Imagine you’re in a long, dark tunnel and the only sound you hear are the arrows of the enemy whizzing past your head. You search for light at the end that you have trouble distinguishing and stumble while groping for some semblance of deliverance—because surely there has got to be a ceasefire to this relentless onslaught. But what if the light isn’t at the end of the tunnel? Instead, you are the light—the only light some will ever see. If Yeshua/Jesus is in you and you are in Yeshua and clothed with the mantle of the Ruach HaKodesh/Holy Spirit, then you are not only protected, but you have the radiance to illuminate the darkness no matter how offensive the corridor appears.
I have a lot of snake-handling dreams. And no, I don’t condone real-life snake-handling—unless you enjoy that kind of hobby. My dreams are symbolic, and they almost always represent healing and/or deliverance. The other night I dreamed of a long dark tunnel full of swift-flying arrows; there was also a large menacing rattlesnake seeking to do damage and immobilize. Just before its fangs struck me, I stomped on its head, holding it in place. While it hissed and tried to bite my foot, I grabbed it at the base of its head, lifted its thrashing body and flung it back where it came. I admit, I was panting from the turmoil in wrestling this strong and venomous serpent, but the snake fearfully disappeared (as did the arrows) in a snap like a yelping coyote pup. There are other elements to this dream, including people, and I owe a lot of light-expanding insight to my sister/bff here, but the gist of the message was straight out of Luke 10:19: “I have given you power to tread serpents and scorpions underfoot, and to trample on all the power of the Enemy; and in no case shall anything do you harm.”
Did you know that even in the darkest hour and the vilest place, you have the power to shift the atmosphere by your presence if you have the Lord in you? Faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. It can calm storms.
No matter how life looks, how crazy and chaotic the days are; if despair overwhelms you, just remember that we win. And God’s divine alignments, timetables, and promises WILL COME. But we also have to take care by not getting so shaken up that we give up. Rise up, rise up, rise up! Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice! Nurture, nurture, nurture. Even if you’re battle weary, clap your hands to dispel the clouds of discouragement. Shout or whisper (whichever your style) a favorite verse, sing an uplifting song, and yeah… go ahead and do a “shake-off” dance even if someone’s watching; I mean, at this point, who cares, right? What have you got to lose other than the dregs of the enemy’s jump-scares?
“The seed of faith is planted in the inner man to care for, nurture, and grow where the enemy cannot touch it except to upset the outer man to the degree that we might be shaken and abort it prematurely.”—Heidi Hayes
Don’t let it happen; don’t give up. Trample the devil and his underlings underfoot where they belong. Recapture the sense of what’s ahead… nothing but guarantee, gain, and goodness… and a wide-open horizon of boundless possibilities.
We can settle in a place of peace, regardless of what’s going on around us. It might be our nature to desire delineations, even if we dive deep in the Spirit. We might want to see above the surface, or how far to the floor. We might yearn for a glimpse of what’s around or ahead of us. We think we need explanations. Lines and restrictions can give a sense of security… or control. But what if God is asking us to abide in the depths of his fathomless grace? To just linger in his presence, in stillness, even if it’s dark and we can’t see as far as our own hands in front of us? To truly, wholly, trust in him, his mercy--just trust. A hurricane can rip over the surface and destroy everything in its path; impacting everything as we know it; perhaps ridding the familiar or comfortable. But in trusting him, in letting go and allowing him to sweep through our circumstances, our lives, our hearts; we can all the while abide in the depth of his peace, in calm. We can remain in an immovable space, a divine place; one of intimacy and confidence in the God of Glory who speaks to the storms. Instead of the storms threatening to destroy us, we watch them as they shift and scream away at his whisper. All that’s left is what was there all along. Peace, calm, assurance. To trust at a place in the present, where neither height nor depth nor anything can separate us from his love (Romans 8:39). May you abide in his immeasurable peace.
I’ve heard this expression more frequently lately. It’s come from different sources and marked out a bit differently, but the message is the solid same: God didn’t call you to be good, he called you to be faithful. He didn’t call you to be successful, he called you to be obedient.
I’m not a proponent of pursuing fame or fortune. If it happens while you go about your business, super. You can do more for others if you’ve been gifted with much… Responsibility and all. But what if you’re only to do well with what you’ve been given, even if it’s ever little? That’s not to say we don’t strive to do well. But what if “to do well” means simply: with integrity, dedication, motivation, and honor?
There was a time when it was more important for me to be known and successful, to please and entertain mainstream. Now, I don’t care so much. Because in the eyes of the world (amid fruitless comparisons), I am neither good nor successful; often overlooked; and criticism can outweigh encouragement. In the eyes of the Lord, though, I am faithful and obedient. Guess whose eyes matter most?
Seek holiness and purpose, not prestige.
Sure, labor to do whatever you do to the best of your ability and within your means. But be who you are, pursuing God and not man.
