Things I’m Loving this Week

I’ve always been a reader, and with half the world obsessed with reality tv or ugly politics, for me that translates to blog reading. There are about a handful of blogs I read regularly. Why? I always want to hear from these people because they’re so real, and Crystal Paine’s weekend post is one of those I look forward to in my inbox. I thrive on “off topic” randomness, and the weekend posts are just about as random as you can get, so in honor of this I want to jot a few random offerings of my own.

Hello September.png

  1. Hello September!

If you didn’t know, this month begins the season I love most. Bring on the #PSL’s– although where I live, I prefer the amazing local version which combines pumpkin spice with toasted marshmallow. It just makes me happy. At this moment, there’s a wicker basket set under my living room chair, just ready for when the hats and mittens come out. Fall means delicious breezes, a last hurrah for the roses surrounding my porch, and gorgeous colors on the trees. Our extended family spends extra time together, because birthdays! Also, there are always great events, so I’m already planning date nights for me and hubby. 🙂

What do you love about fall?

  1. Hoopla– digital streaming

I have recently discovered this tiny goldmine, brought to us by our local libraries, and I love it! It’s free, you can get the app, and you have 10 titles per month. With. Rollover. I am currently hoarding my last five titles from August until they expire, and I will carefully choose my books for September one at a time. Until the end of the month, when I’ll snag like a crazy person.  Right now, I’m finishing up Lisa-Jo Baker’s book, followed by Breaking Busy from Alli Worthington on audio. I also have three ebooks in fiction from Melissa Tagg, Colleen Coble and Denise Hunter.

I don’t have a ton of time to read, as I’m sure you don’t either. When I do, I like something good on my shelf. I love a new Bible study book or Christian fiction new release, and last season’s featured books from Lifeway are mostly on the shelves of Hoopla. You can find your favorite 2017 releases pretty quick–even for you music and video lovers–and it costs nothing. Definitely worth a shot.

What are you reading in September?

  1. Lisa Jo Baker’s Never Unfriended wrecked me in the worst possible way. The truth is, the only people I have ever unfriended are people I loved most, because of life choices and healthy boundaries–all the things that would sound responsible in a TEDTalk and feel like garbage in real life.  That being said, I never intended to read this book. I probably wouldn’t have, except for Kristy Cambron’s book club featuring…you guessed it. Never Unfriended and Lizzy & Jane. I decided to check out the audio version and let it roll while I drove to all the mom things, then folded laundry.

The thing I loved about this book is the way Lisa cuts through social pretense with a reality knife, takes the cracked sheet cake and layers it with fruit and whipped cream before she serves it up on a plate. Belle melange never tasted so good–maybe because the women who read this book  aren’t eating alone. A favorite quote refers to, “Velveteen Friendship.”

“Love is born when we misunderstand one another and make it right…when we cry in the kitchen, when we show up unannounced with magazines and granola bars in an effort to say, ‘I love you.’” –Lisa Jo Baker

I hope your weekend finds a way to tell the people in your life how much you love them.

**Bonus: I’m looking forward to this Scripture writing plan on serving. Hop on over and join me!

Grace to you,

Nicki

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Finding Grace.

 

 

It was late one fall morning—my husband had taken the kids to school and I was here with one baby in the bassinet and the other baby sitting in her crib playing with toys so that mommy could make the bed. The phone rang and I grabbed it off my dresser.

“Dad called on the way to school. He said bring a box to work.”

Bring a box to work. As in, pack up your things—you’re not working today.

I can’t remember if I stood there and listened or sat down to hear him out. All I know is that by the end of the conversation, it was clear. My husband doesn’t have a job…again. We’d been through this before—before our first anniversary. And here we were again, going around the same mountain again, back at square one. Except we’d learned a few things this time.

When I set that phone back in place, I set myself in gear for the day.

“This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. Thank you, God, that this is not the end. This is only the beginning.” My hands set to making the sheets of my bed as I declared God’s promises over my husband and our home. “Thank you, God, that You are Jehovah Jireh, my Provider. This is not going to be a bad week. This is going to be the best week ever.” Smoothing out the comforter, I repeated it to myself. “Best. Week. Ever. Thank you Lord, In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

God gave me the grace I needed that day–He still does. There’s something about God’s grace that makes every situation shine a little brighter even on the edges of a dark cloud. There’s light around the edges. There’s a good situation fixing to turn up. There’s going to be a better day. The grace of God.

Grace—(n.) 1.a: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification; b: a virtue coming from God (Merriam-Webster.com)

The first mention of God’s grace in the Bible is in Genesis 6:8. God has just looked at His creation, and “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination and intention of all human thinking was only evil continually.” (vs. 5, AMP).

Only. Evil. Continually.

God’s heart was grieved. He made these people—man and woman. He created them for fellowship. He created them for relationship. But here they all were—running around acting in ways God never intended, turning their backs on God, living in sin and shame and constant evil. Didn’t they even care? Like a son who has turned his life over to drug or alcohol abuse, like a daughter who hooked up with a guy that doesn’t honor women. You know what I’m saying?

