Thursday, July 30, 2015

He loves me?


One of my greatest frustrations as a parent is wondering if Emma knows she is loved. Does she? Is she secure, certain, confident that her parents love her? 

After years of therapy, Emma can articulate most words, but that doesn’t mean we have conversations. She gets her point across, but abstract feelings and emotions? No. We are left to wonder.

While her brothers are experts at communicating their feelings about everything from the fairness of life to the tastiness of the food on their plates, Emma often resorts to wordless whines or grunts of frustration when she isn’t getting her way. The other day she stood at the bottom of the stairs for several minutes trying to formulate a word. When she yelled out, “Mad!” I had to force myself not to throw a party. I was thrilled that she’d been able to express what she was feeling. 

(Not that it changed anything — she was NOT taking those crayons up the stairs. The artist-in-residence lost those privileges a LONG time ago).

But back to my point. We tell her we love her. We show her love. We quite literally pour our lives into hers and make every effort to give her a joyful life. 

But the reality is that there are things about Emma’s life that are challenging. For her and for us.

One of our biggest challenges is food.

Emma is allergic to just about everything. It’s easier to list the foods she CAN have than it is to list the foods she can’t. On top of that, she has eosinophilic esophagitis. Basically that means certain foods irritate and damage the lining of her esophagus. The solution? Don’t eat those foods.

Because of this, Emma’s dietary landscape is quite small. 
But she knows there is more out there. And she wants it!

She’s her mother’s daughter and if she can get her hands on an Oreo, she’s going to eat it. She’s well acquainted with cake, and she knows that the pizza she eats and the pizza everyone else eats are NOT the same. If you leave her alone in a room with access to Goldfish or brownies, you can expect to find them missing when you return. 

I often wonder if she thinks we dislike her because we don’t allow her to have those things. Does she think we are unloving or uncaring?

When I see her grab a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and I take it out of her hand right before she eats a bite, does she think I’m MEAN?

After all, those foods are yummy. Her brothers can eat them. Why can’t she? And bless her heart, she does not understand how bad those things are for her. It’s so hard to communicate why they aren’t bad for everyone else, but they are for her. 

So when I have a chance to give her something that she enjoys, I try to take it. 

I had that chance this morning. When I dropped her brothers off for camp, I turned to her with a big smile and said, “Emma, let’s go to McDonalds. I’ll get you a hash brown. (And mommy will get a ginormous iced coffee).”

Her response? “Chick-fil-A.”
My response? “Baby, McDonald’s is closer. (And while I LOVE me some Chick-fil-A, I prefer McDonald’s iced coffee).”
She said okay and I pointed the van toward McDonald’s. But I felt like a mean mommy. We got a quarter of a mile down the road and her little voice piped up from the back of the van….”Chick-fil-A.”

I turned the van around. 

I drove a mile in the opposite direction all the while thinking that we were going to spend more money, I was going to get a so-so iced coffee, and she probably wouldn’t even eat the stupid hash rounds.

When we pulled into the drive-thru, Emma sang out, “Yeah! The right place!”

In that moment, the extra time, money, and not-so-awesome coffee no longer mattered. I’d made her happy and I was as thrilled as she was. It made my morning to be able to give her something she wanted. To bring her some joy. To say “yes” to her. And even though it meant jumping through a few extra hoops, her happiness filled me with delight.

As we pulled from the parking lot, I felt that nudge in my spirit.
“You know that’s how I feel about you.”

And I had to ask myself…do I?

When God takes something that I had in my hand? When He refuses to give me something, even as He lavishes it on someone else? When no matter how much I pray for something, He keeps saying, “NO?”
Do I believe that He loves me?

Do I?

I know I don’t act like I do. I get mad. I even tell Him I’m mad. Or sometimes I just pout and trust that He’s clued in to my frustration. 

Does that hurt Him? Does He look at me, the One who loved me enough to send His only Son to die for me, and does He wonder what it would take to convince me? He’s already given me everything.

Well, except for those things that He knows are bad for me.

