Look up

It certainly seems the world is spinning out of control, doesn’t it? Floods, fires, and hurricanes are wiping out large areas of land; volunteers and rescue workers are beyond exhausted. The political landscape is more bizarre than ever, pitting friends and family against each other. News stations, competing for viewers, have given up reporting the news, opting instead to put their own spin on what’s happening. And people are afraid.

Makes me want to climb back into bed and pull the covers over my head for a year or ten. Even as an ardent follower of Jesus, I find myself wondering how things are going to play out, if the world will ever go back to what it was (the idealized version, anyway). Then He reminds me – we already know how it’s going to play out. We know! Oh, not the specifics like exactly how and when and where. But if we believe what the Bible says, the outcome has already been decided – no matter what madness surrounds us.

Instead of looking at Facebook, or at the news of one devastation after another (although we need to do what we can with what we have), or listening to radio stations or podcasts with leanings right/left/everywhere – LOOK UP. See the sun and moon and stars, and remember who’s in charge. See day turn into night and then back into day – and remember who’s in charge. You can face each day, and whatever comes with it, by looking up.

Lift your gaze from your mobile device and look around you. See the wonder of creation, the individuality of each face you pass at work, school, or the grocery store. (They’re afraid too, you know.) Pause to listen to the wind in the trees as one season fades into the next. Watch the instinctive migration of birds as winter approaches, the change of colors that displays the natural order of life. And remember who’s in charge.

We can’t stop the natural disasters happening across the globe, but we can stand firm on what we know, and be God’s hands and feet. So look up and engage in life. Smile at someone who may desperately need it. Offer help. Do a random act of kindness (or two or three) and don’t let them know it was you.

Look up and choose to do your part in making this crazy world just a little less so.

If we do it together, we all might be a little less afraid.

How are you coping with life at the moment?

What We All Need Right Now

chipmunk_islandI’m pretty sure no one has ever died from laughing too much. Working too much, probably. But definitely not laughing too much.

I love a good laugh. It’s almost as “catching” as yawning. There’s an FB post out there that illustrates that idea. One guy is laughing at something on his phone while on the subway. He keeps laughing – harder. People around him start smiling, then pretty soon they’re laughing too – all because a stranger is having a good laugh.

Maybe that’s what this country needs – one good, long laugh. Together. Not AT anyone, but just because laughter makes us feel good. And when we’re sharing a laugh with someone, it’s pretty dang impossible to be mad at them. Now to find a topic that doesn’t offend anyone…

I was looking through photos and came across the one above, and it made me laugh. Again. A few summers ago, our son was waiting for hubby and me to make our way up from the beach at Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe. While he was admiring the view, this little guy scurried over and posed for a photo op. What cracked us up even more was the “tiny” sailboat and “tiny” island in the background (which, of course, isn’t tiny at all). It looked like he was posing in front of his little kingdom. A ground squirrel with a kingdom. Too silly NOT to laugh.

giraffe by wonderopolis

photo credit: wonderopolis

I figure God has to have the best sense of humor ever. (At least, I hope He does or I’m toast.) He created the strangest-looking creatures (giraffes and manatees come to mind), photo bombing animals. I think He totally enjoys surprising us with the unexpected. I truly believe He delights in our delight. If we’re made in His image, and WE have a sense of humor – some more than others – then He must have one too, don’t you think?

Lately, the world hasn’t seemed all that funny. Everyone’s mad at everyone. They believe their “side” is right and everyone else is nuts/hateful/evil/wrong. The “news” stations seem determined to focus only on the negative stuff that’s happening (and there’s plenty). But we all know there’s goodness out there, people caring for others, neighbors helping neighbors. And people, even strangers, sharing a laugh.

So let’s focus on the funny side of life here in this moment. What makes you laugh? Who makes you laugh? Do you enjoy 3 Stooges kind of silliness, or straightforward comedy? Dry humor or flat out jokes? Do you laugh with your friends? Your family? Do your kids make you laugh? Your pet?

IMG_1115I’ll start. Silly, unexpected things like the squirrel-posing photo make me laugh, as do my grandkids. After 35 years, my hubby and I still make each other laugh. I don’t love slapstick humor, but thoroughly enjoy the unexpected (whether it’s a surprise ending to a joke, or a person’s reaction to something they didn’t expect). And this photo sent by a (nameless) friend cracked me up big time.

What makes YOU laugh?

 

Seeing the World

Hop On Hop Off in Vancouver

Mike and I had the pleasure of traveling to Alaska this summer with my older brother Steve, and his (younger!) wife Linda. We’ve traveled with them before – to Italy, and to Tahoe, and plan to do so again. There’s something extra special about getting out into the world with family. Especially when you return still liking each other!

