Hey Y'all!

It took me awhile to get here, but alas I'm finally joining the blogosphere of bloviation. It took a rant floating around in my head to send me toward this journey, but so be it. We'll have some fun here too. I promise. Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to leave me a comment or two. ~ diane

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Just in Time for Christmas!

I am SO thrilled to share my newest book release with you!! There's quite a history behind this book, and the fact that I'm about to see it in print has just about snapped my garters! (Weird, since I don't wear them, isn't it?) Here's the official blurb, but don't miss "the story behind the story" following!

Working late on Christmas Eve, college senior Hannah Brooks is in the midst of a full-blown pity party. When a last-minute customer invites her to a candlelight service and a late-night family dinner, Hannah reluctantly accepts. She has no idea this kindhearted woman is the mother of Jason McKenzie—leader singer of Out of the Blue, the hottest band in the country—and Hannah's childhood idol. The evening ends with an innocent kiss (sans mistletoe) as Hannah is swept away by Jason's unpretentious manner. Over the holidays Hannah and Jason’s relationship grows, but when turmoil and tragedy strike at the very heart of his famous band, their newfound love is put to the test in the glare of the paparazzi spotlight.

Yours truly with Hannah, 2003
Now for "the rest of the story." When our daughter Hannah was a teenager, she was absolutely obsessed by a band whose music topped the charts and won them Grammys by the armful. It reminded me of my own teen years (my bedroom walls were covered with pictures of The Monkees - blushing here . . .) so I understood. As a gift for her that Christmas, I wrote a short story about a college-aged girl named Hannah who quite inadvertently meets her teen heart-throb. I didn't know it then, but it would later be labeled "fan fiction." Who knew such a genre existed?  I printed it off, tied it up with a red ribbon and slipped it beneath her bedroom door. She loved it!

She also shared it with her friends. They loved it and begged me to write more. (No sweeter words to an author's ears!) And so I did. Hannah & I would pile up on the sofa after she got home from school and talk about plot twists and story lines. I loved every minute of those days. This was back in 1999, when the internet was just taking off. Eventually our story ended up on one of the official websites for that band and struck gold! Eventually we would have over 80,000 hits on our page and well over 1000 individual emails from fans - including those who wrote to ask questions about that thread of faith we wove through the story. Those were my favorites.

The whole experience was such a blast. The best part was the bond it gave Hannah and me. Not long after, she won front row seats to see her "boys in the band" from a local radio contest and invited me as her front row guest. How sweet was that?! Precious memories, that night.

But it was also a turning point for me as an author. All those comments and emails helped me realize my love of writing just might have a future. Maybe this passion God placed in my heart had a purpose after all. So in a way, God used this little love story to send me a message. One I'll never forget.

And so you see, this is a special story for me. The characters have all been changed, the band is ficticious, but the story is the same. And it's one of my all-time favorites. To this day it still plays like a movie in my mind, the music and scenes as real as anything I've ever seen on the big screen. And that final scene in Chapter 27? Oh baby!

Over the years as I've told friends about the story, no matter what their age, I've discovered they too had pictures plastered on their walls. Whether it was the Beatles, Herman's Hermits, the Beach Boys, the Who, NSync or New Kids on the Block, it seems we've all had a thing for the boys in the band.

My Hannah is all grown up now, and last I checked, there were no rock star posters on her walls. I couldn't be more proud of her. And I'm so pleased to finally be able to dedicate this book to her. Love you, Nanner!

I can't wait for you to read my new baby! If you have a Kindle or e-reader, it's just 99 cents on Amazon. The paperback will be available in a couple of weeks for a little more, but who doesn't love the feel of a new book in their hands? And what a great Christmas gift for you or someone you know who once loved those boys in the band . . .

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Husband is Published!

I am so stinkin' proud right now, I can hardly stand it! Ken's very first book released today and you have GOT to read it! Not because you know me or him or even because I asked you to . . . you need to read it because it's SO funny! I've read it three times now (you may call me Madame Editor) and I laughed out loud every time. Let me tell you how this came about.

First, most of you know Ken served in church ministry a few years ago. Shortly after we married (as in 6 months) we packed up our belongings and our cat Moses and moved to Fort Worth where Ken studied at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He graduated two years later with a Masters in Religious Education and served on staff at two different churches over the next 15 years.

