Thursday, February 24, 2011

Catching Up

Hey, I'm such a bad blogger at times. I was finishing up The Wedding Dress so I could pass it off to a reader/proofer before flying to St. Louis for a board meeting.

Came home and have been prepping for this week over in Clearwater and the My Book Therapy Deep Thinkers Retreat.

I'll try to post pictures and notes over the next six days. BUT, I do have a plan for this little ole blog. I do. Hang tight. I'll get 'er done.

Thanks friends!

In the meantime, check out the Southern Belle blog! We're having fun over there. This week is the continuation of our island romance, Whirlaway Island.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Goals: Being prepared for eternity

Because we're trapped in time, it's really easy to have our focus on the here and now. Rightly so because if we don't take care of ourselves, our families, our responsibilities we'll find ourselves in need or impoverished without cause.

But this life is merely an internship for the next life. There will be an end to this age and we'll be launched into a time where Jesus reigns on earth as a just King and making right all the wrongs.

We could spend hours, days, even years debating end time theology. But I don't have the heart or the time for it -- and frankly, some of the debating and hairsplitting isn't holy or benefitting. We can read the Bible and know! God's Word is not for the ivory towered intellectuals. It's for all of us.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us God has written eternity on our hearts. We're supposed to want to "live forever" and "be immortal." But we must pass from this life to the next either by 1. Death or 2. Jesus return while we're alive.

Either way, we have to be ready to stand before Him and give an account of our lives. There is a reward system. I don't completely understand it, but I know God will reward even those who've given a little one a cup of cold water. Matthew 10:42.

He loves to reward. Don't feel like you have to "earn" it or something, He's looking for and recording as many things as He can to reward us. It's not like my old boss who insisted I write reviews on my team with a criticizing focus. She was never concerned about listing their success, only their failures.

Not so with Jesus. In fact, He's looking to turn our failures into successes. So here's the deal. Let's not be afraid to live life, to take a chance, to go for God's will while we have the time.

Let's not be bogged down by the passing pleasures of this world. Turn off the TV. Put away foolish things. Cut out friends or things that hinder your run in race. Set your heart and mind on Jesus. Trust me, He'll put you to good use.

He's not going to sign you us for the team because He needs another person or two on the bench. Nope, Jesus needs a team of quarterbacks, tail backs, tackles, lineman, offensive guards, defensive tackles. Punters, kickers, special teams.

You know, some guys want to play football so bad they go out for the team with a "sign me up, Coach" attitude. Remember Rudy from the movie... Rudy? He wanted to play Notre Dame football so bad he was willing to be a scrub, beat-the-crap-out-of-me practice player. He was on the team only to make the real players better. He didn't even get to suit up on game day.

But he hung in there, he endured an extreme time of testing so that... what? He might win the prize! And win the prize he did.

Do you know any other Notre Dame football player's names from those Rudy years? I don't. But I know about the too small, too inadequate player who finally had his moment of glory on the field.

We must live this life with eternity in mind. With our own moment of "glory on the field" to come. We must be prepared for whatever play Coach calls. By the time Rudy was called up, he was one tough son of a gun.

Be ready. Live your life with purpose. You do not know when God's going to say,

"Rachel, you're up, get in the game."

"What? Lord, I'm 50 years old. You don't want to use me, do you? I've waited all this time. I've gotten fat and lazy. I haven't read the Word or prayed consistently in years and... and... I've been living out my destiny by watching American Idol and Oprah."

"I need you in the game. This is your moment."

"Coach, I don't know the plays. I'm 50, remember. Most players are called up in their 20s and 30s."

With a kind sadness, He gazes into her eyes. "But I've been waiting for this moment for you. I've had this slotted since the foundations of the earth... for you. Didn't you know? Don't you remember all the touches on your heart where I reminded you? You actually thought I forgot you?"

"No Lord, but it seems I forgot about the destiny you wrote on my heart."

Don't give up! Live with eternity on your heart. If for some reason you're not called into the game in this life, you most certainly will in the next. Be ready. Hold fast. Stay in "training."


