Thursday, November 30, 2017

Takeover Thursday with Katherine Nelson

I want to extend a warm welcome to Katherine Nelson. She's giving away a hard copy of her book, Escape the Pain to Survive (the first book in her trilogy, The New Waiver). You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends December 7, 2017. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information.) Now, here's Katherine...

In preparation for the upcoming release of Between Two Worlds, I'd like to take this opportunity to talk a little bit about The New Waiver trilogy and re-highlight Book One, Escape the Pain to Survive.

My first literary work, The New Waiver trilogy, is a Christian action/suspense trilogy with a hint of sci-fi and romance. Though the ages of characters portrayed in this story represent a work of YA or NA fiction, the issues they are confronting are applicable to all ages from teen through adult.
I was inspired to write The New Waiver out of my passion to advocate for at-risk youth and military veterans. Far too often, society labels these two classes as hopeless or unable to succeed based upon their circumstances or traumatic events they’ve endured. Through fictional writing, I sought to dispel that myth by presenting the truth, that Christ offers a free chance of Salvation and a purposeful life to everyone, equally. Though the characters are fictional, there is reality behind each. The heroes and heroines of this story are not straight-A students that came from wealthy homes and promising backgrounds. They are young adults who have experienced horrific trauma and challenging pasts.
Whether the reader has personally experienced hurt or trauma or knows someone who has, this story offers far more than just a captivating, suspenseful read. It provides encouragement and hope, leaving the reader with a clear message that no human being should ever be seen as a throwaway or of lesser value. God created us all equal, and no trauma or life circumstance can ever define the unique individuals we were so miraculously designed to be. By Him alone can we find the true depth and measure of our worth and calling in life.

Book One - Escape the Pain to Survive:

Available in paperback and e-book:

Amazon  Paperback:

Amazon Kindle:


Five years ago, The New Waiver Program was founded, offering teens of ages 15 to 17 the opportunity to sign up for a secret military based training project without parental consent. The program provides the perfect opportunity for troubled youth to leave their pasts behind and discover a promising future serving their country . . . or does it?

Seventeen-year-old Sam Jones of Denver, Colorado, escapes an abusive home to join the cause. Already lost and confused, seeking to find her way, she believes nothing could ever compare to the past she left behind. It doesn’t take long before she realizes that with one simple signature, she signed her life and soul away to a living nightmare designed to transform her into a “human killing machine.” Worse, as more dark secrets and mysteries are revealed, it appears clearer than ever that there’s no way out. Haunted by her violent past, the only answers may lie with the one she fears the most . . . a mysterious, faceless tyrant. Will she take a leap of faith and trust before it’s too late? Could that same leap of faith cost her everything?

About Escape the Pain to Survive:

This first book in The New Waiver trilogy provides a captivating story while presenting a number of real world issues. Though free of graphic violence, profanity, and other questionable content, some portions are still a bit violent and/or disturbing. It uniquely clashes the reality of a sin-fallen world with the hope found in salvation through Christ. Written in first person narrative, this story captures the heart and mindset of Sam Jones, a seventeen-year-old girl who endured traumatic violence and abuse throughout her childhood. It's a story of determination, hope, and redemption.

Book Two – Between Two Worlds:


Sam and her accomplices continue their quest to uncover more of the dark secrets within the New Waiver Program. Hiding from the government and fleeing from assassins, their only hope rests in the unlikeliest team of characters: a Pastor, a missionary family, and a mysterious agent in hiding from the world.

Will they find the factual evidence needed to convince a society blinded by deception of the truth that lies behind thirty-three facilities across the country? Will they falter when faced with the more daunting challenge of becoming a team while trusting their leader . . . a scarred young man harboring his own vault of secrets within his mind? 