They aren’t necessarily bad things. And they aren’t even bad for everyone. But they are bad for me. Maybe they would lead me to sin. Maybe they would ruin my life in a way I can’t fathom. Maybe they would cause me to chase after things other than to chase after Him. Maybe they would, quite literally, kill me. 

So to those things, He says no.
Not because He’s mean.
But because He loves me.

I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes and a barely sipped on iced coffee, listening to Emma play in her room, and I’m amazed at the lengths my Father goes to to remind me of His love.

I’m not sure what’s going on in your world. I’m not sure why He’s told you “no” or why He’s not giving you something you want—maybe even something you really believe you need.
I am sure of this. He loves you. He loves me. 

Someday, I believe I will be able to talk to Emma about this stuff. I don’t know what she will be like in heaven, but I have a peace that there will come a time when she will understand. That some of the things we’ve missed out on here will be ours there.

I wonder… does He feel that way about us? Does He look forward to the day when once and for all we will be eternally certain of His love for us?

And I wonder how different life here would be if we lived each day like the beloved children we are?






For those of you who are new here and may not already know, our daughter Emma was born with Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome, a syndrome some people say is caused by a “misspelling” of a specific chromosome. We say God is an excellent speller and He makes no mistakes. We believe that Emma is EXACTLY who God intended and created her to be. 
Grace and peace,
Lynn

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Super Structure

Every time I see a book on “structure” or “story” I find myself bracing for the inevitable battle. If you’ve hung around with writers for long you know why, don’t you? 

Someone is about to get in an argument about THE way to write. In my mind, I see a group of literary protesters. “Structure Leads to Perfect Stories!” shouts one side. “Structure Leads to Predictable Stories!” counters the other.

I see myself standing in the middle of the crowd singing, “LET IT GO!”

Don’t get me wrong. If someone has figured out how they write, I want them to tell me how they do it. I really do.

But I have absolutely no illusions that the way they do it is going to wind up being the way I do it. I wish it would work that way but I know a lot of writers, and I have yet to meet one who writes exactly like someone else.

I’m okay with that. It’s part of the mystery of story…and I love a good mystery.


Want to know more? I'm guest posting today over at The Write Conversation. Come by and join the conversation!


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Don't Let the Whiteboard Get You Down

I got home from the gym the other day, and I felt great. Well, I didn’t feel great physically. It took me an hour to stop sweating enough so I could take a shower.

But mentally? I felt great!

Why?

Because that workout was the kind of workout I wanted to skip. 
Because burpees.
This workout had 60 of them. With 60 wallballs thrown in for good measure. 

The only silver lining was the 13 minute time cap. A guarantee that the misery would end. When I walked in, I honestly didn’t expect to finish. But I did. With time to spare.

So when I got home and my husband asked me how it went my response was, “Good! I finished!”

I felt pretty good about that all day. And then I messed up.

I don’t know why I did it, but I looked at the whiteboard. The whiteboard is where everyone’s results are posted. When I pulled it up on my phone, I realized that some of my friends had not only completed the workout in significantly less time than I had, a whole bunch of them had done a much harder version!

My result didn’t seem so good anymore. In fact, it stunk. It was ridiculous. I’ve been doing CrossFit for a year and a half and I still struggle with burpees. I bet the coaches see me coming and think, “We don’t know why she’s still so bad at this.” 

Thankfully, this crazy train of thought didn’t last long, because as I was scrolling through the results, I saw where one friend had made this note on her time. “I showed up.”

Indeed.

The whiteboard isn’t intended to make anyone feel bad. It’s a record of your results, not so you can compare with everyone else but so you can compare yourself with yourself.  So you can see YOUR progress on YOUR journey. Of course there’s room for some friendly competition, and that’s fine and healthy. But ultimately, when I walk into the gym, the only person I’m in competition with is myself.

Despite my ranking when compared to everyone else, I had left it all in the gym that morning. I went hard. I pushed myself. I had nothing to be ashamed of because I did the best workout I could do. 

