Monday, November 16, 2009
When our lives are transformed through Christ's relationship with us, there aren't enough ways to express the wonders, challenges, and new discoveries.
Artists search for ways to convey something that often seems to transcend normal communication--to utter the un-utterable. This hymn captures that longing and is the song of heart these days:
"Oh, that I Had a Thousand Voices"
by Johann Mentzer, 1658-1734
THE HANDBOOK TO THE LUTHERAN HYMNAL
(St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1942)
1. Oh that I had a thousand voices
To praise my God with thousand tongues!
My heart, which in the Lord rejoices,
Would then proclaim in grateful songs
To all, wherever I might be,
What great things God hath done for me.
2. O all ye powers that He implanted,
Arise, and silence keep no more;
Put forth the strength that He hath granted,
Your noblest work is to adore.
O soul and body, be ye meet
With heartfelt praise your Lord to greet!
3. Ye forest leaves so green and tender,
That dance for joy in summer air;
Ye meadow grasses, bright and slender;
Ye flowers so wondrous sweet and fair;
Ye live to show His praise alone,
With me now make His glory known.
4. All creatures that have breath and motion,
That throng the earth, the sea, the sky,
Now join me in my heart's devotion,
Help me to raise His praises high,
My utmost powers can ne'er aright
Declare the wonders of His might.
5. Lord, I will tell, while I am living,
Thy goodness forth with every breath
And greet each morning with thanksgiving
Until my heart is still in death;
Yea, when at last my lips grow cold,
Thy praise shall in my sighs be told.
6. O Father, deign Thou, I beseech Thee,
To listen to my earthly lays;
A nobler strain in heaven shall reach Thee,
When I with angels hymn Thy praise
And learn amid their choirs to sing
Loud hallelujahs to my King.
Monday, November 02, 2009
Although I feel sad of course, I'm also using this time to remember the stories, reread all the precious letters from readers, and be grateful that the stories had such a great run.
So let's celebrate! Share your favorite moment from one of the books, or something that made an impact on you, or a favorite quote.
More than any of my other books, I've received the most heartfelt mail for these stories, so I know God used them.
I remember walking with a friend week after week during the time I was writing the books. She listened to my angst as I talked about how much the stories burned in my heart, and how frustrated I was that the odds of this strange genre-blending story finding a publishing home were near impossible. She reminded me that if God had called me to write the stories, I could trust Him with what He planned to do with them.
I also remember the moments that certain plot twists just "happened" as I was writing, and took me by surprise.
The second book is my favorite. I loved watching the characters develop and deepen, and loved catching a glimpse of how the One was steering events to bring grace, hope, and help to the characters. But all three touched my life.
The stories also led me to plenty of interesting places...the Christy finalist's dinner, book tours, book clubs, college classrooms, the ACFW awards banquet...and to precious new friendships. What an adventure!
I have a limited number of books on hand, so if you want autographed copies, you can order those at Signed by the Author. They are also still available at CBD while supplies last. You can do some online Christmas shopping. :-)
Now, please share a farewell thought for the books!
Sunday, November 01, 2009
I love when God shows up.
This morning I made it to church. During the past two years of health challenges, that has been a rare treat for me. Then our pastor sheepishly shared with the congregation that he had accidentally mixed up the planned dates for sermon outlines and prepared a sermon on Romans 8, which was supposed to be next week.
Hooray! Romans 8 is absolutely PACKED with strength and comfort.
THEN, after the service, he shared that a visiting pastor with a spiritual gift of healing was available to pray with people.
(For some of you, that might be a common occurrence, but in our reserved, buttoned-up denomination it was a precious opportunity.)
As my teen daughter put it, "That was sure a God thing."
My hubby helped me forward for prayer. The words this pastor prayed over me gave me spiritual goosebumps. He specifically prayed in praise that God is able to heal that which scientists don't understand and doctors don't know how to fix. Those words of faith were exactly what I needed. More than anything, I needed the reminder that my life and health and future are completely safe in God's hands. But most of all, I'm rejoicing that God understands the cells of my body. They aren't a mystery to Him. And I know He will provide exactly what I need to accomplish His plans for my life.
Limitations have made my life very quiet and small in recent months. I've had to redefine what "my purpose" looks like. But God continues to show up. I love that about Him.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
If you are interesting in writing fiction, teaching fiction, or even interested in the role of the arts in a life of faith, this is a tremendous resource!
Last night a friend dropped by for a visit and brought her copy of
I'd heard it had released, but my copy hadn't arrived yet. What a treat to see! The book is a compilation of articles by many different Christian novelists.
I was honored to be included with an essay, "Why Fiction?"
One of my passions is the value and purpose of the arts in a Christian's life, so this article is close to my heart.
