LifeVerse Books Blogger Connect Giveaway- Amazon $200 gift card

LifeVerse Books Blogger Connect Giveaway-  Amazon $200 gift card

I’m so excited to be partnering with a few other bloggers, writers and authors to offer you a chance to win a $200 gift card from Amazon!
Please take a few moments and visit, like, subscribe to these lovely women. Comment below so we know that you have visited the sites. Extra entries by using the Rafflecopter entry form below.

Christine Abraham
Carla Brooks
Denise Pass
Christine Johnson
Stasia Nielson
LifeVerseBooks
Shelia Conlangelo

Giveaway runs until February 13th. So you will have some funds to bless those special people in your life, or treat yourself.

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New year, new post.

New year, new post.

Hello all,
I have been away from here for too long. It’s a new year and new goals. To post at least a bit more frequently than I have in the past. Sharing words of others even more often. Currently we, like the rest of the midwest are in deep sub zero temps and blowing snow. Time to dust off this blog and begin working towards those new goals.

Hope these older posts bless you. 2018 was indeed a year of amazing stretching for me. Excited to see what God has in store for 2019.

A Stake in the Ground Moment

Five minute free write- ready begin.

We’ve heard the phrase “stake in ground “ that issue, that mandate for your life, your belief system that you don’t or won’t stray from. It doesn’t matter what your faith is, or isn’t. Everyone has a few of those stakes. There are very valid reasons for those stakes. Those markers. It help you stay the course, keep your true North in sight.

There are times though when those ‘stake in the ground’ moments might be worth looking at. Not to change those fundamental things, but to realize that there is Grace on either side of that stake. Maybe allowing space, not too far out, but far enough to let others in. It’s all too easy to be so very firm on where you’ve planted your stake that it becomes your moment. Perhaps, allowing for Grace on either side, it becomes far enough out that you allow those stake in the ground moments to become God moments.

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Write 31 days- Day 1

Write 31 days- Day 1

Hello everyone,
I am taking some baby steps to being brave this month. First endeavoring to write either here or on Instagram every day for the whole month of October.
Every year there is a Write31 days challenge. Taking every day in the month of October to write something. Whether it’s a random post on social media, 300 or 3000 words for novel, or simply responding to a prompt someone has specifically made for this writing challenge.

So here goes…

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Day One

Everyone has a story, you were created and formed and living your life. Your stories are what make you who you are.
Seasons in our lives are like chapters in a book. Sometimes we are just slogging along, you know those book that have parts that get bogged down. Or the chapters that seem to be nothing but background and set up for what is to come. That’s you, that’s me.
We all have times in our lives where we feel like we are just getting by. We all have those beginning chapters, or flashback chapters that form our foundation.

Then there are the plot twists. Especially with mysteries. Things we can’t see coming as we are reading along. But we all love the stories where the main characters overcome loss and, or hardship. Where they find love, where they succeed and win at this story of life.

My story is pretty boring by some standards. Pretty fun and exciting by others. But the one prevailing thread that has always run through it, is writing, reading, singing, make believe. There was lots of make believe in my younger days, I was the youngest by 11 years. So mostly an only. I had friends but there was a lot of alone time. Time to create plays from books for our parents, time to write and read.
I still have those very early stories. Written in pencil that has faded over the years.

The writing, reading and music took somewhat of a backseat in college because I just never thought I could do that and study. Note to younger self, find some that believe you can do that and learn from them. As in a novel, sometimes the action shifts.

Deciding to follow after Jesus and realizing my need for a Savior has only enriched my life story. Still there are struggles. As with a novel there have to be some conflicts for the character, otherwise it lacks substance and growth for both the flow of the novel as well as the characters involved. It allows the reader to feel empathy or sympathy for that character. And maybe some recognizable traits within themselves. And in the case of our life stories those times give us testimonies a ‘here is how I made it through’ type offering to others who are in that place we once were.

God has a marvelous way of drawing you back, returning you to the place of dreams. Because, after all, whether you are a believer or not, He is the one who placed those dreams and gifts within you. In a story there is usually change in one or more characters. Just as in life, a good character isn’t stagnate, your life isn’t stagnate. Growth is stretching, it’s stepping out into unknown areas. Or areas that at one time felt familiar and known and possible. But as we grow up those previous things sometimes get over shadowed by simply growing up and becoming an adult. With adult responsibilities.

God has nudged me ever so gently back to creating.

