Just in time for the holidays- A Pine Cove Christmas

A novella that reflects how tragedy and fate can collide in ways people could never have planned and their lives are forever touched. 

Ben and Joelle are on the verge of divorce but each pretend not to notice for the sake of their daughter, Emma. The family heads out on a holiday road trip complete with pasted smiles, forced laughs, and the hope that they can find some holiday happiness for their small child. 

After Kate lost her baby, she gave up everything, including her marriage. Newly single, the last thing she wants to do is to spend the holidays with her pregnant, happily married sister. She packs a suitcase and makes reservations at a fancy hotel in the city where she hopes she can be anonymous. 

A flash snowstorm strands both cars in the Adirondack mountains and they find shelter in the Pine Cove Inn, which has been closed since the owners, Steve and Mary, lost their young daughter in a tragic accident. They take in the travelers, forcing them to face a host of emotions about their loss and their future. 

Christianity Without the Rules

Too often, Christianity is summed up by a set of rules we are supposed to follow. Some have chosen not to follow Christ for fear of the restrictions and requirements. Why would anyone willingly enter into a contract that takes away freedom?  I've heard people say they will continue to live as they please and joke that they'll go to hell because that's where their friends will be. What they are conveying is their unwillingness to follow the rules that outline Christianity. Sadly, they are missing the point.  

I've heard the fire and brimstone messages. After focusing on hell and damnation, the sermon shifts to:
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
 And, of course, this is wonderful news! God gave us Jesus so we would not perish.  How many have chosen to become a Christian to avoid perishing?  If you are a Christian, what was your motive?  I'll be honest. I deeply feared dying before I was forgiven.  I didn't want to spend eternity in hell.  

After I came to Christ, I started to focus on the rules. That's usually the next step for new Christians. I adjusted my lifestyle according to the way I understood the requirements.  I made mistakes daily, but I kept trying and slowly got rid of some of the most offensive habits.  

As a new Christian, I remember being shocked when I heard about another church member who smoked cigarettes. I looked at that guy like he was the devil himself.  How could he be a Christian and still smoke? Over the years, I learned of other behaviors fellow Christians participated in.  Each time, I'd feel a sense of superiority because I was not committing that particular offense. My thoughts and my attitudes were driven by my focus on the rules.  It served to make me judgmental, legalistic, and arrogant.  Those are not exactly fruits of the Spirit.  

Eventually, the Holy Spirit gave me a revelation that changed my life. It's still taking root even as I write this. It's not about the rules!  It's about the relationship! Look at this scripture:
I Peter 3: 18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.  
Did Jesus offer up His life so that we wouldn't perish?  Yes, He did.  Was that the only reason?  No!  He came to open the door so that we could freely have a relationship with God.  He died so that He could bring us to God! Our Christian life should be focused more on this truth than on the set of rules that we perceive to be important.  

There are many people who live their life according to the basic rules of Christianity without actually having a relationship with God.  Those are the same people who say, "I live a good life, I'm a good person."  
Galatians 2:21  For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.
 The rules should not be our focus. As we form a personal relationship with God, our hearts are changed. As we grow to love and trust Him, we want to please him.  We want to be obedient.  At that point, we don't think about the rules, we think about the heart of God. Will I sin against Him if I truly love Him?  The desire of my heart is to follow His leading and direction.  The rules fall into the background and our love for Him is forefront.  

A Day in the Waiting Room

My husband went in for shoulder surgery a few days ago. We've spent a lot of time in the hospital with my grandson over the past year. I have a tote bag that I've packed many times to get me through a long day of waiting. After all that's happened, I know how to pass the time.

We arrived at 6:30 and I look for a place in the waiting room that is situated near a plug. From experience, I know that midway through the day I'll need to charge my phone and Kindle. The non-experienced waiters will cast envious glances at my charging capabilities, but I learned the hard way. I also brought two new magazines to avoid trying to entertain myself with the wrinkled, month's old copies of People that are usually in every waiting room. I've got mints, change for vending machines, a notepad and a pen.  I'm prepared.

Just as I settle myself, a young man and his father arrive and sit near me.  The father, Jeff, is in a wheelchair with his leg obviously damaged.  I start to chat with them and learn that he was in a motorcycle accident and he's there to get rods and plates put into his leg.

Almost immediately, the Lord impressed on my heart to pray with Jeff.  I paused and considered this. The waiting room was very full and it was unlikely I'd be able to pray with him without drawing attention to us. Personally, I don't mind publicly praying, but I didn't want to embarrass this man. I decided to keep talking with him and see if the opportunity to pray might present itself.

