Hey, for anyone still checking in here, this blog has moved over to my new website!
If you still want to follow my blog, please delete this link and add this one!
Hey, for anyone still checking in here, this blog has moved over to my new website!
If you still want to follow my blog, please delete this link and add this one!
Welcome to the 6th day of the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!
12 Authors of Christian Fiction have teamed together to bring you this amazing giveaway, and I’m honored to be included!
The prizes are building, and today’s winner will receive ALL of the below!
The Memory of You
& A $5 Starbucks Gift Card – by Catherine West!
A Child’s Christmas Wish
On Love’s Gentle Shore + tote bag
The Gift of Twins
The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride
It’s not too late to enter in the Rafflecopter giveaway below by following some of your favorite authors on social media and signing up for their newsletters. We draw a new winner every day, and on December 12th, we’ll give away a Kindle Fire HD 8.
Don’t forget to stop by Susan Tuttle’s blog tomorrow for more prizes!
So here’s my last vlog for 2016, not that there’ve been many. But I did get my feet wet and that counts, right? I have a bit of a cold, so I sound stuffy, and I apologize for the unsteadiness of the camera, not real sure what that was all about! Anywhoo, here I am with the news and a final farewell to this year!
Don’t forget, if you want to leave questions for me, leave a comment, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my Facebook Author page.
You should know, I am a die-hard GWTW fan. I’ve lost track now exactly how many times I’ve watched the movie. But I have read the book only once. I’m thinking I need to rectify that.
The GWTW experience for me began as a lonely and homesick thirteen-year old wandering the musty maze of books housed in the library at my boarding school in the south of England. It was there I was introduced to Austin and Dickens and Tolkien, and eventually stumbled upon what had to be the biggest book my hands had ever held. Gone With The Wind.
As I approached our librarian, a fussy little man whose name escapes me, I felt as though I’d discovered the Holy Grail. He was not as impressed. “Are you sure?”
I remember those words today as though they were just uttered. The insinuation behind them still smarts. I was too young. The book was long. I would never get through it, let alone understand it.
But I did. I read it cover to cover, every spare moment I had, and devoured every word. And Scarlett O’Hara was forever emblazoned in my heart as Margaret Mitchell was in my head, and I knew then, though perhaps I didn’t quite realize it, what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Someone who never gives up.
Say what you will about Scarlett, Melanie fans, but you’ve got to give her this. She’s tenacious to a fault, yet she always gets what she wants. Well, perhaps not always. She didn’t end up with Ashley or Rhett, although I do take some license with the ending and envision her eventually reuniting with Rhett once she has finally grown into the woman he always knew she could be. But through every hardship and set back, she got back up.
And oh, that’s hard. Ask me how I know.
It’s hard because so much is unknown. Once you’ve failed, what else is there? Once you’ve lost your dream, had it even and watched it slip away, perhaps through no fault of your own, do you keep trying? Can you?
Some days my answer is no. No, I can’t and I don’t want to. Because it’s too hard. And honestly, sometimes it seems pointless. How many times, Lord? How many times?
As many as it takes.
That’s it. That’s the answer I keep hearing again and again, every time life takes an unexpected turn. Every time I want to give it all up because I’ve convinced myself I can’t go any further.
I’ve had a hard month. I lost a lovely friend a few weeks ago. Her death was unexpected and blindsided the writing community she was so much a part of.
My friend Sandie Bricker knew all about getting back up. She did it time and time again and held out a hand to lift others up right along with her. She was full of fun and light and laughter and loved harder than most. She was a true champion and she loved Jesus. Those of us who knew and loved her take comfort in knowing that. But the loss is real. And hard. And we will need time.
As I pondered some things yesterday, this feeling of not knowing what’s next and how it can too easily incapacitate me, I received three very clear messages. Two were from friends who really didn’t have a clue what I’ve been thinking these past weeks, how helpless I’ve been feeling, yet their words reminded me again that God is in control, just as He always has been. And last night, as I was scrolling through the long message thread between Sandie and I that started in 2011, I found this word from my friend.
“It won’t help right now. But later when you look back on this conversation and how you’re feeling, you’ll think I’m a genius. Ready for it? … God has a plan for you. You don’t need to figure it out or know the details. All you need to do is put your gift to work for him, throw it at the wall and let him figure out which one will stick.”