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Writing: Denise Hunter talks about life as a writer

My good friends Lena Dooley and Denise Hunter are talking writing over on Lena's blog today. Denise has some new releases coming (yay!) but on the featured book on this post is a re-release of Surrender Bay.

I love both of these women, their heart for the Lord, for worship, for others and for writing great books

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Spiritual: Reproving Sin

Reading in 1 Samuel this morning and was really struck by God's judgment against Eli, the priest of the Lord, for not reproving his sons for their very bad priestly behavior.

Take a look at what they did:

Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the LORD. When any man was offering a sacrifice, the priest's servant would come while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand and he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. Thus they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there.

(The priests servants robbed the people.)

Also, before they burned the fat, the priest's servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, "Give the priest meat for roasting, as he will not take boiled meat from you, only raw." If the man said to him, "They must surely burn the fat first, and then take as much as you desire," then he would say, "No, but you shall give it to me now; and if not, I will take it by force."

(The priest's servants defiled the sacrifice and bullied those making an offering.)

Thus the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for the men despised the offering of the LORD. Also, they slept with the women who served at the doorway at the tent of meeting.

Breaking it down, Eli's sons robbed and oppressed the people and Eli did not rebuke them. God said, "Enough," and cut off Eli's heritage. Like, "No man will grow old in your house."

His sons were killed on the same day, and Eli died when he heard the news. Sin is serious business. Even Eli said of his sons, "God will intervene when man sins against man, but who will intercede for man when he sins against God?"

Thus, the need for a Redeemer. A Savior. Jesus. He alone is the mediator between God and man. But my thought today as I read 1 Samuel was how Eli shamed his own name and his sons by not confronting their sin. God's anger was more at his silence than the actions of his sons.

Had they been rebuked and disciplined, their lives would've been spared. They'd not have defiled and oppressed the people. Sin cannot be endured or tolerated. First in our own lives. Second, in the lives of others. We misinterpret Jesus's words "Do not judge."

Actually, we are called to judge. But first, see to our own issues. Like, don't go calling out a girl on gossip when you gossip. Don't call out sexual immorality if you're involved in sexual immorality. There are plenty of verses on how and when to judge others. There's actually health and healing in judging -- shall I say discerning -- the words and actions of others.

If your friend is beating his wife, do you just let it go because "you don't want to judge?" No. You confront him, tell him it's wrong and he needs to change. You offer help and support to deal with why he behaves in such a way.

Parents! Discipline your children. Don't let the go on with ungodly behavior because you don't want confrontation. Or don't want to admit your children aren't perfect. You will save them a lot of pain if you shed light on the darkness of their hearts.

I love the verse, "foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. but the rod of correction drives it far from him."

Eli lost his families right and heritage because of his unwillingness to deal with his sons. They lost their lives. It cost Israel the arc of the Lord -- the presence of the Lord. Don't look the other way when you see sin. It may cost you the very presence of God.

Monday, February 07, 2011

This week, yeah, I know where I'm going

I've never been a super detailed person, but I've always set goals and figured out who and what I wanted to be.

Most of us set goals too large. Too loose. Too undefined. Like, "I want to be rich by the time I'm 35." Okay, cool, what's the plan?

Or, "I want to get married and have kids." Awesome. Family is the fabric of life. What's the plan to marry a good, compatible spouse? How do you plan to feed, cloth and educate your children?

Me? Those big long range goals and plans hardly ever pan out. I mean, do you see my name on the New York Times Bests Seller List? Or has Oprah called? Hollywood -- well, once but that's another story. More to come on that hopefully.

So, we set these big goals and we end up disappointed and discourage because some pie in the sky didn't land on our plate. More likely, it landed in our faces.

When I asked my good friend Stuart Greaves how he set his heart for the big things God has for him, he said, "I just don't picture the outcome."

So wise. So much truth. I've begun to offer up the large expectation of my heart back to Him and forget about the out come or what "that" will look like.

