Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Time to Start Over


My son loves playing games on my phone. He has one that he’s been playing for a while now. He’s completed so many levels that he has begged me not to let his little brother play, for fear that he’ll mess things up. 

So I was surprised yesterday when he asked me to download the game onto the iPad. As I handed the iPad to him, I asked, “Are you sure you’re okay with this? Won’t you have to start over from the beginning?” 

He shrugged, a grin spreading across his face. “That’s okay, Mom. It will be good practice.”

Ah. Out of the mouth of babes. Or, in this case, five-year-old Angry Birds Go fanatics.

I need to start over.
I have to.
It’s a good thing.
But it’s so hard.

I’ve completed two novels in the past five years. The first one will probably never see the light of day and the the jury is still out on the second. So it’s time to begin a new story. Time to create a new world. Time to breathe life into new characters, then make their lives difficult, come close to killing them several times, and have it all work out in the end.

I’m on the verge of a panic attack just thinking about it.

I’ve been doing everything creative I can think of—besides writing. I’ve knit. I’ve decorated. I’ve read. I’ve cooked.

But today, I’m writing.

Today, I’m ignoring the voices telling me how pointless it all is. Ignoring Trying to ignore the tension in my chest at the thought of failure.

I’m choosing to see the act of starting over through the eyes of my five-year-old.

It’s good practice.

How about you? Do you find it difficult to transition from a completed project into a brand new one? Or do you love starting new projects but have trouble finishing them? Do you find you need to take a break between creative endeavors?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

I Blame the Kale


I blame the kale.


All pre-chopped and bagged.
It’s why I took the kids into the store in the first place.

Have you ever been to Trader Joe’s? It’s—interesting. The layout is odd, it’s significantly smaller than I thought it would be, and the shopping carts are tiny.

On this morning, I plopped my three-year-old into the back of the cart and allowed my 5-year-old to ride along on the outside. You know. The way the little diagram on the seat warns against? Yep. That way.

It would have been fine if I hadn’t paused to grab the kale.

That light-weight shopping cart couldn’t handle the combined weight of both boys at one end, and in a flash, it flipped. The three-year-old rode it down and tumbled out with nary a scratch. (I think he enjoyed it). My five-year-old suffered two completely different injuries.

The first was physical. The cart landed on his arm. So minor it never even bruised.

The second was to his heart, and there was nothing minor about that one. He stood there, tears pooling in the eyes he refused to raise from the floor, saying, “I’m sorry, Mama, I’m sorry, Mama” over and over. And because he is so much like me, I knew that his regret had as much to do with causing a scene—with “messing up”—as it did with the trampled flowers and flying strawberries.


Once I’d confirmed no one was bleeding, I sat right there in the middle of Trader Joe’s and whispered, “Baby, it’s fine. You didn't do anything wrong. It was an accident. I’m not upset. I think you’re awesome and I’m so glad you’re okay.”

I want my little man to grow up secure in the knowledge that there is nothing—NOTHING—he can do, that will ever change my feelings for him. He’s going to make messes and he’s going to get hurt, and he needs to know that I am always and forever going to be on his side.

But the truth was that even as I comforted my little guy, I was fighting the voices in my head. You know the ones who point out how everything you just did was W-R-O-N-G. The ones pointing out the workers righting the buggy, the shoppers pausing to see if the kids were okay, someone picking up the kale. All because of my mistake.

By the time we had finished shopping, the voices in my head were screaming. I was replaying the incident from the moment I put the boys in the cart, to the second I turned loose to grab the kale, to the fact that I was so focused on the kids, I never thanked the people who got the buggy back on its wheels or located my strawberries and how rude was that and was I teaching my kids to be ungrateful?

As we approached the cashier, a woman asked if the boys were okay. Then she did the craziest thing. She looked at me and said, “You’re such a great mom. The way you were comforting him . . . you’re doing a great job.”

