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I peered over the kitchen sink to check my herbs. Spider mites crawled over the remains of yesterday’s sprouts. A few hardy gnats swarmed among the carcasses of their siblings, which I’d doused with organic weaponry two days before. I emptied the last of my seeds into the not-so-jiffy pots and pried them from the tacky sill. With a sigh, I carried the remains outside. I laid them to rest on the deck between my dead squash and withering tomato plants, offering each doomed plant a parting spritz of insecticide.

So much for growing food. I should have known better. Though farming stretches back several generations in my family, the inheritance didn’t make it into my genes. Instead of nurturing life, my fingertips beget as kiss of death on all things green. I sometimes pity new plants when I bring them home, since few survive longer than a month. A quest to provide drives me to keep trying. With my counseling practice losing money and writing career mired in the doldrums, I had hoped to create something fruitful for my family.

Weeks after the herb funeral, I strode past the wilting houseplants on my dining table to gaze at the overcast day outside. A burst of green drew my attention to the abandoned jiffy pots. Was that…basil? The herbs gleamed with the sheen of a recent drizzle. Nearby, fresh growth sprouted from the tomato stalk. My plants thrived after I got out of the way.

Discouragement burdened my soul and I buckled under its weight. Fatigue dragged my body to the couch. As I closed my eyes, a silent plea rose from my soul.

 I need You, Lord. Let me rest in You.

I longed to be held with divine tenderness while supported by infinite strength. I sank against the cushions, imagining God holding me against His chest. Only His embrace could be softer than a cloud and reinforce with more power and strength than the musculature of a grizzly bear.

A ray filtered through the window sheers and caressed my cheek. I opened my eyes to breaking sunlight. The grey clouds had dissipated. From the dark, pungent confirmations of my ineptitude, a fresh thought sprouted in my mind.

I can’t grow anything, but God can make anything grow.

Only He begets life. Our participation offers relationship, but the Lord alone wields the power to bring life. And He can resurrect things we’ve left for dead.

I closed my eyes for a few more minutes, resting in the Son’s light. I’m praying for the Lord to make me grow in His ways. And, if He wills it, to grow whatever He likes through me–green or otherwise.

 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me” (John 15:5).

“Consider how the wildflowers grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that’s how God clothes the grass, which is in the field today and is thrown into the furnace tomorrow, how much more will He do for you—you of little faith? Don’t keep striving for what you should eat and what you should drink, and don’t be anxious. For the Gentile world eagerly seeks all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be provided for you.  Don’t be afraid,little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:27-32).

“’The kingdom of God is like this,’ He said. ‘A man scatters seed on the ground; he sleeps and rises—night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows—he doesn’t know how. The soil produces a crop by itself—first the blade, then the head, and then the ripe grain on the head” (Mark 4:26-28).

 

Bookshelf

Welcome to my writing loft.

Feel free to glance through the archives and check out a few devotional posts. I’m taking a break from the norm to participate in a blog tour. This event invites readers onto a cross-country cybertrain, in which they meet new authors and taste fresh posts. Grab a cup of tea or your favorite latté as I introduce you to my friends. I’m honored to know these brilliant and lovely women, and hope you will be, too.

Meet Bethany Jett

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I enjoyed meeting Bethany at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference this year. She’s a beautiful, sweet spirit with a heart for teens. I leaped at her invitation to join the blog tour, and am excited to introduce her to you.

National speaker Bethany Jett is an award-winning writer, whose first attempt at writing a book proposal landed her Writer of the Year at the 2012 Florida Christian Writers Conference, a contract with the MacGregor Literary Agency, and a publishing deal. Her book, The Cinderella Rule: A Young Woman’s Guide to Happily Ever After was a finalist for the 2014 Selah Awards.

Bethany is a video blogger for ChristianMingle.com, and has been interviewed on radio stations across the US, as well as internationally. She is a featured columnist with Choose NOW Ministries, and also writes for Charisma, Sisterhood,Sonoma Christian Home, ChristianityToday.com, SpiritLedWoman.com, Crosswalk.com, along with other magazines and sites. Bethany is also an editor for Splickety magazine.