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I’m stepping out, taking baby steps to being brave. Some know I write, some have encouraged me beyond belief that I am a writer. Some have even taken my meager submissions and published them. So this month, I may not be consistent, I probably won’t stick to a theme. (I realized in pondering this that I have lots of ideas). I may not have pithy things to say every day. So some days will be dreck. But that comes with the territory of writing, of story, of living life. Not everything is wonderful. Many parts of life are mundane.
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But I will do my best to write something. Sharing mostly this month, the honing and practice of the craft. Sharing books. Occasionally sharing my Savior and all that that encompasses.

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Photo Credits:
-Book photo by James Bold on Unsplash
-Typewriter photo by Elijah O’Donell on Unsplash
-To Be Continued photo by Reuben Juarez on Unsplash

“Legacy of Mercy”- Release day interview with Lynn Austin

Have been so blessed to be a part of Lynn Austin’s launch team for “Legacy of Mercy”. It was such a treat to have heard her speak a couple of times and then to meet her in person this past spring.

“Waves of Mercy” is a story set in Chicago and Holland, Michigan. Time shift of sorts involving two characters. We see the time shift in the memoir one character is writing as she takes us back in time with the history of the Dutch immigrants, their trials and struggles as they settle in the ‘wilderness’ of West Michigan. And with the other character trying to find her place in the world as well as her own history.

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“Legacy of Mercy” is the sequel to the story that was begun in “Waves of Mercy”. We get to know more about the characters and how social classes are perceived in the late 1800’s. We also get to see how deep hurts can lead to despair and bitterness. But in the end grace, mercy and forgiveness also shine forth.

Living in Holland, as well as having ancestors who immigrated here and planted a church it was a treat to read both books.

So glad to share an interview with Mrs. Austin.

1. Legacy of Mercy will be released on October 2 and will be the first sequel you’ve ever written. What made you decide to write a sequel?

My readers decided for me! I received many, many letters from them asking if there would be a sequel to “Waves of Mercy.” The main character, Anna, is only in her twenties and is a new Christian, so when she decides to return to Chicago and marry her fiancé at the end of the book, readers wanted to know what happens next in her life. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to explore what happens next for Anna, too. She has just discovered who her birth mother is, so naturally she’ll want to learn more about her. She’ll also want to solve the mystery of who her real father is and what became of him. What if he is still alive? Lots of material for a story here, especially when the other people in Anna’s life try to discourage her investigations.

2. This story is set in your home town of Holland, MI. Did you discover anything surprising while you were researching these books?

I knew very little about the early history of Holland, Michigan when I began this series—only that it was settled by Dutch immigrants. What surprised me was how much they suffered to establish a settlement here, including religious persecution, a malaria plague, and a devastating fire. Their enduring faith in spite of all their many trials was a huge inspiration to me.

3. You are known for writing multi-generational books and Legacy of Mercy is no exception. What intrigues you about writing in this style?

I enjoy creating women’s personalities from various eras and exploring how the roles and opportunities changed for women from generation to generation. I find it very interesting to see how the choices one generation makes has an influence on each generation after them. It causes me to be more thoughtful in the way I live, knowing that my children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren may be impacted by my life.

4. Which character in Legacy of Mercy do you identify with the most and why?

I would have to say I identify the most with Geesje DeJonge. For one thing, she is about the same age as I am, and has lived long enough to be able to look back through the years and analyze them. She is in a position to see all of the ways and times when God carried her through—something we usually only see in hindsight, not when we’re going through the difficulties. I’m at the same stage in my life, and I can see God’s faithfulness to me in spite of the many times I questioned His wisdom.

Happy early book birthday Lynn Austin!
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The Biggest Lie About Surrender – and Why You Can’t Afford to Believe It

So blessed to have Jennifer Lee on the blog today. Sharing a piece she wrote about surrender and control. I’ve been a part of her launch team for her new book that releases today- “It’s All Under Control” – Praying it blesses you.

If you asked me five years ago, I naively would have told you that I didn’t struggle with control. I mean, seriously— as long as everything went exactly the way I hoped, I was totally flexible.

It’s not that I wanted to control other people. Mostly, I wanted to control myself. If I ever had high expectations of anyone, it was of me. I wanted to present the self-assured, together version of my whole being. Which means I craved control over my face, my emotions, my body, my food, my words, my house, my schedule, my yard, my future.