More than an hour went by. I totally forgot about my bag of activities and focused on continuing the conversation and waiting for the chance to pray with Jeff. I tried to steer the conversation in that direction but nothing felt natural.  Finally, they called him back for his turn and I watched him go.  I felt sad and worried that I'd missed the chance. I was certain God wanted me to pray for Jeff and yet, I watched him being wheeled away, feeling like I'd failed.

I sat talking to God and apologizing.  I didn't know how I could have changed the outcome without a really awkward moment for all of us. I kept praying; I'm so sorry Lord.  

A short time later I had to go into the recovery area to see my husband.  It's a large room with about 50 beds. I spent a little time with my husband and then went back to the waiting room.  I was almost to the door when I saw Jeff's son standing near a bed.  Jeff! I paused by his bed. "Are you just about to go into surgery?"

A nurse smiled and said, "We are just about to take him.  Do you want to say goodbye?"

Jeff and I both laughed.  He reached out to me and without thinking, I took his hand and kissed his cheek. "We just met but I'm happy to send you off."  I squeezed his hand. "Is it OK if I pray with you?"  He nodded and I spent a few moments asking the Lord to guide the surgeon's hands, for no complications, no infection, and that he'd heal quickly. I felt the Holy Spirit surging through my hands and a wave of tremendous peace came over both of us. It was powerful!

I walked away knowing that I'd just come from an appointment that God had set up.  I hope Jeff was impacted and that his surgery and healing went well. Later, I pondered it all. To me, the biggest lesson was simply to be obedient.  As soon as I felt the leading to pray for Jeff, I decided in my heart to do it.  Then I spent nearly two hours waiting and thinking about the task. I focused on it but didn't force things.  God, in His perfect timing, provided the way.

If God has asked you to do something, decide in your heart that you will be obedient.  Focus on the task and wait for the Lord to show you the perfect timing.  He won't ask you to do something and then fail to provide the way.

A very personal battle ....

I want to share something that is very personal. My hope is that by baring my soul in this manner, someone else might read this and recognize the feelings I'm attempting to convey. More than anything, I want you to know that God cares about you in a deeply personal way.  

I've struggled with a fear of rejection for most of my life. It's rooted in me deeply and I've learned to work around it, but have not (yet) fully overcome this issue. It rears its ugly head when I least expect it. An off-handed comment from someone can set me spiraling into that dark place where I begin to doubt everything about myself.  My mind will fight off questions: Am I broken beyond hope? Are my social skills too fractured for anyone to really like me? Can I ever learn to be secure in a friendship? 

As a Christian, I've read many books about understanding who I am, in Christ.  My self-esteem is in a better place overall but, when I least expect it, a wave of that old fear hits me again. However, God is so faithful that He knows exactly where I am and He knows how to minister to this frail part of myself. 

My husband and I have been in search of a new home church. We love our old church but agreed it was time to make a change. Sometimes, God needs to get  you out of your comfort zone and shake things up. 

We each had our own thoughts on what we'd like to find in a new church.  For me, I'd like to be in a church where I can be a part of the activity.  I like to work, serve, and use the gifts God has given me. I feel a sense of frustration and exclusion when I can't be in the thick of the activity. 

After attending a few services at other churches, my husband suggested that we try a new church he passes every day on his way home from work. A quick internet search and some time on their website aroused my excitement. I had met the pastor and his wife years before and I liked them. We arrived the following Sunday and immediately felt as though we were home. After the service, we both agreed that this might be our new church. The pastor invited us to have dinner with him and his wife the following week.  

I was excited for the meeting. In preparation, I created a list of my skills that I thought might benefit the church. I wanted the the pastor to know that I was ready and willing to help. My husband looked at the list and laughed because he thought I was trying too hard. Embarrassed, I crumbled it up and threw it away.  

We went to the meeting and I was self-conscious because I tend to talk a lot and I didn't want to accidentally monopolize the conversation. I intently listened and tried to keep my enthusiasm in check. Eventually, I let my guard down and shared my heart. I thought it went OK and there seemed to be a positive reaction. 

Later, I asked my husband what he thought of the meeting and he said it was fine but I came on a little strong.  I was crushed and felt shame come over me. That was the last thing I wanted to hear. All the old questions started to swirl through my mind. Within a few days, I was certain I had made a fool of myself and winced whenever I thought of the meeting. I felt sure that the pastor regretted us joining the church and his wife probably thought I was one of those loud mouth, pushy women that she'd have to contain. 

