered waters and battle the villainous Archans...Can Landon and his friends rescue the animals from deep within the island's stronghold?

Cool author tidbit...

Landon Snow short story is appearing in Focus on the Family's Clubhouse magazine for kids in December. The story is already online at their R.K.Mortenson will be talking about his adoption experiences at Heather Ivester's mom2momconnection blog next week. It's not about the books, but something even more important: kids.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

And the winner is...

Hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving!!! Ours was very nice and very quiet...well as quiet as a house with three little ones can be. ;-)

Now that I have all my decorations up and gifts wrapped... (Please don't throw rotten tomatoes at the screen! It's self-preservation and protection of all mankind that I do not go into a Mall during the holidays.)

I'm kicking off December by giving some cool stuff away.

First up is Rachel Hauck's blog tour book Lost in NashVegas. Deborah was the blessed and happy winner of Rachel's new book.

We'll be doing more blog tours in the coming months, so keep checking back for those.

Next up are some fun Defenders of Hope items that we're giving away monthly and then some will be included in the Grand Prizes that will be given away in February on my website and in April at my book launch party.

We just ordered these way cool puzzles with the Ransomed Dreams full cover on them. Talk about amazing what they can do with a puzzle. We now have some yummy chocolate bars with a Ransomed Dreams wrapper, and those are over the top cool! My incredible web designer had a blast working on the wrappers with some fun stats on the back. The third DOH item is a Ransomed Dreams mug with a hard-for-me-to-give-away Starbucks gift card inside.

So how do you put your hands on these things???

Come visit the Defenders of Hope website and the Heart Chocolate site and sign up for the DOH newsletter.

Okay, now I'm done with the self-promotion stuff. Those of you who know me know how yucky it feels for me to say, "Hey, go buy my book!" At the same time, I hope you all know some of the why behind it. If not, here it is in a nutshell...

I write because God gave me the stories and nudged me little by little down this particular path. That's the (sometimes) easy part. It's the promotion that's far harder because so much seems like hawking wares. But the reality is my publisher, a Christian business, took a chance on me because they believed in the story I had to tell. The story I believe in or I wouldn't have told it in the first place.

So for me, promotion is my way of giving back to a publisher I believe in too. They will spend upwards of $50,000 just putting one novel out there. I want to be a good steward of both God and my publisher's money and their belief in me.

I also want to see Ransomed Dreams do well because God changed me in the writing of it and I pray He will use the reading of it to draw hearts closer to Him.

Do I hope to make money in promotion? I'd be lying if I said no. Yes, I would love to earn royalties and see Ransomed Dreams sell well so that I'll be offered another contract. But another reality of working in Christian industry is that I won't be earning money for exotic vacations or to have towel warmers in my bathroom (people really have those, but I'm not one of them). More like I'll put braces on my kids without going into debt, help my husband go back to school for his Masters, save for three little ones' college education, and help keep our used cars repaired and running.

Even after all that reality, my goal is that there are other winners in the promotion game. Who?

My hope and prayer is it's you all.

Deep down the reason I keep coming back to in why I do what I do is sheer obedience and the heart desire that God use me to serve and encourage you.

Please pray that I hit that mark with a bull’s-eye. Because in doing so, that brings glory to our loving heavenly Daddy.

And in the end, that’s what it’s all about.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I'm giving thanks today in a writerly way while my kiddos are resting up for more fun this afternoon. This is a day where nostalgia meets the present. Last year I introduced my little ones to one of my family's traditions: watching the "Macy's Day Parade." My husband insists on calling it by its full name, "The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade."

Either one works for me. ;-)

I wax nostalgic thinking back on all the years I watched this parade with my Gram and family while the turkey cooked and the pies were cooling on the back porch.

But today I smile and get misty eyed watching my three year old dance to "Cooby Doo" (Scooby Doo for those without the 3 year old dictionary translation) and remember this is the same balloon I watched growing up.

Then after we've waved to all the balloons and danced with all the marching bands and singers, we head upstairs and my husband does the honors and places the big bird into the oven. Then we do my favorite Thanksgiving thing...

We dance to Christmas music on the radio.

We laugh and twirl and have a blast. And by the time my kids are tired, my husband and I are ready for a nap too.

Before that nap, I'll close with my top ten list for Thanksgiving…

Amy's Top Ten Reasons for Giving Thanks

1) I'm thankful I can call God Daddy.

2) I'm thankful I have a family who loves me and who I adore and enjoy.

3) I'm thankful I can walk. (Did I mention I'm in a cast again after yet another foot surgery? Trust me, walking is a big thing to be thankful for!)

4)I'm thankful for the gift of sight~ both to see the world God has made and for the spiritual gift of seeing deeper with discernment.

5) I'm thankful for heart healing.

6) I'm thankful that God says I'm beautiful.

He says you're beautiful too!

7) I'm thankful for little kids' prayers and that I get to hear them every day.

8) I'm thankful that my husband and I have careers where we use the gifts and talents God has given us for His glory.

9) I'm thankful for an inner circle of friends who love me anyway and always point me to Jesus.

10) I'm thankful for blogs. ;-) And I'm thankful for the ability to make online friends and enjoy the community offered here.

What about you? What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

You are Beautiful

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!!!

What are you going to say tomorrow when someone asks why you're thankful? With my family, we’ll go around the table as we eat and name blessings we remember from this past year. My children will go far beyond their five pieces of corn we give to each person to name one blessing per kernel. My husband and I will too. But for me it wasn't always that way.

So today I wanted to share a little about a reason to praise I wonder if you've thought of~ because God says you are beautiful.

Do you believe that? Do you thank God for that? Most people don't.

I didn't for years and years. I grew up in a painful home and jumped into a relationship as a teen that I knew I shouldn't be in. But I did it anyway because he said I was beautiful.

Then he raped me.

I didn't feel beautiful anymore. I felt like trash. And I spent the better part of my young adult years knowing God loved me, but feeling that I was "less than" everyone else. Ugly. Used goods.

My story in God Allows U-Turns for Teens is about how I went from saying "If Only I Were Beautiful" to knowing and receiving what God says is truth. I'd like to share two quotes and what made my U-Turn happen.

"No love of the natural heart is safe unless the human heart has been satisfied by God first." (Oswald Chambers)

"We are not wrong to think we desperately need to be loved. We do. Our need does not constitute anyone else's call but God's" (Beth Moore)

So how did God make those two statements “real” to me? He had me teach them to a group of young ladies who didn’t believe God said they were beautiful either. I looked deep into their gorgeous eyes and into their even more stunning souls and caught a glimpse of the beauty God sees.

Then God led me to the mirror and said the same about me.

I wanted to turn away because I still didn’t see what God saw. But He kept speaking to my heart over the next few weeks. I became convinced that my bottomless need to be loved, to be seen as beautiful, would be satisfied first in God.

Or it wouldn’t be satisfied at all.

So I stopped saying, “If only I could lose a few pounds” or “I would be beautiful if only _____ changed."

