All posts by Leslie DeVooght

Escape with a Good Book – I’m giving two away.

photo credit, Hanna Kirby

Who wants a free book? Read to the end of this post to find out how to get two. That’s right, friends, you could win not one but two books, just by reading this post and one other tiny thing, but it’s easy—I promise.

What are you reading? A huge part of learning to write well is reading. I love to read, and now, I can say I’m working when I’m ignoring the world around me, sucked it to a great story. But as I writer, I also need to read a wide variety of books. My to-be-read list has reached thirty, and that’s just fiction books. This year, I’m making a reading plan at the suggestion of a very wise man. In the past, my plan has consisted of reading whatever was suggested by reading groups or small groups. My plan is to read lots of new novels, two classics, three or four craft or professional books, and three or four books on faith matters. For one of the classics, I plan to read Crime and Punishment, but I still need a suggestion for another. Please give me your favorites.

I’ve already finished Pursuing God by A.W. Tozar and highly recommend it. Another great part of being an author is being on launch teams and getting Advanced Reader’s Copies of books. One of the first books I read this year was The Line Between by Tosca Lee. It will come out at the end of January, but you can pre-order it now or wait for my February Giveaway and maybe you’ll win it. By the way, if you love books as much as me, a great place to get deals is BookBub.com. They send you daily deals. I just got a book for $.99. (Wahoo! I love a great deal.)

This brings me to the second part of this post. Unless you are one of those people who doesn’t like to follow directions. (Yes, I’m talking to you, Dad.) Friends, this is the good part. I’m going to start doing Giveaways every month to help grow my subscriber list and interact more with you.

This month I’m giving away two of my favorite St. Simons Island books. The first is The Lighthouse by Eugenia Price. It is the first in the St. Simons Trilogy and begins the story of the man who would eventually build the first St. Simons Lighthouse. The second book is Images of a Golden Isle: Saint Simons Island by Anne Ford Nermoe. This is a beautiful book of photography, created by an Island Local, and bonus, it is signed by the author. When I need inspiration or just want to feel like I’m home, I’ll flip through these pictures.

So how do you enter to win? It’s simple. If you are reading this as an email, that means you have already completed part one. The second part is to comment on the website with a classic book selection, the book you are currently reading, your all-time favorite book, or where I am in the picture. You will have to go to the website: www.lesliedevooght.com to comment. I love it when you reply to my emails, but to enter the contest you must comment on this post on the website.

Okay, now I thought I would give y’all some book recommendations from the books my family and I read last year. I’m leaving off most of the Christmas books, but be sure to check back next fall for Holiday recommendations. Happy Reading!

Contemporary Romance
Sweetbriar Cottage and Honeysuckle Dreams - Denise Hunter

A Twist of Faith and Charming the Trouble Maker - Pepper Basham

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck – Bethany Turner

Once Upon a Prince – Rachel Hauck (bonus: this one starts out on St. Simons Island and was made into a Hallmark movie, and I’ll be hanging with the author for four days in March.)
Slipt-Time – (this is when the story takes place in two different times, and they are connected by something from the past in the present.) 
The Writing Desk – Rachel Hauck

Freedom’s Ring – Heidi Chiavaroli                

Before We were Yours – Lisa Wingate

The Wedding Dress – Rachel Hauck
Historical
Christy – Catherine Marshal

The Shiloh Trilogy – Karl Bacon
Historical Romance 
A lady of Esteem – Kristi Ann Hunter

Ladies of the Manor Series – Roseanna White (Libby just read these a second time and there is a book review on my website.)
SuspenseThe Line Between – Tosca Lee
Southern Literary Fiction
Into the Free and Perennials – Julie Cantrell

Mourning Dove – Claire Fullerton
Young AdultTime Echoes Trilogy – Bryan Davis
Mainstream Historical Fiction
The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah

America’s First Daughter – Laura Kamoie and Stephanie Dray

A New Year’s Eve Song, a flash fiction story by Leslie DeVooght

Happy New Year! I hope your year is off to a great start. I’ve been thinking about this story for a while and may have been writing notes while driving my son to school. (just at stop lights … mostly) It started when I heard a song on the radio, but then it evolved into a very different story. Several songs ended up inspiring different parts. I hope you enjoy it.

What songs do you think inspired it? What song would you like me to write a story about? I can always use inspiration. Blessings to you all.


A gust of frigid air swished down the jetway, pricking Melanie’s wind-burned cheeks. She wrapped her knitted scarf around her face until she could barely peek over the edge. Thank goodness for Great-Aunt Nadine’s hobby, creating items of warmth. Melanie had snuggled into them every day after skiing in Colorado’s winter wonderland. Her family’s annual trek from the Georgia Coast to the mountains always left her bittersweet—never quite ready to leave but longing for home.