Oh. Okay then. I’ll be honest, I’m still wiping tears when I read her words.
How I needed that yesterday. How I need this today. And everyday. Because life. Life is just hard sometimes. And I will fall. I will fail and I will wallow. And each day that happens, I will need to find the strength to get back up. I don’t have it. But He does.
And thank God. Thank God for that. Thank God for His strength and His grace and His love. Thank God for friends like Sandie. Friends who don’t let you stay down, friends who insist you get back up even if they have to kick your butt to get you to move. I am so blessed to have friends like that in my life. I was blessed to have her.
And today I think of you, my friends who don’t let me stay down. I thank you. I need you.
We’re in this together.
I don’t know how you’re feeling as we approach November, but I’m tired. Tired of the frustration, the anger, the vitriol, tired of everything that this nasty election has exploded into. More frustrating for me is that it’s not even my election. But it’s everywhere. You can’t turn on the television or the radio or even walk down the street without hearing the words Trump or Clinton. It’s exhausting.
I think what’s bothered me the most about this process is the downward spiral of society. If it wasn’t obvious at the beginning, it’s written in neon flashing lights now. There is very little that has not been said on both sides. Cutting words. Vicious attacks on people’s point of view. A bull-headed belief in being so right that all rationale has flown off to some place far, far away. Perhaps never to return.
Do we truly believe we are entitled to treat each other this way? To put one above the other with blatant disregard for common civility and basic human decency?
It would appear so. Spend five minutes on Facebook, Twitter or any social media outlet. It would appear so.
Troublesome thoughts have swirled around my mind for weeks now. For the most part, I stay quiet. But sometimes I do speak my mind, and I think it’s okay. But I think what’s bothering me the most about all of the ugly, is wondering how we got here.
Case in point. We flew home from Boston yesterday. It wasn’t a full flight, but there were several families with toddlers traveling together, friends or relatives, I’m not sure. In their 20’s or early 30’s perhaps. And they had the swag and the swagger and that over-confident attitude that oozed from them. You could hear it in their language, see it in the way they treated each other. You’ve read enough about the Entitled Millennials, right? These were the visual aids to go with all the articles.
And sure enough, when we landed, my opinion of at least one of these fine gentlemen was confirmed as he immediately stood up in his row and began a conversation with one of his buddies behind him, while we were still taxiing down the runway. Within a moment the announcement came asking all passengers to remain seated with their seat-belts on for their safety, until we reached the gate.
Dude continued to stand and chat. In English. Same language as the announcement. And he wasn’t using ASL so I don’t think he was deaf.
After the second announcement was made, he did eventually sit down. But I was left shaking my head. When did this whole “the rules don’t apply to me” attitude come into play? How did we end up here? This belief that “I can do what I want and get away with it!” – it’s being modeled by our leaders, accepted by our neighbors and clearly already a way of life for many of the younger generation.
God help us.
When is somebody going to stand up and say “Sit your spoiled little butt down and shut up!”
I was pretty darn close on that plane yesterday. I’m pretty darn close every day when I see friends attacking each other over politics. But, really, why do we accept this behavior?
I’m not saying we all behave this way, but I think this election season is surely showing our ugly side. And the younger generation watching all this go down are probably not that surprised.
Surely we are better than this. More moral? Decent? Kind? I think we used to be. But if we continue to ignore and allow and excuse . . . what’s going to be left in years to come? What will we be handing down to our kids and grandchildren? I shudder to think.
So what’s the answer? What can we do now, today, to turn this train around?
Maybe it’s already too late. I hope not. I pray not.
Agree or disagree, but I think it’s a problem. And it needs fixing.
What do you think?
Yeah, okay. But it’s Monday morning and I just spent two hours working on changing up this blog, and five minutes ago I sat staring at this screen in full out panic mode, thinking I’d just deleted the ENTIRE THING!!
So I need more coffee.
Because this is pretty much me in the morning. And, not gonna lie, sometimes in the afternoon. I’m lovely. Really.
Okay, so here’s my new digs, like it? I’m still fiddling, but honest to Pete, I have no idea what I’m doing. Like I said, I thought I almost deleted the whole thing and that was fun. But anyhow, here we are. Just the three of us.