We can all fill in that blank, can’t we?

What I started saying instead were the words God had spoken to me. “I see you. You are beautiful. You are loved and you are Mine.”

I still don’t always believe that. But those times are far less frequent. What happens more often now are the times I look in the mirror and smile simply because that’s what my heavenly Daddy does.

So this Thanksgiving I’ll enjoy some turkey and pumpkin pie and I will not step on the scale later. Instead, I’ll look in the mirror and smile.

I’ll listen to the words God says. Will you join me?

Take a good look in the mirror. God has much to say about what He sees there. Listen closely. He is enthralled with your beauty. (Psalm 45:11)

The King is enthralled with you. Enjoy Him.

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What about when you don't want to praise?

This week I'm guest blogging over at God Allows U-Turns. Please come check out Allison's site or blog and leave a comment. ;-)

What about when you don't want to praise?

Yesterday we talked a little about what we're thankful for, but the thought God gave me this morning centered on when I'm not thankful.

Have you ever felt that way?

Everyone around you has hands lifted in praise at church, or every friend has great stuff happening and you feel any thing but grateful.

Yep, me too.

I wish I had written a great U-Turns story detailing an about-face from overwhelming sadness, depression, or dare I say anger at things not going the way I'd prayed. My story "For This Child" in God Answers Mom’s Prayers deals with hearing God say "No" to a prayer and how I learned to trust Him and be thankful even when I didn't understand.

But truth be told I still struggle with praise and thanksgiving at times. Life is never just what I want it to be. It's hard. It's more work than I thought I signed up for and more often than not, it just plain hurts.

So God had me doing Thanksgiving cards with my kiddos this morning. I was so NOT in the right frame of mind.

But God's funny like that.

So I went through the motions until I read this quote from Francis Schaeffer, "We are not only to sing the doxology, but to be the doxology."

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

The book I was reading aloud went on to talk about the birds, how they throw their whole being into singing and that being an example of how we’re to praise God.

Now that set my mind spinning. Birds sing because that’s what God created them to do. They don’t analyze it, argue with it, or decide they don’t want to sing. They just do.

So can I in terms of praising God simply because that’s what I was created to do: to glorify God by enjoying Him forever and singing the song that is my life. Sad notes and all.

So can you.

I’m not suggesting we ignore depression nor am I saying we should “put on a happy face.” There are reasons behind why we don’t feel like praising that we need to explore with God.

I’m praying as I write this that you’ll hear the Father call you to come talk and listen to Him and discuss those very things going on in your heart. He cares. He loves you. And He wants you to come real.

At the same time, I think there is much wisdom to be gained in doing what Job and King David did in their dark nights…

Praise Him anyway.

Turn to Him and just talk to Him, remember who He is. That simple act, however hard it may be at times, is praise.

Instead of recalling all the hurt, remember the times God Himself—with nail-scarred hands—carried you through.

Instead of focusing on what isn’t right, praise God for the little things that are right and consider that your journey through pain and joy is working in you something good.

Also, instead of trying to “be the doxology” consider that you already are. And God welcomes the words or groans of your life song as He sings right along with you.

Praise Him.

Tomorrow, I’ll share my continuing U-Turn toward praise in the form of my story in God Allows U-Turns for Teens about date rape and my healing almost two decades later.

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15)

Trusting and praising anyway,

Monday, November 20, 2006

What are you thankful for?

This week I'm guest blogging over at God Allows U-Turns. Please come check out Allison's site or blog and leave a comment. ;-)

We'll be talking about a few of my U-turns stories, but even more importantly as we prepare our hearts for Thanksgiving it's my prayer we'll delve a little beyond our blessings to learning more of God's character.

Here's my first guest blog...

What are you thankful for?

I'm thankful for ripped tendons and scars. Why? Because almost five years ago I took my eighteen-month-old daughter's place in the ER and learned that when God said "No" to my request for protection, what He was really saying was "I have something better."

For me God's "better" meant a painful surgery and six weeks in a cast. Those six weeks of having my wonderful husband take care of our children, cook, clean, and do all my mom duties plus his allowed me to write my very first fiction novel, Ransomed Dreams. Plus, my surgery left me with a scar that I look at now and remember that God's "best" is often difficult to comprehend, but in the end it is always GOOD.

You can read more about this experience in "For This Child," my very first U-Turns story in God Answers Mom's Prayers.

Welcome to Thanksgiving week at God Allows U-Turns! I hope you'll join me again tomorrow as we look at more of the myriad reasons we have to give thanks.

Abundant blessings!!!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Awesome interview with Rachel Hauck

This is my good friend and a fantastic writer, Rachel Hauck and her new book Lost in NashVegas.

Rachel is a multi-published author living in sunny and sometimes hurricane plagued, central Florida with her husband and ornery pets. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a BA in Journalism. Visit her blog and web site at

I REALLY encourage you all to check out Rachel's site. It's fun and full of the depth of character and love for Jesus that radiates from Rachel.

Now we're in for a real treat today...

Besides learning about Rachel's new release Lost in NashVegas We'll be learning a little more about Rachel and some about "the writing life."

Here goes...

Amy: What is Lost in NashVegas first line?

RH: Good question! "How I let Daddy and Granddaddy Lukeman talk me into singing a 'couple' of my songs at the Spring Sing, again, is beyond me."

Amy: What fun things did you do to research Lost in NashVegas?

RH: I went to Nashville, visited the Bluebird Café, talked to songwriters, toured the Country Music Hall of Fame, sang on the steps of the Ryman stage, hung out with my editor and another WestBow staffer, Lisa Young. Very fun. Toured around the city with Rebeca Seitz and Kaye Dacus.

Amy: What prompted you to begin writing?

RH: I always wanted to write. My dad spoke destiny over my from the time I was ten until I published my first book at 43. You’re a writer, Rachel, he would always say.

Amy: Is there such a thing as a “normal” writing day? If so, what does it look like for you?

RH: I’ve been thinking a lot about this and am about to change my schedule so I have a normal writing day. Not every day will work out like I planned, but I believe we need scheduled lives to a high degree (flexibility allowed) but writing and creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I need to be in my office, at my desk, writing. I usually write during the day, but get so interrupted with other busyness. I’d like to get up early and use that quiet time of the day to get writing done.

Amy: What’s the highest praise you could receive for your writing?

RH: I think just hearing people love the story, related to the characters, found some sort of renewed hope.

Amy: Best writing moment?

RH: Making the first sale. Always thrilling.

Amy: Worst writing moment?

RH: Missing my first deadline by 12 days. Yuck.

Amy: Advice for those interested in writing?

RH: Join a writers group like American Christian Fiction Writers or RWA, and read, read, read, then write, write, write, then read some more. Also, schedule time to write and don’t let anything but emergencies get in the way. Learn to say no.

Amy: Favorite scripture and why?

RH: Song of Solomon 4:9. It shows how pure in love Jesus is with us!

Amy: What's one thing about you that no one’s asked, but you wish they would?

RH: “Can we make your book into a Broadway play?”