About Between Two Worlds:

To briefly summarize, Between Two Worlds is the romance of the trilogy with a strong Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) theme. It is a story of faith, forgiveness, and unconditional love in the midst of dangerous and seemingly hopeless circumstances. I am hoping for a release date sometime early next year. For updates on The New Waiver and other projects, check out my website or follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook: @katherinenelsonauthor
Twitter: @knelsonwriting

About the Author:

Katherine Nelson grew up a curious, homeschooled, preacher’s daughter, always questioning everything about life and wanting more than just scripted answers to the hard questions. She graduated with a B.A. in Mathematical Sciences at age 20 and an M.S. in Applied Mathematics at age 24. Meanwhile, she switched career paths, earning an A.A. in Criminal Justice while pursuing a career in law enforcement. She now is an adjunct instructor for The University of Delaware and a part-time Natural Resources Police Officer for the State of Delaware.

Her real passion in life, far beyond career and education, is ministry. She is member of Cokesbury Church and serves on the missions’ team and praise and worship team. Her husband, a four-year USMC combat veteran, is in the process of becoming a military resilience counselor for the Delaware Army National Guard. Together with their daughter, they are hosting an orphan from Latvia this Christmas and hope to adopt or become foster parents in the near future.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"Another Backwards Christmas" by Brooke Williams

Another Backwards Christmas
Author: Brooke Williams

Genre: Holiday Fiction, Contemporary Romance

Rob Joleigh has been burned by Christmas too many times. He takes his freelance writing career seriously and his claim to fame happens to be de-bunking Christmas festivities in towns across America. When he lands in South Pole, Alaska, he has one plan in get to the bottom of the whole 'Backwards Christmas' idea and spoil the holiday for as many people as possible.

Holly Howard knows there's more to life than leading Backwards Christmas tours in South Pole, but she's happy with her job, town, and friends. The only thing missing is someone to share it all with, but in a small town, it's hard to meet new people. When a handsome writer comes into town, she's intrigued, and hopeful that he could be that person. But she has no idea he's the famous "Jolly Robber."

It's not just any Backwards Christmas in South Pole, Alaska as the backwards celebrations rage and the town comes together to show their spirit in full force!

About Brooke...

Brooke Williams is an award-winning author and freelance writer. She has written hundreds of articles as well as many novels, including Someone Always Loved You and romantic comedies Wrong Place Right Time, Accept this Dandelion, Dandelions on the Road, After the Final Dandelion, Mamarazzi, Backwards Christmas, and The Leftover. She also has two children’s books entitled Shower in the Rain and Baby Sheep Gets a Haircut. Brooke has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Morningside College, with a double major in Mass Communications and Religious Studies. She has twelve years of experience in radio broadcasting, both behind the scenes and on-air. She was also a television traffic reporter for a brief time. Brooke and her husband Sean married in 2002 and have two daughters, Kaelyn and Sadie.

Get details on all of Brooke's releases on her website:

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tuesday Tip: Being and Been

Been is the past participle of the verb to be. It is used with the auxiliary verbs has, have, and had to form the perfect tense. For instance:

  • How long has it been since you had a haircut?
  • She had been studying for a test when the electric went out.
  • How long have you been waiting?

Being is the present participle form of the verb to be. It is used with the auxiliary verbs is, are, was, and were to form the continuous tense. Such as:
  • The dog is being groomed.
  • The song is being sung.

Being is used as a verbal, which is a word that partakes of both a verb and a noun. An example would be:
  • Being alone is sometimes better than being part of a crowd.

Being can also mean "creature" or "existence.

Friday, November 24, 2017

"Secret Christmas Twins" by Lee Tobin McClain ... and a GIVEAWAY!

Lee Tobin McClain has graciously offered to give away a paperback copy of this new release. You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends December 2, 2017. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information.) 

A word from Lee...

When I was given the assignment to write a book with the title “Secret Christmas Twins,” I’ll admit, I was concerned. Secret baby stories are very common in romance fiction, and they usually involve a single mom returning to her hometown with a baby or young child who turns out to be the hero’s. But that storyline doesn’t work so well in Christian romance, where the characters usually stay chaste until marriage.

