Welcome to "Showers of Blessings" which is a blog for writers and their readers! It is my prayer you will find many blessings in these humble words as you open your heart to hear about my best friend, Jesus Christ. He has called me to write for Him and though I remain stunned by this, wondering how He could use someone like me in this competitive industry, I know He has equipped me to do the job or He would never have opened all the doors He has to a career in writing. He gets all the glory for such an awesome plan, believe me!

Below each post there is an indication of the number of comments for that post. If you click on that it will bring up the comments for you to read and allow you to leave a comment for me if you would like to do so. I look forward to hearing what you have to say and thank you for taking the time to step with me into the showers of blessings He shares with all of us through His Word!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


This morning in my devotional time I read Psalm 63:7 which says, “Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.” Simple words with extraordinary meaning for me right now. I dare say, for you as well.

He doesn’t say that we are to sing only when things are going well. When life is easy and comfortable. When pain and suffering are far away. When fear is not lurking behind every turn. Just sing!

Basking in the warmth of sunlight darkness becomes only a dim memory we quickly brush aside, and the joy that feeds our song bursts forth with little effort. But what of the deep shadows? They will return, no doubt, and we must be prepared. If we waste those lovely rays of liquid gold instead of storing them up for later, the night will be dark indeed and our voices silent. What a joy to know He never leads where His grace cannot sustain!

Abiding in the shadow of His wings is quite a different place than simply dwelling where there is no light. Living in close union with Him, angels surround us as His personal messengers of peace and courage and their wings protect our steps as directed by the Holy Spirit. There we find all the wisdom, comfort, and discernment needed to live as He intends. He truly is our helper and thus we can sing praise in spite of the circumstances.

As writers we have the ability to “sing” in a powerful way to bring Him honor, regardless of the adversity and chaos raging around us. We see His purpose fulfilled in our obedience and we grow in faith and understanding through it. Our calling is to write; publication is in His hands. Even through our difficult times He can receive glory, and we rest in the peace that comes from knowing He has used our gift once more.

During this special time of year as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord and the Savior of our souls, it is my longing more than ever to write as He would have me do. Perhaps it is in bowing my knee to the Prince of Peace and the King Above All Kings once again as the shepherds and wise men did so long ago that He reawakened that calling. In addition, facing the reality of the coming new year in just over a week, this yearning has intensified into a drive that is rapidly taking on a life of its own, stronger and more determined than ever before. I hope you will continue to join me here at Showers of Blessings throughout 2012 to discover with me more about writing and faith, how they intertwine so clearly, and the ways in which God can bless our love for the written word!

Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Year’s to each of you!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


How many times do writers write themselves into a corner because they haven’t researched a topic/place/event/time period carefully enough ahead of time? No one really knows the answer but I would imagine it happens quite often. The excitement of the story line compels us to type faster and faster and . . . before you know it, we don’t even recognize the plot thread any longer and have no idea where it is going!

That is why the delete key was invented! Do you know how many wasted pieces of paper authors used to have, wadded up in the trash can next to the desk or littering the floor, before the computer came along and changed everything? When I was in college, the one thing I dreaded more than anything was proofing a paper one last time and finding a typo or overlooked footnote that would require typing perhaps not just that one page over again but the whole thing. Oh, how I could have used a delete button back then!

When in the early stages of writing my just-finished novel, I dreamed of writing about the Cherokees. That was pre-Internet for one thing but with only a small amount of effort in researching this tribe I could have easily discovered the story would not fit these great people. Fulfilling a long-term dream, I finally had the opportunity to visit the Tsa-la-Gi Ancient Village in Tahlequah (OK), where they have recreated a Cherokee village and illustrated their history in a variety of ways. It did not take me ten minutes to realize I had the wrong tribe for my story! A sinking feeling overwhelmed me that day and I felt I had wasted so much time and energy going in the wrong direction for this book. Would it even be worth salvaging if I searched for another tribe to write about? Or would it be a false story shaped to fit the history instead of the other way around?

Within a few months and after much prayer and contemplating the future of my novel, I determined that it would, indeed, be valid if told from another tribe’s point of view. Apparently it had never been His intention that I pursue my idea, and somehow I had missed that message. Nothing in the plot, however, dictated a particular group of people, only the need to relate the tale of love, intrigue, forgiveness, and victory born out of deep tragedy that God had placed on my heart long ago and still begged for an outlet. One night while searching—this time online—I realized I had found the right tribe, the one God intended for me to honor all along! It came through a true story detailed on a website, about a white woman who was reared a Kiowa and never knew Christ until she was grown and quite elderly in fact. Totally caught up in her life’s experiences, I just knew in my heart that this was the right direction to go.

From there I spent about four years researching the Kiowa people and their history, culminating in being honored to meet a Kiowa woman greatly esteemed in her tribe today who also loves the Lord. She was the key to my book getting written with historical detail and authentic accuracy. No more glitches for this book!

It was not through my own cleverness that I was able to write myself out of this corner, believe me. Coming through the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, He rescued me and this tale, hopefully for posterity once it is published. His is the power to resolve glitches and smooth over mistakes, leaving the slate sparkling clean in His wake. I never cease to be amazed at how that works when He is behind a project, whether it be a book or a work of art or musical composition or a sewing project (I am not the greatest seamstress in the world!). Reshaping a partially-done anything is His specialty!

