Today I'm so excited to have my sweet friend, Allison, on my blog!
I had the pleasure of mentoring Allison and watching her grow into an even more talented writer.
We even had the pleasure of meeting each other in person, my highlight of 2017! <3
When I first read this poem by Allison, I literally had chills running down my arms. It resonated with me so greatly! This poem, it sums up my entire vision for my writing life. The goals I strive towards with this blog.
"Do you see Jesus living in me?"
It's a question we should ask ourselves every day. Are we shining the light of Christ for the world to see?What do others see when they look at us? Or more accurately... WHO do they see?
Without further ado....
If I asked you to define me,
Would you see what is inside me?
Would you say I’m just a shy girl,
Or a writer,
Or just another face in the pew?
Would you see Who is living inside me?
Would you say I’m the girl who laughs,
Or has that cute dog,
Or has the braided hair?
Would you say I’m kind,
Or call me special?
Would you see what really should define me?
Would you see Jesus in me?
If you asked me to define you,
Would I see what is inside you?
Would I call you the girl in the nerdy T-shirt,
Or the boy who always cracks jokes,
Or the girl with the freckled nose?
Would I see Who is living inside you?
Would I call you the artist,
Or the boy who plays the drums,
Or that girl in the corner?
Would I say you are sweet,
Or a hard-worker?
Would I see what really should define you?
Would I see Jesus living in you?
When we look at each other,
What do we see?
Do you see Jesus, living in me?
If you looked at my life,
Would you see my Savior,
Would you see Jesus in me?
Does my life look like a light in the darkness,
Or does it just look like words on a page?
Does my life look like a burning fire,
Or just like another smiling face?
Does my life look like salt to the earth,
Or just another face in a sea of the lost?
I don’t want to be defined as kind,
I don’t want to be known as a writer,
I don’t want to be the girl who makes everyone laugh,
Or the one with the cute blog.
I want to be the girl who stands up for Jesus,
Even when it’s hard.
The girl who loves as Jesus loved,
A young woman who gives it all.
When you look at me,
What do you see?
Do you see Jesus living in me?
Did you enjoy Allison's poem? Leave her a comment below! <3
Until next week, friends, let's keep shining our lights for Christ!
Looking to buy books with your Christmas money? Honestly, who isn’t?!
All of my paperback books only $10.00 each!
I have a few copies of each that are looking for wonderful homes! ;)
Drop a comment below if you’re interested!!!
This is the perfect time to snag those remaining copies to finish off the trilogy! Or for gifts! Or gifts to yourself, haha! ;)
Hope you are having a blessed day, friends! <3
***(Shipping costs around $2.60 for one book, $4 for two, and $6 for all three)
My writings have always been geared toward adults and young adults. But a few months ago I got to thinking...
Wouldn't it be neat to have a story for the children and toddlers of my reader fans?!
And that brings us to today...
ABOUT A NEW BOOK.
These last few months, I've been working hard on a new adventure. And this time it's for children!!
15 delightful illustrations follow the journey of a caring brother and sweet little sister as they embark on an adventure to the neighbor's farm.
They come across messy pigs, silly old goats, beautiful horses (and a pesky pony!) and so many more fun animals!
It's an adventure with humor and fun education!
STAY TUNED, friends!! Because I'll soon tell you how YOU can have a chance to read "A Visit to Oaklenbrooke Farm" to your little one, before ANYONE ELSE.
Would you like to see a sneak peek? Let me know in the comments!
I might be able to put a little something together. ;)
Until next time, friends, let's keeping letting our lights shine for Christ!
Okay, I don't know about "biggest" but that title was fun to write. ;)
I've teamed up with some AMAZING authors to bring you one of the most AMAZING giveaways this year! (See if you can spy any books by yours truly!)
BUT, there's only ONE MORE DAY TO ENTER!!! This giveaway ends tomorrow at midnight!!
Click HERE for more information about the authors and their books!!
Or HERE to enter the giveaway!
Until next time friends, let's keep letting our lights shine for Him! <3
“4 reasons I don’t like Thanksgiving.”
Five words you will NEVER hear me say.
(five, because one was a number. For those of you who thought I had trouble with math. I do, but that’s beside the point).
Thanksgiving and Christmas win the contest for being my top favorite holidays of the year. (And trust me, you’ll get an entire Christmas email closer to the day!)