She loved the peace that embraced her as she soared over the snow, silence in the roar of the wind whipping by her. And this year, she’d needed to escape that song—the one her sister insisted on playing on repeat. How would she react if she knew the truth behind it?

As people crammed closer together, Melanie tried to find peace. But after her flight was delayed, her grasp on patience was slipping from her frozen fingers, and now someone was holding up the boarding.

Glancing out the window, she studied the snowflakes clinging to the plastic, each crystal an individual representation of God’s handiwork. She exhaled, inching forward with the line.

“No problem, ma’am. Love meetin’ my fans.” His southern drawl, thick as molasses, stung Melanie’s ears. It could not be him.

She rose on her toes, peering over the shoulder of the woman in front of her.

“Hope y’all have a happy new year.” He passed an oxygen mask and a marker to the flight attendant, tossing her that irritatingly charming lopsided grin.

Chase Hudson, country music’s newest superstar and the last man Melanie wanted to see.

“You just let me know if you need anything.” The flight attendant hugged the mask to her chest, waving the passengers down the aisle.

Heat attacked Melanie’s skin, but she couldn’t remove her disguise. Hopefully, he wouldn’t recognize her under her stocking cap and scarf.

Talk about bittersweet. A perfect way to describe hearing his number one hit on the radio. At least, no one knew her secret, and she intended to make sure that didn’t change.

When a teenage girl held up her cell phone in front of Chase, Melanie squeezed behind him.

“Sure thing, sweetheart. Glad you like my little—”

Uh, oh—deafening silence met Melanie but no peace.

“Do you smell that?” A hand caught her wrist.

So close. She sighed, looking over her shoulder.

Chase’s sniffed the air. “Lemons, oranges, grapefruits, and the slightest hint of vanilla.” He lowered his gaze, holding her captive in those deep, brown eyes. “I’d know that scent anywhere.”

Her pulse raced, a bead of sweat sliding down her neck, but he didn’t deserve another second of her attention. “It’s very common.” She arched a brow. Try the produce section at any grocery store.” She tugged her arm lose and navigated down the aisle.

Click here to read more.

Happily Ever After

It’s that time of year again, the Hallmark Channel is showing back-to-back Holiday movies with those so predictable final kisses, more often than not under mistletoe or gently falling snowflakes.

Don’t you love them?

I can’t get enough. I love a Happily Ever After.

I’ve read books and seen movies with sad endings. I’ve even written a story that has a sad ending, but never fear there will be a sequel, and there will be a happy ending. This is one of the reasons I love writing and reading sweet romance. And I know I’m not the only one. How else could Hallmark keep two channels filled with movies with happy endings?

My husband says he can’t understand how I can watch them always knowing how they will end. First, I remind him that he watches the history channel which also has predictable endings. And second, I tell him it’s about the story, the twists and turns, but always knowing that it will end with that happy moment. (And usually a kiss—Ahhh.)

It is part of our being to want things to end well. And y’all, I have some good news.

Heaven is the ultimate happy ending. No matter what we do. How badly we mess up. We will have a happy ending because we have Jesus. Perhaps even better, our happy ending can start right now. We don’t have to wait for this one. (As y’all know, I’m not a fan of waiting, so this is my favorite part.)

Our eternal time with Jesus starts the second we surrender our lives to him. So even during trials or loss, we still have that eternal hope.

But it must start with our decision to surrender to God’s will. Yes, you might survive this earthly life without surrendering, and probably will do okay. But don’t you want to thrive.

If you’re struggling to trust God and surrender, maybe it’s because you don’t really know Him. And seriously, would you trust your life with someone you don’t know?

I challenge you to get to know God and be obedient to his guidance. Then be patient but wait with bold expectation as His plan unfolds. However it unfolds. Open your hands and surrender it all to Him.

I bet right now, some of you are thinking who has time for another Bible study or quiet time. There are only a few weeks until CHRISTMAS, and I can’t even get a shower in peace. I mean really who has the time for that? We’re busy. Trust me I totally hear you. I mean surely God can speak to us in our dreams if we can just get an extra hour of sleep, and then we’ll be more rested and better able to serve him. Bring on the Angel Trees.

Sounds good. But I’m sorry that’s just not how it works. We must spend quality time with God—preferably awake if we want to have a transforming relationship that will fill us with peace and joy.

