Best Canadian New Author of the Year!

This past weekend, we watched the Word Awards Celebration where Christian writers are recognized and celebrated. Originally, I had thought that if I could be nominated in just one category I would be thrilled. So, you can imagine how ecstatic I felt when, between my novel One More Tomorrow, my devotional Soul Focus – Trials, and my blog site, my work was nominated for five categories!

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The spark that prompted One More Tomorrow arrived unexpectedly one evening while waiting for a flight home in Milwaukie Airport with my husband. A scene sprung into my head, and I reached for my hubby’s laptop (I didn’t have my own back then) and wrote, what is to this day, the first page of One More Tomorrow. 

We were in the thick of raising and homeschooling our three small children, and I hardly need to explain that time was at a premium. Monday nights became my writing night. I would make a run to a local coffee shop and grab a giant latte and sandwich. Returning home, I would steal away to my little office at the back of our house and shut the door in preparation for several blissful, uninterrupted hours of writing. My husband would make or take the kids out for dinner and some sort of activity and then return home to quietly put them to bed so that I could continue writing.

Those nights were magical. Ideas and words filled my mind and flowed through my fingers with such fluidity that my meager keyboard skills hardly kept up. Since ideas are such slippery things, I often wrote into the early hours of the morning to ensure all of them were captured. One morning, my second-born son peeked his head in the door of my office at 6 AM, wide-eyed in disbelief, and exclaimed, “Mom, are you still up?” It was already morning, and I hadn’t made it to bed.

I finished the novel within a year but had no idea what I would do next. Like most moms with young children, my life was already stuffed full. I decided that I couldn’t possibly publish and homeschool well, so I set the novel aside… for about fifteen years. Over those years, my firstborn son, Kurtis, would ask, “So, Mom, when are you going to publish your book?” He wouldn’t let me forget it or give up on my dream.

I recall going to a few writer’s conferences over the years—feeling anything but a writer—and listening to published authors talk about the craft. As they spoke about the writing and publishing process, I recall feeling bewildered and overwhelmed. I once sat at a table with an author who had just won a Word Award for her work and marveled at her accolades. Little did I know, just a few years later she would be my editor! But at that time, I still wasn’t able to even begin thinking about publishing. Though it was a huge goal of mine, at times I wondered if I would ever reach it.

In the fall of 2018, my youngest daughter went off to a “real” school. That same fall, my oldest son got married. The year prior, my second-born son had left home to attend post-secondary school, and my third born had completed high-school. After eighteen years of homeschooling and non-stop shuttling my kids to numerous activities, suddenly several unclaimed hours stretched out before me. For the first time ever, I had seven hours each day entirely to myself! I immediately set to work.

By the fall of 2019, I had two books to present to the world. One More Tomorrow launched in September, and Soul Focus – Trails was published just two months later. We held two glorious book launch celebrations with family and friends that I will always hold dear. I had reached my goal and felt that my “Part Two”, the bit after the years dedicated to homeschooling, was well underway.

Click here to purchase a copy of my books!

Fast forward to this past Saturday—the 32nd Word Awards and our 28th wedding anniversary!  Under normal circumstances, the awards celebration would be a formal gala complete with dinner and an awards presentation. Due to COVID-19, I instead sat in casual attire on our couch surrounded by a small group of friends and family to watch the awards broadcasted live. Though I wasn’t draped in an evening gown, I was wrapped in the love, excitement, and support of those dear ones in the room.

To learn that One More Tomorrow, the book I had begun in Milwaukie Airport all those years ago, won the Romance category was a marvel to me. To hear that I had also won Best Canadian New Author of the Year was truly overwhelming! When I learned of the news, I couldn’t help but cry. I cried from the shock and wonder that I was receiving an award at all.

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The awards represent so many things. The obvious is they are the first awards I’ve received for my writing. They represent time and much-needed discipline dedicated to the process, and the often-unpopular choice of saying no to other pursuits to make room for this worthy goal. They also stand for overcoming obstacles, scaling numerous hardships and desert places, but refusing to give up until completion.

These awards also represent all the people who cheered for me and helped me throughout the entire process—all the ones who believed I could and told me so. They represent the readers who bought and enjoyed the book and cared enough to give me that feedback. They represent the countless writers who went before me and those who continue to give of their time because they believe the craft should be celebrated. They represent my relationship with God, His gift of words, and His power to overcome and love.

Since Saturday night, I have been immensely humbled by the countless well-wishes. Moments like this shine brighter when shared. My son and daughter-in-law called after the awards show to congratulate me. It was no surprise when, near the end of the call, Kurtis asked, “So, Mom, when are you going to publish your next book?” I guess I better get started!

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Click here to watch The Word Guild Awards Celebration

 

On Novel Writing, Deadlines, and Perfection

heavenpicRecently, my novel was handed over to the publishing company. It has taken a mere sixteen years, since it was first conceived, for the submission of this final copy. Finally, after countless chides from my family to get it published, numerous edits, and one title change, One More Tomorrow is officially out of my hands.

The process of writing a novel—or the creation of any art form for that matter—bears some striking similarities to our lives. Well-lived lives, like well-written books, are crafted by thoughtful decisions, intentional choices, inspiration, imagination, creativity, and untold toil undertaken over its entirety. Even as I handed my manuscript over, I knew it would never be perfect. There could forever be tweaks, cuts, and additions, but there was a deadline, and so I gave it away.

