Author's Life · Morning Thoughts

The Dilemma of the Blank Notebook

Recently I was gifted a beautiful notebook. Just a notebook filled with lined pages. The cover is gorgeous and speaks to my love of color. The same picture is on the back cover as well. For a couple of months I’ve been debating what to use it for. I could use it as a daily journal, but I’ve only stuck with finishing a journal one time. That was a journal my youngest daughter gave me for Christmas. It had a scripture on the bottom of each page with my name inserted in the scripture. It took two years to fill it, and I didn’t write in it every day, but it is interesting to look back on the post during the pandemic and lockdown.

This journal is so pretty, so I’ve thought maybe I can turn it into a book I will relate to and want to write in. Maybe add a new scripture each day from my devotions. And then journal about it.

Or perhaps I can make it into a prayer journal. A place to keep the names I pray for and record answered prayers, plus a new page each day to write out my morning prayer. A wonderful Bible Journaler, Scribbling Grace, who paints beautiful watercolor pages in her Prayer Journals and her Bible, has a You Tube video showing how she created her journal. I’m not that artistic, but with this pretty cover, I don’t need to be. In her old journal she separated the pages into days of the week with each day concentrating on a specific topic. In her new one, she still has topics, different ones to correspond to her current life, and a more free-form structure for her daily prayers.

Armed with this information, I stare at my journal notebook. I don’t want to mess it up. What if I start preparing it and I don’t like it? When this happens, I know I need to pray about it. I still have that part of me that’s a perfectionist, a part of me that OCD. Do you know it took me almost five years to let myself color a leaf that isn’t green? Even when the picture is mystical? It stems from my childhood when my stepfather insisted on nothing but perfection from me. If I got a B+, it wasn’t an A, so it wasn’t good enough. Funny how those little things stick with us. I know I also made mistakes with my children, trying to bring their best out of them, so I don’t harbor any bad feeling toward my stepdad, and hope my children don’t hold my errors against me. Anyway, I digress. What am I going to do with this lovely notebook?

I thought about opening it to the first page and starting with a free flow prayer. I can include a daily scripture, add something I’m grateful for perhaps, and then the rest can be for my written prayer. BUT, I really like the idea of having different topics to concentrate my prayers on. That way my prayers won’t become monotonous, which they sometimes feel like when I’m in my prayer corner and talking to God. Since I can’t quite come to a decision, I’ll continue to think about it and pray about it. I think I need to include my creativity into this as well.

I’ve looked at other prayer journals to purchase which are very structured and leave little room for prayer. I’ve had several and used them, but I’m looking for something different now.

Thanks for sticking with me as I dumped my brain on the page this morning!

Author's Life · Writer's Journal

The Blank, Empty Space

I’m a writer. There is a need to fill a blank empty space with words.

Yet, sometimes I stare at the pristine space and no words come to mind. I begin to write the thoughts at the moment, just as I am right now, wondering what words God will guide me to write. For He always does.

The first online writing class I took was titled “Write From the Heart.” I’ve heard many times since that long ago class to “write what you know.” At first I mistook what this meant. My life hasn’t been extraordinary at all. I’ve never excelled at any one thing. I just lived life. I did my best to raise my children and teach them right from wrong. I worked to bring in money to pay our daily living costs. How could I write about any of these things? I might write about them, but who would even care enough to read?

I wrote books at a time when God led me to use my gift from Him. I wrote books that were geared to readers who wanted a good romantic suspense story with a little steam. Two books. And then I just couldn’t do it any longer. I was forcing something just to fit into what all the other writers of this genre was doing. I was writing what I knew about the books on the shelves, but not writing from my heart.

My third book was from my heart. I write about what I know, and I write them from my heart. And, look, I’ve just filled a blank empty space with words. These were not in my mind when I put my fingers on the keyboard. My mind was blank. Where do these words come from? I believe they come from God. He leads me and guides me in every aspect of my life. And I’m grateful. May your week be filled with His blessings.


Turning Ashes into Beauty

Our Pastor is doing a sermon series in February about the gods of marriage. The first one, yesterday, focused on a “controlling” relationship. For me, this was a trigger bringing back PTSD flashes from my first marriage. Out of the 25 things listed as being in a controlling relationship, my marriage met 21 of them (we didn’t have mobile phones at that time).

