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Goodbye, 2017.

IMG_0747Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow. Psalm 144:4

Coming to the end of this year I am grateful for the ordinary things:
My family
Good health
A warm home

Highlights of 2017:

♥ I contracted and wrote an Amish romance for Annie’s Fiction. I’ve contracted for a second book with them and am almost half way through the first draft.
♥ I independently published MIRACLE IN BLACK.
The ONLY way the writing happened: Prayer warriors stood with me and encouraged me. Thank you, one and all.

Lowlights of 2017:

In January, my father-in-law passed away.
In September, my father passed away.
There is so much I want to say about these two wonderful men, but when I sit down to write out my thoughts, the words dry up. They just aren’t there. Some day I’ll be able to do it. In the meantime, I’ll treasure the memories. Daddy Gavitt and Dad Greene will always be in my heart. ♥♥

Looking forward to 2018

The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

After the difficulties of the past two years, I’m hesitant to look forward. Business plan? (Hmmm.) Health goals? (eye-roll) What was once so easy for me to do—plan and follow through—feels almost impossible this year. But doing nothing doesn’t feel right, either.
So my faith journey for the new year begins NOW as I take the first step into the unknown that stretches before me a full 365 days—and beyond. 

I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.     Philippians 4:13

I many not know what the new year holds for me, but I do know the God who holds me and all the days of 2018 in His hands.

The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.
Isaiah 58:11

Goodbye, 2017   –   Hello, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

“Your Son May Never Learn To Read.”

SAOK Blog #2This week, on the Small Acts of Kindness blog, I shared a little about my son’s early struggle with autism and dyslexia. As you peek through the window into his world, I hope you find encouragement for your own faith walk. Click here to read, “The Gift of Reading”.

Blessings.

My One Word 2015 – Quest

“My quest is to seek God more diligently – to know him better. I don’t know where this journey will lead. To change most assuredly, but what will that look like?” Journal entry dated January 4, 2015

After a year (2014) with the word RELEASE, I’m ready to be filled with more of God’s grace and presence.

“I am called by faith to do something new. My map for this journey is God’s Word. A lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105) God is my companion. He will never leave me nor forsake me. (Hebrew 13:5) Journal entry dated January 8, 2015

“Quest – to do the work only I can do as assigned by Father God.” Journal entry dated January 11, 2015

A feeling of urgency persists. Is it because I hit a milestone birthday a few months ago? Is it because I look at my elderly parents and see myself in twenty-five or thirty years. I must be about the work God has given me while I have my health and my memory.

This weekend I attended a writer’s retreat with my friends from Rhode Island Romance Writers. We created vision boards. Going into the workshop, I was sure my board would include some of my ‘wants’ such as a second bathroom for our home. But that isn’t what happened as I thumbed through magazines and cut out pictures and words.

Vision Board

Vision Board

The Rewards of Risk – Live Life Better – The Dream Chaser 
Phrases that fit well with my one word.

More time treasure hunting. Searching God’s word. Seeking His will. Isn’t that the greatest treasure of all?

My favorite part of the board is in the center:
The words – No Room For Boring
The picture – An automobile filled with Muppets! 

My quest will not be boring.

What is your word for this year? What are your expectations?

 

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Merry Christmas

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; 
he is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:11

Luke 2:11

Update – SeaMount Series Book 2

God is so good, I could POP! But that would be messy so I’ll just happy dance.

The major rewrite of INTO THE DEEP is finally, finally finished. Still bunches to do, like foreshadowing events that happen at the end because Jack and Lucinda hijacked my story and made it so much better. And I have to check that the faith and romance elements are layered into the story. And there is stuff to cut and SENTENCESTHATLOOKLIKETHIS because there is something there I need to figure out. But I’m sitting here praising God!

Jack and Lucinda's story begins on the imaginary island of St. Beatrice in the Caribbean Sea

Jack and Lucinda’s story begins on the imaginary island of St. Beatrice in the Caribbean Sea

After a year of struggle, He has opened up TIME (my word for 2013) in this new year for me to write. My office job moved to Florida leaving me with a chunk of precious time mid day. I’m still on the school bus early morning and in the afternoon where I tie shoe laces, wrestle with stuck zippers and help the little ones safely cross the street. And I’m blessed to have four parents all between the ages of eighty-five and eighty-eight (my folks and Old Roady’s folks) to love through the challenges that come with age. (And a huge shout out to my wonderful sisters. We make a great team!)

