Friday, December 24, 2010

Two days ago, I attended my friend Cynthia's graveside service. It was lovely, a quiet remembrance and committal before the standing-room-only memorial in the afternoon where her husband and father spoke movingly, her two children sang and talked about their parents' devoted marriage, and everyone left amazed at the poise and love Cynthia's children demonstrated in the midst of such profound grief.

These services are for the living, of course. It's what people call "closure," and we do receive  some of that from these memorials and tributes.

But I'm a person who's a little on the fence about "closure." Sometimes I think we're a bit too quick to close the gate on the garden of mysteries that God has presented.

Personally, I like the gate to remain open so I can continue to ponder.

God is sovereign. God is loving. And I will probably never understand why he would choose to take such a faithful servant as my friend, or why it was necessary that she suffer before leaving. Some people are uncomfortable with these questions. But I think God's okay with ponderings such as this. Cynthia's father said it best, with tears welling in his blue eyes. "I wanted him to heal her. He didn't. But God is still on the throne."

Another mystery for me is how in life Cynthia lived in another city, but in death she became my neighbor.

I've written before about my daily runs through a nearby cemetery. Two days ago you could have knocked me over with an angel's wing as I stood on that same soft grass and watched Cynthia's casket lowering into the earth. She rests near that boy named Jacob.

Her committal gave me some "closure." But the next day I wanted to visit her in solitude.

So I ran to the cemetery.

The soil on her grave was still freshly turned and covered with strips of sod. The rough edges waited to form a complete carpet of green and her photo was placed where her headstone will eventually stand. As I gazed at her face, murmuring her name, I thought my feelings would tend toward sadness.

But I remembered something a monk told me.

Several years ago, as a young reporter, I drove to Trappist monastery in Berryville, Virginia to write a feature story. The Abbott gave me a tour of the buildings and grounds. As we walked the rolling acres, monks gathered in the stone chapel for their holy chants and the sound of their singing seemed to fill the summer trees. I gazed down to our right, and saw a row of white crosses. They followed a path that crested over a hill.

I pointed to the crosses. "What are those?"

The abbot smiled down at the grave markers.

"Those are graduates," he said.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rest in Artistic Peace

My friend Cynthia died yesterday. She left behind two gifted children, her husband Jon, and scores of families who took her art classes and fell in love.

Before she died, she posted these words on Facebook: "Life is full of twists and turns, and riddles and puzzles, that call us to figure them out. God is the mysterious giver of wisdom, by which to do this. We must face our challenges bravely, face to face, and learn from what is being given. C.Y."

Y stands for Youngblood. I gave her name to a character in "The Rivers Run Dry."  Fictional Cynthia Youngblood runs a homeless mission in Seattle's Pioneer Square. Not only was that something the real Cynthia might do, I wanted the world to meet her.

She had large eyes, blue and intuitive, full of compassion, and when you spoke to her, she always held her head just-so, as if tuning her mind to the pitch of your words. Although a visual artist of abundant natural gifts, Cynthia also wrote verse. 

One of her ballads struck me as an ideal children's book. It revolved around her husband, Captain Youngblood, an Alaskan fisherman, and a comical pursuit to find matching socks. The poem had everything a great children's book needs -- delight, rhythm, humor, surprises, and love. I asked Cynthia if I could share it with a friend, a multi-published children's book author. Cynthia was thrilled; she was an enormous fan of this writer's books.

What happened next still hurts. 

The author tore Cynthia's poem to shreds. Not formal. Doesn't obey standard publishing rules. What is the poem's point, really?  

On and on it went.  

When Cynthia asked to see the author's comments, I prefaced the criticism: "It's only one person's opinion. I still believe your poem could be published as a children's book, and a great one at that."

The author's opinion stung. It stung Cynthia the way a pinprick punctures a balloon, deflating the contents, sinking the vessel. 

Several days later, I sent Cynthia another note, more forcefully asserting the poem's strengths. And I described my own battles with rejection, including the top NY literary agents who insisted my books "would never make it."

I'm not saying there's a direct connection but sometime later Cynthia stopped writing. She was so busy. Teaching more art classes. Her own children needed her, so did her husband. She would get to it later. 

The following year Cynthia began having stomach pains. She lost weight. When doctors found the cancer, it was deep within her organs. She had lost so much weight that her already large blue eyes became enormous, as if trying to see everything before time ran out.

