Writing on the Road

My posts this week are coming to you from the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in North Carolina! This is my first opportunity to attend Blue Ridge, and I am LOVING it. The area is beautiful, the atmosphere is encouraging and God-filled, and the workshops and speakers are wonderful. Plus, I came with three ladies from home, and the time getting to share our passion for writing with each other is a blessing.

If you are a writer, I encourage you to not only find a local group for support and encouragement but also to keep learning. There is so much information available to help writers improve their craft and the business side of writing.

Conferences are not mandatory, but in my opinion they are necessary. Conferences put you in contact with other writers who are dealing with the same struggles and successes you are. There is power in that connection. But their benefit doesn’t stop there.

Agents and publishers are often available for meetings. Ideas can be pitched and brains can be picked at this meetings. Yesterday I met with a wonderful woman who I simply spoke with about my successes and failures at social media use. I left feeling much better about where I am at in the process. Tomorrow, I’m going to speak with an agent about the feasibility of finding a publisher for an idea I’m toying with. If you want to meet with a well-known author to tell them you admire their work, that’s good too.

In addition to meeting authors, agents, and publishers, conferences are a treasure trove of information. Some workshops are better than others, but I can only think of one time I left a workshop (at a different conference) without getting anything from it. This conference has had amazing presenters on all aspects of the writing journey. Most of my classes are focusing on the business side of writing. I chose them that way. Others in my group are going for craft related workshops. Your conference time can be tailored to your specific needs.

All of these things are wonderful benefits of conferences, but there is one more very important benefit. When you leave the conference, you will go home with a renewed fire to get back to your laptop and get your story (or article or book) finished.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a workshop to get to!

What I’m Reading: The Sister Circle

womenI’m the youngest of three children and the only girl. It almost goes without saying that I was a little bit of a tomboy. I had a dollhouse, but the G.I. Joe’s would often invade the house during war time. Sure, I watched My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake cartoons. I also loved B.J. and the Bear, The A-Team, and Air Wolf. I liked to wear makeup occasionally, but I had no idea how to make my hair look good like the other girls in class. To be honest, that’s something I still don’t get!

I was always curious about what it would be like to have a sister. I’m not sure why. I had female friends, but I tended to get along better with the guys. I had little patience for the manipulation games that girls tend to play. Besides, it worked out just fine for me to have guy friends. At least it did until I hit the age that I wanted to be more than “one of the guys”. Then, I was stuck without hope of escape.

I never got a sister, and I was okay with that. I think I realized it would have been a disaster, especially if she’d been more girly than me. But God did bless me with girl friends throughout my life. I never had more than one at a time. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have handled more than that. And they were usually very different from me. One was very girly. One seemed to know how to talk to guys in ways I didn’t get that got them to see her as more than one of the guys. Some were definitely extroverts. I’ve rarely had girl friends similar to me, even in adulthood.  Of course, we had some things in common or we never would’ve become friends, but the similarities were more superficial like similar music tastes or favorite television shows.

These differences could cause issues, but they could also be exactly what I needed. It’s a lesson the women of The Sister Circle by Nancy Moser and Vonette Bright learned as they lived together in Peerbaugh Place. Some would say fate or fortune threw them together. Others in the group would say it was God at work. At first their differences seemed trivial, but it quickly became apparent that these ladies had extreme differences in personality, experience, and beliefs.

It’s the differences that threaten to tear the tenants of the boardinghouse apart. But it’s also the differences that open up the avenues God wants to use to bond these women together as a family. Together they learn about themselves and grow in faith and love. Despite their differences these women become sisters who would do anything for the others in the group.

Like the women of Peerbaugh Place, women, even Christian women, can hold at arm’s length those who are different from us. Instead of getting to know each other and trying to understand one another, we push others away. God didn’t intend this. While scripture is specific about not engaging in sinful behaviors and beliefs, God never wanted us to use this as a reason to segregate ourselves from the people in our lives.