Here's a blurb from Lost in NashVegas...

Last week, I stocked groceries in Freedom, Alabama. This week, I live in Nashville, Tennessee about to take the stage at the famous Bluebird Café.

Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Only one problem. I’m terrified to sing in front of people.

But after twenty-five years of being ruled by fear, hiding from my dream, I confronted my limited reality and left home. Forget the hometown hunk who wants to make me queen of his doublewide. Forget Momma’s doubt-inspiring tirade. I can make it in Music City… Can’t I?

God put the longing to write songs in my heart. If He’s for me, who can be against me? Not even my own fear can overshadow His love. So, I gathered my old guitar, my notebook full of songs and packed up my ’69 Chevy pickup. Look out NashVegas, the next hit songwriter is coming to town.

With the help of my cousin, and a few new friends, especially handsome contractor, Lee Rivers, my dream finds the light of day. As I face my first night at the Bluebird Café, I realize… I might just do what comes naturally. Look for the nearest exit, and run!

Doesn't that sound awesome?! This is a story for everyone longing to live a dream but not sure how to jump that doubt hurdle and go for it.

Have you ever had a dream burn inside but you weren't sure how to let it come alive? Leave me a note in the comments about your dream. Not only will I pray with you about that dream, but I'll draw a name and send you a copy of Rachel's book Lost in Nashvagas.

I'm looking forward to praying and watching to see what God is up to in your life!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Launching a Dream

At this very moment I'm feeling pretty on top of the world! I just turned in one of two last round edits on my almost ready-to-go debut novel. Boy does that feel great! And my wonderful webmaster hubby has done it again, creating a book series site I'm proud to call mine.

Please come check out the Defenders of Hope website and let me know what you think! Also, if you're a fan of great fiction be sure to check out the newsletter sign up page for your chance to win an amazing grand prize gift pack of 22 top fiction novels, Godiva chocolate, a Starbucks gift card, and some other fun things.

As excited as I am to share all this, I'm praying what people see in all that I do is Jesus. I wrote in the last post about how God is searing my heart with 2 Samuel 24:24~ True worship is costly. These books, this website, living a dream come true have all been costly acts of worship. So much so that many times I've wanted to walk away. Why don't I? At the core it's simple obedience. Writing these books, sharing my heart, and inviting people deeper into Christ are what drive me to keep on taking one more step in this dream journey.

Please pray for me! I'd so appreciate your prayers that in all I do it's Christ who is glorified.

Launching a dream is a frighteningly incredible thing. For me this means giving my all, my best, and then leaving it at the foot of the cross, trusting my Daddy to do with it as He pleases.

Thanks for walking this road with me. You are true gold to this writer's heart.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Threshing Floor

Life as I knew it changed with my entrance onto the Threshing Floor. This special place exists in cyberspace and is where my mentor group shares, cares, bleeds, and dissects each other's writing. It's where we get threshed and the chaff blown away so that what's left is useful and good. That process is sometimes fun, often times painful. It hurts to have people look at a piece of your work that you're proud of and tell you it needs to change.

But a good writer listens. A great writer learns. An outstanding writer? Well, you'd have to meet my crit partners to see one of those. ;-) I hope to grow up and be that kind of writer someday.

Life changed for me again with my first book contract. In the letter at the front of my first novel, I equate writing a book with carrying and delivering a baby. One thing I didn't put in there was that my first response to learning I was pregnant and when I found out I'd been offered a book contract were identical.

I threw up.

Yep. Feeling overwhelmed, coupled with fear and a whole host of other emotions drop kicked my abs and continued to do so for the entire nine months of each pregnancy and for most of this past year as I've worked on getting my first story ready for the bookstore shelves. All of my babies were worth the pain of the nine months they spent inside me. And just last night as I finished another round of edits, I caught a proud glimpse of my book baby and had to smile. God is so good.

Yesterday I listened to an amazing sermon on worship. What does that have to do with writing? Everything. When I write it's long been my prayer that it would be an act of worship. I've often felt like the runner Eric Liddell when he spoke of feeling God's pleasure when he ran. That's how I feel when I write.

But the pastor asked, “What does worship cost you?” Because true worship is costly. Like the perfume Mary of Bethany poured over Jesus where the disciples clamored against her act of worship, saying “Why this waste?”

Many times this year I’ve said those same words to myself, feeling like I’ve wasted so much to pursue this dream called writing. I’ve felt like I disappointed so many people and had to pass on so many good things because there were not enough hours in the day to do all I or others wanted me to do. So just in case I missed the point that worship is costly and that what Jesus said of Mary, He says of all of His children, the pastor talked a number of times about Jesus’ response to Mary’s worship. Jesus told the disciples to leave Mary alone. “She has done a beautiful thing to me.”

My heart filled at those words that the pastor spoke to the crowd, but that Jesus spoke to my heart. No matter what others have thought of the time I’ve spent writing, Jesus hasn’t despised my offering.

Neither should I.

But I have. There were times this year I wanted to throw it all away and never write again. It hurt. I felt like my writing would never be good enough, never carry the message the Lord put on my heart that I keep trying to get on paper. I’ve feared, still do sometimes, the rejection of bad reviews or people who have unkind things to say about my novel. I’ve cried over times I didn’t get to spend with my husband and children. The physical cost of writing so much has worn me down too. Carpel tunnel and cubital tunnel, as well as nights and nights of too little sleep.

As I was thinking about all this, the pastor shared another scripture. I had to laugh at first because it’s the exact place where the name of my mentor group came from. It’s where King David is talking to the owner of a threshing floor about buying the man’s land to build an altar. The man wanted to give it to the king, but David said this…

"I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing." (2 Samuel 24:24)

Me either.

And so I put that verse on my computer to challenge and remind me.

True worship is costly.

But I will not give to the Lord that which cost me nothing. And He will not despise my worship. In fact, He whispers His approval. To the enemy of my soul who’d like nothing more than to have me believe his lies about the worthlessness or waste of my worship, Jesus answers loud and clear: “Leave her alone. She has done a beautiful thing to me.”

I pray you’ll join me in pouring your vile of worship over Jesus. He’ll receive it. And its aroma, like Mary’s perfume, will fill the room and bring glory to His name.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


THE ELECTION by Jerome Teel

They seek ultimate power.

Nothing can stand in their way.

Ed Burke has waited a lifetime to become president of the United States. He's not about to let his nemesis, Mac Foster, stop him now...especially when he's sold his soul for the Oval Office.

Claudia Duval has lived a rough life. And finally, things have turned around for her after meeting the wealthy Hudson Kinney. But is all what it seems?

When a prominent citizen is murdered in Jackson, Tennessee, attorney Jake Reed doesn't want to know the truth. He just wants to get his client off. But as he investigates, he uncovers a sinister scheme. A scheme that would undermine the very democracy of America...and the freedom of the entire world.

The Election, by Jerome Teel, is a fast-paced, highly readable mystery filled with suspense, intrigue, and political conspiracy. Teel skillfully weaves together themes of faith, family, suffering, and providence in a way that not only compels, but enlightens."

