Monday, September 29, 2008

Pirates, Dragons, and Other Exciting Road Adventures

Randall and I are making plans to head to Oriental, NC in a couple of weeks. Oriental is part of the setting of my current WIP, The Pirate Queen. I haven’t seen cover artwork yet, but know the good folks in the WBP art department are going to have an interesting artistic interpretation for my story about an Outer Banks heroine, Saphora, who finds treasure and love in the most unusual places.

I love researching the Outer Banks. While the sailing research is different from the historical nautical language used in my Australian series, it adds such great color to the story. Also, the town artists perpetuate a myth about the local mythical dragon that has chosen Oriental for its natural nesting grounds.

I’ll post some other blogs from Oriental too. Today’s featured blog is The Dinghy Dock. You can journey through the wealth of posts about the animals, fowl, plants, boats, and even some Oriental history.

We’ll make landfall around the time of the annual Mum Fest right around the corner from Oriental in historic New Bern. Mum Fest is an event that draws over 80,000 visitors to this Outer Banks event centered around, well, mums, of course! A haven for a gardener like me with plenty of seaside places to visit and new sojourners to meet along the way.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress of The Pirate Queen. Thanks for all of the feedback and book club inquiries regarding Painted Dresses. The word is spreading and its due to reader friends and fellow bloggers spreading the word about this southern tale of two sisters taking a road trip through the south delivering a trunkload of painted dresses.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Living in Reality

Okay, I promised to get back to how a Christian takes that first step away from God. This is the thread started last week as I continue to pray for my friend who may be tempted by a platform mentality, or the desire to be admired by others. It’s a daily struggle for most Christian leaders because so many people look up to them. They have to take those encouraging words you give them and put them through the Holy Spirit processor—all for the sake of the cross and all accomplished through God’s power and might and not our own abilities. To allow a little praise to inflate into something else is a big step away from reality.

1 Corinthians 7 is a treatise on how not to take that first step away from God. There is first a list of types that are not “washed” or made righteous for eternity spent with God. But then Paul discusses those who are washed, the sanctified who, only through Christ, are made just in God’s sight. Then the rest of the text is cautionary. We are not living under legalism now; we’re not made clean by “not” doing something. But that doesn’t give us a license to live for self.

What Paul is saying is that we’re not to be mastered by the things that can drag us back to the starting gate. In the first place, that impedes our maturity. Then he compares those kinds of weights to the person who is “made one” by sleeping with a prostitute. In short, instead of becoming like Christ that person is made like the prostitute.

So as we join our body to Christ’s Body, we are made one with His Spirit. We can’t be one with His Spirit and one with immoral choices. We become like the choices we’ve made. Today I either choose to be one with Christ or one with what is luring me away.

We are a continual work in progress. The easy way in life is to take the first step into the swamp of whatever we want to do, be it cheating in business or cheating with someone’s spouse. Then there are the lesser lures, but just as debilitating, like lacking in discipline or never exercising and developing our spiritual gifts—all a waste of a perfectly good day. Or as I discussed about a friend who is being tempted as a “celebrity” Christian leader, the temptation to be worshiped like a little idol. As believers, we can’t dupe ourselves into thinking that we can do anything we want and not become like that choice. To decide to do that is to purposefully stumble into vulnerability. That is how we become as Paul says, like a man who sins against his own body. It’s like perpetually shooting ourselves in the foot. My husband and I deeply regret the years as a couple we lost so much ground because, even though we claimed to be “Christians”, we chose wrongly.

That is what we’re seeing when we see a Christian leader fall. They’ve practiced making bad choices in secret and it has now been made public as they have become the thing that they chose to do. There is a cure for celebrity preachers. Just do like Jesus told us to do. Be a servant to all. Love others and treat them better than you do yourself. And remember to pray for your leaders and give them the same grace that you need in your own life.

Monday, September 15, 2008

You Had Me at , "Hello."

The one thing that my husband defaults to in church outreach is old fashioned door-to-door evangelism. It's an annoying hold-over from the 70's and 80's that, for him, is still effective. But in the beginning, it was just the two of us; we had started the church by knocking doors on Sunday mornings. One lady opened the door and I smiled and before I could say a word, she yelled, “No!” and slammed the door. It was so dehumanizing that I walked back to the car in a huff and told my hubby, “It’s not for me.”

Then nearly a decade later, after a few years studying as a bible teacher had given me more confidence, I gave it another try. Again, it was a Sunday. My husband had started another outreach where he covered our church sign with a banner announcing we had gone out into the community to serve others.

