Friday, January 29, 2016

Hope, not just an author's perspective.

This week, I guest posted on The International Christian Fiction Writers' blog thanks to a writer friend, Patricia Beal.

It was a post that poured out from me as I sit in this weird place of limbo, waiting for the final few on my last novel, and brainstorming a new series for my next round of submissions. Honestly, I revert back every other week and think I need a writer's break. Hence, the few blogposts here. It's just been a bit of a soul-searching time of why I want to be on this journey, and how I balance it with life.


It is a vicious cycle, but writing is too ingrained in my heart to abandon it.

Anyway, I wanted share my words from my guest post. Whether you are a writer or not, I think everyone might find something from this post. So, moms, writers, readers, and passerbys, enjoy.


Over the past few years, I have understood the nature of hope, especially as an aspiring author. It's a funny thing—hope. It's an energy that might swell like a swollen ocean at one moment, or dissolve into a flimsy fragment that slips between your grasping fingers the next. Hope is ever-changing, and mostly, ever-present. And this ebb and flow is good, because it pushes us toward a dream, or calms us in the midst of a storm. 

During this writing journey, there have been a few times that I have felt hope vanish completely, only to realize it was hiding out around the next bend. It was still there. And the only way I could grasp it again was by moving forward. Taking those steps and finding my way toward it. Getting past the finite disappointment of this journey's pot holes, and remembering hope is infinite, as the good Martin Luther King Jr. once declared, 

It's difficult to accept and get past the disappointment, isn't it? The disappointment overwhelms me after writing that story that just misses the market, the one that I felt sure that God had placed on my heart and knew it was meant to be written. The shadow of a rejection chases my hope around the bend, leaving me breathless and unable to search for it again. 

What is the point of all those words, all that time? I don't want to accept it. 

The finite disappointment arrives in the sting of criticism, the harsh reality that I have a huge amount of work ahead of me, and I'll lose sight of the hope that flickers from beneath the effort needed. I grow weary and defeated. 

What is the point of wasting the energy now, after so much energy has been spent?  

Sometimes, I feel so completely hopeless that I wonder if it's this writing journey has come to an end. But, it's when I look back at all that I've learned, and then step forward toward that next bend, that I discover that pesky hope again, and all is not lost. 

Have you bought into the lie that once hope is out of sight, the journey is over? If this writing journey is truly ours, then our hope is infinite in what the future might hold for our words. 

If you are anything like me, clinging to hope, whether it be a kind word, a contest win, or a coveted request for a full manuscript, keeps me going forward no matter how small a glimmer. 

Hope is infinite. 

I look back on my ten year journey as an author and I don't just see baby steps and lessons, heartaches and rejections, friendships and business ventures, but I see a path chiseled and defined by that infinite hope. It's the fact that I got to that next page, the effort a friend took to critique my work as if it had potential, the agent taking a chance and adding me to her client list. It's the click in my brain when harsh contest feedback actually makes sense and pushes my story to a new level. It's the editor, who had turned down my book, and then decides to pick it up again and give it another chance (true story). 

I may not have arrived to the place where hope turns into that bright shiny future of publication that I expect, but I see hope all around me, and whether it growing bigger and brighter, or slips just around the bend, I am confident it is waiting for me to catch up. 

What more could a writer ask for, than hope? 

* MLK quote photo from 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Foolish Dreamin'

When I was first inspired to write my last novel, I will admit that the seed planted was from an old movie. After watching Lady Jane as a teenager, I immersed myself in the history of the Nine Days' Queen. I read non-fiction books and learned the Tudor line and fell in love with the rich, mysterious, sometimes devastating history of sixteenth century England.

It was a mild obsession.

Lady Jane is a historical figure who I have some how felt kindred to, especially years after learning about her, when I had to decide my own allegiance to God through religion. When I had to cast off old ways and put on new, no matter how much it hurt.

And then, as an adult (dare I say, middle age?), her story inspired me to write my own story with her as the central figure.

And, it sits, completely written, three years later, without a home but my laptop and a friend's kindle. I dreamed of bringing her to life again in the hearts of readers. I dreamed of giving her an alternative story to her tragic end recorded in history.

And I still love the story of Lady Jane Grey, and the story of Lady Jane Lives by Angie Dicken.

I still dream of publication. No matter how tough the market, how difficult the break-in. And I dream
of writing more of her story-- some day.

Foolish dreamin'? Perhaps. I mean, it's been a long dry road, this trip to publication. And I am not even certain this road leads to that in the first place.

I will tell you a secret. Maybe even more foolish than dreaming of publication.
Every time I see a flock of birds,  I pray that some editor out there is considering my novel. 
Ridiculous, huh?
If you know the Lady Jane movie at all, you know that it ends with the Platonic quote in the above image, and a flock of birds reaching the heavens.

It's a quote I've memorized all these years. As I have most of the Lady Jane movie.

Wonder if one day, a quote from Lady Jane Lives might be memorized with such timelessness?

