Monday, November 5, 2012


This week, I'm guest posting on my friend Sharon Srock's blog. I'd love for you to check it out. While you're there, be sure to click through the sidebar to her other pages which feature some fantastic Oklahoma authors and a chance to win free books!

Photo Credit: Creative Commons
I was wading through the great fountain of spiritual truth known as Twitter the other day, and ran across a quote that stopped me in my cyber tracks.

“The good that God promises me isn’t a situation, possession, position, or relationship. The good that He promises me is Himself.” @PaulTripp

That was really convicting to me.

How many times do I equate God’s goodness or His depth of love for me with my circumstances?

Answer: way too many.

Now, if you asked me to my face if I believed my circumstances were a direct reflection of God’s goodness, I would say of course not. Any good Christian knows that. But my life doesn’t really answer that way if I inspect it too closely. Sometimes, life is really hard, so I pray for God to fix all the broken pieces, to change my situation, increase my position. If I’m honest, I just want Him to make living in this world easier.

But He doesn’t promise me a life of comfort and ease. He never said I’d receive everything I long for.

A lot of the things I long for are good things. I want to see people healed and justice reign. I want to see my city transformed by the presence of God. I want to write stories that change people’s hearts and nudge them closer to Jesus.

Of course, some things I want are more self-centered. Like paying my mortgage, becoming a published author, or wanting my kids not to need too much therapy when they finally move out of the house.

Those are all good things to want. Some are even God-given hopes and dreams. But what if I never get any of them?

Hebrews 11 talks about all the heroes of the faith. Big names like Moses, Abraham, and Jacob, just to name a few. These people did extraordinary things, but verse 13 says, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.”

For these people, God’s presence in their life outweighed everything else. His nearness was the most important thing. HE was enough.

If I never see the things I’m hoping for, dreaming of, chasing He enough?

I so want my answer to be YES!

How about you? What are some things you hope and dream of? How has God shown His nearness in your life?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

NaNoWriMo Prayer Guide

November 1st is fast approaching and writers from all across the world are preparing to head into their writing caves for NaNoWriMo. The goal: crank out 50,000 words in 30 days.

We're fleshing out our characters, finalizing our plots, and cooking meals ahead of time to store in the freezer so our families don't go hungry (okay, that last one's a lie, but it's a good idea). But the most important thing we can do to prepare for a whole month of head-down writing is to pray.

I have a group of five friends who are my prayer warriors. They didn't really sign up for the job, but they got appointed whether they like it or not, and they'll be getting way too many messages from me over the next month. I can't possibly do NaNo without their prayers.

Here are the things I'm asking them to pray for:

  • God to release the story He wants me to tell and breathe life into it
  • Clarity in my plot - that I'll know how every aspect of the story fits together and where things should go
  • My characters to come to life on the page
  • Grace to fit this into my already busy life without my family feeling any negative effects
  • A supernatural ability to write powerful and effective words
  • At least 50,000 words (good words!) in the next 30 days
  • An extra super-duper overflowing dose of creativity
  • The voices of doubt and discouragement to be silenced
  • My internal editor/perfectionist to shut off completely
  • Rest in the midst of it all
  • Anything else the Lord tells them 

How about you? How do you prepare for an intense time of work (writing or otherwise)? What prayers would you add to the list? 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Rest for the Weary. How Can I Get Some Of That?

photo credit: Creative Commons 
Apparently, God is trying to tell me something. He keeps pummeling me with articles, conversations, and scriptures with the same theme: restGod and I have had this conversation plenty of times, but there's something different about it this time around.

I opened my Jesus Calling devotional book the other morning, and the first sentence read, "You have been on a long, uphill journey, and your energy is almost spent." And I said, out loud, to page 296, "You. are. not. kidding."

I don't know about you, but sometimes I just get tired of climbing.

It's vital to have a healthy balance of work and rest, and I've learned how to set boundaries in my schedule. Technically, I'm doing all the right things to keep from working myself to death, but guess what...

I'm still tired. 

Or maybe weary is the better word.

I'm learning that I can set all the boundaries I want, say "No" more than I say "Yes", and create the perfect rhythm for my life, but still not feel rested. At all. Why is that?

Because life is hard (profound revelations are free today).  All the stuff I can't control presses in on me and wears me down. I worry, I stress, I freak out. I just can't help myself. And when I ask God what to do about that, He keeps saying the same thing.

