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.

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

surrenderProverbsversepicStrength is great, until it turns to pride. Determination is great, until it becomes stubbornness.

How was it my most admirable traits quickly worked against me? Against us?

I was a young bride. Naive, incredibly self-centered, and at times, self-righteous. And insecure. And, as a new mom, utterly terrified. Maybe that’s where our marital problems arose. I don’t know, but what I do know is, left on our own, Steve and I wouldn’t be where we are now, deeply in love, twenty-some years later.

My first venture back into “church-world” happened on a Mother’s Day. Though my husband and I had attended on occasion prior, we eventually quit going. Neither of us were living our lives for Christ. God was more like a back-of-the-mind figure, one we’d call out to once in a while, when things got crazy or we wanted something in particular then forget entirely for long stretches of time. Meanwhile, our marriage began to disintegrate. Not that it’d been incredibly strong to begin with.

But then one morning, completely absorbed in my misery, I took our young daughter out for a walk. I ambled through the neighborhood, pushing her in the stroller. I don’t remember what I was thinking about, but I’m sure I was rehashing all the woes of my life. (Woes of my own making, I might add.) I turned a corner, and a woman, also out for a walk, drew near. Upon reaching me, she stopped and said, “You should come to my church.”

I blinked. Um… Oookay. Then listened as she told me where it was.

The next Sunday, Mother’s Day, I went. Alone.

It’s hard sitting in church by yourself on Mother’s Day, staring at the sea of couples all around you. And as I sat there, looking about, all I could think of was, “I want that.” I wanted the happy little family. I wanted my husband beside me, his arm draped over my shoulder, while we bounced our squirming infant between us.

That picture of peace, love, and intimacy seemed to far away, so unreachable. I knew what I wanted–whatheart-700141_1920 our marriage needed–only I had no idea how to get there.

But God knew, and that Sunday morning He began to lead us on a journey that was equal parts frightening, painful, and absolutely miraculous.

It started with Him prying open my strangled grip on my life as He whispered to my battered and terrified heart, “Let go, and trust in Me.”

Trust in Him. Not in my husband and his ability to be what I needed. Not even in myself and my ability to be the wife I so desperately wanted yet continually failed to be. Trust in Him to work through our messy lives, heal our broken hearts, and not only restore our faltering marriage but make it stronger than it’d ever been. Stronger than we’d ever imagined.

It started with surrender, and that surrender led me to another S word. One that may make you cringe. It certainly did me! Come back next Thursday and I’ll share more.

If God’s saying the same thing to you, this song, one of my favorites, might encourage you.

6In the meantime, speaking of marriage, my publisher has released a free excerpt of my upcoming novel, Breaking Free, which reviewers are calling gripping and suspenseful. You can read it HERE.

Plus, I hope it’s okay to share, but I’m just so giddy about this… The other day I received the best review ever. What made it even better is that, that morning, I was feeling a bit discouraged. (We writers can be moody and insecure. I think it must be inherent to the creative mind.) And it felt like God was saying to me, “Keep at it, girl.” You can read that review here: One of the Best Books I’ve Read in a Long Time

Other resources you might enjoy:

The Spindle Chair (fiction, but wow, a great marriage resource.)

How Death Can Bring Life to Your Marriage

You Gotta Fight (Ignore the crazy bad posture. My word!)

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Are you married? If so, I imagine you’ve had your share of ups and downs. What has God taught you, in regard to developing intimacy? Or maybe simply in regard to doing life together? Or if you’re not married but either hope to be one day or have watched other married couples with intrigue, what are some things you’ve learned that you plan to implement (or think your friends should!)? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook, because we can all learn from each other.

And… for those who are participating in our Brain Experiment–any verses you can suggest to help us find the strength and courage to surrender our significant relationships? Share them with us!

 

 

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!

Sarah Ruut Pic
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! 🙂

Photo by Foundry taken from Pixabay.com
Photo by Foundry taken from Pixabay.com

It was a dark time, and I was pretty mad at God. I was so mad, so broken, I couldn’t bring myself to pray. And this frightened me. I was certain God was angry with me. After all, my attitude was less than admirable. But then, in the middle of my anger, a snippet of a sermon pierced through my heart like a divine embrace–God was holding me, and He’d never let go, regardless of how I felt.

