Will You Climb?

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My son is going through an “I can’t” stage. He “can’t” eat but a millimeter of meat. He “can’t” run and play with his sister if she (and her longer legs) runs faster than he does. He “can’t” squeeze less than an ocean of toothpaste onto his toothbrush.

We encourage (Make) him to go through with his cants for obvious (you will respect me now) reasons, but we mostly don’t want him to be okay with giving up. Health problems have kept him from running and sporting like a 5 yr-old-boy should, so at a young age, he has reached that mountain he’s unable to spell yet: adversity. He’s happy by nature, but sometimes a challenge wells up in him so much that it lights his attitude like a flickering bulb. When his sister beats him to the swing set and the trampoline and the kitchen where cookies are fresh from the oven, his faces scrunches up into a million red creases of agony.

I decided to tell him about David the shepherd boy, who from a young age had to 100_1834kill lions and giants. I tell him how David had to run for years and hide in caves to avoid being murdered by a jealous king. How he had moments of overwhelming anguish, but despite those odds he didn’t let the cants lead him.

I know I’ve had days where the cants try to lead me. But I see Noah, and then drag my eyes to the sky.

If God gave David a mountain to climb in order to become a king, He will take our hands too, guiding us through the steepest crags to become what we are meant to be. One step at a time.

 

I truly hope you have a good Monday. Thank you, loyal friends, for coming back each week.

I wrote about another mountain–one where everything extraordinary has been banned by man. If you’d be interested in a review copy of Wake, visit Story Cartel (soon) to get yours.

 

Sleep and Wake

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My daughter’s blanky is a “she.” After receiving countless blankets as baby gifts, we found purple blanky when none of the others were the right size for swaddling. The others were either too big or not long enough to tuck Chloe into a snugly burrito—the only thing that soothed her during the colicky months.

As Chloe grew into a toddler, purple blanky had to be turned fuzzy side down for her to sleep. When she outgrew “her,” Chloe would wad her up like a baby and hold her as she slept. On the darker nights, nights when the boogey man still exists, she still needs purple blanky to hide under. In fact, I often find her asleep with purple blanky spread across her torso like she’s sleeping underneath a hanky. But just the same, purple blanky is always there. As I write this, purple blanky drapes across Chloe’s waist as she struggles through a tummy bug.

The grown-up blanky is a “He.” We can’t really wad Him up, or lay Him fuzzy side down, but we can’t outgrow Him. When our nights are darker than normal, He covers us entirely, fears and all.

When the monsters my kids don’t know about yet try to convince me that He isn’t real, or that He can’t cover me in protection, I just pull Him closer and rest under His strength. He fits me, no matter what size or what season I’m in.

Too often, we forget we are always covered in God’s love, no matter what. Go into this Monday with courage. He’s got you covered.

This moment, I’m clutching Him tight, wondering how people will receive my newest book. Today is launch day for Wake.

If you would be interested in a review copy, let me know at srossbooks@gmail.com. It’s already approved by Readers’ Favorite.

Amazon.

 

WAKEwithAward2 copy

Never Mind the Haters

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Good Monday, friends. In actuality, I’m on Garfield’s team when it comes to Mondays, but I have to note three Awesome things about this day:

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But she loves her kids

1. I get three hours to myself.
2. The sun is out.
3. While walking this morning, my dog did not try assassinating any other dogs.

Finally, I have a giant stack of books on my bedside table. This makes me immensely happy. But, If you’re an avid book reader like me, you’ve probably experienced criticism from reading-deprived persons. You’ve probably been laughed at, called a nerd, accused of being lazy and all sorts of unpleasant comments/treatment, but as we know, books change the world (for a list of some examples, go here).
Story is powerful–Jesus told stories that rocked the world, so there you go, the ultimate authority has, forevermore, made books awesome. And not nerdy.

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I don’t believe in perpetually staying within the lines. Oh yes, me and my crayons explore the world of color inside and outside of “the rules.”

Do you want to know the truth? Why not? Telling the truth is biblical, right? I don’t have an agent to reign me in, so here it is: I don’t like having to market my books. I love writing, I love people, I love blogging and readers and interacting with readers, but I don’t like following the endless list of do’s and don’ts of marketing. To tell you the truth (and I know of some other authors who agree with me), it feels like self-worship. I don’t worship me. They say don’t make homemade book trailers, in fact, book trailers don’t sell books. Like, at all. But you know what? I’m visual. I like book trailers, and I know from experience that they don’t sell books, but I make them anyway because I like the process and winging around ideas in abstract, maybe even absurd ways. So maybe I wasted several hours making one…but I made one anyway. It’s fun and I enjoyed it.

Watch this (if you want to) without a shred of pressure. And tell us how you break the rules. Tell me I’m not swimming alone out here with my crayons and camera. =)

GO HERE.

