"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

6/29/12

Finds for Fridays: June 29

  Finds for Fridays is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following close to 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

And here they are!

Where Tears Go To Die by Billy Coffey at What I Learned Today (about the ocean and leaving your troubles and loss)

How I Achieved Peace in My Home in 3 Days - God Sightings by April Gardner at her blog (about listening to God)

Sunburned Forehead by Joy Bach at Life Moments (about taking care of the little things - and the Holy Spirit as sunscreen)

Must We Have "Wake Up Calls?" Can't we just WAKE UP? by Niki Turner at In Truer Ink (about listening to our "internal warning system)

Hope these posts bless you. I know they did me! Thanks for stopping by.

 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

6/27/12

Bondage - Guest Lynn Gipson - God is so Good


Welcome to my Wednesday feature God is So Good. Here I will share stories - true and fiction, mine and others' - of the Lord's presence in the midst of trials, struggles, and difficulties.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33b
Sometimes, it seems that nothing can set us free from the struggles of this world. We try to do it (whatever "it" may be) in our own strength, but we can't. We despair. We curse God. We prepare to die - even hope to. But we finally realize that there is only one way to get through. To do nothing but hand it to God. My FaithWriters friend Lynn Gipson did just that. And she tells her story here. I'm sure it will bless you, as it did me.
Bondage
By lynn gipson

She wakes before shaking in fear, praying for God to let her die.

"Please, please, just take me home, I cannot live like this."

She then wonders if she's already dead and this place she is in is actually hell. For awhile she can't move her body. Then her mind goes to the drawer of her bedside table. Something in there will sustain her for a while. She slowly moves her hand to her left, pulls out the place where she keeps those evil little white pills. Hands shaking, hating herself, she opens the bottle and pops several small round pieces into her mouth.

photo credit
Lying silently for a few minutes, her body stops shaking, her mind slows down and false clarity begins.

Courage is recalled, and she makes the first attempt to get out of the bed. Whoa now, not quite ready, she needs one more. Finally, the feeling in her arms and legs starts to return, and she rises once again and slowly makes her way to the bathroom.

Returning to bed, she climbs back in and falls back into a strange kind of slumber, body trembling, praying all the while. 'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus." Speaking His name over and over lulls her back to sleep. Upon awakening again, her body is calm and she can start her day.

Two hours later she begins to shake. Opening the drawer again, self hatred consumes her. "Just one more," she tells herself. Her hands stop shaking and tries to remember what she was doing a minute before. It doesn't matter, she starts another task. Halfway through the dusting she remembers she had a phone call to make. Reaching for the phone she can't recall just who she was going to call. She feels hungry, but preparing a meal is out of the question in her current state of mind. She suddenly feels tired and needs a nap.

She gets back into bed once more, but sleep won't come. Her mind is racing. It's been four hours so she feels she can have another pill. Opening the bottle and pouring out two she wonders what she would ever do without them. The tiny little pills have become her life and she is in bondage.

She is a Christian, but how could she be? Surely Jesus sees what she is doing right now. Of course he's not happy at all with her. Throughout this whole ordeal with the pills she has been praying to him to help her or please take her out of this place. Doesn't he hear? Where is he?

Something inside tells her pray one more time.

"An answer will come," the still, small quiet voice said. "Give it all to God. Surrender your heart and soul to Jesus. Now is the time to let it all go."

She kneels beside her bed and silently pleads for mercy and for the strength to overcome her addiction. She humbly asks God to release her from this bondage of hell. She asks for forgiveness for all of her sins. She asks in Jesus' name. Amen

She rises, a weight has been lifted. She feels a healing going on in her body. It won't be easy, she knows, but it will be possible with her Lord and Savior at her side. He, when the time was right, answered her prayers.

The next few weeks she must have called His name a thousand times a day. When the panic that comes with withdrawal hit her, she cried out to Him to save her, and so He did. When her body revolted, her soul stayed strong. She knew she would either die or get better, either way relief would come. Her hands shook so badly, a cup of coffee flew out of her hand. When she thought she could take no more, she prayed for her sanity.