I couldn't express my feelings to my husband. He's a good man and would feel terrible if he realized that his little comment had caused me so much distress. I casually made a few comments about the meeting, alluding to the negative feelings I was experiencing. I was hopeful that my husband might reassure me or say something positive enough to alleviate my troubled emotions. That didn't happen. 

A few days later, I formulated an email to the pastor's wife to tell her I had some free time I was available to help her in any manner she needed.  A gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit hit me: Don't send this. I sighed and deleted it, certain I was being obedient but questioning the reason. I was anxious to smooth things over with this woman and I wanted her to like me...was I just too late?  

The next day, I had some errands to run and by late morning, I was finished and near the church. I considered stopping in to see if the pastor or his wife needed anything. Again, the Holy Spirit told me not to do that. I was frustrated and told God that I didn't understand. 

You see, a common part of this search for approval is the desire to perform tasks so that you might be accepted. I wanted to do enough for this couple so that they might like me. I wanted to prove my worth. If God wasn't going to let me move forward on that plan, how could I possible earn their acceptance?  

An hour later, my cell phone rang and I saw a number I didn't recognize.  I was surprised when the pastor's wife greeted me. She talked freely and shared some things about her part-time job. She sounded as if...dare I say...she liked me. She had a few tasks that she wondered if I could do for her. I readily agreed and took some notes. Hanging up, I felt relief come over me. I sat with my phone in my hand and realized that I received so much from that phone call, especially since it was initiated by her.  God, in His infinite wisdom, had kept me from making the contact because He knew exactly what I needed. One phone call set me free from days of torment from my old enemy.  

I easily performed the tasks she'd requested but my motivation was in the proper place. My heart was full of peace for the entire afternoon. God showed His love in such a special, personal way. I have not yet conquered this old issue, but I'm on my way. God will continue to use situations to teach and convince me that my worth is in HIM.  

The Storm

Tonight, so many people in Oklahoma are facing horrible tragedy.  It's easy to distance ourselves from the images on the TV screen. Why would anyone want to imagine themselves in the place of of these people?  My mind can't comprehend the thought of standing in front of my ruined home or hearing the news that one of my loved ones was no longer with us. I can't imagine being trapped in a basement under rubble, not knowing if anyone would find me before it was too late.  

Lord, I pray for these people. Send your angels to comfort and protect them. Grant your supernatural peace in the midst of the chaos. Help me to maintain a compassionate heart and resist the urge to look away. Holy Spirit, direct me and lead me. If there's anything I should be doing or a prayer I should be praying, please quicken my heart. 

7 Steps- Make your Dreams Come True! What's Stopping You?

Do you have a dream?  Is there a goal you've held in your heart but have given up because it seems impossible?  When was the last time you considered your life and what you were created to accomplish?  

There was a time when I imagined myself writing books, teaching, and mentoring lives. At the time, there were many reasons that this could not happen. I had all those reasons listed in my brain and for a time, I was immobilized  I had no education. I had no forum.  I had no clue how to write a book.  Today, I am pleased to say I have reached those goals and I am currently expounding on them, on my way to greater levels. 

I encourage you to take a few minutes and think, imagine, and envision. What is your dream?  Let go of all the fear and imagine that it could happen. I have a few steps that will help you get there. These are the steps I used in my own life. 

  1. Write it down. There's something about seeing your goal on a piece of paper that changes your mindset.  It becomes a concrete and creates a sense of accountability. 
  2. Speak it.  Share your dream with someone close to you. Choose carefully. 
  3. Identify the obstacles. What's in your way?  Do you need an education? Money? An opportunity?  
  4. Set objectives with a timeline. Be realistic, but give yourself a time limit or you'll put it off.  For example, if your goal is to go back to school then your first objective is to get signed up for classes. Set the deadline and create an alert in your phone to remind you. Make it happen!
  5. Surround yourself with supporters. Some people will believe in you and some won't.  It's a fact of life. Stick with the believers.  
  6. Reward yourself. As you meet your objectives, remember to celebrate. If your goal is to write a book then promise yourself a reward when the first draft is written and another when your revisions are completed. Your rewards can be simple, for example, maybe you'll take a Saturday off to sleep in, spend the day at the park, excuse yourself from every bit of work. If you can afford a more lavish reward then go for it!  The important thing is that you take the time to celebrate your achievements. 
  7. Don't get discouraged. There are things in life that you can't control. If something new crops up to get in your way, face it and don't lose faith in yourself.  It's just another obstacle and you might need a new game plan.  Adjust and keep moving forward.  
If you need a pep talk or help identifying your objectives, email me!  I'd love to talk with you and I promise to cheer you on!  