David S. Dockery-President, Union University

Sunday, October 22, 2006

"You don't love me!"

That's what my youngest daughter yelled at me the other day when I wouldn't let her go outside because she was sick and needed to rest. Boy, did her words sting. I've never heard that phrase come out of any of my children's mouths and it stunned me silent.

A pretty incredible feat.

I stammered something about that being a lie and that I truly do love her and was only trying to take care of her. Then I wiped her nose and shortly thereafter put her to bed at naptime.

But those words kept ricocheting around my brain.

“You don’t love me!”

How many times have I yelled the same thing at God? Truth be told, far more times than I’d like to admit. My daughter’s words made that reality impossible to ignore. So here I am again, working out my salvation by typing on the computer.

I think the most startling thing I’ve realized is that unlike me, God isn’t stunned silent or pierced to the heart by angry words. He doesn’t get angry back or scold me for not remembering the infinite times He’s lavished His love on me.

He just keeps on loving me.

And I keep on realizing how much growing up I have yet to do.

But that’s a good place to be because I’m finding the more I recognize God’s amazing grace toward me, the more willing I am extend that grace to those around me. As well as the more and more sensitive I’m growing to the fact that praising God is far more appropriate than railing at Him.

Not quite there yet with praise as my first response, but I’m stepping in that direction. I read an email from a dear friend who has just fought with cancer and is thanking God for his mercy in early detection rather than spewing about having a kidney removed.

That humbled me.

Now, I love this friend dearly and she is truly an amazing woman. Even so, I would guess she’s struggled with things. But what we hear from her is praise.

Not two-year-old wailings about, “You don’t love me!”

Or thirty-something wailings about how tough life is and how God must not love me very much.

Praise God for Philippians 1:6: “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”


My littlest princess came back to me later and said, “I love you, Mommy!” I asked her if she knew that I loved her too. Her response? “You love me sooooo much!”

Yep, I sure do. I’m glad she says that far more than she says otherwise. I’m praying to get to that place with God, too. He’s already promised to complete the good work He’s begun.

Guess that’s proof positive You sure DO love us, huh, Daddy?


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Like Dandelion Dust




Jack and Molly Campbell enjoyed an idyllic life in their small hometown outside Atlanta with their adopted 4-year-old, Joey. Then they receive the phone call that shatters their world: a social worker delivers the news that Joey's biological father has been released from prison and is ready to start life over with his son.

When a judge rules that Joey must be returned to his father, the Campbells, in a silent haze of grief and utter disbelief, watch their son pick a dandelion and blow the feathery seeds into the wind. Struggling with the dilemma of following the law, their hearts, and what they know to be morally right, the Campbells find that desperation leads to dangerous thoughts. What if they can devise a plan? Take Joey and simply disappear....LIKE DANDELION DUST.

About the Author:

USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury is America's #1 inspirational novelist. There are nearly 5 million copies of her award-winning books in print, including more than two million copies sold in the past year. Karen has written more than 30 novels, nine of which have hit #1 on national lists, including award-winning Oceans Apart, One Tuesday Morning, Beyond Tuesday Morning, the Redemption Series and Firstborn Series, and several other bestsellers, one of which was the basis for a CBS Movie-of-the-Week and Gideon's Gift, which is currently in production as a major theatrical release for Christmas 2007. Karen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Don, and their six children, three of whom are adopted from Haiti.

Amy here... if you haven't read a Karen Kingsbury novel, you're missing some great Christian fiction. The characters Karen crafts are alive with depth and conflict and the stories explore the gamut of human emotion. My only caution is that a box of Kleenex is a good thing to have on hand!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Help, I've been tagged

My good friend Heather tagged me with this. Not sure I'm doing this right, but here goes...

1. Favorite memory of your mother?

One of my favorite memories related to my mom would be my ninth or tenth Christmas when my "big" gift was a huge stuffed teddy bear. Coming down to the dark living room with only seventies multi-color tree lights blinking, that big teddy bear sitting in a chair with my name on it and a bow on top was awesome! And knowing that my mom gave it to me just because she knew I loved teddy bears is a great memory.

I still have that bear. Only now it belongs to my oldest who is following in her mommy's footsteps and curling up to read in Ted D. Bear's big lap. (creative bear names weren't my thing as a kid... LOL)

2. Favorite memory of your father?

My step-dad is the only dad I've ever known and I love him dearly. My favorite memory with my dad is when he'd go to church with me and everyone would say how much we looked alike. We'd just smile and say, "Thanks." Knowing my dad chose me and remembering how his eyes would twinkle because someone said I looked like him is a great memory.

3. What one skill would you like to wake up tomorrow and be able to do (though you'd never learned it)?

I'd like to wake up tomorrow with the abilities of an astronaut and a shuttle mission to go on. My family and I watched this incredible DVD titled INDESCRIBABLE by Louie Giglio. Within this amazing DVD are images from the Hubble Space Telescope. Please check out this link for a real treat... “X” structure at the core of the Whirlpool Galaxy. The heavens truly declare the glory of God.

4. Which one of your dreams has come true?

For the last four years it's been my dream to see my first novel published. I'm living that dream right now with an April 07 release date for Ransomed Dreams.

It's an awesome privilege to live a dream, one God created you for. But that's only part of it. Living out a dream is one way to bring glory to God. Just like the stars declare God's glory by just being, so do we. Walking with God and glorifying Him by enjoying Him. That's a dream every one of us can experience.

I'm tagging: Jen and Staci.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A poem of Truth~ can you relate?

Christians - By Maya Angelou

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin'."
I'm whispering "I was lost,
Now I'm found and forgiven."
When I say... "I am a Christian"
I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble
And need Christ to be my guide.
When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak
And need His strength to carry on.
When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed
And need God to clean my mess.
When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
But, God believes I am worth it.
When I say... "I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon His name.
When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not holier than thou,
I'm just a simple sinner
Who received God's good grace, somehow!

Violette Between

Don't miss Violette Between by Alison Strobel!

BETWEEN HERE AND THE PAST, THERE LIES A PLACE...a place of longing for what has been rather than hoping for what could be!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Doing a new thing

I'm doing a new blogging thing at least once a week~ taking part in some awesome blog tours. I hope you'll be blessed and encouraged as you take a dip into the great world of Christian fiction!

BETWEEN HERE AND THE PAST, THERE LIES A PLACE...a place of longing for what has been rather than hoping for what could be!

This week's tour is a fascinating women's fiction novel entitled Violette Between written by Alison Stroble

Violette Between is a poignant story of a true artist. When the love of Violette's life, Saul, suddenly dies, she dies too. Climbing back into life after her loss, she meets Christian, a psychologist who not only understands her struggles but offers safety and his heart. As Violette and Christian begin to feel something they both thought impossible, tragedy strikes again.

Christian holds a vigil at Violette's bedside, where she is in a coma, begging her to come back to him. While in a coma, Violette becomes trapped in a place of past memories–and she finds that she may not want to come back.

