Dear Reader, Do you ever need a brain break?

Hi dear readers! Since I’ve been posting so many blogs about book spine colors, I thought I’d just go way off the beaten path and chase a squirrel today and share with you a couple of colorful home improvement projects I manically and maniacally threw myself into last weekend after submitting copy edits for Lead Me Home to my editor.

Copy editing, while truly my favorite part of the writing process, is also the most mentally exhausting. So when I hit the “send” key, I tend to collapse–at least in the writing and reading sense.

Painting and decorating and upcycling  have always been BIG stress releases for my mind and even my body, which had been too-long hunched over my laptop. And I think the fact that I can start and finish a painting or decorating project in a few hours or a couple of days helps restore my confidence in being able to accomplish something. You see, the middle of editing a novel manuscript can make a writer feel like they will never, ever be done.




So without further delay, I’ll accomplish this blog post and show you my before and afters and reveals and cheats and hacks!

First up, the inside of our front door. I’d seen this trend all over Pinterest and it looks so “WOW” I decided to try it. And WOW it is, IMHO:


Thanks, Pinterest!

The second project was redecorating and repurposing the room in our house that is supposed to be a dining room. But come on, who really eats in their dining room? Maybe if we had guests more often, but no one wants to visit us because of our three big slobbery dogs. And besides that, the room became an oversized, 10×12 junk drawer. Catch-all. Disaster.



Evidently I’ve loved the colors red, green and gold so much it paid off, because I truly only bought paint and the fabric for the curtains. (Don’t you just love those great big happy checks? I’ve been eyeing that fabric for years!) the settee was a cast-off, the barn paintings were from a friend, and I had the little flowered chairs for over 15 years. There are two walls that will have BIG white bookshelves for our BIG stacks of books and that we’re still waiting to get, but I’m so happy we have a brand new-to-us, usable room.

The third project is the red bench in the pictures above. The room needed a footstool, but I couldn’t find any I liked. So I had a white wooden bench, a fabric remnant, and bought some foam from Hobby Lobby (Lord have mercy, people, don’t let me go into that store alone anymore!!!):

I put the labels of the foam and batting on here in case anyone wanted to know:

IMG_8369THIS product is brilliant. The person who invented it needs a Pulitzer or Nobel or Grammy or all three, because instead of having to pound in every. single. nail. you just pound in every 6th!   
Oh, and please note that a heavy duty staple gun is essential for this project and life in general.

So, that’s it, dear readers!

Put a link in the comments about your favorite project, and why!


Dear Reader is a series I post on every week. If you’re a reader and have an idea or question you’d like me to write about, relating to books or writing or editing, etc., jot me a note and I’d be much obliged to take a stab at your request. Also, if you’d like to read all the Dear Reader posts, click here. If you like insider information into my books or writing life, be sure to sign up for my author newsletter by clicking here.

On faith in the hard.

In my newest release, Then Sings My Soul, the main character, Jakob, has lived through 94 years of tumult and suffering. As a young Jewish boy who escaped Russian pogroms of the early 20th century, he witnessed many loved ones die for or because of their faith.

As with many of that generation, Jakob grows up keeping his faith relatively quiet, stuffed within him, covered and safe by shrouds of doubt and anger, shame and fear. 

I can’t give away too much more, so you’ll have to read the book to see how that does or does not change for Jakob as he nears the end of his life.

The idea of steadfast faith in the midst of trials and persecution influenced the main storyline thread in Then Sings My Soul. The book, Mudhouse Sabbath, by Lauren Winner, influenced it as well. A former Orthodox Jew who converted to Christianity, Winner writes that she, “found that her life was indelibly marked by the rich traditions and spiritual practices of Judaism. [In Mudhouse Sabbath, she] presents eleven Jewish practices that can transform the way Christians view the world and God.”

In one scene of Then Sings My Soul, Jakob’s older brother, Peter, tries to encourage him to keep the faith in his head going, even when he doesn’t feel it in his heart. One way the Jewish people have done that is by reciting a sort of liturgy called the Kaddish during seasons of mourning. Here is what Winner says,

“Even in the pit, even in depresssion and loss and nonsense, still we respond to God with praise. This is not to say that the mourner should not feel what he feels–anger, disbelief, hatred. He can feel those things (and shout them out to God; God can take it). You do not have to feel praise in the intense moments of mourning, but the praise is still true, and insisting upon it over and over, twice a day every day, ensures that eventually you will come to remember the truth of those praises.”

Whether at the beginning, middle or end of our lives, there is always a battle going on for our hearts...a battle for truth, a battle for hope, a battle for our loyalty to God. Often, we struggle to understand what in the world about following Jesus Christ is worth it anymore.

Reciting the truth like Jewish mourners do, choosing or even writing out our own psalm of praise, and saying it whether we feel like it or not can work to bring the head and the heart back together in times of uncertainty and persecution.

Dear friends, so much of what we fight in this world is unseen.

In faithfulness we can find joy once again. 



Why does God seem farthest when we need Him most?

Good question. 

I don’t have a good answer. 

In the throws of depression, grief, tragedy, I’ve often asked for prayers and felt unable to pray for myself.

But…maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be.

Maybe when He feels farthest we need to look closer.

Maybe God is near, but not in the ways we suspect. Not in a loud voice or a burning bush. Not in an earthquake or a storm, but rather…

…in the prayer of a friend who cries out for you.

…in the steady fall of rain on a spring garden.

…in the memory of someone who believed in you years ago.

…in the taste of warm soup on a cold winter day.

…in the curl of a dog’s wagging tail when you get home in the evening.

What about you?

What are some of the still, small ways God is with you that maybe you haven’t looked close enough to see? 


In my new novel, Then Sings My Soul, the main characters (Jakob and Nel) are asking the same question. What they find  you. Read their story and how they find hope. Available wherever your favorite books are sold.