Saturday, December 30, 2006

Buying Oranges

(Me with my niece, Soozie.)

Standing in the Publix produce section today, I picked out a few naval oranges. I love oranges and actually prefer them over sweets most of the time.

Yet while doing this, I realized in two days, the diet starts. "Religiously recording your Weight Watchers points," Tony reminds me. Not that he's hassling me about losing the more-than-one-less-than-twenty-pounds I've gained in the last few years, but because we're paying $15 a month for an online subscription.

I toss the oranges into a cellophane bag, pick up a large package of baby carrots, some lettuce and tomatoes, and oh, bananas, then go find Tony. On the candy aisle.

Oh, but not to worry, he's dieting too January 1st. This is his last hurrah.
Speaking of New Year's resolutions, I have a few.

One - Continue to develop a contemplative life, finding truth and life in God. Throw in a little fasting. This item is always on my New Year's list and I suppose always will be.

Two - Write. Think bestseller. Hey, what can it hurt?

Three - Work on friendships. I've always had girlfriends. I was a sorority girl for crying out loud (Hey, Mo!) but a lot of my friendships have faded due to life changes, different interest. I have some cyberspace friends I love and adore, but it often leaves me feeling disconnected. Like, really, my computer is my best friend. There I am, staring at Mac waiting for an IM from someone. LOL. Pitiful.

Man, I've had some great laughs with friends. One of my college roommates, Maryann, was the wittiest of wits. We laughed all the time. One time, so hard, I fell down on the sidewalk walking down 15th Ave toward the Ohio State campus.

Tony makes me laugh a lot. But I feel so closed in, away from family, away from friends. I take most of the responsibility on myself. I've not been a good communicator. But I don't get my identity in people. Jesus loves me. All else is icing.

Four - Hit the gym four times a week.

Five - Get a tatoo. I think it's time. A small one. Don't freak.

Goals are important. Otherwise, we are ruled by the tyranny of "the moment." Controlling our thoughts and emotions are important, too. I realize more and more we can just choose! We can choose to be happy, choose to be loving, choose to forgive, choose to put "it" behind us and move on. We don't have to be locked into whatever we feel or experience. The more we choose rightly, the more our emotions line up and change.

I know, I mean KNOW my emotions have changed since pursuing Song of Solomon type of love and life in Jesus. I feel the change. It's quite marvelous.

(Little plug for studying Song of Solomon if you dare.)

2006 was a year of change. 2007 is a year of destiny and believing.

Grace and peace!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Great Dad

I found this picture of my Dad and niece today while not-writing. I did get over 2,500 written today, and may write a few more before bed.

Tony and I took time out to watch our last Christmas movie rental, Firewall. Not so good. We were so aggrivated in the opening scenes when Harrison Ford's character and his family are hijack but the criminal never says why!

Anyway, the picture on the left is Dad feeding Gracie a strawberry while visiting Pete in Tennessee May 2005. He died a month later.

One of my favorite memories at Christmas time is the first year we lived in Lexington. On Christmas Eve, we were all excited waiting for Grandma and Grandpa to arrive. We were running around, playing, eating one of Dad's favorite treats, frozen mini Snicker bars, and I was teaching Dad how to play a 4th grade girl's hand game. It was funny. I have a picture of that night somewhere. A rosey cheeked me and my brother Danny with my mom and grandparents.

We had a lot of fun Christmases over the years. Do you have a favorite Christmas memory?

Another is the year my brother bought my mom her first microwave. It was huge! But so exciting. And we tried to cook the Christmas turkey in it. LOL. Ah, technology is not everything.

The fire is crackling in the fireplace. Pal's curled up next to me on a baby quilt, and the movie continues to play.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Walking the dog

We decided to start walking Pal, our Beagle-mutt, angel spotting dog. One, he'd love the exercise and two, his claws needed trimming.

Trying to clip them leaves us shredded, so it's out to grind them on the pavement.

Pal pulls on his leash the entire time, yerking on the arm of whoever's holding the leash. It's like he thinks we're not going to get "there" or that we aren't going where he wants to go.

But, we always get "there." He sniffs what he wants and trots on.

Sorta like that with us and God, don't ya think? We're always trying to run out, away from the leash, worried we're not going to get "there."

But we always do. He leads in paths of righteousness.

We've watched some great movies this weekend. Invinsible, and Glory Road. I LOVE sports movies. Also MI3, but it was so-so.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

I love this lyric, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!"

Even though it's 80 degrees. Tony and I are watching "It's A Wonderful Life" with Elizabeth White. And, I still have Tony's presents to wrap.

Merry Christmas everyone. And in the New Year.... just believe!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

My Dog Sees Angels

Call me weird, but I think my dog sees angels. Really. Like today. He comes into my office and immediately scoots around behind my chair like he's hiding from something.

He cowers in the corner, then tries to climb in my lap. The whole time, his eyes are darting back and forth. And if possible, he has a weird look on his Beagle face.

I hold him in my lap for a few minutes, but when I try to put him down, he doesn't want to go and winds up crawling under my desk.

I'm telling you, he sees angels. Or devils. But the devils can't stay. Not on my watch.

Isn't that strange. I have a seeing eye dog.

Hey, if when I'm writing, angels can hang around all day long. I could use the help.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Beige Day

Ever have one of those days where you just feel beige? I do. Like today.

But it's Christmas! Right?

But I'm writing a first draft and always, always, always feel beige in the middle of writing a first draft.

I'm reminded of my favorite Apostle Paul verse. "If you compare yourself to others, you're stupid."

Ah, thanks for the straight-talk, Paul. Words that echo down the corridor of time!

Out of town friends came over for dinner last night. I grilled chicken to put over a green salad and made cinnamon rolls. As I was cooking, I thought, "Does Stuart eat salad?"

Turns out. No. But he enjoyed it anyway and filled up on cinnamon rolls.

Off to work.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sunday, December 17, 2006 Interview


I'm on international web radio. Check it out: http://www.cvc. tv/go/fuseaction /audiolib. main/lang/ english

Click on Author Interview. You can download or just listen from the web.

This radio program broadcast around the world from Australia.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

If this is you, please, don't

Today Roxanne St. Claire, Martha Powers and I had had a book signing at Books-A-Million up in Melbourne.

Before hand, we enjoyed lunch, talking about the publishing business and "what's next" for all three of us.

We all write different genres - Rocki writes Romantic Suspense. Martha writes murdery myster and of course, me, chick lit.

The also write for the ABA market where I write for the CBA market.

Anyway, Martha's book title is Death Angle about a man accused of murdering his young daughter. We had a lot of foot traffic today and Martha would graciously speak to people trying to get them to stop and browse our table.

One woman looked at Martha's book title, made a face and said very arrogantly, "I'd never buy a book with that title."

Okay, I can understand not being attracted to at title, but the face? The tude? And I really hope she didn't claim to be a Christian. I'm quite certain it's not what Jesus would do.

The closer I draw to Jesus, the more I realize He's about love and compasion, graciousness. Not curling His nose and judging others.

Does He embrace sin? No. But does He curl His nose? No again. He was the opposite of judgemental and religious.

So please, don't.

After the booksigning, I went to a restaurant and hung out in the kitchen. Research. Very fun. The owners were very gracious to let me observe, and answer all my questions.

Got home around 8:30, very tired, but satisified with the day.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Are You Shrinking

Thoughts from Tony:

I've been pondering these words of John the Baptist; "He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:29-30)

As always, the challenge is figuring out how to apply them in my life. I don't pretend to have it all figured out, but I have some definite ideas, albeit primarily from a pastoral perspective.

I think it means that people I pastor should be more connected to Jesus than they are to me, and that it should be a source of joy for me when someone I've helped is so busy thanking Jesus they've forgotten me.

I think it means I should strive to be known more as a servant than a leader. These can be tough verses to live out, and I don't know how you apply them in your life, but I know I'd love to go to a church where everyone was trying to make it more about Jesus and less about themselves.

And I know from experience that the order is important. Unless I'm first very intentional about Jesus increasing in me, it's a lot harder for me to decrease. But here is what I'm currently finding challenging (feel free to take up this challenge with me if you feel up to it); how do I apply these verses to Christmas?