“People who don’t know you can’t define you.”—Perry Noble, Second Chance Church
Regret. It’s a part of human nature since the fall of man, and I daresay we are born with having to deal with it. I have regrets. A few are doozies that keep me up some nights. They fall under the categories of immaturity, impetuousness, impatience, denial, poor choices—maybe ones that changed the trajectory of my life—and I’ll admit, foolishness. When I didn’t think or wait on the Lord, or heed the advice of others, but moved forward on my own volition. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Savage!
As an introverted writer, I have to say I’ve rather enjoyed this shelter-in-place era as little has changed in my day-to-day—other than closure of the Cherokee National Forest wherein lies tastes of freedom I particularly enjoy. But as a deep thinker, I’ve found this season especially challenging wherein thoughts can be dangerous. In other words, if the virus doesn’t kill you, or pro/anti-mask-wearers smack you depending on which “side” you’re on, regret just might. Unless you strive for a renewal every morning by God’s Word—our blueprint for life, a barebones necessity, our spiritual water, food, and shelter.
Writing is purpose-filled for me, messages contained within paper or digital pages intended for others. There is sometimes my own therapy in the progression, though. Which leads me to my current WIP (work-in-progress). After receiving emails asking if I’m going to write a sequel to Remnant, with the reemergence of Atizael, the answer is a solid yes. And I’ve started that; however, often the current of creativity demands a drop and refocus.
I’ve switched gears. Working feverishly to finish a book on regret and the transgressions and haunts of our past. It’s in the format of a dark fantasy romance, but the spiritual significance is there, and it’s what I—for some reason—need to spend my time on right now. The current working title at this point is Dark King’s Human Bride. And in being honest, unless my beta readers tell me, “Hey, Chicky, this is a bit much,” it’s coming out a touch graphic. I have a longstanding issue with much of Christian fiction being candy-coated anyway (perhaps more on this in another blog). Human nature is human nature, and evil is evil. Regret in all forms is regret in every form. It is what it is, and I have to be true to the nature of this beast.
But not without good intention! I find a quote by writer Anne Lamott perfect for the launch of this literary ride: “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.”
This savage has set off. More later.
Being human today means you can hardly do, speak, or blink anything without making waves. So the waves will come: small ones, large ones, and the inbetweeners. But one must persist, unwaveringly, in the turbulent surf by exhibiting kindness, love, and integrity. It’s hard being human. A gentle answer turns away wrath...? (Proverbs 15:1). Okay. But if somebody is especially wrathful, a tsunami, then maybe we just gently turn away. Find another spot in which to wade.
*Image by Patricia Alexandre from Pixabay
I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, because every morning is like starting afresh and I strive to do the best I can each day. But I’ll often receive a scriptural theme that blankets the coming year. For 2020, it’s Psalm 63:3-4: “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift my hands."
Too often, it seems the urge during prayer or reflection is self-centered. That is: focus on self, do something good for self, be my better self, etc. But the more challenging life gets—and it can get pretty stinky—the more I’m certain Self can’t help with squat. 2020 will be like all the other years before it in that our days will have its difficulties. We might experience great or little change, promotions or loss—whatever it is—the only thing steadfast and better than life is the Lord’s love. So, I figure, no matter what, if we focus on that, his love, and do the best we can with what he has given us, praising him through the beautiful weather and the storms, we’ll be more than all right. And at the end of the year, if we’ve scaled a few mountains it’s because he got us there and we can look back and enjoy the view knowing he’s got this, ordaining the steps of the journey. He’s got us and we’ve got him. Breathe. Happy New Year.
Some people know what’s behind reissuing of books and recovering of novels. But because I’ve been asked more than a few times, especially recently, I’ll briefly share with those who don’t know and are curious why an online search might churn up more than one version of a particular work by an author.
If an author is contracted with a publishing company for a particular title, the author sells their rights to that title. What this means in industry standard is that the author enters a partnership. The author still has a say, but ultimately must come to an agreement with editor(s) (new boss) and graphic artists before the work is released.
When the term of contract is up, which can be anywhere between two and seven years, give or take, the full rights of the work revert back to the author and then he/she is free to seek publication elsewhere or even recontract with same company for another term. The full rights meaning the initial written work at the time of submission—before it gets an overhaul by the boss and staff. They retain what they still own, which almost always includes their artists’ work (covers) as well as formatting.
That’s why when an author republishes with a different company or version, you’ll see a new or different cover pop up for the same book. That’s the latest edition, and it’s the one that’s readily available—or should be.
