Monthly Archives: November 2015

Perseverance Pays Off…

PerseveranceI am now working on the sixth (seventh?) edit on my latest novel, The Runaway Prophet, and it seems that it will never be finished. I so hoped it would come out in time for Christmas. I actually hoped it would be published a year and a half ago when I finished writing it. Patience (as I’ve probably said in blogs before) is not one of my virtues. But, my editor says, it will be so much better if you make these character and plot changes…all you have to do is rewrite the first 50 pages. All?! I know deep down she’s right. But it’s so very hard. Luckily the perfectionist me outweighs the impatient me and I sit down at my laptop. I’ll confess I get sidetracked by “Cyber Monday”  online Christmas shopping, Facebook holiday posts and the like,  delaying the inevitable.  But I’m almost done and then it will be a time of waiting for months until the finished book finally arrives in stores…maybe this is how the people in the old days felt waiting for a Savior. Each year as the Christmas season seems to start earlier and stretch longer,  Advent even seems to be a long time to wait for Christmas. But just as I know my book will be all the better if I persevere in making the changes, I know that if we persevere in making changes in our hearts – growing our faith, forgiveness, hope and love during this time, it will be all the sweeter when He arrives! I believe perseverance is persistence and patience combined, and God rewards those who persevere. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12 Happy Advent!

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Be thankful even though…

thanksA friend of mine used to say at 12-step meetings, if you wrote down your problems on a piece of paper and everyone in the group threw their slip of paper out onto the table, you’d want to get your own slip back rather than take someone’s else’s. So true! This, of course, is the season for being grateful and my thank you prayers were going something like this on this fine morning: “God, even though some family members gets on my nerves, thank you that I have family to celebrate with this Thanksgiving; even though it’s still hard driving 40 minutes back and forth and working 9 to 5 each day, thank you for a job that helps put food on the table; even though my dream of being a best-selling novelist isn’t paying off quite yet, thank you for giving me that dream and purpose; even though my kids aren’t all going to church or even believing in You right now, thank you for keeping them healthy, safe and in Your care; and even though I have arthritis in my knees and hips, thank you for my overall good health, for legs that walk, arms that hug, eyes that see, ears that hear.” I think even “even though” prayers are pleasing to God – and that despite our problems (which, if we look out around us, and especially at the people in the world at large, really aren’t that bad) we should thank God often and always for all of our blessings. And this consistent gratitude keeps us happy. We can even be thankful for blessings yet to be, which keeps our hopes alive.  Here is a beautiful “thank you” prayer from David (Psalm 128): “I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart…I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness…When I called, you answered me; you made me bold…Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me…The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever– do not abandon the works of your hands.” Happy Thanksgiving! 

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Pray for Paris

pray for parisMy heart goes out to all of the families of those lost in Friday’s tragic shootings in Paris. But I have to say I am not surprised at the attack reportedly by Islamic State or ISIS backed terrorists. I have thought for a long time that there needs to be more action – on the part of the United States and the world – to attempt to wipe out the Islamic State terrorist regime before they grow too big…and I just hope we’re not doing too little too late. I have always felt a little cursed (although I should say blessed!) to be driven by these issues – usually ideas that form and then eerily end up coming true – when it comes to my writing; my first novel originally involved bio-warfare by Iraqi terrorists (it was never published because ironically the New York agency that was supposed to represent the work was affected by 9-11 ), my first published novel, The Faithful One, involves the protagonist’s daughter being trapped and abused in Syria (and then Syria became a very dangerous place, especially for women), and my upcoming novel being released early next year (although in the making for three years), The Runaway Prophet, entails an Islamic State mafia overtaking Las Vegas and planting a nuclear weapon under one of the casinos. It’s a modern-day story based on the Book of Jonah in the Bible and Las Vegas represents the new Nineveh. Unfortunately, while God spared the people of Nineveh when they repented in Jonah, the sinful city was eventually destroyed. Yes, it’s fiction and I have to admit when I wrote it I hoped it would remain as such…but now with the latest horror in Paris, I’m afraid this type of invasion very well could happen – if it’s not happening already. We need to keep praying and asking our leaders in government to step up and take more action – before it’s too late. We also need to stay hopeful that God has a plan – for us, for Paris, for the world – and remain steadfast in our faith in Him. As it says in Jonah, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs…Salvation comes from the Lord.”

