Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My Troubles

Psalm 119:71 (MSG)
My troubles turned out all for the best--they forced me to learn from Your textbook.

This is so true, isn't it?  When things are circumstantially difficult, I am driven to His Word for security, guidance, and truth.  When everything is coming up smelling like roses, I am less likely to fall to my knees in desperation for Him. 

Looming storm clouds.
I will never understand why some of us have to carry the weight of the world.  Nor will I ever comprehend the reasons for why there are those who bare so many more burdens than others.  Nope...I'll never figure it out this side of heaven.  But, if I were to get a tiny glimpse into a benefit of our troubles, this verse might just be the key to unlocking the first door.

For today...I take heart that my troubles might actually be assisting me to lean on Him to a greater extent.  Those trials could possibly be allowing Christ to shine out of me instead of "me" shine out of me.  Kyanne Weaver said it beautifully in her post "Camouflage" from her blog:  Cavewoman Speaks (Sending Out Hope Signals For Cave People Everywhere) when she said, "Be encouraged to know that it isn't, never has been and never will be you who shines for Christ. It's Christ Who shines for you."  (To read her full post click here .)

Thank you for Your Word that sustains us and teaches us to learn how to glorify You....instead of ourselves.
In Christ's Name,

Monday, December 2, 2013

Guest Post Interview with ERIN HEALY~Best Selling Author

Isaiah 7:4(MSG)
Listen, calm down.  Don't be afraid.  And don't panic...

Today, I count it an honor and a privilege to welcome Erin Healy to my blog!  

Best Selling author Erin Healy.
She is a best selling author and passionate lover of Christ.  Her soon to be released book:  Stanger Things is sure to capture your attention and bring an awareness to the horrific world-wide illegal industry known as human trafficking.  At the end of her interview, she has given us a link to read the first two chapters of this not yet released book, Stranger Things!  Also, don't miss the chance to get this book free by signing up for the "free book giveaway raffle" .  You may also sign up on Erin's Facebook Page! 

Erin Healy has already published seven books to date:

House of Mercy
The Baker's Wife
The Promises She Keeps
Never Let you Go
Books coauthored with Ted Dekker:

Erin Healy’s latest supernatural thriller, Stranger Things, comes to stores on New Year’s Eve.
Stranger Things by Erin Healy
Release date:  December 31, 2014

Library Journal says: “Serena Diaz’s teaching career came to an abrupt end when a student falsely accused her of sexual misconduct. Seeking solace in the woods, she discovers that a gang of sex traffickers has taken over a vacant house. Serena is almost captured by one of the criminals but is saved by an unknown man who has been shadowing her. He is shot, and Serena escapes with her life. But she is drawn to know more about this stranger who died for her. What follows is a suspenseful story of danger and pure evil. Whom can Serena trust in a world that seems intent on serving its own self-interests? VERDICT Healy (Afloat; coauthor with Ted Dekker, Burn and Kiss) has written an edgy, fast-paced spiritual thriller that will please Dekker fans.”

The following are questions that I had the opportunity to
ask Erin about her novel and more.....

How was your idea for Stranger Things born?

Two years ago, during a Good Friday service, my pastor (Kelly Williams of Vanguard Church, Colorado Springs) asked the congregation: “If a complete stranger died while saving your life, wouldn’t you want to know everything you could about that person? Wouldn’t you want your life to honor that person’s death?” He challenged us to consider Jesus Christ in a new light—as a stranger, as a savior we might not know as well as we think we do. This idea has roots in Romans 5:8—“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Before I ever had the chance to know Him, while He was a complete stranger to me, Christ died for me. The Message translation says “when [I was] of no use whatever to Him.” Why would He do that?  Have I investigated Him thoroughly enough to connect my own life with His purposes?  This is all background, though.  Stranger Things isn’t an overtly Christian tale as my previous novels have been, but it’s a parable about these questions.

Stranger Things sounds like a pretty dark read. Why did you choose to write about sex trafficking?

Human trafficking (of which sex trafficking is a subcategory) is the world’s third-fastest growing illegal industry behind drugs and weapons. It is the most horrifying kind of modern captivity I can imagine, and my research proved that even my imagination fell short of reality. I picked it because it’s a real contemporary crisis, but also because it profoundly symbolizes the kind of bondage that Christ came to end (Isaiah 61:1-3). Freeing the captive, physically and spiritually, is a high calling for followers of Jesus who want to express their gratitude for His sacrifice and demonstrate His love through the continuation of His work.

What does all this have to do with the “thin places” that you’re always talking about?

The traditional (Celtic) definition of a thin place is a physical location in the world where the division between physical and spiritual realities falls away, a place where we can see the greater truth of our existence. In my stories, I use the term “thin place” to define moments when a person experiences a sharpened spiritual awareness about what’s really going on in his or her life. Stranger Things  is the first novel in which I’ve combined both ideas. The thin place is a physical location, a burned-out house in a sparse terrain, where Serena discovers her purpose. “There are places in the world where you will encounter things so real that you will be surprised others don’t have an identical experience,” Serena’s father tells her. “But then you will realize that the clarity given to you is a gift from God. Perhaps this gift is just for you, maybe also it will touch the lives of others.”

