We're five months out from the release of my next novel, Songs for a Sunday, which is set in Winston-Salem, NC and takes place in the 1960s and present day. Over the next few weeks, I'll share about some of the "real" places mentioned in the book. For now, here's the list,
Two locations are used in both the 1960s and present-day storylines, and they both play an integral role in the plot:
One location has a scene in the 1960s storyline and is mentioned in the present-day storyline:
One location has a scene in only the present-day storyline:
The following are used in scenes in only the 1960s storyline. All but one of these locations are no longer around.
While not used as a setting, there are references to Old Salem, Dewey's Bakery, and Tanglewood Park (in Clemmons.) It was so fun to write about places that I know, and it was even more fun to research locations from Winston-Salem's history. I look forward to sharing more about these "real" places from the book soon.
After three weeks of stomach pain and nausea for my nine-year-old son, and a previous doctor visit that didn’t provide answers, I took him back to the pediatrician on a Saturday morning. The outcome of the visit was an immediate trip to a hospital’s emergency department to rule out appendicitis.
There were incredibly tense moments throughout the day as my son’s symptoms worsened. But after nine tiring hours of lab work and three different kinds of imaging, everything “scary” had been ruled out and a probable cause identified. It wasn’t until we left, overwhelmed with equal parts exhaustion and relief, that it hit me: I’d forgotten to worry about everything else that day except my son. All the things I normally spent energy on took a backseat. There had been no room in my thoughts for less urgent things.
That experience was more shocking than one might expect—a Twilight Zone moment where the world had gone on around me while time stood still inside the hospital. My husband had taken our youngest child to a birthday party. Did I care that I hadn’t picked out his clothes before I left that morning and that they might be mismatched? No, though normally, this would have seemed important. My fifteen-year-old worked a shift at a local restaurant that afternoon, and it was her sixth day on the job. During her first five days, I’d spent the entire time wondering how she was adjusting and if everyone was being nice to her. I still cared about those things while at the hospital, but I didn’t let myself worry about them. She was fine, and my other daughter at home was fine, too.
There were so many things I’d wanted to accomplish that day, but nothing on my “to do” list mattered in comparison to my son’s needs. When I realized all the things I neglected to worry about, it was proof that letting go of worry is possible, though it had come at a price. And that got me thinking. What if, instead of letting worries be pushed aside only by bigger, more pressing worries, I let the Word of God take their place?
Our Lord taught that worrying about day-to-day things is unnecessary. In the familiar passages of Matthew 6:25-34 and Luke 12:22-31, Jesus speaks of how the Father feeds the birds, and how He clothes the grass of the field. God knows what we need, and since we’re more valuable to Him than birds and grass, we can trust Him to take care of us, too.
Jesus also said, “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” (Matthew 6:27 NKJV). This rhetorical question begs us to stop and ponder the futility of worry. We can worry all we want, but it won’t change anything.
Obviously, there’s a difference between necessary concern and worry, between reasonable diligence and panic. I care about all the things related to my family’s well-being, but I don’t have to worry about any of them. In my flesh, that’s extremely difficult for me, especially as we face continued illness in my family.
May the Holy Spirit help us all to give our cares to Him daily.
Cast all your anxiety on Him, because he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7 NASB
Originally published on AriseDaily.com.
I'm thrilled to share with you a first look at the cover of my next novel which releases 2/7/23. Receiving the cover from the publisher made the book feel "real" for me, and I think the designer did a great job with it. What do you think?
More than any other book so far, I am excited to share this story with the world. Songs for a Sunday will be my fifth novel. but it's my first split-time story, taking place in both the present day and in the 1960s. One of my favorite things about this story is that it's set in my county, in the city of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
As you can probably tell from the cover and title, Songs for a Sunday includes a "musical" theme. (See the sheet music superimposed on the image?) I love to sing, so that's another reason the story is special to me.
And here's a little about the book:
1963: Twenty-year-old Annie has dreams of managing a dance studio in her hometown of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she’s trained since childhood, and of marrying her high society boyfriend. When her younger sister, who has special needs, gets pregnant, Annie’s dreams must be put on hold for the sake of family.
Present Day: Stay-at-home mom of four Missy Robbins has always played second fiddle to her baby sister, Erica, and at thirty years old she’s had enough. When given an opportunity, Missy steps out of her comfort zone to prove she’s as good a singer as Erica. Her new pursuit puts Missy on a path of self-discovery and of reclaiming the faith she left behind, but her world is turned upside down when family secrets come to light. Can Grandma Annie’s hidden past somehow mend the bond between Missy and her sister?
