I need them. They need me. We need Jesus.​

The world tells me that I am entitled to my emotions and how they play out as long as I don’t hurt anyone else.

I sat in my room. Anger and frustration piled high behind an avalanche of unkind thoughts. Even in this heated moment, The Lord revealed the lie feeding my emotions. God does not invite me to linger in sinful self-pity.

My focus must be on honoring the Lord in difficult moments rather than indulging in an emotional release. But how? How do I move from frustrated and angry toward worshipful thanksgiving and praise? How do I move from dutiful obedience to heart-driven joyful action?

I pulled out my journal and started writing.

Why God? Why is it so hard? Why is it so difficult to parent? To teach? To reach? I’m trying, but I just keep hitting this same wall. I can’t seem to break through this barrier.

As I wrote out my thoughts, my heart started to soften. I remembered the day we adopted each one of our children. I remembered the day we realized how God had crafted each one individually and that each one would face their own specific challenges in working out their faith and growing up. I thanked God.

Thank you, Lord, for trusting my children to me. You could have given them to any family in this entire world, and you chose us. Why? I know I am weak. I am easily frustrated. Yet, you chose me. Maybe because you knew the very thing that might drive some others into resentment and tempt them to lash out would drop me to my knees. Maybe because you knew these kids needed these kinds of prayers. Maybe, because out of all the people in the entire world, you knew I needed them to sand off my rough edges and putting us together would sanctify us and stir us to pursue more of You. 

I need them, they need me, and we need Jesus.

difficult people

Just like that, the anger was gone. The avalanche of unkindness had melted into a river of love. It is impossible to stay angry with the person for whom you are praying.

Pray. Pray hard. Pray long. Pray faithfully until God changes YOUR heart. He will as He aligns it with His.


*Image by Ian Schneider. Used with permission. Unsplash.com 

For Writers: Post Publication

I am traditionally published. For some, that is the dream. It was my dream for a variety of reasons. I felt quite certain that I was not objective enough to know when my manuscript was ready, and I feared I might prematurely hit the indie-publish button. On some unspoken level, I also thought that if a publishing company picked me up, they would do all the post publishing heavy lifting to market my book.

Enter reality.

Both traditional publishers I work with are wonderful. They are personal, they work hard, and they answer every email every single time. But I’ve learned that I still have a significant amount of post publishing work to do to sell my books – just like an indie author. Unless you are a huge name with a huge publisher, this will likely be your experience as well.

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Small traditional publishers do not have the budget to launch your book with a huge splash, so authors must suit up and jump into the pool.

I’ve already launched two novels and one non-fiction book, and I am just starting to learn what it means to launch well. I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I thought that if I released the book to the public, then things would happen organically.

I am a huge believer in leaving my career in the hands of God and resisting the urge to go crazy on self-promotion. But I am also a huge believer in doing all things to the best of my ability and using my talents to glorify the Lord. It is not enough to simply write a message I believe the world needs to hear. I also need to let the world know where to find that message.

How does an author promote the message?

It took me a long time to learn that I am not promoting ME; I’m promoting the MESSAGE.

My next two novels release December 2018 (Mistletoe Melody) and February 2019 (Fatal Homecoming). They have detailed launch plans. I plan to launch them to the best of my ability and let the Lord do what He desires with my efforts.

You’ll notice if you stick around, that my blog posts during launch time will focus on the themes of those novels. I’ll host guest writers sharing about the prominent themes in those novels, and I will be a guest on various social media sites speaking about the themes of those books. It’s far easier to promote a theme or a message that I believe will bless others than it is to promote myself.

I’ve also found several helpful websites and podcasts, and I’m happy to share them with you.

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Misty Beller, The Ambitious Author – I’ve just found this blog, and it has already proven helpful! Traditional or Indie, her tips are great

Novel Marketing – This has been THE MOST HELPFUL podcast I’ve ever listened to regarding marketing books. Don’t have time to listen to podcasts, you say? Listen while you drive, run, walk, do the dishes, etc. Ditch the music and learn while you multi-task. I found the following two links on the Novel Marketing podcast.

