Standing at the altar, you have no idea what lies ahead. Oh, you’ve heard stories. And countless people–like everyone in your church, neighborhood, on the job, and at your local grocery–have bombarded you with advice: marriage takes work. Always be ready to forgive. Learn to eat burned food (kinda wish someone would’ve told my hubby that one. *sheepish grin*). The list goes on.

But then life happens, and this love thing becomes harder than you’ve ever anticipated.

Ane-PR.headshot copyToday a sweet friend and very talented and giving author, Ane Mulligan, shares her thoughts on this thing called marriage, AND she’s got a hugely fun give-away going to help celebrate her debut, Chapel Springs Revival, which I hear is HILARIOUS! (Details below)


But first, I wanted to share a fun video created by one of my favorite preachers, Francis Chan. Enjoy:

On Marriage by Ane Mulligan

Twenty years ago or so, I heard two young women in a church hallway complaining about their husbands. Let’s face it; we all joke about men coming from Mars and women from Venus, but that’s not what they were doing. They were stirring the water in a bitter well.

Another Sunday, I overheard another conversation (yes, I’m a writer and we tend to eavesdrop). It went something like this:

“I just learned that God has the perfect mate all picked out for each of us, and we’re supposed to pray to find that person.”

“Sure, so?”

“I didn’t do that! I didn’t know. So, that must mean Sam* isn’t the one God wants me married to.”

Uh-oh. The conversation went downhill from there to include the word “divorce.” I later pulled her aside for a “Titus 2:4″ moment.

If a woman wasn’t a Christian before she married, God still knew her. He knew his plans for her. Jer 29:11. Her husband is His will for her.

I’m not talking about women in abusive marriages. That’s totally different.

The thing so many young women forget is marriage isn’t what the movies or secular romance novels show. Marriage is a contract. A commitment. For better or worse, the vows say. WhenID-10094774 we make this commitment, God expects us to stay committed to our marriage.

That takes making a purposeful decision to not dwell on our husbands’ faults. Oh, I know they have them; but so do we. Years ago, I found myself focusing on my husband’s faults. Jesus said we can’t get bitter and sweet water from the same well. When we start down that path, we lose sight of their good qualities.

Things went from bad to worse. Finally I got tired of trying to change my husband. I was out of love. There wasn’t a drop of sweet water left in the well. I knew what I’d been doing but I didn’t know how to fix it.

“Lord, I give up. I don’t know what you want, but from now on, I’m going to concentrate on You and me. Change me, Lord. I’ll leave my husband to You.”

I’m sure you can guess what happened. God changed me, but at the same time, my husband changed. I began to see his wonderful qualities and all the things he did for me. The well water became sweet again.

That’s when I realized if we don’t workout our love, it becomes like a muscle that hasn’t seen the inside of a gym in years—flabby. And stale. And atrophied.

Yes, love is a decision that demands commitment and work. But what a sweet ride it can be. Guard you love, your hearts, and your marriages.

CSR COVER copyChapel Springs Revival

Buy it here!

With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.

Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It’s impossible not to, what with Claire’s zany antics and Patsy’s self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is personal.

With their marriages in as much disarray as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.

GIVE-AWAY DETAILS: Leave it to the crazy, hilarious, and insanely creative (or just insane? ;) ) Ane Mulligan to come up with perhaps the funnest give-away EVER!

Today’s stops and there’s 4! Good luck.
Here! (As a fun aside, I’m on her blog today, too. Which I find incredibly cool because Ane has been a huge influence in my writing career. She ran the ACFW Scribes class when I first joined ACFW and taught me to use strong, vivid verbs. She taught me to name–be specific about sensory details (saying she smelled the faint scent of lilacs rather than flowers to trigger a deeper response in my reader), and I could go on. And on. And on, as could every other ACFW member, I’m sure!

She will also be on:
3 Men Walk Into a Blog
Jude Urbanski
Jo Huddleston

1. Each day you leave a comment on this blog during September, your name goes into the drawing.

2. Leave a comment on each of the blogs I’m on that day, and each one will earn you another name in the drawing. (For instance, if I’m on 3 blogs that day, and you leave a comment on each of them, you’ll get your name into the drawing 3 more times.)

