Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bring it on. Kind of. Maybe a little at a time?

who wants to test these waters?

So, this Risk Rejection thing is coming to a close. Last Thursday in January. (Except, maybe not. I am thinking you'll be hearing form me on this again. Stay tuned next Thursday.)

I began this journey thinking I would be taking four separate risks. 1--Ask for a book collaboration, 2--Ask for a mentor, 3—Join a heroin task force, and 4—TBA, some combo of contest submitting, Spanish class signing up for a future mission trip, or whatever crossed my path. And I did, or tried to do, all of these.

But somewhere along the line, the unexpected happened. This is common when you open yourself up to God and say, “Whatever you want. Bring it on.”

I realized all the “little” risks were adding up to one big one that's been simmering for a long time in my mind and heart, but Iv'e been afraid to let it boil. Mainly because it might boil over and create a big, big mess. Trust me, being the kitchen guru I am (and by that, I mean if I won the lottery I would eat out every day), I know about big boiling-over messes.

See, I've been a writer for a long time. I submitted my first article in 1987, and it was published in Discipleship Journal. If you remember that magazine, you know that's a big deal for a first-time author submitting off her blue Brother electric typewriter, heavily abused during many late-night college papers.

A successful run of writing for Sunday school papers and Christian living magazines, as well as two published books followed. No, I am not giving you my resume. No, this is not an exercise in “Jill needs some affirmation today so she's passively begging you to tell her she's amazing and wow, you never knew.” No. Just setting the scene, so to speak.

The life intervened, and while the details are not public fodder, I found myself unable to write easy answers and “ten quick steps” to any aspect of life, let alone anything so complex as living God's call. Life wasn't easy or quick. Some days, it was more like “Ten Quick Steps for Wanting to Throw Yourself in a Ditch, Cover Yourself Up, and Not Come Out until They Discover Unicorns in a Field in Canada, Making Life Exponentially Better for All." But that's kind of a long title.

The writing career thing dried up. Partly because I didn't feel capable of giving sage advice to any human on the planet and partly because nice Christian publications didn't want the difficult stuff I wanted to write. And partly because simply surviving that period took pretty much all the energy I could manage.

So I've been working my way back and finding my place. Clawing is, perhaps, the more visually appropriate term. But much less pleasant. Which brings me to the whole risk thing and where it is ending up. The final analysis? I'm done being pleasant.

I've been afraid to step away from the pleasant, ten easy steps, Sunday school paper world. It's safe. It's simple. It's dependable. I know I could do it. I could go back, and while it wouldn't exactly pay the tuition bills, it would pay some, and it would get my name back out there. But Risk Rejection has solidified the truth I've known for a while. I can't ever go back.

So I've been writing some harder stuff, sharing some more difficult articles, inviting discussion, and hoping the world would not reject the new me.

Then it happened. Two people “unliked” my Facebook author page. I know. I know in my heart it was probably two people who made New Year's resolutions to clean up their Facebook or get off it entirely or maybe unplug from society and move to Fiji. But what if it . . . wasn't?

What if they don't like the things I'm no longer quiet about—consumerism in the church, human trafficking, stupid messages churches send teenagers, unthinking “incuriousChristians,” or (gasp) women in ministry? What if they were rejecting . . . me?

So my risk, my big risk? i'm shifting audiences. Testing waters. Doing what God calls me to do, whether or not it's popular with an audience who prefers five easy steps. Nothing is easy in real life. Very little is as clear as we'd like it to be, and almost nothing happens in easy steps. While I know the One Big Answer to life, there are a lot of smaller questions that trip us up along the way. I want to be honest about those questions.

What are your questions? Struggles? Faith certainties? I'd love to talk about it.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

getting personal

Risk Rejection Week Three of getting out there and taking risks that frighten the hairs off our heads and, as if that wasn't enough, then going public with it. If you haven't read about my week one or two or the stories of the other ladies on this wonderfully terrifying journey (week one, week two), you're missing out.

I'm going to be honest today—I've felt kind of not real with all the other women in this group talking about how their risks make them want to throw up or scream or cry or whatever women do when they get really, really nervous. Not in the sense of I haven't been genuine about risking. Just in the sense of, “Hey, throwing up is overrated and besides, after three kids and numerous pets, I know darn well who has to clean that up.”

There's something that happens after a certain age, I think, that makes women look at frightening circumstances in life and say, “Hmm, are you worth the energy I'm going to expend worrying about what's going to happen here?” And the answer is almost universally 'no.' It's purely a conservation of resources thing.

I've taken genuine risks the last two weeks. They have been scary. And I have sat around with that pit-of-the-stomach feeling we know so well that quietly nags at us-- “What were you thinking? You know that person you contacted for your risk is at this moment showing your letter on a video screen to a conference room full of people and saying 'This is a perfect example of one stupid thing not to do. Oh, wait. Make that many stupid things.'”

(Yes, I have been to enough writing conferences to have a healthy fear of ever being made an example of “what not to do.”)

But though that stomach pit thing happens, when rejection does come, it doesn't bother me that much anymore. I know now (although I don't always practice what I know) that it isn't personal. People have different agendas, different needs of the moment, and different callings. I put mine out there, and if it matches someone else's, huzzah. But if not, moving on to the next thing.

Except this week has brought, instead of the risks and potential rejections I had planned, rejections I had not planned. Silences that felt like rejection. Brushing off of my feelings and opinions that felt like rejection. Careless slights from other people that have felt very much like rejections, even if their originators would never frame them as such.

That's one thing about rejection—it can often be backhanded, making it much harder not to take personally and even more difficult to respond to. “Oh, I didn't mean to hurt you.” Right. That makes it all so much better.

This is the kind of rejection that doesn't roll off so well into, “Moving on. Nothing to see here.” It's the kind that is personal. And I handle it with not so much assurance. Read that, not well. At. All.

In several completely different situations this week, I've been tempted to decide, “I'm done. I don't need this anymore. Call me when you're going to be a positive part of my life.” Relationship rejection pulls up our fight or flight instinct, and this week it's been tempting to do both. Tempting, but not healthy. Why not healthy, you ask? Why, thanks for asking. I'll tell you.

For a long time, I've watched people post those pleasant, affirming saying on Facebook that go something like this:

Or this:

And while I totally understand the idea—some of us have been deeply hurt by some pretty stinky people—I always want to scream just a little.

Do you have any idea what kind of a person it will make YOU to believe that?

Do you know what kind of a person you will become if you live like that?

Truth—God threw us messed up people together here for a reason. To help each other be less messed up. If we continually move on from people who hurt us, intentionally or just stupidly, we don't become better people. We become shallow people. Fearful people. People who would rather build tidy walls around ourselves and decorate them with cute plaques than do the scary work of talking things through, facing rejection, forging forgiveness. Taking down the safe walls.

When it is personal? This risking rejection stuff hurts. It's no coincidence that it all happens right when I'm on this RiskRejection journey. It's getting personal. God's asking what I'm going to do about it. He knows it's in community that it matters most.

It's also not at all a coincidence I read this this morning:

Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. (Luke 6 38)

Keep giving. Keep forgiving. Keep loving. Just keep . . . everything. No limits. No terms. No fears.

More Truth: If you are in relationship with me, I will hurt you. I will mess up. I will disappoint and ignore you and not even know it. But I will not run away from you. (Unless you're wielding a large knife or a .45. Then, probably.)

Let's do this community thing, and let's handle this rejection thing, and let's be people who aren't afraid to go behind the pretty walls and nice sayings and become better people. Risk together.

Monday, January 20, 2014

selling our daughters at the Super Bowl

And now, for those who care--which would definitely not include me--we know the participants for Superbowl 2014. I won't be watching. The Bears are not playing. Although my three-year stint living in Seattle does at least give me a team to root for. 

