"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

9/30/12

Getting Accountable - A Goals/Progress Update

Are you looking for a writing accountability group? Well, my dear friend Patty Wysong has started one. It's called Forward March, and, very simply, it's a place to post weekly goals and then report back and get some encouragement (and even a wet noodle on occasion if needed). Sound interesting? Go here and request membership (mention you learned about it on my blog) and we'll let you in!

I've been in an accountability group like this for a bit, and it makes a HUGE difference. Hope you'll join us!
Of course, this post in and of itself is about accountability. And it helps - at least I think so. I guess when I look at last month's goals I'll know for sure, eh?

And here they are - direct from last month's goals/progress post:
  • Look through many of the resources I learned about from my Writing and Researching Historical Fiction class in July, doing some research for Handmaiden to a Princess.
  • Get as much as I can out of September's free ACFW course: Plodding vs. Plotting - How to Get Your Novel Moving, taught by Henry McLaughlin.
  • Prepare a chapter of Handmaiden to a Princess for the free edit Cindy Vallar (teacher of the writing and researching historical fiction class I took) offered to all her students. 
I did do some research for Handmaiden to a Princess, though mostly just finding books I should check out, and websites I should read through, at some point in the future. And I'm not even done with that. But some progress is better than none, right?

And the class - definitely kept up with that (plus more! I participated in the unofficial ACFW At-Home Conference, and started another class on Goal, Motivation and Conflict a week ago that runs through most of the rest of October).

And I did NOT work on the chapter for Cindy Vallar - but that's okay, cuz September was an "adjustment month."  I think I have an idea of how my days are going to go now. Maybe ;)

Sooo - on to October (only a day away - can hardly believe it!).

And here are my goals:
  • More research for Handmaiden to a Princess
  • Keep up in the Mastering Goal, Motivation, and Conflict class at Savvy Authors
  • Keep up in October's free ACFW course on characterization
  • Prepare a chapter of Handmaiden to a Princess for the free edit Cindy Vallar (teacher of the writing and researching historical fiction class I took) offered to all her students. 
Sounds good to me. Hoping this post (and that accountability group you are MORE THAN WELCOME to join) can help! Thanks for reading!



Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

9/28/12

Fiinds for Fridays: September 28

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 I 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!

Turning Trials into Triumphs - James 1:2-11 by Patty Wysong at Patterings (about just what it says - an INCREDIBLE Bible study lesson)

Through The Haze by Joy Bach at Life Moments (about warnings and rules and His glory)

The Emerging Story by Tricia Lott Williford at WordServe Water Cooler (about how God gives us our story)

The Moment The Walls Talked by Elaine Olsen at Peace for the Journey (about empathy and suffering and moments)

Should I Write My Cool Personal Story? By Chip MacGregor at his blog (a post I NEEDED to read. Maybe you do too)

Some good stuff here, folks. Hope you'll check them out!

 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

9/26/12

Guest Ann Hair - Living - 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
 Ann is a dear friend of mine - a "neighborhood" friend, and my hairdresser. She was a HUGE support to hubby and me during his health issues (In fact, if my book gets published, her name will be in print LOL). She is my prayer sister and an AMAZING witness and woman. And she, as you see, has had her own trials. And they have blessed her.


Living
By Ann Hair

I was always cautious, even fearful. Then, thankfully, cancer invaded my body. It is still surreal five years after surgery. What is very real is the impact it had on my thinking.

Our son has always been more on the adventurous side, which caused some anxiety for his parents. Through him I realized that I had been safe and careful most of my life...not even a broken bone...and yet, I was facing the reality that this "thing" could take me out. I had done nothing to cause it, nor could I have been more careful to prevent it, yet my life was at risk.

This is when I began to really LIVE life. I knew the passage of scripture that Jesus came that we may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10). Now I understood with my being what that really means. After salvation, we are ALIVE.

So last year, when my husband suggested I learn to ride my own motorcycle (so we could take our teen daughter on his bike with him), I seized the challenge. He shopped for me a good used starter bike and brought one home in the back of our pickup truck.

One summer evening, I drove my car and he drove my bike to the school parking lot.

I sat on my bike and said, "Now what?"
No - this is NOT Ann ;) Photo source

He said, "Well, you need to start it."