Foolish dreamin'? Maybe.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Perfect Parenting

It took many years for me to realize I had my son on this pedestal. That I had just assumed as a parent following all the good advice, godly people, and great examples out there that my son would be molded into the exact image I imagined.

Hoped for.


And if I peer in his reflection of me, it shows that I, indeed, had myself as a parent on a pedestal as well.

I remember a long time ago, a friend saying that she felt God telling her to not hold her children so closely because she was afraid of the fall if they were taken away.

I totally get that. Because I am tumbling, tumbling from that high place I had put myself on long ago, as I witness the flaws and humanness of my children.

How dare they? How dare they paint me a hypocrite? It's not fair. My intentions were good.

The further I walk this journey, the more I realize the illusion life has painted around us. It goes to show that we need Jesus more and more...because no matter the wisdom or advice a good person exudes, the ears are flawed, the hearts are wayward, and another's journey can only be carved by the One who made it.

My strive for perfection only knocked me down in the end. All I have is Love and Grace to keep me going...and hopefully, it will be contagious for my children's sake!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Breathe Again

It's hard to breathe when you refuse air.

And it's hard to breathe when you witness someone refusing to inhale.

Especially someone so very close to you. Someone who breathed their first breath in your presence.
Once you become a mother, your breath nearly always seems to depend on that of your child. If they aren't breathing--living to the full--then you are struggling for air.

These past weeks have taken my breath away. Not in a romantic, dreamy way. But in a crippling way as I see my children struggle to breathe in the only hope I find to be true. It has a lot to do with why I chose my word for the year, Redeem.
We need it around here.

So. Yesterday at church, the pastor preached on the new sermon series to kick off the new year. And it's centered on Acts 3:19:

"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord..."

In the Greek, the word, "refreshing" actually means "to breathe again". I love that. It's shown me something redemptive, and as I said, my word this year is REDEEM.

Living with an atheist has had me shirk away from the idea of sin. Sin is a big BAD no-no in a
Godless view. We're all good, humanity is good (after all, we are here by such an amazingly small chance), sin is ridiculous and the idea of it is detrimental to the future of humanity. If there was such thing as sin, then you are against humanity, against nature, against your very being.


There may be something unknown in that word--by those so opposed to it. And it's the very essence of our relationship with our Creator. It's the very essence of our need for redemption. It's the fact that we, in all our humanness, all our free will, were given breath...and WE have missed the mark in our effort to breathe apart from the Maker.

It's no wonder sin is powerful, because it stops our breathing in, and then we struggle for air in the darkness.

Sorry for the sermon, but I am really processing this for myself. Because, in order to have any air around here, I think I have tried to compromise with truth for the sake of my marriage. And I've allowed lies to warp my heart.

Not that my husband has any say in this, but, because I am a peace maker by default, I try to find the middle ground...and I went a little past the middle.

The fact that sin is part of us, is actually a reason to rejoice in living...again. To remember that there is a second chance out there, and that we've been given it regardless of which sin, and because we have sinned. Sin has given us a journey to understand our significance through the eyes of a Savior. Not that I love sin for that, but I love the plan that God can use ANYTHING to show us HIS EVERYTHING. Nothing is wasted. Not even our brokenness.

It starts with me. I can only change myself, or at least, it's up to me to surrender to Christ and refresh in His presence. I can't push my children, or my husband to "repent" "believe" "breathe again". That's God's job. I can only blot out my own transgressions and breathe again, welcoming the presence of the Lord...

And hopefully that presence will grow strong in my house, and there will be a gasping for air again.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

My Word for 2016

The new year did not start well. This past week I had a sour feeling and I couldn't shake it. Everywhere I look, new leaves are turned over, and friends are getting their fresh start. That's what this arbitrary date does for us right? Gives us hope in a second chance?

Last year around this time, I was welcoming the new year with arms open wide and my back firmly turned against all the garbage of 2014. Yep, I was ready to take that plunge into a whole new start. And you know what, 2015 was a million times better than 2014.
And it was so good, I can't help but wonder if we can maintain it?
Because I see my family and I see the hurt from 2014 seeping out from all the healing we did in 2015. And it's invading our space again. It gave us a year of reprieve, but now it's filling the valley with its stink and I am not sure I am prepared for it.

A new year is a new start...or an old reminder of what's unfinished and upturned.

My tongue only cries for redemption. The only true healing is there in that redemption. And I am ready for it. I am begging for it. Lord, Redeem us. Redeem my family.

Oh [my family], HOPE in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is Lovingkindness,
And with Him is abundant REDEMPTION.

The valley is old. And I want the high ground.

My word for 2016 is 'Redeem'. I'll pray it every day if I can. My sons need it, my husband needs it, I need it. Our brokenness is shackling us to this valley. And Redemption is the only way out.

Yes, it's a big word. A big prayer. But I have got to believe it can happen. I have got to believe He is there ready to provide it.

Come 2017, I want to look down on the valley below, and not up from it.