Two Years...

Two years healed.
I had my second to last surgery two years ago today. It was my first hip replacement. Honestly, if it weren't for Facebook Memories I would've forgotten. I'm off work today(!), had a doctor's appointment to get my feet right for Haiti in thirteen days, and had some edits for a friend to accomplish.
But I thought to pause a moment, and mark this day. Because I just gave my testimony the other night in our Haiti team meeting, and all that God has accomplished in two years just blows me away.
The season of life that I was in two years ago was the darkest yet. I was wrecked, and not in the good way. I didn't know what would happen, if or how God would provide, what my life would or even could be without the chronic pain I'd conditioned myself to live with and count my blessings through for almost a dozen years.
One year ago today I had just emailed a woman named Sandy, who worked at North Way Dormont, just five miles away from my house. I reached out to see what there was for me to get involved in, though I'd only been visiting the church for two weeks, maybe.
And last week? I attended my second night of worship and prayer the church hosted since I've been attending. Let me amend, friend—not the church, but my church.
Last year's worship night I hid in the back behind a pillar squished into the corner of a practically empty pew.
This year's night of worship I wept and threw my hands up high and sang loud in between two dear friends. Who, I hope, don't mind my singing. Two people who make up the beautiful community—family—that works hard to love people in Pittsburgh and beyond, where they live, work and play.
Two years after Healing Day #1? I'm here to say that God has restored my life ten-fold, beyond anything I could've planned for myself, in every area. And I have never been closer to Him. My church is one of the best things that have ever happened to me. My hip surgeries, and my church.
I'll write more about it all someday. I'll keep writing my books, slowly but surely. Maybe even a non-fiction. Writing's in me. It's never going to go away. But I have a full to overflowing life now—one that demands I be present, and soak up every moment. So if online its quiet, well? That's just the season God has me in right now. And it is a season full of new adventures, joy—and being Fearless. And Fearing, Less.

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The Year of Shifts, Living, & Hardly Writing

You know those news-y letters families send out every Christmas recapping their year? I don't know about you but I love getting them. One of my best friends sent one out, and in a world of constant updates on social media, a paper-letter is like a genuine visit with a long-lost friend.
And it's been quite a while since I've sat down here on my little blog to visit. Don't worry I'm not going month-by-month.
2017 was a year of a lot of shifting. I didn't have One Word so much as one or two phrases. Beauty from Ashes I got tattooed on my left forearm. And, as it turned out, All Things New. I heard those two phrases everywhere. In new worship songs, in sermons, in books—and oh, did my Lord prove them both to be true.
Late winter slash spring I tiptoed out of my comfort zone and began the search for my own church. This after months, months, of wrestling with discontentment, talking myself out of it. Multiple trusted friends gently encouraging me, and me talking myself out of it. Guilt once I started researching other churches in my area—and me talking myself out of it. But once I finally gave voice to my heart to my parents—who by the way are only supportive—I was lent just the freedom-laced nudge I needed to seek out my own church home. Lo and behold, I didn't have to go far in terms of physical distance—but wow did I have a long ways to go in letting down my guard, letting go of some jadedness I didn't think was there—and climbing over my fear. Week by week went by at the most beautiful old church I've ever seen, and I kept second-guessing myself. That surely this was too good to be true. Was I settling because its style and theology were so similar to what I'd just come from?
And all the while God was up there tugging me nearer to get me to really listen to Him. That He is who He says He is, His desires for me are only good—and that He can do it again. He can provide, and give me what I didn't know I needed or wanted again and again. He is in the business of healing hearts—even the hearts who so desperately light out after independence and doing All the Things Just Because She Can Now. Even the hearts hurt and burnt out and in desperate need of revival.

In between writing this post, there is life and it's New Year's Day and I'm in a mood to purge and reflect but there's also SO MUCH TO PLAN. I was procrastinating on this post and journaling by cleaning out my email inbox, and lo and behold I found the email I sent eleven months ago to who is now my church mom, asking how I could get involved and connected.
Have you ever just felt God's smile? It's been a year of that, too—when I've paused long enough and gotten real with Him, that is.

While my church home was perhaps the biggest adventure and blessing of 2017, others were smaller but nonetheless memorable, for better or for worse. April, right before Easter, my sister, her best friend and I went to New York City. On a bus. For three days and two nights. My sister was terribly sick, our carefully laid plans fell apart and we ended up cutting the trip short we were all so out of it and hated to do so much without Sara. But even still? I got to spend a day in NYC with one of my best friends, exploring and geeking out over the Theater District, and taking selfies with literally every play poster we stumbled across. And I also could've sworn I walked past Cobie Smulders. Lots of lessons learned and cringe-worthy laughable memories made—and this girl would be totally content never visiting that particular city again—but it was a highlight nonetheless. Just the fact I walked almost ten miles in a day is something to be celebrated.

