Heather Greer

Stories of faith, life, and love

What I’m Reading: Wrestling for My Life

Ever have one of those times when you find challenge or encouragement in a completely unexpected place? I found both as I read Wrestling for My Life by Shawn Michaels. For those scratching their heads, wondering if they should be familiar with the authors name, let me help you out. You probably aren’t.

For starters, the book is nonfiction. The nonfiction reviews I post are few and far between. I really have to get something from the book to include it. I tend to stick with fiction.

Plus, the author is a professional wrestler. Yes, you read that correctly. No, you do not need to read it again. Shawn Michaels is a well-known professional wrestler. But please don’t let that fact deter you from reading this review.

You now know something about me that I rarely, if ever, talk about in my writing/reading circles. I like watching professional wrestling. But before you start with the typical list, let me clarify some things.

I know the matches are predetermined. That’s why it’s called sports entertainment.

There are characters and story lines I do not like and cannot support. I generally fast forward through those or check my social media pages when they come up.

I’m not a fan of the scantily clad wrestlers either. But, in a lot of ways, I’m kind of immune to that. My son was a competitive swimmer for several years, and there’s a lot of scantily clad in that sport as well. If they’re scantily clad and overly sexual, well, I simply don’t watch.

I like wrestling for the story and the athleticism. I’m amazed that some of these huge people can move the way they do. I know I can’t do the things they do. And, as a writer, I’m intrigued by the wrestler in the ring and the person outside the ring. In fact, it was this dichotomy that inspired a new book I’m writing. And the writing of the book led me to Wrestling for My Life.

Another thing you may not know about wrestling is that there are Christians in the wrestling world, just as there are Christians in Hollywood and nearly every other profession. In the interest of writing my story to accurately portray what it means to be a faith-living Christian in the wrestling world, I bought Shawn Michaels’ book. I wanted to hear it straight from someone who was known for living it.

What I found was not only a lot of ways to develop my character, but also encouragement and challenge in my own faith walk. Shawn Michaels wrote a very down to earth book about what it means for him to live his faith in a profession where faith isn’t part of the plot. He wrote honestly about the path that brought him to see his need for God, the struggles he has faced since embracing faith, and the joy he receives from keeping God a priority in his life.

Where some celebrity Christians seem to gravitate to a fad version of faith, Shawn Michaels seems completely grounded in the Word. The passion with which he speaks of taking time in God’s Word each day challenged me to look at my own Bible reading habits. The openness with which he tells of what comes after the newness of faith wears off was an encouragement that we all face these times. The humbleness I saw when he acknowledged his past mistakes and even the ones that came after his conversion are a clear reminder of the hope we have as believers.

In the end, the story of Shawn Michaels holds up a mirror to my own life. He works in a profession where faith isn’t prominent. In many ways, the job may even work against faith. Still, he navigates it with his faith intact and shines a light where other people wouldn’t be able to. He’s making a difference for God in the arena where God has placed him.

My job and the groups I’m part of are not antagonistic towards God. We’re everyday people in everyday circumstances. Those I work with know of my faith. They know there are things I won’t do, places I won’t go, and things I won’t say because of my faith. But after reading Wrestling for My Life I have to take a long hard look at my life and ask myself if I’m living out my faith with as much consistency and shining that light as brightly as this down-to-earth wrestler does in a professional world that’s designed to lift up the man instead of his God.

Where have you found unexpected challenge or encouragement in your faith?

What I’m Reading: My First Historical Romance

I think a lot of people my age (and no, I’m not telling) probably read Janette Oke as their first Christian historical romance author. I did read read her books early on, but it was long before I was reading romance. She had a children’s book series I enjoyed. You’d think being familiar with her would have translated into choosing to read her historical fiction. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever read any of her books in that genre. Maybe I should.

So, if it wasn’t Janette Oke, who was my first historical fiction author? My first experience with not only Christian adult fiction but also the historical romance genre was made possible by Lori Wick. I started with her Place Called Home series. It includes A Place Called Home, A Song for Silas, The Long Road Home, and A Gathering of Memories.

The series opens with Christine running from her home after her grandfather’s death. She’s facing a danger she doesn’t quite understand, and she’s doing it alone. She has no family or faith to guide her through. When she ends up in Baxter, she develops relationships that could evolve into a surrogate family and through their example Christine is introduced to God and what it means to live a life of faith.

