Aug 14, 2018

When Beauty Blooms || Blog Tour & Guest Post


Dear friends,

Meet Victoria Lynn - a writer, blogger, and incredible friend.  I was able to meet Victoria in May, and she is a seriously awesome person.  Talk about a heart of mercy and encouragement!

And today, I have the pleasure of joining Victoria in a blog tour for her newest release - When Beauty Blooms.  The novelette is beautiful, but I'm almost just as excited because the authoress wrote a guest post for us!  She is going to share her thoughts on a difficult topic addressed in When Beauty Blooms - social anxiety.  Scroll down and meet the heart of a dear friend...

(and don't forget to enter the giveaway and check out Victoria's novelette!)






























Hosanna left it up to me to post about whatever I wanted to. LOL! Not sure if that was a good idea or a dangerous one, but here we are. :D I am so blessed to know Hosanna and I feel privileged that she asked me to post on her blog.

So, without further ado, here are my thoughts on a subject that has been a struggle for me, but also a feature in my new book, When Beauty Blooms.

Social anxiety is a label for something that I didn’t realize that I had an issue with until this past year. As a homeschooler and someone who wasn’t very involved in the community, the close circle of friends that I interacted with in my growing up years never threw me for a loop. I loved them, they loved me, we had a blast, I knew how to socialize, 'nough said. But the thing is, I am more of an introvert than I originally thought. My day-job (of a receptionist) requires a lot of interaction with clients, but it also involves a lot of interaction with coworkers, and a lot of their day (scheduling etc.) relies on me and my ability to do my job, know timings etc. No pressure right? *starts to sweat*

I have come to realize that I rely on what other people think of me a lot. And that’s not super healthy. I want to do a good job, I want my coworkers to be pleased with the job that I do and with me as a person. But there are times when perfection is not possible. I make mistakes, and I also have felt utterly crushed by criticism or correction. Which is not healthy.

But aside from those things, I have also experienced a bit of ostracization. I am different. I am a Christian girl who seeks to remain pure and wholesome in everything I do, from language, actions and outward appearance to even deeper matters of the heart. I go against the norm when it comes to many of the things that are found normal in this world. I’ve learned that it is hard not being accepted for who I am. Again, being sensitive, I sense the subtleties of actions and I have felt the rejection at times.

As I have been through the process of editing this book and getting it ready for publication, I have found myself relating to Marjorie, the main character, on a much deeper level than I did originally. She is often rejected, even if subtly for the way she lives her life and her personality and viewpoints that go against the norm.

Through my journey, and I haven’t by any means arrived yet, not that we ever do, but I am learning that my identity is not found in what others think of me, but what Christ does. Even if God is the only one who knows that I did a good job at work and that my heart is in the right place, I should be okay. Because His opinion is the only one that matters. Granted, I should seek to please my boss and serve them in the best way possible, but at the end of the day, can I look to God, knowing that I did my best, and find that enough?

It’s a work in progress. I’m a work in progress, and you know what?  That’s okay. God doesn’t require perfection from us, He requires a heart fully devoted to Him.

I have found myself on the way home at the end of a long day crying but saying out loud so the devil can hear me that “Christ is my all. His opinion is the only one that matters and His love is worth it all.”

He loves me and will always love me.

But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children.
- Psalm 103:17 (emphasis added)

And that is truly all that matters. Who I am is found in who Christ is and my value is found in what He did for me.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will...

What about you? Do you ever struggle with social anxiety or people pleasing?

By God’s Grace,

Victoria



Hosanna here - I hope Victoria blessed you as much as she has me!  I encourage you to check out her novelette as well as visit some of the other bloggers participating in this book release.  (the ones posting before and after me are Lilly Shyree and Laura Grace)

And Victoria is offering a fun giveaway!  Clink the image below:





~♥~

Aug 10, 2018

Sharing a Piece of Life and His Grace






















Dearest Friends,

If you're a thorough schedule-keeper (or stalker), you probably noticed that I skipped posting this week.  Or perhaps you're like me, and you accidentally let every blog post in your inbox be a pleasant surprise.  But, either way, I'm sorry for the late posting, and I hope this little message finds you rejoicing in Jesus.

Instead of a very long post (because it will probably end up being long anyway), let's share a bit of life.  How are you?  How has God been working in your life, and what stories of His grace are on your heart?

I have so many updates I could share... things I'm excited about.  Oh, but first, my story of His grace.

This summer has kept me busy writing.  In May, someone shared information about The Two Month Novel Challenge - writing and editing a novel in two months.  Crazy, huh?  I thought about it, prayed about it, and God opened the doors for me to participate!

Two months later, it's done:  The Torch Keepers.

Oh, but there's so much more to share.  I didn't write and edit a book.  I can say without a doubt that God created The Torch KeepersI was only the glove on His hands, the fingers He chose to use.

He gave me inspiration.  I woke up one day with an idea for a high-fantasy novel (not my typical genre).  God guided me through every detail.  Every twist was His idea.  The mistakes are mine (and they are there!), but He guided me through the entire process.  I'm just incredibly humbled.

This was a time I knew completely that it wasn't me doing the writing - it was Him.  I let go and let Him write.

One morning, I desperately needed to create backstory for my second main character, but I had absolutely nowhere to go.  As I ate breakfast, I remember begging God, "I need inspiration!  I need You to give me something!"