Yeah, blogging. Still wrestling with that one too. But, if the new title of my blog gives you any clue, here’s what I’ve decided – the words matter.
They do. Your words. My words. They matter. Because life is crazy. And far too short. I don’t want to miss a thing. So I write. And I read. And there is hope to be found in the words. I really do believe that.
So here we are, 2016. Wow. I’d be more excited, but I need that second cup of coffee. No, seriously, I’m really excited about this year.
Yep. This has been a long time coming. THANK YOU THOMAS NELSON, I LOVE YOU GUYS!!! Truly, it’s been a blast working on this book so far, and I cannot wait until it’s out in the world!
Okay, so it’s still a long time coming. July 12, actually. 182 days. Not that I’m counting. 🙂 Yes, I’m counting. I’m allowed. 🙂
Well, you can click on that baby to find out more, and you know . . . pre-order if you want. No pressure. Ahem. You can also find out more about my other books under the very conveniently titled header, BOOKS.
So that’s what’s up for this year. I’m hoping to connect here on the blog more often (Mmm I think I say that a lot). I’m sure there’ll be lots of fun things to come as we get closer to Release Day . . . meanwhile, I’m busy on edits, and my next book after this one, (yes, already. You have no idea . . .), and generally doing life without losing the JOY. Which I said was my word for the year. Mine and apparently the entire population of Texas’ – but no worries. Joy is good. Joy works.
Yes, there I am. Being joyful.
So today, since it’s another stormy day, I’ll probably sit around and drink coffee and slash some more words out of this next book . . . I know, you feel that pain. I’ll come up with a more meaningful blog next time.
Meanwhile, drop me a note here. How’re you doing so far this year? What’s on your calendar and what are you excited about?
‘Till next time …
I’m going for the record on starting blog posts with, “So, I haven’t blogged in a while…”
And it’s true. I haven’t. Why? Good question. Oh. You want the honest to God truth, huh?
Because I haven’t felt like I have anything to say.
Nothing you haven’t heard before at least. And let’s face it, whining about this, that and the other just gets old after a bit, doesn’t it? Not that I ever set out to whine or moan. Sometimes it just seems, to me anyway, that’s how a lot of my thoughts come across. Fractured, to say the least. Because I think, for a long time, I was broken.
There’s probably a story there. But you know, I’m not sure I want to tell it. Not today.
I’m in a new season now. And I have things to say. I do.
It took me a while to figure that out. I hemmed and hawed over this darn blog, wondering if the words were worth it. If anyone was reading and what did it matter if they were or they weren’t … I have no control over that. Just like I’ll have no control over who reads my new book when it comes out in July. Or who doesn’t. But it’ll still be my book. With a cover and a title. Oh, did I tell you that? The Things We Knew. Cool, right? But I don’t want to talk about that today either. I want to tell you about my latest revelation.
Finally, after I sat for days just staring at this stupid empty Word Press box and cursing it multiple times, I read a bunch of books. Fiction, and the self-help stuff I can’t seem to get enough of. I spent too much time on Facebook, I completed first round edits and sent them in, spent more time on Facebook (yes, I know. It’s just a teensy problem…), and I laughed quite a bit. Some of the stuff that people put out there … well, you know. What else can you do but laugh?
Yet I couldn’t sit here and write this blog. Couldn’t figure out why. And finally I asked myself why I write at all. Not just this blog, but in general. Of course I do it for the fun of it, because let’s face it, sitting around all day chatting with imaginary characters and drinking copious cups of coffee … that’s fun, really … but why? What is it that drives me to get the words down, to reorder them until I’m finally satisfied with the sound? Why do I pour my heart and soul out into stories for strangers to read? Which led to a dozen other soul-searching questions, which all barreled into this one.
What is it that I am passionate about?
Yes, I am passionate about many things. Beautiful sunsets. Smiles. Dogs. Books. Roses. Minions. So many things. But really, truly, deep down? Here’s what I want.
For people to find their place.
That’s it. That’s the one thing. And I don’t mean it like ‘know your place as in, sit down and shut up’, I mean it as ‘find your place’ – where is home for you? What is home? Who is home? Your tribe, your peeps … who’s got your back? Who’s seeking you out, wanting to hear from you, because they believe in what you have to say? Where is your place?