Warning: this may offend you. Sometimes, I don't want to be called a Christian.

I am not ashamed of my beliefs and I am certainly not ashamed of the name of Christ, but I am embarrassed by representation of Christianity that is displayed in this country. Let's be honest, Christians do not have a good image. The moment I identify myself as part of the group, the assumptions begin. Most of those assumptions are not positive.  

Many Christians have a tendency to behave as though they are sent from God to tell the world how to behave, I don't want to be lumped in with that group. I don't subscribe to the notion that I can tell other people what to think or believe. I have my own beliefs and, in the right setting, I would love to talk to you about that. They are my beliefs and I came to them while walking my own journey.  I ask that you respect my right to have my opinions and I will extend to you that same respect. We don't have to agree to be friends.  

One of my dearest friends is an Atheist. We began cautiously talking many years ago. At the time, I was naively worried that conversing to her would somehow decrease my faith. As I grew to know and truly love her as a person, we have had many open exchanges about the topic of faith and God. I have an understanding of her thoughts and how she arrived at her conclusion. I respect her very much! She knows that I pray for her and she is OK with that. I am true to my faith; how could I not pray for her?  

She has posed some hard questions which forced me to examine many of the sticky aspects of my beliefs. The end result is that I am stronger in my faith today. I have been blessed through our relationship and I  thank God for bringing her into my life. As a Christian, I hope and pray that one day she will come into a relationship with Christ, not because I think she is an evil sinner, but because I believe it would bless her life and bring her peace that she has never known.  

I find it curious that I have grown closer to God because of a relationship with someone who doesn't believe in His existence.  In all the years I have known her she has never once offended me or hurt my feelings.  I wish I could say the same for some of the Christians I have known. Why do so many Christians feel they have the right to condemn or condone the actions of others? 

I once saw a report about a group of Christians that protested at a Gay Rights Rally. The Christians were arrested and charged with a hate crime. The interviewer talked with the group and they insisted that they were not full of hate. They said they only attended the rally to tell the gay people that they were sinners and would be going to Hell.(!?!) I found it shocking and, personally, felt they were more hateful than most non-Christians. Sadly, this group of "Christians" represents exactly what people tend to assume about all believers. 

I waiver between thinking that Christianity needs a PR makeover or that it needs a full internal overhaul. I am leaning toward the latter. I can't imagine Jesus attending a Gay Rights Rally, picket sign in hand, to tell people they were condemned. 

I am not ashamed to call myself a Christian in as much as it relates to my love for Jesus.  However, I hate to claim membership in the very public group of "Christians" that represent Jesus so badly.  

This post is not about my personal opinions regarding homosexuality or sin in general. It's about the way we treat the other people who inhabit our planet. We've each been divinely created with a purpose. We all have equal access to our creator. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for every single one of us, while we were yet sinners!  

Often, we might disagree with the choices that other people make, but, in most cases, there's no need to become combative and hateful about our opinions. Christians seem to enjoy talking about the sins they are not currently committing. The Bible is meant to be used a mirror to examine our own actions and correct our wrongs. Far too many use it as a window to view the world, point fingers and enjoy a sense of superiority. If Jesus was humble with the world, and He was, then how would any Christian arrive at the conclusion they they are superior? Doesn't judgement begin in the House of God? Let's get our own act together before we take to the streets to correct everyone else. 

Perhaps, if Christians actually learned to love other people and portray Christ in a positive manner, this world might take a different opinion of the church.  

God wants me to do WHAT?

For over ten years, I've known God was calling me into women's ministry. I'm not sure what the full vision will look like, but I know I've been called to write, to speak, and to teach. When I initially felt that nudge, I was not certain that I was hearing God correctly. How could I be the used by God when I was such an unschooled, flawed, mess of a person?  

At the time, I was a single mother with no education beyond high school and no public speaking experience. I'd never written anything except for some journaling and creative writing as a young teen. I'm also not one of the "churchy" women that attend Christian women's meetings. I tend to be a little too outspoken, too impulsive, and I have little patience for nonsense. I told myself that I was not hearing God correctly.

None the less, I told God that I'd do whatever was asked of me as long as He showed me the way. I've since  earned a master's degree, written three books and for the past four years, I've been teaching at a college. While I don't have the opportunity (yet) to teach on the Word of God, I've been gaining valuable experience public speaking and learning to engage an audience. If you asked me to write, teach, and speak TODAY, I'd readily agree. It's not much of a stretch since I'm already doing this.  