Our lives are just the same.

It too will never be perfect. It has a deadline, and you need to give it away.

No matter how hard we try, no matter how we imagine it, painstakingly craft it, and steer the process, our lives will never measure up to our expectations. Our days, we ourselves, will never be flawless. There will be times when those around us will fail us, circumstances will crumble, and we will be less than perfect.

But the here and now, and all that we make of it, isn’t all there is. And despite all our efforts—all our cuts and edits—to achieve perfection, we can’t become good enough for all that comes after this life. We weren’t meant to achieve perfection, nor was life meant to be perfect. Because this life, with all its aches and pains, is not heaven.

As bleak as this sounds at first appearance, it’s actually good news. Forget trying to be flawless like you wish the manuscript, the painting, the song, or the dance of your life to become. There will be plenty of time for that later when perfect is the norm. But like my book, our lives have a final submission date. That date occurs on the day you pass from life, to death, to eternal life.

On that day:

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

~ Revelation 21:4

Until then, we can rest in knowing that there’s nothing we can do to be good enough for this moment—for eternity. No amount of hard work, good behaviour, rule following, or believing we are better than the person next to us will gain us an admission ticket into heaven.

Jesus alone bought our passage; we only need receive it by faith.

Everything else, the cuts and edits, will come as a result of his life in you. You give away your life’s manuscript, and he does the work crafting it—and you—into his masterpiece. He’s the only one who can make you fit for forever.

For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. 

~ Hebrews 10:14

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  1. Have you found your rest in Jesus? I would love to hear your story!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the Days Written Down

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This week I wrote my final entry in my son’s childhood journal I kept for him over the past twenty-two years of his life, begun on the day he was born. The years have rushed by, and, reading over a few of the entries, I was reminded of many events and beautiful memories I knew I’d forget to tell him about had I not written them down. Now that he’s married, I plan to wrap up the journals to give to him this Christmas.

I’m excited for my son to read the detailed documentation of his life as seen through my eyes. My hope is that he’ll be encouraged, see himself from a different perspective, and possibly get an even greater sense of who he is. More than that, I hope he will see how dearly he was loved by his dad and me at every stage, and how we were cheering him on every step of the way.

This recent journal writing has reminded me of our Father in heaven. Take a look at these verses. I have to say, they kinda blow my mind.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” ~ Psalm 139:16

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” ~ Psalm 56:8

God keeps track of the things that concern you and me. We’re in his book! Tell me that doesn’t blow you away just a tad?

But I’m thinking God doesn’t need to record our stuff in case he forgets, or to keep a naughty or nice list. I also doubt he keeps track of all our sorrows in order to make sure we receive the “Get into Heaven Free” card by meeting a tragedy quota, or because we’ve managed to reach the good works threshold (more on that in a sec). I like to think it’s partly because of this:

“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” ` Luke 8:17

I can’t say for sure, but wonder if when we are in our final home in heaven, all that we’re going through right now – the good, the bad and the ugly – will make sense. All the tears, the sorrows, the why-is-this-happening? – all of it. And, when it is, I think we’ll marvel at how remarkably connected it all was, how many parts and people were affected as a result, how it served an eternal purpose, and possibly understand all that was happening in the unseen places. Some may say in heaven it won’t matter anymore, but I like to think it will matter a great deal. Enough for God to write it down.

There is another book I would be amiss to not mention. The Bible speaks of the Book of Life, where all of humanity’s names are recorded. Our names are not found in this book if we’re really good, do a lot of good stuff, or suffer a ton. Our names are found in this book only if we’re found in Christ. This is the reason Christ died: to ensure our names wouldn’t be blotted out, and thus ensure our forever home in heaven with him. The only thing that would limit Christ’s saving work is our failure to respond or our rejection of God’s grace.

I hope to one day ask God if I can have a peek at the writings he kept concerning me. Maybe you will too. I think we will be in awe, not only of God, but also of our life’s story as seen through God’s perspective. And just like the journals kept for my son, I think we will be encouraged to see ourselves – and our past circumstances – from our loving Father’s perspective. We will learn, in full, how dearly and securely we were loved at every turn, and how he was cheering us on every step of the way.

“For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears…  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”  ~1 Corinthians 13: 9 & 12

I want to leave you with this hymn. I think it’s an appropriate and beautiful way to conclude and punctuate the above ideas. Take time to ponder the poetic lyrics:

My Hope is Built on Nothing Less

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
in ev’ry high and stormy gale
my anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
support me in the ‘whelming flood;
when all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in Him be found,
dressed in His righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

~ Edward Mote (1834)

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  1. It’s my greatest hope that you are found in Christ. I’d love a reading buddy in heaven 🙂 He is just a prayer away.

Letting Go With Open Arms

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Last weekend, our first born got married to his perfect match. As if this weren’t enough emotion for this momma’s heart, on Monday of the same week we crammed the contents of our second born’s room into our van and moved him into his own apartment to continue his college education. On Tuesday, our littlest started school for the first time. I homeschooled our kids for the past eighteen years, and she is the first to go to “real” school. The same week, my third born left for New York City for a big audition. Continue reading “Letting Go With Open Arms”