Scripture tells us repeatedly to love one another. The story of the Good Samaritan was used to teach us we are to show practical love to everyone, even those who our differences would encourage us to walk past without a second thought.  We are to be the image of Christ to the world around us, not just in the church pews with like-minded people. We are to reach beyond the doors of the church, and there are great differences when we decide to step outside the circle of believers.

The women in The Sister Circle worked together despite their differences. They faced challenges for sure, and we will too. But the end result of learning to look past differences and care for the people we come in contact with is the world seeing God’s love in action. And experiencing God’s love will change the world for the better.

Mothers and More: Favorite Characters

Erin Davis (1)Mother’s Day is almost over. Tomorrow there will be no more breakfasts in bed. There will be no cards and gifts. The blatant expressions of love and attention shown on this day will become a distant memory to give us strength through the year as those we love try our patience.

Everything about today seemed to revolve around the women in our lives who have had a hand in making us who we are today. I’m doing an author challenge on Instagram, and even today’s assignment called attention to moms. Today participants were to post a picture about their favorite mom characters. I’d love to say I posted one about the mom in my own book, Faith’s Journey. I couldn’t do that.

Unlike my own relationship with my mom, Katie’s relationship with her mother is tempestuous. It’s been that way since Katie was a little girl, and the continued discord causes a great amount of frustration for Katie when she returns home to care for her injured mom. Sharon McGowan is not my favorite mom character.

No. My favorite mom character from my books isn’t the mom at all. Gigi B, introduced in Grasping Hope, is the grandmother of Katie’s best friend. She has the style of Helen Mirren and the sass of Flo from Mel’s Diner.  She is fun and outgoing, never hesitating to be herself. But she is more than just stylish fluff. She’s a godly woman who loves those around her in word and deed. Her wisdom is the kind that comes from walking with God faithfully through the years, and she doesn’t hesitate to share it with those who need to hear God’s truth.

She may not be the main character in my books, but she is a character that means a lot to me. I don’t write people in my life into my books. The characters are all their own, and they’re products of my imagination. However, Gigi B does have real life inspiration thought it’s not found in my grandmother. (My grandmother is wonderful, but she is not a Gigi B!) My aunt has been that kind of person in my life. She’s always been in my corner, and she’s a ton of fun to spend the day with. She is a loving, giving woman full of life who loves God. She’s always been stylish and outgoing, two things that will never be said about me. And I’ve learned a lot from her.

My aunt may not be Gigi B, but she is the type of person I wanted the character to be. Honestly, she is the type of person I’d like to be in my life too. Not the stylish or extroverted parts (though a little help in the style department couldn’t hurt). Those are great, but they don’t make my aunt who she is inside. And though it sounds cliché, it is what’s inside that counts.

What’s inside is a heart that loves God and loves others. My aunt is a woman who will hurt with you, laugh with you, and pray for you. If she can help, she will. She exemplifies living faith. And she’s not the only one. God has blessed me with a godly mom, grandmothers, and others throughout my life who have shown me what it means to live for God each day. They are the women who encourage me to be the type of woman God would have me to be. And I am thankful today and every day for their example that spurs me on to become more Christ-like each day.

Write Stuff Wednesday: An Interview

2f8c97e9-014e-4796-9373-22b108cebe0eUsually I post a quote on Wednesday, but today I had the opportunity to participate in an interview. This interview had some really great questions, and I thought I would share them with you.

I want to thank Elisabeth Trainor for thinking of me for her 5th grade research project on becoming an author. It was my pleasure to help out. I hope your project is a success!

What are some of the responsibilities you have at your job?

My main responsibility as an author is to write, whether it’s the next book I’m working on or something for my blog. I’m also responsible for promoting my books. This includes doing interviews, being a guest on other blogs, participating in book signings, speaking to groups, and creating images to post on social media that tell others about my books.

Is this the job you went to college for?

I know several writers who went to school to get degrees in English or creative writing. While I’ve taken several courses and attended workshops to help make me a better writer and increase my knowledge about the business aspects of writing, my course of study in college was psychology. But even that aids me as a writer by giving me additional insight into personalities to help me create more realistic characters.