Come to Me.

Trust Me.

Rest in Me.

Oh, is that all, God? HOW can I do that? It's so much easier said than done.

But I've found a few things to help me get there:

1. Release and Receive - Find a few minutes of quiet and literally assume a position of releasing anxiety and receiving blessing. In his book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster calls this exercise "palms down, palms up." Hold your palms down and tell God exactly what you're releasing ("Lord, I give you all my anxiety about our finances. I give you my frustrations about my job.") After you've released everything that's weighing on you, turn your palms up and ask God to fill you with His peace or wisdom or whatever it is that you need from Him. It's such a simple act, but it really helps me let go of all the worries and fears that have my shoulders in knots.

2. Remember - Remind yourself of all the things God has done for you. If you don't know where to start, the beginning is always a good place. If you're breathing, it's because God gave you life and breath in the first place. Think back over your life and list the ten biggest things God has done for you. Write them down. Talk about them at dinner. If He's already done all that for you, just imagine what He'll do next!

3. Remain in the Truth - Find a verse that speaks to you and keep it in front of you at all times. Memorize it and say it out loud whenever the stress of life threatens to suffocate you. The Psalms have been my anchoring place lately.

"A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all."  Psalm 34:19

"I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears."  Psalm 34:4

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him."   Psalm 62:5

I definitely don't have it all figured out, but the more I practice these things, the easier it is to truly find rest in God.

How about you? Is this a season of energy or exhaustion for you? How do you find true rest when you need it?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Great Big Accomplishment and a Fun, Fall Giveaway

**UPDATE 10/16/12: The winner of the super cute Book Pumpkin is Cindy Wilson!**

Well, I've made a huge accomplishment. Never mind all the things on my to-do list that are screaming for attention. My crafty little self did something amazing.

I actually made something off of Pinterest!

I knew all that pinning would pay off someday, so I'm having a giveaway to celebrate.

Now, before I show you the goods, I need to issue a warning.

There are two kinds of book lovers in the world:

1. The kind who treasure books so much that they'd never, ever, ever desecrate one for any reason. Especially not for something as superficial and petty as a craft project. It wouldn't matter if it's the worst book in the history of the world, this kind of book lover would rather rip your arms off than dog-ear a page or bend the spine of a book (I'm looking at my sister, Debbie). If you're one of these people, click away quickly! If you scroll down, you may very well need to be hospitalized.

2. The kind who love books so much that they want to fill their whole world with stacks of books, and pictures of books, and any kind of art that showcases the beauty of books. For these people, a piece of art could be the worst in the history of the world, but if you add a book to it, it suddenly becomes magnificent. Because books make everything infinitely more wonderful. If you're this kind of book lover, you're going to like my little project.

Ta Da! It's a Book Pumpkin!

A pumpkin. Made out of a book! Could there possibly be a better decoration for fall? I say no. You can be sure I'll be making more of these.

Take a few deep, cleansing breaths if you need to, or leave a comment below for a chance to win the super cute Book Pumpkin. 

So, I need to know...

Are you on Pinterest? Have you actually made any of the stuff you've pinned? Which kind of book lover are you? 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I'm Tired and I Blame Becky Wade

I came home from ACFW with a big stack of books to read and added it to the already huge pile in my bedroom (sidenote: this drives my non-book-loving husband crazy). My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade was on the top of the stack, so I grabbed it and jumped in.

I've started several books in the last few months that just didn't hold my attention. I don't know if I've become more critical the more I've learned about the craft of writing, or if I just haven't picked good books. But I've trudged through the first 2-3 chapters of several stories hoping to be hooked, but instead I got bored and gave up. I hate that because I know how hard it is to write a book. I really appreciate all the effort that any author puts into a story, and I want to love every single one. But I don't.

I was almost nervous to start another book for fear it wouldn't hold my attention, either. But My Stubborn Heart did not disappoint. Becky Wade created the best kind of characters--the kind that make me wonder what they're doing when I'm not reading (Is that weird?), the kind that make me stay up late turning pages.

Just one more chapter.

No, for real this time. One more chapter.

I just had to get to the happily-ever-after between this tortured hero and spunky heroine. The loss of sleep was worth it.

Don't you love it when you find a book that captivates you? What's the last book that kept you up late?

