What’s Your Story?


pexels-photo-247314.jpegLast week I shared about the anti-trafficking organization, Children of the Night, that confused; okay let’s be real, infuriated me, with its funding starting and continuing from Hefner’s Playboy empire. I shared the email I sent and the response from Lois Lee explaining briefly Hefner’s role in her business.

And I wrestled all week with it even in the wake of the horrendous violence happening in our country.

Death begetting more death.

Kind of like my impression of a pornography enterprise funding an organization rescuing those trafficked into prostitution.

But what kept coming back to me, in a gently convicting kind of way, in spite of my justified, righteous anger, was that I didn’t know this woman’s story. That I needed to pray for, not persecute, her.

I didn’t know why she chose to battle sex-trafficking to begin with. Was she exploited, abused, molested herself? Had she been a victim of sexual predators? I had no idea why she felt that Hefner and his Playboy enterprise was her only option for funding. Or how that relationship came about in the first place.

Jesus reminded me that I didn’t know her story.

We’ve all made choices, good and bad. I’ve made my fair share of terrible ones. Many of which developed out of my own background. When we’re confused and looking for answers, we’ll try whatever seems like the best option at the time, no matter what it is.

Sometimes the worst option looks really good in light of our experiences.

Just as I knew I needed to address concern for what seemed like a hypocritical use of funds to rescue children being exploited by the very same group funding the exploitation, I became convinced that I needed to reach out to Lois Lee and ask,

“What’s your story?”

Because Jesus cares about our story. He cares about how and why we landed where we did, making the choices we did. And more importantly, he forgives them all because of his love and compassion for us. No wrong can ever make him turn away from us.

She responded immediately.

Her email told me the basics of who she is—a doctor, a lawyer, an academic, a Catholic. I won’t share the email because now it’s a personal matter, no longer a letter to an unknown company. She gave me very little detail of what led her to begin except to say she’d been persecuted for her position in wanting to help young women in prostitution. She spoke highly of Hefner, even sounding as if he had been a dear friend.

I thanked her for sharing. I continue to pray for her to be blessed, healed, and loved by Jesus.

And I want to ask you, “what’s your story?” What led you to this place you are in today? What’s your life all about? Do you know Jesus like he knows you?

He cares about every moment of your story. So do I. Without judgment. His grace is enough for all of us—even the worst parts of our story.

And I know he started our story, has a better plot for it, and will keep writing it into something beautiful if we let him. So…

“What’s your story?”

My Story’s Not Finished Yet


Having just completed my next book, Dangerous Ground, I’m extremely aware of what goes into writing a novel.

Usually the beginning is the easiest.

An idea grabs me, and my creative instincts take over, spinning a new tale with ever-evolving characters. It’s fun to get to know the players and see what they will do as the story unfolds. I also typically have a general idea of what the goal is, and therefore, what the ending will be.

But then, there’s the middle.

Ask any author, and they will tell you the dreaded middle is where we aren’t sure how it will all fit together, and whether the ending will actually play out, This is when we question our ability and desire to be a writer in the first place.

Recently, one of our pastors shared a message about having faith for the middle.

God often gives us a vision of what is to come in the future. He tells us where to start, and as we say yes to him, we’re launched into something we know will be great.

But then, the middle comes.

We don’t see the point, we’ve lost sight of the goal and we’re tired. And maybe confused. Things don’t look like we expected. As a matter of fact, they may even seem to be moving backwards.

Our pastor made some really great points about how to keep our hearts and minds in the right place when we’re in that middle space.

  • Don’t allow our feelings to determine our faith.
  • Don’t put our faith in things or circumstances.
  • Trust that God has a greater purpose while we’re in the middle.

I could relate to the idea of God working in the middle. That’s the messiest part. That’s the place where I fall in love with Jesus because I have to press close to him to get through. (You can watch his entire message here.)

Like in writing a book, the middle is where all the action is. It’s where the characters fall in love or start to see a solution to the crime. And that’s where we perfect the story.

In the middle, the story’s not finished yet.

Maybe you are in the middle of a story in your life. I know I am. It may feel like it will never end or certainly never end satisfactorily. But with God, there is always a good ending. Don’t give up while he’s writing the middle of your story.

I made it through the middle of Dangerous Ground, and while it didn’t exactly turn out the way I expected, I think it ended up being better.

Here’s a sneak peak of the cover. Thank you, CulpritMedia Group!

Look for it on Amazon in time for your Labor Day weekend reading!

Remember The Miracles of the Past


On Thursday, a fellow author featured my book on her blog. DSC_0020

Thank you to Toni Shiloh! I appreciate how she promotes new authors. I hope you’ll check out her blog and books too. You can read the post here. If you comment, you’ll be entered to win a free copy of the book!

What I love about Toni’s Throw Back Thursday blog is that it reminds me to think about the miracles God has done in the past. My book she promoted, The Miracle of Us: Confessions on an Online Dater, was released nearly three years ago which was a miracle in itself! It took four years of writing, editing, changing it and rewriting before I landed with something I felt people would find enjoyable, entertaining and encouraging.