God, in His infinite wisdom, prodded me in this direction when it made no sense to my carnal mind. I didn't resist it. I submitted and said, "I don't understand it, but show me the way and I'll go."  Now, I can look back and smile because of how He laid it all out. I know that His hand was on me the whole way and now I'm even more excited to see what's coming.  

If God is calling you to do something, I encourage you to TRUST Him. He's the potter. Be the willing clay that doesn't fight with its maker. Allow Him to shape and use you. Trust that you might not be able to see how it will all happen, and that's perfectly alright.  

Promotional Sale- 99 Cents!

  For a limited time, read Unplanned for only .99! 

McKenna thought she'd endured the worst humiliation imaginable when she was left at the altar. Then, a single night of bad judgment leads to even more shameful consequences. Embarrassed, she fears the rejection of her friends and family. Will her church turn their backs on her in a time when she most needs mercy and compassion?

Exciting News!

       I'm pleased to announce to release of my third book, Seaside Solace

There's something about the ocean that draws us near when we are troubled. The fierce enormity puts everything in perspective while the graceful beauty of the waves creates peace deep within our souls. 

Julie is working in a ministry when she learns that her director, who was also her secret boyfriend, is not who he claimed to be. Scandal threatens her reputation and ultimately, the ministry. She panics and impulsively books a last-minute vacation package to a beach-side town in Florida. 

Initially, she is running from the truth, and from God, but she's soon surprised to learn that she might be exactly where He planned. A chance meeting leads to some unexpected answers and new supportive friends who help her to courageously face the fallout.

Hurt by a fellow Christian

Have you ever been hurt by another Christian? It's a different pain than one we've experienced in the world.  Maybe it's because we trusted on a deeper level.  Maybe it's because we simply expect more from a Christian.  Maybe it's because we instinctively let our guard down with Christians; we assume we're on the same team.

I've personally known people who've left their church over the wounds they received from another member. I know one sweet lady who now refuses to attend another church.  It's sad because she was a leader and a faithful member. One person's harsh words changed all that.

It's really difficult to know how to respond in these situations. I don't have the answers. My goal is to follow the scripture in Hebrews and attempt to live in peace with everyone because, as the scripture says, if we don't strive to be holy we will not see the Lord. That helps me to focus on what is important.

I'd like to hear feedback on this topic.  Have you ever been hurt by another Christian?  How did you handle it?


Tomorrow, spring is scheduled to arrive but our weather is not following the calendar. It snowed all day and our fireplace is blazing to burn off the chill. The weatherman said that the next few days won't be much different.  After the long, cold winter, it's disappointing to welcome spring dressed in a wool coat, hat, boots, and mittens. 

Maybe I'm torturing myself, but I've been daydreaming about summer days. I miss walking in the woods. I love the sound of the wind shuffling the leaves of the trees. I can close my eyes and imagine that sound. I wonder if anyone has ever recorded it.  

Sitting lakeside is another thing I'm longing for. My husband and I will take our Kindles, a blanket, and some snacks to spend a few hours together.  We attempt to read, but ultimately we'll find ourselves distracted by the beauty of the water. I can't count the conversations we've had about our future lakeside home. I have no idea if we'll ever buy one, but it's fun to talk about it.  

I'm longing for new green grass, buds on the trees, and a lake that is free of ice. I'm longing for the peace that I always find deep in the woods or nestled beside a lake. I'm thankful that our father provided such such amazing place for us to live.  


It's Not about Me

I'll admit this.  I get caught up in the cares of this life.  My thoughts are occupied by so many small things; work, home, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, my family, my problems, etc.  If there were a way to accurately gauge the time I've spent thinking about problems, I'm sure I'd be ashamed.  

Often, when I am facing a challenge, I will think about it endlessly.  I'll have imaginary conversations where I am formulating the perfect arguments and comebacks. I can get so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I forget to look to the Lord for guidance and instruction. 

What if I could learn to live my life as though it were no longer my own?  Imagine the change that would occur if I finally accepted that I no longer live and it's all about CHRIST!   

Currently, I am dealing with some personal issues that have been lingering for years.  I'm a victim of internet harassment and character defamation.  I met a group of women in a chat room nearly four years ago and we had a disagreement. It spiraled downward and we all made mistakes in the way we conducted ourselves. They are unwilling to let it go and have been stalking and harassing me ever since. They accuse me of assorted crimes, make posts about my family and my marriage. They talk about my children and make up vicious lies.  

