Friday, December 31, 2010

Light yoke, easy burden

By the fall of 1990, I'd been on the road for four years, traveling seventy percent of my time, installing computer systems and training newsroom and classified ad reps around the world.

I'd been to Australia twice. Ireland, Spain, Venezuela three times (before Chavez, thank goodness,) Mexico, Canada, and traveled the U.S. from California to Maine.

Two weeks in Mexico magically stretched into three. And I had NO money the last week I was there, traveling from one little town to the next.

A personal weekend to New Zealand -- I had to see what kind of town was named Christ Church -- was nixed by my company when the Australian distributor wanted me to stay to do additional training. (Oops, Rach, yeah, we forgot to tell you about that...) During the training days, a married man pretended to be single and flirted with me the entire time. Thank goodness I was unmoved by his advances.

I came in from lunch one Friday with my co-workers to find I was on a three o'clock flight to Colorado Springs with one of the engineers. I had an hour to go home, pack, and get to the airport. We landed around ten mountain time and drove down to Pueblo. We arrived at the paper at midnight and worked until the wee hours. By then, I'd been up almost twenty-four hours.

Did I have plans for the weekend? A young, single girl? You bet. And it didn't include trouble shooting a down system.

I've sat in dark, out of the way offices and cried because the publishers were livid that their half-million dollars systems weren't working right. I've worked forty hours on weekends to get the output right for a classified ad section so we could make a Monday "go live" date.

I once trained seventeen Mexican typesetters gathered around one tiny fourteen inch monitor how to write production reports using Informix via a hired, outside, interpreter. A task complicated enough without a language barrier!

I'd done trade show in Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Melbourne, Australia. Toured Toledo Spain where the Christians were persecuted by the Muslims. Chains of remembrance were nailed to the side of churches.

I'd driven the highway from Sydney to Melbourne.

I'd laughed so hard I couldn't breathe. Once, I just fell down on the side walk and guffawed.

I'd shopped in St. Louis until I dropped.

I'd met amazing people, bonded with talented, fun co-workers, strenghtened my weak Spanish, faced enormous challenges and won. I'd both loved and hated that corporate job.

And I got tired. There was just a point where I said, "I can't do this travel thing any more."

So, that fall of 1990, I was in a hotel in Charlotte, NC, spending the night there before catching a plane home the next morning.

"Lord," I said just as an exhale from my heart, "Your Word says Your burden is easy and Your yoke is light. That if I come to You, You'll give me rest. I'm weary, heavy laden and I need rest. I don't want to travel any more."

The prayer was all I had because there were NO solutions in the natural. If I wasn't on the road training, there was no job. I was not technical enough, nor trained, to be an engineer. Customer support had two non traveling positions, but they were filled. We road warriors backed them up when we were in town.

Documentation was new and also filled.

Literally, outside of quitting my job, getting off the road was impossible. I'd asked. My boss had nothing to offer me. Another road warrior had tried to come off the road. Didn't work. They kept sending her out.

So, I flew home from Charlotte with a peace, but no hope of a solution. Monday morning of the next week, I went into work, prepared my expense and trip reports and checked the calendar for my next assignment.

December was blank. I had no trips. But the word Doc was written on all the weeks.

Same with January. And February. Doc. Doc. Doc.

In the course of a few days, on the heels of my prayer, a shift had changed in personnel and a position had opened up in Documentation. My boss slipped me into that slot and I planted my "glad to be home" self and never traveled again.

In 1991, the Lord began other changes in my life. My best friend, now known as Hubby, began to realize we were supposed to get married! That's a whole other story. We were engaged by the end of the year and married in March 1992.

God hears our prayers! His timing is perfect. But as we lean into Him on a daily basis, releasing our hearts to Him, He actually engages us on how to pray! And when.

That rest prayer was totally spontaneous to me. While I understood what Jesus was telling the people in that passage, I'd never applied it so deep and personal to my life.

The Lord Himself, by the Spirit, prompted me to pray, "You give rest, Lord. I need rest. Your burden is easy, your yoke is light."

