Category Archives: Christian faith

Slugs and Motivation

I don’t know about you, but what frequently motivates me is…

Dis-satisfaction.

It could come from looking in the mirror

or reading my latest medical lab reports

or catching myself doing one of my pet sins.

Lots of Christians say it’s not good to be dis-satisfied. It leads to focusing on negative things. For the most part I agree.

But not when it comes to things that can or should be changed. My dis-satisfaction does not take my joy away. It’s merely an impetus.IMG_0682

I took a long walk the other day. It’s my time to talk to the Lord, to reflect, to enjoy God’s creation, and to let my mind get creative.

I crossed this critter:

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and wondered what made this slug decide to brave the wide, wide, gravelly expanse that separates one lovely, wet, arboreal area, from the other lovely, wet arboreal area across the path. The path is only about six feet wide. But to the slug, who neither comprehends human measures of distance, nor circumscribes his movements according to my perception of boundaries, his journey across the rocky wasteland is “what you do.”

To me, the woods on either side of the trail look identical.

There’s a stream on one side.

But there’s a pond on the other.

On each side, there are plenty of plants and other delectable things for a slug.

So why expend so much energy crossing over?

Because the slug wants something more.

And I do, too.

This is what motivates me:

Professionally, I’m not satisfied that I’ve published three books this year. What good is that if no one knows my books are out there? So I’m currently seeking friends who will review my book, and researching on-line promotional sites that will help me get the word out about Haven’s Flight, and the sweet love story, coming out in June: High Country Dilemma.

Physically, I’m not satisfied with the numbers mocking me on my glucometer each morning. They’re a mite too high. Which motivates me to get on my hiking boots and head for the trails. And eschew donuts and pasta and grains and soy and potatoes and ice cream, and anything else that tastes good.

Spiritually, I’m not satisfied about the sin that hangs on, making me want to self-flagellate. Oh, how I long for the day when I will be freed from my flesh. It’s almost painful to read Paul’s words in Romans: “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do…What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

In the meantime, I recognize that “it is God who works within both to will and to work for his good purposes.” (Philippians) And I keep slogging (slugging?) toward the goal of conquering the “sin that entangles.”

Like the slug, my progress is slow, on all three aspects.

The slug is driven by his God-given instincts, whatever they are.

And I am driven by my God-given need to push on, not content to stay in an imperfect place.

 

 

Newness

The Northwest is positively gorgeous in the spring.

Right now, the daffodils and tulips of various colors glorify the fields in Burlington, Washington.

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Dramatic clouds hover over mountains to the east, which still sport a cap of white.

The air is cool, and the sun even peaks through the clouds from time to time.

The day before Easter, Bruce and I drove down to Burlington to view the magnificent fields. Believe me, my photos do not do it justice.

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The next day, we celebrated Easter at a friend’s house. They had just gotten two baby ducks, which were an absolute hit with the kids.

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And on Monday, I prepared a new manuscript for my publisher, the sequel to Haven’s Flight, which launched on Amazon two weeks ago. That, too is a wonderful beginning…at least for me.

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I love beginnings. I love to watched crocus’s and daffodils and tulips poke through the dirt: the promise of beauty after coldness, and an end to the monotony of gray, gray, gray.

I love the peep, peep, peep of baby chicks and ducks…

Baby horses, baby cows, beautiful children: God’s provision for the future.

In a week or so, we’ll open our doors and windows and let the house expel its staleness, to be replaced by wind-purified, rain-washed air.

I wonder what the morning was like when Jesus began his life anew. When the stone rolled away by an invisible hand and the Lord stepped out. Did heavenly air rush out of the tomb, or did earthly air flow in?

I love the way His resurrected life, and the new life of crocuses and tulips and ducklings coincide.

It’s a reminder each spring that death is vanquished, and that God is the giver of life.

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Yippee! My Book

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I just got my book in the mail!

Wow, what a feeling. To see my words transformed from a manuscript on my computer to an actual physical book.

I did not begin writing with a dream to make myself famous or to make money. Ha, ha! My goal was to make a story— which had been percolating in my mind for decades—take shape as words, and eventually, pages. And I hoped someone would read it and take something of value from the story.

Haven’s Flight began with an image that popped into my head when I was just a teen. An image that wouldn’t leave my head until I sketched it on a sheet of artist paper.

I had no concept yet, just the suspenseful drawing of a young woman standing alone in a snowy field, surrounded by dark forest, looking nervously over her shoulder.

Some of my readers have found similarities between my protagonist, Haven, and me, the author. That wasn’t my intent. But authors imbue their characters with things they feel and know, and have experienced. I knew Haven would have to be a musician because that’s what I have known intimately for nearly fifty years.

I also knew she had to have her adventure in the wet, rugged, and mysterious Cascade Mountains.

The book I’m confident you’re soon going to order from Amazon wasn’t even on my mental back-burner originally. (By the way, Haven’s Flight is discounted by forty percent if you order it before April 4th.) Book 2, coming out in the fall was the original story. But when I started to write it, I realized that story needed to begin with another story.

Haven’s Flight is a redemptive story about a young woman who has lost her faith, but comes to realize, after facing extreme danger and adventure in the Cascade Mountains, that God never leaves us or forsakes us. Don’t expect this Christian novel to be all sweetness and light. After all, Haven spends half the book hiding from a crazy guy!

I hope you love it.

 

 

Haven’s Flight Finally Flies

I remember talking to published authors a few years back at a writer’s conference.

Most of them advised me: Take your time. Don’t be in such a hurry to get published. You’ll never be as free with your writing time as you are now, not yet published.

Of course I smirked at this advice, although not visibly. Easy for you to say, published author, looking down from your high perch as an author with credence in the publishing world.

