Looking Back and Moving Forward

HopeversejpgYou may have heard the expression, you can’t move forward when you remain fixated on the past. When our thoughts are consumed with old hurts or successes we’ve experienced. We may even begin to wonder if God is through with us, but friend, Christian’s don’t have shelf lives. If you’re breathing, God has a plan for you. A glorious, hope-filled plan.

Today, Michael Ehret shares how clinging to the past can hurt us, and shows us through his experience how we can move forward and see what God is doing in us now.

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Where are you reveling?
by Michael Ehret

In high school, I won a couple awards for various things now long forgotten and unimportant. One award, however, stood out for me because I worked so hard to get it and, award-833992_640I must admit, I felt I deserved it.

Each year the drama department of our high school would hold an awards ceremony—our own little Oscar night in Elkhart, Indiana. My tribe then was the drama and choir folks. As far as we were concerned, these awards were it—the be all and end all of the year.

In my senior year, I almost didn’t attend the banquet because tradition held that the “Best Actor” award went to the male lead in the fall musical. I did not get that role (Georg Von Trapp in The Sound of Music) after tryouts and was still sore about it because I really wanted that “Best Actor” trophy—and now I wouldn’t get it and would have to pretend to congratulate the guy who would get it. Talk about a “Best Actor”-worthy performance!

But I went. When my name was called as the winner of that coveted trophy, it was a true shock. But it shouldn’t have been. Because I had done considerable work on the stage in other productions that year (and, truth be told, I was a senior—there are benefits).

I thought of that moment in my life when I came across this passage of Scripture the other day:

Eternal One: Don’t revel only in the past, or spend all your time recounting the victories of days gone by. Watch closely: I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as i speak, and you’re about to see it. I am preparing a way through the desert; Waters will flow where there had been none” (Isaiah 43:18-19, The Voice).

 

When I think about winning that trophy now, and I do frequently, it’s not an altogether happy memory. Looking back, I can see how my anger at not getting that one role (that ended up not mattering) colored my whole year. And I see a selfish young man that God has had to do considerable work with.

I’m grateful for that soul work, but there remains much to do in my life because Isaiah’s admonition to the Israelites—and to me—is still instructive.

I’ve forgiven the young me for his selfishness in the past, but until recently I was still living (reveling) in the past in other aspects of my life, namely my writing. I’ve dealt with this in other places recently (Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE), so I won’t go over that again today.

Today let’s look forward. Today let’s look at Verse 19: “Watch closely: I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak, and you’re about to see it. I am woman-591576_640preparing a way through the desert; Waters will flow where there had been none.”

When Isaiah cautions against reveling in the past he does so not because looking back and learning from the past is bad, but because excessive looking back can keep you from looking forward—can keep you from seeing what God is doing (or wants to do) now in your life.

This is exactly what I did when I allowed a bad editor appointment to derail my writing for years. I gave up on many opportunities that God might have set in front of me because I was glued, pie-eyed, to the video in my brain of that editor telling me my writing wasn’t ready (it wasn’t). I looked back because I was afraid to look forward.

Don’t let that happen to you, whether you’re a writer or not. Look back at the past to learn from it—to gain motivation to look forward. But don’t look back so much that you end up living there. There’s no real life in the past.

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a418a046dd1af61c5a01697fccf6257fMichael Ehret has accepted God’s invitation and is a freelance editor at WritingOnTheFineLine.com. In addition, he’s worked as editor-in-chief of the ACFW Journal at American Christian Fiction Writers. He pays the bills as a marketing communications writer and sharpened his writing and editing skills as a reporter for The Indianapolis News and The Indianapolis Star.

 

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livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about it: Today, Michael shared his experiences with reveling in his past and how he moved on. Are you struggling with letting go of something now? Have you had something from the past you used to hang on to? How did you move beyond it? Share your thoughts on Facebook at Living by Grace or in the comments below. We can all use some encouragement and help!

If you follow me online, here’s where I’ve been this week:

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting with Mary Vee where I spoke about how God can use deep pain and sorrow to bring about eternal gain. Read it HERE. I also had the privilege of being interviewed on Lena Nelson Dooley’s blog. You can read it HERE–and there’s a giveaway of my latest release, Breaking FreeFinally (Friday was a busy day!), I spent some time with Robin Lee Hatcher in an interview. Join in the conversation HERE, and don’t forget to subscribe to her newsletter for another chance to win a copy of Breaking Free.

On Monday, Robin E. Mason highlighted me on her “New Week, New Face” feature where I wrote about the personality of a writer–I’m truly normal…or as normal as one can get. Come talk with us HERE.

Tuesday saw me over at The Singing Librarian for an interview you can read HERE. She also reviewed Breaking Free, which you can read HERE.

If you’re local, I’ll be at Divine Truth Christian Bookstore in La Vista, NE this Saturday for a book signing. I would love to see you there!

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And if you’re within driving distance of Omaha, I do hope you’ll join me at the Wordsowers Conference where I’ll be teaching how one can craft characters that grab hold of readers on a deeply emotional level.

One last thing. In August, I’ll be in Nashville for the first Christian Fiction Reader’s Retreat. Head HERE to read about who will be there and to register. I would love to see you there!

Other resources you may enjoy:

Releasing the Past to Live in the Now 

A Woman With a Past, a God With a Future by Elsa Kok

Parenting With the End in Mind

Parenting is a long, terrifying, rewarding, heart-breaking journey, one we won’t see truly see the fruit of for

Photo by radnatt taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by radnatt taken from freedigitalphotos.net

years to come. And in the interim, as we chase after naked babies, clean vomit from furniture, and bruise our knees–literally–through the teen years, it’s easy to get bogged down in the tedium of it all. To lose sight of our end goal, and maybe even to worry we’ll never quite get there.

If that’s you, I hope you find comfort in today’s post, and may you rest in God’s promise found in Galatians 6:9.

-And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up-Galatians 6-9, ESV

Waiting for the Harvest
by Meredith Houston Carr

 

I promised them I’d be right back. I just needed to step into the pantry to look for that box of much-desired Teddy Grahams.

Alone. And behind the thin layer of protection afforded by the pantry door.

children-251610_640As tiny fists pounded the pressed wood separating me from my 1- and 2-year-old toddlers, my ears absorbed the millionth whiny cries of the day. Without warning, hot tears filled my eyes and made their way down my flushed cheeks.

