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.

New Release Coming Soon!


Deadly Silence CoverThe benefit of sheltering at home is more time to write. In April, I released A Deadly Silence. Here’s what a few of people have said:

“Sara and Brad’s story gripped me the second I opened the book. Laura Bennet weaves believable storylines and it’s like you are an invisible person witnessing it as it’s taking place. Emotions run high with the characters, but also the reader. Thank you, Laura, for such an outstanding book. Bravo!!!” J.Messmer

“I really couldn’t put this down. I enjoyed reading this, and I was surprised because it’s not usually my reading genre. A definite recommend, especially if you like reading about relationships, family, friendships, overcoming trauma, personal growth, spiritual growth, and learning.” J.N.

“I enjoyed this book as I have all of Laura’s books. Her honest writing style is refreshing in that things don’t always work out the way we think they “should” – just like in real life. This book covers a difficult topic but one that many people face. I’m glad to see an honest take on removing the stigma in talking about issues when they occur. Can’t wait for the next book!” Peggy I.

I’m glad to know readers are anxiously awaiting the next book because it’s almost here! Anticipating an October release, When the Wind Blows, shows how being in community brings hope, healing, and redemption.

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Category 4 Hurricane Harriet slams Southwest Florida, throwing six high rise neighbors together in unexpected ways.

Alec and Jessica Freeman can’t seem to make their five-year marriage work, and Jessica’s secret isn’t helping. Author Dylan Davis loses himself in writing books about missing children as therapy for the daughter he lost. Bailey Crenshaw, a free-spirited young woman who’s been on her own since girlhood, finds family with strangers. Older, retired folks, Ralph and Edith Manning wonder if life is over for them, but experiencing trauma with neighbors offers a new sense of purpose. Within community, each one discovers that weathering a storm together is better than surviving alone.

Everything is a Journey


Coastland Center Mall Book Signing

I had my first book selling event this week.

It came about unexpectedly and plunged me into the next step on my writing journey. A step I’ve longed for, thought about and feared for years. Now, in hindsight, it seems foolish to have dreaded (with excited anticipation) my first book event.

I’m not one of those people who hate talking in front of others. Book selling and signing goes with the territory. I want more people to know about me as an author. So what was I (a little) freaked out about?

The logistics.

I’m not even sure why. I’m asking for divine help in answering that question. But I realize it happens almost every time I find myself in a new, unfamiliar setting or situation. I’m far better now, but it still unsettles me.

Can anyone relate?

Spending hours preparing  by packing up, checking directions (a few times), re-reading instructions, listing needed items and imagining the trip or event several different ways. When I’m supposed to be getting much needed before-the-event sleep. Naturally.

Here’s the deal…

Even though I woke up with a migraine starting that morning, I quieted my heart in prayer and set about getting ready and to my destination. As I drove, I remembered that I had worked at a tuxedo shop a couple of decades ago so I attended numerous and regular wedding events. I also worked book tables for other authors.

I had experience after all. Go figure.

A nice man held the door for me as I lugged my box of books and such into the mall. Then it all came back to me once I started setting up. Arranging my books, cards and flyers was fun. I didn’t know what to expect, so I expected to wait and see what would transpire during the day.

Being at a mall, most of the sparse crowd came for specific purposes. Few stopped to browse. But both of my vendor neighbors were lovely ladies selling beautiful jewelry and handmade tote bags respectively.

We enjoyed some interesting and engaging conversation.

Later on, a couple of friends showed up to support me. I love connecting my friends who don’t know each other, but love me. Overall, I sold a few books, met some very nice people and ended up having a great experience.

All part of the journey.

It was a good day. Even the part when I drove out of the mall the wrong way and ended up circling a number of very long blocks to end up back where I started fifteen minutes later. Making mistakes is a part of learning.

I learned that everything is a journey.

We can keep moving ahead in spite of our fears or questions, or we can hold back and never start. Every new experience is just that–new. Which means we won’t know what to expect or what it will hold for us until we are participating in it.

But if we never take that first step into the unknown, we’ll never know. I’m so grateful for the experience. Every part of it (except that headache) ended up blessing me. And now I’ll be more confident the next time. I also want to keep pressing into what’s next.

Like a radio interview coming up this week.