The second book continues telling the story of the Cameron family in Baxter, Wisconsin, focusing this time on Silas. When he answers the need for a close friend, he realizes the girl he once thought of as a sister has grown into a woman he could love. But she’s been hurt before, and he’s not sure the change in his feelings would even be welcomed. Faith and family, again, play an important part in helping the main characters find their way.

The third book in the series takes a serious turn. After losing his new wife, Paul Cameron runs from everything he’s known including his family and the God he’s preached about. It takes an injury and the patient care of Abigail to open him up to the possibility that the end of one dream doesn’t have to mean an end to all dreams. God is faithful in the pain as much as in the joy, and He can redeem what’s been lost.

The final book focuses on the instant family of Silas and Amy after they take in five children who have lost their mother and are without their father. The oldest really isn’t a child at 18. When she consults a lawyer named Ross about a legal matter regarding the family farm, the young man can’t help feeling attracted to her. But another girl and Amanda’s lack of faith are roadblock’s to anything developing between them.

While this series is not my favorite from this author, it holds a special place in my reading heart. The stories are simple and sweet. Each book is a quick and easy to read, providing a great evening escape for the reader. And now that I’m reminiscing, I may have to visit our local used bookstore and add this series to my shelves once more.

What was your first experience with Christian historical fiction?

What I’m Reading: My First Suspense

I can remember my first day of school. I can remember my first kiss, my first time having frozen yogurt, and the first movie my family went to a theater to watch together. It was E.T., by the way.

Some things stick with you through the years. Others leave you with only the impression they made. Over the next few weeks, I want to share some first books with you. These are books I clearly remember as being my firsts for various reasons. Most of them are older books, but you should still be able to find them. I’d encourage it, because they are well worth it.

I have a confession to make. I tend to steer clear of suspense. I get creeped out way too easily. But I think today’s author began writing romantic Christian suspense before it was a standard genre in the Christian fiction world. And while each of her books have a little mystery in them or a little danger, today’s series held more than I was used to from her. At least, it read as more suspenseful to me, a bit creepier. And so, I include it as my first Christian romantic suspense.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to find a copy of the Egypt trilogy by Linda Chaikin. The series’ World War I backdrop of battles and intrigue are enough to add action and suspense, but the author weaves a deadly who-done-it throughout the three stories. We’re left questioning the motives of characters we think are true. We fear for the safety of the characters we love.

Arabian Winds begins the series with Nurse Allison Wescott serving on a medical mission boat in Egypt. Her life is full of promise, as she’s engaged to a man who is working to serve as a chaplain in Oswald Chambers’s camp. When war breaks out during her holiday, Allison becomes part of a mystery surrounding two dead bodies and Brett Holden, a British officer determined to interrogate her. But there are also sparks, and Allison is faced with more choices for her life than she ever imagined.

Allison’s story continues in Lions of the Desert. World War I has begun, and Allison has moved from serving on the medical mission boat to tending wounded soldiers on the front lines. When Brett Holden reappears, Allison is unprepared for his return. However, the two find themselves in the middle of murder, and Allison has to figure out who she can trust before it’s too late.

The series ends with Valiant Hearts. With Brett in hot water with his superiors, Allison wants to trust him and his motives. But there are too many secrets and a treasure map that promises to bring its owner great riches. Before she can figure out whether Brett has “gone bad”, they’re thrown into danger from a deadly German spy who wants what everyone says Brett has. With Allison caught in the middle, her life is at risk if they can’t unmask the spy and find out the truth about Brett.

I’ve read this series many times since it came out in 1997. It gives me just enough mystery to make me want to read it with the lights one without making me want to sleep with them on too! And while there are clues throughout the stories, the author does a great job of keeping the reader off balance just enough to keep the ending a surprise.

I hope you enjoy this first as much as I have. Do you remember your first Christian romantic suspense? Have you read this series?

