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Friday, August 31, 2012

But God, What if … ?

Exodus 4:1

Moses answered (God), “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”

I must confess, I love it when these important men of the Bible question God. Not because I want to encourage others to do the same. I mean, there’s no point, right? But when I see someone of great faith have weak moments, I know there’s hope for me. So no, I don’t use this as an excuse to be sloppy. I see it as a call to be more, as was Moses.

So Moses had a what if moment. I can relate. That’s why I’m forty six and only now starting on a path of ministry that others started many a year ago. I know the what ifs.

“What if no one cares what I write?”
 woman in mirror
“What if everyone hates my style?” As though each and every person had the same opinion about anything.

“What if this is a big waste of time?”

“What if people think I’m ugly?” Okay, I’m a little vain.

These are the chains that bind us—Satan’s tools. When God calls us out to do something, there are no what ifs. Only what will be. He knows the outcome already, otherwise He’d never have given us the task.

Does it mean the aspiring writer will be a million-dollar royalty-making published author? (Hmmmm. How ‘bout it Big Guy? All right, all right.) No, it doesn’t. In fact, I know my calling has already touched lives through information disseminated on my blog and the tightening of relationships with people around me. I’m still feeling the call, so I guess there’s more.

dollar signYes, I hope for the contract with a dollar sign in front of six-figures—okay, I’ll take five—somewhere on the page (preferably going to me and not just the publisher). But even if that never happens, I’ll know I’m being used by Him. And like His Grace, it’s sufficient.

Tell us about a WHAT IF moment God used in your life.

Other posts you might like:

What Did Moses Do Anyway?

Why I Want to be Broken

What Have You Got to Lose?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Changing Schedule

Hi, loyal readers.

As we move into the new school year and my schedule in life changes, so will my posting schedule for LBOC. Starting this week, I will be posting on Friday. This will work best as it coincides with the new schedule I have on my group blog, InfiniteCharacters.com. This way, when I link articles of authors posting on both sites, as I like to do, it will be on the same day.

So this week I will post the next installment of LBOC on Friday. It’s about when Moses had a “what if” moment. Come by and see it.

If you’d like, I’d love for you to leave a comment telling me your favorite Bible verse and why. It might inspire future posts.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

He’ll Come, By Rachel Poole

LBOC Welcomes Rachel Poole back for a devotional today. It’s inspired by the Hillsong title, You’ll Come. 

Just as the earth thirsts for the rain as does our spirit. Sunday, April 22, 2012 the rain finally came. After a long wait, saturation has come to drench the state of Maryland and the surrounding areas.

Upon waiting on the rain I’m reminded of the times I’ve spent in my own drought. Feelings of affliction in my heart, the days of damagecracked earth seemingly behind me, yet there were times when I’d still be feeling the effects of it. Craving a message, a lesson, a way to go, a way out or just some way, I recall the yearning from my spirit.

There would be days I thought “it’s just one thing after another, Lord” or “how am I supposed to overcome this one” or even “this has to be a joke, I can’t do this.” Usually these thoughts would come after a long stretch of either contentious moments or obvious frustration. When in a drought, our spirit becomes weak and our hearts need filling. That is when we look up to realize it’s our decision what or Whom we will surrender to. Is it our thoughts, our situation, or our problems that are worth our surrendering? From where does our fulfilling wisdom and deliverance come?

We must spend time with God not just seeking His hand but His face. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God says, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” God desires for us to seek His face and turn away from that which holds us back from Him so He can give us what we need.

 girl at hoseOur land is thirsty, our hearts are thirsty and our souls need to be satisfied. What God offers us is an everlasting flow of grace, freedom, and love beyond our comprehension. Just as the rain has fallen on this day may we be reminded of the promise that He will return to us and fulfill our hearts.

When in drought, don’t doubt! Thank God we don’t have to remain in drought. He gives us His freeing raindrenched forest when our hearts and souls are in need. We don’t have to wait on the weather man to predict the next downpour. In Christ we know it’s available anytime. Pray, Seek His face and He will come!

Other posts you might like:


Sacrifice—No Greater Love

Good Jesus Cardio  

Rachel_Cropped_1Rachel Poole is a hair stylist at Cut Loose in Edgewater, MD. She lives in Harwood with her wonderful husband Deryck and their adorable German Shepherd Gemma. She is passionate about writing and reaching people for Jesus. Her inspiration comes from life struggles and God inspired moments. God put it on her heart as a young girl to write and as she matures in her writing her hope is to one day reach her goal of becoming a published author. www.cutlooseinc.com

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Perseverance, Patience, and Humility—By Rita Gerlach

Today, Historical author, Rita Gerlach, is going to show us how God uses those long spaces of time to … stretch us.

Sitting on my desk is a small piece of cross-stitch that I finished years ago and placed in a marble frame. It says, “Commit your works to the Lord.” Beneath the verse is a cluster of bright red tulips, a wickerred tulips basket, a pair of garden gloves, a trowel, and a green watering can with a heart on it. There isn’t a day gone by that I do not see those words before my eyes, next to my blue willow mug filled with pens and highlighters. Committing your work to the Lord takes perseverance, which has a few different facets that define it: tenacity, steadfastness, grit, and determination, but never pride. It’s all about trust. Not how tough you are.