What would it be like to choose a place between the past and the present?

Violette Between is a powerful character study of a woman finally relinquishing the past to move on, only to be thrust into the quandary of reliving that life and needing to make a choice. For Christians, this will definitely make you think about heaven and the consequences of eternal life.

"Delving into the underside of complicated relationships, Alison Strobel takes readers to unexpected places, but doesn't hesitate to deliver redemption when needed."---Melody Carlson, author of Finding Alice

About the author: Alison graduated with a degree in elementary education, and in the summer of 2000 she moved from Chicago to southern California where she taught elementary school for three years. It was in Orange County that she met her husband, Daniel Morrow, and the story developed for her first novel, Worlds Collide.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Glass houses and feeling invisible

You know you're a writer when the best way to work out your salvation and frustration is to write or type away on a keyboard. So that's what I'm doing today.

I’ve been home from the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas, TX for three days now and I can’t shake a word phrase I shared with a few friends in describing my conference experience.

A glass house.

That’s a pretty apt description of the way I feel about most things in my life. I feel like I’m alone outside a huge glass house in which all my friends and other people are having a great time. I can see them. Talk to them. But I can’t really touch or been seen by them.

Please don’t get me wrong, the ACFW conference was incredible. It’s just my gift from God this year came in the form of haunting worship and deep conviction in my heart. Conviction that I’ve chosen this glass house and remain the reason for my own loneliness.

The big question for me is why? And, as is often the case, just getting my thoughts in print helps me to answer that question easily.


I think that’s why I stay outside the glass house and grumble about feeling invisible. Even if I long to be invited inside, it’s somehow “safer” to remain on the outside looking in from a distance.

Outside I don’t worry about making a fool of myself or being rejected. As if that hurts more than pervasive loneliness.

Since the ACFW conference, I’m beginning to wonder if that’s true. After listening to and reading about other writers’ stories on what an awesome conference experience they had, I’m starting to think I missed out because I let fear win.

That’s not to say I didn’t have some wonderful moments. Hanging out with my best friend Saturday and laughing with a few precious people Saturday night was awesome. The worship at ACFW was incredible too. As was listening to Liz Curtis Higgs and hearing the Lord speak straight to my heart.

But in truth all those things only illuminated the glass house feeling and made me see this is a theme in my life. Not a glorious realization.

Actually it’s a pretty painful one.

And one I have no idea how to fix or change.

But just in writing this, I feel a stirring in my heart. God is at work there. Doing His painful but fruitful pruning. Poking on the wounds that lies have made and asking me to bring them to Him.

Lies like I’m invisible. Which when I live like that lie is true, I create self-inflicted wounds of fearful living. Loneliness. Missed opportunities to reach out to others and love well. Those wounds spiral downward to create “proof” that I really am invisible. And so the cycle continues.

Until God says, “Peace. Be still.”

It’s scary to be still in front of a holy God who knows every thought of my heart. It seems easier to hide and pretend it’s someone else’s fault I feel alone.

But it’s not. Hiding and blame don’t change anything or help anyone.

And God’s not letting me get away with it this year. It’s been a tough year that feels like everything I’ve touched has gone up in smoke. But there is one thing that remains.


My holy, perfect, all-knowing Daddy. Who in the midst of my toddleresque blame game and hiding still reaches out His hand and draws me to Him.

One thing Liz Curtis Higgs asked us to do during one of her amazing keynote addresses at ACFW was to look in the mirror, stretch out our arms, see ourselves as God sees us, and proclaim: “Ta-da!”

I didn’t do it. Not in my heart.

And I still couldn’t even when I crawled into the safe surroundings of my family who love me so well. But God used them to keep me unsettled—their smiles and their words of love all touched that “I’m alone” lie.

My girls were so excited when I came home and declared over and over that I am the best mommy… EVER! I smiled and shook my head knowing so well that I don’t deserve that title.

But then while writing this, God brought to mind my daughters’ genuine declarations of love, my husband’s eyes that mirror his loving words, and the words and emails of friends who really do see me and really do like me.

Maybe I’m not living outside that glass house after all.

Maybe I’m not invisible.

Then God settles the “maybe” question and whispers to my heart, “I AM the God who sees. I have called you by name. You are Mine.”

That truth is true for all of us who are followers of Christ. We are seen. We are loved. Perfectly. Completely. Even when we don’t feel it.

Does hearing those words change everything? Not exactly. This year has still been hard. I still have a lot of growing up to do. But listening to the Spirit whisper to my heart that I do belong… to Him…that changes the most important thing.

My heart.

So instead of dwelling on my mistakes, misconceptions, or hiding behind glass house living, I’m going to choose to tell myself the truth. I’m going to listen to the Truth.

God says we are wonderfully made. Totally loved. Fully forgiven. His.

I think I’m ready to follow Liz’s instructions. I hope you’ll join me.

Take a long look in the mirror…

Remember Who created you and how He smiles at you…

Lift up your hands…

Agree with your heavenly Daddy and say…


Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Way Back

A few days ago my best friend and I talked about "the distinguishable presence of God." Her awesome pastor had posed this question in a recent sermon: "Would you even know if the presence of God was missing from your life?"

My answer was a resounding, "YES!" Because that distinguishable presence had been missing for a while and the absence was becoming more and more painful.

That question and our resulting conversation helped me take a baby step back towards God. It helped me identify the gaping hole in my heart and put words to my huge but hazy longings.

Then came my husband’s email with an awesome devotional link and the awesome comments to my “life in the pain lane” blog. Another step came when I was teaching my fourth grader grammar. Please note teaching grammar is not on my “love to do list” but I’ve learned as much as my firstborn. On this particular day we were talking about the wisdom of journaling and how to start her school journal for this year. I said something that hit me upside my head and got me thinking. “Journaling is how I work things out. When I put words on paper, that helps me to see more clearly the things I’m struggling with. It helps me hear God.”

One more baby step back.

The next step isn’t one I am proud of. It was a huge fight my husband and I got into long distance that bled into an awful attitude towards my children. But I woke up this morning knowing I couldn’t go on like this. Living over a week without God’s presence was like going a week without water. I was parched. And I knew what I had to do.

I journaled. Not just my thoughts, but also my sins. I knew I’d blown it big time with my girls and my husband yesterday. I didn’t want a repeat performance. The only way I knew not to was to run to God.

So I did.

I confessed my sins and the lies I’d been listening to for months now. Lies like I’m a failure as a writer, a wife, and a parent. Lies like God doesn’t love me because if He did I wouldn’t be in this much pain.

Those lies might sound silly in the light. But let me tell you, they’re powerful in the dark just buzzing around in the background of life.

I quickly rejected those lies and stood against the one who provoked the discord between my family and me. What the enemy obviously meant for evil, God clearly meant for good.

It was my path back into His presence.

God knows me so well. He knew I couldn’t teach my daughters well or sit before my students on Sunday and teach about a God I wasn’t talking to or trusting. So He reminded me of that and offered His full attention as I poured out my heart.

