"Courage, Dear Heart..."

There are many times in life when fear becomes a mighty fortress in my life; holding me captive though I fight to break free. I never was one to possess a great deal of bravery. I was nothing like my two year-old son who boldly and courageously seeks out adventure without need of his mommy’s hand to guide him. I was afraid of the dark—afraid of being alone. I was afraid of being abandoned (I’d tasted it once), and even more afraid of having no means to control what was happening in my life. If something upset my little world, I wanted to fix it, and fix it fast. If something upset a loved one’s world, I wanted to fix it as well. If I could do nothing to control the storms in my life, fear came in and swept over me…capturing me in iron-clad talons.

Ironically, my favorite part of The Voyage of The Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, is the chapter titled: The Dark Island. In this chapter, Lucy, Edmond, Eustace, and Caspian sail haphazardly toward what the believe is an island. But as they approach, they find that it is nothing but darkness. Lewis challenges the reader to imagine what it would have been like to sail up to the darkness. It tells the reader to picture a railroad tunnel so long, or so twisty, that you cannot see a light shining at the end.

Lucy stood as brave as she could as the darkness swept slowly over the bow and crept over the ship. It is written that the bow of the ship was cloaked in inky blackness even while beams of golden sunlight still danced at the stern...

Sometimes in life, darkness and fear come at us slowly. We see it coming and we try to stand brave, all the while inching our way back and trying to cling to what joy, happiness, and hope still lingers behind us. But eventually, like Lucy, we run out of ship.

It turns out that the Dark Island was a place where dreams come true. When the sailors heard of this, they were exuberant. One hoped to find that he was married. Another wanted to open his eyes and find that an old friend was alive and not dead at all. But Lord Rhoop warns them, “Fools! That is the sort of talk that brought me here, and I’d better have been drowned or never born. Do you hear what I say? This is where dreams—dreams, do you understand—come to life, come real. Not daydreams: dreams.”

It only took a second for the ship to burst to life. The sailors practically stumble over each other rushing to the oars; for in a second, they understand the truth of that matter. This island is where their worst nightmare become flesh and blood.

King Caspian has the ship turned around and the men rush to sail out of the darkness. But it seems to stretch on forever—like a railroad tunnel too long and too twisty to see the light at the end. Fear overwhelms. Like cold, metal shackles at the hands and their feet, the men feel as if they are becoming a prisoner of the darkness and their fears. Hope seems as far away as the light they cannot see. At every creak and moan of the ship, with ever lap of every wave pounding against the hull…the men slip deeper into their despair.

Sometimes, life seems to slip into a darkness so thick and so deep that hope has vanished forever. I can imagine feeling like Lucy must have as she stood next to her King and felt him tremble; hear the fear in his voice. There have been so many times when pain has stabbed my heart in such a way that I gasp and think, “I’ll never recover from this.” I’m sure Lucy felt they would never escape.

But just when the darkness could never be any thicker, and the fear never stronger, Lucy leans her head to the edge of the fighting top and whispers, “Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now.”

Lewis tells us that the darkness did not grow any less, and Lucy did begin to feel a little—a very, very little—better. “After all, nothing has really happened to us yet,” she thought.

And a light shone.

Lewis writes:

Lucy looked along the beam and presently saw something in it. At first it looked like a cross, then it looked like an aeroplane, then it looked like a kite, and at last with a whirring of wings it was right overhead and was an albatross. It circled three times round the mast and then perched for an instant on the crest of the gilded dragon at the prow. It called out in a strong sweet voice what seemed to be words though no one understood them. After that it spread its wings, rose, and began to fly slowly ahead, bearing a little to starboard. Drinian steered after it not doubting that it offered good guidance. But no one but Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, “Courage, dear heart,” and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan’s, and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face.

Now, right where I am in this part of my life, I find that I’ve been in darkness for far too long. I’ve let fears become companion—which is never good thing. Fears stifle, steal, kill and destroy. Fears are our enemy—the Master of Bondage. In darkness, I can not be the woman that I want to be. I fail at the wife I should be. I grapple trying to be the mother that I am meant to be. Standing in this darkness…is a trap…a world that I am not meant to stand in at all.

So, like Lucy, I lean my head and whisper, “Father, Father…if ever you love me at all, send me help now.”

And like Lucy, the darkness does not fade away, but I do feel a little—a very, very little—better.
For I know that my Savior will ride in at any moment and whisper, “Courage, dear heart,” and guide me out.


Tuesday Teaser/ Teaser Tuesday #8

Tuesday Teaser is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading. Here are the rules: Grab your current read. Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page, and BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"Like the oyster with its grain of sand, we bury it deep within, coating it with opalescent layers, as if that could heal our mortal wound. Some of us devote our entire lives to keep our secret hidden, safe from those who might pry it from us, hoarding it like the pearl, only to discover that it escapes us when we least expect it, revealed by a flash of fear in our eyes when caught unawares, by a sudden pain, a rage or hatred, or an all-consuming shame."

