Tag: Lord

Losing Faith? Read This Post

Mind WavesPardon me for the long blog post. I have a story to tell. It’s about answered prayer and dreams come true. It’s about magic and mysticism and this thing called faith. I must tell the entire story to do it justice. I hope you’ll spend five minutes reading it through.

If you’ve been following my posts, then you know a few things about me and the launch of my first book, Mind Waves:

  1. Beach Glass Is Important. Both in my life (I collect it) and in my book, where the heroine uses beach glass in her artwork. The hero offers her a piece of glass twice in the story–early on he presents her with a piece of red glass (a rare find) in the shape of a heart. By story’s end, he hands her a piece of green glass, matching the color of his eyes. (Check out the front cover and his glowing green eyes and the heart in the lower-right corner.)
  2. I’ve Had Multiple Paranormal Experiences. Past blogs have told of ghosts encounters, prophetic dreams, palm-reading analysis and auras, which fueled many of the scenes in the book.
  3. I Have a Strong Faith in God. I didn’t always. (That’s a story for another post.) My faith has partly stemmed from encounters with an invisible world–if I believe in ghosts, it’s not a big stretch to think I’d believe in God. I pray often and have asked the Lord to guide me in my writing life, which is fraught with rejection. Despite my beliefs, I sometimes doubt or ask him to reveal himself, particularly when I’m struggling to stay on course.

And that’s where this story begins.
I spent Labor Day weekend on the shores of Lake Michigan with extended family. My husband and I were both stressed leading up to the trip. The week before he’d been in bed with migraines. I’d spent the week launching Mind Waves on social media.

Our first day on the beach, our sixteen-year-old son, Sam, disappeared. He had gone ahead of his dad to check out the waves. By the time my husband arrived, he was nowhere in sight. And when I finally made it there two hours later, Sam still had not returned. He’d left his cell phone behind in the cottage, too, a rare occurrence. It wasn’t his nature to disappear without telling someone. We started to worry.

Our day at the beach, Lake Michigan.

Heading to the Lake Michigan beach to learn Sam had gone missing.

Searching for Sam
The family split up to search. Grandma went back to the cottage. My sister-n-law checked the volleyball court, and my husband and I strolled up and down the beach. After a few minutes, I encountered my sister-n-law, who was on her way back. Instead of searching for Sam, her head was bent over the sand.

“Did you find Sam?” I asked.

“Yes, he’s fast asleep.” She pointed in the distance, where I could make out his form in his black bathing suit, lying on his beach towel.

Relieved, I stopped to consider her. “What were you looking for?”

“Here,” she said, handing me a piece of green beach glass. I noticed immediately the color was darker and smoother than my normal finds at Edgewater, like it had been tossed around in the Michigan waves a bit.

“That’s so cool.” I started to hand it back.

“You keep it,” she said, knowing I collect glass.

“Thanks.” I pocketed the glass, and she headed back to tell the others.

Lord, please send me beach glass
Since Sam was okay, I decided to stay and scan the sand for more glass. Surprisingly, I found a few pieces. That’s when I had my God thought.

Lord, I prayed. Can you please send me a great big piece of glass so I know you are here?

I smiled inwardly at the thought of asking God for beach glass, adding, I don’t need the glass to believe in you, of course. I always believe. It’s only I’m tired and scared of what I’ve got myself into with this book launch and want to feel your presence. So, why don’t you just send me glass.

And I laughed out loud at the thought of God sending me beach glass.

That’s when two women appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. Excited and full of questions, they wanted to see what I had found. I pulled the small handful of glass from my pocket and showed them.

Heart-shaped glass found on the beach.

Heart-shaped glass found on the beach.

“Oh my gosh, it’s a heart,” the first woman spoke, pointing at my palm. She was tall with clear skin. Her head was wrapped in a colorful scarf.

“That’s amazing,” the second one added with genuine enthusiasm. She had freckles and her hair was in pigtails. She looked to be in her early twenties and wore a bikini.

