Have You Ever Experienced a Miracle?
Miracles happen quietly every day—in an operating room, on a stormy sea, in the sudden appearance of a roadside stranger. They are rarely tallied. No one keeps score.
~The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom
Have you ever experienced a miracle?
A big one? A small one?
I bet you have. I think Albom is spot on in his quote above, miracles do happen quietly, every day.
On my morning run I spotted two baby deer and their mama in a neighbor’s yard, playing tag with one another, romping about. The babies were tiny—white speckles on their backs—and they made me stop everything. Stop my conversation with my husband. Stop the rhythm of my feet. Even for a moment I stopped breathing. Because they were beautiful. And deer don’t usually play where people are. But on this morning, early enough to beat the July heat; I got to glimpse the grace and beauty of these deer. They were a gift to me. A small miracle.
On a group message I noticed someone’s title was a professor of Special Education. My daughter wants to major in Special Ed. No way! I thought. I’ll have to chat with this woman. But there was no need to call or write an email. I turned around at church the next day to see this very woman standing behind me. And my daughter was next to me. We all chatted. They set up a meeting, and ever since my daughter has worn a huge smile on her face. She got to volunteer all week with a special needs camp. It lit her up from the inside out doing something that truly makes her shine. I couldn’t have orchestrated this meeting, or this experience for her, not like this. But God could. Another miracle on the books.
I’ve experienced big, unbelievable get down on my knees miracles, too. My youngest was born with a hole in his heart. We spent the first couple of weeks of his life getting ultrasounds of his tiny ticker with the pediatric cardiologists at Children’s Hospital. And praying. A lot. But when we went in for his two month follow up—anxiety tight in my stomach, tears pricking the corners of my eyes—the ultrasound showed his hole had closed up on it’s own. It had repaired itself! This was what we’d hoped for, begged God for, the best-case scenario. There was no follow up necessary. A true lightning bolt, praise Jesus miracle.
How about you? Have you experienced a miracle? A big one that knocked your socks off? Small ones that no one else might count, that wouldn’t get you canonized or even in the local news, but a miracle none the less? Have you experienced something you could not have planned, predicted or pulled together no matter how hard you tried; yet somehow, there it was, the perfect moment just waiting for you?
The rest of the quote from The First Phone Call in Heaven reads, “But now and then, a miracle is declared to the world. And when that happens, things change.”
What if we shared our miracles? Not for bragging rights, because there’s nothing to take credit for, because we are so clearly not behind the miracles. But to be grateful. To say thanks to God who dropped them in our laps—little nuggets, that made things easier, happier, less complicated. Big reliefs and life changes and burdens lifted that overwhelmed us with gratitude. What if we shared these big and small miracles? What if we also paid attention, and took note of the miracles occurring in the lives of our friends and family?
What if by declaring our miracles to the world we really could make a change? We could help each other be more appreciate, live more in wonder, acknowledge more often that God is actively working in all of our lives on a daily basis. We could give Him not only credit, but also praise for doing so. Would we live a little less nervous, a little less anxious, knowing our God is alive and well and on our side? Would we sleep better, fret less, hug more freely? I’m guessing yes. Share with someone a miracle you’ve experienced today, and let’s see what kind of change we can make.
What miracles big or small have you experienced? I’d love to hear.
Do you know that old Rod Stewart song, “Every Picture Tells A Story (Don’t It)”? I’m understanding more and more that every person has a story, and they’ll tell it to you, and it will blow you away. All you have to do is ask.
I recently experienced an amazing event in Nashville called STORY. The experience was filled with presenters sharing their stories and inspiring attendees to explore and share theirs. Abigail Washburn the Mandarin speaking, banjo playing woman from Illinois, who just returned from a tour along the Great Wall of China with Yo Yo Ma was a stand in for a sick presenter. What? This was the sub?
And Jeremy Cowart, celebrity photographer who has taken photos of everyone from the Pope to the Kardashians to Sting, yet uses his celebrity to launch amazing humanitarian projects such as Help-Portrait, which offers free portraits to people who have never had their picture taken, and campaigns in Haiti, Rwanda, and Uganda to raise awareness of the devastation these people have endured and funding to help them rebuild. This guy was the guy who struggled through high school. This was the guy whose mantra growing up was, “I can’t”. But his parents repeated to him, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13). A reminder of truth that WE CAN, despite what the world tells us, despite what our achievement tests score us. Look what he’s become! Think what you can become.