Finally, after weeks of pure hell, her body and mind started to feel normal again. She knew she would live.

She lived, and now she can tell her story to all those who live in any type of bondage.

Jesus set her free when she surrendered it all to him. She knows this is how life is supposed to be. That's why Jesus died on the cross, so that she might live a happy, joyous and free life.

Today, she is stronger than she's ever been. She knows Christ was there all along, and he is with her today. She is living proof of what faith can do. No longer in bondage to anything or anyone, she lives to write about her Redeemer, the one who set her free.

I am Lynn Gipson, a 61 year cancer survivor just recently become a writer. I write short stories, articles and poems of Christian or Spritual nature. This is my true story.
Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com-CHRISTIAN WRITER-MAKE A WEBSITE
**

He is always there - just waiting for us to ask for  release from our bondage. And he WILL come through. He is SO good!
Do you have a story you'd like to share about God's goodness in your struggles? Drop me an email and we can talk! 

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

6/25/12

Where To Find Art

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing
 power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV

My daughter's favorite
As a rule, when I think of works of art, I think of art galleries. Maybe fine hotels. And perhaps private collectors' homes. And those works of art are generally created in marble, oil paint, stone, or other such "traditional" materials.

Until a year or so ago, I would never consider searching for a work of art on pavement.

But that was before I visited the West Michigan Chalk Art Festival in Byron Center, Michigan last year. It very quickly captured the heart, and imagination, of me and my family. (Check out last year's winners here) So, of course, we went back this year - just this past weekend. And were again amazed at what beauty can be made on a sidewalk with calcium sulfate and a bit of talent (okay - maybe more than a bit).
  
Just shows you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. 

It's just like the Lord's work in our lives. Nobody in their right mind can look at their life and think there is any way God could use them  for good. We  lie. We cheat, We steal. We are selfish, greedy, and covetous. Nothing we do - even if we try to be "good" - is considered pleasing in His sight. We might as well be pavement and calcium sulfate, compared to His expensive oil paint and marble.


But He uses us anyway. With His power in us, our "clay jars" can hold the amazing treasure of His blessings, power, and every one of the fruits of His spirit.

So don't be surprised where you find God's blessings. You're just as likely to find His masterpiece in the Louvre as on asphalt.

**



Do you feel unworthy to be used by God? Do you assume that certain people are not believers because of how they look, what they do, or how they act? Can you see how these thoughts are wrong - how God can, and does, use ANYTHING for His glory?


Comment below, and/or stop by Living by Grace and we can chat a bit!


 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

6/22/12

Finds for Fridays: June 22

  Finds for Fridays is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following close to 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

And here they are!

Are You a Writer? Then You Have To Be A Superhero! by Cindy Wilson at the Writers Alley (about all writers "need" to do - and encouragement to deal with it)

Blogging and Copyright Issues by Sherrinda Ketcherid at the Writers Alley (places to find free graphics/pix for your blog posts!)

Should Unpublished Novelists Be Platforming? By Rachelle Gardner at her blog (This SO encouraged me)

Yeah- they're all craft posts this week (and two from the same site! Gotta love those Alley Cats!) but I think we can all learn from them - even the nonwriters.

Hope you enjoy these!

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

6/20/12

Who Gets The Glory? God Is So Good


Welcome to my Wednesday feature God is So Good. Here I will share stories - true and fiction, mine and others' - of the Lord's presence in the midst of trials, struggles, and difficulties.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33b
 I have lots of good days, and plenty of bad days. And often, I'm embarrassed to admit, it's based on my circumstances. I need to remember that GOD is the one Who should get the credit - and how I feel should be based on Him, rather than my circumstances. Here's just one example of a time several years ago where my moods were controlled other than how they should have been.

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
 do it all for the glory of God.” 1Corinthians 10:31 NIV

It had been a good week.

