Tag Archives: Christian Fiction

A Home for Every Heart

My parents are ministers. My grandparents were ministers. I was raised in the church. And still, in my early 20s I wasn’t sure I believed in God. I’d definitely turned my back on organized religion.

I went to church with my parents sometimes, and I took my daughter to church sometimes, but I could have argued with the best of them about how the church was created for two reasons: money and the subjugation of women.
The lifestyle I lived could be classified as humanistic, I suppose. I was a “good” person. Enough said.
When an elderly customer invited my boyfriend to church one Sunday, I’m not sure why we went. Probably because they were expecting a new minister and the church was by the mall.
Whatever the reason, we went. And from the moment we walked through the doors, the church motto, “A Home for Every Heart” rang true. We weren’t judged. We were accepted. Everything changed.
My church made a point to minister to people with a world of hurt in their eyes. I think Letting Go started way back then. An idea I had to grow into.
So many people hurt today. And so often we forget the role of the church as my minister today says is to Love God, Love People. We get so caught up in life or work or what we need, we forget about others. I’m certainly guilty of that. Or we get so holy and full of our “rules” we think we’re better than others. I’ve been there, too.
Thankfully, God doesn’t expect perfection, but he did give us direction.
John 13:34-35 (NIV)
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Today, I believe. I don’t clobber people upside the head with that belief. I don’t preach hellfire and brimstone. I don’t talk about the rules. I simply say God sent His son to die for our sins and He loves us unconditionally. He’s ALWAYS there, even when we don’t believe. ###

Find out more about my books on my Amazon author’s page. Letting Go by Mary Beth Lee available in kindle format and print.

***GUEST BLOGGER alert. Janet Brown will be guest blogging here tomorrow. Her story is so inspirational. Please stop by!

Language Barriers, Life Lessons, Letting Go

Image by Shades of Blue, Roxanne Ready. Used by Creative Commons license.

Susie Dillon took a tray of cookies out of the oven and acknowledged that her husband was right. Jed was more than a little interested in Clarissa Dye.
And Paul was right about something else. The wariness in Clarissa’s eyes came about from something dark and troublesome.
“She’ s hurting, she doesn’t trust and she’s not sure about sticking around here. You can tell that,” she said.
“I imagine she’s a lot like the barn kittens. Scared to death to get close to anyone,” Paul agreed, his blue eyes sad and sure. Susie remembered those eyes back when they were bloodshot and unfocused morning after morning. When they were hiding truths. When they were bitter and angry, and she felt alone against the world with the gift of a baby boy and a ranch to take care of.
But she hadn’t been alone. God was always there.
“Don’t you think maybe God sent her to us so we can show her love?” Susie couldn’t help but wonder.
“I know God’s in our driver’s seat, Susie, but if it comes down to this girl or Jed and Mack, we can’t let her hurt them.” Letting Go by Mary Beth Lee, July 2012

God’s in our driver’s seat. Another way to say let go and let God. It’s a lesson it took me years to learn. When I stumbled upon my small group, I wasn’t letting God control much of anything. I wanted something to do and the class happened to meet across from the youth building where I’d dropped DD off. Before too long the small group was working through one bible study after another that challenged me to let go and let God. I resisted. Back then I was focused on work more than anything. I let the yearbook and newspaper run my life. My family came second, and they knew it. I fit God in–sometimes–when I could. Or when I needed Him. Lucky for me God’s there for us even when we’re not there for Him.
In 2008 I shattered my ankle in a clutzy accident. I ended up stuck in Rome a week before yearbook camp was supposed to start. I was stuck in an Italian public hospital room with five Italian women, none of whom spoke much English. My only Italian: ciao, limoncello and gelato. My prayers went something like this. “Dear God, please let me go home now. I need to get back for work. I don’t want to be stuck here. I’m scared of this hospital!”
God didn’t answer my prayers. He put two amazing people in place to help me, though. One, a grandfather of a student on the trip with me, happened to be a minister also. He stayed back with me because he said no way was I staying in Italy alone. The other, Teresa, worked for the tour company I was traveling with. She came to see me every day to translate and to talk to me. No one asked her to be there for me, but when she heard about the American teacher stuck in the hospital, she felt horrible for me and wanted me to have fond memories of her country.
Without those two, I’m not sure how I would’ve made it. Because not only did God not answer my prayers, He let me stew in that hospital bed for seven days in the midst of a horrible heat wave. The airlines wouldn’t let me travel because the break was so severe they were afraid I’d die. I didn’t care. I had a yearbook camp to get ready for, and I needed to get home. My idea of letting go and letting God was telling Him what I needed and expecting that to happen.
The Italians thought I was hilarious with my schedule book and highlighter and iPod Touch and the hours I spent on the phone coordinating camp.
Eight days and one surgery later, I made it back to the States. I said I understood let go and let God, but I was fooling myself.
Before school started my principal told me to take all the time I needed to get back into the swing of things. I had over 100 sick days. Still, though, I arranged my PT to take place before school and had DH wheel me to my room every day. I didn’t miss. I worked hard to get back to normal because I needed to be at deadlines after school. I graduated from wheel chair to walker to limping along the hallways. It didn’t take long for the job to come first again in my life.
The next year I got swine flu at the end of October and was sick until New Year’s. I missed six days of school instead of the two-three weeks I should’ve. Once again, the job controlled everything.
Somewhere in there though, something changed. I quit missing small group for work, DH and I got involved in the college ministry at church and I saw how shallow a life led by work could be. I saw the truth of how I hurt my family and myself. My small group stood by me as I lived through those changes. By the end of that school year, I was able to say the words “Let Go and Let God,” and mean them. Life’s a lot easier when you live by that principle.
I still find myself switching into the job first, family second, God third lifestyle every once in a while. I have to work to NOT go there. I’m not sure why because life is much better when I let God stay in the driver’s seat. He’s a much better driver than I am! ###
Find out more about my books on my Amazon author’s page.
Letting Go, available now for kindle and in print.