Jon Guerra appeared on stage plucking his acoustic guitar and breaking into a soulful melody “We are stained it’s true, but when Your light shines through, we all look like stained glass windows to You.” And there was the lady who played the bassoon and the woman I bumped into at an after party in a warehouse who made a cotton candy tree full of wishes. And James Rhodes, world renowned classical pianist and composer, who played Chopin so beautifully it made me weep, then proceeded to share openly his story of being sexually abused as a child and how music saved him.
Not to mention the fact my sweet friend who I attended Story with and I, stayed up late in an artsy Nashville hotel wearing our pj’s watching Taylor Swift videos. We all have stories.
I could go on and on. But you get the idea. Stories. We all have them. Each and every human being was knitted together in our mother’s wombs (Psalm 139:14) by God, our Creator, with skills and fears, hopes and hiccups, weaknesses and joys, leaps and bounds, whispers and screams. And God takes all of those marvelous little details and writes our stories. It’s like an Encyclopedia Brown mystery, in that God gives us the opportunity to choose if the hero (you or me) will pick A or B, will they give up or keep going, will they try harder or stop trying, will she dream bigger, smile broader, take a different path when the first one is blocked? Will he or she trust in the Author of their story for a happy ending even when the villain seems menacing and the tornado is twisting and they’re locked in a closet? Will they tap into the courage and peace their God has to offer? Will you?
What’s your story? What’s the story of the person next to you, the one you’ve never talked to, the kid who sits in the back of class, or the woman on the far side of church, or the person who always shows up late and leaves a minute early at boot camp? Are you willing to ask them? Are you willing to share yours? Because when we hear other people’s stories, we see their true reflections, often for the first time. And when we share ours, we let other people see ours. And they are all beautiful.
I dare you to say, “God.” And not in an OMG kind of way, but in a reference to God the Father, the Almighty kind of way.
Does that make you uncomfortable?
This is part two of my series about being bold in our faith. I’ve been on vacation in Vancouver for the last week going on walks along the sea wall, shopping at Granville Market, but mainly to see the U.S. play in the Women’s World Cup. It was a beautiful, clean, green city filled with public parks, beaches, fresh, organic food and ultra friendly accommodating people. You know I love to write about the places I travel to, so who knows, maybe a future story will have a character or two voyaging to Vancouver.
At home I chat about God a lot. His name comes up in my conversations, because He’s often on my mind. It’s one thing to tell someone from my small group that I’ll be praying for them, or ask someone from church if their kids are going to VBS this summer. It’s another thing to talk openly about my faith somewhere where I’ve needed to pull out my passport, to say “God” to a stranger.
But not really. Because I do believe in God. I do rely on Him for all things. I know my strength comes from Him. I know He loves me. I know He created me, has purpose for me, sent His son, Jesus to die for me. And He does all of those things for you too.
So, why should I feel uncomfortable saying God’s name? Why do you feel uncomfortable bringing God up in conversation? Are there some situations where you feel more comfortable talking about God? Some situations where you feel less comfortable talking about Him?
The truth is, with Jesus as my Savior, mentioning Him and being faithful to Him aren’t that hard at all.
I just need to be intentionally bold. In Vancouver, our family prayed out loud at restaurants, holding hands, heads bowed. We weren’t being brave. We don’t deserve a badge of courage. But we were so grateful for our time together, for our trip, for our safe travels, for the meals we were able to enjoy, it felt right to pray, just like it always does. I don’t know if any of our waiters or waitresses or any of the other diners heard us say, “God”, or “Jesus,” but it was pretty obvious what we were doing. I hope it encouraged someone to thank God for their food or the gorgeous blue sky or the person sitting next to them. If not, at least I know I was being true to my Savior.
Slightly bolder, I told my cabbie, “God bless you,” as I paid him his fare. I told our porter at the airport, “God bless you,” as he waved goodbye. Again, these things come easily when I stop in awe of the One who made me. But when I’m in the whir and stir of traveling I get distracted, and have to be intentional.
Have you said God’s name to anyone today? If not, I dare you to.
Where are you traveling this summer? How can you boldly take your faith wherever
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about boldness. About being bold in my faith. About what that means. About how I’m doing with it.
