Confessions of a Wallflower

by S.D. Grimm

 

 

I’m not particularly noticeable. I’ve been thought of as standoffish and snobby by people who didn’t know me yet. I’ve been the person no one in the room wants to get to know. I’m often the person no one remembers seeing even though I was there. The first to leave. Invisible. Quiet. Elusive.

It’s not that I dislike people.

It’s not that I want to hide from conversations, either.

In fact I love to sit down and talk to people about deep, soul-searching things. I cherish my friendships and desire to be able to be myself in social situations.

It’s just that social situations are terrifying. Talking to people on the phone? Rare form of torture. Being called out as the center of attention? The stuff of nightmares. The thought of being tossed into a room filled with strangers and being told to mingle? Enough to keep me at home huddled in my zombie-apocalypse room.

Talking one-on-one with someone about things that have nothing to do with the weather and everything to do with revealing something personal, be it a deep-seeded emotion or favorite comic book character or greatest fear or anything Star Wars related? My idea of awesome. Getting to know a small group of people with whom I think there’s a real possibility of cultivating friendships? One of my favorite things. Hanging out with people I’m already friends with so I can be my crazy, witty, shy, adorably awkward self? Heaven on earth.

Recently I was invited to hang out with some friends, who I am just getting to know. Excitement and anxiety started to mix in a dangerous concoction. What starts out as “Yes! People actually like me!” “I wasn’t completely awkward,” and “I managed not to accidentally tell them to ‘back off’ with a look.” Turns quickly into, “But what if they hate me?” “What if they didn’t really want to invite me, but I was just there?” Or “What if this is some long, drawn-out prank to get me to go meet them and then no one else shows up?” “What if they change the time and then forget to tell me because they don’t even remember inviting me in the first place?”

You can laugh. It’s okay. But you should also know that these thoughts (and more) literally crossed my mind. Not in a funny way, either. Looking back, I can sort of laugh at myself and at least think “why would you go there?” In reality, these thoughts put me in a serious state of panic.

I almost stood them up because I thought no one would notice anyway.

For me, starting a friendship is something that not only terrifies me, but is also something I crave. I LOVE my friends. I wish they knew how much they meant to me. And yet, I have to conquer stupid fears and sometimes crippling doubts to believe that my friends like me too.

That got me thinking.

A lot.

It does matter to me what the people I like think to some degree. I mean, I value their thoughts and opinions. On the other hand, my friendships aren’t just about what they think of me. It’s a give-and-take relationship. I make them feel loved and appreciated. They do the same to me. So … that means even if I’m scared, even if I’m anxious, even if I think an actual invite to hang out could be a ploy to make me feel stupid, I have a choice to make:

I can let fear win.

Or I can let my friendship win.

And when I choose to let my friendship win, guess who benefits? My friends. (Me too, actually!) But that’s what matters: that my friends feel the love and appreciation. Knowing that in my head helps me when the fear grips. Allowing myself to believe that other people could actually be interested in the shy wallflower helps me to take those brave steps forward.

And that’s what life is about, isn’t it? Taking brave steps forward? Because, yeah, bad things could happen. But so could good things.

That’s the risk of bravery. I saw this quote on a meme about being brave: Sometimes the fear won’t go away, so you have to do it afraid. And that spoke to me.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t still have thoughts of relationship sabotage or that I won’t be afraid and stand off to the side when the room is full. It doesn’t stop me from sometimes sneaking to the next aisle at the grocery store when I see someone who might know me, or slow my heart from racing when the phone rings. But it does allow me to stop and think. To make deliberate choices.

So maybe I should title this Confessions of a Braver Wallflower. Because every day that’s what I strive to be. Braver.

But remember, you can’t call it bravery unless you’re pushing through fear.

 

Author Bio:

S. D. Grimm’s first love in writing is young adult fantasy and science fiction—everything from urban fantasy to superheroes. Her office is anywhere she can curl up with her laptop and at least one large-sized dog. You can learn more about her, her debut novel Scarlet Moon, and her upcoming books at www.sdgrimm.com

Check out Scarlet Moon!

 

 

 

 

Reconnecting with Your Vision

pixabay.binoculars-1209011_640.vision.Ralene BurkeFor the past several months, I have been preparing for my current book release and there are days I don’t know if I’m a marketer or a writer. I spend more time redesigning my website, answering emails and writing blog posts than I do writing stories. Honestly, there are days I walk into my office space and feel overwhelmed and want to quit. Kind of sort of, but not really. I know that is not an option.