Cover art by Mary Beth Lee.

 

 

Cookie image link http://www.flickr.com/photos/shardsofblue/5875237526/in/photostream/

The Power of Positive

You’ve gotta wake up every morning and ask yourself, ‘How bad do you want it?’ How much work are you willing to put forth for the things and people you want and need in your life? Nothing great comes without effort. But I promise you that if it’s something of great meaning in your heart and something you need in your life…EVERY risk, EVERY step and EVERY drop of sweat will be worth it. ~Markesa Yeager (I LOVE THIS QUOTE SO MUCH!!!!!!!)
I’ve tried something different this summer. If you follow me on facebook, you might have noticed. This is the summer of positive affirmation. I’m certainly not the originator of positive affirmations. One of my earliest memories is a summer spent watching Y&R. The character Tracy wanted to lose weight and she wrote affirmations every day. That was my introduction to the term. Several years later my friend Karen Kelley told me about The Secret and surrounding yourself with positive energy and how important it was to success. I love Karen, but I thought she was kind of crazy until I read The Secret. It’s definitely a little woo-woo, but it makes some great points. The Success Principles is another great book about surrounding yourself with positive energy and the secret to making dreams come true. I love both books. This summer I’m putting their principles into practice.
My writing world is the no negativity zone. The negative words, no anger, no hurt. I joined Candy Havens’ Fast Draft and wrote a draft in a week. I’m working on revisions now. I’ve got a new book–Letting Go–slated for publication this week (kindle or print only for 90 days). I’m a writer, so I write. No excuses. I’m getting healthy, so I work out every day in some way, no excuses. When school starts, I’ll add work to this, too. I can’t wait to see the difference the power of positive makes. ###

Letting Go by Mary Beth Lee, coming soon.

Clarissa Dye doesn’t put down roots. Stearns, Oklahoma, is a stopping point on her path to self-reliance. And God? Don’t even get her started. Enter Mackenzie Dillon and her cowboy dad, Jed. From the moment Mackenzie runs into Clarissa, the little girl worms her way into Clarissa’s heart. The fact that her strong father happens to work his way in there, too, only scares Clarissa more. Letting Go: a story of forgiveness, second chances and finding a love that lasts forever.

Use the Pain (What I Hope to Remember When Writing Christian Fiction)

Alert! This is a post dealing with religion. If that bothers you, STOP READING!

A loved one called me Jezebel the day I wore red lipstick to church. I was a young single mother at the time, so I found the idea of my red lipstick paving the road to hell quite hilarious. At least that’s what I said out loud. Inside, I was crying. Fortunately, a ridiculous comment like that didn’t shake my faith. Pissed me off, but it didn’t make me turn my back on God. I figure comments like that have shaken others’ faith. Funny how people like that think they’re glorifying God. I think Jesus would have something to say about that. The Jesus I know was about something far bigger than red lipstick. Don’t even get me started on the number of times I’ve heard people talk about tattoos being of the devil. Or how drug addicts are a product of their own bad choices so we just need to leave them to go to hell one hit at a time.

Over the years people have done a lot to ruin the words and actions of Jesus for non-believers. That thought is directly behind my decision to write Christian fiction in addition to the other genres I write in. The Jezebel comment and the anger and hurt it caused led directly to Grace is Enough (out now) and Letting Go (in the works). I held those emotions back for so long, I didn’t even realize they were simmering in my brain, just waiting for a chance to break out. Funny thing, though; even when I started writing, I held the pain back. I didn’t let myself feel completely. Someone once told me writing is like bleeding on the page. They’re right. If you want to write, you have to be willing to feel everything. Use the pain. And then heal it with your art. I did.

Grace is Enough (summer 2011 as Prodigal) is available now on Amazon. Get it here. Find more of my books here.