This is a tricky, sticky topic, not in whether we should or should not be bold in our faith. But how bold? When? With who? Again, I know the easy answers, everyone, all the time, everywhere. But I also know that smacking someone in the face with Jesus, might not explain His love to them, might not make them curious. Not only could an all out in your face approach to sharing the Gospel make some people feel nervous about Jesus, it just may make them put up a wall. Yet other people, want the cold bucket of water to fall on them, so they can feel something, have the a-ha. So how can I be bold in all the right ways, sharing Christ’s love, His grace, in beautifully finessed, natural transitions, real life examples that will touch the right people at the right times in the right ways. It’s a challenge.
I was invited to a lovely brunch over the weekend with people of varying faiths. There was a delicious traditional Jewish spread complete with bagels, lox, knishes and Hamantash, cookies in the shape of Haman’s hat to celebrate the Jewish people being saved when Queen Esther was bold enough to confront King Xerxes -- picture Mr. Lunt from the Veggie Tales, Esther. At least I did.
The food was set up buffet style. We all piled our plates, complemented the host and hostess, sat, and then… everyone started eating. Was this where I should offer up a prayer? Or would that have been rude in a Jewish household, or rude in someone else’s household regardless of faith or tradition? Is it my place as a Christian? Or not my place as a guest? I didn’t know. So, I sat, and bowed my head and thanked God in my mind for the food and fellowship and prayed that I could be a light. Did anyone notice my head bowed? I don’t know. Nobody commented. What would I have said if they did?
Boldness. It’s challenging.
And so, I’m challenging myself over the next couple of weeks to be bold in new ways, to intentionally share my faith.
I’m starting today by wearing my “Slave to Nothing: Romans 6:6” graphic tee I got at a Holly Starr concert. So far, I saw two people I knew at the grocery store. Both of them have children who attend Christian school with my kids, but I have never discussed my faith with either of them. Did they notice? They didn’t say. But there it was boldly written across my chest. Did the cashier notice? Other shoppers? Did anyone read it and wonder what it would feel like to be a slave to nothing? No. Thing? Not a one? I hope so. I pray so. Did anyone take note of the verse and look it up later? Maybe even Google Holly Starr and listen to one of her songs filled with the message of Christ’s love. I hope so. I pray so.
This is day one. I like it. It makes me smile, wearing this shirt. Boldness. In this way fits as nicely as a comfortable tee.
How about you?
Any ideas on how you’ve recently been bold in your faith? Any challenges you face in being bold?
Is pulling your grade up in a class worth skipping Netflix until after the exam?
Is taking that trip to Europe worth giving up Starbucks in 2015?
Is rehearsing your instrument worth giving up your “chill” time on Trivia Crack?
How about that person next to you, the one you’re hanging out with? Are they worth your time?
Don’t get me wrong. Every human being is worthy of love and respect, but some people are nutritious for you, and some are not. Some friendships and relationships are worth your time energy and effort. Some aren’t.
As we dive into a new year, I’m trying to reflect on what is truly worth it in my life. This housekeeping applies to all areas. Is it worth eating that brownie? For sure! Is it worth paying that much for a pair of jeans? No. I don’t really need a new pair. Snap. This week I’m focusing on relationships.
I came out of a restaurant yesterday where I’d had lunch with a friend to find this on my windshield.
First thought that popped in my head? Totally worth it.
And it was. A $10 parking ticket for the time I had with this woman, so very worth it.
See, she’s not an average friend, or an acquaintance, but she is a true sister in Christ. Every single time we get together one or both of us has some sort of revelation, a bit of divine wisdom from our Creator delivered to us through our conversation. She’s a friend I know I can be completely candid with about my insecurities and inadequacies, and I know she’ll not only love me despite them, but also listen and help me grow. We are always praying for each other, sometimes in ways no one else even knows we need prayer about. And yesterday was no exception. There was literally a moment while chomping on the crisp lettuce, salty almonds and chewy Craisins in our salads when she shouted out, “That’s it!” We grabbed hands and saw something we’d both been struggling with separately, in a new light, together.
A $10 ticket? Well worth the price!
But not all relationships are like that.