I’m pretty excited in a nervous am-I-ready-for-this kind of way. I don’t feel ready, but I believe God opens doors at the right time. And sometimes he gives us a little nudge to walk through.

What step do you need to take today?

 

 

Three Book Giveaway


DSC_0003God is a giver and so am I!

I’m excited to be giving away two (2) three book sets to two people who love to read. Included are The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater, Voices of the Past and my new release Rachel’s Son.

For four days, you’ll have the opportunity to enter and rack up points. Let your friends know too- remember sharing is caring (unless you’re afraid of a little competition…)

What a way to add to your library 😉

It’s my prayer that readers find hope, healing and redemption in my books. Nothing is impossible with God. Even when things look hopeless, he is faithful to bring us good.

Let the games begin.

Are You in a Season of Hope?


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This week’s post is featuring author, Sara Jane Jacobs, and her new book, Season of Hope.

The Bible has a lot to say about hope.

Our hope is in Jesus. When we hope in him, we won’t be disappointed. God gives us hope and has a future hope for us. When our character is built through trials, we develop hope. Our endurance is inspired by hope. All good, right?

But sometimes what we hope for takes longer than we expect.

As is the situation with Amanda and Tyler, the main characters in Season of Hope.  An answer to prayer begins their season of hope.

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Sara Jane Jacobs, has given us a sneak peak into her life as an author, the premise for this book and a little about her upcoming projects…

  1. Do you work with an outline or just write?

I just write! I’m definitely a panster. When I first start a project, random scenes will pop into my head and I have no idea where they will end up in the story.

  1. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

The next book in the series, Season of Deception, starts at the very moment book one ends. A new character is introduced in book two, and Amanda moves to Paris. We get to check in on Tyler, too. There are a couple of BIG surprises, a visit back to Nathan’s mountain, and the people that annoy you and creep you out come back stronger than ever. That’s pretty much all I can tell without giving anything away! I’ll be sharing a synopsis on my website soon and start revealing a little more about the story as it gets closer to launch.

  1. Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

There are flashes of memories from my childhood laced throughout chapter one. Ha-ha, there is a conversation that Amanda has with Tyler about a cow, in the upcoming book that was based on an experience.

  1. How did you come up with the title?

The “season” part of the title originated in what is now book two, which started out as the original manuscript. Amanda writes a note to Tyler, making a slight reference to a verse in the third chapter of Ecclesiastes and saying they will only be apart for a “season.” Obviously, she wasn’t counting on the “deception” part. When I had to come up with a title for book one, I felt Season of Hope was fitting, as the move Tyler and his mother make to Nathan’s mountain gives them opportunities for a better life.

  1. What project are you working on now?

Book three which follows the story a couple of the characters from book two.

ABOUT THE BOOK:season of hope 3

When Amanda Jarvis prays that a special friend will move into the vacant house near her isolated mountain home, she isn’t upset when God sends a boy instead of a girl. But Amanda’s not the only one receiving unexpected answers to her prayers. After fleeing with his mother from an abusive father, Tyler Armstrong finds much-needed love and acceptance with Amanda’s family over the next ten years.

As high school graduation nears, Tyler is shocked when one carefree afternoon with Amanda churns up an inner turmoil he would have never imagined; he’s crushing on his best friend. And for the first time in his life he’s hiding a secret from Amanda. Convinced the timing is all wrong, Tyler pushes his feelings aside as he and Amanda prepare for the future. He will soon begin training to pursue his dream of becoming a Navy SEAL, while Amanda makes plans to spend the summer in Manhattan with her aunt and then return home to the community college.

When Amanda’s summer job catapults her into a modeling career, she readily accepts the much-needed distraction. Tyler’s impending deployment is turning her world upside down. Along with the fact that she’s falling for her best friend. And, for the first time in her relationship with Tyler, she’s hiding a secret, too.

Phoebe Garrison, Amanda’s controlling aunt, is thrilled when she is given the power to act on behalf of her underage niece. Bored with her Fortune 500 advertising agency, becoming Amanda’s manager is just what she’s been looking for to rekindle her aspirations. But as Tyler becomes aware of Phoebe’s obsession to push Amanda into supermodel status, tensions rise. As the three of them become entangled in a mass of concealed ambition and desire, each will make decisions that will send ripples of turbulence across their futures.