Its advent reminds me of a conversation I heard almost a year ago while watching my daughter in gymnastics. I doubt much will have changed this year. But one can hope.

Interesting conversation among parents at the gym aren't unusual. Eaversdropping, especially for a writer, is almost required. Not surprisingly, the talk that week spun around the Superbowl halftime show. I mean, what else do people have to talk about on a snowy Monday night for 2 1/2 hours while waiting for our daughters to finish learning forward rolls and back handsprings and hurtling themselves at immoveable objects?

The ladies were noncommittal. “So, what’d you think of Beyonce?” 
“Well, you know . . . she sure can dance.” 
“But it was kind of . . . I don’t know. What did you think?”
"Uh huh. Lots of people weren't too happy."

Then one of the dads jumped in. “I thought it was great. I didn’t have a problem with it. Loved that dancing. But hey, I’m a guy. So, it’s just OK with me, you know?” 

The moms smiled, shrugged, and went back to watching the window. I couldn’t gauge their opinion.  

Meanwhile, his daughter performed cartwheels out on the gym floor just past that pane of glass. My daughter was there, too, learning giants on the uneven bars, a skill she had feared and now loved. I put my daughters in this sport partly because I knew, in a world that would attack their body image cruelly, gymnastics would teach them that those bodies were strong and capable. 

I wanted to ask. I really did. So, random guy, if your daughter out there started performing Beyonce’s dance moves instead of flips, would it be just OK with you? If she came home and informed you she had a new role model that no longer involved Olympic medals but gyrating lady parts in Victoria’s best secret, would that be just OK with you? 

I’m sorry--I didn’t quite hear your answer.

I’m guessing not. But if not, the message you’re communicating to her on Sunday staring at the TV isn’t matching up with the one you’re paying big bucks for on Monday. And I hate to tell you this, but little girls and big girls alike don’t have a hard time figuring out which message will get them adoration faster.

“But hey, I’m a guy.” Said like it’s some kind of an excuse for having a lesser moral compass than the average not-guy. Which is, if you ask me, a giant insult to guys everywhere who do seem to know the difference between their brains and their other body parts. 

Still, why does it matter? It’s just a show, just an opinion. It doesn’t mean anything.

Unless it does. The US Attorney General estimates that over 10,000 women and girls are forcibly brought to the Superbowl each year to be sold, up to fifty times a day, for the pleasure of “guys.” Some of them are twelve years old. About the age of this guy’s daughter. 

While Beyonce sells sex on the field, pimps sell it in the shadows. We create a difference in our minds, to make us feel better about enjoying the show, but there is no difference to those girls. As long as we’re “just OK” with a culture that teaches our girls their bodies have a market value and our boys that girls are available solely for their pleasure, we’ll continue to be OK with selling children and women. And for some reason, we never seem to connect that with our daughters on the other side of that window, whom we believe aren’t touched by it. 

This kind of in-human trafficking, using women and young girls like disposable sex toys, won’t stop as long as guys are just OK with “being guys.” 

The enslavement of women and girls around the globe will not end as long as guys are just OK with “being guys.” 

The chances of your daughter being sexually, physically, and/or verbally abused will continue to escalate as long as guys are just OK with “being guys.” 

Yes, women can and should play a huge part in ending this. But ultimately, it’s men who must step up and not hide behind “being guys.” It’s men who have to say, “That could be my daughter, wife, sister. It’s not just OK.” It’s men who need to stop being guys and start being men. 

And in the meantime, sir, do you happen to have a son at this gym, too? If so, keep him away from my kid. She’s been taught that her body is strong and capable. I’d hate to see him get hurt.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

team sports, donkeys, and wise women

Apparently, I am making a habit of sending letters to famous people. OK, so two in two weeks is not exactly a habit. Still, it's two more than I've probably ever sent in my life.

For my second Risk Rejection, I sent a letter to another author/speaker/minister/amazing woman asking her to be my mentor. Very scary.