Some are gossipy, draining, or deflating. There are some parties I go to where I linger along the walls feeling like I don’t belong, get stuck in conversations that make me feel uncomfortable, or where I find myself engaging in the dangerous act of comparing myself to others. There are other gatherings I attend where I find genuine conversation, nuggets of information, or perspective by spending time there. What’s the difference? The people.
So how can you tell the difference? Answer these questions about who you’ve been hanging out with:
1. Does the person celebrate your strengths?
2. Do you learn from this person?
3. Do you find yourself in healthy activities with this person? (This doesn’t have to mean eating carrots and running marathons together, although it could. It could be taking a class together, reading a book together, swapping recipes or DIY ideas, volunteering together, doing a Bible study together. You get the idea.)
4. Does this person point you back to Jesus?
If you answered yes to all of these questions, then this is someone worth your investment. Nobody can meet all of these criteria every time you get together. One time you have a blast laughing and playing cards. The next time you talk about what you’re reading. The next time you share what Scripture has touched your heart lately. Awesome! Sounds like you’ve found yourself a friend.
But if every time you’re with someone you feel like you had to pretend you knew about something, so you wouldn’t sound dumb, or you are tempted to start gossiping about some mutual friends, or are always doing things that are borderline toxic for you – watching an inappropriate movie, slipping into bad language, telling others white lies to cover your tracks – beware!
Just like we have a certain amount of calories that are ideal for our bodies to function each day, and a certain number of dollars in our bank accounts to spend, we have a limited number of free hours to devote to relationships. How are you going to spend them?
And if you’re in a relationship with someone who you answered mostly “no” to the questions above, then what?
1. Take the proactive role. Suggest healthy activities to do together—go see Night at the Museum 3, grab frozen yogurt and chat about your goals for 2015, go on a walk together somewhere with great scenery.
2. Pray before your time with that person, that you can be true to yourself, to the person God created you to be.
3. If after doing giving one and two the old college try, you find yourself still feeling manipulated, unappreciated, unworthy or uneasy put your foot down. Start filling your schedule less and less with this person, and seek out new friends or time with other friends who help you be more like the awesome child of God that you are!
Anything else? Anyone have other litmus tests for how to determine if your relationship is worth getting a parking ticket for, or how to resolve or bow out of friendships that aren’t?
“I get by with a little help from my friends.”
Lennon and McCartney
A family member of mine who has never, ever, ever (feel free to sing Taylor Swift in your head if you must) asked me for an opinion, or help ever before in my life called last week seeking advice.
After I picked myself up off the floor from a dead faint, I had a blast sharing what knowledge I had with this person I love. It. Felt. So. Good.
It felt so good to be asked, to be valued, to know that they cared about my opinion on something and believed in me enough to want to garner knowledge from me. It felt even better to know after all of these years of me asking this family member for ideas, answers and sometimes actually sending them S.O.S.’s that I was able to give just the tiniest thing back in return.
At the end of our call I said, “I do believe that’s the first time you’ve ever asked me for advice.”
Their answer dumbfounded me. “I’m not good at asking for help. It makes me feel needy.”
And all these years, I’d felt this dear, dear person, who I looked up to, didn’t value my opinion.
They didn’t sound needy. They sounded like a friend. It felt like relationship. It felt fulfilling and gratifying from my end. Just like it felt rewarding and reassuring every time this person helped me in the past. That’s what help looks and feels like. Like friendship. Like love.
It’s okay to ask for help. Better than okay. You’ll gain the knowledge you need, an opinion of someone who’s gone before and build someone else up in the process. And you know the best person to seek advice from? God! So whatever has you puzzled, perplexed or stressed out today, ask someone who you value their opinion. It will make them feel valued, and you'll get some helpful hints. And make sure you ask God too. He always has your best interest in mind, and whenever you ask, He says it will be given to you.
I was blessed to speak last week at an amazing event called Stand Up, Stand Out at Missouri Institute of Science and Technology. We ran out of time at the end of the talk for the usual Q&A session, but several of the college sorority women who were in attendance wrote down questions and handed them to me. Not only were they great questions, but a lot of the questions were things I get frequently asked. Since I didn’t have a chance to answer them then and there, I thought I’d answer them here and now. There were so many great questions; I’m running it as a two-part blog.