It was a double treat to see, since illness has kept me from being able to write this past year. I miss the adventure of creating so much, and have an even deeper appreciation for the joy of story-telling since I wrote the essay a year ago. If you dream of writing and have the physical and mental ability--do it! And get your hands on a copy of this book. It will be a great resource and inspiration.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
It also spurred a few realizations.
First, I had to shake my head at myself - because the books are nominated in three different categories. It just reminded me how totally inept I am at doing things the way you're supposed to. It really isn't practical to write in different genres while trying to build a reading audience. It wasn't my plan. I just wrote the stories I cared about, and they were very diverse stories. I hope one day to figure out where I best fit, but in the meantime I'm so grateful for each of the stories and that there even EXISTS such a variety of genres in Christian fiction.
Another realization I had was that a lot of my warm happy feeling about this honor came from being happy for my characters. I fell in love with the characters in these three books (Stepping Into Sunlight, Symphony of Secrets, and Restorer's Journey) - and I'm happy for those characters to get to stand up and wave and say "hi!" - for them to have a moment of recognition. Is that weird?
At any rate, I'm also thankful for ACFW - an organization that is doing so much to support, educate, and NOURISH writers. If you aren't familiar with them, be sure to check them out here! Honors come and go (or often don't come at all) but the fellowship of other Christian writers is a treasure that remains on all the hard slogging days.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I've treasured each person who has read one of my books, followed my blog, received my Book Buddy newsletter, or even wanted to follow my occasional Twitter updates.
I'm so sorry I haven't been able to keep up with this blog in recent months.
I have LOVED communicating with you through this forum. But sometimes life takes turns we don't expect.
Until I'm able to get back to sharing devotional musings here, if you miss hearing from me, please feel free to explore various posts from the past several years, and dig around on my website.
For those who have followed this blog - THANK YOU. Just wanted to let you know, I'm still here, God is faithful, and I hope to get back to this one day. :-)
HUGE blessings on your day! Thank you so much for visiting!
Monday, April 27, 2009
You can find a question no one has asked me before, that I found very challenging . . . and see how I answered it by visiting her post.
Thanks for letting me visit, Annette!
Monday, March 02, 2009
Over the years, my husband and I have prompted things to give up as a family during Lent, or other times encouraged our children to each chose something individual. (The kids sometimes offered to give up broccoli or homework, but I digress).
We've given up television, pop, candy, shopping (only buying necessary groceries and nothing else), and various other things...and added disciplines of more Bible reading time, prayer, and giving.
I find I'm so easily distracted by the bright shiny things of life, that I need times where I can focus more effort and attention toward my walk with God. Fasting of various kinds can really help.
This year, I decided on Ash Wednesday to give up something that I enjoyed daily - Facebook and Twitter. I had no idea that many folk around the country where doing this, too. After I posted my note saying "Stepping back from Twitter and Facebook for Lent - see you after Easter" I received a call from Molly Millet, who was working on an article for the St. Paul Pioneer Press on this topic. You can read it here:
Pioneer Press Article
I love knowing that so many people are interested in putting God about some of the treats or distractions of life.
And that's truly why I've always loved Lent. Because no matter how uncomfortable some days become (whether I'm longing for a can of pop, chocolate, or a game of Scramble on Facebook) there are so many blessings. The thing I'm missing becomes a trigger to remember all Jesus suffered on my behalf, and I learn that while I thought I was totally committed to God, He can draw closer still as I focus more time and energy on Him each day.
Anyone else giving up something during Lent?
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The Secret Life of Becky Miller is full of Becky's whimsical day dreams and desire to do something big for God as she tries to hold together her "super mom" ideal. But some of her bravest scenes involve quiet choices to support her husband after his job loss, instead of give way to panic.
Right now, Christian Book Distributors is offering copies of the novel at their site for $2.99! Now that's a great gift in a time of tight family budgets.
Here's an excerpt:
We continued to pray as December moved along. I'd always been good at pinching pennies, but now I had to squeeze them and wring them out.
Selling the van brought in some money and lowered our car insurance. Kevin swallowed his pride and admitted to broader circles of friends that he needed a job. He called it networking, but I knew he believed it was begging. I saw the strain growing in him as each day passed.
My fear grew at the same pace as our pile of bills. Kevin swung between honest discouragement and a more frightening self-containment and withdrawal.
My attempts at cheerleading sometimes slipped into nagging. "Have you checked the bulletin board at the unemployment office again? Did you go through today's paper? What about the Internet? Did you submit your resume to companies that way?" No wonder he seemed more irritable every day. I hadn't realized how much strain his job loss could put on our marriage.
No matter how much I reassured him, he admitted he felt like less of a man.
No matter how confident his swagger as he headed out for another interview, I worried we'd lose the house and end up in a cardboard box on skid row.