As you can imagine, you meet lots of wonderful, interesting, and sometimes weird people in the ministry and find yourself in all kinds of most unusual circumstances. With Ken's wacky sense of humor, it only made sense that many of these people and situations would resurface in a book at some point. He began writing the story of Elmo, a seminary student in his last semester who does his internship at a downtown mega-church. Though "the names and places have been changed to protect the innocent," many of these "situations" actually happened and many of the characters Elmo encounters are based on real people (wouldn't YOU like to know which is which!)

But Elmo starts this internship with a heavy dose of cynicism and uncertainty. He's not exactly sure how God's going to use him, but jumps in with both feet. In the official "blurb" the author tells us, "It's Ferris Bueller meets Holden Caulfield as he learns how to baptize and bury, visit and marry the faithful flock. Take a peek as Elmo pulls back the sacred curtain for an irreverent inside look at the inner workings of a mega-church." Don't be surprised if you recognize a few of the characters as well. If you've spent much time in church (or not) you'll enjoy this light-hearted read . . . written by someone who's pretty much been there, done that. Just sayin' . . .

Just for fun, you'll find some Special Features in the back of the book - kinda like the stuff you'd find on a movie DVD. A complete list of the cast of characters, some deleted scenes, and even an up close & personal interview with the author.

It's a whopping 99 cents on Kindle - and let's face it, that won't even buy you a cup of plain old coffee at Starbucks OR McDonald's! Splurge a little and treat yourself to some laughs. And if you don't have a Kindle or Nook, did you know you can download Kindle for PC for free and read it on your computer or iPad?

Oh, and in case you're wondering, my beloved is writing under a pen name, McMillian Moody. And the author's picture in the back of the book? Well, I'm thankful to say he's shaved since then! Goodbye, my dear Leon Russell . . .

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Michele's Migraines

Okay, I'm gonna just step right in it. First, you need to know I'm not endorsing Michele Bachmann. I have no idea who I'm going to vote for at this point. Yes, I think it's time we have a female Commander in Chief. But I do NOT think that gender - or race or age or religious affiliation or any of those other asterisks we like to use - should ever be the sole reason  we vote for someone.

But I'm STILL fuming about this whole media spectacle over Michele's possible "flaw" in the form of migraines, which as they've tried to convince us ad nauseam, MIGHT be debilitating at times, thus making her unfit for the job.

WHAT THE-------?!

Most of you know I suffer from migraines. I have for almost as long as I can remember. And they're soooo much worse now than they've ever been. Over the years, we've spent THOUSANDS of dollars on medical tests, neurological evaluations, and doctor visits , and I'm still in pain. I've lost track of all the names of the different presciptions I've been on. I shudder to think how much money we've spent on all those meds.

And yes, like Michele, I've had to be hospitalized occasionally when the pain was more excruciating than usual. But that's been rare. Usually I just push through the pain - as I'm sure she's done a bazillion times - and never have I come close to losing a job over the issue.

Which makes me wonder why all the fuss about this? Is it really about her headaches? Hmmm?

For the record, let's not forget that many, many of our former MALE presidents have had serious health issues while in the White House. Nobody questioned whether or not John Kennedy would be "unfit" for the job based on his debilitating back pain from a serious war injury. The man was on heavy, heavy medication every single day he was in office. (Isn't it interesting that nobody questioned his ability to do the job because of his back pain - yet there was all that stigma against him because he was Catholic? How far we've come . . . *cough*)

But Kennedy was just one of many. History books are filled with the serious medical conditions of presidents throughout the decades. So I'm still wondering - why all this hysteria about Bachmann's headaches? Could it be it's actually something else altogether? Maybe I'm just cynical, but I have to wonder if it's more than just her conservative politics . . . and all about that darn scary fact that she's -- a WOMAN!

What next? Medical records of her monthly cycles and any serious incidences of PMS? God forbid she might wake up cranky before a press conference. I mean, they excused JFK when he needed a back brace and a special rocking chair in the Oval Office. But I doubt seriously they'd allow her to curl up on the presidential sofa with a case of cramps. No, no. We mustn't let that happen. Or wait - is Bachmann menopausal? We ALL know that alone should disqualify her! I mean, seriously - what if she had a hot flash when a visiting head of state popped in for a visit?  Or she has a brainfreeze and momentarily forgets how to spell potato . . . Oh dear no. Mustn't go THERE.