Time did.

In my grief, I find myself wishing I'd encouraged her more -- and understood better the lancing pain of rejection, particularly for a sensitive soul. But blame and absolution are for God alone, if He so chooses.

But the real point is this: Our time is short. 

"Life is full of twists and turns," she wrote, "and riddles and puzzles, that call us to figure them out." 

Write, paint, speak. Love. Share what you find. Give. "God is the mysterious giver of wisdom, by which to do this."

And I would add: Refuse the mean critics their audience. 

Time flows swiftly,

--the cool, sweet morning of your life-
and hours lie ahead before your sun sets
on the distant horizon.
How you spend these coming hours
cannot be bought again,
nor wound backward,
and choices made yesterday
blend into today, becoming part of who you will become
in the unformed future.

Life's path is strewn with defining moments
that reveal what lies within.
Sadly, we can only choose one thing
in any given moment,
so we must choose carefully,
knowing that this particular breath in time
will not come again.

bless, and you will be blessed;
give, and you will be given to;
love, and you will be loved.

This, God has promised us,
for whatever we give-out returns
like bread upon water.

And as you walk on,
may the good Lord bless
and keep you,
may your years be rich and long,
and may God complete
the patient work

that He's begun in you.

                                                                Cynthia Youngblood--April 4, 2007

Saturday, November 20, 2010

photo by Paul
Author Eric Wilson humbles me with his generous thoughts, once again. 
     The Clouds Roll Away made his "a few favorites" list for 2010.

     If you haven't heard of Eric Wilson, someday you will. His Jerusalem's Undead trilogy is grown both famous and infamous for turning vampire-mania on its blood-dripping head. Booklist described his work as "suspenseful . . . original."  
      Eric also wrote the NYTimes-bestselling novelization of "Fireproof," penning from truth; he's been married to the same woman for 20-plus years. 
     Best of all, the guy follows Jesus Christ with the passion of a first-century believer.
     I admire him.
     Last summer, I had the privilege of meeting him. We were signing books at A Cup of Cold Water (a sweet bookstore now resting in literary peace). During a break, Eric and I walked around the store, talking about family and the writing life. 
      But Eric kept glancing at the book shelves, his eyes like magnets finding metal. Every other sentence he reached over, pulled out a book, and asked, "Have you read this?"
     I would shake my head, invariably. In fact, I hadn't even heard of these books.
     "Oh, man," he'd say. "You've got to read this! It's about a guy who -- "
     I managed to sell some books that day, but I purchased far more. Eric's recommended stack proved worthy of every dollar and made me wonder if publishers shouldn't pay him a retainer. When Eric likes a book, I immediately want to read it -- partly because he doesn't like everything. 
     In fact, he's picky. 
     Which is another reason I'm humbled to make his list.
     So, just in time for Christmas, here is Eric Wilson's 2010 list of some favorites
     Enjoy, and prepare to become his fan.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

                      Speak Up or Shut Up?

When I first started working on "The Stones Cry Out," I didn't say much about the project.

Mostly, I was concerned that talking about the book would rob the story of its power. Much like plucking that first green shoot of spring, only to later wonder why the grass didn't grow.

The people who knew about my novel-in-progress were my husband, my parents, and one very supportive uncle. As a young man in the Navy during WWII, this uncle wrote a novel but never sent it out to publishers. He told me about his regret, then funded several years' toil on "The Stones Cry Out." For that reason, and more, the novel is dedicated to him.

Only when my manuscript was complete did I tell friends about it.

Supportive friends. Not schadenfreude friends.

In retrospect, I see another sensibility to my silence. One school of thought believes that stating our goals out loud makes them more likely to be accomplished. But I've always disagreed --particularly when it comes to writing. Talking about a story-in-progress is probably one of the most detrimental things we can do.

Tell the story, lose the story. That's my theory.

But that adage might hold true for goals in general, according to an excellent post on Mike Hyatt's blog.

Read it.

Then do as Mary did: Ponder in your heart (Luke 2:19)

Friday, October 1, 2010

When she worked as a reporter at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Stacy Hawkins Adams gave every story her best effort. I saw it first-hand. Whenever one story was done, Stacy raised the bar for the next.

That work ethic, combined with her God-given talents, have led Stacy into the world of publishing. Within six years, she's written seven books, won national awards, and made several best-seller lists.

