God, Football, Writing, and Love

What do these things have in common?

Well, me. This is a short post on the things I love and why I love them. Maybe you can relate.

Now, I can’t say that’s the order in which those things are prioritized in my life. God of course comes first and foremost. But after that it’s a three way tie between football, writing, and love.

I was not born into a family of Christians. My parents knew God but they weren’t living for Him. When they finally decided to make that commitment, I was still very young and those moments were pressed upon my heart. I was baptized at the age of eight, on my own volition. I’ve loved Him and lived for Him ever since. I’ve had my ups and downs. My highs and lows. I’ve been overwhelmed by His glory and grace, and I’ve ignored His calling when it wasn’t convenient for me. I’ve doubted Him, I’ve questioned Him, and I’ve blamed Him.

But somehow, someway He has always waited on me. He has forgiven me and poured mercy over me when I least deserved it. He has smiled when I returned to Him, even after the shortest amount of time or a matter of months. He has never denied me when I questioned His existence, even when He had a right to. He never punished me when I blamed Him for the direction my life was taking based on my own mistakes. I don’t know how, and I’m not sure why, but He has always, always loved me. A love so passionate and gracious that I will never be able to make sense of it. I’ve tried, and I can continue to try. Or I can stop trying and just simply love Him back.

Which brings me to my next interest: love.

I’m not sure why, I assume it’s just the way He made me, but I’ve always been a hopeless romantic. I started reading Christian romance novels from a young age. Bittersweet, by Cathy Marie Hake, was the first romance novel I read at fourteen. It was then that I made some very important decisions about my future that I have never regretted. But, needless to say, I was hooked. I’ve been reading Christian romance novels ever since, and the Lord has taught me amazing things about love, and romance, and purity, that I’d never even considered.

I’m an emotional person who tries to cover up the heart on her sleeve, but my sappy side can’t help but show when it comes to romance. Whether it be a movie, or a book, or a talk show, or the conclusion to October Baby, I’m giddy for a sweet story. Something gentle. Something innocent. And the less it has to do with physical intimacy, the more I enjoy it. That’s just the way I’m built.

And of course, that’s part of the reason why I write.

I do write romance. Lots of it. And my characters are a little different from other normal characters you might read. But I can’t help but toss a little bit of love into whatever story I’m writing. Whether it be an all out conflicting romance or just something subtle that you don’t realize until the end, if it has my name on it, love will probably be there.

I’m your typical author. I’ve been writing stories ever since I received my first notebook. I’ve been telling tall tales since I could talk. Long before I knew what plots, and climaxes, and scenes were, I was putting them together in a not-so-organized fashion. My love for words has bloomed over the past ten years or so, and I’m beginning to dream of the day I’ll become published. I’ve tried to stop writing at different times, but I just can’t stay away for long. I always come back. I think I always will.

But then there’s football, of which I’m crazy about. Where does that fit in? It just does.

I didn’t grow up watching football. Had never paid any attention to it, whatsoever. And for some odd reason, I think it was 2009, my dad flipped over to a college game. Florida verses somebody. Can you guess who the quarterback was? Yep, it was ole Tebow. I think the fact that he was wearing John 3:16 on his eyeblack made me look at football differently than I had before. Somehow I got sucked into it from there. We kept up with it every weekend and then waited patiently during the offseason.

Now I’m all about the NFL, and I’m not so patient during the offseason. I would rather the spring fly by and summer hurry itself up so I can at the very least watch the preseason. I’m an avid Green Bay Packers fan and I vow to go wherever Aaron Rodgers goes. I know more about the game than most girls and although I’m still all woman, through-and-through, I’m not ashamed to say I scream at the TV when someone misses a catch. There’s nothing like it. I can’t explain where I developed this love for football, but somehow it was awakened in me and I can’t seem to make it stop.

So there you go. Just a few things about me that make me who I am.

What are your four favorite things that make you who you are?

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Why Sin is Like Walking Down Stairs

None of us are perfect, if we’re honest.

I know not a day goes by that I don’t sin. Even when I do nothing but sit on the couch watching movies all day, I still sin, hard as it may be to believe. It usually ends with gluttony, idleness, and a rise my flesh, which of course has a domino-effect that leads to anger, selfishness, more gluttony, and dodging my responsibilities.

Even when I’m out and about in my day, I say the wrong thing. I make the wrong decision. I put someone down, or tell an inappropriate joke. Not all in one day, of course. Usually through the week. The Bible tells us that we’re going to be a little less than perfect.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. –Romans 3:23

It’s not a reason to allow ourselves to sin. Not at all. But it takes the shock out of our reaction when we do find ourselves making a mistake.