I think I’ve struggled so long with this because I was actually afraid I didn’t have one. Didn’t fit in. Didn’t really have a voice. Age old records play that tune, and sometimes they’re impossible to shut off. It’s hard to believe you can succeed at anything if you don’t believe in yourself. Even when I was told otherwise, even with actual written proof staring me in the face, I don’t think I quite believed it.
Even standing in a room full of amazing authors and agents and editors, being told, yes, this is your place, I wanted to shake my head. This is Scary Town, people. Because what if … God forbid … what if I fail? Yes, that’s always the risk, isn’t it? And I know now that I’m not crazy, because most everybody feels that way. Which is why you need to know your place. Because once you know that, once you embrace that, it doesn’t matter who throws what at you. You’ll always belong. Your people will love you anyway, whether you’re a great smashing success or not.
November is National Adoption Awareness Month. It’s a thing. Look it up.
As an adoptee, I’m all for adoption awareness. Part of the reason I took so long to find my place, I believe, is because I never knew where I came from. Once the pieces of that puzzle started to snap together, I could get to work on completing the rest of it. Because it’s important to know who you are. And to know where you’ve been. Once you figure that out, you’ve got a much better chance of figuring out where you’re going.
Find your place.
My place is here, being a writer, using my words, telling stories that make a difference, using whatever talent God has graced me with to the best of my abilities, and trusting HIm for the rest. And not being ashamed of what I say, write or do. Because now that I know my place, my people, my passion, I’m learning how to say no to guilt and shame and feelings of inadequacy. There’s no room at the table for them.
After half a century on this planet, I think I’ve earned the right to say this is a no BS zone. So yes, I have a place. YES I HAVE A PLACE!! WOOHOO!! But it’s not always comfortable. Doubt still creeps up and tries to push me out of that chair. But I’m breaking it in. And with every day that passes, I’m loving it just a little bit more.
So maybe we can talk about stuff like that here, together. About finding our places and our voices and where we fit in. Where we belong and why.
Because everybody’s got a story.
I’d love to hear yours.
Whoa. It’s been awhile.
I’ve been off at my happy place the past few weeks. Our lakeside hideaway in Northern Ontario. And it wasn’t quite the holiday we were expecting, with family illness that added some stress to what was supposed to be a stress-free time. But such is life. You move through it. You deal. And we did. Enjoyed some peace and quiet when we could, hung out with family, and spent some time alone, reconnecting after a crazy busy time, before heading home and getting back on the roller-coaster of life, with a promise to live it out more intentionally.
So I’ve been contemplating the whole should I blog or not blog thing again. You know? Because I never know who’s reading this unless someone comments, and I get all insecure and uptight and think, wow, I’m putting myself out there and for what? Nobody wants to hear all this. And maybe I shouldn’t be saying all these things online, giving unknowns a glimpse into my personal thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams. Because what if they don’t get it and I come across as a big whiny baby or they don’t see the heart behind the words and the intent to encourage, and all they see is someone insignificant?
Yep. Someone Insignificant.
Maybe you know that person too.
I’ve alluded to this before, but since the new year, I’ve been in a battle. It’s been an up and down time, nasty and scary and downright hard, and I’ve wanted to quit fighting so many times … but somehow, I didn’t. I didn’t quit because I knew if I gave up, then it’d all be over. I’d stay in that dark place and replay all the old tapes that say things like you’ll never make it, you’ll never be good enough, you’re not … this … that … you fill in the blank from your own stash.
I wish I could tell you what happened. Why all of a sudden the darkness broke and I crawled out of the muck and mire and finally stood, still breathing, smiling, tipped my face to the sun and just believed … I’m sure it was a culmination of friends praying and pulling me through and God of course, doing his thing, and my own stubbornness that finally refused to give the enemy any more ground.
So I’m here to tell you that if I can do this, you can too. I’m writing it down. Writing this blog post to encourage you, whoever you are, wherever you are on this journey. Because we need each other. I know I can’t do this thing alone. Maybe right now you think you can. I hope you find out you’re wrong.
In this time of seeking and searching, I’ve discovered a new revolution. I’m sure it’s been around awhile, I just haven’t been looking. But I’ve come to realize there’s an army of brave women out there, very much like myself, who’ve come through the battle and lived to tell the tale. And they’re sharing those stories. Creating community. Living the thing out.