The Dark Side of Editing

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Good editing is key to a polished book, but on occasion, a manuscript can be edited so much that it loses the intended message. When the focus shifts from story to higher sales, it becomes nothing more than another product. Many products built on the root of greed saturate our lives.

As my husband explained to our kids why today is a celebration, not just another day off school, he emphasized that Martin Luther King Jr. got his inspiration from God—another thing edited out by most schools. Our history is being reshaped into a product line of lies–it’s important to us that our kids know the true story.

Like so many things, the truth of God has been edited and rewritten to produce false ideas that saturate our culture. Christianity, aka the gospel movement, has been labeled a hate group. And although Jesus instructs us to love one another, His message has been largely misinterpreted by a world doused in half-truths. A world that hasn’t sat down to read His entire book. Even many believers don’t take the time to read His whole story, and in ignorance, state that we must all change along with society. God, knowing where the direction of our culture would go prepared an answer in advance:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

Now, usually the response to this would be something about the Bible being edited by countless generations,  but we forget one thing: God is always prepared. If God is really God, He will find a way to preserve His word. He even gives us a guarantee:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…2 Timothy 3:16. Here’s an article that goes into more detail.

What do you think readers? What is it that makes you trust your sources?

 

The Root of It All

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Happy Monday friends. Soon, we’ll be headed down to Phoenix Children’s Hospital so we can hopefully figure out what ails our son (prayers welcome). As it often goes, I’m trying to get through this while juggling multiple projects that won’t wait for me to be ready, so I’ve fallen behind on writing and, well, everything else.

But would you be interested in a project I’m starting with a friend ? Are you a writer? Do you feel like marketing your writing(s) and building your platform is demanding a higher priority than God? Several years ago, I attended a mini writer’s conference with a well-known Christian agent. I enjoyed meeting him and learned a great deal, although a few things he said left me troubled. He mentioned that unless a writer has already generated a successful platform and MANY social media followers, most large publishers will not consider their book, no matter how well-written, no matter what message it contains. There are rare exceptions, of course.

While I understand that publishers, even Christian publishers, run businesses and have to consider the marketability of an author, the all-powerful bottom line feels immensely wrong.

Yes, marketing is important; no one would ever know about books otherwise, but God gave us faith first. Not faith in our ability to make money, but faith in Him. Roots logo He gives us talent and story ideas. What about you? Perhaps there’s just one person who needs to read your blog, or that article you wrote, or the book-in-progress sitting on your desk. Maybe you are more than an entertainer. Maybe you’re a missionary. Perhaps your mission field is within the pages of your manuscript. Is that one (several, maybe many) person God has inspired you to reach not more important than bowing to the gods of money?

As Christians, money should never come first, business or not. God says it simply: “In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” Proverbs 3:6. That doesn’t say if the author is bankable. It doesn’t say as long as the author has 20,000 followers. (Those of us who read a lot have recognized that some books get published because the name on the cover sells them, not necessarily because the quality of writing/message is excellent). It says in everything, put God first.

Please understand I’m not discouraging publication with a large publisher, I’m just trying to help bring the industry back to the roots of who we were made to be.

Roots Writers Social Media and Critique Group is an in-person and online writers group. We’re starting soon, with our first meeting in the Prescott area, but in February, it’s open to you. Every other month we’ll meet online. It’s free. For those interested in joining or even starting a local chapter, visit this page.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Tell us in the comments.

Finding an Expert

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Barely into the New Year, I’m stuck in a low-lit corner, trying not to listen to a few hens gossiping about a friend of mine. I manage to tune them out a few times, but the squawking gets louder and louder to where I’ve out-twiddled my thumbs trying to disengage from this thing called good hearing.

My friend has experienced enough horror to roughen her edges, but she certainly doesn’t deserve the judgments spewed out over coffee. If these hens only knew, they’d be knitting their lips together.
But it’s not my story to tell.

This reminds me about the finance experts when they say a person’s values are reflected by their bank statement—like what it means when a woman spends most of her spare money on clothes. They would say she values her vanity over all else. They might even suggest she’s not educated enough to manage her money well.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But her bank statement leaves out quite a bit. Maybe she has to look nice, but can’t afford nice clothes, so she buys inexpensive outfits that need to be replaced every six months. Maybe she gets treated better when she puts on makeup and spends more time on her hair (as many woman have experienced). Her bank account doesn’t reflect her interests because she reads books and newspapers from the library—so maybe the financial experts think she’s vain when the real story is she’s struggling.

Can you imagine what the hens and bulls of Nazareth said about Mary when she conceived a child before marrying Joseph? You can bet they looked at her belly and assumed a little too much. If it wasn’t for Joseph’s grace, she would have been stoned to death.

I think of all the qualities that Mary and Joseph illustrated–courage,  faith, trust, grace, perseverance–and remember the only opinion we need is that of the Greatest Expert.