3. If you post on your Facebook page that you have commented on a blog I’m on, tag me, and give the link, you get your name in two (2) extra times.

4. Tweet and tag me, giving the link, and your name goes in another time.

5. Google+ the same as #3, and you’ll get our name in two (2) extra times.

Today’s BONUS entries:
What do I believe about coffee?
What does Jennifer write?
Who are the 3 men in that blog linked to above?

As an aside, I’ve been told readers have had a tough time leaving comments. If you find this to be the case, please shoot me an email at jenniferaslattery@gmail.com and I’ll manually enter your comment.

LivingbyGracepicLet’s talk about this!

Are you married? If so, what has been the biggest surprise in terms of sticking it out? Have you ever come close to calling it quits? What helped you persevere? How can we as parents help prepare our kids to work toward lifelong commitment once they get married?

Perhaps you’re divorced. Looking back over your marriage, can you see things you wished you’d done differently? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

My debut novel, Beyond I Do, addresses a bit of what we’re talking about today. As Ainsley Meadows’ wedding day draws near, nigglings of doubt begin to arise, leaving her unsettled. As she prays about this, she realizes something huge has been missing in her wedding plans–prayer itself! She was so swept away by the flowers and romance, she failed to take time to seek God’s guidance. These doubts grow to gut-knotting confusion when an encounter with a woman, her child, and their abuser sparks within her a passion and ignites a long-hidden dream, one that threatens to change EVERYTHING! Read more here. You can buy it here! (or get an autographed copy at Takin’ it to the Streets’ Hope for the Homeless event.)

Other posts and articles you might enjoy:

My Marriage Before and After

Monkfish and Marriage

AND, where I’ve been this week:

Don’t Be Discouraged or Afraid

5 Tips for Stronger Writing

5 Things Your Pastor’s Wife Needs From You





We all have friends, co-workers, neighbors that grate on us. Those who appear to be seeking a ready and devoted audience, who’s only aim is to convince others of their beliefs and opinions… at all costs.

Then we have those friends who vacillate between varying ideologies, whatever one is the most popular at the time, so as not to create strife or offend. Or perhaps they say nothing at all, so fearful of other’s opinions they become emotionally paralyzed.

Web1Is there a balance? Today Tamera Kraft, author of A Christmas Promise, attempts to speak to this question, but before you read her thoughts, I encourage you to read the passage I alluded to in my title, 1 Corinthians 13. You can do so here.

I also encourage you to visit Tamera’s blog to read a piece I wrote suggesting five ways writers can strengthen their writing. Yep, she and I did a blog swap! How fun is that? On another fun note, I received my author copies in the mail yesterday. You know what that means, right? This is really happening. :) It also means reviews should be coming out any day now. Eek. That makes me nervous. Add to that the fact that I have an interview on KCRO Wednesday, (You can read about that here.) and that I’ll be speaking down at the Streets in a week from Saturday… (You can read about that here.) Um… I think I’m being stretched, but in a good way.

But enough blabbering.

Speak the Truth in Love

By Tamera Lynn Kraft

Because of our politically correct society, as Christians, we sometimes feel we have to walk a tightrope when it comes to speaking the truth in love. If we adhere to Biblical truth, we’re ID-10035039considered hate mongers and bullies. But if we water down the Gospel of Jesus Christ, are we really showing love?

For instance, if I don’t want to offend somebody who believes all ways lead to God and don’t tell him the truth, that Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven, how much love am I showing? The truth will set him free. Telling him what he wants to hear will send him to Hell.

Nobody enjoys being cornered by a legalistic, uncaring Christian who only wants to prove others wrong. But we have an obligation to show the love of Christ and build a rapport with those who don’t know or who don’t care about the truth.

The old adage is true: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

If we really care about someone, we will tell her the truth of God’s Word. We will tell him sin leads to death, and that God has provided a way to life through Jesus Christ. Jesus, God’s only Son, is not one way of many to reconcile with God, He’s the only way to God.

We need to speak the truth in love, but we need to speak it. Our politically correct society sends the wrong message to this generation, a message that will condemn them to darkness. But we have the truth. Woe to us if we keep silent.