I’m so tired! The inaudible scream left my heart and shot up to God.

Tired of the whining. Tired of the crying. Tired of the sheer volume of epic neediness two toddlers can exhibit!

Yes, I needed to duck into my pantry to look for my children’s snack … but more than anything, I needed a good old-fashioned time out.

Inside that small space, in a brief moment alone, I felt the gentle hand of my Heavenly Father on my shoulder as He whispered, be still.

The words of Matthew 11:28 resonated with my fatigued soul: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (NIV).

Breathing in the truth of these words, I wiped my tears, whispered to Jesus how worn out I felt, and timidly emerged from the pantry—Teddy Grahams in hand—to see smiling, happy faces.

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Motherhood is hard. That sounds obvious, but oftentimes the world makes us forget the truth that this high and holy work we’re doing is about so much more than simply feeding hungry mouths and clothing precious bodies. We are nurturing souls, sculpting human hearts and minds in the midst of the mundane, everyday tasks we do.

It is all at once boring and chaotic. Routine and unpredictable. Filled with incredible highs and wrenching lows.

In the exhausting hyper-vigilance created by mothering young ones, I am reminded of the words of Galatians 6:9:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (NIV, emphasis added).

These early years of motherhood are all about laying the hard, laborious groundwork. Sowing, planting, watering, pulling weeds, shooing away birds, endlessly tending to tender, young shoots. The harvest appears very far off at times, and it’s easy to lose your way in the midst of all the work. This I understand, and all too well.

Dear mama, I know you are weary—I am too. But let us cling to the beautiful promise in this verse. All that hard work and sacrifice? It matters, and you and I will see the harvest … friendship-831522_640one day … if we will only not give up!

So keep on loving those little ones. Keep on showing patience and grace and forgiveness and kindness and joy in the midst of these intense, chaotic days. Keep on keeping on.

Your babies are watching, and their little senses are taking it all in—taking in all the love and sacrifice and grace you’re offering, day after weary, beautiful day.

And one fine day, you will emerge from the pantry, or wherever your hiding place happens to be, and look up to see the beginnings of a golden, bountiful harvest. Born of love and tears and perseverance, this harvest will make all these sowing and cultivating days worth the effort.

And you and I will feast with joy.

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Meredith CarrMeredith Carr is a Georgia Peach but now calls the hills of Northern California home, where she lives with her husband, energetic son and precocious daughter, and two crazy Chihuahuas. An attorney in her former life, she now enjoys the thrilling and slightly crazy stay-at-home mom life. You can find her writing (semi) regularly during naptime and in between loads of laundry at meredithhcarr.com.

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Let’s talk about this: Meredith shared from experience the exhaustion that comes with parenting, but she also the hope and encouragement found in God’s Word. What are some of your favorite verses to gather encouragement from? How do you work through your weariness and continue on? Share your thoughts in the comments below because we can all use ideas!

Divine Truth April 23 2For those of you who live local, join me this coming Saturday at Divine Truth Christian Bookstore where I’ll be signing copies of my latest release (and maybe my previous titles as well).

You can read the first few chapters for free HERE.

You can read some of the latest reviews HERE and HERE.

You can read how God is using this novel HERE.

And, just for fun, come learn about the writer’s personality, because I’m truly not weird! Well, maybe I am, but when surrounded by other writers, I fit right in! Read more HERE.

When the Ones You Love are Suffering

There are times when our desire to help must be restrained, because sometimes in the helping we do more harm than good. As difficult as it may be, sometimes the best thing we can do is step back and get out of God’s way. Today my guest, Christine Lindsey, tells us about one of those times.

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When the Ones You Love are Suffering
by Christine Lindsay

As a mom and now a grandmother, one of the hardest things for me is to stop stepping in each time one of my loved ones suffer.

hands-216981_640I come from a long line of “savior” type personalities. People with this particular personality trait often choose careers in caregiving, such as doctors and nurses. Even as an administrative assistant, one of my strongest bents was to help others, solve problems, fix situations.

How can one be faulted for helping others? What’s wrong with bringing comfort? As Christians that’s what God urges us to do…right?

Unless your help is hindering God from what He is doing in that person’s life.

As a mom I have been right in the middle of helping my kids and thought, am I a stumbling block to my children gaining the wisdom they need?

All good parents will use appropriate discipline to teach their children the lessons of life when they’re little. As we mature in our Christian faith, we come to accept God’s discipline in our own lives, so why do we step in so often to “fix” the situations in our adult kids’ lives, and thereby stop them from learning what we have learned?

This particular truth inspired my latest historical romance Sofi’s Bridge. In Sofi’s Bridge, the hero and the heroine both had to learn the same lesson that I had to learn in my life—that we cannot save our loved ones. Only Christ can do that.fashion-1283944_640

This often means letting our loved one go through a time of suffering, one of the hardest acts of love on the part of a parent or grandparent. Step back and let God work.

Here is a brief excerpt from Sofi’s Bridge where Dr. Neil Galloway recognizes this important spiritual lesson:

Back when Neil and Jimmy were only lads, the two of them hanging on to their father’s hand as they walked to church on a Sunday morn. Bells chimed all over Belfast. Inside the gray stone building, Neil had listened to the minister preach of what Christ had done on the cross for all mankind, taking the punishment that people like him deserved.

Now in this jail cell, Neil sat up and leaned his elbows on his knees. His hands dangled between them like heavy weights. As a boy he’d believed in what Jesus had done. But as an adult he’d demeaned that sacrifice. Instead, he’d tried to be Jimmy’s savior. But how could he save anyone, him a fallible human being?

Lord, I’ve been a fool. He dropped his face into his hands.  

Remember, the next time you are tempted to step in a fix something in the life of someone you love, 1 Peter 4:19 (NASB): Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”

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SofisBridge_w11814_750Seattle Debutant Sofi Andersson will do everything in her power to protect her sister who is suffering from shock over their father’s death. Charles, the family busy-body, threatens to lock Trina in a sanatorium—a whitewashed term for an insane asylum—so Sofi will rescue her little sister, even if it means running away to the Cascade Mountains with only the new gardener Neil Macpherson to protect them. But in a cabin high in the Cascades, Sofi begins to recognize that the handsome immigrant from Ireland harbors secrets of his own. Can she trust this man whose gentle manner brings such peace to her traumatized sister and such tumult to her own emotions? And can Neil, the gardener continue to hide from Sofi that he is really Dr. Neil Galloway, a man wanted for murder by the British police? Only an act of faith and love will bridge the distance that separates lies from truth and safety.

Read the first chapter of Sofi’s Bridge HERE

PURCHASE LINKS FOR SOFI’S BRIDGE:
Amazon.com Sofi’s Bridge (Paper & Ebook)
Pelican Book Group (Paper & Ebook)

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ChristineLindsayChristine Lindsay is the author of multi-award-winning Christian fiction. Tales of her Irish ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in Colonial India inspired her multi-award-winning series Twilight of the British Raj, Book 1 Shadowed in Silk, Book 2 Captured by Moonlight, and the explosive finale Veiled at Midnight.

Christine’s Irish wit and her use of setting as a character is evident in her contemporary romance Londonderry Dreaming. Her newest release Sofi’s Bridge also features a dashing Irish hero.

Aside from being a busy writer and speaker, Christine and her husband live on the west coast of Canada. Coming August 2016 is the release of Christine’s non-fiction book Finding Sarah—Finding Me: A Birthmother’s Story.

Please drop by Christine’s website www.ChristineLindsay.org or follow her on Amazon on Twitter. Subscribe to her quarterly newsletter, and be her friend on Pinterest, Facebook, and  Goodreads.

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livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about this: Nothing wrenches my heart like watching my daughter struggle. I long to shelter from every pain, but if I did, she’d grow up stunted and ill-equipped to handle life and those assignments God has planned for her. There’ve been numerous times when, I’ve watched her go through a difficult period, a whisper to my heart let me know God was in it. That was hard to hear, but also reassuring, because I know He is good, loving, and sovereign. I know He has a hope-filled plan for her and is, at this moment, working out that plan. And sometimes the best thing I can do it get out of His way.

And pray. I can always pray.

Can you share any stories of watching your children struggle but seeing God bring good from it? What was the hardest part for you as a parent? When have you had to step back and “let go and let God?” Share your thoughts, experiences, and advice with us in the comments below or at Living by Grace, because we can all learn from each other!

If you follow me on social media, here’s where I’ve been this week!

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of being a guest on Janet Sketchley’s blog, talking about the spiritual side of writing my latest book, Breaking Free. Join in the conversation HERE.

Tuesday saw me visiting with Gail Pallotta as I talked about being present in the present. Come visit HERE.

And yesterday, I had the great pleasure of being interviewed by Carrie Schmidt on Reading is My Superpower. Join the fun HERE. (Don’t miss the giveaway of Breaking Free in the post, too!) Carrie also posted a very humbling review of Breaking Free. Read her thoughts HERE.

Before you go, if you’re in or close to Lincoln, Nebraska, I’d love to see you at Barnes & Noble this Saturday from 2-3pm!

Barnes and Noble April 16

And if you’re within driving distance of Omaha, I do hope you’ll join me at the Wordsowers Conference where I’ll be teaching how one can craft characters that grab hold of readers on a deeply emotional level.

One last thing. In August, I’ll be in Nashville for the first Christian Fiction Reader’s Retreat. Head HERE to read about who will be there and to register. I would love to see you there!

Other resources you may enjoy or find helpful:

But is That Love

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Divine Prayers For Despairing Parents by Susanne Sheppmann

Leaving a Legacy by Understanding What Really Matters

MamaMondaysjpgHow do you want your children to remember you once you’re gone? What kind of legacy will you leave? Because every word, action, hug, and prayer matters. A lot. May we be intentional to “understand [and focus on] what really matters” (Phil. 1:10) so that we can faithfully parent these precious lives God had entrusted to our care.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook probably remember the book, created by my daughter, that I posted. In it, she’d depicted various scenes from our past–moments she remembered. (You can see it at the end of today’s post.) Reading it, I literally bawled, because it told me I’d made a positive impact in her life. That those moments had meant something.

Mamas, they do. Those moments when you pause to answer question number 789, or read that same picture book for the umpteenth time, or crouch with a flashlight–at three in the morning–to peer for monsters under your child’s bed, matter. A lot.

Today, Ada honors her mother and reminds us that simple teachings can leave a legacy of faith.

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April 11
by Ada Brownell

April 11 is my mother’s birthday. She would be 116 years old, but she’s been with Jesus for 58 years. I was 21 when she died. She had eight children, and I was the youngest.

school-543041_640Mama stood out in a crowd because of her flaming hair, but she had amazing spunk and ability to get things done. She attended college, quite unusual for someone born in 1900. She expected to be a school teacher like her mother, but she fell in love and invested her life in her family and Sunday school children instead.

Mom, Rita Shepherd Nicholson, never reached fame but her life impacted the world through her children. Students still receive scholarships in her name.

Her teaching stuck with us. When my siblings and I are together, we often quote Mama, especially the Scriptures that would pop out of her at appropriate times, sharing how we remember her words. “Love your neighbor as yourself;” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you;” “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to bible-706641_640wrath;” “What your hands find to do, do it with all your might,” and many more.

Her children rose up, as Solomon said we would, and called her blessed. Everette became a minister. Joe and Virgil spent their careers in Christian education. Joe also traveled the world in missions. Their students spread the gospel everywhere. We all ministered through music, teaching, writing and other talents. Our mother’s grandchildren still spread the gospel, some in other nations.

Although there were other influences, Mama modeled a life lived for Jesus is the most important success. We learned it and believe it.

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The Peach Blossom Rancher
Sequel to The Lady Fugitive

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Find The Lady Fugitive on Amazon

John Lincoln Parks’ works to rebuild his deceased father’s peach and horse ranch, thrown into ruin by a wicked uncle, murdered in the last book.

John yearns for a wife to help him make the ranch all it should be. He has his eye on his sister’s elegant matron of honor, Valerie MacDougal, a young widow. But Valerie, a law school graduate, returns to Boston to live with her parents since her little son was born. John and Valerie write, he’s kissed her a few times, but while in Boston Valerie and one of her father’s law partners try to get three patients wrongfully judged as insane, out of the Boston asylum and they spend a lot time together.