We both put our best faces on for each other, but the effort was pushing us apart.
Whatever job situation you are facing today, I pray that God will send you reassurance that He cares about you deeply and is absolutely capable of providing for you.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
...Come chat with me!
Saturday, February 21st, 11:00 a.m.
I'll be signing Stepping Into Sunlight at the
Cobblestone Court, Burnsville, MN
I love visiting with readers and other writers, answering questions, talking about good books, sharing ideas, and connecting one-on-one. I'd love to see you!
The Secret Life of Becky Miller (2007 ACFW Book of the Year - 2nd place, Lit category)
Renovating Becky Miller (2008 Audie Award Finalist, ACFW BOTY finalist)
The Restorer (2008 Christy Award Finalist, ACFW BOTY finalist)
The Restorer's Son (ACFW Book of the Year Winner, Romantic Times 4.5 stars, Reviewer's Choice Award - Road to Romance)
The Restorer's Journey
Symphony of Secrets
Stepping Into Sunlight
Thursday, February 05, 2009
But today I mentioned my struggles in an email to a friend. When she emailed back she said, "I can't imagine how frustrating that must be!" Her empathy literally reached out of the email and hugged me.
As much as I have tried not to be a big sympathy-seeker, I confess I was about a quart low and needed a good infusion of compassion. Her words were exactly what I needed.
Lord, help me offer precious spoonfuls of empathy to my hurting friends today, as this precious friend gave to me. Help me stop myself before offering advice, explanations, or empty comparisons, ("at least your problem isn't as bad as XYZ. Could be worse.") Let me simply wrap my friends in love and say, "I can't imagine how painful that must be. I'm sorry it's so hard. I care." Thank you for my friend's example today, and how much it warmed me. Amen!
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
My most recent novel is Stepping Into Sunlight. You can enter a drawing to win a free copy at the Penny's Project blog here. That contest ends February 1st, so stop by to leave a comment before time runs out.
And beginning on Friday, January 30, Cara Putman will post a contest at her blog for The Restorer (the first in the Sword of Lyric series) - so be sure to stop by and leave a comment there, as well.
Curious about any of the books? Just visit my website to read about my
Stand alone women's fiction titles
The Becky Miller mom-lit series
The Restorer and other Sword of Lyric series books
I hope you have fun with each of these opportunities! Happy reading!
Friday, January 09, 2009
I'm welcoming in the New Year by giving away a copy of Stepping Into Sunlight . . .
with a twist.
It's a copy for YOU to give away to someone you want to bless!
To enter, visit my Penny's Project blog and read the post "Many Penny's"
Then leave a comment after that post about a small act of kindness AND an accurate email where I can reach you if you win.
Oh, and I'm getting ready to mail out my free quarterly ezine. If you aren't already a subscriber, you can sign up in the right-hand column of my website for devotional thoughts, insider info, etc.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
The January, 2009 issue of The Lutheran Witness includes a blurb about me as part of an article on the various faces of Lutherans today. You can read the article here.
I love my reader mail, and got permission to share this one, because it was so inspiring to me:
Just wanted to say that I am currently reading (and enjoying) Stepping Into
Sunlight. I just had to stop and let you know that I just read one of the most
potent sentences of this year: "So your theory is that unless you can cure
cancer, you shouldn't bother holding the hand of the woman battling it?" What a wake up call to the Chrisian community. Those words are a powerful clarion call that I believe will combat our resistence to doing things at a grass roots level. Thanks so much! I will be sharing your words with everyone in my circle who uses the inability to do "great" things as an excuse to do nothing.
Thanks so much, Bernadette! We can all be encouraged by the way God uses our small, imperfect efforts to pour out His grace in big ways.
Monday, January 05, 2009
I appreciated the integrity of the reviewer who admitted that in the past she avoided fiction from Christian publishers because of her assumptions of what it would be. And of course, I was delighted that our stories rang true for her.
I continue to marvel at God's kindness. This was a wonderful treat on a cold winter morning.
I've had some challenges in my life in recent months, and it has been a season that has made me especially grateful of tender gifts from God that come like sips of water in a desert.
Stepping Into Sunlight has gone into its third printing and received some truly affirming reviews. But even better, I've been so moved by the letters I've received - from a reader with PTSD, a young wife whose husband is on his first deployment, a woman battling anxiety who was never able to put words to the experience before and read scenes to her husband.
It reminds me again that God can work His grace through us, even when we feel the most "useless." :-)
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Seems like a good thought for a new calendar year, as well. God loves me. That means the coming year will hold something precious - even if it's woven among the painful challenges of life.
I'm grateful for the gift of a fresh New Year - and another new day, new hour.
May we all see more of Him in the coming days!
Blessings in 2009!