Facing Distractions and Discouragement

How do you respond to distractions and discouragement when you’re seeking direction?

Writing my first book initiated one of the most intense spiritual battles of my life. I worried about my family—especially my seven grandchildren.

I had not been available for their needs with all my blogging, speaking, and writing. Guilty thoughts saturated me like a heavy rainstorm. And worry encompassed me like a dark thundercloud overhead.

Then, a Word broke through the storm clouds like a ray of sunshine: “[T]here is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1 NLT).

My husband, Dan, had scheduled his retirement date just weeks before the deadline to turn in my book manuscript. So my direction faltered, and my thoughts were like a honeybee, flitting flower to flower. Lord, how will I ever finish this book in time?

I completed my book, but not without spiritual battles. Ephesians 6 offers us this truth:

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life.
God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. (Eph. 6:13–17 The Message)

What scriptures have helped you during the spiritual battles of your writing life?

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A Novelist Who Writes Non-Fiction Blogs

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I love story. I love picking up a book and sinking into a character’s journey. Experiencing life and emotion through another’s perspective.

Becoming a novelist was a natural progression for me. Books became my escape from the loneliness and pain as a sensitive introvert in a family that didn’t know how to do relationship or life well. I longed for the love and connections I drank in each week as I watched Little House on the Prairie–wishing so much that I could be Laura Ingalls (though with Mary’s hair). I wanted to be loved with the depth and passion of a father like Charles Ingalls.

Fast forward many years and many choices that brought more scars to my heart. The emotional pain kept me crying out to God for relief. For help. For freedom.

And so started a journey in which God began restoring my soul. Healing brokenness and deep wounds. Bringing joy and peace. And the more healing I received, the more aware I became of the enemy’s tactics against us—God’s precious, broken sheep. And the stronger my passion to help others find the freedom I so craved when I was deep in the pit of hopelessness and shame.

So while I write fiction novels, I blog about freedom and hope.

God has gifted many of us with the power of words.

Not all are called to wield the power of words in the same way. But each of us is uniquely gifted to shine light into our patch of His garden. To hold the light high so lost and hurting sheep can find their way home.

My passion is that none would be lost. And that those who aren’t lost—those who believe in Jesus—don’t live as prisoners of war. Locked behind the enemy lines of hopelessness and fear, defeat and despair.

So many of us present smiling facades. The greater the success, the more invested we tend to be in hiding our brokenness behind shiny walls. Walls that imprison rather than protect.

Our world has evolved from front porch sitting and conversing to a place where technology is replacing face-to-face interaction.

We are designed to be seen and known and accepted in all our flawed beauty. Without that, our souls slowly shrivel while our public (and Facebook) smiles get brighter.

My desire is to encourage people to see beyond their intellectual understanding that Jesus died so we can live as overcomers, and helping them take the steps to live that as their reality. Making the promises of God a tangible daily experience rather than verses we quote but have no real belief in.

God’s desire is that we live in His promises, that His fruits fuel and flow through us. And my hope is to shed light on how to step into all that God has for us, how to kick the enemy and his lies to the curb so we become fully who He designed us to be—His spotless bride.

For the Brokenhearted

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Psalm 34:17-18 “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

This is the season of Joy. Glistening lights, happy Christmas carols, gifts given in love. But for some, the season is not as bright. For the father who is struggling to put food on the table for his children, let alone buy them Christmas gifts. For the old woman who sits in her rocking chair, her life but a memory and her children too busy to visit. For the child who wants to be a part of a loving family. For the mother who cries over the son she lost in the war.

For those who have gone through a year of endless trials and heartbreak and feel you have no reason to celebrate, this is for you. God is a God of love. He loves you. The Bible says He hears the prayers of His children. He knows the pain and sorrow you carry even without you telling Him. But even more so, He promises to deliver you from your troubles.

Even if your sorrows haven’t been as grievous, know that God has walked by your side. That He is ever faithful to love and keep you. Psalm 34 is loaded with promises from God—He answers our prayers when we seek Him, He encamps around us to protect us, His eyes and ears are attentive to our cries, and He promises to deliver us from our troubles.

It’s easy this time of year to get caught up in the trappings, the glitter, and the clutter and lose sight of the real reason for the season. God did not come to earth to judge us, but to save us. To lift us up when we are discouraged. To be our comforter and the lover of our souls.

May this holiday season be a time of refreshing for you. I pray you can leave your cares at His feet and that God’s presence will fill your hearts and souls to overflowing.

Holding onto God’s Hands

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Psalm 73: 23-24 I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.

Have you ever had one of those days, weeks, or years when everything goes wrong? Health issues, financial problems, family struggles, or the death of a loved one—these are all things that can rip the joy from you, zap you of your strength, or leave you wondering if God is even out there.

How often, during these times, do we think our prayers have gone unanswered? Or that God has turned his back on us? Or that he doesn’t care?

Even if our faith runs deep, it is easy to get into that rut of believing the worst. It’s human nature. But I assure you, God will be with you every step of the way. He won’t stop at just walking beside you. He will, as the scripture says, hold you by his right hand. He will be your teacher, counselor, and mentor. He will guide you through the rough times, if you listen for his voice and search his word.

I knew a woman who had lost her first and only child to crib death, or SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The impact of that child’s death rippled through our small church with the force of a tsunami. A short time afterwards, I found her in one of the Sunday school rooms cleaning the toys, wiping off the shelves, and singing. When she sang, when she prayed, or even when she shed her tears across the altar, she believed God was her strength. He held her hand, and guided her through the valley of the shadow of death.

But most of all, she knew God had led her baby into glory. And that one day, he would lead her through, too. She’d be able to hold her child in her arms once again.

This is his promise to us. A promise we can count on.