So imagine you’re sitting at a round table at a ballroom in a university student center. Picture the autumn inspired orange and gold streamers draped across light fixtures. Grab a handful of the brightly colored M&M’s from the glass dish and listen to them tap against each other, and get comfortable for part one.
Q: What inspired you to write about/speak to college girls?
A: My memories of college life are movie-like. If you ask me about college, a montage with a soundtrack consisting of songs ranging from R.E.M. to Sinead O’Connor to James Taylor plays through my mind. I attended Miami University, which has a picturesque campus. My roommates were my best friends. I was involved in student life, took a summer to study abroad and laughed all the time.
That’s the movie version, and the things that first come to mind.
But the reality is there were other times to. Memories that would be left on the cutting room floor. Like when my roommates and I fought, and it left me feeling raw and alone, because these were the girls I cared about most, and sometimes I let them down, and sometimes they didn’t understand me, and sometimes I felt isolated. Except for when my strenuous business major called for all-nighters, and team meetings and presentations and I had to schedule my life in fifteen minute intervals, so I would be where I was supposed to be and do what I was supposed to be doing all day, and I was so stressed I felt like I might implode. Except when I had a series of bad relationships and felt sad and dejected and unlovable, and there were more tears than smiles.
Now I live in a college town, and am surrounded by beautiful, bright young women full of potential. Girls who are embracing life, and seizing opportunities, and struggling to keep it all together, and look perfect on the outside while they’re dealing with hard-hitting issues on the inside. They confide their stories in me. And so I write for them and speak to them. To share what I learned. To prove to them that they can get through. To let them know they’re not alone. To inspire them. To remind them that they are beautiful and unique and capable of moving mountains.
Q: Do you ever get writer’s block?
A: I actually have the opposite problem. I have way too many ideas bumping around in my head. I have books I want to write, characters I long to create, blog topics I’m itching to get down in words. There are certainly times when I’m writing, when I get stuck on a word or a phrase or a scene, but (knock on wood) I’ve never run out of ideas.
Q: How did you still believe in love after your parents’ divorce?
A: Man, I never once stopped believing in love throughout all of their separations, fights and finally their divorce. My parents’ divorce was about dishonesty and selfishness, insecurity and greed. It had nothing to do with love. If anything it made me crave real love, the kind that builds each other up, communicates, believes in each other, supports one another, edifies one another – the kind of love I’ve found with my husband. My parents’ struggles showed me what I wasn’t looking for, and therefore what I was looking for. And my faith in God has given me the reassurance that God always has and always will love me. He’s shown me an example of perfect love, of sacrifice and concern and compassion.
Come back next week for part two. Until then, How about you? Do you have any questions for me?
“One of my friends posted a picture, and I’m 99% sure you and your husband are at the table behind them,” said an email from my friend, Amanda.
Crazy thing is, Amanda is in Germany.
Yes, my husband and I did go out to dinner. No, we did not take any selfies or post any pictures or updates about our date to anyone, not even a picture of the delicious pesto flatbread. But still, a friend of mine, on the other side of the world, was able to tell exactly what I was doing, where I was, and who I was with by scrolling through her Facebook feed.
Social media is fantastic…sometimes. I love seeing first day of school pictures and reading inspiring quotes and tweeting back and forth with one of my girlfriends about nail polish colors. Facebook is where I learned my niece had a soccer injury. Twitter is where I met my dear friend, Holly. I got an idea on yet another way to pair my favorite army jacket from Pinterest and viewed my friend’s new puppy for the first time via Instagram. But what about the stuff I don’t want to share, the stuff I don’t want the world to see?
We’re all hopefully savvy enough by now not to post things we don’t want to be made public. But what about what other people post?
What if I was with someone I shouldn’t have been, or been somewhere different than I had told people I was going, or doing something I’d regret or be ashamed of? What if that was what showed up in the background of a stranger’s photo? Who might see it? What might they think? How might it change things?
There was a show in the 70’s called Candid Camera that’s just made a comeback on TV Land. The premise is that a hidden video camera records random people reacting to premeditated Candid Camera stunts. A new episode has an actor reaching over and dunking their donut in the stranger’s coffee next to them at the lunch counter. There was a show with a public mailbox that threw letters back out at anyone trying to stuff their mail in the slot and an episode with a hundred dollar bill glued to the ground, so people would try to pick it up, but couldn’t. The funniest clips were shown once a week on prime time. All new clips start this month with a revamped Candid Camera.