And He did.  He pushed me to read the first chapters of Genesis where I discovered my character's story.

And there were so many other moments.  When I was finally submitting The Torch Keepers to the contest, all completed, and realized that I had written the wrong synopsis.  They had different guidelines than the synopsis I had written... and so, at 9:00 at night, God allowed an awesome friend to pop online and help me through the "write a synopsis as fast as you can" process.  We stayed up, stressed, and laughed as God worked it out perfectly.

What I'm trying to say is this:  God is good, all the time.  He wants to be a part of your entire life.  Every aspect.  And when you give it to Him, He turns it into a masterpiece you could never imagine.  It's not up to me or you at all, and we don't even deserve it.  I guess it's called surrender.

So, I submitted my novel.  What's next?

A college capstone paper.  Creating a short film next week with some friends.  Oh, and lots more melon eating because our garden is overflowing.

It's busy.  It's stressful at times (not the melon part).  But He is so good, and I'm rejoicing.  If you haven't noticed "rejoice" is one of my new favorite words.

So let's share - what's going on in your life?  How has God been strong in your weaknesses?  How are you rejoicing?  I'd be delighted to share hearts together in the comments!

Let's be joyful together, because that's what Christians do.

(and don't worry - I'm going to have an official announcement for The Torch Keepers soon!  I'm so excited to share all the special details, but that's for another day, a later time.  BUT I can't wait!!!)

Today - right now - let's rejoice in Jesus.

My heart is overflowing with a good theme;
I recite my composition concerning the King;

My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
- Psalm 45:1
~♥~

Jul 31, 2018

You Can Rejoice. Right Now.


There are a million raindrops on the window.  Each one is like a crystal gem, clear whiteness watching me in little, round faces.  They don't trail down in lines now that the rain has paused.  They only watch.

They see the geese in the yard, playing in the wet grass and having the time of their lives.  The droplets hear thunder still rolling through the air like a bowling ball.  They catch sight of the mist growing on the horizon, the calves with sparkling rain against their dark fur, the puddles that reflect the white-blue of the sky.

The rain is starting to fall again.  I wonder if it smells like petrichor outside - that fresh scent of rain when it first falls.  I love that smell.  Well, I've always thought rainy days were the best, after all.

Maybe it's raining on your house, dear reader.  Or perhaps it's dry, hot.  The sunflowers might be standing tall or they might be falling to the earth under the mist.  But either way, I'm stopping to see the world, pausing before my busy day begins, and rejoicing.  I hope you are too.

Because rejoicing is a decision.  And I'm going to rejoice right now.























One time I tried to study what the Bible says about joy.  It didn't work the way I wanted it to.  I was looking for the "how"... how can I rejoice?  How can it be easier?  How can I find joy in my life?

I laugh now to think of it, because the verses I found were so opposite to what I expected.  On my lined paper, I wrote passages sweeping in cursive lettering, but they all basically said the same theme:

In Your presence is fullness of joy...

Other verses word it differently.  The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).  We will rejoice in the Lord and in the God of our salvation (Habakkuk 3:18).  His servants will sing for joy of heart (Isaiah 65:14).  There's probably so much more context if you explored the backgrounds of the verses, but over and over again, God stresses the same fact.

There is no "how".  The answer is that those who follow Jesus rejoice.  It's what they do.

It's that simple.

In Jesus, we rejoice.  You can rejoice right here, right now.  Wherever you are, whatever is going on, you can have joy.

God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), and that includes joy.  Rejoicing is a decision to turn our eyes upon Jesus instead of focusing on our own situations.

Paul rejoiced while in prison, and he also wrote a book of the Bible that mentioned rejoicing at least 15 times.  That's in only four chapters.  (and yes, please go read Philippians right now - it's packed full of goodness)

Let's be like Paul and,

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!























But what does this look like practically?

For me, it means deciding at the beginning of the day to focus on Jesus.  It means to take everything that happens and turn it into a song of thankfulness.

This morning, I rejoiced in the rain and the thunder.  In throwing dirty laundry in the washer, even if the boys' socks were inside-out.  In the way my little sister's legs crossed over to my side of the bed in her sleep.  In the fact that I was going to get a late start to my day by writing this post.  And in that frog that just croaked close to my window.

I rejoiced.  And I'm still rejoicing.

Because being joyful is a decision, and I am choosing that today.  I often forget and live for myself, but right now, right here, I want to find Jesus.

Even when the stoplight turns red, He is still God.  When accidents happen, headaches come, babies cry, canning jars don't seal right (that totally didn't happen this week).  He is still God.

Being thankful is simply realizing that He is in control.  So we thank Him because every single circumstance is part of His greater plan.

That thing you're afraid of, He put it there for a reason.  Rejoice!

It's okay to be sad, to hurt for a friend, to be broken, but we mustn't stay there.  In His presence in fullness of joy.  Why would we settle for less?

We rejoice in Jesus, not in anything else.  He is Joy.  When our eyes are on Him, nothing else matters.

Choose to rejoice so that you can find more of Jesus.  Seek Him today.  He will be found.

Maybe I'll go play in the rain or do the laundry or pay a visit to the geese still playing in the wet grass.  Maybe I'll visit the rows of sunflowers that bow in the rain; I don't know what my day holds.  But that's okay.  He is always good.  Why wouldn't I rejoice?

And right now, dear friend, you are being loved.  Rejoice!






















But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name
Be joyful in You.
~♥~