Unexpected detours. They happen. Handling those detours, that's where integrity and character get to fiddle around with your psyche. Detours show you a little unexpected adventure, allowing room for discovery, growth, and thrill.
And for the past year, I have been on a detour. Exploring, wallowing, pondering, waiting. However, the time has finally arrived for movement, growth, change, and action.
The Alliance Series will be releasing one book at a time, beginning with Insurrection on January 28th, 2023. The series has gone through a rebranding process with unified cover designs, fresh edits, and availability in a myriad of stores. Whether you read ebooks or print, you can grab your own copy of the Alliance series, beginning with Book One, Insurrection.
I am thrilled to see these books moving forward onto bookshelves. The series will flow together more seamlessly, with purposeful design choices on the covers, spines, and even internally on the pages. And you won't have to wait too long to grab the entire series, with a new title included.
A secret military base.
And no regrets.
One of my favorite things about growing as a writer is seeing how it all started and where we are now. Saylor's voice began young, intentionally, and as I have grown and purposefully improved my writing skills, so has Saylor and her band of faithful friends and their voices. These books adventure along with Saylor and the Alliance Military Guardsmen as they experience their own road blocks, closed doors, and open pathways.
Sometimes a detour is just the direction you needed to take.
To see more information or pre-order your copy, click here:
Or click INSURRECTION
We all do live with such great fear, whether it’s, “What if the chicken doesn’t thaw out in time for dinner?” up to, “Could this chicken be my last meal?” Fear of not being able to pay the bills, of driving down the road, of not having a good enough budget to last for the month, of screwing up our children, of losing someone or something very dear.
We are all affected by Fear, and we are called, especially us Christ-followers, to live outside of fear, outside of the boundaries we can see in this world.
In Esther 4 we read:
Hathach went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”
12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”
15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
In Esther’s roundabout conversation with her uncle Mordecai, she began as a hesitant woman who said she could be put to death if she went to the King, who then gathered the courage to say, well, I need to do what I need to do, and if I die, I die.
Most of us don’t live with this as a daily factor.
Well, I’ve got to go to Walmart. And if I die, I die.
Well, it’s time to go work out. And if I die, I die.
Living with a sense that at any moment something terrible can happen to you is no way to live. That is allowing in a darkness that has no authority to be present. BUT things happen. Sin is present in the world. You get in so many car accidents and you get nervous when that car inches closer behind you or that other car runs that red light. There have been several deaths in my family and among friends from cancer that I have really started questioning what the heck we’re doing to cause such damage to ourselves. But can we live like that? Can we live in fear of car accidents, disease, a crumbling economy, global crisis, Slow Moving People Day at Walmart? No. It will dissolve the trust in that firm foundation under our feet.
Beth Moore said in an Esther Bible study video, “What if something happens? If _________, then _________.”
What if you lose your job? What if your child grows ill? What if there is a tornado and we lose the house? What if……? Moore went through the stages of a hypothetical infidelity. Think about it. How would you first react? What would you do? Be mad. Be really mad. And then? Be sad. And then? She said, “Then I’d lay on the floor with my Bible over my face.” I chuckled at that. But think about the stages. She said then she’d go back to teaching Bible studies (and that she’d probably still be mad and take it out on studiers by giving a lot of homework) but then she would still eventually get back to God. That what’s left at the end of our loss, our grief, our complaining, our anger, our angst, our chocolate binges, our giving up… is God. He’s there all along, of course, but at the end of all of it, is just a shedding of layers to reach the final heart of the matter, that God is all we really have. We don’t have insurance, we don’t have a nice car, we don’t have the clothes on our backs. Even if the world crumbles underneath, God is there. Even if we don’t think we can pay for groceries, God is there. Even if we have no more ability or motivation to give, God is there. If _________, then God .
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your love, O LORD, endures forever--
do not abandon the works of your hands.
The eternal God is your refuge,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
From these few verses alone, we see the concrete fact that God is, has been, and always will be there, unshakeable, almighty, and the author of our faith. And so we establish God’s persona. Now, how about us? We are shaken, poor, and unable? Often misguided, feeble, and unworthy. However, those of us who trust His Word, and hold to his hope, are this:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:9
(God) who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father…
You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,
because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.
The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.
So there you are. Even if we overspend on cheese or buy the wrong car warranty package, can’t figure out why the computer won’t turn on, or if we sit on a retainer, shred the wrong document, or are overheard dispersing judgments on a sister…. We are the children of the Most High King. We are his priests, his kingdom, his bloodline.
Do we cower in fear of tomorrow or do we live, “beyond the casket, all the way into the kingdom”? I think our lives may all change if we step into this reality instead of the one we can see. Sometimes we can’t see God’s love, but he is within and around us. Sometimes we can’t see his exact arms holding us, but he places people in our lives to embrace us or simply call to shake out that dark reverie. Moore also said that, “we won’t ever be in a situation where God doesn’t offer us his presence and to give courage. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the knowledge that there is something much more important at stake.”
We all have our challenges, our callings, our individual stories to live out. We are created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Quite often those “to do” lists are challenging, and sometimes we are so exhausted we don’t want to even get out of bed. But take heart. He has overcome exhaustion. He has overcome the world. He has overcome fear, loss, hurt, grief, anxiety, and anger. Take heart. Take courage.
If it is starting over,
if it is eating less sugar,
moving to a new place,
making new friends,
not tearing out your hair when the baby poops in the bathtub again,
learning to rely on His Strength,
… then we are able to do it, because He is there.
