Meet Terri

terriheadshotupdated15Today, (as I explore the island of Maui) I have a guest post from author Terri Tiffany. I met Terri 6 years ago (time sure goes fast) when I was blogging at my other place, Connecting Stories. I’ve always been inspired by Terri’s writing and her tenacity! She’s also an excellent photographer and she picked up guitar around the same time that I purchased my first one! I’d say we were meant to connect. Her first novel, The Mulligan, was lovely and I’m looking forward to reading her latest release, The Bend. Enjoy, my friends. 

Ever receive a challenge in the middle of the night?

Two years ago, I opened a fresh document and typed one sentence: “She was perfect.

My tenth novel. Would this be the one I’d free myself to let go and write the story I wanted to write? Until that time, my novels always carried a hint of people and situations I knew first-hand. I had never pushed myself to write a story from pure imagination.

The Bend became that challenge.

But first I needed a main character with a trait most people don’t have. Since my hobby is photography, I gave Kate Snow that occupation. With a twist. She could see details in her photographs other people couldn’t. Then I needed a place where her gift, curse or blessing, might transform her and those around her. The town of Bend became reality. I also wanted the town to come alive as much as my characters. That’s why I called it The Bend instead of Bend. It’s a place most of us wouldn’t want to spend a night.

It wasn’t easy for me to create a story purely from my imagination but once I introduced Seth, the reporter, the story took off  because I knew my pair of main characters would play off each other perfectly. He was intent on persuing strong goals of his own and reminded me of that person who wants to get ahead in life—no matter the cost to others—but with one endearing trait—he soon cared about Kate.

Finally, I needed one more twist—a character who would threaten every normal facet Kate and Seth believed about life.

Meet The Trainer

Again I needed to dig deep inside myself to unbury this character. I write clean suspense. The challenge to make The Trainer believable without all the gore hit me every day as I opened my computer. With amazing help from my critique partners, beta readers, and editor, he took shape.

What did I learn from writing this novel? Never be afraid of the stories in my head and to feel free to challenge myself to write without worrying that someone will quiet that voice that wakes me in the night.

And most of all, my desire is God will do with the story as He wishes

It’s that final part that keeps me writing. Already, I have seen Him use The Bend  in a positive way and it isn’t published yet.

My challenge for you: Are you writing what God puts in your heart or are you following the crowd? Are you writing what is popular or the story that wakes you at night?

I might never write another book like The Bend but I’m happy I did. This story gave back to me the thrill I experienced when I wrote my first story in fifth grade. Bringing The Bend to life through publication gives me hope that others might get excited to write their middle-of-the night story too.

Terri Tiffany61du0lmds1l-_sy346_
Author of The Bend

The Bend releases on February 17, however you can

Pre-order at The Bend on Amazon

Connect with Terri on Facebook

Terri’s Website

Wrestling Surrender-Guest post by Joy

As I rest away in Maui this week, I have a special guest to fill the page! Meet Joy, a friend and writing comrade who opens her house each month to our Christian writers group, Writers Cafe (and must also say provides the sweetest treats as well my favorite brand of coffee)!  Version 3

There’s been something niggling to get to the forefront of my mind all week. Something I keep shoving back.  It’s a No-I-don’t-want-to-do-that! kind of shove.

But then an email from a friend arrives:

“Have you surrendered your role as _________________ to God? Are you willing to let it go completely and allow that His plan may be different, and not just resign yourself to that, but embrace it with anticipation?”

Rats! Way to bring up the elephant in the room. Now I can’t shove the niggling thought – the conviction from God – away. There it is, staring me right in the face.

God’s plans are not syncing with my plans. And I’m not happy about it!!

I’m reminded of myself 25 years ago, when I was a busy young mom with plans and schedules and an everything-must-run-smoothly attitude: We are rushing to get to piano lessons. 4-year-old J is complaining of a sore tummy but I chock it up to the notion that she doesn’t want to go to piano. We have a schedule to keep!

Not until she throws up at the open car door do I realize, this child is ill!

I shove down the mom-guilt, pick her up, wrap her in cuddles, tuck her into bed.

Call the piano teacher.

Then, in a flash, God gives me a picture –

Of me.

Holding up to Him my open calendar and saying, “Here’s my schedule, Lord. Bless it.”

Like I’m the one in charge.