The Bible says without vision the people perish. Right now, my writing is in danger of perishing if I don’t reconnect with my writing vision and adjust my choices accordingly. I have found the following action steps to be helpful in this process.

Go back to the beginning. Remind myself why I’m writing in the first place. Visit that place of inspiration in my heart. Wake up the joy in writing story. What worked or didn’t work as I split by time between writing and marketing. Then make room in my life for what brings me joy about writing. Let some of the other stuff go and breathe.

Clearly define success for myself. Comparison is a dangerous trap. It is far too easy to be jealous of another author’s success and waste emotional energy bemoaning my lack of success.  What works for another author may not even work for my audience. Instead, I need to carefully examine where I want to be in 1, 5, or more years given my particular heart for writing.

Set clear and sustainable goals that are not pie in the sky goals, but realistic, reachable goals that won’t burn me out. Then once I have well defined goals in place, handle each day’s goal on that day. If I want to reach 1000, it starts with the one I reach today. When I worry about tomorrow, I miss out on enjoying the NOW.

Take the first step. Inaction will only frustrate me, stealing my joy of writing.

Focus on where I am going. Once I start moving, wherever I look is the direction I will go. If I use a compass to arrive at a destination, one degree off over long distance will take me far off course. The goals I set are my path and if I want to stay on that path, I need to keep my eyes on where I am heading.

Give myself grace for when I mess up. I will veer off course from time to time whether by life interrupting or my own reluctance to keep my eyes focused ahead. If I wallow in regret, I give away part of my joy.

Taking these steps will help ensure I don’t lose my joy in writing even if I occasionally lose my way.

What steps have you taken to reconnect with your vision for this writing life?

 

pub pic 2016 tempAuthor Bio:

Angela D. Meyer, author of The Applewood Hill Series, lives in NE with her husband of 25 years and their high school daughter. Their son serves our country in the Marines. Angela enjoys hanging out with her family, reading, connecting with friends and encouraging women to grow in their faith. One of her dream spots to vacation is next to the ocean and someday she wants to ride in a hot air balloon.

 

Connect with Angela:

Website  Facebook  Pinterest  Google+  Twitter

 

 

Coming Soon:

Cover reveal of Where Healing Starts Angela’s new release.

Pre-order special for Where Healing Starts: At the time of your purchase, receive a free download of Where Hope Starts, book 1 in the Applewood Hill series.

Sign up for Angela’s Newsletter so you don’t miss these announcements.

 

Coming Soon.temp book coverWhere Healing Starts

Release date: September 22, 2016

 

Joanna, full of bitterness over the past, can no longer ignore the growing storm inside her and is bent on self-destruction as she seeks to ease her pain. But the refuge she seeks is always out of her reach.

 

Her brother Blake must choose between what has always been safe and what he has always wanted. One mistake after another leads him down a dangerous path.

 

The one for all, all for one sibling bond can’t help them now. They are both determined to hang onto their anger, never forgetting. Never forgiving. They see no reason to trust God.

 

After so many years of turmoil, will the Hannigan siblings find refuge in the God who loves them? Or will they get lost along the way?

 

A Season to Shine Beyond

candles_2aAs my friend and I began to redesign my website to reflect more of my fiction writing than my editing (although I still do both), I found myself reflecting on what themes connected me, my writing, and my editing–not an easy task. I didn’t want to take away from my editing tagline (Making your next project S.H.I.N.E.), but I needed something that was more.

Shine Beyond is a vision for me, for my life, for my writing, and even spreading into my editing. As a born again child of the King, I have this light that I am responsible for. (“This little light of mine . . .” Yes, you’re welcome.) A light that needs to shine beyond me, beyond the darkness in this world.

This year, on Wednesdays, I’m inviting my friends–writers and non-writers–to share stories, articles, devotions, etc. that encourage others to Shine Beyond. If you haven’t already signed up to receive my blog posts/newsletter, I encourage you to do so. You won’t want to miss these posts!

If you are interested in participating, shoot me an e-mail! (My name at gmail.com–all lowercase.) In the meantime, I’m curious . . .

What or who has made a difference in YOUR life?

Stand in Faith (by Sandra Ardoin)

Our church choir sings a praise song on occasion. It’s called “I Will Not Be Shaken.” It’s the kind of song to set your toes tapping and hands clapping. Maybe you know it. If not, here’s a YouTube link to another choir’s version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoxbKyCoaPM. Enjoy!

I mention this song because of the words in the chorus. As I listened to them one Sunday, my creativity sprang to life, and I saw them as a basis for a story. I began to get ideas right there in the pew. Does that ever happen to you? Frankly, I don’t care for those moments that interfere with my worship time, so I highlighted the words in my bulletin, something I normally throw away, and brought them home with me to ponder later.