My preference was a tidy, predictable, safe life where no one got hurt, where my kids remained in one piece, where there was no pain for anyone ever again, amen.
I said I trusted God but had reached the point where I realized I actually didn’t.
As a Jesus girl, this shocked me.

Clearly, my old systems of coping weren’t working: My desire to obsessively orchestrate my whole life was burning me out.

As a mom, I heard myself snapping at my kids. As a ministry leader, I knew that I was functioning within my call, but I didn’t feel fulfilled. I was tired, even after a regular night’s sleep. And I found myself zoning out during conversations with my husband, because I was mentally making lists of everything I needed to get done.

In short, I ran out of gas.

Maybe the empty tank was God’s way of bringing me to a dead stop, so I would finally pay attention. It worked. God got my attention, and maybe he’s trying to get yours too.

Imagine that it’s you who’s run out of gas. Maybe that doesn’t take much imagining after all, because like me, you’re tired of trying to hold it together. You want to keep it all under control, but things aren’t working out the way you planned.

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When you and I began to follow Jesus, we relinquished control over our lives. But because we suffer from the chronic condition known as being human we constantly try to steal that control back.

My wake-up call happened when I realized that the battle for my heart was regularly being fought inside the tiny squares of my to-do list.

I began to ask myself this question: “What are the things that, if they were taken away, would shatter the identity I have created?”

Was it my work? My calendar? My efforts to shield my children from pain and suffering? This urge to always say yes?

For me, the answer was: “All of the above.” I was trying to be the CEO of everything.

Jesus delivered a sobering reminder: You will never know if you can trust Me if you don’t give Me the chance to prove it.

I recommitted myself to a life surrendered to Jesus’ plans for my life. But something felt … off … when I considered what surrender truly meant.

I accidentally bought into a weird idea that surrendered living meant mostly that I needed to “do less.” Yet that was unrealistic because so much of life clearly couldn’t be opted out of. People depended on me. I had kids to feed. A house to manage. Books to write.

Most people can’t simply fire their lives and move on when it gets too chaotic. We can’t stop managing a household, cancel all our appointments, and spend the rest of our days on a floatie in the middle of a lake.

Here’s what I began to learn: Surrendered living is much more than “doing less.” It’s being more of who God created us to be.

Yes, I totally need more chill in my life, and maybe you do too. But here’s the full truth about surrender:

Surrender doesn’t come with some unrealistic demand that you are suddenly going to stop being the incredibly brave and brilliant woman that you are. Real surrender appreciates God’s remarkable design in you.

Do you know what a wonder you are?

You don’t settle. You are the sort of woman we can count on to meet a work deadline, organize a food drive, take in the neighbors’ kids during an emergency, drive your coworker to chemo, counsel a friend at 3 a.m. by text message, keep track of everyone’s appointments, and make sure we’re all wearing seat belts before you drive us on the three-day adventure that you single-handedly arranged.

We need you. We need take-charge, charitable women like you as doctors and nurses in operating rooms where details like “proper disinfectant” matter. Let me tell it to you straight: If you have an inner control freak, I’m hoping you’ll let her bust loose like nobody’s business if someone I love is on your operating table. We need responsible women like you to control all the bleeding.

We also need you in charge of schools, nonprofits, and Fortune 500 companies. We need rock-star women like you to show us that surrender isn’t “lie down in a pile.” It’s “march forward like a warrior.” Sometimes surrendering to God will require you to do the hardest work you’ve ever done in your life: take in another foster child, fight for your marriage, kick cancer where the sun don’t shine, or refuse to capitulate to the persistent drubbing from Satan.

Girl, listen up. We count on you. You are a woman fervently devoted to God’s calling on your life, not only in your work but also in your relationships.
Of course, as Carrie Underwood will sing to you, Jesus is definitely taking the wheel. But make no mistake: There are times when he’s going to ask you to do some driving.

Don’t think of Jesus as your chauffeur; he is more like your driver’s ed coach.
He’s there to teach you His rules of the road. Friend, do not fear the wheel. You have been equipped to drive—and Jesus is beside you when you steer the wrong way. Hopefully He will pull the emergency brake if necessary, and I’ve personally put in a request for roads lined with padded walls.
 The windows are rolled down, the music is cranked, the tank is full, and there’s something that looks like freedom on the horizon.
Out on the open road, may you feel the reassuring love of Jesus. On this journey toward surrender, you’ll discover that, at last, it really is all under control: God’s.