It's been really hard not to respond. I'll admit, I've slipped and responded a few times, like the time they posted the youtube link to my grandma's memorial video so they could mock my figure. That attack stung because I adored my grandmother and six years later, I'm still grieving her passing.  (For what it's worth, I think they confused me with my aunt- but that doesn't matter.) 

So, as I continue to endure this season of my life, I am challenged by this scripture. It's not I that lives, but Christ in me. How much should I allow these women to affect me?  Daily, I forgive them.  Sometimes I forgive them several times in a day.  I do have peace, in spite of the nasty attacks, because I guarding my heart. I won't allow bitterness to plant a seed. I do pray for them, but I won't pretend that it's easy to do that. 

I've learned to forgive more quickly and for that, I thank these women.  They've given me daily opportunities to practice forgiveness. (I'm not being sarcastic.) Through trials, we have the opportunity to improve. We can test our endurance and gain strength. When this is all over, and I'm sure that it will one day be over, I'll be a stronger, more patient person who deeply appreciates the fact that I am no longer living for myself. It's not about me. It's all for Jesus.  

Hannah's Voice- BOOK REVIEW

When six-year-old Hannah's brutal honesty is mistaken for lying, she stops speaking. Her family, her community, and eventually, the entire nation struggle to find meaning in her silence.

School officials suspect abuse. Church members are divided—either she has a message from God or is possessed by a demon. Social workers interrupt an exorcism to wrest Hannah away from her momma, who has a tenuous grip on sanity. Hidden in protective foster care for twelve years, she loses all contact with her mother and remains mute by choice.

When Hannah leaves foster care at age eighteen to search for Momma, a national debate rages over her silence. A religious movement awaits her prophecy and celebrates her return. An anarchist group, Voices for the Voiceless, cites Hannah as its inspiration. The nation comes unhinged and the conflict spills into the streets when presidential candidates chime in with their opinions on Hannah—patriotic visionary or dangerous radical. A remnant still believes she is evil and seeks to dispatch her from this world. 

Hannah stands at the intersection of anarchists and fundamentalists, between power politics and an FBI investigation. All she wants is to find her momma, a little peace and quiet, and maybe some pancakes. 

One word would put an end to the chaos if Hannah can only find her voice.

My Review

This author took on a challenging topic and with a lot of room for potential offense to readers.  He handled it masterfully.  I'm a fully committed Christian and I found his descriptions of some of the extreme characters to be humorous and, sadly, accurate on many levels. 

This book was deep, beautiful, and it left me feeling as though Hannah would forever be a part of my life. The conclusion is not easy or rushed.  The ending left me with a sense of satisfaction mixed with bittersweet emotions for all that Hannah faced in her young life.  

My hope is that this book will be discovered and possibly made into a screenplay in the future.  I encourage you to treat yourself to a copy of Hannah's Voice.  You'll thank me.  

Purchase Links: 

Robb Grindstaff
Author Bio:
In addition to a career as a newspaper editor, publisher, and manager, I’ve written fiction most of my life. The newspaper biz has taken my family and me from Phoenix, Arizona, to small towns in North Carolina and Texas, and from seven years in Washington, D.C., to five years in Asia. Born and raised a small-town kid, I’m as comfortable in Tokyo or Tuna, Texas. I now reside in a small community in Wisconsin where I manage the business operations of a daily newspaper. The variety of places I’ve lived and visited serve as settings for the characters who invade my head.
I’ve had a dozen short stories published in several print anthologies and e-zines, and several articles on the craft of writing fiction. My first novel, Hannah’s Voicedebuted January 15, 2013, and two more novels are in the works for 2013-14.
I also edit fiction and non-fiction books for authors from around the world. It helps that I’m fluent in five languages: U.S. English, U.K. English, Canadian English, and Australian English, plus my native language, Texan.

Twitter: @RobbWriter

Mercies...that's PLURAL!

I mess up. Every single day I make mistakes. I'm sitting here thinking of the mistakes I've already made today and it's not even 2:00 in the afternoon.  

Here's my list so far:

  • Read something that made me angry and I had some very unkind thoughts
  • Had a phone conversation that bordered on gossip
  • Entertained some critical thoughts about another Christian
I'm sure there is more and I still have an entire afternoon and evening to get through. I'm a work in progress and I refuse to excuse my wrong choices. My goal is that I will learn to control my tongue and my thoughts so that I can fully honor God with every aspect of my being.  