I’ve made headway and I want to share that with everyone who is asking and praying and holding me up as I sit at the keyboard and write the story God has given me. Please know that you, my readers, are in my prayers, too. You are precious to me. Thank you for your encouragement. I can’t imagine taking this journey without you.

My One Word – 2014

I’m ditching New Year’s resolutions again this year. My list was always ridiculously long and on New Year’s Day I couldn’t remember half of what seemed so important the night before. The only items I’d remember were those that appeared every year. Which only proved I didn’t keep my New Year’s resolutions! What’s the definition of insanity? Oh yeah, repeating the same thing time and time again hoping for a different outcome. I was driving myself insane! So I’ve hopped on the One Word train again this year (You can read about my 2012 word here and 2013 word here.) and I’ve invited some friends along for the ride. Yay!!

So what’s my word?

Release.  

 

My One Word - 2014 Release

My One Word – 2014
Release

This word could go in so many different directions it’s scary. (More on that in another post, or two or three.) For now I’m just praying that God will use this word this year to mold me more fully into the person He created me to be.

Do you pick one word to focus on for the year? If so, what is it.

In Need Of An Attitude Adjustment

For the past several weeks my prayers have been those of a whiny child. I want what I want, and I want it now. If I were God (and aren’t we all glad I’m not?), I’d turn a deaf ear on myself. Which is why it makes me crazy when He’s so quiet. I picture Him with His fingers in His heavenly ears singing the ‘la-la -a-I-can’t-hear-you’ song. Thankfully, He’s more gracious than that.

Seriously? I’m sick of me! I’ve been needy and wanting, always looking at what I don’t have instead of being thankful for what I do have. Always wishing God would work out His plan for me  on my schedule and not in His perfect time. Constantly asking, “Am I there yet?” “When?” “Why?” “Why?” “Why?”

I dug out my gratitude journal. (Yes, it got buried… again. Boo, me.) For the next few days, one day at a time, I’m going to concentrate on praise, thanksgiving and intercession for others. Wonder how many minutes I’ll manage to do this before I stray into the Land of Me and have to get back on course? Apricot Sunset  Attitude Adjustment

Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul.
I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Psalm 146: 1-2

SeaMount Agency – A Home for the Heros

Posted on

1 OCEAN HOUSE

Information not yet on the SeaMount page of my website:

Sam Traven, owner/director of SeaMount Agency, will have his own story.

Originally, his story was to be the first book of the series. About 100 pages into Sam’s story, I came to the conclusion his backstory should unfold throughout several other books in the series before I give him his own happy-ever-after story. (story hint: I love ‘beauty and the beast’ stories.)

Before I realized how deep Sam’s scars went, I rocked along having way to much fun setting up housekeeping for him and his agency in an oceanfront home like those in a local beach community. Because of his physical needs, I gave him a gym and a pool for exercise, a spa area for therapeutic massage, and a greenhouse for his beloved orchids.

To run the place, Sam hired Agatha ‘Aggie’ Livingstone, heart-of-the-home and housekeeper, tough enough to handle a bunch of alpha males. She needed an industrial kitchen but for the sake of story, I couldn’t shut her up in there unable to interact with the guys, so I imagined something more open with an attached dining room. The picture in my head was a little hazy but I figured I’d make it work. I also needed a common area for the men to gather. A campfire kept coming to mind, so a crackling fireplace in a living room, (open and utiltarian) was what I pictured.

That was fun!

Then I set the story aside, telling Sam he’d have to wait for the woman of his dreams.

Amazing things happen when I let God – my creative Creator – lead the way.

Some of it scary stuff. Tough stuff till I got to the amazing part.

I jumped into Gray’s story, landing in the North Woods of Maine. Adventures one after the other until he got OUT OF THE WILDERNESS with Sophie and the girls. Then the fun stopped. The home, that big, beautiful building, I’d created for Sam and the men that worked for him was right there waiting for Gray and Sophie’s return. The foundations had been set in Sam’s unfinished story.

But for some reason, I was wandering in the desert.