If there is one thing we can blame on this writing gig, it’s that it shakes our faith on occasion. No, I’m not referring to our faith in Christ. Hopefully, that’s solid in anyone who writes for Him. I’m writing of our faith in our abilities.

How often have you entered a writing contest, received your feedback, and wanted to curl up on the bed with your thumb in your mouth? (Okay, for writers, it’s a chocolate bar—for me, a Three Musketeers.) Maybe you’ve received rejection after rejection for a story you’ve poured your heart into, one you believed God whispered in your ear as you took dictation. Perhaps, you’ve received rave reviews, but the book isn’t selling as well as others in the same Amazon category. Do you ever wonder why you bother to open the computer in the morning?

Writing is a tough on the self-esteem. We have a tendency to think that, because God gave us the desire to write stories and we spent months (sometimes years) practicing the craft and sweating over each sentence, we’re automatically entitled to hit the ECPA bestseller list. When we don’t, we can sink into discouragement.

Throughout the years, I’ve returned over and over to Isaiah 55:8 when I need a reminder of WHO God is and who I am in relation to Him.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

FINAL AReluctantMelodyWhew! What a powerful statement—and a humbling one. In my mind, those words go hand-in-hand with Jeremiah 29:11. If both are not a call to trust Him, even when we don’t understand why our plans are “unsuccessful,” I don’t know what it will take.

It can be hard to accept that His will for our writing may be as simple as teaching us something about ourselves through the experiences of fictional characters. I know I’ve grown in my faith through writing about the journeys of my invisible friends. As my hero, Kit Barnes, learns: Be Strong! Be strong in the power of God’s might. Be strong and stand.

He has a plan for each of us in our writing career. Yours will be different from mine. Whatever it is, it’s right for you. Whatever mine is, it’s right for me.

So when you doubt your ability to create, STAND. Stand firm in your trust of His plan. Stand firm in the knowledge that God has placed the desire to write in you for a reason, even if those words never reach anyone but you.

 

Sandra Ardoin_HeadshotBIO:

Sandra Ardoin is a multi-published author of short fiction who writes inspirational historical romance, such as her Christmas novella, The Yuletide Angel and her January release, A Reluctant Melody. She’s the married mother of a young adult and lives in North Carolina.

Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Receive her newsletter updates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never Give Up! (by Ane Mulligan)

 

God invited you on this writing journey with Him, so even when discouragement hits—and it will—don’t give up. God kept the publishing door shut to me for many years. I first went to committee back in 2006. I didn’t get a contract, but I got an agent out of that trip.

I went ahead and wrote another book. The following year, my first manuscript found its way to committee again. Then the second one did. I was getting a lot of affirmation, but no contract. Then, the second book went to pub board. Then the editor retired and her hard drive got wiped clean. The one with my book on it.

Are you seeing a pattern? I was. And it told me God was telling me, “Not now. Not here.” So, I kept on writing. And writing. I had 5 completed, publishable novels by the time I finally got published.

So, if you’re languishing in that land of “Not Yet”, don’t get discouraged. Instead …

 

  • Start a new manuscript. Shelve the one that has you tied up in knots. That’s not a good way to write anyway. Rope burns aren’t pretty.
  • Write a blog post. Whine and kick cabinets, then pull up your big kid panties and get back to work.
  • Plant a garden. Plant one for me too. Digging in the dirt makes me really appreciate my clean keyboard.
  • Search on Novel Rocket for author interviews. We have a listing of all the interviews over the past 10 years. See how their journey went. You’ll find you’re not alone.
  • Try a new genre. If you write women’s fiction, try suspenseful women’s fiction.
  • Knit a scarf. If you’re going to quit, at least find something for your poor fingers to do. Otherwise, they’ll be air typing all the time and you’ll look even crazier than you do now.
  • Write a short story. Ahh, now here’s a piece of good advice. Short stories are a great place to tweak your voice, try writing first person, change genre (see above).
  • Hang out with uplifting people. They don’t pull you down.
  • Start a photography journal. A picture is worth a thousand lectures.
  • Send an encouraging email to another writer who’s discouraged. Then read what you wrote. Yeah. You really do know what to do.

 

And should your discouragement be from writers block, I’ve got good news for you. Really. You see, I’ve found from my age-gained wisdom (and yes, there’s one advantage of growing old) if you simply plant your backside in that chair and start to type, you’ll find inspiration.