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Light

I love these words of the Man, Jesus.

"For everyone who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds maybe manifested as having been wrought in God."

In today's PC world, it seems we're "not allowed" to call anything or anyone evil. (Unless the views are Christian or conservative. Then, let the mud be flung.)

But Jesus is clear here. If you hate the light (Jesus/God/Truth) then you do evil. You don't want your deeds exposed.

Whether we like it or not, there is evil in the world. You can spray perfume on a skunk, but you still got stink. Evil is evil. It cannot be made good.

Look at Ted Haggart. His dark deeds were exposed in the Light. But the same Light that exposed him will also redeem and heal him.

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No man, none, come to the Father except through Him - a claim that has the world in an uproar and it will get worse before the End of the Age.

But just like the wedding of Cana. Jesus saved the best wine for last. I cannot wait to see what the Spirit pours out as we careen toward the end of time as we know it.

Miracles, healing, restoration, life, forgiveness, manna in the desert. I'm both excited and terrified.

Consider this. If you hate the Light, are your deeds evil? Flip your thought process. Hate your deeds and love the Light.

I had to do it. Anyone who really seeks truth has to do it. Seek the Light. Jesus.

Friday, December 08, 2006

I'm older

I'm a year older.

Today I woke up feeling tired. And it's not that I went to bed at 2 a.m. and woke up at 8 a.m. it's age, I'm telling you.

I'm $^ now. Yesterday we went out for dinner with our friends Chelle, Matt, Jodi, then Dave and Tricia joined us. It was very lovely. Dave and I solved the minimum wage problem.

Do we purposefully elect dumb people to Washington, or do they get dumb once they're elected?

Never mind, don't answer.

I'm really more concerned about global warming than ever. It hasn't snowed in Florida since '89. Proof global warming is in full bloom.

Now, what I'm really concerned about is the spiritual climate we are leaving for our children. They are going to find the truth, and turn the world upside down. Just like 12 men did 2000 years ago.

Okay, off to write. Wonder what my sweet Caroline is up to?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Folgers Gourmet Coffee

Several months ago, Folgers emailed me about taste testing their new coffees and posting a blog. the fall was so busy, I'm just now getting around to the taste test results.

But first, a disclaimer:

I am not a coffee drinker and thus informed Folgers. But, I thought it would be fun to see if their new blends would capture my non-coffee palate.

Now, if Diet Coke needs a taste tester, they should look me up. I'm their girl! I could do a whole series on my switch from Diet Pepsi to Diet Coke.

So, when my brother Peter-John was here, who is a coffee drinker, along my husband Tony, we brewed up one of the coffee's every morning: Morning Cafe, Vanilla Biscotti, and Lively Columbian.

I love the names of the blends. Love the packaging. A nice aroma filled the kitchen. I looked forward to my taste test. So, Pete and I poured a cup.

Hum, taste like black coffee. Plain. Well it was the Lively Columbian blend, the others will have more flavor.

But, they all tasted the same to me. Regular, good to the last drop Folgers coffee. I'm always disappointed with flavored our gourmet coffees. They never taste remotely like their name - any coffee brand, not just these Folgers blends.

I want the Vanilla Biscotti flavor to compete with the flavor of the coffee bean. Or Chocolate Truffle to taste like chocolate.

The concensus from Pete and Tony, as coffee drinkers, was, "Eh," shrug, "it's okay."

If you love coffee, and love coffee with a hint of something flavorful or aromatic, try these Folgers blends.

If you're not a coffee lover and you want to try something fancy, Folgers won't cut it. It's not going to be a General Food International Coffee moment.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Getting Poorer

Tony says to me while driving him to the mechanic to pick up his truck, "I feel like we just keep getting poorer."

I burst out laughing. He's right. Not that we are going into debt, or in danger of losing our house or cars, but the cost of living keeps going up and the money is not coming in.

I love my job, passionately, but I get paid two, maybe three times a year. Hopefully, we'll see some royalty checks this year, but it's hard to say.

Tony's job is rare to give raises. Sadly, being on staff at a church is not the way to earthly wealthy - unless you're Rick Warren, TD Jakes or Joel Osteen.

But, we're happy, doing fine. Not in lack of food, clothing or shelter. Well, perhaps in lack of new clothing, but that's another story.

So, the next day, we get a letter in the mail. Our gym membership is going up $7. More laughter from me.

How come all the businesses charge more but employees earn the same or less?

Please, I am not advocating big government or intervention. Please, stay away government. The market will correct itself.

Then, I heard a guy on talk radio. Arnold Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University. He was on 20/20 Wednesday talking about "who gives in this country."

It's the working poor, which technically, we might be grouped with since I quit the corp job. And even more than the working poor, the religious community is the most generous. Not just church tithe, but in overall giving. Red Cross, the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas.

And, Brooks claims, those who give are more prosperous and healthy as individuals and as communities. He claims generosity is the overall reason why American is prosperous over our European counterpart. We give more.

I loved that the secular media came to this conclusion. Because it's true.

God's Word works whether you believe in Him or not. He rewards generosity. He rewards those who give. He sees and He repays. You cannot out give God.

Does that mean you have eternal life? Nope. Still have to know the Man. But it does mean you time in this life is a little more blessed, a little more prosperous - maybe a lot more.

This principle is played out big time in the movie, "Facing The Giants." The protagonist doesn't give money directly, but surrenders all his burdens to the Lord. Lives out his convictions.

And God meets him.

I know bad things happen in this life. It rains on the just and unjust alike, but don't get trapped in the idealology that God is not going to protect and reward very much in this life. That we just have to wait for the next.

No! He is interacting with us every day in this life. He wants to heal the sick. Break poverty. Restore families. Set destiny and fulfill dreams. Come on. He's a loving Father!

In Malachi 3:8 - 12 amazes us with this challenge from God:

"Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings.

"You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

"Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes," says the LORD of hosts.

"All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land," says the LORD of hosts.

Give. Don't be afraid. He can do more with your remaining 80 or 90 percent than you can do by clinging to the 10 or 20 percent.

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Peter and I have a lot in common

Don't you love Simon Peter. Big heart. Big mouth. Impulsive, easily discouraged.

I can relate, Pete.

But I've learned what NOT to do by studying his life as much as what TO do.

On walking on water

Peter had enough faith to ask the Lord to call him out on the water. But not enough to keep him from the discouragement of his surroundings.

Lesson to self: Be bold enough to ask the Lord to "call you out onto the water." But then keep your gaze fixed on Him, not the circumstances.

On denying

Peter knew the power of fear. So much so, he denied Jesus three times in the most critical hour of his Lord's life. But he recognized his weakness and wept in repentence.

Lesson to self: You are going to fail. Weep in repentence.

On discouragement

Even after the Lord rose from the dead and apeared to the disciples, Peter gave in to discouragement. He said to James and John, and the others, "I'm going fishing."

Bascially, he concluded, "Jesus is gone. It's over. I'm going back to my old way of life."

Lesson to self: The temptation to go back to the way things used to be might lure me to give up the calling God has put on my heart. Don't surrender.

On love

Peter broke the bonds of his discouragement, the chains of his denial by responding to the Lord's call of love. Three times Jesus asked, "Do you love me?"

Odd that Jesus would ask, "Do you love me?" instead of saying, "Peter, I love you."

Because Peter needed to hear his own confession of love and Jesus' response, "Feed my sheep."

Jesus didn't challenge him, "Why did you deny Me? I told you, I told you." No, Jesus affirmed Peter's love by restating his call. Peter's weakness didn't disqualify him.

Lesson to self: Confess my love for the Lord in hard times, then listen for His confirming, affirming call to my heart.

Grace and Peace.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Journey

For me, each book is a journey. Faith. Hope. Craft. Story. Peace. Grace.

When I wrote Diva NashVegas, the Lord spoke to me through Isaiah 41:13. "I will help you." I had days where I struggled and wondered, "Are you helping me?"

He was, yes. Was it easier to write? No, but He fulfilled his word. And, the rewrites were nominal.

