Friday, February 3, 2017

I Have a New Home!

Hi there!

For many, many years you've found me right here, blogging away, but I have a new home now. I won't be updating this site anymore, so please, do me a HUGE favor and head over to my new website.

At my new home you'll find my blog, plus lots more information about my writing and speaking . . . and fun stuff too. It's a more comprehensive site that I think you'll like.

I'll keep this blogging site open for a while so you can find what you need, but I'll only be updating at Join me there!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

One Word for 2017

Every year I choose a word--just one word--to focus on throughout the year. And every year I am amazed at how that word challenges me and helps keep me on track.

Even though I didn’t share it with many people outside of my family, my word for 2016 was "Finish." At the start of 2016, I had no agent, no publisher, and no book contract. But I had an idea for a book that wouldn't let me go. I had talked about it so much that my family was sick of it, so I decided that 2016 was going to be the year that, no matter what, I would finish the book.

No matter that I didn't have an agent. (I still don't!)

No matter that I didn't have a publisher or a contract.

I was determined to finish the book.

And friends, I am happy--no, ELATED!--to tell you that I finished. (Lots more to tell you about that later.) 

Of course, I'm still not really finished. I will have tons of edits to work through once my publisher gets it back to me, but, for my "One Word" purposes--my promise to myself and to my family--I have completed the task of finishing the book I've wanted to write for 15 years. But that one word kept me on track.

This year I didn’t know what my word was going to be. I usually don’t try to manufacture a word to fit my thinking—it seems to work best when I just pray about it and see what God keeps putting in front of me.

Except this year, I didn’t have a word when the calendar turned. I didn’t have a word even a couple of days into the new year. I kept praying that the Lord would just show me the word He wanted me to focus on because I knew that once I “heard” it or felt it or whatever happens, I’d know it.

Remember the game Connect4 where you put the checkers into a slot and they fall down with a satisfying “click” as they hit the checker below it? Yeah, it’s like that. When the word falls into my heart, I just know it.

So, a few days into January, a word seemed to click into place in my heart. Except it didn’t. When I felt it, I thought, “No, that can’t be it,” and I ignored it for a couple of days.

Until I heard it again. And then I read a Facebook post about someone who chose that word last year and how God had surprised her with it. I started to wonder . . . could this really be the word I’m supposed to focus on this year?

It couldn’t be! There’s no way! This is NOT the word I need!

I kept arguing with myself (or God?) and refusing to accept this word. I even prayed, through tears, that this would not be my word this year. I asked God to give me another word. I told him I’d keep praying about it until January 15 and see if something else (pretty please?) could be my word.

Then, over the past weekend, as my husband and I were enjoying a nice dinner out, I confessed to him that I thought I had gotten a word, but that it felt like the wrong word. To my surprise, he didn’t laugh. He didn’t tell me that, yeah, I’d gotten it wrong. He just listened and said that this could be interesting.

And so, three days after my self-imposed deadline to God (how foolish I am!), I’m giving in and sharing my One Word for 2017.


See?! Isn’t it weird? Isn’t it crazy? I don’t need rest! I, of all people, have a life that has plenty of rest built into it.

Besides that, I really despise laziness. Just ask my kids. “I can’t stand lazy children!” was my mantra as they were growing up. And rest, to me, seems like it could be taken as lazy—the last thing I want to be.

And yet, there is was. Click. Just like the checkers in the Connect4 game, God placed that word on my heart. I’ve decided rather than fight it, I’ll just go with it and see what happens.

Here’s what I’m already learning. Rest does not equal laziness; they are two completely different mindsets. God has given us rest as a gift—we need rest each night so that we won’t be lazy the next day.

I’m also learning that rest has two different meanings: to rest (as in lie down) and to trust. And here’s where I think God may have something to teach me.

See, I may have a wee bit of a control problem. I like to determine outcomes even before I attempt to do something, which is why parenting felt like such a crap shoot—there are no guarantees that our kids will turn out OK. I needed to trust God with that one while still doing my best.

I’ve got a few things cooking this year that I’d like to control, and yet, already, I sense God telling me to rest in Him because the outcome isn’t up to me—it’s up to Him. I can’t make people attend the events I’m planning. I can’t make people buy my book (ahem) when it comes out.

And when it comes to my kids, God is already speaking to me about their lives and their futures, which, thank goodness, will look much different from mine—I have nothing to say about it. And so I rest in His good plan for my children.

