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It's amazing when my 5-year-old comes home talking about the history behind MLK day. When I was in Kindergarten, we learned our color...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Whatever It Takes

They say the eyes are the window to the soul.  If Sammy's eyes were any indication of his soul, than the whole world could see through to who he was.  His blue eyes literally danced with light, as he exuded peace.  And, the joy in his heart generously spilled over to those around him.

Today, after leaving his funeral - I just want to publicly say thank you to a man, who made a big difference in my family's life.  He'll never know how much he did for us ... well maybe now he does.

His moto, 'whatever it takes', wasn't just a saying... but a way of life.  He did whatever he could for anyone, whether he knew them or not.  If it was within his power to help, he made it happen ... and if it wasn't within his power - he'd find out how to creatively make it happen anyway.

You were an angel for the short time we had you here ... and now God has promoted you to be on his team of angels in heaven.

Much love and respect to you Sammy...

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Warning to Fainthearted Christians

I know people have certain expectations of what a Christian book should be about.

Some have recently been upset because I write about characters that almost have sex or think about it, or maybe have questionable language.

They want to know why there are characters like this in a book, which are referenced as Christian?

So here's my answer ...

I write about characters that are real ... around us every day.  Did Jesus choose to spend his time with perfect Christians or did he dine with sinners?  I think anyone, who has read the Bible, will know the answer to that question.

Just because some of us are Christians, that doesn't mean that the good, bad, and ugly in our hearts turns white as snow overnight.  For some of us, it's a process.  It is a daily struggle to fight off sin and become what God wants us to be.

And in my books, I write about the struggle in life, as the characters go through their own process.  They do not have a perfect walk overnight.  I don't think any of us do.

Some have said I focus too much on sex.  Well, if anyone really cares to take notice ... I'm the anti-50 shades of grey.  I promote abstinence until marriage, but I can not expect characters, who are young and in the middle of a very sex conscious culture to not struggle with their fare share of temptation.

So to the readers, who think I should not have written a struggle with sex in ... know that in the real world that is a daily struggle for some young couples.  I'm not obsessed with sex ... I'm just realistic to what has become of our culture.  For those who aren't faith based, having sex is expected.  For that exact reason, I take a couple who struggles with this issue and highlight their choice to abstain.

Just because they choose to abstain, doesn't mean they won't struggle with it though ... that would be unrealistic.

So, if you want a Christian fiction book that only reads with perfect Christians ... than I'm not the author for you.

If you want a book, that showcases real struggles that we all have, Christians or not, and how God takes us to where He wants us ... then you'll appreciate my books.

We are all in different walks in our faith, but we're far from perfect.  And God has called me to write my books about sinners who come to know God.  We aren't born perfect ... we're born sinners ... and that means that some questionable wording or behavior might take place in my books - but it's done with taste.  There is nothing vulgar or crass.  I'll be the first to admit that I've fallen from grace more times than I'd like to admit, but God has always been there to pick me up and show me a different path. And, He's used my past to help others.

As my pastor says, 'The minute we feel we're a perfect Christian, with no room for growth, we should be real scared.  Because that's probably when we're furthest from where God wants us.'  

In short, life gets messy ... only God's love is perfect.  God's grace is more than sufficient to cover our sins, but we have to turn away from them once we've reached the point, in our walk, that we're able to.  This is the underlying message I portray in my books.

So, I wanted to put this out there ...

Do I use curse words in Facing Redemption?
I believe the 'H' word is used twice, but I've not gone through and counted.  A couple of Christian critics have been upset that I wrote in bad language, so if that offends you - I'm sorry.  But my character is military and not a nice guy.  He most likely would say more than the H word if it were a real person.  To keep him in character, I could have used more offensive language but chose to limit it to 'only' the H word during his younger years in the book.

Do I have raunchy sex in my books?
Absolutely not.  However ... that being said we are sexual beings.  God made us that way.  I was raised that He designed it for marriage only.  I can't expect everyone to advocate my beliefs, but I can write about characters who struggle with this issue, only to make the decision to wait.