GET YOUR COPY HERE:

Amazon: http://a.co/aDtFaUz

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-season-of-hope-sara-jane-jacobs/1125877392?ean=2940157214357

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/708666

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY BELOW TO WIN A COPY OF THE BOOK

season of hope 4

Enter to win the SEASON OF HOPE giveaway! One person will win the following items…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

season of hope authorI began writing as a hobby while raising my two children. In 2015, I dusted off my stories and my dreams to see if I could turn my hobby into a career. My first story, Season of Hope, was inspired by summer vacations which always included a trip to Franklin, North Carolina, to visit family and explore The Smoky Mountains. When I’m not writing, I enjoy spending time with family. I love most any activity that involves being outdoors, especially camping, hiking and spontaneous excursions to splash in the ocean. I currently live along the Emerald Coast of Florida with my cat Selah and her delightful offspring, Colby, Jack and Tuesday.

AUTHOR CONTACT LINKS:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarajanej

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sarajanejacobs

Website: http://www.sarajanejacobs.com

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jacobsjanesara

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/50289360-sara-jane-jacobs

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jacobsjanesara

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSpH25j4GdaoKDMXkOVNlxA

season of hope 6

June 26 – Truth to Shine

June 27 – ASC Book Reviews

June 28 – Meagan Davenport

June 29 – Linda Shenton Matchett

June 30 – Barbara Brutt

July 3 – Ink From an Earthen Vessel

July 4 – Faithfully Bookish

July 5 – A Real Writer’s Life

July 6 – Smiling Book Reviews

July 7 – Bookworm Mama

July 10 – Tell the World

July 11 – 2014 and Beyond

July 12 – Tammy Karasek

July 13 – Rebecca DeMarino

July 14 –  Julie Arduini

July 17 – Laura Bennet

July 18 – All Betts Are Off

July 19 – Rachel Scott McDaniel

July 20 – Rebecca Van Daniker

July 21 – Leslie L. Mckee

season of hope 7This blog tour was coordinated by A Latte of Literature Blog Tour Services. Find out more:

http://christiswrite.blogspot.com/p/life-literature-blog-tour-services-for.html

 

First Chapter Fun


Tricia Goyer, well known author of Mom’s Night Out , the novelization of the motion picture, and more than fifty other titles, has inspired me with her new First Chapter Fridays. Tricia has been sharing the first chapter of one of her books and offering a giveaway each Friday. Check out Tricia’s site and her latest release. You may find you love what she has to offer. Not only is she an prolific author, but she encourages teen moms, adoptive parents, and homeschooling families.

In the meantime, enjoy the first chapter of my book, The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater, and enter a drawing for a free copy by commenting below. Thanks for the idea, Tricia!

Happy reading.

Is this really happening?

I surveyed the scene around me as an observer, despite my role as the primary participant. The delicate gown of ivory lace hanging from a cupboard door whispered reality. My bridesmaids sharing a mirror to apply makeup nodded at me in confirmation. A few close friends conversing over croissant sandwiches and grapes solidified the certainty of this remarkable day. My youngest granddaughter attempted first steps on wobbling legs.

At forty-seven, starting over after two failed marriages seemed frivolous and impossible even for an optimist like me. I believed God could do incredible things, but marriage a third time? After my previous heartbreak, marriage seemed like an attempt to grasp a school girl’s dream.

Only now it wasn’t merely a dream. It was becoming a reality.

God was offering me another chance at life with my soul mate. Yet the process of getting here hadn’t been an easy one. It took faith, prayer and patience.

Even with my adventurous and hopeful spirit, I still couldn’t have conceived of the enterprise embarked on years previous to this moment. And I never imagined God would use the internet to introduce me to Brendan, my amazing man from Australia.

Yet here I stood with the sun’s descent casting fragile streams of light through the upstairs window of the church. My attendants circled me, arms outstretched to adorn me with bridal blessings before I joined my life with Brendan for the remaining years we had.

