What’s holding you back?

I have an assignment for you today.

Don’t worry. I won’t be collecting papers or giving out grades. This is an open book, self-guided assignment. 

Think back over the last 24-72 hours of your life. Longer, if you’d like.

What have you been watching? What have you been listening to? What have you been scrolling through on your phone or computer?

Gutter in, gutter out, is the old adage. Whatever your mind is focused on, whatever you spend the most time ruminating about, those things are the things that will drive much of your emotion, intellect, and mental well-being. 

Personally, I’ve been especially convicted lately about how I spend my time and what my mind is consuming. I have realized anew that I have a problem with media consumption as I have work to  finish edits to a new novel over these last few weeks. Now, since I have a full time day job as a  nurse working on a COVID-19 pulmonary unit at the highest acuity hospital in the state, some of the delays and self-disappointment in progress are to be expected. But honestly, whether working on a novel or not, I waste a lot of time scrolling through social media that just plain doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of eternity.

Now more than ever, the world needs hope. Now more than ever the world needs you and your kindness, your love, and your gifts. As such, it makes sense that the unseen powers and principalities (Ephesians 6:12) are fighting for your—for our—attention. It makes sense that situations in and out of our control are distracting us from our passion and calling. It makes sense that if we want to make a difference, we are feeling like that’s an insurmountable, worthless goal that we’d just as soon give up on. 

But don’t you do it.

Don’t you give up. 

People may say we’re crazy. The odds of us succeeding may seem impossible. The world may mock our goals and dreams. People in our own families may think we’ve gone rogue and don’t understand our callings. 

Do it anyway. 

2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.”

Ephesians 3:20 says the Lord is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think…

…if only we focus our hearts on Him.

Dear friends, the Lord has planted you where you are for a reason, especially for such a time as this. Shove aside the things that are distracting you, even if it means keeping the TV off for days or weeks, removing apps from your phone, or adding apps that encourage you to immerse yourself in the Word. 

The seasons are changing, the world is changing, but the Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If you’re feeling unsettled and unsure, check your thought life. I know I am. Our good, good Father has extraordinary  plans for each of us, if only we would focus on Him.

Violated.

I did everything I was supposed to do. 

That was my heart cry when everyone–despite being fully vaccinated–came down with COVID in our home. Everyone, that is, except for me.

I’m a nurse. I know how to protect myself. I know how to protect my family. So why did they all get sick, despite everything we all did right? 

I cleaned so much during the three week rampage my fingernails separated half way down the beds. I felt violated. I felt afraid. I was a basket case. 

Now, everyone has recovered well. No one was hospitalized. Some have a lingering cough and fatigue. Overall, we have much to be thankful for in comparison to others who have been forced to take this journey of battling COVID-19. But this isn’t a post about vaccines. It’s not about masks or mandates. It’s not about sheltering in place or six feet of separation. 

This is a post about feeling helpless against an unseen enemy. 

Isn’t that how we’ve all felt since early 2020, that we are running from an invisible terror, wondering if and when the indiscriminate monster is going to find us or our family members? We play and re-play the worst scenarios in our minds of hospitalization and even death. (Note: this imagining is much worse when you are a nurse on the front lines of the pandemic.) 

Truth be told, none of us asked for this or any other season of hurt. None of us are guaranteed another day on this earth. This is just how it is to live in a broken world, where the unseen enemy prowls like a lion waiting to devour. The pandemic has just made the reality of our mortality more pronounced.

But God is all about stepping into the broken places with us.

In my novel Before I Saw You (on sale all this month on all e-book platforms), protagonist Jaycee Givens didn’t ask to be surrounded by the horrors of the opioid epidemic. She didn’t ask for an unexpected pregnancy. But with the help of friends like Sudie, her friends at the coffee shop, kind health care workers and others, she was able to see God in the midst of her overwhelming fear and loss. 

I’m guessing there is a Sudie in your life, or a coffee shop-like place where you can go and know you are not alone. Maybe it’s your church. Maybe it’s a friend at work. Maybe it’s a neighbor. Maybe it’s an old, faithful dog who presses the curve of his back against you as he sleeps. Maybe, as I discovered while taking a simple nature walk around our little back yard last week, it’s in the simple wonders of creation.

Goodness and God are all around us, in the midst of our pain, in the midst of our fear, in the midst of our shame, in the midst of our losses, even in the midst of this pandemic. 

May He bless you and bring you peace, dear friends. 

Don’t forget to please take my reader survey! I’m working hard writing new stories of hope for your heart, and as such I want to know what YOU like best about my books, to make the next ones even better! Click the image below to take the short survey!

Who’s the best? YOU ARE! Announcing my 2021 reader survey!

If the last year and a half has done anything, it’s caused many of us to take stock of our past, present and future.

I’m thrilled to say I’m working on several new manuscripts. However, I’m also wondering as I write: what do my dear readers really like?

What about my novels makes you smile? Sigh? Cry? Pass it on to a friend?

What about my novels makes (or doesn’t) you want to read more (or not)?

How can I better my craft? My plotting? My ability to connect to readers—to YOU?

Since I am somewhat of an anomaly, with half my brain in the scientific world of medicine and the other half in art, I decided to draw upon the left side of my brain and create a reader survey. Any legitimate statistician would likely argue that it is lacking in all sorts of statistically accurate methodology, but I figure it’s a start.

I’d be so ever grateful if you’d take a few minutes to participate in this survey. As a woefully insufficient thank you, you can leave your name at the end for a chance to win a bookish prize package. Otherwise, just know that above all else in this writing journey, I appreciate you.

A story is not a story until someone reads it, after all.

Click here or on the image below to go directly to the survey. I’ll leave it up for awhile, so come back later if you don’t have time now.

And thank you.

I hope and pray I can write more stories, especially of the sort you are hoping to read.

%d bloggers like this: