If you've read my book Asylum, you know I'm not a big fan of doctors. I know a few personally, and they are awesome people, but in general, I've not had the best of luck with them. Let me share a couple examples...
After I had my second child, I went to a doctor to see about losing weight. He labeled me morbidly obese and said he couldn't do much for me, but I was on the path to having a heart attack. "In fact, it would be easier for me to treat you if you had one," he had the nerve to say.
When I asked another doctor about losing weight, thinking I'd probably be recommended for bariatric surgery, she said, "Weight Watchers is a great program. You should join that."
I was in a tailspin of eating my feelings for way too many years. I hid behind depression, fear, anger...and comforted myself with cheesecake, pizza, and ice cream.
But there's been a major change.
After my last onstage performance, I was inspired. Inspired by the way I felt after seeing myself on camera. Inspired by the hope of the next production. Inspired to get healthy for myself and for my kids.
I changed my diet. I started eating single-ingredient foods--vegetables, fruit, meat. I stayed away from sugar and carbs (knowing fruit and veggies have healthy carbs). I drink only water. I forced myself to get up and start walking. Instead of sitting and watching a Netflix show, I pulled it up on my tablet and rode our stationary recumbent bike.
As of today, I am down 51 pounds! And that's not the end of it. I've discovered a lifestyle change. I like the way I am eating. I feel good. My brain fog is gone. Depression is gone. I can deal with and work through the feelings that come my way. I no longer have to take my daily prescription for heartburn. I like the way I am exercising. I feel strong. Energetic. Ready to take on the world. I finally like myself, and I haven't felt that way in a very long time.
I've done this without doctors, without Weight Watchers, without a gym membership. This has been a partnership with God Who's given me the strength and courage and will to keep going. Looking back, the journey hasn't been that difficult. I wish I had done it sooner. But the timing is right. And I'm grateful.
I'm proud to announce Book 2 of my Star Sailors series is now available!
This is the story that actually inspired the entire series, and it's one of my favorites! Commodore Jameson Kendrick falls in love and gets into a heap of trouble. Isn't it wonderful when characters do that?
Here's the official description:
Now commodore of the Kendrick Brothers Star Lines fleet, Jameson Kendrick eagerly anticipates the maiden voyage of the newly remodeled flagship Corona. But the expected arrival of the ship's headline musical act leads to unexpected chaos.
While Jameson attempts to stick to his shipboard duties and resist the charms of the young woman who is slated to entertain his passengers, he is caught up in a web of galactic politics, including a plot to kill her. Who knew she was at the center of a secret that could threaten the entire galaxy? Solving the mystery and helping her could jeopardize his star lines, but Jameson is compelled to do the right thing…
Get your copy today on Amazon! Click here for more.
In recent years, I've had many family members and friends comment on how "innocent" I am. Certain words slip out, and people apologize to me. Certain board/card games won't be played because they are a bit unsavory. Certain movies won't be discussed. The list goes on and on.
What they don't know about me is that I used to swear like a sailor. I used to play those unsavory games. I used to watch nasty movies. (Okay, maybe not nasty, but pretty bad.) And much worse.
But you know what changed? It's sounds trite, although it's anything but.
God got a hold of me.
When I chose to place my faith in Jesus Christ, I also had to choose who I was to become. Would I continue to walk in that lifestyle? Consume whatever I felt like, be it books, movies, songs...and let all that affect my behavior? Or would I "go and sin no more," as Jesus told the woman caught in adultery.
To make matters better (I can't say worse because I got to marry my sweetie!), I became a pastor's wife. Not only was I needing to fight that battle within. It was on display for a church full of people!
Now, I'm not perfect. Far from it. But I am choosing to fill my life with good things. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." That's what I choose to fill my life with.
Sometimes I slip. I've written a series of books that are far edgier than anything I've written before. And just last night, I started watching a movie that went from bad to worse. I tolerated more than a few F-bombs because I wanted to see where it was going. And when it went to a place that made me super uncomfortable, I turned it off. The images, though, stuck with me through a good part of the evening. And that's the problem. Even when you turn stuff off, it's still in your head.
Please don't hear me say that I think I'm better than you. Not one bit. I am a sinner saved by grace. This is a choice I make for me--to keep myself in check and to be an example for my children. I'm now wearing my innocence proudly. I'm a child of the one true King. I want His voice to lead me. I want His words to fill my mouth. I want His spirit to fill my heart.