If you are laboring right now under the impression that you can only come to Him when you have cleaned up your act and have finally gotten it all done perfectly right, have I got a story of inspiration for you! He offers hope when the world takes it away with its condemnation, and brings peace when life threatens to destroy the very ground beneath your feet. First you must admit that you need His power, then sit back and watch how He reshapes your future! No less a miracle than what He did for me with this book.

And the title of this reworked novel? Very appropriate for its history—From Now Until Forever. Our God not only works in this world but also for all of eternity. What a thrill to anticipate what lies ahead when we know this to be true, know there will be no "glitches" with Him in control.

Monday, October 31, 2011


For the past several months God has been refining my ability to wait patiently for Him to act regarding my husband’s health situation. The challenge at times has been overwhelming but He remains as faithful as ever, not once turning His back on me but pushing for excellence rather than mediocrity. He won’t let me get away with offering only an average effort because He is not an “average” God!

During this chapter of my life, I decided to put aside my writing for a while because I felt I could not give it my best when so distracted by this one issue and all its ramifications. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that was a mistake of huge proportions. To think I might get by without responding to God’s call on me to write for Him, even for a very good reason and even for a short time, turned out to be a joke—except there wasn’t anything funny about it. Being called to write is rather like being “sorta pregnant”—either you are or you are not! No half way. He called and I answered but when did He rescind that call? Or even agree to put it on hold?

After a few miserable weeks I slowly changed my mind. To appease my restless mind and body, I began to consider an alternative. Perhaps I could write while caring for my husband as we endure this endless waiting we have been required to do. Reluctantly at first I wandered back to the computer for something more than checking e-mail. Though it had not been a long absence, I have to admit I had already forgotten the excitement that wells up somewhere deep inside when presented with a plot idea. My fingers literally itch to start creating! Not an easy task, mind you, but a necessary one for my emotional survival.

And I will not make that mistake again, believe me. Now I am up to my computer screen in character sketches, research on the history and peoples of the region to be featured, and a detailed outline of events in my new novel. It is to be the first in a four-part series and I am amazed that God believes me capable of such an enormous task. I’ve never reached this far professionally before. How far can God stretch me before I break? Much further than I imagine going, I’m afraid. Yet I have nothing to fear for He is right there beside me holding me up, both going before me and serving as my rear guard. Daily I remind Him that I cannot do this but He can through me, so I ask that He use my desire to tell a story with His wisdom and words to bring to life these people He’s created in my mind. If this is accomplished in my own strength, where is the miracle? I have to step back and allow Him room to work.

Echoing the sentiments of a lady I recently heard speak to a writing group, I claim the opportunity to allow God to write this story on my heart even when I am not seated at the computer. Whether I’m folding clothes, driving to a doctor’s appointment, or fixing a meal, I try to remain open to His inspiration at all moments. With children, we call those teachable moments. So I humbly ask that God give me a teachable spirit so I can write even when I am not writing. It’s all in His hands anyway!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Problems With the "Followers" Feature!

I'm not sure what has happened but apparently Blogspot is having trouble with "losing" the list of Followers on many blogs and they seem unable or unwilling to respond to questions as well as unable or unwilling to attempt to resolve the issue. If you have tried to follow my blog but have been unable to do so for any reason, please leave me a comment to that effect. I may have to invent my own customized feature on here to allow people to list their info that way instead of the regular way, if this problem cannot be fixed long-term. I apologize for any inconvenience or frustration this may have caused any of you and do hope you will persevere with me in spite of it! I am most eager to have you feel welcome on my blog site and to be able to participate fully in it as you desire. Without YOU, my readers, this project is a waste of time and effort!! Thanks again for hanging in there with me. God has plenty of showers of blessings to share with all of us yet!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

God’s Waiting Room

Are you in a waiting room right now? Perhaps you sit beside a loved one in anticipation of the results of an exam or the completion of a test or surgery, or maybe you wait for the doctor’s nurse to call your name to check out a disturbing symptom or other physical concern. You feel that loss of control, the helplessness that comes from not knowing and being unable to hurry things along. Well, I can relate!

For the past several months as we have been getting closer to having Gary qualified for the liver transplant list, there have been several lengthy times of waiting we have had to endure. Sometimes we’ve been here at home waiting on the phone to ring. Others we have been at a hospital waiting for the doctor to come tell us news. Let me tell you, this particular aspect of the whole transplant process I am not crazy about!

Last week while once more doing this, my least favorite thing, it dawned on me that we all spend time in waiting rooms of various sorts from time to time. Moving from one event in life to another, God requires many periods of waiting. He seldom hands us an answer on a silver platter, for instance, with all the loose ends neatly tied up in pretty bows, all perfect and attractive. Mine are usually disheveled and smudged, evidence of the normal hassles of life. Why can’t they look like those out of Southern Living? The “plate” is most often a hard wooden or plastic seat in a place where whiffs of various odors waft through unbidden. Why do they constantly assault my senses like they do?

At those moments we are inactive, forced to sit still while others are busy working presumably on our behalf, we can do nothing else. They will get to us when they can but meantime, we are perched on the edges of those seats wondering if the news will be good or bad or somewhere in between. Ours lately have not been particularly good, but I’m also keenly aware how much worse they could be, and I take whatever crumbs I can gather and paste a smile on my face and determine to give God the glory. I’m not being false or hypocritical here, just honest. We are called to hope, not to blindness or being brain dead! I can honor Him even when my heart is breaking.