Yesterday we celebrated a day full of food, family, and fun. We set apart time to think extra hard about what we were thankful for.
I enjoyed reading posts by friends and family yesterday! I especially appreciated a certain post I read....
As one friend put it:
“I didn't sleep under a bridge last night
I'm not headed to the funeral home to make arrangements for a loved one.
I'm not sitting at the Pediatric Cancer ward of Scottish Rite Hospital where my child lays in a bed with no hair and dark rings around their eyes from Chemotherapy.
I'm not headed over to the prison to talk to my child or spouse through a glass.
My spouse is not laying in an ICU bed with wires hooked up to her, breathing with a Ventilator.
I will not be scrounging through a dumpster to find my Thanksgiving meal.
I am not out searching the streets for my child who is a meth addict.
I'm not standing in ruins where a Hurricane destroyed my home and town.
No bombs or gunfire in the streets woke me up from my sleep last night.
A state patrol officer did not come to my door last night with bad news.
My phone did not ring at 3am with more bad news.
Our doctor did not come into a room with the results of an MRI with even MORE bad news!
I'm not sitting in a wheel chair typing this.
I am NOT a sad person who knows nothing about the love, joy, grace and hope that comes with having a true, wonderful, joyful relationship with Jesus Christ!
Hmmmm.....yeah.....I'm sure of it....I am blessed....and I have MUCH to be thankful for today, and everyday.”
That was well said. Because we DO have a lot to be thankful for!
Being thankful for one day a year is great and all, but the heart of gratitude we all had yesterday? It should be the heart we have all year around.
Which, trust me, I know, it can be tough.
As most of you know, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness last month. I have a lot of reasons to complain lately. Almost constant nausea, daily headaches, fatigue, body aches, countless appointments, needles and tests. I could go on.
But instead of grumbling, instead of complaining, (which only makes matters worse!) how much better is it to have a heart of thanksgiving?
I have hundreds of reasons to be thankful. Even amidst the health issues, even reasons I’m thankful BECAUSE of it.
I can be thankful that:
Is it always easy to have a thankful heart? No. I wish it was, but it isn’t. I think God knew that. He knew it wasn’t our natural tendency to be joyful and thankful all the time. That’s why He reminds us over and over and over again to be thankful. That’s why there are countless Psalms on “giving thanks to the Lord.”
I’ve compiled a few of my favorite verses below:
"Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever." (1 Chronicles 16:34)
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." (Colossians 3:15)
"Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name." (Psalm 100:4)
"Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever." (Psalm 106:1)
3 Tips for Cultivating a Thankful Heart
Lastly, I want to leave you with one of my favorite short videos. It's Christmas (but then again, Thanksgiving is over so we can all start singing Christmas songs now, right?) but it's so neat and gives us a great perspective that everything is a gift! WE HAVE SO MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR!
Did you have a good Thanksgiving yesterday? What was your favorite part?
I saw a neat post asking people to list one negative thing they're thankful for this year. Let me know in the comments what yours is! What is one hard, negative, thing that you're thankful for? What is it teaching you?
Until next time, friends! Let's keep our lights shining for Christ. <3
Today I'm SO EXCITED to be joining in the blog tour for Tessa Emily Hall's upcoming release "Fallen Leaves." (Isn't that cover AMAZING, y'all?!?!?!)
I had the immense pleasure of reading this precious story several weeks ago!
I had fun learning about the behind the scenes aspects in her guest post, and have been dying to share it with you! So, without further ado....
I had high expectations for the cover of FALLEN LEAVES.
Nailing the perfect book cover is important because the cover is often the first impression that book will make with readers. I tend to go into the cover design process excited, but a little apprehensive as well. Because as a traditionally published author, the final product isn’t going to be in my hands. The publisher will have the final say. And the publisher’s job is to sell the story, not necessary to adhere to the author’s vision.
So I was a bit apprehensive, as always … because I knew the cover had to be perfect. FALLEN LEAVES is the second book in the series, and I absolutely loved the cover of its preceding book (PURPLE MOON). Plus, the story has an artsy feel to it. It wouldn’t be right if the book didn’t capture this!