I studied the green glass in my hand. It was a heart! I hadn’t seen the shape until the woman pointed it out.

“Do you live around here?” I asked.

“No, we live in Chicago,” the taller one said. “We’re yoga instructors. We’re taking a class.”

“They gave us fifteen minutes so we thought we’d check out the beach,” the shorter of the two said. “So great to find you. How long have you been collecting? What do you do with it?”

The questions continued until eventually, I told them about Mind Waves and how it was inspired by beach glass.

“That’s so amazing,” they younger of the two said with passion. “I’m definitely reading it.”

“Me, too,” the other added. “This is so exciting.”

How strange, I thought, and said aloud, “You two are not going to believe this, but I’d been praying for God to send me a piece of glass, as I’m worried about my book launch, and instead he sent me two potential readers. And I guess I got the glass, too,” I said, holding up the green heart.

“That’s so cool,” the taller of the two said. “I will definitely check out your book.”

“Me, too,” the other added.

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And as quickly as they arrived, they departed on a flurry of energy.

If the Lord is for us…

Me with my mother and sister 'n law shortly before our beach glass discovery.

Me with my mother and sister ‘n law shortly before our beach glass discovery.

Dazed, I returned to our beach umbrella, where the rest of the family had gathered. “You’re never going to believe what happened.” I recounted the experience.

“That’s so weird,” my sister-n-law said. “I just got finished telling everyone a similar story. I was thanking God for letting me find Sam and asked him to send me a piece of glass. I looked down and saw the piece of glass I gave you at my feet. I couldn’t believe it. Then you showed up.”

My sister-n-law has not read Mind Waves. “Did you realize the glass you gave me was in the shape of a heart?”

“No way,” she said.

We stood a moment and marveled at the glass and the not-so-strange coincidence. A great peace descended. A peace that surpasses human understanding.

“The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Psalm 118-6

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

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Sometimes the most perfectly laid plans go awry…and that’s a good thing

“May I sit here?”

The woman across the table nodded at me, flashing a friendly smile. She had a notebook and pen with her and was eating a sandwich. I was attending a writing conference, but I didn’t know anyone, so I was grateful for the place to sit and her warm welcome.

That morning had begun with high hopes. On the drive over, I wondered about all the interesting information I was bound to glean. I’m fairly new to the fiction writing scene, so I expected I would hear from a great many writers who have it all figured out, right? Wrong. After listening to the first couple of workshops, it didn’t take me long to discover that this wasn’t going to be a learning kind of day. I was disappointed, and for a while, seriously thought about leaving early. But I paid for the day, I reminded myself. I want my money’s worth. So I stuck it out.

Change of plans
As I was about to discover, sometimes my purpose for a day is not God’s purpose. Sometimes, the good Lord puts us exactly where he wants us.

“How are you enjoying the conference,” my new friend asked.

“It’s ok,” I said. “How about you?”

“It’s great. Actually, this is the first time I’ve gotten out of the house. I had surgery a couple of months ago.”

She said it so casually, we went on to talk about other things. There was another woman at the table, and she was a kindergarten teacher. We brought her in on the conversation, but strangely, she never mentioned that she had published a children’s book. (We would find that out after lunch.) If she had, the tenor of our conversation might have changed. I might have never learned more about the woman across from me.

“Do you have a writing project in the works,” I asked.

“Oh, no,” she said. “I wasn’t well enough for that until now. But writing has always been an interest of mine. I used to journal a lot when I was a child as a way for me to express my feelings…my childhood was not easy.” She added the last as an afterthought.

Illness revealed
I took a closer look at my companion. Her bright smile belied any type of sadness. She had a perfectly oval face and her blond hair fell softly around her head like an angel’s halo. She was about my age, in her late forties or early fifties.

“You look great. What was your illness?”

“I had a kidney transplant. I had been sick for eighteen years, so I was pretty bad. My daughter was my donor.”

“Wow, that’s incredible. You don’t look like you have been ill.”