What are some of the best things about your job?

I love creating new people and places for the readers to connect with. I have always loved stories, and now I get to create them for others. As a Christian author, I love that God has given me a way to encourage other believers through something that I am passionate about. Plus, I can work at the time of day that is best for me. And if I want I can do the writing part of my job in comfy clothes!

What are some of the worst things about your job?

I don’t know that there is any part of being an author that I don’t like. There are parts of it that are more difficult for me. I’m not a math person, but working for myself I have to be responsible for the tax information our state requires. That is definitely not fun. To help promote my book, I have to learn new computer programs or apps. I’m not proficient with a lot of these things, and that makes using them frustrating until I get used to them. I also have to talk about myself and my writing. As a fairly introverted person, this is very uncomfortable for me. But I’m getting better at it.

Why did you choose to be an author?

Reading has always been one of my favorite hobbies. Each book introduced me to new friends and places I’d never visited. The stories I read would show me new perspectives and ideas I hadn’t thought about before. As I got older and read more faith based fiction, I found a lot of truth in the stories that I read. The people the authors created encouraged me and challenged me to grow as a person and as a Christian. I came away from the best books I read excited and wanting to create that same experience for others.

Where is the most comfortable spot you like to write at?

I have a comfy chair in my office. It faces a large window that looks out over the field behind my house and the woods beyond the field. It’s a very quiet, peaceful scene. When the weather is cool enough, I like to open the window, look out, and write with the fresh air coming into the room.

What inspires you to write?

Overall, I think the reason I wanted to be an author is what inspires me to do it. But there are people and things that continue to keep me focused and encouraged. I believe God gave me this ability and passion, and He inspires me to write in ways that will allow others to know Him more. I still find inspiration when I read a really good book. It leaves me anxious to get back to work on my own stories. When I’m feeling less motivated to write, I have a local writer’s group and friends that encourage me to get back to it. They help me work through what’s holding me back and cheer me on when things are going well.

Do you write non-fiction or fiction?

My books are fiction. They are set in the real town I grew up in, but the people and situations are all from my imagination. My blog posts are non-fiction. They are all about writing, reading, and living a life of faith. One day, I’d like to have devotional books that pair up with each fiction book I write. Those will be non-fiction as well.

Who is your favorite author and why?

My favorite non-fiction author is Sheila Walsh. Her books deal with the real issues that come up in living a life of faith, and she handles each one with honesty and openness. It’s nice to know someone isn’t just telling you something from theory but instead from a life that’s lived it out.

My favorite fiction author is Kristen Heitzmann. Her stories draw me in. She’s an amazing story-teller, and I come away feeling like I’ve been visiting with friends. The messages in her stories have helped me with things I’ve gone through in my own life. I got to meet her once, and she is also a very kind and encouraging individual.

How did your book get published?

After I completed the manuscript, I researched publishers and agents. A lot of publishers won’t take new authors without getting the material from an agent. So, I had to approach both. I sent out several query letters explaining the story and why I was qualified to write it. I also had to give them information on my writing training, accomplishments, and how I could help market my books.  I got rejection slips. Most authors do. But I kept sending it out. Authors need to learn how to persevere.

Mantle Rock Publishing accepted the manuscript, and I signed a contract with them. The book had to be sent to them for edits. As I completed them, I sent it back. Their cover designer worked on designing the perfect cover for my book while I was busy editing. Then, with the edits done and the cover design approved, the publisher sent it to the people who would make it into the actual book in time for the release date. I will never forget the first time I held my finished book in my hands. I’m blessed to have this job.

What I’m Reading: Blue Columbine

blue columbine flowerWe try to teach our children that actions have consequences, but society tells them otherwise. Actions have consequences if you’re not rich or famous. Actions have consequences unless you choose to get rid of that consequence. Actions have consequences unless you’re willing to strike a deal to get out of them. We make decisions every day, and whether we like it or not the natural order of things is for our actions to lead to reactions.  Nothing can be done or said without leaving its mark on the people and things around it, no matter what we tell ourselves.