My three daughters squeezed in close. The eldest, Vici, already a wife of two years and Ashley, my youngest, the twenty-one year old “baby” flanked my soon-to-be stepdaughter, eight year old Bella. They brushed elbows with my dearest friends, all participating in the momentous evening. Tears threatened my mascara, and I breathed deeply, both to keep them from spilling over and to calm my eager heart.

All eyes closed, but I peeked again at my homemade spider orchid bouquet. Can you love flowers? Every time I visually caressed the creamy burgundy tinged petals, I thought I love my bouquet!  And I thrilled at my dress and my bridesmaids’ dresses and the wonderful people taking such great care of me. This aged school girl released a contented sigh.

Closing my eyes, I forced my mind to concentrate on the words being spoken. I wanted so badly to remember as much as I could about this beautiful night of redemption and hope, the culmination of miracle upon miracle. My soul soared, my heart spilled over with love, and songs of worship played in my mind. Songs that I knew provided the background to our slideshow which entertained friends and family as they gathered downstairs in the sanctuary, preparing to celebrate with us.

In a few minutes, I would walk down the aisle on the arms of my two grown sons, Josh, the eldest and Chris, my towering younger boy, toward the man of my dreams.

Only You could have pulled this off, God.

Chapter 1

I had been single for only a year and a half when a friend asked if I would ever consider marrying again. A longing stirred in my heart, but I wasn’t so sure. Twenty-one accumulated years of two devastating marriages made me hesitate to answer her. Something in me wanted to hope that marriage held possibility, but my wounded heart felt like it had sustained a bad sunburn still too tender to touch. Marriage was a risk I wasn’t sure I was ready to take. Again.

However, when this new friend shared her romantic, divorced-mom-of-three story, it kindled a small, warming flame of hope. Like many others, from the time I was a young girl, I dreamed of romance and a life shared with my “soul mate.” I watched hundreds of movies depicting boy-meets-girl adventures and wished they could be my life. I confess I wanted a story that would defy everyone who ever told me I was unrealistic, idealistic or a dreamer. Deep down I believed God meant us to have that kind of romance—that He created it in the first place. Wasn’t it His good plan for man not to be alone?

The flame flickered in my heart, and I wondered if maybe that could still happen for me. Some day? But it certainly would take a miracle. Being alone at that point trumped the marital distress I had previously experienced.

A few years passed after that conversation. Within the safe acceptance of my loving church family, my broken heart was learning that relationships consisted of more than me attempting to be good enough to please someone else. I settled into single life with contentment as I pursued a deeper intimacy with Jesus. Over time, watching other happily married couples renewed my hope, and I felt the desire to try relationships again. While I felt satisfied and fairly confident about my life as it was, I did long for the proverbial “soul mate,” partner, friend, lover that I had somehow missed out on in two previous tries.

But how does a forty-something woman with grown children meet men? The single women at my church seemed to outnumber the single men by about four to one.

In the past, my “guy meeting” experiences were limited to youth groups, school, and church. As a teen, life was one social scene. But now? I hadn’t dated since I met my first husband at a college church group.

Not one of the few men at church showed any interest, and I couldn’t bring myself to bar hop looking for a match. A local Christian singles group appeared to be the only avenue available, but it didn’t thrill me either. Some of my acquaintances practically obsessed over each outing as they desperately sought Mr. Right. But that felt a little too intense for me. I cringed at the idea of attending events hunting for a man. Besides, I wanted a relationship to come from God’s timing, not my arrangements. If God did have someone for me, I prayed I could simply bump into him randomly, like at the grocery store or post office.

Or, be set up like one of my best friends, who met her husband from a friend-of-a-friend. I liked the idea, but that wasn’t happening for me either. Most of my friends were married with married friends. You get the picture.

Then one night, I sat in my parents’ living room after sharing a delicious meal during one of my rare visits. Naturally, as it usually did, the conversation turned to my struggling, single-parent-of-teenagers life. My parents felt the time had come for me to have a husband—preferably one who cared deeply for me and could support me in the fashion in which I had been raised as opposed to the one in which I had survived for the previous twenty-five years.

They had an idea of how to launch me back into dating society.

“You need a man. A nice Christian one with a good job. We have this friend…”

It’s not what you think. The friend was not someone they thought I should date. He was an acquaintance who met his match on the well-known, vastly popular internet dating site eHarmony, an establishment that has been harmoniously matching soul mates for more than a decade.