2017 held but two dates for me, and honestly, that is quite all right by me. My first set-up "blind date", and another one from online where we had tons in common but, with both of them? It just wasn't there. Not one tiny part of me was interested enough to see either of them again—and, as much as the people-pleaser in me hated to gently give the whole "let's be friends I enjoyed getting to know you" talk? I don't regret settling. Nor do I regret deleting every dang dating app and honestly hoping 2018 holds not one date for me (by my own initiation at least.)

Along with these rosy-colored adventuring memories from last year come a fair amount of regret-tinged sighs. Not so much what I did—but how I did things. There may have been a few too many hasty yeses said, a few too-slow steps forward out of my comfort zone, multiple dishonest-by-omission times with dear, dear new friends. Aaaaand holding myself to high standards of Superwoman perfection hemmed in a web of comparison traps. And all because of fear. Which is where anxiety stems from. Which, coupled with LIFE, causes burn out.

It's why I've hardly written this year. Or read, for that matter. 35 posts here in 2017. Not even that many books read. I haven't checked, but I bet not even 3500 words have been written in a single story of mine. Comparing 2017 to recent years is pointless—but we're human, right? We see the stark differences in what we're doing now as opposed to years past.
The story God's writing for me in the here and now? With the fullest plate I've ever had in my life?
It's a story that demands I be more present in real time, and keep my heart open to the shifting and new passions God's planting. Not as a replacement to my love of fiction—I mean I do have a book coming out in three months—but accepting the fact that this is simply a relatively new season still. And it's going to look different.
And that is okay.
I'm still learning to hold myself to God's standard of grace, and not my standards of perfection and Being All to Everyone and in Everything. I get burnt out—but I get back up again as long as I let in He who wants me to rest in Him, His love and all He's created me to be, and nothing more.
Cheers to a new year, unwritten to my eyes—but thankfully, not to the Ultimate Author.

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The next story of my heart has a cover!

Y'all. This has been a day long awaited. Ten-plus years, in fact. The story that's been with me the longest has a cover and it's now out in the Great Wide World. Margaret Bryant has a face now, the setting's golden and rosy-hued. The story itself at the moment? It's getting polished to shine as bright as the cover. It's not quite as rosy-hued wonderful as I'd like. But that's where grace comes in—and a stellar editress who has the patience of Job. Much like Roseanna White who designed Amongst the Roses' cover for me.
It takes a village. The whole book journey can be waxed poetic, but I'm going to level with you—it's freaking hard. Especially as seasons change and you change with it. Much like this story. It's seen me through the awkward braces years, the shy blushing teenage years where I hated to answer phones or talk to boys, through to when I stumbled into finding my true self and walking confidently in who God's created me to be. Walking without pain anymore. Walking to Haiti come February. Walking into releasing my third(!) book in April. Walking, stumbling, trying to sprint but failing, on the path God's called me to. And it is good. His love endures forever.

Now who's ready for to see the cover?
Three hearts, and one war—who will return?

The War Between the States shakes Margaret Bryant out of her comfortable upper-class life when her father enlists in the Army of the Potomac. Despite being safely ensconced above the Mason-Dixon Line in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Margaret finds her strength tested by opposition from familiar faces and Confederate threats. Will she let a young man from a lesser station into her heart even as war rages ever nearer to the home front?

Restless Connor Doyle sees the war as a way to escape from his family’s farm and his identity as a poor Irishman’s son. His brother, Adam, torn between duty to country and his family, enlists alongside Connor. Adam dares to hope in a future with Margaret when he begins a courtship correspondence from the war front. The two brothers make a vow to protect one another at all costs, but when faced with death and destruction from all sides—will they be able to uphold it?

The three bloodiest days in America’s history bring these three together at Gettysburg and tragedy’s cruelty threatens to tear two hearts apart—and bring two unlikely allies together.

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Getting back to the heart

Something's stirring lately.

I'm getting back to the heart here. I've been second-guessing and doubting what and how much to talk about here in this space. What type of audience I need to attract, how I need to present myself.
And I'm here today to say I am so over it.
I am a major work in progress when it comes to owning my calling to write. Calling myself an author—I've been rather transparent about that this year. But no more will I jot down post ideas only to delete them with a roll of the eyes and, No one will be interested in this.

