Strong Tower

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a bad day (week or month or even a no good horrible year), but I sure have. Sometimes those bad days just catch me off guard and knock me on my backside without warning. Like the day years ago when my husband was laid off work. Sometimes the bad days are because of my own mistakes or thoughtlessness. Like when I stick my foot in my mouth (which happens on occasion). Whatever the reason, external or internal, the Lord is a tower we can run to and find comfort and safety.

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The Lord will protect you. When I feel the storms of life swirling around me, threatening me, I can call out to the Lord for protection. I often pray for His angels to guard me and my family. (Psalm 91:11) Every time I fear something, I call out to God for His help because I know that fear is not of God.

The Lord will forgive you. (Luke 7:48) How many times do I flub up and fall into sin? Way too many times for my own good. “But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9) Hallelujah!

The Lord will welcome you with open arms. I love the story of the prodigal son. Probably because I so relate to the stubbornness and rebelliousness of the son. But also, because I am so grateful that God always welcomes me back into His embrace.

In the Old Testament of the Bible, the book of Numbers tells us that Yahweh (God) set up ‘cities of refuge’ for His people. If someone unintentionally killed another, he could run to a city of refuge and be safe. It’s a beautiful picture of how our Lord is our own refuge for when we make mistakes. It doesn’t mean he will protect us from the consequences of sin. But He will love us, welcome us, and guard us.

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If you have strayed from the Lord, then all you have to do is turn back. The Lord will open His arms to you. He is waiting. He is longing to be reunited with you. He loves you. If you need protection, He doesn’t want you mired in fear. Turn to Him. He will be your strong tower. Mighty to defend. Mighty to Save. Mighty to forgive.

Here’s a beautiful video with a wonderful reminder of how Mighty our Lord is to save us.

How has God rescued you lately?

From Deep in my heart,

Leanna

Mother’s Day Ponderings

Luke 2:19 “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

If you’re a mom, then you remember the first butterfly moment you felt your baby move inside you. Or had the hiccups. Or jabbed you with a heel or elbow, which made your oddly shaped belly bulge even more. I remember the first sonogram, that first glimpse of a fuzzy image that was my baby. The little nose. A hand. A foot. Was it a boy or a girl? Ahhh! The anticipation built over the months until it culminated in the most amazing moment when the nurse placed my baby in my arms for the first time.

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Such a precious moment. Finally, I understood a tiny bit of how Mary, the mother of Jesus, must have felt.

Those early days of motherhood blur a bit from sleepless nights and all the years which have passed, but it was such an amazing time. I remember bringing my first baby home, and my husband and I sat wide-eyed on the bed watching the sweetly sleeping baby. We were scared he would stir or cry or need something. We were so clueless. We anxiously awaited my mother arriving to help take care of our newborn.

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My mother taught me much in those early days and over the years as I grew as much as my newborn into this new role of motherhood. For years when my little ones were sick, I called her first to get her advice. Sometimes she had just the right bit of encouragement or other times she knew to listen. And she never tired of me calling to share a milestone.

Other mothers have played a significant role in teaching me about motherhood too. One taught me about dealing with hemorrhoids. Yep, you read that right, and I soooo appreciated that advice! Another mom taught me about discipline and being consistent. Another taught me about the creativity and fun of birthday parties. Another taught me to go ahead and use big adult words instead of talking in baby talk to my little ones. Another mom taught me how to pray for my children. I am eternally grateful for each.

Isn’t it wonderful how moms offer help and advice to new mothers? So what is a piece of advice someone taught you? What is a sweet memory you remember of those early days of motherhood?

To all the moms out there–Happy Mother’s Day!

A Brand New Book

I’m very excited about my upcoming book, The Wildflower Inn Welcomes Mr. Darcy. As a friend said, “Who doesn’t love a Darcy book?” Well, I certainly do. Of course, knowing me, my tribute to Jane Austen and her beloved Mr. Darcy has a Texas twist.