Yes, another actual in-the-mailbox-with-a-stamp letter. Who does that anymore? But see, the thing about famous people is, you can't get to their contact information unless you're an NSA employee. Or know one really well. So, what you get are agent's emails, booking people's emails, and those stupid contact forms on websites that no one in the history of websites ever looks at to see who has contacted them.

I did have her husband's email, but that felt so . . . inappropriate. “Hey, hi there, how are you? I don't actually want to talk to you because you're NOBODY but if you could just forward this message to your wife since I know you don't mind being her personal secretary . . .” No, just, not. So I opted for the church address and pray that some assistant there doesn't recycle it before the spit on the stamp is dry. (Oh wait, no one licks stamps anymore, either. Wow, remember that?)

Team sports? Call me later. And by later I mean--never.

Several months ago, a group leader asked me if I had a writing mentor. No, I hadn't really thought about that. I mean, writing is rather a solitary thing by nature. It's not a team sport. Which is good, because I kind of suck at team sports. But we were talking about goals and focus and reaching where I believe God has for me on this journey of writing, and he was right. That I could use some help with from someone who's been there.

So while in this season of RiskingRejection (which I hope lasts far longer than January), I realized God was bringing it again to the front of my mind. (Things can sit on my back burner for a looong time, chiefly because I forget they're there and leave the stove on. It gets messy.) Not only that, but he was telling me whom to ask. And I got scared. And humbled.

She is well known. She is about twelve years younger than I am. She has done exactly what I am wanting to do—leaving an established, safe writing audience and following God into the deeper, scarier, unknown. Even down to helping with a church plant, she is doing well what I want to do.

Not so long ago I don't think I could have turned to someone that young and said, “You could teach me so much. Would you please consider it?” I thought I had the answers. Then, I went through a pruning season where a number of much younger people taught me a lot I didn't know. A LOT. I realized I had wasted many opportunities by allowing my insecurities to box me into a world of “I'm not listening. I'm not listening.” If I don't listen, I don't have to accept that I'm flawed and messed up and needy, and if I don't accept that, I can carry on my neat little life as planned without any scary alterations.

Yes. I can imagine God banging his head on the table right now.

Life alters around us. We either learn from it and change or we die. That's basic biology. Despite A's in biology, I didn't grasp that.

Hence, this risk this week is twofold. One, I'm asking something of someone who is an uber-busy successful person who is very likely to turn me down simply based on that time factor. But possibly also based on my own shortcomings as a professional, and I'll have to deal with that. Two, I'm asking to learn from someone who, in another context, I would be teaching. The funny thing is, I'm not bothered by that anymore. I absolutely love it. I am dying to find out what younger generations have to teach me.

Because the real risk? The real risk is not learning all you can from everyone you can. 

It's not opening yourself to the possibilities that you can be taught by (and teach) anyone, anywhere. It's believing the lie that you have to know all the answers, or at least look like you do, in order to preserve the mask of security. Heck, people in the Old Testament had to learn from donkeys on occasion. Being schooled by thirty-something ladies seems downright respectable after that.

So this Jesus thing is. . . a team sport. Guess I'd better brush up on those stupid dribbling/passing skills. I'm still bad at it. But I'm willing to learn.

Join us in risking this month? Big or small--anything is fair game. Please come along for the exciting ride over at Amy's place. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Beauty from Betrayal

Today, we're celebrating with author Lillian Duncan. Lillian has offered a devotional for your day and a peek at her new book, Betrayed. Hope you enjoy.


Isaiah 61: 3
and provide for those who grieve in Zion to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

Beauty for ashes!

This phrase comes up several times in my soon-to be released book, BETRAYED. In fact, I would even go out on a limb and say it’s one of the themes of the story. It’s not a secret so I can tell you, my main characters—Maria and her daughter—are in the witness protection program because Maria was betrayed by her husband in the most horrible of ways. (You’ll have to read the story to find out the details!)