When those choices are fueled by addictions, the consequences created are often devastating for those closest to us.  Jamie Carson and Andrew Harris learn this painful lesson in Blue Columbine by Jennifer Rodewald. Similar circumstances in their teenage years forced these best friends apart until they are well into adulthood. Though their circumstances mirrored each other, their reactions to the events in their lives couldn’t have been more different.

Jamie’s faith is deeply rooted in her life when a chance meeting puts Andrew back into her life. Andrew’s faith has been discarded for pursuits that allowed him to rebel without the guilt. Though Jamie sees the spark of the boy she loved deep inside, the man he has become is a stranger to her. With patience and love, she hopes to point him back to the God he walked away from.

Andrew knows his life is a mess, but he can’t see his part in it. His choices have been perfectly fine, and he should not have to face consequences for them. They’ve led him to an addiction he denies. They’ve put a wall between him and his family. And he keeps disappointing and hurting the one person who still seems to believe in him. As Andrew comes to accept there are things in his life that need to change, he believes Jamie is who he needs to help him do it. When his actions bring consequences she can’t stomach, he may lose her and his reason to be a better man.

Jamie knows what Andrew needs is God’s redemption. She simply doesn’t know how to help him see it. Even when things seem to get better, Jamie can’t escape the fear his actions have caused in her heart. Redemption or no, Andrew may have to live with losing Jamie for good as a consequence of his behaviors.

My thoughts on the book: Jennifer Rodewald is a new author to me. I found Blue Columbine while scrolling through Kindle Unlimited’s Christian Romance selections. The cover and title peaked my interest, and I began reading it immediately. I didn’t want to put it down. The ups and downs in Jamie and Andrew’s relationship kept me turning the pages. The author handles addiction in a real way. The addict isn’t treated as a monster. The author does a wonderful job of showing the struggle, the failures, and the successes of one dealing with addiction. She also does a great job of showing how the addiction affects those who love the addict. Helping and enabling, trusting and being realistic, loving them through and leaving for their best are all subjects the story doesn’t turn away from.  Jennifer Rodewald is now on my “keep reading” list. In fact, I downloaded two more of her books as soon as I finished this one.

By the Book: No matter what society tells us, our actions do have consequences. And we become known by the actions we make part of our lives on a regular basis. That’s where our character comes from. Proverbs 20:11 tells us, “Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right.” You can’t lie habitually without becoming untrustworthy. You can’t steal without being known as a thief. An attitude of entitlement will label us as lazy and arrogant.

This isn’t God’s plan for His children. He tells us we are to have the mind of Christ. Our actions and their consequences should point others to Him. What do your actions say about you? Are the consequences of your actions a world that knows more of God’s truth and love?

Main Character Monday: Levi Prince

Welcome to Main Character Monday. Today’s interview is a special one because today’s guest is from a YA fantasy book. Let’s welcome Levi Prince from The Fay’s Apprentice by Amy C. Blake. Thank you for joining me.

If you could choose only one thing to buy without money being an issue, what would you buy?

An airplane or a helicopter to transport me between my home in Ohio and Castle Island on Lake Superior. That way I can more easily spend time with my family and with Sara and her parents.

The New Testament tells the story of two sisters who react to Jesus visiting in very different ways. Mary chooses to spend her time with him, while Martha chooses to see to the physical details of his visit. Are you more a Mary or Martha?

As a teenage boy, I can’t say I’ve ever really thought about identifying with either woman, but I suppose I’m more of a Martha trying to become a Mary. I spent the previous two years of my life trying to physically force things to work out as I thought best. This year, I’m trying to live in obedience to God and simply trust Him to work everything out for His glory.

I find that’s always the best choice. And maybe I should re-work some of my questions to better fit the men I interview! Thanks for rolling with it.

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27 – Do you think this verse, lived out would have made a difference in your life? If so, how?

