Monthly Archives: February 2018

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a work in progress


Facebook is a great place to connect with friends and, for authors, it’s a great place to connect with readers. I’ve had an author page on FB for several years – maybe you already follow me there – but the ways FB chooses to show our business pages keeps changing and now it’s even harder to get people who like that page to see my posts. So if you aren’t seeing my posts, how are we going to connect? Ugh.

I’ve heard that a better way to connect there is to have a group connected to my author page, and I’ve actually been thinking about having a private group where I share things first – cover reveals, snippets of what I’m writing, what I’m working on, new releases, etc. for a while now. So I went for it. THE GROUP IS NOW LIVE and I’d love for you to join me there.

When considering a name for the group, I brainstormed several but kept coming back to “a work in progress”, because it perfectly describes not only the books I’m working on but me. Especially at this moment when I’ve been focusing so much on my spiritual life and having more quiet time with God. I am a constant work in progress, and I’ll probably share some of that journey with you all in that group as well.

So if you enjoy my books, come on over and join the group HERE. If you haven’t read any of my books yet but would like to, join the group and you’ll get a free book to get you started. :)

happy valentine’s day

valentinespromosm

Snatch up the series at a great price today. And if you’ve already read The Cornerstone series, pass this sweet deal on to a friend.

Happy reading, friends! <3

side by side

valentinesscenes
One of the things I really loved about writing Until Then was the fact that several of the scenes and situations from Goodbye, Magnolia were told from Michelle’s perspective, giving her view of some of those key events in Maggie’s life, which happened to be key moments in her own life as well. To me, once Michelle’s story was told, it really filled in the events of Magnolia and beyond and made the series feel complete.

Since it’s nearing Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fun to share part of the Valentine’s Day scene from both of the girls’ viewpoints side by side. Read Maggie’s from Goodbye, Magnolia first on the left, then go back and read Michelle’s from Until Then to get the things that were going through her mind at the time. :)

GOODBYE, MAGNOLIA | Valentine’s Day
Maggie’s perspective

The door jingled again. “Maggieee!”

She was startled, but jumped up as soon as she saw who it was. “Michelle?” Maggie hugged her former roommate. “Oh my goodness! What are you doing in Hastings?”

“Can’t I just stop by and visit my roomie?”
 The girls took a seat together on the sofa.

“Of course. It’s been way too long.” Maggie tucked her legs up under her.

“It’s good to see you,” Michelle said.

“You, too. You look great.” She noticed Michelle’s usually long brunette tresses had been trimmed just above her shoulders. It was a good look on her. “How’s Jeremy? Any big plans tonight?”

Michelle shrugged her shoulders. “I have no idea how he is. We aren’t seeing each other anymore.”

“Oh, Chelle.” She was sad for her friend. Michelle and Jeremy had been dating for a couple years. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s no big deal, Mags.” She dismissed it casually. “We’ve been broken up for a few months now.”

Maggie was a little shocked that this was the first she had heard of their breakup. “I guess it’s been longer than I thought since we last talked. Are you seeing anyone new?”

“Not really.” Michelle paused. It seemed like she was going to say more, but she didn’t. Instead, she dug into her purse for some money. “How ‘bout you? Any big Valentine’s plans?”

“Just me and Billy.” She nodded toward Bill, who happened to look up at her at that moment and grin.

“Friend of yours?” Michelle asked.

“He and his sister own the place.”

“Ah.” Michelle laid her purse next to Maggie. “Be right back.” She walked to the counter and ordered.

Maggie watched out the front window as more couples and groups of couples passed by on the sidewalk. It was a clear night, not a cloud in the sky, which made for bitter cold temperatures. She imagined all of the couples snuggling to keep each other warm and suddenly felt a little sick to her stomach.

Michelle returned to the sofa and turned to face Maggie. “So, what’s it like having another studio right down the street from yours?” She took a sip of her coffee.

Maggie tensed up at the mention. “It’s nice that he wants to help his uncle and everything, but what about his studio in Grand Rapids? Who’s taking care of that?”

