Moving Out, Moving On, Moving Up Part 4


Photo by Felipe Cespedes on Pexels.com

In the upper room, the disciples waited for the Holy Spirit to come fill them and direct their next steps. I can imagine that after watching their leader crucified, even though Jesus rose from the dead and visited them, they were struggling with a variety of emotions.

Maybe at first, they were terrified. Disciples of The Way were being hunted and persecuted. It’s no wonder that they huddled in fear, praying and questioning what was going on.

They may have settled in after a week or two, but forty days is no short stint by our human standards. By week three or four, they might have begun asking if they heard correctly, or maybe they misunderstood.

“Wait for the gift…” he told them. “…when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” He promised them power in the midst of questionable circumstances.

While they waited, they prayed constantly. Peter reminded them of what the Scriptures said in Psalms as they looked for direction concerning filling the position of Judas who betrayed them all.

Wait.

That’s a tough word to carry out for most of us. Whether waiting in line, waiting for dinner, or waiting for something serious like a prognosis or response to a job interview, it’s not easy for us to wait.

So, while we’re staying with our same Jesus-friend once again (weren’t we here three months ago?) we sense God saying “wait.” Like the disciples in Acts waited for the gift of the Holy Spirit, we wait for his instruction. Common sense says look for some place to live. One comes up and we sense “no.”

Really?

We feel guilty for not running after the possibility.

The places we’ve felt led to pursue have offered no response. Nothing of it makes sense. Everything feels backwards. And yet, there is peace even in the waiting. We see God changing our perspective, showing us his heart, teaching us how to trust his plan that is outside the box and far from our comprehension.

Is that how the disciples felt as they waited?

Of course, we know the rest of the story.

Forty days later (so many places in the Bible reference forty days…), the Holy Spirit showed up exactly as promised. Jesus’s followers would never have imagined the scene. Tongues of fire over their heads, speaking in languages they didn’t know, peace, excitement rushing through them as the violent wind of the Spirit blew through the crowd.

Such an unusual situation, that outsiders attributed it to drunkenness.

And then, confirmation.

Peter spoke the scriptures, reminding the people of the prophetic words spoken by Joel. (Joel 2:28-32)

It’s always easy to believe after the fact.

But in the middle?

While the crowd is pressed up against the Red Sea? When the doctor says “cancer”? When the hundredth job interview in two years is a decline?

When we’re sitting in a friend’s living room praying for the office, the home, the property to become a reality?

I’m sure others following God are experiencing similar journeys. And so, I’m sharing ours. Maybe in the waiting, someone will find hope simply knowing that they are not alone.

To be continued…

And Then There Were Five…


“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

When my last book was in its finishing stages, I sensed a stirring in me to write a sequel. I’ve never been a series writer, and haven’t considered it before, but the wind blew this mysterious woman into the end of When the Wind Blows, and I knew I had to tell her story.

Her name is Tyrina Lousie Duvall, and her story isn’t easy, but it will offer hope and healing to someone.

It’s interesting how book ideas materialize. No sooner had I thought about the mystery woman, than I realized Bailey Crenshaw, a twenty-year-old character in When the Wind Blows would need a book of her own as well. So a third book in the now series will follow Tyrina’s story. The two characters will end up being intertwined so how could they not both have a book? Besides, some who have finished When the Wind Blows want to know more about how Jessica’s character has changed too. She’ll pop in here and there in both books.

But the two new books, Where Blows the Wind – Tyrina’s story and Winds of Change – Bailey’s tale (the current working titles that may end up changing) were added to a list of books I’ve already started. I’m pretty sure the word I sensed from the Lord was prolific writing. Wow. Here we go!

Faith’s Song, based on the best friend of Sara Matley in A Deadly Silence, walks with Faith when she receives devastating news and can’t seem to rally her faith to handle it. How will she deal with the ramifications of this shocking news?