What if everything we did and said this school year could get posted, tweeted or yikes, recorded and aired on TV? Anyone we might sneak out with, anything we might try even when we feel a nagging feeling inside -- like maybe it’s not such a good idea, could still get photographed for all the world to see, whether a friend takes a photo, or a random passerby, or an unfamiliar couple at a restaurant.
My email from Amanda made me laugh, but also startled me a bit.
Almost anyone can find out what I’m up to. With that in mind, I try to follow this rule -- think about two people I highly respect. Who are yours—can you picture them in your head? Would I want them to see what I’m about to do? Would I want them to know who I’m about to do it with? Would I want them to hear what I’m about to say? If not, I need to think again.
And at the end of the day, even if no on else ever finds out about what I did, I will always know I did it, and so will God. If there’s someone I respect, whose opinion I value most, that would be God. And God doesn’t need to hide a camera or scroll down His feed to catch me in the crazy antics and knee jerk reactions I make each day. He sees me make a wrong turn, burn the grilled cheese, wipe my hands on my jeans. He sees me at my best and at my worst. He sees us all day, every day, and loves us all the time, no matter how hard we try to shove that mail back in the slot, no matter what we wish we hadn’t done or are hoping to hide.
By now, most of us have learned to be wise about how we use social media, but remember there are candid cameras in virtually everyone’s pockets, and although my actions and your actions probably won’t be aired Tuesday at eight, it could be posted to thousands. And even if it’s never posted, God already knows. He’s there to help us make good decisions and be honest about who we are and who we’re with and what we do. And when we mess up, whether we’re caught on or off film, He loves us anyway.
I don’t know about you, but that gives me a great reason to smile.
What's the most surprising thing you've seen or learned on social media?
The lazy, hazy days of summer. I love them. I adore rising early and going running with my husband in the morning air, before the heat breaks. I love exploring museums and parks and botanical gardens with my kids. It’s fun making smoothies out of whatever fruit is in the fridge, a glob of yogurt and a ton of ice, then slurping it down with a straw (we take any leftovers, pour them into popsicle molds, and freeze for the next day). I savor getting caught up on my reading pile, well, at least making a dent in it. Splashing in the pool on hot summer afternoons with my kiddos is a blast. Usually my writing goes on a bit of summer vacation too, so I can enjoy a slower pace with my family.
Last week Brenda Yoder tagged me in a game of blog tag, where writers share what they’re currently working on with each other and with their readers. Brenda is working on a book called, Balance, Busyness and Not Doing it All. And since most people I know, self included, are busy, or feel overwhelmed, or wonder how we're going to get it all done, I can't wait for its release.
And although I’m not doing a lot of actual writing, writing this summer, this is an exciting time in my writing journey. I released a new book, It’s Addicting. It’s the third book in the Status Update series revolving around four college roommates.
Obsessing over status, grades, exercise or a boyfriend could never become an addiction...could it? This third installment of the Status Updates series finds four college sophomore roommates finally getting comfy with the routines of dorm life. But Kat, Claire, Palmer, and Hannah soon begin to feel the nagging ache of innocent little addictions pulling them away from their true selves. Hang out with these four roomies to see if they can—or even want to—ditch these sneaky little hang-ups before they take over their lives.
I’m really excited about the response I’ve gotten from readers so far. It’s always a thrill to actually hold a copy of a book I’ve been working on for over a year in my hands.
I’m also gearing up for a tour with Christian recording artist, Holly Starr. We’re traveling through the Midwest in September sharing the message of finding our true identity in Christ. The tour is called Through My Father’s Eyes Tour and is being sponsored by Sisterhood Magazine. If you haven’t checked out Holly’s music yet, it would be a perfect addition to your summer playlist. And Sisterhood is packed with great ideas for summer DIY projects, trips, hairstyles, etc.
Plus, you know, I AM a writer, so I have a new book idea brewing. Notes scratched on napkins and corners of envelopes. More ideas jotted in my Notes App. A character. A setting. A struggle. I love this stage of writing. It holds all of the excitement and uncertainty of infatuation.
This game of tag requires that I answer a couple of more questions, so here goes….
HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?