One writer shared what she wrote in a spot of blockage: “What am I doing? This is absolute drivel, complete piles of steaming manure. But at least I have words on the page. Now, how did that pile of manure get there? And whose manure is it? ” She went on to say that eventually, the words began to take on meaning. Her characters took over again. They made her delete the drivel and write their story.

Whatever has you discouraged, look to the One Who invited you on this journey. He’s just waiting to inspire you again!

 

Thank you for sharing with us today, Ane! 

Ane has been gracious enough to offer a giveaway for either the Chapel Springs Cookbook or ebook of Chapel Springs Survival. Leave a comment to enter! 

 

Ane Mulligan_ headshotAbout the Author:

Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. Novelist and playwright, Ane is the executive director of Players Guild@Sugar Hill, a new community theater and president of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket. She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a dog of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane at her website, Novel Rocket, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

 

Chapel Springs Survival

 

CSS Cover2A mail-order bride, a town overrun with tourists, and illegal art.  

How on earth will Claire and Chapel Springs survive?

Claire Bennett’s Operation Marriage Revival succeeded and life is good. That is until the mayor’s brother blabs a secret: Claire’s nineteen-year-old son has married a Brazilian mail order bride. When Claire tries to welcome her, she’s ridiculed, rebuffed, and rejected. Loving this girl is like hugging a prickly cactus.

Lydia Smith is happily living alone and running her spa—then the widow on the hill becomes a blushing bride. Then her groom’s adult son moves in—on everything.

From the first sighting of a country music star in The Painted Loon, Chapel Springs is inundated with stargazers, causing residents to flee the area. When her best friends put their house on the market, Claire is forced to do something or lose the closest thing to a sister she’s got. With her son’s future at stake and the town’s problems to solve, it’s Claire’s who needs a guardian angel.

 

 

 

 

Confessions from an Angry Chewer (by Hannah Conway)

12227533_790124557784577_1918364416_oAngry chewing: excess, quick grinding of chewing gum until the point one’s jaw tires.

It’s a real thing, or at least it is now.

Confession: I’m an angry chewer. Not angry as in I’m having some inner turmoil eruption. Angry as in focused, determined.

When it’s time to get serious, tackle the job in front of me, I pop in a piece of gum, and go into warrior mode, winning all life’s battles.

Laundry piled high and needs folding? Not a problem. Angry chew.

Forty-two individually wrapped snacks for the kids’ classroom, gluten-free meal plan to create, groceries to buy, and five errands to run across town? Nod my head and angry chew.

Ten thousand words to write in one day? Heavy sigh, wipe the brow, then angry chew.

This Army wife gets a lot done when she angry chews. Chomping my way to success—or at least trying to.

Trying—that’s the key word.

For whatever reason, there’s a roll-up-my-sleeves-get-to-work-and-make-things-happen attitude engrained within me, and I’d argue that it exists inside a great majority of us.  It’s not a bad thing on its own, but that’s the problem—we often go at these mountains and molehills of life on our own. I frequently try without first consulting The One who will and who can. Why must I learn this lesson over and over? It seems I’m forgetful regarding the source of my strength.

There came a day, like many before, when the gum chomping no longer helped me focus, make it through, and overcome. My husband was gearing up to deploy, again. We’d been through them before. I knew what to expect, but no matter how often he left, it never got easier to watch him go. Biting my lip, forcing tears back into my eyes, I watched him leave, and kept strong for our children. I held them while they cried, and sobbed alone later that evening.

Gum didn’t help. Chocolate didn’t console (Oh, but it tried in all its deliciousness.) Even coffee couldn’t give me back that get-up-and-make-things-happen attitude. My strength failed. Life crashed over me. Too many things were out of my control.

My husband was thousands of miles away in a battle of his own, and I fought to maintain the Homefront.

Exhausting.

It didn’t take long to remember who I needed to call for help.

This gum chomping Army wife went back to her knees, opened her Bible, and remembered the source of her strength.  I needed God to protect my husband and his men. To lead them. To help me get through rearing children, meet writing deadlines, and accomplish day to day tasks. And He did. He helped. He helped me prioritize, and gave me the rest I needed, the support to surround me, the strength to go on, and not just go on, but thrive.

No amount of gum chewing, intense focus, or will power will ever be enough to get us through life the way God intends. We’re meant to flourish, not get by.

Yes, perhaps for a season our strength will be enough, but we all grow weary. However, when we hand our life, its joys, and trials over to God, give it over to The One who never tires.  Now, that’s some great news, and saves my jaw muscles!