In my gut, I know there's more to come. I know God has more for me. I've felt it. I've had people mention pretty incredible things to me, things they see or feel from God for me. But I cannot make any of them happen. I cannot!

I can only do what God gives me to do today.

And what is that? Finish a book. Help a couple of writer friends with ideas. Write a short piece for Southernbelleview.

This week, I know I have to finish The Wedding Dress, keep up exercise, hang with Jesus and clean my house. That's it. I have room to juggle in case something unexpected comes my way, but I know what this week is about. That's what God has for me. That's my goal. That's what I'm doing.

Set goals you can see and obtain. Do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.

Next week, I'll reassess, set new goal, start thinking of things I can't think of when I'm finishing a book. Getting to The End is pretty consuming -- time, heart and mind!

Don't live by the tyranny of the urgent. Live a designed life!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Dark Under Belly of the Super Bowl

I've love the Super Bowl since the '80s and the era of Jim McMahon, Walter Peyton and the Super Bowl Shuffle.

But twenty-five years later, the greatest American sports show -- US Today called the Super Bowl the greatest show on earth -- is one of the largest venues for human trafficking.

Read: Sex trade for underage girls and boys. We hear about it other countries and exclaim with disgust. We wrinkle our noses at "those people" who sell and buy sex from enslaved women and boys, even men.

But wake up America, it's in our own back yard. American girls, usually runaways, are trafficked at our Super Bowl and purchased by.... American men. Not foreigners. Not "those people." Our people.

Football is an American sport. And unless some foreign dude is a major, major, major perv, he's not going to fly here to buy sex for the weekend. He can find it at home. (That's another issue...)

It's our men. Our girls. You can read some stats and articles here. And here.

Last night, three churches gathered to pray for our youth and against sex trafficking. God met us in a powerful, divine way. As I was singing prayers along with those offering prayers, I looked at my co-worship leader and said, "Know what's horrible to me? We must pray with the same compassion and fervor for those who are doing the trafficking as those being trafficked. They are just as enslaved."

Me, Rachel Hauck? I'd say, "Burn in fiery hell for what you're doing." And if they don't fall on their knees to Jesus, if the fear of the Lord doesn't grips them, they will spend eternity away from God, in hell.

But Jesus came that All, yes All, might come to the truth. He sees the wickedness in all our hearts and has compassion. The Cross is one size fits all. One act of amazing, unparalleled love covers all sin. From the trafficker on down. Know the worst part? A girl or boy enslaved in sex work needs Jesus's redemption as much as his or her captors.

And if they don't meet Him, they spend eternity in the same place.

Enter the heart of the Judge. Jesus is a blaze with Justice for the weak and broken, those caught in oppression and bondage. We think His lack of "activity" means He doesn't care. But Jesus is all about justice! He proved it. On the Cross.

Oh the beauty of the Cross.

His heart is breaking for those caught in such greed and lust they'd sell an innocent girl to man after man, destroying her soul, for money.

How much money can one girl make for her pimp? $200,000 plus. It's true. The love of money is the root of all evil.

Don't be ignorant. Inform your children, your friend, especially your girls, about the dangers of human trafficking. Runaway American girls are usually caught up in sex trade within 48 hours of running away.

If they're not found within 96 hours, they never be found without a miracle.

Worse, this shedding of innocence, this "blood," is on our hands America. It's our men buying. It's our men selling. It's our girls being enslaved.

Slavery is alive and thriving in America.

Pray for mercy. Pray for forgiveness. Pray for true hope and change. Pray for Jesus the Judge to come and make all things new.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Becoming a Writer Part 3

Let's get a few basics out of the way. To become a writer you must...

  • Have a seventh grade reading spelling competency. CHECK
  • A story idea. CHECK
  • A writing implement. Pen, pencil, paper, computer, crayon on the wall. CHECK
  • Some modicum of determination and inspiration. CHECK
  • Time each day, even a minute, to write. CHECK

After the first blaze of inspiration fizzles -- anywhere between one sentence and fifty pages -- you have to figure out just where this book is going.

