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Friday, August 21, 2009

Good From Excruciating Bad

I get a kick out of telling a group of women that my last baby weighed 11 pounds, 8 ounces.

Wide eyes, wows, and even some bowing follows.

I smile.

And now I've joined a different type of group. What I get when I tell my story is deep empathy and tons of advice.

But it's a painful group to belong to~ these folks know excruciating pain: migraines.

I could list all the physically painful things I've experienced, but I won't. I'll just say that birthing a three-month old was at the top along with a ripped rotator cuff injury.

Now migraines bumped both of those out for first place.

My children have only seen me cry in pain twice. Both times were because of migraines this year.

Thankfully~ praise God!~ I have an amazing doctor who listened to my research and together we charted a new medical course for me.

One that I pray puts migraines squarely in my past.

I also need to say that there were MANY wonderful people whose advice regarding migraines got me through those nightmare days.

The one good thing I will take away from my miserable migraine time is how I watched the Body of Christ work beautifully.

So many prayed along with their helpful advice. Others just prayed. Some sent books. Some just got in the trench with me and practiced the ministry of presence.

My incredible family did all of the above.

I'm SOOOO thankful for each and every one.

And I'm curious. When have you seen the Body of Christ work like that? Or what good have you taken out of a bad experience because of the actions of believers?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A deep, dark cave

On Monday, I was praying with a dear friend, and a reoccurring dream from way before I was a writer came back to me. The cool thing was, as I prayed, I started to understand some things I've missed.

But the creepy thing was I could still see the mental pictures as vividly as the first time I woke up in a cold sweat, breathing hard, scared the dream was real.

Any of you dream analysts can go to town on what I'm about to share. I'd love to hear what you think...okay, only if it's along the lines of I'm not crazy. ;-)

The dream starts out with me realizing I'm blindfolded.

I try to tear off the blindfold, but I can't. It's on too tightly. So I start groping for some idea of where I am. And I touch cold.

Rock cold.

Bumpy. Cold. Rough. Hard. Rock.

Pretty soon a frigid wind blows with no noise. No leaves rustling. No animals moving about. Just cold.

I try to step forward, but the ground is pebbly, uneven. Nothing solid.

On one side of me there's just air. Cold air.

On the other side is the rough rock. I cling to the rock and try to scoot my way forward, one foot tapping out in front before I step.

A few times I stumble and the rock under me gives way. There's no one there to catch me.

But somehow I dig into the wall and steady myself, heart hammering, tears falling.

I still can't get the blindfold off.

After miles and miles of stumbling forward, I sense a hand gently tugging me forward. It's large, warm, and smooth. No voice. No comforting arms wrapped around me.

Just some unknown person gently guiding me forward.

As we keep walking forward, I sense more of the world around me. The rock ledge I've been traveling widens and feels more like pavement.

But then, as I explore the area with my hands, I swish into cobwebs and jump back...almost falling into the cold air.

Then the blindfold comes off.

And it's still dark.

I can't see the person guiding me, can't hear anything but the thumping of my heart trying to get out of my rib cage.

So I ask questions.

Why am I hear? What's going on? Who are you?

No answers. Just gentle pressure to keep going.

When I settle into walking one step at a time, pretty soon there's this huge cave opening, but all I can see is light.

Blinding. Painful. Light.

That's when I wake up.

I won't share yet what I've always thought the dream meant. I really do want to hear your thoughts.

What I will share, so as not to leave you anxious and sweating about the dream, is that in praying I finally realized two of the biggest dangers of that cave.

Not the cold abyss I could fall into.

Not the mammoth spiders those webs belong to.

The two biggest dangers were the choices I faced in that cave. The choice to run ahead and try to force my way out. Or to sit down and give up.

So as my friend and I were praying, I asked God to keep us from those two easy choices and show us how to walk the hard walk.

It's soooo not an easy path. It's very rocky.

See... I'm already trying to explain everything. So I'll stop and give you first dibs on unpacking this dream. What do you think it means?