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Here’s the blurb for The Wildflower Inn Welcomes Mr. Darcy:

A husband was imperative for a woman of Elizabeth Bennet’s era, but not so much in the twenty-first century. However, that’s exactly what Dixie Belle Tanner believes her three daughters need—husbands. The three Tanner women have their own fortune and seem to have no need for husbands while pursuing their own interests, not their mother’s. After learning even her own father wasn’t trustworthy, LaurieBeth is content to read about the likes of Mr. Darcy rather than search for a flesh and blood variety. But when a twenty-first century Will Darcy drives into Bluebonnet Falls, Texas in a slick convertible, he undermines her prejudice about cowboys, proving to her that real love blooms and grows outside the pages of books.

The book is available as Kindle ebook and also in paperback!

Expecting Santa!

Tis the season for stockings being hung by the fire, cookies baking in the oven, and books with Christmas themes being opened. This season I am re-releasing a book I wrote years ago and recently updated. It was originally published under the title Open in Nine Months, but the original title was Expecting Santa.

All Sam McCall wants for Christmas is a traditional holiday for his five-year-old daughter, Lacey. The last person he expects to find when he moves to a cozy town in Colorado is the woman who broke his heart: Joy Chase. Joy’s hiding a secret under her grandfather’s Santa suit. When Sam learns she’s carrying his baby, he has to win Joy’s heart fast. But can they learn to trust again? Can Santa deliver a Christmas miracle?

Open in Nine Months (Expecting Santa) is a touching, emotional story, a perfect way to put yourself in the holiday.” Judy Christenberry, best selling author

Leanna Wilson (Ellis) has penned a warm romance with good characterization.
RT Book Reviews

Here’s the brand new cover, and the inside is all updated too! It’s available as a Kindle ebook and also in paperback! Merry Christmas, y’all!

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Deep in the Heart of Giving

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year, iCoverFinalMD-ADaughter's Heartsn’t it? It’s a time to get off the roller coaster of life and enjoy family and friends. It’s a time to give thanks. It’s a time to be grateful for all we have been given. And it’s also a time to give. I love giving to food banks around the area. But this year, I wanted to make you aware of another way I am giving and I hope you will join in too! With each purchase of A Daughter’s Heart, I give ALL proceeds to charities that promote life and help mothers and children in need. A Daughter’s Heart was born from my heart and passion for the sanctity of life and the desire to help mothers and children. I prayed about this book for a long time before writing it, and one day I felt the Lord press on my heart that this book should be a gift to Him. It’s not just my first new book to write for indie publishing but it’s completely for God in every way. I hope that you will find encouragement in the pages of this book and be inspired. I also hope that it will raise awareness and money for the tiniest among us to struggling mothers to children in need. In my e-newsletter, I’ll profile a few charities that I give donations to.  A Daughter’s Heart is available as a Kindle ebook and also in paperback. I hope you will enjoy it and also let others know about it!

 

Deep in the Heart of Hate

Does it feel like the wheels are coming off our world when you watch the news lately? Ebola, beheadings, riots, earthquakes.

It feels a little like that to me, and I have to fight the urge to watch the news constantly. The news makes me feel frustrated and fearful, and I don’t like that. I’ve been trying to stay in the Word of the Lord rather than focusing on all the chaos.  Because ultimately, I know, God is in control.

Ebola seems far away, even though I am praying for those in West Africa and I’m praising God for the healing of Dr. Brantly. The Middle East crisis is frustrating and frightening, but also far away (at least for now). But Ferguson, MO is not far away. It’s here in America. It’s in a town, like yours or mine. I don’t know the answers in Ferguson, MO. No one does. No one really knows the truth, and yet all seem to have lined up on ‘their’ side. The news is reporting hearsay and unnamed sources. The media is a monster that needs to be constantly fed, so they find whatever bits and pieces they can. And how much is true? How much is false? How much do they just not know at this time?

I think it’s important that we look at the deeper issues, deeper than skin tone.