Lots of writing drivel, revisiting the plot, praying and crying out to God filled those weeks. Stuff like ‘YOU gave me this story! HELP me!” And, “If you don’t want me to write, show me what I’m supposed to be doing!” And, “YOU promised to never leave me or forsake me! Helloooo. Feeling a little lonely here, God.” (I’m a firm believer in being honest with my heavenly Father. He created me and knows all there is to know about me. If I’m a little upset with how He’s handling things, He knows that, too. I figure I can be honest with Him and He won’t toss me out like last week’s furry leftovers.) My side of the conversation ended with, “Fine. I’m getting nowhere fast and you aren’t helping me. So be it. I’m done banging my head against the keyboard. I’m done. You hear me? No more whining, begging, wheeling and dealing. Stick a fork in me. I’m done! Let me know when it’s time to start up again.”

Facing the Ocean. Multi level decks

Facing the Ocean.
Multi level decks

Spring came and I visited the open house of a reconstructed-from-the-ground-up Victorian-style hotel in the very same  beach community I’d set up housekeeping for Sam. I never attend those things. Never. But this one intrigued me because it was so close to Sam’s story and maybe I’d get an idea or two if I started writing again. (Do you hear me, Lord?) It was also an opportunity to see a high-end resort that I’d never have the $$ to stay at. (Though a girl can dream…. Please. Buy my book.)

I walked through the front doors and stepped into the SeaMount Agency.

Hundreds (it seemed) of folks milling around, taking pictures and talking, and I stood there with my heart pounding and my ears buzzing because inside I was shouting, ‘OH MY GOD!’ Not in blasphemy, but with praise and awe and joy! I was all jittery inside. This hotel lobby was Sam’s ‘livingroom’. Windows on the side, chairs positioned just so in front of the fireplace. But not just any old fireplace. A beach stone fireplace. God out did my puny idea, and even gave me a glimpse of how He cares for the smallest details.

Several minutes of picture-taking later, when my feet were back on the ground, I reluctantly headed for the fancy dining room. I’d already had my ‘God moment’. Everything else would surely disappoint. Besides the whole kitchen/dining room had been a bit of a stickler in my vision. One step inside and once again my heart jolted into overdrive. There before me was my industrial kitchen – with a counter along one side. (Why didn’t I think of that!) Someplace I found out it was called an ‘exhibition kitchen’! I had no idea such a thing existed. But it was perfect for Aggie. And the dining room with windows overlooking the ocean and… and… I turned in circles wishing everyone would leave Sam’s house! And there, in the corner, another glimpse of God’s signature in the details.

Lap Pool

Lap Pool

I practically mowed folks down as I headed for the open staircase and the next floor down. “Please, God. Please, God.” What would I find. I passed more glimpses of Him revealing Himself to me and my heart was bursting as I hurried down the stairs to the lobby below. I believe, help me in my unbelief.

I found:
A beautiful fitness center. (For Sam to exercise in.)
A salon and spa area. (For Sam’s therapeutic massage. And, yes, I took pictures of the men’s locker room. Necessary research.)
An indoor lap pool. (I hadn’t thought of a lap pool for Sam. Duh.)

I was frenetic. Running hither and thither (I’ve always wanted to write that), taking pictures and envisioning the SeaMount men in the beach locker room, in the masculine board room with state-of-the-art technology. (Video conference!)

And everywhere, God’s loving hand revealed with those glimpses of ~ orchids.

In hallway nooks. In every room of the spa. As a centerpiece in the dining room. In the public bathrooms. In the private bathrooms of the hotel rooms. Orchids, Sam’s passion, every where I turned.

Orchid in the locker room

Orchid in the locker room

What an amazing God! How He love’s surprising His children. Yes, even the ones that act like spoiled two-year olds when frustrated and tired. (That would be me.) Why hadn’t I trusted more? How sweet it was to go home and write the rest of Gray’s story, OUT OF THE WILDERNESS, having seen the inside of the Ocean House. Like a cool rain beating down on that dry desert, the words flowed. I continue to work on the series, currently working on Jack Conroy’s story, INTO THE DEEP. When will I learn that God only wants good things for me, but in His time, not mine?