Two new members of my favorite writing website had been asking me questions about it, and I’d been helping them quite a bit. Both had recently expressed their gratefulness in glowing terms.

My latest writing project there was receiving praise upon praise. One of my favorite, most talented writers there had even called it “perfect.”

I had just shared my testimony with the deacon board at our new church, and they found it quite amazing and inspiring. Yup, I was feeling pretty good about myself.

Then, God, in his “typical” way, reminded me that my feelings needed to be tempered – and redirected.

I loaded my entire family into the car and drove to the hospital for my husband’s 1pm MRI. We got there, dragging the kids against their will, and finally got settled, only to discover that the appointment was actually at 1:30 – the next day. I WAS the one who had written it on the calendar. Not so swift, eh?

The next morning, my then almost-three-year-old decided to be disobedient and defiant – so I set a punishment I was SURE would upset her. She would have to miss gymnastics. Her response? “I GET to stay home with daddy!”

God is an expert at helping me remember who deserves the glory for what I do. I may be a good writer, but that is only because it is God’s gift to me. I may be helpful to others, but it is the Lord who moves and equips me to be a servant in that way. I’m only human – a point God certainly brought home to me amongst all the encouragement that was making me feel somewhat more so.

I am so thankful for God’s love of me, and His willingness to remind me that I can achieve wonderful things, but only through Him. And when (not if!) I mess up, it’s OK.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to remain humble, and to always give You credit for the awesome things You allow and equip me to do. Help me to keep my failures and successes in perspective.


Whether things are going well or poorly, God is there. He is SO good!
 
Do you have a story you'd like to share about God's goodness in your struggles? Drop me an email and we can talk! 

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

6/19/12

I'm at Jewels of Encouragement today



Summer's here, and there is so much beauty to look at in this weather. Nature is a beautiful part of God's creation. But it is not his most precious. Stop by JoE and learn what his most precious creation is.

 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

6/18/12

Keeping It In

 A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret. Proverbs 11:13

I love surprising people. Especially my husband.  There is little that tickles me more than truly shocking him (pleasantly, of course) with a gift.

And I've got a pretty decent track record.

photo credit
Early in our marriage, I hauled an entire weight set up the stairs (one weight at a time, of course) so I could hide it in our spare bedroom closet. I wrapped one 5-pound weight and put it under the Christmas tree. He had NO idea until he opened it.

I went in with his folks a few years ago and bought him a Kindle for Christmas. He was floored when he saw it. He had not even a clue I was considering something like that (it was out of our price range).

But yesterday may just have been one of the best surprises of all. Last Monday, the kids and I went shopping, and I picked out a new version of a computer game I remember him playing several years ago as a Father's Day gift for him. He hadn't asked for it - I just remembered him enjoying it back in the day.

Four days later, he mentioned he was getting bored with his current favorite computer game and wanted to get a different one - the very game I had bought for him. To say I was happy was an understatement. Apparently, I'd bought just what he wanted. And Father's Day was only two days away. I could keep the secret for 48 hours.

But Saturday things got a bit more complicated. He decided he wanted to bid on a copy on Ebay. Fortunately, he lets me do all the ebay stuff, so I had to do some fancy (and sneaky) talking to convince him to wait a couple days before bidding (it IS best to bid closer to the closing date. Right? ;)).

Long story short (if it isn't too late for that LOL), he was surprised when he opened his copy of Civilization V, and I got to tell him the story. Surprise mission accomplished - again :)

Surprising my husband has almost become a tradition around here. But still, it's tough to keep the secret (and Saturday, I have to admit, was the hardest so far).

Too often, when we have great news, we don't want to keep it in, but, for one reason or another, we might have to. And we might have to be tricky to keep that secret.

It's a good thing the best news we could possibly have does not have to be kept under wraps. Jesus Chris, the Son of God, was born, lived a sinless life, died on the cross, and rose again on the third day - and because of it, we can have eternal life.

No need to keep THAT a secret. Tell the world!