Will John marry Valerie or Edwina Jorgenson, the feisty rancher-neighbor who has been in love with John since they were in grade school? Edwina’s father is in a wheelchair and she’s taking care of their ranch. John tries to help and protect this neighbor who has a Peeping Tom whose bootprints are like the person’s who dumped a body in John’s barn. But John and Edwina fuss at one another constantly. Will John even marry, or be hanged for the murder?

Tentative Release Date June 1, 2016

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ada brownellAda Brownell blogs and writes with Stick-to-Your-Soul Encouragement. She is the author of six other books, and more than 350 stories and articles in Christian publications. She now lives in Missouri, a beautiful state except for tornadoes and chiggers.

Find Ada on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and her web site.

 

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Let’s talk about it: As I mentioned earlier, being a mother is tough. Each mom wants to leave a legacy for her children. Ada’s mother left the legacy of faith. What legacy do you hope to leave your children? What are you doing to teach your kids what you hope to leave them? Share your thoughts in the comments below; we can all learn from one another!

Before you go, if you’re local, I’d love for you to join me at the SouthPointe Barnes & Noble in Lincoln where I’ll be signing books this Saturday, from 2-3pm.

Barnes and Noble April 16

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Incidentally, for those looking for something extra special to give to their mothers this Mother’s Day, consider commissioning my daughter to make her a memory book. She’ll be beyond touched, believe me. (I was!)

Contact Ashley at ans_1(at)ymail(dot)com to dialogue with her about process and prices, and visit her website HERE to learn more about her, her art, and services (including facilitating fun painting parties!).

Forgive, Laugh, Pray

woman-1006100_1920It’s incredibly painful to live with a stranger you once called your best friend. It’s the kind of feeling that causes your heart to literally ache and your gut to knot. I remember, and may I never forget.

Those of you who’ve been following my blog for any length of time know it’s only by God’s grace alone that Steve and I are still together–and in love!–twenty years after we said our “I dos.” Seventeen years after we almost said our “I’m dones.” (You can watch a video of our story HERE.)

Today’s guess, LoRee Peery shares her experience of marital isolation and how God intervened. As you read her post, prayerfully ask what God is wanting to show you through it.

-Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.-Ephesians 4-32, ESV (1)

Forgive, Laugh, Pray
by LoRee Peery

Forgive ~~ Laugh ~~ Pray

In no particular order, these three elements are vital to a marriage relationship. Bill and I have been married over forty years, and will tell anyone God is the only reason we’re still together.

Forgive, laugh, pray. Too bad I didn’t take those verbs into account during the years we struggled. We both came from dysfunctional, alcoholic homes. Each is the oldest in the family, strong-willed and stubborn. Bill and I are what was once termed “Type-A son-388523_640personalities.” We didn’t agree on most things, especially when it came to disciplining our children.
Our Lord has done wonders in each of our lives.

When our children were small I cared for them physically and loved them as much as I was able, but I feel I failed them by not listening and giving them credit for having their own voices. Bill admits to being absent. I admit to being wrapped up in surviving as a single mom with my oldest, and distracted by grief as I fought PMS during three impressionable lives.

We attended church but it wasn’t a priority until the Lord brought me to Himself two years after we wed. Bill focused on providing. I kept busy with the children, caring for the house, and church activities. He often missed children’s and church activities during the week. He did become involved for weekend soccer.

I’m admittedly a hard person to live with, grumpy when I fight chronic pain. Bill lost breakup-908714_640himself in fix-it-up projects out of town, neglecting what needed to be done at home. I started writing, which placed my energy and focus on projects rather than all the little things that once bugged me to distraction. (I first typed that word as destruction. Apt, without the Lord’s intervention.)

Our marriage survived because the Lord used women’s Bible studies. Through one of those associations, Bill met biblical men. Unknown to me, two of those men revealed to Bill how a lifestyle practice affected his personal testimony in a negative manner. It took six months of going to lunch until the Light came on. Bill changed.

I changed as well. God worked on our hearts individually. We attended couples’ Bible study. We never did agree on child-rearing, especially discipline, but I gave Bill and our holding-hands-752878_640children to the Lord. The control and responsibility wasn’t mine to hold on to.

We remain two imperfect people striving to glorify the Lord by action and attitude. We fail every day, but fall back on our faith, and attempt to accept one another as we are. I know what makes Bill valuable. Christ died for him. And that man God put in my life loves me. He’s always protected me and had my back.

Forgive. Laugh. Pray.

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Touches_revamp_300_FrontTouches of Time:

A decades-old unsolved homicide.

A grieving single mother-to-be.

A cold-case investigator.

Sarah Bishop goes through her deceased mother’s belongings and becomes immersed in the details of her grandfather’s unsolved homicide. Determined to find who was responsible, for the sake of her unborn baby, Sarah vows to seek out the answers her mother had failed to find.

Cold Case Investigator Ford Melcher is intrigued by Sarah’s dogged drive to solve the old mystery. His current case has reached a frustrating dead end, but he comes to believe it is somehow linked to Sarah’s quest. His desire to protect her from further hurt is put to the test, especially when he has secrets he’d rather not disclose.

Answers could remain elusive as to who struck Sarah’s grandfather and left him in a ditch. Will the search for those answers open doors for her to discover the life God planned? Can she accept that plan if it includes a man who wasn’t forthright with information?

Find it on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

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Have I got a storyInspirational romance author LoRee Peery strives to remember the Lord’s redeeming grace each day when she surveys her sense of place in Him and where He has placed her. She clings to I John 5:4 and prays her blended family and dozen grandchildren see that faith. Her Frivolities Series and other publications are available at Pelican Book Group.

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livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about this: Many marriages start off rocky because of different upbringings–or similar ones, sometimes–and there are a lot of adjustments to be made. If you’re married, did you and your spouse have a period of adjustment? Did you have differences of opinion in important things such as raising  your children? How did you work through those opinions? How did you see God moving in your marriage? Share your thoughts in the comments below or over on Facebook on Living By Grace. We have a lot to learn from one another.

But before you go, if you’re local, I want to invite you to join me at the Oakview Barnes and Noble in Omaha this Saturday where I’ll be signing copies of all my books.

FB Cover PhotoPop by to say hi and grab a mocha at the store cafe’! And if you live in the Lincoln, NE area, join me at their SouthPointe Barnes and Noble next Saturday where I’ll be doing the same.