I wanted to ask her if she’d noticed that I was the “great” mom who’d let her kids be mauled by a red shopping cart, but instead I mumbled something like “Thanks, just glad they weren’t hurt” and moved on before her words made me cry.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized what had happened. That my heavenly Father—who saw the whole thing go down and knows me better than I know myself—chose, in that topsy-turvy moment, to remind me that He thinks I’m awesome. And He used a stranger to say it for Him.

He knows that while I have no trouble believing He loves me when I’m singing praise songs with the kids or volunteering in Sunday school, it’s so much harder to believe when I’ve messed up. Dropped the ball. Blown it.

I don’t know how your Monday has been. How you’ve struggled. Where you’ve failed.
But this I know.
He loves you.
He thinks you’re awesome.

Zephaniah 3:17 - The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (ESV)


I Blame the Kale - What I learned about God's #love in the produce aisle. #motherhood #faith (Click to Tweet)



***I want to apologize for my lengthy absence.  I spent three months frantically writing a novel and I have no idea what happened to the month of June! I'm hoping to be back here on a more regular basis in the weeks ahead.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Beneath A Navajo Moon by Lisa Carter

Hi Everyone!! I've missed you!

I've been writing non-stop, but none of it has been for the blog. I entered a contest and to my utter shock, I made it into the final round. Last night at 9:30 p.m., I hit "send" and a full manuscript is now in an editor's hands.

I may be sick.

But the best way not to think about an editor with a big red pen is to read and write - a LOT! Which is exactly what I plan to do!

Let's kick things off with a book I thought I'd reviewed a couple of months ago, but didn't. 

If you like romantic suspense, historicals, and, like me, are always on the lookout for a way to support a local writer, then Beneath a Navajo Moon by Lisa Carter is the book for you!

(Lisa's from Raleigh and as far as I'm concerned, any Carolina girl is a local). 

In Beneath a Navajo Moon, Erin Dawson is a cultural anthropologist. She's hoping her internship at the Cedar Canyon Information Center will help her fulfill a personal mission to uncover the story behind one of her adopted ancestors, Olivia Thornton, a white woman who served at a mission on the Navajo reservation in the early 1900s. 

Her search leads her to butt heads with tribal policeman Adam Silverhorn. A man who turns out to be far more complex than his shallow, womanizing ways lead her to originally believe.

As Erin digs deeper, she has no idea that her search for Olivia will uncover a dark secret that threatens her life and the lives of those she loves. 

Beneath A Navajo Moon kept me guessing with complex characters who struggle to make the right choices in difficult circumstances.

For someone like me who loves a great historical, but also loves a great contemporary suspense, this was the best of both worlds. 

Check it out. And if you read Beneath a Navajo Moon, be a friend and leave a quick review on Amazon, would you please? Authors really appreciate reviews and it only takes a few minutes of your time to bless them in this way!

Grace & Peace,
Lynn

Monday, May 19, 2014

Silenced by Dani Pettrey

Get your copy of SILENCED by Author Dani Pettrey!


I'm so excited about today's post. We've got a great book, an opportunity to win a FREE copy from Bethany House publishers, and a fun sweepstakes you can enter.

All of these great opportunities are in celebration of the release of Silenced, the fourth book in Dani Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series.

The Alaskan Courage series follows the adventures of the five McKenna siblings. When Silenced opens, Cole and Bailey (from Submerged) are in the final stages of planning their wedding, with Piper and Landon (from Shattered) just a few months behind. Reef (who gets his own story in Book 5, yeah!) has promised to come home for the weddings and Darcy and Gage (from Stranded) are doing great.

Silenced is Jake and Kayden's story, and I was so excited to finally figure out what made the cool and distant Kayden McKenna tick, and to find out how she would treat Jake Westin, now that the truth about his past has come to light.

Here's the scoop on Silenced...