“Oh, he hired someone as his office manager,” Michelle replied. “Some pretty young thing just out of college. And he travels back and forth. He works some days here, some days there.”

She rolled her eyes. “Well, he should just stay out of Hastings and leave me alone.”

“So you’ve seen him,” Michelle remarked.

Maggie nodded.

“Hmmm, I’m sensing a little bitterness.”

She didn’t feel like rehashing their run-ins over the past couple months. “The thing is, he’s everywhere in this little town. And I can’t seem to get through an entire week without him bringing up his darn proposal.”

“What proposal?” Michelle sounded concerned.

The door jingled again.

Maggie scrunched up her nose at Michelle. “Speak of the devil,” she whispered.

“Oh, sorry,” Michelle spoke quietly as she stood up. “Did I forget to mention that I asked him to meet me here? We’re going to dinner.”

Simon greeted Michelle with a bear hug and a quick kiss on the lips. “You ready to go?” he asked.

Michelle pointed in her friend’s direction. “Coffee with Maggie.”

Maggie held her hand up and shook her head. “Oh, no, that’s OK. Don’t let me keep you.” As much as she liked catching up with Michelle, she hoped they would leave.

Simon glanced over at Maggie. “Coffee sounds great.”

She suddenly felt like bolting as she watched Simon walk to the counter.

“I guess we’ll have to finish our conversation later.” Michelle nodded in Simon’s direction. “You’re welcome to come out with us tonight. It’ll be like our old college days.”

“Oh, please, no.” Maggie had always hated being around Michelle and Simon when they were in college, and there was nothing that would convince her to go out with them now.

Michelle took another sip of her coffee.

Simon returned and took the seat closest to Michelle. He gave her knee a squeeze. “Long time no see.”

Michelle grabbed his knee and squeezed back as tight as she could. This was a game they played in college. Who knew why they found this type of pain amusing. Michelle was never a match for Simon and always ended up screeching as he tightened his grip on her knee.

Ow! Uncle! Uncle!” she cried.

“Well,” Maggie spoke as she stood. “That’s enough of a college flashback for me.” She tucked her magazine in her bag and slid her coat on.

“Hot date tonight, Canon?” Simon’s gaze was intense.

She gave him a sarcastic grin.

“Come with us, Maggie,” Michelle begged her friend one last time. “Simon will pay.”

“What am I paying for?” He grabbed her knee again.

“Our dinner.” She smacked his hand off.

“You guys have a nice time.” She leaned over and gave Michelle a hug. “We’ll get together again soon and finish that conversation.”

“You bet.” Michelle kissed her on the cheek. “Call me.”

Maggie was ten steps down the sidewalk when she realized she had forgotten her half finished coffee. She walked back to get it, but stopped when she spotted Simon watching her through the window. They held eye contact for a moment before he looked back at Michelle.

She decided to abandon her poor latte.

  UNTIL THEN | Valentine’s Day
Michelle’s perspective

When she opened the door to the quaint coffee shop, she was hit with the wonderful aroma of coffee beans. She was elated to find Maggie sitting on a cozy leather couch just inside the door.

“Maggieee!” she cried.

Maggie was startled. “Michelle?” She jumped up as soon as she realized who it was. “Oh my goodness! What are you doing in Hastings?”

“Can’t I just stop by and visit my roomie?” They sat together on the couch.

“Of course. It’s been way too long.” Maggie tucked her legs up under her.

“It’s good to see you,” Michelle said. Maggie looked beautiful, as usual, but her eyes appeared tired.

“You, too. You look great.” She grinned. “How’s Jeremy? Any big plans tonight?”

Michelle shrugged. “I have no idea how he is. We aren’t seeing each other any more.”

Two years was a long time to stay in a relationship that was going nowhere, but that’s exactly what Michelle had done. Jeremy was nice and treated her well. He was respectful and loved God. He had filled a void left in her life when Simon became too busy to spend time with her.

… (left out a big chunk of the story about her relationship with Jeremy only for this post because it was quite a long section and I wanted to focus on the conversation) …

“Oh, Chelle,” Maggie said sadly. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s no big deal, Mags.” She dismissed it casually. “We’ve been broken up for a few months now.”

