Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Saving Grace

It is a great honor and privilege of mine to be hosting a blog tour for Saving Grace written by Staci Wilder. Staci is a fantastic Christian authoress and a great inspiration to me. She has been a special prayer partner of mine for quite a while. She is also an amazing friend who never fails to encourage me when I need it the most! I am sure you will enjoy her writing and be swept away by the beauty of Saving Grace!

In the next few paragraphs Staci shares with us the story behind the novel. If you are interested in learning more about Staci and her books you may visit Staci's website. You will also be blessed by visiting her blog Glimpses.

SAVING GRACE: The Story Behind the Novel

The Idea:

On the first Monday morning of January 2003, I sat down with a blank page in Word opened before me on my computer screen. Previous projects were complete and it seemed very apropos that I would be beginning a brand new story in a brand new year.

It would be Grace's story, and I'd known that much for some time. While I didn't have the roadmap yet of how Grace and I would navigate through her story, I did know the story would be one about grief, forgiveness, and the road to grace.

Over the next seven months I wrote a story that I believe will always hold a special place in my heart. It was during this book that God took me to the next level of my discovery of grace. Often I would wake up, my stomach tense and nervous, because I literally had no idea what would or should happen next in the story and no clue on how to get there.

Not knowing what else to do, I'd go to my knees seeking - no, make that begging - guidance and direction just to get through the next chapter. It was during those weeks and months that I learned to bleed onto the pages of my story. I'd go from the computer to my knees, and back again. Over and over and over...

As I worked through Grace's story, God began to open the eyes of my heart to truths I'd never seen before. I wrote this story with blind faith, and no one could be as surprised at the ending as I was! Let's just say that, when it was all said and done, I'd learned yet another lesson on grace.

One afternoon I had been working on a particularly difficult chapter about midway through the book. It was a pivotal place in the story and I knew it was essential that I get it right. But it was tough going. The subject matter was heavy, the emotion was high, and I felt very inept to convey the message I knew needed to shine through.

Somewhere along the way I moved from my desk. I sat in my office chair, with the laptop propped on my knees and my feet propped on my bed. I don't remember when or how or even why. In my mind I was at The Winds in Ocean Isle with Grace. She sat across a picnic table from Kyle, trying to summon the courage to tell him the one thing she'd tried her best to keep from him, and from their marriage. It could very well be the end of her life as she knew it. Everything depended on his reaction to it.

As I prayed my way through each and every painful sentence of this scene, God took Kyle (yes, I know he's merely a character, but God really did use him!) and showed me the next level of grace.

You see, Kyle had an established relationship with God. He'd tried Him countless times before and had found Him to be true. Through his own painful loss, he'd come to know God in deep and profound ways. Kyle had experienced the same thing I did years ago. He'd had his own personal Bethel.

But Grace had not. Though she'd begun her faith walk a few years back, the baggage, hurt, and betrayal from her past were stumbling blocks in the road to forgiveness and healing where she needed to be. She loved God. She served Him. She just had no way of getting to that place of restoration under her own power.

Kyle, in spite of his own shock and pain at her words, allowed God to use him as a bridge. He stood in the gap, one hand holding tightly to Grace, the other holding even tighter to the Almighty. Grace couldn't get there on her own, but she could cling to someone who was already there and they could become her lifeline.

This is true grace.

The Writer:

I emerged from the scene above in tears and, again, changed. It may sound silly because it's just a story and, maybe, that's how God can best teach me right now. I'm not sure. What I do know is that another set of blinders were removed from my spiritual eyes that afternoon.

I was made aware of the rows and rows of folks that line our church pews. Holy, righteous people who've overcome pasts filled with unspeakable hurts and wrongs. Yes, they live for God now and, yes, there is healing in God. But sometimes it takes years to reach a place of true restoration. True grace.

And that's when we can be a bridge. We can stand in the gap, holding tightly to our fellow brother or sister with one hand, and holding even more tightly to Jesus with our other.

Of course, there is more to my life than just fiction. I’m also a wife, mom, and student, and am passionate about each of these roles. I write about these different facets of my life in Glimpses, my blog. Please join me there. I’d love to meet you!


What’s Next From Staci:

Currently, I’m working on the sequel to Saving Grace. It is called Finding Faith, and is the second in the Sycamore Manor Series.

Here is a brief blurb:

She awakens to face one of the greatest fears known to woman. He has waited a lifetime for love, guarding close a secret he intends to share with no one, except the woman he intends to marry. Frightened and alone, she turns to him for answers and, while he wants to protect her, he is helpless to do so. Can she find strength in his care? Can he find the care he craves in her frailty?

While showering one morning, thirty-two year old Faith Chandler discovers a lump in her left breast. Immediately, her mind and emotions begin a tug-of-war, one invoking rationalization, the other—sheer panic. An enthusiastic junior high school English teacher, Faith’s future—the one she thought she had forever to think about—seems suddenly overcast.

Thirty-six year old Marshall Morgan finds fulfillment in his work. The CEO and director of the teen pregnancy home founded by his late grandmother, he takes pride in what he’s come to view as a ministry of sorts. Still, there’s a vacancy in his heart, a place for a special woman that the Lord has yet to reveal to him. And then…there is his secret, the one he intends to share with no one, except the woman who will become his wife. When petite, dark-haired Faith Chandler walks through his door, he wonders if—at last—he is meeting the woman who will make his life complete.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Heaven

Though this life I live is blessed, I often long for the day I will be in Heaven. I have had this song on my mind for a few days and finally found the lyrics. I apologize in advance for the length of the lyrics but I just had to share all of them. If you ever get the chance to listen to a clip of the song - you will get the full effect. I want to see Heaven!

Heaven

by Bob Carlisle

There are moments in this life
When its hard to carry on
When I think about my father
and all the loved ones that are gone
Friends and close relation
Somewhere on the other side
They've passed into forever
But the Love has never died

Sometimes this tired old world
Starts bringing my heart down
But I've got to bear the cross
If I want to wear the crown
I often get impatient
As the time keeps dragging on
I've waded through the darkness
Now I am ready for the dawn

I want to see Heaven
Where the faithful carry on
I want to see Heaven, oh Lord
I want to see Heaven
Where the pain of sin is gone
I want to see Heaven, oh Lord
I want to see Heaven

So I'm living every moment
As if this day were my last
I'll put my treasure where my heart is
And forget about the past
And If Jesus comes tomorrow
I'll be ready to depart
As He leads me to my mansion
I'll be following my heart
Following my heart

I try to go the distance
But its more than I can bear
They say there's no more crying
And no dying over there
I've held on to the promise
Whosoever will believe
Would have life that's never ending
Well, I believe, I believe

I want to see Heaven
Where the faithful carry on
I want to see Heaven, oh Lord
I want to see Heaven
Where the pain of sin is gone
I want to see Heaven, oh Lord
I want to see Heaven.





Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Lessons from Leaders




In our lives we all have people who have taught us great lessons which shape our character. Lately, I have been thinking about some of those lessons and how they apply to my life. I have tried to follow these tidbits of wisdom as closely as possible. But, there is always room for improvement!

Thanks to great men like my husband, Pastor D.G. Hargrove, Stephen M. Drury, my Daddy, Pastor Ken Hankins, Grady L. Hollman (my grandfather), Rev. Johnny James, and many, many others I can draw from the stores of my memory and continually glean from their wisdom.

So, I'll just share a few of the lessons I have learned from these great leaders!

  1. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all things shall be added unto you.
  2. Pretty is as pretty does.
  3. You can be bitter or better over your circumstances.
  4. Every story has two sides.
  5. True love is unconditional.
  6. Do the right thing because it's the right thing to do. If doing the right thing gets you into trouble it will always get you out of trouble.
  7. Be careful what you do - your children will imitate you.
  8. We all make mistakes - give others a break.
  9. Support your leaders because you may be one some day.
  10. You will never be ready to lead unless you are ready to serve first.
  11. Get over it!
  12. Never give up!
  13. If you see something that needs to be done - do it. Don't wait for someone to ask.
  14. Be flexible - expect the unexpected!
  15. Almost right is ALWAYS wrong.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Anna's First Day




Today was Anna's first day of Kindergarten. She was so proud of her uniform and getting to go "upstairs" to school. She was even happy to wake up and get dressed. Being as though she is not a morning person, that was quite an accomplishment.

It looked like a celebrity was starting school with all of the cameras and people following her inside. Nana and Papa were there with their cameras and Daddy was carrying his. She was so cute smiling sweetly and patiently for all of the pictures.

She was nervous but quickly started making friends and setting her desk up the way she wanted it. When we picked her up she told us all about her exciting day. When we asked her what her favorite part of her day was she said it was doing her chart - her behavior chart. She also liked having her height measured. All in all everything went well. Sadly, she is on her way to a journey that will end with great independence. Knowing Anna and her amazing personality, this journey will be quite the adventure!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Perfect 10


It seems like it was only yesterday when I waited, impatiently, I might add to hold my first child. The night my water broke I had just worked 14 hours raising money for Tupelo Children's Mansion. I had gone to the doctor earlier in the week and he told me he was going on vacation and that I had at least another 2 weeks. Well, obviously Simeon had other plans, he was ready to enter the world and brighten our lives forever! We rushed to the hospital at 4:00 a.m. on August 16th thinking we had better hurry because we wouldn't have much time. Well, we could have stayed home and slept for another 12 hours because it took a total of 19 1/2 hours for him to actually arrive! He was so sweet and tiny, and he made his daddy cry when he held him for the first time.

Now, 10 years later I can't believe that the baby I once held is almost as tall as me!

A few things about Simeon:

  • He has a very sensitive nature, and doesn't like anyone to be left out
  • He thinks sleep is a waste of time!
  • He appears shy at first, but when he warms up he can TALK!
  • He is starting fifth grade in four days
  • He loves sports- especially golf and basketball
  • He thinks sleep is a waste of time!
  • He would rather try spinach than Jello????
  • He ate Vienna sausages every day for lunch in first grade
  • Did I mention he thinks sleep is a waste of time???
  • He is extremely persistent
Each day he becomes more independent and I know very shortly another 10 years will pass. I will be looking back and remembering when.....

I pray blessings of peace, joy, and anointing upon his life almost daily. I know he is mine to hold for just a short while and I am so thankful that God chose to give him to me! Happy Birthday Simeon!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

North American Ladies Conference




The past three days flew by so quickly! I had the awesome privilege of going to the North American Ladies Conference. The services were all life changing and it almost felt like God orchestrated each one of them for me! I know that there were other ladies who felt the same way because there were so many touched and changed by the power of God. We learned not to believe a lie, to get over our hurts, and that we have great power!

In addition to the spiritual renewal, I was able to spend time with great friends. They reminded me of some very important truths that I had forgotten! Laughter doeth good like a medicine! They put up with my addictions (Diet Coke and Starbucks), and the fact that I can sometimes be a little slow (expecting the parking attendant to give me money). I was able to be there for Staci's first view of her new book Saving Grace. That was pretty moving in itself! I wanted to stand on a table and announce that she was my friend! I gained a new friend (Rochelle) in the process, and learned that I am not the only one who can talk all night long! I even got some special attention from one of my Moms (Nancy).

Lastly, I learned that even my crazy driving at almost 2:00 a.m. in the morning can't scare Lynette! She even learned to put with my indecisive nature at times (at least I hope she did).

I pray that God takes every aspect of this great conference and implants it deep in my heart. I know that each lesson I learned, spiritual or emotional, will help me to be the servant He has called me to be!


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Calling that Cannot be Denied


I still remember the place I was sitting when I felt the call of God on my life. There are days it seems just like it was yesterday and then other times it seems like a lifetime ago.

Sitting at the altar at Mississippi campgrounds, praying with the children scattered everywhere, I heard God calling my name. It was no audible voice but instead it was a gentle urging to do a work for Him. It was at that time that I threw all plans of my own to the wind. I knew the only place I would ever find true satisfaction was in serving Him and ministering to His people. There are times my vision is shaded and I can't see why He has me working in a particular area, but then all at once He opens my eyes again and lets me see.

When God calls us we must place our lives, our hopes, our dreams, and our confidence in His hands. When the prophet Samuel heard God calling him, he did not run but yet listened to God's call. We must be like Samuel, and be ready to follow His call. It is not a calling that can be denied. Serving God is an absolute calling of faith and trust, knowing that He who has called us will qualify us.

Remembering that calling always changes my focus. When God has a work to be done, I want to be right in the middle of it denying my flesh and my desires but never denying my calling!