Many blessings to you and your family, and Happy Veterans’ Day! Thank you to those who serve, and to their families who serve as well.  In honor of Veterans’ and their families— active duty, reserve, and retired, I’d like to honor you with a prize give-away through the month of November. Stop on by, check it out, and enter to win.

 

12228001_790124644451235_1898847426_oBIO:

Hannah Conway is a Kentucky native, Army Wife, Mother, Speaker, and Author with Olivia Kimbrell Press. She holds a BA in History from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, is an active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and resides with her family in Tennessee.

 

BOOK:

12214300_790124667784566_1483606360_oThe Wounded Warrior’s Wife

Battles Raging Within Are Ones You Must Fight To Win

Army wife, Whitleigh Cromwell, struggles after an unexpected deployment during the height of the Iraqi war sends her husband, Collier Cromwell, away for another year. Their lives tumble down a path marked with strife, and fatalities, crippling their faith when Collier brings home a war of another kind leaving Whitleigh wondering if some wounds are beyond God’s ability to restore.

 

Purchase The Wounded Warrior’s Wife @ any of these sites:

A / IBook / BN / K / ChristianBooks

 

CONNECT WITH HANNAH

Web:               www.hannahrconway.com

Facebook:      www.facebook.com/authorhannahconway

SIGN UP FOR THE LETTING FREEDOM RING QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER: Stay up to date on the latest book news, live events, free content, and giveaways:  http://tiny.cc/hannahconwaynews

Confidence in Uncertainty (by Jennifer Slattery)

cohdra_100_8769What would you do, if you knew you couldn’t possibly fail?

You’ve probably heard that question before, maybe at a conference, or perhaps you read it in a Facebook meme. We love questions like that, don’t we? They remind us of God’s incomprehensible power and faithful love. For surely, if He plants the desire within us, and if He calls us to it, the doors will begin to open fast and wide.

But what if I asked a different question? What would you do if you knew you might fail? If you knew the road would be hard and paved with setbacks? What if God was calling you to that road?

Same God. Same call. Vastly different questions. And for some, perhaps they result in vastly different answers.

But either way, the answer comes down to obedience.

When I first sensed God’s call to write, I fought Him. Oh, I dabbled in writing here and there, but my commitment, my determination? My surrender?

Not there.

I wanted to see results. I wanted guarantees—if I do X for Y amount of time, Z will happen. At the time I was going to school, pursuing a teaching degree. Then a chemistry degree. I considered geology. I could never quite settle on anything, because my heart was elsewhere. My heart was meant for story, regardless of how I fought against this.

The more I resisted God’s call, the more frustration I felt. The desire to write welled up within me until it was almost unbearable. But at this point, I’d jammed my schedule so full of classes; I didn’t have the time for much else.

In a way, I felt like Jonah. He knew what God wanted him to do, but God’s call didn’t mesh with Jonah’s plans. So he ran, hard and far, even to the point of asking sailors to throw him into the ocean.

But God pursued him and found him. Until all Jonah could do was surrender, and yet, even then, things didn’t turn out like Jonah had planned.

I was afraid, should I surrender, things wouldn’t go as I’d planned either, and I’d be left, decades later, with nothing to show for my efforts but a bunch of files on my computer.

So I asked God for reassurance, for guarantees.

Instead, He pointed me to a verse:

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives” (NLT).

If I wanted to bear fruit, the kind that would last, I first had to die, truly die—to my will, my life-plan, my security.

God made it clear, I was to obey, without clinging to a safety net or forming a back-up plan, regardless of what lay ahead, whether or not I ever became published.

I was to obey simply because my Savior had asked me to.

That was back in 2009. I didn’t receive my first contract until 2013, and for four long years, God’s message to me was the same: I was to obey out of obedience alone.

Regardless of what lay ahead, where He directed me, or what became of my efforts.

His message to me today, three releases later, is the same.

But the surrender’s become easier, not because of my contracts, but because I realize in my very depths, He’s worth it.

And the divine intimacy I receive from walking in His will, that’s worth more than a thousand contracts.

Where are you in your writing journey? Have you just begun to answer the call? Whether you’ve just started writing or have dozens of titles to your name, this journey is tough and unpredictable, and if we’re not careful, the uncertainty of it all can paralyze us. But obedience and surrender? That frees us. How might focusing on obedience, rather than results, help you walk with determination and confidence?