Chris Fox Writers – If you sign up for his newsletter you will receive a copy of How to Write 5000 words an hour for FREE.

James Scott Bell Blog – I loved his teaching on how to write short stories and use them to market your novels. FYU: The short story I plan to GIVE AWAY this November to my newsletter subscribers is the result of this teaching.

Positive writer –  another place filled with tips for platform building when you have a $0 budget.

Let’s Share

What about you? What are your best resources? Let’s share them and help each other!

Afflicted But Not Crushed

One email changed everything. Bad news rained down determined to drown my commitment to be thankful in everything. Is this challenge from God? Is it temptation from Satan to throw in the towel? I don’t know. When life struck with a severity that stole the breath from my lungs, my limbs trembled.

That’s where I was as I created “Jenna” from The Builder’s Reluctant Bride. I needed to be reminded, like Jenna, that my current struggles didn’t negate the ways God was using me. I needed to remember that God would use everything in my life to shape me into His image and draw me closer to Him.


“I thought after his mom died I had lost the both of them. Then, you came around.” The corners of his eyes crinkled.

“Me?” she squeaked.

“Yes. You changed everything for him. I know you left for college right after graduation, so you likely didn’t see the change. But God took that seed you planted in my son and grew this man.” He gestured to William, who stood with his fire jacket off and held a dog while it licked his soot-covered face. “This man of God.” Carmen looked squarely into her eyes. “I am indebted to you, Jenna.”

She squirmed at his unquestionable sincerity. She didn’t deserve his praise for directing his son to faith, the same faith that later let her down in every conceivable way.


When life hit Jenna with bad news, it caused her to question her faith and question God’s goodness. Bad news comes to everyone at some time and in some way. The truth in the midst is that God is good. Still. Always. Never changing. Good.

It might not feel good. You might want to give up. You might think there is no way for God to redeem your story. You are wrong.

This is what you, me, and Jenna need to remember when our foundation is shaken.

With words, God created the world. Then the Living Word became flesh. Through inspired words, God promised protection. Not protection from all hurt or heartbreak, but protection from His justifiable wrath through Jesus for all who believe. He promises to work out all things for the good of His children. Not always the way that I want, but He will take what the enemy meant to destroy me and redeem it for my good. He’ll finish what he started. He provides comfort in our trials when we seek Him, which is not a promise to remove the trial, but a promise of His presence through it. He will supply all our needs, and we need saving faith in Christ most of all. He will return for us. It is the hope that we cling to. He is coming back. His Word is true.


Today is the LAST DAY to scoop up The Builder’s Reluctant Bride for .99 cents!

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He wants a second chance, she says there’s no going back.


The Builder’s Reluctant Bride—WINNER of Best Romance at the 2016 Word Awards—is only .99cents!


You can also enter to win amazing gifts from the #PelicanBookBonanza. No Purchase Necessary for the #giveaway. https://mybookcave.com/retailer-group/89b60601/

Christian eBook Bonanza share 22


Oh, and my fall newsletter goes out tomorrow. If you’re not subscribed, you’ll miss links to books less than $1, the updated password to unlock the EXTRAS page, and information about a new book releasing December 1st. Sign up HERE.

Reminders of a Relationship

Some days, the sunlight hits the flowers in the most beautiful of ways.

The cut hydrangeas sit on my desk in front of the windows, in a round vase that reminds me of a marble. I like to think the vase is handblown, purchased in some tourist town gift shop, but I don’t know its history.

I bought it for a dollar or so at a neighbor’s estate sale, but it’s worth much more than that to me.

Though I like the vase independent of its original owner, it’s meaning is tied to her in my memory. She was a friend, and the one person I’ve called 911 for, and one of the few whose deathbed I’ve visited. Though I suppose you couldn’t say we were particularly close, these experiences leave an impact.

Not that I constantly examine them. I can go weeks without thinking of her, but then the sun will hit the papery petals of the hydrangea, and I’ll slow down to write, not knowing where the post will go. As words come, I find the vase is filled not with water and stems, but with a quiet reminder of a relationship.

Reminders of God are Everywhere

I didn’t sit at my desk to look at the flowers or to type a post. I sat to read a Bible passage and to journal about how Jesus’s love for me is reflected in Colossians 1:15-23.