~The Tudor Secret by C.W. Gortner

And now, for my Tuesday Teaser...inspired by i swim for oceans. If you are writer, take a line from your current WIP or published piece. This is a line from my novel set in 1939 Hollywood.

She looked up and spied the man that made her heart leap in her chest. A feline smile curled on her lips. She lifted her glass to her mouth; a giggle escaping. “And to the handsomest man in the world,” she declared, a little louder than she intended. “Mr. Clark Gable!”

She tipped her head back, downing the last of the cocktail, never noticing that the man heard her, turning to gaze at her with thick eyebrows raised in curiosity. He moved forward, clamping a hand down on Frankie’s shoulder. “Handsomest man in the world, eh?” He chuckled, peering down at the man. “And what does that make you?”

“Chopped liver, apparently.”

Evelyn sat up, looking longingly at the bottom of the empty glass, oblivious to Mr. Gable’s presence. But when she did look up and see the man standing before her, thin mustache pushed up at the corners by his toothy smile, she leaped out of her chair, a hand pressed to her chest. “Leaping goldfish!” she squealed. “It’s him!”


Dirty Little Secret #3

I was the oldest of my two, amazing brothers. I can say 'amazing' now, because we've all grown up. Pain in the butts was the better adjective when we were kids. ;)

I was a wonderful big sister. I always did everything that a good big sister should do. I took care of my brothers, looked after them, saw to their every need, defended them against bullies, and rallied for their every cause. I played well with them. I always let them have the best toys and play the best role.

You believe me, don't you?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

But honestly, I was a GREAT sister, but a pain in the butt, as well. I do, however, have one dirty secret to divulge. Honesty is the best policy, right?

When my brothers and I were VERY small (sorta), I would pin them to the floor with my hands and knees. They hated it...because they knew what came next. Terrified and thrashing the best they could (all in vain of course) they stared up in horror as I made a good batch of spit (I shudder now)...

Screaming at the top of their lungs, I formed a good spit line that slipped from my lips and bobbed inches from their face. Just before it weakened, I slurped it back up. But once, my baby brother thrashed a bit too hard and I lost my concentration. Just as he opened his mouth wide to yell for my mother, the spit slipped from my lips all together and plopped down into his gaping mouth...

He still has trouble talking about that day without tears gathering in his eyes. Poor, poor, poor Matthew. ;)


Hop In And Follow Me Friday

Hop in and Follow me Friday are weekly meme's hosted by Parajunkee's View and Crazy-for-Books.

"Do you read only one book at a time, or do you have several going at once?"

I can only read one book at a time. I'm a terrible reader, by the way. The first few pages really have to grab my attention or the book will never be finished.

"How did you come up with your blog name?"

I have no memory. I was working with my husband to design it, and it was just what tumbled across my mind. See, I'm not a deep thinker.


Spring Salvation

Spring is so close. On days like these, if feels like it has arrived. But I don't want to get my hopes up. However, with the glorious sunshine on my shoulders and warming my cheeks, it has been hard to concentrate on motherhood, writing, and obviously...blogging. All I want to do it jump up and shout, "This is the day that the Lord had made...I will rejoice and be glad in it!" Remember that song from when you were a child in that stuffy children's church room that smelled like crayola and mildew? Or was that just the basement classroom I was stuck in? ;)

This week, I am happy to let regular blog posting fall to the side. I'll shelve the manuscript for a few days (which works our perfectly when you have writer's block), and I'll replace it with blowing bubbles, throwing rocks into the creek, and taking pictures of my children running in a maze of still-bare-trees. It's the season of new adventures...new birth...renewal...and that sense that you can draw in a deep breath and fill your lungs with fresh, cool air that makes everything better.

Spring is a time for giggling like a child, and the season always comes just in the nick of time.

Enough said.


Finding My Big Girl Panties

Last night, I had a rotten night of sleep. My son's legs hurt. I put him in bed with us, and he commenced to spinning around so that his butt and feet were right in my face. He fights the covers, so every time he thought he had covers on, I got pummeled by size 5 feet. Not cool.

Tomorrow night, I'll be sleeping on a church floor with countless teenage girls. I'm not looking forward to the comforts of a sleeping bag. But, hey! At least none of the girls will be kicking me in my face. At least, I hope not.

Twenty-seven hours of screaming teenagers, blasting music, and intense church services. I haven't been to one of these since I was teenager myself. So how did I get to the point that I am going now...and I'm the responsible grown up? That makes me feel old...

