Monday, October 20, 2014
A lot of people are reluctant to mark in their Bibles. They don't want to mar the pages, or maybe they see it as disrespectful. But I see it as an essential part of Bible study. Marking my Bible helps me connect with the truths it contains. It also serves as a concrete reminder of the faith that shapes my life - something my children and even grandchildren can hold onto one day when I'm gone.
I don't have a set-in-stone system for how I mark my Bible. It's evolved over the years and will probably change more as time goes by. There are several things I do:
1. Underlining verses
Have you ever read a verse that just seemed to jump off the page at you? What about a moment when God seems to speak directly to you through a verse or passage you're reading? When I have those "aha" moments, I grab a pen and underline it. Sometimes I'll add other symbols (like inductive study marks) or notes to the side. Other times, it's a simple underline, just enough to catch my eye the next time I read through.
2. Inductive Bible study
I'm a visual learner. When I'm learning something new, I need to see it and try it for myself until I learn. The first time I heard of inductive Bible study, I knew it was just what I needed.
Kay Arthur is the most amazing teacher. Her website is full of free information to help you get started, including an introduction to inductive study. I also highly recommend her books. Inductive study can seem a little overwhelming at first, so if you want to check it out, start small. Choose a short book - Ephesians is a great one - and work through it.
3. Notes in the margins
I was flipping through Psalms as I wrote this post, and I stumbled across notes I'd taken on Psalm 91. I dated it November 17, 2010, with the note "the day I found out about (a family member)." It was a personal situation that shook me to the core. The message my husband preached that night was called "Living in the Secret Place." It was a message full of God's promises - His refuge, His protection, His love. It was exactly what my aching heart needed that night, and it was proof that God heard my cries. He heard them before I even cried out - before I knew what was happening. Those notes are precious to me.
I have a lot of sermon notes in my Bible. A sermon can bring out exactly what I need to hear, or I may find a nugget that I want to study more. See-through Post-It notes are perfect for this!
4. Theme verses
In the front of my Bible, I have a color code for a few key areas. These are the big themes I'm passionate about: prayer, hiding God's Word, remembering what God has done and handing our faith down to the next generation. When I come across a verse that fits into one of those categories, I'll mark the verse number with the corresponding color.
Do you mark in your Bible? Do you use a certain Bible for it and keep a separate one for church, or do you use the same Bible for everything?
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Learn more about Amryn at her website
Emily Fox died ten years ago, but she’s not dead enough for Endriago—head of the Colombian drug cartel who murdered her brother while she looked on.
A past she can’t escape…
Now living in Miami as criminalist Kate James and under the protection of the U.S. Marshals, Emily is explosively reunited with her past, propelling her headlong into a web of corruption.
A man who threatens everything…
Two men stand in her way—one threatens her heart, the other her life. Both underestimate her. Because in the race to solve her brother’s murder, she has nothing left to lose.
Marcy's Dyer's Out for Blood (autographed print copy)
Find out more about Marcy at Rollercoaster Suspense
Dialysis nurse, Danielle Battershawn’s, life is turned upside down when her identical twin is murdered. As she strives to deal with yet another death, the killer sets his sights on eliminating her. Can handsome security consultant, Tyler Covington, keep her alive?
Find out more about Heather at heatherdaygilbert.com
Child of the Appalachian mountains, Tess Spencer has experienced more than her share of heartache. The Glock-wielding, knife-carrying housewife knows how to survive whatever life throws at her. But when an anonymous warning note shows up in her best friend Miranda’s mailbox—a note written in a dead woman’s handwriting—Tess quickly discovers that ghosts are alive and well in Buckneck, West Virginia. Hot on a cold trail, she must use limited clues and her keen insight into human nature to unmask the killer...or the next victim might be Tess herself. Tinged with the supernatural and overshadowed by the mountains' lush, protective presence, this twisting psychological mystery is the first in A Murder in the Mountains series.
Find out more about Heidi at Scintillating Suspense
Bethany Macmanus' Six Solitude Road (autographed print copy)
Find out more about Bethany at Creaking Door Suspense
One morning, Kate Marset discovers her seven-year-old student Becca is missing, and all the evidence in her disappearance points to Kate's husband Clint. At the Christian school where Becca disappeared, Kate finds more than one lead the detectives have overlooked. Armed with a Colt .45 and an incriminating flash drive file, Kate struggles to prove Clint innocent in this kidnapping. All the while, her own daughter Janna slips away emotionally. Is something dark at work in the little girl's life? Or is it just growing pains? The only way for Kate to find out is to dig into the layers of sin holding her town, her husband, and her own house captive.