“Yeah, I know. I have been sick for so long, I don’t remember what it’s like to feel good again. I’m not used to having energy and needing to get out of the house. But I always enjoyed writing, so I thought this conference would be a good way to start a new hobby.”

“That’s amazing that your daughter was your donor.”

“It is,” she acknowledged. “I didn’t ask her to either. She just told me that she was going to be tested and when it turned out we were a perfect match, she said, ‘Mom, I’m going to be your donor.’ I didn’t know what to say. It’s an amazing gift. She’s a wonderful daughter.”

“How is your daughter doing?”

“Oh, she’s back at work already. Her only concern with donating a kidney is that she wanted to have another child. But the doctor reassured her that she could. She has been incredible through the whole thing. When they wheeled us out after surgery, we gave each other a big thumbs up. It was a moment I’ll never forget.”

“Wow. What a fantastic story. You really need to write about this.”

“Yeah, maybe I will,” she said.

Lunch was over but we would find ourselves together in all the remaining workshops. Before the conference ended, we exchanged email and Facebook information, and during a break, she liked my Facebook page.

The message
As I was driving home that afternoon, it struck me that hearing this woman’s story was part of a larger plan. That I needed to hear about her illness as much as she needed to tell me and connect with someone from the outside. Her story was God’s little reminder to me that success can mean different things to different people. For me, it means taking another leap forward on my journey to publication. But for this lovely lady, success is getting out of the house in the morning and enjoying a new hobby.

It was the big man’s loving message to me not to get so caught up in my own goals and ambitions. What a gift I was given when she shared her story. I am so grateful that I was the lucky recipient.

That time a ghost followed me home from school

imageGhosts and romance are unlikely bedfellows. Ebenezer Scrooge had the ghosts but not the romance. Jane Eyre had the romance but not the ghost. The movie, “Ghost,” had both. Of course, the ghost, played by Patrick Swayze, could no longer kiss and hold his love, Demi Moore. Therein lies the crux of the problem.

Swayze needed an emissary — a middle man so to speak — or in this case a middle woman, so delightfully played by Whoopie Goldberg.

I have thought a lot about the role of mediums since I saw that movie. You might think this odd, since I write paranormal romance and talk about my own experiences with ghosts frequently on this blog, but I often wonder if mediums are authentic. Oh, I know there are people like the Long Island medium who claim to be for real, but are they actually having conversations with dead people during the day when they are awake? It seems unlikely. After all, if that were the case, wouldn’t murders be solved daily because ghosts would be pointing mediums to their killers?

Most of my ghostly experiences have come in dreams, without any act of will or desire on my part. There are the odd exceptions, though.

Ghost in the classroom
I stand in a line facing the chalkboard with six other little girls in our fourth grade class. Our mission? To see a ghost, any ghost, but preferably one that is friendly.

Ghosts have been the subject of conversation during recess. We tell each other scary stories of family or friends that claim to see spirits. We wonder if it might be possible for us to see a ghost, too.

We have pulled the blinds down low. The only light that penetrates the room is from the small crack at the bottom of the line of windows behind us.

I lead the conversation. In our little circle of friends, I am always the one in charge when it comes to the supernatural. At ten, I have an innate instinct for how to speak to the dead. “Is there a ghost in this room? If so, show yourself,” I command in my squeaky, prepubescent voice.

We watch and wait. Nothing. We can hear the sounds of other children on the playground outside the classroom walls. A car passes slowly on the street that runs by the school. The sound of its revved up engine blares through the windows. Still nothing.

“If there is a ghost in this room, show yourself,” I call out again. This time I brilliantly add, “Give us a sign. Tell us who you want to go home with.”

A shadow morphs on the opposite wall near the door. I watch, stunned as it speeds around the classroom, casts a breeze on my cheek, slides to the door opposite, and disappears.

“What was that?” one of the others pipe up.

“A ghost,” we all say, our voices overlapping in our excitement.

“Did anyone feel anything?” I question.

“I think I did,” my best friend, who is standing next to me, admits.

“I did, too,” I acknowledge. “Who do you think it wants to go home with?”

“You,” she unhesitatingly replies.