Panstering My Way Along

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I’m going into the new year a panster. That’s how I write, how I drive, and how I do most everything. Panster is a writing term for those who write by the seat of their pants. We might have an idea of what we’ll write, but for the most part, we open a blank screen and let the story tell itself. The other kind of writer is the plotter. They’re good at organizing their thoughts, getting the whole story plotted out point by point until all they have to do is fill in the blanks. Neither style is better than the other, it’s just a matter of how a person is wired.

I never thought I'd be this handsome.

I never thought I’d be this handsome.

I have some ideas for 2016…I’d like a certain person to be voted into the Presidential office, I’d like to tone my arms to finely chiseled machines, and I have a few American destinations I’d like to make it to, but as a panster, I know that God will manage my story as I go. In Faith Seekers, I didn’t know Miguel played the guitar until I was writing the very sentence where he pulled it out in a Colorado campground. In The Jesus Experience, Bill Myers talks about landing projects he didn’t feel qualified to do, but he was willing to go where God led him. I’m jumping into a leadership role next month I ever thought I’d do–I’m not that qualified, but I’m willing, so here I go.
Let this year be one of possibilities. You don’t need to control-freak your way along, or be the most qualified…God will unfold your story along the way. Blessings.

Christmas Love

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My Grandparents had a simple little house, with sparse decoration and healthy accents of clutter. I think Grandma must have grown up with too little, because she often washed our clothes as soon as we stepped in the door as if they were our only outfits. We hung out in my Grandpa’s t-shirts until the house smelled of downy softness, and our clothes were ready for another day of play. That’s what we did mostly—ran around their expansive yard all day. That is where their wealth was. In the roses that smelled better than any perfume, on the swing placed in the shade of a giant cottonwood tree, and in the rows of vegetables—I can still taste those homegrown tomatoes, spilling down my chin and sliding into my stomach, forever spoiling me for garden freshness.

When we came inside for lunch, we were usually served something like ramen noodles. I thought it was the best meal ever. We ate over a basic laminate table, next to the glass doors where we could see their beautiful yard. There were usually a few piles of mail and Parade magazines strewn about the living room. I can’t pick up a newspaper today without thinking of those piles with the summer light washing them in home-style glory.20151221_084236

Mostly what I remember is the smell of laundry detergent and a whole lotta love. There was never a house redecoration, or new clothes for my grandparents—no brand names haunted them—only ghosts of the Great Depression dressed as frugality. Although they could have lived a little richer, Their values were of family and the spirit of God. No matter what I did, what I said or didn’t say, I always knew I was good enough for my grandparents.

This is the spirit of Christmas. It’s a reflection of Love coming into a dark world haunted by the things that hurt and the things that hide in piles not dealt with. But there’s a light coming in, washing all of us in home-style glory, because no matter how broken we are, no matter how much we mess up, there’s a Savior loving us anyway.

Hope Exists

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Lately, it seems my blog goes out a little later each week. Like many others, our days are as lit up with as many colors of activity as those of the houses this time of year. My son is also going through some health issues–have you ever tried to determine if a young boy has food allergies? It’s about as elusive as spotting Rudolph’s nose in a sky of fiction. Except somewhere, in the midst of unpleasant tests and many head scratchings, there really is an answer.

The world is a little darker these days, and some of us look to the next president for hope, the next administration for support, but really, mankind doesn’t have control over the deepest part of hope. We might as well keep searching for Rudolph. But it is why we need to celebrate Christmas…not for the excessive activity and chocolate pies, but to remind ourselves there is always supernatural hope, even in the darkest of times. He already defeated darkness, we just tend to lose track of the True Light amid the crazy fray.

One of my many activities? Wake was released for pre-order. Here’s a little taste (not unlike how many are feeling today).

Wake Ad IDon’t forget, there’s much more to our days than just existing. See you next week.

What Is This Thing?

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Is anyone tired of Shoppingmas season yet? I don’t understand how zombies, vampires and superheros can be so popular, so revered, and yet the only man with actual superpowers loses His holiday to a shopping frenzy. Sheesh.

I’m a bit tired of being sold-to this week, how about you? What I’ve really been enjoying is family. My family has been dwindling of late, but for Thanksgiving, my brother brought his girlfriend and her kids over to help celebrate–it was nice to have a few more people to make happy noises and eat turkey with.

We also discovered this.

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It was mixed in with my Dad’s belongings. Once we finally realized how it went together, we were left wondering….what is it? I’m fascinated by this piece. Is it a cowboy relic? A simple family heirloom? A mystery that may have to be in my next book? Probably. There aren’t any manufacturer markings on it, and it’s obviously hand-carved. Want to take a guess?

I would love to know more about this, even if it’s just the time period. For whoever can clue me in on this (travel candle holder?) interesting contraption, will get a free copy of my next book, Wake.

Wakefront copy

Share, discuss, come back here. Happy Monday!

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