Psalm 86:11 Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in  Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.

John 8:31-32… So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the  truth, and the truth will set you free.

1 John 3:18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed  and in truth.

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in America because there are so many adventures in American history. She has two novellas published: A Christmas Promise through Harbourlight and Soldier’s Heart through Helping Hands Press. She is married to the love of her life, has two grown children, and lives in Akron, Ohio.

Tamera is also the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire For Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist. She has curriculum published and is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.

You can contact Tamera online at these sites.

Word Sharpeners Blog: http://tameralynnkraft.com

Website: http://tameralynnkraft.net

Facebook: http://facebook.com/tameralynnkraft

Twitter: @tamerakraft

AChristmasPromise_medA Christmas Promise:

A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773

During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day.

When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.

Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

Available at these online stores:





Let’s talk about this. I suspect each of us tend to err on one side of this issue. I think I jump back and forth between one of two extremes–keeping my mouth shut when I should speak, or blurting out massive amounts of forceful, potentially hurtful, words when I should be quiet and prayerful. It’s a hard balance to find.

LivingbyGracepicHow do you believe we find the perfect balance between speaking the truth and loving our listener? When we find we’ve erred on one side or the other, what can do? Share your thoughts in the comments before or at Living by Grace on Facebook.


Why am I seeing Tim Hawkin’s face as I type today’s title? The one that’s been making all the FB rounds. In case you haven’t seen it… I know it’s not quite Christmas, though stores are decorating for Halloween, so, holly and tinsel is just around the corner, right?

Anyway, watch and enjoy:

Now back to your regularly scheduled devotion. ;) (Although before you get too far, I must apologize for my lack of images. This page looks so bland! But until I get my computer back…)

I’ve often wished our daughter would view herself as my husband and I do. I wish she’d realize how talented, smart, fun, and beautiful she is. But rather, she focuses on the negative. “Have you noticed how my right big toe sticks out further than my left? It’s entirely too big. How embarrassing!”

Ok, so maybe she’s not that bad, but you get the point. Some of her insecurity comes from being a teenager–do you remember your high school days? Holy cow. Wouldn’t go back if you paid me.

Most of it comes from allowing others to determine her worth rather than God.

We all do that, don’t we? We’re social people. We were created to live in community. A community that builds us up, feeds us truth, and points us back to Christ.

At least, that’s the goal, right?

As we are pointing ourselves to Him, allowing His truth to settle deep into our hearts and minds.

Viewing ourselves as He sees us.

Have you ever wondered how God sees you? Have you wondered what would happen if you not only caught a glimpse of that but owned it and lived it out? What life might look like if you lived as the man or woman God created you to be?

For a guy named Gideon, God’s view of Him–a view that was directly connected to his call–changed everything.

It was a sad time in Israel’s history. They’d rebelled against God, and as a result, He removed His protective hand, leaving them easy prey for the cruel Midianites. Things became so bad, the Israelites fled to caves where they hid as enemy raiders stripped them of their crops and their cattle.

Their only source of food.

During this time, Gideon was hiding out among the wine press, threshing wheat, hoping and praying he wouldn’t be found. I’m not sure where the wheat came from, but I do know it was a very rare, much needed food source. I envision Gideon hunched over, sweat pouring down his face, his heart thrashing, as he cast frequent glances behind him, ever alert to the sound of hooves or clomping feet. Aware that at any minute, this last morsel of food could be stripped from him.

It was here, when this seemingly insignificant man was cowering, hoping just to make it to another day, that the angel of God approached.

“Mighty hero! The LORD is with you!” the angle said. (Judges 6:12)

In the NASB and NIV, the angel calls him a mighty warrior. In the ESV, “O mighty man of valor.”

Imagine, at the very moment you were cowering, trembling with fear, hearing God call you a mighty warrior.

“Um… ” He starts to stand, looks around, his knees still wobbly. “You talking to me, Lord?”

Ignoring Gideon’s fear, insecurities, and protests, God then tells him to “Go with the strength you have. Am I not sending you?”