I don't know, it's  all made me very suspicious of where this "concern" came from. My husband wonders if they're trying to "Palin" her. Meaning, the opposition gets reeeeal nervous when anyone on the other side gets this much traction this early in the process. So they paint a big ol' target on that candidate's back. Especially if that target is painted on a dress . . .

Granted - that's just the nature of politics. I gave up a long, long time ago waiting for our elected representatives to grow up and just do the job their constituents elected them to do. Ain't gonna happen. Must be something in the water inside that Beltway.

So why am I blabbing on so much about this? Well, if you must know, I was awakened at 3:15 this morning with another killer migraine - my third this week. And when I watched the morning news and heard the talking heads still bloviating over poor Michele's migraines, well . . . IT JUST TICKED ME OFF!!!

God help us get through these next 16 months until November 2012. (Oh wait, I forgot, we're not supposed to mention "God" in connection with our government. My bad.)

Apologies for the whinefest. Anyone seen my Imitrex???

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My New Baby!

Shameless promotion alert: my newest book is now available on Kindle! Actually, it's a novella. Meaning it's a quick read and perfect for summer. And if you don't have a Kindle, not to worry. You can download Kindle for PC for free on your computer or laptop, iPad, or iPhone. If none of those are an option, a paperback copy of the entire collection of these novellas will be available sometime next year. But enough about the logistics. Let me tell you all about my new baby!

Tea with Emma is the first in a series called "The Teacup Novellas." Lucy Alexander has a serious case of writers' block. That is, until her UPS guy delivers a box of vintage teacups - a gift from the estate of her late Aunt Lucille, her namesake. The teacups immediately take her back to memories of those many summers she spent with her beloved aunt and the special tea parties they'd share when Aunt Lucille would tell her all those wonderful stories. Suddenly the stories rush through Lucy's mind like so many movie scenes all vying for her attention. And as those stories bombard her, she realizes her writers' block has disappeared. A series of novellas begin to unfold in her mind. The first, a modern-day take of Jane Austen's Emma . . .

Fresh from a Jane Austen tour in England, Maddie Cooper returns home to Texas, determined to bring a touch of “Austen to Austin.” She dreams of opening an authentic English tea room and, like Austen’s Emma, put into practice her self-proclaimed gift as a matchmaker. But an airport mishap with a cranky Englishman gets her off on the wrong foot (quite literally), especially when he moves into the university guest house across the street. Can Maddie find a love for her unapproachable new neighbor, or has she finally met her match?

I've had so much fun working on these stories, plus Lucy's story line which continues in the prologues and epilogues of the following novellas. Each is a stand-alone story which includes a sub-plot about a vintage teacup. 

Teacups? Why teacups? Well, you see, I once inherited a collection of vintage teacups from one of my favorite aunts. Just sayin' . . .

You'll be happy to know Tea with Emma is available for only 99 cents at Amazon. C'mon, you can't even buy a cup of coffee for 99 cents anymore! And did you know you can send an e-book as a gift via email? Treat yourself and your friends to a fun read, then drop me a line and let me know how you like it.

Happy reading!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

You've GOT to read this book!

You all know I'm a voracious reader. I'm long overdue for posting about some of my recent favorites, but this one jumped to the front of the line the minute I finished it. I can't remember when a book has inspired me like this one! Miracle on Southwest Boulevard: The Remarkable Story of One Woman's Perseverance and Faith to Change the World, One Child at a Time, by Cindi Hemm with Katie Hemm Kinder.

Now, you need to know right up front that I know the author, Cindi Hemm. We've been friends since college (actually she was still in high school when I first met her). For a couple of years I dated the brother of her then-boyfriend-now-husband, Jeff Hemm. When Ken & I got married thirty years ago, Cindi was one of my bridesmaids. (That's us below on the day of my wedding. Love the shades, Cindi!) But other than the exchange of our annual Christmas letters and more recently via Facebook, we haven't stayed in touch very well over the years.

When I learned she'd written a book about her experiences as principal of an elementary school in a Tulsa community riddled with crime and generational poverty, I ordered it immediately. Could NOT put it down. I read it in one day. And not just because I know the author.