Carve out some time, even five minutes, but be warned, soon you won’t be able to miss this special time, and you’ll want to make it longer. Spending time in prayer and scripture is the only way you can really know Him. It is not just about learning the rules, so we can be good little Christians, it is about being obedient to his commands, so we can show Him our love and know his revelations for our lives.

We can experience a Happily Ever After every day. Friends, let us “fill our minds and meditate on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learn, what you hear and see and realize. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (Philippians 4:8-9) Ahhh …

Finally, as it says in Corinthians 15:57, “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

That’s what I call a happy ending, and now, I’m ready to sing Joy to the World!

Magnolia Mistletoe – a Christmas Novella by Lindsey Brackett

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m so excited to help you kick off the holidays with a FREE Christmas Novella by my friend and award-winning author Lindsey Brackett. If you read Lindsey’s first book, Still Waters, you are in for a treat. You will get to visit your favorite characters and see what’s been happening for the last few months. I have read this story twice, and it gets better every time. You will love it. This story is like hot cocoa and a warm fire on a brisk winter’s eve—sweet, heartfelt, and full of tingles.

Hannah Calhoun knows what she wants for Christmas. But before she can become a full-fledged partner in her mother’s wedding planning business, she first must prove she can handle her own shortcomings. Benjamin Townsend is an entrepreneur always looking for the next big thing—and if hosting weddings on Edisto is it, he’s all in. Even if that does mean spending a lot of time with Hannah, whose world is full of way more happily ever after than his. Once the magnolia and mistletoe are hung, will an Edisto Christmas be exactly the magic these two need?

Now, I know y’all want to read the whole story, but you will have to subscribe to Lindsey’s newsletter to get the link to download the novella. Click here for Lindsey’s newsletter . Best of all, this is just a taste because next summer, Lindsey’s second full-length novel will release and bring y’all back to Edisto. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this story as much as I have. So make yourself a mug of your favorite warm beverage and curl up with Hannah and Ben.

Defining Success

What does it mean to be successful? How do you define success? We probably all have similar variations on the answer. But God’s idea of success and ours may be very different, depending on our decision to seek Him first in our lives. One of my favorite chapters of the Bible is Matthew six, and one of my favorite verses is Matthew 6:33. “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Before this statement of truth, Jesus has explained that we need not worry about the necessities of life because God knows we need them. He encourages us to seek God first, and we will be richly blessed.

As we seek God, we draw closer to knowing our purpose, to knowing success in His eyes—not the world’s. In life, we can’t be positive of the outcome. Regardless of how much we prepare, mold, and refine, the product and so much of the results are often different than we expect. This is quite frustrating for a recovering control freak like me. Can I get an, “Amen,” or at least a, “bless your heart?”

But there is good news: The all-powerful God can do so much more than we can imagine. C.S. Lewis puts it this way it is “like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea.”

Although the end result may be different than we expect, if we pay attention, we can identify success along the way. We can celebrate small accomplishments that may have huge returns.

As I waited in the Jacksonville airport for my very first writer’s conference, trying to stay calm, my phone buzzed. It was my husband. He’d called to tell me that our daughter had just said how proud she was of me for going after my dreams, persevering, working so hard. I mean, Wow! That is probably enough right there. That my children are learning perseverance from watching me. I can’t wait to see how these seeds of faith grow into amazing accomplishments for God’s Kingdom.

But that’s not all, people have made connections through me. At my second writers’ conference, I shared a room with Lauren Crews. Lauren is an amazing Bible teacher. (You should check out her website at http://www.laurencrews.com/ )  When we returned home from the conference, Juana Jordan, the pastor-in-residence at my church, told me she was a writer. I promptly set up a lunch to introduce Juana to Lauren. Honestly, I don’t even know why I thought they should meet–obviously, God. Anyways, they became good friends and prayer partners. Lauren supported Juana in her ministry efforts in Jacksonville, and Juana provided Lauren with a forum to teach and worship. I’m going to call that success. We never know how far reaching a simple act can be.

These are only two stories of God’s faithfulness, of how God is working through my writing journey, but there are so many more, and so far, success hasn’t come in the form of a publishing contract. As much as I want my books published, I’m okay (most of the time) with serving him faithfully, and I can say without a published book, “I have been successful.”

The Gift of Being Stubborn

Stubborn. Strong-willed. These are not words that seem like positive traits or gifts, especially if they refer to a toddler. I certainly needed to read the book Raising the Strong-Willed Child to understand and learn the best ways to harness that strong will for good. Interestingly, one of my high school Sunday school students said that she thinks being stubborn could be a gift that leads to perseverance, and most people view perseverance as a virtue, so maybe she’s correct.