In other words, don’t worry about what you can’t do. Don’t focus on your failures or weaknesses. Rather, focus on Me and the task I have assigned.

Be the warrior I created you to be, the warrior I will help you to be.”

To which Gideon replies: “But Lord, how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” (Judges 6:15)

The Lord, his Creator, called him a mighty warrior, and yet, rather than focusing on that, rather than aligning his perception with Gods, he focused on his weakness and insecurities.

“I am the least…”

Have you ever felt like that?

“I am too tired.”

“I am too weak.”

“I can’t talk in front of people…”

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this. How often do we behave like Gideon? The Bible tells us, those who belong to Christ are more than conquerors, we’re redeemed, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, we are cherished, beloved, adopted sons and daughters.

What might our day look like, what might we be able to accomplish, if we saw ourselves as God saw us, quit centering on our weaknesses, and went out in the strength we have, knowing He will make up the difference. Share your thoughts here in the comments below or on Living by Grace on FB.

Those of you wanting to follow my book launch blog tour, here’s a handful of the places I’ve been lately:

I shared some writing tips on Faithwriters in my article titled So You Wanna Be a Writer.

Yesterday on Takin’ it to the Streets I talked about keeping our thoughts on Christ when our world felt crazy. When Your Faith is Falling… Remember. 

Inner Source interviewed the heroine of Beyond I Do Monday and interviewed me yesterday.

On Aug. 21st, I shared ways we creative types can fuel our creativity (because everyone hits a lull now and then. You can read this article here. 

I also shared a piece similar to today’s but focused specifically on one’s calling, especially though not limited to writers. You can read that here.

Oh, I also wanted to let everyone know, Beyond I Do is now available in ebook form, for under $8 even! You can get it here. If you haven’t read the 36 page free excerpt, you can do so here.

DSCN1832Do you ever feel like you’re drowning? Like the demands on your time or talents have far exceeded your storehouse? Today’s post by Paula Vince couldn’t have come at a better time. Managing a book launch while organizing and facilitating a major fundraising event has kept me busy. Not insanely busy, but busy enough to cause me to pay extra attention to how I spend every moment. (Hm… that sounds like a Bible verse from James. :) )

But in the midst of the chaos, as you know, my computer crashed. And let’s just say, I’m not a fan of my daughter’s fancy, technologically advanced touch-screen computer. *sigh* I think God realized how much I needed this reminder today. Hopefully Paula’s words will encourage you as much as they did me.


Over Your Head by Paula Vince

 We’re often conditioned to grow agitated by the thought of being ‘in over our heads’ at anything. I admit, my attempts at ‘winging it’ have made me not merely nervous but also feeling guilty, as if I’m cheating by trying anything new and pretending to be something I’m not. I imagine people who discover my basic incompetence have a right to pay me out.

“This person doesn’t know what he/she’s doing!” are words we never want to hear spoken about us. It’s far easier and more comfortable when we stick to doing the things we’re certain we can pull off flawlessly. My problem is there’s not much that falls under that category. Then I get bored enough to want to crawl out on a limb.

Thankfully, I’ve come across some research on the human brain that convinces me that ‘winging it’ is no mistake after all. Brain scientist, Dr Caroline Leaf, tells us that it’s actually healthy for our brains to be stretched beyond their comfort zone. Trying things we’re not certain we’ll achieve makes our brain environments fertile. It stirs up the lush cells that make us smart and interesting. Effortless performance may feel comfortable but doesn’t help our brains to thrive. She recommends that we choose goals just beyond our present abilities. I cry, “YES!” because I’ve had experience doing that very thing.

In the late 1990s, I dreamed an idea I thought would make a stunning novel. How I wished some experienced Christian author would write it, but nobody did. When it wouldn’t leave my head, I decided that I would be the one. I’d get into the heads of the characters and be the girl who found herself the victim of a shocking date rape. Even more nerve-wracking, I’d also be the boy perpetrator who suffered for years with remorse and self-condemnation. I was in my twenties and unpublished. I wrote the story by hand in the car when I dropped my pre-schooler off at kindy while his baby sister slept in her capsule in the back seat. The result was Picking up the Pieces, which won an International Book Award in 2011 for its second printing.