E- what? Internet dating? Never heard of it.

What did my parents, who barely used computers, know about dating online?

I chuckled at their ludicrous suggestion and wondered how I could steer us out of the conversation.

However, they seemed pretty convinced. My dad proceeded to relate some stories of people they knew who had actually met and married as a result of meeting on eHarmony. I confess it intrigued me. I went home that night with the idea rolling around in my mind. A few days later I decided to look up the site “just to see what it was like.”

I still remained skeptical, but waded around in the shallow end looking at a few free matches. Then I ended up filling out a questionnaire that took days, but taught me a great deal about myself. Worthwhile, but after a few months, I let it go. The stress of waiting for matches built up until I wondered if I were obsessed. Nonetheless, the concept lingered.

It resurfaced a couple of years later. The usual ways of meeting guys still weren’t working for me or my never-married-yet friend, “adopted” sister, housemate, and business partner, Carol. I told her about my previous experience, and after talking and praying about it for a few months, we decided to plunge into the deep end of online dating. What once seemed crazy to me now became a viable option.

Social networking wasn’t what I thought to look for, but I’m grateful to my parents for making the suggestion.

Carol and I held a conviction that finding marriage between two people absolutely created for one another held possibility. Granted, internet dating hadn’t been in our list of options, but why not? We figured if God could do anything, did it matter what vehicle he used?

Comment below for the chance to win a free copy of the book.

 

 

Is It Worth It?


Today I share the words of a young scholar.

He wouldn’t call himself an author even though I am featuring him as such. As a matter of fact, English is his least favorite subject. He didn’t write the following for me, he wrote it to encourage a couple of friends. But when numerous people read it (on Snap Chat) and began responding with resounding thanks and “I needed that,” he showed me.

My featured author is my fourteen year old son, Blair, dsc_0031who composed this late at night in the shower taking a short break during a study session. But I’m not sharing this because he is my son. I’m sharing this because it shows that even at a young age we can consider what it means to take our lives forward. This is what my son was thinking about the other night when he was tired, wanting to be watching television, sleeping or playing a video game instead of studying.

“Is this really worth it? All this stressing? Is it really worth it?”

I really thought about it.  Yes, it is extremely worth it. We dream big. We set out goals way out of our reach to test us. And we make them. We want to go to a good college to get an education and play sports to prove something.

But it starts here.

With these late nights studying. We will go far because we set our goals way too far. We don’t want mediocre. We don’t want to be okay with where we are.

We want to be great.

We want to be completely and fully satisfied with where we end up. We can only do this with the power of God! Let him work in you and through you, and you will go far and accomplish your goals.

Blair’s friends were encouraged, he was encouraged and I hope you are too.

Don’t give up.

As we end the first month of this New Year, look at the steps you’ve already taken and applaud yourself. Even a baby, barely standing and reaching out a shaky foot to take a tiny step is celebrated.

  • Find your celebration.
  • Recalculate your direction and the steps needed to get you there.
  • Evaluate the good and the not so good. Set your goals out there so you have to reach.
  • Be great because God has greatness for you. He will strengthen you and uphold you.

Now go tackle the next eleven months.

Shared with permission. =)

Sweet Hymns of Joy


For many this time of year isn’t a cheerful time. But JOY can still be found.

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As the song says,

“…a weary world rejoices…”

And today’s world is certainly weary, isn’t it? But it is an emotional weariness. A deep question of where is the good in all the bad.

So for today’s post, I feature my author and musician friend, Lisa Hamil who has created some helpful material for taking your life forward into joy.

Don’t we need some joy?

Lisa coaches people in a practical way to create joy in their lives. She utilizes three steps: Faith, Appreciation and Relationship as the basis for gaining a settled life of more joy.

You can download her material here.

Not only that, but she’s just released her new book, It’s About Time.

Her book reviews various perspectives of time both conventionally and from a biblical perspective and shows us how to live NOW.

We don’t have to wait for heaven to experience a rich, fulfilling life. We can enjoy our “now” by living in the present with JOY.

Lisa has a passion for healthy vibrant living. As a pharmacist, she knows that medications may not be the best answer for creating what really promotes healthy life-style changes. Spiritual guidance has so much to offer in propelling our life’s mission.

