Category Archives: Personal

The Girl Who Could See

Hey everyone! I love meeting new authors and so today I’m excited to introduce you to a new author and her book. First, here is the cover:

The Girl who could see

Isn’t it gorgeous? I fell in love the first time I saw it. But a book is more than its cover. Here is Kara to tell you more about her debut novella, The Girl Who Could See.

All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but, what if she is the only one who can truly see?

Fern Johnson is crazy. At least, that’s what the doctors have claimed since her childhood. Now nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear normal, she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see.

Tristan was Fern’s childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, however, it only caused catastrophe. But, when the city is rocked by the unexplainable, Fern is forced to consider the possibility that this young man is not a hallucination after all—and that the creature who decimated his world may be coming for hers.

***

Intriguing, yes? I agree! I haven’t read The Girl Who Could See yet, but it is near the top of my TBR list :). If you’re interested in acquiring your own copy, here is where you can find it:

BUY LINK:

https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Who-Could-See

GOODREADS LINK:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34094813-the-girl-who-could-see

 

And here is more about the author, Kara Swanson:

Kara SwansonAs the daughter of missionaries, Kara Swanson spent sixteen years of her young life in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate with characters dropped suddenly into a unique new world, she quickly fell in love with the speculative genre. At seven- teen, she released a fantasy novel, Pearl of Merlydia. Her short story is included in Kathy Ide’s 21 Days of Joy: Stories that Celebrate Mom. She has published many articles, including one in the Encounter magazine, and she received the Mount Hermon Most Promising Teen Writer award in 2015.

Here is where you can find Kara online:

Find Kara online at www.karaswanson.com

Facebook: Kara Swanson, Author

Twitter: @kara_author

Instagram: @karaswanson_author

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Should You Say That?

More and more people are sharing their thoughts and feelings on the internet. In some ways, this is good. There are more discussions happening. However, in some ways, people have forgotten that there is a real live human on the other side of that computer screen and perhaps not all things should be shared. I have a feeling many things would not be said if you were face to face with that person.

So how do you know if you should share something? Or how should you share something? For example, a topic has been brought up that you’re passionate about and want to leap in with your side of the argument. Or you’re tired of all the rants, and so you want to go on your own. What kind of filter should we use, not only on the internet, but with the people around us?

A friend of mine shared his thoughts with my husband and me a few weeks ago and I was blown away by his wisdom (and so that I’m not completely ripping his idea off, Jason Fortriede came up with this first and really needs to write all those books he has ideas for!).

I loved what he had to say and started applying it immediately with my kids. You know how family can be, especially between brothers and sisters. You’re not always kind to one another and say stuff that perhaps should have been filtered. Here are the three things you should ask yourself before you speak or write, and if all 3 apply, go ahead and say it (or write it). If they don’t, stop. Just stop and think about it. You might save yourself and others a lot of grief. Here you go:

Is it truthful?

Is it helpful?

Is it kind?

I’ve heard people say, “It’s the truth.” Sure, it’s the truth, and you just used the truth like a 2×4 to hit someone across the head. Ouch. I don’t think they heard the truth. They just feel the pain from the bludgeon. If it’s truthful, is it helpful right now? If not, stop. Sharing that the widow’s husband was a jerk at his funeral is just a stupid place to share the truth (I’m exaggerating on my example).

Let’s say it’s truthful and helpful, but is it kind? Telling someone, “You’re breath smells like a dog,” before his first date might be truthful and helpful, but certainly not kind. Two out of three is still not enough. Maybe try this: “Hold on, your breath needs a little work. Here’s some gum. I want you to make the best first impression you can on this date.” Bingo! Truthful, helpful, and delivered in a kind way.

But what about being kind, but it’s not true? You know, a little lie to make the person feel better? And it’s helpful, too 🙂

No, no, no. If I found out someone said something nice to make me feel better, but it wasn’t true, I would not believe any other nice things they said. You want people to know you are genuine and truthful in your statements. If it’s not true, don’t say it.

But mom, what if they ask me a question like do I like their picture and I hate it? What do I do?

You can always find something truthful and positive to say to someone, even if you don’t  like their house in Minecraft (yeah, that example is for my kids). Here’s an marriage example: “Honey, does this dress look good on me?” No, not at all. But the color does bring out her eyes. Don’t say yes and lie about it. Instead, say “I love the color, but the style doesn’t quite suit you. Let’s see if we can find something in the same color.” Bingo. All three: truthful, kind, and helpful.

See how much of a difference these three questions can make in our daily interactions, both in the physical world and in the cyber world? So the next time you’re wondering if you should answer someone who just posted on Facebook “The 49er’s stink,” ask yourself if your answer is truthful, kind, and helpful. Instead of “Yes!”, say, “They had a hard season, but there is always next year.” Or just don’t answer it at all. See what I mean? 😉

I can tell you this is already changing the way my family interacts with each other. My kids are asking each other if their comments are truthful, helpful, AND kind. Our words have power. Let’s think about them before we use them.

 

 

What if Only One Person Reads My Books?

writingThis thought has been on my mind for the last couple of weeks. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out if you’re doing what you’re supposed to as a writer. Doubt is always there, lurking in the back of your mind. My rankings are down, should I still be writing? My royalty check makes me blush, should I still be writing? I feel like I’m letting my publisher, agent, etc… down, should I still be writing?

Is anyone even reading my books?

So as I was once again re-evaluating if I should be writing (aka, I’m not feeling like I’m successful and wondering if my life would be better served doing something else), I had this thought: what if only one person ever reads my books? Then I took it a step further. What if what I was writing was meant for just one person? That God wanted me to spend my lifetime writing multiple series for a person who I will never meet, but someday would need to read my books because through those books God would change them? And not just one book, but God would use all of my books to help that one person?

Would it be worth it?

Would it be worth all the hours I pour into writing, the sacrifices I make so I can make time to write every day, the other “good things” I could be doing, but instead I am writing? Honestly? In my flesh that thought makes me cry. Just one person? But as I pondered this thought, I realized that God would do that, because of that one soul.

When we think of God doing above and beyond what we can imagine, we think of grandiose plans and ideas. But what if God’s plans involve a lonely writer, writing her heart out for the rest of her life, then connecting her books to one person who needs to read those books—every single one of them—and by reading them, comes to know God his or herself?

That’s exactly how God would do things…because to Him the value of a soul is priceless. He would do anything to reach people, including using the lifetime of a writer and all of her books to reach that other soul.

This thought has plagued me over and over again for the last few weeks. What if only one person ever reads my books? And not just one book, but will read everything I will ever write, and by doing so will connect with God? Is that worth it?

Yes.

That’s not to say sometimes I wish I had more to show for my writing, but when my focus is on God, it’s then I believe that what I am doing is not in vain, even if it might be for just one person. After all, every soul is precious to God. And that makes writing worth it.

How about you? Are you struggling with what you’re doing? Do you wonder if it’s worth it or is it time to throw in the towel? I can’t tell you yes or no, but I can tell you anything you do with open hands held up to God is never in vain, even if you don’t see the results.

I Wear a Mask

maskWhile at the ACFW Conference last week, I realized something one morning: I wear a mask. In fact, I was carefully putting it on with each curl of hair and each brushstroke of my makeup. I am a very shy person and have a hard time going out and meeting people. But I can’t live in my hotel room, so I have to go out. And so I put on this facade because it gives me courage.

Now some of you who met me at the conference probably think I’m not shy at all. But that’s because I was ready. I was all tucked in and tidy, with my clothes carefully ironed and each hair in place. But as I prepared that last morning, it hit me what exactly I was doing. I was putting on my mask. I was hiding the deep emotional upheaval I was going through at home. I was covering up the bags of sleeplessness brought on from the months before. I was masking my lack of self-worth with clothes that hid who I was.

If you were to come to my hotel room that night, you would have met the real me. The one just out of the shower with wet hair and baggy sweats on. The one baring her heart to her closest friend. The one who struggles with how she looks and fears having a panic attack when meeting people. That woman never set foot outside her hotel room.

Don’t get me wrong, I think doing one’s hair, wearing makeup, and dressing one’s best is not a bad thing (and you want to look professional at a conference). But when I looked in the mirror as I dabbed on some concealer (what an appropriate term, right?), I realized I was placing my mask on so that only the part of me I wanted people to see would be seen.

So why am I writing this? I think we all wear masks, masks that cover our fears and insecurities. And I’m not sure how to live without my mask. Some things are not for everyone to know. And some things I’m ashamed of admitting (like I am very insecure about my looks). But I am thankful for good friends and an amazing husband who’ve seen me without my mask and love me anyway.

I’m not sure if I will ever be able to live fully without my mask in this lifetime. Then again, I am finding the older I grow, the more comfortable I become in who God has made me and the more I trust in Him.

How about you? Do you wear a mask? What are you afraid to reveal about yourself? Who or what has helped you to lower that mask? God? Family? Friends? Or are you still searching for a safe place where you can take the mask off and be who you are?

 

Why I Like to Play Video Games

video-games-1136046_1920Hi! My name is Morgan and I like to play video games. Before you write me off as an adult, let me share with you my thoughts. Yesterday while I was chatting with my husband about stats, researching weapons and play styles, and debating with him the best spec for a character, I realized I love video games because it’s more than just pushing a button and causing an avatar to run across a screen. It’s logic, strategy, eye-candy, amazing stories, and community all rolled up into one: video games.

Video games have come a long way since Mario crossed the television screen and jumped on his first goomba. Now games can range anywhere from puzzles to shooters to strategy to vast worlds and epic stories. Video games are not just something you watch, you interact with them. In some ways, they are highly evolved versions of the old “choose your own adventure” books I loved as a kid, complete with mind boggling graphics and grand-sweeping stories.

I can live the life of a mage in the world of Skyrim. Or I can fight the Alliance as a dagger-wielding troll. I can remember what it was like to be a ten year old wishing I could go on adventure like Ash in Pokemon, or save Hyrule as Link (not Zelda, Zelda is the girl ;). As you can see, video games have a way of expanding our imaginations and reminding us of what we used to dream about when we were young.