It certainly would’ve made a difference in the lives of two of my friends. My best friend Trevor lost his mom when he was a little kid, and his family has never been the same. His relationship with his dad is wretched, and his older brother is just plain mean. My dad has tried to be somewhat of a father to Trevor, but it’s hard since we live more than two hours apart.

My other friend Morgan is a mess because of her mom’s drug addictions and her step-dad’s nastiness. Sara, Lizzie, and Monica try to help her, but she’s so mixed up from all the hard times she’s been through. If somebody in her family, like maybe her aunt and uncle—Hunter’s parents—were Christians who lived out this verse to her, I think she’d be a lot better off.

It sounds like your friends are lucky to have a friend like you in their corner. 

What scripture verse would you claim as a life verse?

Psalm 20:7: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” In a place like Terracaelum where mormos, monsters, and demon sorcerers are a very real threat, trusting God is crucial.

I think I may have to ask you back for another interview. I’d like to find out more about Terracaelum and your time there. Of course, my readers and I can enjoy your story too, even if we’re a tiny bit over the YA cut-off.

If there was one message you could give those reading this interview, what would that be?

No matter your situation, trust in the Lord for strength. Don’t rely on yourself. He is the only omnipotent one.

That’s a great truth to remember whether you’re in another world or trying to live a God-honoring Christian life wherever you are. 

Just for Fun:

Indoors or outdoors: Outdoors because Terracaelum is awesome!

Reading or writing: Reading

Apples or pears: Pears

Early bird or night owl: Night owl

Describe Amy in three words:

Motherly: because she loves and cares for her children.

Imaginative: because have you read the situations she puts me into?

Growing: because she learns more about God every day, just as she has me doing.

Thank you for joining me Levi. And thank you Amy C. Blake for allowing me to interview him.

Keep reading for more information on The Fay’s Apprentice and Amy C. Blake.

FaysApprentice_FlatThe Fay’s Apprentice (book 3)

On Levi’s third summer at Camp Classic, he’s torn between two responsibilities. On the one hand, his parents expect him to watch over his little sister Abby, who has no clue their summer camp is a haven for mythical creatures. On the other hand, Mr. Dominic wants him to train at Fort Terra, a full day’s hike away from his sister, because of Levi’s previous encounters with the demon sorcerer Deceptor. Although he enjoys training with his friends, Levi finds life at Fort Terra difficult thanks to the ongoing tension between him and Hunter and the stress of having his former kidnapper Regin as his chaperone. When the woman Regin claims to be the evil sorceress Anna appears, Levi faces a whole new challenge.

 

SONY DSCAward-winning author Amy C. Blake is a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mother of four. She has an M.A. in English from Mississippi College and has written articles, devotionals, and short stories for a number of publications. She’s also writing two series for the Christian market, her Levi Prince YA fantasy series and her On the Brink Christian suspense trilogy.

WhitewashedColorblind, and Tie-Dyed, featuring three homeschooled girls on the brink of adulthood…and danger, are available in paperback and Kindle. The Trojan Horse TraitorThe Fall of Thor’s Hammer, and The Fay’s Apprentice, about homeschooled pastor’s kid Levi Prince and his adventures in Terracaelum, are also available in paperback and Kindle. She’d love for you to visit her website at amycblake.com.

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What I’m Reading: All Made Up

television.pngYou can keep Survivor, though I watched the earliest seasons. I have no desire to watch The Voice or American Idol and never have. And I will definitely pass on The Bachelor. Don’t even get me started on everything that’s wrong with that one! I will admit to a brief fling with King of the Nerds, The Mole, and Full Metal Jousting. I would probably still watch those if their ratings had been high enough to continue the shows.

They weren’t, and so my foray into the world of reality television runs along the lines of The Worst Cooks in America and the Great British Bake-off. Zumbo’s Just Desserts was a really fun one too. But my personal favorite, now only available in reruns, was Cupcake Wars.

I loved the set of Cupcake Wars. I loved the themes the contestants had to work with. The creativity and seeing the giant displays come together at the end were inspiring to this amateur cupcake baker. The unique flavors and even the failures caught my interest and inspired me. I loved everything about the show except that it had to end.