One enormous facet of the abundance God's been revealing to me has been about relationship and connection. He is The God of the Universe and yet knows each and every one of us intimately, scarily—and loves us anyway. Always chasing us down.
How much more then as a follower of Him, should I extend my heart here in this space, in my books? And by extending it, revealing it authentically. Not what I think you want to read. Not what I think a Proper Author should write.
Just my heart.
It's been the inspired posts and the most heart-achingly hard scenes to write in my books, that you have resonated with. Grammatical errors and all.

You know when you pray those prayers that go along the lines of, "Break my heart for what breaks Yours?" or "Reveal Yourself to me, Lord." It's those types of desperate prayers that don't even begin to adequately express the wordless ache deep in our souls. Those words spoken from our hearts to God's ears—those prayers are dangerous. But they invite Him in if we remain soft and pliable for Him to work.
We live in a broken world where relationships and connections hurt. People hurt people. On purpose, by accident. Bad book reviews...
Scars and callouses build up and warp our view of other people in a self-protective web that hisses that we're better off taking care of ourselves. That way we won't get hurt. That way we won't experience more rejection or judgment.
Oh but the abundance we miss. Trust me. I'm still tiptoeing out of that fearful, guarded living. But it's a necessary walk, friends. I get how tired and burnt out life can get us—whether you're in Crisis Mode or just Normal Life is zapping the strength out of you week in and week out. But if you have Jesus in your heart—it doesn't have to be like this.
Now that we as believers have Holy Spirit dwelling in us at all times, we have a responsibility to show up and park ourselves to meet others where they are. Like the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament—the Israelites parked it when God instructed them to, and there He made Himself known.
We're all individual arks, friends. We carry Holy Spirit in our hearts at all times. And yet we, I, get so tangled up in the comparison games, the insecurities, *insert your constant trip-up here.* It's a large part of why I've been quiet here.
This all stems from brokenness.
But God. He is bigger.
His grace and love always sufficient, all covering. And He wants only good for us, believe it or not. He cares so deeply it's enormously hard to fathom.
There is an abundant life to be had when we press into Jesus, warts, broken pieces and all. But it's when He calls us out onto the waves—to show up and park ourselves—vessels of Holy Spirit—where we can perhaps extend a measure of grace to another broken person. Just. By. Showing. Up.
And the bonus of this, y'all?
It's not draining. It's stretching, yes—but stretching relieves tension and leaves you with a good ache.
Just showing up? It opens more doors for Jesus to reveal Himself and fill you up. And it only takes one step at a time—not a whole big long To Do list. Not some special prayers or Bible study. Moment by moment, lean in and start by being honest with our Father God. Nothing shocks or offends or puts Him off. Ever.
I don't know when all this started for me earlier this year—still quite honestly wrapping my brain around it. It's why this post serpentined away from me a bit. But now that I am back writing about my loves (and not just my bookish loves/lessons learned), can I "speak" these words of Paul over you, reader?

For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen

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Wanted: Influencers

Dear reader,
Can I tell you a story?

It's been over five years since I first began the "grown-up" version of a story I first titled and wrote in fifth grade. Back then it told a super convoluted, rather plagiarized tale of Margaret O'Brien, a roses-loving girl, one of four sisters, during the Civil War - and her romance with one Connor Barnes.

Upon completion of that first draft, I shelved it away—always knowing deep down I'd come back to it. Fast forward to 2012, and dust it off I did. And I changed some names (so Connor Barnes, the handsome redhead Irishman, could actually have an Irish surname) but I kept the setting, found a real, vibrant city to set my tale in—and I promise I cut out all of the plagiarism of Little Women, and Lynn Austin's Refiner's Fire series.
Here's the official blurb:

The War Between the States shakes Margaret Bryant out of her comfortable upper-class life when her father enlists in the Army of the Potomac. Despite being safely ensconced above the Mason-Dixon Line in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Margaret finds her strength tested by opposition from familiar faces and Confederate threats. Will she let a young man from a lesser station into her heart even as war rages ever nearer to the homefront?

Restless Connor Doyle sees the war as a way to escape from his family’s farm and his identity as a poor Irishman’s son. His brother, Adam, torn between duty to country and his family, enlists alongside Connor. Adam dares to hope in a future with Margaret when he begins a courtship correspondence from the warfront. The two brothers make a vow to protect one another at all costs, but when faced with death and destruction from all sides—will they be able to uphold it?