I also love video games because there is so much strategy and planning that needs to go into them. Yesterday I was leveling my warrior with my husband and we were chatting about the benefits of different talent points and specs. Yeah, it’s an imaginary world, but that kind of thinking and problem-solving helps expand those areas of the brain. Not to mention the benefit of engaging in conversation with my husband.

Which brings up the last reason I love to play video games: the relationships and community! My first experience with gaming was watching my husband blow some steam after a long day at seminary by playing Age of Mythology. I was fascinated with the world building and strategy and finally asked him to teach me to play. Soon we were conquering the world together (I gathered resources and he took our armies out). Since then, we have always played together. Gaming allows us to do “shoulder to shoulder” stuff and talk while we play.

Gaming has also opened up opportunities for me to connect with other people. I have been with a great guild on World of Warcraft for six years and have made many friends. I also play games with my kids which has allowed me to spend time with them and talk with them (having a hard time talking to your son? Play a game with him. It’s amazing how he’ll open up while he’s digging for treasure in Terraria). And it has also allowed me to connect with teens at church. All I need to do is share the Pokemon I recently caught or how my rogue is doing in the battlegrounds and suddenly I’m not some big, scary adult! And those conversations usually led to other, more serious conversations. I understand their world because I am part of their world.

Gaming is not for everyone, but it has its place in this world. And it’s a world I will probably be a part of for a very long time.

How about you? Do you play video games? Which ones do you play? What do you enjoy about them?

 

When You Love a Dog…

It’s never easy when a pet passes away. At least I can say that Gracie looked as peaceful and loving as she always did in life. Today I figured I would write a post about her since all my other animals have a blog post dedicated to them.

Gracie wasn’t a rescue like all of our other animals. She was a dog my husband wanted for a very long time. When the time to pick her out of the litter, I told my husband I wanted a female and a runt so that she would stay small because we never knew what kind of house we would be living in or the size of the yard. The moment we saw that friendly, squirmy ball of red fur, we knew she was the dog for us.

Anyone who has known us for any length of times knows that we have moved a lot. Not sure why, other than that is what God has allowed in our lives. The other day I was telling Dan the only two consistent things in my life apart from God have been my family and my pets. Gracie moved to four different states with us and lived in numerous houses. And she took in all in stride.

Not only that, she was always welcoming people into our home. If you came over to our house, Gracie would lick your face off if I let her, and she would put her foot on yours to show she didn’t want you to leave. She also thought she was a lap dog and would try and climb into people’s laps 🙂

After we had to put our dachshund down, Gracie was lost without her little friend. Eventually we adopted a Jack Russel mix to fill the void left behind. Our Bella loved her big sister. She was always playing with Gracie and Gracie was so gentle with her new little friend. Yesterday the two were frolicking in the backyard and chasing birds.

This morning Gracie was sleeping in the chair I bought for her at a thrift store years ago (Dan would poke fun at me that I bought our dog a comfy chair to sleep in. She loved that thing!). I started joking with her about getting old and sleeping so hard she didn’t even wake up to chase the cat out of the house when I realized something was different. I shook her and she never stirred. That’s when it hit me. She had passed on.

GracieI thought I had more years with Gracie, but sadly that wasn’t meant to be. We believe she died of a stroke, fast and quick, right there in her chair. I take comfort in the fact that she never had to fight cancer or come to a place where we had to make a decision. Instead, she looked as peaceful and loving in death as she did in life. The Bible doesn’t say what happens to animals when they pass on, but I do know that God loves his creation and knows when even a single bird dies. Because of his great love, I know Gracie is in the best hands possible now.

But we sure will miss her!

 

Moving Again

This week begins the crazy week of moving. Again. Yes, we are moving again. When I first found out we were going to have to move in a couple weeks, I cried. I thought we have to be the family with the worst luck in the world! (If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know we seem to move every 1-2 years for reasons usually outside our control). Even worse, I cannot seem to have a book release without moving.

So as I started to settle deep into my pity party, God gently nudged me and reminded me of something: yes, we’ve had to move a lot (like over 15 times over the last 15 years), and yeah, it sucks. But…He has provided a place for us to move to every single time. And not only has He provided a place for us to move to, each home has allowed us to keep our pets, which is hugely important to me. I would live in my van in order to keep my dogs 🙂

That’s a lot of homes that have taken a risk on us and allowed us to have our animals. If you’ve ever had to find a rental, it’s hard to find a place that allows pets. Especially 2 dogs and 2 cats. More than that, every house has had four bedrooms, which has been a blessing for a family of six. Within the amount we could spend on rent.

That’s amazing!

God changed my attitude that day. I no longer said woe is me, I have to move again. Instead, I watched as God—once again—provided us with a home that fit our family and animals.

It’s still not easy to move. You say good-bye to wonderful neighbors, familiar neighborhoods, and schools. And moving furniture is hard! But it will happen, and next week I will be exploring our new neighborhood while walking my dogs.

So if you think about me and my family, pray for us. And if you are in a similar circumstance of looking for a new home, remember, you’re not alone. God is with you and knows your needs, and He always provides.

*This time we are not moving to another city or state, just to a new rental for those of you worried we are leaving California 😉