I appreciate the various publishing companies I’ve worked with in the past, their devotion to the art of books and to creators, work ethic, and great rapport with their writers. I’m grateful that I’ve had pleasant partnerships. Thus, the ending of a contractual term is often bittersweet. Happens that my six-year term for Ice Dancer’s Hold has recently ended and the novella is being rereleased this week and made available in bookstores once again. Same novella, just hosting a different cover—and the new formatting I have to say is da bomb. Check it out:
When I touch base with somebody who I’ve earnestly prayed for, or have been praying for his/her specific situation, I tend to have high expectations. I expect to hear that they are flourishing. When I learn otherwise, that is, more challenges and unexplained struggles have arisen, I may not express my instant reaction but I feel disappointed. Immediately, I start questioning God. “What’s going on here, Lord, am I not praying hard enough? You can move mountains if you want to…I’ve asked you to!” What I forget and, due to my dogged nature, what I need reminded of, is that it’s not about me. The reasons for unanswered petitions, or for circumstances to continue on without a royal ironing out, that is, chaos is still reigning for an individual for who I’ve invested prayer, could be numerous. What I’ve noticed is that when God moves, it doesn’t just affect one person or situation. Rather, numerous are affected on multiple levels. Could be a timing issue, could be a variation in an intended path. Might be a spiritual blockage like an unaddressed grudge, could be that somebody else unforeseen needs to come into the fold and be touched through the condition. James 5:16 tells us, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
As I, feeling deflated, dwelled on these considerations, I decided I needed some fresh air. Determined to take a walk, I opened the door to sudden bad weather. “Wha? When did this storm move in? It was nice just thirty minutes ago!” Then I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me, saying to my spirit along the lines of, “What I give you when I give it is sufficient to weather the storm. I am your GPS. I am your weather app. But you cannot control the storm. I do.”
Gulp. Fair enough. Yes, I tend to want to control situations. And yes, I am a human with huge error, relentlessly stubborn, forgetful, and often weak. I needed the recap: God is sovereign. So, when things transpire differently than what I personally desire, I am reminded that prayer is a tool and a precious gift. It’s also a form of obedience. That’s right, I don’t control diddly-squat. And right now, I’m relieved. Right now, I’d hate to think how things would indeed turn out if I had the control, with my shortsightedness…can you imagine? *cringe*
God is sovereign. Hurrah for that!
I’m an introvert. Ever since my toddler days, I’ve experienced individuals who tend to make introverts feel as if they are weird, wrong, or incapable. My preschool teacher used to address her concern to my mother that I would sit contently in the corner and work puzzles rather than interact with other kids—the horror! Even today, at age 47, still enjoying puzzles, if I explain to somebody why crowds exhaust me and I prefer solitude to a gaggle, or a few close friends to a drove, I hear the same phrase, “Keep working on it, you’ll get there.” My reaction is often silent, yet in my head I ask, “Get where? I’m already here.” There is such a misconception about introversion, even more so today in this extremely extroverted culture. Introversion is not a social anxiety or disease that one needs to get over or improve. It’s a personality trait. Introverts and Extroverts perceive, address, and pursue things differently. We may have the same goals or desires; we just speak different languages. To confuse things, some linger in the middle between introvert and extrovert. If you don’t know for sure, it’s worth figuring out. Daily life could be so much easier with a little understanding.
In terms of Christianity and the modern church, there is even black and white disparity for how we are expected to love and have community with others. There is a reason why there are so many spiritual gifts tests available. Heed them! Because God didn’t wire us the same way, so we shouldn’t be expected to operate in the polar opposites capacity if we weren’t naturally equipped to function in that manner. I do believe there are times when God asks us to go beyond our natural realm. He gives us what we need when we need it to fulfill that particular commission. But I feel an ultimate purpose for our lives is to see clearly by walking in truth, grow in how He’s gifted us, reach out to others in our specified manner according to our divine gifts and/or skill sets. Extroverts, to my understanding, are good at verbally reaching out by lively conversation and engaging with others, while introverts might discreetly send a card, email, or touching song link to the individual on his/her mind.
God most often calls me to deep waters to pray and intercede, meditate, worship, and write. Another person might thrive leading a room full of energetic children or hosting an event. I wouldn’t expect to stick a people-person in a place of solitude for a great length of time and watch them flourish. They’d get through the situation, perhaps, but it would be somewhat of an affliction. I’ve learned this through my son who, though we are very close, is my polar opposite. He’s as much an extrovert as I am an introvert (an INFJ, to be specific) and I’ve learned a lot by watching him grow. So…the same goes for an introvert when asked to do something out of an ordinary characteristic for them, which I’ve also had more of than a healthy share.
There is beauty in the diversity of gifts, which seem to conjoin personality traits. We are various parts of a body meant to work together as one. Introversion is not a disease, it is not fatal, it’s a part of the body, and it has its specific, healthy place in life and in God’s kingdom.
Romans 12: 4-8
“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
My horse-based contemporary romance novel I wrote a few years back, Madeleine's Ranch, is currently being promoted on Riding & Writing.
As a novel often will reflect an author’s personal experience, perception, or interest, I thought I’d also include a few pics here of some these great loves in life…