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. –1 John 2:1

And then there’s our hero. He’s already paid the price, so we don’t have to make a sacrifice for our sin. As Christians, we only have to accept forgiveness for our sin, repent, and keep on trucking.

Which brings me to…

Why Sin is Like Walking Down Stairs

This is an analogy of course, so don’t expect something deep here. šŸ™‚

Imagine this…

You’re walking down a set of stairs, long stairs that stretch from the second story of a house down to the first. You may be trotting down them or walking leisurely. Let’s say this symbolizes life.

Then there’s always that one stair. It may be the first or second. It may be somewhere in the middle. Or the one right before you meet the first floor. Either way, it catches your foot, makes you stumble a little bit. You might even find yourself flat on your face with a bruised jaw and a busted lip. This step–though other people may conquer it brilliantly–just seems to be out to get you. Or in fact, it may not be the same step. It may be a different step each time you walk down. Either way, the step represents sin.

Here’s what matters when you stumble or fall: you right yourself, turn and look at the step (sin), and quickly make a mental note to be more careful when it comes to that step. We’ll call this repentance and forgiveness.

You probably won’t stop and turn around and stare at the step. You’re not going to fall down on your knees in front of the step and say “why? why doth thou tempt me so?” That would be insane. And you’re definitely not going to lay on the floor, looking at your feet and telling your legs that because they failed you they’re unworthy to ever walk again. If I walked into the room at this time and saw you saying this to yourself, then I’d probably turn around and walk out.

So why do we do the same thing when we sin? Why do we get so hung up on our failures that we can’t seem to move forward? Why do we let our mistakes paralyze us? Why do we reject and ignore the honest truth of God’s mercy and choose to dwell on our sins–past or present–instead? Most of us deem ourselves unworthy before we’ll pick up the Word of God and figure out that Jesus has already made us worthy.

By the which will, we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. –Hebrews 10:10

He never expected us to be perfect. If we were capable of that, then Jesus wouldn’t shine so brightly in His perfection. We wouldn’t need a Savior if we were capable of doing what He has done for us.

Some believe that it’s okay to sin because they know that Jesus will forgive them later. Referring back to the stairs, if you’re descending, you look down at the next step, and decide to trip over it, resulting in a horrible fall, then let’s just say that’s a serious psychological issue. If you’re honestly going to jump head first into sin and take His mercy for granted, then you’re walk isn’t genuine. There’s no sustenance in your relationship to allow you to grow in Christ. You’re like the seeds that fell upon the stones.

Some [seeds] fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. –Matthew 13:5-6

And then there are those who are brave and ambitious about their love for God. When they stumble down those stairs, and they spare a quick glance over their shoulder to find that the offending stair has a loose board–something that goes out of its way to hinder your walk–those brave, ambitious people are the ones who roll up their sleeves, grab a hammer, and destroy the step that made them stumble.

Those are the people who get out of bed every morning with the mindset that they aren’t going to let anything stop them. Not temptation, or guilt, and certainly not sin. Despite that we all fall, the ones that will rise again are those who are truly passionate about their love for Jesus Christ.

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. –2 Timothy 2:19

Cure for a Weary Heart

Sometimes I just get tired.

Tired of life in general. Tired of walking and talking and trying. Tired of smiling and striving for success. Tired of the bad news. Tired of the competition. Not really ‘done with it.’ Just…tired.

You say I should probably get some sleep. And, yes, that will likely help a ton. Sleep always helps.

But I’ve discovered a better remedy. Something that is abundantly more satisfying than sleep. I have to remind myself of it often, but there are still many, many days that I forget it.

Grace.

That’s right. Grace is the best remedy for a tired heart. Because after a long day of just striving to please Him–and usually failing miserably–I have to remind myself that God doesn’t need me. He wants me.

Yes, the Bible tells us to run the race and put on the armor of God. But it also says to rest in Jesus.

Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. –Matthew 11:28

I need to stop trying so hard to be the best at life that I can possibly be. Because it’s not about being the best or doing the best. It’s about being His. It’s about choosing to be His. It’s about simplicity, and humility, and love. He’s already done the hard work. He’s already paved the path. All we have to do is pick up our cross and follow in the shadow of His glory.

Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light. –Matthew 11:29-30

Something Stirring Beneath the Surface

Earlier I had a thought that spurred into a tweet and now has snowballed into an all out blog topic.