With this book, I add to my arsenal the strength of past victories. David is 1 Samuel 22 finds the sword of Goliath in the care of a priest. He says, "Give it to me, there is none like it."

David used the strength, the sword, of his past victory, killing Goliath, to aid him in his current battle against Saul.

And with this new book, I have a new concept to walk out. The story of Peter walking on the water. To know I can ask of the Lord and He will answer. To remember NOT to focus on the wind and the waves, but keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. And, if I start to sink, steady my gaze on Him again.

I'm determined not to cry out, "Save me, Lord," only to hear Him say to me, "Where's your faith?"

So, I've begun my third book for Thomas Nelson. I'm very excited. Still working out the character and the story. I know what I want to happen, when and why, but it's the dance of words and story that make it hard and at times, frustrating.

Another great thing in my life now is LESS. Yes, less is more. I have less week day and week night activities, so I have more time! After years of being out 2, 3 or 4 nights a week, and occassionally seven or eight nights in a row, I'm now free.

It's a season, just like the busy ones. But I'm so grateful for it. I'm much more relaxed. I don't have to weave writing around a nightly meeting or a mid-morning appointment.

At the same time, I'm taking commmand of my time. I'm not going to be lead where I don't want to go. I want to invest my time in things I value.

So, sorry cyber space, but you are not first in the morning any more. Prayer and the Word. Writing. Exercise. Chores. Exercise and chores can be flexible of I do have an engagement or did not reach my word count.

I realized, too, while writing Diva, I was using up all my creative energy by blogging or writing email. When it came down to working on the book, I was pooped. Plus, when book concept is hard, it's easy to procrastinate and put off the job at hand.

Grace and peace, and a little walking on water . . .

Friday, November 24, 2006


Hey everyone. I know it's late notice but I'm siging Lost In NashVegas tomorrow from 11 - 1 at Calvary Chapel Melbourne.

Mark Mynheir and Bryan Davis will also be signing.

Come if you can.

On another note, I know the blog is messed up and I've contacted my web mistress. Hang tight. And to the Michigan State fan who commented about being disappointed I was a Michigan fan … NOT!

I am a Buckeye fan all the way. I bleed Scarlet and Gray.

Let's keep it straight now.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Evening at home

We're at home on this Thanksgiving evening with a fire in the fireplace after a very nice Thanksgiving day.

I actually made Grandma and Mom's yeast rolls. They turned out great.

At the moment, Tony is reading and I'm wathing old Andy Griffith TV shows on PBS. When we came home, I said, "Well honey, how's it feel? The Christmas season has started."

Then I turn on the TV and PBS is running old Bing and Andy shows and WGN is playing "White Christmas."

ITunes is offering Ohio State vs Michigan games for download. I bought the 2002 and 2006 seasons. You know, the years we won. They have two others and I'm sure those are Michigan victories. ;)

Tomorrow we'll put up our tree and I have to finish Diva galleys.

Peace in this season to you all.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Win a Free Lost In NashVegas

Hey all,

I'm blogging all week over on Comment on one of the post and CCM you will be eligible to win a free copy of Lost In NashVegas.

In January, the book will be on the books page of CCM Magazine.

Thanks to Chris Wells for being such a friend and support.


It's Thanksgiving Eve and my friend Camy Tang blogged about things she is thankful for. Good idea.

1. Jesus. My friend, my love, my Lord. If you don't know Him, you should. He is so amazing.
2. My husband. What an amazing man, a true gift from God to me and so many others.
3. My wonderful Mom who is forging a new life as a widow, but embracing change and overcoming her fears. I'm proud of you, Mom.
4. My siblings: Danny, Joel, Peter-John and Rebekah, and their families. I love you all, very, very much. And my in-law family! What a great bunch you are! Mom and Dad Hauck, I love you.
5. My Grandma who still drives at 92. She is brave and enduring.
6. My Church On the Rock family, and Fire Dweller. Friday nights are my favorite night of the week.
7. My writer friends, Christine Lynxwiler, Susan Warren, Tracey Bateman, Susan Downs, Colleen Coble, Diann Hunt, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, Camy, Mary Griffith, Lynette, Robin, Cindy Woodsmall, Amy Wallace, Meg Mosely and Marci Burke for being there in various ways and various forms. I appreciate you all. I'm sure I've left off people, but you know who you are.
8. My editors at WestBow, Ami McConnell, Natalie Hennaman, and editor at large, Leslie Peterson. Thank you a million times over. And everyone at WestBow/Thomas Nelson.
9. My agent Karen Solem.
10. My car. I like my car.
11. David White who makes me look like I know what I'm doing for Sunday morning worship and Friday night Fire Dweller when it's my turn to lead. I really appreciate you.
12. Eric Exely for being you.
13. Cassie, Carrie, and Elizabeth for being jewels in my heart.
14. Laura, Jer and the boys. Also jewels in my heart.
15. I'm thankful to do what I do - write for a living. Lord, you are such a God of fulfilling dreams and destinies.
16. My health. I'm thankful for that!

All I can think of for now and I have to get to work... Perhaps more later.

Peace and grace

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Buckeyes Over Michigan

Biting my thumb nail, I watched the game with Tony and my brother-in-law, Helmut, as Ohio State battled Michigan for the Big 10 title and really, the national championship.

OSU has looked so great all year. Troy Smith has been an excellent team leader and quarterback. The team seemed to gel in a way I haven't seen a college football team gel in a long time, if ever.

There have been great football teams. But the 2006 OSU Buckeyes will go down in history as one of the greatest: Smith, Wells, Ginn, Gonzales, Pittman, Hart, Robiiskie, Laurinaitis, the whole team, as men who played as one unit.

The church could take a lesson.

It was an offensive battle, but Ohio State pulled it out: 42 - 39. I was praying.

Thanks God, for winning football seasons.

Grace and peace to all!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Best Feeling

I've been around babies most of my life. I have three younger siblings and started baby sitting when I was ten. Okay, not baby-babies, but for sure by the time I was thirteen, I was baby sitting infants.

We spent the past weekend with my sister who has four children, 13, almost 11, 2 and seven months.

I saw the baby for the first time. She was fussy the first day. Apparently, cutting teeth is nasty business. But the second and third day, she was so sweet. Monday morning, I held her in my lap for about 2 hours. Peacefully sitting.

This, I thought, is my most favorite feeling. Holding a baby. I love their smell after a bath, the warmth of their baby breath, the sound of their laughter, but I don't think there's anything like cuddling a baby.

As an adult, I haven't been around babies as much. And not having any of my own, I'd forgotten the place in my heart that only a baby can touch. Especially a neice or nephew.

What are your most favorite feelings, or special moments?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Welcome Robin Lee Hatcher

Hello from crisp and blustery Idaho where it isn't hard to believe we are entering the busy holiday season. Brrrrr.

Thanks, Rachel, for allowing me to visit on your blog. I'm looking forward to reading your novel, Lost in NashVegas, about Robin Rae, a country music songwriter. When you read the next few paragraphs, you'll understand that the reason is more than just one writer wanting to read another writer's book.

In the fall of 2004, I was in Illinois and Indiana for a couple of Christian cable TV interviews. Alone in my hotel room on my first morning of the trip, I was supposed to be working on my WIP when instead I wrote these paragraphs:

There exists a strange moment between sleep and wakefulness when dreams cease and realism remains at bay. That was when Roxy's heart spoke to her most clearly.
It’s time to go home.

Roxanne Burke had given Nashville seven years to discover her. She'd offered her voice, her face—and eventually, her body—but despite her best efforts and dedication, despite her desperate grasps at the brass ring, country music and stardom didn't want her. Roxy was worse than a has-been. She was a never-was.

This became the first draft opening for my novel, Return to Me, a book scheduled for release in 2006. But as often happens in publishing, things changed. Zondervan decided they wanted to release the book in July 2007, so they asked me to write a Christmas novella first.

Because I was already over a hundred pages invested in Elena and Roxy Burke, the sister protagonists of Return to Me, I had a desire to know more about the love story of their parents, Jonathan and Carol. And so the imagination began to churn.

