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.

I Dare you to…LOVE

Two weeks ago I dared everyone to BEGIN. In the wake of all of the violence in the news lately, I thought it was fitting that the next thing I dare everyone to do is LOVE.

LOVE

It is the power by which we can overcome adversity, break down walls, and rise above to become more than ourselves. We can become like Jesus.

John 13:34-35 LOVE one another. As I (Jesus) have LOVED you, so you must LOVE one another. It is the very essence by which we will be known as His.

LOVE is patient, LOVE is kind. LOVE does not envy or boast, LOVE is not arrogant or rude. LOVE does not insist on its own way. LOVE is not irritable or resentful. LOVE does not rejoice over wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. LOVE bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

LOVE endures all things. It endures. All. Things.

This is the kind of LOVE that has gone missing from our world, it seems. That we can endure someone else’s opinions without insisting our opinion is correct. LOVE is not rude nor does it insist on its own way. Where we can agree to disagree without despising the other person, or striking out against them. LOVE is not irritable or resentful. And we can mourn for those who do us wrong when something wrong happens to them. LOVE does not rejoice over wrongdoing.

Give LoeWe don’t have to have a platform or a high position in life to make LOVE matter. We can be a custodian and make those around us happier from having felt our presence today. We can be the overworked waitress who joyfully serves even the touchiest customer. It may not be that customer that the waitress makes a difference for, it could be the one sitting a couple of tables away.

Like light, our LOVE only shines when we share it with others. In the small kindnesses. In the smiles we give to others. In the hope we leave in our wake. And those are just small ways we can show our LOVE. They don’t cost a thing.

I leave you with a video courtesy of Chewbacca Mom, who I think is hysterical.  And I leave you with this thought: I DARE YOU TO LOVE.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTlYjF2gJmQ

Love is a four-letter word

My Grandma Queen had a lot of strong opinions. After a stroke, she became even more opinionated about certain things. Particularly in her likes and dislikes.

Instead of not liking something, she HATED it. If a show came on TV that she didn’t like, she HATED it. When a song came on the radio she didn’t like, she HATED it. If someone disagreed with her opinion, she HATED that person.

I remember my dad once laughing when she proclaimed she hated something, and he just looked at her and said, “Mom, the Bible tells us not to hate. So, maybe instead of saying you hate something, you should just say that you ‘dislike it intensely.'”

Without skipping a beat, my grandma looked at him and said, “well, I dislike saying that intensely.”

That exchange still makes me laugh a little, and yet it makes me think. Instead of hating, we should dislike intensely. But what about love?

How many times a day do I say I LOVE something? Let’s see: I LOVE that episode of Gilmore Girls that was on at the gym when I worked out in the morning; I LOVE that  song playing on the radio as I drove to work; I LOVE that scone I picked up from the bakery; I LOVE that email my friend sent me; I LOVE the last book I read; I LOVE that pair of shoes I saw online; I LOVE snuggling with Bazinga; I LOVE getting text messages from my husband throughout the day; I LOVE, I LOVE, I LOVE.

sunset cross for webIn fact, if I were to list the number of things in a day that I say I love, the list would be pretty long. But do I actually mean that I love them? Or, like my grandma, should I rather say I “LIKE them intensely?”

Because although the Bible also tells us to love, I don’t think God wants us to give away our love freely to just anything. Perfect love comes from God. And while I believe God has very strong feelings about the world he created and the creatures in it, I believe that God reserves his wonderful, perfect, all-consuming love for his people. For you and me. He may like intensely the universe and all of the beauty and wonders he created, but He only loved one thing enough to die for it: us.

So, for things that I truly love: God. My husband. My family. My friends. My dog.

I may say that I love my house, my books, my clothes, my job, the dessert I had last night, and a million other things, but what I really mean is that I like them intensely.

The things that I really love can never be replaced.

 

 

Written on my heart

Did you know that there are 31,102 verses in the Bible? Yeah, I don’t have them all memorized, either.

But do you remember being in Sunday School, and memorizing special memory verses? I sure do. From nursery school on up, the hard working volunteer teachers at Florence Christian Church pounded those memory verses into me, from John 3:16 to Psalm 23 to Philippians 4:13. My third grade Sunday School class was particularly competitive, as a handful of us eight year-olds battled it out to see who could collect the most gold stars from the most memory verses learned one summer (my cousin and I tied for first and each won a cool pencil tray. Thanks, Mrs. Queen!).

Do I remember each and every one of those verses? Of course not. But there’s something to be said about teaching small children these living, God-breathed verses from the Book of Life. Even if I didn’t understand them then, many of those Scriptures found their way into my heart and mind, popping up unexpectedly when I least expect them to, but always, always, when I most need them.

For the next two weeks at Inkspirational Messages, we’re going to be sharing scriptures that speak to our hearts- verses that might be especially meaningful to us for one reason or another, or maybe some that bring peace and wisdom in the chaotic world we live in. We hope the God can speak through us to bring these life-affirming words to life.