No creepy music sort of ideas either, okay? ;-)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Teen inspiration

Ever since I was in college, I've loved teaching teens. They're open. Honest. And they typically just say it like it is.

Back in April, I had the privilege of visiting South Effingham High School and speaking to the Stomping Stangs book club.

I met some amazing teens that day. It's been my continued blessing to keep in touch with many of them.

A few sent me chapters to books they're writing. They're good! And creative.

Some stay in touch via email and Twitter.

One of the young ladies I connected with sent me some poems she'd written and we talked about.

I know not everyone digs poetry, but I do. Especially gut-level honest poems.

And while Christina said I inspired her, I'm here to tell you all that she's an inspiration to me. She's been through a lot in her years, and yet she was at the book club meeting with a smile. And she stayed after to help clean up and make sure my entire family felt welcomed.

We did. And we left there thankful to have met her.

So with her permission, I'm letting you all have a sneak peek into this young lady's world. And as someone who has listened to teens share similar stories and emotions, I'd strongly suggest we adults listen up.

There's much to be learned from the insights Christina shares in her poetry.

poem 1:


sorry im not perfect

sorry im not smart

sorry im not nice

sorry i do the things i do

sorry i am who i am

sorry i dont speak my mind

sorry i do the right things

sorry i dont listen to what you say

well youre right im not sorry

sorry im not perfect

sorry im not smart

sorry im not nice

sorry i do the things i do

sorry i am who i am

sorry i dont speak my mind

sorry i do the right things

sorry i dont listen to what you say

poem 2:


I want to hate you

but i dont hate you

i love you

but its hard to love you

you cheated

you lied

five years was a long time

but now its gone

i miss you

but i dont need you

i have no regrets being with you

but i do regret giving my heart up to you

i cried every night

but now im done with all the tears

i dont need this

i deserve better

we had a future together

i was supposed to be your wife

i was supposed to have your kids

guess now we are over

you have found another

so now i have to move on

poem 3:

my life

I try to put the past in the past

forget about all the hard times

i try to change

but its hard

parents siblings cousins

aunt uncles are just more pressure on me

do this do that

i feel like im doing everything wrong

always messing up

i know im not perfect but i try to be

im going to make mistakes in life

i know im going to have to live with them every day

everyone is different

you make sacrifices

drugs alcohol killing yourself

wont solve anything

getting help will

all you got to do

is keep your head held up high

today is the day my life takes a turn

~Christina, 11th grade South Effingham High School

Monday, August 10, 2009


It's so fun giving away books! :-) And especially sweet to give back to you all who have always been such an encouragement to my heart.

The two book winners are:

Edna~ Blue Like Play Dough

Robyn~ The Hope of Refuge

Congratulations ladies!

And for those of you who still haven't read Enduring Justice, book 3 in the Defenders of Hope series.... I'm having too much fun giving away books, so I'll give away one more.

Just leave me a comment and someone will win a signed copy of Enduring Justice for yourself or to give away.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Hope of Refuge

I'm super excited to share with you a book that renewed my love of reading and made me laugh, cry, and cheer for the main character, Cara Moore.

The book is The Hope of Refuge by Cindy Woodsmall.

Cindy is a dear friend, someone I love teaching with, and one of the few authors I will read everything they write and offer to clean their home so they can write faster. :-)

And now Cindy has a fantastic new series that combines the fascinating life of the Amish with a tough and tumble New Yorker, Cara Moore, and her search for answers and a better life.

Treat yourself well and pick up The Hope of Refuge!

And to help you along with that, I'm giving away a copy~ leave a comment and I'll draw a winner next week.

But first... more about Cindy Woodsmall and The Hope of Refuge.

Raised in foster care and now the widowed mother of a little girl, Cara Moore struggles against poverty, fear, and a relentless stalker. When a trail of memories leads Cara and Lori out of New York City toward an Amish community, she follows every lead, eager for answers and a fresh start.

She discovers that long-held secrets about her family history ripple beneath the surface of Dry Lake, Pennsylvania, and it’s no place for an outsider. But one Amish man, Ephraim Mast, dares to fulfill the command he believes that he received from God–“Be me to her”– despite how it threatens his way of life.