I thought back to my first Christmas as a teenage bride and the struggles young couples can have as they try to meld different Christmas traditions from separate families into something new and unique to them. I thought of how difficult it can be for two unique individuals to learn to act as one flesh, submitting to one another, loving unconditionally, no matter the circumstances.

That was the starting point for A Carol for Christmas, but by the time the writing was done, it had also become a story about the desires of the heart and how God wants to change and use them for His glory.

Since both A Carol for Christmas and Return to Me feature women who love to sing country music (yes, I am a fan; I'm a rodeo loving, former barrel racer, Idaho cowgirl), I've been asked if I sing. In fact, one An interviewer asked if I had a good voice or if my dog hid under my bed when I sang. LOL.

The truth is, I love music and have the heart of a great singer, but alas, not the voice. My singing borders on being a "joyful noise." I can stay on key (most of the time), but perfect pitch and a significant range are not among my gifts. Still, in my car or around the house, I am usually singing along to something -- contemporary Christian, worship music, country, golden oldies. The louder it's cranked, the better I sound. As long as I can praise God with my life, I am content, with or without that great musical voice I wish I had. Which is why writing for Him is such a blessing.

In Acts 20:24, Paul says, "But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus -- the work of telling others the Good News about God's wonderful kindness and love." (NLT)

The same is true for me. And so I write fiction because that is the work He has assigned to me.

I hope you and your readers will enjoy A Carol for Christmas. It's in stores now. For more information, visit my Write Thinking blog at and my web site at

In the grip of His grace,


Robin Lee Hatcher discovered her vocation as a novelist after many years of reading everything she could put her hands on, including the backs of cereal boxes and ketchup bottles. However, she's certain there are better plots and fewer calories in her books than in puffed rice and hamburgers.
The winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance, and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award, Robin writes both historical romance and contemporary women's fiction. A Carol for Christmas (October 2006) is her 50th release, and she has four books slated for release in 2007.
Robin enjoys being with her family, playing with Poppet (her high maintenance Papillon), spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, reading books that make her cry, and watching romantic movies. She is passionate about the theater, and several nights every summer, she can be found at the outdoor amphitheater of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, enjoying Shakespeare under the stars. She makes her home in Boise.

Rachel here: It's a great honor to have you stop by today, Robin. Thanks so much. You are today and always, an inspiration. I can't wait to read more about your country girl!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Off For Awhile

Well, Tony and I are off for awhile. Vacation. But, I'm working. I have to. This book has to get legs and wings or it'll never fly. LOL.

It's weird however because I'm in this Bookmuda Triangle.

Lost In NashVegas is out this month so I'm working on some publicity stuff, answering emails, did an interview with a guy in Australia last night.

Diva NashVegas galleys are on my dining room table waiting for me to read and edit. I so love this book.

Sweet Caroline, my new work in progress, demands my whole writing heart and mind. But I feel pulled, a little, not alot. And with a new work, it's always easy to focus on what I've already done and not face the fight of pressing forward.

But, alas, never fear, I can do all things . . .

Well, better go pack.

Grace and peace.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Interview with Martha Rogers

Writing is an amazing yet trying journey. And in the shadows along the way are rejections, disappointment and writers block. . .

Perseverence is a must. Since I’ve been an ACFW member, one particular member has stayed-the-course longer than anyone I know, Martha Rogers. I’d like to share her testimony with you.

RH: Hi, Martha, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Martha: Rex and I have been married for 47 years this month. (October 24) We were blessed with three sons who married great girls and have given us 9 grandchildren. I'm a graduate of Baylor University with a Bachelor of Science degree and University of Houston with a Masters in Education. I taught homemaking and English for 28 years and English at the college level. I've also supervised student teachers for University of Houston for 5 years. My hobbies include making my angel teddy bears and other crafty projects.

RH: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Martha: Almost as soon as I could talk. I begin writing stories for my paper dolls to act out when I was in kindergarten. I also wrote skits for my cousins to act out for our parents and grandparents.

RH: What was the first thing you wrote beyond those kindergarten stories?

Martha: I wrote a novel at seventeen: Broken Barriers about teenagers in the fifties. I have that manuscript and have worked on it, edited it, and fine tuned it, but it hasn't found a home. It was really bad when I started working on it again, but now I think it's a pretty good story.

RH: Did you submit it for publication?

Martha: I didn't submit it until a few years ago through my agent. At the time I wrote it, I did it just to escape into a fantasy world. I loved doing that. I knew nothing about publishing.

RH: We both know a lot of authors who are raising children, working full time jobs, active in ministry. Can you talk to these busy people about the seasons of life?

Martha: When my two oldest were babies, I jotted down ideas for devotionals, short stories and such. I have scores of journals where I wrote down my thoughts and ideas. Each week we had one day where the boys decided what we were to do. (Usually a museum, swimming, a picnic, or the zoo.) We had one library day and after we picked the books up, we came home and read. We had an "at home" day when I would write and they would play games in their rooms. I collected a lot of fodder for scenes doing things with them.

RH: How did you manage working, family and writing?

Martha: My writing seasons were leanest were when the boys were growing up and I taught full-time. Having to grade so many essays and research papers squelched my own interest in writing for a time. When the boys were older and the youngest was in middle school, I went back to school for my Master's degree. That's when my writing really took off again.

RH: You had some early success with non fiction articles, right?

Martha: The first articles I submitted were accepted and appeared in Home Life Magazine. Before that I had entered a number of contests for short stories and articles, but hadn't won any. Then I was contracted to write 8 Bible studies for First Place.

RH: What about fiction?

Martha: My rejections started when I began submitting fiction. The first ones really hurt. I cried and thought I'd never write anything else, but then the desire to write pulled me back. They still hurt, but I know each one means I have more work to do

RH: Talk about the highlights in those tough years. What was the silver lining?

Martha: During the sixteen years of sending submissions for novels and getting only rejections, I had the silver lining of articles, devotionals, and Bible studies being published.

RH: In those years of writing without being published, what is the most valuable lesson you learned?

Martha: To keep writing and making each rejected manuscript better for the next submission.

RH: What advice would you give to someone who's been waiting more than a year to be published?

Martha: Be patient. You're just getting started.

RH: More than 10 years?

Martha: Persevere. The Bible tells us to persevere and not give up for at the proper time we will reap a harvest. We have to work by God's timetable, not ours.

RH: What advice would you give to someone who is weary and contemplating writing suicide. "I quit."

Martha: Put it aside for awhile. If you're a serious writer, the Lord will fill you with a desire so strong that you simply must write. You won't be able to let it alone for very long.

RH: Was there a verse or scripture that motivated you?

Martha: I have so many that I call up from my memory for different situations, but one that stays with me is Jeremiah 29:11. Since God knows the plans He has for me, all I can is keep myself ready for whatever those plans may be.

RH: Describe your brightest moments in your writing journey.

Martha: The first was when I saw my first article in print with my name as the by-line. And then when I signed the contract with Barbour for the Sugar and Grits, I realized "Hey, maybe I can do this after all."

RH: We all have had mentors and friends who aid us along the way. Who are people who've helped you and how?

Martha: My friend Wanda Shadle got me involved with Inspirational Writers Alive! and encouraged me to attend conferences with her. Then DiAnn Mills took me under her wing and taught me so much. She formed a crit group with Kathleen Y'Barbo and Myra Johnson. When Myra had to drop out, Janice Thompson joined us and they have been the greatest teachers.

RH: What advice would you give to a new writer?

Martha: Attend as many conferences as you can. If you're limited to one, try to make it the ACFW one. You won't regret it. Get your baby polished and fine-tuned then send it out there.

RH: What advice would you give to an experienced writer, but unpublished.

Martha: Hang in there. Keep writing and submitting. Join a critique group and get feedback from others. Attend those conferences and network.

RH: Tell us about your first fiction book. Title, release date, how publication came about.

Martha: It's a novella, Not on the Menu in the anthology, Sugar and Grits. It will be released in May of 2007. DiAnn, Kathleen, Janice, and I submitted the proposal in 2001. We never received a rejection. It just kept floating around until Susan and Rebecca decided it was time for to be published.

RH: What's next for you?

Martha: I'm busy with a historical, but if I hear from either of the proposals out there, I'll get busy on completing those novels.