Cindi's story is riveting. When reassigned to Tulsa's Eugene Field Elementary in 2003, she found a dilapidated school building falling apart, a student body with some of the worst test scores in the state of Oklahoma, and a population of kids who spent most of their time just trying to survive, living in unspeakable poverty. Most of them never had enough to eat, but that issue paled in comparison to the various abuses many of them faced regularly at the hands of family and others in the community.

Most of us would bolt like lightning from such an assignment. Some of us would have agreed to stay, but hated the circumstances, and grumbled about it every day on the job. But that's not Cindi. Cindi Hemm's heart broke for this school, for her students, her discouraged teachers, and for the seemingly hopeless community that surrounded this sad old building. But she turned all of that heartbreak into the most incredible motivation. The result? Well, look no farther than the title of the book: a true miracle.

Since finishing the book, I've continued to rattle off story after story to my husband, each one more astounding than the one before it. Cindi shares so many examples of the desperate lives these kids live outside the school walls. Most of us are so sheltered from this kind of poverty, we have no clue anything like this goes on here in America. Cindi was surrounded by it day after day, but she refused to just accept it. She DID something about it. She fought hard and built those kids a new state of the art building! It became the hub of the community, but that was only the start. She invited an affluent downtown church to take her school on as a ministry in all kinds of capacities, from financial contributions to volunteers who work in the school's food pantry, clothing ministry, and even an affordable grocery store called "West Side Harvest Market" to service the community. And get this - they helped the kids put in a full garden, where each student learns how to raise fruits and vegetables, thereby learning not only about good nutrition but also about commerce as they sell their produce to their market! Genius!

But let me back up and tell a story that brought tears to my eyes and also explains a bit about why this school has been such a success. When the new building was under construction, Cindi and a whole team of her teachers and supporters gathered one night at the construction sight, armed with markers and pages and pages of scripture verses. Together, they spent hours writing out scriptures all over the beams, the concrete floors, and any other surface that would eventually be covered. In doing so, they under-girded their new facility with a commitment to God, making this HIS school, and dedicating it to the children who would pass through its doors year after year. Yes, it's a public school, but that didn't stop this team from dedicating their new home to the only One who could truly make a difference in the lives of these children for generations to come! To this day, Cindi says people always comment about the calm, quiet atmosphere when they enter Eugene Field. Gotta love it.

How blessed are these kids to have a principal like Cindi Hemm?!
(Photo by Cory Young/Tulsa World)
 So many wonderful stories, I could ramble for pages. YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. When I first started reading it, I thought it would be a good recommendation for anyone in public school education. I quickly realized it was so much more. It's an inspiration to anyone who reads it. It's a testimony to the powerful potential available when just one person looks at an impossible situation and sees limitless possibilities. When just one person sees kids in a tough neighborhood as individual boys and girls who just need to be loved. When just one person sees one obstacle after another after another, and simply rolls up her sleeves to get to work.

I am so proud of my friend, Cindi Hemm. I always knew she'd make her mark in this world, but it's such a joy to see how God has used her to touch the lives of so many people. Take a quick minute to watch this video that was taped when Cindi won this year's Medal for Excellence in Elementary/Secondary Administration for the state of Oklahoma. Watch here. Then do yourself a favor and order her book here (also available on Kindle). Be inspired like I was!

Love you, Cindi!

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Little Too Close to Home

It's awfully hard to come up with appropriate titles for posts like this. Fact of the matter is, one of my best friends on the planet is about to hug her eldest son for the last time before he deploys to the Middle East. Brock and our son Ben were best friends when they were younger. Thus, "a little too close to home" . . . yet even using that cliché seems awfully selfish at a time like this. When a mom is watching her child leave for a war-torn region on the other side of the globe.

I adore Teresa Nardozzi. She is my friend, my "sistah" in the Lord, my soul-sister (we talk and pray about everything), and for many years, she was also my neighbor, living just two houses down and across the street when we lived in Florida. Teresa & her husband Bill have three boys - Brock, Bryant, & Brice. Brock is the same age as our son Ben and the two of them were best buds for all those years. The picture below was taken a lifetime ago when they were in 6th grade (Brock on the left, Ben on the right.)

When did these guys grow up? When did their voices change? When did they trade in their bicycles for sports cars and pickup trucks? When did they start shaving and talking about girls? When did they start making the tough decisions life throws them? Teresa, where did our little boys go?