But it will be fun. My youth group is new. They are all learning to get to know each other, pray for each other, and work together. What a better way to start it off than by going away to a teen conference? I'm just crossing my fingers that it all goes smoothly. I'm crossing my fingers that my children don't kick my parents in their heads while sleeping. I'm crossing my fingers that I get other parent's children home and safe and sound. And most of all, I'm crossing my fingers that the teenagers come back with a new flame that cannot be extinguished.

Well, not crossing my prayers, actually. More like praying.


Romance Suckers? I Think Not.

It is always fun to include romance in novels. But the other day it got me to thinking about how real life is a huge romance sucker. For instance, we get all the sweet, precious moments that lead to the big moment of falling head over heals in love (or the big moment that happens in the privacy of bedrooms). We flirt. We tease. We experience that tingle when we reach for that man's hand. We relish everything sensation that floods our senses when we get our first kiss...

And then real life steps in.

We get married. We wake up in the same bed...and we aren't pretty anymore. Hair is all over our head in a Bide of Frankenstein coif. We get crusties in our eyes (yuck!). Can we not even talk about morning breath?! And then there's child birth. These days, the husband is right there in the thick of it--seeing ALL of the action. There is nothing romantic or sexy about pushing a baby out. Yet, somehow, most of our husbands are still attracted to us. They still think we are the most amazing human being on the face of the planet. They still like the way we fill out our jeans with more pounds on our frame than what there was under our wedding dress. They find the gray hairs endearing, and don't mention our first wrinkles. In fact, even after the horrors of childbirth, our husbands usually think we are so much cooler than they are! ;)

Maybe we don't tingle at every second of every day when the face of our love drifts through our mind. Perhaps now, after all these years, it is more like a warm comfort that washes over us. It is something safe...and something that speaks of eternity. With our spouse we experiences our most embarrassing moments. We endure crushing heartbreaks and giggly joys. We've had so many first kisses that we can no longer count them. We've fought, screamed, rallied against, and stomped our feet. We've cried, wept, been scared, and prayed together. We build new dreams together when others fall apart. We encourage, lift up, and support the best that we can. Real life happens. Sometimes it sucks away the romance, but there is always a new season of a fresh, yet to be discovered kind of romance awaiting on the other side...

Most of our characters miss out on the beauty of a love that stands against the test of time, and becomes something more beautiful than that first touch; something more precious and breath-stealing than that first kiss.

But just for pure fun and a prime example of dramatic, fun, giddy, fictional romance (before suckers get in there):


Tuesday Teaser/Teaser Tuesday #7

Tuesday Teaser is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading. Here are the rules: Grab your current read. Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page, and BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"They ar
e afraid of nothing," I grumbled, watching their approach through the window. "Together they would brave Satan and all his legions." ~Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

And now, for my Tuesday Teaser...inspired by i swim for oceans. If you are writer, take a line from your current WIP or published piece. This is a line from my novel set in 1939 Hollywood.

“For heaven’s sake, woman!” Katie jumped at the sharpness of her grandmother’s voice. She rarely spoke this way. “Out with it! Where is my husband?”

“Perhaps it is better if you see for yourself.” The nurse pointed out the window where Katie and Isabella found Oliver Sweetly running wild on the green lawn—a team of harried nurses and angry doctors chasing him to and fro. Katie’s eyes widened and Isabella gasped; her hand coming to her mouth. Oliver Sweetly was stark naked with every hair on his head standing on end like a mad man's.

“They’ve chased him all through the hospital,” the nurse explained. “He swears the orderlies are skeletons out to tear his flesh from his body to cover their own.”

Isabella turned away from the window, her eyes sad. “Ezekiel,” Katie heard her say. “He’s right on time. Didn’t I say he’d be bringing the dry bones to life about now?”


Meant For Something Bigger

I feel as if I am meant for something larger than this world; as if I'm trapped in this body, waiting to explode into something great and mighty. Ever have that feeling? It leaves you restless. Nothing you put your hand to quite satisfies that desire. Maybe it is because we are meant to be heavenly creatures--powerful--capable--everlasting...?

I want a great deal of things in this world. I want to publish. I want to travel the world, blessing others, loving on the lonely, giving to strangers, soaking dry places with compassion so great and needed that it takes their breath away. I want to hold hands with a tiny little girl somewhere hidden in the corners of the world. I want to take her picture and show her, her true beauty. I want to wipe her tears away; whisper to her of how she is bigger than all of this.

I want to spin tales that reach into a reader's heart and change their idea of truth and love. I want them to feel my words--breathe them in. Benign stories are not enough any more. Greatness...words that point to truth and the Father is what this world is starving for. Words of fiction that can become real; words of mercy and unfailing capability to be something more...

I want to be that blow-your-mind mother that I know is hidden in me somewhere. She's the woman that doesn't care what her past bio tries to dictate she should be. She is the woman that knows how to love correctly, and does not let shame and guilt keep her hidden. She is the wife that knows how to bring out the best of her husband...