I said, "Yes...How do I do that?"

I didn't even know how to start a motorcycle! We practiced balance and shifting and turning until I had confidence to practice for the skills test to get my cycle endorsement on my drivers license. It was all so scary and so thrilling at the same time. And it still is.

I have my endorsement now and we have been on many rides this summer. I wish I could describe the feeling after riding in a short sleeve T-shirt, the wind on my arms and the prickly sensation when I stop at a light. Smelling (not always pleasant by the way), seeing, hearing, feeling, all wonderfully exaggerated. Taking the lean on the curves. The heightened awareness of surroundings. The togetherness with my husband, daughter...and now, our son!
But... this IS her bike :D

This summer he received his cycle endorsement and rides his bike to work and college and on pleasure rides with us.

Now when people ask about the dangers of riding a motorcycle, I assure them I am not reckless...just living. And if I die riding that bike, don't be sad for me because I will have died LIVING.

 God is so GOOD.


Ann Hair is married 23 years to one great man; mother of one son, a college freshman; and one daughter, a high school freshman. (yes it's a blast!) She is a part-time home salon hairstylist and cancer survivor with a passion for following Jesus and sharing His love with others.
 **
God uses our struggles to allow us to truly live abundantly. And some of us  do. 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

9/24/12

Context

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 2 Peter 1:20

As a writer, and former English teacher, context is important. I was always taught to be sure I consider "the words around" a statement, and the actions of the speaker, to ensure I grasp the correct meaning.

"I'm sorry" can mean the exact opposite of those words' dictionary definitions if said in a certain tone, or in a certain situation.

 Of course, one of the most dangerous places to do this is in God's Word. One verse pulled from just about any book of the Bible (but perhaps especially Ecclesiastes!!) can easily be used to profess something God was not in any way saying or advocating.

But it doesn't stop folks from doing it. And it can do some serious damage to a new believer, a seeker, and/or the cause of Christ.
But guess what? I'm gonna do it anyway. (don't run away screaming, please - gimme a minute or so, okay?)
My post today was to be about selfishness (mostly mine), but when I was searching on Bible Gateway for a verse, one jumped out at me and I HAD to grab it and write about it. Because it's a profound truth. Because it's the reminder I needed to deal with my selfishness. Because it helped me get my focus back where it needed to be.

You see, my selfishness was caused by my focus. It had been a long, busy week. I felt like a headless chicken. And there was somewhere else I wished I could have been - which wasn't helping. I just wanted everything to go smoothly, and easily, and wonderfully.

I was looking around at my circumstances and whining that they weren't ideal for me. And it was making me grumpy.

All I really needed to do was stop by Bible Gateway, do a search, and come up with Matthew 17:8. And there was my answer.
When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
That's what I need to do. Look up. Nothing up there but Jesus, right? Keep my eyes off my circumstances and focus on Him, and the selfishness will be gone. :)

Now that MAY be true - (and, in fact, it likely is) but you do NOT build a philosophy or worldview from ten words pulled from the middle of some chapter. What if the verse that popped up had been Numbers 25:17? Or Exodus 21:23-25? Or 1 Timothy 5:23? (yeah- go look 'em up)

So, be careful where you get your lessons - watch context, and, most importantly, the Spirit's guiding of you. His Word is powerful - just be sure you're paying attention.

So, who looked up Matthew 17:8 and checked the context? Did any of you know where it was from without looking it up? Do you sometimes find yourself taking verses out of context?
**


We're chatting about this here, and at Living By Grace on Facebook. Hope you'll join the discussion!

 

 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

9/21/12

Finds for Fridays: September 21

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 I 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!

In Hiding? by LauraLee Shaw at Faith Colored Glasses (about where I should run)

3 Common Misconceptions About Eating Disorders by Christa Black at The Character Therapist (about someone who's been there. This post amazed me)

A Question That Changes Everything by Michael Hyatt at his blog (about making lemonade from lemons)

What Kind of a God Does That? by Lori Stanley Roeleveld at Deeper with Jesus in Rhode Island (about our incredibly creative Creator)

Nonviewpoint Character Scenes by Cara Lynn James at Seekerville (about writing a scene about a non-viewpoint character. VERY helpful to me!)

An interesting mixture this week, I think - every one of them worth reading. Hope you get the chance! Thanks for stopping by.


Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

9/19/12

But Even If He Does Not... God Is So Good




Philippians is one of my favorite books of the Bible. But there are  a couple verses in there that I really struggle with. Not because I don't agree with them, but because it's so hard, because it goes against what I prefer. Check out my thoughts on the Jewels of Encouragement blog.

***********************************************



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
Trust is sometimes tough for me. Despite God's continued faithfulness to me in so many areas (just scroll through my past God is so Good posts for some examples), trusting Him to take care of me is not as simple as it should be. And I'm sure at least some of it is because my definition of taking care of me is not always His. I know what I think is best, and He and I don't always share that opinion. 

What I need is the faith of three guys in Babylon. Betcha you know who I'm talking about, too :)

BUT EVEN IF HE DOES NOT...

Ever since I got saved in 1999, I've read through the Bible just about every year. Every book speaks to me - often differently each time I read it. But there's one place that impresses me, yearly almost without a fault, as one of the most incredible statements of faith in God in the Bible—in my opinion, anyway. And it's in the book of Daniel.

Let me set the scene. Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, are in the service of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He has recently built a 50-foot statue, and demanded that every one of his subject bow down and worship it. These three men of God, high up in Nebuchadnezzar’s organization, refuse to worship anyone but their Lord.

Photo Credit
The king approaches the three men and gives them one more chance to obey: "If you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?" Daniel 3:15 NIV

Now, if I had been one of those men, I'm fairly certain my panic alarm would have gone off at maximum volume. Doubts, anxiety, and fear would have dominated my thoughts. I might have even bowed (with my body) just to save my life (admit it--you might have considered it too!).

But not these guys.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Daniel 3:16-18 NIV

Now that, my friends, is faith. These men knew He could save them, but were willing to pay the ultimate price even if He chose not to do what they wanted. That is faith no matter the circumstances-- faith despite circumstances.

There are many around the world who are faced with the same dilemma as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: men and women who risk their lives, families, finances, possessions and everything else every day just to share the Gospel, or to live it out. The persecuted church is huge, yet it is the fastest growing part of the body of Christ. These people are willing to look their oppressors in the face and say "but even if He does not." And in some cases, He does not. But they still say it.

That is the kind of faith I want.

Heavenly Father, I pray for all those who are suffering for their faith, for those who risk death daily because of their love for You. Give them the strength to say, and life "but even if He does not" each day. Strengthen them, and hold them close to You.

And Lord, I pray that you would give me that kind of faith. Help me to trust You enough to live for You no matter what the consequences. Make me an "but even if He does not" Christian.
In Jesus' name. Amen.

Only God can give us this kind of faith. And only He will provide what we need, not necessarily what we want. 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

9/18/12

Growing...Together


I've been saved for just over a dozen years, and I still have so very much to learn. But now I need to teach some of what I've learned to my daughter. Or maybe it's the other way around. :) Stop by the Internet Cafe, where I'm talking about this new experience for both of us. Read how we're Growing Together.

 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

9/17/12

Not Just the Word

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:23 NIV

God's Word, Isaiah said, will never return void (Isaiah 55:11). It is a  powerful tool, especially for salvation, but it isn't the ONLY one.

Our pastor is preaching through 1 Peter, and yesterday he covered the last couple verses of the first chapter, which discusses the powerful, imperishable, everlasting Word of God - the Bible.

But just hearing His Word isn't enough. There is another Piece of the puzzle that must be present for someone to be born again.
What piece, you ask? The Holy Spirit.

I don't know about you, but this encouraged me.

I'll be the first to admit that evangelism is not in my comfort zone. I'm afraid of messing up, of not being clear, of messing up my relationship with someone, of, more bluntly, ruining someone for God's kingdom. Ever worried like that?

But, knowing the Spirit is also a factor ensures me that it is NOT all up to me. It's not MY job to "save someone." All I need to do is present His Word to the lost. The rest is up to the Holy Spirit, Who is the only One who can make those seeds grow (1 Corinthians 3:6). 
I grew up reading some parts of the Bible. I knew book, chapter and verse of several books of the Old Testament as early as I could read. But it wasn't until the Spirit took hold of me and showed me Who the suffering servant was (Isaiah 53:4-6) that thirty-two years of reading His Word turned into my second birth.