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much I do this in other areas of my life. Maybe you do to?


  • We are pretty happy with the exercise we got this week until we see *that* mom at the pool. You know the one? Yeah, you do. We eye her from behind our sunglasses and determine to drink more water, eat less chocolate, and workout EVERY DAY.

  • We are thrilled with the one baby carrot our picky eaters consumed with supper until we show up for lunch relief and see the kid eating an arugula salad with beets. Beets? Suddenly, our kids are the least healthy on the planet and they will be stunted for life if we don’t expand their culinary horizons. 

  • We had a great time on vacation until we open Facebook and see the family of five on a plane to some tropical location. We fight off the jealousy by assuming that they must be in debt up to their eyeballs to be able to afford that and at least we are better stewards of our money.

  • We are proud of our kids’ A/B honor roll until we go to awards day and watch that one kid walk across the stage to receive every.single.award and then, because she’s so awesome, she gets one they had to make up just for her. 

  • We think we married a pretty good guy until we find out our neighbor’s husband comes home every day by five. Or he just got another promotion. Or he brings her flowers every week.

I’m not saying all comparison is a bad thing. I love to read blogs on healthy eating, parenting, education, and exercise. I’m always interested in how other people do things because I might discover a new way to approach something that we struggle with in our home.

The problem comes when we start comparing what someone else has (the perfect body, the perfect kid, the perfect home, the perfect job, the perfect spouse) without keeping a few key things in mind.

First, we need to remember that what we see as “perfect” might not seem so perfect if we knew all the details. But even if it is. Even if that woman you think has it ALL together really does, we must remember this:

It’s not a competition.

Who knows? That kid who won all the awards? That may be the very kid who is going to cure ALS. Her path will be hard. She will struggle. But she’s brilliant and talented and God has an extraordinary purpose for her.  

You don’t have to try to turn your kids into her because you can rest in the certainty that God’s purpose for your child may not be as flashy, but for the Kingdom, that doesn’t mean it is any less valuable.

One of my favorite verses is Colossians 4:17. As Paul is wrapping up his epistle he has this to say, “And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you fulfill it.”

Do you see it? Do you see the freedom here?

Take heed to the ministry which YOU have received. Do that.

Your story will not read like anyone else’s. It’s uniquely yours.

That competition you think you’re in? It’s not with anyone else. It’s not even a competition.

It’s a calling.
Your calling.
All you need to do is that.
Filter everything through that.

When God leads you to eat healthier or watch less TV or stick to a budget or write a book, do it because HE IS CALLING YOU TO. Not for ANY OTHER REASON. Trust me, He’s going to call you to enough without you adding a whole bunch of other stuff to the list.

Pursue YOUR ministry with everything you have and encourage others as they pursue theirs.

Goodness knows the whiteboards in life are everywhere but we can train our mind to see them, not as a record of a competition, but as proof that we are showing up for the ministry we’ve been called to.

So friends, this week my prayer for you and for myself is that we will take heed to the ministry which we have received in the Lord, that we fulfill it. 

Grace and peace,
Lynn

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Book Signing FAQ

My readers are awesome!

First, I have to say a huge THANK YOU!

I've been blown away by the enthusiasm and excitement about Covert Justice. It's been so fun to see pictures of Covert Justice in the wild and I'm thrilled with the response to this first (and hopefully not last!) story.

The book signing/launch party for Covert Justice takes place on Saturday, June 13th from 11:30-1:30 at Five Forks CrossFit in Simpsonville, SC.

Many of you have asked me lots of different questions about Saturday's event, so I'm going to try to answer all of them in this post.

Where is this place?

The address for Five Forks CrossFit is 2613 Woodruff Rd, Simpsonville, SC 29681. It is at the corner of Woodruff Road and Scuffletown Road.

Why are you having your book signing at a gym?

Because I love my gym, because they love me, and because they are letting me use the space for free. Authors don't make much money, so I'm all about free!

Will there be a workout?