Here’s what I know:

  1. Racism still exists. And that is heartbreaking to me. In my world, I thought it was pretty much eradicated, but in talking to a friend this week, who has children of a different color, I learned stupid people still exist. But racism isn’t one sided. It seems to me that a lot of folks were eager to believe a white cop maliciously killed an innocent black teen. A lot of people wanted to stir up more hate and fear. The truth, I hope, will come out. But I’m not sure the truth can bring healing when so many want justice according to their own views. Only Jesus can heal hearts. Truth only reveals brokenness. But this whole incident has shown me that deep down in hearts across America hate and fear and distrust reside.
  2. Life is full of choices and the consequences of such. We all make choices—chocolate or regular milk, gluten or not, Diet Coke or water. Some choices are easy, some not so much. Some choose to follow the law, others do not. We also choose rather to forgive or not, whether to hate or not, whether to trust or not. We choose how we are going to look at the world through rose-tinted glasses or through squinty, distrustful eyes. We also choose whether or not we want to be offended. If we are looking to be offended, then we will. If we are looking to spread the love of Christ, then we will. Choices are all around us. And once we make a choice, we must accept the consequences.
  3. Ignorance exists. Try walking in someone else’s shoes. Try looking at life from a different perspective instead of always from your own comfy chair. I often take this for granted because I’m a writer so I do this all the time. But most folks don’t. They should. Try walking around in Michael Brown’s shoes for a while, how he was raised, what was his life was like, what kind of family did he have. Then try walking around in Darren Wilson’s shoes. What’s it like to be a cop, to walk up to a car, not knowing who is inside or what their motives are, what is it like to confront folks on a daily basis?
  4. Finally, if we let fear, hate or rebellion rule our lives then we will be towed around like we are wearing a leash, tugged this way and that and we will not have control of our own lives. If we hold onto fear, hate or rebellion then we cannot grasp the cross of Christ. We cannot grasp His mercy and grace (and boy do we all need extra helpings of His mercy and grace), nor can we extend it to another.

Finally, again, I don’t know what happened in Ferguson, MO, but I know that those who are there need Jesus. They need His healing touch. They need His mercy and grace. How can we ask anyone to love when they don’t know Jesus? Jesus is the only one who can teach us how to love. We need Jesus in our lives to change us from the inside out. He won’t make us perfect. We will still make mistakes, and we’ll have to pay for those mistakes. But Jesus will help us be better than we are and will save us from ourselves.

A Daughter’s Heart

It’s here! It’s LIVE! And it’s ready to be read!

I’m super excited about this novella. For years it rattled around my brain, but last year I finally figured out the best way to write it. So it’s a long time coming, but it’s finally here and I hope you love it!

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Hannalee comes of age in a well-guarded orphanage. A photo album her father made introduces her to her mother, and she daydreams of their meeting one day. But the harsh reality of being unwanted strips away the façade of her imaginings. Through caring for a young infant who comes to the home, she learns about love and forgiveness through her Father’s eyes. When she learns her mother is in danger, she climbs the wall surrounding the orphanage, determined to find her. The world she enters is dark and cold, far different from her home where she once basked in her Father’s warmth and love. A cross between Lovely Bones, The Shack, and Sixth Sense, A Daughter’s Heart reveals the consequences of choices and the loving sacrifice required for redemption.

A DAUGHTER’S HEART is a sweet combination of past, present, and future—the kind of story that only a talented writer could pull off!

–Michelle Stimpson – Author, Speaker, Educator

Leanna Ellis once again weaves a beautiful story of a Father’s patience and hope as He holds out love and waits for His child to embrace it and come home. But it isn’t just any story. It’s everyone’s story. Maybe it’s YOUR story.

–Jerri Phillips – Author, Speaker

This day deserves a celebration! So let’s give away a copy of A Daughter’s Heart. If you would like to be entered into a drawing for a Kindle edition of A Daughter’s Heart, please post a comment! I’ll make a drawing Friday!

Hope is Available

I wonder if Robin Williams knew how loved he was? Did he know how much he would be missed? Look at the outpouring of love this week in the aftermath of his untimely death, I wonder if he knew. I suspect he didn’t. I suspect he couldn’t see beyond the pain he was feeling.