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mark 16:15
*



How do you like getting, or giving, surprises? Do you have any fun stories to share? Would love to see them in the comments.


Who have you shared the gospel with?





Comment below, and/or stop by Living by Grace and we can chat a bit!


Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

6/15/12

Finds for Fridays: June 15

  Finds for Fridays is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following close to 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

And here they are!

Elizabeth Mary Anderson And Her Mama by Laury Hubrich at Between the Storms (about enthusiasm, joy, and being punished for it)

What Does A Yellow Light Mean? by Lori Stanley Roeleveld at Deeper with Jesus in Rhode Island (about slowing down, too much, and listening)

Pitching in those Agent/Editor Appointments by Rachelle Gardner at The ACFW blog (about what, EXACTLY, should be in a novel pitch) 

Thoughtful About...Rejection by Roseanna White at Writing Roseanna (about what's around the corner, and hope)

Hope you enjoy/learn from/are touched by these posts. Enjoy!

 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

6/13/12

Where to Go - God is So Good


Welcome to my Wednesday feature God is So Good. Here I will share stories - true and fiction, mine and others' - of the Lord's presence in the midst of trials, struggles, and difficulties.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33b
We were frustrated, confused, and disillusioned. We didn't know what to do or where to go. But God directed us, as he had in the past, and would continue to in the future. And He made it clear it was from Him.

Marc had had three brain surgeries in just over nine months, and it had been several months since the last one. Monthly MRIs had shown no tumor growth for quite a bit. We were expecting the same report from his oncologist that afternoon.
But that's not what we got. 
Photo credit (Not Marc's brain, BTW)
"I looked at the recent MRI scan and the radiologist report, Marc, and it looks like there has been a bit of growth in the tumor.”

Not again. No - I didn't say it (and neither did Marc, that I remember), but the thought was there.

We already had an appointment scheduled with Marc's neurosurgeon a couple days later - completely unrelated to the MRI. In fact, when we met with him, he hadn't even seen the films or the report.

But that didn't stop him from deciding there was only one option: ANOTHER brain surgery.

Seemed premature to us. But what should we do?
How about a second opinion? But where should we go?
We had no ideas. But Marc and I started chatting anyway, hoping we'd think of something.

“Several people have said we need to go out of town. Find a super-specialist in exactly what I have.”

“I can do some research.” I looked briefly into his eyes. “How far are we willing to travel?”

Marc shrugged. “Don’t want to fly. And be sure it’s covered by the insurance.”

“I can start with Detroit and Ann Arbor. Then maybe Chicago—and I think I remember someone mentioning the Cleveland Clinic. That’s not too far, is it?”

He shook his head. “I think I heard something about Cleveland too. Maybe it was on the news. But check Michigan first.”

I researched that night, and discovered  "superspecialists" in the Ann Arbor/Detroit area, and at the Cleveland Clinic.

The next morning, I had Ladies Bible Study at church. And when I brought the second opinion issue up (without mentioning where we were considering), my answer came.

Camille, one of my Bible study friends, piped up right away. “You know, my brother-in-law is a radiology tech at the Cleveland Clinic, and they have a top quality neurology department. From what I’ve heard, they have a great staff with some top-notch physicians.”

Her statement, along with the incredible chorus of praise for Cleveland Clinic from everyone else at study, was convincing enough for us.

Not only did we stay with Camille's sister and her husband (both times we had to go up), but the doctors we saw recommended a much less invasive treatment, that could be administered through our home doctor, and SHRANK the tumor.

Who else but God would put all those signs in our path? It certainly wasn't a coincidence. God is so good!
Do you have a story you'd like to share about God's goodness in your struggles? Drop me an email and we can talk! 

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

6/11/12

Less Is More

I'm at the Internet Cafe today, talking about one of the Old Testament matriarchs and what we can learn from her today. Stop by and find out how important - and telling - What You Take With You can be.
The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and 
whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Proverbs 17:27

I talk a lot. Probably too much (can I hear an amen, Marc?). And when I say something, I don't just say it. I give details. Lots of them. Often more than necessary.

I am, as they say, verbose. So when I'm told to condense my thoughts, I bristle. I complain. I hem and haw. But, because it's hard for me to turn down a challenge - especially related to writing - I hunker down, and usually come up with something halfway decent.

And, every time, it surprises me how powerful it is. Sometimes, less really IS more.

A few years ago, I was challenged to write complete stories in 50 words or less. I still remember how hard - and fun - and educational that was. Boiling all the action, emotions, thoughts, and everything else to the basics is a great exercise.

And over the past week or so, I've been challenged once again. The first assignment in the current ACFW loop course, "The Snowflake Method," involved paring my entire work in progress/novel down to twenty-five words or less.

Not as easy as it might sound (and yeah - I KNOW it doesn't sound easy!).

The reason for this exercise, among others, is to be able to share what your book is about quickly, and without having to memorize a long description. But doing this also had an unexpected side benefit (to me, anyway): it helped me see the core of the story. I understand better now my main character's goal, motivation, AND conflict. And any writer will tell you that's a VERY good thing.

Photo credit
This fact got me thinking about how I share my testimony - and the Gospel message. Do I go on and on, blabbering about every little detail - while my audience starts tuning out? (After all, studies say our attention spans are only shrinking) Or do I share the important stuff and "make my case" succinctly?

Of course, I'm not saying you need to whittle down your testimony to 25 words or less - but condensing it, and making every word count (with the Lord's guidance, of course) can make a difference. Don't you think?

Heavenly Father, help me to share Your message of hope with people in a way they will understand, and that keeps their attention. I don't want to bog them down with extras that will only confuse or distract them. I want You to be glorified, and not my blabber. Keep my tongue from being tied, or too loose! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
**


How careful are you with your words? Do you tend to talk too much, losing folks' interest? How important do you think it is to be succinct in sharing important information - especially God's truth?






Comment below, and/or stop by Living by Grace and we can chat a bit!





Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

6/9/12

It's finally here!


The Barn Door

Summer break, that is! And I'm so glad. Curious about my summer plans that are NOT related to writing? Check out my post at the Barn Door today. Hope to see you there!


Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

6/8/12

Finds for Fridays: June 8

  Finds for Fridays is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following close to 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

And here they are!

One More Time by Billy Coffey at What I Learned Today (about rejection and our reaction to it)

Do Not Disturb by Kimberly Russell at Roar of a Lioness (about serving)

The Threshold of Risk by Kristi Huseby at Broken and Redeemed (about risk, reward, and faith)


How to Write a Query That Gets Noticed by Michelle Ule at Books and Such (about the five elements of a good query letter)

He Loves Me? He Loves Me Not? He Loves Me! by Catrina Bradley at Jewels of Encouragement (about His neverending, unconditional love)

Pushing Ourselves to Our Limits by Rachelle Gardner at Books and Such (about risk taking and scaring yourself)

Got a pretty good variety this week - lots of good thoughts to ponder. Hope you enjoy these posts!


Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

6/7/12

Writing Craft Recap for May

2012 is my "learning the writing craft" year. And once a month, generally on the first Thursday of the month, I will share some highlights of what I learned. And here I go.

My main learning opportunity for May was a class on setting I took through Savvy Authors. It was most definitely a worthwhile class - as you'll see below :)