As an author I also find myself waiting. Recently I submitted a Proposal to a prospective literary agent and sure enough, then I had to—wait! For twelve long, agonizing weeks. Without knowing a thing about its status. Wondering if she liked the story or was impressed by my marketing plan or repelled by my lack of experience in the publishing field. It was her prerogative to meet my implied questions with silence, and that is what she chose to do. I may never know why she rejected the Proposal and thus the manuscript. How can I improve if I don’t know what was wrong? I knew the risks when I sent it in but when that date passed without any word, I have to admit it still hurt. For a writer, this situation is replicated many times over and can feed your paranoia if you don’t know how to trust in God’s goodness. So I plow ahead, prepare the manuscript for yet another agent, and have faith in the Lord’s ultimate plan for the story to be told . . . someday!

After all, isn’t that the point? God requires us to trust Him. That means not knowing yet remaining confident He has everything under control. Whether it is a medical test result, news about a job interview, reply from a publisher, or a phone call from an estranged loved one, we all must wait from time to time. And trust. And believe. Hebrews 1:11 defines faith as “. . . being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” In other words, it’s not faith if we know ahead of time what’s going to happen! It takes time to develop friendships and it takes time to grow in maturity and knowledge. These waiting rooms are hard to go through but well worth the effort. For as we wait patiently, God is growing us in dependence on Him rather than on our own efforts. He hears our prayers and will act; we just have to take courage and have faith in His timing.

So as you sit in your waiting rooms this week, ponder what a blessing we possess in belonging to a God whose sovereignty trumps all ignorance or disaster!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

God and Feet, Part Three

The last installment in this series is taken from the book Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper. Again, I urge you to read the entire book to grasp the fullness of the author’s purpose, to show women today from lives of women of the past the importance of following this extraordinary God wherever He leads.

As a child I attended the movies one time to see “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness” which is the story of Gladys Aylward who served as a missionary in China for many years. This film had a profound impact on my life and formed the basis in later years for a sensitivity to missions in that country a long time before such an effort was possible from a political/governmental view. I find it interesting how God has used that for the past 50+ years to shape my desire to pray and give to missions, even though He has never opened the doors to my going.

For a long time, the same thing happened in Gladys’ life. She was poor, uneducated, and without any resources whatsoever to go to China; yet, she felt God had impressed on her heart this was where He desired her to serve Him. Gladys was born in 1902 in a poor section of London, did not like school at all and eventually dropped out to become a parlor maid in wealthy households. Through many of these contacts, God began shaping her life to experience Him in a real and personal way she never dreamed possible. He prepared her carefully for her future but for quite a while she had no idea where her future lay. Once it became clear how He had equipped her spiritually, she began wondering how He would manage the financial aspect. It cost a great deal to travel to China back then and no missionary group would commission her. That didn’t concern her, though, because she knew God had called her and He would provide—somehow. Of that, she was absolutely certain. How was up to Him.

Eventually she was hired as a maid by a famous adventurer who had explored much of China and Tibet. How’s that for God’s purposes being fulfilled? The day after she arrived, she prayed once more about her desire to go to Asia to share the Gospel there and then laid out on the bed all her money at that point, promising God that if He continued to call her, she would go even with this meager provision. A moment later, she got word her new mistress wanted to see her. With great anxiety she entered the room but the kindness of the lady of the house soon dispelled all her fears. She repaid Gladys the money she’d been out to get to their home and within seconds, through no effort of her own, God managed to increase her savings more than a thousand percent! The goal was still a long ways off but this excited young woman took it as a sign that God would, indeed, provide the way for His calling on her life.

And indeed, He did. She eventually went (the story of her journey itself is amazing!) and through great difficulties, tremendous danger, and apparently insurmountable odds over the next twenty years, accomplished acts of service that truly seem more the stuff of Hollywood than the people of God! Hers is a breathtaking story of excitement, frustrations, anxiety, starvation, and hiding from authorities to avoid execution, and even a bittersweet love story. Most importantly, it is a tale of God’s provision far beyond the human ability to see how He has planned for it, and not once but many, many times during her lifetime.

At one point Gladys led more than 100 children on foot over mountains and rough terrain to avoid Japanese soldiers during the war in order to deliver them safely to an orphanage that had agreed to take them, achieving through sheer determination in following God’s leadership what man said could not be done. Another time she was called by the local mandarin to quell a prison riot and soon found herself in grave danger amongst society’s worst in horrific circumstances, yet God used her to bring peace to these men that opened the door to her service among the people for years to come. Soon after arriving she was appointed Foot Inspector and this unique position allowed her to minister God’s Word throughout the region unfettered and with the authority of the government as she freed young girls from the horror of foot binding wherever she went. Our God is, indeed, a mighty Sovereign!

God used the lowly foot to provide an opportunity for Gladys to share Christ in amazing ways among the Chinese people, even as He put feet to her desire to take her Savior to the lowliest of the low in that society. Many footsteps were taken over those dangerous and enemy-filled mountains in her daring rescue of the children, with some leading directly to Heaven through loss of life and others leading eventually to a new home far away from the sounds of war. But always, she managed to follow in His footsteps.

Can we do any less with our humble lives? We may not be called to China or ever experience the horror of war. But God has a plan for my life—and for your life—and if we are willing to go, He will provide the way and the direction, of that we can rest assured. Over the seas, over the mountains, over the rough terrain of any unknown place—these are the steps God shows us and calls us to follow, even right here in our own country. Let Gladys Aylward’s life serve as an example when you take those steps today that lead you closer to what God has planned for your future, either as a Christian or as a writer or as both!