Am I too focused on sex to be a Christian author?
 No.  I am a Christian, but I know the real struggle with the question 'to have sex or not'.  Does this make me a bad person?  No, it makes me real - as we all live in a flawed world.  My characters face this same struggle, which a lot of Christian unmarried couples do.  But if you get through the thick of it - by reading on - you find out they choose to abstain for the right reasons ... which IS NOT a bad message.   I think more people should focus on that message.

That being said ... go in with your eyes wide open.  I love God with all my heart, and He has called me to write about real struggles in today's world.  And I'm not ashamed of any of my characters decisions, as they developed through the book.

I just wanted to respond to some of the women who didn't understand why a Christian book would hold any of the character flaws that it did.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

That's What Makes the World Go Round ...

Thankfully it takes a lot of different personalities in life, or our existence would become very mundane.  Have you heard the saying, 'It's not for everyone?'.  I'm sure you have, as we all have our different opinions on matters that are formed by our own backgrounds and experiences.

Is an athiest going to appreciate a preacher's point of view? Probably not - and vice versa.

However, I have a few athiest friends, who although they may not agree with my stance on faith, they appreciate my choice to have faith.  And I, in return, appreciate their choice not to.  

Most of the people in my life are giving people, who see that it takes all kinds to run this world of ours.  So no matter what their lifestyle or beliefs, they know I appreciate them for them without reservation and expect the same respect in return.

This relationship with a person of differing views isn't typical throughout the world though.  Usually when polar opposites have differing opinions, there will most likely be some negativity involved.

So why am I writing about this?

In the last couple of days, I've received some negative reviews on my book, which is to be expected.  And even though the last couple haven't been glowing, I'm still happy.  It means that word is spreading and people are reading it.

And when I get a review that is less than glowing, it is a reminder that our world is full of differing opinions.  I can not expect someone, who isn't appreciative of my faith, to like my book.  Do I like the fact that the reviewer, today, felt like they needed to make it personal by saying I had 'narrow frame of reference for the human experience on this planet' because I talked about faith in Jesus?  Believe it or not, it gave me a smile.

Although I felt the reviewer made it more personal than it should have been, I was happy that she was definitive in her own beliefs.  We're called to stand up for our faith.  And those that will hear ... will hear.  Those that won't ... won't.  I have not one iota of ill thought or will for someone who is of different mind.  I appreciate the fact that this person has their own opinion.

This lady started her review by stating, 'I don't get how many people could give my book glowing reviews.'

Well here's my two cents on the fact that a lot of people are loving the book ... 

Everyone has different understandings on what has value in their life.  A lot of readers have emailed me personally to tell me how much they loved the book.  And to someone who can't understand that, I say this:

Those that feel that everyone around them should be of the same mind as them should learn to have a bit more understanding for the world around them.  Because, everyone is different.  We can not expect everyone to think or behave like we do, because that could be said (I'm going to use the reviewers own words here.) as having a 'narrow frame of reference for the human experience on the planet'. 

So, why would I post about a negative review on my book today?  Because I was touched by this is in a good way.  I saw the obvious good throughout the negativity the review wanted to portray.

This person was touched enough that they felt they had to leave a review.  They were affected.  The book provoked emotion from this reader.

Isn't that what it's all about?  Touching someone?  Granted, she sparked in a different direction, but thankfully, most that have read it have been touched in a positive manner.  

Let me clearly state, my books are not for everyone.  But, what book is? 

This can be said about anything in life.

Not everyone will feel like you do.  Not everyone shares your faith or lack of.  Not everyone is understanding.  Not everyone will like every book.  And guess what folks?  That's what makes the world go round.

Oddly enough - I was blessed by this review today.  It was a reminder of how different we all are.
And even though someone said something bad about my work ... tomorrow, the sun will still rise.  My faith will still be in tact.  And another reader will read the book and form their own opinion.

Aren't these wonderful truths?  And how blessed are we, that we live in a world where we still have freedom of speech? 

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Pre-teen Years At a Glance

The first time is saw the angry face was when my child was only four days old. He was quietly sleeping in his hospital bassinet, when we had some visitors stop by to see my new precious bundle of joy.  So, I lifted him, laid him on his back, and rubbed his belly with my fingers.  And out came the face ...

