We all have seeds of greatness!

It is that time of year…for the promises of spring, for young people to blossom into adults, for proms and graduations and new beginnings. I attended a Confirmation of two twin boys who I watched grow up in my neighborhood from babies to teens. They are fortunate to have good parents who love and support them in their growth not only physically but spiritually. I was moved by the church ceremony when the pastor placed his hands on each confirmation candidate and read: “Stir up in (name of Confirmand) the gift of your Holy Spirit: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, the spirit of joy in your presence both now and forever. Amen.” I realized then and there that each of these young people have seeds of greatness in them.

But how often do we, as adults, realize there are still seeds of greatness in us just waiting to be cultivated? Earlier Sunday morning, getting ready for the church ceremony, I caught the words of Dr. Charles Stanley of In Touch Ministries who was preaching on his weekly television show about having faith in God’s will, plan and purpose for our lives. He said (to paraphrase) that God truly does have a specific purpose and plan for each of us and the sooner we discover and follow it, the happier and more fulfilled we will be. He said it’s a shame so many people live their lives, sometimes reaching near the end, only to realize they don’t really know what that purpose is, wondering what life was really all about and feeling sad they wasted so much time not asking, knowing, nor cultivating their gifts and talents, and not growing.

I feel like I have finally found out – and am following – one of God’s purposes for my life: to write Modern Day Bible Stories, contemporary Bible-based novels that “re-imagine” Old Testament stories so that today’s readers can realize God’s messages in them through entertaining fiction. But I recently discovered another “seed” or calling I believe God is trying to reveal to me: helping other writers become authors. And so I have embarked on a new venture, teaching people how to write their own books, and helping them edit, publish and market those books so that they too can fulfill God’s plan and purpose for their own lives. Trust me, I have balked each time I heard these “callings,” telling God “I can’t do it, I’m not equipped, it’s too much work…” etc. etc. Kind of like many of the prophets and saints did back in the day! But I am beginning to see that once God plants the seed, He isn’t going to let it die!

Which brings me to my favorite Bible passage from Saint Paul, which I hope will inspire you today like it does me: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined…And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30)

He does the planting, and watering and harvesting. Often, all we have to do is face the sun!



Filed under Christian Fiction Author, Inspirational Fiction Author, Modern Day Bible Stories

Progress…not perfection


Let’s face it, in this thing we call life, we are going to fall short. Yesterday was Mother’s Day and I had a beautiful, wonderful day with my children and grandchild and husband and mother-in-law. And yet, I allowed my joy to be tinged with guilt in the end that I fell short as a daughter. (In the hectic fun of the day, I forgot until later in the day that I told my own mother, who was away, that I’d have everyone call to say hi, and we missed her. I felt bad she waited around for the call and we had to leave a voice mail.) I have a hard time letting go of my guilt…which affects my present thoughts, which in turn affects my future actions. I’m sure I am not alone in this. As human beings we want to do our best, and so we strive for excellence, and then beat ourselves up when we fall short.

I know God calls us to be our best. But He also forgives us for when we fall short. And if I don’t forgive myself, well, isn’t that a way of turning from God? The Bible is full of saints who strove for excellence and fell short, and yet, are remembered for the good they did, not their failures. Their examples show us that we just have to learn from our mistakes and move on. St. Paul tells us, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us…but we must hold on to the progress we have already made.” Wow, pretty simple, huh? Forget the past, look forward to the future, press on to be our best, and focus on the progress we have made.

Sometimes the road is forked or the way is foggy and our choices are unclear. We might make a wrong turn…we are going to make mistakes. We can either throw up our hands and stay stuck, or we can press on. Two steps forward, one step back…means one step forward at least. We need to continue to strive for perfection, to do God’s Will, to become saints. But I think in God’s eyes, it’s the striving that counts.

Lord, help me to remember that in striving to do Your will, I am making progress, even when I make mistakes and fall short. Help me to forgive myself, forget the past, focus on the future and press on.



Filed under Christian Fiction Author, Inspirational Fiction Author, Modern Day Bible Stories

Don’t Quit Before the Miracle Happens…

I can only begin to imagine a mother’s (or father’s) grief over losing a child. Fortunately I have never had that experience and hope I never will. How does one go on? Yet Eve, the first mother, not only lost one child but really two, since Cain killed Abel and then “went away from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden.” I have just finished writing my next novel, The Jealous Son, which explores this question, how do we go on in the face of overwhelming tragedy and grief?  Yet people lose loved ones, even children, every day and do continue to live, putting one foot in front of the other in this journey we call life. The only answer I can come up with is that these same people have faith in God – in His ways, His will, His plan. For Eve, that faith came to fruition in that she eventually, in her old age but nevertheless, had another son named Seth, who was to become the next member in the royal bloodline of Jesus, the Messiah. Eve had probably been ready to give up hope when Abel died and Cain, burdened by his sin, left his home and family, turning away from God in shame. Imagine Eve’s joy in having her hope fulfilled in Seth.