He answered immediately. I believe He wanted to boost my faith. He wanted to encourage me. He wanted me to know He was intimately acquainted with the issues of my heart.

As you go into the New Year, ask Him what is on His heart. What is He prompting you to pray, to believe for in this season?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The week in between

The week between Christmas and New Years. I'm never quite sure what to do with this week.

Piddle around between work and play?

In my corporate life, I had this week off and it was play and vaca time. I'd visit family and friends. But now that I'm self employed and work at home, this is the oddest week of the year.

What to do with the "week in between?"

I have a deadline for March 1 and am a few thousand words away from finishing the first draft. I really need to use this week to finish. And I will. I will!

BUT, my husband is home, on break from church and school. He's asking me if I want to "go to lunch" or "see a movie." Ahhh, yes!! But, um, No!!

This is the week I assess my life. How did I do last year with my goals and disciplines? What do I want to do differently next year? What do I need and want to change?

During the "week in between" I feel like I can do anything and everything. Yes, I can exercise an hour a day with Tony Horton five days a week. Yes, I can eat salad for lunch every day. Yes, I can spend at least an hour a day in prayer and the Word. Yes! I can write the best book EVER in six weeks. Yes, Yes, Yes!

Then January 2nd hits. I'm sluggish and tired, and I don't want to spend an hour with Tony Horton making my body hurt. I don't want salad for lunch, but a sandwich. What? Write the best book ever in a month and a half. Fergettaboutit.

But hanging with Jesus? I must! I will! I can do without all the rest. But not Him. I'm not perfect by any means at carving out time for prayer and the Word. I get distracted, tired, even bored. Not with Him, but with myself.

The best things in life come with discipline, focus and setting goals. Being determined. Yet even so, we need God's grace and vision for our lives to enable us to do the very things He's put on our heart to do.

So, what will I do with this "week in between?" Write. Assess. Pray. Get ready for 2011 knowing God is good. Knowing He loves me.

My biggest goal for 2011? To tap into His divine nature. After having a "joy attack" over Thanksgiving, I'm realized I can do more, be more, than just existing and surviving. I don't have to "not" have a panic or anxiety attack, or worry attack. I can actually engaged God's divine nature and experience JOY and PEACE, and LOVE at a holy level.

Look here: 2 Peter 1

2Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;

3seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

4For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

That is an unbelievable statement. We can become partakers of His divine nature! That's my goal for 2011. To gain understanding and insight into this.

What about you? What's your plans for the "week in between" and 2011?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

And we have a winner!

I'm so honored and humbled by all who participated in the Dining with Joy Nook give-away. The voice and influence of others is so critical to an author's success these days.

Thank you!

The winner of the Nook from this grand campaign is..... (drums rolling)

Sherrie Maner!


Let's all give a shout out to this winner and join with her in the JOY of winning this season.

Merry Christmas to all.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Pull of Light: Aching to See More

@stickyJesus: how to live out your faith online, by Tami Heim and Toni Birdsong, is a book about how to infuse God’s heartbeat into social networks. This post is part of the @stickyJesus Blog Tour of Light. You can follow @stickyJesus on Twitter, Facebook, or learn more about the book at

Can you imagine what it’s like to live as a blind person? To intermingle in a world void of color, beauty, depth, height . . . void of light?

For most of us blindness would seem unbearable. However, even 20/20 eyesight isn’t a gurantee that you can see much of anything. In fact, you can fumble around, trip, and fall just like Bartimaeus, only your blindness might be spiritual rather than physical.

No matter where you are in your journey with Christ, you should never live beyond the ache to see more of God’s Light. Our pursuit of revelation, intimacy, wisdom, and mercy from God should be the prayerful desire of every believer.

Still our Light flickers. It begins to diminish when we think we know it all or start to see other’s opinions, beliefs, ideas, or perspectives as less than. We begin to ignore the pull of Light. Instead, we take the reigns because we caught one too many glimpses of our remarkable selves.

Time and again Jesus uses blindness in His parables to illustrate how easily pride, religion, sin, and self righteousness can replace the ache for Light in a person’s heart—even a person who claims to know God.