Getting frustrated that sharing the Romans road is leading you down a dead end street? Remember, sow the seed (with God's leading) and wait for His Spirit to work. You're only part of the equation :)

**

We're chatting about this here, and  at Living By Grace on Facebook. Hope you'll join the discussion!


 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

9/14/12

Finds For Fridays: September 14

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 I 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 Ready For Some Football? By Liz Tolsma at The Barn Door (about what those football terms REALLY mean - definitely a funny one!)

How Do I Get The Most Out Of My Critique Group? by Chip MacGregor at his blog (what looks like a GREAT format for a critique group!)

Heavenly Tax Tables by Lynda Schultz at Grains of Sand (about giving to God what is God's)

Something Different from a Typewriter by Michael Scott at AuthorCulture (about some INCREDIBLE art - don't miss this one!)

Hope these post bless you/make you laugh/make you think. Enjoy!
 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

9/12/12

A List: 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
Perhaps the fact that I'm writing this post on September 11 is why I'm having trouble coming up with a topic for my God is So Good entry this week. So forgive me if this isn't up to my normal quality - whatever that is. I think maybe a list is what I need to write - to help me remember the many, MANY sign's of God's presence in my trials - in ALL our trials.

Nine years and 30 days ago, my husband was being prepped for his first brain surgery, to occur the next day. I couldn't see God's blessings on that day. They were there - but I couldn't see them. When you're in the middle, you generally don't. Too much other stuff going on. It took a while - that clarity that comes only from hindsight - until I could.

Maybe you're where I was. Maybe you can't possibly see the good in your terrible situation. And maybe you don't want to wait for hindsight. Perhaps this list of what I can see now will help you.
  • A modern hospital
  • Praying friends and family
  • Junk food vending machines (and change machines so you can use them!)
  • Smiling nurses
  • Bible verses that pop into your head
  • Telephones
  • Salvation
  • The hope of heaven
  • A hug from my reserved son
  • A father willing to call everyone so I don't have to
  • Medication
  • Willing helpers
  • Enough chairs in the patient room
  • It was found in time
  • God's knowledge of this from eternity past
He IS there, my friend. And He is good. SOOO 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

9/10/12

Real Life

I'm guest blogging over at my dear friend Kimberly Russell's blog today, Roar of A Lioness. Kim's a neat lady and a great writer and when she asked for a post from me, I certainly couldn't say no, could I? Stop by and see what I have to say about Self-Opening Gates.
 Real life wears me out.

One week ago tomorrow, my kids started school. My oldest entered middle school and my daughter moved up to third grade. Lots of change.

Gone were the lazy (or at least lazier) days of summer. Of, more often than not, waking up  to a leisurely morning with no rush to get out the door. Of relatively unscheduled days. Of limited responsibilities.

Nope - it's school time. Where waking up after 7am is considered sleeping in. Where not wearing my chauffer's cap is the exception rather than the rule. Where recreation, in fact, may be the exception rather than the rule.

The most common refrain this week - from ALL of us? "I'm tired." Getting back into that groove of school takes something out of you - even when you're the one staying home! ( I won't tell you what interesting place I fell asleep at this week, but the person speaking's title started with a p :::blush::: )

But, just like adjusting to anything new, eventually we'll get back into the swing of things, and "real life" will feel more normal - and less tiring - than it does now.

Cuz we all have our seasons - and no matter how much we may enjoy those carefree(ish) lazy(ish) days past, it's time to get back to work.


The Lord allows a time of rejuvenation and rest (think of the Jubilee year in the Old Testament, not to mention the Sabbath and other holy days), but being about our Father's business is, well, our business.

It's good (though tiring) to be back in the real world again :)

**

We're chatting about this here, and  at Living By Grace on Facebook. Hope you'll join the discussion!






Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

9/9/12

School's back in session, but...


The Barn Door
 I'm reliving one of the highlights of my summer today over at The Barn Door.

Late last month, my family took a little vacation to Cincinnati, Ohio - what a fun time we had. Hope you'll stop by to hear what we did, see some pictures, and hear the verdict on a return trip. Check the post out here.

Have a blessed Lord's Day :)


Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

9/7/12

Finds for Fridays: September 7

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 I 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!