Well, they became men. And now Brock is serving his country in the U.S. Army. I've had lots of friends whose kids serve in the military, some who've fought in the wars of the last decade. But this is the first time someone truly close to me has dealt with this kind of separation. The kind that puts an entire ocean between her and her son with lots of scary stuff in the mix.

I can't even imagine.

I'm finding my heart so terribly heavy for Brock as he leaves in a few days and for Teresa as she has to let him go. That's never easy for us moms, no matter how old we are or how old they are. Meaning, if this were my Ben leaving for this particular destination, I'd be a basket case. I'm not sure how I'd even be functioning. But Teresa is way stronger than I am. She may just be the strongest woman I know. She's a rock with such an incredible and contagious faith in God. She knows God's arms will be wrapped securely around Brock no matter what happens. And she knows God will keep her and Bill in His embrace as well.

Still, it's gotta be hard. So for all of you moms and dads who felt your heart break as your sons or daughters headed overseas, I want to lift you up and ask God's special presence in your life today. I'm asking Him to grant you a peace that can only come from the Almighty . . . until your loved one returns home, safe and sound.

Teresa, I've got your back, girl! I love you, friend.

Brock, thank you for serving your country. Thank you for the sacrifices you're making, when you'd probably rather be doing a thousand other things than heading "over there." May you feel all the prayers of those who love you, each and every day. May you sense God's presence every moment of every day. And may you know how we'll all be counting the days until He returns you safely to us.

Godspeed, Specialist Brock Nardozzi. Stay safe, buddy.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Don't Ever Look Down: Surviving Cancer Together

I've told you before about this amazing book written by my friends Dick & Debbie Church. I had the honor of co-authoring their story (meaning I helped them get it in print but the story is all theirs!) Next weekend, I'll be meeting up with Dick & Deb down in Largo, Florida, where they'll be presenting a seminar on Saturday morning, April 30th, at the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks. With a tremendous amount of help from our friend Teresa Nardozzi, Women's Director at FBCIR, the church has graciously allowed Dick & Deb to bring their story to life.

This won't be "just another boring seminar" . . . not by any stretch of the imagination! As I've mentioned before, this is a most unique story. Debbie has been an oncology counselor for almost 19 years. In 2008, the counselor became the patient when she was diagnosed with Stage IIIA breast cancer. Radiation, chemo, and a double mastectomy followed, giving her an "up close & personal" experience that is surely every woman's worst nightmare. Yet, through it all Deb's faith remained strong, even as she suffered through the darkest days of her illness. Now, three years later, she's back at work with a forever-altered perspective to offer those she counsels.

Deb's husband Dick is in the ministry, currently working for the North American Mission Board outside of Atlanta. Previous to his role at NAMB, he served on several church staffs (including FBCIR) as minister of education. He's also an avid mountain climber. He knows all about the dangers and fears involved with climbing some of the highest peaks in the world (that's him at the left on Mt. Hood) . . . and it's that perspective that gave him the perfect advice to offer Deb during her excruciating months of cancer: "don't ever look down!"

At the upcoming seminar, Dick will take us along on a climb, allowing us to experience the unique point of view that can only come by scaling mountaintops. Debbie will give us a peek into some of her counseling sessions, showing us first-hand the kind of issues she deals with day in and day out. A skit will remind us what NOT to say to someone who's dealing with cancer. There will be a question and answer session and so much more. We'll laugh, we'll cry, and we'll witness a geniune love story that's been through the fire of cancer.

I'm so proud of Dick & Debbie and how they have quite literally taken the heartbreaking journey that was laid out before them and used it to help others. I believe with all my heart that their book could easily become an international handbook for those diagnosed with cancer, their spouses, family members, friends, and caregivers. Yes, it's THAT good. And let's face it - every single one of us have been touched by cancer, whether personally or through someone we know. If you can't join us in Florida next weekend, please keep us in your pryaers. And by all means order the book! Because Dick & Deb aren't just trying to sell books, they have a message you need to hear.

For more information about the seminar, click HERE. The event is free but registration is required. Breakfast served at 8:00!
To order a copy of Don't Ever Look Down: Surviving Cancer Together, go HERE.
To visit Dick & Deb's website, go HERE.

Until we meet again, Happy Easter everyone! God bless you as you remember His gift to you in the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Speaking of Pastor's Wives . . .