I like living on the edge of my brain power.

A wise sage, Star Wars’ Master Yoda, said, “Don’t try, do!” And, of course, God doesn’t call the well-equipped, he well-equips the called. When God’s angel greeted Gideon with the words, “God is with you, you mighty warrior!” he’d been threshing wheat in a wine vat to hide it from the Midianites. Gideon’s first reaction was, “Huh, you mean me?” That was my reaction whenGod called me to write those novels and not some best-selling, well-established author.

I’ll finish off with this thought. Dr Leaf said that brains get a good gymnastics work-out when their owners are thinking deeply. Even though my brand of deep thinking is on a far inferior scale to the deep thinking of Albert Einstein, I trust it’s deep enough for the grey matter that God gave me to get a bit of a stir. It seems a reciprocal thing is going on. We write out the ideas we believe God wants us to express, either in our novels or in blog articles, and He gives us more flourishing, better-functioning brains.

Award-winning author, Paula Vince loves to evoke tears and laughter through her novels. A wife and homeschooling mother of three, she resides in the beautiful Adelaide Hills of South Australia. Her youth was brightened by great fiction and she’s on a mission to pay it forward.

Her novel, Picking up the Pieces, won the religious fiction section of the 2011 International Book Awards.

Her novel, Best Forgotten, was winner of the 2011 CALEB Award in the fiction category and also recognized as the best overall entry for the year, chosen over memoirs, devotionals and general non-fiction.

Paula’s books are a skillful blend of drama and romance tied together with elements of mystery and suspense.

Find out more at www.justoccurred.blogspot.com.au and www.vincereview.blogspot.com.au.

Paula is the author of Picking up the Pieces, The Risky Way Home, A Design of Gold and Best Forgotten. Her new novel, Imogen’s Chance, will be published in April, 2014.

Paula is also one of the four authors of The Greenfield Legacy

Let’s talk about this. I’ve never considered how following my calling might exercise my brain, but I’ve often (daily?!) recognized God’s stretching. Early when I sensed the call to write, a sermon on the man who hid his talents and was then chastised by his master really hit home. Actually, it made me cry! Because I knew if I didn’t answer the call to write, I’d be burying what God gave me–what He intended for me to use for His glory.

What about you? What area do you sense God is stretching you in? (Touch screen computers???? hahaha.)

Share your thoughts with us! And sorry today’s post has no fun pictures. (I think I miss those more than y’all!)



There’s one thing bound to initiate panic in any writer’s life. Can you guess what that is? I’ll wait… You have three guesses. I do hope, even though you’ll likely read my answer well before you reach the “share comments section” that you’ll tell us your guesses anyway. :)

All that to say, I’m having computer problems and might not get the post up and out today. Which is kind of a problem, as I had a lovely guest scheduled to share her heart with you. BUT… There’s always tomorrow! And I don’t even have a pretty/funny/thought-provoking/completely random photo to share! (More accurately, I have no idea *how* to locate and upload photos on this computer.)

This, of course, means, my subscribers will receive two emails from me this week–either both today, if I figure this silly computer out or the second one tomorrow. I think. ;) Hopefully you’re inbox isn’t as clogged as mine.


Giving Your Best

Two brothers, one blessing, and a mother who effectively turns one against the other. Family dysfunction forever recorded in the pages of Scripture.
How would you like to leave that as your legacy?
Does that word make you cringe? If you’re a parent, I’m pretty sure you’ve struggled

