One More Song To Sing

Today I’d like to introduce you to a new author friend of mine, Lindsay Harrel. I met Lindsay through a Facebook friend who liked her post about her new book, One More Song to Sing, and after reading the blurb, I was hooked! So without further ado, I’d like to welcome Lindsay to you.

Lindsay, please tell us a little about yourself.

Hi, Dawn. Thanks so much for having me! I am the 30-something stay-at-home mom of a toddler boy, with another little blessing on the way. I’ve worked in education, marketing, and editing, and still do some freelance work during my son’s naptime. My husband and I have been married for 10 years and live in Arizona. We’ve got a busy life and I wouldn’t trade a moment.

What inspired you to become an author?

I’m one of those people who loved reading and writing as a child. You could always find me with someone else’s book in my hands or with a stack of stapled-together papers writing my own. Somewhere along the line, I kind of lost my zeal for writing fiction and decided to pursue journalism instead. But when I was working on my master’s degree, I took a fiction writing class as an elective, and my love for fiction came careening back into my life.

Do you have a favorite food that you could eat all of the time and not get tired of it?

I know I sound like a little kid, but pizza. Buffalo wings are the bomb too. LOL.

Preference: small towns or big cities? Why?

I’ve lived in the suburbs of Phoenix almost all my life, so that’s a hard one! There is so much to admire about small-town living—the intimacy, the simplicity, the quirkiness (if Gilmore Girls is to be believed). But I’m not sure I could go very long without immediate access to some of my favorite stores and restaurants, so I suppose I’d probably be more on the side of favoring big cities.

Are you a coffee drinker or a tea person?

I despise coffee and tolerate flavored iced tea. I didn’t even like that until I was trying to kick my soda habit and needed some caffeine to conquer headaches!

When you write characters, do you put yourself in any of the roles?

(such as I see myself as the protagonist, or I’m more like my antagonist.) I think I can usually see a bit of myself in every character. I like to dive into a character’s motivations, and so many times, they come from a place of hurt or fear. I can relate very well to both of those emotions.

onemoresongtosing-cover-finalHow did you come up with the idea for your newest novel, One More Song to Sing?

I love music (I’m a singer) and I love stories about redemption. Still, I don’t know if there was one “aha” moment when coming up with the story. But the first scene I envisioned is now the third scene in the book, when Ellie—a young performer struggling to make ends meet—is singing and playing guitar in a somewhat seedy joint in Nashville. She is dejected and hopeless, and I immediately asked myself why. The fun part was figuring it out, and the story unfolded slowly from there.

What is the most fulfilling part of being an author?

For me, it’s just such a privilege to get to share God’s message of hope, redemption, and love with others. It’s also satisfying to do something that makes use of my passions and abilities. I love doing something I feel like I was made to do, you know? Even during the hard days, that sustains me. Well, that and God.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about One More Song to Sing?

I would share more specifics about the story itself, but I don’t want to give too much away! What I can say is this—I hope that every person who picks up the book will come away with a little more hope, a little more love, and a little more belief in God’s power to redeem our lives.

Thanks so much for having me, Dawn! It’s been fun chatting with you.

You, too! We wish you great success on One More Song to Sing.

To purchase One More Song to Sing: Amazon and B&N

Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd with degrees in Journalism and English who has worked in both education and marketing. She lives in Arizona with her young family, and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Besides writing, singing, and hanging out with family and friends, Lindsay enjoys making a fool of herself at Zumba, curling up with anything by Jane Austen, and savoring sour candy one piece at a time. Lindsay loves to watch God work in ordinary lives to create something extraordinary, and she writes to bring hope to those who may have lost it along the way. Connect with her at www.LindsayHarrel.com.

If We’ve Ever Needed You …

With our nation’s heart still breaking over the events in Orlando this week, I am reminded that God is still in control, and that we still have hope in His amazing grace.

For me, music provides a great reminder that we need Him in our lives, through joy and through tragedy and through our everyday living. The song below is my prayer today …

“If We’ve Ever Needed You” by Casting Crowns

Joy and Peace and Hope

I like to think of myself as an optimist.

I’m generally a glass half full type of gal, the person who tries to find the silver lining in a bad situation, the one trying to find the positive thing in a sticky situation.