In John 9, Jesus heals a different blind man. The man exuberantly tells the Pharisees about his miraculous healing. Outraged (for several reasons), the Pharisees promptly throw the man out of the synagogue to which Jesus later retorts in John 9:39-41: “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” He goes on, “If you were blind you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”


In the book Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality, author Donald Miller suggests that the enemy’s best trick isn’t to get us to commit some great evil. Instead, he allows us to develop a religious habit in which we hear about God but really never engage with God.

Religious habit suffocates our ache for Light.

That’s what happened with the Pharisees. They weren’t so much “the bad guys” as they were guys who had “arrived” and settled in their minds exactly who God was (and wasn’t)—so much so, they didn’t recognize Him standing in front of them. Turns out, God was greater than they could have imagined. Jesus blew their tiny, little God boxes to smithereens.

We’ve all got some Pharisee in us. We think we’ve figured out something super spiritual so we check off the box as “done.” But that’s never true. Until we “arrive” at Heaven’s door, we’ve never really “arrived” at anything.

God is the Author and the Finisher of our faith. For self-reliant, type A people (yes, especially writers), that truth can be one of the toughest to which you’ll ever have to surrender. Absurd isn’t it? That someone else holds the pen and makes the edits to your life? That someone else can shed more Light on a bias you’ve worked years to build up? That someone else might actually . . . be . . . perfect?

So how do you keep your ache for Light strong? Like Bartimeaus, the blind man, you simply tell Jesus each day, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

Scriptures to help amplify your ache:

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

Psalm 119:18

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-25

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death . . .
Psalm 13:3

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

Post/Tweet this today:

Until we “arrive” in Heaven, we’ve never really “arrived” at anything. Open my eyes, Lord. Give Light to my understanding. #LiveSticky

Join us tomorrow for The Direction of Light: Pointing Them to Heaven at Wayne Hastings’ blog.


Rachel here. I really loved the line "religious habit suffocates our ache for light." It is easy to replace our desire to see Jesus in both His divinity and humanity by going through the motions of worship but never really opening up our hearts.

What about you? Are you going through the motions, pretending to "see" the Lord but being quite blind? I'm asking to "see" my religious blindfolds this Christmas season. What do you think?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The two facets of gazing

Last night my husband and I attended a surprise party for a friend in our quaint, downtown area. On our way home, we cruised the main thoroughfare looking at the street decorations, the lights and festivities behind the store windows. Very beautiful.

As a kid, my grandparents would take us to downtown Columbus to peer into the Lazarus windows. The song Silver Bells still takes me back to those days.

It's been a long time since I've strolled a sidewalk, gazing into windows, being awed by what was on display. Even longer since I've been in awe over something without ultimately wanting it for myself.

That's the design of window shopping, to stir desire for the merchandise. When you go to an online store, the merchandise is displayed and coupled to make you want to buy something. More than "something."

It's said we become what we behold. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."

As we behold the Lord, we are changed. Transformed! Into His likeness.

But how do we choose what to behold? I mean, how does a person behold Jesus long enough to be changed.

Ah... Desire.

We only behold what we desire. And what we desire is what we become. As I've studied Jesus, His life, His beauty, His love, His willing obedience to the Father for mankind's redemption, I've become fascinated. As I've become fascinated, I've developed a desire to behold Him. As I've beheld Him, I've change. Emotionally. Spiritually.

What do you desire? What do you spend your days gazing upon? The news? Is it a wonder you desire drama and negativity in your life?

Do you read stories of illness, death, destruction? Are you fascinated with it? Are you desiring it more and more? Worrying more and more? Is it effecting your heart and mind? Your emotions?

I spend a lot of time on social media. I can feel myself starting to desire it. I have to check email or Twitter in the middle of the grocery store! It's crazy. But I have to change, go deeper, behold more of Jesus so my desire for the external pleasure of this world no longer have a fascinating grip on me.

Men who get caught in pornography start with a fascination.

Fascination. Desire. Beholding. And suddenly, the person is changed.