Here I am 25 years later and I’m wrestling with the same issue.

Why is it so hard to surrender my plan to Him? It’s a good plan. It’s not over the top. Anyone in my shoes would think this plan was the right thing to do. And yet, it’s obvious that it’s not working.

I know from experience that life is just better when I’m surrendered to God’s will. And I want that.

But God, don’t you think this is a good plan? I can’t imagine a different one.

And there it is. Of course I can’t imagine a different one. I’m not God. I’m not all seeing. All knowing.

Wouldn’t I rather have the Someone who knew me from before I was born, who was there when I was knit together in my mom’s womb, who has numbered all of my days, who created the sun — THE SUN!! … wouldn’t I want that Someone to be in charge of my itty bitty little plan?

Yeah, I guess I would.

So Father God, take this good plan of mine. I surrender it to you with a tiny bit of oh no! What happens now?

Because of Who You are and because of Your faithfulness to me in the past, I know that your ways are higher – are better – than mine. Help me completely surrender this thing and completely let go. It’s so hard but with Your help I can do it.

And then … Peace washes over me.

Oh yes, this was the right – the best – thing to do.

For You did form my inward parts; You did knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days of my life were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them. 

(Psalm 139: 13, 16)

 Unto You , O Lord, do I bring my life.  (Psalm 25:1)

Joy writes from her home in Edmonton where she lives with her husband, daughter # 3, and a cat named Calvin. You can find her at  Scraps of Joy

 

 

 

Changing times

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“Patience,” she says.  “After all, Niagara Falls wasn’t formed in a day.”

Niagara Falls?

“Mom,” I say, my ten year-old self feeling smug and smart. “The saying is Rome wasn’t built in a day, not Niagara Falls!”

She doesn’t stop pinning the hem of a dress I am to wear to my eldest brother’s wedding. We’d pick the material and pattern out on a shopping trip to the fabric store in town about a month before. And this was at least the fifth time I’d had to stand on the step stool in our kitchen as she tucked, pinned, and chalked the paisley printed cotton.

“Rome or Niagara Falls…great things take time,” she say. “Now straighten your knees or your hem is going to be as crooked as the tower of Pisa.”

I straighten in obedience. Anticipation of the new dress had me excited but irritable with the time it was taking. Yet, with each fitting there was a new piece added, stitched thoroughly. The dress changed to be suited perfectly for me, with my mother’s skill and with time.

Continue reading “Changing times”

A Loving Reminder

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Usually I just scroll by or hit the delete tab, but this time I didn’t. Maybe the picture of an international city on my bucket list to visit or the tag line appealing to my growth mindset were the draws. Regardless, I clicked on the embedded video link in this email from the advertiser that I’d still not yet ‘unsubscribed.’

You know you are loved, she says, this beautiful woman gowned in a dress that flows gracefully to the top of her knees, and wearing such high-heeled shoes that I wonder if she practices walking on stage prior to addressing the few hundred woman that attend her conferences.

The camera spans across the women at white-clothed tables, women eager to better themselves and their businesses, of different nationalities and faith.

Her bracelets dangle as she sweeps her arms up and around as if to embrace someone. You are absolutely loved and it is from knowing that love, that you can give your best to the world, she continues.

Continue reading “A Loving Reminder”

Lifting the gates

 

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The Light of the World
“This reminds me,” commented G, “of an 18th century painting where Jesus is knocking but there is no handle. Only the one inside can open it.”

“I wonder where that painting is now?” C questioned. But G was not sure.

We were gathered together, our group of four, to discuss what the Spirit showed us in the scripture passages we’d been led to read, to re-read and to reflect.

It is a cold Monday evening, the temperature just dipping below -20 Celsius and I resisted to take the 10 minute drive to my church to attend the first evening of Solemn Assembly.

The church auditorium is open every night this first week of the calendar year for a gathering of guided prayer and meditation. It’s a time to ‘take an extended pause….to turn to God in prayer’ the printed guide defines.

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But I found myself resisting the invitation, this invite to be present in prayer.

What if, I think, He stays quiet, like I feel He has for these many months past?

So many unanswered prayers (at least in my perception) had me discouraged and my intellect mind challenged.

But I gathered up my bible and my favorite blue pens, and drove the snowy roads, grateful for the heated car seats. Yet, in a small act of defiance I see now, (I’ve shown up for you front and center God, now it’s time for you to show up for me!), I slipped into the second row from the back instead of my usual third row from the front position.