My doctor informed me years ago during a sonogram-- “It looks like you will be having a girl,” he said, watching the monitor next to me, “but don’t paint the walls pink.” Sort of anti-climactic, don’t you think? There is such a big push to “know” what your baby is going to be. Everyone gets all excited as you go to the office, the suspense building that finally, finally, you can find out pink versus blue, purple versus green, and fill the room with baby dolls and lace or dinosaurs and cars. And my doc said, “But don’t paint the walls pink.” Hey, thanks. Thanks for that not-so-pivotal answer. My anticipation balloon warped and winced, flopping down on the floor as the doctor handed me a wipe to clean off my stomach.
Our faith, our existence, our calling, is based on a firm foundation. We can most definitely paint our walls. We can line the curtains with purple ruffles and hot glue sequins all over the picture frames because we are His. And he is there.
Fear is that burst balloon, insinuating that we just might wait to celebrate because you never know if or when or what might come upon the next footfall. So this is the challenge: to paint our walls as vibrantly as we can, and to dwell in the shadow of the Almighty. Instead of hesitating upon that impending confrontation, stand firm and to throw back our shoulders.
Then God .
Coming soon, I have some exciting news. Stay tuned.
She sang along to the music flowing out of the car stereo. Her forehead pressed against the backseat window, her eight-year-old voice clear and bright. My foot pressed against the brake pedal, holding our place in the Dairy Queen drive thru line. Stars shone above the neighborhood trees.
“Don’t miss it.” The quiet voice between my ears whispered the reminder.
She continued singing along, and as she did, warmth and delight spread through my heart. Her sweet, little voice. Those small, beautiful moments go by so fast, and we can miss them. In the midst of deadlines, broken appliances, disjointed technology, and the hurried human psyche, we can miss It. Life. Beauty. Hope. Peace. We can easily veer toward conflict rather than creating. We can easily stress out instead of release.
One of the songs we sing at my church uses the lyrics, “Jesus…He is the hope for the hopeless and broken.” One time the lyrics had been spelled incorrectly and they displayed ironically on the screen: “He is the hope for the hopless and borken.”
Singing, writing, practicing art, reading, exercising, these are a few of the ways God has gifted humans with the ability to communicate, grow, and draw closer to his heart. As you pursue those great goals God has entrusted to you, remember that you must use some time to hustle, but you must also use time to simply be. Sometimes you need to just hear a child singing. Sometimes you just need to laugh about chaos. Sometimes you are hopless and borken. “Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Maybe you need to be the child, the student, the big heart, singing, creating, writing, praising. Allow yourself to rethink the way we do things. Don’t miss it.
Martin Luther wrote the words and composed the melody to “A Mighty Fortress” sometime between 1527 and 1529. Remember that Martin Luther was a German monk, priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation (Wikipedia). He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money; that salvation is not earned but a gift of God. Luther helped the Bible become more accessible to the common man.
Quick facts about “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”:
One of the most significant facts to note about the song is that not every verse ends with a cheerful note, literally, musically, and lyrically. In fact, some notes are sour and dissonant. Here are the lyrics:
A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours,
thru him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill;
God's truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever.
Who has no equal on earth, as noted in Verse 1? Our ancient foe. Darkness, fear, hate, cowardice, cheating, lying, stealing, and lack of faith. These are the great enemy.
So why are we singing about this enemy being so strong? Look at Verse 3: God hath willed his truth to triumph through us. Our enemy may be unequal, our enemy may appear strong, but one little word shall fell the enemy. One little word, one little name: Jesus. That name, that word, above all earthly powers. Let goods and kindred go; this mortal life also. God’s truth abideth still; his kingdom is forever.
Psalm 46 says:
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see the works of the Lord,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Here is the definition of the word, ‘Fortress’: a large fort or fortified town; a place or source of refuge or support. Definition of the word, ‘Bulwark’: any protection against external danger, injury, or annoyance. I like the reminder, that the almighty, protecting God who was around in 1 BC, who was around in 1527, is still around and present as ever in 2021.
God abideth with us still.
Even during failure.
Even when you step in gum in the parking lot.
Even when the plans go wrong.
Even when you feel the mountains quaking.
Even when the budget won’t be met.
Even when gray clouds fill the sky, masking the bright yellow sun.
Lord Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, of armies, from age to age the same. And He must win the battle.
So whether the battle is internal, or external, among friends or strangers, or random awkwardness at the line at the grocery store, He can work through it. He’s the one we run to, flinging our shameful inadequacy into his arms when we forget, fail, or falter. “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Psalm 46:5-7).
Maybe today is your mortal ill, your earth giving way, your uproar.
Well for those of us in the audience, we wait. Just keep on singing the chords and remember that even when my blood pressure rises, there’s a stronger one standing beside me. And he must win the battle.
Fear grips the land. Cowardice calls, betrayal beckons, and the Unknown rears its shrouded head before our eyes. Right now -- you are being called out, whether you hear it or not. You get this next moment, this next breath, to cross the shadowed line and bridge the gap of faith.
When in doubt, when you’re on that line and the crowd has drawn back in fear, be the H.E.R.O. — implement a code of Honor, Engagement, Resilience, Ownership.
Honor: The hero serves a greater purpose than self. Move forward in integrity, service, and in honor of others and self. In a quick check, the hero can move from defeat into progress by checking the status of honor. Speak as an honorable person. Treat others with kindness. Honor employs grace and assistance over shame and offense.
Engagement: Engage the situation when intimidation strikes. Forward action initiates confidence. Remember the laws of motion; an object in motion stays in motion. The human brain can perform at high rates of speed, and the more accustomed to movement, the more the brain uses that energy to synthesize solutions. Choices can happen to the hero, or the hero creates the choice.