Plus, she maintains a very active blog ( and a newsletter packed with inspirational interviews and great writer quotes. If that wasn't enough, she just launched a new "group coaching" enterprise for aspiring authors to help others along the way.

Recently, Stacy carved some time from her busy schedule to talk about her successful career as an author. And I begged her to tell me how she balances her amazing drive with amazing grace.

Because here's something else you should know: Stacy Hawkins Adams is also one of the nicest people on planet Earth.

     Your two latest books both deal with dreams. Does that topic intrigue you because your dream came true with writing books?

My novel Dreams That Won't Let Go is actually a book about dreams gone awry. Three siblings long to achieve their individual goals, but nothing seems to be going right. By book's end, the entire family understands that no one's dream stands alone; you have to support those you love and help them achieve their goals, even if their dreams are different from the dreams you have for them.
As for myself, yes - writing books has been a lifelong dream! I decided in third grade to become an author. As you know, I segued into a journalism career, which I loved. But I'm thankful to have fulfilled my childhood dream.

     You've inspired so many people, Stacy, by example and with your written words.  And in your latest non-fiction book, you make some profound points about the purpose of our lives. You write, for instance, "Sacrifice and calling often go hand in hand."  

   That reference comes from my nonfiction book, Who Speaks To Your Heart? Tuning in to Hear God's Whispers.  Your question reminds me of a cliche': You have to work for things worth having. 
     I couldn't just dream about becoming an author, for example, without sometimes sacrificing time with friends and family, or giving up some hobbies, to make writing a priority. Spending time socializing, or playing tennis or the like are all "good" things that I enjoy, but making the sacrifice to meet writing deadlines allows me to publish books that I hope are helping transform lives. That makes my calling worthy of the sacrifice.

Nonfiction Books by Stacy     You also make some brilliant connections between dying to self and achieving a dream. To some people, those two statements seem counter-intuitive -- especially when the world constantly tells us that dreams come true only when we focus on what we want. 
     You tend to disagree with that viewpoint. Why?

     I don't necessarily disagree with focusing on one's dreams, because I'm a believer in speaking blessings over your life, working toward your goal, then trusting God to manifest whatever is within in His will. 
     My point is that we often get caught up in thinking that our dream or our goal is just about "us," when it's really bigger than us. 
      There's a saying you've probably heard: A tree doesn't bear fruit for itself; the fruit is for others' enjoyment. 
       I feel the same way about our dreams and goals. If we're singers, we may love singing, but others who hear are touched and impacted by our music and lyrics. If we're carpenters, the furniture or structures we build benefits others.
      Whatever your dream or goal is, try to look beyond yourself and understand that while this may be your passion, you may be meant to use it in service to others.

    What sort of practical things can dream-wishers find in your book that will help them become dream-achievers?

stacy_8.jpg      In the novel, Dreams That Won't Let Go, they'll learn that as Ecclesiastes 3:11 asserts, God's timing is beautiful.  As long as we keep the faith and keep focused on being our best selves, and working in excellence, our dreams will unfold. Readers of this book will learn through the characters' journeys the value of patience, truth and unconditional love. The themes in this book are also helpful to people who are trying to support others as they pursue a dream. 
      In my nonfiction book, Who Speaks To Your Heart?, dream-wishers will be encouraged to give up racing toward their goals and trying to succeed on their own, through their own might.  If they'll slow down and find the courage to hear what God is speaking to their hearts, they'll find that the wisdom and assurance He gives will accelerate the process.

    I've known you for a long time. You're an amazing and talented young woman (yes, you're young!). Award-winning reporter. Novelist. Acclaimed speaker -- and of course wife and mother. And yet with all that going on, you remain a genuinely warm and loving person.   
      I'm certain you're asked this question all the time, but, Stacy . . . how do you do it all?! 

     How do I do it? When I'm asked this question, the answer that always, always comes to mind is Through Grace!, and I really mean that. I've always been an "energizer bunny," who thrives on juggling many balls at once; but even I sometimes am amazed at the ideas that pour forth and the fact that I've been blessed to write seven books in six years.

