Writing News

Although I haven’t done it recently, I thought I would take today to update everyone on new developments in my writing.

CoverFirst I have received notice from the publisher for The Storeroom of the Heart that they are going out of business. It is entirely possible that the book will become available from another publisher in the near future, or possibly after May 1 it will go completely out of print. Not sure which yet, but either way I still have copies if anyone wants to order a signed copy directly from me.

Second I have had a couple of short pieces published just in the last couple of weeks.prime_cover

Splickety picked up a story I wrote called The Family Business for their detective issue. That is Splickety Prime 4.1 which was their March 2015 edition. I enjoy reading this flash fiction magazine, and I bet you will too. If you are interested in learning more about them here is the general website. http://splicketymagazine.com/ If you are interested in the issue I have a story in, here is a more direct link to purchase it. http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/900198

Spiritual Citizens largeAnother opportunity was that Kim Bond contacted me to include a story of mine in a book she was producing. The name of the book is Spiritual Citizens and the story of mine is titled Grandmother’s Scars. It is intended to be circulated as a free ebook, to be used as a witnessing tool. Here is a link to acquire it in a number of different formats. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/530952 One of the easiest ways to read it is to just view it as a PDF in your browser which can be done at the link above or here is another link that goes straight to it at another location. https://drawneartochrist.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/spiritual-citizens-ebook.pdf

The printed book is inexpensive, but the handling and shipping is high, just so that you are warned. Here is a link to the printed book. http://blur.by/1I5eXou


Yellow-headed Blackbird

Yellow-headed Blackbird

This is a yellow-headed blackbird. There doesn’t seem to be any need to discuss how it came up with its name. This is the biggest blackbird. It appears most sporadically, meaning there are few places they don’t show up in at some point, but there is also only a few places where you can be sure they will return year after year. The marsh where I took these pictures was full of at least twenty males dividing up the area into nesting territories.

One of the behaviors of these birds is they will drive red-winged blackbirds in order to claim a nest area. The squabbles when they first arrive are a comical affair made up of more posing and bravado than of crossing talons and beaks. The winner in these battles is generally the one who stands their ground with the most courage.

I believe courage is a spiritual value. We should carefully store courage up in our hearts. We should encourage it and nurture it in our children and those we mentor. Courage is important because it is a necessary ingredient in everything we do. From a child’s first steps to a young soldier’s command to join the battle to an old man facing a cancer diagnosis; courage is necessary.

It is a spiritual value because courage is necessary to do things for God’s sake. It takes courage to walk away from sin. It takes courage to learn and grow in the Christian life. It takes courage to become whatever it is God wants us to become. In addition to believing courage is a spiritual value, I believe most people are not reaching their full potential in Christ because they have not practiced the high level of courage it takes to achieve God’s best.

This is a pattern of Scripture. Remember the children of Israel refused courage and wandered in the wilderness for forty unnecessary years. Then when they did take the promised land they used some courage, but stopped short when they grew weary of the battle. Then they had to live with the consequences of compromise for the remainder of the time they were carried off into captivity. That captivity was one of the consequences suffered for their lack of courage.

In Joshua 1:7 (HCSB) we see the principle of courage being taught to Joshua as he prepared to become a leader. “Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go.”

American Coot

American Coot - Head

This is not a prop from a horror flick, nor is it a prehistoric creature. But you have to admit when you look at it this closely, it is a bit scary.

It is the face of a bird, and probably a bird you have often seen hanging around in city park ponds, or some other body of water. People seem to respond to it by calling it a funny looking, little black duck. They might even say it’s cute, but they are not down face to face with the creature.

In reality this is not even a duck. It is this is the same bird I highlighted last week, the very common, American coot. Last week I showed you just the foot, but today I give you the head, and that rather impressive white beak. The red eye makes him look even more menacing.

One of the tough lessons is to see things for what they really are. We see a situation and we think it’s cute, attractive or fun. We may not look close enough to recognize what we are seeing is a whole bunch of ugly dressed up in the devil’s best disguise.

But seeing through a deception requires something that is in short supply today. It takes time and attention. We are in a society that has reduced its social interactions to tweets and its entertainment to three minute YouTube clips.  We don’t look closely at anything anymore, neither do we take the time to evaluate the good and bad of situations with any degree of depth.

But if we want to live and walk as Christians, we must learn to see through the deceptions of the world and carefully evaluate what is right in every situation. Ephesians 5:15-16 (HCSB) Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time, because the days are evil.