I'm so excited to share this story with you!
I'll be looking for people to help spread the word soon. If you'd like to be on my launch team for Songs for a Sunday, please message me!
For weeks, the theme of working for the Lord has been rolling around in my mind. Everywhere I turn, Scripture pops up about putting our faith into action. Combine that with a desire that my kids not sit around in front of a screen all summer and the idea of a goal-setting journal for kids and teens was born.
I created the journal for my kids to use, but when the proof arrived, my husband said, "I want one of these." So, I designed a version geared more toward adults. The concept of both is the same. Every day, set a goal to do something: to help someone, to honor God, to grow your mind, to take care of your body, and to use your talents. Then track the results. The goals can be big or small, but over time, even "little" accomplishments add up to big results.
Why should we set goals? Of course, we're not saved by works, but Titus 2:14 says that Jesus gave himself for us "that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." We should be zealous about doing good things. And when we pray and ask God what goals to set, He will guide us.
I hope these books help kids and adults to be purposeful in accomplishing great things.
The journals measure 8.5" x 11" and contain pages for three months-worth of pages to set and track goals.
To purchase My Big Goals: A Journal for Kids and Teens click here.
To purchase Good Works: A Goal-Setting Journal click here.
See videos below for an inside look.
Jesus said whoever gives a cup of water to one of His disciples, in His name, will be rewarded for it (Mark 9:41.) After attending a special Mother's Day Tea at a local church earlier this month, I have to believe that goes for cups of Earl Gray, as well. Not only was I immensely blessed by the show of love from the church, but the event also led me to discover a company that does much more than give water, all in the name of Christ.
Lewisville Baptist Church planned their tea party for the weekend before Mother's Day and extended an invitation to all women and girls in the community. I'm so glad my daughters and I went. There was such a sweet spirit of love and Christian fellowship, and the tables were all so beautifully decorated. The ladies of the church had gone to great lengths to ensure their guests had a special experience, even printing beautiful menus that described all the varieties of tea being served. And the food! What a spread!
Now, I enjoy tea, but I'm no connoisseur. For most of my life, tea usually meant throwing eight bags of Luzianne orange pekoe in a pot of boiling water (4 if you had the family size) and after a few minutes, dissolving a cup and a half of sugar into the dark liquid in a gallon jug, then filling the rest of the jug with tap water, giving it a stir, and serving over ice. That's still a great way to do it, but the tea party my daughters and I attended reminded me there are so many varieties of tea to be explored and enjoyed.
I chose the "African Chai" at the party and ended up drinking three cups! (Plus, a cup of coffee, because I'm almost always going to get coffee when it's available.) I was so impressed with the flavor of the tea, and since the pastor's lovely wife told me where they'd purchased it, I ordered some online just a couple days later.
Not only is this tea amazing, but the company that sells it, New Creation, is a faith-based non-profit that works to counteract the human trafficking trade around the world. From their website: "Every item in our shop is created by the hands of a survivor or a vulnerable person that is at risk of being trafficked. We believe this ethical work is a key element to breaking the cycle of poverty + human trafficking."
I purchased two tins of loose-leaf tea, that each came with an adorable, hand-carved wooden teaspoon, and I also bought a book about prayers to change the world (they sell lots more than tea.) This was a fun purchase for myself, and I've been enjoying my tea in a new mug I bought recently, too (from Amazon, pictures below.)
I don't usually post about products, and there are zero affiliate links in this post. I'm just excited to share about a great company I've found and how I'm now enjoying at least a daily cup of hot tea, and how, when I do, I think of the new friends I made and remember feeling the love of God at a tea party. God is so good to us with these continual blessings. Often, we just need to open our eyes to them.
The ladies of Lewisville Baptist Church, as well as the New Creation company, bring to mind these verses: "There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all." 1 Corinthians 12:5-6
How has the Lord called you to minister? Maybe it's to make a mom feel special and loved, or maybe it's to rescue people from desperate situations. Maybe it's to pray for someone the Holy Spirit brings to mind. There's work for all of us to do every day. May we seek those opportunities to be a blessing!
A tingling sensation rises in my chest, accompanied by a gentle pressure and a bubbling up of emotion that lifts my shoulders and brings a smile to my face. The tingling spreads to my arms and I find myself singing a familiar song: I just feel like something good is about to happen. I just feel like something good is on its way.