Completely opposite of the hard, untrusting Cara, Ephraim’s sister Deborah also finds her dreams crumbling when the man she has pledged to build a life with begins withdrawing from Deborah and his community, including his mother, Ada Stoltzfus.

Can the run-down house that Ada envisions transforming unite them toward a common purpose–or push Mahlon away forever? While Ephraim is trying to do what he believes is right, will he be shunned and lose everything–including the guarded single mother who simply longs for a better life?

Cindy Woodsmall is the author of When the Heart Cries, When the Morning Comes, and The New York Times Best-Seller When the Soul Mends. Her ability to authentically capture the heart of her characters comes from her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families. A mother of three sons and two daughters-in-law, Cindy lives in Georgia with her husband of thirty-one years.

Don't miss Cindy's The Hope of Refuge Tour!

New York Times bestselling author Cindy Woodsmall is on tour, and she may be coming to a city near you! Don’t miss your opportunity to meet Cindy and have her sign her newest title The Hope of Refuge at one of the following events.

Tuesday, August 11 7 – 8:30pm
Barnes & Noble
5141 Peachtree Parkway, The Forum
Norcross, Georgia 30092
(770) 209-4244

Wednesday, August 12 7 – 8pm
Barnes & Noble Opry Mills
515 Opry Mills Drive
Nashville, Tennessee 37214
(615) 514-5000

Thursday, August 13 6 – 8pm
Barnes & Noble
2540 Futura Pkwy. #135
Plainfield, Indiana 46168
(317) 838-7941

Friday, August 14 6 – 8pm

Barnes & Noble
1550 West 75th
Downers Grove, Illinois 60516
(630) 663-0181

Saturday, August 15 1 – 3pm

Baker Books
2768 East Paris Ave SE
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546-6139
(616) 957-3110

Sunday, August 16 2 – 4pm

Barnes & Noble Booksellers
3700 Rivertown Parkway Ste. 2058
Grandville, Michigan 49418
(616) 531-1825

Monday, August 17 7 – 8:00pm

Barnes & Noble Booksellers
1739 Olentangy River Road
Columbus, Ohio 43212
(614) 298-9516

Tuesday, August 18 7– 8:30pm

Joseph Beth Booksellers
2705 E. Carson Street
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15203
(412) 381-3600

Wednesday, August 19 6 – 8pm

Hackman’s Bible Book Store
1341 Mickley Road
Whitehall, Pennsylvania 18052-4610
(610) 264-8600

Thursday, August 20 1 – 3pm

Rachel’s Country Store (Amish dry goods store)
6352 McClays Mill Road
Newburg, Pennsylvania 17240
(717) 530-9452

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Just when you thought it was safe

I've finally reached a point in life where...

My children are out of diapers
They can dress and feed themselves
School is a nice routine (okay…only some days)
I'm happy in my career
My home is mostly peaceful

And I'm bored.

So...we're considering the fulfillment of one of our daughters' long-held wishes.

A dog.

And not just any dog, but one that first existed in Enduring Justice. Gotta love it when fiction becomes reality. :-)

So I did what I always do when faced with something new....

I read.

Yesterday, I searched online and read a ton of things, looked at a load of pictures, and even took some doggie and family compatibility quizzes.

Then today, I went to the pet store and bought a bunch of books on Labrador Retrievers.

And now I'm not so bored.... I'm scared.

And tired.

Who knew how much went into finding, buying, and training a canine?!

Not me. At least not before today.

All I can say is, it's a good thing I didn't read a bunch of books on parenting until AFTER I found out I was pregnant.

Or maybe that was God's divine wisdom.

Because had I read about babies like I'm reading about puppies.... well, let's just say I might have waited a while longer.

But I love being a mommy. And I'm praying I'll love welcoming a new canine addition to our family.

Thankfully, we're going into this a bit slow. We're all reading and planning and puppy-proofing and budgeting BEFORE our dear little fella joins us.

And I'm sure, once the big homecoming day arrives... I'll not be bored for a gooooooood looonnngg while.