Betrayals hurt! I know—I’ve lived through a few. They were ugly and painful and nothing I would ever want to live through again. Unfortunately, even years later a word, a picture, a smell, or a song can trigger the memory, and for a moment the pain still crashes in on me.

That’s when I remind myself of this verse. Beauty for ashes.

In fact, if you choose to let them, betrayals can ruin your life. If you choose to let them--but you don’t have to make that choice. You can choose to understand when someone betrays you that is about their character, not you and your worthiness as a person.

Or you can get stuck in the past. Stay angry and bitter and pitiful. Not a fun place to visit, let alone live there. Go ahead, feel the pain and the anger and all those other powerful negative emotions, but then let God heal you. He will!

In my own life, God definitely kept his promise of beauty for ashes. He has given me the desires of my heart. I now have a godly, loving husband, and I’m a published writer. God restored my life and gave me beauty for ashes. He will do the same for you.

BETRAYED by Lillian Duncan

Witness Protection Program claims they can keep anyone safe if only they follow the rules, so Maria follows the rules--every rule. She's given up everything--her friends, her family, her past, even her name to ensure her daughter has a future.

Reborn as Veronica Minor in the sleepy little town of Sunberry, Ohio, she struggles to rebuild their life amid the beauty of her flower shop. A life where her daughter can have a happy normal childhood. A life where her daughter will never know that her father was a monster.

When a child disappears, Veronica prays it has nothing to do with her past, but what if she's wrong? Not knowing whom to trust, she trusts no one...and that's her first mistake.

To celebrate the release of BETRAYED, I’m giving away a virtual gift basket at Tiaras & Tennis Shoes. The virtual gift basket includes a copy of my books, SERENITY SPRINGS, OHIO; DARK ALLEYS; and GEESE MATE FOR LIFE. Along with the books, a $25 Amazon gift card is included plus a few books from some writer friends. To enter the contest, simply hop on over to Tiaras & Tennis Shoes and leave a comment on the post titled CELEBRATION! Winner will be chosen and announced on February 14.

Lillian Duncan…Stories of faith mingled… with murder & mayhem.
Lillian is a multi-published writer who writes the type of books she loves to read—suspense with a touch of romance. Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit: She also has a devotional blog at: as well as her personal blog, Tiaras & Tennis Shoes at

Monday, January 13, 2014

the value of worthlessness. and kilts.

The woman up front offered us newbies instructions for having a the best possible four days at the writers conference I was attending near Chicago. When she got to the rules for attendees, she laughed.

Full frontal nudity is frowned upon,” she said. Other than that, there aren't many rules. Have fun!”

That should have been my first clue this convention would not be in my comfort zone.

The half dozen men in kilts should have been my second. Having spent the rest of my writing career attending Christian writers conferences in very edgy towns such as Wheaton, IL and Warm Beach, WA, I really didn't know how four days hanging with women who wore bustiers as business lunch attire was going to go down. But I had paid good money for this conference, and I was determined to get something out of it.

See, I signed up for the RT convention based on the marketing workshops they offered. GREAT info on getting your books out there and learning to network. I actually had no idea until arriving what RT stood for. (Romantic Times. And they cover ALL sorts of romance. You have no idea. You don't want to.) This is where doing a little homework may have been a productive thought. On the other hand, if knowing had scared me off, I would have missed some great learning opportunities.

What I took home from the RT conference, aside from valuable marketing info and conference freebies I would hide from children, was a better understanding of what it takes to do something great in your life. I believe that's a pretty good message to start a new year with.

We think we'll meet our goals by remaining in our safe places doing our safe things. But in the end, that only keeps us safe. (It doesn't even really do that.) 
It will never take us to great. 

Three things I learned from accidentally going to an R-rated writers conference:

To accomplish something great I will have to:

  • Make a lot of mistakes. Edison is famous for saying he hadn't failed but had discovered 10,000 ways a light bulb would not work. Somewhere amid those “mistakes” one experiment happened along that did work. Perfectionists and the overly-cautious actually accomplish less because while they are waiting for the exactly right opportunity, everyone else is taking the “OK this will work for now” opportunity and running with it.