I was a marketing major in college. And one of the things they emphasized in my program, was your product had to have a distinguishing feature, and you had to know that niche.
Maybe I took it a little too seriously, but I write contemporary, Christian young adult, issue-driven fiction. That’s a lot of modifiers. And there’s not a lot of it out there. Try finding one whole shelf that carries Christian YA fiction at your local Barnes & Noble. I double dog dare you. If you do find the partial shelf dedicated to this genre, you won’t find many titles that take the current issues teens face every day and hit them square in the nose, challenging them to react, reminding them that Christ is with them in all the hard stuff.
WHY I WRITE WHAT I DO?
Because it’s real. Because it’s relevant. Because high school and college girls will find a boy attractive, will be at a function where there is alcohol, will feel pressures from this world to perform, to fit in, to look a certain way and to wear certain clothes and to succeed. And if we don’t talk about these things, then they get buried. Then there is guilt and shame and uncertainty. Shining light on these subjects allows teens and parents to examine them, allows girls to decide how they’re going to handle them, what their reaction to these situations would, could and should be, gives them a safe place to explore these challenges and talk about them and process them. I write about real life issues. I write what I write to let young women know they are not alone. And that no matter what, no matter what alley of life they’ve gone down, no matter what tragedy or trauma has hit them over their heads, Christ is with them, every step of the way.
HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?
It starts with a flicker in my brain. I get ideas every day, but some of them stick and develop and persist, while others fade away before I’ve finished my Starbucks. The ones that keep coming back to me are the ones I pursue. I gather ideas first, flashes of color, moods. Then I switch gears and go into fact-finding mode. Since all of my novels deal with real life struggles, I interview young women who have faced that specific struggle. It’s Complicated deals with date rape, so I interviewed college girls who had been violated. I asked how it affected them, what emotions they went through, what emotions they’re still going through. I take similar threads or unique details and weave them into a fictional tale, using the research to keep my stories authentic. Using story telling to keep it make-believe. And then I start writing. Just immersing myself in story. I always have an idea of the beginning and end when I start writing the actual book, but the middle; the plot itself propels itself forward as I write.
TAG YOU’RE IT
Since this is a game of virtual writer tag, for next Monday I’m tagging:
Amy Parker, author of more than 20 books. She was my editor on my very first novel, Skinny, and she's become one of my dearest friends. She has an incredible book releasing this fall. I’ll let her tell you all about it next week but to get you thinking, it revolves around the 20th anniversary of the end of the genocide in Rwanda. Powerful stuff!
Betsy St. Amant, who I had the pleasure of endorsing her YA novel, Addison Blakely, Confessions of a PK, a few years back and have continued to get to know via our ministry with Nicole O’Dell’s Choose Now. Betsy writes so many books I can’t keep track of her, so I’m excited to see on August 4th what awesome projects she shares with us.
How about you? How are you spending your summer days? What projects are you working on?
I am so excited to share with you my latest release, It's Addicting. It's Addicting releases July 14 in both print and e-book formats from Playlist Fiction.
This third installment of the Status Updates series finds four college sophomore roommates finally getting comfy with the routines of dorm life. But Kat, Claire, Palmer, and Hannah soon begin to feel the nagging ache of innocent addictions pulling them away from their true selves. Still, obsessing over perfection, exercise, or a super-cute boyfriend could never be a bad thing—could it? Hang out with these four roomies to see if they can—or even want to—ditch these sneaky little hang-ups before they take over their lives.
'I'm so glad to see Laura L. Smith writing about such serious and important issues. Kudos to her for being brave enough to write the truth. ~ New York Times Best Selling Author, Tosca Lee
It's Addicting tackles real-life issues with raw honesty. This book is something every high-school and college-aged girl should read.
~ Nicole O'Dell, author, speaker, and founder of Choose NOW Ministries
Laura L. Smith writes with precision and honesty in the third book of her popular Status Update series. It’s Addicting asks readers to consider their own lives and the blinders we all wear. The college roommates in this book struggle with the most authentic of issues—the sometimes subtle but often overwhelming addictions we all cling to. In the end, the answers aren’t easy or pretty, but Smith, with characteristic gentleness, pushes readers to see that clarity and hope come from one place—a God who seeks us as fiercely as we seek Him. ~Laura Anderson Kurk, author of Glass Girl and Perfect Glass
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