Since my last post, the paperback edition of my new novel, The Runaway Pastor's Wife, has been released! [Click here if you'd like to order a copy. Go ahead. We'll wait . . .] I could not be happier with it! Since its release, I've had several booksignings and speaking engagements. It's been such a trip to see how pastor's wives react to the title. "You wouldn't believe how many times THAT thought has crossed my mind . . ."  Seems those frustrations I felt back when I wore their shoes weren't so unusual after all.

In a couple of weeks I'll be taking part in a panel discussion at a seminary wives' retreat at Midwestern Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri. My sister is on faculty there and when she heard about the retreat, she mentioned my new novel to them. Next thing I knew, an airline ticket to Kansas City appeared with my name on it. I'm looking forward to talking to these women. And rest assured I won't be a Debbie Downer (though how fun would THAT be?) Instead, I'll tread lightly but share a few things I've learned along the way.

Want a sneak preview? To those whose husbands will soon become pastors, I might include the following advice:

1. If some dear soul in your church tells you God told her you're supposed to lead this group or head that event or organize this banquet or chair that committee? One word: RUN!!! Here's a little secret. If God wants you to do something like that, I guarantee He'll tell you, not someone else. When we arrived at our first church out of seminary, a church member immediately approached me and said God had told her I was to be in charge of VBS, which was only about three weeks away. I had just suffered a miscarriage and let me tell you, I was a wreck. I can promise you God did not want me to lead VBS that year!

2. You don't have to be at church every moment the doors are open. Really. You don't. Contrary to popular belief, it is not written in concrete. Anywhere.

3. Be very, very careful of those bearing expensive gifts and offers of fabulous trips or new cars. They often come with strings attached. Just so you know.

4. You don't have to be on every committee, sing in the choir, teach Sunday School, work in the preschool, and lead a women's Bible study once a week. What you should do are those things God has called and equipped you to do.

5.  FYI: you are not the church queen. It's not necessary for you to be involved in every tidbit of the church business; in fact it can be quite unhealthy if you do. Just because you're married to the pastor doesn't mean he and his entire staff need your advice on every church matter that arises. He may confide in you when it's appropriate, but the future of the church shouldn't depend on your personal dictates.

6.  Let your kids be kids. They aren't perfect but neither are the rest of the kids who come to church, and it's not their fault they have to live in a fishbowl. If Mrs. Persnickety wants to tell you every time little Johnny gets a time-out in his kindergarten Sunday school class for scribbling like a mad man on his picture of Jesus feeding the 5000, just smile, thank her, then be sure to hang up the little masterpiece on the fridge door when you get home.

7.  If you aren't a people person, chances are you shouldn't be a pastor's wife. Trust me on that.

8.  Choose your friends wisely. I repeat: choose your friends wisely. Note picture at right. Enough said.

Hey, I'm on a roll here. How about you? Any suggestions you'd give these soon-to-be pastor's wives? Lest they run away from home like Annie, my main character, would advice would you offer them?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Runaway Pastor's Wife!

No, that's not a news flash for a missing person (thankfully!) It's the official announcement of the Kindle release of my debut novel, The Runaway Pastor's Wife. I am so excited to finally have this book in print! My, what a history it's had. Let me tell you about it.

Once upon a time, I - Diane Hale Moody - was a pastor's wife. It's true. I helped put Ken through seminary right after we got married. Those were wonderful years and we made so many good friends - most of them young couples like us just starting out. After graduation, Ken was called as minister of education to his first church - First Baptist, Naples, Florida. Paradise indeed! We stayed there about five years, had both our children while on staff there, then moved to First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks in Largo, Florida in 1989. We were there just shy of nine years. As in Naples, we made so many forever-friends there and made some fantastic memories while Ken served on that mega-church staff.

But if I'm honest, I really started struggling about half-way through those years at Indian Rocks. Part of it was my glorious "adventure" into pre-menopause. (Waaaaaay too early, I might add, baffling even my good doctors.) But it was more than that. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say, I wasn't handling the role of "pastor's wife" too well. There were times it got pretty ugly. When I say the families of those in church ministry live in a fishbowl, I'm being kind. It's tough. Sometimes, brutal. It's hard on the kids, on the marriage, on the entire family, and of course, on the minister-husband. Some handle it with grace and ease and they are my heroes.