The three bloodiest days in America’s history brings these three together at Gettysburg and tragedy’s cruelty threatens to tear two hearts apart—and bring two unlikely allies together. 
Coming April 12, 2018
But prior to that: I need your help.
It takes a village to release a book—and suffice it to say I learned that well with my first two releases which didn't have Official Street Teams. But all that has changed this time around, with my very own blossoming street team. Amongst the Roses is first up on my 2018 release list—and if you join, you get first dibs at reading/helping promote my next two releases of 2018. A 1950's Pittsburgh romance novella, and A Rose Long Awaited—the sequel to Amongst the Roses. Exclusive giveaways, inside looks/trivia, and getting to be privy to all the exciting developments of the last stages of novel publication is just some of the fun we'll be having in a private Facebook group in the months leading up to publication. (Follow ye old link below to get more details of being on my team)

I would so dearly appreciate your help in getting my baby little book into the Great Wide World, so that our good, good Father can get it to the people He wants to read it. That is why I have this own imprint of mine called Northern Belle Publishing. I can't even say it's a dream come true—it's simply how God led me to release the books He inspires.
This novel is the one that's been with me the longest, its characters are like family, and hold a special part of my heart that is only revealed within its pages, and I would so love to share it with you.
Hope to see you on the
Belles & Roses Street Team!

I am so excited for you to read Margaret, Connor, and Adam's story in April. Stay tuned for cover reveal, more about my novella—and all the other adventures God's put me on this season.

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When All Things Are Made New

Two years ago I was laying with my feet up in a recliner in compression stockings, and using a walker just to shuffle to and from the living room to the bathroom. Two years ago my best friend got married and my heart broke that I couldn't be there as her maid of honor as we'd always planned. Two years ago I was freaking out wondering when I could get back to normal—the job God dropped into my lap after high school that I was actually excited to return to.
One year ago I was a week into a brand new job, riding a rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows from great triumphs and gifts in time with my tribe at CFRR and ACFW, as well as dealing with the loss of my grandfather and internalizing my pain over deferred hopes—despite having two new painfree hips.

Those two paragraphs are perhaps the summation of the biggest parts of my story thus far, but its not why I'm dusting off ye old blog. If anything, it's to say that, wherever you are in your story—God's going to come through.
That Big Change you're desperate for?
This wilderness season that won't seem to end and everything good seems so unlikely and far off?
The pain of loss or deferred hopes that leaves you shuddering and hardened and you don't quite know how to cope?
God can take all your ugly anger and resentment and pain. He doesn't judge you or call you a bad Christian through it.
The heartbreak of losing someone you thought'd be Someone Special?
The dizzying conflict of being in a place you're not exactly sure you wanted to be in, despite the positives?
I need to watch how often I say, "Tell God your plans and hear Him laugh." It's an easy quip, based in truth—but it can be trite and bitter to taste. As if to say, "God's laughing at you."
Not so, friends.
He has the heart of a good, good Father, our God is a lion—the Lion of Judah—who fiercely protects and loves His own.
No discipline feels pleasant in the moment. But it's like a harvest. A lot of hard, grueling, painful work both on our part and God's—no parent likes to see their child hurting.
But the yield after the harvest? The way only God—only HIM—makes all things new?
It's worth it. Not the comparatively easier seasons that may indeed come after a hard one, not the prosperity or dreams being fulfilled—HE is worth it.
He is worth knowing, going deeper with—so that years down the road, you can shake your head in wonder at all God has done and how He is all the more real, good and loving.
And then run with it.
Give back, love well, open your heart—yes, the risk of rejection is worth risking again and again—and God has incredible people yet to come into your life. People who will teach you something even as you're ministering to them. People who will be working alongside you for similar goals—to love people well the way Jesus did—it is an incredible unveiling of just how well God loves us, these people who are the hands and feet of Jesus.
Your world and soul will expand after the heartache of your world's rug getting ripped out from under you.
And that is all God doing His glorious unfolding.
Trust me—I thought at one time that at twenty-four I'd be saving for a wedding, not for a mission's trip to Haiti with some of the best people I know from the newest home for my heart—my very own church.
God is good, all the time. He is in this business of restoring, healing hearts and rebuilding lives so that we may continue to go about His business—and love others well wherever they may be.