I learned this lesson one day in late July 2008. I had been submitting my novel out to literary agents for almost two years. Some gave me excellent feedback on how I could improve the manuscript. But for the most part, I received nice rejection letters, some saying their client lists were full, or that this was not the book for them to represent. A few agents I never heard back from. One took an entire year to reply.

I had a large list of agents to submit to and I had just about exhausted it. I also had a list of publishers, but it was much smaller that the list of agents. I must preface this story by saying my experience with agents is not meant to deter you from submitting to them or to discourage you in any way. By all means, submit away! It just so happened that the agent highway was not the route I was meant to take in order to find publication. But it was meant to give me valuable lessons about the industry, protocol, and the importance of submitting a well-written, polished manuscript.

That summer morning, as I sat down at my desk to begin my day, I felt down. The creamy mug of coffee with a shot of chocolate in itcoffee wasn’t enough to cheer me up, nor the beautiful sunny day outside my window. Discouraged, I stared at the computer screen, then I opened Outlook and randomly read a few emails. No replies to my query. The last one I sent out was earlier that month to a big-time New York agent. I knew it was a long shot. Still, I hoped I’d hear from her.

It was one of those dark moments in my life where I felt like giving up, throwing in the towel, crawling under the blankets and acknowledging defeat. Then I looked over at my little piece of cross-stitch and lifted my fingers off the keyboard. I placed my head in my hands and prayed.

I asked the Lord to show me what He wanted me to do, which path I should take, whether I should stop writing or continue. Should I pack it all up and go out and get a day job? What did He want me to do with this novel? If He wanted me to stop writing, or never have this novel published, I needed an answer…clearly and distinctly.

Again, I looked over at my cross-stitched verse and read it back to myself. There was no doubt in my mind this was the only thing I could do, and that I had to lay it at His feet, and accept whatever was in God’s plan for me. I did not have the power within me to make anything happen.

About fifteen minutes later, I opened up Brandilyn Collins’ blog, Forensics and Faith. Brandilyn had posted a piece entitled New Fiction Line about her friend Barbara Scott, Abingdon’s senior acquisitions editor for fiction. Immediately I perked up. Could this be an answer to prayer? I wondered.

I began to devour every word slowly, so to absorb the news about this exciting venture. Abingdon was established in 1789 as an imprint of the United Methodist Church. They had published a lot of nonfiction, and now they were ready to launch a new course in their long history. Abingdon had a solid five-year plan for developing the fiction line, and looking for four or five novels to release in the fall of 2009.

I scanned the list of genres that Barbara was looking for. Romance. Historical. My genre, inspirational historical romance, was included! In addition to this, Barbara wasn’t interested in going after authors with big names. Instead, she was excited about building new authors who had worked on their craft but hadn’t been able to break into publishing. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It was a miracle.

I had the genre she wanted. I had published three novels print on demand, but I had not broken through in the traditional sense, and I had a complete manuscript to offer. After reading how to proceed in contacting her, I pulled up my query and read it over. A writer has to present a stunning query, one that grabs an editor from the get-go, with your title, word count, genre, a one-paragraph synopsis, and a few lines about any publishing credits you may have. It cannot be any longer than one page.

With this all in order, I emailed Barbara, telling her I had read Brandilyn’s post about Abingdon’s fiction line. Shortly afterwards she replied back and requested I email her my synopsis and the first three chapters. My foot was in the door, but that was all. Yet it was enough to make me do the Snoopy dance.

Patiently I wait. I was prepared for a long duration of several msurrenderonths before hearing back from Barbara. A few days later, she requested the full manuscript and loved it. She then went on to champion my novel to the fiction team, and by the end of August, I had been offered a publishing contract for Surrender the Wind, with Abingdon Press, one of the most reputable Christian publishers in the industry. Not only that, but my novel had been chosen to be included in the launch come August 2009, an honor that I still in awe over.

As an aspiring writer, ask yourself if you have the patience to continue writing after receiving rejections and harsh critiques. Do you have the steadfastness to improve your writing? Are you willing to learn the craft of good storytelling? Do you have the determination to continue to send out your work? Do you have the tenacity to remain true to your goals even if it means it could take years before you publish your first book? Can you be persistent and humble at the same time?

For a writer to truly master the craft of writing, it takes work, and you can never believe you’ve so arrived that you no longer need to improve or grow. Pride can lead to a fall. A humble heart keeps you open to learning. Patience and persistence will help you along the way.

When you have those difficult days where you feel frustrated and alone, just remember every person that has ever written a book, has had the same feelings. Join a writing group in your area, or one online. Join network groups of writers so you can connect and build friendships with other authors.