You can be changed one of two ways of gazing -- at glory or at sin. If you are fascinated with sin, you'll begin to desire it. Then you'll behold it. And your emotional and possibly mental chemistry will be altered.

Fascination doesn't have to be deep dark sin, either. Worry is a sin. Fear is a sin. Lust, gluttony, greed, lying, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, all sorts of coveting, stealing...

Gazing at the negative aspects of your life can have a strong impact, too. Do you agree with the negative emotion nothing in your life is good or ever will be? Pretty soon, you'll start to desire it. Believe it or not...

Right after I moved to central Florida after college, I was hit with this draining despair that I'd live in that shared house, sleep in that second hand bed, work at that stupid job the rest of my life. I'd wake up in the middle of the night feeling like I had no future.

I refused to agree with it and finally kicked it out of my life using Jeremiah 29:11. Man, call me a Jesus Freak, but if being a Jesus Freak means I get to tell fear, anxiety and despair where to go and to never haunt me again, buy me the t-shirt, I'll wear it! Jesus Freak. Wouldn't trade His power and authority for what the world has to offer.

So how did I overcome? I gazed on Jesus. How can you overcome? By changing your gaze.

First, become fascinated with Jesus. Just who is this God-Man who brought redemption to the human race? Go beyond salvation and look into redemption. Who is this redeemer King who calls you "beloved" and "friend?"

Second, as you become fascinated, you'll begin to desire Him. You'll want to know more about Him. You'll find yourself discovering aspects of His character in the Word and through prayer you never noticed before.

You'll begin to desire different things in life. I don't desire things I used to because I've changed my fascination.

We can't do this life alone. We need Jesus because only He saves, heals and rescues. Only HE is the righteous judge. Do you need justice in your life? Behold Jesus.

What we desire, we behold. And what we behold changes us. Hebrews 12:1-2

"... let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Win a NOOK eReader in the Dining With Joy Giveaway!

We've cooked up something fabulous!

To celebrate Book 3 in The Lowcountry Romance series, Dining With Joy, I've partnered with Litfuse Publicity Group in the Dining With Joy NOOK Giveaway! You could win a JOYOUS prize package worth over $185.00! (And see below to find out how you can enter to win a $30 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble!)

Dining With Joy is a fun, yet serious story about a cooking show host who can't cook. (what a nightmare that would be!)

Publisher's Weekly says: A delectable and light tale of finding love amid everything edible, a story that goes down easy. Readers will find themselves hankering for another serving of lowcountry living from Joy's pantry.

Celebrate with me and click on one of the icons below for your chance to win!

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A brand new Nook with Wi-Fi

  • Sweet Caroline by Rachel Hauck Nookbook

  • Love Starts With Elle by Rachel Hauck Nookbook

  • A $15 dollar Barnes& Gift Certificate

To enter, simply click on the icons below to fill out the entry form. Be sure to tell your friends about the contest.

    The contest runs from 12/7 - 12/22. Winner announced December 23.

    Want to help Spread the Word for a chance to win an additional $30 Gift Certificate? Help Spread the Word about Rachel's fun giveaway and we'll put your name into the pot for the gift certificate!

    Share this button on your blog or website (worth 10 entrees!):

    Dining With Joy Nook Giveaway

    Additional entrees can be earned by talking up the Dining With Joy Giveaway on Facebook & Twitter. It's simple. Just use the sample post & tweet below (and be sure to follow the fine-print instructions!).

    SHARE THIS ON FACEBOOK: Enter to win a NOOK eReader (just in time for Christmas) in Rachel Hauck's Dining with Joy Giveaway! Enter here on Facebook at this link And don't miss Rachel's latest witty tale about a television cooking show host who CAN'T cook! A MUST read!
    (then email to let us know you posted to Facebook - feel free to post once a day for extra entrees. Just let us know how many times you shared! You rock.)

    TWEET THIS: @RachelHauck is giving away a NOOK eReader for the release of Dining With Joy - her latest witty read! #litfuse
    (must use hashtag #litfuse to be entered. No need to email us about your tweet - we will track those via twitter using the hashtag. And as with Facebook you'll earn extra entrees by tweeting multiple days. You rock.)