But a few years ago, I was in a bad place. I was working a job I didn’t like, getting paid much less than I thought I was worth, and no matter how many places I applied to, I couldn’t seem to get past a first interview. My writing was stagnating and my prayer life faltering. My husband and I had been married for several years, but buying a house and having children were out of the question financially. I watched as friends and colleagues got married, had kids, moved on to bigger and better jobs. They seemed financially stable, they were buying the houses that I wanted, they were taking the vacations I wanted to go on. They were living the life I thought I was entitled to.

I felt a lot like Rapunzel from the Disney movie Tangled, stuck in my tower watching the world go by, singing “When will my life begin?”

I’ve never been great about daily Bible reading, but I remember reading my Bible one night and coming across this verse:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Shamrock scriptureThe thing that stood out to me then was the double iteration of the word “hope.” I was feeling  hopeless, and yet here was the God of hope, my God, telling me that if I only trusted in Him, He would fill me joy and peace and overflowing hope. That’s a pretty powerful promise to a sad person.

I can’t say that finding that verse was a “come to Jesus” moment, and that everything miraculously changed after that. It was still a year before I found a new job, and still even more time before a few other of my “grown up” dreams came true. But it made a difference inside me, to place my trust in God and not myself. To find joy and peace and hope in the little things in my life, the things that were right in front of me all along.

Like Rapunzel, I needed to take a look around my tower and see the wonderful things I had and take joy in them instead of wishing for more. (“I’ve got my mother’s love; I shouldn’t ask for more. I’ve got everything, except I guess a door…”)

God has given me grace to take joy in the things in my life that I do have. I find joy in the encouraging text messages my husband sends me throughout the day. I find joy when my goofy dog brings me her bone. I find joy in seeing new shoots pop up out my garden, and the tiny purple shamrock that is growing in a pot on my deck. I find joy seeing old friends, and getting unexpected emails. I find joy in singing Broadway showtunes at the top of my lungs. I get joy from reading a particularly good book, or crying at a movie I’ve seen dozens of times. I get joy from worshipping each Sunday.

Trust in God, and he’ll grow your one small, purple shoot of joy into a garden overflowing with His Joy and Peace and Hope.

A Samwise Kind of Love

Boromir was tempted. Galadriel was tempted. Even Frodo was tempted in the end. It was an ordinary gold band that immortalized the worst kinds of evil Middle Earth had ever known. Gandalf knew the ring would have power over him and so he declined it when Frodo asked him to take the burden of the ring from him.

The Lord of the Rings is not known as a love story. But truly it is. The person with the biggest heart and the most steadfast love is Samwise Gamgee. Just an ordinary hobbit living an ordinary life. There is nothing much to note about Sam. We first get a glimpse into the love Sam has for his friend Frodo when Frodo tries to leave him behind. Frodo sets off in a boat determined to carry the burden of the ring alone. Although Sam cannot swim, he follows after Frodo into the water. Frodo is forced to save his hobbit friend or let him drown.

Samwise quote 2Later in the story when it is apparent to everyone but Frodo that Smeagol aka Gollum was manipulating Frodo, Sam suffers abuse for trying to reveal the creature’s less than honorable antics. Later Smeagol makes Frodo believe Sam has stolen the last of the food, and he is left behind. Sam comes to the rescue, though, when Frodo is led into a trap and captured. Sam saves him and continues to encourage Frodo in his trek to Mt. Doom until the ring is finally destroyed (no thanks to Frodo’s desire to keep the ring.)

Love doesn’t let others carry their burdens alone. Love does not give up, even when you can’t go on any further. Love believes when all hope is gone. Love, when paired with bravery and determination, can defeat any evil that challenges it.

I want the kind of love Sam showed Frodo. I want a Samwise kind of love.

Jehovah-Nissi: The Lord is Our Banner

“Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner.” Exodus 17:15 (NIV)

In this scripture Moses acknowledged that the Lord was Israel’s banner when they defeated the Amalekites. During battle each nation flew their own flag high on a pole at their own front line. This provided a focal point as well as a feeling of hope for the soldiers. The Old Testament name “Jehovah-Nissi” is intended to remind us that God is our banner of encouragement and hope.

When things get tough I crave hope. I pray like I’ve never prayed before. No matter how desperate the situation, I strive to keep that spark of hope alive because sometimes that’s all I have. Hope is the one thing that gets me through life’s highest hurdles. Without it I feel lost and alone. The hope that God gives me during difficult times gives me strength and power to carry on. Even when my prayers aren’t answered the way I wished, the peace I feel gives me hope for better things to come. 