At LPC Books (my publisher), authors are asked to fill out a cover design form once they’ve contracted their book. This cover design form will then be sent to the cover designer when it comes time to design the cover. On this cover form, I was asked to answer various questions, such as, What is the tone of the novel? What is the theme? Where does the story take place? What is one mood/emotion you’d like to invoke in the reader?
For that last question, I included the words longing, poignant, and intrigue.
Longing because Selena (my main character) is searching for her dad and brother. She dreams of reuniting with the rest of her family.
Poignant because, although Selena is grateful for this new season of her life, she is still heartbroken over the years that her family have lost.
And intrigue because there’s somewhat of a mystery involved in the storyline.
The cover designer didn’t read any of the scenes in my book, including the scene when Selena is in a park. Near a tree that is basked in autumn’s glory. She didn’t know that this scene is one of the most pivotal scenes in the entire book. (In fact, a snippet of it is even included in the prologue!) She wasn’t aware that the mood of this scene is serene (which is reflected in the cover model’s expression).
All of this is why I was in complete awe when the designer sent me this cover. My mouth dropped, and I was probably speechless for a moment as I took in every detail of this beautiful cover.
Because the designer captured it all--the artsy feel. The longing. It’s even coherent with the previous book in the series as well.
My fears were put to rest because the cover completely surpassed my expectations.
Now, when the time comes to design my next fiction cover, I’ll probably be apprehensive once again--yet it won’t be due to fear, but because the standards have been raised so high thanks to this cover!
What do you think about the cover? Let me know in the comments!
CONNECT WITH TESSA!
Tessa Emily Hall writes inspirational yet authentic books for teens show them they’re not alone—and because she remembers the teen life like it was yesterday (or a few years ago). In addition to being a frequent contributor to both online and print publications, her debut novel was published while still in her teens. She's the founder and editor-in-chief of PursueMagazine.net, a Christian teen magazine, and enjoys mentoring other young writers. She’s guilty of making way too many lattes and never finishing her to-read list. Tessa’s favorite way to procrastinate is by connecting with readers on her blog, mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website: www.tessaemilyhall.com.
Author website www.tessaemilyhall.com
Mailing list http://blogspot.us5.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=977607b9c01d013131aa90636&id=9e2fabd0ed
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!
This quote was really encouraging to me this morning.
It reminded me of the scripture in Ephesians that says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”
Sometimes we wonder why God causes the brokenness upon our lives. Sometimes we ask ourselves, “what good can come of this?”
The death of a family member, health issues, a discouraging diagnosis.
I’m coming to realize that beauty is sometimes not the outward presentation that we often think it is, but the bright reward at the end of a darker journey.
And trusting that God will use the broken pieces to create something beautiful at the end.
My favorite analogy of all time is still the one of an author crafting his story.
With care, the author created the characters and placed them in the story, knowing full-well that pain would soon be set upon the main character’s path.
When the time came to write the scene, it pained him deeply. This character was so dear to him. How could he cause such turmoil to come her way?
But he did it anyway, because it was necessary in order to continue on with the story. He had the entire plot written out, and he knew this was a necessary step in order to reach the end.
He did it anyway, because he knew her character arc needed this in order to change. In order for her to be different in the end.
In the same way, the Author of our lives brings trials and suffering upon us.
Because it’s necessary in order to continue on into the next chapter of our life.
It’s necessary so that we might change. So that we might come out of this so much more stunning and beautiful of a masterpiece then how we started.
He does it, because He loves us. Because as the Author, He alone knows the entire plot of our lives.
And He alone knows that this brokenness...is just what He needs to create His masterpiece.
Tessa Emily Hall writes beautiful fiction for teens and young adults. Imagine taking Karen Kingsbury and turning it into YA! It’s not just a journey of another character, but a journey that will change your life.
Fallen Leaves releases in just five days!
I hope you’ll consider purchasing a copy of this beautiful book!
Until next time friends, let's keep letting our lights shine for Christ! <3
“Have you ever noticed that it seems SO MANY WRITERS have health problems?” My sister observed. “Maybe you got into the wrong profession. You better change hobbies, and fast!”
Well, that was almost two months ago. Just a couple of weeks before I ended up at the hospital.
A lot has happened in this whirlwind of weeks. And I thought it was time I updated you all.
After having almost every organ in my body scanned, plus several tests, doctors’ appointments, hospital visits, needles, and research, I was finally diagnosed with POTS.