Thank you Martha for inspiring us in our writing and walk with God.

Freedom Is Dangerous

Blog from Tony:

When I taught high school science I was continually trying to get my students to understand concepts and principles that, when mastered, could be applied to all sorts of problems. Most were surprisingly resistant. Their preferred method was to learn the "steps" for each type of problem.

They wanted to get the right answer because they were concerned about their grade, but they weren't really interested in truly understanding the concepts.

I guess this is human nature. I saw the same type of thinking this last Halloween at our mall outreach. I won't go into detail, but let's just say the event was a magnet for religiousness. Good people, with good hearts, who want to do it right can end up being religious because its easier.

We just want to get the right answer, learn the steps, and we end up solving problems with rules instead of through relationship.

It's a lot more work to stay tuned to His Spirit and adapt to each situation by His leading.

I've noticed that church leaders can also fall into this trap. There are always problems to confront, and its much easier to make blanket rules than to wade in and pastor the individuals. But every time we do this we are limiting freedom for everyone because a few abused their liberty.

What an incredible risk Jesus is taking by setting us free so completely, and then empowering us on top of that. That leaves us with tremendous potential to accomplish great things, but also (and these cannot be divorced from each other) similarly great potential to mess things up. But if Jesus isn't nervous about this, maybe we should lighten up and give each other grace.

Bottom line; we will mess it up unless we stay close to the heart of Jesus. There is really only one step, one rule. You can look it up in John 15:4-5.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Trip to Beaufort, SC - Day 5

Beautiful day. Went on the ACE Basin Tour at 10:00 a.m. I thought it was a half hour, forty-five minute boat ride. Turns out to be 3 hours.

But it was so peaceful and relaxing. There were only a few of us on the tour boat. The water was smooth and glassy. White clouds floating across a sun lit blue sky.

There were dolphins swimming with us. Birds among the marsh grass. We spotted two bald eagles. too. That was amazing. The tour didn't add much to my story needs other than to get a feel for the people and the area. Learn about pluff mud.

The owner of the tour worked with the crew of Forest Gump to stage and film the shrimp scenes. It was cool to hear about it. The guide pointed to a dock and said, "That's where Lt. Dan met Forest at the shrimp boat."

Met up with Catherine for a few minutes, then talked to a cafe owner. She gave me a lot of good info.

Connected with my editor, which is always good. We talked for a bit about the story. I'm feeling better.

Went out to Luther's tonight to hear Branan Logan and give him a copy of Lost In NashVegas. He's a great singer and phenom guitar player. Very nice guy, too. Very personable. Met his friends and girlfriend, Beka, who was also very nice and sweet.

My time in Beaufort ends today. I'm going to Helen, GA tomorrow.

But this has been a great trip.

God is so good to me!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trip to Beaufort, SC - Day 4

This morning I woke up early, and worked some. Then got ready and went out.

I drove down Robert Small Pkwy. I was looking for a Christian bookstore to see if they had a copy of Lost In NashVegas, but no luck. Well, to be honest, I couldn't find the store.

So, I drove toward Burton over the Parris Island bridge. It's so beautiful here. The water is glassy, though shallow and the foliage is just now starting to turn. Not meaning to drive so far, I turned around and ended up heading toward Ladys Island and Hunting Island. Very beautiful. Beach and live oaks dripped with Spanish moss.

I met Catherine, my chamber of commerce liaiason, and went to lunch at the Shrimp Shack. I had a fried shrimp burger. Yum. Most awesome. We dropped the convertible top and drove back toward Hunting Island with a stop off at Gay's Shrimp something place. I interviewed Charles Gay. Very funny. We had a good time talking shrimping. I mean, I asked the questions, he answered them. Not going to deny I got a couple of odd looks.

Came home and worked on my WIP, then tried to watch Gilmore Girls but it was a rerun. Bummer.

Doing my best not to be discouraged. It's so much a part of the journey. But starting a story is dang hard. I worked all evening on the story. I highly recommend Noah Lukeman's, "The Plot Thickens." I've been going through it page by page because he ask good character questions.

Tomorrow is my last day here, then I'm going up to Helen, Georgia for a retreat.

Peace out.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Trip to Beaufort, SC - Day 3

Another very fun and very beautiful day in Beaufort, South Carolina.

I took a carriage tour of the historic downtown area first thing this morning, then stopped in at the Chamber of Commerce to meet Caroline Hipp, who's been most helpful to me. She's young, hip and v. cool. I had a great time getting a feel for the city from Caroline and he co-worker, Kristin, both 20-somethings like my heroine.

We ate lunch with Catherine's stepmom, and I ended up on another carriage ride later in the evening. The Ghost Tours. Yeah, not 100% my thing- Halloween - but the tour raises money to fight child abuse, which is my thing, and it was fun to tour the city and old homes at night.

No real ghost, just actors coming out of the dark in 1860's costumes and telling us stories.

Walked around downtown some after the tour and met the singer I heard Saturday night, Branan Logan. And go figure, he knows Craig Monday, a songwriter I met in Nashville. Lisa Young introduced me to him. What a small world. Craig has two songs on Branan's CD. I told him about Lost In NashVegas and he wanted to read it, so I'm giving him a copy Wednesday night.

I'm getting a good feel for the city and area, though there is so much to see and know. I'm going to focus on Beaufort for my setting.

Walked around in the afternoon, just thinking and taking pictures. I have to just give up thinking soon and get it going.

God is in control, right? Of course.

Came home from the Ghost Tour and downtown around 8:30. Did some online stuff then worked on the book's first chapter. Just have to get her voice and tone down.

Caroline feels sort of serious to me, but I want her to be fun yet deep.

It's hard to come up with a new character after Aubrey James in Diva NashVegas. To me, she's such a powerful character. But, I remember how hard she was to capture at first.

Grace, grace.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Trip to Beaufort, SC - Day 2

A good day.

Woke up. Always a good start to the day, no? Slept well so I felt ready to go for a run. Which is stupid because I so hate running, but didn't want to let too many days go by without exercise.

Ran right down the main drag, Boundary Street. Did I say run? I mean plod. Came back, showered up and did some computer time. then hung out with Jesus. Got something to eat, then drove downtown.

It's really beautiful downtown. Historic, right on the Beaufort River. Very quaint but also modern. Lots of people downtown today. Motorcyclist. Retirees.

One art shop owner told me the summer was tourist on a budget, the fall and winter was tourist without a budget. They liked the fall tourist the best. Go figure.

I was browsing in a bookstore when my phone rang. It was Jess Dang, one of the Food Networks next star contestants. She was way cool and talked to me about being on the show, gave me some ideas for my story. Thanks for talking Jess.

Hung up with her, called Tony with an update, then went to Luthers just to see what was going on in there. Last night they had country singers. Oh, ran into Buckeye fans! We are everywhere!

Sat by myself in Luther's half watching football, half observing people. Two men came in and I figured they were military. I wanted to talk to them about life in Beaufort from the military view, but I felt really stupid walking up to them. Plus, it looked like they were talking and having fun.

But, oh well, what the heck. All they can do is say "get lost." So, I walked up with some lame opener like, "Are you guys military?"


Both Marines. One in maintenance (jets) the other an F-18 pilot. They endured my questions - and I ask a lot - then invited me to sit with them. I found paper - I was no prepared - and sat there for an hour or more talking to them about military life, Beaufort and what concepts might work well for my story. It was fun. Thanks Jason and Aaron.

I mean, how lame is it? "Hi, I'm a writer can I talk to you?"

I have no proof. but my sincere face and the favor of God.

Then, took a drive to . . . PUBLIX. How great to find Publix in Beaufort. It's beautiful. Red brick. Live Oaks with Spanish moss swaying in the breeze in the parking lot.

Day was cool and sunny. Boats on the water. People milling aorund town.

Called my hubby a gazillion times. I miss him. Love you, babe.

Grace and peace.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Trip to Beaufort, SC - Day 1

I just want to say, Google Map lied to me.

"Rachel," it said, "take I-95 to US-278, then SC-141 to SC-170, to SC-170N and turn right and there's your hotel." Each one of these exchanges were noted to be about 4 miles long - each.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Couldn't be any more wrong.