Christian Flash Weekly



Last year while preparing for Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference I wrote my first piece of flash fiction. It didn’t win. I did enjoy it and the short short story fit me. It fit the time I had to write, and it fit my personality.

In the fall I stumbled across a secular flash fiction challenge. That first one was Flash! Friday at www.flashfriday.wordpress.com. I won. After that came several other competitions. Pretty soon I was addicted to flash fiction, but was disappointed I couldn’t find a similar Christian weekly competition.

This will change as of Friday, February 7. I am starting a weekly flash fiction challenge which is specifically for Christian writers. Winners get bragging rights and an E-Badge for their blog, Facebook, twitter feed or wherever else they want to use it. Judges change week to week and they also get an E-Badge.

In fact, every participant in the inaugural event gets an E-Badge too. This inaugural challenge will be judged by Edie Melson.

It won’t make you famous. But it will be a chance to hone your writing skills, maybe take a little diversion from your other projects, and don’t forget it will be fun.

Come and see us on Friday, February 7 (about 9:00 am Arizona time) for the kickoff of the inaugural event. The prompt will be a Scripture verse. The challenge will remain open until Monday Evening.



When someone reads about Dorothy being blown into the land of Oz by a giant tornado, we accept that in this other place there would be munchkins, flying monkeys, and witches names after the four primary points of the compass.

When we read about four children transported to Narnia we are perfectly fine with talking animals and other mythical creatures living in this other place.

But when we consider God we often fall short because we fail to embrace this sense of otherness. God is not like us. He is different enough from us to have been able to create us and the world we live in, simply by the power of His spoken word.

Everything we interact with in our place was created for us by God. This by itself implies God must be wholly other, totally different than us.

So placing the constraints we live under on Him, is nonsensical. When people say things like, “you cannot be three and one at the same time,” they are failing to give God the necessary sense of otherness. What is hard about this sense of otherness is it is a totally open set. We know some things about what God is like, because He has told us. We also know a quite a few things about God where He told us what He is not like.

The goal of theology is not to know everything about God. It is the goal to know Him personally, experientially. But the leap of faith many people struggle with in understanding God is allowing this sense of otherness.

Ladder-Backed Woodpecker

LadderBacked Woodpecker

This is a ladder-backed woodpecker. I was trying to get his picture when he slipped around the back side of this stump. He was completely hidden from view, but a moment later he popped his head up from the back to check on me.

He was caught in a predicament. He wanted to hide, but on the other side of the coin he wanted to know what I was up to—whether or not I was getting closer.

The only way he could check on my position was to stick his head up and look. He only had two choices.  He could remain hidden, but ignorant of danger. Or he could be aware of his circumstances, yet this would require becoming exposed.

The hidden bird may feel safer, but he isn’t. Whatever he’s hiding from might be approaching. The bird who feels the most unsafe is better off. This one is tracking the danger and can therefore flee before danger is close enough to do any real harm.

Of course, it’s not just birds who need to keep an eye on threats. People also need to be aware of the risks in their lives, and understand what to pursue and what to flee. Being aware of all the dangers around us can make us feel less safe, but that is just a feeling. This alertness gives us the opportunity to respond to the situation.

Believers should realize threats come in more than just the physical realm. Prayer is a wonderful tool for helping you identify threats that are moral or spiritual in nature. The alert observer will be able to see lives destroyed in these traps as well as physical dangers.

Colossians 4:2 (HCSB) “Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.”

Theology of Missions

Every believer should consider their theology of missions.

Most of us can quote a few verses, the great commission and so on. We can tell a few stories, for example, we probably know about the man of Macedonia signaling Paul to come over.

But these tidbits hardly make for a thorough understanding. And more importantly they do not motivate us to action. This is what we really need, something to jumpstart our hearts and motivate us to action. Christianity was never meant to be so passive.

For example, if we believe our efforts make an eternal difference in the lives of others, they may go to heaven rather than hell because of our efforts—then we would care enough to act.

Or if we loved God so much we wanted Him to be glorified by our actions. If we wanted the heavenly choir singing His praises to be larger, and for more people to know how great He is—then we would act accordingly

Perhaps if we thought God would incorporate us into His plan for expanding the kingdom. So our actions on mission for Him would be the one thing which gave our lives true meaning—then we would joyfully respond.

Every believer should consider their theology of missions. But before you say you don’t need to, before you claim these issues are already settled in your mind and heart, take note—your actions or your lack of action reveal your true theology.