POTS stands for, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, and it causes so many different symptoms. Such a wide variety, that it’s hard to be diagnosed. But I was. And we’re finally getting answers.
Each day is different. Bringing with it its own set of ups and downs. It’s during times like these that you truly start to live in the moment. Allowing yourself to think about tomorrow today, as Winnie-the-Pooh says, “is too many today's.”
People have been so kind. The sweet cards from fellow writers, the encouraging words from friends. All the prayers.
I appreciate them all so much. And I appreciate YOU dear reader, for having patience with me as I catch up on my blogging duties.
I’m back now, because in typical writerly-fashion, I need to write in order to process everything going on.
I hope my ramblings in the coming days will be an encouragement to you. As I write about trusting God through the trials, having patience during the wait, and learning to say as Job did, “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.”
And I’ll go ahead and say right now, that these future posts are more like letters to myself. As I write down the reminders that are so needed right now. But I hope that through them, you might find a bit of comfort during your own trials.
Are you struggling with any health issues right now? Would you mind commenting below or sending me an email through the Contact Me page, so I can be praying for you?
Until next week, friend, let’s keep shining our lights for Christ. Together. <3
PS. Lots of you entered to win a signed copy of COFFEE SHOP DEVOS by Tessa Emily Hall. I just wanted to update you and let you know that I'll be announcing the winner next week!! So stay tuned!
The Importance of Spending Time With God
(Guest post by the author)
As a teacher, one thing I love about summer is the freedom to go on lunch dates with my friends. I enjoy trying new places and new foods. I look forward to spending time with the people I love. Needless to say, it can be a little disappointing when one of us has to cancel unexpectedly. Knowing how this makes me feel, I often wonder how God feels when we neglect to spend time with Him. I’ve been guilty of silently making the decision to spend more time with God and not following through.
We were created for relationships and just as the other relationships in our lives require our attention, so does our relationship with God. In fact, your relationship with God is the most important relationship in your life. And it starts with transparency. If you truly desire a more intimate relationship with God, be honest with Him. Be honest about where you are right now, anything you may be struggling with, your desires, etc. He longs to hear from you, no matter how far away you’ve gotten.
Not only does a real relationship require honesty, it also requires consistency. Seeking God on a daily basis increases your desire for Him as well as your understanding of His character. Through this relationship, God provides peace, joy, wisdom and contentment.
If you’re having a hard time making the commitment to seek God, I encourage you to start with prayer. Before you even unlock your phone, begin your day by communicating with God. Let Him know you’re thankful. Talk to Him throughout the day and be intentional about guarding your heart. Incorporate worship music and God’s Word in your quiet time. It gives you fresh perspective and clarity at the start of your day.
Make your time with God a priority. Just as you look forward to meeting with friends, God longs to meet with you as well. He is our source; the only one that can fulfill our every need. We were created to do life with Him. And apart from Him we simply wouldn’t thrive. Just as a beautiful flower must stay connected to its roots, we must also remain connected to our Father. He desires to spend time with you. Will you let Him in?
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”
John 15:4 NLT
Jheralynne is a 23-year-old from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She is a recent graduate from the University of Alabama where she studied Early Childhood Education and English. Jheralynne serves at her church and is also a small group leader. She has been a Christian since a very young age, but it wasn't until she got older that she realized her worth in Jesus Christ and truly began to know Him on a much deeper level.
About the Book:
No matter what your background is, what type of experiences you’ve had, or what mistakes you’ve made, your life is of significance. And regardless of what you may have grown to believe, God created you with a specific purpose in mind. Chosen For Such a Time as This was written to encourage and inspire single women, however, it addresses the issues that many women face today, no matter what their marital status is. This book places great emphasis on the truth that the most valuable relationship you can have is with our Creator. Through that relationship, we are made whole. This life is a journey that comes with blessings, frustrations, laughter and tears. Whether you are married or single, wholeness and contentment in Christ is essential. Despite the season you find yourself in, God has a plan for your life. And He can use you right where you are.
Check out her blog!
Check out Chosen on Amazon!
Enter the giveaway!
If you enjoy historical fiction, chances are you've heard of Sarah Sundin. And if you haven't, you're in for a real treat!
Keep reading to enjoy a bit of Sundin's delightful humor, amazing writing advice, and her short-term imaginary friend (poor thing!)