From Setting As Character class at Savvy Authors (instructor was Devon Ellington - recommended):
  • Overuse of dialect can pull the reader from the story - but so can underuse of it.
  • In general, one scene does not include a change of location, timeframe, or character interruption
  • Combining several scenes into one can heighten tension.
  • It's best to sprinkle setting in, rather than dumping.
  •  Emotional geography (created by the history and energy of the lives of the people there) can and should have a big impact on setting.
  • The best way to describe a scene with all five senses is to be hypersensitive to setting in "the real world."
  • The land is a living, breathing entity. Every place has a distinct vibe, built on geography, history, and all the people that inhabit it.  That influences the characters and actions in the story.
  • Often, setting detail does NOT need to come out in the first draft. Layer it in during revision - focus on the plot and characters first.
From the June issue of The Writer:
  • Good writing is the hardest form of thinking (Pat Conroy).
  • I REALLY wanna read this book.
  • In general, characters are more memorable than plots - so work on them :)
  • You get your ideas by asking yourself what kind of situation you would be happy to sit down and write about every single week for seven or eight months (Maeve Binchy).
  • Travel writers don't need to travel - in fact, some of the best write about the areas where they live.
I hope you learned something as well! Watch this spot next month, where I'll share, among other things, what I've learned from Randy Ingermanson about the Snowflake Method through a free ACFW class.

Questions? Comments? Observations? What was most interesting/helpful to you?


Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

6/6/12

Just Call Me Kathy - God is so Good


Welcome to my Wednesday feature God is So Good. Here I will share stories - true and fiction, mine and others' - of the Lord's presence in the midst of trials, struggles, and difficulties.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33b
This is a story I wrote almost five years ago for the FaithWriters' Writing challenge. It's a favorite of mine (and several others - it was an Editor's Choice that week, and the comments on the original are quite generous). I hope you enjoy it - and find the hope in it.

Just Call Me Kathy

Simon shuffled toward the meetinghouse, pebbles on the sidewalk pressing into his bare feet. Despite the pain, he scarcely lifted his legs as he walked, preferring the discomfort to the effort required to relieve it.

He hoped they would let him in. Street urchins, with their grime and crime, were excluded from such gatherings. Yet, this was one of their own. Weeks before, Cameron shared a ratty blanket with Simon. Then, good fortune suddenly seemed to shine on Cameron.

The boys had been begging together along the street a month previous. A lady - clearly from high society - dropped her handkerchief right by them.

Cameron retrieved it. Simon planned to ask for it later, in exchange for a bowler hat. Before he could, however, Cameron did something shocking.

"Excuse me, mum," Cameron said, tapping the lady on the back. "You dropped this."

Simon's mouth dropped. Urchins were to never speak to, much less touch, anyone outside their kind. Friends had been beaten for less.

Simon retreated and turned his head, watching the two discreetly. He didn't want to be seen as Cameron's cohort.

"Why, thank you." She took her handkerchief from Cameron. "What is your name, young man?"

Cameron lowered his eyes. "Cameron, mum."

"Just call me Kathy." She smiled. "Cameron, where is your mother?"

"Dead, Miss. Pa, too."

Kathy held Cameron's dirt-caked hands. "You poor boy."

She looked into Cameron's eyes and smiled. "I'd like to help you, Cameron. Will you come home with me?"

"Mum?" Cameron's jaw dropped.

Simon discarded his plan for discretion. He stepped closer and gawked.

Kathy smiled gently. "I'd love to take you in, Cameron, if you'd like."

"Oh, yes, mum. Thank you, mum." Cameron danced down the sidewalk, grabbing the woman's outstretched hand. The two walked off.

Cameron hadn't turned to wave goodbye, and Simon wasn't surprised. He was getting a new life: why look back?

Over the next couple weeks, Simon heard gossip from local vagabonds. Cameron had his own room in a mansion. He ate four full meals a day. Kathy would adopt him.

Then, suddenly, the scuttlebutt turned grim. Cameron had fallen down a flight of stairs. He was in the hospital. The doctors couldn't help him.

Finally, just the day before, Simon learned Cameron was dead and his funeral was noon today, in the meetinghouse.

Fellow urchins had discouraged him from going, saying he'd never get into such a fine gathering. Simon was undeterred.

"Gotta go, fellas. If they don't let me in, they don't. I hafta try."

From the location of the sun, Simon could tell noon was fast approaching. He quickened his pace slightly, reaching the meetinghouse as several finely-dressed people entered.