Then He spoke. A few short whispers to my heart. Two Bible verses. One about Him being with me always and the other about why my sin didn’t surprise Him. You know that verse about how there’s none of us righteous, no not one? Well, me in my sheep-likeness had wondered far from that truth.

I’d acted as though I deserved God’s forgiveness and had dismissed my sin being part of the problem ~ not exactly calling it righteous anger, but understandable anger that anyone would feel given the awful circumstances I was in. I’d also thought I could demand His healing because I’m His child.

So He had to remind me that HE is the Father and I, being His CHILD, have SO MUCH to learn.

God also reminded me that His smile is on me too.

I cried and cried. In the midst of the tears, I savored His presence return to my life.

I later talked things through with my husband and children and sought their forgiveness. They are so amazing to be so quick to forgive me and love me.

Then I blew it again with one of my girls over some schoolwork.

But I could sense God’s presence and I cut my words off before another fight kicked into overdrive. I prayed with my girls and talked with the one I’d been harsh toward. Afterwards we both agreed that had gone better and we’d resolved it far quicker than times in the past. We’re both growing. I wish I grew faster. And I wish I’d never feel anger again.

But I’m a sheep. So says God’s Word. I don’t care for being equated with a dumb, forgetful animal. But the analogy fits. I’m just thankful I have a Good Shepherd who knows the paths I travel and when I falter, He’s there to lead me home.

My prayers are still for relief from the pain and for circumstances to work out the way I’d like. But with the return of God’s presence, I’ve experience something I haven’t done in many months…


And my prayers are slowly turning onto a little different trail. More along the lines of, “Keep me walking close to You, Daddy. Help me remember.”

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Pain lane comments

I have read and reread the amazing comments posted to my last blog. Coupled with an Oswald Chambers devotion my husband sent me today, I’m starting to gain some footing.

The title of the Oswald Chambers devotion was “Going Through Spiritual Confusion.” Pretty appropriate for where I am.

“There are times in your spiritual life when there is confusion, and the way out of it is not simply to say that you should not be confused. It is not a matter of right and wrong, but a matter of God taking you through a way that you temporarily do not understand. And it is only by going through the spiritual confusion that you will come to the understanding of what God wants for you…Stand firm in the faith, believing that what Jesus said is true, although in the meantime you do not understand what God is doing.”~ September 12 My Utmost for His Highest

Maybe what has me at a better place is just the permission to “be” from this devotion and loving friends’ words. That alone is gold. But it’s also the realization that I’m not alone in the experience of pain and the spiritual confusion that has followed.

Knowing that I’m not alone in making it to the other side is also huge.

I’m not on that “other side” yet. It doesn’t feel like I’ll get there soon either. But for today, right this moment, I can say I’m okay because I know I’m loved. I’m prayed for. And even though God feels distant, I know He is not.

Special thanks go out to…

My husband~ thanks for loving me when I’m acting far from loveable. Your prayers, words, and emails are helping chip away at the walls I’ve allowed to surround my heart in recent months.

Kirstin~ your honest openness blows me away. I do remember when you couldn’t sing “Jesus Loves Me” and when someone showed up at your door with that money order. Remembering those times brought tears to my eyes… something I haven’t experienced lately. It felt good to feel again. Thank you. Knowing you know well where I am right now and that you are an awesome example of “God’s grace is sufficient” gives me hope. Something I needed very much.

Sally~ I’m honored to be in such good company. Thank you for your prayers and your words borne of understanding and deep faith. Remembering that God Himself is interceding for me and that my Daddy’s lap is never closed to me were words I needed to hear.

Hannah~ your wisdom and grace far exceed your years. Thank you for reminding me “it’s okay!” and that being real is exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Heather~ your hugs and prayers have spanned the miles between us. Thank you!

Sharon~ your post was one of those tangible reminders of His love that you are praying for. Thank you. You’ve listened to me spout off about life and writing stress and returned to me abundant grace and encouragement. God is most definitely in your words.

Kaye~ thank you for permission to do the very things that so many think are “unspiritual” but are in truth total honesty. I love Job and appreciated the reminder that Job’s honesty before God was commended. God knows our hearts anyway and trying to hide that helps no one.

Even without answers or a reprieve from the pain that I’ve been hoping would come sooner than later, just typing those thank you’s reminds me of how much I’ve been given.

Thank you.

For the prayers.

For reading here on this blog.

And for caring.

Not only that, but also for being living stones of remembrance, a gift of encouragement. How powerful are good words spoken at just the right moment!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Life in the pain lane

Okay, goofy title, but a pretty apt description of how I see life right now. And it’s not just physical pain either, but something much deeper. Something that goes down to the roots of my religious thinking.

I'm starting to doubt God. Not His existence. But His goodness.

It didn’t bother me much to question God when I was a teenager. Or even as a young adult. I’d spout off my doubts to anyone who would listen and engage in an array of conversations, often coming away thinking I’d learned enough to make me feel okay.

But now my circle of influence grows larger than the student crowd at a university college. I’m a wife, mom, teacher, writer, and leader in community and writing groups. Were I to spout off the venom I feel growing inside, I’d do more hurt than I want to imagine.

Responsibility and years of Bible reading press in on me. But it doesn’t change the pain in my heart. And in all honesty, I don’t really want to talk it over with God. I know that’s the only place to find peace.

But He’s also the One allowing a whole host of painful things in my life.

Career challenges for both my husband and me. The great unknown with enough to know things could get rocky fast. Financial stress. Marital struggles under all the pressure. On top of that, in the past month I’ve been through a host of what I thought were “old people” tests to see why I’m falling apart at the seams. From EKG’s to x-rays to being zapped and bleeding from an EMG that tested the nerves in my arms and hands, I feel like crying “UNCLE” and not waking up until all of this pain is gone.

Which won’t be gone unless God decides I’ve had enough and starts healing the things I’ve begged Him for years to heal. I wish I could say with Job “Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him.” Or that I could agree with the apostle Paul’s outlook and rejoice in my weaknesses.

But I’m not.

Some days I can’t even think straight because my blood sugars are so out of whack and I’m exhausted from not sleeping well. Usually I journal or type through my foggy mental state or questions about God, but now that’s another painful reminder of why I’m struggling with God’s goodness.

How is it good that my arms and hands are numb and painful because of carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel and I struggle to do the simplest of things I know I’ve been called to do? How is it good that I have yet another chronic illness that makes eating or not eating like a volcano erupting in my abdomen?

Maybe those are the wrong questions.

But my heart can’t get past them right now. Especially when I consider that my flawed genetics are going to set my kids up for serious physical issues in the future.

I know we live in a fallen world. I’m just struggling with how hard that world is falling on me right now.

I wish I had some insight to share or even a line of wisdom. But I’m empty.

The few people I’ve talked to about all this have repeated to me words I’ve said to other discouraged folks. “Run to God.” “God is a perfect Comforter and will heal your heart when you turn to Him.” I felt those words as truth when I said it and I’m sure my friends did too.