        And in addition to the books you maintain a very active blog and newsletter (subscribe at

      There are times when I move out of the "fast lane" and simply live and rest; but for the most part, I just try to prioritize and pace myself. I keep a running To Do list, pray over it, and ask God to help me make sure I take care of the most important things for that particular day.
     I also try to take care of myself, by taking a few days away to rest after a really busy period; doing a better job of saying no to "good" things or opportunities that might tempt me, and by living in the present as much as I can. Plus, I have patient friends and family, who know that dinner might be partially take-out, the clothes may get washed but not folded right away, and while it may take a week or so to respond to emails.. I'll be in touch! LOL
So my secrets are grace and patience, for which I'm thankful.

     That answer doesn't surprise me. It sounds just like you.  Okay, woman of many talents, what can readers expect next from you?

     I'm working on several proposals for new projects, fiction and nonfiction, and hope to be able to share more about that soon.I've also recently launched a group coaching service for aspiring authors called Author In You ( I regularly receive emails from writers around the country who want advice or guidance on how to start or complete their manuscripts. Since my time for personal coaching is limited, this is a great alternative that allows me to offer personalized service in a format that also connects budding authors with like-minded writers.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

      Somebody once asked if awards had changed my life.
      No. And yes.
      During my journalism days, some of my stories won national awards -- stories about young fathers dying of brain cancer, and single mothers whose severely handicapped children blessed multiple lives, and a death row inmate who met weekly with his chaplain then killed himself right before the state planned to execute him. By grace beyond measure, my maiden effort at novel writing won a Christy Award.
       This month, Booklist, the magazine of the American Library Association, named "The Clouds Roll Away" one of the top ten romance novels of 2010.
       All wonderful. All joyful.
       But humbling.
       Because no matter what accolades have dropped from the sky, my life remains challenging. Dirty socks. Bills. Too much information about Lindsay Lohan. And every morning -- every single morning -- the blank page.
      Much more importantly, awards aren't the point.
      Sure, right. Awards aren't the point. Whatever.
      Yes, that statement does sound like platitude.
      But the point -- the crux -- of writing comes down to motive.
      Here's a list of good motives: Write to reach hearts. Write to show readers something extraordinary. Write to encourage good in the world. Write because God put the story on your heart.
      But never, ever write for awards. It's the equivalent of writing for money; before you know it, you've joined the world's oldest profession.
      My motive for writing "The Clouds Roll Away" was to show Raleigh Harmon's need for love. As a secondary motive, I hoped Raleigh's need would reflect the world's need, which is why the book takes place at Christmas, when "love came down" (thank you, Christina Rossetti).
       I didn't set out to write a romance. And I certainly never expected any award. I only hoped to show the God-shaped hole in the human heart.
       Ironically, when my publisher told me the Booklist news, my first thought was of the fallow years.
       That's what I've named the years when I quit writing. My family needed full attention, and then some. Young children. A dying father. A husband starting his own business. I walked away from the computer and spent most of my time at the kitchen sink, where Proverbs 11:25 was taped to the window: "He who waters will himself be watered."
       The fallow years blossomed into a garden paling my imagination. "Oh, what gracious lessons some of us have learned at sick beds!" wrote Charles Spurgeon.
       I'm deeply grateful to Booklist for recognizing "The Clouds Roll Away." Honored, and humbled.
       And now, if you'll excuse me, a good motive and a blank page are waiting.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Customer Servants

Sometimes we listen too much to "new wisdom."