I love the hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness and I found myself singing it this afternoon.  Morning by morning, new mercies I see... MERCIES! That's PLURAL! isn't that wonderful news? Imagine if we were each only allowed a finite number of mess ups. YIKES!- I'd be in trouble.  

I thank God for his unending mercies. I don't ever want to take this for granted and risk abusing this wonderful gift. I pray that as continually get better and rely less and less on the generous gift of mercy. 

If you messed up today, take a moment and repent and then thank our father for His mercy.  Tomorrow's a new day with a new supply!  

No More Religion

Mark 11 depicts a sequence of events regarding Jesus and the religious officials of the day. The chief priests, scribes and elders were once again following Jesus and questioning Him. They were getting anxious to catch Him doing something wrong and hoping they could arrest Him. Clearly, they were threatened by his influence.

In verse 28 they asked Him, "By what authority are you doing these things?"  

What 'things' they were speaking of. He had been traveling, teaching, and healing. They didn't question his teachings or find fault with them. Instead, they were upset by the way He carried himself, with an air of authority. What right did he have to teach in their temple? He didn't have a rank or title and yet, people were listening to Him. 

These were men that cherished their titles and all the perks that came with them. The chief priest was was born in the family of Levi and had an impeccable genealogy. It was an exclusive position that very few were qualified to attain.  

Jesus showed up and challenged the importance they placed on titles and positions. He refused to defer to their man-made rules and restrictions, especially those that were created through distorting the truth of the scripture.  

For example, they focused heavily on how people ought to behave on the Sabbath. Twice, Jesus went into the temple and and healed on the Sabbath.  He could have done that any of the other six days, but he chose to use this as an example. 

It's easy to trust in the rules and structure that religion offers. We can follow the steps laid out and have a false sense of security about our standing with God. "I attend church, give to the offering, say grace before I eat, and I have read the new testament. I'm OK."  

Jesus challenged us to look beyond the religious format and into the intent of the scripture. There is a much deeper meaning beyond the set of rules that people tend to ascribe to being a Christian.  

I encourage you today to DIG DEEPER, challenge your religious thinking, and seek the heart of Jesus.  

Dangerous Comparisons

I'm currently working on a new book that tackles a very serious topic, hypocrisy and corruption in ministry.  It's a tough subject, but I am committed to producing a an engaging story with some thought provoking circumstances. Most of all, I want to bring God's truth to the topic. 

Today, I was writing some dialogue between two characters. They were discussing a few examples of church leaders who publicly failed, making all Christians look bad in the process. The main character made this statement: 
"All Christians have to decide what level of commitment they are willing to live. If we spend our time comparing ourselves to others, we will always find someone performing better and someone not doing as well.  We can use that to excuse our bad behavior or we can aspire to be better."
This is so true. It's not helpful to spend our time focusing on how everyone else behaves.  There will always been Christians who are more or less committed that you are.  It's never a good idea to gauge our own behavior based on the observations of others.  

Almost every non-Christian I've ever talked with with cite the hypocrisy in the church members as one of the reasons they don't want to be a part of it. As a believer, this pains my heart. I don't believe anyone is intentionally acting hypocritically. Christians are judged harder and their actions are  reviewed with much greater intensity.  I'm not sure that is fair. 

My encouragement to non-believers is to base their faith decisions on Jesus and the bible and not on imperfect people who fail just like anyone else.  Instead of waiting for the perfect Christian before you make a commitment to God, focus on Jesus.  He's the only one that got it 100% right.  

Simply Good News

There are days when I put off reading my Bible. I don't know why I do that because when I finally take the time to read, I am always encouraged, refreshed, and amazed. My God is not in the business of disappointment. He never fails me.  

Today, I have a list of tasks I hope to accomplish. I'll admit that was was about to hit the treadmill but felt strongly that I needed to pause and take a moment in the Word. After only minutes of reading in Isaiah 45, my heart lifted and my attention began to focus on what is really important. 

My busy day of tasks doesn't seem so important all of the sudden. What really matters is that I serve the Most High God! 

I encourage you to read your Bible, even when life's demands try to convince you that you don't have time. Make time!  You'll be glad you did.  

Update On our Miracle

My grandson received his new heart nearly a month ago.  Today we learned that his second biopsy showed ZERO rejection.  We are celebrating and I am praising God for such wonderful news!  Thank you to everyone who prayed for Nolan in the past months. Please continue to keep in him prayer as he goes through rehab to catch up with his development that was delayed as he lay in a hospital bed for 6 months.  