Monday, May 16, 2011

God and Deep Waters, Part Two

Another aspect of the book Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper that I would like to share with you was also found in the story of Lilias Trotter’s life, in addition to my last post about her. As she struggled to find ways to make contacts with the Arab women in Algeria more than 150 years ago, she faced many setbacks and times of discouragement, as you can well imagine. One of the first challenges was learning to speak Arabic.

Back then, there were no language schools for missionaries so Lilias scrambled to learn as best she could from listening to it daily in the marketplace or in homes or on the streets. She developed embroidery classes for girls when she realized the children were the key to reaching the mothers. In addition, she held Bible classes for the girls and women alike, since most were illiterate and not permitted to attend schools. When invited into homes, she fellowshipped with the women as is done all over the world: chatting about parenting, satisfying curiosity about the world outside their city, and discovering similarities with these women to whom God had called her. She dreamed of Christian literature being made available to them where they could learn on their own and in their native language, a dream that came true finally in the early 1900s much to the delight of this energetic and dedicated missionary lady.

As she and her fellow laborers for Christ learned more about the culture in which they lived, the more evil reared its ugly head on every side. She described at one point how our enemy seems ever ready with a counter-move to every move God makes! Strange illnesses manifested themselves everywhere and many appeared to be more a case of demon possession than true sickness. It was an oppressive environment but God continued to bring victories in spite of it all.

One particular lesson I gleaned from reading about her amazing life in service to our Lord came in an example she drew from studying Scripture references to shallow waters versus deep ones. For you see, in shallow waters you can neither sink nor swim! Their very nature won’t permit anything but plodding through them. Not much danger but then, neither is the triumph important in the end. Anyone can manage to do that, putting one foot in front of the other and maintaining your balance so as not to get soaked.

It is when you encounter the deep waters that the real test of faith emerges. When you suddenly realize, as you lose your footing on the bottom, that you are in over your head and the imminent peril from drowning screams out at you with each desperate gasp for air, that is when your need for a Savior, a Deliverer, is essential! You cry out for Him to set your feet on a rock that will hold you above the waves; you cry out for rescue to keep you alive; you cry out for an ability beyond your own to survive this threat—and He answers! That answer might be in a reminder of how to quickly move out of the danger by swimming for safety. Or, He might reach out His hand as Jesus did to Peter one time and lift you into a place of safety without any effort on your part. But more than likely, it will require you to do something, even in a leap of faith and trust, to bring about your safety.

Do not rail against the shallows for they give you opportunity to strengthen your muscles and ability to trust in a compassionate God who sees and cares! And do not panic when you find yourself in over your head. It is then our God’s power can best be shown, through our weakness and helplessness. Lilias Trotter learned to accept both and the successes God earned through her efforts were tremendous and are still today being felt by missionaries everywhere.

God is faithful in the shallow waters as well as the deep ones. It is up to us to discover this truth whenever our pathway leads us to them. God is always faithful!

Monday, May 9, 2011


Recently I read a book called Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper (thanks to the urging of my oldest daughter!). The author has collected the stories of five women in history who took strong stands for their faith in the face of great persecution, physical and emotional torture, severe hardships of various sorts, and even near-martrydom. To be honest, I’d only heard of two of them and didn’t know that much about either one. I was fascinated to read about all these women who were certainly known to God for the incredible suffering they endured in vastly different places, times, and circumstances, emerging stronger in their faith and with amazing stories of influence and victory because of all they went through.

There were several lessons that stood out above the others for me personally and I will try to recreate these for you here in another three-part series as I feel they bring to light how God works in our lives today as well, as Christians and as writers. However, I would urge you to get this book and read the full accounting for yourselves. It will be well worth it! I’m not trying to review the book as much as reflect on how God has used it in my own struggles as a Christian writer as well as personally in other areas of my life. Hopefully, you can apply these to your own experiences as well.

God and the Eye - Part One

Lilias Trotter lived in the 1850s in England and eventually became a missionary to Algeria for over forty years, opening doors to ministry with Muslims that paved the way to modern efforts today in that part of the world. In her younger years she had potential to become a great artist but chose to enjoy her art as a gift not as the passion of her life when the call God had on her heart for missions became inescapable. What a courageous act of faith! Due to her artistic training and experience, one of her consistent thought patterns centered around how to find the focus of one’s life as it fluctuates and changes and keep it more balanced.

Where does your mind go early in the morning before you are out of bed? Where do your thoughts wander when the pressure is off your hectic pace and you finally have a moment to relax? And at night when you are seeking sleep, what are those last conscious moments filled with? Answer these questions and you will discover the true focus of your life quite easily!

And how are things brought into focus when the optic nerve senses shape and form before it? Not by looking at the surrounding items, the ones you don’t care about and could be dropped from view. But by staring at the one that is to be brought out! Your eye begins thus to focus and recognition dawns. It is only then that the others come into sight, giving perspective and balance to the entire picture.

In the same way we are to focus on Christ alone and foremost. Everything else is interesting and often helpful but still not the center of what our God wants for us. Only in first defining the role our faith plays can we possibly hope to bring everything else into the proper context. We gaze at His face and all else dims and fades away in importance and even relevance. At that point He can successfully direct our minds and emotions to channel our energies into what He has planned for us to experience.

Use Lilias’ example and remember her sacrifices as you tune out anything that would distract you from the drive God has placed in your heart, whether it be to write, serve others, study His Word, find the beauty in the world around you, or just be available as He leads. It may not be to the foreign mission field, as He did with Lilias, but who knows where your path might lie? She was rejected for missions because of her poor health yet God used her in powerful ways when she persevered in spite of those limitations. Her life is an inspiration for all who desire God’s best over the mundane good around us. Focus your eyes and prepare to be amazed at what God reveals!