And then there’s The Fisherman’s Wife. Simon Peter is impulsive and brash, spending long hours fishing in often stormy waters. When Jesus calls Peter to follow him, how will Abigail handle another one of Peter’s crazy plans – this time to leave her for an undefined time? A couple of readers mentioned that they hoped I’d write more along the lines of Rachel’s Son. Here you go.

Bed and Breakfast isn’t what it seems. Two activist inventors clash in a contemporary romance when they each believe they have the perfect answer to create housing for the homeless. Can they combine their talents and innovations to alleviate one of the world’s worst problems?

And that’s not all! The list continues…oh, my!

On the back burner is Silk Stalkings, Out of Egypt, a possible yet-to-be-named sequel to Voices of the Past, and a couple of middle school series featuring Perry Trotter and Justin Case.

Not to go crazy or anything about book writing, but Beyond the Miracle: When the Fairy Tale Meets Reality, the continuing saga of my Aussie husband, Brendan, and me is also in process.

That said, let me take a survey. I”m curious. Of the books I’ve mentioned here, what would be your first choice? Anyone who responds will have their name entered in a drawing for a signed print copy of A Deadly Silence. Let my know in the comments below that you submitted your vote.

Thanks for participating! From my desk chair of piled notes, proof copies of books, and computer manuscripts, I thank you. Thank you for reading, commenting, voting, and following! It means so much.

Exploitation in Plain Sight


I recently read of a young woman who was sold by her parents to men for sex. Not once, but on a regular basis from the time she was five years old until she escaped. Girls like her are left on a park bench, church pew, or in a bathroom and instructed to wait until a man comes to get them. He will later return her to the same place with no one suspecting that he isn’t a relative or friend.

I thought I knew the whole truth about sex trafficking, but I was wrong.

Most of us, (me included until I read Not For Sale and began research for my novel, Dangerous Ground,) believe that sexual exploitation happens in other countries or is so hidden we will never see the victims or perpetrators.

It’s not what we think.

After watching a few videos of these young women who have been rescued, I was stunned once again to learn of the depravity of this evil. This week, I talked with a friend who is a chaplain for a police department in California who shared her knowledge of similar experiences. Then after reading this article, the importance of sharing this information became compelling… especially since my book depicts a trafficking ring holding girls in captivity.

While Dangerous Ground has opened the eyes of people who weren’t aware of this travesty at all, I certainly don’t want it to be misleading in any way.

Often, victims sit beside us in our community, our schools, or in families we think we can trust. We need to have eyes to see the truth as well as the evidence in front of us if we want to stop this horrific situation.

“Instead of being kidnapped by their trafficker, nearly all victims of domestic minor sex trafficking are groomed by someone they love and trust. The trafficker then uses that love and trust to manipulate and sometimes blackmail their victims into being sexually exploited.

Very few victims of child sex trafficking are kept in a bunker or in chains.  In fact, many victims are still living at home and attending school.  Others might be living on the streets.  Traffickers more often keep their victims “chained” to them using trauma bonding and complex psychological abuse.” (quoted from “Fact or Conspiracy Theory?” by Kelly McKaughey, Shared Hope International, Aug.17, 2020)

While various conditions exist for victims of trafficking, let’s be aware of the fact that many times victims live right in front of us. If we know what to look for, we may be able to offer assistance where no other rescue would be available.

Check out this post from O.U.R – Operation Underground Railroad for signs to look for. Better yet, in the post, you’ll find a link to participate in their video training.

You can donate to any number of organizations that fight trafficking, rescue victims, transition victims back into life, and create opportunities for people to avoid situations that make them susceptible to trafficking. Here are a few I support:

In addition, half the proceeds from every copy of Dangerous Ground sold goes to support these organizations. You can read a novel, become more educated, and part of your money spent will be donated. That’s a win, win, win!

Check My Attitude


“90 % of what I do, I do to piss people off because it amuses me.”

I overheard this bit of a conversation from a senior student during class as I was substitute teaching one day, and it made me think.

Yes, I admit I was disappointed to hear this sentiment.

But I also thought about my own motives and attitudes. Why do I do 90% of what I do? Is it productive? Helpful to myself or others? Is amusing ourselves the goal of life or is there something more?