A relaxing day of rock climbing takes a dark turn when Kayden McKenna’s route brings her face-to-face with a dead climber. Was the climber’s death a terrible accident or something more sinister?
When the case is handed to Yancey’s overburdened sheriff, he turns to Jake Westin for help. With the truth of Jake’s past now revealed, Jake agrees to use his investigation skills for this one case–but nothing could prepare him for where the case will take him.
As Kayden and Jake work together to uncover the truth, will they also find a refuge in each other?  Or will the deadly plans of a killer destroy their chance at love?
I've come to expect page-turning reads from Dani, and Silenced did not disappoint. I tried, really tried, to stretch it into a three-day read. 
Didn't happen. 
I got about 1/3 of the way in before life pulled me away, but once I picked it back up the next evening, I knew I'd be reading until I got to the end. I closed the book after midnight, exhausted and satisfied. 
I read a lot of romantic suspense, so as it became clear that the investigation into the murder of the rock climber was winding down, I started to get a little anxious. There was still a lot of book and not a lot of story left. 
WRONG.
That was when the story really cranked up, and I loved that twist. You know how I feel about spoilers, so that's really all I can say.
As a rule, I only read a series in order, and while I realize not everyone feels like that is the only way to do it (even though it totally is) :-) I should say that if you read these books out of order, I think you'll be missing too much to be able to fully appreciate the character and romantic development. By the time you get to Silenced, you've already seen Jake and Kayden interacting for three books, and been in their heads quite a bit in the last book, so these characters are already familiar. And I know for me, I was rooting for Jake to finally break through Kayden's tough shell.
So, who wants to win their own free copy of Silenced?!?! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment here on the blog, or you can also earn entries by sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can earn up to 4 entries! I'll draw a name from all the entries on May 26th and Bethany House will mail a copy to the winner. (There's a lot of fine print below, so be sure to read that part.)
Another great giveaway is happening until May 21st over on Dani's site. You have a chance to win airline tickets, a gorgeous Alaskan print, or a very fun picnic basket. 
Enter the RUGGED ROMANCE Sweepstakes from Author Dani Pettrey

All you have to do is visit http://www.danipettrey.com/rugged-romance-sweepstakes/ to enter!

Wow! Such a packed post! Be sure to enter both for the free copy of Silenced and the great prizes in the Rugged Romance Sweepstakes!

Super fine print for the free book...
No purchase is necessary. Odds of winning are based on number of entries.Giveaway begins May 19 and ends at midnight May 26. Up to 4 entries per person. Entries can be made by commenting on this blog post or by sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Giveaway open to US residents, 18 and older. I will contact the winner via email and winners will have three days to respond before I will award the book to the next winner.
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Friday, May 16, 2014

Haunted by Charity Tinnin

I know things have been a little, okay, a LOT, quiet around here lately, but there’s a great reason.

I’m writing.

All.The.Time.

I entered a contest in February and made it into the third round! So that means that my laptop has been fired up and my fingers have been flying, but it’s all been for contest submissions. It’s been quite a journey so far and I’ve got a lot of devotion ideas out of it, but for now, know that I would really appreciate your prayers over the next couple of weeks.

But I am taking a little break from novel writing to share with you three books for your summer reading list.

The first is for all you YA/NA/Dystopian fans. I know you’re out there because we’ve all been talking about going to see Catching Fire and Divergent (and all five Twilight movies…Don’t deny it. I know you went on opening weekend because I saw you there).

 

If you’re looking for your next read, you need to pick up Haunted by Charity Tinnin. There is fantastic world building here and a story that had an ending I was NOT expecting. 

And the characters…Noah State (or is it Sefore?) is a man who expects to be dead by the age of twenty-one, but he’s determined to save as many lives as he can before it finally catches up to him. One of the lives he’s trying to save is that of Maddison James. She’s smart, tough, and not about to put up with any junk from Noah. Then there’s Daniel State, Noah’s older brother. He’s the bad boy that you know you should despise, but, but, but…you kind of don’t.


Did I mention that it had an ending I wasn’t prepared for? You know how sometimes you read a book and you know exactly how it will end by the end of Chapter 1? Not gonna happen with Haunted.


