Image of a question mark

Can you guess what my news is?

I don’t want to raise expectations too high. For some of you, this might not seem all that exciting. Before I go too far, I should probably respond to all the guesses y’all made on Facebook.

No, I’m not a grandmother (unless my grand-dogs count, and they totally should!). Yes, I am going on a trip, but that’s not the fun news.

Violin lessons? Um, I’m tone deaf and musically challenged, though that won’t stop me from belting out praise songs when the mood hits. Earning a theology degree? That would be interesting. I’ve long fiddled with the idea of getting my master’s. But no, that’s not it. Leading my own ministry? Sort of, although Wholly Loved isn’t “mine” per say. Praise God we have an amazing team of nearly thirty talented and Christ-led individuals passionate about helping women experience freedom. But while that’s a praise, that’s not my news. 🙂

About a month ago, I decided we’d find a fun way to celebrate once I reached the ten book mark–the tenth traditionally published book. At the time, I had 8 traditionally published books (and others that I had published myself). I assumed my tenth contract would coincide with my 50th birthday, which I also planned to celebrate–preferably by going on a trip with family.

But then …

I received an email from my agent. My publisher offered me my first two book contract. This means I’ve hit the ten book mark! So that feels fun.

Celebrate with me?

Oh, and before I go, I should probably mention, dropped another Faith Over Fear Podcast episode. This one was on one of my favorite topics, or at least, one I’m coming to believe is of utmost importance in so many areas: Having the Courage to Set Boundaries. You can listen here:

A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72 Faith Over Fear

In our ongoing battle against anxiety and fear, it can be challenging to find resources that are filled with truth and presented from a place of understanding and grace. It can be even more challenging to find biblically sound, heart-safe resources presented from a strong and mature Christ-follower who understands, because they’ve shared similar struggles. This is why books like Grace Fox’s Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation are so invaluable. Written by a career global worker who could’ve easily lost her newborn daughter, Grace knows what it’s like to wrestle with the deep truths of God during times of intense fear. In this interview, she shares one of her most frightening moments to date, how God met her in her fear, and practical ways listeners can move from fear to increased faith and freedom. Find Grace at: Find Jennifer: Find Wholly Loved, at: Join the private Faith Over Fear Group Here: Podcast episode referenced: Faith Over Fear Episode 63: Finding Peace in the God of Heaven's Armies Group Discussion Questions: 1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode? 2. When do you tend to feel most vulnerable? 3. How do you normally respond when you feel vulnerable? 4. What truths or songs help you remember God’s love, strength, and faithfulness? 5. When had God reminded you of truth or passage during a time of fear? 6. What are some practical ways you remind yourself of God’s goodness, faithfulness, power, and/or sovereignty? 7. What are some practical ways you have or can remind yourself of ways God has cared for you in the past? 8. Why is it important to turn to God when we’re afraid? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Rudzhan Nagiev
  1. A Practical Resource to Battle Fear – Ep. 72
  2. Living Supernaturally Empowered – Ep. 71
  3. Hearing God’s Voice: The Peace That Comes from Being Supernaturally Led – Ep. 70
  4. Uncovering What’s Beneath Our Emotional Reactions with Steve Carter – Ep. 69
  5. Finding Courage in God Our Abba Father – Ep. 68

Is there a fear related topic you wish I’d cover? If so, let me know!

You know that feeling when something you’ve worked long and hard for finally begins to come together? Or what about when, after you’ve invested hours upon hours into something, you catch glimpses of how God might use it?

That’s been my week, and now I get to share the fun with you.

First, for those waiting for our (Wholly Loved’s) Bible study, it’s here! You can grab the print and ebook copies HERE and HERE, and listen to the first few audio segments HERE. If you do snatch a copy, you’ll notice each week, we reference video segments. Those haven’t been shot yet. We’ll be taking footage of all the sessions at Wildewood Christian, a local church, starting next week. However, the audio segments contain the same content, which you can easily access in the interim.

Second fun news …. I now have a cover for my next book, releasing in April by Love Inspired. Check it out!