     Take, for instance, the idea of in-store book signings.
     People who watch trends say, "Nobody goes to author signings anymore. Not unless you're a celebrity. Don't even bother doing them."
     I've had my share of cricket-chirping events, including a Barnes&Noble signing where I was asked one question: "Where's the bathroom?"
     Last Saturday, the Lifeway bookstore in Tukwila invited me to sign books as part of the store's one-year anniversary event. 
     I was very excited, yet also worried. 
     New wisdom said nobody would show up. I didn't want to let the store down. And I didn't want to give directions to the bathroom.
     But people came. On a sunny Saturday.
     Sunny. In Seattle. During a very rainy year.
     Amid the worst economy in decades.
     Every minute, the door swung open, ushering in homeschool moms whose only vacations happen between the covers of a novel. Grandparents. Ladies with saucy walks. Black women sporting terrific hats hooting "Get outta here!" when I described the rap musician in "The Clouds Roll Away." My whirlwind friend from Facebook, Hurricane Priscilla, spun into the store to meet in person (finally), swirling around husbands buying books to surprise wives who were resting at home. Hopeful writers. Readers who devour fiction. People who buy books to comfort those in need. And I enjoyed a long chat with a woman wearing a jacket from Emerald Downs -- a setting that appears in the book I'm currently writing -- whose fiance proposed on a cruise to Alaska -- a setting for the book that will appear in March, The Mountains Bow Down  -- and whose now-husband ambled over, only to realize that his wife and an author he'd never heard of had gone from strangers to friends in five minutes flat. He laughed and said, "What is it with you women?"
     But I don't think it was us.
     I think it's this Lifeway store.
     Granted, promotional events were going on during part of the day. My favorite DJ, Sam, from "Scott and Sam in the Morning" on 105.3 FM, broadcast live for short segments, filling the store with her laughter that like sounds like happy wind chimes. And the Veggie Tales characters greeted kids for awhile, too.
     But those two things were only a small portion of the morning. Sitting at my table for four hours, I watched the customers streaming through the door. Most were not coming for the promotions.
     When I packed up to leave, I mentioned to the sales staff that the store seemed unusually busy for this bad economy.
     "Actually today was kind of slow," said one of the sales clerks.
     Two years ago, the Nashville-based Lifeway decided to close its three Seattle-area locations, consolidating the staff from Bellevue, Issaquah and Overlake Church into the new space just past Southcenter Mall.
     I liked those stores, but this location feels better.
    "Before we open every morning, we pray over this space," said another sales clerk.
     As I drove home that afternoon, I reflected on the eternal battle between "new wisdom" and ancient traditions. Plenty of people might mock that store's morning prayer.  Some might even twist it into a picture of Christians treating God like the lottery -- pick the right words, win the money.
     But that's not what's happening.
    "You know what's the best part of this location?" said another sales person, who worked at the old Bellevue location. "We keep selling out of Bibles. Of course, I feel bad for the person who has to wait, but it just makes me so happy that we have to order more Bibles."
     Last Saturday, I was richly blessing in book sales and people-watching. But I also got to see genuine joy in customer service. The staff cheerfully helped people of all stripes and their attitude didn't change whether the customer's kid was spilling popcorn on the carpet or somebody was griping about an audio CD not working.
     It wasn't just good customer service.
     It was customer servants.
     And the spirit sustained.
     "The secret of a Christian," Oswald Chambers once wrote, "is that the supernatural is made natural in him by the grace of God, and the experience of this works out in the practical details of life."
      Certainly, "new wisdom" has its place, especially in a difficult economy.
      But nothing can replace the faithful promises of a loving God.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Time Away

I'm a big believer in vacations. Rest, renewal, rejuvenation.  Great stuff. Except I don't take nearly enough vacations. I'm a writer who thrives on routine, and get all hinky with altered mail delivery, unwatered plants, and empty refrigerators.

But mostly: the dog.

In this house, The Canine Queen is cherished. And she knows it. Whenever we left town, we hired sitters and dog walkers but her highness was never happy about it. Lately, her royal bark started leaving unmistakable "messages" regarding any extended absence. Last time I went away, I came home to a load deposited in the den, precisely where I enjoy reading books.

Not a dumb dog. Not a mean dog.

Just a dog who is very attached to her family.

We flew to Ohio to visit the rest of la familia. The dog stayed behind, and I held my breath all the way to the airport, wondering if I'd need to hold it when I walked back into the house seven days later.

But this time was different. I hired Time Finder.

It's a new business started by my friend Stephanie. Gifted with organizational skills and throwing parties, she offers a wide range of "you-can't-be-there-so-I-will" services, from personal shopping and running errands to "vacation services" that include everything from the dog stuff to restocking the fridge for your return. Her blog focuses on time management, organization, and enjoying life.

But above all that, Stephanie loves dogs. When I opened the front door seven days after we left, not only was there no "message," but the Queen was sporting a snazzy purple bandana -- as if to tell me she took the vacation. It wasn't just a relief to come home to that, but a joy.

And the kitchen had cut flowers from the garden, right next to a bowl of fresh fruit.

Happy happy dog. Flowers. No mail problems. And I didn't have to run to the grocery store when we got home.

Time Finder. Makes me wonder how to find more time for vacations.

If you're interested, contact Stephanie.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Tessa Afshar -- remember that name.