So I had to get a little more creative with my secret baby story. The secret Christmas twins actually belong to the hero’s sister, who’s made many mistakes she’s ashamed of. She doesn’t want her family back at home to know that she had twins out of wedlock, and she fears that if they find out about her boys, they’ll attempt to take custody… especially her brother Jason, who’s just a little bit, shall we say, rigid. For a variety of reasons, she gives her babies to her friend to raise at the family farm she’s part owner of, swearing her friend to secrecy about the babies’ parentage.

You can imagine the tension when the hero turns out to be staying for Christmas at that very family farm where the heroine has taken the babies…

So there’s a serious secret underlying this story. But there are also sleigh rides and Christmas decorations and a dog named Mistletoe! I loved writing this book, and I hope you’ll love reading it.

My review...

Erica Lindholm and twin boys Mikey and Teddy are headed to Holly Creek Farm. Things seem to be going well until she encounters the one person she had hoped not to see, the twins’ uncle, Jason Stephanidis. Jason knows that there is something Erica is not telling him and his family, and as a detective, he is determined to find out what that is. If he learns the truth, it could change everything for everybody. Will Erica receive a holiday miracle or a holiday disaster?

If you’re looking for a quick read to get you in the holiday spirit, this book fits the bill, starting with the adorable cover. There is a solid cast of supporting characters, and they are realistic in their struggles with trust and forgiveness. The storyline makes it easy to see God’s work at hand. The author’s writing style is smooth, and plot points blend together nicely to create a satisfying ending.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy, but I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.

About Lee...

Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author Lee Tobin McClain read Gone With The Wind in the third grade and has been an incurable romantic ever since. When she’s not writing emotional love stories, she's probably driving around a carload of snarky teen girls, playing with her rescue dog and cat, or teaching aspiring writers in Seton Hill University's MFA program. She is probably not cleaning her house.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Writing Prompt Wednesday

If you're feeling stuck in your WIP (work in progress) or just want to shake things up a bit, here's something different to try today:

The very mystery of him caused her to...

Happy writing!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday Motivation

"If I waited for perfection, I'd never write a word."
— Margaret Atwood

Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tuesday Tip: Verb Tense

Verb tense is a detail that should be considered before starting your story, as it determines the level of intimacy between the reader and the characters in your book. When verb tense is inconsistent, it jars the reader out of the story. Here are the two most common verb tenses used in fiction:

  1.  Present tense: This includes verbs such as "I want," "she goes," and "we meet." When combined with first-person POV, a greater intimacy is created. This is commonly used in young adult and contemporary adult novels. Some readers feel that using the present tense is a bit too much, but it can be very effective if done correctly.
  2. Past tense: These words are formatted to show that the action took place in the past, such as "I went," "he knew," and "we danced." The story could still take place in the present. Only the verbs are different. By using past tense, there is a bit more space between the characters and the readers, and many readers find this preferable. It is the default choice for many authors.

Monday, November 13, 2017

"A Moment to Breathe" devotional

My review...

I love devotionals, so I was excited to have the chance to review this one. The topic immediately caught my eye: 365 devotions that meet you in your everyday mess.

This book would be a wonderful addition to daily Bible study for women of all ages who looking for a moment to breathe. (In fact, the devotions provide you with that moment to just take a breath and listen to what God has to say.) The devotions are written by numerous women. The format is: title, Bible verse, message, and prayer/reflection question. Many of the women are familiar names in the Christian industry, such as Renee Swope, Emily P. Freeman, Kristen Strong, Ann Swindell, and Lisa-Jo Baker. The personal stories will likely be relatable for many women.

One thing that makes this book a bit different from other devotionals is that it does not specify a calendar day for each devotion. Therefore, the reader can easily start at any time of the year instead of feeling the need to wait until January 1st. It also contains a ribbon bookmark. Each message is short, no more than a page, so it only takes a few minutes to read and get encouraged. It is a small book, so it would be easy to travel with, as well. The one thing that did surprise me was that all of the devotions did not necessarily center around what I believed to be the topic of the book, taking a moment to breathe. However, I still found them useful and relevant, for the most part.
At the end of the book is a list of the contributing authors/bios/devotions written, as well as a Scripture index.

