Saturday, November 21, 2015

God Isn't a Magician

God isn't a magician. But He is the Creator of All, capable of doing whatever He wants. Whether or not we think it's possible. And whether or not you think it's selfish to ask. God wants a personal relationship with each of us. He already knows what's on your mind - so just say it already!

I just read a Facebook post in which a grandmother tells a story about her grandson saying Grace before eating at a restaurant. He includes a request for ice cream. Another diner whispers a loud criticism, saying kids these days don't know how to pray properly. The story ends with the grandson giving his ice cream to that nasty diner. It's a good story but I want to expand upon it.

Child At Prayer, Eastman Johnson, circa 1873


We're told that we should "give it all to God" and rely solely on the Lord for our needs. How do you do that? I know how I do but it's taken me a long time to get here and I've got a long ways to go yet. When we tell children not to say "selfish" prayers, what we're really saying is that God doesn't care what you want. We're teaching children to withhold the desires of their hearts. And that is NOT what the Lord wants!

Several years ago, our dog Sasha ran off at the tail-end of a very severe thunderstorm. The storm knocked out our power and we'd just found out it spawned a tornado that tore through the center of the state, from Springfield to Charlton, MA. Scary stuff, especially for a 5 year old who's beloved pet has now run off into the still stormy night. My husband and I drove around looking for Sasha but it was too dark and we were running out of gas. I went home and told my kids the best thing to do now was pray.

Two hours later, Sasha returned. Unhurt but filthy, and she's never gone off that long ever since. I think perhaps she scared herself. When we had her back safely inside, my 5 year old son told me, "I prayed that God would bring Sasha home and He did!" I believe that is the moment that he truly accepted and believed that God cares, even about little boys and wandering dogs.


The next day I told a friend this story and the response was, "God isn't a magician, you know." I was very disappointed by this response. Here was someone who's faith I respect telling me, in essence, that it was wrong for my son to pray for God to save our dog. WHAT?? So why do we pray for sick people? Why do we pray when disaster strikes? I had a hard time holding back my anger, though I'm glad I did because friendship is important and sometimes even smart friends don't say things quite the way they meant.

When children pray for things like "please let Nana buy us ice cream" or "please bring my dog home safe" what they are really doing is giving all their hearts' desires to the Lord. They are Giving it to God. Isn't that what we're supposed to do? When you were five, did you ever ask Santa for you to grow up to have a well-paid job and a nice house? No! You asked for toys. When you were in college, that's when you dreamed of the great job and nice house. Well, that's how faith and prayer works, too. 

Praying Hands by Albrecht Dürer
You start off in the childhood stage, no matter what age you are when you first come to Christ. In the beginning, your prayers sound a bit selfish: "please let work go well today," "please help me not be nasty to that jerk in accounting," "please let me get a pay raise." You sprinkle in some good stuff, too, because they tell you that's how it's done: "please heal Mr. Smith," "please let the mission fund get lots of donations," "please be with the people who were in that natural disaster." 

After a bit, maybe a few weeks maybe a few years, just depends on the individual, your prayers start to change. Your faith grows stronger. No, you don't get everything you prayed for in the past but you start to see how what you want isn't always what's best, for you or others. If you're a parent, you can compare raising a child to growing your faith. Your kids may beg and plead for more candy but you know too much isn't a good thing. God knows this kind of stuff about us, too. As your faith matures, you start asking things like, "Lord, please let me have a good day but most of all, please help me do what you want." We pray to be able to accept and follow the Lord's will. 

That kind of faith doesn't come with accepting Jesus as your Savior. Faith, as is often stated, is like a seed. It gets planted and then needs to be nourished. John 15:2 states, "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." Our prayers begin one way, our faith grows and the Lord prunes, and our prayers mature. But we'll always have more growing to do!

God is not a magician but sometimes prayer can work in ways our feeble little minds consider magical!



Friday, October 16, 2015

Deleted Scenes...

Movies have bloopers. Sometimes they'll leak a scene that was cut. Well, novels have lots of deleted scenes. An author writes the first draft and then tweaks what works, slices what doesn't. But these manuscripts are like our babies - actually "deleting" what we wrote is painful. So the scenes tend to get tucked into a file and often never read again. 

Today, I'm offering up a deleted scene from SHE'S MINE. If you've read the book, you will find vague referencing to the Memorial Day parade. In the first drafts, there was actually a chapter with Sean and Caitlin interacting at the parade; Caitlin even rides in one of the fire trucks with Sean in the parade. It just didn't advance the plot enough and I was able to put the little bit of pertinent details in subsequent chapters (where they actually worked better). Still, I liked the scene. Here is a portion of it, for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