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How God Uses the Wilderness to Get Your Attention

An autumn Sunday morning. Blue sky and puffy white clouds and a breeze that had me worried my dress would pull a Marilyn Monroe-esque look as I walked into the church.
Worship was through, communion partook of. I grabbed my notebook instead of my phone to actually handwrite notes on the sermon our campus pastor was giving that morning. It was on the story of Hosea. And how God instructed the prophet to marry a prostitute. One of those Bible stories that are easy to write off as some random cultural occurrence to prove a point, or teach Israel a lesson since this was a time before Jesus ushered in the New Covenant of grace.
Except this is the word of God we're talking about here—even stories such as these have a purpose.
The pursuit of God is a theme tangible in the plot of Hosea. Hosea who, after marrying Gomer, had three children. Except only one is said to be "his." Which means she kept sneaking off, sleeping with other men—returning to her old way of life. This is a prodigal daughter story.
Gomer's lovers ended up selling her into slavery, and Hosea was told by God to buy her back—and he obeyed. He paid the price for her—the lowest price for a slave. One who was considered damaged goods according to Levitical (Old Testament) law—also by that law? Hosea had the right to kill Gomer for her actions, but he didn't. He instead obeyed God, choosing love—living out God's own redemptive pursuit of Israel. Of us.
Hosea brought Gomer back from the wilderness—at her lowest point. Everything was stripped away from her. God brought her to the wilderness. The result of her actions—but it's often in these moments of God's discipline / sovereign will that we're stalled long enough to hear His shouts. He shouts in our pain to get our attention, to restore us to His heart.
If pain is what it takes to bring us home, God will do it. He's done it time and time again through out history.
My pastor spoke those words (not verbatim)—and my pen stalled in my notebook and I almost cried, a piece of my heart clicked back into place.
Restoration, right?
Not only was I sitting in a place I never thought existed or that I needed, with no pain, but the happiest I've ever been. Because God is a restorer. His is a relentless pursuit that never fails.
Whatever your wilderness season's looked like, or if you're in one now—can I encourage you to just hang on? Quiet your heart, and listen for what God's saying to gain your attention and tuck you back into His embrace.

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Tangled Words {and how to untangle them}

These words of Moses', guys? It's where I'm at in this season. Whether in person with new friends/acqauntances. Anytime I talk about my writing. I write somewhat better than I talk. But most of all?
Words are tangled and knotted and stuck right now. With Amongst the Roses' sequel, with my novella that has a title, two main characters, a setting and little else. Not to mention life whirling on at an alarming pace—it's already October! Color me overwhelmed, to say the least.
And I've been beating myself up about even feeling this overwhelmed. I should be able to handle all this. It's all good! Especially compared to the not so distant past. I should be able to shoulder it all and keep a good attitude and meet everyone's needs
Something I've been reading about in my small group's book for this season: Wild & Free, cut me to the quick.
We put God in a box.
Moses, way back when here, was putting God in a box. He was literally speaking with God then! Telling the Great I Am that his limitations and struggles were bigger than the Creator of the Universe's ability to make a way of deliverance.
And I do this more than I care to admit. I step right into the quicksand of paralyzing anxiety that's always there but off/on exacerbated by things both in my control and out of it. I freeze. I retreat inward.
Because I am a great sinner work-in-progress who has a great Savior. Who's proven Himself time and again and again and again as wildly loving and cherishing of me in all my issues.
If you're in this neighborhood of just overwhelmed—can I share a few things that've helped me?

  1. Don't be afraid to get real and honest.
    Start with a journal. Just scribble. No one'll read it but you. Talk with a trusted friend, ask for prayer. I know its often easier to not risk rejection and stay quiet, but reach out to those nearest you. You'll be surprised. And often God speaks through them.
  2. Pros and cons lists.
    They actually help. They may not for you. But take a hard look and review all your committments, and prayerfully see what needs to be put on hold temporarily.
  3. Fill your mind/ears with truth.
    Start with who God is—then who you are. For me? Music is an incredible blessing in the battle through anxiety and overwhelm. Just make sure not to numbly tune out, but really truly listen to those favorite calming songs that lift your eyes up to the One who's holding your dear heart.
  4. Prioritize rest and sleep.
    I know, I know—easier said than done. But seriously. I can hop on my computer and just end up completely zoning out or switching between my open novel doc and Facebook after a certain time of night. That's when I'm trying to close it, take a deep breath, grab whatever novel I'm reading, and curl up in bed. It'll actually get you to bed sooner and, if the book's a great one, unwind your tangled mind to get decent rest.