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BIO: Jennifer Dukes Lee is the wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, and an author. She loves queso and singing too loudly to songs with great harmony. Once upon a time, she didn’t believe in Jesus. Now, He’s her CEO. Jennifer’s newest book, “It’s All Under Control”, and a companion Bible study, are releasing today! This is a book for every woman who is hanging on tight and trying to get each day right―yet finding that life often feels out of control and chaotic.

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Adapted from It’s All under Control: A Journey of Letting Go, Hanging On, and Finding a Peace You Almost Forgot Was Possible by Jennifer Dukes Lee, releasing this fall from Tyndale House Publishers.

“Keep Running the Race Set Before You”

“Keep Running the Race Set Before You”

Welcome to my Summer Blog Swap. Over the past few weeks, I have been sharing posts from a few of my writing friends. Sharing pieces of their hearts and perspectives. Blessed to be a part of this, and introducing some of my favorite writers to you. This week I want to introduce to you Dorina Gilmore

We met through a group called Hope*Writers.
Dorina Lazo Gilmore is a blogger, speaker and author of Glory Chasers and Flourishing Together. Blessed to be able to share her words with you.

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Photo credit: Kolleen Gladden on Unsplash

“Marathon Lessons: How to persevere when your race isn’t turning out how you expected”

We began to inch toward the start line. Throngs of runners from 100 countries around the world joined us for this epic race – the 40th Chicago Marathon. I tried not to focus on my nervousness and instead enjoy the experience of being there with so many people from all walks of life chasing the same goal.

About a year before, I started dreaming up ways to celebrate my 40th birthday. Choosing something for my 40th carried some weight and grief for me as I remembered that my beloved went to Heaven in his 40th year of life. Running the Chicago Marathon bubbled to the surface as a big challenge I wanted to work toward. I live in Central California now so journeying together with my family back to the city where I grew up seemed like a memorable way to celebrate.

I run races year-round, but my focused training for the marathon began in June. My friend and I disciplined ourselves to run before dawn and the stifling heat of the day descended on Central California. We enjoyed long weekend runs on the trails around our city. Those runs afforded me a new rhythm of quiet to connect with God, to process my grief, to breathe new life to my dreams.

And now, five months later, the big day was here. As the announcer signaled for us to start, I felt a surge of excitement. We began to navigate the streets and neighborhoods of Chicago. I tried to take one mile at a time and not focus on the entire 26.2 miles before me, which was still daunting.

The first challenge was finding space to run. With 44,000 runners, I had to do a lot of weaving and negotiating to find a path for my feet. The timing had to be just right. You don’t want to cut anyone off, but you also don’t want to get stuck behind a group running a slower pace. Runners elbowed me and pushed me more than once. My hubby-coach ran next to me, and my training partner ran just ahead. I tried to steady the cadence of my breathing. The three of us struggled to stay together because of all the people surrounding us.

I started thinking about a passage in Hebrews I have been working to memorize with a group of women from my church. It says,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

We began to inch toward the start line. Throngs of runners from 100 countries around the world joined us for this epic race – the 40th Chicago Marathon. I tried not to focus on my nervousness and instead enjoy the experience of being there with so many people from all walks of life chasing the same goal.

About a year before, I started dreaming up ways to celebrate my 40th birthday. Choosing something for my 40th carried some weight and grief for me as I remembered that my beloved went to Heaven in his 40th year of life. Running the Chicago Marathon bubbled to the surface as a big challenge I wanted to work toward. I live in Central California now so journeying together with my family back to the city where I grew up seemed like a memorable way to celebrate.

I run races year-round, but my focused training for the marathon began in June. My friend and I disciplined ourselves to run before dawn and the stifling heat of the day descended on Central California. We enjoyed long weekend runs on the trails around our city. Those runs afforded me a new rhythm of quiet to connect with God, to process my grief, to breathe new life to my dreams.

And now, five months later, the big day was here. As the announcer signaled for us to start, I felt a surge of excitement. We began to navigate the streets and neighborhoods of Chicago. I tried to take one mile at a time and not focus on the entire 26.2 miles before me, which was still daunting.

The first challenge was finding space to run. With 44,000 runners, I had to do a lot of weaving and negotiating to find a path for my feet. The timing had to be just right. You don’t want to cut anyone off, but you also don’t want to get stuck behind a group running a slower pace. Runners elbowed me and pushed me more than once. My hubby-coach ran next to me, and my training partner ran just ahead. I tried to steady the cadence of my breathing. The three of us struggled to stay together because of all the people surrounding us.