But that story began nearly nine years ago.

Here’s the thing. Every time we retell the miracles God has done for us, our faith grows. We remember how big God is. We encourage others. And the best part? God says in Revelation (12:11) that our testimony helps defeat or overcome our enemy, the devil.

Amazing what sharing a story can do.

So thank you, Toni. I hope my story will encourage someone. And remember, friends, to share your stories! Tell people about the wins in your lives. Remember those miracles from the hand of a big God and look forward to what is to come.

What story can you share? We’d love to hear in the comments below.

Writing in My Sleep


Last night dreams swirled through my head and I found myself waking up a few times momentarily convinced that I was living the story in my book. Since the book I’m writing is based on my personal experience, I have already lived it, but it felt strange to be in the middle of it again–if only in my dreams.

I suppose my over active mental activity during sleep (I use that term loosely) could be attributed to the nearly 5,000 words I wrote yesterday. The lines between current reality and re-living the words I was writing began blurring the longer I typed. It became nearly impossible to pull myself away for the night; hence the dreams that plagued my sleep.

Sometimes I wonder how authors manage to pour so many words out and remain sane. It seems to me that books practically write themselves, taking on a life of their own and carrying the one writing away as in a flood. I imagine it could be that way with a novel; my one beginning, still-in-progress attempt at fiction has affected me as such. But surprisingly enough, my own story has evoked the same effect. The other day I found myself thinking “what a great story this would be if it were real…oh, wait, it IS real!” Silly me. Hope it has the same impact on other readers!

This adventure of writing thrills me. Each day I wake up excited to start again. Even stuck places with their frustrations of where-do-I-go-next feel more like a challenging puzzle than something to dread. I may not always feel this way. Some authors crank out numerous books a year, and quite honestly, I don’t see how they do it. Maybe some day I’ll be that good. In the meantime, I hope to sleep tonight, but wish I could write in my sleep.

So many words. So little sleep.

Conflict Makes a Story…Immigration Part 3


So, I just finished reading Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and his words still reverberate through my mind at various times through my day. (I highly recommend the book which you can check out at www.donaldmillerwords.com ).

In his book, he talks about the process of making one of his other books (Blue Like Jazz – another amazing work of art) into a movie, and what it took to create a story of his life that would be interesting and worth viewing. Truth is, he learned that he wanted a better story to his life period, so he began engaging in life in ways he had never imagined. Way to go, Don.

One of the things (too many to mention here) that grabbed me about his book was the idea of conflict causing change in characters. Now, I was taught in writing classes that a good story must have what we call rising action, a series of conflicts that build to a climax after which the action falls into some type of resolution. Writing 101. However, even though we write about life and things we know about or hope for, it never occurred to me that the conflicts in my actual life were creating a better story.

Since this blog(and the book in progress) is about my life, I asked my writing critique partner if she thought there was enough real conflict to make my story interesting. She assured me there is, and as I’ve taken another look, I’ve begun to see that what makes our story a great story–other people’s words not mine, though I agree–is not how romantic it is, but that there have been tremendous conflicts faced and overcome. We started on an impossible journey and watched the conflicts build and resolve as we kept saying yes and moving ahead.

Hence, the immigration issues we’ve faced make for a better story. Thank you USCIS.

To continue the story….

Within just two weeks we heard from America and Australia that the approved application for Brendan’s visa had been received, and he could submit all the necessary paperwork to the consulate in Australia. They kindly enclosed a list of about a dozen required items including a police report, fingerprints, a medical examination and clearance, all the previous documents in duplicate (what did they do with the other four copies?) and, of course, more money.

I have to confess that we cheated a little. I had already done extensive research to find out what things they would ask for before we got the letter asking for them so that we could be ahead if possible. Remember, we were in a time crunch with a wedding hopefully taking place in just six weeks. So when we received the letter, Brendan had already made the required doctor appointments for him and the kids in Brisbane, and was ready to head out the door to get his police report taken care of.

But when he called me hours later, I was crushed. The police report would take 6-8 weeks they said. And that was just one part of all the things we needed done before he could fly to Sydney (with the kids) to submit it all for the visa. We didn’t know what to do.

“Did you tell them you needed it as soon as possible??” I snapped at him. Like it was really his fault.

“Yes, darling. I did. No one really cares. They just said it would be that long when I asked, and then they moved on to the next person.”

I was so disappointed. I envisioned postponing our wedding for a second time. In all fairness, the website and letters we received made it very clear that we should not book tickets or plan weddings until a visa was actually in hand. Of course they didn’t take into account the details of planning weddings or travel now, did they?

“Well, I guess it’s another opportunity for a miracle. There’s no other option than to trust that God knows what he’s doing and will do the best for us.” I said the words more to convince myself than out of actual belief at that point. I certainly didn’t see how it would work out.

Brendan and I hung up, and I went and cried.