Sarah Varland's Tundra Threat (print copy)
Find out more about Sarah at Espresso in a Latte World
Two murdered men are the last thing wildlife trooper McKenna Clark expected to find in the stark Alaskan wilderness. As the only law enforcement in the area, the responsibility for the case rests on her shoulders—along with the danger. Hunting guide and pilot Will Harrison wants to ease the load, but McKenna balks at the thought of letting him close enough to break her heart again. When McKenna's investigations put her in harm's way, Will must race against the clock to save his second chance at love from becoming the killer's final victim.
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Monday, September 29, 2014
I went home with bags of dirty clothes and a to-do list. My hair was crunchy from the salt water and chlorine, my skin was toasty, but my soul was refreshed. I honestly can't remember the last time I was so relaxed. It was probably our last big beach trip, ten years ago. This trip was exactly what a worn and weary momma needed.
Why don't I do this more often? Not just the vacation - there are obvious reasons we can only travel periodically, like jobs and gas prices. But why don't I embrace the little things: Sipping coffee on my patio as the sun rises, watching my kids play, lingering over the pages of a good book, enjoying the stillness and quiet without feeling the need to fill the silence?
My life - and I'm guessing yours too - is full of the busy and the bustle. Do this, go here, call them, drop off that. It's a crazy blend of work and grocery shopping and errands. The clock is always ticking. Do we ever slow down and really just take a look around, appreciating what God has gifted to us? Sometimes we need to just stop and realize how beautiful life really is.
Friday, September 12, 2014
Have you ever kept something a secret for a long time? You walked around every day, desperate to talk about it but terrified of what everyone would think. That's where I'm at right now. I've been working on a huge project. Only a few people knew about it, but it's consumed a lot of my time and energy over the past few months.
I wrote a book. Well, it's the beginning stages of a book, anyway. It's a rough draft. There's a still massive amount of work to be done.
This past Saturday I finished the draft. I even typed "the end" just so I could have the satisfaction of seeing those words. I was so excited. Months of work and years of dreaming culminated in my first novel. I told my husband, my critique partner, my writing group. Emails and Facebook messages flew back and forth as they helped me celebrate the milestone. I was walking on air.
Until Monday night. That's when reality set in. I pulled out my laptop, ready to start some edits, when it hit me: Oh my word. I wrote a book. Now what do I do with it?
I spent months plotting, researching, and typing. I made up characters with complex histories and motives and agendas. I can tell you what each character looks like, what they sound like, what motivates them, and what they fear most. I brought this story to life.
Technically, I know what's next: Edits. My critique group. Lots of coffee. Probably some tears. Writing contests. Polishing. Then the search for agents and publishers and (hopefully) a book contract. But that isn't what scares me most.
This novel is mine: my story, my ideas, my dream. It's fiction, but like any writing, it's intensely personal. Up until now, this story has lived only in my head. Now I'm launching it into the world. Other people will read it. They may like it. They may not. In fact, I know already that some people will hate it, because that's just the nature of the beast. No matter what we do, we can't please everyone. I'm letting people see a part of me that's been hidden for such a long time, and I'm opening myself up to criticism. That's scary.
But my dream has reached a point where it can't stay hidden anymore. Rough drafts can be written in secret. Dreams can be hidden for a while. But if dreams are to become reality - or even have a chance of becoming reality - they have to take wing. It's time to push my dream out into the world and see if it's fragile wings can catch the wind and take flight. It's been almost two years since I wrote about being a dreamer. Now it's time to take the dream to a new level.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Thursday, August 28, 2014
"Mom, can I have a Coke?"
"A Dr. Pepper?"
"It's the same thing. No!"
I know I'm not the only one who has this conversation in some form on a daily basis. My kids don't like to hear the word "no." Many times, when I tell them no, they ask again. And again. And twenty more times. They're persistent, and they hate it when I say no.
A few months ago, I prayed for something I really needed. It was a really good thing. I didn't just want it, I truly needed it. I put it in God's hands, but honestly, I thought the answer would be yes. Turns out, I was wrong. God told me no.