He recognized Kathy right away. She stood at the meetinghouse door, greeting guests as they entered. Once the crowd cleared, she grinned and beckoned Simon, who stood beside a lamppost just outside the doorway. He approached cautiously.

"You must be Simon." The boy looked up and was immediately drawn into her warm eyes and gentle smile. "Cameron told me so much about you."

"Mum?"

"He surely missed his friend Simon. In fact, we were planning to come calling on you when..." She lowered her eyes briefly and sighed. "I do miss him, but it's a blessing to know he's in a better place, isn't it?"

How could she say that? Cameron was dead; how was that better than being rich in a fine house with a kind woman? And why was she smiling? Was she happy Cameron was gone? Simon bawled.

"Oh, Simon, don't cry." Kathy cupped his dirty face in her hands. "Cameron is in heaven."

Simon choked back further tears.

"Of course I'm sad that Cameron is dead, Simon. But he believed in Jesus before he passed on. Now he is in the most wonderful place, waiting for me - and for you, too.

"If you believe, Simon, you will see him again. And while we wait, we can know this: our friend Cameron is full of joy - more than we can imagine. For that we can be happy, yes?"

"Mum, I have to believe? How?" Simon pleaded. "I want to see Cameron again, and go to heaven. It sounds so much nicer than this place."

Kathy took Simon's hand. "The funeral is beginning, Simon. Come in with me and help us remember your friend. I'll tell you about it once you come back home with me afterward - if you'd like to, of course."

Simon nodded, full of hope, and entered the meetinghouse with her.
**

God is "famous" for bringing "Kathys" into our lives when we struggle, isn't He? He is SO good!
Do you have a story you'd like to share about God's goodness in your struggles? Drop me an email and we can talk! 
 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

6/5/12

Please Leave a Message After the Tone...

Cuz I'm not here today :) Not on my computer. Not on texting on my cell phone. AND, not using my brand new amazingly cool Kindle Fire.

Won't be twiddling my thumbs, however. It is the last week of school, after all. Hubby and I will have an inexpensive lunch out, followed by a trip to the Inventors' Hall of Fame in my son's fifth grade class (he'll be Thomas Edison!). Also planning to get some cleaning (and reading) done - and maybe write a post for The Barn Door.

See ya tomorrow!



 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

6/4/12

The Art of Panic

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

You know how they say that God is faithful? That He gives you the strength to do what you need to? That He will never leave you nor forsake you?
Well, I don't believe it.
 Now - before you run screaming from this post, wondering who hacked Joanne's blog, gimme a few more paragraphs. Please?

For the past several days, I'd been feeling overwhelmed. I looked at my schedule for this week a few days ago, and it was all I could do to keep my breathing under control. Saturday? A soccer game at ten, a wedding at 2, and a pool party at 4. Sunday? Church in the morning, and ANOTHER pool party all that afternoon. Driving for a field trip Monday, errands Tuesday and Wednesday, TWO awards assemblies on Thursday, and half day of school Friday.

WHEN WAS I GOING TO GET ANYTHING DONE?

Seriously - what was God thinking when he put all that stuff in my life - during the kids' last week of school?  That was supposed to be my last few days to enjoy the relative quiet of the house. To get some stuff done with out child interruption. To relax before the craziness of kids 24/7 hit.

Okay - I'll be straight with you. I never SAID these things out loud. Didn't even think them, to be honest. But I sure acted like I did.

Every time I stressed about my loaded schedule, I was doubting His faithfulness. Every time I rolled my eyes as another activity was added to my agenda, I was doubting His willingness to strengthen me for my tasks. And every time I grumbled about what I wouldn't be able to accomplish, I was doubting His plan for me this week. I was assuming He was gonna leave me hanging - forsake me.

Yes, there is an art to panic. And, I'm ashamed to say, it's one I have developed quite a talent for. But if I can trust in God, and remember it is His plan, not mine, that I need to follow, I can have peace instead.

Whether he lightens my load or not (which, by the way, he actually did for this week), I will accomplish EXACTLY what He wants me to, if I will only trust him and abandon the art of panic.