For all things in heaven and on earth were created by him – all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers – all things were created through him and for him. He himself is before all things and all things are held together in him. (vs. 16-17 NET)

Everything around me is created through him and for him. It’s all held together in him.

This is so much more than a casual, once-upon-a-time ownership of a vase. Jesus’s relationship with his creation is ongoing and intricate and purposeful.

I paid a dollar for a keepsake to remember a relationship I lost.

Jesus paid his blood, his life, to redeem a relationship I’d severed.

The reminders I have of my neighbor are few. The vase, and a teacup where I keep my more special jewelry.

The reminders of God’s redeeming love and ongoing care are literally everywhere. Everything is held together in Him. Everything.

Reminders of the Holy

And yet, like I often don’t pause to look at the vase and remember my neighbor, I also don’t often enough pause to look at the world around me and appreciate the reminder of the relationship I have with the Creator and Sustainer.

But then the sun will hit the papery petals of the hydrangea, and God will guide me here. I’ll type slowly,  not knowing exactly how to say, Look, the earth is full of his glory. It’s not filled with mountains and animals and prairies and people, but with evidence of a relationship.

A relationship that’s ongoing, despite our fallen nature. A relationship that means enough to the Creator to die for the sake of His created. Washed in His blood, all the evidences of Him we see in the world around us aren’t melancholy reminders of a relationship we lost—like my vase is—but rather of the ultimate redemption and hope that reaches beyond the grave and into eternity.

I have to believe God wants us to see it. I have to believe that’s why, sometimes, the light hits just right and interrupts our mundane day with reminders of the holy.

Let’s pause when those moments come. Let’s go so far as to seek them out, not to fulfill our own thirst for beauty, but to remember the goodness of our Savior. Let’s echo the seraphim, who cried out to each other:

Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. (Isaiah 6:3 KJV)


Emily Conrad

Connect with Emily: www.emilyconradauthor.com facebook.com/emilyconradauthor Instagram.com/emilyrconrad Twitter.com/emilyrconrad


justice

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Justice-Emily-Conrad-ebook/dp/B0792HGXQN/

Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/justice-emily-conrad/1127841580

Where to find free reads and maybe win an e-reader!

I don’t normally pop into your inbox on a Tuesday, but I have a fun surprise I need to share! I know where you can find some FREE READS and where you can enter to win a free e-reader.

Yes. FREE.

I’ve teamed up with 20+ fantastic authors to give away a huge collection of Inspirational Mysteries & Thrillers to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a brand new eReader to the Grand Prize winner!

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Oh, and did I mention you’ll receive a collection of FREE reads just for entering?

You can win my novel, In Too Deep, plus books from authors like Jan Thompson and Susan May Warren.

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Enter the giveaway by clicking here:

http://bit.ly/inspymysteriesthrillers-sep18

Good luck, and enjoy!

Stacey

Can We Really Trust God?

What causes you to question God? Is it seeing a child in distress? Receiving a life-altering diagnosis? Can circumstances force you to question the Father? It wasn’t that long ago my perfectly settled life was thrown off course. But security rooted in anything but Christ is an illusion.


Today, I’m a guest on author Emily Conrad’s blog, celebrating with her the release of Justice in paperback. Click HERE to read more of Can We Really Trust God?

 

.99 cent sale: The Builder’s Reluctant Bride

I love how a story is able to convey deep theological truths in a compelling and applicable way. I love being lost in a character, thinking and feeling as deeply as them, struggling to find God in their broken dreams, and knowing—as the writer—their happy ending is with their Saviour.

Jenna, from The Builder’s Reluctant Bride, was a particularly challenging character to write; she had been deeply wounded. Like all of us, Jenna is accountable to God for her response to the wounds inflicted on her. For a time, she held onto her anger and bitterness, pulled away from God, and put up walls between her and the people who loved her. Like all of us, Jenna had a lot to learn about forgiveness, love, and the Lord.