    More about the book: Joy Ballard has a secret: she's a cooking show host who can't really cook. Diningwithjoy

    When her South Carolina-based cooking show, Dining With Joy, is picked up by a major network, Joy Ballard's world heats up like a lowcountry boil.

    Joy needs help. Then she meets chef Luke Davis who moved to Beaufort after losing his Manhattan restaurant. A cook at the Frogmore Cafe, he's paying debts and longing to regain his reputation in the elite foodie world.

    Luke and Joy mix like oil and water…until Joy is exposed on national television. With her career and his reputation both under fire, they'll have to work together to fix the mess. Is it possible that they can learn to feast on God's love and dine with joy?

    Don't miss the other books in this series: Sweet Caroline (buy it here for $5.85) and Love Starts with Elle (buy it here, also $5.85)!

    Wednesday, December 08, 2010

    Ten ways to manage your holiday weight

    Yeah, 'tis the season to be jolly. With cookies, cakes, candy, cheese spreads, chocolate covered... everything.

    So, what's a girl to do? My hubby always goes into December saying, "Let's just get through this month and in January, we can eat just lettuce. 'K?"

    Um, no. And why wait until January? Why not plan and start to manage our eating now? Several years ago I started Weight Watchers in December right before our birthdays. I lost fifteen pounds that month.

    Here are a few tips.

    1. Keep those skinny jeans handy. Try them on once a week, and if you can't get them on, wrap the waist band around your neck. The ends should stay the same distance apart. If you can't wrap the waist band around your neck, you're in trouble. Let's just say it.

    2. Throw away the jeans you wore when you were a senior in high school. I want you to hold onto your skinny jeans, not your "are you insane?" jeans.

    3. Bit it, write it. A great motto from Weight Watchers. Keep a log of what you eat. I'm not too great at this, but I try to mentally calculate my calories during the day so I don't overeat.

    4. Eat light the days you have evening events.

    5. A taste is almost as good as a big-honking-piece. In the past, I've had just a fork full of cheese cake instead of a slice. Or, I'll get a small bag of chips to go with my sandwich instead of buying a big bag. Look for ways to manage smaller portions of your fun food.

    6. Move more. My job is so sedentary. I understand why writers struggle with their weight. I mean, I walk across the house to my office, and plant it, and there I stay for hours. So find ways to move more. Park out farther in the parking lot when you go shopping. Don't hover for a front space. Let someone else have it. Also, take breaks in the day and instead of reaching for a snack, walk around the neighborhood. Whatever, but move more.

    7. Do wacky jacks! Have you seen these? Tony Horton on P90X introduced me to them. Get in a jumping jack stance, but instead of doing straight-up jacks, draw you knees to your elbows, bending your torso side to side to meet your knees. Wacky jacks. It will jack up your heart rate. And they are fun!

    8. Consider push ups as a reward. Finish your word count? Complete a project? Drop and give yourself 20. Okay, 2, but you know what I mean.

    9. Pray. Ask the Lord to help you manage your appetite and cravings. Just say No to food when you're full and satisfied.

    10. Tell January you're going to meet it 1 - 5 pounds lighter. Take that you holly-jolly holiday food.

    What about you? Have any tips for us?

    Tuesday, December 07, 2010

    And the winner is....

    Crystal Laine Miller! Her name was drawn at random by Thomas Nelson to win the KitchenAid mixer and a signed copy of Dining with Joy.

    Congratulations to the runners-up, who are being contacted privately.

    Thank you all so much for participating and spreading the word about the contest and the book. What a blessing!

    Here's Crystal's post about her cooking mishap. A mishap post wasn't required, but when her name was drawn, we decided to post it.

    A new fun contest was launched today, too! A chance to win a Nook! Check it out on my Fan page. (look to your right!)

    What a fun day to turn 50! I love giving prizes.

    Sunday, December 05, 2010

    "Don't Get Ahead of Me!"

    Have any of you done the P90X program? Or watched portions of it? Tony Horton, the developer and instructor of the P90X work out regime, has an off the cuff, unusual but very fun style of instructing.

