Taking God at His Word

This week I’d like to share with you a devotional I wrote for Novel Crossing, a wonderful online community for Christian fiction readers.

It opens with a quote from Tom’s beloved father in Deadly Devotion: Sooner or later almost every one of us come up against a side of God that’s hard for us to accept.

You can read the full post here: Taking God at His Word with Sandra Orchard

I hope you have a wonderful week. I hope to write “The End” on the manuscript for the first book in my next series by the end of it. Your prayers would be most appreciated!   🙂

What I Learned This Summer

First the Story

Remember your first day back to school when the teacher would ask you to write about your summer? Well…have I got a story to tell.

“He’s gone over!” my daughter yelled as we walked along the windblown beach and glanced behind us at the choppy water where my son had been playing in the waves with his kayak, confident he could handle them and well-protected from the chilly water by a waterproof boat skirt.

As my gaze lurched from the overturned kayak to the surrounding waves, my heart slammed into my ribs.

Close-up Image of Water

I was desperate for a glimpse of my son’s face.

We had no idea how long ago he’d flipped—a split second before we’d glanced over? Or longer? Much longer?

Too long?

The previous day, when the water was calm, he’d been practicing flipping his kayak, trying to master rolling it back upright. He never managed to do it, but the practice helped him learn how to react to flipping over.

Picture him clamped into a kayak by a tight-fitting rubberized skirt.

image of kayak skirt

Then picture him hanging upside down in choppy water, trapped by that same skirt. Yes, he’d had lots of practice yanking the release strap so he could escape, but that had been in planned flips.

Flips in which he’d had the chance to take a full breath and hold it before going under.

Not being sideswiped by a strong wave and then held under by the unusually high undertow.

Finally his head broke the surface, not because he’d managed to get out, but because the water was shallow enough that he could brace his hand in the sand and push his head above water.

It took another couple of frantic seconds to release the skirt.

Perhaps only nanoseconds, but it felt a lot longer to him and to a mother torn between crashing through the water fully clothed to haul him out and trusting her adult son to do what he’d trained himself to do.

Why have I shared this story?

Because it is a snapshot of my summer. I was working on a manuscript that didn’t come together the way I thought it would, drowning under waves of doubt, desperate for a glimpse of light, a snatch of breath, divine help.

Even though my son had practiced capsizing, it did little to temper his panic when he couldn’t escape. But sheer determination and the steps he’d practiced served him well.

In the same way, I’ve studied writing craft inside out and, this summer, read a few more books on the topic. And I’d long ago formed the habit of turning to God in times of trouble, both big and small, especially with my writing struggles. But when weeks at my keyboard went by with few new words, that I actually liked, to show for my time, my prayers started to sound like a broken record.

Yet… I had a quiet confidence that the right words would come.

My deadline wasn’t that ominously close…yet.

And this wasn’t the first time I’d gotten stuck in a story. In fact, I flipped back through my journal and found that I had similar desperate moments at some point with just about every book I’d written.

And God had always answered my prayers…eventually.

The eventually part relates to me, the mother, standing on shore, trusting my son to apply the skills he’d learned.

God doesn’t always choose to give us what we ask for in the way we want or hope or expect, but He promises to never leave us.

Perhaps, as with my son…

Our small “capsizes” are practice rounds to equip us for the storms ahead.

Which begs the question: Why doesn’t He just take away the storm and calm our turbulent seas?

I think, because…

Sometimes, it takes coming to the end of ourselves to know He’s always near.

Your Turn: What did you learn this summer?


Water image courtesy of my talented daughter JL Orchard

Devotional with guest writer Alexa Verde

My characters and I have been in knock-down, hair-pulling tussles for days as I try to get the truth out of them about what their problems REALLY are, so…when one of my blog readers, Alexa Verde, emailed to ask if she might write a guest post for me, I was happy to say “Yes!” … One less thing for me to think about. 😉

I asked her to write a devotional, secretly hoping my own characters might learn something about playing nice. 🙄

Alexa Verde PhotoAlexa tells me that she fell in love with writing at age eight when she penned her first poem. After publishing 200 short stories, poems, and articles in the five languages she speaks–yes, five!–she’s turned her creative passion to writing novels. She is currently participating in the Killer Voice program with Love Inspired Suspense, hoping to soon write for them, and she is also venturing into the world of self-publishing.