A few of my favorite quotes include:

·       “Store up grace — for yourself and others — by treasuring the truth and beauty that’s found in God’s Word.”

·       “Do you ever wish for a billboard sign to point you in the right direction? Open His Word and seek Him there. Because He promises you’ll find Him when you seek Him with all of your heart.”

·       “Can you look over your life and see a closed door that eventually led to something more beautiful than you imagined? Tell Him how grateful you are for the way He moves in ways, often unseen, on your behalf.”

·       “Whatever unforeseen delay you may encounter today or this week, see it as a gift, a chance to listen, to lean in and hear Him calling you to Himself.”

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy as part of the B&H/Lifeway blogger program. I was not required to leave a positive review.

Friday, November 10, 2017

"God Bless the Broken Road" by Jennifer Dornbush ... and a GIVEAWAY!

Jennifer Dornbush has graciously offered to give away a paperback copy of this new release. You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends November 17, 2017. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information.) 

God Bless the Broken Road is a heartwarming story about a grieving army widow who finds her way back to her daughter, her faith, and a new love. Amber Hill never imagined she would find herself a war widow and single mom. She feels robbed and is angry at God, and she doesn’t know how to help her nine-year-old daughter Bree through her grief. Where, Amber wonders, are the Sunday dinners, the picnics, the bike rides, the time together they should be enjoying as a family? Instead, Amber is left with a folded flag and an empty heart.

Cody Jackson has a death wish. Or at least that is what his manager thinks, as Cody pushes his race car and his luck in every race. Is he hiding something, or just daring God and other racers to end the path of destruction he finds himself on as he rounds the last turn? When Cody encourages Bree to join in a Derby car race for local youth, she finds a way to channel her grief into something good—and she likes that her mom and Cody are starting to become friends—or maybe something more.

Cody invites Amber and Bree to see him race, but as they watch Cody narrowly escape a devastating crash, she realizes she can’t lose another person in her life. It’s better to be alone than feel that type of grief again. But when Amber hits rock-bottom, she cries out to God and asks for help. With her faith, her life, her family, and her heart hanging in the balance, Amber is forced to decide between the broken road she knows so well and trusting that God will provide a new path.  Based on the Rascal Flatts song, God Bless the Broken Road is a moving, heart-stirring story about the power of faith to change a life. 

The movie version is coming 2018.

What inspired this novel?
God Bless the Broken Road (GBBR) actually began as a feature film script three years ago. My friend and director, Harold Cronk, who is best known for the God’s Not Dead movies, called me one fine summer evening. He pitched me the seed of the idea and asked what I thought. I said I thought it sounded like a solid story. And then he asked if I wanted to write it with him. Of course, I said yes.

We finished the first draft of the script on Christmas Eve, 2014. Over the course of the next year we refined it while the producers rallied the funds. In the spring of 2016 Harold shot God Bless the Broken Road.

A few months earlier, as we finished the script version, I talked with the producers about penning a novel version. They thought it would be a great idea. So my agent, Julie Gwinn, put a pitch together, and while we were filming, I quickly wrote the first three chapters. Within two weeks Julie had procured a couple contracts. We happily chose Simon & Schuster. I spent last summer scribing the novel, and here it is a year later.  The film version is also “in the can” as we say and will be releasing in 2018.

What do you hope your readers take away from this novel?
 When we were writing the script, the top two takeaways we kept in mind were first, that God is always with us, even if we don’t feel like He is or aren’t seeking Him actively. He is always there, and He is always providing us with amazing blessings, even when/if we don’t acknowledge them. One of the keys to healing and hope on our broken roads is to turn our gaze to Him so that we can start to recognize Him along the path. When we turn to Him and humble ourselves, He can start to guide us and shape our brokenness into blessing.