This time an older woman opened the door and I smiled and she smiled back. I told her that I was a minister’s wife and that a few of us had come to help out in the neighborhood. Behind me, a group of children were busy sweeping leaves off her walk. I handed her a bag of oranges and she was so taken off guard that she let me talk for a bit. I had a Bible in my hand, but mostly I just chatted for a bit, telling her a story of how I had come to know God. My story interested her, so I was feeling relaxed and confident. I asked her what she believed about God. There were so many things she believed that it was difficult to connect the dots. She didn’t know any foundational truths and the longer she talked the more I realized that she had skirted the whole gospel message trading it for a lot of philosophical beliefs. I told her that I was not a know-it-all but that I’d be glad to discuss any questions she had about God or faith. She asked me one question after another. So far so good; I actually knew where to find each answer in the Bible. I was thumbing backward and forward when she stopped me and said, “Excuse me. But if I don’t believe the Bible, what good does it do for you to read from it? You had me when you were telling me your stories.” I laughed, mostly at myself for thinking she'd be impressed with my biblical knowledge. Then I returned to what she had requested. I told her a story that showed how God had been with me even when I thought he had abandoned me. By that time our group was leaving. She seemed sad that I had to leave. But I had enjoyed getting to know a woman who, up until that Sunday, had been a stranger to me.

What I learned that day was that the distance between one person and God is not wrapped up only in what they believe. Yes, the distance between her and God was huge because she couldn’t accept the basic truths of God’s Word. But the distance was swallowed up when I crossed her walk, got some kids sweeping her walk, and handed her a gift of love and friendship.

Last week I said that I would discuss the things that put distance between us and God. In the beginning it’s usually something as small as one person reaching out to another in friendship to help them cross the chasm of disbelief. When that happens, suddenly it doesn’t matter any more what they don’t believe. What matters is that they opened up their heart to ours so that the Holy Spirit could begin the gentle work of wooing that person closer to God’s heart.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Move Toward God

This morning I was thinking about a friend who has made a success of her ministry. You could say she is at the pinnacle of success if measuring monetarily—and we all need financial backing in our ministries. I haven’t heard from her in years. She was one of those friends for a season; we’ve both gone down different paths that have separated us geographically. But it seems that she has made some vain choices that are affecting her ministry. It could be idle gossip. Sometimes when a person finally makes a success of her work, jealous, not-so-true friends exaggerate a person’s choices; the resulting stories circulate out of a smug justification born of envy. But the facts point toward the evidence that she’s gotten caught up in the celebrity web. I hope that’s not true. To have known her earlier forthright stance about humility, I can’t imagine her allowing that kind of temptation. I’ve seen this happen to really good ministry folks but I also have friends who refuse the temptation of celebrity, like the apostles when the public tried to worship them. And their ministries are thriving. From what I can glean from the Word, to step into that mire is the same as taking the first step away from God.

I thought I would blog a few posts next week about the ways that we can choose to either step away or move closer toward God. I need it if for no other reason but to remind myself that if my godly, beautiful friend can stumble blindly into a pit, then how much more can someone like me, fatally flawed woman.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Writing: For the Work-At-Home Mom

What is your idea of a successful life? Mine has changed greatly over the years. That’s due in great part to the deep well of grace I’ve needed as a work-at-home mom.

When I started writing my first book, the week I received my contract was also the week my hubby hauled into the living room three sweet children in need of long term care. In addition to our own three, ages twelve to two, three more kids was a load. The baby had attachment issues and a stomach disorder that caused him to cry well into the early morning hours. We had planned and sacrificed to be debt free so that I could come home and build a full time writing career. To have the tables turn on me so suddenly made me feel like a dispensable pawn in life’s scheme. I invited a young single woman to move in with us for that season and she took on the task of sitting up with the baby until he fell asleep. But I still had all of the others to care for and a book to write.
I’m not good at writing with any noise at all, not like some writers that peck away with the earphones on. My only choice was to get up at three in the morning when everyone was sleeping. I wrote until dawn and did that for six months until my first book was finished--almost exactly the length of time we cared for those children.
It taught me that I didn’t have to have the perfect circumstances to write. It also helped me to build some disciplinary muscles, to be aware of the down time of my family so that I could grab some up time at my computer. Best of all, I learned to work feet-on-the-ground, realizing what I could still accomplish and have the life I really wanted, to be at home and watch my family grow while I grew in the career I loved.

Success for me is not about having a New York Times bestselling book, but about building the life you want. Funny how the training season helps transform not only writing but personal goals. Funny too, how the training season never ends.

“Trying hard can accomplish so much. If you are serious . . . you will have to enter into a life of training.” John Ortberg

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Patty Discusses Painted Dresses in Your Area

This week Patty will discuss Painted Dresses on these radio stations:

KNEO 91.7 The Word
Host Adam Winkler
Neosho, MO

Host Ron Hanson
Duluth, MN

Host Fred Young
Camdenton, MO

Host Diane Summers
St. Louis, MO

Christian Work-At-Home Mom
Internet Radio
Jill Hart
Fri. 10:30 a.m. EST

Some will be taped and played later while some are aired live. Check your local station’s listings for times and dates.

Painted Dresses Generating Reader Buzz

I’m hearing great news through a reader who told me the Barnes & Noble associate told her that they’ve ordered yet a third large shipment of Painted Dresses. Then another reader reported that she asked to have her name placed on the waiting list at a large municipal library and was told that she would have to wait—she was number 46!

With all of this buzz, though, I still haven’t heard about sales in many other places. If you have a story to tell about trying to find Painted Dresses, just email me at Be sure to tell your local store managers—Stock up!!

Thank you, dear readers, for continuing to spread the word about Painted Dresses!