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Newbie Goes To Conference

Last week, I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference for the first time. It was flat out amazing. I could talk about it for hours, but I'll spare you and just give you the highlights.

I arrived on Wednesday and jumped straight into the My Book Therapy Pitch and Promotion workshop, which really helped to ease my nerves and prepared me for my agent & editor appointments. My coach for the day was Lisa Jordan, who is quite possibly the world's greatest encourager. She's also a Carol Award winner. That's just how she rolls.

The very best table at the MBT Scrimmage.
Jeanne Takenaka, Mindy Obenhaus, Lisa Jordan, and me. We're missing
Lindsay Harrel, who was probably roaming about the room spreading Lindsay cheer.

Thursday morning, I went to the Early Bird session taught by Nancy Kress and took page after page of notes on writing scenes. That session was packed with helpful lessons. 

Later on Thursday, I volunteered to help set up the dining room for that evening's dinner. I really didn't know what we would be setting up before I went, so imagine my happy surprise when I found out that we were placing a free book on every chair! This is my kind of place! By the end of the weekend, I had a stack of books to bring home from all the lunch and dinner gifts.

About to head into the first main session with some of my OKC writer friends.
Me, Janet Lee Barton, Terri Weldon, Julie Jarnagin, and Lacy Williams.

Thursday afternoon, the conference officially started with worship led by Rachel Hauck and a keynote from Michael Hyatt. Both of those things were awesome. I tried to take a picture, but this was all I got.

You'll just have to trust me. That's Michael Hyatt.

Friday morning, I had my first appointment with an editor, and I didn't throw up or pass out. Win! I actually enjoyed meeting her and had a nice conversation. Friday afternoon, I met with an agent and was really encouraged by what she had to say. In between all that were loads of amazing classes on writing.

Friday night was the My Book Therapy Pizza Party. They put on a writer's version of the musical Oklahoma and it was hilarious. 

Lindsay "Curly" Harrel, Jeanne, and I having a yeehaw good time.
Saturday was the day of unexpected God moments. It started at breakfast when I met Connie Mann and continued later when I met Allison Pittman. Everyone I met at the conference was so wonderful, but these two ladies went out of their way to connect me with industry professionals. They didn't have to do that. Nobody even asked them to, but they did it anyway. I walked away from my conversations with them so encouraged, and was inspired to be as thoughtful of other people as they were to me. And for some reason, I didn't take a picture with either of them. Next year!

Saturday night was the big Awards Gala, which was SO fun! I was so happy for all the winners, and got teary during nearly every acceptance speech. It's just so exciting to watch people living their dreams.

Me and Julie (aka the best roommate ever!) on our way to the Gala.
Cheering for our friend the Genesis finalist, Erin Taylor Young.
Erin! Your face is on the big screen! How cool is that?!

Sunday, the conference ended with worship and lots of hugging and saying goodbye.

Worshipping with 700 other writers was awesome.

My prayer going into the conference was that I'd get just a bit of encouragement to keep going on my writing journey. God was faithful and gave me the encouragement I needed by the bucketful. And as an added bonus, He connected me with tons of people who will be my lifelong friends. As an introvert, I was nervous that I'd be overwhelmed with all the people, but I truly enjoyed being with everyone, especially my OKC writer friends. 

I'm already counting down the days until next year!

Saturday, June 30, 2012


My lovely friends at OKC Christian Fiction Writers let me post a book review on the group blog today. I know it's a small thing, but it feels like kind of a big deal to me. I really love the people of OCFW and this makes me feel like I'm really a part of them (as opposed to a stalkerish writer wannabe). :-)

You can check it out here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Ted, Tosca, and the Vein of Gold

Last week, our local writers group hosted a dinner with authors Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee. There was so much about the evening that impacted and encouraged me that I'm still processing it all a week later.

Ted and Tosca both said things that I've heard before in one form or another, but for some reason, when they said it, it stuck. I'm sure it has something to do with the season I'm in and what God is trying to say to me at this particular moment in my life. It felt like He sent them to speak truth into the deep places of my heart.