There's a beautiful melancholy that comes with closing a production. It's a victory. A success. An accomplishment. But it's also a goodbye to the people you've grown to love--to count as family-- over the last few months. While you're thankful for the time you gain in the nights without rehearsal, you're sorrowful because it's time to move on. To get back to the life you knew before. Yet you are forever changed, so really there's no going back.
I so enjoyed my time as part of Sunrise Players' Cinderella. This was a special production for me, as my husband and children were part of the cast. In the role of the Queen, I got to wear beautiful dresses and have fun interactions with other characters. I was blessed to be part of this show. Every aspect was rock-solid, both onstage and off. There's a lot more to a performance than what you see. Months of planning, vision-casting, and hard work from the directors and the production team is what really makes for a tight show. And we have one of the best!
Beyond the show, I've seen many of my friends grow as performers and professionals. I've grown, too! Theatre is such a unique event. The challenge of learning a script and songs, developing a character to bring the words to life, incorporating costumes, props, sets, and technical elements, then presenting all that to a varied audience...there's nothing else like it! Not to mention the relationships and communication that happens in between.
After our strike, I stepped into the empty sanctuary. (We perform in a church.) The lights had been turned off. The sets dismantled. The costumes sorted. The props put away. The orchestra was long gone, and most of the actors had trickled out. All was quiet. And my heart filled with gratitude. We may have been just a glimmer on that stage, but the memories are forever set in our hearts.
It was a lovely night. Thank you to all who were involved and who came to see us.
I distinctly remember a phone call to my dad when I was a child. The circumstances around the call elude me, but I remember ending the conversation with "I love you." And I remember saying it because it wasn't said often in our home and I wanted to change that. So I did.
From that point onward, I said it when I left the house, when I went to bed, any time it suited the situation. I said it to my mom and brothers, too. And they started to say it back. It became part of who we were. Are.
Over the years, I've learned to say it to friends. You never know when will be the last time you see that person, so if you love them, why not let them know? Now.
And this all came to mind tonight as I was saying good night to my son. I must have told him I love him five or six times. And the thought struck me that if you say it too often, it loses its meaning.
But does it? Does it really?
Because in that same moment, the reasoning hit me as tears stung my eyes...
"I say it a lot because I can't say it enough."
I could say those three little words for the rest of my life and not be able to tell him how very much I love him. And that goes for my husband, my girls, my brothers, my mom, and the slew of other people who mean the world to me.
Love may have different shades. I love God differently than I love my husband. And I love him differently than I love my children. And I love them differently than I love my mom. And my friends. But that doesn't change the face that love is still in my heart for the person on the receiving end of my words.
After all...1 John 4:19 reminds us, "We love because he first loved us."
So unashamedly, unreservedly, unrelentingly, I tell you...I love you. I love you. I. Love. You. I'm grateful for you. And I love you. Always and forever.
I say it a lot because I can't say it enough.
I've been performing with a fantastic theatre group for the last few years. My children have also participated from time to time. This spring, we're performing Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (the 1957 version), and my entire family is involved, including my husband!
As an exercise to help the cast bond and to help us think about the magic we're about to create on stage, one of the directors had us pass around a rain stick and offer a single word that came to mind when thinking about this classic story. So many great words--joy, magic, love. All concepts neatly wrapped up in this two-hour production. And when the stick was passed to my former-pastor husband, he chose the word redemption.
That has stuck with me. And I started thinking about Cinderella in terms of redemption and God's grace. Much like the girl in her own little corner, we're all sinners, stained and dirty. Isolated and alone. Dreaming of something better. Then along comes our magical Fairy Godmother...the choice to believe and follow Christ...transforming us into something beautiful. We meet the Prince (a charming Prince!), and there is a celebration. As we walk with him, "we are dancing, we are flying, and He's taking me back to the skies!" And here's what I love...we may fall away. Midnight comes, plunging us into doubt and fear. And yet our Prince pursues us. He's relentless, searching for His love until He finds us again. And then, we become His bride.
Isn't that a beautiful picture?
The little girl in me always wanted a Cinderella moment. Who knew a fairy tale could come true in such a powerful way?