Everyone needs hope and encouragement, whether it’s for life changing trauma such as sickness, death, or divorce—or simply everyday life that pushes us to the limit. Turning to God for every struggle, inevitably leads to the One who is cheering us on, despite the uncertainty we may feel. He is waving His banner, encouraging us to focus on Him as we fight the battle He has placed before us. He is our eternal cheerleader in a race He doesn’t want us to lose.

Even when life is rolling along nice and smooth, with only a bump here and there, God’s banner is still flying, urging us to look up and take notice and acknowledge that our blessings are from Him. Our hope for a prosperous tomorrow lies with God, and He will never leave us. He is waiting for us at the finish line. 

I can’t imagine a life with no hope. Life without hope is a life without God.

Hope

hope

It is the last day of the year and we’re just hours away from the start of a new one – the perfect time to dwell on hope. It’s the ultimate message of the season, after all, and the perfect sentiment to carry through into the New Year.

 I have been really touched by the lyrics to The Christmas Hope.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7v_uiX5jwc4&NR=1&feature=fvwp

Hope is a candle

A light in the window

Showing the way

For a heart to come home

 I love the imagery in these words – the idea that hope is the flickering flame keeping darkness at bay. Sometimes it is just the barest hint of a light as we struggle with adversity and doubt but the wonderful thing about hope is that our willingness to open our hearts can make it shine brighter and brighter until it chases the darkness away.

 It reminds me of a folktale about an old farmer whose faith was failing. He lived on a modest farm with his three sons. The property wasn’t big enough to divide into three holdings so the father devised a test to determine which son would inherit the farm.

 He called his sons into his bedroom and gave each of them a coin. “Go into the village and buy something that will fill up this room. The one who accomplishes this task will inherit all that I have.”

 The oldest son spent the coin on hay but when he brought it home he found that the hay only filled one corner of his father’s room.

 The middle son spent his coin on feathers and raced home only to find they filled just two corners of his father’s room.

 The youngest son took care with his purchase, and after much consideration bought two small items that fit into his pocket. When he arrived home he did indeed fill his father’s room and became the soul heir of his father.

 Can you guess what he bought?

http://www.public-domain-image.com (public domain image) A match and a candle and he filled the room with light.

 I think hope is like that light. May it fill all the corners of your room with its warmth this coming New Year.

Lessons from Louis

My father-in-law, Louis needed bypass surgery, a procedure countless people make it through daily. My husband didn’t have many days of vacation left for the year, so we decided to wait until he recovered, and then go for a visit. But he didn’t get well. Instead, we made the drive to Texas knowing our visit would probably end with a funeral. It was a very hard trip.

On June 7, 2008, God took him home quickly and peacefully. A blessing. Over the next several days, we met many people who told us what he’d done for them. He’d traded his newer model, paid for vehicle to a woman, whose husband had left her with small children. In return, he got her older model car and her payment. He bought countless, useless items from people in a financial crunch. He took countless other useless items as payment for electrical work.

The list went on. It seemed every time we met someone new, they were from a different church. You see my father-in-law was retired Air Force, an electrician, and a pastor for 46 years. He’d retired twice, only to take on another church. Churches that had split or were struggling gravitated to him. His gift of mending them always left a hard act to follow for the next preacher.

Because of divorce, my husband missed a lot of years with his dad, who lived in south Texas. There were visits back and forth, but not nearly enough. Oh to get back the many times we waited for him to visit when we should have just gone there. Oh for more time with him. But my husband and his dad had a great phone relationship. Especially after hubby answered the call to preach. Whenever he had a question, a situation at church, or something was just bothering him, he called his dad. He really misses that.

Though I often spoke to him on the phone, I only called Louis twice. Once when we were in a crunch and he came through doubly. Once to question him about his knee surgery since one of my characters was having the same procedure. I wish I’d called him more.

Over the years, my favorite memories were during our visits. Louis, hubby and I would always drink coffee together and he’d share a biblical insight he’d gained from his most recent study. Hubby and I always grinned at each other as soon as we all got our coffee because we knew some profound knowledge was coming.

We’ve been to visit my stepmother-in-law since his passing and she’s visited us as well. We love her and she’ll always be a part of us. I knew I loved my father-in-law, but I never knew how much until he was gone.

The comfort in all of this, we know Louis is in Heaven. Not because he was a good man, not because he helped others, not because he was a preacher. Louis is in Heaven because he accepted Jesus as his Savior. In Heaven, he has two good knees, no aches or pains, and no worries. And someday, we’ll see him there.

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” I Corinthians 5:55.