This knowledge–knowing nothing, not even my terrible attitude, could snatch me out of His hands–carried me through the gunk, and now, standing on the other side, I can say amen to Paula’s post below. God does indeed make good on His promise is Romans 8:28, although His ways are usually different than we expect, as Paula explains. As you read her devotion, pause to rest in God’s never-failing love, asking Him to help you see the good He’s bringing out of whatever you’re going through.

As an added bonus, she’s giving away a free e-copy of her latest release, For Our Good. The winner will be randomly selected from the comments left on today’s post. 

But first, a praise! It’s release day! The e-version of Intertwined is now available! (The print a2f18-intertwined_n154121version should be releasing soon.) Get your copy HERE! Read a free, 3-chapter excerpt HERE! And read about how God used the story to call my husband to take action in a desperate situation HERE.

And now, today’s devotion, by Paula Mowery, author of For Our Good.

God’s Good–Thoughts on Romans 8:28 by Paula Mowery

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV).

Have you ever doubted the above verse? I know you’re nodding your head with me. Things have happened that have caused me to say, “Now, God, how in the world are You going to bring good from this?”

Admittedly, it pains me to even type out that doubtful attitude, but I’d be lying to say I had never exhibited that kind of distrust. But, can I tell you something else? God has never failed to deliver on that promise in Romans 8:28.

I can almost see you pursing your lips and tilting your head with a questioning expression. Maybe you’re remembering a time that things didn’t seem to work out well. I’ll throw a proverbial wrench into that line of thinking.

God’s “good” and ours may be totally different.

When what we expect to happen doesn’t occur, we might label that as not turning out well. But in God’s perspective, it is for the best.

Let me share an example with you. My grandfather had been in a nursing home for many years,

Photo by Geralt taken from Pixabay.com
Photo by Geralt taken from Pixabay.com

suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. My mother’s recent trip had left her so down because her father was in a fetal position, not anywhere close to the giant of a man he had been. Why wouldn’t God just take him on to Heaven? She struggled seeing him that way.

There was a disagreement with my grandfather’s old home place. Someone in the extended family was trying to take it to sell and make money for himself. Naturally the family didn’t want this to happen. A battle began but through a simple technicality, the family won. What was the technicality? I don’t understand all of the legal terms and such, but basically because my grandfather was still living, the case worked in the family’s favor. If he had been deceased, the stipulation wouldn’t have held and the extended family member would have won.

Now, when seeing my grandfather lay in that nursing home, just a shell, it seemed cruel that God wouldn’t just bring him home. But, God knew what was best.

Not always does God let us in on what He is doing for us. We simply have to trust that He is working things for our good because He loves us and knows what is best for those He calls his own.

ForOurGood copy (1)For Our Good:

Charlie Jarvis is haunted by loss that fuels her desire to rid the world of drug traffickers. When her next assignment takes her back to her hometown, she has to confront her painful past. She has no interest in a relationship since God seems to kill everyone she loves.

Colton Thomas appreciates material things and the status of being a corporate pilot. When someone approaches him to deliver a package for a large sum of money that could wipe out his debts, temptation knocks loud on his door even as his partner, Marshall, slams it shut. Meeting Charlie challenges his non-committal stance with women. As he considers who he has become and the kind of man he would want to be for Charlie, he confronts his own shallow lifestyle and the fear that he would never be able to help her heal her wounds.

As Charlie pursues the man causing young boys to die of overdoses, she struggles with the secrets she keeps from Colton. With people around them shining the light of God and encouraging their courtship, both Charlie and Colton have to face hard truths about life, death, love, and faith. And maybe find a fresh start for them both.

Paula Mowery is a published author, acquisitions editor, and speaker. Her first two published works, both women’s fiction, were The Blessing Seer and Be The Blessing from Pelican Book Group, and their themes have been the topics of speaking engagements. Be The Blessing won the Selah Award in 2014 in the novella category. In November of 2013, her first romance released in the anthology, Brave New Century, from Prism Book Group. This book went to number five on Amazon’s bestseller category, historical Christian romance. Legacy and Love was her first solo romance and was a finalist in the Carolyn Readers Choice Awards in 2015.

You can follow Paula online and find out more about her  and her upcoming appearances on Facebook and her blog. Read her monthly columns on the ChristianOnlineMagazine. You can also check out her blog for Christian writers HERE.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! How have you seen God’s promise in Romans 8:28 come true in your life? Can you share a time when His good has been different than yours? What did you learn about Him, yourself, or the situation? How has Romans 8:28 given you hope during tough times? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

But before you go, join me on the following sites.

Yesterday my sweet husband was interviewed on Angela Meyers blog, and in the interview, he shared a God-story that brings tears to my eyes to this day. Love that man! Come read why he’s earned the title “warrior” HERE!

Today I’m on the Borrowed Book talking about the uncertainties of writing (read more HERE), and I’m sharing my encounter with one of the most beautiful gardens I’ve encountered. Read more HERE.

I was also on  the Borrowed Book on Tuesday to talk about something God is working, and working, and working on me for. (Is that grammatically correct? That must be the most awkward sentence of the day!) Read more HERE.

I also popped by author H.L. Wegley’s to talk about trusting God when life gets hard. You can read more HERE, and in a similar post, I visited Ginger Solomon’s to talk about finding joy when life gets hard. You can read more HERE. (Seems there’s a theme here!)

 

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Photo by LoganArt taken from freedigitalphotos.net

This is almost ironic–the day after I make a vlog sharing my tendency to worry, stress and fret (when I should be still!) my article on Internet Cafe’ Devotions on embracing risk goes live. The two might seem contradictory… or maybe not. Because surrender is a constant, daily battle. As is learning to trust, and I say learning intentionally, because I believe we should be active participants in the processes that deepen our trust in Christ.

But that’s a blog (or maybe vlog) for another day.

If you have a tendency to worry, to work every what-if situation in your mind until your stomach knots and your temperature rises, if you’re like me and would rather avoid those uncomfortable stretching moments, you may be able to relate to the below. (And um… 4:00 yesterday quickly turned to 8 am today… Sorry about that!)

(After you watch my vlog, join me on Internet Cafe’ to take this trust thing one step further, figuratively and literally. Read more HERE.)

Oh, and it’s that time again–another book launch is upon me! Which means, in the next couple months, I’ll be visiting numerous websites, answering interview questions, sharing stories behind my stories, testimonial devotions and more. I’ll try to keep you updated of all my happenings and visits.

Today I’m on the Internet Cafe’ (linked to above). I visited Robin Mason’s blog to talk about self-protecting (or not) when we’re under attack. You can read more HERE.

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Photo by Unsplash taken from Pixabay.com

I’m also on Preslaysa Williams blog talking about one of my favorite subjects–love! 🙂 You can read more HERE! God has done such amazing things in my marriage, and thanks to Him, my honey and I will be leaving soon to head back to Seattle–where it all began–for a special anniversary week. To add fun to fun, I’m editing, now, a novel set in Seattle (which will release in March), so I hope to take lots of pictures for Pinterest!

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Photo by ClkerFreeVectorImages taken from pixabay.com

Life is full of uncertainties, and though I’m pretty sure, while waiting for something important, we wish God would come through right now! But it’s in the waiting, the following along God’s detours and reroutes, that our faith grows strongest and we are most alert to God’s hand.

Today prolific and hugely talented author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter, shares her signingexperience with waiting, rerouting, followed by more waiting.

And as an added bonus, she’s doing a special, multi-blog give-away to commemorate the Heartsong Presents line since it’s ending this month! How fun is that?

Baseball Memory Board

Comment to enter the drawing for a copy of Rodeo Reunion. Ten copies will be split among names drawn during the blog tour from June 1st – July 1st. One winner will receive a baseball themed memory board personally crafted by the author. Winners will be revealed on Shannon’s blog on July 22nd.