Of course, I handled it in the most mature way possible - I spent the rest of the day moping, then went to sleep watching my favorite movie and dreaming about going to Paris. (It solved all Sabrina Fairchild's problems, so it should work for me, right?) Everyone around me knew, without question, that I was upset.
It wasn't fair. I wasn't being selfish. This was important to me. This was a need, not a want. So why did God say no?
The next morning, reality hit me. By moping and being upset, I was letting everyone know that I wanted MY way, not God's - that I thought MY plans were better. Ouch. I'm supposed to be more mature than that.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
I was excited to be tagged for this fun writer's blog hop! Here is a sneak peak at my writing...
1. What am I writing or working on?I'm always working on several different projects. I normally write here on my blog at least once a week. It's been a little slow lately because of a huge children's ministry remodel I've been working on, but we finished Saturday, so I can get back to my regular posting schedule now. I'm also a contributor to the Christian mystery/suspense blog Sleuths and Suspects.
I've had two short stories published this year and I'm working on several more. I'm closest to finishing my first suspense short story - I'm doing edits and hoping to submit it to some magazines soon.
By far, though, my biggest project is my novel. Right now, I'm about 2/3 of the way done. I just entered my first contest with my novel this month. I also plan to enter ACFW First Impressions later this year, and my goal is to finish in time to enter the ACFW Genesis contest next year. I wish I could share more details, but I'm being vague about the plot because of the upcoming contests.
2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?My novel is a mystery, and it's Christian fiction - but it's a little different. It's not romantic suspense. My main character is a Christian, and the story definitely comes from a Christian world view - but at the same time, I want someone doesn't read Christian fiction to be able to pick this novel and read it without feeling "preached to."
3. Why do I write about what I do?My taste in books definitely leans to the darker side. I love gritty, realistic mysteries. My favorite genre is mystery, but I also love suspense, YA dystopian (The Hunger Games) and books that border on horror. (Sounds shocking, I know, but there are Christian books that fall into this category - think Frank Peretti's The Oath or Travis Thrasher's Isolation.)
People have questioned me on my reading choices more than once. Here's the reason behind it: We don't live in a perfect world. We live in a dark world, with a spiritual war raging all around us. Our faith doesn't make us immune to the horrible things that happen in life. I find myself drawn to stories where people face the worst in life - and somewhere, in the midst of the darkness, they cling to faith, and God carries them through. I like books that show us that even in the middle do the darkest night, God is there. He's clinging to us, and He's never letting go.
4. How does my writing process work?My stories usually start with just a nugget of an idea. It might be a line, a scene, or just the question, "What if..." My most recent story, Salt Water, started with the idea of a woman standing on the beach, shivering in the cold water and wrestling with the past, and it went from there. My blog posts often come out of something I'm struggling with or learning about myself.
I use the Werdsmith app on my iPad for all my blog posts and a lot of my stories. I typically write my entire blog post on my iPad, then paste it directly into Blogger to edit, add photos, and finalize the design. I'll usually start my stories on the app, then email them to myself and move them into a Word document.
My book actually started with the main character and went from there. The first idea I dreamed up won't be in the first book - I'm saving it for later. Over several years, I built my ideas of my character, her life, her family, and her surroundings. It took a long time to work up the courage to actually start writing the story.
I don't have a set writing schedule, but I do a lot of my writing on my lunch breaks or on weekends. I stay busy with my family, my job, and our church, so I squeeze in time whenever I can.
Now to tag a few friends:
Jenni Saake blogs at Infertility Mom. We met through an (in)Courage group a few months ago. She is so inspiring!
Karan Gleddie and I met through our Hello Mornings Twitter group. Karan is always an encourager! You can find out more about her at her blog, Karan K. Gleddie.
Anita Strawn de Ojeda is part of a wonderful writer's group that I became a part of about two years ago. Five of us founded the group, which has now grown to thirteen members. We call ourselves The Writer's Bra, because our goal is to support each other as writers. You can learn more about Anita at Blessed But Stressed.
Last but certainly not least is my critique partner, Kelly Liberto. Kelly was an answer to prayer when I got serious about finishing my novel. She encourages me, and she pushes me to do better. She's also talked me down a couple of times when I've been on the verge of a meltdown. Check out Kelly's writing and more at her website.