The thing that struck me as profoundly beautiful about these two amazing, successful authors is that they know who they are. I hear the phrase "comfortable in their own skin" thrown around a lot, but that really does perfectly describe Ted and Tosca. They have their own style (which involves tattoos and wearing black) that was different from the rest of us at the table, but they didn't make us feel like we weren't cool enough or hip enough to be with them. And they easily could've, because they're very cool people.
See how cool they are? I may have worn my black shirt in honor of them.

Instead of being too cool, they intentionally engaged with every single one of us. They wanted to hear our stories, and they loved and encouraged us to the point that we walked away wanting to be more like them in all the ways that matter. (And I may or may not have had daydreams about getting a tattoo) :-) The weird thing about it, though, is that by being true to who they are, they encouraged me to fully embrace who I am. I can't really explain it, but I've felt utterly trapped by the need to meet certain expectations and follow the rules and, if I'm honest, gain approval from people. It's time for me to break free from all that.

Along those lines, the thing Ted said that impacted me the most was this (paraphrased)...

Just put your heart on the page. Find that vein of gold--that place where all the stuff in your heart just flows and tears are streaming down your face because you've found a way to put truth into words. Tell the story of your heart and don't worry about getting published or following the rules.

And Tosca said something along the lines of...

When I write, I have to pretend like no one is ever going to read it. If I worried about what people will think, I'd never get anything written. (I think she actually used the term "literary constipation," which is hilarious).

The whole experience swirled together to create some serious self-evaluation for me. I walked away asking questions like:

Why am I struggling so much with my current story?
What are the deep and true reasons I'm writing?
Why do I want to be published? For real.
How can I figure out how to put my heart on the page?

After lots of prayer and processing, I feel like God gave me a very simple answer. I can't put my heart on the page because I'm not writing the story of my heart. My heart's story for this season is a freedom story, but I abandoned it at the beginning of the year. I had gotten lots of feedback that the concept was too controversial, that it probably wouldn't ever sell. So, I put it away and started on a new, less controversial project. I still like that new story, but I've had to fight through every step along the way. It felt like I was trying to write my way through a brick wall and couldn't for the life of me figure out why it was so difficult. Now, I think it's just not the time for that story. God put a freedom story in my heart, and it's time for me to go back and tell that story with everything I've got, without worrying about if it'll ever sell.

So that's what I'm going to do.

Thanks, Ted and Tosca for being true to who God made you and for speaking life into this writer's heart.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Searching For Joy

This year, our church community is celebrating the whole season of Easter. Instead of living in the joy of the resurrection for just one day, we're collectively, purposefully pursuing joy and life and laughter for 40 days (yes, I know that believers are supposed to celebrate Jesus every day, but we're all broken and life is hard, so it doesn't really happen that way).

40 days of joy. 

I absolutely love this idea. I've committed to find at least one thing per day that brings or spreads joy and post it here along with others in the Skyline community. But the thing I'm finding is that its not as easy as it sounds. It turns out that embracing joy every. single. day. is a discipline that has to be practiced with determination and perserverance.  

I don't often make a conscious decision to enjoy my life. If you asked me a week ago, I would've quickly said that my life is full of joy. But now I'm seven days into a process of identifying specific areas of joy and, to be honest, it's a daily struggle. I really have to think about it some days.

Sometimes joy is hard to find.

Most days, it eludes me. It hides away behind the muck of the daily grind and then disappears like a shadow at dusk. When circumstances are particularly difficult and my future seems fuzzy and unstable, I dig around in my heart and all I find is worry. Sometimes, my selective eyes only see the people around me who have it all together, who know what they're doing on this planet and have a steady job that pays more than enough, and all I find is envy. 

But this little exercise has been so good for my heart. I'm learning that joy has to be searched for when life seems blurry, and I may have to squint to see it. I have to dig for it in the mundane, the difficult, the gray places. When I truly search for it, I always find it, and somehow it transcends and transforms the shades of gray into the brilliant, beautiful colors of life. The life we were meant to fully experience and relish. 

Instead of waiting for joy to come to me, I have to go after it. Hunt for it. Fight for it. 

No matter what. 

Joy is what makes our lives beautiful.  

How are you finding joy?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

More Baby Steps

So, I'm really good at consistent blogging (sarcasm).

Since my last post, I've had some really encouraging things happen in my writing journey...

