Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Month: March 2016

Whole30 at 43

doing the whole30


Next week, I’m going to turn 43. The week after that, I think I’m going to jump on this Whole30 bandwagon to get my 44th trip around the sun off to a healthy start. This decision is partly inspired by my friend Rebekah over at Fantasia Hearth, and a lot of my reasons are similar to the ones she outlines in this post.

In addition to chronic pain and inflammation, the effects of long-term stress, and low energy and fatigue, I’ve also got Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and an underactive thyroid (among other things; on the official site they list all of the different conditions that people have claimed this diet either helped or cured, and I’ve got at least eight things on that list). I’ve had some success managing all of this with the Zone diet and cutting out (or at least cutting way back on) gluten and dairy; the Whole30 plan appears to take that several steps further, by also making legumes (including peanut butter – SOB!), ALL grains (even the gluten-free ones), sugar and ALL forms of sweetener, including Stevia (goodbye dark chocolate and sweet tea), and alcohol (which, I haven’t had an alcoholic beverage since New Year’s, so NBD).

So what CAN I eat? Meat, vegetables, nuts and healthy fats, along with various herbs and seasonings. And I can keep drinking coffee and tea, which is good because that would’ve been a deal breaker (the chocolate already came close to being one, but . . . it’s only for 30 days. I can survive without chocolate for that long. I think. Coffee, though? Not so much).

What do I hope to accomplish by doing this? Well, feeling better, for one thing. Having more energy and less pain. Increased focus and clearer thinking. Decreasing all of the increased chances for all of the scary things that having PCOS places me at risk for. Improved fertility and more regular, less harrowing monthly cycles.

I also like that the Whole30 plan is designed to break emotional and psychological ties to food, of which I have plenty.

Currently I’m planning to start on the Monday following my birthday. Why then? Because I’m not willing to give up the annual Chinese buffet binge that my mom always treats me to, nor the chocolate chip and cream cheese cookie brownie my husband is planning to bake for me in lieu of cake. And since my birthday is on a Wednesday, Matt and I will probably wait until the weekend to do our celebrating, which will involve said cookie brownie and possibly pizza and may or may not also involve a celebratory glass of wine (or possibly a beer) or two — we haven’t decided yet. And for the last couple of weeks I’ve been munching on Easter candy so this will be a perfect time for a nutritional detox to break my sugar addiction. And also because it’s just easier for me to start new things on Mondays.

I also need the time between now and then to prepare. I’ve already gotten my husband on board (he won’t be doing it with me, but he’s promised to do what he can to encourage and support me), but I’m still working on psyching myself up for it. Plus I need to plan what I’ll be eating and stock up accordingly. One thing I know is that I’ll be more likely to stick with it for the duration if I can keep it simple and automate as much of it as possible by having a set of go-to meals and preparing them ahead of time. So there are logistics to figure out, too. I’ve already started pinning recipes to my healthy eating Pinterest board.

I’m probably not going to blog regularly about it, but you can follow me on Instagram where I may track my progress, and when my 30 days are done I’ll do a post on how it all went and whether it made a difference in how I feel.

Also . . . pray for me, y’all. And let me know if you’ll also be doing Whole30 (or something else challenging and potentially life changing) in the comments, so I can return the favor.


Evolution of a Romance Novelist

Evolution of a Romance NovelistFor about as long as I can remember, I wanted to grow up to be a novelist. I took my first real stab at it in high school, when I wrote the beginning of a novel about a character who wore Chuck Taylors and a trench coat and was ultra-eighties cool (I don’t actually remember much about that story beyond the fact that my protagonist bore a strong resemblance to David Tennant’s 10th Doctor nearly two decades before the 10th Doctor even existed. Does that make me prescient?).

I do know that I didn’t want to be just any kind of novelist. I wanted to write horror and dark fantasy. My biggest inspirations were Stephen King and Anne Rice. I got in a lot of trouble over this because I was a Good Christian Girl and Good Christian Girls weren’t even supposed to read those authors, let alone try to write like them. As I grew into my twenties, my inspiration pool grew to include Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis, Batman comics, Buffy, and George R. R. Martin, and while I was still drawn to horror, I decided that my true calling was to be an urban fantasy author. I made several more attempts at writing novels, all of which contained vampires or fairies or non-human creatures of some sort. When I finally finished my first novel around 2000, it was a mash-up of The Island of Dr. Moreau and Beauty and the Beast. It lives on the bottom shelf of the bookcase in my office.

Up to that point, I’d never even considered becoming a romance author. I read the occasional romance, but even though I enjoyed it, I bought into the myth that romance was the bottom of the barrel and not something to be taken seriously — as though my darkly romantic (but not romance! Because romance novels have happy endings–and therein lies the difference) monster mashup was the height of literary hoity-toititude.

And then I went back to college to study social science and was too busy writing lengthy term papers about Max Weber and Sigmund Freud to even think about noveling. This was the height of my Buffy obsession, so I got my fiction writing fix by writing fan fiction. And even though I told myself I didn’t have time to write another novel, I wrote several novel-length fanfics during that time. And do you know what? every single one of ’em were romance novels.