Our thought life is what energizes our world.

Lisa has found that her moment by moment connection to the presence of God is what transformed her life. That life long pursuit grows more fully with each day. Her mission in life is to share that expanded joy with those seeking to live a life of purpose, passion and fulfillment by knowing the reality of God. Lisa herself is a joy and delight to be with. She exudes peace and confidence. Her book and music are available on Amazon or on her website.

Do It Scared!


This could be your best year ever.

third anniversary 128
Brendan zip-lining through the Santa Cruz Mountains at Mount Hermon

According to Michael Hyatt, leadership mentor and best-selling author of Living Forward, if you wait until you aren’t scared, it won’t happen.

What is “it”?

The possibilities for your life. And 2017 could be the year that turns it around.

We’ve been working on taking our lives forward with intentional purpose (if you have missed my Take Your Life Forward guide, sign up my email list and I’ll gladly send you a FREE copy), and I’m thrilled to offer you some tips and resources that can make that happen.

One of the things I love about Michael Hyatt is how helpful he’s been at teaching people to be purposeful with their lives.

That’s why when he offers a webinar, I jump at the chance to participate.

As always, Michael shares valuable information.Whether you buy his books or products or not, you can be certain he will teach you important truths and lead you well. (Can you imagine how much MORE valuable his books and products are than his free advice? Yep. They are that valuable!)

Today I offer some tips from his recent webinar titled 7 Steps for Taking Control of 2017: How to Leverage Goal Setting to Design the Life You Want. And while I can recap here, I highly recommend buying his book, Living Forward,and signing up for the actual course here.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”      Wayne Gretzky

The above quote has already been a reminder to me this week to press into things that I am afraid to do or think I can’t manage. That alone has been valuable insight passed on by Michael. Here are a few others:

  • Clarify your priorities.
  • Make sure your goals are written, specific, measurable, and with deadlines.
  • Goals should push us a little outside our comfort zone so we continue to grow.
  • Everyone feels fear, uncertainty and doubt-those feelings show we are on the right track.
  • We must have a compelling reason to accomplish the goal.
  • Don’t focus on too many goals at once – start with a few and work toward more.
  • Chunk our goals into small, bite size pieces that start easy.
  • Track your progress so you are motivated to keep going or readjust.

These are just the basics.

For the full benefit of Michael’s instruction check out his website and sign up for his course at Best Year EverBest Year Ever, and/or get his book, Living Forward to make 2017 the year that living forward began with turning fear to opportunity.

What would you like to accomplish this year that has made you afraid in the past?

John Mark Miller: The Real Deal


Recently I had the privilege of interviewing John Mark Miller, a musician and writer who leads worship at First Baptist Church of Sunset, Texas. John Mark inspires and encourages other Christian artists with his blog and has recently been showcasing various artists. I was blessed to be on his list.

What I admire most about John Mark is his genuine love for the Lord, music and fellow artists. He exudes grace and kindness. I hope you enjoy getting to know him as much as I have.

Hi, John Mark. Thanks so much for spending some time with us today. I’ve appreciated reading your blog and interacting with you through comments and emails. I guess we’ll jump right into the questions I have for you.

First, let me ask when did you first know you were born to be a singer and a writer?

I was born singing, and I caught on to writing as soon as I could! When I was just a toddler, my mom remembers finding me rolling around the back yard on my riding toy, singing a hymn that she and my dad had sung in church that morning. She was impressed that I remembered the melody perfectly, and started to encourage my musical gifts. I sang my first church solo when I was five years old and started taking piano lessons when I was seven years old. I honestly cannot remember a time when music wasn’t an important part of my life, and here I am all these years later, still making music and teaching others how to join in!

Interestingly enough, it was my dad who honed in on my gift for writing. He read some of the stories I wrote for spelling class and told me that he thought I had real talent. He was a pastor, and before I knew it I was writing articles for the church newsletter and helping him prepare Sunday School curriculum and church publications. One weekend as we drove to a funeral, he realized he needed a poem to recite for the Graveside Service and told me to write one on the spot! I did… and thanks to his belief in me as a writer, I’m still at it!

