Monday, April 27, 2020

All For Jesus

It's not always easy to keep my focus where it belongs - on Jesus. It's especially difficult to do when I have a new book releasing. There is so much pressure to get it "out there" and I always suffer with nerves, worrying about whether people will like the book ... or not. It's hard not to be watchful about sales and concerned with the kind of reviews that come in. You would think I'd be over that by now. I've been writing and publishing books for a quarter of a century.

A book release should be a celebration, not a time to worry about whether I got it right or I didn't. There's no time for that now. And I shouldn't be asking myself - Will the book fail? And if so does that mean I'm a failure?

Those kinds of thoughts are about me and what I need. That's not where my attention belongs. I need to be all about Jesus.

I should be rejoicing in what God has done. When I thought there would be no more novels written by me, He carried me through another book! That's amazing! I couldn't have done it on my own. 

It is God who helped me find my story. It may not be the story for everyone, but no tale is. I thank God for giving it to me. And I thank Him for what He will do with it.

All I need be concerned with is, did I do what God asked of me? Did I work hard? Did I do my best?

When I can answer YES worries fade away. I'm free to rejoice in the beauty of being an instrument of God and playing just the right notes for just the right people.

We are all God's instruments. And as humans we have many frailties and insecurities. Whether we are asking if we've failed our children in some way or we don't measure up to expectations as a teacher, a musician, a doctor, a craftsman ... or any number of other talents or occupations we must remember that we can only do our best and trust God with the results. We'll never reach perfection. Only Christ is perfect. And all we do is for Him.

It's All For Him.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, April 06, 2020

God's Mighty Hand

I pray this day holds joy for you. Many of us are sheltering in our homes, cut off from family and friends so we chat with loved ones on Facebook. We're even joining our church families on line. On occasion I have had reason to complain about social media, but in these difficult days I am grateful we have it.

This morning, my church live-streamed our Palm Sunday service. The church family was able to worship together, even take communion together. It was kind of miraculous for someone like me who doesn't comprehend how the internet works.

Huddled together on the sofa, Greg and I watched the service on my phone and I kind of stepped back and looked at us. There we were together, one in Christ, savoring God's Word. That moment was not by chance or by our own might, but by God's mighty hand. There was a time that such a moment could not have been imagined.

It's been nearly forty-nine years since I walked down the aisle of my family church. It was my wedding day, but I wasn't certain I even wanted to get married. As I walked toward the front of the sanctuary, wearing my white gown, my quaking hands holding a bouquet and my groom waiting for me, I thought, Well, if it doesn't work out, I can always get a divorce. It is a hard thing to imagine that I possessed so little commitment over such a momentous step in life.

Our first four years of marriage were bad, ugly in fact. In our fourth year, we separated and were headed to divorce court. I was devastated. I loved Greg, though at the time I didn't like him very much. And he didn't love me at all. He had stated that clearly. 

During the early weeks of our seven month separation, a friend of mine introduced me to Jesus Christ. I feigned disinterest, but in my heart I felt as if I were drowning in hopelessness and despair, and I saw Christ as my lifeline. I realized He was my only hope and I placed my life in His hands. 

After that I prayed - for Greg and for our marriage. A strange thing happend. Greg started showing up at my door. Later he would tell me that he'd leave his house heading "somewhere" and end up at my place. He had no idea why. 

After several weeks of a new friendship between Greg and I, he asked me if I would come home and give our marriage another try. I could barely believe what I was hearing. He had stated unequivocally that he did not love me and he would never love me. Could I believe his new change of heart? 

I was afraid. Greg was not a believer. What if I returned to him and his new promises were only temporary. I couldn't go through that heartache again. I prayed fervently and God told me that I didn't need to trust Greg, I needed to trust Him. And he held Greg and I and our marriage in His hands. Still fearful, but trusting I returned home. 

We'd been reunited only two months when Greg found the Lord and placed his eternal salvation in Christ. From that time until now, we have served the Lord together. We raised a family, worked hard, loved one another and have loved God. Has it been a perfect reunion? No. Not even close. We're just people, but we love and admire one another. 

We are together only because Jesus Christ is at the center of our marriage. He is the one who reached down with His might hand and rescued us. There is no other way for two stubborn, hard-headed people like us to remain united. 

There was a lot to forgive all those years ago. An impossible task for two people such as us, but not impossible for God. So as I looked at my husband on the sofa beside me this morning, my heart was filled with gratitude and wonder at how God had intervened in our mess of a life, brought us back to each other, and then held us together.

We've seen many miracles through the years, but the one most precious to me is the one that involved God's love, our broken hearts, and God's beautiful gift of mercy.

I pray you will all see the wonder of God in your midst today. He loves us in a way that is incomprehensible. Even though we do not deserve it, His love never wavers.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Thursday, April 02, 2020

A Love Letter

While I was chatting with my publisher a few weeks ago, I referred to my new book as a love letter to my readers. I didn't think before I spoke - the words just popped out. David White, who has been working with me, asked what I meant by that?

I had to think for a few moments because I wasn't sure. It was more of a feeling. 

As is often the case feelings come from a very real place in our soul. There was something to what I had said. One Hundred Valleys is a love letter to readers for a couple of reasons. First, because I owed my readers a new historical. Through my career, I've written primarily historical novels, but a few years ago I took a slight turn. I reworked three of my early books and wrote two contemporaries. I decided that my dedicated followers had waited long enough for a new historical novel. It was time to think about my core group of readers. Their support and loyalty is one of the reason I'm still writing. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you all. And for that reason, One Hundred Valleys is for you.

And something else in the book that reminds me it is a love letter. The character Margaret, who is a mentor and friend to Emmalin, says this while the two talk about the many hardships and even tragedies that have befallen Emmalin. 

Margaret says, "God didn't promise to protect us from all harm, but he did promise to walk with us as we struggle in the hard times and to help lead us through life. When it feels the darkest is when His light shines its brightest. And He uses every bit of the good and bad to mold us into people who will honor Him."

These words, though spoken by a character in a book, have spoken to me through the years. And they've helped me to trust and to be grateful even while struggling through the hardest times.

These are dark days in our world. The multitudes live in fear and uncertainty, wondering what will become of their livelihoods. Will they even lose their life? And what will become of their loved ones? Will they be safe? Sometimes all I have to do is think about my precious family and what they are facing and tears come. My son and his family live in France and I'm afraid for them. And then the Lord reminds me who He is. 

When I write I always pray that I will  honor God in my work and that the words on the page will be more than just words, but that they will breathe life into a readers darkest places ... where they will teach, uplift and encourage those who travel through a world of uncertainty. And sometimes that reader is me. I have to chuckle because God is a marvelous Father.

Today and in the weeks to come, I encourage you to remember who our Father is. He is the creator of all the earth, the creator of the heavens. He loves us and scripture states clearly that he knows and has experienced our pain. He hasn't forgotten us. He knows the beginning and the end. And His love letter to us is His Holy Word.

If your Bible has been collecting dust on a shelf, pick up and open the pages. Ask God where you should begin. I suggest the book of John. Read it, take The Father's truth into your soul. He offers love and hope to our hurting world.

I've heard many times that the Lord God will not give us more than we can handle. But of course life dumps hardships on us that are too difficult to manage. That is when we lift our burdens up to The Father and he carries them for us. He will encourage and repair broken hearts. Trust Him. He is in this with us.

Grace and peace to you from God,