Are you still with me? This has been a looong post. Much longer than the experts recommend blog posts be. (No one has time to read long posts, they say.) But how could I shortchange this story and an awesome, magnificent God.

My favorite Bible verse –
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29: 11-13

He was there all along. Listening. Planning. Preparing the way.

Oh, and Sam’s greenhouse? There’s a place for that, too. Smack dab in the middle of the tournament level croquet lawn.

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The Lord Remains Faithful

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever – do not abandon the works of your hands.
Psalm 138:8

A week ago today, I came home from a writing retreat. I cried most of the way home. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to come home. It was more that I didn’t want to leave the wonder of that creative and sacred experience. I didn’t want to come down off  ‘the mountain top’, where I had found inspiration and renewal.

I’ve hugged the memories close and savored them, sharing with the few who would truly understand how dear the experience was for me. This isn’t my story. It’s God’s story. I’m just the flawed writer He chose to bless.

******

With a deadline looming, Old Roady was okay with me taking some of our timeshare points and getting away to write. With the winter weather, I’d hoped to be close to home, as in, just down Route 1 a few miles. But on such short notice, there was nothing available in Rhode Island. We found a studio with a partial kitchenette for six days in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

Then Nemo – The Blizzard of 2013 – blew across the region on February 8th.

Blizzard of 2013

Blizzard of 2013

Four days later I received a phone call. The resort in Falmouth was unable to accommodate the reservations for folks checking in.

Wish I could say I was calm about this. I wasn’t. The lovely woman from the timeshare clearinghouse was kind enough to help me look for an alternative. But throughout all of RI, CT and MA, she found only one other place. It, too, was in Falmouth and for only three nights. She would call to see if they were taking ‘inbounds’.

At this point, I prayed – finally. And the prayer was pretty sketchy. Mostly disconnected thoughts flung heavenward. But God is good. No. God is AMAZING. Because even when I’m not at my best, He remains faithful and continues to work out HIS PLAN for me.

The lovely lady (I wish I could remember her name.) called me back. The other place in Falmouth was available. Would I like it? That’s when I told her what I needed – a quiet place away from daily duties and distractions so I could concentrate on writing.

She giggled and then said, “Oh. Wait. Something just popped up! Is Rhode Island okay?”

“Yes.” I held my breath, because there are no coincidences. Only God-incidences.

“Long Wharf in Newport. Sunday to Sunday. Would that be alright?”

I barely heard her over the pounding of my heart. “Yes. How many nights?”

“Sunday to Sunday.”

“The whole week?” One more day than I would have had in Falmouth.

“Yes. It’s a one bedroom condo with a full kitchen. And since it’s a swap, you get it for the same number of points as Falmouth. It’s usually twice as many.”

I think God loves surprises because every step of the way, the trip only got better.

On check-in, I found out the Inn was going through renovations. Only the fifth floor was open and I was the first to use the completely renovated condo.

Long Wharf Resort

Long Wharf Resort

Within hours of checking in, God painted the sky for me.

Sunset over Long Wharf

Sunset over Long Wharf

Newport fishing fleet and lobster boats

Newport fishing fleet and lobster boats

I emptied my schedule and let go of all that fights for my attention. I made room for God to come in and fill the empty space.  

I was needy and my heart was willing. 

How often am I unwilling? How often do I fill my time with everything but what God desires for me?

A Room With A View

A Room With A View

I was on Holy ground.  My writing, an offering.

God blessed me abundantly with time and words. 

The empty computer screen filled, line after line. How many times in the past have I been afraid the words wouldn’t come? Why can’t I trust like this every day? 

Evening Sun

Will I remember?
On the days that nothing comes easy, will I open up and be uncomfortably empty so He can fill me?

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them –
the Lord, who remains faithful forever.
Psalm 146:5-6

In the Potter’s Hand

… can I not do with you as this potter does? declares the Lord. Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand…  Jeremiah 18:6

I’m on the Potter’s wheel.
Some days spinning until I’m dizzy and disoriented.
Other days, due to a flaw that needs correcting, I am mushed into a lump.
The reshaping isn’t easy.
More spinning… more prodding and pressure.
I wanted to be a teacup.
But my dream was imperfect.

The Potter has a different plan.

So much clay… so much spinning…
Trusting his skilled hands to create something more beautiful than I can imagine.

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