The second takeaway that was important to us as we wrote this story is community. My signature hash tag is #ConnectContributeBelong. I’m huge on the importance of building actual, physical community (not just having virtual community). We don’t have to travel our broken roads alone. God has given us friends and family to lean on for support and encouragement. This can make a huge difference when we are going through trying times. I think so many people suffer from depression and suicide because they think they are alone. Mother Theresa said the greatest poverty we have today is the feeling of loneliness because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

So many people feel like this. They feel alone. They feel that no one understands or cares what they are going through. What a travesty. It’s so simple to be there for someone. You don’t have to be a professional counselor or therapist to help someone heal from a wounding. Sometimes the very best thing is to just to take a moment from your day to pause, listen, and lend a hug or word of encouragement.

On the flip side, if you are traveling a broken road it can be difficult to let people in to your pain. We see this in GBBR in the character of Amber, who lost her husband in Afghanistan. It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable and ask for help. But here’s the secret … people love you and want to help you and be there for you. Amber eventually hits bottom in order to find this out and finally surrenders. It’s at that moment when her life starts to really find hope and redemption. 

Needing to be loved and cared for is not a sign of weakness. It’s the way we humans need to relate to one another to build real and lasting communities.  By the way, building community this deep requires that you get off social media, look up from your phone, and have actual human contact! Just sayin’….

GBBR Audiobook link:

GBBR Movie Trailer link:

Where you can find Jennifer online:

Author Website:

Facebook: Jennifer Graeser Dornbush

Instagram: Jennifer Dornbush

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

"Blessed Life" by Kim Fields with Todd Gold

My review...

I grew up watching Kim Fields play “Tootie” on The Facts of Life, and I have followed her career ever since. So I was very excited to see that she had a book coming out, and I jumped at the chance to read it.

This book provides insight into her life, both the personal one and the one people know from television. The reader is able to follow Kim’s journey from Harlem to Hollywood and see the challenges she faced growing up in front of the world.

The book is divided into three sections: My Mother’s Voice, My Voice, and That Still Small Voice. Fields provides details on marriages, miscarriages, and motherhood in an open and honest way. While I thought I knew a lot about her, there were many new tidbits to learn on this actor, director, producer, poet, wife, mother, friend, woman of faith, and so much more.

I found this book to be a quick read, and I enjoyed every moment of it. Despite being a celebrity, Fields demonstrates that she is just an average woman who struggles with insecurity, acceptance, etc., just like everyone else. Some of her poetry is included, and I really enjoyed reading it. I love the fact that there are sixteen pages of photos, as they personalize the story even more. It is apparent that God is at work in her life in numerous ways, and I am glad she detailed it in this book. I look forward to seeing what He has in store for her next.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher as part of the FirstWords Blogger Program, but I wasn’t required to leave a positive review

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Writing Prompt Wednesday

If you're feeling stuck in your WIP (work in progress) or just want to shake things up a bit, here's something different to try today:

Write about five things that remind you of your childhood.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

"Love, Welcome, Serve" (cookbook) by Amy Nelson Hannon (and a recipe!)

My review...

If you're looking for some yummy recipes to try out this holiday season, this is one to check out.

It's a beautifully designed book, full of colored pictures for many of the recipes.  It's divided into various sections:

1.  Bites that Welcome
2.  Pickled, Tossed, and Chilled
3.  Meats, Mains, and Sturdy Soups
4.  Comforts and Casseroles
5.  Serve Alongsides
6.  Sweet Tea, Sauces, and Such
7.  For The Love of Sweets

There's also a section on gratitude, as well as a recipe index.

Some recipes seem a bit "fancier" than others, but most could easily be used by your average household. There is a list at the beginning of what should be included in a well-equipped kitchen and a well-stocked pantry. Each chapter begins with an inspiring review. This will make a wonderful addition to my cookbook collection. 

There are a number of recipes I'll be adding to my menus in the near future, such as: Mexican Layered Cornbread Dip, Potluck Broccoli Salad,  Fajita Guacamole Burgers, Creamy Pesto Tortellini Soup, Euna Mae's Macaroni and Cheese, and Loverly Lemon Bars. (There are so many more on my list to try!)