When she’s not writing or speaking, Bethany enjoys cooking for her husband and three little boys. She coaches cheerleading, loves spending time with the kids in their youth group, and roots for her favorite football team, the Florida State Seminoles.

Bethany blogs on girly topics, godly perspective at BethanyJett.com.

 

My Interview

As part of the Writer’s World Blog Tour, I have been asked to answer a few questions about my writing process.

What are you working on now?

I’m crafting a supernatural suspense series for young adults. Alicia Godfrey, a fifteen year-old abused orphan, opens a portal into the unseen realm when her mental escape game becomes more than she’d ever dreamed. Her words carry Alicia and her foster siblings into the spiritual realm. Inner gifts emerge and transform the kids’ outward appearances. Demonic creatures slither from the walls, shadow their peers, and hunt them in the dark forest behind their home. The characters in Inscaping discover the spiritual reality which surrounds and indwells them in their ordinary world.

The first draft of its sequel, Wordscaping, is near completion. When taking occasional breaks from my novel, I enjoy writing short stories and flash fiction with a spark of supernatural flavor.

 How does your work differ from others in its genre?

Empathy runs deep, an inextricable part of my nature long before I became a counselor.  I love the poetry of sensory images, but an emotional connection with readers is far more important to me.  Stories can carry us along the rough pathway between chilling shadows and the dawn of hope.

Why do you write what you do?

An inner craving for magic niggles at our minds, tugs at our souls. Long after childlike wonder fades, the mysteries of things unseen continue to clamor at the gates of our imaginations.  We yearn for a power far greater than magic. Adonai alone empowers the human soul with supernatural potential. No sorcery can compete with the awesome display of power we see when the Holy Spirit shows up.  Scripture tells us that an epic battle rages in the air around and within us. I hope to alert readers of the unseen forces so they might seek true power and thereby prevail.

How does your writing process work?

My professional and personal schedules vary from week to week, so establishing consistent writing time remains a challenge. When I have a block of time available, I pray about which part of writing I should tackle. Blogging, articles, and short stories work best for short intervals or time slots prone to interruptions.

With regard to the novel writing process, I prefer an organic flow of writing to the structured plot diagram. As the tale unfolds before me, I remain engaged. Characters and plot twists surprise me sometimes. I envision a few plot points along the curve and at the finish line, but the story would bore me if I had every detail planned in advance.

Dreams and daydreams contribute valuable content to my work. Sometimes my prayer time veers into storyweaving. Since the Lord called me to write, I feel peace about obtaining creative tidbits during meditation with Him.

I edit a little as I write. I don’t encourage other writers to adopt this sluggish habit, but I can’t seem to help it. My Word Weavers group offers additional insight with content and line edits. I cannot recommend such critique groups highly enough. At a novel’s completion, I plan to hire a professional editor before publication.

 

Sweet Taste of Fresh Posts

I relish the opportunity to carry a magnificent dessert to my guests. Chocolate brownie cheesecake frosted with ganache marks the party’s defining moment, wouldn’t you say? I’m thrilled to offer you a scrumptious opportunity to meet three of my dear writer friends. Each will post their interview and introduce two new authors on their sites next week. We’re only supposed to showcase two blogs, but I couldn’t resist plating you an extra-large portion. How often do we get to indulge in a decadent treat with no calories, after all?

DSC_0776Leah DiPascal is a speaker, Bible teacher and writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her focus in ministry is to help women engageunderstand, and apply God’s Word to their hectic and oftentimes stressful lives. Leah serves on the editing and writing Team of Proverbs 31 Ministries for their Encouragement For Today Devotionals which reaches over 700,000+ people each day. She is a contributing devotional writer for the NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Woman and Your Life Still Counts which will be released in October 2014. Leah is a contributing blogger for Bible Gateway’s Blogger Grid  and Life Notes Café. She holds a Bachelor of Theology Degree and a Master of Divinity Degree from Tabernacle Bible College and Seminary. With over 19 years of experience in women’s ministry, Leah has served in leadership roles through Moms In Prayer International, Stonecroft Ministries, Community Bible Study International, Women of Destiny and Proverbs 31 Ministries. Leah inspires women weekly on her blog, Whispers for the Soul. You can connect with Leah there and through these social media sites: FacebookTwitter or Pinterest. Leah and her husband, Keith, live in North Carolina where they fulfill their most important calling as parents to their teenage sons, Brody and Carson.