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A few moments later, on the other end of the pew, G and B take a seat, B being the woman I wrote of here, whose welcoming act and invitation when I first ever attended this church, began the breaking down of my defensive barriers as a single attending a church.

When we move in our seats to be closer together, G, B, C (a lady who took a seat behind me) and I, B asks a question of me, a confirming question that is. And, I ponder, is this an answer to prayer?

And C and I, we learn, have a mutual friend from another church. And our smiles mirror, as we reflect on how lovely this lady friend of ours is, and oh! what a small world it is!

But is it?

Instead of a small world of random chance, could this time be divinely orchestrated by the One who always is there to prosper me, because I showed up?

 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

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Maybe, just maybe, rather than waiting behind our gates of resistance, our gates of uncertainty, or our gates of  discontentment, it is when we move, take a step in faith by taking a step of action, is when we open the door for Christ.

Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. James 2:21-22

The handle is on our side. Jesus is just waiting for us to open the door so He can come in.

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Lift up your heads, you gates;                                                                                                                      be lifted up, you ancient doors,                                                                                                                     that the King of glory may come in. 

Who is this King of glory?                                                                                                                                 The Lord strong and mighty                                                                                                                          the Lord mighty in battle. 

Psalm 24:7-8

Is there an action of faith you are resisting to take? Are you waiting on Christ to make the move? Or maybe, just maybe, He’s waiting for you to lift open the gate….?

 

Restoring the details

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“Oh, no. Now what?” I mumble to myself, my arm tiring from creaming together the ingredients that I thought were right. Except glancing at the recipe on my Ipad screen, I see I was to add in 1 cup of coconut sugar, not the 1 cup of coconut flour I was trying to blend. Worse yet, reading further, the recipe only calls for 1/3 cup coconut flour.

Interrupting the expletives piercing my thoughts, I come up with the only solution that may redeem these gluten-free snacks I am making for my daughter’s family.

Triple all the ingredients. And hope for the best.

As I search my pantry, praying I have enough of the necessary ingredients times three, I chastise myself for not reading the recipe closer in the first place. See, it is not the first time I’ve made these treats. So I guess I figured I already knew how.

So didn’t pay attention to the details.

And messed up.

Continue reading “Restoring the details”

Awakening the wonder

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And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered for awhile, will yourself himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:1

I started something new today. In a spiral notebook, using my new gel coloured pens,  I created the following legend:

Gratitude                                                                                                                                                               Miracle                                                                                                                                                                   Where I am at                                                                                                                                                      Success                                                                                                                                                                 Quotes and Scriptures   

With my pink gel pen in hand, I wrote today’s scripture verse which is also my verse for the year as it encompasses my word for 2017: RESTORATION

But do you notice the strike-through, the mistake I made when writing? Instead of himself, I originally wrote ‘yourself.’ In other words, I slipped (unconsciously) into restoration by my own efforts.

God sure does work in mysterious ways doesn’t He?

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The other day, after opening up to a friend where I am at, questioning, she said, “It sure isn’t always easy during those times when God is silent.”

I stared silently back at her. Silent? I hadn’t even contemplated that God is being silent. I’ve been asking a lot of ‘why’ questions lately, and praying for something, anything to show He works here among us, while in this world of flesh. With my own intellect and reasoning, I want to know and see.

In today’s reading time:

Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3   

“The childlike heart is vulnerable, teachable, joyful, creative and filled with wonder. There’s a difference between being childish and childlike. Childishness is a posture of stubborn challenge. Childlikeness is a perspective of hopeful curiosity. Every question you ever ask is one of challenge or curiosity. Let childlike wonder awaken you again as you let go of all offense at the past and fear of the future.”                                                                                          The Creative Way Meditations, Ted Dekker

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Yes, I’d say His ways are mysterious but hopeful…

As this year of 2016 comes to a close and if, like me you are in this season where God seems so silent, my hope for you is that your childlike wonder is awakened and that you know God’s grace restores making you, as He has promised, “strong, firm and steadfast.”

Happy New Year, my friend. Thank you for sharing in my travels this past year, and for sharing your perspectives which has ministered and blessed me beyond words. I look forward to our continued awakenings and wonders expressed in 2017.