No matter how much I enjoyed it, I know Cupcake Wars, along with all the other reality shows are less than real. The outcomes may not be rigged from the start, but there are plenty of other scenarios played up for the viewers. Drama equals ratings and ratings equal sponsors. Every disaster, argument, and failure are highlighted for the cameras. Time is warped. Planning periods are non-existent making the feats of contestants seem next to impossible. All of it works to draw the audience in, but it should leave us questioning the moniker of “reality” television.

These issues become part if the drama in All Made Up by Kara Isaac. It’s challenging enough to give this contemporary Christian romance its needed conflict when producers of a romantic reality show cast a down-to-earth, faithful farmer as it’s bachelor looking for love. Caleb Murphy is a last minute replacement, and his morals and personality aren’t exactly the stuff of exciting television.

When make-up artist Katriona McLeod is drafted to stand-in for a sick contestant, the drama is raised a notch or two. Katriona’s past with Caleb creates equal part romantic sparks and tension on the set. It’s the only thing producers can consistently count on, and her walk-on appearance doesn’t walk-off after the first episode as originally planned.

Katriona and Caleb have enough confusion and hurt to work through on their own. But determining what’s real and what’s made for television isn’t easy with lights and cameras following your every move. The question is whether or not they can be real enough with each other to deal with their past and have a second chance at love once the cameras stop rolling.

The superficial setting of All Made Up doesn’t keep Kara Isaac from diving into heartfelt conversations between Katriona and Caleb. What results is a fun, encouraging story about being real and finding love.

By the Book: While entertaining, reality television is less than real. Every conversation and situation is engineered to create the perfect picture for the viewers. That’s fine or television, but it’s damaging when the same attitudes are adopted in our faith. We want to be examples of Christ-like living to those we come in contact with. That’s kind of the point of being labeled “Christian”. But we are also called to be real, honest, and humble. While we don’t want to flaunt our sins, failures, and struggles like a badge of honor, we also don’t want give an image of perfection in our walk. We aren’t perfect. We know it. Those around us know it. When we hide our flaws, even with the good intent of showing God’s love and power in our lives, we end up doing the opposite. Not only do people know we’re being less than honest, they also end up believing God is less than He says He is. If He wasn’t, why would His people have to protect Him in this way? I don’t know about you, but I connect more with the believers in my life who are honest with me about the things they’ve been through. Their testimonies of how God has worked in and through the circumstances of their lives speak to me and encourage me because I know I’m not the only one. Romans 12:15 instructs us to rejoice with those who are in a good place and weep with those who are hurting. God’s desire is for believers to be family for each other, helping each other. We can only do this when we put aside made for television Christianity and embrace Christianity in real life with all it’s ups and downs.

Right Stuff Wednesday: The Places You’ll Go

pillow“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” – Dr. Seuss – Oh, the Places You’ll Go

Do you have a car pillow? We do. We didn’t until my youngest son (who is a teenager by the way) decided the drive to school was the perfect opportunity to catch a few more minutes of sleep since seven o’clock is terribly early to wake up. Even waking him at seven is a process. He has to be woken up at least three times before he stumbles out of bed, dresses, brushes his teeth, and falls back into bed until it’s time to head out the door.

I have a feeling the culprit in this situation is late nights. As much as his morning struggle might cause frustration, I’m aware of the old adage “those who live in glass houses should not throw rocks”. Most days, I live in a glass house. My issue may not be sleeping instead of getting ready for work, but there are plenty of times I need a push, or two or three, to accomplish anything in my writing life. I have weeks overflowing with motivation and accomplishment. But there are also weeks I come home from work, make dinner, and follow that up with making excuses. I’m tired. I can’t think. I just want some quiet time without having to do anything.

My bad weeks are really bad. And writing is something I want to do, something I enjoy. Monday’s excuses become Tuesday’s excuses become Wednesday’s excuses until a new habit has formed. I find myself wanting to write but not enough to get the job done. Eventually, like the third call for my son to get out of bed, something shakes me out of my apathy. Deadlines, inspiration, or encouragement re-awaken my motivation. I turn on my lap top, and the words flow until the next bad week.