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Are you ALL in?

poker chipsLast night my husband and I were watching “Madame Secretary” on TV about ISIS and it just so happened we were talking at dinner about canned vegetables (you know, how fresh or frozen are better for you) and he said we should really stock up though in case of emergency, like if ISIS ever attacked or shut down our power or something, and it made me start thinking, what if I, like the many Christians dying over in the Middle East at the hand of this now-powerful terrorist group, were ever held at gunpoint and asked if I would die (or worse yet, be tortured) for my religion/faith/beliefs? I’d hope I’d say yes. So many times through the Bible people are either asked to (or willingly) go “all in” (like they say in Texas Hold ’em) – the Israelites grab whatever they can carry and follow Moses out of Egypt for 40 years through the desert; in yesterday’s Mass readings, the woman at the well gave all she had to eat to Elijah (1 Kings 17:10-16) and the woman at the temple gave all the money she had (Mark 12:41-44); and of course, Jesus’ apostles leave everything (including their families and friends) to follow Jesus. So, in our everyday “normal” lives (let’s hope it doesn’t come down to ISIS attacking us),  how can we go “all in” with God? I try to at least get on my knees and pray every morning…and should I forget to do that, read the Bible or another spiritual reading at some point in my day…and should I forget that, try to be a little bit kinder, more compassionate, forgiving, loving to those around me. I’m pretty sure life – and our spiritual life – is a journey and we need to just try to grow and improve one  day at a time. Starting today, Lord, let me go “all in” with my heart to serve you and others and to give my best efforts in all I do. Monday morning is a good time to start I guess! p.s. Just a word for my readers who keep asking…my new book, The Runaway Prophet, a modern-day novel based on the Book of Jonah, is being finalized with my publisher and is due to come out early next year; in it, the main character is asked to help save Las Vegas (the new Nineveh) from destruction by an ISIS mafia which has planted a nuclear bomb under one of the casinos. Of course, he tries NOT to go all in at first – but learns that to run from God’s call only brings more pain! I will keep you all posted!

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Who wants to be a saint?

modern-day-saints--large-msg-1112593003-2

Now if I asked “Who wants to be a millionaire?” like they did on the hit TV series, I’m sure everyone would answer, “me, I do!” But what was your first thought when you read the question in my blog header? Was it “me, I do!” Or was it, “um, not me, really…I’m not qualified, it’s too hard, I’m too much of a sinner…” Yes, they are my immediate answers too. But I believe God calls us all to be saints, and what’s more, to answer that question with a resounding “ME, I DO!” Like anything you want to do or be in life, first you have to want it…and then work for it. If we all had the same drive to want to become saints that we do to become doctors, lawyers, authors, speakers, mothers, fathers…well, the world would probably be a better place. The problem is not that we aren’t qualified. Jesus even tells us “…whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these.” (John 14:12) He’s actually telling us we are qualified to do more than He did…to become disciples and even saints! We just have to want it…and then work for it. Yesterday on All Saints Day I thought about how neat it is that we have seen and known saints in our own lifetime. I actually saw St. John Paul II when he was our Pope visiting Baltimore. I also visited his tomb in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican during my trip to Italy this past summer. And of course Mother Theresa has been beatified and will most likely be canonized one day. Now, you say, they were extraordinary…but actually both of them admitted to struggling from time to time. And most saints, if you look them up, were far from perfect. They made mistakes. They were sinners too. But they kept trying to do God’s Will. And so must we. Is it egotistical to hope we can be saints one day? I think not. Actually, it’s quite humbling when you really think about it. You and I are called to be extraordinary…in little acts of faith, hope and love every day. Those days add up to lifetimes. I hope we can at least say we wanted to be saints and we did the best we could trying!

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November 2, 2015 · 9:30 am