But those sentiments are hitting brick walls of confusion and doubt.

Then I think about my daughters. How will I teach them about God’s love if I don’t believe in it? How will I teach my seniors at church the Truth of God’s Word when I don’t even want to open it right now?

In typing that I recognize the stirring within me. I can’t teach if I don’t believe. And teaching is so much a part of who I am I can’t imagine not doing it. I love my girls too much to really consider walking away from God and leading them down a very wrong path.

God designed me that way. He gave me my children and my class of students knowing I’d come crashing into this construction area time of life. He also made me love the truth so much that I can’t escape it or put on a “Christian mask” until I “get over” this struggle.

So what do I do? I suppose in writing this and posting it, I’m taking the first tentative step out of what feels like a gaping black hole in the road.

I’m admitting my struggle. And I’m asking for prayer.

Last night my older two daughters hugged me before going to bed and said, “I’m praying for you.”

Then my youngest daughter crawled into my lap and looked at my red eyes. “You sad?” she asked.

“Yes” I said swiping at my tears.

She looked straight in my eyes and sighed, “I sorry, Mommy. I love you.”

Thinking back on that now I’m wondering if that’s not the key out of this quagmire of doubt.

To remember I’m loved. Not just by my kids, but by God.

Even if what He’s allowing in my life is beyond what I want to bear, His Word says He loves me. Maybe that’s what I should ponder instead of questions without answers.

God sees the end from the beginning. Maybe, just maybe, there is a good reason He’s allowing all this pain. Construction? Tearing down everything so that only what is immovable remains?

Maybe. The Bible sure says to expect that from life. Not sure why it’s so hard for me to wrap my mind around sometimes. Or to willingly accept.

Pray for me, will you? That I’ll have ears to hear and a heart open to whatever God says is best for my life.

I’ll pray that for you, too.

Hopefully together we can remind each other to hang on to the Truth. No matter what God’s “best” brings.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Learning from little ones

I'm the very proud mommy of three amazing little girls. My oldest is turning nine this Saturday and is often heard singing around the house, "I'm going to be a PRE-TEEN!" I'm so not ready for that. ;-)

Besides already being eight going on thirty, she's an awesome little girl. My name for her is my Sweet Song. Her smile and who she is deep inside have always been music to my heart. Not only that, but this little jewel reads circles around her mommy and can converse with the best of them on so many topics it makes my head spin. What makes me smile even more than her silly jokes is that she's a lot like her mommy in the desire to learn and grow and become more like Jesus. She runs rings around me there many days too~ especially in memorizing Scripture. But more on that later...

My oldest daughter's often-said prayer is, "Thank You for spending time together." Every time I hear her say it I'm reminded how precious the minutes I spend with my girls are. They are the most precious investment of my time. And the rewards are over the top wonderful.

Most days. ;-) I had to throw that in there because any prophet worth his or her salt strives to be totally honest. And in honor of total truth, there are days I’m almost crying for Calgon to take me away.

But back to the good stuff… I said earlier that my oldest is blowing me away with her Scripture memory. She just joined a class at church called the Just Girls class. Among teaching so many cool things straight out of Proverbs 31, they are memorizing these verses.

These very same verses that many women ~ me included~ run screaming away from. At least I did until recently.

My oldest has been reciting the 12 verses she’s committed to memory in the last week as she’s getting ready in the morning and any other time it pops into her mind~ which is often. What’s cool about that is her little sisters are listening and that’s causing all three to smile, sing along with the verses, and learn from each other.

Mommy included.

But the thing that made me begin to embrace this Proverbs 31 woman was something my middle child, my total prophet kid, said the other day. On a day when I was struggling with thoughts of being the worst parent ever and not getting the million things on my to-do list done, my second-born spoke straight to my heart.

She said, “Mommy, what she’s memorizing is about you!”

Those simple words said with little understanding of their impact still make me cry. My girls scampered off to play, but those words rang in my mind often for the rest of the day. And beyond.

I have no idea what she sees in me that prompted her to say that. But I have a good suspicion she was looking with her Heavenly Father’s eyes and seeing the me I seldom see. The one God looks down on and smiles about as He says, “This is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.”

I’m so thankful to God for all three of my awesome daughters. My youngest often surprises me with words that are more of God’s special kisses. Words like I heard her singing to herself the other day, “I have a fwend (friend) named Mommy.”

Not only do these words make me realize how desperately I need God to love my girls as well as they love me, but they also make me see how much I can learn from my children…

Their honesty.

Their ability to see beyond the faults to the heart.

And their unashamed expressions of joy and delight.

Jesus spoke such awesomely wise words when He said to come to Him like little children. And so I come, relearning how to skip for the fun of it, sing because I like to, and love with words and actions because my daughters are teaching me all over again what joy looks like.

My prayer in sharing my sweet girls with you all is that God will awaken or strengthen your desire to come like little children too. There are so many ripples of good that we can start by sharing unhindered words of love and acceptance into our circle of friends and family.

So sing, skip, love well…and learn from little ones.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ransomed Dreams

I'm so excited to share with you all the cover of my debut novel, Ransomed Dreams!!! A cool inside story is that my wonderful web designer husband created a mock up cover to help me communicate with my publisher about my vision for the cover. Because he knows me so well and is so awesome at what he does, half of his design was utilized by the great folks at Multnomah.

So seeing Ransomed Dreams make it into book form has been a family effort every step of the way. ;-)

Another "fun fact" about the cover was discovered by my oldest daughter. She was looking at a printed version and said, "Hey, that looks just like our van!" Yep. Part of the painful realism of the prologue was achieved by using little facts about my life including the type of van I drive.

Stay tuned for more fun announcements and trivia about Ransomed Dreams. Soon we'll have a website just for the Defenders of Hope series and on it there'll be some cool polls to test your inside knowledge about me, Ransomed Dreams, and fun facts about my awesome cast of characters.

My family and I would so appreciate your continued prayers as I finish the race with the three Defenders of Hope novels. Please join us in praying that God would be glorified and people drawn to Him through these stories.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A unique Thursday Thirteen

In honor of a great friend and fantasic writer, I'm directing you all over to Staci Wilder's blog GLIMPSES to enjoy a very cool Thursday Thirteen that I had a blast participating in.

Here's a taste of what you'll find at Staci's awesome blog...

"Here are thirteen inspirational writers/authors who warmly invite you to visit their writing space. Grab a cup of coffee, herbal tea, or a Diet Coke ('cause, hey, we've got ours!) and then sit with us as we tell you a little bit about the spaces we go to be inspired and - hopefully - to inspire!"

God's best to you all!!!

Saturday, July 29, 2006


2006 started out with a high-flying fireworks kind of bang. I'd just received my first "big break" in the form of a three-book contract with my dream publisher, I'd sold three articles that I was very proud of, we were out of debt for the first time in our marriage, and life felt pretty good.