Excitement. Sometimes, it overwhelms me. I'm usually at work, doing an ordinary task when, for a fleeting moment, I'm struck with jubilant anticipation. The feeling is almost always accompanied be the song, and it makes me want to jump to my feet and shout. Maybe these bursts of excitement are from too much caffeine (I drink an awful lot of caffeine,) but it feels more like the springing up of an eternal hope, like a hug from the Holy Spirit.
Am I alone in this, or do you feel it, too? Do everyday moments ever feel like the night before Christmas, or like there's one more number to be announced on a prize-winning ticket and all your numbers so far have been a match? That's what it's like for me. I just feel like something good is about to happen. I just feel like something good is on its way.
Granted, there are plenty of times where I feel anxiety or sadness in much the same way. But those occurrences seem more in line with my human nature. The excitement I experience has a supernatural sense to it. Maybe I feel it because the Lord is getting ready to drop a new idea into my spirit or reveal a new ministry opportunity. Maybe a personal dream is going to come true or someone in my family will accomplish something great. It sometimes feels like, at any moment, something unexpected and wonderful could happen to me. The next email I open or phone call I receive could be about marvelous, life-changing news. Any day now, the Lord could grant one of my heart's desires, simply because I delight in Him. (Psalms 37:4)
Or maybe the excitement is about something greater. I liken it to the feeling Zacchaeus must have had as he climbed down from the tree, knowing he was about to break bread with Jesus. It's the feeling I imagine in the parable of the ten virgins, for the ones who were ready for the bridegroom, when the cry was made at midnight, "He's coming! Go meet him!" The sensation could very well be my spirit "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." (Titus 2:4) That's definitely something good that's on its way.
Whatever the cause, I'm thankful. Even if it's because of too much caffeine, I just feel like something good is about to happen. I hope you do, too.
I just feel like something good is about to happen
I just feel like something good is on its way
He has promised that He'd open all of heaven
And brother, it could happen any day
William J. Gaither, copyright 1974
Here's a link to the Gaither Homecoming version of the song referenced in this post. (Jessy Dixon's part in this gets me!) And another great version is below.
I was so glad to be able to share on PJNet.tv recently. Mark Prasek is a gracious host. We spent most of the time discussing my foster care and adoption experience, and we talked some about what it means to me to be a Christian Fiction author. Highlights of the interview are below, or you can watch the full interview here.
Someone who made a dramatic impact on my life passed away recently, though I’m sure he didn’t know how important he was to me, how much he’s responsible for the person I’ve become. I hope I get a chance to tell him in heaven one day.
This special man was a businessowner, hardworking, dedicated, and successful. Close to twenty-five years ago, he took a chance on hiring a teenager whom he didn’t know, to work in his office, and that opportunity helped set me on the career path I’ve followed ever since. That “afterschool job” became the foundation for the work that pays bills and helps support my family, even as I pursue my passion for writing and ministry.
I worked several jobs as a teenager, sometimes more than one at a time, while also dual-enrolled in high school and community college. I think I was seventeen when I stopped in at a jewelry store in my hometown to ask if they were hiring. The answer was no, but the nice lady behind the counter told me the insurance agency where her daughter worked might need some help. An insurance agency? What could I do at an insurance agency? But this was in the days of paper files, and there were tons of documents to be alphabetized by client name and stored in metal cabinets.
I don’t remember the interview process or how much money he offered, but I remember that David Sloan took a chance on me. Right off the bat, his hiring me taught that courage pays off, that it’s worth it to try.
Eventually, my responsibilities in the afternoon expanded to answering the telephone if everyone else in the office was busy. I couldn’t do much more than place callers on hold, due to industry restrictions. To answer policy questions, I’d have to be a licensed agent. So, David made the decision to send me to classes in the evening and then pay for the test I’d have to pass to be licensed. His investment in me gave me confidence that I can do hard things.
I was eighteen years old when I became a North Carolina Property and Casualty Insurance Agent. I was so proud of that little card. It felt like I’d accomplished something big. Because of David, I learned that accomplishing big things feels good.
David was a good boss. He was stern when he should have been—helping to shape my work ethic and sense of professionalism—but lenient when I needed grace. Though I couldn’t see all these things then, that first office job, and the commitment it required, helped me grow as a person.
But it wasn’t just about the work. David treated me with respect. Along with the two other employees there, he cared about what went on in my life outside of work. At Christmas, when he and his wife hosted a party at their home, they invited me, the teenage part-timer. He taught me the value of being part of a team.