I was in sixth grade. We heard the weather forecast, calling for snow. Oh, how I prayed for a snow day! I lay in my bed, begging God to give us a break...right up until the moment I dropped off for the night.
The next morning, my prayer was answered! We got our snow day, and it was glorious. As we sat down for breakfast, I told my dad that I had prayed and that God heard me.
I'll never forget what happened next.
My dad looked me in the eye and said, "You're not important enough for God to answer a prayer like that."
Now, my dad wasn't a mean guy. He just didn't know where he stood with God and probably was afraid to ask. But those words have stuck with me all my life. Whenever I utter any kind of prayer, I hear them. I feel them. They are hard to shake. Even though I know God's love is unshakable. The detrimental words of an earthly father can sometimes overpower the loving words of our Heavenly Father.
This past Friday, my son heard the weather forecast for the beginning of this week and fully believed we'd have a snow day following the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Despite the many naysayers (myself included), he held firm to this belief. I don't know if it ever reached the prayer level, except last night when I meekly asked for him to be right.
Lo and behold, we woke up to a delayed start, which turned into a full closure!
When he awoke, I told him that God had heard him. That he had believed so strongly, God rewarded his faithfulness.
It doesn't erase that moment in time I experienced *cough* thirty-some *cough* years ago, but I feel like that moment has been redeemed. The heartbreak I felt wasn't passed on, but instead overturned for something better. Something stronger. If I can fan the flame of my children's faith, perhaps it will turn into a roaring, burning fire. I know they will suffer doubt, but I pray it will never pull them down, as it did me. I know they will suffer trials, but I pray they will turn to God instead of turn away.
These little moments make all the difference in parenting. And as hard as it was (and has been) to endure believing that I was never important enough, I'm thankful for that moment because it made me sensitive to the one I faced today. I'm important enough to influence my child.
And that's what counts.
Today, I watched the first part of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel. This particular production featured Kelli O'Hara and Nathan Gunn as the iconic Julie Jordan and Billy Bigelow. If you're not familiar with this musical, it's a big story with timely issues dotted with glorious R&H music.
The second Kelli O'Hara opened her mouth, these effortless, beautiful notes came out, and I thought to myself, "How does she do that?" Now, I'm a performer. I've been singing and acting in community theatre shows for many years. But I've had to "fight" for it. First, I had to learn how to sing. I'm not talking about studying vocal music at a prestigious conservatory. I'm talking about learning basics like pitch, tone, not crawling under a chair when singing in front of others.
As a freshman in high school, I auditioned for a variety show at our school. I will never forget singing The Sound of Music. I knew the song. I'd watched the movie every year on TV as a kid. But when I stood up on the stage in front of the teachers (who I would soon grow to admire and adore!), I had some ultra awesome vibrato happening from my knees knocking together. Seriously, I was shaking so hard, my voice quavered and sounded terrible.
I spent my high school years backstage, all the while longing to be out front. Choir helped me grow, as did my indignation. I was one of five senior girls in a singing group my last year of high school. They decided to perform a quartet for our senior talent show...and I was left out. Because of that, I signed up for a solo. They ended up dropping from the show, but I went for it.
I chose theatre as a career, so I studied stage management in college. While I performed in a few friends' director projects, I mostly stayed behind the scenes. After I graduated, I went to work for Disneyland. I considered auditioning for one of the shows, but I was told I'd have to quit as a stage manager before I could. I lost my nerve and kept my job. I did a few community gigs here and there, but I didn't really get into the performing side of it until after I had my children and started singing solos for church as a pastor's wife. I fell in with an awesome community group, comprised mostly of high school students and one amazing leader, who helped me grow as a performer and a playwright.
Sadly, we moved away, but I found another wonderful group to perform with. And even after all this time, it takes quite an effort for me to put together a monologue and a song for auditions. I love and trust the people I perform with, but I lose all confidence when I stand before them in the audition setting. Thankfully, they are gracious and understanding. (I'm in rehearsals for R&H's Cinderella as the Queen!)
So what does all this have to do with Miss O'Hara? I'm sure she had to "fight" to make it to where she is today. But as I watched her...and again, the word effortless suits her so well...I realized that everything I love doing is a struggle. I love to sing, but it's not easy. I'm fearful I'll hit a sour note and everyone will think I'm a fraud. I love to write, but I haven't been able to get an agent or a contract with a reputable publisher. And although I've self-published several books, I'm fearful someone will call me out...again, as a fraud.