And when it was all over…it was, but it wasn’t. I walked around for several days worried about these characters, wondering how it would all work out.
 
Which leads me to my only complaint about Haunted…I have to wait until October for Hunted, the 2nd book in the State vs. Sefore series.
 
And if you need any further incentive, you can pick up the Kindle version of Haunted for just $2.99. It's a steal! Grab it now!
 
 
 
My next post will be a review of a great romantic suspense book...stay tuned!
 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What's Your Hoodie? (Or, what happens when a chubby, Jesus-loving girl joins CrossFit)

Yep. That's me. Deadlifting 190 pounds.
I joined Five Forks CrossFit in November.
I know. I’m surprised, too.

My husband’s been doing CrossFit for years, but when a new box (that’s what a CrossFit facility is called) opened a few miles away, he finally convinced me to give it a try.
I love it.

Well, except for the 8-20 minutes of the WOD (workout of the day). During the WOD, I hate it with every twitching muscle fiber that is begging me for mercy.

But other than that, I love it and I keep going back. All through our renovation, even one day in the snow, I’ve dragged myself out of bed well before dawn, pulled on my compression pants and my dry-wick shirt, laced up my CrossFit nano 3.0 shoes, and walked through those doors.

My sweat has dripped on the mats, my shins have the scrapes, my collarbones have the bruises, and my hands have the callouses that come from Olympic lifts, and my body has changed enough that people have noticed.

So why is it that every time I pull on my Five Forks CrossFit hoodie, I have to remind myself of all of that? I have to talk myself into putting it on and wearing it out the door?

Because there’s a part of me—the deepest, most insecure part of me—that wonders if I have any business portraying myself as a CrossFitter, because I don’t look like a “CrossFit Woman.”

Have you seen these images on Pinterest or your Facebook feed? The pictures are almost always of women in sports bras and boy shorts, with knee socks and chalk on their thighs. They’re doing pull-ups and one-armed handstands and no one can question that they are physically elite.

I just can’t compete with that.

I look like a woman who has three children and a serious sweet tooth. I can’t do a pull-up or a handstand, much less with one arm. And I try to keep as much of my skin covered as possible, because no one wants to see me in boy shorts.

With that said, there is another part of me that knows that I’m just as much a CrossFit Woman as those elite athletes are. Not because I can do what they can, but because I’m in the game. I’m learning. I’m using muscles I never knew I had and I’m not the same woman I was four months ago.

So I remind myself of that, put on my hoodie, and walk out the door. And when someone says, “You do CrossFit?” I look look them straight in the eye and say, “Yes! And I love it!”

I’m wondering if you feel the same way about your Christian walk? I know I do.

Sometimes I’m terrified to speak truth into a situation. I feel sick to my stomach in the first few hours after I post a blog. And when I’m with friends, sometimes I know I should say, “Let’s stop talking about it and start praying about it,” but I rarely do.

Why?

Because I don’t look like an elite Christian Woman. Have you heard of these women? They always do the right thing. They never yell at their kids, their husband, or dog. They don’t cuss when they burn dinner. They know exactly how to respond to every parenting dilemma or family crisis.

I just can’t compete with that.


I’m a woman who has a temper. Who likes things done the “right” way—by my definition of “right” thank you very much. I fight my pride, my fear, and my tongue.
EVERY. SINGLE. HOUR.

Satan loves to whisper in my ear that I have no business claiming I love Jesus, especially after that fiasco of a morning we just had.
But the Holy Spirit says different.

He reminds me that while I have a long way to go, I’m in the game. I’ve been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. My sins are forgiven. By His grace, I’m not the same woman I was ten years ago, or even ten months ago. I’m learning, changing, becoming more and more like Him every day.

I know when I wear my FFC hoodie, there may be a few people who look at me and think, “There’s no way that chubby thing does CrossFit,” but what I’ve discovered is that most of the time, it opens a door. Someone who might be nervous about trying it looks at me and thinks, “If Lynn can do it maybe I can, too.”