Her first novel "Pearl in the Sand," is getting rave reviews. Right now you can read the first three chapter of this wonderful novel -- free -- by going to the the author's website.  And then you'll probably want to know more. Tessa's life would make its own great adventure book.

Born in a nominally Muslim family in Iran, where she lived until age 14, Tessa enudred English boarding school before moving to the U.S. permanently. In her mid-twenties, she converted to Christianity and now holds an MDIV from Yale University.

When not writing, Tessa leads women's and prayer ministries for a New England church.

She was gracious enough to answer some of my questions.

 Pearl in the Sand is a historical novel about ....?

Pearl is based on the story of Rahab, the Canaanite harlot who is famous for having saved Israel’s spies from death. She then went on to marry one of the leaders of Judah, and is in the lineage of Jesus. Think about that: some of the DNA of this former harlot swam in Jesus’ blood stream! 

Is that what drew you toward her story?

My fascination with Rahab actually started in Italy. During a visit to Florence, I noticed that Ponte Vecchio—the famed bridge straddling the Arno River for almost seven hundred years—had tiny shops built right into its walls. They bulged out of the sides of the bridge like odd-shaped barnacles sticking out of the hull of a ship.

Walking over this bridge reminded me of the story of Rahab. The Bible tells us that she lived in the bowels of a wall too. Her house was built right into the defensive walls of Jericho. I wondered what it was like to live in a wall as I crossed Ponte Vecchio. 

Then I realized that we all know a little something about that. Most of us have to contend with walls in the interior places of our souls. Walls built on foundations of pride, fear, rejection, loss; walls that keep others at bay and shield us from drawing close enough to get hurt again. Suddenly I was hooked. I wanted to write about walls, about living in them, about pulling them down. I wanted to write about Rahab.

Her imperfections appealed to you as a writer?

Pearl in the Sand recounts the tale of a woman whose world was a mess, whose life was a mess, whose heart was a mess, but in encountering God, she found to her shock that her life was salvageable. More than that—it was valuable. She found that she was lovable. For her, this process happened through the love of a godly and persistent man who was nonetheless, flawed.

God started the most significant part of Rahab’s life by literally pulling down the walls of her home around her. As traumatic as that moment must have been for Rahab, she could not have moved on to the future God had planned for her without it. In a parallel pursuit of healing for her broken soul, Pearl in the Sand portrays a God who just as determinedly set out to ruin the walls surrounding Rahab’s heart. 

And there's a lesson in that for women today?

I think women today need to know God as the wooer and pursuer of their hearts. They need to know that sometimes the most glorious breakthroughs of life come through a vector of God-ordained pain. More than anything I hope the reader of this story will come away with a deeper glimpse into her own soul, and a more profound understanding of God the Father. 

But you chose to write about that through historical fiction, not contemporary drama.

I love indoor plumbing and heat and air-conditioning and the miracles of modern medicine. But there is a lot that our world has lost through the ages: a true sense of community, a recognition of our dependence on others and on God, a clear sense of right and wrong, a general romance about life. Historical fiction is a way of getting more in touch with some of these things. It’s not the only way, but it’s one of my favorite ways. Besides, the clothes rock.
For the people out there hammering away on a manuscript, tell us about your journey to publication.
What I didn’t know as I wrote Pearl was that there was no market for biblical fiction at the time. Had I been aware of this fact, I would have thrown in the towel. However, just as I finished the novel, a shift started to occur in the market and Wendy Lawton from Books and Such Literary Agency, who had become aware of this change, took me on as a client.

Following a couple of close calls that didn’t work out, Moody Publishers contracted Pearl and will be releasing it on September 1, nine months after I had officially signed with them. I have to stop and say that I LOVE Moody; they have been phenomenal to work with. The whole process of writing to publication took just over two-and-a-half years, which is quite fast for a debut novel.

What's been the most difficult part, start to finish?

What has surprised me about this journey is that most of my experiences of rejection have been internal. Many times, I have had to battle the forces of discouragement as I write, so I am astonished at the doors God seems to open. I think that in spite of His faithfulness, this is a skirmish that I’ll have to face again. My heart is susceptible to self-doubt. But Jesus is greater than my heart. I don’t stand on my gifting or my strength, which are both limited; I take my stand on Him who holds my future. Or at least I press on toward that goal.