Thursday, June 26, 2014

Walking in the Rain

Walking in the rain. Running in the rain. Crying in the rain.

Sounds romantic, right?


I'm sitting here dripping all over my computer chair in the aftermath of doing those very things and I can tell you it wasn't fun at all.

Yeah, I saw the clouds when I started out on my morning prayer walk, but here in central Florida you can never tell when they're gonna just lie around all day threatening but never produce. Sometimes I feel like I live in a bubble and it rains everywhere but my neighborhood. You continuously alter your plans for rain that never comes. You want to yell at the overcast skies Poop or get off the pot!

Oops. If you have delicate sensibilities, please overlook that last statement. Sometimes crude says it best.

Anyhow, I was about 30 minutes away from home when the first fat drops came. Within seconds they crescendoed into a deluge. I looked hopefully down the road for Spouse's rescue vehicle; he's usually on the ball scouting rain-outs on my regular walks or bike outings and like my own personal Daniel Boone, sends out the cavalry immediately.

Then I remembered. He was sick in bed and wouldn't even know if a typhoon hit.

So I trudged down the road like a drowned rat. I had to stick my cell phone in my underwear to try to keep it dry. A drowned rat with a rectangular rump.

No human life was visible anywhere, although the ducks at the pond appeared to be having quite a frolic in the downpour. A dog ran across the road and took shelter beneath a house. I briefly considered joining him.

Then I turned a corner and came upon a silver car, engine running, sitting at the curb in front of a house. Hooray! The driver was in there! Double hooray! It was a woman! (I wouldn't have considered getting in a car with a strange man, but this scenario certainly held promise.)

I began to think the chances of my getting offered a ride home were looking pretty good when I saw her eyeing me as I approached. But then the worst thing happened. She turned away. She began looking everywhere but at me. Like I didn't even exist.

Body language was clear: Go away. You'll find no help here.

Even when I walked within one foot of her car window and paused, pulling the dripping hair from my face and staring imploringly in at her, she kept looking straight ahead at the rain pounding on her windshield and refused to acknowledge my presence or my plight.

Hope drained away like water in a bathtub.

And then I thought about the homeless woman that I drove past yesterday. Her sign said, "Need food for family. Anything will help."

Did I stop? No. Did I help? I didn't.

She's walking through the rain in her life every day. Drowning in the downpour. Yet I keep sitting in my nice dry car staring straight ahead, my body language clear: Go away. You'll find no help here.

But I can change that. I can. Papa's message to me through the raindrops hit home. I can acknowledge the presence and plight of her and others like her. I can. And I will. Because I know all too well how awful it feels to be soaked to the bone and without hope - even temporarily.

How about you? Have you walked in any rain lately that opened your eyes - and maybe even your heart - to others splashing through the puddles beside you?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Radical Makeover

My new book covers! 
So what do you think? 
Woo Hoo!

Soooo exciting!

These are the new covers for my two historical novels, The Distant Shore and Billowing Sails. 

My publisher felt it was time for an update and I think they give Emma-Lee, the main character of both books, a fresh new look.

I actually resisted at first - accepting change has never been my forte. But I'm glad I relented now that I've seen what a very talented cover artist can do ... not really altering my perception of who Emma-Lee is, but enhancing the possibilities and engaging the imagination in all that she could be.

It was my desire to keep the distant storm clouds and dark edges on the horizon of The Distant Shore to symbolize the tragedy and mystery that Emma-Lee was thrust into on the island through no fault of her own. Not unlike many of the problems we face every day - problems not of our own making, but problems we must wade through nonetheless.

And the cover artist (whom I've never met or even spoken to) came up with the beautiful brightness and glorious sunbeams (if you read my books, you know how much I absolutely ADORE those symbolic fingers of our Creator reaching down to us in the form of sunbeams!) portraying Emma-Lee's emerging faith and hope in Papa God for Billowing Sails

The use of sunbeams is just another marvelously cool coincidence that isn't.

It's a grace note. An amazing grace note that proves to me yet again that Papa God is involved in every single detail of our lives. Even book cover radical makeovers!

P.S. If you've never read these delightful novels inspired by a true story, good news! They're on sale for $1.99 each for a limited time in e-reader version for both Kindle and Nook. And of course they're also available in print from and as well as anywhere books are sold.  

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Becoming a Godly Goader

The first goaders
The memory makes me smile now, but at the time I wanted to screech like a riled bobcat.

When I was nine, my sister was two years older and light years girlier. She wore wrap-around skirts, red hair bows and shiny pink nail polish.

I lived and breathed barefoot, wore ratty cut off jeans, baseball caps, and spent my time riding bikes, climbing trees or playing baseball.

Hence my big problem.

Since there were only the two of us kids under our roof, during long summer days when I wanted to go outside and jump on the pogo stick or snag a few grounders, there was no one but Cindy to play with. And she never wanted to face the heat, dirt, and bugs of a scorching Florida afternoon.

When begging and pleading didn't work, I resorted to goading her with the big ammo: "Fatty, fatty, two by four, can't get through the bathroom door ..."  

The fact that Cindy was about as big around as a licorice stick never seemed to matter, for she was at the age that every girl thinks she's fat. And I quickly learned that the surefire way to get something I wanted was to goad her into it.

A goad, by definition, is a pointed rod used to urge animals forward. To prod. To prompt. To guide an entity from one place to another.

In Ecclesiastes 12:11, Solomon, a man gifted with wisdom directly from God, said this: "The words of the wise are like goads" (NIV).

In other words, wise words can serve to prod, prompt, or guide an entity from one place to another. As in moving people from non-belief to belief; from agnosticism to theism; from an egocentric world view to a Christ-centered perspective.

This concept has weighed heavily on me this week as I prepare a eulogy for a dear Christian friend who passed away last weekend. The heaviness is not about my friend - although I miss her dreadfully, I have no doubt of her eternal security and that at this moment she's joyfully dancing an Irish jig in heaven's dance hall.

The heaviness is about my friend's brother, an intellectual Mensa know-it-all sort who views Christianity with disdain and spent the last evening of his sister's life on earth denouncing the "blatant weaknesses" and "contradictions" of the Bible to me right there in front of her as she lay on her deathbed. Painfully taking it all in.

I know his lostness distressed her, so it doubly distressed me, although I confess that I've often dismissed such arrogant, closed-minded, argumentative types as hopeless and shook off their dust from my sandals as I turned away.

But my friend had confided in me many times that she wanted more than anything to find a way to break through her brother's darkness with the light of Jesus.

And now she's gone. And I feel the weight of her unfulfilled burden. And I know that somehow, some day, there will be a way to reach him. Papa God is, after all, in the mind-changing business.

I ask myself: Do my words goad people in a Jesus-ward direction? Does my life prompt others to want to know the source of my inner joy? Do I actively seek to move people from one spiritual place to another?

Am I a godly goader?

As author Jill Briscoe so succinctly puts it, "Do our words ... prick their consciences? Move them from meaninglessness to meaningfulness? From nothingness to something-ness? From nonsense to God-sense?"

So I ask for your prayers this week, my friend. Please pray for Papa God to give me wise words to speak in this eulogy, meant expressly for someone who will never, ever darken the doors of a church. Not necessarily academically impressive, intellectually gifted words - for I have none. But words brimming with Jesus-joy that will break through this man's intellectual defenses to prepare the way for the Holy Spirit to penetrate the darkness in his heart with a shaft of blinding light.

Not unlike what happened to another know-it-all guy named Saul on a road to Damascus.

Yep. A personal visit from Papa God is the best goad of all.