  • I got some great feedback from several contest judges, and even finaled in a contest.
  • I joined ACFW.
  • I attended my first mini-conference and learned a TON, and I met some awesome writers.
  • I've continued learning online as part of the My Book Therapy community.
  • I joined my local writing chapter (OCFW) and have absolutely loved it. I just feel like I've found the perfect place to belong, and I've been given a mentor (she's amazing!) to help me along in my journey.
  • I started a new story and I've set a goal of writing 20,000 words by the end of this month.
  • I entered the first scene of my new story in the Frasier Contest.

As you can see, I'm continuing to take baby steps. It's so tempting to try to rush ahead and get farther, faster. But I have bathed this journey in prayer from the beginning, and I know that God is leading me at the perfect pace. I trust Him to open the right doors at the right time, so I'm going to close my eyes, hang on to His hand, and enjoy the ride. At least, I'm going to try. :-)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Life Marked By Prayer

Yesterday, my middle child turned 13. I just can't even believe it. It feels like an instant ago that the doctor was yelling, "It's a nine pounder!" and handing me a brand new, squishy baby girl.

With corkscrew curls and cheeks you could squeeze and kiss for days.

And now she's a teenager. It's unfathomable how fast the time has gone.

Jacey Reid is beautiful in every way. She's gorgeous on the outside and her heart is so sweet and pure, I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. I'm so, so proud of her. As I've reflected on the first 13 years of Jacey's life, there is one thing that stands out to me, even more beautiful than the rest.

Her life is marked by prayer.

Before I ever got pregnant with her, I prayed that God would give me a daughter. We had already been blessed with a son and my heart longed to know the joys of having one of each, so I asked God for a girl the next time around. He said YES! And there was much rejoicing in the ultrasound room.

When they calculated my due date, they told me it was February 24th, but I knew she was due on February 8th (sometimes mommies just know these things). Plus, I am a terrible pregnant person. It's nine months of misery for me and everyone else who dares to breathe my air, so the sooner we can end the madness, the better off we all are. I (and my poor husband) prayed that she would be born on or before the 8th. She arrived at 2:09pm on the 8th.

When I was in labor, she was turned the wrong way and it was going to make the delivery long and complicated. So my friend, Kelly, put her hand on my stomach and asked God to flip that baby over. Within minutes, she was good to go.

Since she was born, I have prayed that she and her brother would have an unspeakable bond of love for each other. Most days, this is still a toss up. But yesterday, he posted this to Twitter...

"Happy Birthday to my little sister Jacey. They grow up so fast. :(" 

So, that's something, right? I'm believing God will answer this, too. It just may take a little more time. :-)

When Jacey was three, she told God she wanted a little sister. I said "Sorry, sweetie. We're not having any more babies." Her baby sister was born just before Thanksgiving the following year (I partially blame my mother's prayers for this one, too).

When Jacey was five, she began to pray that God would make a way for our family to go to Disney World. Every night for over a year, her sweet little voice would float before the throne of God, laying the desires of her heart before Him. She never gave up, never even questioned if or when He would answer, even though Ron and I knew we would never in a million years have enough money to make a trip like that. But one night, my sister and brother-in-law came over and gave us a present. SURPRISE! We're sending you to Disney World! It was so ridiculously generous and extravagant. We spent a whole week there and Jacey got to meet every princess in the land. It will forever go down in our family history as the best gift we've ever received and our favorite vacation.

A couple of years ago, the kids were finagling for a dog. They weren't getting anywhere with me and Ron because we didn't want to have one more thing to feed every day, so Jacey went over our heads and asked God to give us a Within an hour, there was a cute little yorkie on our front porch and of course, it had no collar or microchip and we couldn't find the owner (believe me, I looked) so she became our beloved Jovi. After we had her for a year, we found out she used to belong to one of our neighbors, but they wanted us to keep her. They said they had been praying about what to do with her because they didn't have enough time to spend with her and felt like it was a God thing that our family found her and loved her so much. Poor guy didn't realize that he never had a chance of keeping his dog even if he wanted to. Jacey the pray-er was on the loose!

You only have to spend a little bit of time with Jacey to know that she has a special gifting when it comes to prayer. Our friends and family know that if they really need God to move on their behalf, Jacey's their girl. She's an intercessor. She's prayed people into jobs, orphans into families, the needy into provision. The list goes on and on.

It's such an honor to parent this precious girl. I can't wait to see what crazy thing God does next in her and through her, for His glory.

"... for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14