“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10, NIV)

The parable of the Prodigal Son is my favorite in the Bible. The story of the Father forgiving his rebellious Son and celebrating his return with a feast gives us hope. It gives us the promise of endless mercy from our Heavenly Father when we reach out to him with humble hearts. But sometimes it’s difficult for us to ask for forgiveness, isn’t it? Years ago, I concentrated on my past mistakes instead of moving forward. Fortunately, my friend, a wonderful Christian woman, helped me to come to the Lord and repent.

By putting that woman in my path when I was a proverbial prodigal daughter, God guided me through my life journey. God guides writers through their writing journey as well if we listen to His message.

I’ve tried to write other books before my upcoming release that didn’t include faith elements, ignoring God’s calling, and it took me nowhere. So I needed to write a book where I could grow together with the heroine and become a better person.

While writing this book, I started growing emotionally and spiritually through my heroine’s journey. We both learned the lessons we saw in the Prodigal Son story but had never identified with before.

We have to find courage and humility to ask for forgiveness when we do something wrong.  When we stray from the right path, we need to find our way home, our way to God. Even though our actions are far from perfect, God always loves us, and His love has no limit. That’s a beautiful thing about writing – you let your characters take risks and open themselves to hurt (something we avoid in real life), and in the end they just might teach you something.

Heartfelt thanks to Sandra for letting me share this on her wonderful blog.

Your Turn: Dear readers, what is your favorite story in the Bible? Have you ever dwelt on past mistakes instead of asking for forgiveness from God? How did you overcome it? I’ll be giving away an E-copy of my new release to one randomly selected commenter.

Sandra back again: Alexa, thanks so much for sharing. I’d have to say Ruth is my favorite book of the Bible for many, many reasons.

Alexa’s debut inspirational romantic suspense, COLOR OF DANGER, releases this Friday. It is the first in her Secrets of Rios Azules series—set in a fictional small Texas town where rivers and emotions run deep and the richest family in town has a taste for fine food, jewelry, and murder.

ColorOfDangerCoverHere’s the Back Cover Blurb:

Former runaway Mari Del Lobo works hard to save her struggling restaurant and to trust people again. Dallas surgeon Dr. Luke Goodman turns her world upside down with terrifying news. A recent murder has her late brother’s – aka the Smiling Killer – signature and MO. When attacks on her escalate, Mari fights her growing attraction to the good doctor as fiercely as she fights for her life. To rescue herself and those she loves, will she be able to stop the murderer before he strikes again?

Luke couldn’t save his fiancée from the Smiling Killer, but he’ll do anything to prevent more murders, even ask help from the serial killer’s sister. Finding a kindred tortured soul and the perpetrator’s next target in Mari, Luke is determined to protect the stubborn ex-rebel. But Mari would rather face danger than risk the safety of the man she comes to love.

To connect with Alexa for news, recipes, giveaways, (self-pubbing tips) and more, please visit www.alexaverde.com.

On the Winning Team – food for thought

Standing Victorious

Today marks the end of another exciting winter Olympics and, once again, in Canada at least, national pride and spirit is at a peek. Many of us rose early to watch the final hockey game and celebrate our men’s team bringing home the gold.

Throughout the games, I loved watching the faces of athletes and their friends and family when they won. Sometimes they would beam. Sometimes they’d cry. Each one’s experience was different.

But there was no mistaking the exhilaration felt by all who shared in their victories.

It got me thinking about how as a believer…

Every morning should start with the arm-pumping exhilaration of being part of the winning team. 

Because as believers we are!