Here are some key tools to making your idea into a publishable novel.

1. Dynamic characters. There are several ways to do this. Creating a super hero like Superman. Creating a super cop or super cowboy. A heroine who can draw the attention and restraint of a vampire. ;)

Mostly great novels are made up of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Bruce Willis in Die Hard. Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle. The character Elizabeth in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Ask key questions: What does my protagonist want? What's keeping her from getting it? Why can't he get over his fears to realize his dream? What wound still darkens his heart? What is her story journey and what will be her epiphany? What can she do at the end she can't do in the beginning.

In Dining with Joy, it seemed rather simple, but the thing she could do in the end she couldn't do in the beginning was make banana bread! It took a whole book and emotional journey to get her there.

Do your character work! Figure out who these people are. Ask "why" until you get at the rock bottom answer.

Me: Why can't Joy cook?
Me: She's an athlete. Just doesn't like it. Doesn't have that gene.
Me: But she never learned to cook?
Me: Her father did all the cooking. Not her mom. No example.
Me: Yeah, but, she's a cooking show host...
Me: Her father never let her in the kitchen. He was creating.
Me: And...
Me: She started resenting him, and cooking.
Me: Ah, now you're talking. But so much she didn't cook?
Me: (eventually) She never learned to cook because she resented her father, thinking he loved food and cooking more than the family.


Now, I can take all of that as a building block to the plot.

2. Work out your plot blocks. Know where your story is going. Even if you like the creative, pantser process. A friend was studying architecture. She wanted to do design, be creative, forget the rules. Yet each time she turned in a design, her professors told her, "this will fall down. it's not usable." Finally, one prof said, "Learn the math. Then you can do what you want."

My friend was amazed at the power and design ability she had once she learned the rules of building buildings.

Learn the rules of the craft. Work out your story so you know where you're going. Even for a fun road trip, you have a map. A plan. Take the time to figure it out.

Weave the plot with the characters fears, goals, dreams and desires.

3. Cause conflict. Things should not be easy for your protagonist. People should not be polite. Issues and people, life, disaster, whatever should get in the way of your protagonist achieving his dream. Or, perhaps he's given up on his dream and you story is how one more event makes him almost give up on life.

You need conflict for a great novel. Author Davis Bunn had a NY publishing house editor tell him, "Ambush the reader." Let the unexpected happen. Make it happen. Turn situations and dialog upside down and write what you see.

In Softly and Tenderly, Jade was beginning to give up on having a child of her own. She'd lost three to miscarriage and one to abortion. But she was secure and loved in her marriage to Max. Until...

Then a woman is killed and Jade learns Max is a father and must raise his son. We ambushed Jade in that book. Hopefully, we ambushed the reader. :)

4. Weave the spiritual or emotional message with the characters plot and journey.

5. Bring all conflict forward. Don't hang back with a story point for some big reveal while filling the pages in between with chapters that don't move the story forward. Don't just repeat what the reader already knows.

In Dining with Joy, I wanted the big disaster to be Joy failing on a national talk show. I'd planned to write this about 2/3 of the way through the book. But I realized it needed to come more in the middle. But then what? What happens after she's outted?

Well, I had to dig deep and figure out what else was going on in Joy's life and figure out her final disaster. It was a smaller one, but after all she'd been through to that point, it was the most emotional one.

So... AMBUSH THE READER! Allen Arnold, fiction publisher at Thomas Nelson says, "Conflict makes great novels."

6. Have a satisfying ending. After you've taken everything from the protagonist, bring back hope. Let him finally find peace, achieve his dream, or whatever. The ending doesn't have to be happily ever after, but must be satisfying.

7. Once the novel is written, in all it's crappy glory, rewrite with word painting in mind. Be more careful and purposeful with your word choice. Start layering in emotional and physical colors. Make sure you have 3 of the 5 senses in every scene. Begin to hone and craft.

8. Mostly, tell a story. Take us on a journey with a complex, compelling character that we'd put up with almost anything to hang out with for 350 pages.

God bless your writing!