Empty Handed by Lynda Schultz at Grains of Sand (about where your heart is)

Puffed Up by Yvonne Blake at Jewels of Encouragement (about sin and selfishness and punching down the puff up)

How Can I Improve My Writing? By Chip MacGregor at his blog (about sharing your bad writing)

Thoughtful About Not Ourselves by Roseanna White at Writing Roseanna (about where our thoughts should be)

These posts blessed me, and I hope they do the same for you. Enjoy!


 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

9/6/12

Writing Craft Recap for August

I have declared 2012 my year to learn the writing craft better. And once a month, generally on the first Thursday of the month, I will share some of the highlights of what I've learned.

Click here to check it out
I spent August soaking in the amazingly helpful, incredibly wonderful Bestseller Society - run by writing gurus Jeff Gerke, Mary DeMuth, and Thomas Umstattd. They call the site a writers conference in a box - and it is an ABSOLUTELY apt description. Audio and video classes on just about every aspect of fiction and nonfiction writing and marketing you could possibly want. I listened to/watched twenty-five different sessions on everything from the first fifty pages to dialogue to memoir to using fiction techniques in your nonfiction. If you can become a member, I truly cannot recommend it more highly.

And if you can't, just check out some of what I learned there, as well as from a few writing magazines.

From The Bestseller Society:
  • Often, when a book is published, only one person at the publishing house has actually read the entire book.   
  • When writing your first draft, dismiss the angry English teacher from your shoulder.
  • People are generally either plot-first or character-first novelists - and generally which ever one they start with, they're not so good at the other.
  • Myers-Briggs is a great way to create a complex character.
  • The three easiest ways to get your fiction manuscript rejected are telling and not showing, POV errors, and weak characters.
  • Description is not telling (as in "show don't tell")
  • Most readers come to fiction hoping for a movie in their head.
  • You are your voice - you are not somebody else's.
  • Memoir is retelling our story to ourselves.
  • The key of great writing is enticement: leave things out - enticing the reader all the way through until the "payoff" later in the book.
  • Fiction is about watching someone navigate a change.
  • The purpose of your story is to take your main character on his/her inner journey.
  • It takes ten thousand hours to establish yourself as a genius in something.
  • Your worth should not be tied to your work.
  • Failure does not automatically equal disobedience or sin. Failure is an important component of our lives - some lessons only failure can teach
  • Creating your plot is building the stage your character will change on.
  • The question to ask which will fix most telling is: Can the camera see it? (a couple others - can the microphone hear it? Can the senses pick it up?)
  • What makes a great writer is the village surrounding that writer – the people who are with you on your publishing journey. 
  • The first fifty pages of your book must engage your reader and set up the rest of the book.
  • Your story basically begins when your MC steps on stage - anything before that is a de-facto prologue. 
From the August and September Issues of The Writer:
  • Discipline, however it looks, is more important than writing every day.
  • We want to read about people who are more energetic, more motivated, and more driven than the average person.
  • This book looks WAY too fun!
  • A symbolic object in your story can represent something larger than itself and can be a shortcut to theme.
Good stuff, eh? Watch for my post NEXT month, when I feature, among other things, what I learn from the free ACFW course Plodding vs. Plotting.

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

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

9/5/12

The King Has Left The Building - 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'm sharing a bit of fiction today. I wrote this for the FaithWriters Writing Challenge almost five years ago (gasp!!). It's a favorite of mine, and I hope it shows you God's presence in today's world. Enjoy.

THE KING HAS LEFT THE BUILDING

"It looks like a castle, Mama." Becky tugged on her mother's scarf, her eyes never leaving the structure. "Does a king live there?"

Photo Credit
Rachel looked at the building's columns and turrets. "It's a cathedral, Sweetheart. A big church. Kings live in castles, not churches."

"Actually, a king did live there, but he hasn't been back for a while."

Becky turned toward the unfamiliar voice. A lad, perhaps twice Becky's age, smiled through a dirty face and torn clothes.

"Really?" Becky asked.

Rachel eyed the boy suspiciously, resting her hands on Becky's shoulders.

The boy nodded, smiling brightly. "In fact, I'm one of his subjects."

Becky looked him over. "He doesn't give you very nice clothes."

Rachel blushed. "Becky!" She turned toward the boy. "I'm sorry, young man. She didn't mean anything."