Although I haven’t lost a child, I have come to that place of almost giving up hope from time to time…sinking into grief or despair over the loss of a loved one, a relationship, a job, a dream…and yet I have moved on with the every day business of living life in hope and faith that something new must be waiting for me down the line, that God does have a plan for me too. In 12-Step recovery programs, you’ll hear people say “don’t quit before the miracle happens,” which means don’t give up your sobriety, no matter how much pain you might be suffering, because good things in life will happen, miracles even, and life will eventually be “beyond your wildest dreams.”

Sometimes Mondays are especially hard…we have enjoyed a fun or relaxing weekend and now it is back to business as usual…which is why I write this for you and for myself, reminding me that today is a new day of a new week just waiting to unfold…with miracles waiting for us to discover. For me, today is also the first day of a “new year” – I quit my day job and began my full-time author career exactly a year ago today. And while it has been a struggle and I am no where near where I want to be on this journey as far as material things go…book sales, recognition, money…I have to look back and see the good – another novel completed, a growing belief I’m on the right path, the ways I’ve helped other writers – and see that while slow and painful, I have moved forward in my journey. I know the road ahead is long and fraught with even more obstacles and challenges, and no, I can’t see what’s ahead on the horizon – yet I believe there also must be rewards ahead as well. If I quit today, I will never know the possibilities, rewards, miracles, that lie ahead. And the only way to “get there” is to keep moving, one day at a time, praying to know and do God’s will, believing He has a plan for me.

“Thus says the LORD, Who makes a way through the sea and a path through the mighty waters…Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.…to give drink to My chosen people…” (Isaiah 43:17-19)


Filed under Christian Fiction Author, Inspirational Fiction Author, Modern Day Bible Stories

Is the Spirit Working through You?

Writing the last few pages of a novel is one of the hardest parts for authors I think (second only to going back and re-writing/editing!) You want so badly to be finished and yet, you don’t want to cheat your readers or put forth a halfhearted effort just to get done. I feel like I have to reach down and summon my final energy, and even then I struggle. Time to call in the special forces…recognize I need help…and call on the Holy Spirit. As in most things in life, I can’t do my best work writing without God’s help. And I’m reminded especially in this Easter season that Jesus, after He died and was resurrected, sent the Holy Spirit to remain with His apostles, who were also struggling, assuring them “…the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything…” (John 14:26) They  were feeling alone, holed up in the upper room, knowing they had work to do to spread the Good News, but not wanting to venture forth, afraid of what they might find out there, afraid of the challenges that lay ahead. “Jesus said to them ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so I am sending you.’ When He had said this, He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit…'” (John 20:21-22)

And I believe Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to remain with us and guide and help us today, no matter what we may be facing.  “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us…And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes on behalf of the saints according to God’s Will.” (Rom. 8:26-27)  Are you facing a difficult problem or challenge, or just feel frustrated, unsure, down, alone?  Maybe it’s just the fact that it’s Monday morning and you have the blues? This morning I hope you pray with me then: Holy Spirit, please work through me to know and do Your Will, to love and serve others to the best of my abilities, Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Fiction Author, Inspirational Fiction Author, Modern Day Bible Stories

My Lord and My God…

I admit I never set out to write Modern Day Bible Stories…it was not my idea that got me where I am today. I hadn’t even read the Bible all the way  through and when God hit me with the thought, “you should write a modern day novel based on the Book of Job” (which later became my first published book, The Faithful One) I thought in reply, “What?!” At times along my journey I have felt totally unqualified, even fraudulent. I have asked myself and God, “Who am I to re-imagine Bible stories into contemporary novels?” But since He has kept nudging me, I finally surrendered to His will. And three books later (I’m writing my fourth), I have come to believe that this is truly God’s plan for me, and I’m okay with that. In fact, I have come to love this calling of mine.

Still, I am a “doubting Michele” at times when things aren’t happening fast enough and to my liking with my author career.  Have I been obedient or faithful through the journey over the past several years? Hardly. In fact, although I research each book on which I’m writing, I am finally just now finishing reading the Bible cover to cover (I got stuck a few times on books like Numbers and Leviticus). But, like Thomas in yesterday’s Gospel reading, I have made some progress in my faith. So I will choose to focus not only on Thomas’ belief following his doubt, but on the Gospel writer’s call to all of us to continue to believe even when we doubt too: “Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”  Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”(John 20:26-29)

A friend of mine was recently quoting the Bible and I must admit, although I do know several Bible passages and where to find them, I am still not a Bible whiz. But Thomas’ response has replayed itself inside my head over time, especially recently…for example, when I’m taking Holy Communion, when kneeling in awe before the cross like on Holy Friday, and right now, in meditating about my recent doubts and realizing, God is still here…and has been there all along…supporting me in this calling, in this author journey. And so I hope you pray with me, with hope, faith and love, “My Lord and My God!