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting

This beautiful bird is an indigo bunting. It’s brown. I know it doesn’t look brown, it looks brilliant blue. It isn’t blue. I hear what you’re saying—it looks blue, it’s even named indigo which is a shade of blue. But the bird is not blue, nor is it indigo. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology the bird is almost solid brown.

Let me explain. You probably are aware color comes in two forms. One is the color formed by pigment.  When we paint a house, we cover it in a thin layer of pigment. Whatever color the pigment is, is the color people see.

The other form of color, is the color of light. When I was a kid we had a silver Christmas tree and a color wheel that we shined on it. A spotlight shined through a plastic disk made up of different colors. The light shining through took on the color of the wheel and then it changed the tree from appearing silver to red, or green or whatever.

The indigo bunting has brown pigment. But it also has a remarkable ability to reflect blue light. If you happen to see it in very dim light or if you get the opportunity to look through a feather with light from behind, you will see it is brown. This ability of birds to reflect a different color is called sheen and it can be the most important clue to identify a bird.

Those who know Christ as Savior should have a very similar experience. We know the truth of Scripture describing us all as sinners. But because of the forgiveness, grace and glory of God working in us we can reflect His light to our world. It’s never about who we are, without Him we are like the brown feathers of the indigo bunting. However with Him we are like the brilliant blue reflecting feathers. We can be radiant, not because of our inherent ability, but because of God’s brilliance at work in us.

Consider Ephesians 5:8 (NLT) “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!”


Jolene’s Sorrow

Jolene knew everyone was gathered around her, a lifetime of family and friends who had ignored her warnings. Now they were unequipped to deal with the realities of life. And the realities of death.

Suddenly, she found herself standing on an old wooden bridge. But she was grateful; every pain was gone from her aged body.

Then she was back in bed, struggling to breathe. She caught a glimpse of Jake, her youngest grandson, now an adult. He was there with his “family,” the girl he never married and the children they had together. And they had separately. Jolene grieved remembering how they scorned her faith.

Then she was back on the bridge, but younger this time. She felt healthy and began to stroll across.

Then she caught a glimpse of her youngest son. He had believed until he attended college. She had begged him to reconsider his choices.

She looked at her hand on the bridge rail, it was younger yet. Her step was light and she allowed herself a graceful spin.

Back in the bed, her husband whispered love in her ear. They had been married sixty years. When they wed he lived as a believer. Then he went off to war, and he became angry at God. She had prayed, but he never repented.

She skipped along the bridge in her twenty year old body. It felt so good to be young.

“Goodbye, Jolene, you crazy old coot.” It was Sharon, her childhood friend. Sharon thought Jolene’s faith was insanity.

Jolene reached the other side of the bridge and looked down as her five year old feet stepped off the bridge. There He sat in the grass. She sat down in His lap and cried for her lost family and friends.

When Jolene looked up into Jesus’ eyes, He was crying, too.

Flash Friday Competition

My post for today is actually my (disqualified) entry in the Flash Friday Competition. Perhaps you would like to go take a look and enter the competition?  The idea is to look at the picture and then in the comments post a fiction piece of whatever length they specify that week. Here is a link, if you have time for a bit of fun. http://flashfriday.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/flash-friday-39/


Bored Meeting

Somewhere there is a board meeting going on. But it doesn’t matter. Reggie is not on the agenda. He just has to be present because he is a VP, and I, his assistant, have to be here. To assist him.

But he can pretend to listen without my help. So I am taking my flight of fancy.

Reggie is my fancy, but there is a barrier between us. I don’t understand how to get through.

I knew he would wear that shirt. I know him so well. I chose my matching dress. He hasn’t notice.

I took a flying carpet on this dream. I could have flown, after all in my imaginings, I have wings. But I needed to bring a unicorn to pick the lock. Unicorns don’t fly. Duh!

And it turns out they don’t pick locks. They don’t talk to snails either. The unicorn is turning out to be downright useless.  And who knew they were afraid of heights.

Unfortunately, they do attract dragons. I can only maintain this flight for a little while. If I am caught day dreaming they will fire me. I wonder if Reggie would object.

I wonder if he has nice feet.

What is that friend unicorn? This door has no lock. The lock is in the tree on the other side. Then how are we supposed to get to it?

Simply walk around the door? Simply approach the man?

But what if something dreadful is waiting on the other side? Something like the CEO or the COO, now there is a dangerous old wizard if I ever saw one.

Fears are not so easily side stepped.

I really should be taking notes, instead of fantasizing about my boss.

That man should wear a dunce cap. I have fawned over him for months. He still doesn’t know I am falling in love with him.