with guilt, fear, and feelings of defeat on more than one occasion. Maybe daily! As I was listening to my Pandora this morning, lyrics I heard really encouraged me. Of course, now I can’t recall them, but in essence, the singer said each day he’d give all he had, and that would be his legacy.
Pause to consider that for a moment. When everything goes crazy and it’s all you can do to keep those nasty thoughts from flying off your tongue, give your all.
When your kids are sick, or crabby, the air conditioner breaks, and your bank account dwindles, and you haven’t got a dime to spare. When it’s all you can do to share a smile and maybe a cup of tea with a lonely neighbor, give your all.
When you want to serve in a half a dozen places but time, young children underfoot, or a failing body holds you back, and it’s all you can do to send out emails or phone calls or encouraging texts, give your all.
That will be your legacy, and that is enough. Because worship and surrender is a heart issue.
Today my sweet friend talks about giving God our all when our self rises up, demanding our full attention. As you read her thoughts on perhaps the most famous feuding brothers in all history, consider her question: How do we–how do you–know when we’re seeking God’s best?
beth picSeeking His Best by Beth Farely
There is such deception that takes place between Jacob and Esau. The brothers both wanted their father’s blessing, but Jacob eventually stole Esau’s blessing. They were seeking their own selfish best, not God’s. Genesis 25:29-34
How do we know if we are seeking God’s best for our lives and not seeking self-gratification? I admit there have been times in my life where I get into a mood and feel that I can do whatever I want and convince myself it will work for me. That is not an example of seeking God’s best for my life.
Stay Focused
When I am focused on something I’ve desired, it always has a way of showing up. A huge piece of cake, an over-spending shopping trip; a white lie…yup, there they are right there in front of me.  Are they God’s best? Absolutely not!
Stay in the Word
What does it mean to seek God’s best? It means seeking His will by being in His Word–reading the Bible daily. It really means giving up of self and adding more of Him in your life. Like Esau and Jacob, we can become jealous of others and allow that jealousy to rob us of God’s best for our lives. Unbelievers may see this as God being the dictator of our lives because He calls the shots. But He is not a dictator; He gave us the free will to choose. Jacob and Esau didn’t have to be so jealous and evil toward each other; God did not choose that for them.
Stay in His Will
God holds the key to an abundant, joy-filled life. His way is really the best way. The world tells us to make our own path, to do it “my way.” But the Bible teaches that true freedom comes from living under the loving care of our heavenly Father. Understanding how God’s sovereignty impacts our lives helps us enjoy a life of greater meaning and purpose; His perfect purpose.
Beth Ann Farley lives in Kansas City, MO with her husband and six grown children and 13 grandchildren. She wrote for www.bookfun.org., Toot n’ Town magazine. She has recently been published with Landline magazine, Teachers in Focus, Horse & Rider, Mature Years, Indian Life and Wesleyan Publishing.  Her poetry has been featured in Sweet Freedom written by Jennifer Slattery. She’s guest blogged on thewriteconversation@blogspot.com by Edie Melson and Poppy Smith’s Inspiring Women to Thrive blog. Beth is a co-host on Living by Grace, a faith-based Facebook community. She often writes for the Senior Smart Network; a network devoted to senior citizens. Visit her online at FirstHalfDay.
LivingbyGracepicLet’s talk about this. Do you ever wish you could do more for God? What are you doing with what He’s giving you today? Are you seeking His best in every moment, in the gunk and the joys? Because he who is faithful in the little things will also be faithful with the big. ;)
As a fun aside, I recently learned my novel is now available for purchase in ebook form and at a discount–under $8 in fact! You can get your copy from CBD here.
Other news and updates–seems I’ve been all across the web this week. Join me on fellow LbG hostess Maria Morgan’s blog as I talk about my novel and what God’s been showing me about faithfulness. You can read that here.
On Internet Cafe’ Devotions I talked about our need to cultivate listening ears. You can read this here.
With school starting and all the chaos that brings, I wrote an article for Crosswalk on how we can live by the Spirit when life gets crazy. You can read that here.
Last Friday I chatted with another LbG hostess, Jessica R. Patch about my writing and my debut. You can read that interview here.
On Saturday I visited with Crystal Barnes from Stitches in Time. Join us here.
Monday I chatted with fellow ACFW author Casey Herringshaw. Join us here.
And finally, yesterday I camped out over at Takin’ it to the Streets where I talked about slipping and falling, and responding to others who do the same. You can read this devotion here. (And don’t forget to mark your calendar for our first annual Hope for the Homeless event, coming next month!)
That’s all that’s new with me. :) Now it’s your turn! Share your thoughts, your news, your celebrations with us over at Living by Grace on FB or in the comments below.

nagato-typingSome days it feels like my fingers–and brain–are flying. Like vivid scenes are flashing behind my eyes (not before, because I’m pretty sure that’d make me schizophrenic.) so quickly, I can barely keep up.