For those of you who follow me online, here is where I’ve been this week:

Tuesday, I was honored to be on Wordsower’s Author Showcase before their conference at the end of the month. You can read my interview HERE. I also had an interview with Anne Weaver HERE.

And last Friday, I visited Carole Towriss’ blog for an interview. Join me HERE. I also ventured over to visit with Debra Butterfield to talk about removing cliches from your characters. You can read it HERE.

I was tickled to see Intertwined highlighted on the RIRS site last week. You can check that out HERE.

And… the highlight of this week? Tomorrow I have the opportunity to speak to local elementary school 3rd graders on crafting “reality fiction.” I have a feeling I’m up for an adorable morning! If you’d like me to speak to your school, university, or writing group, shoot me an email at jenniferaslattery(at)gmail(dot)com. And if you’re local, I do hope you’ll join me at the Wordsowers Conference where I’ll be teaching how one can craft characters that grab hold of readers on a deeply emotional level.

Your Spouse Is Not Your Enemy

Has your marriage become a battle ground? Have you lost the “we” and slipped into a “him or me” mentality?

Most people, when they’re newly engaged and married, can’t imagine that they may face times when they just really don’t like their spouse, or are so angry they see them as the enemy. Join Julie as she shares with us her own experience.

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Your Spouse Is Not Your Enemy
By Julie Arduini

As an engaged couple, we committed to attending a FamilyLife Marriage conference. We wanted to avoid any pitfalls that might come our way, and for my husband, this was hisengagement-925023_640 second marriage. I brought my own baggage into the marriage. We learned principles that gave us a great foundation.

One of the things we learned is so simple that it’s almost cliché: your spouse is not your enemy. If you’re a newlywed, it’s laughable. When would your beloved ever become your enemy?

Fast forward past our newlywed years, past my own chronic illness and infertility, job changes, a move, nearly losing our baby, and the death of my dad, and we were not in a state of oneness. During all these changes, we’d been separated during the week for a few months while my husband worked a new job out of state and I tried to sell our home in our current state. Once we sold the house and moved as a family to Ohio, we were certain life was going to be bliss. That marriage would click along like it did in those early years.

Instead, we were ensnared by conflict. He was used to being on his own because of the job change taking him away during the week. I was the single mom for a while and I found my own method of getting things done and I resented any correction he had for me. I was grief-stricken and tired. A fight ensued and I unleashed a lot of ugly. And out of my argument-238529_640husband’s mouth came the words, “I’m not your enemy.”

At first the words made me furious because they did feel like such a cliché. But as I calmed down I realized how far we had moved from that couple daily fighting for oneness as we had learned in that conference. We were in isolation and it was a terrible place to camp. And I was treating my husband like he was the enemy.

Finding our way back was a process, and we got worse before we got better. There were so many changes coming at us we didn’t know how to grieve or cope as individuals, much less as a couple. When we had our rock bottom, we went back to the principles that we started with. We became intentional in sharing with each other and building the friendship. We trusted God to remove our walls and let the other in as an ally. We looked for triggers that still tried to (and sometimes still do) trip us up. We returned to praying with and for each other.

It’s still a process. We’re in transition again and the temptation is there for me to see my husband as an intruder trying to rain on my party, and I’m sure he could say the same for me. This time around, I’ve went and confessed my thoughts and asked if my attitude is holding-hands-752878_640visible and I have brought him down. And without so many words, I’ve come right out and asked if I’ve made him feel like we’re enemies. Thankfully, the answer is no.

Marriage is tough. I’m a reader and I devoured marriage books before and after the wedding. I’m still in shock at the amount of work and warfare we have had to put in to put and keep our marriage in a place of unity. If you are looking at your spouse as a foe and not a friend, go back to the basics. Prayer. Communication. Forgiveness.

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January2016Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to surrender the good, the bad, and —maybe one day—the chocolate. She’s the author of the upcoming re-release, ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present, as well as the sequel, ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past, set for a spring release. She also shared her story in the infertility devotional, A WALK IN THE VALLEY. She blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her athttp://juliearduini.com, where she invites readers to subscribe to her monthly newsletter full of resources and giveaway opportunities at Julie Arduini: Surrender Issues and Chocolate and the weekly email, Sunday’s Surrender and Chocolate.

Find Julie: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can sign up for her monthly newsletters here, and her weekly Sunday’s Surrender and Chocolate here.

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Julie is working on something new. Be on the lookout on her website and Amazon page!

Entangled:
Carla’s been given her dream, to leave her job as sheriff and attend cosmetology school. The gift is so overwhelming that she struggles with feeling unworthy, especially since she still feels guilty for becoming a mom as a teenager. When Wayne Peterson reenters her and their son Noah’s life, Carla creates some tangles between her and her steadfast boyfriend, the flannel-wearing, truck driver Will Marshall. Can Carla release her past and create a future full of highlights, or, will she burn her options worse than a bad perm?

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Here are additional resources that helped us:

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livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about this: Let’s be honest: the real enemy is out to destroy marriages and will do whatever it takes–that’s evident when you look at the marriages around us. But there’s always hope (1 Peter 1:3-5)! Have you ever looked at your spouse and thought of him or her as your enemy? How did you move past that? What do you do now to ensure you don’t view your spouse in that way again?

Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook, because we can all learn from and encourage each other!

For those following me online, here’s where I’ve been this past week:

Today, Julie and I traded places! While she’s here, I’m over on her blog. You can join me HERE.

Yesterday, I visited Ane Mulligan at Southern-fried Fiction to talk about responding to God’s call. Visit Ane’s blog HERE.

I visited The Engrafted Word Tuesday, interviewed by the wonderful Savanna Kaiser. Join us in the conversation HERE.

On Monday, my heroine, Alice from Breaking Free, was interviewed over on Margaret Daley’s site. Read the interview HERE.

This past Saturday was a busy one! I stopped by Patti Shene’s to talk about releasing the past and being transformed. I’m also giving away a paperback copy of Breaking Free. Join the conversation HERE. I also visited Jodie Wolfe to speak about writing Intertwined…and how I didn’t really follow the cliché rule of writing what I know. Visit HERE.