Resilience: Resilience keeps the hero in the game. Keeping a mindset of overcoming obstacles and hanging in there serves the hero. The abundance of options for action, the abundance of attempts to try again, keep the hero on track when the murky villains have inundated the land. When the protagonist learns how to better navigate obstacles and sees them as the path toward being the hero, then that’s the moment the ordinary human becomes the indelible survivor. Heroes forge ahead, resilient, regardless of the outcome.
Ownership: Ordinary characters become heroes as they recognize their powers, skills, strengths, and weaknesses. The hero plotline demonstrates that every protagonist needs an antagonist; the antagonists teach the heroes who they can be. So maybe it’s best somebody trips you up. In fact, show gratitude for the people who teach you the hardest lessons, for they allow you to become the hero. Own your abilities, improvements, and passions. They make you a unique hero in your ultimate story.
Remember that key verse in 2 Timothy 1:7: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind. Those efforts which intimidate you, beckon you, call you out. These assignments? They’re all a part of you becoming the hero in your story.
Need some great stories to remind you of Whose you are and who you can be? Grab a free copy of Kingdom Come, a non-fictional inspirational workbook to help you engage your inner beast-mode hero.
December 3, 2020 is also the last day to grab the Insurrection series on sale. The Ebook $.99 sale ends at midnight, so act fast to get those at a great price. Click the buttons below to grab them! Share with your friends, and finish the mission!
The last few nights I have had trouble sleeping. Oh, that's an understatement. Since early February I have had trouble sleeping. "Oh a times, they are a changing" (Dylan). In the middle of the night I wake up, writing, shouting, stating my thoughts to the blank void of my bedroom ceiling. I keep thinking, I should be saying SOMETHING. I should be saying something important, something helpful, something encouraging.
So here's a little bit of something, for wherever you are, whatever you are doing, however you may be feeling:
In all the battles I’ve seen, in all the training exercises, and the obstacles I’ve had to climb in my few days on this planet, I’d have to say that day on the beach was one of the most memorable. I hated tugging that ridiculous net along that beach. I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. All of my efforts felt pointless and resistant. With each jerk forward, I made almost no progress.
Anger gurgled in a knot within my ribs. Norita wrenched ahead of me along that beach. He shouldn’t have—he was a weakling who couldn’t even keep his lunch down.
I struggled, sweat dripping down the sides of my face, burning into my eyes, and sliming up my hands so they slipped along the rope, seared. Blisters welled up on my palms, and my back broiled with a fervent, charring ache.
“You gotta pull your own weight, Thompson!” Burkman brought me back. He drew up to my side, hands flailing. He seemed to be everywhere.
“You have to get past those demons! You have to fight them; you have to beat them down. Those voices that tell you to stop, those are wrong. Those voices lie. They steal your victory. Out there be dragons, but in here—” He tapped my chest, “—here lodges your sword and shield. You give up, you’ll never win. You? Give up? That’s not you. You are a victor. You are a success. You have what it takes. Keep going, Thompson. Success isn’t a finish line; success isn’t one moment that makes you great. Success is tackling those obstacles one at a time. Success is dragging this weight until you aren’t supposed to carry it any more. This net is your objective. This finish line, this is where you gotta get. You don’t stop until you get that net across the line. You can’t stop. You won’t stop. You carry that weight. Nobody else can pull it. That’s your weight. Now, you don’t give up. Look around. We need you to cross this line. I don’t care if you do this for us, or for yourself, or if you do this for your mama across the water. Your job, soldier, is to bring this net across this line. You can’t win every challenge. Tucker, you have this moment right here to build up to the moments coming to get you. Tomorrow could be harder. That’s okay. Because you’ll have survived this, right here, right now. Drag that net. Cross the line. The line is all we got.”
Through the tumult of his words, I buried myself in the forward movement. Me versus the sand. Me versus the weight. The weight withheld its grace, but I secured that rope within my hands and grasped with all I had.
That's a little excerpt from HERE BE DRAGONS and it came to me, inspired, and I pray it draws your heart closer to the One who made you, who makes your arms strong, your feet firm, and your heart victorious.
Would you like a free book? Or a couple free books? They are all by clean science fiction and fantasy authors with a Christian worldview.
Here's a link: https://storyoriginapp.com/bundles/97b669dc-1d57-11eb-b2b7-4fc259165361
If you would be interested in purchasing any of my books at a discount of $.99 right now, they are on sale until December 3rd. Here are those links:
Insurrection: A Young Adult Science Fiction Fantasy (Book 1)
Incomplete: A Young Adult Science Fiction Fantasy (Insurrection Book 2)
Indelible: A Young Adult Science Fiction Fantasy (Insurrection Book 3) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07229CDKC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_n7XLFbSCRCXPE
Here Be Dragons
(An Insurrection story/standalone/Book 4)
Earthshine: A Young Adult Science Fiction Fantasy (Insurrection Series/Standalone/ Book 5) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07J5X6FDL/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_C8XLFbDPHFKN8
The winner of the collaboration giveaway was Katy B. from Louisiana, with 2nd Prize as Teresa K from Indiana.
Thank you again, friends, for persevering in this journey with me. May you see miracles around you, may your heart be strong, may you be courageous, and may you act in peace with faith as your guide.
Treasures, islands, stars, curious songs, tesseracts, caves, and hidden fires...all wrapped nicely within a Kindle Paperwhite OR the runner-up prizes as part of the Thanksgiving giveaway a couple Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy writers and I are collaborating on for some amazing readers to win. Read through to the button below to see how you can win bonus entries and guaranteed prizes!