But I wasn't one of those. Eventually I ended up seeing a Christian counselor. Terry knew I loved to write, so he suggested I pour some of my angst and depression and frustration into a story. Before my fingers even hit the keyboard, I knew what that story would be about: a pastor's wife who runs away from home! Fantasy and then some, oh my yes. While I am NOT my main character, Annie - let's be perfectly clear on that - I certainly understood her struggles. Her story is entirely fictional - trust me on that - though there are characters and scenes and situations that tip-toe very close to real life at times. And that's all I'm gonna say about that.

Therapeutic? Oh baby. You have no idea! A thousand counseling sessions couldn't have done what writing this book did for my soul.

That was fifteen years ago. Annie's story has gone through many revisions but of all the books I've written, this one is my favorite. That's why I'm so excited it's FINALLY in print!

You can download the Kindle version of The Runaway Pastor's Wife now by clicking here. Or, if you prefer, the paperback version releases March 1st. Not to worry - I'll remind you! After doing such a fantastic job designing the cover of my first book, Confessions of a Prayer Slacker, I was thrilled to have the opportunity for my daughter Hannah to work her magic on the cover of my first novel as well. I couldn't be more proud of her!

Just so you know, this isn't just a chick story, guys. Yes, there's romance, but there's also major league baseball, political intrigue, mystery, assassination  - well, you get my drift. So don't let the title scare you away. Just sayin' . . .

It's a little like putting my precious baby out for everyone to examine . . . but I'm so pleased to finally share this story. If you happen to read it, please drop me a note and let me know what you think, okay?

Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Don't Forget to Stop and Awe . . .

We woke up to yet another winter wonderland here in the Nashville area this morning. I'm guessing this may be about our 10th big snow this year, and without question, this is the most beautiful snow we've ever had! I absolutely love it, but then I don't have to get out and drive in it. Still, I could hardly wait to get outside and take some pictures. It had rained most of yesterday which made the snow cling to every branch of every tree. It truly is breathtaking.

I felt a sense of urgency this morning as I got dressed, to get out there and get my pictures before it started melting. I knew I only had a temporary window of opportunity to capture these images before they disappeared. Which accounts for why I was so relieved to get so many nice shots.

As I was crunching along in the snow, a thought occurred to me: I was quite literally walking in the midst of a gift. God knows how much I love His winterscapes. I have no doubt it's part of why He orchestrated our move from snow-less Florida to the changing seasons of Tennessee, now over a decade ago. He did it for days just like today. As I was surrounded by the near-blinding whiteness, I realized - once again - just how much He loves me! These glimpses of nature in all her glory are literally paintings He's given me to enjoy . . . way better than any 3-D spectacle Hollywood could ever come up with.

Do you ever experience that understanding? The realization that God puts you in a specific place, at a specific time, just to witness the splendor of His creation? Do you stop and thank Him for that gift, planned and designed uniquely for YOU at that moment in time? 

When we first moved here, I worked downtown and had to be at the office at 6:00 a.m. At certain times of the year, that meant I got to see the sun come up on my 30-minute commute. Sometimes it was hidden by an overcast sky. Other times, it was so gorgeous, I wanted to pull over just to soak it all in. The morning fog would only enhance the landscape, adding depth and texture to the picture surrounding me. I remember writing a song in my head about it during those morning drives . . .  

He wrapped the mist around the mountains,
And He painted the canvas sky,
With colors so true, shades of purple and blue,
Such a masterpiece to see! 
To think, He did it all for me . . .

Corny, I know. But I remember singing that song in my old van, with tears rolling down my cheeks. I was just so humbled that God loved me enough to put me in that place and time, with that panoramic windshield view, so I could enjoy His uniquely personalized, wonderful gift. 

I had that same experience in this morning's snowy wonderland. As I snapped my pictures, I could almost hear Him whispering in my ear, "Do you get it? Do you realize I did this just for you? Do you have any idea how much I love you?"

Yes I do, Lord. Yes I do.

Now it's your turn. When was the last time you let God "stop and awe" you? When was the last time you let His love wash over you in the form of a sunrise? Or the fragrance of a garden in springtime? Or the soft lapping of the waves on the shore? When was the last time you let the glory of His music fill your soul with hope and passion? When was the last time you let Him embrace you with a gentle breeze or make you laugh with snowflakes dancing on your eyelashes?