The writing life is indeed a joyful one. Take my advice; be patient in your search for publication. Do not rush it. After you polish your manuscript to a high sheen and you are ready to submit, study how to write a query letter and a book proposal. Make a list of publishers or literary agents you wish to submit to. If you receive a rejection, know that this is the norm, and tell yourself ‘this was not the agent or publisher for me’. Move on. Keep the momentum going and write another novel while you are putting the other one out there.

No matter what happens, if you have a burning passion in your soul to write, never let rejections discourage you.  It may take a while to produce a polished manuscript. It may take a long time to find the publisher that is right for you. I learned waiting for that to happen was worth it.

The industry may be tough. But there is one thing for certain. Whether you are published or not, no one can say you are not a writer, and no one can take away the talent that God gave you. Only you can decide what you will do with it.

Rita is also on InfiniteCharacters.com today answering my tough questions about the writer’s life ;o). Come see!

Other posts you might like:

And You Thought Writing was a Solitary Life—By Jennifer Slattery

MaryLu Tydall’s Testimony of Faith

How God Breathed Creative Inspiration in My Writing—By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Re_1Rita Gerlach lives with her husband and two sons in a historical town nestled along the Catoctin Mountains, amid Civil War battlefields and Revolutionary War outposts in central Maryland.

In many of her stories, she writes about the struggles endured by early colonists, with a sprinkling of both American and English history. Currently she is writing a new historical series for Abingdon Press entitled 'Daughters of the Potomac'. See her 'Novels In Progress' page to learn more.Series
She was born in Washington D.C. and grew up in a large family in the Maryland suburbs. Her family claims that storytelling is their blood, handed down from centuries of Irish storytellers. Rita believes there just may be something to that theory.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Change in Perspective, By Dineen Miller

Dineen Miller reminds us that through the imperfect expectations that sometimes come in a spiritually unequal marriage, our hope comes from only One source.  

I sat in my favorite chair, devotional in hand and Bible open. Tears began streaming down my face. I sat before God, grieving over a hope that felt thin at best.

The evening before, my husband and I were on our way out to grab a bite to eat. I thanked him again for the wonderful set of darts he’ddarts given me for my birthday. (We love playing darts and I love that it’s something we share and do together). Part of the gift was a set of flights (the things that attach to the back end of the dart and make then fly straight) which had a cross on them. I was touched that he thought to buy those for me.

He said that was actually a big step for him. I asked him why since he’s bought cross pendants for me in the past. He explained that jewelry was different. He didn’t really see it as having a specific meaning. But buying the flights with the crosses mean that he accepted my faith as something that wasn’t going to change.

Our conversation continued over dinner. He further expanded that just as I probably hoped he would change his mind and believe in God, he hoped I would decide to believe like he does, that God doesn’t exist.  In my heart, I cringed a bit because I’d thought he’d moved toward being more of an agnostic than an atheist. We continued to talk. That was the good part—we really talked. It was honest, open and authentic. Nothing defensive or upsetting, even though it seemed like a step back.

Interestingly enough, at one point I got to share a perspective that surprised him. He said I probably thought that his life would be better if he believed. I said not necessarily better but richer. This gave me the opportunity to explain to him that my desire for him to come to faith had nothing to do with wanting to change him in any way. My only desire was that his eternity would be secure. I love him just as he is and I want to see him in heaven.

earth in handsI explained the “richer” part with comparing the discovery of the world being round, not flat. New discoveries were to be made and perspectives enhanced and even changed. Like a whole new world (pun intended) being opened up before our eyes.

So, the reality of his unwavering choice to not believe God existed grieved me deeply that morning. I sat before God and asked what had happened? Had ground been lost? Had I misunderstood? Then I told God I refused to stop believing His promises for my sweet guy. I know without a doubt God’s hand is on his life and I will wait however long it takes.

Then God’s loving and quiet voice came into my heart and changed my perspective. He showed me that this was not a step back but a step forward. That my husband’s acceptance of my faith was a crucial step in his consideration of faith for himself.  God helped me see what I could not on my own. My hope was restored and renewed by a God who loves my “pre-believer” even more than I do.

Praying and believing,

I’m interviewing Dineen on InfiniteCharacters.com today about her new novel, The Soul Saver. This novel deals with issues related to spiritually unequal marriages. Come take a look. 

Other posts you might like:

MaryLu Tyndall’s Testimony of Faith

What Have You Got to Lose?

DineenMiller2-medIn addition to writing for Spiritually Unequal Marriage, Dineen Miller has won several prestigious awards for her fiction. She’s also a C.L.A.S.S. Communicator and has been featured on the Moody Radio Network, Family Life and Focus on the Family Radio.
Married for 24 years to a guy who keeps her young, she lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two adult daughters, who surprise her daily with their own creativity.

Her Links:


Facebook pages: 
https://www.facebook.com/DineenMiller.AuthorSpeaker https://www.facebook.com/SpirituallyUnequalMarriage

Personal Blog: 
Twitter:  @dineenmiller
GoodReads author page:  http://www.goodreads.com/dineenmiller
The Soul Saver Booktrailer: