Updates and Random Thoughts

Updates(photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Some days I have small thoughts or bits of news that don’t merit a full blog post…so today I’ll gather a few updates to share.

1. A new novel and slow but steady progress.

I write every day, and long for a Handel-composing-the-Messiah sort of frenzied output. But I’m learning to be content with one sentence, one paragraph, one page at a time. I’m excited by the new world that’s shaping up in the novel I’m currently writing, and I’m finding joy in telling this story. I’ll share more soon. Be sure to subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss any news.

2. The Deliverer reviews

It’s important to the algorithms for a book to hit the 50 review mark on Amazon. That increases visibility to readers who are browsing for a good read. I’m thrilled to share that so far The Deliverer has 41 reviews. If you haven’t posted a review yet, please do!  Only 9 to reach that important milestone.

3. Mornings with Jesus Bible

After contributing to Guidepost’s Mornings with Jesus devotion books over the last five years, I’m honored to have some of my devotions included in a new daily Bible.

4. Mornings with Jesus 2017

You’ll also find around 40 of my new devotional thoughts in Mornings with Jesus 2017.

5. A treat for those who follow this blog

Leave a comment here about which of my novels or devotions you’ve most enjoyed, AND your email (write it like “your name at email dot carrier” so bots can’t read it.)and I’ll draw one name to receive a free copy of A Novel Idea, a book chock full of great writing wisdom from a variety of Christian authors. Even if you aren’t a writer, I know you’ll enjoy hearing the hearts of the folk who create the books you love to read.

6.  Progress in my journaling Bible

As I shared in an earlier blogpost about my new journaling Bible, I’ve found new inspiration to linger in the Word each day. Even a book that normally bogs me down – like Leviticus – has offered new insights. I challenged myself to not just read a chapter to check it off my list, but to really dig in with all my questions and reactions. I confess Deuteronomy was long and difficult, but I found challenges and encouragement there as well. I’ll be starting Joshua next week. Onward!

7. Featured interview

In case you missed it, I did a recent interview for a site that features Lutheran authors. Mary Moerbe asked me some interesting new questions.

Okay, back to work for me. I pray God blesses you this week – in your relationships, your work, your health, your dreams!

His,

Sharon HInck

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When Hope is Hard to Find

hopeYesterday friends and I were talking about hope.

There is a fragile sort  that is more like a wish. We wish our lives looked differently. We wish relationships were stronger. We wish our work found success. And when those things don’t happen, we wonder if hope was a mistake.

But there is another kind.

“We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
 In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:20-22 (NIV)

That is a hope with a direction and focus. Hoping for someone else to change may lead to disappointment. Hoping for outcomes that look exactly the way we want may bring frustration. But placing solid, powerful trust in the truth that God is good, and will never stop loving us…that is a longing that never lets us down. Then we can watch Him bring grace into our lives, and be open to His answers looking different than we expect. Perhaps what we choose to dream for even begins to change.

(Lord, I admit I look for solutions in other places, often forgetting Your purposes. I expect others to swoop in and solve problems. Or I keep hoping I’ll be wise enough and strong enough on my own to beat every obstacle. But I need You. Today I lay my needs at Your feet, with joyful trust that You love me. Whatever unfolds, however the picture looks different from my wishes, I trust in Your goodness. Amen.)

Have you felt the pain of dashed hopes? What helps you at those times? Please feel free to share thoughts in the comments. Your thoughts may be just the encouragement someone else needs today.

Blessings!

Sharon Hinck

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Torn and Frayed

TornThis morning I woke convinced that my current WIP (Work-in-Progress) is too allegorical, too spiritually focused, not trendy and cutting-edge, and deserved to be torn to shreds. I decided I’m an out-dated dinosaur with nothing fresh to offer. The paper shredder called to me.

That’s not an uncommon impulse for a writer.

We often don’t have accurate views of our work. Sometimes our egos inflate the things we create to idol status. Other times our doubts and fears convince us our efforts are worthless.

Either way, I’m looking in the wrong direction.

Too much analysis of my skill (or lack of) or my popularity (or lack of) or my potential (or … you get it) simply keeps the focus on ME ME ME.

Art is meant to be a gift – with thought for others. Art exploring faith is meant to be an expression of relationship with God–with focus on Him.

So today I will stop groaning about my inadequacies. I’ll stop looking for approval for a skillfully penned sentence. I’ll stop chasing trends or fads. Instead, I’ll thank God for the stories He is writing in our lives. He can weave our ragged pieces together. Even when we feel torn and frayed, we can offer back what He’s given us and wait to see what He will do.

“I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8 (NIV)

Let’s not send ourselves or our work to the shredder. Instead, let’s pray.

Dear Lord, here are the crumpled pages of my life and my work. I offer them to you. Help me focus on You today. Please write Your story. Amen.

How about you? Do you feel torn or frayed lately? Do you ever notice your focus getting stuck in the wrong place? Feel free to share in the comments!

Sharon Hinck

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God’s Reason for Making Us His Treasure

reasonThe reason God chooses to love us and invite us into a relationship has sometimes bewildered me. I’m like a forget-me-not: so tiny and unimportant compared to lush irises or sweet-scented roses.

Yet even though their blooms are tiny, I love delicate forget-me-nots. And they remind me that God loves me–not for how much I accomplish, not for how loudly my voice proclaims Him, and not for the size of my worth. He gives a glimpse into His reason for saving us in this scripture:

An Amazing Reason

“For you are a holy people, who belong to the Lord your God. Of all the people on earth, the Lord your God has chosen you to be His own special treasure. The Lord did not set His heart on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! Rather, it was simply that the Lord loves you.” (Deuteronomy 7:6-8a NLT)

We are simply loved! As I let that reminder seep into my soul this morning, it stirs new hope and purpose in me.

Lord, thank you for loving us. Thank you that the tiny nation You chose to cherish carried the promise through generations. Thank you for coming as our Messiah. When we recognize our smallness, please help us not to despair, but instead to trust Your great love. Please show us ways to carry your love into our day and share it with others. Amen.

How about you? Do you ever feel “too small” “too unimportant” “too unworthy”? Is there a verse that has reassured you lately of God’s love? Please share in the comments!

Blessings,

Sharon Hinck

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The Great Adventure Among Many

AdventureThe world is full of new things to explore.

The Adventure of Our World

The pattern of veins in a leaf, the grape scent of an iris, the vast stepping stone of stars and galaxies, the hideously beautiful creatures in the ocean depths. We can marvel at the sounds a musician can produce with six simple guitar strings, or the lilt of birdsong, or a baby’s giggle.

The Adventure of Others

Even more than the stones, trees, mountains, and waves, another adventure calls us. The earth is full of people. We can meet the eyes of a curious child and watch their wonder, or listen to the hoarse voice of a great-grandmother as she shares stories of decades ago. We can learn how the souls of others survive heartache, fight for justice, and demonstrate love. The quest to learn about the spirits and lives of others is challenging, exhilarating, and unending.

And then there is the greatest adventure of all.

Our Creator and Savior invites us to seek to know Him more and more deeply. This isn’t a cosmic game of hide and seek. He doesn’t move away from us. In Genesis He came calling Adam and Eve. In Christ, He suffered, died, and rose to restore relationship with us. And for each of us, every day, He invites us to hear His voice, see the world through His eyes, serve others on His behalf. Like a shimmering kaleidoscope, each new experience in our lives allows us to see a new glimpse of His nature.

Today is a new chance to watch how He manifests His love.

My heart trembles with joy when I remember that He longs for me to seek Him.

Lord, open our eyes to see You in each direction we look. Open our ears to hear Your truth. Open our hearts to know Your love more fully. Amen.

Blessings!

Sharon Hinck

 

 

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Message in a Bottle

messageWhen I post a thought on social media, I feel like I’m putting a message in a bottle and tossing it to the waves. Where will it drift? Who will see it? In a vast ocean, my small note can seem tiny and useless, but it can also stir excitement in me. Maybe, just maybe, a few words of encouragement will reach a person who needs that today.

A Little Message for Today

Whoever reads this, please know that the same Creator who designed us and the beautiful world, the same Redeemer who died for us, and the same Comforter who lives within us is aware of our needs today. We can lean into His love.

Blessings,

Sharon

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Audio Book Adventures

AudioThe other day I hiked the Appalachian Trail with my eyes closed, resting in bed and listening to the book A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. I’ve enjoyed other books of his, and looked forward to his marvelous tangents and witty and descriptive prose.

Enjoying this experience made me grateful that some of my novels have been made into audio books, with delightful professional narrators.

The Secret Life of Becky Miller is available on ChristianAudio, or Audible.

Renovating Becky Miller was even a finalist in the 2008 Audie Awards, Inspirational Category.

Many libraries also carry audio versions of those books, as well as Symphony of Secrets.

How about you? Do you enjoy listening to audio books? What are your favorites?

Please share any good ones you’ve heard recently! Thanks so much!

Sharon

 

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Flowers to Lift the Heart

I used to favor vegetable gardening, but as years have passed, I find that I enjoy flowers more and more. I still plant zucchini, tomatoes, green beans, peppers, kale, etc., but I’ve cut back a little each year, and focus more attention on a few new perennials and some hardy annuals. Maybe that shows me something about how feeding the soul is as important as feeding the stomach? I know that each time I look outside, my spirit lifts. Each bloom is a little ambassador for joy.