 I received a complimentary copy as part of the FirstWords Blogger Program (from the publisher), but I wasn't required to leave a positive review.

Sample recipe from the book...

Oh my word. Y’all, it’s finally Fall! Fall is my favorite! If I had to list all the things I love about Fall in order of what I love best, it’d be nearly impossible. Football, crisp mornings, jeans and boots, apple everything, pumpkin everything, adding more blankets to the beds, and the anticipation of the holiday season! I mean, how’s a girl to choose?!

One other favorite of mine during this season is sturdy soups - a bowl full of earthy, warm goodness that gets at my soul. What’s the difference between regular soup and sturdy soup you might ask? Sturdy soups have girth. They are spoonfuls of hearty bites. And they fill bellies way up. You know, they’re sturdy. They can stand alone served with only a few fixins on top. Have I got a sturdy soup for you!

This recipe is an adaptation of one found in my church cookbook. Y'all know that if you can ever get your hands on a church cookbook, then it's a keeper. Church cookbook recipes are those tried-and-true, time-tested, crowd-pleasing dishes. I know, because I'm a pastor's wife, and I've been feeding people for more than 20 years. So you learn what's good, what people come back for, and what people request recipes for. And this White Chicken Chili meets the criteria for sure! It is so creamy and loaded with flavor, and the texture is divine with hearty bites of tender chicken and white beans. Sturdy. This recipe is the first soup that my family asks for when the weather officially turns cooler and there’s football on TV. Here’s to fall! And here’s to full bellies and full hearts! - Amy Nelson Hannon, author of Love Welcome Serve: Recipes that Gather and Give

{serves 6-8}

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ - 2 cups yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
3 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
3-4 cups chicken stock
½ cup dry white wine like Chardonnay (optional)
1 bay leaf, broken in half
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
3 cans white beans of your choice, drained
3 jalapeno peppers, minced
3 cups fresh grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
Salt to taste
3 Tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped (plus more for topping)
The juice of 3 limes

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven (around 5-6qts). Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until they're tender and just starting to get color.  Add the garlic oregano, cumin, and ginger, cooking for one more minute. Stir continuously so the garlic doesn't burn!  Add stock, wine (if using) and bay leaf.  Cook uncovered for 5 minutes over medium heat until somewhat reduced.  Add chicken, beans, and jalapenos. Simmer uncovered for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.  Over low heat add a little cheese at a time, stirring until melted.  Add pepper, and taste for salt; add if needed.  Stir in fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro. Simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove bay leaf and serve! Garnish with fresh chopped tomatoes, green onion, shredded cheese, sour cream, or sliced avocado.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Monday Motivation

"We have to continually be jumping off  cliffs and developing our wings on the way down."
— Kurt Vonnegut

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

"Adored 365 Devotions for Young Women"

My review...

This is a new devotional geared toward young women, though I believe it could be enjoyed by women of all ages. The topics are relevant for teens, and they cover things such as: bullying, social media, dating, self-worth, patience, etc.

The book itself is beautiful, starting with the cover. Each day (which goes by number, not calendar date, so it can be started any day of the year) includes a Bible, verse, a passage, and a few lines for jounaling. I was a bit surprised that there was no ribbon bookmark, however.

The book is designed to offer daily encouragement, and the overall reminder is that “You are loved.” The 365 readings are short enough to fit into a busy schedule. Scripture verses are based on the NIV Bible. The cover is sturdy, and the book is a convenient (small) size, so it would be easy to travel with, as well. It would make a nice supplement to a daily Bible-reading plan.

By going to the book’s landing page, you can get a free 7-day download:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from Propeller Consulting, LLC/FlyBy Promotions. I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Takeover Thursday with Scott Abel: Breathing Room

I want to extend a warm welcome to Scott Abel. He's discussing how we all need a bit of breathing room. Take it away, Scott...