I think it’s going to be an interesting year with this unexpected word in the forefront of my mind. I have no idea what God has in store with it, but I know He’s got a lot to teach me about resting in Him. Trusting. Holding on. Staying the course, even when it doesn’t make sense.

God’s got this. I just need to rest.

Will you join me on this journey of resting in God this year? And if you choose a word for the year, will you share it in the comments? I’d love to hear from you!


If you like what you see here, why not follow me? Click here to subscribe for email updates, or follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

My Favorite Books of 2016

In the past, I’ve enjoyed sharing highlights with you at the end of the year—fun events, travels, milestones. But this year, at least the second half of it, I’ve mainly sat behind a desk or in a library carrel, and I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be interested in the hours upon hours that I’ve spent just sitting still, staring at a screen, trying to create something meaningful and interesting.

This year I’ve read more than I’ve read in a long time, mainly for research, but because of all the reading I’ve done, I thought I’d share some of the books that impacted me the most. This is by no means a comprehensive list—I’ve read some excellent books by people I really admire—these are just a few of the books that have impacted me in some significant way or that have surprised me or encouraged me.

Everyone Brave isForgiven by Chris Cleave.

I’m a fiction gal. Fiction is my thing. I will always pick up a fiction book over a non-fiction book . . . until this year. I just haven’t had time to read much fiction, but one I did read and really enjoy was this book by Chris Cleave. I loved his first book, Little Bee, which is still high on my all-time favorites list. This book is probably just as good, but very different.

Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller

Shelly is a blogging friend whom I had the great fortune to meet in person once. I admire her writing so much—her blog is a lovely, peaceful, thoughtful spot, and this book is an extension of Shelly’s peaceful, thoughtful place in the writing world. She encourages me to take God’s gift of rest seriously in order to live a life of greater service to the world. Shelly not only writes about this, but she lives it as she and her husband minister in London, England.

I had the great pleasure of hearing Jen speak at my church as a part of her book launch earlier this year. When she finished speaking, I promptly headed to the book table and greedily bought ten copies. This book is a God-exalting, God-honoring book, extolling His many virtues and explaining why it’s a good thing that He’s God and we are not.

The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller

While this book has been around for a while (it came out in 2011), I hadn’t read it until this year when Brian and I did pre-marital counseling with a dear couple. We were both blown away by this book and have recommended it several times, even to single people we know. By far the best book on marriage I’ve ever read.

And speaking on the best book I’ve ever read on a topic . . . this one is hand’s down THE BEST book on parenting I’ve ever read. And, believe me, I’ve read a LOT of parenting books. (In fact, I’m writing one!) But seriously, if you’re a parent, no matter how old or young your kids are, you really need to read this book. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The book that probably blew me away and surprised me the most this year. I didn’t think I’d like it—I’m not into reading theology or philosophy, if I’m honest—but I read this for some research for my own book. I ended up loving it and recommending it to a whole host of people this year. The premise is fairly simple: you worship what you love and what you love is what you spend your time on. It’s a caution to us all.

Up Next:

Here are a few books that are next on my list. I can’t wait to dig into these over the next couple of weeks.

Crossing the Waters by Leslie Leyland Fields

Leslie lives in Alaska and works alongside her husband as a commercial fisherwoman. She also writes about her life and faith, and in this book, Leslie examines Jesus’s interactions with fishermen in the gospels while telling stories about her own life in Alaska. I’m excited to read this one by a fellow Redbud writer.

the year of smallthings: radical faith for the rest of us by Sarah Arthur and Erin F. Wasinger

Speaking of fellow Redbud writers . . . meet Sarah and Erin. I’m helping with their book launch in January, and am excited to read this book about living lives of radical faith. I’m sure you’ll hear more from me about this one soon. (Note: this comes out at the end of January, but you can preorder it now.)

Silence by Shusaku Endo

This book was required reading for my college freshman, and as she was reading it she kept telling me, “Mom, you have GOT to read this book. It’s amazing.” Since Martin Scorsese’s movie version of the book is just out, I feel like I need to read it soon. Bonus: it’s fiction!

So there you go—my year in books. Now I’d like to know . . . what were some of YOUR favorite reads from 2016? Go ahead and leave me a comment!

 I'd love to stay in touch! Won't you sign up for regular updates here or on follow me on Facebook or Instagram