Maggie looked a little shocked. “I guess it’s been longer than I thought since we last talked. Are you seeing anyone new?”

“Not really.” Michelle paused. She wanted to mention going out with Simon, but she didn’t want to spoil their conversation. She opened her purse to find some cash instead. “How ‘bout you? Any big Valentine’s plans?”

“Just me and Billy.” Maggie nodded toward the goateed man with the hipster glasses standing behind the counter. He looked over at her and grinned.

“Friend of yours?” Michelle asked.

“He and his sister own the place,” Maggie explained.

“Ah.” Michelle laid her purse next to Maggie. “Be right back.” She walked to the counter and ordered a latte from Billy.

While she waited, she glanced over at Maggie, who was staring out the window at the people passing by. She looked deep in thought, and Michelle wondered how she was really doing. As far as she knew, Maggie had not dated anyone since Ben. This worried her, because Maggie was so capable of love. She hoped and prayed that one day her friend would find happiness with a wonderful guy.

Michelle returned to the couch and sat facing Maggie. “So, what’s it like having another studio right down the street from yours?” She took a sip of her coffee.

Maggie tensed up at the mention. “It’s nice that he wants to help his uncle and everything, but what about his studio in Grand Rapids? Who’s taking care of that?”

“Oh, he hired someone as his office manager. Some pretty young thing just out of college.” She had never met Simon’s new assistant, Anna, but he had described her as a blonde bombshell. “And he travels back and forth,” Michelle continued. “He works some days here, some days there.”

Maggie rolled her eyes. “Well, he should just stay out of Hastings and leave me alone.”

“So you’ve seen him,” Michelle remarked.

Maggie nodded.

Hmmm, I’m sensing a little bitterness.”

“The thing is, he’s everywhere in this little town. And I can’t seem to get through an entire week without him bringing up his darn proposal.”

Michelle got a nervous feeling in her stomach. “What proposal?” The bells on the door jingled.

Maggie scrunched her nose at Michelle. “Speak of the devil,” she whispered.

“Oh, sorry,” Michelle spoke quietly as she stood. “Did I forget to mention that I asked him to meet me here? We’re going to dinner.”

Simon greeted Michelle with a bear hug and a quick kiss on the lips. “You ready to go?” he asked.

Michelle pointed in her friend’s direction. “Coffee with Maggie.”

Maggie held up her hand and shook her head. “Oh, no, that’s OK. Don’t let me keep you.”

Simon glanced over at Maggie. “Coffee sounds great.” He walked to the counter.

“I guess we’ll have to finish our conversation later.” Michelle nodded in Simon’s direction. “You’re welcome to come out with us tonight. It’ll be like our old college days.”

“Oh, please, no,” Maggie replied.

Michelle took another sip of her coffee, amused by her friend’s response. Maggie obviously still couldn’t stand Simon, and that gave Michelle feelings of satisfaction and relief.

Simon returned to the table and took the seat closest to Michelle. He gave her knee a squeeze. “Long time no see.”

Michelle grabbed his knee and squeezed back as hard as she could. He squeezed harder.

She cried out. “Ow! Uncle! Uncle!”

“Well,” Maggie spoke as she stood. “That’s enough of a college flashback for me.” She tucked the magazine she had been reading into her bag and slid on her coat.

“Hot date tonight, Canon?” He had a look in his eye that Michelle recognized—a flirtatious look she’d seen him give many girls in the past. She hated that he was looking at Maggie that way, and tried her best to ignore it.

Maggie gave him a sarcastic smirk, which pleased Michelle.

“Come with us, Maggie.” Michelle repeated her invitation. “Simon will pay.”

He grabbed her knee once more. “What am I paying for?”

“Our dinner.” She smacked his hand off.

Maggie leaned over and hugged Michelle. “You guys have a nice time. We’ll get together again soon and finish that conversation.”

“You bet.” Michelle gave her a final squeeze and kissed her on the cheek. “Call me.”