    On some routines, he lets us work out at our own pace. On other routines, like the ab ripper X routine, he insists we follow his count as we work through an exercise.

    Take Scissor Abs. The legs are poised in an L shape. One up, one down. Tony's count, we switch legs. The down leg goes up, the up leg goes down. And you hold each switch for a second or two.

    Tony says, "Don't get a head of me. Switch on my count."

    Why? Because he's leading us in a designed routine intent on strengthening our abdominal muscles. There's no point in doing it if we fly through it and don't generate any resistance or tension.

    Many, many times, God directs us in a like manner. "Don't get a head of me." It's not that we are stagnant, or sidelined, but we are moving forward by His direction.

    Far to often, we think the go ahead from God means we take off on our own, and work at our own speed and pace. And we miss out on so many essential criteria.

    Take prayer and the Word. We get up, breeze through a devotional or our daily Bible reading, offer up a bit of prayer and we're off. We're doing our discipline, our routine, but... are we accomplishing anything.

    It hurts my abs when Tony holds us in a position for a few seconds. I'm so glad to hear him call, "Switch." But keeping with him has physically changed my body. For the better. I'm not ready for swimwear modeling, but you get my meaning here.

    What if we approached God like our exercise routines? What if you heard God saying, "Don't get ahead of me. Okay, switch." What if we purposed to run with Him rather than ahead, or behind, or not at all.

    God does want us to run with Him. Did you know that? We're not to be spectators, or sideliners. But He also wants to accomplish something in our hearts and minds as we run, and labor with Christ.

    Are you ahead of Him? Are you running with instead of ahead. Where are you in the process? Can you take a few extra minutes and linger with Him in the Word and prayer?

    Beloved, it's time to develop spiritual muscle. It's time to reshape and sculpt our inner man with the love and Word of God.

    What's your P90X commitment for the Lord in 2011?

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Dining With Joy Release Day November 16th

    The big day is finally here. The third in the Lowcountry Romance novels, Dining with Joy.

    This is a fun book with serious undertones about a cooking show host who can't cook. In the video below, I talk how I came up with this concept and the process of writing the book.

    Thomas Nelson is partnering with me to host a contest, for you, the reader! Post your comments below for a chance to win. See contest rules here.

    What's up for grabs? An KitchenAid Artisan Mixer is
    the grand prize. The winner will be chosen randomly on December 3rd after the December 2nd deadline.

    You can post a comment, or your own fun kitchen-cooking story. Stupid Cooking Tricks is an element on Joy's show and we invite you to share your own stories.

    I'll be sharing mine this week.

    Ten runner ups will receive a signed copy of Dining with Joy and the new Thomas Nelson cookbook, Second Helpings with Johnnie Gabriel.

    I'm excited for this opportunity for you all!

    Dining with Joy video

    All for the Love of Jesus

    There's a great post over on @stickyjesus today about living out the love of Christ online. Isn't this a great battle for us "off line" too?

    As a writer, I struggle to keep a balance between my real life, my online life, and the "life" of me that comes out on the pages of my novels. I have to speak for the characters and the journey they are enduring instead of the "message" resonating in my heart at the time of my writing.

    In The Sweet By and By Sara and I tackled abortion as part of Jade's story. Jade was wounded by her decision, plagued with guilt and shame, fear and anxiety. In researching, I read stories of women reacting to their abortions after the fact on Most of them suffered the way Jade suffered in the book.

    But Jade's mother, Beryl, felt it was Jade's only option. Another characteristic I read about on As I wrote, I had to argue each case effectively according to the voice and "mind" of the character despite my own conviction that abortion is not a viable option to unwanted pregnancy and there are many other choices.

    Yet I wanted to show there is no condemnation for those who may have made the choice, that Jesus is there to love, deliver and forgive.

    Because more than writing for my publisher, the reader or myself, I write for Jesus. My prayer is always, "Lord, if my characters are found in me, and I'm found in You, then my characters are found in You. What do You want to say?"