Did anything surprise you while writing the novel?

I started with intentions to write about an Asian-based trafficking ring, but in the course of my research was distressed to learn just how close to home the problem lies. Though it’s impossible to get a precise count of how many people are victims of sex trafficking in the US, most estimates fall between 100,000 and 300,000 (mostly women and children). Since I learned this my own awareness has expanded, and I’m happy to see just how many efforts are already underway—not only in the US—to end this atrocity.  The Polaris Project is a great place to begin learning about global human trafficking.

What do you hope readers will take away from Stranger Things?

I hope the novel is layered enough to meet each reader individually. Maybe some will be challenged to investigate Jesus Christ further. Maybe some will use their new awareness of trafficking to do something about it. (I’ve joined the prayer team of a local home for girls rescued from sexual slavery.) To date my favorite response to the book was from the person who found herself looking in a new way at the strangers who surrounded her. She felt unexpectedly protective and concerned, on heightened alert to ways in which she might be able to help them. In other words, ways in which she might be able to do what Christ did for her. So many opportunities! If we all moved through the world with eyes like that, what might change for the better? I love to think of all the possibilities.

What made you chose Christian fiction as opposed to nonfiction as the primary focus for your writing platform? 

Fiction is my first love in reading choices, and when I became a book editor I quickly gravitated toward editing novels. I started writing while editing Ted Dekker's novels. He invited me to write two books with him, and that was the beginning. I guess my path as always pointed toward fiction.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is interested in becoming an author?

If you go into writing aiming to be successful, brace yourself for a real challenge. The percentage of hard-working, good writers who are successful from an economic, numeric, or literary point of view is excruciatingly small, though they do everything “right.”  If you go into writing because you have something to say and you believe God called you to say it, you’ll have to set aside empirical notions of “success,” because God’s definition of that word is largely hidden from us earthlings. He is the Master Creator of us creative types. We will always be His apprentices, and never the master. His opinion is the only one that ultimately counts. So you have to consider—when the rejections stack up, reviews are harsh, and you’ve only sold ten copies of your self-published work—if the ten people who bought those copies were exactly the people who needed to hear what you had to say. Maybe your book was for the person who borrowed it from the library and didn’t pay a cent. Maybe your book was just for you, to learn something about yourself in the process of writing it. Someday you’ll know. But probably not today.

It's obvious from your writing that you have the hope of Christ within you!  Is there one particular verse in the Bible which you find consistently encouraging when you are in the midst of a trial?

"Be careful, keep calm, and don't be afraid. Do not lose heart ..." Isaiah 7:4. The prophet Isaiah is speaking to King Ahaz of Judah, who is about to be overrun. The king's temptation is to save his own skin by making an unholy alliance with his enemies, and Isaiah is saying: don't do anything stupid, don't be rash. God promises that your worst fears will not come to pass (verse 7). Whenever I'm worried or upset, my instinct is to try to find the fastest way out of it. It's so easy to do dumb things when we're afraid. But over and over throughout the Scriptures is this wonderful chorus: fear not. So I remember Isaiah 7:4 and try to rest in God's wisdom rather than in my own panic.

Wow!  Thank you so much Erin, for visiting with us about your new book, Stranger Things and for encouraging us to never lose heart, because He is with us!  Your passion is contagious and I cannot wait for the release of your new novel! 

If you would like to read the first two chapters of Erin's new book:  Stranger Things, you can do so by clicking here.  Again, don't miss the opportunity to be included in a drawing for a free copy of the book that will be shipped to you after January 1, 2014, should your name be drawn!  You can enter your name each day this week, Dec. 2-6 (Monday-Friday) by visiting Erin's blog!

Erin Healy can found on:

Subscribe to her blog

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Acting on God's revelations

Psalm 119:70(MSG)
They're bland as a bucket of lard, while I dance to Your revelation.

This is my sweet friend...lounging...after a LOT of playing!
A bucket of lard.  That's descriptive.  Pretty lethargic people being described in the first part of this verse!  But not the Psalmist!  He isn't lounging around doing nothing all day.  He is up celebrating in what the Lord has done for him!  That's so cool!  It's also a great segue for me to jump into my exciting news! 

Tomorrow morning, at 7:00am, I will be hosting Best Selling author Erin Healy on this blog with a Q & A session!  It is exciting to me in so many ways, but mostly because Erin is so passionate about the revelations of God...and she's acting on them!  I know you will find her transparency refreshingly invigorating as she talks about her new book:  Stranger Things!
So...whatever you do tomorrow...don't miss out on this wonderful interview with her!!
You will also be given a link to the first two chapters of her new book and the opportunity to win a complete copy free!  (If you are a winner, the book will be shipped to you after Jan. 1, 2014.) 

Thank you for the words of the Psalmist that remind us to dance in all circumstances...because our hope and our joy comes from You alone!