Despite some people requesting to see me do burpees...NO.

Can I bring my kids?

Yes. Mine will be there. 

Do I need to dress up?

No. Feel free to come in your bathing suit and flip flops. Or pearls and high heels. Whatever floats your boat.

I've never been to a book signing. What should I expect?

I've only been to a few myself, and none have been in a gym, so I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this one won't be a typical book signing. 

Normally, you walk into a bookstore and you see a sign that says an author is signing books. You find the line (or lack, thereof), you buy the book, the author and you make small talk as he or she writes something adorable on the title page, you grab some chocolate or a slice of cake and make small talk with the other readers, then you go home.
This will not happen on Saturday.

Mine won't be quite like that. 

When you come in on Saturday be sure to see my helper, Emily Mages. Emily is a rising 8th grader at Langston Middle school and an excellent writer. She will be helping me with door prizes and you'll want to be sure to get your tickets so you don't miss out on any of that action.

After that, PLEASE have some snacks. Eat some cake. Drink some Mountain Dew. Or water. Whatever. 

If you've already purchased your copy of Covert Justice, bring it with you. I'd love to sign it. If you don't have a copy, no worries. I'll have books for sale. I'm selling them for $6.

I'll be walking around, or maybe standing somewhere signing a book. I don't know what I'll be doing. If I'm talking to someone for more than a few minutes and you need me to hurry up, by all means throw something at me. If you don't want to be rude, find my sister. Her name is Jennifer. She does not look like me. She's tall and has red hair. She will have no problem at all with helping you interrupt me. In fact, she'll probably enjoy it. :-)

We have door prizes that will be given away approximately every 15 minutes. I don't know. The door prizes have taken over my table. It might be every 10 minutes. 

Prizes include books for your summer reading from my sister Killer Voices as well as from my mentor, Lynette Eason. There are movie night packs, note cards (handmade by mom - they are awesome), Covert Justice one-of-a-kind memorabilia pieces, and a few other things I've forgotten about. It will be fun!

Drop-in any time between 11:30-1:30. Stay for a minute or stay the whole time. Whatever you'd like. 

At 1:30, we'll be drawing for two prize packs. You do NOT have to be present to win!


Your chances of winning something are quite good!
One is a s'mores gift pack. (There's a fun scene in Covert Justice where Maggie Harrison explains the fine art of marshmallow toasting to Heidi Zimmerman). 

The other is a movie night bag filled with popcorn, candy, and two movie tickets to Regal Cinemas. (The movie night bag is based on the exclusive deleted scene that you can read when you sign up for my newsletter - yes, that is a hint - the link to the newsletter is at the bottom of this post). 


Why are you donating some of the proceeds to Miracle Hill Children's Fund?

In my mind, when Heidi retires from the FBI, she and Blake will open their hearts and home to many teenage foster children. Someday, I may even get to write that part of their story, but until then I'm thrilled to share any benefits I receive from Covert Justice with such a worthy organization. If you'd like to make an additional contribution, there will be a donation jar and 100% of those contributions will go to Miracle Hill Children's Home.

I think I've answered everything. If not, leave your questions in the comments or shoot me a message on Facebook or Twitter. Hope to see you on Saturday!

(Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter!) 




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Thursday, June 4, 2015

10 Reasons to Consider Writing Category Romance

Covert Justice on the shelf in Wal-mart!
When the idea of trying to sell my book started floating around in my brain, I always pictured it in Barnes & Noble. It would be on an upper shelf on the inspirational aisle.

It would fit right in with books from my favorite romantic suspense authors—Eason, Mills, Hannon, Pettrey, Henderson—and, of course, it would sell a million copies in the first week. I’m kidding. Kinda.

Here’s what I did not picture.

I did not picture my first book not being much bigger than an iPhone 6. (I recently handed it to a friend who turned it over a few times and exclaimed, “It’s so dainty!”)

I did not picture it under the Harlequin banner at Wal-mart. (Did you catch my post about this yesterday? Spoiler: Harlequin does not equal smut.)