While this may be a flippant statement made by a still maturing teen student, it gives us a window into much of today’s society. Where has the value of life gone? Are we so complacent by our lives, pursuits or goals that we live simply to get by or amuse ourselves?

Personally, I don’t believe that is what God intended when he created us. The Bible indicates that we were made for greatness, not simply amusement. God has intentional purpose for us each day.

What is your 90 % today?

Working Hard, or Hardly Working?


There are two kinds of work – toil that is exhausting and produces little OR work that arises from doing what we love and brings life and value to others and fulfillment to us.

Sometimes our attitude makes the distinction, but more often we let money rule us so that we are only working for a paycheck and feel trapped rather than working as unto God and to bless others.

God’s word tells us how to think about work and money. He’s the one that makes us able to create wealth. Everything belongs to him and every good gift comes from his hand.

Money is a tool to further God’s kingdom. It’s not something we should long for or love. And in the end, we can work for money, or we can let money work for us.

Can You Help Me?


CALLING ALL READERS!

Next month I’ll be releasing my next novel, and I’m looking for anyone who would like an advance pdf. copy in exchange for you writing an honest review the week it launches.

Rachel's Son Book Cover (2)Rachel’s only son, two-year-old Micah, is slaughtered by Roman soldiers searching for the prophesied Messiah, sending her life on a trajectory of angry bitterness and further devastation.

Titus, a Roman soldier, harbors a terrible secret and would do anything to rid himself of the guilt he carries. But when circumstances force him to revisit the place of his treacherous deed he can’t reveal the truth.

Unexpectedly thrown together, Rachel and Titus both seek peace, but finding it with each other isn’t enough. Only an encounter with Jesus can force them to face the trauma of their past.

Will Titus release the burden he’s concealed? And what will it take for Rachel to forgive the Forgiver and find life again?

If this sounds appealing to you will you:

  1. Leave a comment and contact me using the form below if you want an advance pdf copy to read.
  2. Let your friends know this redemption story will be out in time for Easter.
  3. Commit to writing an honest review sometime during the week it releases.

Thank you in advance! I believe this story will touch someone’s heart.

Can I Help You?


Have you ever wanted to write a book or start a blog?

Perhaps you would like to tell about that particular time when…, or help others with something you’ve learned. Maybe you’ve always been one to have people listening as you captivate them with your stories.

Maybe you don’t know where to start.

And maybe you didn’t know that I offer consulting, editing and critique services. I love helping people and teaching them what I’ve learned. I’d be happy to chat or email with you about your project and help you take it forward.

Check out my Write Your Book page for a contact form and prices and let’s set up a FREE initial consultation.

What’s My Agenda?


The presidential election is coming and as a nation we are anything but “like-minded” or “one in spirit and purpose.”

Those are Paul’s words in A.D. 61 to the people in Philippi, a prosperous Roman colony. (Philippians 2) Maybe somewhat like our prosperous United States? (Wait, could there be some time in history we’ve failed to learn from?)

While I won’t get into any political opinions here, I will share how I think this applies to my life and perhaps the lives of others who are willing to consider it.

Paul says first of all that if we want to be unified, we must…

Do NOTHING out of selfish ambition.

Great. Wow. Nothing? I’m not selfish. Am I? (What does that even mean?)

Here’s my take:

When I have my own agenda, or “vain conceit” as Paul puts it, I’m focused on my way being the best or only way to think or accomplish something. Paul says this is meaningless.

I’ll let that sink in.

Instead, he suggests we humbly consider the other person has an opinion or view that may be valid, or even…can I say this here? Right. Correct. With merit. He says we should not only consider their view, but give it preference.

Whoa. I’m sure both sides of the political camp are now thinking “NO WAY!”

Hear me out.

Paul isn’t suggesting that we ignore our opinions, thoughts, or even wisdom. What he is saying is to be willing to set mine aside in order to do the best thing for someone else in the moment.

He doesn’t say to abdicate our privilege to vote or to vote against our principles. But he does say that when we talk with someone, rather than pushing our point of view, humbly consider how we can uplift the other person instead of only thinking about ourselves.

Maybe that means choosing NOT to discuss our opinions. Perhaps it means listening to someone else without comment other than “thank you for sharing.” Sometimes hearing out another person may even mean a shift or broadening of our perspective. Could we both be right??

Paul tells us in verses 12-18 that this is something we need to work out. In other words,

It is HARD!

And we have to do it without arguing and complaining or the whole unity thing is defeated, right? We want to be an example of love and graciousness to all who interact with us. (Think FB posts)

When we choose to do this, we may feel like we’re sacrificing ourselves to the point of being poured out like a drink.

Liquefied. Down the drain. Ugh.

But the best news is that Jesus gave us an example to follow—and no one I know has yet humbled themselves unto death like he did—AND it is actually God who works in us to make us able to live this way. (vs.13)

A win, win for everyone.

Okay, here’s the coolest part. When we do humble ourselves, consider others’ interests and are willing to lay down our agenda, God will lift us up. Encourage us. Give us a place to be heard. Exalt is the word used in the Bible.

Say what? Wow, again.

I know it seems crazy. But God’s ways aren’t our ways. They seem counter intuitive. But they actually bring the most good if we can embrace them.

Finally, Paul says that another guy in the Bible, Timothy, is an example of this kind of living. Timothy had a genuine interest in the welfare of others. He lived like Jesus. Paul says we should joyfully welcome and honor people like him.

We might even become one.

Where can you lay down your agenda and consider the well-being of someone else instead?

Running or Running Out of Time?


Are you running?

Trauma, grief, bad experiences or a host of other events can cause us to run.

I’ve known people who have experienced a horrific event or lost a loved one and can’t make sense of the tragedy.

In times of grief we all experience anger at some stage. We look for someone or something toward which to direct that anger. It may be another person, or perhaps we even end up hating ourselves. But most of the time we, at least internally, claim God as the culprit and laser our anger at him, blaming the one who knows everything and sees all. Where was he when a town was flooded, an earthquake hit or innocent people were gunned down?

Sometimes running away from God seems to be the answer.

Or maybe we simply run.

Keep busy and keep our mind off the pain. Push, push, push. If we slow down, take a break, enjoy a sunset, we find the ache in our soul is still there. The stabbing memories chase us down, ready to devour us. Busyness drowns them out and exhausts us so sleep can claim our bodies, although not always our minds.

I know someone who spent most nighttime hours as keyed up and fretful as they were in the busyness of the day, a hamster on a wheel, spinning in the middle of the night.

But what if the answer to our pain is actually running toward God?

What if God wasn’t the cause of our bad situation at all? What if he sits by us, crying over our losses, but we simply can’t imagine a God like that? We’ve never heard of that God. What if instead, there is a real enemy in the world that we can’t see who is looking for ways to destroy us?

The Bible says “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like asummer-12-068 roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” I Peter 5:8

So imagine that all the destructive events in the world. What if the wars, terrorism, and famine are being orchestrated by a being in a supernatural realm, the same realm in which God dwells? God and our enemy are at war because God made and loves each of us and the devil hates God. He’s jealous of God. He wants to be God. And he wants you to serve him, not God.

So he deploys spiritual forces to whisper lies and bad will among people. He stirs up rumors that cause fighting.  He impresses on others that they need bigger and better while other people go hungry. And all the while, God cries.

It’s not that he can’t stop evil.

But he won’t make people choose him. He won’t force us to run to him if we’d rather run around or run away. He longs for us to seek him because we need and want him.

So what if the devastating situation is where we find him?

What if that is where the best life begins? Where he comforts and heals us through the touch of a friend, or a stranger’s compassion, or a song, or a verse from his words to us, the Bible.

What if every single bad situation carried out by the devil could be used by God to bring us good and show others that he is real and wanting them to know him too?

Sounds crazy, right? Or maybe it’s time to reconsider God.