No. Just no.

This is not what parenthood is supposed to look like. This is not what I created you for, child.

God was so disheartened by their sin that He was ready to wipe it all out—wipe everything off the face of the earth—and just. Start. Over.

Have you ever been there?
God was there.

Living in the face of continual evil.
There.

Like a slap in the face of God.
There.

“So the Lord said, I will destroy, blot out, and wipe away mankind, whom I have created from the face of the ground—not only man, but the beasts and the creeping things, and the birds of the air—for it grieves Me and makes Me regretful that I have made them.” (Gen. 6:7, AMP)

Then verse 8 says:
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (vs. 8, NKJV)

Noah found grace.

He experienced God’s favor.

That is my prayer. Will you speak this prayer with me?
God I want to find grace in Your eyes. Your loving favor is so precious to me. May I always honor Your Word and Your plan for my life. I pray that my thoughts, my actions, my heart would line up with what You created me for. Thank You for Your grace at work in me. I declare the grace and favor of the living God over my husband, over each one of my children and over my own life. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN.
Where do you find your life in this story? Is there an area you need God’s grace in your life at this moment? Are you experiencing the grace of God today?

Interview with Author, Keely Keith.

Keely Brooke Keith

Hey, y’all!  Today I am welcoming Keely Keith on the blog to talk about her new resources for writers.  I fell in love with these journals while my middle school and high school students were in the midst of writing for NaNoWriMo, and I can’t wait to tell you about it!

(*this post contains affiliate links)

First, though, let’s meet Keely.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), homeschool mom, worship musician, and she is the author of an awesome series of novels featuring historical fiction with a sci-fi twist.  It’s called The Uncharted Series and here’s a short synopsis:

A hidden land settled by peaceful people The first outsider in 160 years…

After seven generations of isolation on an uncharted land in the South Atlantic Ocean, the descendants of American pioneer families receive their first visit from the modern world. Join Lydia, Levi, and Bethany as they discover their purpose, find love, and try to keep the Land hidden.

So, Keely, where did you come up with the idea for your Uncharted series?

As a child, I would paper my bedroom walls with maps out of National Geographic Magazine. I often stared at the wide blue swaths of ocean on the maps and wondered if land existed that no one knew about.

While researching My family history as an adult, I became fascinated by the group migrations to the American West. I wondered what would happen if instead of going west, a group of families left the United States on a ship, got lost at sea, and ended up on that hidden land.

When I outlined the stories, I decided to start the series a few years in the future (2025), have the rest of the world embroiled in World War III, and drop a modern navy pilot into the Land to show the cultural contrast.

Wow.  I love that concept–sounds like the perfect story to pick up over the weekend. What are you reading right now?

I read a lot of books on the craft of writing and history books. My favorite read lately was How to be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman. Fascinating and so well written

Where is your favorite spot to curl up with a good book?

Hm, that’s sounds nice. Usually, when I have time to decompress in the evenings, the last thing I want to do is read. Oh, wait… an author shouldn’t say that, huh?

Funny, and I totally get that.  Sometimes you just need all your extra minutes to write. (Y’know, after you love on your kids, do the laundry, make dinner, and get everybody put to bed.  🙂  ) What are you currently writing?

The 5th installment of the Uncharted series. My working title is Miracle of the Gray Leaf. I feel like I’m having too much fun playing with this story to call it writing.

Awesome.  Your newest series is all about reaching out and helping other writers.  Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Just for my writing friends, I’ve created a series of softcover journals called Guided Journals for Writers. Here is a little about each journal and why I created it…

writers-purpose-journal

The first journal is The Writer’s Purpose Journal. I created this resource because after I finished my seventh novel, I felt depleted and lost as a writer. I spent three months in prayerful introspection, pouring over a file of notes from readers and journaling my feelings. When I came out of that season, I had a list of questions that had helped me narrow my focus and remember my purpose. I know so many writers who also hit these blocks, and I thought it might help to have the questions laid out in a journal format.

Do you want to write but don’t know where to start? Are you halfway through your manuscript and feel blocked? Have you lost your enthusiasm for writing? Let The Writer’s Purpose Journal guide you on a journey to rediscovering your purpose as a writer. Using questions to prompt soul-searching journal entries, The Writer’s Purpose Journal will lead you through your beginnings as a writer, your influences, your goals, and your motivations to help you remove blocks and find fulfillment as a writer.

Available now: Amazon   Barnes & Noble

Add to your Goodreads shelf here.

writers-character-journal

The second journal is The Writer’s Character Journal. I created this resource because with every new novel I plan, I start a notebook for the characters. I rewrite the same questions over and over, and I thought it would save time if I already had it printed and bound.