I started thinking about a passage in Hebrews I have been working to memorize with a group of women from my church. It says,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-3).


Remember the witnesses.

These verses came to me at just the right time, providing inspiration for tackling the race ahead. At mile 3, we passed our family cheering crew – my parents, three daughters, my sister and brother’s family, and even some friends who have become family through the years. They motivated us on with smiles, high fives, hugs and hand-decorated signs. Not only were we surrounded by more than 1.5 million fans lining the streets of Chicago, but we were supported by our people, our witnesses.

I couldn’t help reflecting on how critical the support of my people has been through the years. My tribe has supported me at races, the births of my girls, graduations, weddings and more. They stood with me at my husband’s bedside when he battled cancer. They held me tight at the grave when we surrendered him to Heaven. Their encouragement buoys my strength.

As I ran the race, I could almost hear my Ericlee cheering from Heaven. I imagined him pumping his fist and calling out in that bellowing coaching voice. I thought of the others gathering in Heaven with him to witness my race. I saw my grandparents on both sides, many dear friends, and other heroes of the faith. This is the power of a community of support. I do not believe we humans are meant to run the race alone.

Weed out the thoughts that entangle.

I felt a little slower than usual. I couldn’t find my pace and my stomach felt queasy. I made it past the half marathon point. At mile 15, I knew I had to find a bathroom fast. Just in the nick of time, I found one. After waiting in line, I got back out on the course with my team. I was disappointed because I knew I had lost precious minutes there. I felt weak.

My running partner said she was going to go on ahead. I have to admit this was hard. I don’t blame her a bit. In fact, I probably would have made the same choice if the tables were turned. The competitive side of me just had a hard time accepting that I couldn’t push harder to stay with her.

I would say about 80 percent of running a marathon is the mental game. My mind started to spiral downward at this point. The temperature was rising. The sun started to beat down on me. I felt tired with each plodding step. I was disappointed in myself and felt ashamed that my husband had to run such a slow pace to keep me going. I started to compare myself to others in my mind.

Then those words rang out: “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” I was hindered by my self talk. My sin was in my attitude, my comparing, my jealousy, my shame. I felt like a tangled mess. I wanted to just lay down in the middle of the street and ugly cry.

I knew I had to rally. My husband offered to carry my hydration vest for me. I literally had to throw that thing off my tired shoulders and figuratively throw off my negative self talk as well.

Run with perseverance.

I didn’t realize it until later when my hubby told me but I started saying the words to the verse out loud: “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” I kept thinking about that word perseverance. It means persisting in spite of difficulty, obstacles or discouragement.

I reminded myself that I believe in doing hard things. I want to model that for my daughters. If I have learned anything in my grief journey, I have learned that the best way to navigate grief is to lean in, to take the next step, and the next. I made it to mile 20.

On mile 22, God sent me an angel. There was a woman on the side of the street giving the most rousing victory speech. Her words spoke truth and life into me. She reminded me that the marathon is about grit and glory. I believe that we are to be glory chasers, giving glory to God even in the most difficult times. Here was my chance. I had to run the race marked out just for me.

Follow the pacer.

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Photo credit: Mārtiņš Zemlickis on Unsplash

I’m not going to lie. Those last 4.2 miles were not easy. I was hot. I could feel the chafing beneath my shirt. I kept drinking water but still remained thirsty. Everyone around me was walking. I was tempted to stop, but I couldn’t. Shawn started running just ahead of me then. I knew what he was doing. He was pacing me. He knew I needed someone to follow, someone to chase. I fixed my eyes on his neon yellow “Run Big” shirt, and we ran.

And these words were running through my mind: “…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Some days are just hard. Sometimes the race is not what we hoped for or expected. It’s easy to focus my eyes on my shortcomings and disappointments. Hebrews 12 reminds me where to fix my eyes – on Jesus. He’s the pioneer, the first, the one blazing the trail, my pacer for life.

We had one last hill to climb and then we turned the corner. That bright red banner screaming “FINISH” was my invitation. I shifted to that last gear, and ran my guts out.

And in the end, it turns out the marathon was not just a birthday challenge to accomplish. The marathon was an important teacher for life. I learned to remember the witnesses, weed out the thoughts that entangle, run with perseverance and follow the Pacer.

All for His glory!