He grinned. "It's fine. She's right, of course. My king is very generous, but not necessarily in material ways. He always provides, though."

"You said he's gone." Becky scrunched up her face. "How does he give you stuff when he's gone?"

The boy laughed. "Oh, he's here. Just not in the cathedral."

Becky jumped up and down. "Can you show us where he is?" She turned toward Rachel. "Mom, can we please go see the king?"

Rachel looked down at her. "I'm sure this king doesn't meet with just anyone. We probably need an appointment."

The boy grinned, shaking his head. "No appointment necessary. We can go right now."

Becky left her mother's side and stood by the boy. Rachel raised her hand to call Becky back, but seeing her excitement, walked toward them instead.

"I'm Becky and I'm eight years old."

He grinned. "My name's Michael. Ready to go?"

Becky nodded eagerly. Michael looked back at Rachel, who also nodded.

"Okay then. Follow me."

Michael sauntered along the sidewalk. His guests followed. At the first intersection, he turned right, heading down an alley.

"Are you sure this is the way?" Rachel held her purse close to her chest.

"Positive."

About 500 yards down, they arrived at a dead end, strewn with garbage. Michael pointed into a corner of the alley, behind a beaten-up refrigerator box.

Before them were two women, both seated on the pavement. One, probably in her 60's, was ghostly pale and clearly sick. She was resting her head in the lap of the second woman, in her late teens, who was running her fingers through the ill woman's hair. Both ladies, to the shock of Rachel and Becky, were smiling.

Becky turned to Michael and glared at him. "Kings are boys. These are not boys."

"Kings are also wealthy: they don't live in alleys." Rachel grabbed her daughter's hand. "Let's go."

"My king has wealth beyond your wildest imagination, and he is here." Michael gently grasped Rachel's hand and led her back to the women. Becky followed.

"Look at them." Michael pointed toward the women and smiled. "Have you ever seen such happiness on the faces of women so sick and destitute? Only the greatest riches - the riches of Christ their King - can produce this joy, this peace.

"You know, it's been said that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is there.*" Michael pointed up the alley, where the three had walked moments before. "That cathedral used to be filled with my King. But not any longer. The people who enter that building these days worship their egos, their possessions, themselves." He turned toward the women and knelt in front of them. "The real church is here. My King is here, with Sarah and young Teresa."

Rachel wept. She knelt beside Sarah. "Is there anything I can do for you?"

Sarah smiled. "Your scarf would be lovely, if you don't mind? Prayers would also be a blessing."

Rachel removed her scarf and wrapped it around Sarah. "I would be honored to pray for you."

Becky removed her own scarf and gave it to Teresa. "Here you go."

"Thank you. God bless you, dear."

Becky bit her lip, then tapped her mother on the shoulder. "I have an idea, Mom."

All eyes turned to the girl. "Why don't we all go pray for them in that church? Then the King will go back there; right, Michael?"

"That he will, Becky. That he will." Michael looked to Sarah and Teresa. "Ladies?"

"God bless you, Michael, but we'll stay here."

Michael, Rachel, and Becky walked back to the cathedral hand in hand. And, for a sweet moment, the King was back in His castle.

* Matthew 18:20

**
May the King stay in His castle, and in the midst of His people. 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

9/4/12

Addressing the Mess

And I'll have NO excuse not to.

 Not only is it my monthly Tech-free Tuesday, but it's the kids' first day of school! So I'll have seven hours or so of no kids in the house. The kids' rooms are looking fantastic (we worked on that together last week!) - but the rest of the house? Let's just say you may NOT come over until Wednesday at the earliest. ;)

So, have a great day - and I'll see you Wednesday!

 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

9/3/12

Finding the Clean

The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. Deuteronomy 30:6

Confession time: I am not a neat person, and my house, as a rule, shows it. This summer, I must admit, has been worse than usual. And I'm feeling bad about it. For the most part, I tend to clean only when I absolutely have to, and only as much as is necessary.

But the past week or so, I've been working on getting my kids' rooms neat for the school year.  And they look great - but the rest of the house?