Later that night, I shiver under the blankets.
From the glow of the hallway light in our century home, I can see what appear to be faces in the Victorian wallpaper. Their unsightly mouths yawn wide, screaming silently. While I watch, the big oak door to my brother’s room opens. My eyes peer into the space beyond, waiting patiently for someone to come out. No one does. Instead, the door slams shut. The hallway light flicks on, off, and on again. Downstairs I hear the sound of muted laughter as my parents and older siblings watch T.V.

“Who is that?” my sister calls from her side of the double bed we share.

“I…don’t know,” I say, some part of me not willing to acknowledge what I have just witnessed.

“Will you sing me a song?” she asks, her voice small and scared.

As the big sister, it is my job to comfort her. I take the role seriously. My voice wobbles, but I manage to crank out Twinkle, Twinkle and then move on to Christmas carols, although it is the middle of the summer. The sound of my voice singing Away In A Manger in the dark room strengthens and calms me. I feel the Lord’s arms around me, telling me gently that it will be okay. Beside me, my sister snores softly. I pull the covers over my head and fall asleep.

Does God hear the prayers of writers?

imageI think so.

I’m not one of those people who like to run. But I do it. Twice a week, as long as it’s above 50 degrees, my iPhone and I are jogging around my neighborhood. I find that listening to a podcast or a little music helps to make the time pass more quickly.

During one of my recent jaunts, it started to rain a light mist (something it has been doing a lot these days in Cleveland), which made my run a bit harder. I was especially annoyed when the podcast stopped working. I called on Siri to play some music instead, but she claimed that she couldn’t get a signal. Over and over I tried to get something to play on my phone but without success. Eventually, I did something I haven’t done in a while. I called out to the Lord.

Now I know what you’re thinking.
There are many more important situations going on in the world than my desire for some music during my run, right? I thought about that, too. But you have to understand that it has been a while since I have felt the Lord in my life. My days are so hectic trying to maintain a somewhat stressful day job, launch a career as a romance writer, and take care of my husband and three kids, that I barely have time to say a brief prayer before I fall asleep at night. It has been a leap of faith to build a website and share my life in blog posts. There is so much noise in this world. Do I have anything of importance to say that can reach beyond it? Is anyone listening? Does anyone really care?

Although I believe in God and have a strong faith in him, I sometimes doubt his presence in my life. And there seem to be more people surrounding me that don’t have any belief in God that it wears on me. So it was in that frame of mind that I called out to him.

“Lord,” I prayed. “I know you have many more important prayers to answer. There are people sick and dying who are desperate for you. But I also know that you have it in your power to send me a song if you want to. My faith is strong enough that I’m certain you can do it. It’s also been a long time since you have answered any of my prayers directly. And I would really like to hear from you. So Lord, if it’s your will, please send me a song.”

And maybe I was just being fanciful, but I swear I felt him smile.

Still, my iPhone was silent.
So I sighed and put my finger out to press the button for Siri. But I never quite made it. Just before my fingered touched the button, a song began to play on my phone. The words startled me.

“And when you feel the rain, call his name. He’ll find you in a hurricane.”

Now the big man and I know each other well. He came to my rescue some years ago and has been my best friend ever since. I shouldn’t ever doubt his love for me. But I often do.

This little song reminded me that he is with me every step of the day. He hears me when I call, and he answers prayers. He keeps me sheltered within his arms during the worst storms, even a little Cleveland rain. He created the world. If he’s on my side, nothing is impossible.

“There’s a place, there’s a place you can run when you fall, and it’s all come undone, you’ll be safe in the raging storm, so just let go, ’cause you are held in his arms. Step out on the edge don’t be afraid of it. And when you feel the rain, call his name, he’ll find you in a hurricane.”

And with God’s perfect grace, the last words of the lyrics faded away the moment I reached my garage doors.

“And when you feel the rain, call his name. He’ll find you in a hurricane.”

P.S. I looked up the lyrics to this song when I got home — “Hurricane” by Natalie Grant.

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