As the apostle Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians: “thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (I Cor 12:57-58 NIV )

And in his letter to the Philippians, he writes, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3: 13b-14 NIV)

Don’t let defeats weigh you down. Persevere through them, as we’ve seen our countries’ athletes do to reach these Olympics, knowing it’s not in vain.

Your Turn: What are you celebrating?

Image courtesy of suwatpo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ah…Young Love

This past Friday I received the awesome news that my November Love Inspired Suspense, the yet-to-be-named firefighter story that we’ve talked about here before, looks good and will go straight to line edits. I only had to tweak a couple of things.

And as I read through the epilogue, I came to this line:

“Jake hoped he never stopped getting that fluttery feeling in his stomach every time he turned on his street since asking Kara to marry him.” 

Do you know the fluttery feeling I’m talking about? Do you still get it when you think about the one you love?


My hubby has this way of smiling sometimes that gets me every time.

Anyway, for some reason reading that line got me thinking about our relationship with God.

I remember how eagerly, as a new believer, I devoured the Bible and every study book I could get my hands on. Just like the getting-to-know-you time of a new relationship. Then after a time the shine of the newness wears off a little. Doesn’t it?

Yet, when you persevere, you truly experience the truth and depth of meaning of Lamentations 3:22-23:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Now, my hubby happened to be away on business this past weekend, and although I honestly admit that after 26 1/2 years of marriage, I don’t experience that fluttery “new love” feeling every time he comes home, I sure did when he came home after being away…and driving back in a blizzard!

But while the fluttery feeling is fun, it’s the abiding love, the deep-seated knowing that this man, who’s seen me at my best and at my worst, is here for me no matter what.

Just like God is.


Not Your Usual Fast…

I hope all of you had a blessed Easter. If, like us, your celebration included a special meal with extended family, you might be feeling like fasting for a whole different reason than today’s topic.

I recently had the privilege of reading an advanced copy of the new release, Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top, in which, in her unique, entertaining, and uplifting style, award-winning author and humorist Jeanette Leveille weaves 72 amusing stories with affirming Biblical truths.

And… I thought to myself, what better time to share one of the stories that most impressed me than when we’re feeling really full.

Full of food. Full of the wonder of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Full of the hope of new beginnings (at least for those in the northern hemisphere who have been enjoying spring’s new birth!)

People generally fast for either dietary/medical reasons or spiritual reasons. In her book Jeanette recounts a time when she was praying for a friend’s upcoming MRI and contemplated fasting to get really serious about it.

But…she works with the public and becomes “Miss Cranky Pants” when she misses a meal. Not good.

So…what to do?

She happened upon Isaiah 58, in which God rebuked the Israelites for fasting food, but continuing to sin with their speech and attitudes. She recognized (in a much more humorous way than my brief account does justice) that what she needed to fast was complaining.

Every time she was tempted to complain or grumble, she would pray for her friend instead. 

Jeanette’s account of the day that followed is hilarious, and oh, so convicting. She’d mistakenly thought that taming her tongue would be easier than going without candy or donuts. She learned a valuable lesson and… her friend got a ton of prayer!

I highly recommend this delightful devotional. Available here.

Jeanette’s soul-nourishing examples of God’s favor and grace will help you:

Laugh when you find cow patties in your field instead of daisies
Discover the bottomless heart of God, and
Grow in your acceptance of yourself and others

 About the author:
 A spunky pastor’s wife of thirty-plus years, Jeanette Levellie authors a bi-weekly humor/inspirational column, God is Bigger, a popular feature in the Paris Beacon News since 2001. She is a prolific  speaker for both Christian and secular groups, and loves to make people laugh while sharing her love for God and life.

Her hobbies include dining out, avoiding housework, reading, and watching old classic movies. Gotta love this woman.

Visit her blog, On Wings of Mirth and Worth, at www.jeanettelevellie.com to learn about some giveaways she’s doing to celebrate her book’s release.

Your Turn: Have you ever fasted from food or something else to draw closer to God or to focus on prayer? Tell us about your experience. Or…  what might be some habits or activities that we could all benefit from fasting?