Then there are days that every word, every punctuation key, is a giphy1_zps7e7c8e69struggle.

And I wonder, Lord, are you in this? Is this your story?

I still ask that question. A lot. Because if God’s not in this writing thing, I want nothing to do with it. But, with five completed novels and three contracts behind me, I’ve learned not to measure the nudge by the ease.

In other words, I’ve learned, sometimes life gets hard. Sometimes–most times–progress requires work and determination and wading through periods of stagnation or confusion and of resuming the trekk after incredible setbacks.

Because it’s in the confusion, in the wrestling for answers, that we often find the most clarity.

The novel I’m working on now is tough. Like crazy tough, and at the beginning, I wondered if it was too tough. If perhaps I should set my idea aside and move onto something new.

But prayer after prayer, the theme of the novel–longsuffering love–kept returning, I knew the only response I could offer was surrender. And once I did, pushing my expectations and concerns aside, my creativity started flowing again. (In fact, the novel is fully plotted and I hope to have the proposal to my publisher within the next two weeks. Yay!) More than that, I began to see the lessons God wanted to teach me through my own writing.

But that doesn’t mean it will be smooth sailing from here on out. In fact, I expect to encounter many more speed bumps and potholes.

You see, I’m stepping into what has become a timeless battle in the evangelical world, only I’m digging in a bit deeper, past the battle lines and picket signs to the hearts on both sides.

I have a feeling you wish I’d divulge what battle I’m talking about, but my silence on that is intentional. Because it doesn’t really matter what the battle is. Our response must be the same: Love. Longsuffering, unconditional, no-strings-attached love.

To love without strings means to love without an agenda. That means reaching out even when our efforts are spurned or fall flat

That means showing love because God is love, and as His children, we are called to reflect who He is.

So that’s my story. And it’s tough to write, partially because I’m diving into an issue I have little direct knowledge of. But mostly because I sense I’m teetering on the edge of something hugely important. something that, if we Christians really grabbed hold of, could radically change the world.

That something is recited so often, it’s become cliché:

Love the sinner not the sin.

Ah, but it’s the living this out that gets hard. You know what makes it hard?

The sin, namely pride, within us.

Pride says our efforts should be reciprocated, that we should see results, that our efforts should instigate change in others or the situation.

But listen to Jesus’ words in Luke 17:7-10

“When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say, ‘Come in and eat with me’? No, he says, ‘Prepare my meal, put on your apron, and serve me while I eat. Then you can eat later.’ And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do? Of course not. 10 In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty’” (NLT).

Servants give up all rights and expectations and simply obey.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this. I’m pretty sure we all know someone who feels so difficult, so bitter or angry, or perhaps so far from God, we’re ready to wipe our hands of them and walk away. To find someone else more responsive. Granted, there are times when God does indeed redirect us, but even so, He never, ever, ever stops loving a wayward heart. Remember as well, He hasn’t asked us to change or convert our friend. Rather, He asks us to reveal Himself. The rest is up to Him. So relax, take a deep breath, let your expectations go, and simply surrender.

Oh, before I go, my publisher has released a free sample of the first 36 pages of my novel, Beyond I Do. (Which, last time I looked, was still available at a discounted price on Amazon. You can purchase it here.) You can read the excerpt here.

Plus, I’ve been making the cyber-rounds and would love for you to join me on the following blogs:

On Friday, I visited Christian fiction author, Lena Nelson’s blog for a fun interview. You can read this here.

On Saturday I visited Janet Brown’s blog to share of a time when I got schooled, and rightly so, by my daughter. You can read this devotion here.

On Monday on Inkwell Inspirations I chatted about resting in God and His purposes for us. You can read that here.

I also stopped by my friend Gail Pallotta’s to share a devotion on closed doors. You can read that here.

On Tuesday I visited my friend Naomi Musch’s blog to share how creation walks helped mold my daughter and my relationship over the years. You can read about that here.

And yesterday I was interviewed at Misty Bellers’ blog. You can read that here.





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