At my house these days, we are watching season fifteen of The Voice. One of the performers that made the show has auditioned for every season. Y’all that’s perseverance.  But the other day, a friend said that some people should realize no matter how hard they work, they will never be a professional singer. As an example, she pointed to the auditions for American Idol. She said some people should quit.

At my house, quit is a four-letter word. My children know that once they start something they will see it to the end. I told this same friend that my daughter’s career goals are to have a Country music hit song and be President of the United States. The friend asked if my daughter had a backup plan. Honestly, I believe if this is God’s will, and she’s obedient, these things that seem unattainable to many, she will achieve. She will succeed because she is that strong-willed child. She will succeed because she will persevere. Like Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight.”

But how do we keep striving, keep going, keep having faith that we will succeed? I believe God knows that as broken people, we need assurances and reassurances. I recently read a Bible study, and the author suggested that Mary, the mother of Jesus, went to her cousin Elizabeth for just such an assurance. And I mean, if anyone needed some encouragement, it had to be Mary. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth exclaimed, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” Luke 1:45

We all need people like Elizabeth in our lives. Those that will pray for us and encourage us. God puts those people in our lives because He knows we need assurance that we are working for the right goals. Two different women, who I consider mentors have said these same words to me. “You will be successful because you are obedient.”

But when we are serving God and seeking His will for our lives, he gives other nudges, even pats on the back that we are working toward the goal that He wants for us that will best serve Him. The other day He even sent one in the form of a Tweet. Yes, God is on Social Media.

Last Summer, I gave a talk about perseverance which as an aspiring writer is a topic for which I’ve become an expert. However, the week before the talk, I found out that I’d lost a writing competition. Now, I’ve lost before, but this one hit me harder. I was filled with doubt, and in an effort to overcome it, I blared Contemporary Christian music from my car radio and counted my blessings aloud. Then it happened, God gave me a great big bout of encouragement when the radio station announced the verse for the day:

“Be confident that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” Philippians 1:6. This is one of my go to verses, and there it was on the radio. God knew I was struggling, but He didn’t leave me wondering. He said, Leslie, I gave you this gift and this dream, and you just keep being obedient, and one day you will see success.

I love the author Catherine Marshall and highly recommend her books. Her words inspire me. Her husband was a gifted preacher, and when he died unexpectantly, Mrs. Marshall was asked to collect and edit his sermons for a book. This was not an easy task, but she was obedient and went on to be a successful author. These were her words as she began the journey. “If the wish to be a writer was God’s will for me, He would hear me when I asked for the help I needed; and if He heard, then this wish would someday be granted. The timing would be up to Him. So, I sent this particular dream wafting back toward heaven with the confident awareness that He had already heard.”

I know most of you aren’t writers, but you all have work to do—work God has called you for—special work that only you can do. Who encourages you? What scripture gives you assurance? Please share; I’d love to add some more to my bank. We can’t have too many inspirational words, and the verse you love may be exactly the one that someone needs. Please leave your comments on my website so others can see them.

God’s Mission is NOT Impossible

Has God ever sent you on a mission that seemed impossible? I don’t mean a mission trip to Africa. I mean a task that seems at first glance to be just a job, just a team, just a school, but when you arrive or join, you realize God put you there for something so much greater.

Currently, I’m reading a memoir. It is the story of a regular person who God called to build something that seemed impossible. Even though this man was a servant, he became a great leader, who rallied the people and ignored the critics. He prayed at every step and followed God’s directions. His name was Nehemiah. The Bible is full of stories of regular people who God sends on what seem like impossible missions. But through faithful obedience, these people do amazing things.

When Moses turned the leadership role over to Joshua, God spoke these powerful words to him as he prepared to conquer and settle the promise land with the Israelites. Let them speak to you as you accept your mission.

“No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I (God) was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous because you will lead these people … Be careful to obey all the law; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I (God) not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:5-9)

Now, you’re probably thinking, but I’m not trying to conquer the promise land or rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, so how does any of this apply to me? God created a unique role for each of us. He calls to our own mission fields regardless of our place in this world. We only need to follow where He leads. Maybe you will be called to lead a large group of people in a major building project; or maybe you will be called to lead a bunch of teenagers in a Sunday School class; or maybe you will be called to lead your co-workers closer to Christ by your example and your words. I don’t know the call for your life in this moment. That is between God and you, but I do know He will always be with you. Some days you may feel the sting of rejection and setbacks, but friends, this is the time to persevere in faith and obedience. God is not working on our timeline, and His definition of success is often very different than ours.