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The darkest time of my life came after the birth of my second child. I had two babies—a toddler under the age of 2 and a newborn. And I was depressed. I don’t mean I was tired and weary. Yes, I was. But I was truly depressed. It was a very dark time. On top of that, I felt guilty for the depression. After my firstborn was delivered, I felt euphoric. I was elated to be a mommy finally. So, it was hard for me to accept that after my second was born, I faced crazy tears and a darkness I had never experienced. Where was the joy over this new and healthy baby? Thankfully, I spoke to my doctor about my unusual feelings. We quickly realized that it was the birth control pills I went on right after her birth. All those hormones wreaked havoc on my system. I immediately got off the pills and my hormones regulated themselves. The storm clouds cleared. Sunshine returned.

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Depression comes in all shapes and sizes. For this optimist, it was a shock when I experienced it but it was also quite a shock to watch my father go through it after his heart surgery. It’s a common phenomenon for heart patients or anyone who has had a serious ailment to go through depression. My dad was like John Wayne–strong, confident, steady. And yet, to watch him go through depression was heartbreaking. Even more shocking to me was the lack of response by his heart doctor. My mother would slip a note to the nurse during a doctor visit telling her how depressed he was. The doctor would come in and say, “Are you depressed?” My father, being stoic and never accepting what he perceived as weakness, would deny it. And nothing would be done to help him.

My mother is also very calm and steady, so it was also a shock when she realized several years ago that she was depressed. She was unflappable during her bout with breast cancer. Her doctor kept asking her if she was depressed during follow-up visits because some medication she was on could cause depression. One day, my mom was watching Grumpy Old Men, a comedy, and she cried three times. That told her something was not right. Thankfully, she sought help.

Depression can be caused by hormones or medication or traumatic situations. Some people have an illness, which is depression, and there are all sorts of manifestations of that. Unfortunately, I have also known those who have not sought help. Robin Williams’ death by suicide brought that home to me again this week. I ache for his family and friends, because I too had a friend who committed suicide. I have asked myself all the questions that follow. Did I…Could I…Why didn’t I…What if I’d…? There are no answers to those questions only a lingering pain. I simply understand the deep ache of what they are now facing. Suicide doesn’t just affect the person that takes his or her own life. Suicide devastates families and friends. There is not a week that goes by since my friend’s death (and it’s been 3 years) that I don’t think of my friend, of those last moments in her life, and wish I’d been able to help.

I didn’t know Robin Williams. I don’t know all that he struggled with. From the outside, his life looked to be ideal. But no one’s life is ideal. Everyone struggles. Everyone faces difficulties. He recently had heart surgery. He struggled with addiction. He struggled with depression. He faced financial difficulties. Here is what I know: depression is an isolating illness. It makes you feel alone, and in that isolation lurks hopelessness.

This morning, I was reading out of the book of Job. Surely, if anyone had reason to feel depressed and hopeless, it was Job. All of his children had died. His wealth had been taken. His health was failing as he suffered boils on his body. He was in severe pain. Friends came to see him, trying to help and also accusing him of sin in his life, which they believed caused his suffering. Job 3 is Job’s lament. “Why didn’t I die as soon as I was born…” “Instead of being alive, I would now be quietly lying down. I would now be sleeping peacefully. I would be with the kings and the counselors of the world who built for themselves what are now ruins…. I would not exist…I have no peace! I have no quiet! I have no rest! And trouble keeps coming!”

Surely, Job was in a desperate situation. He was in a very dark place. He needed help. He needed hope. Let’s skip over what all his friends said to him in response. Because what really matters is what God says to him in chapter 38. “Then Yahweh answered Job out of the storm… “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you have such insight.” Later, God says, “Will the person who finds fault with God correct him?” Finally, Job responds to God with, “I know that you can do everything and that your plans are unstoppable.”

Life is temporary. Eternity is forever. The suffering we feel here on earth does not last forever. It is a season. There are answers and solutions to any problem. God has the answers. He can work miracles in our lives if we will but allow Him.

