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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!

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.

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!

Laughter, Friendship, and Writing!

“I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you, and that you will work them, water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.”
Clarissa Pinkola Estes

One of the things I love about writing is sprinkling in a dose of laughter. But not all stories are belly-grabbing hardy-har-har stories. Some are more serious in tone. My Plain Fear series is definitely more serious as it’s a battle of good versus evil. However, because I am the writer and because I love to laugh, it was inevitable that I would find a few humorous things to slip in between the covers of these books. But it was not easy at first.

Writing has brought a lot of interesting people into my life. One of my dear friends, Julie, and I met at a writers conference. We were actually standing in line for the restroom. If you’ve ever been to a writers’ conference, you’ll know that there is always a long line for the ladies room, because there tend to be more women at these conferences than men. Anyway, Julie and I struck up a conversation and discovered our children happened to go to the same school. About a year later, I can’t remember who emailed whom, but we finally found time in our crazy schedules to meet for breakfast and chatted and shared our writing. She is a fabulous writer, on the level of Jodi Piccoult. I was bowled over by how good a writer she is. So we began meeting.

You can’t share your books with another writer and read their writing without becoming good friends. Opening the pages of someone’s manuscript is like opening their heart and peering inside. So over a couple of years, Julie and I became good friends.

A couple of years ago when I was researching the first book in the Plain Fear series, I needed to go to Pennsylvania to do research. Julie volunteered to show me around Lancaster County because she had once lived in Philadelphia and knew the area. So we journeyed together into the Amish world, which is very different from our own.

It is easy to feast your eyes on the peaceful fields and tranquil farms throughout the area. But one thing I remember the most about that trip is something that tickled our funny bone. I can’t even remember what it was, but I remember the laughter. We laughed so hard together and frankly could not stop. Isn’t that just like friends to share some inside joke, something that’s meaningless to others. And that laughter wriggled its way into my manuscript.

Laughter. It’s healing and heartwarming.

Do you have a friend who can always make you laugh?

Share about your friend here on my blog and I’ll enter you to win Plain Fear: Forbidden, my about-to-be-released book, which doesn’t come out until August 1, 2012. But you could win it early! I’ll draw a winner this Friday!

Upcoming Events

It’s going to be a busy weekend and I hope if you’re in the area, you’ll come see me at one of these events:

Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011 I’ll be speaking at the DFW Ready Writers group about polishing your manuscript.
dfwreadywriters.blogspot.com

Saturday afternoon from 3 to 5, I’ll be signing Forsaken at Barnes and Noble in Plano, TX.
www.store-locator.barnesandnoble.com

Sunday is a fun annual event called Buns and Roses, which raises money for literacy.
www.bunsandroses.org

Have a blessed week!

FACELIFT, Maggie Award Winner


Hi, y’all! I’ve been busy finishing up my manuscript Forbidden, which is book #2 of the Plain Fear series, so I’m sorry I’ve gotten behind on blogging. Today, I was busy doing a little cleaning around the house when I got a call that FACELIFT had won the 2011 Maggie Award last night. Georgia Romance Writers had their conference and banquet this weekend when it was announced. I was sorry not to get to go to the award ceremony or conference but was delighted to learn FACELIFT had won! Thanks so much to the judges and to Georgia Romance Writers!