Trusting in the God of Hope by Shannon Taylor Vannatter

Any time I’ve been down about my writing career, God gives me hope. Back before I was published and began to wonder if I ever would be, He’d give me encouragement by allowing me to place in a writing contest or an editor taking the time to write a positive note on a rejection letter. Those little fuzzy moments kept me going. He still does that.

Back in November, I learned the line I write for Heartsong Presents is ending. I was contracted for one more rodeo book and a new series of three books. With the end of Heartsong Presents, those four books were destined to never see the light of day. But I’d been through this before.

After my fourth book was published when Barbour owned the line, they decided to end Heartsong Presents. Even though I had two more books contracted. I cried and railed and mourned my books and my career. But a few months later, I attended the ACFW conference and my new editor told me to go ahead and write the next book in my series because another publisher was buying the line.

Six months later, I learned Harlequin had purchased Heartsong Presents. My final two books in my contract saw the light of day and I soon had another contract for six books. Fast forward four years and Harlequin made the same decision regarding the line. This time, I knew no one would buy it because there aren’t any other publishers who distribute category length romance.

But I didn’t rail and I didn’t cry. By this time, I knew God’s got this. A few weeks later, my agent called with a possible publisherkeyboard-690066_1280 to take on my four remaining books. All I had to do was add word count and tweak the books to fit their line. We went back and forth for several months trying to make my submission perfect.

A month later, the editor contacted my agent. What I’d done still didn’t fit the imprint, but she gave very specific instructions to make my books fit. And even went as far as calling me on the phone. That doesn’t happen often. Hope bloomed.

I tweaked the proposal again and sent it off. We’re going on seven weeks now. The editor apologized when my agent checked with her, saying she’s behind on everything and hasn’t even had the time to read my proposal. I was hoping to have a positive answer by the time my blog tour for my final Heartsong came around. Which is now. But I still don’t know what will become of my four books.

In the meantime, I wrote a long book I’ve wanted to write for a long time. It’s polished and almost ready to send to my agent so she can try to find a home for it. But the market is rough in publishing in general. As time drags, I’m getting discouraged.

Last weekend, I went to an annual writers’ retreat with ten women from my local group. We had a great time, visited, ate, ate some more, learned, and got some writing time in.

I’m the only traditionally published one in the group simply because my journey fell into place before theirs. I’m their encouragement—proof that getting published can happen. But my career is at a standstill. It kind of got to me.

Double RainbowOn the way home, I was praying and whining a little. I rounded a curve and the trees revealed an expanse of open sky. I saw a cloud with a silver lining. Then another. Pretty much a sky full of clouds with silver linings. Bordering all those clouds was a double rainbow. I take that as God saying He’s got this. I quit whining.

For the rest of my trip home, I enjoyed the canvas God painted just for me. And I know He’ll follow through on all those silver linings.

Award winning, central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife. She lives in a town with a population of around 100, if you count a few cows, and she once climbed a mountain wearing gold wedge-heeled sandals which became known as her hiking boots.

She has eleven published titles and is contracted for four more. Her books are available at christianbook.com, barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com, harlequin.com, and barbourbooks.com. Learn more about Shannon and her books at ShannonVannatter.com and check out her Real Life Romance blog.

Connect with her on Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/stvannatter/, and Twitter: @stvauthor.

About her novel, Rodeo Reunion:

RAQUEL MARRIS NEEDS A MAN WHO’LL STAY PUT

And Slade Walker’s not a likely candidate. Even if the former major league pitcher just agreed to coach her son’s little league team. The single mom can’t risk everything on a bronc-riding chaplain who’s only passing through Raquel’s small Texas town.

Slade is taking a hiatus from the rodeo circuit to meet the sister he never knew he had. But the pretty widowed nurse next door is making him think twice about hitting the road again. He can’t turn his back on the cowboys who need him, but Raquel and her boy need him, too. Can Slade fulfill his calling and finally find a place to hang his hat?