 

delight-yourself-in-lordgive-desires

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Psalm 37:4

The desires of my heart, it says? Hmm, what could those be? If I had to make a list of the desires of my heart, the list could be long: clothes, cars, babies, books, wealth, prestige, accolades. An unlimited Barnes and Noble gift card.  A perfect body. The ability to eat chocolate at every meal and never gain a pound. A multi-book publishing deal worth millions (ha!).

So according to this verse, if I delight myself in the Lord, I’ll get all of those things, right?

Not really.

That’s what I love about this verse. What does it mean to really “delight” in God? It means to follow God’s will cheerfully. To love like he loves; to care for the sick and hurt and needy. To give of ourselves and our time. To worship in his presence, and rejoice in the eternal things.

The wonderful things about this is, is that if we do all of these things, and truly “delight” in God, our desires will begin to parallel God’s desires. We’ll want to help others. We’ll want to love people that are unlovable. We’ll want to give up our time, and money. These will become the desires of our hearts: to be more like God, just like he created us to be.

King David wrote Psalm 37:4, and he is credited as being a man after God’s own heart. I think he’d agree that whenever he strayed from God’s desires to follow his own desires, it led him into ruin. But when he aligned his heart with pleasing his heavenly Father, his desire was nothing more than to be with his his Creator and Savior.

May we all try to desire our Father’s heart above all else in this world. That, after all, is the one thing he most certainly desires to give us.

 

Love Your Enemies

Photo Credit: www.freeimages.com by angol
Photo Credit: www.freeimages.com by fangol

But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. -Matthew 5:44 (NASB)

 

Love. It’s a feeling, it’s a heartbeat, it’s a touch. It’s exhilarating, terrifying and freeing all in the same breath. It’s easy and it’s hard.

When life treats us well love abounds, but when life throws trials our way love is tested. Challenged, we hold to what we know is true rather than what we feel. And as we recover from tribulation we grow and change and are able to love more easily. But what about when the pain comes by the hand of a friend? A mom? A dad?

Will love abound once more or is it forever lost? Scripture says to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt 5:44). How do we love those who wish us harm? How do we love those who damage our spirits and hearts? Loving like Christ is not easy. I find this is the most difficult love.

It takes time and is a process. This process is different for all. For me, it is not fast or smooth. Some grievances against us forever change us, and no amount of time will heal our wounds. But the good Lord gives us grace, love and mercy. And I have found there are different levels of love. And while those who have caused much pain in my life can be forgiven, the only way I can love them is to simply not wish them ill will. I may never have warm feelings toward them or wish to ever see them again, but I can love them by not wishing them harm.

And maybe that’s all God expects of me. I don’t know. But I do know that love in any form is seldom easy and one not to be taken lightly.

 

Question: Do you find it difficult to love your enemies? 

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.

15 Loveable Quotes

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, love is on everyone’s mind. To get in the spirit of loving others as Christ wants us to love (even if we don’t feel very loving) here are fifteen great quotes to take to heart.

1. To love another person is to see the face of God. Victor Hugo

2. I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather he will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did? Mother Teresa

3. Lord, grant that I might not so much seek to be loved as to love. Francis of Assisi

4. God will bless you with someone incredible for your life. Have patience and never settle for less because God wants the best for you. Ritu Ghatourey

5. Whatever a person may be like, we must still love them because we love God. John Calvin

6. To love someone means to see them as God intended them. Fyodor Dostoyevsky

7. Forgive and give as if it were your last opportunity. Love like there’s no tomorrow, and if tomorrow comes, love again. Max Lucado

8. God loves each of us as if there were only one of us. St. Augustine

9. When you forgive, you love. And when you love, God’s light shines upon you. Jon Krakauer

10. Love God and He will enable you to love others even when they disappoint you. Francine Rivers

11. The first duty of love is to listen. Paul Tillich

12. The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love. Blessed Julian of Norwich

13. Christian love is the only kind of love in which there is no rivalry, no jealousy. There is jealousy among the lovers of art; there is jealousy among the lovers of song; there is jealousy among the lovers of beauty. The glory of natural love is its monopoly, its power to say, ‘It is mine.’ But the glory of Christian love is its refusal of monopoly. George Matheson

14. Love is an act of endless forgiveness. Jean Vanier

15. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Jesus Christ

 

 

Christmas Traditions

Photo Credit: www.freeimages.com by AstarEgg
Photo Credit: www.freeimages.com by AstarEgg

I grew up in the military. My father’s job required we move every two to four years. As I never had a place to call home, every Christmas we were able, we spent Christmas at my grandparent’s home. They lived in central Arkansas. My parents, sister and I traveled vast miles to fellowship with the ones we love.

Living far from family meant I didn’t take them for granted. Our immediate family became very close as we only had each other to rely on during hardships. As a result, we became close with my grandparents spending the summers there as well.