Michelle glanced over at Simon, whose gaze was fixed on Maggie as she walked out.

To continue reading and get the complete story, THE CORNERSTONE SERIES is on sale for Valentine’s Day – 50% OFF the original price NOW thru February 14th. CLICK HERE!

my fallow heart


Honesty time. I’ve never been good at setting aside time in my mornings to spend in God’s Word. I’m not a morning person. I used to sleep in until 9 or 10. I’d roll out of bed and go straight to my computer, losing hours on work or, more often than not, social media and other sites that were adding nothing to my life.

Oh, I had good intentions … sometimes. I would tell myself that tomorrow I’d stop and have quiet time before I turned on the computer. There was definitely a longing in my soul to dig into His Word, and I knew my spiritual life was suffering because of the constant distractions, pulling my attention away to things that didn’t do anything to nurture my heart and soul.

Not that I wasn’t finding positive things along the way – Christian friends online, encouraging blogs and websites I subscribed to, Bible quotes on Instagram. The good is there, too. But it’s so easy to skim on the internet. A glance at a quote. A few sentences of a post read because I knew I had other things to do. Never really staying on anything long enough to let it truly sink in and have an impact on me. Very much on the surface.

Sometimes I think I have the attention span of a three year old.

I shared here last fall about how I’d lost some weight after changing my eating habits. By year’s end, I had lost almost thirty pounds, which was awesome and made me feel so much better overall. But I still felt like I needed more of a change … on the inside.

For Christmas, my mom got me the She Reads Truth Bible and Matthew study book. They were things I had put on my wish list for her, but I had no idea if she would choose them for me or not. I love She Reads Truth, a wonderful online community I’ve mentioned here before that focuses on women getting into the Word daily, and I’ve done a few of their studies in the past on different books of the Bible. But many times I would just read the verses quickly and only read the daily emails they send that go along with the study. I wouldn’t sit with the verses and take time with them. I’d rush through.

But I don’t want to rush when it comes to what God wants to teach me through His Word.

The world is so much about hustle these days. Go, go, go. Got lots of work to do. And I get swept away in that. Wanting to succeed, to release more books, to make a little more income and help contribute financially to my little family. That can cause desperation and anxiety and that feeling that I need to hustle.

On Monday, January 1, I got up and cracked open my brand new Matthew study guide and my new Bible and began what has been a month of mornings started in God’s Word. That and reading through the Bible In A Year guide in the back of my new Bible.

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. I’d say that’s pretty accurate.

In the beginning, I had to be very intentional about reading through the verses, slow myself down and really think on what the verses were saying, rather than my old habit of reading quickly/skimming. I had to try to clear my mind and not think about the list of things I needed to accomplish. Because I just knew in my heart that this was WAY more important than anything on that list.

Each day, it’s gotten easier, and I’m happy to report that this wonderful new habit is one that I’m so excited about when I get up every morning. I get out my notebook and Bible, open up the She Reads Truth site to the day’s study, read through the verses slowly, then read the daily post that goes along with them and jot down any thoughts I have or verses or quotes that stood out to me.

I only wish I’d stopped just thinking about doing this and actually done it a long time ago.

So many of these verses and stories I have heard throughout my life in Sunday School and Sunday sermons and church camp and college and beyond. But reading through them again, slowing down, focusing on what I’m reading, sitting with it for a bit as I start my day, asking God to show me what He wants me to learn, makes every chapter and verse seem brand new.

Sunday ended the study on Matthew and now we’re on to I & II Thessalonians. I’m also reading the book “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp and listening to the podcast “The Next Right Thing” by Emily P. Freeman. I’m finding that so many of the themes in the things I’m reading and listening to are directly coinciding with the scripture I’m studying that day or week, which seems like it was perfectly timed by God just for me.

“The remedy for my fallow heart is the Word.”

This is a quote from the Matthew study regarding The Parable of the Sower on the She Reads Truth website. I liked it and jotted it down in my notebook because it felt like me. My heart has been like a fallow field, plowed and ready, but left unseeded for a season.

Time to do some planting. ;)

AJAXed with AWP