Sarah Sundin is the best-selling author of ten historical novels, including The Sea Before Us. Her novels When Tides Turn and Through Waters Deep were named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years,” and Through Waters Deep was a finalist for the 2016 Carol Award and won the INSPY Award. A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school. She also enjoys speaking for church, community, and writers’ groups.
Tell us a little about your younger self. When did you first start writing? Did you always know that you wanted to be an author?
Like all avid readers, I considered it and dabbled with some stories—but I knew they weren’t any good. I also wanted to be a ballerina, a firefighter, and a protozoologist (studies one-celled protozoa)—which led me to study science and become a pharmacist. I didn’t start writing seriously until I was thirty-four.
Did “The Sea Before Us” turn out how you thought it would? If not, what was different?
Yes, it did. I write from an outline, so I don’t have plot surprises when writing. The surprises come in smaller ways—unplanned humor or compelling thoughts, a side character who takes on life, and thematic elements.
Did you have any imaginary friends as a child? If so, tell us a little about him/her!
At about the age of six, I decided I should have an imaginary friend because that’s what little girls did. So I tried, but I neglected the poor thing and I think she died of starvation.
What do you find the hardest in finishing a book? Is it the writing process, the editing process, waiting to hear back from publishers, etc?
The outlining process, specifically plotting, gives me the most headaches. I call it a smackdown wrestling match. All the scene ideas and character development ideas have to be placed in an order that makes an engaging plot structure—and also fit the timeline of actual historical events.
If you could have lunch with any author, who would you choose?
As a people-pleaser, I hate these questions, because I don’t want to leave anyone out! Also, one of the unforeseen benefits of joining the writing community is that I’ve met almost all of my favorite authors at writing conferences—and had lunch with them.
Are you more of a coffee or tea person?
Depends on the time of day. In the morning, I need the rude jolt of coffee. In the afternoon, I like tea—hot in the winter, iced in the summer (today’s is black tea with black currant). In the evening, just water so I can sleep.
Do you write down story ideas as you think of them? If so, how many do you have written down/in your head?
I’m not blessed with a lot of ideas—I say the Lord gives me only as many as I need. So when I have an idea, I grab onto it. In this phase, I make a lot of handwritten notes and throw them in a binder. Right now I only have three percolating ideas, all for my next contracted series. After that…she stares into the void and prays for the next idea.
What is one thing about your MC that we might not know?
There was a childhood incident when Wyatt’s younger brother Adler talked him into doing something rash, and Wyatt broke his leg. This highlighted both their personalities and why Wyatt is so incensed in the prologue when Adler’s sweet-talking puts someone in danger. That never really fit into the novel itself, but it definitely shaped Wyatt’s thinking.
What project(s) are you working on right now?
I’m waiting on the final page proofs from my publisher for The Sky Above Us, the second book in the Sunrise at Normandy series (February 2019), and I’m at the quarter-way mark in the rough draft of The Land Beneath Us, the third book in the series (2020). Plus, I’m doing early story development for my next three novels.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to an aspiring author?
Relax and take a deep breath. Write and write and write. Learn and edit, and learn and edit. And relax—don’t rush things. The self-publishing revolution has so many positives, allowing stories to be told that might never have found a home. However, it’s led many writers to rush their first novels to print, when they really should have been practice novels. I have two starter novels sitting in my file cabinet. I adored them when I wrote them, and I was convinced they’d take the market by storm. Now I know they’re really not good at all, and I’m glad I didn’t have the option of tossing them on Amazon at the time. Writing, like any profession, takes time to develop properly. So relax and enjoy the process!
Connect with Sarah!
The Sea Before Us blurb:
In 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a “Wren” in the Women’s Royal Naval Service, who pieces together reconnaissance photographs with thousands of holiday snapshots of France—including those of her family’s summer home—in order to create maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt turns into naval bombardment plans for D-day.
As the two spend concentrated time together in the pressure cooker of war, their deepening friendship threatens to turn into something more. But both of them have too much to lose to give in to love . . .
I had so much fun learning more about Sarah! If you haven't read her books, you should add them to your TBR list!
Are there any authors that you'd like me to interview? Put your suggestions in the comments! I'd love to hear them!
Until next time, friends, keep letting your lights shine!