I wish I could say writing was the only area of my life where I need the occasional push. I can’t even say writing and housework are the only areas. And believe me, I need a hefty push in the housework department! No, as much as I hate to admit it, my spiritual life takes a hit every now and then when apathy comes calling.

Sometimes the deficit is found in my prayer life or time in God’s word. I know I have a relationship with God. And I know relationships are built by time spent together. I know prayer and scripture are two of the best ways to spend time with God. That, along with strengthening us for the spiritual battles we face, are why scriptures tell us to pray continually and to hide God’s word in our hearts. But sometimes I let other things get in the way. Even though I want to be close to God and strong in my relationship with Him, I choose other things and let time with Him go. Soon, I’ve developed a new pattern that is hard to re-write.

Other times I need a nudge to do what God has asked me to do. Whether it’s doing something kind and unexpected for a friend in need or giving to the beggar on the street corner or taking an uncomfortable step in the direction of the ministry God has placed on my heart, I feel God’s gentle nudge showing me what He wants me to do. I feel it. I want to obey, but I don’t want to enough to get out of my comfort zone. I let my fears, doubts, or desire for comfort or control stand in the way of doing what I know God wants me to do. Soon, my world is revolving around me more than it revolves around Him. I’m stuck.

I have brains in my head and feet in my shoes, but I’m not moving anywhere in times like these. I need to realign my focus on the things God says are important. I need to surround myself with those who will encourage me to continue growing and moving forward in my faith. If music or books or radio preachers inspire me to live out my faith daily through obedience and time with God, then I need to keep those things in my life regularly. When apathy tugs at me, I need to see it as the spiritual battle it is and do what I can to fight the lack of motivation. Only then can God move me in whatever direction He chooses, and that is the direction I want to go in.

Main Character Monday

I’m excited to have a new Main Character Monday interview to share with you today. It’s been a while. I think I need to work on my building my list of authors (and their characters) who are open to doing interviews. I love these interviews, and I’ve heard from some of you that you enjoy them too. So, welcome to Main Character Monday!

Today’s guest is Faith from Faith & Hope by Amy Anguish. Thank you for joining me.

If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go?

Honestly, I’d love to go to Europe, especially Scotland and Ireland. My husband teaches at a private Christian high school, and their seniors go to Europe each year. We’re hoping to be able to chaperone in the future so we can tag along!

A woman after my own heart. Ireland and Scotland are my dream vacations. I’m saving my change and one day I’ll make it there!

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Which of these traits do you find easiest to display in your life? Which of them is the hardest to display?

Love and kindness are what I always strive towards, although when my sister is around, those are harder to bring forth.

Patience is something I think everyone is working on. Although you’d think as much waiting as my husband Sam and I have done through the last four years of infertility treatments that it would be a lesson I’d learned by now.

I think there’s someone in everyone’s life that make love and kindness more of a conscious effort. As for patience, they seem to test that one too! I’m sorry to hear about your infertility issues. I imagine the waiting and wondering if it’s ever going to happen can really be a struggle. 

What is your favorite story from the Old Testament?

The story of Hannah praying for and getting her baby Samuel.

Considering what you’ve told us, I’m guessing that one gives you a great deal of hope. 

What is your favorite book in the New Testament?

James

If you could leave us with one message, what would you want us to know?

Before you try to comfort someone, make sure that your words can’t be construed in a way that might actually hurt more than help. If you aren’t sure about that, just make sure they know you’re there for them and leave it at that, without saying anything else. Sometimes that means more than an overused saying.

I’ve always found it hard to comfort people for that reason. It’s not natural to me I guess. And when you find that what comforts one causes pain to another in the same situation, I find listening to the Holy Spirit’s leading becomes really important. 

Now, just for fun:

Sunrise or sunset? Sunset

Pie or Cake? Cake

Tulip or Iris? Iris

Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate

What three words would your  use to describe Amy Anguish?