 

BCheadshot2013About the Author:

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com, and devotions for Internet Café Devotions, the group blog, Faith-filled Friends, and her personal blog. She also does content editing for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas Firefly imprint, and loves working with authors who are serious about pursuing their calling. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte

 

Intertwined:

Abandoned by her husband for another woman, Tammy Kuhn, an organ procurement coordinator often finds herself in tense and bitter moments. After an altercation with a doctor, she is fighting to keep her job and her sanity when one late night she encounters her old flame Nick. She walks right into his moment of facing an unthinkable tragedy. Because they both have learned to find eternal purposes in every event and encounter, it doesn’t take long to discover that their lives are intertwined but the ICU is no place for romance….or is it? Could this be where life begins again?

Intertwined_N154121Intertwined, part of New Hope Publisher’s contemporary fiction line, is a great reminder of how God can turn our greatest tragedies and failures into beautiful acts of love and grace. Readers will fall in love with the realistic characters and enjoy the combination of depth, heart-felt emotion and humor that makes Jennifer’s novels so appealing. Readers will be inspired to find God in every moment and encounter in their own lives!

 

Buy it:

CBD: http://www.christianbook.com/intertwined-a-contemporary-romance-novel/jennifer-slattery/9781596694439/pd/694430?event=ESRCN

 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Intertwined-Jennifer-Slattery/dp/1596694432/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/intertwined-jennifer-slattery/1121268293?ean=9781596694439

 

 

The Ivy and the Shears (by Peggy Trotter)

12164959_1026096070773880_323249653_oI once bought a lovely little plant. A vine, really. It was quite small, but beautiful. I kept the ivy inside for a few months and it didn’t do very well.  I started to wondering if it would grow outside. I thought of how wonderful it would be if it would grow along the house in the landscaping and how attractive that would be.

So I took it outside, the feeble thing, with much hope. I found a great place beside the house and planted it, and watered it. Directly it wilted. Hmmm. Apparently it was too feeble to handle being outside.  But I shrugged and continued watering it for several days.

The plant’s gorgeous triangular leaves didn’t perk up in the next week.  It drooped and looked worse than ever. So, I planted another one, the variegated type. If one was going to die, the first just as well have company.

I’ll admit, it was touch and go for the first season.  I determined it wasn’t the outdoorsy kind of ivy, but some kind of gentle houseplant kind of variety. But the next year, it had taken off, sending runners here and there.  I was ecstatic! The shiny leaves grew thick and vibrant. The ivy soon covered the entire area I had planned for it. And more. Then it’s hungry creepers began to covet the house’s foundation. No, no. I cut it away. I just wanted it to grow along the ground.

Nope. Soon I was back into my busy schedule and didn’t give it the attention I needed to. Now the foundation is covered, and the greedy ivy stretches toward the siding. And more ground. And around the bushes. And flowers.

I whack it away, but since it is such a fine grower now, I plant the cuttings in another spot. Now, some fifteen years later, I’m inundated with ivy. Trust me, it’s not the gentle houseplant kind of ivy. It’s the invading, eat your house kind of ivy.

In my heart there’s a runner. It waits deep and silent. And when I’m wronged it starts to grow. Feeble at first. Justified. I water it with my own discontentment and anger. The creepers aren’t satisfied with just a small area. No, it invades my storehouse of love and forgiveness. It’s not a gentle type of the houseplant variety that is satisfied with a small bit of sunshine and tepid temperatures.  No. It’s the parasitic kind that sucks the life out of its host.

This ivy in my heart begins to wrap around every vestige of my heart attacking further and further toward my soul. I whack at it occasionally, but it’s aggressively determined, and I realize I cannot do this alone. Can . . .not. That ivy, bitterness, will win.

I go to the only source I know that can defeat any enemy. The Scriptures.

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 KJV) 

It’s not exactly the magic cure I thought it would be. I look some more. I study, I read. There had to be some kind of thing to actually do. I was looking more for a step by step procedure to completely yank bitterness from continuing to grow and flourish. I love step by step instructions.

Then I realize, you just stop. You actually put it away and stop obsessing over it. Instead you turn to kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness. Simply, put away. Done. Caput.

I can’t say I always do this “putting away” thing with much success. It’s much more difficult that it appears. And that wicked ivy often springs up, vibrant and covetous. Perhaps you’ve been in the bitter barn hothouse as well? After all, your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”  I Peter 5:8b (KJV) And every time I think in my head. Okay, fine, but who is stronger? God or the Devil? Oh, yes. God is stronger. And once more I clip that creeper, day by day, one after another. I pray you do too.

Great. Someone just jabbed me on Facebook. Again. Grrr. Sigh. Hand me the pruning shears.