**



How easily do you slip into panic mode? Can you put actions behind the words you speak of trusting Him with everything in your life? How do you transfer your anxiety into trust?



Comment below, and/or stop by Living by Grace and we can chat a bit!



 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

6/2/12

Into The Unknown - A Goals/Progress Update

Yeah. I've said it before. But I gotta say it again.

 THIS YEAR IS FLYING BY!

As of you reading this, my children have four and a half days of school left. My little Andrew will be in MIDDLE SCHOOL next year, and my baby is going into third grade. :::thud:::

But THAT'S not what this post is about. It's about my writing goals. And June is a month of questions. Mostly about how much time I'll have to get stuff done. The kids will be home most of the month, and my driving time will be decreased dramatically. Does that mean I'll have more or less time? Beats me.

ANYhow - let's start with May. How did I do? Well, let's look at my goals, right from my goals/progress post from last month!
  • Keep up and learn from the month-long online Setting as Description class I'm signed up for in May (actually started yesterday) at Savvy Authors. This one sounds GOOD, especially for a biblical fiction writer like me. And I'll bet it's not too late to sign up, since it's only been going for 24 hours. Join me? (though I SHOULD mention there's already an assignment due at the end of today - which I've finished so I can ENJOY my tech-free day!)
  • Work on what I've learned in my classes this year to Handmaiden to A Princess, "fixing" another 30 pages of the manuscript.
  • Learn from Janice Thompson's FREE class on the ACFW course loop - Adding Humor to Your Writing (this one sounds FUN!). (this is a "want to" - will let this one slide if I get too overwhelmed - can always go back and look at it later)
 Oh! Oh! - I did meet one of my goals! (almost). That setting as description class? WONDERFUL! Learned tons (watch for my post this coming Thursday on what I learned about the writing craft in May). However, I did NOT do the last assignment. May was crazy AWAY from the puter, so didn't want to drive myself even more crazy by pushing too hard. But it REALLY was a great class- and I'll likely be taking another from this same teacher (Devon Ellington) at some time in the future.

I didn't manage to keep up in the ACFW humor class, but I DID save the lessons for later perusal. And I WILL peruse later. Promise.

I did work on Handmaiden to a Princess, though that thirty-page goal was only a pipe dream for a crazy-busy month like May (I ALWAYS forget how busy May is until I'm in the middle of it). And I'm a really, REALLY slow editor. Do I really need to tell you I finished May on page 34, which means I only made it through ten pages? I didn't think so ;)

So, that was May. Now, on to June! I'm actually setting a pretty ambitious goal for my editing for June - partly because I'm in an accountability group about it - Novel Track-Editing, through ACFW. So keep that in mind.

Without further ado - my goals for June:
  • Keep up in the FREE ACFW online course, The Snowflake, by "The Snowflake  Guy" himself, Randy Ingermanson. I have heard SO much good stuff about this method for planning a novel, and I read his wonderful post about it - and am TOTALLY intrigued. Looking forward to working through this with him. I know I will learn TONS!
  • Work on what I've learned in my classes this year to Handmaiden to A Princess, "fixing" another 60 pages of the manuscript. That brings me very, VERY close to the end of what I've got written so far.
I think I'm leaving it at that this month. Looks like PLENTY, along with my other duties here and elsewhere.

Thanks for reading this far - and for encouraging me throughout this journey of mine!

Do you have goals for June? What are they?

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

6/1/12

Finds for Fridays: June 1

  Finds for Fridays is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following close to 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

And here they are!


Christian Writers Should Always Be In Trouble by Lori Stanley Roeleveld at Deeper with Jesus in Rhode Island (about taking risks for Him)

What It Really Takes to Succeed in Publishing by Janet Kobobel Grant at Books and Such Blog (about bitter training and sweet fruit)

When God Speaks a "Something" Over You By Elaine Olsen at Peace for the Journey (about waiting for what God has for you)

Hope these posts bless you. I know they have me!
 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

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