Southern, Exhausting, Conflicted

Thank you Faith for taking the time for this interview. I believe you’ve got a great story, and I can’t wait for readers to take the time to get to know you better through Amy’s book, Faith & Hope. And now, I’d like to give them the opportunity to find out a little more about your story and Amy Anguish. 

Faith & Hope by Amy Anguish:

faithTwo sisters. One summer. Multiple problems.

Younger sister Hope has lost her job, her car, and her boyfriend all in one day. Her well-laid plans for life have gone sideways, as has her hope in God.

Older sister Faith is finally getting her dream-come-true after years of struggles and prayers. But when her mom talks her into letting Hope move in for the summer, will the stress turn her dream into a nightmare? Is her faith in God strong enough to handle everything?

For two sisters who haven’t gotten along in years, this summer together could be a disaster … or it could lead them to a closer relationship with each other and God. Can they overcome all life is throwing at them? Or is this going to destroy their relationship for good?

And a little about Amy:

Amy R Anguish

IMG_5853Author of An Unexpected Legacy, Faith & Hope

Amy R Anguish grew up a preacher’s kid, and in spite of having lived in seven different states that are all south of the Mason Dixon line, she is not a football fan. Currently, she resides in Tennessee with her husband, daughter, and son, and usually a bossy cat or two. Amy has an English degree from Freed-Hardeman University that she intends to use to glorify God, and she wants her stories to show that while Christians face real struggles, it can still work out for good.

 

Follow her at http://abitofanguish.weebly.com or http://www.facebook.com/amyanguishauthor

What I’m Reading: Delicate Balance

man bunThe man bun. It’s one of those things in life that most people have a definite opinion of and no hesitation in sharing those opinions. Think about the pineapple on pizza debate, only with hair styles. (By the way, pineapple most definitely belongs on pizza.) You want to get a conversation, and quite possibly an argument, started? Show up with a photo of any one of the popular male celebrities sporting the hairstyle and make comment on it. The opinions will fly in seconds, only they’ll be worded as if they’re fact.

Honestly, I’m not a fan. But I’m also one of the odd ones out that doesn’t fall solidly into the “no man bun” camp. Most people can’t pull it off well. Almost all of them should probably stop trying. But there are exceptions to the rule. I can think of a few celebrities whose looks are not diminished by a well-done man bun.

As I was scrolling through the blogs I follow the other day, it was a man bun that caught my attention. I paused. It was a book review by The Christian Fiction Girl. (In case I haven’t said it before, you should check out her blog. I’ve found several new authors through her reviews.) I don’t think I’d ever seen a Christian or clean reads book with a cover like that before. I clicked the link and read the review. Then, I bought the book.

Delicate Balance . . .a romance (The Blair Brothers Book 1) by Brooke St. James turned out to be a fun, quick read. Henry and Aiden have known of each other for years. Everyone who’s lived in Astoria long knows of Henry’s family. But when his family is seated in her section to waitress at work, Aiden finds herself with the chance to get to know him for real.

Acquaintances turn to friends turn to . . .maybe more? Who’s to say for sure? The signals are there, unless they aren’t. Maybe it’s all wishful thinking. Aiden and Henry second guess each other’s feelings while trying to put the lid on their own. It doesn’t work for either of them. But it’s not a smooth road to romance.

Family drama, self-doubt, and misunderstanding all play a part in keeping this couple from realizing what they are to each other. They also play key roles, along with the chemistry between Aiden and Henry, in making Delicate Balance an entertaining story. And it all started with that man bun.

By the Book: The conversations started when opposite sides discuss hair styles and pizza toppings can be a fun way to pass the time. But there are times when opinions have no place in the conversations. The topics of sin, salvation, and who God is are spelled out clearly in scripture. When we try to apply human opinion to a matter already decided by our Creator, we make a mess of everything. That’s why it’s important to take to heart the direction in 2 Timothy 2:15. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” It’s through getting to know God through His word that we are able to understand what’s already been decided by God and learn how to live inside His will.