Next post: God and Deep Waters

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Using what I learned in a recent Bible study on Jonah, I am viewing the latest twist in my life as a divine intercession rather than an interruption! Thanks to Priscilla Shirer’s insight and wisdom out of God’s Word, the Lord is slowly changing my heart & my mind to accept this philosophy. And now I face the greatest challenge of all in my husband’s pending liver transplant.

Perhaps someday I will write about this and maybe even laugh about it in some respects, but right now it requires all my energy and focus just to put one step in front of the other as we go through this process. It is mind-boggling in how complex it is to get onto the national registry and fearsome in its implications, not only for the immediate future but for years to come. Yet, God has been over all this ground long before we came along on the path and because He goes before us, I know we can succeed! All I must do is keep my eyes on Him and my mind in line with His wisdom, and He will be both my front guard and my rear guard, ready to do battle as needed. No matter how He chooses to play this out, my hope is that we will stand firm in an unshakable faith rooted in His Word and heart.

Where does this leave my writing? At the moment, I honestly do not know. I cannot continue to make it the highest priority overall as I have been doing, but in between the moments of drama and danger, I intend to plow ahead with this calling in spite of all the enemy is doing to hamper my efforts to write for the Lord. After all, there is always revision later to “clean up” the sloppy and emotional structure I might put on paper in the midst of this situation. If He intends for me to write, not even this latest obstacle can stand in HIS way!

Thank you, dear readers, for staying with me through what's ahead and forgive my distraction and lack of attention to my commitment to post on this blog. God has a purpose and a plan and even when I cannot clearly see what that might be, I’m excited to walk by my husband’s side as He reveals the adventure awaiting us later this year. I pray that my writing will bring Him much honor regardless of the pain in my heart—and perhaps because of it! I couldn’t do this without the faithful prayers of many others and the courage of my husband, both gifts from the Father at a crucial time.

Many showers of blessings await us and I’m excited to be on this journey of faith with each of you!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tools For Navigation, Part Two

Last week we examined the navigation tools of the map, compass, and rudder. If you didn’t have a chance to read about them, please check with the archives list as it will enhance this week’s post a great deal.

Sail – This tool is of great value to a sailor for it saves him a tremendous amount of work and effort. He can still move without it but only by the sweat of his brow. Of course, it is of no use when caught in the doldrums. The writer knows that without that wind to blow into his sail, he will go nowhere as well. His creativity is what fills his sail with the push to form ideas into plots and vague character traits into people who leap off the page and into the hearts of readers. For the Christian, this tool is the breath of a mighty God who is in control of the seas, the winds, and the weather on land and water alike—and our writing as well. He brings to our lives the incredible beauty of nature all around us that makes life so enjoyable and gives us the promise of an eternity in a Heaven beyond description.

Common Sense/Experience – This tool is priceless for the sailor, for it offers him a vast array of memories of similar situations and solutions from which to choose as he navigates new waters. This one pulls all the others together into a cohesive whole and is the reason Naval Commanders must prove themselves before taking the helm of a battleship or destroyer. The ability to make those instantaneous hard choices are what separates them from the less-experienced men who might hesitate one moment too long, resulting in disaster for everyone on board. The same goes for a writer, who needs to have at the very least some amount of knowledge under his belt before venturing out into the dark unknown of publishing. That can include but is not limited to an advanced college degree; but, even someone with an insatiable hunger for learning about the industry can be solidly grounded without those letters following his name. A prevalent attitude is that a multi-published author knows more simply because he has “been through it before” and to some extent this is very true. However, on a few occasions even professionals seem to lose their way with an arrogance that allows them to become lazy and refuse to do on-going study of their career field. The bottom line is that at times one without the first-hand experience but a broad understanding of the industry can be a better choice for an editor. For the Christian, the longer we walk with the Lord, the more instances we have of His mercy, grace, and provision. But if we waste that time and don’t stay immersed in His Word every day, we are of no more use to Him (and maybe less!) than someone who is an infant in his faith. We have to learn to listen to our God-given instincts, pay attention to our intuition, and seek His wisdom to make them all work. Using the tool of these life experiences combined with reading voraciously to learn more produces a richening and deepening of our fellowship with Him beyond measure.

It is my prayer these Tools For Navigation will aid you in your journey, whether as a Christian or writer or both!

Monday, April 4, 2011


As we sail through life we all know there are many obstacles to getting where we want to go in safety, with ease, and in a timely manner. I’ve been studying the book of Jonah this past month and my most recent lesson sparked some thoughts on the above topic. God provided several tools we can use for the purpose of finding our way, and these are appropriate for writers as well. Due to the length, this will be done in two parts, beginning this week and completed with next week’s post. Be sure to read both!

Map – We need this tool to get an overview of the area and to help us gauge the distance involved in arriving at our destination. For a writer, this would be an outline of some type for the book or story, whether simple or detailed. For the Christian, the Bible is our “map” and contains the specifics if we will read it. Some maps require only a brief glance but most demand a more focused study. It always helps if we have a goal to work toward before setting out on a journey!

Compass – This tool quickly pushes us back on track when we have wandered away. I would say for the Christian this would be favorite verses committed to memory that will come to mind instantly when we are in need and provide whatever help we require at that time. For a writer it might be a chapter summary that will display what we have missed in our writing that must be included, or what we have added that doesn’t belong there. In any case, using this tool leaves no room for doubt as to what is going on and we are remiss if we fail to consult it as we go along.