Last Friday, I was over on Heart of the Matter talking about the ways people pleasing can derail us and how we can learn to discern God’s will for us. Come listen then share your thoughts with us HERE. I also had a very fun, quick interview with Joselyn Vaughn. Read the interview HERE.

And finally, last Thursday I visited Zoe M. McCarthy’s site to talk about three elements that will strengthen our writing. Read the post, then join the conversation HERE.

Whew! Crazy busy but fun week. Hope you’re was amazing.

4 Relationships God Wants Us to Cultivate: Part Two

As I mentioned yesterday, relationships are hard. Tanya wrote about two relationships God wanted us to cultivate–our relationship with Him, and our relationship with our spouse–and how we can do that. But there are two more relationships we must nurture: our relationship with…well, read on to see what Tanya says.

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4 Relationships God Wants Us to Cultivate: Part Two 
By Tanya Eavenson

Yesterday, I wrote about cultivating our relationships with God and with our spouses here. Today, there are two more relationships God calls us to cultivate.

3) Cultivate your relationships within the church.

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One way you can cultivate relationships within the church is through regular attendance and getting plugged in.

  • There are many areas in your church that need helpers, like teaching a Sunday school class, helping out in the nursery, designing a church website, answering phones, or even being a part of the clean-up crew after events. You’ll never know the needs a church has until you ask.
  • Be active. Have you ever considered joining a women’s ministry? Do you participate in a Bible study? Attend conferences that encourage and refresh your soul? As Hebrews 10:24-25 says above, we gather together to encourage one another. So be active.
  • Pray for the staff and ministries. One of the most crucial and most powerful acts of love a church can offer is prayer for their church staff, ministries within the church, and those who serve in those ministries.
  • Reach out to others. Whether it’s a card, text, or phone call, reach out to others for their birthday, bereavement, thinking of you, or any occasion. It means a lot to know someone cares and is lifting you up in prayer.

4) Cultivate your relationships with those who don’t know Jesus Christ.

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Did you know that if you claim to be a Christian, you’re a testimony of God? It may or may not surprise you, but people are observing us. How we handle heartaches and difficulties, the way we love our spouses, how we talk, how we treat others, and even our joys, accomplishments, and blessings represent who God is. Not that we must worry about being perfect. We all make mistakes. The Lord knows we aren’t perfect, but while we strive to follow Him in this imperfect world, there are several things we can do to reach the lost.

  • Pray for God to give you opportunities to share the Gospel with someone as you go along your day. Ask Him to give you boldness to proclaim the joy of God’s word.
  • Give forgiveness. Forgiveness is what sets Christianity apart from other faiths. If someone has offended you, treat them kindly, with love, regardless of how they’ve mistreated you. We truly don’t know what others are going through. Perhaps what they need to hear is they aren’t alone and there is One who will be with them through it all.
  • Share your testimony of what God has done in your life. It doesn’t have to sound professional: just honest. Sometimes our testimonies can bless others and be an encouragement to those who now walk where we’ve walked.
  • Show love to the lost. The Bible also clearly states in James 2:15-16, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?”

The Lord has called us to share who He is with the world, and this often requires tangible actions. He calls us to go and love others by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for widows and orphans, visiting those who are sick and those in prison. Find a need within your community, your neighborhood or in another country and fill that need. How? It’s up to you. Contact your local church to see what ministries they offer, but most importantly, tell people about Jesus. It could be something as simple as passing out a Bible to a co-worker or to a stranger at the mall that leads people to Jesus and eternal life.

I’ve listed several practical ways to grow your relationships with the Lord, your spouse, your church, and with the lost, but it takes action. Cultivating anything takes time, energy, and a desire for something to grow, including our relationships. So why not start today?

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Restored_1400x2100 (1)Dr. Steven Moore is known nationally for saving lives. If only he could save his own. Unable to deal with his cancer prognosis, he retreats to a happier time in his past—to the woman who once stole his heart.

Four years after the death of her beloved husband, bookstore owner Elizabeth Roberts still struggles to sustain her faith and joy in the Lord as she raises her two sons. She strives to find a way through her family’s grief, never suspecting a man from her past might offer hope for her future.

But how can there be a future when he’s only come to kiss her and says good-bye?

Buy Links:
Amazon
iTunes
Barnes & Noble

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Tanya Eavenson enjoys spending time with her husband, and their three children. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Word Weavers International, and writes for Christ to the World Ministries. You can find her at her website http://www.tanyaeavenson.com/ on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google, or on Amazon.

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Where I’ve been: Please join me over on Stitches Thru Time with Crystal L. Barnes today!

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Let’s talk about this:
 Over the past two days, Tanya has shared  four relationships God wants us to cultivate. Yesterday’s were God and our spouses, and today’s were the church and those who don’t know Christ. How do you cultivate your relationship with the church? What about those in your community? What keeps you from tending these relationships? What motivates you to seek these relationships out? Share your thoughts in the comments below, because we can all learn from one another!

4 Relationships God Wants Us to Cultivate: Part One

Relationships are hard work. I don’t know about you, but there are times when I get so tired, all I want to do is squirrel away by myself and ignore what should be done. However, relationships can’t be ignored or neglected. And shouldn’t be. Today–and tomorrow, a treat!–Tanya Eavenson talks about the four relationships we must invest in. And don’t forget to come back next week when I’ll share the rest of my thoughts on the S word and what biblical submission looks like in a modern day marriage.

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4 Relationships God Wants Us to Cultivate: Part One
By Tanya Eavenson

With spring fast approaching, many people are preparing for warmer days. Spring break. A quick getaway. Perhaps you’ve starting thinking about what your family will wear on Easter morning. Maybe your thoughts have turned to gardening: the type of plants to purchase, the items needed to start the project, or the weekends to complete the task. In these instances, how much time do you think it will take to cultivate a plan, prepare to execute it, and then get it done? Days? Weeks?

In the same way, how much time do we spend planning, preparing and cultivating our relationships? Here are four relationships I believe God desires us to grow, care for, and nurture for our benefit and His glory.

1) Cultivate your relationship with Him.

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The first and most important relationship you have in this life is your relationship with Christ. But cultivating a relationship with the Lord in our own strength is impossible. How many times have we forgotten to read scripture or pray? If you’re anything like me, it’s tough raising children, being a helpmate, working outside of the home, etc. These aren’t negative things; on the contrary, family and children are a blessing from the Lord. However, we can’t use people or things around us as an excuse. We have to make time for the Lord.