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The Latest Pepper Basham Novel! {Cover Reveal}

It's no secret around here I love books, and romance—in that order. Allow me to reintroduce one of the greatest romance writers of our time and in the inspirational fiction world—Pepper Basham. This woman spins magic from her finger tips when she writes her books. Not only is the romance poignant and swoon-worthy (I kid you not, there've been fans that've needed, well, fans, during some scenes), but the truth of the Gospel and the grace God lavishes upon us is woven through out every story to reflect back the beauty of the Ultimate Author. Couple all this with three-dimensional characters, hilarious comedic interludes and exchanges, and you've got a hit on your hands. Honestly every book she keeps releasing I adore more and more than the last.

Amazon | Goodreads | B&N
The cover I'm sharing here today is for book two in her highly acclaimed Mitchell's Crossroads series. A series that began with a fiery opposites-attract storyline set against the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia in A Twist of Faith. { My full review here }
Love does not have an accent ... 
Dr. Adelina Roseland has worked ten years in research as an accent reduction specialist to attain her dream job. But a secret wager to transform Appalachian cattle farmer Reese Mitchell into corporate material challenges Adelina in ways she never expected, threatening her new position.
For one, Adelina didn't plan for the faith and friction of Reese, or the unexpected influence of his chaotic family. Now, drawn into a culture she'd tried to forget, Adelina finds the warmth of family, the hope of faith, and the joy of love melting away the deep wounds of her past.
But when Reese discovers that he's a pawn in her climb up the academic ladder, will he forgive Adelina s deceit or will their miscommunication end in two broken lives?

And now, book two. The heroine is Reese's sister Rainey, the hero, interestingly enough, the "villain" from book one, is Alex. Adorkable Alex, and Tough-Cookie Rainey. Both have painful pasts, and unsure futures, but despite Alex's playboy facade, and Rainey's no-nonsense exterior—they have similar tender hearts that hope against hope to be cherished for who they really are in Charming the Troublemaker.
About the book:
{Which you can Add to Goodreads Now! }

--> When Dr. Alex Murdock is demoted to a university in rural Virginia, the last thing he expects to find is a future. But country charm never looked as good as it did on Rainey Mitchell.Rainey Mitchell does not need a high-class flirt in her wounded world, but trouble and temptation wafts off the new professor as strong as his sandalwood-scented cologne. 
When circumstances thrust them together to save her tutoring clinic, can the troublemaker find the hero inside and encourage the reticent Rainey to open her heart again?
Releasing November 1, 2017!
Y'all! Isn't this awesome? Alex's boyish "I'm a stinker" grin, and Rainey's loving "I put up with you" smile? My heart.

About the Author
As a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Pepper Basham enjoys sprinkling her Appalachian into her fiction writing. She is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance, mom of five, speech-language pathologist, and a lover of Jesus and chocolate. She resides in Asheville, North Carolina with her family. You can learn more about her on her website, or connect on Facebook or Twitter.


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On Pursuit

Who doesn't love a good pursuit story? The "How We Met" stories that have the guy pursuing the girl patiently, kindly, but intentionally. Even if it was simply sitting beside her at Bible study, or in a cafeteria enough times before worked up the courage to ask her out. One of my personal favorites are the totally unforeseen pursuit stories. My best friend was the one to initially ask her now-husband out—but at the time it was just to "talk shop about robotics." What can I say, I'm friends with a ton of nerds. Turns out though, her initiating that with those legit reasons (he wasn't on her radar like at ALL, trust me), gave him the opportunity to go out with her one on one. Because he'd noticed her months prior.

In my recent scrollings, there've been a few articles that've cropped up about dating and all that jazz, and the one word that keeps coming up is Pursuit. I'm all for that and refuse to settle for me putting in all the effort/communication/initiation. But we have to watch that hard and fast rule of not settling for a guy who won't pursue. Not that I've been on any dates in months...BUT.
Think about something here. Turn the whole dating/pursuit/not-settling ideas inside out with me.
A relationship takes equal partnership. Don't say "duh" yet. (And I know, I know any relationship/marriage isn't 50/50 100% of the time. But there needs to be committment. Okay. Digression over.)
This also means equal pursuit. We need to be available to be pursued, but we also need to put in effort. To be open and honest from the get go—and really get to know the guy. Which often involves hard questions, listening, and above all? Kindness.
Just think of how God pursues us, and wants us to do the same back to Him. Even when we go AWOL or try to hide our little messes, thinking He can't possibly want us at our worst? He wants to be there for us, actively loving every facet of our hearts. Even the work in progress parts. God's pursuit is the only one that will be truly relentless. Better than the stuff of all the romance novels ever written.

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