Here’s more about the book:

Restoring Her Faith:

She left belief behind…
Yet this family could change her mind

With two boys to raise, a fledgling contracting business to run and a family ranch to keep afloat, widower Drake Owens finds his hands aren’t just full—they’re overflowing. When Faith Nichols is hired to help him renovate the church, he’s drawn to the beautiful artist, but he can’t fall for a woman who isn’t a believer. Can love restore her faith…and his heart?

Preorder it HERE.

What was your highlight this week? Share your wins, praises, and celebrations with us in the comments below.

You haven’t asked, and I imagine you really don’t care what color socks I wear (white), what I prefer for breakfast (cereal), or where I do most of my writing (wherever I find a quiet place). But since this is my blog, hahaha. Recently, I was tagged by fellow Living by Grace gal, Maria Morgan, to answer a few fun questions. I loved reading her answers, and today I’ll add mine. I’d love to hear yours, too! You can answer in the comments or shoot me an email.

And make sure to visit Maria’s blog. Her “Life Lessons” always give me something to think about and encourage me to draw closer to God.
1    Book or movie and why?

I’m really not a movie person, much to my sweet husband’s chagrin. I’d much rather curl up with a good book, although I have been watching more television (Netflix) lately … for research purposes. I gotta see it before I can evoke visual images in my reader. 🙂 So what have I been watching? Everything from divorce court to Grey’s Anatomy, which is hilarious, by the way!

2        Real book or e-book?

This depends on the book I’m reading and why I’m reading it. If I’m reading to learn, I prefer the real book so I can mark it up. I do most of my pleasure reading at night, in bed. I’ve found the kindle on my iPhone works best. I don’t need a nightlight, I don’t have to flip pages, and it’s easy and comfortable to hold. And last night, while reading Sherri Wilson Johnson’s to Dance Once MoreI learned I can open PDF attachments in my Kindle. Woo-hoo!

3         Funniest thing you’ve done in the last 5 years.

I live with a teenager, so our house if full of giggles. Most at my expense. 🙂 Apparently my facial expressions are hilarious! In fact, after a recent house-hunting trip, my husband and daughter spent the entire drive home attempting to imitate various expressions. It seems my eyes about bug out of my head when I’m worried. Which again, living with a teenager, happens frequently. When I’m mad, my face shrivels, deepening the trench-like wrinkle between my eyebrows. I could go on … but I won’t. 🙂

4        How would your best friend describe you?

I actually got to read statements made about me by dear friends in a recent adoption home-study report. It was very touching … and humbling. My bestie lumped my husband and I together, which I found quite fitting. She said we (my husband and I) were givers, then included a beautiful description as to why she thought so. That touched me deeply because I believe how we give demonstrates the depth of our love for Christ. You can’t draw closer to Christ without caring about the things He cares about, and He cares deeply for the poor and oppressed, the discouraged and overburdened. I know I have a lot of room to grow in this area, and a great deal of selfishness to confess and abandon, but praise God He will complete the work He began in me!

5        Do you put yourself into the books you read/write or the movies you watch?

Oh, definitely! With fiction this is a must! The stories and events may be fictional, but to write an authentic scene, the writer must tap into their deepest emotions. Otherwise the writing becomes stilted at best if not shallow and stereotypical. Some of my greatest pains and struggles have also helped greatly in my writing for Christ to the World.

In January of 2010, I learned a dear friend had brain cancer. This was hard news to take, and I went through a myriad of emotions. It also led to a great deal of learning. She and I spent a great deal of time talking about some very deep theological issues, and she raised questions I had no answers for. Questions I believe there weren’t always answers for.

During this time I was writing a series for Christ to the World on Joseph. Fitting, right? Although Joseph never suffered from a terminal illness, he experienced great pain and, I imagine, moments of hopelessness. He could’ve died in the cistern had his brothers decided not to pull him out. He could have died crossing the desert from his home to Egypt. He could’ve died, forgotten, in the Egyptian prison.

Our programs broadcast in areas of Christians persecution–areas of deep sorrow, fear, uncertainty. Areas where pat answers won’t fix things, and for some, things may not turn to good this side of heaven. I believe God used the emotions I experienced and lessons I learned through my friend’s diagnosis to enable me to write for these precious Christians. He also used my friend’s experience to give me an increased urgency and focus on eternal concerns.