If I'm not willing to jump at something, even if it may not be ideal, I'll be waiting a long time for the ideal. Meanwhile, I could have just accepted there would be mistakes in the process and gone on. Not knowing what the conference was about was a mistake. Not getting all I could for it would have been a bigger one. As my favorite fictional teacher says, “Take chances. Make mistakes. Get messy.” It's the only way to move forward.

  • Invest in a lot that seems worthless. Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to learn to do something proficiently. In those 10,000 hours, I'm betting a LOT of hours seem like a total waste of time. Stories that never sell. Ideas that don't bear fruit. Something you thought was finished that has to be done over. And over. And over.

It may have seemed like the money I invested to go to the conference could have been better spent. But even if I could not use the “plotting your erotica novel” workshop (and did NOT attend it, in case anyone is questioning that), the underlying investment in career planning and the people I connected with were far from worthless.

Just because something looks on the surface like it won't be fruitful, don't give up on it. Dig a bit deeper. You'll have to invest in things that look marginal in order to pull together all you need for greatness. Which kind of leads to #3.

  • Pick the gold out of the pan. No opportunity is all gold. If you think it is, you'll find out otherwise as soon as the honeymoon is over. Greatness happens when we look at the opportunity we jumped at in #1, assess all the mistakes and investments, and say, “This I'll keep. This I'll toss.” We accept that it takes hard work to find the gold and no one is going to hand us a ready-made setting of pure 14K. Have the wisdom the figure out what's precious metal and hold onto it.

It wasn't safe. It definitely wasn't comfortable. I did meet some fun people though, and I made a friend in a great table mate. I grasped more about marketing a book than I ever had before. More than that, I learned about jumping into unexpected opportunity and learning to glean gold from it. Plus, I learned more about men in kilts than I ever really wanted to know.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

(hardly) risking it all

When you put something in the  mailbox after the mail for the day has already come, you still have nearly 24 hours to retrieve it. Believe me, I thought about this.
even the flag looks rejected

This morning, I reveal my first #RiskRejection. It's a journey a group of brave souls are on together. Women who would rather risk rejection than risk missing out on God's road for their lives. That, my friends, is a potent force of women. I am anticipating great things. 

I'm just not sure, as I write this, that those great things are going to come from me. See, even in RiskRejection, I am worried that I am not doing it right, I am not risking enough, I am not as good as others. I don't deserve to be in this company of women. Stupid, stupid, stupid lies. But I know I am not the only one ever attacked by them.

And this morning as I ponder what to write, I have learned something really important about that fear. But first--the risk.

I chose to take several risks, one a week is the general plan, though I am never all that great at sticking to plans. I put the first one in the mailbox Monday. Basically, I floated an idea to another author asking her to collaborate on a book idea. Not such a biggie, right? Except that SHE is a biggie. A real biggie. A name you would know instantly if I mentioned it here. And I am anticipating a curt reply from her agent saying, "Thanks, but no thanks, we didn't even show this to her, you overly-ambitious twit who should never even have thought such preposterous thoughts."(Yes, and all those synonyms.) Oh, and "We fart in your general direction." 

But I did it because, well because I've had this idea rolling around in my head for a couple years now, and I know it's a good one, and I've been too ridiculously cowed by the thought of the rejection that would follow to follow through. Enter Amy and RiskRejection. And I knew this was the first thing I had to do. So, it's done. I did not retrieve that letter, and to do so now would be a federal offense and I'm not into that much risk. It's winging its way to California, where it will be a lot happier than in the deep freeze of Chicago, at any rate.

And as I wondered what I would write about this, I read my Scriptures for the morning, and this is what I found.