Some, like Brené Brown, Glennon Doyle, Ann Voskamp, Jen Hatmaker, they’re doing it publicly, with thousands of followers, books and YouTube videos to their name. Others, like you and me, maybe we’re not so much in the spotlight, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a voice or that we can’t be heard.
You know what those 2 words mean to me?
That’s what it comes down to. Overcoming insecurity and the inherent behaviors that only lead to self-deprecation, and the destruction of the soul – it’s not an easy assignment. Today I can sit here and write that word – victory – and mean it. Tomorrow I might not feel it. But I’ll do it anyway. Because it’s the knowing that I’m not alone, knowing that I belong, knowing that I am loved, and even needed, hard as that still is to take in, it’s what keeps me going.
Transitioning from turning inward to reaching out … that’s where I’m at. So it’s about being vulnerable, being brave and moving forward. Saying the words anyway, even if nobody’s listening. Speaking out instead of shutting up. Loving more. Living whole-heartedly, intentionally. It’s about choice.
And I choose to believe I can.
So I’ll keep blogging, even if it’s just for me. Because I need to remember this. Those moments from the past that shape the future. And I think it’s okay to share all that. To be open and honest. There are too many liars in this world.
We need more truth tellers. More women, and men, willing to rise to the challenge and speak up, speak out and stand for what’s good and right and honorable.
I want to be one of them.
And whether my words reach only a few or a hundred, they’re out there. And maybe they’re giving hope. Healing. Because they’ve come at a cost, you see. You know nothing comes for free. But when you’ve come through the other side, with that hard-won victory in hand, you can’t help but want to share it. Not only is it a privilege, but I believe it’s a requirement.
So I’ll share my words, my heart, my hope, and trust you with it.
Not an easy thing to say from someone used to putting up steel barricades. I’m well-schooled in the art of self-preservation. And maybe it’s still a gamble, this whole letting people in thing. But so far so good. I’ve got some keepers in my life, and God knows I can’t do it without them.
I don’t think I was ever meant to.
And I’m good with that.
Just My Thoughts.
We’re almost at the mid-point of the year and I’m … re-grouping. Breathing deep and re-evaluating, sorting boxes in my head and sticking to what is true. Discarding what is not. Figuring out who this girl really is. I haven’t always known for sure. Fear of failure and self-doubt swirl like monster waves and I’ve had to dive deep to find real answers. I’ve had to cling to truth like a life raft and kick off lies that circle like hungry sharks.
That gets tiring.
I’m resting now. Trying to enjoy a few months of peace before I jump into edits and start preparing for the launch of my first book with Thomas Nelson next July. And, yes, I’m still grinning when I write that. But I know it’s not going to be easy. Changes must be made. Ironically, my word for the year is change. Go figure.
Can I give the world my stories and hide in the shadows of shaky self-confidence, hoping maybe no-one notices I’m even back there pressed against the wall? Truth be told, I like it here in my little hobbit hole. The world can be a scary place, and oftentimes I’m more content to let it sail on by without me. I prefer to hold it all at arm’s length. If you don’t get too close to the fire, you won’t get burned.
But, as I’ve learned, sooner or later you wake up smack dab in the middle of that fire. And the only way out is to walk through. And you rarely come out unchanged.
Refiner’s Fire …
If you’ve grown up in the church or are part of it now, you hear that term thrown around a lot. There are Scripture references to it, but my basic understanding is that, like silver, we are refined (purified, made better), by the fire. Life’s challenges, trials and temptations. How we go through them shapes us, empowers us and pushes us forward into new and better places. So I’m looking down at the coals I’ve dragged out with me … a pile of them actually, from every fire I’ve walked through, and I wonder if I just don’t get it. I wonder if I still resent those hard times, those crazy weird and wildly terrifying times when I didn’t know which end was up or if I’d even come out the other side okay. I wonder, maybe, if I resist the refining, because I’m not sure I can be all I’m supposed to be. All God wants me to be. Whatever that looks like.
