Category Archives: Personal

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?


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 😉


How I met my Husband


I thought in lieu of Valentine’s Day I would share how I met my husband :).

Dan and I met on the battlefield…er…football field. We were both teenagers at the time. I had seen him around at youth group, but we ran in different circles. He was a senior, jock, and could bench-press over three hundred pounds (in other words, very large guy!). And I was a freshman: short, shy, and a book nerd.

That winter we both attended the same winter camp. When a spontaneous football game was announced, I was in. I love football and have a secret competitive side. We lined up with our teams. I was on one side, and Dan was on the other. The field was icy and the air brisk cold. The game was two-touch, but with all the ice, it was more like ice-skating meets football.

Halfway during the game, the football was thrown to Dan. The rest of his team had my team blocked. I was the only one who stood between him and the goal. My one thought as he came barreling toward me: he would not get past me.

I meant to two touch him, but instead slipped, grabbed him, and knocked him hard to the ground. Dan looked up at me, astonished. Then he laughed. I grinned back. I had stopped him from scoring.

I held out my hand to help him up off the ground. We spoke for the first time. He called me freight train after that. The years went by and we became good friends. If someone had told me that I would marry the guy I knocked down on that icy field, I would have laughed. Dan was funny and cute, but definitely not my type.

I’m glad God had other plans. Four years later, we went out on our first date, and a year and a half later, married. We still enjoy football, even get out and play it once in a while. And our children love to hear how mommy knocked daddy down when we first met.

That’s my story. Now it’s your turn. How did you meet your significant other?

Thankfulness in Times of Darkness


It is hard to be thankful when your current circumstances seem dark and bleak. I know, I’ve been there. As I approached this Thanksgiving, I started reflecting back on the last few holidays my family went through.

5 years ago: we were unemployed.

4 years ago: we lost our house right before Thanksgiving.

3 years ago: we had just been informed by our landlord that she wished to sell the house we were in and we had until New Year’s to find a new place to live.

2 years ago: we were experiencing intense financial difficulties.

1 year ago: we were in the midst of changing ministries and preparing to move across the country.

Every year as Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled around, I felt anything but jovial. I wanted to pull the covers up over my head and let the holidays slip by. It was hard to be grateful when our lives were dark and difficult.

Yet it was during those very times I found small things to be thankful for, the things we usually pass over because life is going our way. Little things like beauty of a crisp, winter morning. The warmth of a fireplace. The wonderful aroma of something in the oven. The tenderness of a child’s hug. The joy in singing carols together. The gratitude of good health. The wonderment of unexpected gifts received. The goodness of God’s love.

I had to dig deep to find things to be thankful for, and what I found I always had. These things had always been a part of my life, but I never noticed until they were all I had.

This year is a quiet year for my family. There is nothing dark or looming in our lives (a first for us in a long time). But because of our past, I find my heart turning towards all I have to be grateful for. Every morning I wake up and I thank God for our home, for our church, for our family, for our health. And then I thank God for the little things too.

How about you? Are you having a hard time finding something to be thankful for this year? What is something little you can find, perhaps something you never saw before? Share in the comments below 🙂

How to Create a Steampunk Costume

For the last two weeks I said I would share how I created my own steampunk costume, including some things I made myself or how I cut the cost on some of my items. One thing I love about steampunk is its variety and eclectic style. There is really no right or wrong way to create a steampunk costume. The very nature of steampunk is pulling odds and ends together. So feel free to pick and choose what you want to create your style.

When I first started thinking about my own costume, I knew I wanted a corset. There is something elegant about a corset. But I didn’t want to wear a Victorian gown. I wanted something more spunky and adventurous. So when I went to choose my corset, I spent days searching out Pinterest and steampunk sites figuring out what style I wanted.

The most expensive part of my costume was my corset, but that was fine since—for me—that was the most important part. I created the rest of my costume around the corset. After searching, I settled with a steel boned, overbust, brown brocade corset and love it! For those of you wanting numbers, it was about $80. Note: you will need to take your measurements carefully in order to get the right corset. Steampunk costume

Once I had my corset, it was time to add all the other pieces. First thing I did was search my closet for a shirt or blouse and skirt. Why buy something when I might already have what I’m looking for? I found a cute peasant shirt that looked perfect with the corset. Cost? $0 🙂

Unfortunately, I needed to buy a skirt. So I started popping into clothing stores whenever I was at the mall. I knew I wanted the skirt to be brown, but I wasn’t sure about long or short. I wasn’t in a hurry, so I was able to be casual about my search. After a couple months, I found a knee length skirt with lots of creases and natural wrinkles, giving it a worn look (perfect for that adventurous look I wanted). Cost? $20.

All right, I now had a shirt, skirt, and corset, but needed something for my feet. And with a knee length skirt, I knew I wanted boots. I expanded my search to include online and thrift stores. Note: You can find some awesome things at thrift stores, so pop in and look. I ended up not only finding a pair of boots, but some small ivory kid gloves at a local thrift store. I wanted gloves too, but could never find leather gloves small enough for my hands that didn’t go above my budget. The gloves were the wrong color and not fingerless (which I wanted), but I figured at $1 I could experiment and try making my own gloves. And the boots were $3.

Steampunk costume

Dying gloves was definitely an experiment. I tried different dyes, resulting in different colors, the last one being a dark hunter green. Nice color, but not the color I wanted. My husband had one more idea and brought home some shoe polish. I thought sure, why not, and rubbed the polish into the gloves. Not only did they turn out the right shade of brown, the polish made the gloves look like leather (score!). I then cut the tips off and had my own fingerless gloves! The only problem I ran into was a small bit of the polish came off after wearing the gloves for a couple hours, but it was hardly anything and worth the leathery look.