My FFC Hoodie
Maybe that’s all the Holy Spirit is asking of us.

Just to put it out there. Not because we are elite. Not because we’ve achieved perfection.
Precisely the opposite.

If God can speak to us and through us when we are such a mess, then maybe He can do that for them, too.

I don’t know what your “hoodie” is. Maybe it’s telling a co-worker what God showed you this week or sharing a book you’re reading with that mom who sits beside you at gymnastics. Maybe it’s as “simple” as getting out of your house and meeting your neighbors, asking God for the opportunity to be a light in your cul-de-sac. Whatever it is, God wants you to put it on now.

Be brave enough to let His light shine, and when someone says, “So, you’re a Christian?” you can look them in the eye and say, “Yes! I love Jesus! He’s changing my life.”

Satan just can’t compete with that.



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What happens when a chubby, Jesus-loving girl joins CrossFit. (Click to Tweet)

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Finishing Is Hard

It’s finished.
Well…for the most part.

Nine weeks and two days after the pipes burst (that’s 65 days folks - not that I've been counting or anything), the construction has been completed. 

I’m ecstatic.

I’m also exhausted, and a bit apprehensive, because there is still so much to do.

Oh, the construction is finished. The tools are put away and the trips to Lowe’s have come to an end slowed to once or twice a week, but that doesn’t mean we are done. Part of me wants to kick back and hang out in the rooms where everything is completed. They look nice and it’s easy to pretend the rest of the house is in the same state.

Trust me, the rest of the house needs work and lots of it.

Last week, I focused on rooms where the payoff was immediate. The half-bath. The laundry room. Small rooms that needed a few hours of effort to be declared “done”. My husband pointed out that I like tackling the smaller jobs because I can finish them and feel like I’ve accomplished something. Which is so true.

It’s the larger jobs—the unpacking of the kitchen and the bedroom—that are harder to tackle. They won’t be done in a few hours, or even a few days, and I need to find the mental fortitude (and my fortitude is too tired to help much with this) to keep at it, even when it feels like I will never finish.

I’ve been thinking a lot about finishing, and it seems to me that finishing is a lost art.

Diets, books, budgets, sports, committees, savings plans, educations, marriages, relationships . . . when the going gets tough, the typical American kicks back in their recliner and watches Netflix. We can’t be bothered to do the hard stuff. We want to be comfortable and we’re willing to ignore a certain amount of chaos if it means we don’t miss an episode of American Idol.


Gulp.


Finishing is hard. It requires discipline, effort, and intentionality. It also requires a healthy dose of love for the people involved. The children who will benefit from that college savings plan, the spouse who needs you to hang in there when they are being a Class A Jerk, the friend who’s desperate to still be welcome in your world, even after you find out about that SUPER HORRIBLE THING he did . . . you get the idea.


It was while I was enjoying the ambiance of a newly finished room that God nudged me.
“I like finishing things, too.”

Ah…yes, I guess He does.


Have you ever thought about this? The millions of works-in-progress God has all over the universe. He manages everything from galaxies to moss, and He continually works in the lives of those He loves. That would be me and you.


Right now, with the desire to quit weighing heavily on me, I’ve found a new appreciation for these words.


Philippians 1:6 ~ And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (ESV)

I know how much work He has to do in my heart, with my drama, my flaws, my selfishness, my pride. Left up to me, I’d call it. Throw in the towel. Put the whole show on indefinite hiatus.
Thankfully, it’s not up to me.

He won’t quit. He won’t get bored. He won’t decide it’s too hard or too expensive. He won’t bail when everyone else says it’s not worth it or when everything He’s done hasn’t made an obvious difference.

He knows the work is good.
He knows the final result will be spectacular.
He is the Alpha and Omega—the first and the last—the beginning AND the end.

I Thessalonians 5:23-24 ~ Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (ESV)
AMEN.



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