“Janelle has arranged for you to ride in another truck so you can have a front seat view of the parade.”
She looked over his shoulder, realizing why Sean had joined the group. Sitting in the front would be more fun than being squeezed between two rambunctious six-year-old boys. Janelle grinned. Caitlin narrowed her eyes and tried to telepathically communicate I know what you’re doing, to her best friend. Sliding her gaze back to Scott, she nodded.
He opened the door and jumped down. She faced the truck and climbed carefully. The feel of hands suddenly on her hips surprised her. A quick glance showed Sean guiding her. He dropped his hands as her feet hit the ground.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to get touchy-feely there. Just didn’t want you to fall.”
“I have a pretty good sense of balance.” Not wanting a repeat of the other day she added, “Thank you for being considerate.”
He arched an eyebrow. “Thanks for giving me the benefit of doubt. Truck’s over this way.”
Long, quick strides carried him across the parking lot. She stared at his departing form. He moved with confidence. The dark blue pants and white shirt of the fire department uniform looked good on him. Wavy blond curls edged over his collar. Her mouth went dry. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
He stopped beside a red F350 Super Duty. She hurried to catch up. When he turned to look at her, she was struck by the contradictions in his face. Broad with angular planes, his expression could be hard and a bit intimidating. Harbor blue eyes might’ve been chilly. Instead he smiled and his face became round, cheerful, almost boyish.
“This is the forestry truck.” Sean spoke with pride.
“It’s like your truck, only red.”
“And a bit bigger.” He smiled. “This one holds over two hundred gallons of water, plus she’s got a pump that’ll send out five hundred gallons per minute. That is the hose reel.” He pointed as he spoke. “There’s a generator onboard, four 15 amp outlets, two telescoping lights and rear scene lights.”
Caitlin stared at the truck, awed by its implied capabilities. She pointed to the built out front bumper. “Do I even want to know about that?”
“No.” His smiled dimmed, as if recalling unpleasant memories. “That one is a Briggs and Stratton power unit. The others are called Hurst tools. Ask Scott if you want to know more. I’d rather not get into a discussion about car accidents.”
“Okay with me.” She let a smile claim her lips. Sean was pleasant to talk to when she wasn’t being rude. “I’m not much into blood and guts.”
“We’ll get along fine, then.” Pronounced dimples appeared as his grin returned.
Caitlin held her smile, trying to hide her nervousness. In jeans and t-shirt at the farm, Sean had a down-to-earth, regular guy kind of look. Today, in uniform, he looked like a rough-edged gentleman. Both were attractive and that worried her.
Adam always behaved like a perfect gentleman. Dressing smartly, his black hair cut short and combed straight and neat. Yet Adam had played a role, luring her into a trap. And she hadn’t known until it was too late. Then he’d revealed his true self: a manipulating, conniving narcissist. What proof was there that Sean was who he seemed to be?
“Caitlin?”
He’d been talking and she hadn’t heard a word. Now he held the door, gesturing for her to get into the truck.
“Sorry, got lost in thought for a moment.”
“Having second thoughts about riding with me?”
If you haven't read SHE'S MINE yet, grab a copy for your Kindle at http://amzn.to/1MHwhp1 It's only $4.99 - - or FREE with Kindle Unlimited

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Meet Millie from CELTIC KNOT

(reposting an old interview - in celebration of CELTIC KNOT being on sale for just 99¢)


Today I have the pleasure of chatting with Millie Finnigan. Millie's mother, Abby Finnigan, is the heroine of CELTIC KNOT.

"Welcome, Millie. Have a cookie and tell us a little about yourself."

Millie grabs a cookie but waits to eat it. "Hi, I'm excited to be here today. Let's see, I'm seven years old and I live with my mother in Prophecy, Colorado."

She takes a bite of cookie, not talking again until she's finished chewing. "My real name is Millicent but Momma only calls me that when she's cross. I try not to make her angry 'cause she works real hard and hardly ever smiles. Momma has a pretty smile but sometimes her eyes seem to look far away and her face gets sad."

"Why do you think she's sad?"

"It's as if she's looking at a photograph in her memory." Millie fidgets with her dress, dropping her gaze a moment before continuing. "Remembering Daddy, I think. He died when I was four. That's when we moved back to Prophecy. Momma says that Daddy called me his little blessing. I don't hardly remember him. Sometimes that makes me sad."

"What makes you happy?"

A smile brightens Millie's countenance. "Playing with my best friend, Jennifer Stanton. Her pa is the town preacher an' her folks are real nice. They always treat me like family. Pastor and Mrs. Stanton worry about Momma an' me, 'cause we don't always have money for nice things. But Momma takes real good care of me."

"Doesn't your grandfather own the largest ranch around Prophecy? In fact, he owns most of the town. Why doesn't your mother ask him for help?"

Millie shrugs. "Momma's family isn't very nice. I've never even met my grandfather. Once, I heard someone say that Raymond Bigelow, that's Momma's father, is so mean and contrary he makes Satan look angelic. All's I know is my uncle Clayton is scary. He says things like teaching the whelp proper respect. That's what he calls me, the whelp." She shudders. "I don't like him."

"I'm sure your mother stays away from Clayton, then."

"We try but Momma works at the Silver Streak Saloon, as a maid. Uncle Clayton goes there a lot and he looks for Momma. He likes being mean, an' not just to her. I can't understand why Boone is friends with him."

"Who is Boone?"

"He's our sheriff. Boone's real nice. He always wants to buy me stuff but Momma won't let him. She says she don't want to be beholden to him." Millie scrunches her nose. "Not sure what that means. I do know Boone wants to marry Momma. He might be a nice daddy. Still, I want Momma to be happy. She never smiles for Boone, least ways, not the kind of smile she gets when Mr. Lachapelle is around."

"Kyle Lachapelle? When did you meet him?"

"He came into the mercantile one morning when Momma was buying supplies an' things." Millie leans forward to whisper, "He likes lemon candies just like me." She sits back in the chair, speaking in her normal voice once more. "An' he stood up to Boone, didn't let anyone push him around. Later, he walked with Momma and me and he was a real gentleman. I hope he comes around more, 'cept Momma told him she don't want to be his friend. I hope she changes her mind."

"I sure hope so, too. Millie, it's been a joy having you here today. Do take one of those lemon candies from the jar for later. Yes, you may take one for Jennifer as well. Thank you for visiting."

Get CELTIC KNOT now for just 99¢ - but hurry, sale ends 10/12/15