Nevertheless, I found Beaufort, South Carolina and my hotel no thanks to Google Maps. Those computer directions are always so whacked.

I'm glad I came up tonight. I ended up downtown, ate at a great restaurant, and discovered live country music in several of the downtown haunts. A couple of them traveling back and forth between Beaufort and Nashville. Works great for my next book.

Also talked to a sweet young woman, Bonnie, who's lived her most of her life and she gave me some great insider info. We are going to get together.

Confession: Driving 5 hours by myself is quite comical. I talk to myself.

I am excited to discover more of the beautiful city.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's update.

Peace out.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Jesus is taking over my life

Another post from my husband:

For a couple years now I've been forcing myself (against my will) to add an evangelistic component to my life.

It started as a two hour commitment on Tuesday nights sharing the gospel at the beach, and evolved into our downtown outreach. I thought I would continue to give a couple hours a week to evangelism, but something has happened, and the evolution hasn't stopped.

We've been going to the same neighborhood, ministering to the same people for months, building relationships, and I recently realized this isn't evangelism anymore. Its become a missions outreach. I can't contain it to a couple hours a week. My responsibility to them is growing. What started out as a simple ministry is threatening to become a fairly significant part of my lifestyle.

Once again Jesus has lured me in and tricked me into spending more of my life than I'd planned on His Kingdom. I'd say more, but I have to go. Two of my friends from our neighborhood are in the hospital, and I need to go visit them.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Shawn, Tony and me

Tony and me with one of our favorite people, Shawn Bolz. We met Shawn about five years ago in Kansas City at the first December One Thing conference. From the first moment I heard him speak about God, Jesus, heavenly encounters I knew he was for real, down to earth and the spirit in me connected with the spirit in him.

He spoke at two of our summer In the Fire conferences, and comes to town with White Dove Ministries once a year. So, we've built a once a year friendship. He travels and moves in signs and wonders, and is working on a cool talk show with his friend Paula. The Shawn and Paula show.

I gave him a fresh-off-the-press copy of Lost In NashVegas last Thursday. We were talking last year and he said, "Name a character after me." So, I did.

He gave me a copy of his book "Keys to Heaven's Economy." You have to check this book out.

Off to write.

Peace out.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Weird Day

Ever have one of those good, but weird days? I sort of had one of those today, but I'm cool with it. Weird exchange with a friend. One that made me go, "Hum, that's odd."

So, anyway, I'm procrastinating and refuse to give any more of my heart and time to it.

Oh, saw Lost In NashVegas in Barnes & Noble. I signed them. What a treat. Then visited with one of my first authors heroes, Davis Bunn. I'm so blessed. I count some of my favorite authors as a friends.

Peace and Grace.

Monday, October 23, 2006

My new Mac

I type to you today using my new Mac. Grin. How fun. The hardest thing was getting my iTunes off of the dying Averatec, but Tony and I did it.

No thanks to James Exley. Love you, bro!

All is well. Need to get writing on Sweet Caroline.

Grace and peace.

Sunday, October 22, 2006



Been hearing a lot about angels in the past two years. And have been aware of them on occassion, especially when I'm writing or leading worship.

We had a confernce in our region this week with the team from WhiteDove Ministries. One of the speakers was Randy Demain and he shared his testimony with an angel named Breakthrough Revival.

One of the fascinating things that stood out to me was how we all have angels assigned to us personally, to our churches, to our region and they act and move based on the Word of God which we speak.

So, there's a two-fold lesson. Angels are all around us. Angels who watch, who gather, who record what the son's and daughters of God are saying about Him.

Second, we have to know and speak the Word. Far too often we pray from our own desires and souls. Our beliefs and thinking do not align with God's truth. But if we pray and speak the Word of God, angels attach themselves to it and make it happen.

Like, overcoming fear and anxiety. Or depression. God's Word says His love cast out all fear. He gives us joy for depression. Commands us to be anxious for nothing. As we pray those truths, we have the power of God and all His angels behind us, working on our behalf.

Psalm 91:
11For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.

Heb 1:14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

We have to start believing God's truths and not our experiences. I've heard respected men of God say, "What do you do when prayer and the Word are not enough?"

Pardon me, but. . . we're screwed. What's left? Man's wisdom?

What a thing for a man of God to say? It sends out hopelessness. No wonder the church looks so much like the world.

I understand the heart perhaps. Sometimes really hurting people, or wounded people can't settle down enough to believe God. Or, their belief system is so wrong, it takes counseling to get them right.

But again, only prayer and God's Word can do it. Better yet, praying God's Word.

So, if you imagine angels are standing by to help you. . . wow! What can get in your way if your heart is sincere toward God?

Man, He so rocks!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Feeling Guilty

Please, let me clarify about breaking up with my Dell comptuer and going with a Mac.

I'm not against Dell. I love Dell computers. Kudos to Mr. Dell for creating such a great company. But it's the whole third-party, bunch-of-software-I-don't need with mean party guests like Avenue A and Double Click that I can never seem to get rid of.

It's the fact Microsoft allows pirates and such to store software code in the registry so no matter how many times you delete a worm or virus or spyware, it comes back.

To those who create such evil things. . . Grr.

I will miss my Dell computer, and have to admit, I'm having a few second thoughts. But, I'm willing to give the Mac a try and besides, I spent the money already.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Challenge for the Today Believer

I'm convinced one of the hardest challenges for the 21st Century Believer in Jesus is trust, leaning, believing.

The F word. Faith.

We detest waiting. We loath the process. The ten second version is too long. The two second, too short.

Can't God conform, transform, reform me in six to eight seconds? A Hollywood sound bit is only 4 seconds and the world is ready and will ask their Doctor about a drug they don't need.

Jesus said this in Matthew 23:12, "And whoever exalts himself shall be humbedl; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted."

Humbling is hard. It takes a process to ge there and stay there. But look at the promise. The humble will be exalted.

This is a constant battle for me in the publishing world. How much do I promote myself? How do I avoid feeling left out or the notion I have to "get my name out there?"

I could spend thousands of dollars and thousands of hours on promotion and marketing. Neither of which I have. Even hundreds. I try to do what I can, but unless God goes before me, it's all for nothing anyway.

One word from Heaven, and I'm on the bestseller list. Truly. So, with that in mind, what is my responsibility.

Well, in Matthew 22:37 Jesus tells the Pharsees the greatest commandment. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind."

He concludes with the second commandment in verse 39, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

What is blaringly obvious is that I spend more time worrying about my books and place in the writing community than I do loving God and loving my neighbor.

If I really want a place in life, in eternity (which is a lot long than life) then I should fix my mind on loving Him with every ounce of my being and out of that overflow, loving my neighbor as myself.

The books will take care of themselves. He will take care of them. God has this unique economy. "Lay down your life. Surrender. Don't think or worry about yourself. Take up your cross and follow me."

And in the midst of our surrender, He takes care of all our needs. All of them.

"Lord, once more, I give you my life - my heart, my mind, my soul, my strength."

Grace and peace.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Happy Mac Monday

It's been a good day.

But first, I ordered a Mac on Saturday. I've switched from PC-ville to Mac. I'm excited. See my post about it on

Tony and I ran errands and ate at IHOP. I had a grilled chicken salad. Yum.

Stopped to say hi to Wayne who walks his dogs on San Filippo and ended up taking this girl Tracey to her friends house on other side of Palm Bay. Got to pray for her and talk about Jesus. It was good.

Came home, filled out birthday cards for big brother, Danny. Went to mail box and tripped over box of books.

My copies of Lost In NashVegas has arrived!

Worked on my next WIP. Have the first few chapters outlined.

Had a prayer and Bible time.

Went to leadership meeting at church. Those are always fun. Good snack food.

Made reservations for my research trip to Beaufort, SC in a few weeks. Can't wait.

Time for bed. Want to get up for Spinning at 5:10.

Peace and Grace.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

End Of Summer Love Serial

As much as I "loved" Pete, he occassionally got on my nerves. He'd tell me he loved me, then on Saturday call off our date because he was too tired to go out. We didn't talk much on the phone during the week, so our relationship was limited to Saturday night movies and dinners.