Grand Prize (1 winner): A brand new Kindle Paperwhite loaded with 6 eBooks from bestselling and award-winning authors of speculative fiction with a Christian worldview. ($157.93 Retail)
2nd Prize (1 winner): A Paperback Bundle ($55.15 Retail)
3rd Prize (5 winners): An eBook Bundle ($15.96 Retail)
Update, 11/20/20: One of our authors has decided to sweeten the pot even more with another novel for each main prize level.
Click the button below to get your name in the pot!
Enter once per day until November 26, 2020, aka Thanksgiving. Winners chosen 11/27/20.
After you've entered, be sure to click the confirmation email!
Then you'll receive an email with instructions on how you can earn even more contest entries to increase your odds of winning and lock in secret bonus prizes!
My Insurrection series will also be on sale for $.99 per book from November 26-December 3rd. I will share those links when the sales go live. I don't do a lot of these promo posts, but my fellow authors and I are group-efforting posts to spread the word a bit more. Hope you will hang in there and maybe see if you can find a new book you are needing to read along the way!
Earlier this summer, my daughter was "learning" how to ride a bike. The streets in our neighborhood are wobbly and wonky. She asked me constantly, “Why is my bike tipping over?!” and “Why aren’t the streets smooth?!” And I told her the line I memorized from the first page of my driver’s manual:
Not all roads are straight and flat.
The first time I read that line in the manual, I laughed. Psh. How OBVIOUS. Not all roads are straight and flat.
But then, don’t we expect the roads to be straight and flat? The earth, after all, is not straight and flat, nor is your plotline. Or your heartbeat. If it were, you’d be dead.
Instead, we get wobbly and wonky, and you just have to learn how to navigate the curves.
See, she’s terrified of falling over. She wants to ride her bike “like a big girl” but at the same time she wants the process to be simple and easy.
Life has been moderately easy. Until the last few months. And I think that even in her little world, she’s feeling the shakiness. And in a big way, she became even more aware that falling over hurts. There was a little bump at the end of the driveway – she screamed. “I can’t do it!”
There was a pot hole around the corner. “I’m going to fall down!” she began to panic. She leaned precariously to the opposite side.
“Just put your foot down,” I stated. “Create balance.”
Through the whole ride, she continued to state her failures ahead of time, screamed about her inadequacies, and demanded assistance. At one dip in the road, I even pushed the back of her seat over a bump to show her that going over the bumps was easier if you went faster rather than slower.
When we got back to the house we sat down, eye to eye.
I asked her why she was so afraid of falling down, and she didn’t have an answer.
Sometimes, when you see that life is changing, you just feel anxious. Your awareness of your smallness grows. Even for the littles.
I know I use this verse often, but I find myself repeating it and exploring it with my children. They have many fears and anxieties. So we use this verse as our motto: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
And on that day, beside this fiery little spirit, those words made a little more sense. God built us with strong bodies, strong hearts, and strong spirits. He crafted us to solve problems, enabled our bodies to become stronger and more capable, and gave us humor and hope to rove these wandering roads.
He didn’t put us together as lumps of green goo. He didn’t make us cats, or gnats, or clay blobs. He didn’t make us to sit, afraid, timid, in the dark, crying and stuck.
He specifically asked his disciples, “Why do you have no faith?”
“That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him” (Mark 4:35-41)!
Jesus knew his plans: Morning meet-and-greet with the crowds on the shore. Afternoon boat tour across the lake. Nap. Evening gathering with the local town outcast. Normal day. The disciples follow along, unaware of the bigger picture (relate?) and suddenly they are in the middle of The Life of Pi and wondering where the tiger is. And somehow Jesus is asleep. Jesus knew the storm. He knew who could control the storm, he knew the power of the storm, and even further, he knew his ability to overcome the storm. He knew of different storms on the horizon.
Do you know how capable you are?
Do you know who made you, piece by piece, capable, competent, and purposed?
Before this storm occurred, Jesus had spoken to them. “Consider carefully what you hear,” he added. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them” (Mark 4:34-35).
Many things spread easily.
Smiles, laughter, silliness.
Tension, anger, frustration.
Panic, worry, blame.
Hope, grit, perseverance.
With the measure you use, you will be given more. Are you focusing on the panic, the gripping fear of the unknown, and the uncertainty that you were unaware of before? OR are you focusing on the author of faith? Are you focusing on the Provider, the Guide, the King of all? The first and last, who knows the storms and has prepared you to face them. Or, possibly, he has prepared that storm to face you. Maybe you need to see hope, and darkness is where you will find it.
Because a shadow just means that there is light nearby.
If you act with hope, you will find more hope. If you act with great faith, with unity, with great perseverance, with kindness, with generosity… you may not always see the measure coming back. But it goes out and ripples onward.
And if you act in fear, if you give out panic, and anxiety, and if you give out criticism, and snide remarks, and blame…those make waves, too. Which waves do you want to spread? And what waves do you want to arrive at your feet?
You know what else? Jesus knew what lay beyond the storm. He knew his disciples would continue struggling with understanding. And they reacted similarly – they were even more shook than before. He controls the STORMS?! WHAT.
The tests show you who you are and whose you are. What lays beyond…that’s where you see faith walking on water. It’s not just the storm. It’s the changed life afterwards that shows who you are.