And all this tells me that I need to stop worrying about what everyone else thinks of me. I need to embrace who I am--as a performer, as a writer, as a person--and just be who God created me to be. I've proved myself over and over again. I don't wish to be prideful or cocky, but I do wish to be confident that "He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6) My talents are a reflection of His glory. Nothing to be ashamed of, as long as He gets the credit.
I'm grateful for the fight. It keeps me humble. And His approval is all I need.
Another Christmas has come and gone. Last year, my son figured out the Santa secret. We spent Christmas night in tears, grieving a bit of his childhood. He promised to help create the magic for his sisters, and he did a terrific job with that! Although Mom failed miserably...
My heart wasn't in it this year. Don't get me wrong...I love Christmas. It's my favorite time of year! The lights, the music, the joy and laughter. I love every moment up to Christmas Eve, then I get super sad. Because I know the world will go back to normal on December 26th.
And because my heart wasn't in it, I dropped the ball on shopping. I was waiting for my vacation to kick in...but this year, it fell on the 21st, so there was not much time. So last night, as I tucked my boy into bed, I apologized for not having "more". He looked up at me with his big brown eyes and said, "Mom, we have plenty. There's lots of presents. We're happy." Those words made me cry. My expectations weren't fulfilled, and I was placing that onto him. When I found out his expectations were fulfilled, that took the pressure off.
There weren't lots of presents. I cap my kids at three each. (Okay, five, because I get them a separate Christmas Eve gift...usually pajamas...and a Santa gift.) We not only have Christmas, but we have birthdays, too. So this time of year is rough. And even though I promise myself every year that I'm going to save and budget for this time, it always falls through. And yet another fail...I bought only two presents for my boy. He's at that age where he doesn't really want toys, but he doesn't want clothes, either. I miscalculated what I had for him. I burst into tears, but he was forgiving and kind. What a good kid I have. (Kids. They are all amazing.)
So I'm trying to refocus and hold onto what Christmas is really about. I'm looking past the lights to see the Star of Bethlehem. I'm straining to hear the angels' voices beyond the songs. I'm trying to imagine the joy on the faces of the shepherds who learned the Savior of the world was born just up the road from them and the laughter they shared afterward, thinking about how it all came to be. And I'm finding contentment and peace to replace my sorrow and grief.
I gave myself the gift of another published book this year. And I spent a quiet morning updating and cleaning up my website while my kids played together and had tons of fun with the few things they got. And we're anticipating a trip together. Although there is joy and excitement in those things, none of them can match the beautiful gift of Jesus that we celebrate on this day. While Christmas Day may be over, Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving. His grace, mercy, peace, kindness, and love flow freely. And I am grateful.
Happy birthday, Jesus.
This has been a long time coming, and I'm so excited to announce that the first book in my Star Sailors series is now available!
This story was inspired by songs of the rockin' band Styx. And there are more books to come!
This is a little different from other books I've written. There are more adult scenarios and even a bit of language. Nothing over the top, but this series isn't as family-friendly as my previous work. This doesn't come out of any kind of heart change in me personally. It's simply because the main character is a bit rougher, given his background and circumstances.
With no further ado...here's the description:
As a kid, Jimmy “the Snake” Kendrick flees his broken home and discovers a life of pleasure as part of the Renegades, a galactic gang operated by corrupt law enforcement. But when an assassination attempt goes wrong, he is arrested and lands in a rigorous prison mine where he is stripped of his identity and self-worth. After his ten years are up, he’s hired by BellStar Lines, a fleet of space cruise ships, where he's given only menial jobs and tasks. On board the flagship Corona, he finds every opportunity he can to escape his wretched life, but before long, a compromising position with a female passenger threatens his freedom. He'll be forced to change his ways...or end up back in prison.
I can't wait for you to meet Jameson and his crew. Come sail away!
Get your paperback copy here or read it on Kindle by clicking here. And if you do read it, would you be so kind as to leave a review on Amazon? I'd love to know what you think!
Award-winning sci-fi author * Christ follower, wife, and mom * broadcast content producer. And yes, I am a real duchess. http://amzn.to/2eLTlH3