Lord, we receive Your words and treasure Your commandments within us. Help us make our ears attentive to wisdom. Incline our hearts to understanding. We cry for discernment. We seek wisdom as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures. Thank You, Lord, that You promise discernment and knowledge of You. Thank You, Lord, for Your wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Thank You that You are a shield for us. Guard our paths, Lord, and preserve our way. May wisdom enter our heart and knowledge be pleasant to our soul. Deliver us from evil. (Proverbs 2)
I started NaNoWriMo early this year as Thanksgiving week will take all my concentration, not only in cooking and cleaning but in welcoming my college aged kids home. (Thank God!) So by the middle of last week, when most of y’all were just starting, my brain was already feeling fatigued. I’d written about 241 words one morning and already felt like I’d hit a ten foot tall, four foot thick wall made of the hardest steel. Ever feel like that? So I had a choice. I could have closed my computer, given up for the day. Boy, did I want to! I could have eaten a few more peanutbutter M&Ms to see if they’d help. Or I could pray. God loves it when we’ve reached the end of our rope and reach for Him for help, and He showed up. It took me less time to write the rest of my word count then it had taken me to write those measly 241 words.
Because I was extending so much creative energy on writing, I didn’t touch my Inspire bible for any journaling time until late Friday night. I had started a page on Monday and decided to finish it. And a verse on the page opposite the one I was working on popped out at me.
“Beautiful words stir my heart. I will recite a lovely poem about the king, for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet.” (New Living Translation)
I also love the translation from New American Standard Bible:
“My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.”
Don’t you love that? I do! I love words. I love when words are put together in a certain way and they make my heart sing. I thought how this verse is perfect for NaNoWriMo as I write my words for my King of my heart and soul. Let’s write for Him. Let’s pray for His inspiration. Let’s pray that He fills our hearts and minds with His words so they flow out of us and onto the page. Join me?
Father God, thank You for the love of words and stories that stir our hearts. Give us stamina and strength this week as we pour words onto the page for NaNoWriMo so that we can jumpstart our stories. Pour Your words and truth into our hearts and minds that they may fill the pages with what is on Your heart. What may seem impossible for us is possible with You. Make it possible, Lord, that we would stir other hearts to know You. Make it possible, Lord, to finish the books that you have placed on our hearts. Make it possible, Lord. We give You all the glory and praise!
Father God, may we ‘not forget Your teaching, but keep Your commands in our hearts, for they will prolong our life many years and bring us prosperity.’ (Proverbs 3:1-2 ‘Blessed be the Lord, because He has heard the voice of my supplication. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him. The Lord is their strength, and He is a saving defense to His anointed. Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; be their shepherd also, and carry them forever.’ (Psalm 27:6-9) In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen!
It’s an old Bob Dylan song but it rings truer every day. Not only is the world changing, quite rapidly, as I can’t keep up with what the new iPhone is available anymore, but life seems in constant motion and change. Do you ever feel like that? You just want the world to stop so you can get off for a minute. Or maybe you’re in the middle of a big change in your own life: a new baby, a move, a job change, a divorce, loss of a loved one, an empty nest, or retirement. Life is change. It never stays the same for long. And change is hard.
My house is quiet now, well quieter. I do still have dogs that bark at butterflies fluttering past the front door. But where once my daughter was belting out song after song throughout the house or my son was telling me one of his nerdy jokes, the silence is deafening. They’ve gone off to college, and it’s quiet. Often too quiet.
Here’s one thing that I remember and cling to daily: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
That brings me comfort. In the roaring waves and rising tides of change, He is my anchor. He doesn’t change. And He is always there for me to cry out to in pain and uncertainty, in fear and confusion, in worry and strife.
When Peter climbed out of that boat to walk to Jesus (Matthew 14), he didn’t see the waves and depth of the water or the distance to shore. He only saw Jesus. It was later, when he felt the spray of water on his face and felt the weight of water soaking his clothes and pulling him down that he took his eyes off Jesus and onto his circumstances. Suddenly fear overwhelmed him. Doubt began to pull him under. Yet, he cried out to the Lord.
And that’s what we have to do. Maybe change was thrust upon you and you were not expecting to suddenly be alone. Lost. Broken. Hurting. Jesus is there, just waiting for you to cry out to Him.
Or maybe you chose a career change. Maybe change wasn’t thrust upon you but you made the change. Happily. Optimistically. Courageously. But then, maybe things didn’t go as you had imagined. Or maybe you didn’t realize the waves would be as massive. Or a sudden storm swept over you. Outside influences caused you to glance around, to see how scary it was out there, how alone you felt, how doubtful, how worried. It’s okay. Jesus is right there with you.
“But seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness, and all things will be given to you as well. “(Matthew 6:33)
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
Oh Father, change is so hard. We confess we’re scared and worried and feeling alone. But Your Word tells us You are here with us, that You will never leave us. Thank You that even though the world changes around us, life changes, circumstances change, our families change, our jobs change, but You never do. You are the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Tuck us beneath the shelter of Your wing and protect us from the storms of life. Comfort our hearts. Ease the burdens that we are carrying. Fill us with Your truth and Your word. ‘For we know the plans You have for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11” Make our path smooth and straight, so that we can stand firm on Jesus, our rock, and bring glory to You.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
(The Solid Rock, by Edward Mote)
I love to pray scriptures. God’s Word is powerful!
For those of you who feel weary today:
Lord God, ‘since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that we will not grow weary and lose heart.’ (Hebrews 12:1-3) Strengthen us, Lord, with Your strength, with Your love, with Your truth. Uphold us with Your strong right hand. Guide us, Lord, into Your truth. Shelter us and protect us. Help us, Lord, to set aside anything that holds us back from seeking You and You alone. In Jesus’ Holy name, Amen.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
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.
Maybe 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.
Christmas 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.
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.