 

12047702_1026096430773844_1985967413_nAbout the Author:

Peggy Trotter has been writing something for over 30 years. The empty-nest syndrome set her to groping for a new direction, and wow, did God answer! Year of Jubilee, a Christian Historical Romance set in southern Indiana, debuted in April of 2015 through Prism Book Group. A second, a Contemporary Romance entitled, Reviving Jules, just released on Oct. 9th, 2015 as well. She loves to reveal God’s miracles through the world’s underdogs and mix in a little love, a dash of romantic heat, and of course, a happy ending.

 

She took third place in the Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest in 2013 in the 12119697_1026096577440496_2077627812_oInspirational Category, and won the coveted Genesis Award in 2014 from the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) in the Novella Category with her entry, Spun, a Historical Romance.

 

God blessed her with a wonderful husband who cooks and helps clean while supporting her crazy dreams. She has two incredible grown kids plus two fabulous in-law kids, and two rays of sunshine, commonly called grandchildren. Seldom does she stand still, but when she does, it’s to praise her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Creator of all gifts and Bestower of all blessings!

A Kind Word (by Carole Brown)

A kind word doeth good like medicine.

The other day a Facebook friend sent me one of those memes that showed a bear, a saying and the word hugs. When I thanked her, she said she’d be thinking of me and hoped all was good.

At that moment, it was.

Kind words usually give a tiny spark of joy, warmth, laughter or peace. I always like to think of those who use them, as a special person. Let’s think about how kind words benefit:

Never be afraid to pass on a kind word. Have you ever seen a store clerk’s face when you said, “Have a good day”? We were in a farm store the other day, and a lady was in training. She wasn’t familiar with all the ins and outs of ringing up a customer, but her trainer did a good job of instructing her. When I assured them I was fine with the slower pace we were receiving, the trainee’s face lit up. I made sure to assure her she’d done a good job when our transaction was completed.

ŸAlways remember: most people have bad days or “dips” in their lives.  Be that person who shares a smile, a word of encouragement, a friendly act. Don’t pass on ugly attitudes or actions because the world thinks it’s the thing to do. Be different and bold and encouraging!

ŸThere are many types of people with all kinds of personalities. No matter how YOU try, some people will never change. There are always going to be constant complainers and whiners, depressive people with negative attitudes, grouchy people who are angry at everyone and everything. Don’t let that stop you. It’s so easy to allow yourself to be tainted by those ugly personalities and attitudes. Don’t! Remember, a kind word may do more good than you realize. Corrie Ten Boom went to one person’s home MANY times before she convinced that person. Be that persistent.

ŸLastly, it’s important to YOU to be kind. Not only will it give you satisfaction in doing/giving a worthwhile action/word, but it will bring a peace and joy to your own self. Less stress. Less worry about what you can not do. And . . .

Relaxation.

 

Who doesn’t need that? Have a wonderful day, people!

 

 

CaroleAug14 (14) croppedAbout the Author:

Brown not only has her award winning (Winner of the 2015 Christian Small Publisher Award in General Fiction, nominated for an Epic Award, RWA International Digital Awards finalist in Inspiration, Laurel Award finalist, Selah finalist; Genesis semi-finalist) debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, available for purchase now, but a companion book called West Virginia Scrapbook: From the Life of Caralynne Hayman, filled with tidbits of information about West Virginia.

A fun, lighthearted mystery series began with the first book: Hog Insane, introducing Denton and Alex Davies and now her second book in this series, Bat Crazy. Her WWII romantic suspense Spies series began with With Music In Their Hearts, featuring the first of three red-headed sisters, three spies, and three stories.

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Personal blog: http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaroleBrown.author

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/browncarole212

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/sunnywrtr/boards/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5237997-carole-brown

Linkedin:  https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=67381031

Google+:    https://plus.google.com/u/0/113068871986311965415/posts

Stitches in Time:  http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com/

Barn Door Book Loft: http://www.barndoorbookloft.net/

 

 

 

Book Cover Centered-smallBack Cover Blurb for Bat Crazy

Red-eyed Monster Bats that attack humans?

Denton doesn’t think so and Alex hopes not, but who are they to quibble with the local gossip?

Transmission problems and a blown tire land Denton and Alex Davies right in the middle of a dilapidated, unfriendly town that’s welcoming no strangers, least of all nosy ones with a bent toward solving mysteries.

But with support from the town detective–an admirer of the Davies–and their own tenacious personalities, Denton and Alex aren’t easily scared off. Not when warnings in the form of painted bats show up on the porch of their rented cabin, not when the mayor threatens to run them out of town and not even when Denton finds the bones . . .

An ancient story, a bit of a map, a lost jewel and even a bat clan serve to provide the Davies and their sidekick, Taffy, the dog, their hardest case so far.