It’s great that your parents were so encouraging and helpful in fostering your God-given talents. Perhaps that’s one reason you are so great at encouraging other artists.

So, along those same lines, what is your favorite worship song?

My all-time favorite worship song is “Before the Throne of God Above,” but I also find great inspiration in “Give Me Jesus” by Fernando Ortega and “All of Me” by Selah.

I love that song by Fernando Ortega as well. A few of his CD’s spend time in my player!

And how about favorite books?

Where books are concerned, I’m going to have to break this down into categories! I would say that my favorite devotional book is “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers, my favorite fictional book is “The Robe” by Lloyd C. Douglas, and my favorite biography/memoir is “Rocket Boys” by Homer Hickham.

That’s quite a nice collection. I read and re-read “My Utmost for His Highest” over a three year period, and it literally changed my life. What do you feel most inspires your creativity?

I feel most inspired when I spend time outside, either walking for exercise or just sitting and drinking in all of God’s beauty. Taking time to notice the splendor of Creation helps me to quiet the distractions, focus my prayers, and allows me to listen for His still, small voice. It has been during these quiet moments of reflection that many of my greatest ideas have come to me.

It’s amazing how even a little bit of time outside can bring out the creator in us!

Now this may seem like a strange question, but I think you can tell a lot about a person by their favorite “working” drink. I tend to stick with water or tea. How about you?

I absolutely love a steaming mug of hot tea (either Earl Grey or Vanilla Rooibos) while I’m working on a project. The warmth is comforting, and the aroma stimulates the senses. I’d have to agree with C.S. Lewis, who said, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me!”

That’s a great quote! I might have to add it to my bulletin board. When is it that we would find you nursing that steaming mug of tea? Are you most productive in the morning or at night?

Though I’m married to a night owl, I will forever be a hopeless morning person! Much to my wife’s dismay, I wake up bright and early and ready to work. My best work takes place early in the morning, and I’ve noticed that my writing is much stronger and more focused after I’ve spent some quiet time with the Lord.

I so agree with you. Spending time with the Lord makes the difference between a good and rough day, writing or otherwise. Do you have a “life verse?” How does it influence your creative endeavors?

Since high school, my life verse has been John 15:5: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” I used to get very nervous playing the piano in church, to the point that my fingers and pedal feet would shake uncontrollably and cause the entire piano to have tremors! I remember sitting in church waiting for my turn to play, and reading this verse on a small index card. It was comforting to remember that without God I could do nothing, but with Him behind me I was guaranteed to bear good fruit. I have clung to this through the years, and it’s just as helpful to me now as it ever was!

That’s a verse my husband has been meditating on lately. It’s so true that whatever we produce comes from Jesus working in us. It’s a great reminder. What would you say is the most important message you want your listeners or readers to take away from your work?

The sole purpose of launching my blog, The Artistic Christian, was to help people realize that the beauty of God is all around us. There is such rich beauty in the midst of the most everyday moments, and all of it declares the truth of Who God is. Psalm 19:1 says “the heavens declare the glory of God,” and each aspect of nature tells us something about God’s character. Immovable mountains declare His strength, soft rose pedals declare his tenderness and beauty, and so on. Not only this, but anytime an artist creates he or she is imitating God, since we are all made in His image (Gen. 1:26). Because of this, artistic works also point us to God, since they reveal the divine spark which lies in each of our hearts.

I hope that by reading my work, my readers will have their eyes opened to the beauty and splendor that lies everywhere they look, and realize that all of it was designed to draw our hearts toward worshiping God. And once they begin to see this, I want to remind them that if they will seek God with all their heart, they will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13).

I certainly get that from your blog. Where can people find your work? Can they purchase it yet?

I am still working on getting a book published, but my reflections on art, culture, and life can be found at my primary blog, The Artistic Christian, at http://theartisticchristian.wordpress.com.

Also, my sermons and thoughts on Bible Study and church life can be found at my self-titled devotional blog, at http://johnmarkmiller.wordpress.com

Finally, readers can keep up with my thoughts and latest releases by following me on Twitter: @JohnMark_Miller

Thank you so much for investing this time with us today!

Thank you for interviewing me. It’s been an honor.

Go visit John Mark Miller on Twitter and his blogs. I guarantee you’ll be blessed and glad you did!