Don’t Miss This Chance

In honor of Book Lover’s Day on August 9th, I’m participating in the Summer Book Lover’s Day promotion from Celebrate Lit. I don’t want my readers to miss the chance to enter the giveaway, because one person will win a $350.00 Amazon gift card and one will win a collection of 45 books! Below you’ll find a picture of the books included in the collection and the link to enter the contest. Good Luck and Happy Reading!

https://promosimple.com/ps/fd40/summer-book-lover-s-day-multi-author-promo

Just Passing Time

I’ll admit it. I like to play games. Monopoly, Clue, Catan. It doesn’t matter. And it isn’t just board games. Those I can only play with friends or family. I loved playing the Legend of Zelda games and Mario Kart with my kids when they were little. When I bought them Webkinz, I usually bought myself one too. Not only did they feed my love of stuffed animals, they allowed me to play games with them on the computer.

And now that we have phones and tablets with us wherever we go, I have games at my finger tips. This is great when I’m waiting for the doctor, but not so great when I have things I need to do at home. I used to have several games loaded on my phone, but in recent years I’ve limited myself to one. I play Farmville 2. It doesn’t take any thought, and it allows me to interact with other players. It’s perfect for when I’m bored and want something that doesn’t take any energy to do.

But it’s a hazard when it comes to getting work done. It’s not that it’s this super fun, can’t ignore it game. It’s not a challenge. It doesn’t bring some big reward into my life for completing it. It’s not giving me a way to connect with my loved ones like a board game does. There’s nothing special about it, but it draws me to it every time.

It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but left unchecked it can suck away great chunks of time I could and should be using to do other things. I work a full-time job. In addition to that, I write. My writing includes actual writing, blogging, making videos, reading books on craft, interacting on social media, and creating marketing graphics and promotions. It’s a full time job on top of my full time job! I don’t have time to waste.

But there have been times I’ve done exactly that. I’ll be waiting for something to upload, and I pull out my phone while I wait. I tell myself it will be a quick check of the farm, and I’ll be back to work before the upload is complete. Wrong. Ten minutes after the video or whatever has loaded, I’m still planting corn and feeding my sheep. It’s time I’ve wasted that I’m not getting back.

I think, it’s only two more minutes until the new market comes up and I can try to get that lantern I need. What’s two minutes going to hurt? Before I know it, twenty minutes have passed. I never feel like it’s going to be that long, but then it is. I’ve wasted valuable time, and I never saw it coming.

We’re like that in our spiritual lives as well. We know what we should be doing and what we should avoid. But we make little compromises we justify as harmless and start down a path we didn’t intend to take.

We know lying is wrong. Something happens and we omit a detail or two as we explain it. Or maybe we simply exaggerate it for effect. We’ve not lied, really. But then someone questions us about it, and we go a step further. It’s not hurting anyone, and it keeps us out of trouble or keeps us from hurting someone else’s feelings. That makes it okay. Soon, we’re backed into a corner where it’s either lie big or face the music. Each little step along the way has prepped us to follow through with the lie we never thought we’d tell. We’re at sin’s door before we even realize we’ve been walking that direction.

And it’s not only lying. The enemy knows what he’s doing. He knows to hit us in the face with blatant temptation to sin isn’t going to work a lot of the time. But if he can ease us along the path, he has a chance at getting us to fall.

We have to be on guard. We have to watch for the little things and not only the big ones. First Peter 5:8 instructs us to be vigilant about watching out for sin. Our enemy is seeking to devour us. We have to stop seeing the compromises as little and unimportant. They’re the first steps to a big fall.

In my writing life, wasting time with a game isn’t usually a huge problem. I simply have to try harder to make the time up later. It’s an inconvenience that I create. But with the compromises in life, it’s not the same. There’s no making up for the sin we commit. There’s forgiveness, always. But the lasting result of sin is damage done to ourselves, our witness, and our relationship with God. And it starts with one little step when we’re not watching for it.

What activities are time wasters for you?

What I’m Reading: London Tides

Sometimes our past choices leave us wishing we could do it all over again. Maybe it’s the way we treated someone when we were young and impulsive. Or it could have been a chance we didn’t take because of fear. It might even be a path we took against our better judgment that causes us to wonder what life would have looked like had we listened more to those who warned us to go in a different direction.

Even if we don’t wallow in regret, I think we all face those “what if” thoughts on occasion. Second chances don’t come along for every situation, but sometimes life brings us back around to familiar places and faces. This can be a second chance to get it right, or it can be what tempts us back into old patterns.

Grace Brennan, the main character in Carla Laureano’s London Tides, finds this out the hard way. Years ago she walked out on the man she loved to prove herself as a photojournalist. In honor of her brother, she wanted to change the world through showing the devastation and need of people in high conflict areas. And she succeeded, until she was faced with one loss too many.