You might be saying, “Yes, I want to have a deeper relationship with the Lord, or I used to have that closeness being in His word, but how can I get that back?” Here are several practical ways to cultivate your relationship with the Lord.

  • Prayer is one of the most important aspects of a Christian’s life, affecting his or her relationship with the Lord. Scripture says that even Jesus withdrew to quiet places, alone, and prayed. So if Jesus needed to spend time talking with His Father, how much more do we need to be before Him ourselves?
  • Remove idols from your life. There’s a misconception of what the word ‘idol’ means. Years ago, an idol was a wooden, metal, or gold statue built in the image of a god. People worshiped this idol. Today this meaning still remains, but it also includes anything that takes priority over the Lord’s place in your heart and life. Is there anything in your life that you’ve put before God?
  • Read the Bible. Designate a time during the day to set aside to read God’s love letter to you. Whether it’s morning, afternoon, or evening, find a time that works best with your schedule.
  • Memorize Scripture. The Bible says the word of God is a lamp that lights your path, showing you direction when you’re lost or uncertain. It’s also called a sword: a weapon for protection against the enemy. Memorizing scripture is exactly that: protection for your mind and strength to carry on in a world that tries to rob, conquer, and destroy our joy.

2) Cultivate your relationship with your spouse.

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Have you ever considered that marriage was created by God, not only for the sake of two people coming together as Adam and Eve had done, but to bring glory to Himself? We are to show our spouse the same sacrificial love that Christ showed for us, not only giving up ourselves for another, but being an example for others so when they see us, they too will be witnesses of God’s love. Here are a few practical ways to strengthen or to begin re-cultivating your relationship with your spouse, and in the process bring glory to God.

  • Pray: for your spouse. For your marriage. For the Lord to protect your marriage.
  • Be intentional. Did you know the word “love” is a verb: an action word? Put your love into action. Spend quality time together. Go on a date. Go for a drive. Just go—do something together.
  • Offer forgiveness. Ephesians 1:7 says, “We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” We have forgiveness through Christ for the countless things we’ve done, so how can we not extend that same forgiveness to our spouses? When we offer our forgiveness, we are glorifying God in our actions, honoring God and our marriage, and possibly being a witness to others around us.

Please join me back here tomorrow as I write about the other two relationships God wants us to cultivate.

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Restored_1400x2100 (1)Dr. Steven Moore is known nationally for saving lives. If only he could save his own. Unable to deal with his cancer prognosis, he retreats to a happier time in his past—to the woman who once stole his heart.

Four years after the death of her beloved husband, bookstore owner Elizabeth Roberts still struggles to sustain her faith and joy in the Lord as she raises her two sons. She strives to find a way through her family’s grief, never suspecting a man from her past might offer hope for her future.

But how can there be a future when he’s only come to kiss her and says good-bye?

Purchase here:
Amazon
iTunes
Barnes & Noble

***

DSC_0729bTanya Eavenson enjoys spending time with her husband, and their three children. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Word Weavers International, and writes for Christ to the World Ministries. You can find her at her website http://www.tanyaeavenson.com/ on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google, or on Amazon.

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For those who enjoy following me all over cyberspace… Here’s where I’ve been this past week:

Tuesday, my article on training our children to stand strong against spiritual warfare went live on Crosswalk.com. You can read that HERE.

Read about my heart behind my latest review on my publisher’s website HERE.

Tuesday I shared a fun book-lovers romance story on Faith, Friends, and Chocolate. Read that HERE.

Wednesday I shared one of my favorite culinary inventions on Country at Heart. Read that HERE.

Join me on Shannon Taylor Vannatter’s Inkslinger blog as I share how my wedding absolutely didn’t go as planned. I’m back on her blog today to share an excerpt from Breaking Free. Visit me HERE.

I stopped by Trisha Perry’s blog to chat about my novel, my favorite city, and a novel I read and loved and think you will to. Read more HERE.

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Let’s talk about this:
When you think about your relationship with God, how do you work on strengthening and growing it? How do you work on your relationship with your spouse (if you’re married)  or other significant people in your life? Share your thoughts in the comments below, because we can all learn from one another!

Why Do We Worry?

What kinds of things do you worry over? Do you ever let worry overwhelm you to the point you forget just Who is in control? Today Sarah Ruut reminds us that though we may worry and fret over many different things in this life, there is One whom we can trust to hold everything in His hands.

But first, for my book-loving friends, I wanted to let you know Intertwined is still on sale for under $3! (ecopies). You can get the kindle version here, nook version here, and CBD’s transferable e-version here. PLUS, CBD has my next novel up for pre-order for 31% off regular price here. (You can read some of the early reviews that have come in here.)

Why Do We Worry? by Sarah Ruut

It had been a long day. I finally headed to the store with my four kids (7 and under) for groceries. The problem? It was 5 o’clock.

why do we worryI knew they were going to get hungry and fussy, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I was already pinching pennies, so a fast food meal – or even a snack – was out.

The 30-minute drive did not bring any ideas. Instead, I spent the time fretting and stewing, tying my stomach in knots instead. I just knew the next hour would be miserable for us all.

With the youngest in the seat of a cart, I boosted my daughter into the main part of the basket. As we started walking into the store, the kids got excited.

“Look, Mommy! I found a dollar!”

I turned, expecting to see an ad or receipt. There in her hand was indeed a dollar. But not just a one. She held a ten-dollar bill out for my inspection.

What do you do with stray cash? I looked around to see if there was anyone who could have left it, but no one paid us any attention. No one was walking from the area as if they had just left a cart.

People just don’t leave ten-dollar bills laying around, though. Who even pays cash these days, right? The whole situation, after the worrying I had been doing about my finances, was a bit shocking.

We continued into the store, and the Lord spoke very clearly.

“I feed the birds of the air and clothe the lilies of the field. Why don’t you trust me to take care of your children?”

I fought tears as the full reality washed over me. My fretting was the exact opposite of faith! If I truly trusted God, I had no need to worry.

We used the money for a box of granola bars and a drink, which we paid for and consumed before doing our “real” shopping. The kids survived the trip, and I kept my sanity. But the lesson that day has never faded.