You know the one!  That scrunched up - attitude throwing - mouth puckering - frowny face that says 'leave me alone'.  Awww.  Did I think it was adorable back then?  Absolutely!

Now here it is ... almost ten years later and I have the honor of raising such an amazing kid.  He's giving and smart, and still shows me that same frowny face - except this time he's got the pre-teen attitude to go with it. 

Ah yes ... the pre-teen years are among us in our household, and boy it is like a smack in the face. Who was once my happy go lucky child - is now smarting back and showing his independence in spades.  But, through it all - he's the same giving smart kid ... who's learning to become his own person and make his own decisions. 

I see his future in so many ways ... even in the small decisions he makes.  For example, this week he tried to take care of a neighbor kid, who'd had an accident outside.  He'd just met the kid - and he came blazing in the house for a band-aid with the urgent need to care for this new kid to the hood.  He cares so much for others, and know that will continue into his future.

Part of me rallies around that.  He's everybody's champion ... hurray! Another part of me cringes ... as he's going to help every stray, hurt, broken thing and how will that affect him?  I don't want his huge heart taken advantage of, as those with that type of giving nature often get their hearts broken very easily.  I know it's inevitable that we get hurt in life, and sometimes that's a good learning experience.  But no one wants to see their child suffer.

So as he grows, that means a lot of prayers for guidance and clarity on how to be not just a better parent but the 'right' parent for my child.  They're all so different and need to be treated accordingly.  Just because one thing works for one child - does NOT mean it works for every child.    Through this pre-teen era, I know my husband and I are going to get a lot of frowns,  as I'm sure we gave our parents a bunch of them. 

So here is my prayer for the next ten years:

"Lord, help me remember this photo above, whenever I see the attitude driven frown thrown my way.  You blessed me with my little angel.  You made this child, your child, to be who he is.  He's not perfect and needs my guidance.

Guide me to be the best parent that I can.  Give me wisdom as he grows up, as he'll not only learn things but will also mess up from time to time.  I pray when he does mess up - they're small messes with teaching moments that he can grow from.

I pray when he goes through a rough patch, that You give me the strength needed to be loving and smart - so that I can give him what he needs to heal ... whether that's space, tough love, or a shoulder.  Help me discern what's best for each scenario as they come into play.

And, as I start seeing the frown more often than a smile, give me what I need to make it through.  Above all, thank you for letting me be his mom - and for choosing me to raise such a wonderful child."

Each child is so different, but I'm a firm believer that they are 'who they are' from the womb on.  This funny little frown face was something he had from the very beginning, as was his enthusiasm for life, his loving tender nature, his strong (very strong) will, and his funny comedic personality.   God made him special and I'm so blessed to be a part of every stage in his life ... even the pre-teen years.   

Ugh.  Lord help me.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Sweet Emails Make My Day

So ... after last weeks Facing Redemption downloads from Kindle (which at one point were over 1,500 in one day), I was hoping to hear from some readers after they finished the book.  I  thought maybe in a few weeks or a month, a few might trickle in.

However, yesterday, I got an email with the subject line, which read Finding Kylie.  Again, I didn't expect this to be anything related to Facing Redemption as it was referencing my first book - not my second.

I opened it up, only to read a sweet letter from a very nice lady.  It said she had just read Facing Redemption on her  Kindle but could not find Finding Kylie electronically, and wanted to know the best way to get her hands on a copy.  She also wanted to know when Coming Home was due out.

I explained that since my contract was up with my previous publisher, that she pulled everything off Kindle and that she'd have to order a hard copy.

She went on to explain how much she enjoyed the read, and that she was going to have someone take her picture with her Kindle version of Facing Redemption this weekend and send it to me.

The fact that this woman went out of her way to tell me her candid thoughts was very touching.  Most only reach out when it's something negative (thankfully I rarely - if ever get those).  And, this woman was so delightful that I had so send her a little care package as a thank you.  So, off went a signed copy of Finding Kylie in the mail so she wouldn't have to search for her own copy.

So to you, Ms. Norma, thank you for making my day and taking the time to spread some cheer.