I’m not sure if writing is my niche or even my calling. All I know is that without it Iā€™m exceptionally restless. #cantstayaway

Despite my daily prayers and often plea’s for confirmation, I’ve never received an undeniable sign from God that writing romantic Christian fiction is what I’m supposed to do. He hasn’t visited me in a dream and given me a solid “yes, this is it.” He hasn’t sent an angel disguised as a stranger to give me a direct answer. I haven’t even come across a verse that says love is the greatest gift–and if you’re a writer then that’s a good too.

Writing is not an easy journey. It’s not easy spending years planning, writing, editing, critiquing, editing, rereading, and editing, and that’s before the publishing process. And even if you make it to publishing, there’s a massive chance that an agent isn’t even going to get past the first paragraph of your work. It’s not easy when you wait for a reply–a rejection notice at the least–and end up getting nothing. It’s not easy being told you have potential but the editor’s need to do some rewriting before your work is ready. It’s not easy when readers tell you you’re wrong in what you’re writing and you should believe in something else. It’s not easy. And there’s very little confirmation, if any, that writing is what you’re meant for.

I’d like to think there are other writers out there, and it isn’t only me, who has doubted their work, doubted where they’re supposed to be in the world. Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know.

I know that I have a yearning inside of me to write–to write anything, but mainly romance based on Christ. I know that despite that I’m not a fast writer, I wouldn’t mind spending the rest of my life writing. I know that when I step away from the keyboard and notebooks that it’s only a matter of days, if not hours, before I have a craving to come back and finish what I started or start what needs to be finished. I know that, inexplicably, when it comes to writing, for me there is always something stirring beneath the surface of my thoughts. Whether it be a story, a character, or a title that turns into a one hundred and twenty thousand word novel, there’s always something stirring.

And I’m certain of this. It was because of His gentle prodding in my heart that I realized my true desire for writing. I know that when I made the decision to get serious about writing romance that He pulled me aside and taught me what real love is. I know that I love Him deeply and I put Him before my writing–and if He tells me to walk away from writing, then I’ll walk away. I know that He has promised me a plan and a purpose and He’ll bring it to pass.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. -Jeremiah 29:11

How about you? Whether you pursue writing as a career or have another dream in mind, can you relate?

I Would be a Panster, But…

When I wrote my first manuscript, I’d never even heard the terms panster or plotter. (What is a panster and plotter?) Now that I look back at it, I was definitely a panster. I really didn’t know where I was going until I got there. All I knew is that I had characters in my mind that I liked, a setting that was sentimental to me, and a basic conflict that would carry my novel. But as for chapter-by-chapter, scene-by-scene, I had no idea what would happen.

It wasn’t until I started writing my second novel that I realized I was destined to be a plotter. And here’s why.

I want to be a panster, I really do. I’m an impatient person and I find no greater joy than being in the middle of a story. So I would start with an award winning idea. You know, something short and sweet that sparked from a random thought. I pull characters names out of thin air, find a suitable description on Pinterest, and bring up a tab with a thesaurus to prepare for writers block. That’s about the best I would do for organization.

And then, when I start typing out my opening line, I get a killer idea for a later chapter or a plot twist or a piece of symbolism that makes me want to jump out of my seat and do a touchdown celebration. I’d drop my WIP to the toolbar and open up Microsoft OneNote–which is where I decided to keep my notes, ideas, characters, etc–and I would jot down my idea. Because, lets face it, my memory just refuses to retain ideas any longer than five minutes. Hoping that I’ll just magically remember a fabulous idea after three months of writing is just too much to ask.

So I usually jot down this “quick thought” and of course, while I’m writing that thought, another one springs into view. And another one. And another one until I’ve usually got a digital notebook full of ideas and thoughts. I’ve found after a few attempted novels that it’s best if I organize these ideas. Which equals out to what?

An outline.

Which has inevitably led me to using yWriter5 to keep all of my brainstorming in a fashion that will make it easy for me to remember what I was hoping to accomplish in a certain scene three months ago when I started out.

Therefore, I am a plotter.

Are you a panster or a plotter?


My Dream Job

I think it’s only appropriate to start with the fact that my “dream job” wouldn’t be a job at all. I think I’d rather call it a dream.

My dream is actually to become a wife and mother. Most people would say that’s not considered a job, or they might say becoming a wife and mother is a way of getting out of a job.

But I know a fair share of wives and mothers who can testify that not only is it a full-time job with overtime, but it pays abundantly more than any other career comes close to. It pays with love.

That’s where I want to be. I want a family of my own, a husband and little ones, who are spilling over with love for one another. I want to experience that for myself.