You can continue to follow his progress through his Facebook page. 

My Favorite Story- Surprise at the End

When I was a small child, my parents divorced. Mom had little money and we lived in a tiny house far out in the country. Across the road was a retired farm where a sweet couple lived. They married rather late in life and were never blessed with any children of their own. She was a retired kindergarten teacher and he kept busy with his small garden and his chores.  

I was about four when the nice neighbor lady came to visit for the first time. It was the week before Christmas and she brought an armload of presents for me and my siblings. I especially remember the red and blue toy snow shovels that were protruding up over her shoulder as she balanced the rest in her arms.  

The visit was the first of many and she eventually invited my mother to a prayer meeting. That night, my mom accepted the Lord and life dramatically changed for us. This couple took us under their wing and adopted us as part of their family. We called them Grandma and Grandpa. In the coming years, we shared holidays, birthdays, and even a few vacations. 

Every year, she would take me shopping for school clothes and a hair cut every year and our day always ended with a meal at a nice restaurant. She thought it was important that I learn table manners and how to eat in a nice place.  I now smile at the memory and I'm in awe of the love she expressed for me. When was the last time I took an 8 year old out for a nice dinner?  

One of my favorite memories is when she took me to purchase a dress for my piano recital. She really liked to shop and we made a day of it. We selected a beautiful dress, my first pair of nylon stockings, new shoes, and a pretty pink rain coat with daisies sewn onto the pocket. After we were finished shopping, I changed into my new dress and she took me to a really fancy place for dinner.  There were candles lit on the table and I was amazed when the waitress brought us our own cutting board with a tiny loaf of fresh, warm bread. I'm fairly sure I ordered my usual meal, a cheeseburger, but the whole experience is burned in my memory.  It was magical.  

I will treasure this couple for the rest of my life.  They are both home with the Lord today and I miss them terribly. However, the seed they sowed into my life will forever remain. They didn't just tell me about Jesus, they showed me. They could have written a check or just dropped off a dress, instead they spent time making me feel important and special.  They showed me love.  

Now, here's the surprise ending I promised. Their names were Fielda and Sherman Hetherley.  I now write under the name J. Heather Leigh in their honor. This is a small token to honor them for the integral role they played in my life.  

A Blessing for YOU

My friend Marci over at Life With Joys is taking part in a FUN exercise to pass blessings on to others. As soon as I read it, I knew I wanted to be a part of this.  

I'm so excited!  The first SIX people that comment on this post will receive a special blessing from me. I'll mail it to you! Don't you love getting MAIL?!?

Here's what you need to do:
1.  Leave me a comment on this post.
2.  Send me an email at JHeatherLeigh@Gmail.com with your full name, address, and five interesting facts about you.

In a week or so, you'll receive a surprise in your mailbox.  I pray it blesses you!

One Word

I read about this great concept called One Word for 2013.  Instead of creating goals and resolutions, you select a single word that sums up something you are learning or your focus during this part of your journey.  One Word is a powerful concept!

It only took me a moment to select my One Word: ABIDE. This past year has been a painful and frightening journey as my baby grandson fought for his very life and eventually received a heart transplant. We walked through the valley of the shadow of death and that's not a place I want to visit again anytime soon.

During this journey, I clung to Jesus like never before.  I wrote many posts about my deeper love and trust in Jesus that developed because of this storm. I don't want to stop clinging just because the clouds have parted.   I don't want to treat my God as though I only require His presence in times of trouble.

My heart's desire is to ABIDE in Jesus. I will abide in Jesus out of love and out of obedience.  ABIDE will be the word that remains in the forefront of my mind.

What's your 2013 ONE WORD ?

Forgetting What is Behind

A new year is upon us and this is a time to pause, reflect, and consider how to improve the coming year. Many people will make resolutions, mostly about dieting, and others will happily leave the former year in the dust. I'm probably part of the latter group because this has been a really difficult year for my family.  After many months of waiting in a hospital, my beautiful grandson received a heart transplant a few weeks ago.  (THANK YOU JESUS!)

Prior to his transplant, we were in a constant state of fear and anxiety, holding on to hope with both fists.  My faith has been tested to the extreme and it has withstood the test. I am still trusting in my God, believing His word, and I know that He is FAITHFUL.

While I want to reflect on the past year, I also want to forget this storm and move forward. Now, more than ever, I want to focus on pressing on toward the goal. I want to please my God! I want to complete all that He's called me to do.

Fellow believers, the time is SHORT! Press on!