Maybe never again. :-)

Any tips or lessons learned the hard way would be much appreciated! Leave me some wisdom in the comments. My whole family and family-to-be thanks you!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Blue Like Play Dough

Tricia Goyer has a new and totally rad new book out called Blue Like Play Dough.

I fell in love with the story in the prologue when I read these words: "Donald Miller had blue jazz. I had blue play dough.

"I tried not to be disappointed. In each of our lives, there is molding and shaping to be done. Perhaps I needed more work than most, but as I look back on my life, I realize that if there is one thing that all the stretching and poking and smashing has taught me, it's that I never want to be anywhere but in the grip of God."

Want to learn more? Keep reading... there's a ton of cool things to learn about Blue Like Play Dough before you rush out and get a copy.

Want to win a copy? Keep reading and leave a comment. I'll be picking one special winner.

Want to help others? Check out the GO-GO Campaign

Tricia Goyer's Go-Go Campaign!

For every copy of Blue Like Play Dough purchased, Tricia will donate a copy of My Life Unscripted or Generation NeXt Parenting to a pregnancy, teen or family support ministry (while supplies last).

All you have to do is buy a copy of Blue Like Play Dough on Christianbook, on Amazon, or at your local bookstore, and then go to Tricia's Go-Go page and fill out the form. EASY!

Now here's more about Blue Like Play Dough and Tricia Goyer...

A note from Tricia:

Are you a mommy who feels squeezed by Motherhood? Could God be shaping something beautiful in you?

In my new spiritual memoir, Blue Like Play Dough I invite women to discover the extraordinary in the ordinary! To learn to see God's hand lovingly at work in every aspect of your life---from laundry-folding to the umpteenth reading of Goodnight Moon.

About Blue Like Play Dough:

In the everyday stretch and squeeze of motherhood, Tricia Goyer often feels smooshed by the demands of life. In Blue Like Play Dough, she shares her unlikely journey from rebellious, pregnant teen to busy wife and mom with big dreams of her own. As her story unfolds, Tricia realizes that God has more in store for her than she has ever imagined possible.

Sure, life is messy and beset by doubts. But God keeps showing up in the most unlikely places–in a bowl of carrot soup, the umpteenth reading of Goodnight Moon, a woe-is-me teen drama, or play dough in the hands of a child.

In Tricia’s transparent account, you’ll find understanding, laughter, and strength for your own story. And in the daily push and pull, you’ll learn to recognize the loving hands of God at work in your life… and know He has something beautiful in mind.

Read an excerpt:

About Tricia:

Using her own experiences as a teen mother, and leader of today’s generation, Tricia’s vision is to be a voice of hope and possibility for teenage girls, pregnant teen girls, mothers and wives through her educational and inspirational speaking, workshops and books. Her intention is to serve ordinary women by encouraging extraordinary things with God’s help. Tricia expresses real life, real hope, for real women.

Tricia is the author of 20+ books and has published over 300 articles for national publications such as Guideposts for Kids, Focus on the Family, Christian Parenting Today, Today’s Christian Woman and HomeLife Magazine. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from American Christian Fiction Writers, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion Book Award in 2005.

In her fiction novels, Tricia writes contemporary and historical stories that feature strong women overcoming great challenges. She recreates historic wartime eras with precise detail through perseverant and comprehensive research.

Each of her World War II and Spanish Civil War novels tell the inspiring stories of engaging characters—and a God whose hand is evident in the landscape of history and the obstacles of ordinary lives.

Tricia speaks to groups interested in these eras, with the intention of preserving and honoring the memory of the men and women who served.

She also speaks and conducts workshops for teens around the nation, and offers programs to assist teens and teen moms through Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana, which she founded. Tricia is a frequent workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Convention.

Author website: watch a video and read the endorsements

Link to purchase the book:

Want to learn more? Check out the Blue Like Play Dough Tour:

Don't forget to leave a comment and a way to contact you! I'll draw a winner this weekend and might be sending a copy of Blue Like Play Dough your way!

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