The truth is that category romance wasn’t even on my radar. Then I learned a thing or two about publishing and a whole lot about category romance.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I Write For Harlequin


Those of you looking for Covert Justice in your local Wal-mart may be wondering where to find it.

Look for the big “HARLEQUIN” banner at the top of the book aisle.
Then look for books with the label “Love Inspired Suspense” across the top of the book.
Covert Justice should be there.

Wait…did you get stuck on something?
It’s not a typo.

I write for Harlequin.

Now be honest. What are you thinking?

Are you thinking I’ve crossed over into erotica?
Are you wondering if you really know me?
Are you praying for me to come to my senses and return to the narrow way?

If you automatically equate Harlequin with “bodice-rippers” you’re not alone, but you are way off base.

In order to explain, let me cover a few things that most people outside of the industry don’t know about Christian publishing.

1.    In most cases Christian publishing is a business, not a ministry.
For many Christian authors, writing is absolutely a ministry. A calling. An act of worship. An act of obedience to the will of God for their lives.


Publication, however, is business. Publishers have employees, shareholders, and creditors, all of whom expect to get paid. In the economy in which we live and with the ever-changing face of publishing this leads us to my next point.

2.    Many Christian publishers are owned by secular publishing houses.

Once upon a time, there were quite a few Christian publishing houses, but many of them have been bought by larger secular publishers. That doesn’t mean they’ve suddenly stopped producing Christian books. Because again, publishing is a business, and anyone who knows anything about business knows that the best way to stay in business is to give the customers what they want.
Which brings me to point #3.

3.    Harlequin knows their customers better than just about anyone.

Yes, Harlequin does sell books that might give your grandma a heart attack.
But they also sell some of the sweetest, cleanest, most wholesome romances you can find anywhere.

The Love Inspired guidelines guarantee that the romance you read will be edifying, enriching, and enjoyable. 

You can let your Granny read it (mine really enjoyed Covert Justice!) and you can also let your teenage daughter read it.  There’s no inappropriate behavior. There’s no foul language. The romance leans heavily toward an emotional attachment, rather than a sensual attraction.

(That’s not to say there’s no attraction! Characters will hold hands, hug, even…dare I say it…Kiss! (gasp!) It is a romance novel, folks.)

There are three “Love Inspired” lines.

Love Inspired books are contemporary stories.
Love Inspired Historical books are, obviously, historical romances.
Love Inspired Suspense books are contemporary stories where the hero and heroine are in danger and will spend most of the book trying to stay alive. I’m biased, of course, but these are my favorite!

So don’t let the Harlequin banner scare you off. Use it to help you find some great reads that will encourage you in your faith …. And maybe make for a great conversation starter when you read them on a plane or at the beach or in the doctor’s office.

****

There's another Goodreads Giveaway this week. You could win a free, autographed copy of Covert Justice! Check it out!


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Covert Justice by Lynn Huggins Blackburn

Covert Justice

by Lynn Huggins Blackburn

Giveaway ends June 07, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to Win




Monday, June 1, 2015

Release Day!

It's here! 

Covert Justice is officially available for purchase! 

I found Covert Justice a few days early at our local Wal-mart. :-) And it was on sale. :-) I do love a good sale!


If you spot it at your local Wal-mart, please post a picture on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and be sure to tag me! I'd love to see it!

A friend of mine just got the notice from Amazon that her pre-ordered copy will arrive on her doorstep between June 9-13 so if you've pre-ordered, look for it in about a week and a half.

For those of you who prefer e-books, you should be able to download the Kindle/Nook/iBook version today! 

I'll be doing many Covert Justice related posts this month to celebrate the release. It's going to be a great month and I'm looking forward to sharing it with you!

If you're in Greenville, South Carolina, don't forget about the book signing event on June 13th! I'll have plenty of copies of Covert Justice to sell that day. We'll have door prizes, gift baskets, and fun!


Thank you for sharing this experience with me!
Grace and peace,
Lynn