Rudder – This tool remains hidden to the sailor, with only a large stick-like apparatus on the deck to indicate something larger lies beneath. The single most important part of a boat, no one wants to be caught without one! In the hands of a skilled sailor, a rudder can push a boat through the roughest of waves and against the greatest of storms or it can lead you onto the shoals that surround you under the water. Determine the type of material your rudder contains and change it out if it isn’t strong enough to serve your ship. For a Christian, the rudder would have to be the Holy Spirit. He directs us on the trip when we use Him properly; we ignore Him at our peril. Writers would sometimes term this tool as being that elusive “muse” that brings inspiration and force to their writing. Attempting to put words on paper in its absence leaves much to be desired in the reality of the scenes we depict but when we allow God’s creativity to guide us He brings our ideas to life in ways we never could have dreamed!

I do pray these thoughts will bring many showers of blessings to your heart this coming week! Be sure to read next week’s post as well!

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Recently I read online an article about building characters in fiction and it got me to thinking about the fact that we do this with people who do not exist! The first step suggested is to lay out a thorough and detailed character sketch, outlining life experiences such as birth and childhood, education, dreams, goals, marital status, description, personality quirks, spiritual depth, joys and disappointments. As new ideas occur during the writing process, the author adds to all this so that by the time the book is completed each character jumps off the page into “reality”. For a fiction writer this is a normal and necessary process; if the characters cannot live in your mind, how on earth will you ever make them come to life for your readers?

Yet, it made me think about how often we create a persona for the public to know while reserving a vastly different one for our family and friends. And I’m not talking about simply writers. All of us are guilty of this to some extent because we yearn to “put on our best face” and not allow others to see the ragged edges underneath. Nothing wrong with that in most cases, as long as we are not lying to ourselves. God sees the truth and knows our hearts better than we could possibly know them even, and we cannot hide anything from Him. Psalm 139:1-12 is an amazing passage to remind us just how present He is no matter where in the universe we may go. We cannot get away from Him, no matter how hard we try!

Read those words and examine your own heart this coming week in light of how impossible it is to run away from our heavenly Father. Ask Him to show you how you are doing the same thing when you create a whole new “you” for others to see without confronting and allowing Him to heal the rottenness beneath. Have you ever seen a log or large piece of wood that looks whole and perfect, only to discover it has been eaten away inside by termites? Ouch! I desire for my "insides" to match my "outsides"! Or maybe I should say it the other way around--for my outside appearance to match up with the real me inside. Only through the Holy Spirit can that miracle take place, however. I cannot do it in my own strength.

No matter how many words I write or how many fictitious characters I create in my imagination, eventually I am forced to confront my own spiritual needs and weaknesses. But not to worry—God has them all under His control as long as I continue to submit to His leadership. Oh, I’ll sin along the way all right, wish I could pretend otherwise. But when I do He will quickly remind me and just as swiftly cleanse me when I come to Him in repentance. Sound “preachy”? As I said, read this passage carefully. I believe you will find yourself there, as I have. But I also see God right there with me, and what a comfort that is!

I pray for this shower of blessing to fall on your heart in the coming days!

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Have you ever said, “I would love to write a book but . . . ” and left the sentence unfinished? How you fill in that blank is nothing more than an excuse. Whether it is a lack of time, energy, expertise, idea, or determination, you are running from the calling God has put on your heart. For so many years I argued with the Lord about this very thing, feeling that pull yet knowing in practical terms there weren’t enough hours in the day to stretch myself any thinner. So finally I threw out a fleece to Him: if You truly desire to use me in this way, then help me rearrange my priorities to find the time to embark on this venture. And you know what? He did!

With the move to Oklahoma three years ago, I found myself at a temporary loss of what to do with my time. Yes, we’d moved to be closer to our families, in particular our kids and grandkids, and I certainly spent many blissful hours doing precisely that. Building our business from the ground up also proved to be a challenge but an exciting one I enjoyed joining my husband to create. But I needed more than simply the role of wife and mother to be fulfilled.

“Oh, yes, that writing thing . . . well, maybe I’d better give that a shot.” The phrase became a daily reminder until it formed a lump in my stomach. How to undo that knot? Uh, write??

And write I did! See any relation in this? “He did . . . I did.” Our God never wastes anything and in His economy, He pushed me relentlessly to put my money where my mouth was. So I took a deep breath and began on a writing regime designed to complete a novel that was about half done at that point. In one of the first key steps, He led me to a primary source that turned into one of the most amazing gifts He’s given me in this long process. Not only did I get the historic facts confirmed and realigned, out of that and the friendship I formed with this person I discovered numerous additional plot threads I’d never considered before. In turn, I became so energized and excited about the characters and events in my story, they became more real to me and, I hope, to my readers. Amazing how God works!

You may ask what the turning point was, what one thing led to the unleashing of my potential as a writer? I can respond immediately with one key word: obedience. When I finally laid aside my own expectations and plans and concentrated on the one God apparently had for me, He is the one who set loose all that potential. I simply sat and wrote while He did all the work. And the result is a completed novel which I hope will bring Him honor, as well as the Kiowa people whose story it is. Now, once more it is up to Him. As my husband says about homebuilding: I am responsible for production but it is up to God to do the marketing!

It is my sincere hope and dream that soon From Now Until Forever will be available on Christian bookshelves everywhere!