    Jesus is the best story teller. Don't you love how He launches into a story in the Gospels. The disciples are like, "Hey, what does that mean, Jesus?" And He answers, "A King threw a wedding feast for His Son..."

    My husband and I are watching the television show Numb3rs on DVD and one of the tools the writers use to explain the math theories and principles is story. Charlie, the math genius, will come up with a way to mathematically solve a crime and he explains it to the FBI agents by using real life, every day, ordinary scenarios.

    Story! It gives us a picture of the unseen, the abstract, the complex. And isn't that what Jesus is? The Uncreated God becoming man, becoming a part of His own creation so that He could SHOW us who He is and demonstrate His amazing, unsearchable love for us.

    What God appeases Himself with His own sacrifice. Bridges the gap between man and God by becoming man, not requiring man to become God? The one true God. He is love.

    When you find yourself in tense, stressful, hurtful situations, meditate on His love. Ask Him to kiss your heart with His love so you can be like Him and respond in love.

    Is there a situation where you've responded in love because you understood His love for you? (Later, I'll blog about justice!)

    Tomorrow, we start a contests for Dining with Joy!

    Monday, November 08, 2010

    What's in a dream?

    I believe in the power and purpose of dreams. They communicate issues of our own hearts, or perhaps the weird multi colored Cubism image of the pepperoni pizza we ate the night before.

    Or the meds we're taking. Meds can really mess with your dreams. Be careful.

    Largely, I think dreams come from God. Sometimes they are "Slough off" dreams. Meaning, some kind of gunk from the world got on you that day, you dream about it, some thing weird, gross, sexual that makes your skin crawl. It's your soul sloughing it off.

    Psalm 127:2 says God "gives to His beloved even in his sleep."

    I've seen things in my sleep, read books, heard songs, understood a relational conditions, or gained insight into a question of my heart. I've asked God for dreams when some answer or help from heaven eluded me. And He's answered. Not always, but a good bit of the time. When I've really needed insight.

    God directed Joseph and Daniel in dreams, and Joseph, Jesus's earthly father. Pilot's wife dreamed about Jesus and begged her husband not to mess with Him.

    On occasion, I have those "between" moments -- not awake, not asleep -- where I sense the presence of the Lord. I've gained insight there too. Clarity about a story, or life situation. Often encouraging words for others.

    I've had dreams about world leaders and events. Friends of mine have had dreams about presidents -- before they were elected.

    Maybe you've had a dream something bad might happen to a family member, or a national or world leader. Perhaps even your local mayor or pastor.

    I had a dream once where our president sat in our sanctuary with rapt attention to the prayers and worship.

    That excited my heart. And you know what? I can do nothing about it. Except pray.

    Why are we given dreams? To teach, to warn, to edify, to prepare. To pray.

    If you're given a dream in which you feel helpless to do anything about, the purpose is for prayer. God is calling you into intercessory partnership with His Son, Jesus.

    I can't call up President Obama and say, "Sir, Jesus is calling you to His heart." I can only pray what I saw in the dream and what I felt the Lord was communicating to me through the dream elements.

    If you dream someone may harm themselves, pray life into them. Pray God's destiny and hope. Pray protection.

    We are ambassadors. We are Kings and Priest. We are partners with Jesus for His kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.

    Pray for understanding of dreams. Don't just slough them off as weird or "Gee, I don't know." ASK! Look for understanding in the Word. Most of the time, you'll find a verse or chapter that expounds on the elements of your dream.

    Ask for Daniel 1:17. To understand and interpret dreams and visions.

    Be a wise and informed partner of Jesus so when He gives you a prayer assignment in a dream, you know how to respond.

    If He reveals something of your heart, or His, again, you'll know how to respond.

    Pray. Believing.

    Thursday, November 04, 2010

    Research can power up a story

    Since I'm ankle deep in a new book and participating in National November Writers Month, NaNoWriMo, which I affectionately call, NaNaMoMo, I'll blog about writing.

    It's dang hard. Can I just say that? It's true. First drafts are like pulling teeth without Novocain for an entire month. A tooth a day. You have to work up the courage to do it.