Some of my most anxious thoughts have been about what will happen “after” this pandemic. What will life be like on the other side? This has opened so many wide, broad doors to fear and anxiety. Let’s not go that way. Let’s instead, like Jesus did, stand up and call out that peace which surpasses all understanding. Let’s use our wit, our strong arms, our strong hearts, our strong spirits. “No matter how you move, always rise” (one of my Reebok shirts).
Regardless of what waves arrive, regardless of the road before you--
You are stronger than you know. You are more capable than you imagine. You were built to overcome the storm.
You were built to thrive.
Why are you so afraid?
Not every road is for the strong of heart. Or perhaps it is.
Have you entered the giveaway to win a KindlePaperwhite and lots of encouraging faith in fiction books?
Amy Purdy's caption on one Instagram photo displays a twenty-one year-old girl in a white hospital gown, with a resilient smile on her face. She'd just had both of her legs amputated below the knees. Her words rang true then and they ring true now.
"In fact when I was wheeled into surgery, I gave myself three goals. 1. To never feel sorry for myself. 2. To snowboard that year and 3. When I figured this mess out, I vowed to help others. And I'm proud to say, that I accomplished all of them and ended up going further than I ever could have imagined. I didn't just snowboard, I won a medal in the Olympic/Paralympic Games. I didn't just help others, I have become one of the top requested motivational speakers in the country and started my own organization @adaptiveactionsports. But most importantly... I never ever gave up on myself. No matter what your circumstances are, don't ever give up on yourself. You are important and your contribution to this world and humanity is needed. You can be whatever you want to be. But there isn't anyone who is going to figure it out for you, you have to figure it out for yourself."
Battling meningitis, losing both kidneys, her spleen, and the hearing in her left ear, weighing eighty-three pounds, and at a two percent chance of survival, Amy Purdy proved to be one resilient cupcake. That same year she strapped on her snowboard. Three years later, she earned a bronze medal in the snowboardcross at the Paralympic Winter Games Sochi 2014. She’s continued moving forward, joining the Dancing With The Stars cast in their eighteenth season, which is where I first saw her dance with partner Derek Hough. I rooted for her every step of the way, gasping when she’d whirl around on the floor, and as Derek would toss her around like a graceful puppet. She held her own, all the way to runner-up. I voted for her, I gotta say! She never earned a score less than an 8 during the entire run.
Amy has spoken on TEDx talks and her speech has become the example from which others are advised to learn in order to present their speeches; she also has a New York Times bestselling book. “Borders are where the actual ends, but also where the imagination and the story begins,” Amy said in her TEDx talk. “Instead of looking at our challenges and limitations as something negative or bad, we can begin to look at them as blessings, magnificent gifts that can be used to ignite our imaginations and help us go further than we ever knew we could go.” Other accomplishments? She went on a speaking engagement tour with Oprah Winfrey, drove a pace car in the Daytona 500, and runs Adaptive Action Sports, a company which helps athletes compete in action sports. She had to create her own gear in order to continue snowboarding, and has used that knowledge to help others. She also competed in the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang in 2018, earning a silver medal in snowboardcross and a bronze in banked slalom.
Amy’s TEDx talk asks viewers, “If your life were a book and you were the author, how would you want your story to go?” She said after she left the hospital, she had to let go of the old Amy and embrace the new Amy.
You’ve got to admit, we humans like a good hero story. We like a guy who rises from the ashes. You’ve got some button—some button that engages your fears, your failures, your darkness—and you’ve also got the ability to quell them. The Not Good Enough seeks you to serve you. How will you greet it? How will you create your story? The building action drives those decisions you make. You get every opportunity to be the hero. “There's no need to be perfect to inspire others,” Amy wrote on an Instagram post. “Let people get inspired by how you deal with your imperfections.” Perhaps you’re sitting on the living room floor, staring at your laptop, illuminated in the dark, just like I am. Perhaps your insides have been trembling in fear. We rise. We rise up fearless, borderless, and creative. Perhaps you’ve been training your whole life just for this incredible moment. This new moment where you embrace your new day. “It’s not about breaking down borders. It’s about pushing off of them and seeing what amazing places they might bring us.”
See Amy’s TEDx talk here: http://amypurdy.com/speaker/
Do you like prizes? Well, do I have great news for you. A couple amazing science fiction/fantasy authors and I have collaborated on a neat giveaway so that YOU can win big. Check out the different prizes available. All you have to do is enter the giveaway and share with friends. When you refer friends and they enter, you get more entries to win! Check out this amazing deal:
PRIZES – Total retail value $289.88
Grand Prize (1 winner): A brand new Kindle Paperwhite loaded with 6 eBooks from bestselling and award-winning authors of speculative fiction with a Christian worldview.
A New Kindle Paperwhite – the thinnest, lightest model, now waterproof, with 8 GB of storage, Audible, and Bluetooth
The Treasure of Capric by Brandon M Wilborn, an Amazon Kindle #1 Bestseller
Wolf of The Tesseract by Christopher D Schmitz
Insurrection by Kadee Carder
The Seer by Erin R Howard
Succession by Brett Armstrong
A Star Curiously Rising by Kerry Kietz, winner of the Readers Favorite Gold Medal Award for Christian Science Fiction
2nd Prize (1 winner): A Paperback Bundle
· The Treasure of Capric (The King of The Caves Book 1) by Brandon M Wilborn
· Siren Silence: The Fate of Cpt. Bacchus (A King of The Caves Novella) by Brandon M Wilborn
· Wolf of The Tesseract (Wolves of the Tesseract Book 1) by Christopher D Schmitz
· Through the Darque Gates of Koth (Wolves of the Tesseract Book 2) by Christopher D Schmitz
3rd Prize (5 winners): An eBook Bundle
· The Treasure of Capric (The King of The Caves Book 1) by Brandon M Wilborn
· Siren Silence: The Fate of Cpt. Bacchus (A King of The Caves Novella) by Brandon M Wilborn
· Wolf of The Tesseract (Wolves of the Tesseract Book 1) by Christopher D Schmitz
· Through the Darque Gates of Koth (Wolves of the Tesseract Book 2) by Christopher D Schmitz
Bonus Guaranteed Prizes: Earned through referrals
· 3 referrals = Behind The Scenes audio and visual content from Brett Armstrong and Brandon M Wilborn
· 5 referrals = "The Alliance Military Guard Training Guide", a high intensity workout smuggled from Kadee Carder's Insurrection series.