For those who cry when others are laughing…if your life feels dark and hopeless…if you think about ending your life…reach out to a friend, a family member, a professional doctor, nurse, anyone. I know it’s scary. I know you feel as if no one will care. There is someone who wants to help. Please, reach out and get help. You do not have to live with tears or loneliness or darkness. Reach out. Get help. If you haven’t reached out to God, then do so. People make mistakes and fail each other, but God loves you. Always. Let me repeat that. God. Loves. You.

For those who have been left behind by someone they love who took their own life, it’s okay to walk through all those stages of grief: sadness, anger, etc… There are organizations that can help you in the aftermath. Get help. But also, reach out to God. He understands your pain, your suffering, and He wants to help you through this very difficult time.

For those who do not face depression (yet), please remember that no one knows what situation another faces, what resides in another’s heart or the pain another suffers. Looking at Robin Williams, it would be easy to assume that his success, his laughter, his life would cause happiness. It’s never that simple. Be mindful that others are hurting and reach out to help, listen for clues that someone needs help or is asking for help, and most importantly simply love each other.

For those who have gone on, who found this life too painful, too dark, you are not forgotten. You are loved. You are missed.

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys

It was a cold night in the Texas Panhandle, and I was a little girl going to the rodeo with my family. This was not a slicked up rodeo but a nitty-gritty rodeo out in the country with real cowboys, some of which were my older cousins. I remember sitting on one of my cousins’ laps. She already had children of her own but she helped warm me up on that chilly night as we watched the cowboys rope steers and ride bulls.

strongsilentcowboyMaybe that’s where my love of cowboys began. Because most of my cousins were many years older than me, I didn’t know them well and simply watched and admired them. My dad also raised me on John Wayne movies. My favorite movie growing up was True Grit. Just the opening song could get my blood pulsing.

As I grew up, I fell in love with country music. One day, I was driving around Dallas, to and from work, listening to Rodeo by Garth Brooks when a character came to me. He was wearing chaps and boots and he had a slight stutter. I immediately fell in love with Kirk and had to write his story, Strong, Silent Cowboy, which became my very first published book.

So began my writing career, which started with writing about cowboys. I love cowboys’ strength, ingenuity, traditions, and love for nature. I love that they are real men, with a bit of swagger, but also a touch of humility. They know God created the land and bow their heads to pray. I’m proud that I know real cowboys, and I’m blessed to have been able to write about them.

christmasinjulyChristmas in July was my second published book and a sequel to my first. This book features not only a cowboy but also a cowgirl–a barrel racer. These girls have courage and big hearts. Geena, a young widow, has more than her share but she also has a wall around her heart that the right cowboy is going to have to jump.

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Finally, my latest release, For the Love of Cody, is actually a re-release of my 5th book. It garnered the National Readers’ Choice Award when it was published. Since then, it went out of print but I gained the rights back to it and recently brought it out as a Kindle ebook. But now, it’s also available in paperback! You can click on the titles of my books to find out more about them.

So for a long while, my heroes have always been cowboys. Next year, I’m publishing a brand new cowboy story! Hope you’ll hang around until it’s ready.

So what about you? Do you love cowboys? Country music? Western movies?

Contest: For a copy of the paperback For the Love of Cody. At the end of this week, I’ll draw a name from those who leave a comment below for a winner.

Welcome!

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My website has had a facelift! So welcome to the new blog area too…or as I like to call it my back porch, where we can sit and talk about our favorite books (or occasionally even mine!), gaze at beautiful scenery, chat about life and love, swap recipes, and explore topics of inspiration. Khalil Gibran once said, “When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” Walking alone, enjoying beautiful scenery, or even reading a great book, in my experience, is even more enjoyable when it is shared with others. The path of sorrow or pleasure becomes steeper and more difficult when one is alone. Thankfully, we don’t ever have to be alone as God, our heavenly Father, is always with us. Family and friends can also lighten the load, making the music of our lives sweeter, the smiles brighter, and our days more delightful.

Let me pour you some hot tea…or a big glass of sweet tea. Kick off your shoes and make yourself at home. Let’s share our hearts and search for rays of sunshine and truth. Be sure to come back as often as you like!