    Working with the spark of an idea is fun.
    Even hammering out the synopsis. Then comes the writing. Invariably, I never do enough research, so I'm back and forth between the story and the internet, searching.

    The tediousness of it is wearying.

    Take last night. I wanted to know specifically where my 1912 heroine lived in Philadelphia. I knew it was along the Main Line, but where?

    I Google Mapped the city. I used the little yellow man to see the streets. I read the history of Philly and the Main Line.

    But did those same streets and train stations exist in 1912? How far out on the Main Line would a wealthy family live? In the early 1900s, the community was young.

    Question, questions, questions. Without answers. I was getting frustrated, and decided to NaNaMoMo right through the scene without the info I needed. After all that's what this writing month is about, but it wasn't working. I couldn't see the scene in my mind, nor feel it.

    Back to Google and I finally hit gold with the West Philadelphia Historical Society. They had maps. From 1911.

    Detailed maps. I could tell which houses were stone or brick. Which ones had porches. Where the green houses were located. Hospitals, churches and schools. The park I'd been reading about finally made scene.

    It was fantastic. Now I had the image in my mind of what kind of neighborhood my character would live in, and how she would run across her neighbors lawn to get to her own back door.

    Research slows you down, but there's nothing like it to power up the story. Once you know how something works, or how a city was designed, the name of a street or neighborhood, pieces begin to fall into place and the story can flow.

    When I was writing Dining with Joy, a chef said something to me during our phone interview. "Even the most experience chef can freeze up in a cooking competition."

    That off the cuff remarked added a nuance that layered a scene to make a good scene even better. Had I not taken the opportunity to talk to the chef, I'd have never sliced out that very subtle idea.

    I have to see a scene. I can't write it if I don't know where she lives and how it impacts her life.

    Funny, I don't necessarily care what she's wearing or how she looks. But I need to see her world.

    How about you? How do you research. How does it impact your story? How do you manage research while writing?

    Tuesday, November 02, 2010

    In the company of peanut butter cookies

    Walking through the kitchen, the package of bakery cookies called out to me. No, they're for home church.

    But when I passed through again, the cookies shouted my name. My empty stomach agreed. Just one, just one.

    So, I ate two. (blush) The small sugar cookies hit the spot. But you know what was weird, the last bit of each cookie tasted a bit like... peanut butter.

    I looked in the box. The row of sugar cookies ran along side a row of peanut butter. The edges touched just a little bit and the sugar cookies absorbed the peanut butter taste.

    There's probably a scientific reason the sugar cookies took on the flavor of peanut butter. But I think it's because the sugar cookies are generic. They don't have a specific flavor or texturing. All the ingredients of sugar cookies are in the peanut butter cookies.

    My poor sugar cookies represent a philosophy. "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything."

    Who we hang around with, what we behold with our eyes, what we open our heart to, and who and what we give our energy and time to shapes us.

    We start out as sweet, innocent sugar cookies. Life experience makes us peanut butter, chocolate chip, or oatmeal raisin.

    We form our "flavors," our beliefs, through our parents, teachers, friends, and believe it or not, our wounds. If we don't get healing for our hurts, and pain, we use them to guide us through life.

    Imagine the guy with a pebble in his shoe walking along the road, telling you to follow him, but he can't walk a straight line for trying to ease the pain coming from his shoe?

    We can't keep company with liars, cheaters, haters, haters of God, lovers of self and not be effected. Even as adults, we are molded and flavored by the people we keep company.

    Funny though. The peanut butter cookies didn't taste like sugar cookies. The strong peanut butter flavor over powers.

    I want to be a peanut butter cookie. Strong in who I am, able to influence rather than be influenced.

    To be a voice and not an echo.

    I want people to be around me and leave with the flavor and texture of God on their hearts. I want them to leave my company feeling hope and faith, wanting to run for their destiny in life rather than hide from it.

    You know why I love a good book or movie with a happy ending? Because it makes me ask, "Yeah, why not me?"

    I want people to leave my company and ask, "Hey, God, why not me."

    What happens when people leave your company? What kind of "cookie" are you? Sugar or peanut butter?