It was innocent enough, and reading back over the pages of my '77 diary, I can see how new this was to both of us. Having feelings for each other, feelings we called love, but not mature enough, or able enough to do anything about them.

Pete liked to tease and give me a hard time. He could be negative and sarcastic. One Saturday he broke our date and later said, "I told Bob I went out with another girl."

I never knew if he really did or not. "How can he say he loves me, then go out with someone esle?" I wrote. Even then, truth in actions was a factor for me. ;)

By now, it's late June and our relationship seems to be solidifying. We decided to date only each other and talked about "our future" which 30 years ago included each other. Thank God His plans supercede teenage zealousness.

I finally had to tell Pete we were moving to Tallahassee. I cried. He sniffled. We made projections and promises.

Back in the day when stores closed at 7 p.m. on Saturday, employees could get together
so Publix 0086 threw a going away party for me. Every one came. Even the manager.

Pete picked me up in his '69 Mach 1 Mustang and drove me to the surpise-but-I-knew-it party. All kinds of people and presents. We sat with my friends and his, Kevin and Bob.

Pete was Pistol Pete, Kevin was The Gun and Bob was the Bull Dog although the way his hair was styled - parted in the middle with wings - he looked like the Bull Frog.

We laughed and joked, all with a twinge of sadness. I was leaving. A year after I first laid eyes on Pete, this was the end. It'd all change.

But at 16, I had a spirit of adventure. I knew I wanted college and a career. I bore the usual confliction of having my heart in one place, my mind in another.

By now, Pete is calling me in the middle of the week and we developed some what of a real relationship - all in time for me to go. In a way, the most perfect ending.

He was conflicted as well. Drawing me close at times with words like I love you and want to marry you followed by "we can't know what the future holds" or "Well, that's life. Things change."

He told me he was sorry he waited so long to ask me out when he really liked me the summer before.

The family spent our last night in Homestead at our friends, the Hamilton's. Pete dropped me off, kissing me goodbye with continual promises to visit and write.

On Sunday morning, the Hayes caravan started north up the Turnpike to Tallahasse. Life had changed. Forever.

At first, I was lonely for him, but loved our new city. Many families from our church had moved from Homestead/South Miami to Tallahassee so we had friends. Not my friends, but friends of the family. Church was full of familiar faces.

I wrote Pete and then ran to the mail box every day desperate for a letter from him. It was well over two weeks before he wrote me back. I was ticked. But his letter soothed my anger.

He even called, but was sarcastic and negative. Rude. Made me mad. By August, I'd gotten a job at McDonalds and started making new friends.

My friend Lorena came for a visit and Dad let me go back down to Miami with her. I saw Pete and while he obviously missed me and felt the same way toward me, my feelings had faded. The magic dissipating in only a few months time.

Our love did not stand the test of time. In late fall, I visted again and didn't even call him, but hung out with other friends and guys who liked me "back in the day" of which I would not give them the time. I heard he'd moved on as well.

That was the last time I ever saw Pete. I think he called once or twice, but we had nothing to say. I wonder at times, reading over my diaries, if I broke his heart and all the negative talk and sarcasim was his defense.

Or, if like me, the magic just faded and he moved on with his life. Our love sincere but shallow.

One thing I've learned over the years, guys feel things very deeply. They get a bad rap because they are more physical than women, and can have sex without becoming emotionally attached, but recovering from a truly broken heart is way more difficult for men than women.

It's true.

From Pete until now, a lot of life has been lived. Mistakes made. Forgiveness sought and given. God's amazing love and grace so prevelant and real in my life. I'm sorry I ever wasted one moment worrying or chasing other "loves."

I'm grateful for my true love, Tony. He is really the better half of me in this life.

As for Pete, I wish him well, wherever he is. His birthday is coming up next week. He'll be 48 and a long way from an innocent, green 18 year old instilling a lifetime of confidence into an innocent, green 16 year old.

You convinced me I was beautiful, Pete, and for that, I'll always be grateful. I pray you know Jesus.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Horse Sense

Another great blog from my hubby:

I had talked to Ryan several times during our downtown outreach, and he'd been polite, but never really opened up.

I'd invited him to our bible study, which he had assiduously avoided. But last Tuesday night he followed me around, so I made a point to spend some time with him. He asked me for a Bible. So, I hooked him up with a New Testament.

Why the change? He was having some significant conflict with his girlfriend. God uses difficulty to get our attention, but believe it or not, it's not His preferred method.

(Psa 32:8-9) I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you.

That's why I'm trying to come near to God every day. I don't like being harnessed.

As a side observation, I find it interesting to stand on a porch talking with someone about God while another guy sits three feet away drinking a beer and smoking a joint.

They must finally believe we're not cops. We are there because we love them.

So why was Ryan talking to me and not the beer-drinking-pot-smoking guy? Because most people know that they need help from God in tough times; they just don't know how to find Him.

After four months of shining my light in the darkness, Ryan finally saw. And the truth is God is a lot easier to find when His people are out in the world acting and loving like He does.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What is up with this?

Dog tired, I stop off at 7-11 for a Diet Coke. It's only 10:00 a.m. but I've been up since 4:30.

Went to 5:50 Spinning followed by prayer at church then a quick errand.
I get in line with my Diet Coke, by passing the donut and cookie display, reminding myself being this tired to get up THAT early to exercise is all ruined by one lousy donut.

Who set the economy on this calorie in take verse calorie burn up ratio?

The woman in front of me sipped a tall coffee and held a giant cruller type donut. She was shapely, thin, not a pinch of fat on her. Her legs smooth and tan, her mid section flat.

Sometimes, life is just not fair.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Summer love, con't 9 - Spring '77

After the prom dumping date, Pete and I settled into a routine. Seems he was growing more comfortable dating a sixteen year old, and falling in love with her.

We had occassional telephone calls during the week, but kept most of our dating to Saturday night.

Real old fashion date night.

May melted into June. Things were changing. Not for me a Pete. We were young and so-called in love.

My parents had made several trips to Tallahassee that spring. They came home after the last one with a bit of news.

"We're moving to Tallahassee in July."

From my diary entries, I seemed to take it all in stride, planning to return to Miami when I graduated high school and marry Pete.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Summer love, con't 8 - Spring '77

May 7, '77

Prom night, but I wasn't going. My dates' brother got me off the hook and I was elated. I'd have more time with Pete. But when I saw him at the time clock Saturday morning before punching in, I knew something was amiss.

"Hi," he said. "I think I'll be able to get off at 2:00." His eyes didn't sparkle at me, and his bright smile didn't light his face.

"O-okay." I'd planned to get off early because of the prom, but when that changed, Pete and I made plans to have an early evening date. Since he didn't bring up plans, neither did I.

At 2:00, Pete drove me to my friend Lorena's. She was going to prom with Ronny and I was helping her get ready.

On the way he said, "I saw my competition in golf and I have to start buckling down." Immediately, I knew we weren't going out. "I hope I didn't ruin your plans."

Oh no. Forget you told me we were going out every weekend, especially this one. That you loved me and loved spending time with me. You knew I broke the date with Mike because I wanted to be with you instead. All of this I said to myself.

So, as we pull into the driveway and I get out of the car, he leaves me with, "See you later."

That's it. Not an "I'll pick you up late. Or we'll go out tomorrow." Only I'll see you later. Creep.

Oh Lord, please don't let it be over. We had 2 good dates, didn't we? (LOL) Lorena comforted me by surmising Pete was too inexperienced in dating to play games.

Sure felt like a game to me. I'm confused and hurt. I thought he loved me.

Lorena looked lovely in her prom dress and her date, handsome. He wore a brown and blue tux. As they drove off, I curled up at Lorena's, wondering what Mr. Rameriz was doing with his evening, and what changes the next week would bring.

The next day, Sunday, was mother's day and I woke up worried. What if it's over? But as the day wore on I decided, "It's not worth it. There's a lot of life and living ahead of me. I'm only 16. Why die over someone now? I'm too young to get engaged or married. So, why worry?"

I felt better after that. . .