Pitiful in comparison. So, I'm getting started, and it's not gonna be superficial.
Instead of just trying to get rid of the mess, I'm trying to "find the clean" beneath it.
An example? What I cleaned--really cleaned--the laundry room floor, I discovered that some of the pattern on the linoleum floor actually wasn't a pattern--it was dirt. And once I gave it a good scrubbing, the "real clean" shined through. Of course, once I found that one spot of clean under the dirt, I was especially motivated to find all the rest of it. And I wanted it OFF.

In a way, this is like our hearts. When the Lord saves us, he gives us a new, soft heart to replace our heart of stone. (Ezekiel 36:26) When we are new Christians, our soft, supple heart is especially sensitive to sin.

But as we spend a bit less time in His Word, and a bit more time focusing on our own wills, wants, and desires, sin starts to slip in and begins to create a kind of hard "coating" on our hearts--much like the dirt that got into the nooks and crannies of my floor. Sure, I might do a general "dusting" or light cleaning of the floor, but I never get back to that original clean unless I am serious about it.

And that, I believe, is what circumcision of the heart is about.
We cannot truly love, or feel the conviction of our and others' sins as strongly as God desires, if we have the hard, crusty remnants of sin surrounding our soft, supple hearts.
And like the physical ritual undergone by Jewish males, the fleshly covering of our hearts must be removed so we can be all God wants us to be.

Heavenly Father, circumcise our hearts. Cut away the fleshy covering of sin so we can feel and use the pure, supple heart that you have given us as Your children. May we recognize the sin that is building up and confess it, allowing you to scrub the gunk off it so we can love You with all our hearts and souls. In the Name of Your Precious Son I pray. Amen.

**

Have you let sin build up on your heart? Do you need a serious cleaning - a circumcision - of the heart the Lord gave you when He saved you? Thoughts? We're chatting about this here, and  at Living By Grace on Facebook. Hope you'll join the discussion!

 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

9/1/12

Longing for Routine - A Goals/Progress Update

Photo credit
Summer was good, but I'm ready for the kids to go back (only three days here!) so I can have a bit more quiet to get my stuff done. THOUGH, I really was quite productive this past month. Wanna see? Just keep reading.

So, here are were goals for August, direct from last month's goals/progress post:
  • Do a complete read-through/fix of Ailing Body Nourished Soul to prepare it for two dear friends to look it over/submission to the contest.
  • Look through many of the resources I learned about from my Writing and Researching Historical Fiction class last month, doing some research for Handmaiden to a Princess.
  • Take full advantage of my my one free month at www.bestsellersociety.com (a perk of taking the Jeff Gerke class last month!). Looks like an awesome resource!
Well, I finished my Ailing Body, Nourished Soul read through just this past Thursday (by the skin of my teeth, I tell you LOL), and have sent it off for its "friend edit." I don't need to submit it to the Write Integrity Press contest until the end of the year, so she (and my other friend who will look at it shortly) have  plenty of time.

And I CANNOT say enough amazing things about the Bestseller Society. I learned so, SO much in my month there! Made it through TWENTY-FIVE lessons in 31 days - and took pages and pages of notes. If you can afford it, I truly cannot recommend it more highly (and you can get a 14-day free trial to check it out.). There are classes on fiction, nonfiction, and marketing (and those 25 I took? That's not all of them - there were a few I couldn't get to in both the writing tracks, and I didn't even TOUCH marketing). Be sure to watch for my Writing Craft Recap post with just SOME of what I learned (it should be up this coming Thursday here at my blog). (And no, this is not a paid announcement)

However, with all that excitement (plus it being summer, and a vacation thrown in, I did NOT get to my Handmaiden to a Princess research. Oh well! :)

So, how about September? Well, here we go:
  • Look through many of the resources I learned about from my Writing and Researching Historical Fiction class in July, doing some research for Handmaiden to a Princess.
  • Get as much as I can out of September's free ACFW course: Plodding vs. Plotting - How to Get Your Novel Moving, taught by Henry McLaughlin.
  • Prepare a chapter of Handmaiden to a Princess for the free edit Cindy Vallar (teacher of the writing and researching historical fiction class I took) offered to all her students.
Well, with school starting, and getting back into routines and such, I think that's plenty for me. And I really should be keeping my house clean too ;).

Thanks  for reading, and encouraging me. You guys are wonderful!
 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009. Design expanded and personalized by PattyWysong.com 2011.

Back to TOP