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Fiction Author, Inspirational Fiction Author, Modern Day Bible Stories

The Battle for Joy

The picture says it all…I was happy in the moment with my granddaughter celebrating her three-year-old birthday sitting beside me and my new one-week-old baby grand-niece in my arm on Easter Sunday. It was a beautiful day filled with joy at our house, celebrating with my sister’s family, my son’s family and some of our own family having fun with the traditional ham dinner, Easter egg hunts, dying eggs, the “picking eggs” game and more. I was a little anxious at first but ultimately happy to host Easter at our house for the first time. Yes, we missed those who couldn’t make it, and yes it was a lot of work (my husband was a huge help), but I was overjoyed at how the day turned out. And now the morning after I feel like a balloon punctured, back to work, thinking about things that could have gone a little better…and although I know those thoughts don’t lead anywhere good, sometimes I get mired in them. And then, poof, there goes my joy! Out the window.  So how do I fight to get my joy back, or more importantly, how do I fight to keep it? How do I resist this emotional “hangover?” I think the answer lies in fighting back, or resisting the bad habits and thoughts that creep in…wanting to crawl back in bed (which would make me ultimately feel guilty I wasted time getting nothing accomplished)…wanting to have more fun instead of go back to work (which pays the bills so we can have more fun and not feel guilty about it)…wishing for things to come or worse, wishing things had been a little different (instead of being grateful for all of the good).

If any of you were fortunate to view the “Best Lent Ever” program with Matthew Kelly of Dynamic Catholic, you would know that we actually have to “slay” resistance every day, sometimes multiple times a day, in order to have true happiness and be open to moments of joy. But first we have to know what makes us happy. Of course being with family, especially my granddaughter, makes me happy…but I can’t have that every day, it can’t be Easter Sunday every day. Today is Monday and it’s cloudy and rainy and back to reality. So how do we sustain happiness? Like Matthew Kelly, I usually can have a reasonably happy day if I spend a little time with God, (praying, reading something inspirational/spiritual, etc.), exercising, getting some writing or work done, and if the opportunity presents itself, being of service to others. Just writing these words lifts me out of that “day after” blues because I know I have been through this battle before, and I can win it if I take one step at a time and stay in the present…and focus on the good and let the rest go.

So I’ll end with this Bible quote from today’s Mass reading: “But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it. For David says of him: ‘I saw the Lord ever before me, with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope…You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence’…God raised this Jesus…(and) He poured forth the promise of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:14 22-33) Don’t worry, be happy, He has risen!

And if you missed it, here’s the whole Dynamic Catholic “Best Lent Ever” series:   http://dynamiccatholic.com/bestlentever/category/lent-reflections-2017/


Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Fiction Author, Inspirational Fiction Author, Modern Day Bible Stories

If Peter Could Do It…

“Peter built the church on the rock of our faith, his banner over me is love.” I remember the line to this favorite children’s song I learned in Bible school growing up as I sat down to write my weekly Monday morning blog.  I have always thought Peter was a really cool figure in the Gospels. I guess because I could really relate to him. He was so passionate, and yet so flawed…so enthusiastic, but then sometimes too impulsive. He walked on water, and then fell into the water and nearly drowned when his faith wavered. He told Jesus that He couldn’t die as planned because it just didn’t make sense to him, but he couldn’t see God’s plan. He told Jesus he would never deny Him, and then when he was afraid, he denied Him three times. And yet, Jesus picked him, Peter, to build the church. Even though Peter had all of those failures and flaws, Jesus never wavered in His faith in him or love for him. Which should be very comforting to the rest of us. We can make mistakes and we will still be forgiven “seventy times seven” times. (and since seven is a number that represents infinity in ancient Jewish times, this means a lot!)

But I think even more importantly, Peter’s story shows us that we can all achieve greatness despite our failures and flaws, if we have unwavering love and faith in Jesus in the long run. We can all start anew like Peter, put aside the guilt and shame of our mistakes and start over, walking the path and purpose God lays for each of us. For some of us, we will be called to do great things like Peter. Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48) and “…whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12) If I stop to reflect on these statements by Jesus, I realize they sound a little scary. I have been given much…and of course I am here on earth to do God’s work while Jesus is still with the Father in heaven. So what great works am I doing, and what will I be asked to do in the future? If Jesus asked me to walk on water to get to Him, I know I would get out of the boat like Peter and try. But do I have enough faith not to turn back when the storms come and the tide gets rough? I guess only time…and my faith despite my failures…will tell.

This week is the Passion week of our Lord. I pray we have the passion of Peter, despite our faults and failures, to keep building the church and following Christ. If Peter could do it…well, so can we!


Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Fiction Author, Inspirational Fiction Author, Modern Day Bible Stories