I want to teach my children the love of the Lord. I want to be submissive to my husband as the Bible calls me to be. I want my children to put their hand in mine just because they can. I want to cook supper for my family, and kiss my husband when he comes home from work, and spend the mornings homeschooling my kids.

It’s not really a dream job. It’s just a dream come true.

How about you? What’s your dream job? Are you living it or striving to achieve it?

Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo

I’ve attempted it over the years, and failed. Mainly because I’m a perfectionist and when November first turns out to be a bad writing day then so does November second to the thirtieth. Most writers advise against skipping days, even I believe a true writer should write every single day, but sometimes that’s easier said than done.

However, I’m aiming to have a better NaNoWrioMo experience this year. I want to accomplish that 50,00 words without stopping to critique myself or doubting my story. I have to finish somewhere, so I’ll to finish here.

I’ve already completed one manuscript that is still sitting idle in my desk drawer, but I’m not worried about that one right now. I’m retiring it until further notice. I’m already 30,000 words into my next novel and my highest hopes are to use NaNoWriMo to write the last 50,000. And as you can see from the little widget on the right side of my page, I’m setting a goal of a little less than two years to finally call myself a published author. Shouldn’t be that hard, right?

So here’s to sleepless nights, laptop chargers and jump drives, and an unlimited supply of coffee.

My Passion

I’ve been a dreamer all of my life.

Since I was a little girl. My parents often tell me about the time when I had just learned to talk and I told this story about a bicycle that went into the clouds. During the span of the story, I went off on some rabbit trail, told this entirely different story, but ended the whole thing with the bike coming out of the clouds. They didn’t even realize I was still telling the same story until the conclusion.

So I guess you could say I’ve been telling tales for over twenty years. And as soon as I learned how to write, I filled up notebooks with silly stories that make me cringe when I look back on them today. However, it always astounds me when I catch a glimpse of how far I’ve come.

I even found a “contract” that I wrote to myself when I was fourteen. I vowed to be a published author by my sixteenth birthday. I even dated and signed it. I guess I’m going to have to be lenient and give myself a few more years.

I started writing down my daydreams in Jr. High. By the time I was in high school I was fleshing out characters with no idea what a plot was or how to keep one in mind. I got serious about outlining when I was a senior and started keeping a jump drive of all my story ideas. 45 to be exact. And counting.

When I was in college I began writing seriously. The desperate desire to design plots, create characters, and tie words together became a hobby that stole away my weekends when all of my friends were out shopping and going to the movies. However, I didn’t pursue writing in college because something inside of me said writing wasn’t a good enough career. I needed to go big or go home. So I chose a monster career focus called Art Therapy with a double major in French, and needless to say I came home.

When I decided to focus on writing as a real career, the Lord pulled me aside immediately and spoke directly to my heart. Quietly, mind you, but directly. I felt the need to stop writing for a few months, between January of 2012 until about March, and focus on Him and what He was saying.

I felt Him teaching me about purity and romance the way He views it as opposed to the world’s definition. He touched my heart in a way that I didn’t expect, in a way that I can’t actually explain. He changed the way I looked at romance and love. He changed the way I write.

I completed my first manuscript February of 2013. Despite that I’m still unpublished, I’ve already started my next novel. I’m more serious about this one than I was about the first one, and I’m learning more about writing and the industry every day. It’s not easy, but it’s a joy that I can’t walk away from. I’ve tried. I always find myself back at my laptop with a new idea that I just have to jot down.

I’m here to say that the Lord is faithful. He has been gentle in our walk over the years, guiding me tenderly toward His plan. He’s never pulled me to a screeching halt, sent me into a tailspin, and told me I’m wrong. No, He’s gracious and merciful. I’ve never loved anything in all of existence as much as I love Him.

And I don’t mean the typical, convenient, end-of-a-phone-call “love you”. I mean I am passionately, deeply, fervently in love with Him. A quiet, simple kind of love that can be called forward by just closing my eyes and looking into His. I’m honestly not capable of this kind of love. But He is. That’s why it’s possible for me to call Him Lord.

We love Him, because He first loved us. -1 John 4:19

In the midst of this love I’ve found that He doesn’t just have our best interests in mind, He’s also got our dreams in mind.

Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. -Psalms 37:4

And He’s a King of His Word.

He [Abraham] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform. -Romans 4:20-21

Because of Him, I start with this passion. Not writing, loved as it is by me. But my passion for the Lord and His grace. I live for Him alone. I surrender to Him in everything that I am and everything that I’ll ever be.

He’s mine, and I am called His.

For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. -Romans 14:8