Buy it:

At Christian Book Distributers or on Amazon

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Are you in a waiting period? What might God be showing or teaching you? Have you ever felt as if you’d slammed into a closed door only to find God had something else amazing waiting? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

 

Photo by Stuart Miles found on freedigitalphotos.net
Photo by Stuart Miles found on freedigitalphotos.net

How often do we take God’s delay as “no”, or perhaps even lack of care. As if, because we can’t hear Him, He’s suddenly not listening? Waiting, on anything, is incredibly hard for me, and I think, if I were to get to the root of it, I’d find, my impatience stems from a lack of surrender. If you’re following our Fear of the Lord/Resting in Christ study, you may remember our discussion on half-hearted trust.

Oh to surrender our whole hearts, our whole selves, to Christ, even in, especially in, times of waiting–what peace and joy we’d have! These were the thoughts running through my brain as I read Kimberly Rose Johnson’s devotion. As you IMG_4314-2 Publicityread her devotion, think of whatever it is  you’re waiting on and how you can trust God with your whole heart, as Proverbs 3:5 urges, while you wait.

Not my Way but God’s

By Kimberly Rose Johnson

I have a bad habit of running ahead of the Lord. By nature I’m an impatient person who wants things done yesterday, but God does not work that way. I must work hard to hold back and allow the Lord to lead me, but my goodness it is a challenge at times.  🙂

In 1 Samuel 13:8-15 Saul had the same problem. He was impatient for Samuel to arrive and offer a burnt offering to God. He finally lost his patience and offered the sacrifice himself. Big mistake. Verse 13 tells us that God would have established Saul’s kingdom over Israel for all time if had he waited in obedience, but that wasn’t going to happen since he didn’t wait.

Prov3v5picI remember several times I ran ahead of the Lord without giving a thought to His plan and guess what? I ended up doing more harm than good. If I had sought His will and timing I could have saved myself a lot of grief.

It’s not always easy to wait on Him or do the things He asks of us, but when all is said and done His ways are better.

***

Kimberly Rose Johnson, soon to be empty-nester, lives in Pacific Northwest with her husband and their yellow lab. Island Refuge is her sixth book and the first in a series of three. Kimberly enjoys long walks, chocolate, and mochas, not necessarily in that order.

Island Refuge cover 25080381She’s the author of Island Refuge:

Five-Star-Chef Zoe Griffin walked away from her dream job. Did she make a mistake?

Her engagement off, Zoe Griffin retreats to tiny Wildflower Island in the Puget Sound. Hiding out as a cook and maid at a shabby bed-and-breakfast seems crazy for a chef who’s used to running her own five-star kitchen. And just as she starts to feel at home, her klutzy mishaps make Zoe fear her handsome new boss will fire her.

Dr. Nick Jackson is done with medicine, and owning a B&B is as far from doctoring as he can get. He needs help, but his only employee’s mistakes give him doubts. As Zoe lets her defenses down, Nick begins to see a competent and caring woman. One whose wounds are as deep as his own. But as they fall for each other, Nick and Zoe must learn the hardest lesson of all—to forgive. Only then can they heal the past and embrace the future . . . together.

Buy it on Amazon HERE.

You might also like:

When God Says Wait

And for those following the Resting in Christ study and who prefer watching videos in 5-7 min chunks, here’s part 2 of my talk.

Shoot me a message or leave a comment on this post if you’d like me to send you a copy of the 7-day study that goes with my presentation. You can also join our Facebook study group. You can do so HERE. I’ve learned so much from the other group members! It’s always awesome to talk about Scripture with other believers.

You might also enjoy this song, which talks about serving Christ while we wait.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! How easy is it for you to wait on Christ? What are some things you do while you wait? What are some ways, in your opinion, we can “Trust in the LORD with all [our] heart; do not depend on [our] own understanding” (Prov. 3:5)? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Broken and beautiful. I’ve seen it again and again. Those who’ve experienced the greatest pain and struggle most often have the most powerful ministry. Because they get it, and by “it” I mean a plethora of things: pain, weakness, frailty, humility, utter and desperate dependence of God, and the intense comfort He provides when we’re in despair.

acfw picIf that is you, whether you’re still despairing or praising God for carrying you through, God has a plan for you. A glorious, miraculous, compassionate, beautiful plan. Today a sweet woman who’s experienced pain unimaginable–that which every parent fears–is here to tell us about the beautiful end result. As you read Jessica Johnson’s devotion titled Great Weakness, Powerful Ministry, I encourage you to prayerfully consider how God can turn your greatest pain into a beautiful ministry, for mourning lasts for the night, but grace is eternal.