Knowing she can’t face the horrors any more, she seeks out the one place and person that feels like home, London and Ian MacDonald. She knows it’s a long shot. Ian gave up his Olympic dreams to make a life with her, a life she rejected without reason or warning. But she has to try.

Ian knows there are things Grace isn’t telling him, but he’s drawn to the woman he never stopped loving despite the risks. He gives Grace a second chance, but he’s also forced to deal with his own choices from the past. He stopped living after she left him, and he’s never really started again. Until her return.

Grace has returned to faith, and she’s determined this time with Ian will be different. Neither let faith enter into their relationship decisions in their previous time together, and they ended up going places they shouldn’t have. Grace is also aware some of her coping mechanisms out in the field were not healthy, and she has decided to leave all of that behind. She is a different person now, and she won’t do the things she’s done before.

When a deep tragedy occurs, Grace falls into old patterns. Has she really changed at all? Is her faith real or just something she’s pretending? Can she be a new person with the weight of the past she’s refused to deal with clinging to her? If she can’t, is there any hope for her and Ian to have a future? She’s been given a second chance, but is it only going to end like it did the first time?

As I read about the sinful choices Grace fell back on, I was tempted to be disappointed with her. But God reminded me of the times I’ve also resorted to old behaviors. While they may not have been the same struggles, they were just as wrong.

Second chances are tricky, for Grace and for us. London Tides reminded me of that. It also reminded me how thankful I am that there’s no limit to God’s forgiveness when I fail to be the new me and fall back into the behaviors of the old me.

Have you ever gotten a second chance? Did it turn out the way you expected?

My Summer Vacation?

I think it’s safe to say, this summer has not gone as anyone expected. I usually spend a lot of my summer growing as an author through writing conferences. This year, I was looking forward to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. While it is an amazing conference experience, it is also where I was to find out if Grasping Hope won the Selah Award in the Contemporary Women’s category. The conference was moved to November. I’m praying it gets to happen.

I also planned to attend other conferences. They were cancelled. I did, however, get to “attend” a couple virtual conferences. The Kentucky Christian Writers Conference did an amazing job presenting a virtual conference. I’ll be putting this conference on my list from now on. So, while they were different than I expected, I did get the chance to learn and grow as a writer this summer.

A new experience I’m enjoying is working with a speaking coach. I’ve directed a youth camp for years, as well as teaching Sunday school for various age groups. I’m not a stranger to creating and presenting lessons, but I want to move beyond the informal speaking I’m used to doing. Just as in my writing, I want to make sure I’m a strong speaker before I dive into the world of women’s conferences and other more formal speaking events. It’s a lot of homework, but I like it!

Working in a doctor’s office as a receptionist for my full time job, I found out I was essential during all this Covid stuff. I used to think essential was good. I’m rethinking that belief! Changes happen on a daily basis, and the work day leaves me drained when I finally get home each evening. That’s part of the reason I haven’t been as consistent as I usually am. I’m working to correct that. Please be patient with me.

I launched the third and final book in my Faith, Hope, and Love series in July. I’ve loved telling Katie’s story, but I’m excited about the next one I get to tell. If you haven’t checked out Relentless Love, you can find it here. https://www.amazon.com/Heather-Greer/dp/1649170076/

Whether I could actually have a vacation or not this summer, I’ve kept busy. What about you? What adventures have you had this summer?

What I’m Reading: The Enlightenment of Bees

I’m usually a straight up Christian fiction girl. I’ll throw in an occasional clean read or inspirational read, but I want to choose it for myself. I like to read Christian fiction, because I want to be encouraged in my faith. I want to be challenged to grow closer to God as I read. I want to read about people who, while living very different lives from me, are making choices based on the Biblical worldview I hold.

When I saw The Enlightenment of Bees by Rachel Linden on the shelf at a local used book store, I was instantly drawn to it. The title alone is enough to peak interest. With equally interesting back cover copy and a Christian publisher, I went ahead and added the book to my stack.

I was a little caught off guard by the story being more what I would consider inspirational or clean reading. I expected Mia’s faith to factor into the decisions she made and how she chose which paths to take. I expected her relationship with God to grow through the challenges and triumphs she faced. And while I realize every Christian book doesn’t have to “preach” to you in an open way, I believe to call it a Christian book, the faith element should at least be present in ways the reader can see.