When was the last time you opened your eyes and your heart and let God love on you?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Blahs, Distractions, and a Shameless Book Plug

Is it just me or is anyone else having a hard time getting 2011 going? See this little cutie in the striped cap? EXACTLY how I feel. (Here's hoping it ain't gas?) No, I'm afraid it's official: I've got The Blahs.

I just can't seem to find my mojo now that we're well into the new year (assuming I ever had a mojo?) . . . I have so much I need to be doing, but I can't get my "want-to" to want-to. Know what I mean?

Could be the snow. Nashville was blessed with such a beautiful white Christmas this year, and we've had even more since then. Yeah, I'm one of "those" people - the kind who can't get enough of the white stuff. BRING.IT.ON. Granted, I don't live in Minnesota (hi Joy!) or South Dakota or up in Alaska . . . but I do love me some good snow. It's very calming to my soul, if that makes any sense. Doesn't bother me a bit to get snowed in for days on end. Even when the kids were younger, I loved waking them with those two beautiful words: Snow Day! We'd watch movies, make popcorn, sleep a lot . . . heaven!

Ah. Maybe THAT'S the problem. All this snow = sleep in my brain, thus explaining the slow start to 2011. Like hibernating bears. Could explain all these naps that keep invading my schedule . . .

Or it could be the Kindle my kids bought me for Christmas! For a book lover like me, I can't believe I'm already hooked on this gadget but I am! I still love my traditional books (I take turns so they aren't offended), but I feel terribly trendy whenever I whip out my Kindle and start reading. LOVE when my kids surprise me! 

I'm also back on Weight Watchers. Maybe it's the hunger pangs that are distracting me. Ya think? Great program, especially with their new PointsPlus system, but any time I'm watching what I eat, it seems like that's ALL I can think about! But hey - I've lost 6.5 pounds my first two weeks, so I'm a happy girl. Only a bazillion more to go . . . watch for some svelte glamor shots later this year. HA!

But I've gotta get moving. I've got several trips on the horizon this year. A birthday getaway/house & dog sitting weekend with my good friend Sally in a couple of weeks. Then, the end of February, a reunion weekend at a cabin in Blue Ridge with some long-lost friends of mine from our seminary days in Texas - haven't seen either of them in about 25 years! Even now, I'm resting my jaws for the gabfest! HOW FUN!! In March, another trip to Ridgecrest in North Carolina for a big church librarians annual event. I'll be helping lead a conference as well as taking part in a big book signing there. Then Ken & I are planning a trip to Boston the end of April to celebrate - wait for it - our 30th anniversary!! Woo hoo!! Can't wait for that one!

As we speak, my next book - Don't Ever Look Down: Surviving Cancer Together - co-authored with Dick & Debbie Church, is headed to press with an April 1st release date. It was such an honor and privilege to work on this book with two of my dearest friends. If you know ANYONE who has had to travel down the road of cancer, you need to get a copy of this book. Dick & Deb have opened their hearts to share their experiences along their cancer journey, taking turns by writing every other chapter to give their individual perspectives. Deb, an oncology counselor who was diagnosed with Stage IIIA breast cancer, gives a transparent peek into her world from the other side of cancer. Dick, a minister with a passion for mountain climbing, writes a compelling comparison of Debbie's battle with cancer to the difficulties, dangers, and triumphs of climbing a mountain. I know I'm ridiculously prejudiced about this book, but trust me - you've NEVER read a book like this. What makes it so unique is not only Deb's point of view from 18 years of counseling others with this horrible disease, but also the rare insights of a husband whose wife endured a double mastectomy. As pathetic as it may seem, many husbands in that situation don't stick around. Dick Church did, and he gives us a rare glimpse into the heartbreaking situations they've faced together. You'll be hooked from page one. That's a guarantee!

Sound like a pitch? You betcha! Preorders available now! Click here! And be assured I'll remind you when the big launch occurs. Consider yourself warned.

I've been so bad about posting these blogs. "Irregular" doesn't even come close to describing how often I don't post! It isn't that I forget. Just doesn't seem like I have much to say that's worth blabbing about. That, and the fact that when I do post, it's waaaaay too long. So the new rule is "less is more." Post more often, just shorter and to the point.

Which means this one is already too long. I'm outta here!