There are so many times in our day-to-day lives when it is easy to worry. Whether leaving a baby with a sitter or allowing a teen to take the keys, sitting with a loved one in the hospital or watching a tornado bear down on a town, there are things beyond our control that we fret about.

person-371015_640But if we truly believe that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will, do we really have any reason to worry?

Doesn’t He love our children (spouse, family, friends, etc.) even more than we do?

Can’t He calm the storm with a spoken command?

Doesn’t He own the cattle on a thousand hills?

We don’t have to worry. We don’t have to fix it. We don’t have to have all the answers.

We simply have to trust the One who has it all under control!

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Sarah Ruut is an avid reader who loves sharing about books and their authors on her blog. You’ll find devotionals as well as reviews of Christian fiction, interviews with amazing authors, giveaways and more at sarahruut.com. You can also connect with Sarah on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

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livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! What are some worries that you tend to focus on? How do you work through those worries? Do you delve into the Word, pray, or both? What are some of your favorite verses to think on when you begin to feel worry? Can you think of a time when you felt His peace and provision so deeply, the worry disappeared? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook, because we can all learn from each other!

Coming soon I’ll be doing a blog series titled “The Brain Experiment” where we replace negative, anxiety-producing, and self-defeating thoughts with truth and watch how this impacts our emotions and behaviors. So, stay tuned! 🙂

The Next Step

Do you allow the unknowns to hold you back, or have you laced up your running shoes? The other night my

photo by David Castillo Dominici taken from freedigitalphotos.net

photo by David Castillo Dominici taken from freedigitalphotos.net

daughter and I were talking about her future, plans, and God’s call in general. She wondered why so many people end up in jobs that make them unhappy. Though I doubt there’s a simple answer to that question, I do believe a common one is fear or lack of surrender has prevented many from embracing their call. Fear of the unknown, motivating Christians to choose that recession proof job, or perhaps lack of surrender that allows materialism and greed to take hold, motivating them to choose a higher salary over that which they were created to do.

Today a sweet friend and woman I admire, Jan Pierce, shares how God challenged her to step out in faith, even Jan-137acrop1when the road felt uncertain and unclear, and the results of that first step. As an added bonus, she’s giving away a copy of her book, Homegrown Readers. The winner (from the continental US only) will be randomly selected from the comments left on today’s post.

But first I wanted to announce the winner of last week’s give-away. Sherry Popovic, congrats! You won a copy of Stephanie Landsem’s novel, The Tomb. I’ll be contacting you shortly to chat about how to best get that to you.

“Help, Lord, I don’t know what I’m doing,” became a common prayer. He answered, “Just go through the next door. Just take the next step.”

The Next Step by Jan Pierce

Psalm 37:23 says “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and he delighteth in his way.” The NIV says it this way: “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him.”

Ten years ago I was a busy, frazzled schoolteacher wondering when I could retire. Please don’t misunderstand. I loved teaching and I loved first and second graders. But I’d begun my teaching career in 1967, and nearly forty years had gone by since I was a skinny twenty-one-year-old novice. I was tired.

My husband had been traveling to India. A retired pastor, he’d found exciting projects to take on—house church planting, education scholarships for orphans, homes for abandoned widows. I was still home, living the less-colorful life of an educator.

Then in 2007 we were able to sell my husband’s business, pay off our home, and put me on the blissful road to retirement. The circumstances came together rather suddenly, and I hadn’t given a thought to what I’d do after teaching. Sleep? Shop in stores during daylight hours? Sit in a favorite rocking chair and read endless novels?

God had other plans.

I remember the evening I sat with my husband and close friends and, speaking of India, out of my mouth popped, “I might go

Photo by Noppasinw taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by Noppasinw taken from freedigitalphotos.net

too.” The words surprised me as much as everyone else, but as I spoke them I knew them to be true.

Shortly after, I attended a women’s conference and took a workshop on the importance of story. Yes, I agreed, people’s stories are important. Another attendee directed me to a writer’s conference put on by Oregon Christian Writer’s. The minute I entered the doors I found kindred spirits.

God did something big in my life in 2007. He knew all along that we would start our NGO, Teams India, and make regular trips to the hectic cities and dusty villages of India. He knew I’d take to writing like a duck to water and begin the use the words that had always roamed around in my head and heart.

By nature I’m a chicken. And, I hate to make mistakes. Well….God has a sense of humor. India is challenging, but invigorating. And writing requires a never-ending series of risks and mistakes and then the task of fixing those mistakes. At sixty years of age I began two of the most exciting journeys any person can take.

“Help, Lord, I don’t know what I’m doing,” became a common prayer. He answered, “Just go through the next door. Just take the next step.”

I could do that. So I attended conferences, I got a web site, I learned to draft and submit. I took baby steps.

I traveled to India and taught children to read English. I failed, but we had a great time together. I taught Bible study methods to women in India. I learned lessons about humility and grace and received much more than I was able to offer them.

I chose to take the next step God revealed. I wrote devotionals, short inspirational pieces, parenting and family life articles and stories of India. I did a lot of listening. “What’s next, God?” When I became anxious or stressed about all the things I didn’t yet know, I remembered, “Just the next step, that’s all.”

Homegrown Readers coverThis month I released a new book for parents. It’s called Homegrown Readers: Simple Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Read. (Buy it here!) For many years I sat across a table from parents during those dreaded parent-teacher conferences. There was so much to share about learning to read but never enough time. Now there is. I’ve shared a lot of practical ways to support children as they learn to read. Often it’s the little things that make a difference, a prompt here, an encouraging word there.

Holding my own book in my hands was a red letter day for me. It marked the culmination of a long series of next steps. And guess what? The Lord has already given me a new assignment—a book on homegrown family fun.

Those who serve Jesus never truly retire. There is so much to do. My two great joys in this segment of life are missions work in India and writing. I never would have believed I’d be doing either one. But God knew my steps and He ordered them especially for me.

Jan Pierce, M.Ed., is a retired teacher and freelance writer living in the Pacific Northwest. Her book, Homegrown Readers is available on Amazon.com. Find her at www.janpierce.net

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Has God showed you your next step? If not, pause, draw near to Him, and ask Him to show you, and quiet yourself to trust His leading, determining to focus not on the unknowns ahead but rather that very next step. If He has shown you what your next step is, are you taking it? If not, why? If so, share the feelings that arise as you follow His plan for your life. Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.