This week Leah is giving away a signed copy of Lysa TerKeurst’s new book, The Best Yes, which was just released last month and is already on the New York Times Bestsellers List! Visit her blog and sign up for the drawing today.

 

Andy Lee2Andy Lee is an award winning writer, inspirational speaker and mentor for Word Weavers International. She’s ministered to women for over twenty years through Bible study, retreats and conferences, and just being a friend.

She is a self-proclaimed Bible Study geek who loves teaching people how to dig into the ancient biblical languages to discover the breath inside. She’s passionate about helping others find their value in Jesus, their purpose beyond today, and camaraderie with the biblical saints. Jesus always called the unqualified, the socially challenged, and most unlikely to succeed—so we fit right in! She has written a Bible study on Ruth that will be in stores fall of 2015, published by AMG.

Andy believes that life is better with chocolate, geraniums, the ocean, and good friends. She’s an Oklahoma girl who loves living on the coast of North Carolina with her sweetheart of twenty-four years and their three almost-all-grown-up children. You can read her authentic, grace-filled words about finding purpose beyond today at www.wordsbyandylee.comwww.christiandevotions.us, and in a collection of 50 faith stories, Divine Moments.

 

Wendy_1705

On her blog, www.beautybattlefield.blogspot.com, Wendy Herrmann Smith aims to help women fight the culture’s lies with the truth of God. One of her top priorities is to protect her children from the media’s harmful messages. Wendy and her husband got their son the old-fashioned way and adopted their daughter from China. She’s written 13,000 words towards a book about the adoption. Her critique group says, “We like your book, but you were made to write articles.” So she keeps cranking out the shorter form, whether it’s about adoption, beauty, or seeing the femininity of God in Scripture.
In seminary, she learned alongside many male students and was probably the first to graduate from the school with a Masters of Divinity while pregnant. She can’t decide which was more harrowing — eighteen hours of labor or the fourteen-hour flight from Beijing with a screaming baby.
Wendy says, bring it on. What are you going to write unless you have great anecdotes? Find her stories on her blog and at the Christians for Biblical Equality website where she is a guest blogger. (www.cbeinternational.org)

 

A shimmering sari draped over the pulpit as the storyteller mesmerized her audience. She transported the listeners into a past era. A regal ballroom came alive. The mysterious sikh and his abrupt proposal wove enchantment and apprehension into the room’s ambiance.

Chivalrous adventures from childhood, tales of battlefront survival, and bittersweet love stories followed. Friday’s storytelling event knitted colorful pieces into an artful production. While true stories outnumbered fiction, personalities shone through each line. The resplendent effect of variety bedazzled the show.

And its performers. Despite compliments from other storytellers, the evening’s underlying artwork humbled me. Each speaker represented a thousand amazing tales, dreamed and true. Their life stories stretched back decades beyond mine, into places and times I struggled to imagine. A rich field of inspiration surrounded me. 

Defer all applause, then, to the Master Storyteller. Creator of dream-generating souls, the Lord crafts remarkable life stories which envelop the universe. The magnificent tales stretch across eternity, farther than the eye can see or the mind can fathom. Each saga bears inspirational potential. Praise the Sovereign Lord, Who masters the art of variety each moment. He crafts infinity within the finite, and His creation invites us to draw nearer to the richness of His presence.

Let me take more time to sit at the Master’s feet and attend to His amazing stories.

‘…And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’…You who bring good news …lift up your voice with a shoutHave you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth…Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:  Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing…The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:5-31)

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