One thing the four of us share is a deep Christian faith, and this trip took that to a new level. We witnessed a whole new side of God’s creativity. Alaska is truly the last frontier – wilderness, “wild” animals, mile upon mile of untouched natural beauty. Mountains, from float plane in Hainesocean, flowers, glaciers. We saw so much (and yet such a teeny portion) on foot, by domed train and coach buses, in a ferry and a float plane. Those different methods offered vastly different perspectives.

glacier from the ship

A glacier from the ship

For instance, our cruise ship, Holland America’s Zaandam, motored us (safely) near one of many glaciers. We stood in awe as large chunks of ice broke away, crashing into the icy water in a surprisingly loud display. We could see the edge of the glacier, and how it extended up the hill. Stunning!

Then we took to the air. That changed our whole perspective. Suddenly we saw miles and miles of white, blue, and even brown and green glaciers. What we thought we were seeing, from the ship, the canoe, or the ferry, was only a sliver of reality. And that got me thinking about how I see the world.

Seeing the glacier on the ship

Glaciers extending far beyond what we can see from a lower perspective

What I think I know is no doubt merely a sliver of what there really is to know. What I see in other people (behavior, choices) is the tip of where they’ve been and what they’ve experienced. When I make a judgment on how someone looks, I can’t see where they’ve just come from (a single mom dashing to the pharmacy for her sick child, an overworked and underpaid employee, a lonely older person). My perspective is limited to what I can see.

Seeing glaciers from underfoot, nearby, and overhead makes me want to see life that way – beside people instead of holding myself away, in the trenches with those who desperately need a hand up or a kind word. Seeing them through Christ’s eyes and not my binoculars.

Glacial reminder

A reminder of Who created the glacier

Life gets busy, and our attention is pulled in a thousand ways. Rather than make snap judgments as I go through life, I’m asking God to open my heart and mind to a bigger picture. A new perspective.

What experiences have shaped how you see the world?

 

The Story Behind the Story

Color of Truth_May 3_Final FRONT COVER ONLY_RGB for kindle-1Today I’m featured on Shannon Vannatter’s Inkslinger blog talking about the story behind The Color of Truth, book 3 of my series. Share something unique about YOU to be entered to win a copy of this brand new book.

Here’s an excerpt of the blog post:

Many people have asked me about the title of my new book, commenting that they’d never thought of truth as having a color. The older I get, the more I see it’s many shades, intensities, and variations. I’m not talking political or moral or religious truth here – I’m talking about our own truth. How we see ourselves, what we believe about ourselves, and why.

Pop on by and say hello! You just might win a copy of The Color of Truth. Click HERE to join the fun.

 

 

My Book Cave Give-away!

I do believe I’ve said this here before but I LOVE FREE BOOKS! I think it’s a great way to discover a new author – by reading one of their books free. And that’s what My Book Cave is doing June 5-26. “Shattered Image,” Book 1 of my Chain of Lakes series, is part of the fun – FREE! Just in time to celebrate the release of Book 3, “The Color of Truth” later this month. Yippee!!!

Christian Romance giveaway June 5-26 My Book CaveTwelve amazing authors have banded together to offer some fun summer reading! All are inspirational, and all have a strong thread of romance. Historical, contemporary, cowboy, thriller – lots of choices for you to discover your new favorite author! This is a great way to try a new genre, as well. Never read historical before? Now’s your chance! Looking for something current? Lots of choices. How about a western love story? We’re giving those away too!

Here’s how it works:  You decide which books/authors you want to know more about – 1 or 2, or all 12! Join their fun newsletter team, and you’ll not only get that free book, but you’ll also be entered to win one of 5 $10 gift cards!

5 lucky winners will receive a $10 gift card from Amazon, iTunes, or Barnes & Noble. We know you’re going to love these FREE ebooks, so why not enter to win so you get even more books from these great authors?

Click HERE to find out more details, and discover YOUR new favorite summer read!

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Here’s a sneak peek at my latest, The Color of Truth. Watch for release date details!

Color of Truth_May 3_Final FRONT COVER ONLY_RGB for kindle-1

Truth isn’t always black and white. Sometimes it takes the unexpected to reveal its true colors.

Marti has been on her own since she was 15, determined to build a life for herself and her sister despite the threats of a man intent on keeping her from revealing his secret.

Sam Evans’ turbulent teen years prepared him for the perfect job—counseling troubled youth. Then his pregnant wife walked out on their marriage and his life imploded, leaving him without a family, a job, or his hard-earned reputation.