I'm bigger than this girl sitting here frantically typing out every single thought that comes to her mind, holding her captive, overwhelming her until her hands tremble...her heart soars.

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, that which the Lord has prepared for those that love Him..."

And I know it is coming--that moment when I stand up...and I am much bigger than what this world wanted me to be.


Hop In And Follow Me Friday #11

Hop in and Follow me Friday are weekly meme's hosted by Parajunkee's View and Crazy-for-Books.

This week's question:

"Who's your all-time favorite book villain?"

Rhett Butler...though he's not exactly a villian (but one to Scarlett O'Hara). Truth is, Butler was the best thing that ever happened to Scarlett. He was smooth, strong-willed, bossy, witty, and equally matched in passion as she was. But she hated him. Boy, did she hate him!


I Will Help You

“For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
~Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)

Life has its hiccups. Some are big. Some are small. Yet, they still hurt—no matter the size.


Sometimes, all that is plaguing us is not knowing which decision to make. Other times, the storm is so big—so scary—that we can’t catch our breath. We run and hide from the darkness. For me, I hide under the covers of my bed. I wee—or stare at the wall—feeling nothing but the pounding of my heart in the sides of my neck. I don’t even think I blink. I barely breathe.

Why can’t God rescue us out of it? Why can’t I open my eyes when the rain is pelting me hard in the face, and see Jesus walking across the water towards me—like His disciples did? Of course, when the disciples opened their eyes and saw Him walking on the water, it scared the silliness out of them. They thought he was a ghost. But certainly it would be different for me…wouldn’t it? Probably not…

God doesn’t always rescue us. Sometimes, the water pours over our heads, the waves crash around our ears, and the thunder is so loud that it hurts. The storms overwhelm and nearly drown us.

And sometimes, we are just staring down at all the decisions we should make. They seem simple enough…but we still don’t know what to do.

Then, suddenly, a warmth comes near us. God moves in. He has always been there, but now, we KNOW that He is there. He takes our right hand in His—clenching it tight. And if that’s not enough, He leans even closer…so close that we can feel that warmth of his breath on our cheek. “Don’t be afraid,” He whispers. A chill races down our neck. He speaks in a whisper. It is so close. So intimate. So precious…

It is the act of a father.

“Don’t be afraid,” He gently says again, as He waits for the pound of our heart to grow calm.

“I’m trying,”someone silly (like me) would say.

“No reason to ‘try’,” He smiles. “I’m right here—right next to you. I’m going to help you.”

It is a truth. No matter how scary, no matter how big the tumultuous hurricane is as it blows over us…God, our Father, is there. He may not rescue us from the problems we find ourselves in, but He will be there, right beside us, taking our hand in His, and whispering, “I will help you out of this. Don’t be scared.”

And I won’t be. Because the warmth of His hand still radiates from my own. Instead, I’ll cave in. I’ll let the fear slip away. I’ll stay again…letting His love be enough. Because it will be. He has a plan. He has a purpose…


Sometimes it is all that’s left, but should have been what we started with from the beginning.


Never Forget The Jaw Drop (Part 1)

Almost every plot in every book, or in every movie has a moment where the reader (or viewer) drops their jaw. Sometimes we think we see it coming. Other times, it takes us off guard. Either way, a good jaw drop is essential for every single manuscript we sit down to write...

Shakespeare was a champ at the jaw drop. Think of how Romeo must have felt as he hunkered over Juliet's lifeless body; poison warming his throat. All of a sudden, Juliet's eyes shoot open, and the truth of what he has just done hits him hard. The reader knew Juliet was not dead. Perhaps that is why our hearts thundered and our tongues longed to cry out and scream, "Don't swallow the poison, you nit wit!"

Grey's Anatomy perfected the jaw drop in the final episode of season five (I never followed the show, so this is old news). The residents and interns of Seattle Grace are appalled by the shape of a man brought into the ER who jumped in front of a bus to safe a woman's life. He is mangled beyond recognition, and to make matters worse, the man is missing his ID. Watch this scene...where one of the main characters realizes that the patient in the hospital bed is one of Seattle Grace's own residents and best friend.

I can't resist this one from Grey's where Meredith pulls a live bazooka round out of a man's chest cavity (sorry, but the show is just full of jaw-dropping moments). Except for the whole corny McDreamy moment...this took me completely off guard.

In books, writers find creative ways to stun the reader in much the same ways a movie and TV director do. We want to bring you to a moment when your heart is pounding, your breath is shallow, your hands are sweaty on the covers of the book, and your mouth slowly drops open. Suddenly, you realize everything you thought was going to happen...turned out completely different.

What are some moments in books and film that left your mind spinning and your heart racing, but--most importantly--left your jaw on the floor?