Learning from Jenna

If you know what it is like to hold tight to a dream or desire and struggle to submit it to God’s will, you will connect with Jenna. You will ache as she aches, weep when she weeps, and celebrate when she celebrates because you know the struggle. You know what it means to want to forgive yet still feel anger. You understand wanting what God wants but battling with the hardened and wounded heart within. Life isn’t fair, it is too hard, and forgiveness seems to cost too much.

Jenna’s moment of complete surrender is my favorite passage in the book. It’s where she considers that God did hear her prayers, and He collected each and every tear she shed, that His love for her was not dependant on her ability to trust more, act more, pray more, or be more — but was based on Him. He had walked so closely to her during her struggles that she blamed Him when He had wanted her to lean on Him.

The greatest gift to us during suffering is God himself

Jenna’s broken dreams were the catalyst that sparked a search for a deeper intimacy with the Lord. As she examined her sin that exposed the deceptions she believed, she shows us how to move toward fulfilling God’s ultimate purpose for our life – glorifying Him in the good and the difficult.

Jenna’s story raises questions: Do your unfulfilled dreams prompt you to call out shamelessly to God for grace, mercy, and restoration? Have you laid down your dreams and ambitions at His feet in complete surrender?

Jenna’s story is on sale this month for only .99 cents! The Builder’s Reluctant bride is also part of a promotion with My Book Cave. Follow the links below and you can enter to win one of $400 dollars in prizes!


 

He wants a second chance, she says there’s no going back. How much will William sacrifice to redeem his mistakes and prove his love? Can Jenna protect her heart this time or will William break her for good?

The Builder’s Reluctant Bride—WINNER of Best Romance at the 2016 Word Awards—is only .99cents!

Amazon CA Link 

Amazon COM Link


You can also enter to win amazing gifts from the #PelicanBookBonanza. No Purchase Necessary for the #giveaway. https://mybookcave.com/retailer-group/89b60601/ 

Christian eBook Bonanza share 20

Engage Your Mind

One child, who will remain nameless, jerked the van’s sliding door in a moment of anger, wrenching door off the track. It hung limply, almost completely unhinged. We were already running late for a dental appointment, and this added a SLOW drive through town while my child clung to the sliding door nearly dragging on the pavement beside us.

Emotionally Overwhelmed

Do you connect the word “overwhelmed” to that kind of situation? Does the word have to be negative? If you’re a parent, think back to the first time you cradled your newborn. Did you cry? Did you laugh? Did you do both because your emotions were so overwhelmed?

I remember the first time I saw my daughter. Kevin and I anxiously waited. We were an ocean away from home, tucked into a room with ten crying Asian babies. Our gazes desperately moved from one tiny face to another until they locked onto the girl who reflected the image of the picture we had received two months prior. We could hardly stand it, waiting for permission to reach out and comfort our daughter.

Spiritually Overwhelmed

I know what it is like to be overwhelmed emotionally. I also know what it is to be overwhelmed spiritually. I know what it means to be moved to tears during worship. I know what it means to be overwhelmed with love for God and add my voice to the choir singing out praise.

I’ve sat under preaching that has touched me so deeply that I could feel the Spirit of God prompting my heart to repentance. I have trembled as a familiar text of Scripture comes alive with fresh meaning as the Lord opens my ears to his Word.

Mentally Overwhelmed?

When was the last time my mind was overwhelmed by God? Jesus said that we are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and MIND (Matt 22:37).

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Let’s go back to that opening illustration of the van. At that moment, I wanted an emotional release. I wanted to yell, to vent, to express my frustrations. But do my feelings have to drive my actions?


God helped me recall something I often tell my children:

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The sin is not in the feelings of anger or frustration, but it is far easier to fall into sin in those moments of anger or frustration. The sin or victory is revealed in our response.


When my emotion tempts me toward sin, when my flesh wants to indulge in the temporary release of frustration, it is more important than ever that I engage my mind. Scripture tells me that I am a new creation (2 Cor 5:17), no longer a slave to the old ways (Gal 4:7). Scripture tells me that God hears me when I call out to Him (Ps 4:3). Scripture tells me that all things are possible with God (Matt 19:26).