Let The Writer’s Character Journal guide you through creating the varied cast of believable characters you’ll need for your next novel. Using questions to prompt brainstorming, The Writer’s Character Journal will help you flesh out your characters’ pasts, quirks, relationships, strengths, fears, flaws, and more. Complete with a character index and numbering system for 18 characters.

Available now:  Amazon   Barnes & Noble

Add to your Goodreads shelf here.

wrriters-scene-journal

The third journal is The Writer’s Scene Journal. I created it because every time I complete a novel, I go back through each scene slowly and fine-tune the essential elements. During the process, I rewrite the same questions for each scene. I thought it would save time if I already had my checklists printed and bound. Also, it’s handy to have the journal with me when I go out into nature to brainstorm. (No one wants their computer in the park, right?)

Let The Writer’s Scene Journal guide you through crafting unforgettable scenes for your next novel. Using a list of essential elements, The Writer’s Scene Journal will help you brainstorm your scenes’ setting, plot, characters, sensory details, symbolism, and more. Complete with a scene index and numbering system for 45 scenes.

Available now:  Amazon  Barnes & Noble

Add to your Goodreads shelf here.

writers-book-launch-journal

The fourth journal is The Writer’s Book Launch Journal. Book marketing and promoting can be intimidating for authors. Since the day I signed my first publishing contract, I’ve kept a list of book promoting ideas. With each book launch, I try them and add to them for my next launch. I have both traditionally published friends and indie friends who’ve asked for my list (and a couple of publishers too). So, I created this journal and spread the to-do lists over 12-months to turn it into an easy to follow plan for any author. Many of my author friends love this journal, as even some big publishers rarely give a book’s publicity more than a couple of hours of an intern’s time these days.

Whether you’re an indie author or signed to a publisher, let The Writer’s Book Launch Journal guide you through the marketing and promotional tasks every author should do to ensure a successful book launch. Filled with checklists of essential tasks, an abundance of publicity suggestions, and questions to personalize your promotions, The Writer’s Book Launch Journal will lead you on the journey to a fun and fulfilling book launch.

Available now: Amazon    Barnes & Noble

Add to your Goodreads shelf here.

And since some authors want the information in The Writer’s Book Launch Journal but prefer to scroll through the checklists on their computer, I’ve also written the ebook The Writer’s Book Launch Guide: A Step-By-Step Plan to Give Your Book the Best Launch Possible. This ebook is a good companion to The Writer’s Book Launch Journal because the tasks are explained in more depth. I recommend getting both the journal and the ebook together.

Thanks, Keely.  I loved the Book Launch Guide, and I would recommend the whole series to anyone who is in the process of writing, planning to write a novel, going into NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo, or as going into the process of launching a new book.  Great stuff! 

So, playing music and experiencing God through worship is such a big part of who I am and what I do as a writer.  While I have you here, I have to ask a couple music geek questions.  Do you have a music playlist when you write?

I started to make a playlist for each of the first three Uncharted books, then I realized it was really Brooke Fraser’s albums that awakened the feel inside me that I needed for the series. All of her albums + worship tunes with Hillsong. Her voice is the sound of the Land.

That’s awesome.  Right now, I’m totally into her song What a Beautiful Name.  It’s just a really powerful declaration about the Name of Jesus, and I love that message. As a worship musician, what instrument do you play and how has worship influenced your life and writing?

I’m a bass player. Have been since I was 15ish. I take a break from writing most afternoons and play bass unplugged to a few worship songs. I unplug because it’s between me and Jesus, and I can feel the notes as well as I can hear then anyway. Playing worship music centers my mind’s attention and my heart’s affection on Christ. If I’m not trying to glorify Christ with my writing (or with anything) then there is no point, and if I’m not focused on Him, I won’t glorify Him. It’s human nature. We naturally want to glorify ourselves.

That’s so true.  I love to start my mornings with Bible reading and praise music–just praising God before I begin teaching for the day.  Do you have a favorite worship song and scripture to share with our readers?

The song Lord I Need You by Matt Maher is a simple prayer, but the lyrics so beautifully echo the cry of my heart. The Lord knows what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8) and what we need most is Him. The nearness of God is our good (Psalm 73:28) even at work, even in traffic, even in the waiting room. He is there defending us, interceding for us, loving us, forgiving us, strengthening us, and making a way for us to escape temptation. Every hour, He is with us. Lord, we need you.  Here’s the link to Matt Maher’s VEVO if you’d like to listen to Lord I Need You.

Thank you, Keely.  I love that song as well, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you better.

Thank you, Nicki! This has been fun 🙂

Also, thanks to all the blog readers for dropping by.  If you’re interested in Keely’s writer series, you can click the links above.  The Uncharted Series is also free on Kindle unlimited or you can check out Book 2 in the series, Uncharted Redemption, for only $.99 on Amazon Kindle–now for a limited time.

Before you go, leave a comment and tell us–what book are you reading, and what worship song speaks to you this season?

Grace to you,

Nicki