That being said, I did enjoy this book. Rachel Linden tells an interesting story that does challenge the reader. There were several times I found myself taking screenshots of the pages so I could revisit beautiful, thought-provoking quotes. There are lessons in the pages ranging from caution in shaping our lives around childhood perceptions to realizing people are more than what we see on the outside to being open to taking risks.

One of the most prominent and challenging ideas sparked through Mia’s story is presented through a character named Delphine. It blends with the lessons Mia learns from other women on her journey and provides her the final confirmation of the direction she should go. Saying her good-byes to Mia, Delphine says, “Remember, Mia, your place in this world is the space where your greatest passion meets the world’s great pain.”

For Mia, this means accepting that the thing she’s felt is not enough to give to the world is really the best thing she can give to others. She can be herself and make a difference.

For me, the message is a reminder. While faith may not have played a part in Mia’s decisions, it does in mine. Mia’s story reminded me that God wants to use my passions, talents, and personality to reach out to others with His love. Her journey gave me an outlet to examine my own life and see if I’m doing that faithfully. Even her lack of seeking His guidance was a gentle nudge to seek His plan for me as I look for the paths I should take and which ones I should avoid.

The Enlightenment of Bees may not be what I expected, but it was a well-told story that left me encouraged to let God use me to reach others in need.

What I’m Reading: Before I Called You Mine

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost

We understand actions have consequences. We teach young children not to touch the hot stove because they will get burned. We show them how to look both ways before crossing the street. We explain that a failure to do so could get them hit by a car. Every day we have choices to make, and intellectually we understand each of those choices will come with a consequence.

I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a writer. I also knew I needed to have a “real” job to pay the bills until I became an award-winning, best-selling author in the Christian market earning a salary that would allow me to live comfortably without any other income. I’m still waiting for that to happen!

Honestly, I could probably spend time writing full-time, if not for one choice my husband and I have made. We sent our children to a Christian school for their education. Some years, we paid tuition for four children at a time. Now, we are down to one. He has another year left, and he wants to finish up at the school where he started.

Our choice to give our children this education brought with it the consequence of me having to work until tuition is paid off. It is a choice I would make again, but it doesn’t mean I don’t wish I could have both my child in Christian school and a full-time writing career. I serve a God who can make it happen, but most times He lets us live with the consequences of our choices. Sometimes it’s about giving us the choice of whether or not we will follow what He has put into our hearts to do.

It’s this kind of decision Lauren Bailey faces in Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese. Lauren feels God has called her to adoption. The rules in adopting from China are simple. She can adopt as a single woman, or she can wait until she’s been married for a specific amount of time and adopt as a couple. Since her previous boyfriend ended their relationship, that doesn’t seem like a viable option. She starts the process to adopt as a single woman.

Keeping with her plan to avoid romantic attachment and possible derailing of what she knows God wants her to do is easy, until she meets the sub across the hall. Joshua is everything she ever dreamed of finding in a man, and he’s completely into her. The timing couldn’t be worse.

Lauren is determined to keep on her path to adopt and keep her growing friendship with Joshua. But as they grow closer, she is forced to a hard look at what she’s giving up and what waits for her in return. Being a mother to a child in need has fueled her decisions for so long she’s almost forgotten the time when her heart wanted more. Now that her dream of love has reawakened, Lauren fears whatever decision is made, her heart will break in the process. Only God can make both her dreams come true. But will He? Or will He allow her to live with the consequences of her choice?

Whether you’ve been in Lauren’s shoes or not, you’ll find yourself crying with her in the hard times and hoping with her for God’s best in her life. You’ll cheer her on as she learns some important truths about herself. And you’ll walk away from the story with a greater understanding of the heartaches and joys those who choose adoption face as they become family to those who have none.

Release Day: Relentless Love

This is an exciting day for me. The third and final book in my series releases today! Relentless Love is available on Amazon in ebook and paperback forms.

While I can’t enjoy a physical release party, you’re all invited to my FB live party. The giveaways have already started, but you can do any of the daily challenges between now and June 6th to get in on the fun. Plus, Saturday, June 6th at 1pm I’m hosting a virtual launch party. I’ll do Q & A, read an excerpt, and announce the giveaway winners. You don’t want to miss it!

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