It started with the ash trees…a song and story of my heart, and book giveaway!

It started with the ash trees, the inspiration behind my new novel Before I Saw You. The bare branches of hundreds of dying ash trees in Indiana stuck out against the lush green of the rest of landscape, and the sight broke my heart.

If the emerald ash borer beetles haven’t reached your state yet, count it a blessing.

Researchers aren’t positive, but they suspect a barge carrying international cargo with bug-infested pallets inadvertently introduced the emerald ash borer to North America several years back. At first, the bugs claimed acres of trees in Michigan. But soon, the damage extended exponentially. The toll on the ash trees was quick and devastating and continues still today.

Some say ash trees will eventually become extinct in North America, but I hope they are wrong. Scientists are beginning to discover treatments to combat the insects, and the ash tree in our front yard is one example of their success.

So what does my heartbreak over ash trees have to do with a story about a young woman and an unexpected pregnancy, set against the backdrop of the opioid epidemic in Southern Indiana?

Click here to find out this and more in the rest of this blog post over at Tricia Goyer’s place!

On the Opioid Crisis and the Church: A National Emergency for Us All*

* Full article published in More to Life Magazine.


Tracy* sat on the bed in front of me, her eyes wild and darting around the room. She looked a mess, her long dark hair in dingy kinks and knots. Sunken brown eyes and a pock-marked face made her look more like forty than the twenty-something she was.

Most disturbing of all was the way she twisted and squirmed in the bed, as if fighting invisible cords threatening to tie her down.

Indeed, she was fighting something.

Before she was admitted to the hospital unit where I work, Tracy had been using over $1,000 a week of heroin, and ways she told us she’d been paying for it were unspeakable. As nurses, physicians and therapists, we were helpless in the fight to keep her pain manageable, not to mention treat the raging infection that caused her admission in the first place.

One might assume Tracy’s condition extreme, but hospitals are overflowing with opioid addicts like her whose hearts—literally and figuratively—are being destroyed.

Occasionally, we hear about stories like hers in the news. We catch a headline about a dozen people overdosing outside a local shelter. The evening news reports yet another city adopting a needle exchange program because if communities can’t control the drug use, maybe they can at least save an addict from contracting Hepatitis C or HIV or both.

What we don’t hear about so much is where the church is in the midst of the opioid crisis...click here to read the full story in More to Life Magazine.


On motherhood: When God calls us to the river

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When I first felt God nudging me to write a contemporary story about Jochebed, Moses’ birth mother, I could not have felt more unqualified.

I’ve never given up a child.

I have no experience with crisis pregnancy or adoption or birth mothers.

Though none of my novels have been easy to write, more than ever I felt just like Moses must have when he pleaded with the Lord in Exodus 4:10:

“O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled” (NLT).

Still, the story would not leave my mind.

I knew I had to write it.

I researched birth mothers and read blogs and books they have written. I visited adoption agencies. I talked to adoptive mothers. I read books about crisis pregnancy. Much of what went into Before I Saw You is the result of this research.

However, the heart of Before I Saw You emerged when I realized I had more in common with Jochebed than I originally thought…

click here to read the rest of this blog post, over at Tyndale House Publisher’s Crazy For Fiction site.

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