· 7 referrals = FREE shipping on signed print copies at BrandonWilborn.com
· 9 referrals = A Free Audiobook from Christopher Schmitz
If you're any kind of alive these days, you're probably facing extraordinary changes in your daily life. You'll need a mindset to weather the ups and downs, and find your kingdom come amidst sunshine, pandemic, blessings, and challenges.
Looking for a method to manage the madness?
Looking for some encouragement?
Looking for applicable tools to add to your life skills for handling stress, changes, and new terrain?
Sign up below to get an email every day directly from me to you. Each day in the month of April you will receive encouragement, inspiration, and applicable tools to strengthen your mindset. These emails will provide about a 10 minute read, with a question section at the end to allow you to explore who you are and who you want to be.
This is free, from me to you. It is the content of my book Kingdom Come. So if you want to skip the daily email and just grab the book, you can do that. But if you want a daily little tidbit, drop in below and register now! Emails begin April 1.
Author Krysten Lindsay Hager has shared with me in the past about her amazing stories, and I'm so excited to host her today as her latest book releases.
Kadee asked me to write about my favorite scene in the book and one of my favorites is Cecily at her first magazine photo shoot and she feels totally out of her element. She’s overwhelmed when she hears the magazine people gossiping about a bigger name model also there because she feels like if this model, Scarlett, can’t win them over, then how could she? Then Cecily overhears them questioning if she’s really qualified to be there—something she has already worried about herself.
I think we all go through moments like that with imposter syndrome. It’s not uncommon to feel you don’t belong somewhere or didn’t deserve something even if you’ve worked hard for it. So, having Cecily doubt herself, and then hearing those exact doubts confirmed, is everyone’s nightmare. She goes through panic initially, but after a talk with the other models, Scarlett and Neneh, she keeps going. She fights through her fear and goes on to do the best job she can do and winds up impressing the magazine people because of her acting ability. Pushing through her fear was one thing, but bringing what she could offer to the shoot made the very doubters see how capable she was.
Cecily walked in doubtful, went through fear, but came out better than ever because she stayed professional and learned what she brought to the table. I loved seeing her growth in this scene and also seeing the other models share their difficult times in modeling. You also see the other models’ knowledge of the business side of the industry come out. These other models are playing the long game in terms of business growth and I think that’s inspiring as well. I hope other people will be inspired by Cecily’s journey as they laugh and cry with her.
Krysten also let me ask her some fun questions so we can get to know her better:
Where are you from? What has been your favorite place to live?
I’m from Michigan, but have lived in several different states and even in Europe. I would have to say of my top three favorite places they would be Michigan, Ohio, and Portugal.
You finally have an evening free to spend any way you want. Money is no object. Where do you go? What would you do?
Okay, if money is no object then I’m going shopping! Particularly to a bookstore and someplace with cute stationery products like journals and other fun office stuff. Then home to watch a good movie and finish up the night with a mystery novel.
What do you think your greatest weakness is? (writing or in general)
How much time ya got? I guess I would say tend to get overwhelmed easily.
(LOL! I think we can all relate!)
What do you think is your greatest attribute? (writing or in general)
Being able to cheer people up and make them laugh in their darkest hour.
Do you have any regrets?
I regret not calling people out on bad behavior. I tend to swallow things and worry, what if no one believes me, and just hold it all inside.
Do you have any bad habits?
What has been your greatest adventure to date?
Moving overseas was quite the adventure. We moved to a European island for three years. Thankfully, I decided to finish and submit my thesis the semester before we left since I got to the island, but my computer didn’t get there until four months later! I would have missed my deadline by months had I not made sure to finish it early.
What is your most favorite moment from this book?
I love seeing Cecily get to embark on her acting and modeling dreams and her relationship with the pop star, Andrew, is so sweet. I also enjoy watching him learning the best way to deal with the anxiety he has with his singing career.
What is one takeaway you would like readers to get from this book?
I hope the readers see that it’s important to stay true to yourself. In the book you see how even having your dreams come true—whether it be the dream career or whatever it is that they think will make them feel complete—might not be all that they imagine. Andrew seems like he has the dream life, but he’s dealing with anxiety that’s taking over. Cecily sees these models who look like they have it made and yet they’re dealing with a lot themselves with critics online and in the fashion world. No one has it easy, but with the right foundation you can get through the storms.
About The New Book:
In Over Her Head: Lights, Camera, Anxiety (The Cecily Taylor Series) by Krysten Lindsay Hager
Young Adult Romantic Comedy from Clean Reads
Cecily wants a big life, but can she handle it?
Cecily feels like she has it all: great best friends, the beginnings of a career as a model/actress, and she’s dating her favorite singer, Andrew Holiday. Then Cecily’s best friend Lila begins to ditch her every time Lila’s boyfriend calls. Cecily feels lost, but she and Andrew begin connecting more and she’s never been in a relationship where she felt so understood. Andrew even begins to confide in her about his anxiety. Soon Cecily experiences her own anxiety on a magazine photo shoot, but she manages to impress the magazine staff. Just when it seems like all her dreams are coming true, everything comes crashing down when a photo of Andrew with another girl appears online. He swears nothing happened, but Cecily is crushed. She feels like she’s lost two of the people closest to her.
Was her perfect relationship real or was she in over her head?
“Good luck at the photo shoot tomorrow,” he said. “You’ll be great.”
I stared out the window on the ride back to the hotel taking in all the sites. As I walked into the hotel, I felt a new air of confidence. Instead of just reading about someone going out with a pop star to some fabulous rooftop hotel restaurant and being in the big city, I was living it. This was my life and not some YA book heroine’s. Tomorrow I was off on a modeling shoot. I was living a dream and proving how I was ready for a big life. This was my destiny. I could do this.
My alarm went off and at the same time an alarm went off in my brain saying, no, I could not do this. What was I thinking? Me, model? That’s where people take photos of you for the sole purpose of other people looking at them, which encouraged judgement and evil comments. People don’t just keep those comments to themselves anymore. Oh no, they grab their phone or laptop or whatever device helps them spew out unhelpful and cruel comments on people’s appearances online for all the world to see.
My stomach felt like spewing all over the nice hotel sheets I was wrapped in. Why did I ever think I was up for this? Those strangers online would destroy me within seconds. Girls like Harlow who were born with an undeniable beauty could do stuff like this and even then, I had seen strangers criticize her online when she posted selfies.
Being anxious always made all my senses go nuts. I ate two slices of toast and then my stomach did a weird flipping thing. Oh no, not today. Looking over at the clock I realized it was almost time for us to leave. Come on, stomach. You’re fine. Just relax and…nope, time to hit the bathroom. Why can’t I just be a big girl and go to this stupid shoot which most girls would kill to do without my stomach freaking out?
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07VRYS65N/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07VRYS65N
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07VRYS65N
Amazon Japan: https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B07VRYS65N
Amazon IN: https://www.amazon.in/dp/B07VRYS65N
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Krysten+Lindsay+Hager
Book Depository: https://bit.ly/2ZuKQun
Book One: https://www.amazon.com/Dreams-Come-True-Cecily-Taylor-ebook/dp/B079S3KJSH
Author Bio: Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends...Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, Competing with the Star, Dating the It Guy, and Can Dreams Come True. True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book and the Dayton Book Expo Bestseller Award for children/teens. Best Friends…Forever won the Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal. Competing with the Star is a Readers' Favorite Book Award Finalist. Landry in Like is a Literary Classics Gold Medal recipient.
Krysten's work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News and on Living Dayton.
Check out Krysten's other award-winning work!
It's release day for my friend B.W. Morris! The third book in his YA Sci Fi "Six Pack" series drops on Amazon today, and B.W. stopped by to visit with us to share his favorite part of this new book, UPRISING:
In the first two books of the Six Pack series, my characters didn’t get much time to enjoy themselves. They spent their time in hiding, in danger, in stressful situations. Whenever they got the chance to just sit around and chat, it wasn’t what you would call a time to relax.
That changed when I included a scene in my third book, Six Pack: Uprising, which featured my young characters going through a commencement ceremony. This scene was probably my favorite one to write. They got to dress up in fancy clothes, they had a wonderful meal, enjoyed music (minor spoiler: two of my young heroes got to share their musical talents) and simply had the chance to enjoy each other’s company in a pleasant setting.
I think back to The Hunger Games series and how those books partly inspired my writing. What I appreciated the most about Suzanne Collins’ writing was how she built tension. However, I also liked the scene in her third book, Mockingjay, in which Finnick and Annie get married. Though Mockingjay is a book in which Collins puts her characters through a lot of difficult, stressful situations, I appreciated that she added at least one scene in which there was joy, a cause for celebration.
I thought it was important to have a similar scene in my Six Pack series. Though I don’t go quite as dark as Collins goes, I’m not exactly being gentle with my characters. I think all characters deserve to have a moment in which they can experience simple joys of life, rather than going through one stressful or dangerous situation to the next.
This entire series has been a labor of love and made me appreciate what authors go through. Though I’ve spent many years as a writer, I never experienced what it was like to be an author. But I’ve found the journey rewarding.
And the way I wrote reminded me that, while we all go through a lot of stressful situations in life, there are always the moments in which we get to experience joy and times of celebration.
It’s easy for an author to think your characters must always be put through the worst – but, once in a while, it’s OK to have them enjoy the best.
Six Pack: Uprising Available Now!
Though the Underground Network has lost a lot, its leaders believe there may be ways to bring down President Douglas Irons and the Novusordo government. Tyler Ward and his friends are more determined than ever to take action and break the control the president has over the citizens.
But more must be answered than how they will accomplish their objectives, even with the superpowers they have. They must ask themselves who they can trust — even within the Network’s ranks. They must ask themselves who might become new allies — even if they work for the government. Most of all, they must ask themselves how much they are willing to sacrifice — even if it means self-sacrifice.
The Six Pack Series:
It all started with a drink – a drink that gave Tyler Ward and five of his friends superpowers. Now they must figure out how their new powers can change society.
But who can they trust?
Who has their best interests in mind and who has a bigger agenda?
And what cost comes with change?
The young adult, science fiction/dystopian series is published by Clean Reads.