I worked parttime at the office for around two years, I think, before I moved on to a full-time job at a bigger agency in another town, with David’s full support. Within a year at that job, I was promoted and transferred to another city, where I would eventually meet my husband. I floundered somewhat in the job world during my early twenties, still maturing, and finding my footing as an adult. But my background in insurance eventually led to employment with a company where I discovered new skills as a Business Analyst. Moving to an Information Technology position opened doors I never imagined, and even now, in my current work for a software development company, I can trace every career advancement back to my start as a filing clerk at that little office in my hometown.
So, where would I be had it not been for David Sloan? Would I have met my husband? Would I have a good job now? Would I have the ambition to pursue a writing career and an Information Technology career while raising four kids? Maybe. You see, I know it really wasn’t David, but God, Who shaped my life. God had a plan for me long before I knew it, but David is the person God used, along with many, many others—my parents, church, friends, other generous employers (two, in particular, that had a similar impact as Mr. Sloan)—to put me on this path. I’m so glad David is part of my story; I’m so thankful for his kindness; and, in his memory, I’m inspired to make a difference in another's life, should God give me the opportunity.
Who knows the impact one person can have on another? Positive. Negative. Lifechanging. It may be impossible to tell, but the effect of our decisions can extend beyond ourselves and shape the lives of others for years to come. May we all attempt to live graciously, to offer help and opportunities to those who need them. May we strive to see value in others, to take a chance on investing in someone else's life. May we all have a heart like David.
My sincere condolences to the family and close friends of David Sloan, who passed away March 13, 2022.
Click here to read more about his life and legacy.
Please help me, Lord, I prayed. Please make this easy.
My dentist visits are times of fervent prayer. During even the simplest of procedures, I almost always end up crying from anxiety, at least a little, and it seemed the recent visit to fill two cavities would be no different. As the dentist came at me with the needle, I prayed harder in my mind. Please help me get through this. My prayer was desperate, pleading.
Then something life-changing happened. The dentist poked the needle into my gum, and I stopped praying. I quit begging God to help me. Instead, I began to thank God for being so good. I changed my prayers into praises, and the panic lifted--it dissolved and floated toward the heavens with my words of adoration. It was the most painless injection of Novocain ever. So, I kept praising, right through the drilling, and the result was nothing short of miraculous.
You are Magnificent, Marvelous, Wonderful, Worthy. Magnificent, Marvelous, Wonderful, Worthy. Over and over, I offered those words silently. At some point, I remember thanking God for a good dentist who can fix my teeth.
In a gentle voice, the dentist said, "You're doing good," as he worked. He always says that, because he's kind and genuinely empathetic about my anxiety. But for the first time, I actually felt like I was doing okay. Not just getting by. Not just managing. I was good.
Psalm 34:1 rang in my mind. I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. And though the praises weren't actually coming from my mouth--a little hard to do when your teeth are being drilled--they were there in my heart, thanks to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, Who knew what I needed to do. God heard my original request to make the visit easy, and He used my praises to accomplish it.
I've visited the dentist a lot over the past year, since I finally decided to prioritize oral health over my fear, and I've still got a few more visits left to get all the problems corrected. But if I can just remember my "secret weapon," I don't think I'll dread the next visit so much. Now to try praising the Lord on an elevator...
What makes you panic? Maybe praise is your answer, too.
The finalists for the upcoming Selah Awards were announced today, and I am so thrilled that New Wine Transportation Company made it to the final round of judging in the Novella category.
Many names of writer friends were called during the live stream of the announcement of finalists, and I literally stood in my kitchen and clapped each time I recognized a name. It's been so fun to celebrate with them today on social media.
The awards are part of Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, which I'll be attending for the fifth time in May. The awards cover several genres/categories and are for works published in the calendar year prior. New Wine Transportation Company was entered in the Novella category because the word count is just shy of the requirement for novel categories, though by different standards it is called a "novel." Last year, I was a finalist in the Historical Fiction category for Where I Was Planted. (I came in fourth place, which isn't actually a place, but it was still a thrill to be a finalist.) This year, there are two other finalists in my category, and I'll be honest, I would love to know how many entries there were for the category in total. I want to celebrate, and I do, but part of me always wonders things like, Were there only three entries? Either way, I'm grateful for that pretty gold seal, and I'm cheering on all my friends who are also finalists. Excited to find out all the winners on June 1!
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Thank you for visiting my blog. I share devotional articles and musings about life, parenting, and the writing journey, as well as important news about my books. I hope you find something of interest here!
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