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A bad day for Jesus

Another great insight from my husband:

What would you think if I told you that three people we prayed for this Sunday got miraculously healed? Would you consider that a good church service? Well, no one got healed this Sunday that I know of, probably like most Sundays in most churches. And that leads to my point. I was reading in Mark and two verses stood out to me.

(Mark 6:5-6) Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.

I thought, we'd be ecstatic if a few sick people got healed. Do you know what that means? It means a bad day for Jesus is still more than most of our expectations. Does Jesus marvel at our unbelief?

So then Jesus went about the villages teaching. I guess that's all He could do, since He could do no mighty works. I wonder if that's why the church is so full of teaching and so lacking in power. Maybe that's all we have faith for.

Well I don't want to settle for just good teachings. I'm determined to stir myself up, press in, and connect with the Jesus I read about in the New Testament.

Who's with me?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Lost In NashVegas is here

UPS just delivered two, bowed tied copies of Lost In NashVegas with a hand written note from my editor, Ami McConnell.

Feels better than Christmas!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Summer love, con't 7 - Spring '77

Pete kissed me. "I never kissed a lady before," he said.

"Me, neither." Giggle.

He kissed me again. I giggled more. Sixteen, ah, sweet giggly sixteen.

I'm not sure I was his first kiss, but certainly a kiss he meant.

"I want to go out with you every week, Rachel."

"Really? O-okay." Gulp, smile, giggle. Swoon.

The entire drive home, he held my hand and I saw stars.

But the next week, a kink forms in our love line. See, before Pete got up the nerve to ask me out, another guy asked me to his prom. I said yes.

Diary entry April 27, '77
"Mike called to outline his rules and ideas for the prom. Not only do I have to be with him physically, but mentally. Oh, I feel awful. I have to hold his hand. What if he tries to kiss me. Oo, yuck. I'm going to talk to him and tell him how I feel."

Certainly he knew. His brother was Pete's best friend. But what did it matter? I had Pete and we were going out again this Saturday. The prom was over a week away. Certainly something would work out.

Still, only seeing and talking to Pete on Saturdays. By the time we are out of work, and I go home and change, we don't go out until 8 or 8:30.

This Saturday he was picking me up at 8:30, but 8:35, he's not there. 8:40, no Pete. By 8:45, I feel sick. He's not coming. He stood me up. I just know it.

Then the phone rings. I jump to answer it. Please, please, please. Sure enough. It's him.

"I got tied up. I'll be a few more minutes."

Oh, Jesus, thank you.

When he arrived, he came in and greeted my parents and their friends, told me I looked nice in front of them.

On the way out to the car, he whispered, "My first lady is a classy lady."

Sigh with delight. We went to Black Angus again for dinner. As we were walking inside, he pulled me aside. "I love you. Do you love me?'

"You bet."

He flashes his white smile. His brown eyes snapped.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Summer love, con't 6 - Spring '77

"So, where do you want to go?"

Pete had this saunter-sway to his walk. Shoulders back, wide smile.

I look up from where I'm blocking down the candy. My heart grinned. "Are you serious?"

He stood me up twice. What makes today, April 23, any different?

"A hundred percent serious."

"Do you want to see A Star Is Born?" I was ready with a suggestion.

"Sounds good."

We talked for awhile while I worked, but the moment the candy aisle looked blocked and even, I ran out the door. Pete waited for me in his v. cool '69 Mach 1 Mustang.

Meanwhile, none of our friends know where we're going. They don't know we're "going together." While I was getting ready, Bob Brown called. Wanted to know what I was up too.

"Nothing." Standard 16 year-old girl answer.

When Pete picked me up he told me how nice I looked. Melt, melt. Our movie was sold out, so we decided to eat at the Black Angus.

He held my hand. Wooo! I wrote in my diary. Sometimes the simpliest things are the best things!

We talked and talked and talked. I asked him about all the mean things he said about me. He confessed they were true, but only to get people off his back. "I didn't mean them. I had a crush on you since last summer."

But, he'd told Kevin and Bob he would never take out a girl two years younger than he, so they hasseled him pretty bad.

Guess love got the best of him. Or a crush, or something. Or me being so stupidly persistant.

After dinner, he held my hand as we walked out to the car. Suddenly, he stopped and looks me in the eye. "I want to kiss you, Rachel."

I started laughing.


Okay, I'm tying something new. Hang ON!
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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Free Thinking

The music coming over the McDonalds speakers transported me to a different time in my life. A different city. A different era. A different me.

Music is such a powerful medium. It transports. Moves the heart. Stirs emotions. Like the time I was in a Spinning class and she played techno-disco. I wanted to punch the instructor. The music made me so angry. She'd urge us to pedal hard, push, don't give up. And my heart responded, "Don't tell me what to do."


If you think music doesn't impact the heart and mind, think again.

So, today, the music took me back 30 years in my mind. I wondered about my old Cutler Ridge Publix friends. I kept in touch with Lorena for years after. Until recently, we exchanged Christmas cards.

Though I'm very tired from an all night editing session, a new story started forming in my heart. A girl trying to recapture her past. Wanting to go back because the future seems so bleak.

At 4:45 a.m. I crawled into bed, physcially hurting and thinking I might never write again. By 1:00 p.m. when I woke up, I knew I would.

There is something about writing that completes me. God and I are together in this. There's the completion.

Sunday morning at the Dallas ACFW conference, Liz Curtis Higgs prayed a closing prayer. When she did, I went to this unique place where I truly felt I was His favorite one. I couldn't perceive it any other way.

In some ways, I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. In other ways, I know my destiny. I have a sense of where my writing is going. Which is hard because I look around at all the wonderful, fabulous authors - published and unpublished - and wondery "why me?"

But, "why NOT me?"

There is a laying hold of in this world Christians have not always grasped. We either do nothing, sitting back waiting for God to do it all, or we run completely ahead of Him and live our life our way on our time and don't consider His heart.

We take His name in vain. Like a bride who takes her grooms name, then walks away. "Check ya later. Give me a call when you want to get together. Oh, I'll need some money from you. Can you just send a check?"

Doesn't work that way. We have to participate in the relationship - face to face, eye to eye. Think about it. What will HE not give us? He freely gave us His Son. How will he not freely give us all things? Romans 8:31-32.

BUT, you have to be in the relationship. If you can't grasp it, picture a marriage you admire. What's going on there? Apply it to your relationship with God.

On the flip side, there's the set that goes, "well, I'm just waiting on God," and next thing you know, their dead. What happened? You did nothing for God.

Let's not be in either camp - the one that runs too far ahead in their own strength, nor the one that sits on their hands, um, in their own strength. Both are flesh.

ACFW Conference - So many wonderful things about this conference. It's right up there with Houston 2003. Liz Curtis Higgs was fab. Seeing my friends, meeting new ones. My giant 3 room suite. (Hint: President if fun at conference time.)

Seeing the elcetic worship band come together. I'm SO proud of them: Denise, Gail, Scott, Kristin and Cynthia. Of course, my boy Dave. :) Thank you all so much.

Sitting in on a GirlsWriteOut brainstorm session. Very fun, then getting some help from the for my next story.

Sunday afternoon brainstorm with Susie and Chris. I loved they way we interact with each other. "No! Wait! Stop!" We got a lot done for Susie's story, and a good start on mine. Thank you guys!

It was wonderful to be with the Board and the Advisors. Great to spend time with Sydney, our coordinator.

Salad with my sweet friend, and publicists extraordinaire, Jeane Wynn!

Dinner Friday night with Amanda Bostic from WestBow and her WestBow girls: Diann, Colleen, Kristin, Denise and me.

The fabulous awards banquet. What a great idea Tracey and the board had to pimp up this event! We're never going back now!

My take away? Keep writing. Keep serving. Keep loving Jesus. He has some really cool friends!

But, at 4:00 a.m., I wondered why I write. I'm horrible. There are so many with talent out there beyond mine! What am I doing here? I felt dull, flat, uninspired.

Yet, God is so good to revive.

The spring of '77, I was a young, beautiful, in-love, full of hope lover of Jesus. Almost thirty years later, I find I haven't changed very much at all.