This spring, I marveled again at the various colors of iris, and the frilly borders of their petals. Flowers/IrisI decided to fill my window box with blues and yellows – mostly yellow petunias and blue lobelia. Flowers The yellow iris fit the theme well. FLowers yellow and blueHow about you? Do you have a garden? Do you plant more for food or beauty?

Please post a comment and tell me about the most lovely flower you spotted recently!

Blessings,

Sharon

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Cowboy Fiction – Yes Please!

cowboy

In my work as an editor, I get to know lots of writers, and decided to introduce you to someone you may not have met before, whom I always think of as a “cowboy author.”

My husband and I are huge fans of Longmire,

so the laconic noble hero of the west is no stranger to me. Still, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed David Griffith’s novels with a bronc-riding protagonist who fights to bring down drug trafficking. Start with his first novel, Blackwater Crossing, and I know you’ll be hooked, too.

I asked him to drop by blog today and answer a few questions. I hope you enjoy meeting him and that you check out his novels.

Sharon: Welcome, David! I remember the first time I chatted with you about your writing, you were on horseback, speaking from your cellphone. I knew you had an authentic perspective on the world you were writing about. What life experiences drew you to creating these stories?
David: My life has been largely confined to riding bucking horses in my earlier years followed by ranching. However, in one of the cattle downturn cycles, we decided to buy an apartment building. The problem was that the place had more drugs than tenants. Going toe to toe with drug dealers and junkies taught me a lot about bad real estate investments, but it also gave me a desire to know more about the source of this scourge that decimates our communities in North America. So what I write about the drug cartels is very much an offshoot of that experience.

Sharon: How do you approach the struggle of sharing spiritual truth and wisdom and keeping the story feeling authentic, fast-moving, and not agenda-driven?

David: Great question, and one that many Christian writers grapple with today. There are only a few big Christian publishers. As writers, we strive to fit in their slot. The new buzz words are “faith infused” versus “faith driven.” I understand that issue. If publishers don’t sell books they don’t survive, which means a percentage of their product may have to reach outside the church. I’ve always felt my calling as a writer is to put out stories that are so compelling that those who might be initially antagonistic to the message will be unable to put them down. God will take care of the rest.

Sharon: Which character is the most difficult for you to write, and why?

David: I have a hard time with female characters. I wing it, and my wife Pat gets a hundred questions. Would Clarissa do this . . . or that? She rolls her eyes and straightens me out. Clarissa has been difficult for me to portray, but she’s a ranch girl I understand. I have a series coming out soon with a young Mexican-American girl as the protagonist. She’s been a challenge, but I learned a lot, and I think readers are going to like Dina Rodriguez.

Sharon: Who are a few of your favorite authors?
David: I enjoy the great American and British classic writers of the past. Hemingway, Maugham, and Steinbeck come to mind as well as a handful of other more contemporary adventure story tellers like Louis L’Amour, Dick Francis, and Jeannette Walls. All of them are superb at painting vivid word pictures. That’s what I strive to do, so when I have time, I take author James Bell’s advice and watch good movies. They’re an excellent way to study interaction and dialogue.

Sharon: Thanks so much for visiting David, and blessings on your continued writing!

You can find his whole Border Series here:

Blackwater Crossing

The Death Dealers

Without Redemption

Blessings!

Sharon

 

(Note: This blog uses affiliate links)

 

 

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Goslings and Bunnies

goslingsEvery morning, I find something beautiful to marvel at and thank God for. I sigh with joy over lilacs and irises, study ripples on the pond, enjoy the early birdsong.

Today I looked outside and felt like I was living inside a Beatrix Potter book. Squirrel Nutkin chattered from the maple tree. Goslings toddled around the lawn, while bunnies nibbled clover. It reminded me how appealing babies are.

Last week, my husband and I visited our grandchildren. Snuggling our six-month-old grandson filled me with so much love I think I’ll be running on that fuel for the next year. And our three-year-old granddaughter infuses every moment with excitement and joy, which I’ll also carry with me.

When I look at the ways that babies stir my heart, I love knowing that God refers to us as His little chicks. Jesus said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:27 NIV)

We hear His tenderness, and His yearning to protect and comfort us.

Today, let’s be willing.

A little prayer:

Lord, thank you for giving us life and creating this amazing world, full of wonders and joy. Yet the world also holds struggle and pain. Please draw us under Your wing. Give us the comfort and protection we need today. And help us offer comfort to those around us. We are all fragile as little chicks, goslings, bunnies, or babies. We need You to sustain us. Amen.

How about you? Have you spotted anything today that reminds you of God’s tender love for you? Please post a comment and share it with us!

Blessings,

Sharon

 

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