I was in a hurry. I bristled at the thought of all the things an aspiring writer has to do to prepare for a career (or even a partial career) in writing. Why can’t I just write?

Why do I have to have a platform? Why do I have to join all these writer groups and have critique partners?

Why do I have to submit my excerpts to contests and get stinging criticism from judges? Why do I have to read and study all these books on the craft of writing?

And why does it all take so much time?

I wrote my first book nine years ago. Man, was I ever ignorant of the publishing process. I thought I’d just take my baby down to the nearest agent and get a contract the same day.

Wrong!

My first critique at my first writer’s conference pulled me up short. The critiquer, a seasoned author said, “Before we go over your excerpt, let’s pray.”

We have to pray because it’s so bad? Not an auspicious start to our meeting.

She handed my printed excerpt to me and my stomach went sour at all the red ink on the pages.

 

A couple of years later, I attended another conference. This time I interviewed authors during our meal-times. My question, “What is the most important advice you could give me as an unpublished writer?” got the biggest response.

“Don’t give up.” Without exception, each author had said nothing was more essential than the will to keep going.

God reminded me of that bit of advice over and over during the next few years as I slowly began to get small articles and stories published.

My first full-sized novel releases in three weeks: Haven’s Flight is the story of a young woman, a pianist, who has witnessed the violent death of her mother during a robbery and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress. She enrolls in a wilderness therapy camp, hoping that the program will help her heal so that she can perform on stage again. But, while at camp, someone is following her, leaving her threatening notes.

If you click on “my books” you can read a little bit more about the story.

Haven’s Flight is a Christian story, a redemptive story. It’s got some dark themes in it. I wouldn’t recommend this story to anyone younger than sixteen.

But the biggest spiritual message in the story is the one God gives to each of His children:

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Haven’s Flight releases April 4th as an ebook, (Write Integrity Press is the publisher)) and can also be ordered as a print book from Amazon.com. I hope you enjoy it!

Facing A Mountain

img_0952I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions.

No offence to those who do. It just doesn’t work for me.

But each January I ask the Lord to show me what my focus should be for the year.

One year, the answer was simply, “Get on your knees and pray hard.”

Another year, my focus on one of the shortest verses in Genesis: “And Enoch walked with God.” What would that look like, lived out in my own life?

This year, as I rejoiced in the book contracts for both my suspense novels and my romance novel, I faced a mountain of edits, blurbs, bios, and promotional activities.

Coming out of neck surgery just weeks earlier, I felt so feeble. How could I possibly get done all that my publishers require of me in such a short time, as well as fulfill my ministry commitments at church?

God is faithful. as I poured out my heart to Him about the size of my burden, He reminded me of Jesus’s words from His sermon on the Mount: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt. 6:34 NIV Bible)

So my new focus for this coming year is:

“One day at a time.”

I know, it’s a cliche. Even so, it’s a great paraphrase of Jesus’s words. If I let myself focus on the whole mountain, my feet don’t want to start trekking.

One day, Dena. Just one day’s amount of steps. You can do this.

 

 

 

When All You Can Do Is Pray

It was a Christmas like no other Christmas we’ve had in at least 35 years.

Normally our house would be thrumming with preparations for the holidays: baking, decorating, Christmas cards, rehearsing music, getting the guest rooms ready.

But this year I had scheduled a surgery to fuse three of my cervical vertebrae.

Nov. 29th.

Okay, I thought, it only a little over three weeks until Christmas, but I’m sure I’ll be up and running, purring like a fine-tuned motor.

I had a stack of books, projects, and music sitting by my couch, waiting for my attention.

My plan was to, as they say, “hit the ground running,” when January arrived.

I’m strong and energetic. A personality that loves to say “yes.” A mind that loves to think and plan and analyze.

Unfortunately—or fortunately, if you have a mind that considers the sovereignty of God—I got none of these things done.

None.

My brain was both blessed and hijacked by the power of prescribed narcotics, designed to soothe even the most intense after-surgery pain.

 

 

Thank the Lord for modern pain meds. Thank the Lord!

But I’m looking forward to the day I don’t need them anymore.

I’ll bet y’all have been there, too.

The one thing I’ve been able to do for the past four or five weeks is scan Facebook and read and respond to other Facebook-ers requests for prayer.

I know many of you all have been faithful to pray for me, and I, in turn, have been faithful to pray for you.

Sometimes that’s the only ministry left to us during a period of illness.

And it’s no little thing.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Cor.1:3-4 NIV Bible)

 

Tomorrow’s the Big Day

And I’m a bit nervous. I know just enough about my neck surgery to think (and think and think) about the possible complications.”Awful-izing,” my husband calls it.

And then, of course, some good friends filled me in about their own surgeries and how terrible they felt for a couple of weeks afterward. Thanks, guys!

I would have much preferred to hear half-truths: “Piece of cake. Hardly even needed painkillers. All that stuff you hear about complications? Don’t believe it. Not gonna happen.”

I had my pre-op appointment with the surgeon  the other day. He says I’ll feel like I have strep throat and whiplash for a couple of weeks.

He keeps his face thoroughly composed even when he says, “The only thing you have to be careful about while you’re recovering is falling. Oh, and choking.

Do you ever have some big thing that you’re dreading, and as you get closer to D-day, you start this count-down thing?

Like: “in seventy-two hours, at @ 4:30 PM, this will be over.”

And the next day you think: “in 48 hours, at @ 5 PM,  I’ll be in recovery.”

And now, Monday, Nov. 28th,  at @ 2:45, I’m declaring: “in 24 hours, I’ll be right in the middle of surgery.”

And the Lord will be right there, too. Even though I won’t hear Him or feel Him.

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV Bible)

If you happen to remember me at 11:30 AM Tuesday morning on Nov. 29th, pray for me!

Thanks.