I will add, my friend’s still fighting, so if you feel led to pray for her, please do!

6        Favorite kind of car and why?

Hmm … As a self-proclaimed hermit who would much rather sit behind a computer than peruse a mall, I have very little interest in cars. If I had to choose, I’d say the most economical one with the best gas mileage.

7       Would your choice of party be a catered meal or barbecue out back?

Oh, I love barbecues and eating outside. But what I love most is a picnic in a park or near hiking trails.

          What’s your favorite season and why?

This depends on where I’m living. In California, we lived on the edge of the Mojave Desert, and our summers were HOT! But our winters were absolutely lovely. One Christmas it was 90 degrees. Seriously. We spent the day at the park. 🙂

In Missouri, I’d say spring and fall. I love the sounds of birds chirping, of seeing eggs in nests. I love the sight and smell of blossoming trees, and my daughter often picks me bouquets.

I also love the reds, yellows, and golds of fall!

9        What specific lesson have you learned – spiritual, educational, occupational?

God has been showing me sooooo much! Each day it seems there’s something new–an area He wants me to grow in, wisdom He wants to impart, a sinful behavior He wishes to remove. I’m researching a new novel on organ donation and Cystic Fibrosis, which has led to hours of phone conversations with members of the Cystic Fibrosis community. Wow, what wisdom they have!

I’ve learned invaluable truths from each one I’ve spoken to, but a statement made by Casey Bradford penetrated the deepest. Individuals with Cystic Fibrosis are at an increased risk for illnesses and lung infections. Some infections can be fatal. When I asked him about this, he said, “I refuse to live in a bubble.”

This really impacted me. If you’ve followed this blog long enough, you know I tend to be fearful, and yet, I really have nothing to fearful of. And here was Casey, someone facing legitimate concerns, who refused to allow fears of tomorrow hold him back today. That’s faith and courage–throwing off ALL that hinders to run with perseverance the race mapped out for him.

10         Besides writing, what’s your favorite thing to do when you get some extra time?

One of my most cherished times comes at 3:00 each day when my daughter returns from school. She and I sit on our porch swing, chit-chatting. In the winter, we sit on the couch. I also love going on long, leisurely walks with my husband.

11      What’s one place you can be found at least one time every week?

I’m going to copy Maria’s answer here: church, and the grocery store!

Wow, that’s a lot of info! 1300 words worth. hahaha. How about you? Leave your answer to any one of the questions in the comment section! In addition, I’m tagging a large handful of other bloggers and Facebook friends (can I do that?) to join in the fun and answer all 11 questions (if you’re unable to participate, I totally understand!): (To my tagged Facebook friends, you can answer in the comments or create a Facebook note.)

Elaine Stock, my dear prayer partner who seeks to honor Christ in all she does

Diana Prusik, my spiritual mentor, critique partner, and living example of what it means to love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.

Fay Lamb, also a spiritual mentor (Only she doesn’t know this, but I’ve learned sooo much from her).

Henry McLaughlin, another critique partner who devotes a great deal of time encouraging and equipping other writers to hone their craft

Margaret Daley, a woman who continually mentors and helps other writers

Laura Poole, another crit partner who I’ve just started to get to know and would LOVE to get to know better

Kathleen Freeman, another crit partner (I have five, but that’s because I write fast and therefore, have multiple novels in need of feedback. 🙂 )

Cynthia Simmons, another critique partner who is also a dear friend

Eileen Rife, crit partner number five, a wonderful writer, friend, and constant encourager

Mary Thompson, a friend from church who consistently demonstrates what it means to be a godly mom and wife

Michael Ehret, a friend and my editor at the ACFW Journal who has really helped me in my career by offering me new writing opportunities like writing for the Journal. He also radiates Christ in everything he does and is a brilliant writer and editor.

Ami Koelliker, an amazing woman of God who daily demonstrates what it means to offer your life as a living offering to God. Whether she’s in the Operating Room preparing organs for a recipient, praying with a donor family, or serving at her local church, she radiates Christ’s love and truth. (She’s also the one that motivated my current novel, and she’s spent countless hours sharing her stories and knowledge with me.)

And finally, Casey Bradford, a man I’ve come to greatly admire who demonstrates what it means to “make the most of every moment.”