My daughter took this recent picture of me. I loathe getting my picture taken, but I needed some new shots for this new stage of my life, and I’m posting this here as an exercise in confidence. (But no, I don’t want this slapped on the side of a bus). Still I see beyond what others do. I know too much about myself and it’s easy to be critical. Because I’m still kicking coals and carrying bags of crap I should have dumped years ago.
Don’t Be Too Honest …
I’ve heard that. People don’t want to know all your business, and there’s just some stuff you keep to yourself. Yeah, okay. I get that. But I don’t know, I figure if I have to put myself out there, if I’m going to ask you to trust me as an author, I want you to know who I am. As a person, and a writer. And maybe you’ll share some of your stuff with me too.
Maybe I’m off base here. Maybe I should use this blog space in a different way. Maybe I shouldn’t blog at all. Blogs aren’t as big as they were a few years ago and it might just be a big waste of time. But if you’re here reading and have been for awhile, you know I don’t much care for convention.
You’ll know I don’t sugarcoat. What you get from me is pretty real, pretty raw, and sometimes, yeah, too personal. Read my books and you’ll get the same. Reality fiction.
As my friend Beth said to me last week in reference to my writing, “You don’t snorkel, you scuba dive.” I like the analogy. I’m trying to grasp the confidence to enjoy it, and know it’s true. Because I’m figuring out that this is who I am. You’d think I’d know it by now. Think I’d quit running from it already. But here we are.
I’m accepting the fact that I’m flawed, but show me someone who isn’t. And maybe growing up means getting comfortable in your own skin. Liking me for me. It’s a challenge most days. But I’m willing to keep at it. Willing to accept that I matter. Willing to acknowledge that my words matter. That the stories I have to tell are important and might touch lives. And the fact that I get to share them? To me, that’s a gift. One that I can only hope will be well received.
So today I’m pouring shots of confidence. On the house.
And those coals? They just got kicked back where they belong.
Reading through my blog posts lately, I had a thought. Wow, this is depressing. Okay, yeah, that was my thought, but I kind of giggled afterward. Not just because it’s true, but because it’s been so much a part of my journey of late. All these challenges, battles and trials, the wondering, the waiting.
Will You Give It Up?
I can see you, pressing your lips together, curling into that tight ball, putting your hands over your ears. Because I’ve been there too. And not so long ago. And when you’re there, in that state, that panicked end of the road can’t take another step state … this is not the question you want to hear.
But maybe it’s the question you need to answer.
I don’t know your story. I don’t know what it is you’re holding so tight to. What that thing is that means so much that you think you might just die if it doesn’t happen. Well, you won’t. You might feel like that now, but take it from me, you won’t.
Sometimes it’s the very things we think we need the most that keep us from loving the things we already have.
Because we get caught up in the whole cycle of why … why isn’t this happening, why isn’t that email showing up, why aren’t I good enough, and so on and so forth. Why can be a constructive and necessary question, but it can also trip us up. Because sometimes there aren’t answers. And sometimes the ones that come don’t make sense.
Will You Give It Up?
It still rings in my ears. The day I heard it. The question that threw me on my back and pinned me there until I had to answer. And by that point I knew there was only one answer I could give. Yes. Y. E. S. Because I’d been holding on, holding tight, satisfied in my stubbornness that somehow I – me, myself and I, because I’m all that and a bag of chips – could magically make this thing work out. Uh, no. Sorry to disappoint you, self, but you don’t have that kind of power. And clutching tight and even hiding it behind your back because you’ve said you’ve let it go a million times over already, yeah, that doesn’t work. People know you too well.
God knows you too well.
And the crazy thing is, He waits. He waits and waits and waits until you’re finally spent of tears and done with the screaming and there’s nothing left to do except hand the thing over. Simple obedience. And if that’s not an oxymoron I don’t know what is. But then what? If there’s nothing left to wait for, nothing more to fight for, what? What am I supposed to do now?
Yeah, it’s a crazy concept. But it’s kind of amazing, the freedom in that. The giving it up. Because you’re not dragged down anymore, right? You’re not lugging around that rusty ball and chain or carting all that crap on your back … you’re free … oh, man, do you know what that feels like? Can you even imagine it?
And sometimes … sometimes when you’re dancing in the delight of truly knowing … really experiencing the miracle of life to the full … sometimes the strangest things happen.
And God laughs in delight at your astonishment.
To be continued …