When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

    for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
    that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
Everyone spoke well of him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips. “How can this be?” they asked. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” Then he said, “You will undoubtedly quote me this proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself’—meaning, ‘Do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum.’ But I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown. (Luke 4)

And what happened after this? Oh, they just tried to kill him. No big deal. All in a day's work. And it was. That's the thing.

I realized it doesn't matter the size of my risk. Or its likelihood of success. Or its measure next to anyone else's. Because it's measure will never, ever measure his. He risked rejection from the moment he made the decision to come to this earth. 

"He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him." (John 1.10-11)

Jesus, my risk is so paltry in this light. And--and this is the thing that brings me to my knees in astonished worship--you knew the outcome. I fear the possibility of rejection. You knew its certainty from the beginning.

And yet Christmas came. And Friday came. And Easter came. And you barely flinched in the Garden of Gethsemane. For what? For me. And for this world I am part of.

What matters in this RiskRejection thing? Willingness to try. To put it out there. To say, "You know what this feels like, Jesus, so here it is. At your feet. Do what you will." 

Let's do this. Join me. What do you want to risk in 2014? Click the link and join us.

Monday, January 6, 2014

I love Rejection. And Brussel Sprouts. Yes. Totally.

This is a first blog for a new year, and a fun ride it's going to be. See, I agreed, in one of my probably-cold-medicine-induced moments, to a challenge. It's called #RiskRejection, and it's scarily awesome. The instructions?

Starting on Thursday, January 9th, write a post about a risk you are taking (or have recently taken), and then link it up here--

The risk has to entail specifically risking rejection--not just any risk. We all know what that means--the scariest risks of all. We hate rejection. We loathe rejection. We run from it full force, despite having no clue what we're running toward. I am guilty. This is the girl who rode her bike four miles to school rather than risk the Junior High School Bus Rejection From Hell. I am a pro, I tell you.

But as I write this blog about facing fears, I know I could not face my mirror, or computer, if I did not accept this challenge. Plus, Amy is an amazing person and just fun to be on a challenge journey with. Definitely check out her blog.

The more I think about this though, the more I am realizing--I am not all that scared. Which either means I'm doing it wrong (entirely possible) or I've learned a few things since junior high (certainly hopeful).

I realized that I risk rejection pretty much on a daily basis, and I am OK with it. Or maybe not so much OK as at peace with knowing it's my calling and where I need to be. Really, that's better than OK.

I write and speak and pastor for my life. Every time I send a query letter into cyberspace, a request to be put on a speaking schedule to the real mailbox, or a blog post into the wild blue yonder, I risk rejection. Someone won't like it. Someone won't want it. Someone won't like or want . . . me. Ouch. For an introvert who would much rather sit at home with her cats keeping her crazy thoughts to herself and never letting the scary world see them, it's kind of like an opt-in button for water boarding that you push yourself. Every. Day.

Unless you do this word thing for a living, you can't quite understand what it's like to put the words out there and know many of them will not be accepted, remembered, or maybe even liked. Statistically, that's just the way it is. In few other professions do you expect to have the majority of your work never succeed. You live for the words that do. And yet, I like this. Go figure.

 Reality--every time I get up behind a pulpit to speak, I face rejection due to the fact that I am female. Male pastors will never understand what it feels like to know someone might walk out and never come back because you wear a dress instead of a suit. (Although, I am sure people would walk out and never return if a male pastor wore a dress. But that is not the point.)

The point is, I've come to terms with rejection. We are not friends, but we are cordial acquaintances who recognize one another's value. I still HATE it. I still want to run (or ride my bike) away as fast as possible. But I don't. I have grudgingly admitted that it is an inevitable part of what I'm called to do. And I don't ever, ever want to give up what I'm called to do.

Because the prospect of not doing what God calls me to do is scarier, in the end, than rejection. Not scary like God is going to get you for disobeying scary, but scary in the sense of, I will miss something beautiful and hurt someone who loves me so deeply. I would hate that more than the school bus. Trust me, that's a whole new level of hate right there.