I was shocked when I realized that, and even more shocked to realize I was good at writing romance, and that I enjoyed it. Even so, when the time came to get back to serious noveling, I clung to my identity as an urban fantasy author. I spent years (and years) post graduation (in my defence, a lot of life happened in that time, including meeting my husband, planning a wedding, getting used to being married and then buying a house, all of which tends to slow a writer down) writing an urban fantasy about the Fae living in an alternate Los Angeles.

And then I wrote a book called Restless Spirits, a ghost story that was part paranormal fantasy, part mystery, part chick lit, and all romance. After spending a couple of years editing that book, I decided to self-publish it, but I was in denial about having written a romance novel. I marketed it at first as a paranormal fantasy, and then as a mystery. I didn’t really start to move copies of it until I finally gave in and marketed it as a paranormal romance.

And then last year, because God is awesome and also kind of has a twisted sense of humor, He placed it in front of an editor at a Christian publishing house that mostly publishes inspirational romance and YA. And that publishing house offered me a contract to let them re-package that book and also write two sequels–all of which they plan to market as paranormal romance.

So I guess that officially makes me a romance novelist. But an inspirational romance novelist? Surely not. Not this girl who grew up sneaking Stephen King on the bus rides to Youth Group gatherings.

And no, Restless Spirits and its sequels don’t fit the inspirational romance mould. They’ll be relatively clean, but nothing about them is overtly Christian. So God’s not steering me toward actually writing Christian romance.


A couple of years ago I wrote my one and only non-fantasy contemporary romance for National Novel Writing Month. I wrote it, and then I hid it away on an unused hard drive, because that’s not what I write, and also the story lacked focus and had problems I didn’t want to spend the energy to fix. I had actually forgotten all about writing that one.

Recently, I remembered it — I’m not sure what it was that served to remind me — and it’s been on my mind pretty relentlessly ever since. And I’ve thought of some tweaks I could make that would fix the focus issues, but would also push this book dangerously close into inspirational romance territory. And do you know what? I think it would be good. And I’m kind of excited about digging it up and starting revisions on it once this sequel I’m currently writing is done.

Does this mean I am an inspirational romance author? The Lord sure does seem to be nudging me in that direction. Other ideas for other novels that fit that mould are also starting to take hold. And I’m not sure how I feel about that, or how to reconcile this with the horror and fantasy stories that are still vying for a place at the starting line in my imagination. How do I reconcile this with the brand I’ve already established as a paranormal romance and dark fantasy author? Will I have to get a pseudonym?

I do know one thing — my one word for this year is “lean,” as in, lean into God, and lean into what He’s doing in my life. Already this has taken me and my soul in surprising directions, and March isn’t even over yet. If He makes it clear (as He appears to be doing) that He wants me to start writing inspirational romance, then inspirational romance I will write, and I will trust Him with the outcomes, just as I’ve been trusting him to rewrite my identity and uncover the woman He always intended me to be. That also means letting him make me into the kind of writer He made me to be.

It’s a little scary, this yielding and letting myself be remade, and not all aspects of the remaking have been pleasant to walk through. But so far they have been utterly worth it. I can trust that this will be, too.

How has God surprised you this year?


No Matter What Anybody Says, You Are Beloved


The day after I posted my last blog post was a bad day. I woke up hormonal, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the things I alluded to in that post, and I became hurt and angry all over again. Angry at the enemy, angry at all the people he used to hurt me, angry at God for allowing all of that stuff to happen. It was an anger and a sadness I couldn’t shake, no matter how much I tried to cry it out or pray it away.

The day after that, hormones settled down and I wasn’t quite so emotional. That morning, we listened to a weekly Bible lesson.

My husband and I don’t attend a local church–we have a list of reasons and excuses about as long as my arm, and I know most of it is probably stuff we should just get over–but instead we connect online to a home church down in Dallas, run by family friends of Matt’s. Usually it’s a live broadcast, on Thursday nights and Sunday mornings, although we usually watch Thursday night’s session on Friday morning because we’re old and tired and we can’t stay up that late on a weeknight. A live broadcast had been scheduled for that particular Thursday, but when the time came, the pastor fell ill, so they aired a replay of an old lesson instead.

Now I’m not saying that God made the pastor sick just so they’d play that lesson for me, but it’s funny how God uses these things sometimes. The lesson they chose to play that week was, as it turned out, exactly what I needed to hear that morning, when I was in just the right frame of mind to receive it.

The lesson was on the second chapter of 1Peter, and what stood out to me was verse 23:

“[Jesus] who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed to Him who judges righteously.”

The Greek word translated here as “revile” means to verbally abuse. The day before, I’d been stewing over all of the verbal and emotional abuse I’d been subjected to growing up. How could grown up people be so awful to an innocent little kid?

And now here was Peter talking about Jesus, “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth” (verse 22), the one person who was truly innocent, who was even less deserving of the abuse and cruelty that was heaped upon Him, and how He endured it patiently because He knew it was all lies.