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Recently we had two huge snowstorms back to back which broke all records for the most snow at one time in Tulsa as well as the most snow for a season. Places just north of us got twice as much as we did, collapsing roofs of homes and businesses and damaging boat houses up around Grand Lake along with the expensive boats underneath. Everything came to a halt here for several days, stunning everyone with the impact. No mail delivery for a week has to be some kind of a record (remember the old adage, “Neither rain nor sleet nor dark of night . . .”?), as was the lack of a daily newspaper for four days—the first time in history that had happened. No one could get out of their driveways, let alone navigate the neighborhood streets, which were never plowed. Schools were out for up to ten days and districts are now scrambling to make up all those lost days.

This may sound ludicrous to those who live in Montana or Minnesota, but for people who have lived their whole lives in Oklahoma, it was a disaster of monumental proportions. We don’t receive this much snow as a rule, hence the records which were broken in the wake of the storms, and certainly don’t know how to drive and move around in it to this extent. To be honest, I never expected it to happen here in the Tulsa area the way it did.

All this served to remind me just Who is in control when our lives seem to spin out of control. We depend on “government” to get us out of the holes nature throws us into at times, but is it really their job? When “government” lets us down, who do we blame? In our society today, we often seek to blame others for our own losses and tragedies, rather than shouldering our own ignorance or denial for creating the situation or exacerbating it.

A good example: our snow shovel was stolen the day before the second storm was due and we had to join literally hundreds of others at a local hardware store standing in line for hours to wait for the privilege of buying one of these devices which would hopefully prevent our being isolated again if we did, indeed, get twice as much snow as was being predicted.

My heart goes out to all who received damage as a result of this winter blast and who are still struggling to recover economically and emotionally. But I can’t help but point out that some of it at least was due to people not being adequately prepared. Occasionally common sense takes a holiday for any of us but that doesn’t excuse a pattern of being “too busy” to be bothered with stocking up on food and water, for instance, or ensuring that a snow shovel stands at the ready when needed.

As lay buried under all this snow, I realized how beautiful it appeared to be through the windows. Soft, white, clean, covering all the dirt and ugliness beneath, untouched by humans—it seemed to be perfect and even harmless. But try to get to the mailbox or go out to get the paper at the end of our long driveway and the illusion came to a bitter and swift end!

Aren’t our lives often like that, especially as writers? We see “storms” approaching and brush them off as no big deal, then reel when we are not ready to meet the onslaught. Boxing ourselves into corners with bills coming due and no money from our writing on the horizon, we can either face facts or run from them. One little rejection at such a moment can destroy us, when at other times we would brush them off with a few tears or irritation and simply go on. God’s Word tells us constantly to watch the signs and be prepared (is that where the Scouts get their motto from?); we ignore this advice at our own peril.

If your writing has become stale and listless, why continue to submit instead of revamping your approach? It won’t get any better until/unless you recognize the problem and address it. Design a contingency plan for your contingency plan if you need to, so you will be calm in the face of losing a client or prospective contract. As Christian writers, it’s all in God’s Hands anyway! But He does expect us to do our part.

Remember, there is a time and season for everything and when we find ourselves out on that proverbial limb all by ourselves, listening to the cracking sound as it breaks off behind us, claim His peace and know He has this, too, under control. He truly does work everything out for our good if we won’t give up but continue to trust Him no matter what!

Monday, January 31, 2011


One lesson God has taught me in writing this novel I’m completing is that when I write about the spiritual struggles of my protagonist, I have to pray first for the right words. To write at all I have to be in close fellowship or my enemy will gain a toehold on my heart and the words just don’t “flow” which is my way of knowing they are not under His leadership. So writing about her rebellion or fear when I have conquered it, however briefly, is difficult at best and can even result in a new battle of my own—unless I have bathed the time in prayer beforehand.

And even when writing about her victories, I have to be careful to recognize that they are not mine, but hers. Otherwise, I can internalize the whole scene into my own life when that victory never took place! Does that make sense? I suppose only to a fellow writer! The caveat to this is that one of the themes which emerged during the writing process is to show through the lives of my characters how God provides for our every need whether we have asked or not and whether we are looking for that provision or not. So I have concluded living vicariously through this character is okay for the author as well as future readers. Just another way God has made a way for me as well as my readers.

Perhaps this is why God has called me to write Christian fiction? At any rate, I will continue to honor Him with the words which He inspires, to tell the stories He has put in my heart, and to relate the spiritual journey in each book even if my own is a bit lacking at times. Eventually, it is my prayer God will reveal to me the reasons behind each story for I know He has not led me through each one without a higher purpose than simply telling a tale. I knew there was a reason this novel has study questions at the end, so readers can delve more deeply into God’s Word as the reader reflects on what she has read—and that reason was for my own growth!

My prayer is by reading a novel dedicated to Him, you will be motivated to study His Word and how it applies to your life. And the author will be honored as that glory goes to the One who deserves it. May God prepare your heart this day to receive whatever He has designed for you to discover of His richest treasure!

Monday, January 24, 2011


Making memories, one step at a time! That is my motto for right now in my personal life. And should be ours as writers. God uses our incredible imaginations, invaluable knowledge of story techniques, and vast research skills to put together just the right story line that He desires to come out of our minds. All we have to do is be available.

When you sit down at your computer, begin a work session with prayer that God will inspire you, direct you, and use you to the best of your ability in those moments. Bind our enemy’s distractions, discouragements, and despair from attacking your heart and slowing your progress. Banish your pessimism and second guessing, listen for your characters’ voices to speak, and allow your creativity to flow. Ask Him to loose His Spirit to write through you, for it is His story in reality. Be faithful to your calling and He will be faithful to His promises!