So, starting Thursday, I'll be writing about this challenge. I started the first one today. Scary letter in the mail and you will learn more about it Thursday. I'll try to find things which really do scare me. I suspect that will involve more personal rejection than professional. Eek. Not at ALL OK with that.

And I invite you to do the same. Join us. Face rejection. Embrace rejection. Write about it on your own blog or on Facebook, and link it up. The more the merrier in this little exercise that makes me feel like I'm on the Giant Drop at Six Flags. What's your challenge?

And, what do you think my challenges should be? I'm open to suggestion. Except the Giant Drop. Nope. Not going there.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Bargain--read a good book while you're snowed in

    Today, the first blog of 2014, I have another fellow author to introduce. Aaron Gansky has just released his new novel, The Bargain, and I do like a book that sounds original and intriguing. If you also like to read fiction that does not follow a formula and introduces interesting twists, you might be interested to learn more about The Bargain. Ladies--he says this would make a good gift for men in your life!

    1. The title is suitably cryptic. Tell me what it means.

    The Bargain is a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah story, so the title references the bargain God made with Abraham before he destroyed the city. My protagonist, Connor Reedly, has eight days to write ten articles to find five righteous people in a destitute desert town to save the town and his wife.

2. Where did the idea for The Bargain spring from?

 This is a tough question. I wrote it so long ago, it’s hard to pinpoint a specific moment. Really, I think it was a conglomeration of ideas. I wanted to write a book of connected short stories, and was fascinated by the history of a small town I’d researched for a class project a few years earlier. At the same time, I had a journalist stuck in my head. I wanted to write about people’s stories in such a way that it affected the one chronicling the details.

3.      Why did you choose to make the idea into a novel rather than a “Christian Living” book?

 I’ve done a few non-fiction books, but no “Christian Living” books. I’m a Christian, but I don’t think I’m very good at writing “Christian Living.” Maybe it’s my own self-consciousness. I wouldn’t want to tell anyone how to live their life; I don’t feel qualified. I’m no Billy Graham, but I can write books. That’s the skill set God’s given me, so I run with it and leave the “Christian Living” books to the experts. 

4.      Who do you hope reads the book?

 Obviously, I hope the whole world reads it, but that may be a bit unrealistic. I’m most excited about men reading my book, though I know most Christian readers are women. I’m hoping men will pick it up and pass it on to their friends.
5.      What will the reader take away from it?

  I pride myself on my writing. I’d like to think I keep the prose tight and the plot humming. My first hope is that they will enjoy the book. I want my stories to stick with them, to live on beyond the last page. Spiritually speaking, I’m hoping it challenges us to look at things in a new light. We often become pretty judgmental, and I think my book encourages us to hear the whole story before we pass judgment.

6.      What are your favorite themes when writing? How do they come to in The Bargain?

  I’ve taught English for years, so I feel pretty confident with theme. That said, I don’t always write with a theme in mind. I prefer to let the story tell itself, and it will tell me what themes I need to polish up. In the case of The Bargain, a couple themes pushed their way to the front, but I’m not going to tell you which. If I have to tell you, I haven’t done my job. Instead, I’ll let it fester as a mystery, and tell you to go buy the book. 

7.      What are your passions/interests other than writing?

The easy answers: Faith and family. But if you want a more original answer, I can tell you about my nerd hobbies: strategy card games (usually fantasy or comic-book themed games). But what I really love is podcasting. My friend Steve and I produce a podcast about writing fiction appropriately named Firsts in Fiction ( We’ve really started to get the hang of it, and we’ve got some cool stuff planned for future episodes).

8.      What are you working on now?

  I’m finishing up the third book in my YA Fantasy series the Hand of Adonai. The first book in the series is published online and free to download (, so that’s cool. Once I finish that up, I may do a few shorter books on craft (First Pages, First Chapters), and then wrap up the series with Book Four. Then, on to another YA, this time urban fantasy. Should be fun.