With her sister in trouble, they’re forced to divulge the secrets, lies, and half-truths they’ve kept hidden from each other, and from themselves. If they can’t face the brilliant colors of God’s truth, the consequences may be deadly.

New Booksweeps Contest – Spring Mega Bundle!

The Spring Mega Bundle Contemporary Romance contest from Booksweeps is here! Over 100 authors are participating in a wide variety of genres.

Follow your favorite authors (on Amazon, Bookbub, or both!), and discover new favorites. Each author you choose to follow increases your chances of winning!

Grand Prize – 1 copy of every book in all genres PLUS a Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet!
Runner Up – 1 copy of every book in each genre.
$25 Amazon Gift cards – 20 up for grabs

Dance of Grace-FRONT COVERDance of Grace, Book 2 of the Chain of Lakes series, is part of both the Sweet & Clean contest, and the Christian/Inspirational contest!

To check out the Sweet & Clean contest, CLICK HERE.
For the Christian/Inspirational contest, CLICK HERE.

The rest of the categories are not necessarily faith-based, or deemed sweet/clean. I’m including them to provide other reading options, but cannot guarantee the level of “heat” in them.

Western Romance contest, CLICK HERE.
Sports Romance contest, CLICK HERE.
Small Town Romance contest, CLICK HERE.
Billionaire Romance contest, CLICK HERE.
Military Romance contest, CLICK HERE.
Romantic Comedy Romance contest, CLICK HERE.
New Adult Romance contest, CLICK HERE.

Join the fun, and discover new authors!

Who loves ya, baby?

To celebrate the June release of “The Color of Truth,” we’re talking this month about truth in all its various forms.

Okay, a show of hands, please. And be honest. Who is pretty satisfied with who you are and how you look? Not every second of every day, but most seconds of most days. So for those of you who did raise your hand, I’d love to know how you got to that point. Seriously. Leave a comment so others can hear your story.

I’m guessing most of you didn’t raise your hand. Mine went about halfway up. I want to throw it into the air with abandon, but we’re talking about truth here. There are things I know are the absolute truth about myself. I’m  a wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandma. Sister and sister-in-law. Friend. Author. I’m a college graduate. I need glasses to read. I love Valais Blacknose sheep. (Aren’t they just the cutest!?) And I’m a stumbling, bumbling, determined follower of Jesus.

Facts are easy to rattle off. Unfortunately, that list is much shorter than what I believe is true about me. Funny how our self-image seems to be based on what we believe about ourselves, or what we want others to believe, rather than what’s true. Actually, it’s not funny at all.

The barrage of messages from every direction–social media, television, billboards, music videos, family members–points out what we “should” do and have, how we “should” look and act. Sometimes they point out where we’re lacking, what we do wrong, how we still don’t measure up. And that constant feed of bad messages makes us feel deficient, less than, unworthy.

Try this. The next time you’re in a crowd (a concert, the mall, downtown), take some time to just sit and observe. No judgment, no comparisons–just look. Look at the variety of faces, skin colors, body types. Some people are in wheelchairs, use a cane, or are missing a limb. You’ll see men with and without facial hair (or any hair!). Women with and without makeup, hair styled and not. A few of these faces are what society has deemed “attractive.” Almost all are not.

But every single one is beautiful in God’s eyes because He created them. Could some of us make healthier choices? Sure. But not to fit an image. Not to try to look how we think we should based on some screwy societal “norm.” Some of us (yes, my hand is all the way up this time) need to do that simply to take better care of the body God gave us. The healthier we are, the better we feel about ourselves, and life in general.

Here’s something to consider. What if God made us tall, short, artistic, athletic, quiet, kind, funny, thin, smart, musical, loud, a homebody, fat, introverted, or extroverted for a reason? If we all looked the same, acted and thought the same–most of us would be unnecessary, don’t you think? God is far too creative for that!

So the next time you look in the mirror, try to see who God sees. Someone beautiful, valuable, worth dying for. Jesus chose the cross for YOU. How do I know? Check this out:  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you (God) because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  Psalm 139:13-14 NIV

Put those verses (ALL of Psalm 139, for that matter) in a place where you can read it every morning. How about on the bathroom mirror? It’s a reminder of who you REALLY are, and who loves you for that very reason. And that’s a truth you can stake your life on.

The Chain of Lakes series:
Shattered Image is FREE for your ereader!
Dance of Grace is ON SALE this week for only 99 cents!
The Color of Truth will be ready for pre-order on June 1!