B.W. Morris is a longtime writer for small-town newspapers who put his inner comic book geek to work through writing novels. He has published two books in the Six Pack series with the third to be released soon, and has written the Arrowverse Elseworld, which you may read at his website at bwmorrisauthor.com. Born in Texas but grew up in Colorado, he has lived in New Mexico, Oklahoma and currently resides in Kingman, Kansas.
Greg Weisman, Suzanne Collins, Stan Lee, George Orwell and Conor Friedersdorf all influenced his writing. Morris is a fan of the Young Justice animated series, the Arrowverse shows on the CW Network, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Star Wars films and more graphic novels than he can keep track. He volunteers his time for the Kingman County Humane Society.
Follow B.W. Morris on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sixpackwriter
Visit his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bwmorrisauthor/
Stop by his website: bwmorrisauthor.com
Email him with questions about his work at firstname.lastname@example.org.
People usually go to the gym for fitness rather than therapy. For me, it was the place to lift heavy weights and lift the anxiety pressing upon my spirit. The gym was my therapy. Body Combat, the treadmill, the weight rack, they stood ready to greet me every day with open arms. While my heart broke from dreams slowly shattering before me, my arms and mind grew stronger. The gym became my release, my freedom, my success. While I couldn’t convince the world to buy my stories, I could convince my fists to grip those heavy weights and defy gravity.
In November 2018 I took brave steps and became certified in BodyFlow, a LesMills program of yoga, tai chi, and pilates. As I taught classes, I realized that people come to the gym for strength building rather than therapy. There are a few special people who come specifically for Flow, for stretching, for relaxing, but most want the sweat and then head to work. So I noticed that one of my favorite programs, which had made a big difference in my Monday routine, called CX Worx, lasted half an hour rather than the hour that most other programs do, and I noticed how I felt when I missed it. CX works the core from the knees to the neck. The other trainer at the gym, Connie, who had encouraged and mentored me throughout my Flow training, mentioned I should use CX as part of my training for fitness, and to give CX certification a shot.
I recalled Flow training, where one of the girls attending had stated that she had first been certified in CX because after she’d had her first baby, she knew her core would need the most work. She used the program to repair the problem. And maybe this is obvious. And maybe I had been saying this to myself all along since I was a kid – I knew that as an adult female I would have to work very hard to have a strong core and not have an ongoing-looking baby bump. Lower abs, mommas. You feel me. And then something clicked. Use the program as a tool. The more I taught Flow, the more I saw lasting results in myself. Maybe I could offer that to myself and others with CX.
However, when I looked at Les Mills training times for CX, there was only one offered in Texas in 2019, in Houston (about an eight-hour drive), and it was in the middle of February, when my hubs would be in a community theatre show. Can’t do it.
So the next Monday during CX, I yanked that band and I tugged at the weights and my heart did flip flops. Connie’s bright smile through it all inspired me. I said a prayer: God, if you want me to teach this too, then make it available. I’ll show up here and do what I can, but if you want this to go further, show me what to do.
Five or so days passed. On a whim I checked the Les Mills training calendar again. There, like a shining star, stood one new training date, April 27th, in Austin. Two hours away.
A couple weeks continued by, as I repeated to myself that I would not stress about the New Things To Come. Everything in its time; what will be, will be, you know. Then Connie announced she was pregnant! Ah! Yay, so exciting. And then I realized: I’m going to have to sub! Ah! Finding myself a copy of a CX works training video so I could begin to shadow her in class, I explored the first couple tracks and had to pause the video. WHAT HAVE I DONE. Connie’s class is not like this! This is mega intense! I said to myself. Hands on hips, I inhaled. Sweat poured down my temples. Gulping down some water, I perched on the edge of the bathtub. Quiet. Heart pounding. This is hard.
And then a small voice said, You’d get bored if it were easy.
Here we are. Four weeks away.
I went through the video again this morning, recognizing my weakness, demarcating my resolve. I may not be good enough. But I’ll show up.
I have to be able to do a three to five minute hover, also called a plank.
I can’t do it yet, but I will show up and work for it.
As the trainer on the video stated: Fitness isn’t about perfection, it is about progress.
So we progress. I hope you will progress with me. What goals are you working for? If it were easy, it would get boring. Let’s make new moves, and voyage into what was truly meant to be. And soon, people will come to my classes for fitness, clarity, and therapy. I will be strong so others can be strong. Let the games begin.
HEY AUDIOBOOK FANS!
From childhood they were bred as warriors. They win. They defeat. Now Tucker Thompson has been sent to shut them down, with or without a fight. Thunder rolls through the Australian Outback as Thompson faces an enemy wielding fire, ripping through chains, and showing no mercy for the human spirit.
While Thompson has no memory of Australia, he spent six years there. Now as a sergeant in the Alliance Military Guard, he dominates on the field, but doesn’t always know why. Even with strikes on his record, his abilities as a loyal soldier are an incredible asset, but convincing the Army Ranger team led by the feisty Captain Cheri Skye proves to be an entirely different kind of battle.
When the Guard’s motives come into question with a global audience watching, Tucker is left wondering what exactly he’s fighting for and how he will lead his crew into the Outback to chase the shadows of his past.
Fans of Madeleine L'Engle, Marie Lu, James Dashner, Suzanne Collins, Marissa Meyer, and the Netflix Original Series' "Stranger Things" would enjoy this young adult science fiction action adventure. NOW AVAILABLE ON AUDIOBOOK, HERE BE DRAGONS will get your heart pumping and your imagination thumping!
and download your own exciting copy of HERE BE DRAGONS now!
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