For my head, I had a couple options (top hat, goggles, lace, etc…). Since I was going for that spunky look (and wanted something to hold my hair back), I went with goggles. I found a pair online for $10, but they were black. So I bought a can of brown spray with texture, covered up the goggle part with tape, and sprayed them a nice brown that matched the rest of my outfit.

I finally had my costume and could now customize if I wanted to. I found a wire necklace at a hobby shop and a key charm. Total: $6. I found a watch with a leather band and charms online for $2. And I found a pocket watch which I technically got for free during a bogo event, but would have cost $15.

So after months/years of casual searching at the mall, thrift stores, and online, I spent a total of $135 on my costume, $80 of it on my corset. I’m sure I could have found a skirt at a thrift store and saved even more, but $135 on a costume I will wear every year at cons, book signings, and parties is not bad 🙂

So how can you create your own steampunk costume without breaking the bank?

First, decide what look you are going for. Western? Victorian? Adventure? Elegant?

Second, decide what piece(s) are important enough to you to spend money on.

Third, take the time to look. The wonderful thing about steampunk is you can find all sorts of fun and strange things for your costume in places other than a costume store. Try thrift stores, army surplus, flea markets, and online.

Fourth, make it your own. Want cogs? Go for it. Want lots of lace? Go for it. Steam prosthetic? Go for it. There are not set rules for steampunk. Have fun and be creative!

Steampunk costume

Painfully Shy

For as long as I can remember, I have always been scared of people. One of my first memories is busting into tears when my mom asked me to go ask the cashier a question. I couldn’t do it! Talking to a person—any person—terrified me. I never grew out of this fear. Every time school started, whether I was starting a new school or returning to an old one, I would feel sick as I walked into class. For the longest time I never played sports or joined clubs because of this fear.

However, as I grew older, I grew more adapt at hiding my fear. My mother taught me to always have a list of questions ready to ask people so I wouldn’t feel trapped in those awkward pauses. I would hide in the bathroom and calm down before coming out with a confident smile on my face. And if things became too much, I could go hide in the corner, or better yet—go home.

In college I discovered I was an introvert which means I gain energy from being alone, but lose energy around people. Great! There are people like me! Until one day I asked my husband if he felt like throwing up every time he met someone new. He gave me the strangest look and said no. Wait, I thought everyone felt nervous when meeting new people (or needed a barf bag). There were actually people out there who didn’t feel this fear?

The more I asked this question, the more I realized that even most introverts are not shy, they simply cannot be around people for a long time since it drains their energy reserves. I, on the other hand, not only have my energy drained, I’m petrified when I’m around people.

A double whammy. Introvert and shy. And no matter what I do, both of these traits are built into my DNA. I cannot change either characteristic, they are part of my core being.

Because of that, I’m still shy. I shared a couple years ago when I attended my first American Christian Fiction Writers conference I took the elevator down, saw all the people, and took the elevator right back up to my room and hid for an hour. Even last week as I was driving to my book release party, I felt ill and wanted nothing more than to hide in the bathroom. Instead, I prayed and got out of my car. Admittedly, it took me about ten minutes before I felt comfortable walking around the room and greeting people.

I write this because there are others out there like me, although we have never met because we were most likely hiding in our hotel rooms or bathroom ;). I decided I would not let my shyness cripple my life. Every time I am afraid to meet someone or take a chance (like teaching a class), I consider what I would regret if I didn’t do it. My desire more often outweighs my fear. It’s like jumping off the high dive, you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it or you will convince yourself it’s not worth it, when it is. Instead, you jump.

So if you meet me at a conference, party, or even church and I have a green tint to my face, it’s not you, it’s just me fighting my shyness. Give me a moment and I’ll be ready to talk :). And if you are shy, take the plunge (and have your barf bag ready!).

My Mother Prepared Me for the Zombie Apocalypse


As you know, today is Mother’s Day. Everywhere I look, people are talking about how special their mom is and what she has done for them. I wanted to take it up a notch. What makes my mother so special? Then it hit me: she gave me the skills to survive a zombie apocalypse.

For as long as I can remember, we were always in the kitchen cooking with mom. Considering she is a home economics teacher, previous restaurant owner, and award-winning cook, that’s not a surprise. She taught me to cook anything and everything. And if I didn’t know how to cook something, to look it up. How many people know how to cook? Or to improvise in their cooking? Yeah, that skill will keep me alive should the zombie apocalypse occur.

I also know how to sew. Not very well, mind you, but I can sew a seam and know the basics, all thanks to my mom. She tried to teach me more, but I was never destined to be a seamstress. However, if the zombie apocalypse lingers, I will be able to make my own clothing and blankets. I will be surviving in style! Or at least clothed 😉

My mother taught me to share everything I have, whether I have plenty or little. We always had room at the table for a guest and floorspace when someone needed a place to stay. I would practice that same hospitality during the zombie apocalypse. Mi casa es su casa. Or would that be mountain fortress?

My mother also taught me to make friends. I was a shy, introverted little girl who was afraid of everyone. She showed me how to make friends, how to ask people about themselves instead of thinking about myself, and always have a list of questions ready so the conversation would keep going (this list has saved me many times from those awkward pauses that send me into a panic attack!). Who knows, maybe the whole apocalypse occurs because of a misunderstanding with the zombies? Maybe they just want to be friends 😉

On a serious note, my mother taught me many, many things that I take for granted everyday. She prepared me for life and then let me go. That is what a mother does: she gives you wings, but she doesn’t fly for you. Instead, she cheers you on as you hop out of the nest and soar into the world. Thank you, mom. You are one of the people God used to prepare me for life and you did a great job. I hope I can do the same for my own children.

Happy Mother’s Day!