Breathing Room

Whenever people discover that I’m an author in addition to my day job and family life, the usual reaction–other than a mental picture of me eating chips out of a bag while hunkering over my laptop and wearing the same clothes I had on yesterday–is a sense of marvel at how I find the time to write.
With a wife, two kids, and a full-time job that often requires travel, I’ll be the first to admit that time spent writing is a precious commodity. When I first embarked on this adventure, I often felt guilty when I couldn’t find time to open up my laptop and refine a few pages of my current manuscript or continue an exciting scene or exchange of dialogue. One piece of advice that is often beat into the heads of aspiring writers is to write daily, and I took that advice to heart. So when I failed to follow through, the guilt would often consume me.

And then the stress would take over.

If I couldn’t find time each day to write, how would I ever finish this story? How would I improve my writing skills? And if I couldn’t improve my writing skills, how would a publisher ever deem me worthy of publication? Would all of my literary dreams and aspirations go unfulfilled?

Panic and desperation soon followed.

And yet I finally found peace with all of this pressure through two simple words: Breathing room.

Simply put, the term “breathing room” means the space between our current pace and our limits. It’s the space between how fast we’re filling our schedules, how much we’re spending, how we’re relating to the people who matter most to us, and our personal limits. Every person has a certain capacity for how much they can handle, be it their schedule, finances, or relationships. And when we start living our lives in the red and leave no margin for error, when we try to cram as much into our life as humanly possible, we begin to not only lose control, but to lose the joy of living as well.

We know all too well the stress and anxiety that comes from living life in the red and having no breathing room. If one more bill comes in… I have to finish this project… All Mom and Dad do is talk about money… You’re always on the phone… I never see or hear from you any more…

The greatest danger of living with no breathing room is that when we have no margin for error, our focus narrows to the point at which we exclude everything but the one thing in which we’ve reached our limit. As a result, our relationships suffer. We no longer take pleasure in the company of those who matter most because our minds are elsewhere, fixated and worried about trying to regain a sense of control in an area that is quickly careening off the rails.

So why do we do this? Why do we live in the red with no breathing room? It all comes down to fear. We fear missing out or falling behind.

I feared that if I didn’t carve out time each day to write, I would never improve my writing skills, finish my manuscript, and enjoy the same literary success others seemed to have on Facebook. I feared that if we didn’t buy a house in a certain neighborhood, drive a nice enough car, or take an impressive enough vacation I wouldn’t measure up to my peers. I feared that if I pulled my kids from dance lessons, swim lessons, private tutorials, cheerleading, band, and other activities that they may miss out on opportunities to forge strong friendships or academic achievement. And if I did that, would I be limiting their potential and undermining their future?

Because of fear, we have the tendency to max everything out, run full throttle in the red, and leave no room to breathe. And because we fear not mattering enough, our fear has the tendency of driving us from what–and who–matters most.

But what breathing room comes down to is simply a matter of faith.

When God first helped the Israelites establish their nation, he gave them ten commandments. One of them was to keep the Sabbath holy. In other words, He instructed His people to take a day off because He knew how we were wired. Don’t worry about not harvesting all of the crops today. Don’t worry about not sewing clothes or putting a roof over your head. Don’t worry about your child’s education. Don’t worry about the demands at work. Our Heavenly Father says, “Trust me. Just take some time. And breathe.”

Jesus reminded us of God’s intention for us to create breathing room when he said, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans pursue all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you…”

Our Heavenly Father knows our concerns. Always. What we need to do is trust Him with that knowledge, take a moment, and… breathe.

About Scott...

Scott works in state government as a leadership development specialist.  He speaks frequently to State agencies, organizations, and non-profits on leadership, teamwork, and generational differences in the workplace. Scott has a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from Texas Wesleyan University, but is a rabid, life-long fan of the TCU Horned Frogs. He is the author of the supernatural suspense novel Sunrise and lives in the suburbs of Austin with his wife and two precocious daughters - who enthusiastically assist him in his search for the perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter.

Where to find Scott online...