However, one thing stood out to me. We can only be controlled to the extent that we “allow” this to happen. I was a woman who lived with low self worth. I wanted to be loved. I dreamed of a fairy tale marriage. The dream didn’t come true, though I don’t think any one of us ever has a fairy tale relationship. We don’t see in fairy tales what happens after the happily ever after scene.

I say I tried to get out of the situation I was in, but I was weak and kept going back. It took therapy to help me see what I had to do. But God never left me during this time. I often turned my back on Him! So what did I learn during those 16 years? I learned God brought something beautiful from those years of suffering: Four children – the greatest blessings of my life. When I finally gained the courage to say no more and we divorced, God brought a new man into my life. And that’s when I learned what love was and what love wasn’t.

Why am I writing this? I’ve spoken out publicly before about being a survivor. Unfortunately it was about me instead of about God. I would not have survived those years without Him. I would not have seen the true destruction of family without Him. I would not have walked away from the security of money without Him. No matter how many times I let go of his hand, He followed me. I was the one sheep He left the 99 to save.

Perhaps yesterday’s sermon was to help me shine light on that time of my life and appreciate the good parts, the blessings, and to see how God was present the entire time. I was simply wearing blinders. I am living in the Light now, and I write stories about people who are dealing with life trials. My books show how letting go and letting God will change hearts and lives. They are books of hope and inspiration. Because God has brought me through many trials in my life, I can tell my stories through fictional characters and situations. All glory to Him! He has turned my ashes into beauty.

Isaiah 61:1-3 NLT “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the LORD’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.”

Author's Life

Where the Words are Created

As I writer, I see and feel things, which to me require capturing in written form. It’s like my fingers are connected to my heart. I suppose that’s true in a kind of literal sense, but when I sit with my hands on a keyboard, my eyes are open to visual stimulation and mind pictures. I’m not sure how other writers feel. Some are quite intentional about what they write.

A story forms in their mind, and they carefully plan, build characters and worlds and write about these. For me, the pattern is different. I write down things that touch me and capture them in a small journal. These are the triggers for emotions that soon attach themselves to characters and a story begins to form.

Sometimes I journal my feelings because I can’t help myself. God gave me a gift to paint pictures with words and when I write, the words seem to come from outside myself. From God? I don’t believe He is speaking directly to me to write specific words, but I do believe He provides the fodder that grows into a story, showing emotions He stimulates through life experiences of various forms.

I am a writer. Words caress my soul. And I want to give back to God, using my gift to honor Him. Just as God gave gifts to the craftsmen who created the first tabernacle in the desert, He has equipped me as an artisan of sorts. They created with their gifts according to God’s instructions to Moses. I have not received such a direct command, yet I am urged to write through God speaking to me in different ways. In the beauty of a morning sunrise, in silent suffering, in the joys and pain of dearly loved ones, in the beauty and ugliness of the world. God opens my heart and fills me with the desire to spill out the emotions onto paper. Sometimes in a journal, sometimes in a story.

And I’m grateful.

Author's Life · Devotions

Why Do I Blog?

I’ve tried various methods of blogging through the years. As a blogger with a small audience, I feel the same as I do in the writing business–an author in a big sea of even bigger fish. I’ve tried different themes, all with the hopes of attracting a larger reading audience. But that doesn’t happen. So, why do I blog?

The reason I blog is because I love to write. And, it’s a way of expressing myself outside of the stories being created in my books. A way, I hoped, that would show the real me my book readers might want to know. When I finish a book, I appreciate reading about the author’s life if it is placed at the back of their books. It helps me feel connected to the authors writing the kind of books I enjoy reading.

It doesn’t really matter if I have a small following to my blog, but I sometimes wonder if anyone reads them at all, except for a small handful. I often question myself for being faithful in continuing to maintain a blog and website. I think we all fall into questioning things we do. Especially when we have a weak moment of feeling insecure.

In the past I have even questioned if I’m following God’s will by continuing to write books. I’ve prayed a lot over the years about this “gift” and how to best use it. I trust Him. And I write, hoping this is a ministry that reaches people I might never meet face to face. I trust Him to put my books in the hands of the people He chooses. If it’s only a few, then I’ve written this book for them. And that’s satisfying to my soul.

As I write this blog, I wonder how many will actually read it. How many might even understand what I’m saying. And that’s where trusting God comes into play. He gives me the words. I sit, place my hands on the keyboard and He provides the words that appear on the screen. I believe this with all my heart.

And so, I blog.