So it was no surprise to me when I started praying about a word for the coming year that would define something God was going to teach me, that He gave me “enjoy.” I was pretty excited about what the new year would hold.

Come to find out that was sort of like praying for patience…

Watch out! ;-)

In previous posts I’ve shared the plethora of things God put in my life that seemed at the time to contradict my idea of what “enjoy” would mean.

Back to back physical illnesses. Out of control diabetes. My oldest daughter in the ER. Me in the ER. My computer designer husband’s wrist injuries. Cars dying. Marital stress. Extended family stress. Major rewrites. Deadlines.

All of that within a two-month period of time.

To say I was unprepared is a huge understatement.

It was hard to understand how the painful things May and June ushered into my life would teach me about the word enjoy.

Since then I’ve finished two full novels and in the midst of my rejoicing also grieved for two close friends who delivered babies not into a doctor’s hands, but straight to into Jesus’ arms.

I remember that experience well. We named our tiniest one Jordan. His or her silver memorial tear hangs on my Christmas tree every year and Jordan’s name is heard often in our home.

After three years, my arms still long to hold that little one. But the place where tears once reigned, now a different emotion resides.


Not the feeling of total happiness and “isn’t the world great?” euphoria. But I think the very thing God had in mind to teach me this year. It took reliving past pain and experiencing fresh wounds and faith-shaking questions for me to see that God was and is teaching me what the verb “to enjoy” really means.

It didn’t come as I expected.

But God’s lesson is taking root in my heart.

Because it’s all about God. Not how well I handle my circumstance. Not how much or how little I smile. Not the big exciting good things that are happening in my life or the major tough issues right alongside.

But I’m learning that “enjoy” is all about how to wrap up in and savor His presence in the midst of life’s ups and downs. The heart-pounding thrills. The gut-wrenching grief. The everyday in betweens.

It’s about hanging out in my Heavenly Daddy’s arms and allowing the unanswered questions and longings of my heart to be quieted by His soft whispers of love.

Enjoy is a much quieter word than I’d originally thought.

It’s also a much more powerful one too.

Isn’t it so like God to take something we think we understand and turn it on its head to show us what He knew we needed to learn?

In the novel I just finished today there’s a minor character that plays a major role in my fiction world as much as my real life. He’s based on a real person whose life was a physical picture of joy.

His love for kids.

His passion for sharing Jesus.

His three-year battle with cancer.

One of the things I have my fictional character say that so reminds me of Ken fits well with my musings about what “enjoy” really means.

He talks about how for better or worse, we need to hold on tight to the truth. Because God is still on His throne. And He is good. Always.

My version of my fictional character’s words: Hang on tight. Love deeply. Slip into Jesus’ arms often.

And enjoy.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things I'm Celebrating

 1.     A wonderful husband who is my biggest fan
 2.     Three awesome daughters~ one of which just turned 6
 3.     Ransomed Dreams is complete and turned in on time!!!
 4.     An awesome cover the team at Multnomah designed for Ransomed Dreams
 5.     My husband's participation in designing my cover
 6.     I love writing again~ Thank You, Lord!
 7.     I'm almost done with book 2
 8.     An awesome dinner with my critique partner Meg as thanks for all her help
 9.     My family's good health
10.    My daughters' wonderful horse lessons
11.    Beautiful summer days that taste like freedom
12.    Cruising in my SC2 with my new James Taylor CD cranked
13.    Living my dream and finding moments to actually enjoy it!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The color purple

It never ceases to amaze me that when I get honest before the Lord, He always shows up! ;-) My last blog entry detailing some of the stresses of life and feeling a slight bit like Job opened up some real and painful dialogue with God.

Which at times has left me feeling like Job~ not all my questions answered, but with my hand over my mouth and my heart crying out “You alone are God!” and “You alone are in control!” Add to that a healthy dose of humility in the face of shaking my fist at heaven and questioning His love and goodness.

I’m so glad God doesn’t anger at my questions or shy away from them. He shows up. And in some ways, He does answer.

I’ve gotten a real kick telling my recent story of God showing up because as a writer, if I put this into a fiction novel people would shake their fingers about the implausibility of it all.

No matter. I was there. I saw God and He left an indelible reminder of His grace…in the grape shade of purple…

After my blog post a few Saturdays ago, God stepped in pretty fast to answer one of my immediate needs~ transportation to church. A neighbor of ours~ a little girl we’ve watched grow into an amazing young woman~ heard my husband talking to her mom about car stuff and she offered us her car so we could go to church. I was humbled as we climbed in and then enjoyed being with other believers knowing that God Himself had carried us there with a special wink and a whisper to trust Him.

Then He promptly closed every available or even slightly possible door for our getting another car. But my mother-in-law let us borrow her car on Monday so that my husband could run to his office and gather more work to do at home until God provided a vehicle. God also allowed me to borrow that car to go to a place that’s become a special invitation for refreshment and renewal. I went to the Healing Rooms and the prayer team that prayed with me and over me was so perfectly chosen by God that I cried and felt God release some deep “stuff” in my heart. One thing they challenged me to do after our time together was to ask my husband to pray with me through our house and seek His direction together.

Given that my husband and I have been struggling some with our communication, I wasn’t sure how this would go over. But God had already gone before me ~ why I’m still surprised at this I don’t know~ and my husband was excited about what the prayer team had suggested. That night we spent a very long time praying together and I have to say God opened my eyes even wider to the gift my husband is. He’s a fallible and imperfect human, just like me, who loves God too. He prayed with such power and confidence that I was in awe. God whispered to my heart, “I’ve got this covered too.” And God does. We’re still working at this tough and wonderful journey of marriage, but God showed up there once again and breathed new life, His life, over us.

Then Tuesday we received a call about a possible car. Not really wanting to get my hopes up, I listened to the specifics and agreed it was worth looking into. So my husband called the guy about his Saturn and agreed to meet him. The man with the Saturn also asked my husband to bring our van because his neighbor~ also a mechanic~ works specifically on Town and Country vans. Just like ours.

Much longer story a little shorter… the two mechanics were gifts from God. Both neat guys, they managed to fix our van for under $200 (when our regular mechanic had declared it dying) and tell us that we have 100,000 miles of good life left in my daughters’ favorite car.

Plus, the Saturn was one of the cutest cars we’ve ever considered and the guy sold it to us for exactly what we had to spend. Not only that but he took our very dying Corsica and slashed $200 off the cost of the Saturn. That ~ with a gift from a wonderful co-worker of my husband’s ~ and we were the proud owners of two “new” cars with absolutely no debt.

Can’t forget to mention our Saturn has a sunroof, a kicking stereo system, and leather seats. I feel like a teenager’s dream of summer every time I slide behind the wheel.

Add to that my mouth ulcers are finally gone~ praise God! And I’m loving my writing again. I’m 12 chapters shy of finishing this awesome story that God has given me new eyes for and a new appreciation of what it means to trust Him and leave the results in His hands.

Did I mention the adorable paint job on our “new” Saturn???

It’s the grace shade of purple.

What an awesome God we serve!
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