BUT, before you read further, I wanted to let you know, Sweet Freedom is FREE on Amazon Kindle! Get it here. PLUS, y’all can read the first chapter of my debut novel, Beyond I Do. Read it here, and if you do, I’d love to hear your thoughts and expectations. 🙂

Great Weakness Can Lead to Powerful Ministry

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways, acknowledge him…”

Sounds easy enough, right? Why wouldn’t I trust God? After all, He’s God. Little did I know when I first learned this verse at age 13, that trusting God would be one of the hardest things for me to do. Ever.

Soon after my third child, Ethan, was born, I noticed  something wasn’t right. He was frequently ill and took longer than normal to get over common viruses and ear infections. Eventually, he became so sick he had to be hospitalized. After two weeks in intensive care, despite many desperate prayers for his healing, Ethan passed away. He was nine months old.

Eventually we received a diagnosis of Primary Immune Deficiency, a genetic disease. Ethan lacked the ability to make antibodies to fight infections. I later had two more sons, and although I prayed for them to be healthy, both of them were born with this disease as well.

I never understood why God didn’t answer my prayers and heal Ethan, nor why he didn’t provide healthy children after Ethan died.  I wondered, Does God even listen to my prayers? In time, I lost trust in Him and almost stopped praying altogether.

It wasn’t until 2011 that I was faced with my inability to control my life or the lives of those I loved. My two-year-old son Gavin got lost in the woods behind our house. I looked everywhere for him, but no matter how desperately I searched for him, no matter how fast I ran or how loud I called his name, I couldn’t find him. If his safety, his protection, rested in my hands, he was in a heap of trouble. I didn’t know where he was—how could I keep him safe? I cried out to God. He was the only One who knew where my son was. I would be crazy not to trust Him.

This experience inspired me to write a book about trusting God. I often speak to groups of women, encouraging them to trust God, although I still struggle with that myself. I often ask, “Why, Lord? Why call me to a ministry in my area of greatest weakness?”

This reminds me of Moses, standing before God, who has just asked him to go before Pharaoh and order him to let the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses said in Exodus 6, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?”

I can totally relate! “Why are you asking me of all people, Lord? I’m the worst at this! Couldn’t you find someone more qualified?”

But the Bible says God uses the weak to carry out His work in order that His strength and power can be displayed. (2 Corinthians 12:9) If we do something that comes naturally, we’re merely displaying our own strength. But when we do something difficult, in our area of weakness, God’s power is revealed. Others take notice and say, “Only God could do that.”

In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, when talking about a physical hardship he endured, Paul says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

What is your greatest weakness? If you feel God calling you to do something that is completely out of your comfort zone, do it—no matter how incompetent you feel. Perhaps He is looking for an opportunity to display His awesome power through you. Don’t let feelings of inadequacy hinder you from being used for a heavenly purpose.

***

Jessica Leigh Johnson received her Bachelor of Science degree in Christian Education from Crown College in 1999. She has a passion for writing and speaking to women on the topics that are close to her heart. She also serves the Lord in music and children’s ministries. Jessica is the author of the book, Do You Trust Me? – Allowing Hope to Triumph Over Tragedy. She and her family reside in Northern Minnesota. Visit her online at: www.jessicaleighjohnson.com or connect with her on Facebook.

 livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this. When has God turned a painful experience into a ministry opportunity? When have you experienced blessings/compassion/grace from someone else who experienced a similar trial or difficulty you were experiencing? If you are going through a trial currently, what might God be doing in and through you through the trial? Share your comments here or at Living by Grace on Facebook.