A Perfect Gift


God recently surprised me above what I could have asked or imagined. As my tears flowed and shock coursed through my veins, James 1:7 flashed in my mind.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”

My local writers’ group asked if I’d put together a presentation on entering writing contests for our January meeting. Though the thought of getting in front of adults makes my stomach somersault, I’d had a feeling for months that this would be part of my writing path.

Sharing what I’ve learned. Helping other writers on their publishing journey. Guiding those a few steps behind, so they can catch up.

I was nervous but really excited {but nervous}.

(Did I mention I was nervous?) 

In preparation I pulled together this information and that information, eager to share all I’d learned in a *hopefully* positive and coherent manner.

A couple writer friends from the group got in touch, letting me know they’d be there. Grateful for their support, I gathered my materials that evening and headed to the church where we meet.

I arrived fifteen minutes early, just behind a group member who’s about to move. We chatted about the process of packing up her home of many years. I unloaded the books I’d brought and set out the paperwork for the presentation on entering writing contests.

A couple minutes later, another person walked in. When I glanced sideways, smiling a welcome, my breath caught.

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Someone so dear, so unexpected, walked in. And though we’d never met, I knew her.

Almost three years ago, Vie judged my entry in a contest (I didn’t know this at the time; we only connected afterward, when I emailed my thank you letters to judges).

Her comments on that entry (my middle grade story) touched and encouraged me tremendously. In some moments, those precious words kept me afloat amidst a sea of negativity and rejection.

  • I printed the email and taped her comments to my computer and the bulletin board in our office.
  • I read and reread those words when road blocks and closed doors and sheer time weighed on my shoulders and made me want to give up.
  • I hoped and prayed to meet her one day and give her a big hug for the gift she’d been and the kind encouragement she showed.

We live quite far apart, and finding an opportunity to meet at writing conferences never materialized.

So when she appeared that evening, smiling tentatively as I’m about to give a presentation on writing contests, I lost it. (She wasn’t sure if I’d recognize her.)

She said she’ll never forget my face. I just remember bursting into tears because of the gift it was to see her in person, at that moment.

(She happened to be in my home state when she saw my post about the presentation.)

Having her there….it meant the world. It was a gift from God I hadn’t expected. But isn’t that just like the Lord? We think we want this or that, and instead He surprises us with such good and perfect gifts.

This sweet woman’s encouragement three years ago also affirmed the heart of my presentation that night:

We’re not writing in a vacuum. Pray for others. Encourage others. God calls us to love and serve others on this writing journey (sometimes, even above ourselves).

This is the key ingredient to the writing life…loving and helping others. Otherwise, we write in vain.

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…” (Phil. 1:3)

Do Knot Give Up


Happy New Year, friends! I can’t believe we’re already halfway through January. Are you staying warm? It’s been chilly, even in Florida.

I hope you & yours had a peaceful Christmas with family & friends.

In late December, I pondered adopting a ‘word’ for 2018. Usually I pray and pay close attention to scripture and specific verses the Lord brings to mind. One of my favorite memories from Christmas, 2017 ties in (literally) to the verse I focused on.

  • Romans 12:12: rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer ———> Persevere in faith 

A few weeks before Christmas, we braved a trip through Wal-Mart on a quick-as-can-be errand. My younger son has always loved stuffed animals, cozy blankets, and soft things. He’s older now and mostly graduated from stuffed animals (other than the Minecraft plush toys smothering his bed).

But that afternoon, something caught Chase’s eye in the aisle at Wal-Mart.

A huge, soft red knot.

FullSizeRenderThe adult head-sized fabric knot was unique and fun. The boys tossed a blue one back and forth across the aisle, and Chase inquired about getting a red knot.

I said no, Christmas is right around the corner, and we continued with our day. But I filed it away in my brain as a Christmas present possibility.

Flash forward to two days before Christmas. One more quick errand to Wal-Mart for extra tape and stocking stuffers. On my way around the store, I notice a low shelf with a few fabric knots left. (This was in a different store.)

One red and one black knot, perfect! Their school colors.

Chase likes red and Cole likes black. I purchased them and headed home. My germaphobe side cringed at the possibility of dozens of people and kids touching, licking, dropping, sneezing, kicking, and drooling on the soft knots.

I waited until the boys were in bed then shoved them in the washer. 45 minutes later, I transferred them to the dryer, expecting to wake up to dry knots on Christmas Eve.

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Knot so much.

The formidable knots knocked the dryer door open two minutes into the cycle. Notice the blue tape on the left? Hubby used painter’s tape to keep the door shut.

NOW they would dry.

Wouldn’t they?

Throughout Christmas Eve day, I started the dryer at least a dozen more times. Those knots WOULD. NOT. DRY!

By the time Christmas Eve rolled around, and we’d partaken of our annual homemade-hot-chocolate-doused-with-marshmallows and watched our Christmas Eve movie (The Grinch), they still hadn’t dried all the way.

But I kept checking and drying and checking and drying, and around midnight the knots were finally (barely) dry enough.

I couldn’t help thinking of Romans 12:12.



Are you tired of persevering?

I’m with you, friend. That “I might as well give up” feeling? Or the “why is this such a long, confusing path” cry? I’ve felt it and fought it off lately.

Do knot give up!

Remember: God IS faithful. Persevere, friend!

“Trust in the Lord with your heart, and klean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”