Available on Amazon and other online stores:

http://www.amazon.com/Carole-Brown/e/B00EZV4RFY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1427898838&sr=8-1

Who are You? (by Wendy Reese)

Jesus knew who He was, but made the point to ask his disciples if they knew as they gathered one night in Caesarea. Only Peter identified Him as Messiah. Before the resurrection, most of Jesus’ followers weren’t sure who He was.  To recall that same night, “… John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matt: 16:14). But after the resurrection, his followers understood who He truly was and why He came.

“But, Wendy,” you ask, “What does this have to do with me?”

Here’s what I’m getting at: Do you know who you are? Unless you truly understand His identity, you won’t understand your own–and with that, the glorious gifts you possess to honor Him.

Yes, there are the spiritual gifts mentioned in Isaiah, Acts, and 1Corinthians that we all know, but what of writers, artists, dancers, and musicians, to name a few? So can we ask, “Are the arts counted as anointed to share with others?” Of course, when surrendered to the One who gave them in the first place. Then they will edify you and others as all draw closer to Jesus.

You are unique! There is only one of you. God designed you long before you were conceived. Check out Psalm 139.

My musings of God’s possible thoughts … “I’ll give her/him long legs to dance. I’ll give him/her agility to finger instruments into beautiful music. There will be writers to express imaginative imagery, challenging the doubtful to find My truth. There will be artists mixing colors to brush creative images upon blank canvases, just as I did when creating the world. And to this one I will give …”

Please forgive my pretense. Only our dear Father knows His own thoughts and words when He spoke our lives into existence for His glory. But in saying that, I feel that we sometimes misplace ourselves into false molds. Do we imitate someone else’s gifts because they’ve been noticed and have become popular?  In many instances, finding ourselves inadequate with the end result instead of drawing from the fresh, creative well of God’s provision placed within us?

What do you write? What do you paint? Do all artists paint portraits? Do all writers pen westerns? Makes me think of scriptures that say, “Sing to the Lord a new song.” Psalm 96:1 as an example.

Frank Peretti broke ground with the subject of spiritual warfare in Christian fiction. I can’t recall anyone else at that time who braved through such a difficult, but needed subject. If anything, I came away from his books better educated and spiritually insightful–hence, my own genre of speculative fiction.

Take a leap of faith! Within prayer, sincerely look at the core of your creative unction. Does it edify? Is it Word-based? Many would say unless you specifically pen Bible phrases in your stories, paint only Bible characters, or dance Israeli folk dancing, you’ve strayed away from the Truth. Really? There’s nothing better than speaking the Word of God, right? Right, but His Word has laid the foundation of everything we experience which glorifies Him.

When I sit on a beach, breathing long breaths of salty air, I listen to the swash and sway of whitewater slapping the sand. My heart swells with gratitude for the One whose creativity made it possible for me to enjoy it all. I view His Word. I smell His Word. I listen to songs that only He could create: His earth’s natural rhythm. Sometimes a soft melody of dancing waves while in another time and place, the roar of sweeping winds that drum across an open prairie, sending animals to burrow into the safety of their homes which He created for them.

Jer:33:3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Prophetic for Jeremiah? Yes. Prophetic about your place in this world? Yes.

Who are you?

 

WendyAuthor BIO:

W.G. Reese (Wendy) is a Southern California Beach Native who now lives in the mountainous panhandle of North Idaho.  A story teller since childhood, the wonders of God’s creative gifts has always inspired her imagination. As a lover of sci-fi/fantasy (a Trekkie and not ashamed of it)…her metaphoric writings resonate with the possibility of worlds beyond. Blessed with a loving family and friends that walk alongside, she holds no greater awe than the love of Jesus Christ.

 

Links  http://www.amazon.com/Visitor-W-G-Reese/dp/1938708571/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/963527873671518/

 

VisitorBlurb-

Christian Fantasy / Speculative Fiction

The divine blessings of Sior transformed the world of Ariel Leun into a paradise where people enjoy long lives in the company of mystical creatures. Winn, a transplant from the dark world of Draugh, reigns as a beloved King with his trusted advisor Caelan at his side, until the death of his Queen sends him spiraling into despair. Banishing Caelan and neglectful of his duties, King Winn is unaware that an old enemy, Garthpha, plots to take the throne.

Rebelling against their father’s retreat into seclusion, the heirs of Ariel Leun travel the passages of the Red Stone to Draugh where four warring Kings scheme to capture them, exploit their inner light, and deliver them to Garthpha as tribute. Can the children be rescued before their light is extinguished and evil takes the throne of Ariel Leun, plunging it into darkness?