While a set schedule and writing goals are important, don’t get so caught up in producing “so many words” that you miss the beauty of the prose you are creating. Have fun with it and let it charm you as you do when immersed in a book that has latched onto your mind and heart and won’t let go. Before you know it, you will discover the hidden treasures God had planned for you to find that day, and wonder why it was such a struggle to drag yourself to the desk that morning. Don’t get me wrong: it is hard work, no doubt. Anyone who tells you otherwise either is misguided or has never written anything more than a grocery list or text message! However, you are never alone in facing it and trudging through it and emerging victorious on the other side. And the memory of that will spur you on to other similar triumphs.

In the process of writing, God will reveal to you the themes He is working on in your own life, the battles raging within, and the conflicts you are enduring. And help you make sense of them as to how they impact your WIP. It is in your writing He can unleash them for healing, restoration, and new purpose. Nothing could be more amazing than watching this miracle unfold before your eyes, unless it is knowing someday when another in need reads your words, she can also find the same miracle for her own life.

My advice then? Just write! And let the Lord handle the results in His own time. Make those memories with Him and with your characters and for them. It will be worth it all!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Part Two of Great News!
(Continued from last week)

In the same way my great-nephew has turned our world upside down with his presence, for authors of fiction, so should the characters in our novels. Developing their stories gives them flesh and feelings and a future which is hard for a writer to shake simply because she is finished writing for the day. And if I do my job right, my readers will sense this as well.

Remember when soap operas were all the rage (not that I watched them regularly but certainly could not escape others around me who did) and you would overhear someone in the grocery store talking to another about the death of a supposed mutual friend? Then to your shock, the shopper would mention the name and you would realize it was only a character on one of the daily programs!

There is a reason those TV shows endured for such a long time and were so popular with women—the characters jumped out of the screen and into the hearts of the viewers, becoming alive in more ways than one to them. They had a stake in what happened to them, how they felt during it, and where it would take them in the future. In other words, they lived their tragedies and joys along with them!

Unfortunately, my great-nephew lives in another state and I haven’t gotten to hold him yet. Nevertheless, he is alive to me and powerful in his impact on my heart. It’s because after months of praying for him and anticipating his birth, now I’ve seen his photos, read the comments of his parents and other family members who are there (thanks to FaceBook!), and felt with my heart how real he is. Just this morning I saw a photo of his little hands, folded in front of his face while he slept, and my heart melted all over again!

How can I translate this emotion onto the printed page and into the lives of my characters? In what way can I use this powerful feeling I have about someone I’ve never met and translate it for the characters in my novel, bringing them to life for my readers? It has to begin with experiencing the emotions for myself, then I will more easily be able to put them into words which will pierce the hearts of my readers and stay with them long after they complete the book. I don’t have to birth a child to know how it makes me feel, though it helps. Having loved one is enough to allow me to convey the complexity of this special experience in written form, to show and not simply tell about it.

For the past week, God has been instructing me through this precious little one and now I’m eager to push my characters even deeper, so they might live in yet another dimension instead of being restricted to the pages of my novel. They have a message to share with others and I am only the tool the Lord has used to help them do so. I hope some day people will talk about my characters in the grocery store and with great excitement read and re-read my works to discover more depth than they saw the first time through. It is then I will know I have succeeded in validating the emotion I’ve felt this past week for my great-nephew as well as how my heavenly Father can continue to stretch me as an author.

Look for similar situations in your own life and see how God can expand your horizons as a writer and as a human being, made in His image and inspired by His love!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


With the advent of this new year has come a fresh blessing to our extended family, one I’m excited to share with you. Today I became a great-aunt for the first time (hope there are many more to come!) and I couldn’t possibly be prouder! How such a tiny little guy could burst upon the scene of my life and change things in an instant I would say is beyond my understanding—but I’m already a grandmother and five of those little ones have done this trick to me over the past seven years. So yes, I do have some comprehension of the process involved, just in a slightly different way. And I love it!

Another aspect is seeing my brother become a grandfather. My little brother!! Total awe is the only way to describe that emotion rolling around in my heart. Through thick and thin, in joy and tears, we have come a long ways, brother! Welcome to that incredible club called “grandparenting”. The rewards are priceless and it is heart-warming to know what is in store for you after today. You will never be the same!

And one last thought has come to nestle in my mind as well—the fact that this little guy is going to carry on my maiden name for yet one more generation. This is the one which is overwhelming me today. I’ve had almost nine months to contemplate the coming adventure in the addition to our family, but only now has the full impact of what that means in the long run hit me. I gave up that name of course when I married; but its legacy is important to me and I’m gratified to know it won’t die out with my precious nephew. God has taken him on a long spiritual and emotional journey over the past several years and today is the culmination of all the healing and restoration He performed in this young man’s life, by blessing him with the incredible gift of his amazing wife and handsome son! Thank You, Jesus, for that miracle and for loving them so much!! Your love has multiplied to each of us in such a special way through them and we are deeply grateful.

In case you think I’ve indulged in a shameless outpouring of emotion with this post without a connection to its stated purposes, please be patient. Next week I will relate what God has taught me from this exciting experience as it relates to my calling to write for Him. Rest assured the Lord has woven lessons into the most intricate details of our lives and He longs to reveal those secrets to us if we are willing to look with His eyes!