Jesus knew those people didn’t know what they were talking about, that they were just tools of the enemy, meant to destroy Him, or at least to wear Him down and take the fight out of Him. He knew that the only One who had a right to judge Him was also the only One who truly knew Him, and knew the whole truth about Him.

Everything clicked into place as I heard that, like a switch got flipped on my perspective. It’s the same for me. All those people who abused me and called me names, who made me feel worthless and rejected — they were jut tools that the enemy used to convince me that I don’t matter, that I’m ineffectual and useless and unwanted, to wear me down, crush my spirit and take all the fight out of me.

But the One who judges me righteously — the only One who has a right to judge me — knows better. He knows me, and what I’m capable of, because He made me. People put all kinds of negative labels on me growing up, but the only names and labels that matter are the ones He gives me. And He calls me Chosen. Beloved. His workmanship. Fearfully and wonderfully made. Created for good works.

His child.

So who, then, am I going to believe?

My dear, sweet sister in Christ, who are YOU going to believe?







PS – Linking up this week with Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart, Missional Women’s Faith Filled Friday, and the Faith Barista.


This is a hard post for me to write. It’s hard because, for one thing, it’s difficult for me to discuss pain and hardship I’ve endured without feeling like a whiner (and we’ll come back to this point later). It’s also hard because God has been doing a difficult thing in me lately, hard work down deep in my soul that hasn’t been pleasant to walk through but that needs to be done. And it’s not easy to talk about.

At the end of January, on the anniversary of my dad’s passing, I opened up here about how my dad wasn’t exactly perfect — far from it, in fact — and how God has healed the damage his damaged-ness wrought on my soul.

But the truth is that the enemy started in on me at an extremely young age, and he used a lot of different people in my life to try and destroy me. Abuse, mean kids and bullies, teachers who despised me for reasons I couldn’t (and still can’t) fathom, adults who failed to protect me, the perceived indifference of loved ones that comes with being a middle child, constantly feeling either overlooked and ignored, misunderstood, or downright hated . . . this pretty much defines the majority of my childhood and adolescence.

I was always so focused on the hurt my dad caused, that I pushed down all that other hurt that was inflicted on me growing up and focused on him instead. But now that I’ve made peace with my dad, God’s been digging down deep in my soul and exposing all of these other wounds and, bit by bit, has been taking me through a process of grieving for my lost childhood, and ultimately of healing.

And somewhere in the midst of all of this, He’s exposed a couple of lies that I’ve believed and carried with me throughout my adult life. I didn’t believe them on a conscious level, but deep down in my soul, I have believed that I deserved every bad thing that ever happened to me.

But I didn’t deserve that. I didn’t deserve any of it, and I refuse to believe that lie any longer.

{And if deep down you feel the same way, sweet sister? IT IS A LIE. You didn’t deserve it, either, and whatever suffering you’re going through now, you don’t deserve that, either.}

The other lie is the flip side of the same coin — believing that I don’t deserve good things. Part of this is good ol’ First World guilt — it started from a healthy place of trying to gain perspective on my struggles by comparing them to what people in other parts of the world have to deal with on a daily basis. But somewhere along the line that morphed into thinking that it’s wrong of me to want things that bring me pleasure, or are just plain good for my soul. See above re: thinking that talking about my own suffering makes me a whiner for one example.

Here’s another example. Recently, I read an online devotional in which the writer talked about taking joy in the simple pleasure of matching her nail polish to random items in her environment. As I read that, I looked at my own nails, neatly trimmed, but bare with ragged cuticles. I used to love giving myself manicures and pedicures, but somewhere during these hard years, I stopped. I thought about how I’d love to start doing that again, but there are obstacles. It’s not really in the budget, for one thing. I decided that I should pray about it and ask God to provide a way to restore this simple pleasure to my life, but when I bowed my head to ask, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It felt too frivolous, and it felt selfish. Manicures and pedicures are fine for other women, but somewhere along the line, I decided that I don’t deserve them.

And the Lord’s been showing me that I’ve done that with a lot of things, and he’s been showing me that it’s not about deserving. He gives and He takes away. If He decides to bless me with something, my job is to be thankful and, if possible, to use my blessing at least partly to bless others. My job is not to feel guilty about whether or not someone else has been similarly blessed. My job is not to compare myself to other people at all. Mine is to remember that He’s a loving father who delights in me and knows how to give good gifts to His children.

There is one thing, I realized, that I truly don’t deserve, but I have it anyway–and that’s His unfailing love. It’s the Love that remained with me throughout my painful childhood, comforting me, giving me strength, and holding me together. It’s the Love that’s at work now, healing and undoing all of the damage to my soul. There’s nothing I can do to earn that love, and it means that I don’t have to earn my place in this world. I can let go of feeling like I have to explain myself or justify my existence.

And I can let go of feeling like I deserve to be punished for simply breathing air and taking up space.

I pray, dear sister, that you can let that go, too, and bask in the blessed assurance of His love.
Zephaniah 3:17

PS – Click here to download my free printable, A Prayer for the Weary Woman!

PPS – Linking up this week with Holley Gerth and Missional Women’s Faith-Filled Fridays.