This is one Christmas tradition I have maintained with my own family. My husband is not in the military, but we do live thirty miles from the grandparents. Every Christmas my husband, girls and I pile our belongings and presents into the car and head to spend the week with my family.

My sister, her husband and children do the same. We cook together and eat loads of good food. We play games of all sorts, and have deep life discussions drawing closer to one another through our struggles. My children play with their cousins and time is well spent and cherished.

On Christmas morning the grown-ups pile into the living room while the kids wait for a call to come in and see what awaits them. Smiles and surprise adorn the children’s faces as they round the corner to see their gifts. Presents are opened and the room fills with laughter and love. It truly is a wonderful time of the year.

My only hope is when my children are grown they will want to carry on the same tradition. But should they not, we will roll with the punches and make new traditions as each family does. Giving hope, love, laughter and comfort to the next generation.

 

Question: What Christmas traditions does your family have?

What Have I Been Up To, You Ask?

On my blog vacation, I’ve kept plenty busy – mainly just trying to stay warm through a ridiculously cold winter! I’ve been writing – fiction, nonfiction, websites, business letters… Yup, writing kept me pretty busy and pretty warm.

But what has truly warmed me all the way through is my very first granddaughter! So many people told me how much I’d love being a grandma, but it truly is one of those things you have to experience.

Day 3On Valentine’s Night, Kaira Mae Crist made her appearance after an amazingly short labor and delivery (under 3 hours). Did you know that if you deliver your first child that quickly, you have to give a urine sample? Apparently they check for hard drugs, which can speed up labor. Didn’t know that. Neither did my daughter, but she was happy to provide it.

Kaira was a solid 9lbs. 1 oz. Perfect in every way. Her name is pronounced ky-rah, which has been tricky for me since the book I’ve been editing has a heroine named Keira (pronounced keer-rah). I’ve done a lot of stuttering trying to make sure I’m using the right name!

Do I have pictures, you ask? Is the Pope Catholic??? I have a small photo album in my purse – AT ALL TIMES! But honestly, you have to ask to see them. I don’t believe I’ve whipped them out without someone asking first (okay, maybe only once or twice).

What a delight it’s been watching her grow and change in these first nearly eight weeks. From tiny, sleepy newborn to alert and tracking, and making us laugh with her toothless smile. I can’t hold her enough, see her enough, love her enough. What an absolute joy she is for my husband and me.

Mom and babyAnd an added bonus? Seeing our lovely daughter become a relaxed, confident, loving mom. She finds such joy in simply being with her daughter, it makes me smile. And my son-in-love adores both of his girls.

I’m anxious to see who our sweet Baby K will become, what special traits God has given her, and yet I don’t want her to grow up too fast. I want to savor every moment of this first grandchild.

So thank you for asking. I could talk for hours about her, but I’ll make my fingers stop typing. For now.  🙂

He matched her expression pretty accurately!
He matched her expression pretty accurately!

Here’s one last one of Kaira meeting my brother this past weekend, her great uncle Scott. Makes me laugh every time I see it!

Any special little ones in your life? I’d love to see pictures!

Redeemed

Anyone who knows me knows I love Francine Rivers. Okay, so we’ve never actually met. I’ve heard she’s a lovely woman. What I really love is her writing. Her characters are multi-dimensional, full of passion, “real.” But while I have been deeply touched by many of her stories (especially Mark of the Lion), the one that continues to stay with me is her first inspirational book, “Redeeming Love.

As an ABA author, she was multi-published, award-winning with a solid career. But then God got hold of her and, well…we know what happens when God moves in our lives. “Redeeming Love” tells the story of Michael Hosea, a pioneer farmer in 1850 and Sarah, the woman God calls him to marry. One minor detail – she’s a prostitute going by the name “Angel.”

This epic story draws you in to not just the battle between them, but the battle they each have with God. Michael strives to serve God faithfully and obediently, even if the calling to love and accept “Angel” kills him. Angel believes God is an angry, vindictive, hateful creature that stole all that mattered to her. Both have much to learn on their journey together.

Based on the Old Testament story of the prophet Hosea and his wayward wife, Gomer, it’s a story of sin, obedience, deliverance and redemption. It’s my story and all of humanity’s, as well. And I believe that’s why this book continues to resonate within me.

The first time I read “Redeeming Love” I was convinced Michael and Sarah were real people. Their stories were that vivid. I’ve read it about 800 million more times and still find something new every time – a new way to create a deeper character, a better method for creating tension, the importance of secondary characters.

I have much to learn about the craft of writing. I have even more to learn about the God who loves me, calls me to obedience, delivers me from my daily (minute by minute?) bad decisions and choices, and redeems me with an everlasting love.

I’m thankful for the amazing writers who have gone before me, sharing their knowledge, experience and expertise to help me to the next level, and who write amazing characters and storylines that never grow old. I’m thankful for a God who puts these people in my path.

Did I mention I love Francine Rivers?