Engage the Mind

God met me in that moment of frustration, and by engaging my mind and recalling the truth that sets me free, I did not sin in my anger. Being overwhelmed can be a good thing when I’m overwhelmed by God and by truth.

Be overwhelmed.

How to write an anniversary speech

My parents recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Not too many people hit that milestone anymore, and we wanted to acknowledge their perseverance and commitment to one another through the difficult and easy times of 50 years of marriage.

50 years

Together with my siblings, we hosted a party. My job was to welcome those in attendance and segue from the introduction to the vow renewal ceremony.

I struggled to come up with an appropriate way to kick-start the festivities. I wanted something personal that might strike a sentimental chord, perhaps cause those in attendance to smile or laugh, and yet still be meaningful to my parents.

I crafted this list of questions, then used my parents’ answers to write my welcome. Download your free copy the Anniversary printable

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I used their answers to write the tribute below. You can use it as a template to craft your own personal and heartfelt speech to honor your parents.

A long time ago Bev set sail across the ocean carrying a China doll and a panda bear. She left behind England, her round flower garden, and a bird aviary (this was before she was afraid of birds). She couldn’t even imagine what lay ahead.

About that same time, Dave was chasing freedom and catching grass stains in Highgate, Ontario. In the winter months, he scraped the ice from the inside of his bedroom window and then off the windshield of his rusty 1951 Ford pick-up truck.

The truck he loved drove him to the job he despised where Bev’s mother spotted him. Her mother said, “He seems like a decent guy.” Bev, now grown, agreed.

On their first date, Dave brought Bev to the movie theatre thankful that his job at Zellers had finally paid off. She was the one.

After months of laughing and kissing, learning to Polka and waltz, the lover of boiled eggs and soldiers (that’s toast cut into strips – not men) married the lover of ice cream and pie.

They established their home in a tiny upstairs apartment with only a bed and a $30 refrigerator that fell down the staircase. Bev cooked their dinner in an electric frying pan and heated a tin of vegetables over a candle. Life was good.

The babies soon came, bringing with them the years of Tupperware, paper bag lunches, bike rides, Star Trek reruns, big Sunday dinners, mashed potatoes, and words of wisdom:

“Your word is your bond,” Dad would say, along with, “Life isn’t fair.”

Mom would tell us, “Everyone must choose for themselves if they will serve Jesus.”

They built a home and a life together. They welcomed grandbabies and great grandbabies and made family memories fishing, baking, and being together.

We celebrate their 50 years of marriage this summer with joy, so thankful that mom got on that boat all those years ago and that Dad went to the job he despised – otherwise none of us would be here now.

 

Resting in a sleep-deprived​ World

Our world idolizes working faster, longer, and harder, lifting up frenzied lifestyles like a golden calf to be worshiped. How early we rise, how late we stay up, how many hours we log-in defines us. We own our success letting it lift high our esteem; we own our failure letting it label us as lacking. An unhealthy obsession to prove we can manage drives us to volunteer to fill every need. It enslaves us to hosting Pinterest worthy parties, designing home decor, and creating hand-made treasures. It demands time, attention to detail, and energy that requires an I.V. line of pure caffeine to support.

We wonder why we are tired.

For nights, we labor in vain, tossing and turning, unable to close our eyes lest our fears are recognized while we slumber. We work hours before the sun rises and hours long after the sun sets unwilling to honestly depend on the Lord. We forgo the Sabbath, rejecting God’s design for real rest. It doesn’t make sense to our flesh: How do we work one less day and still accomplish our tasks? How do we tithe one-seventh of our time and energy when we need every last bit to simply maintain the status quo? Rejecting the impossible math, our tired head hits the pillow, but our eyes fail to close. Our minds still spin, plan, design, budget, and justify.


Oh, Lord, forgive my foolish heart. Anxiety proves that I still do not fully trust You as my provider. Disobeying the Sabbath is an outward symbol of self-reliance. An inability to peacefully rest illustrates a fretful heart fighting you for control. I will only lay down and sleep when I believe with all my heart that You hold it all. You are building the house. You are watching the city. When I embrace that truth, I will sleep and enjoy the rest of your beloved (Psalm 127:1-2).


Be still