“And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests.” (Neh. 2:8). Nehemiah followed God’s commands, being obedient like Moses and Joshua. When we are obedient to His calling, He works with us. He clears the path for us and protects us from those who would hurt us. We may have to deal with the enemy figuratively and often literally. For Joshua, it was the tribes in the promise land. For Nehemiah, it was Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem.

But …

Nehemiah answered them with these words. “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or right to it.”

We must stay and face the enemy. We must be strong and courageous in the face of adversity and have faith that God never leaves us. If He has put us in this place to lead His people and rebuild His Kingdom, (whatever that means in our lives and our circumstances) we must be obedient, and He will be gracious. But we can’t doubt or be double-minded or “we will receive nothing from the Lord.” (James 1:6-7) There is no enemy that our all-powerful God cannot defeat.

“The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. For the arrogant rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business. Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:9)

We must stay the course. We must be strong and courageous. We must be faithful and obedient.

God will be faithful. He keeps His promises. God doesn’t call us to anything we cannot do.

What is God calling you to do? If the mission seems impossible, let’s pray about it. I’d love to pray for you to know your mission and find success. Or perhaps we should pray for God’s protection for you from those that want to hurt you. Perhaps, you are like me right now and called to be an encourager. What ways can we help the people in our lives that are facing challenges?

It’s time for us to accept our missions from God. They are not Impossible.

Short, Short Story: Love on a Country Road

Sweet readers, Thank you for being loyal followers of my website and encouragers of my writing career. The first week of the month I usually post a Flash Fiction story, but his month, the story is slightly over 1000 words, so in the interest of honesty, and y’all know if nothing, I’m honest, it is a Short, Short Story. Last year after picking up Libby, my daughter, from a field trip at 3:30 in the morning, we heard a favorite country song on the radio. I said that I wanted to turn it into a Flash Fiction story, and she suggested that I write it from the woman’s point of view. The song is in the man’s point of view. So after months of thinking about it, I finally did it. I hope you like it. Leave a comment on the website, Instagram, or Facebook if you know the song that inspired this story.  Actually, there’s two, but one is minor. Big points if you figure out that one. And always, Sharing is Caring. Love y’all.

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Ella waved her alleged smartphone above her head through the sunroof of her Honda Civic, lifting her foot off the gas. Fields of green leafy plants waved back at her. They almost seemed to snicker at her—Atlanta girl lost in the country. When the bossy woman directed her off the interstate, it seemed like she was trying to help. The faster Ella could get to the beach on St. Simons Island, the better. But as she turned from one two-lane road to another, the signal lost strength.

The car rolled to a stop at the intersection in the middle of Nowhere, Georgia. She pulled the phone back in the car, but there was still no GPS signal. She collapsed over the steering wheel, blasting the horn.

“Whoa.” A deep voice slipped through the open roof.

Fantastic, now she was hearing voices. Ella lifted her head, out of the corner of her eye, something moved. A man reclined against the side of a flatbed truck full of vegetables. How had she missed him? His jeans hugged his legs, while the muscles of his upper body pushed against his green John Deere t-shirt. Mercy me, they sure do know how to grow them out here.

Pushing off the truck, he ambled over to her window with the most adorable lopsided grin. Her stomach fluttered as he got closer. She gazed at him, her breath becoming heavy. His blue eyes were like the sky on a clear spring day, and his tan skin was kissed by the sun.

A sharp tap to the window shocked her back to the present.

He wrinkled his brow, peering in at her.

Heat scrambled up her neck, burning her cheeks. She was such a fool, ogling at a perfect stranger, but he was like a fine piece of sculpture.

Dropping her fingers on the window button, she tried for a nonchalant smile as the glass separating them lowered.

“Good afternoon, ma’am.”

“Hiee.” Her fingers fluttered beside her face. She cut them a look. What was wrong with her?

“Don’t think you’re looking to buy any collards, so I’m guessing you’re lost.”

She nodded.

“GPS send you off the highway.”

“How’d you know?”

“Happens at least twice a week.” He spun his ball cap around backward, bent over, resting his folded arms in the open window. “Where you headed?”

“St. Simons Island. Girls weekend at the beach. Can’t wait to lounge all day beside the ocean. And I love to get lunch at Boulevard Café and blackened grouper from Crab Daddy’s.”

“You got it all planned.” He grinned.

“Yep.”  Maybe if she kept to one-word answers, she wouldn’t babble on like a dreamy-eyed teenager. She twisted the knob for the air conditioner, dousing them in cold air.

He blinked as the gust from the vent, slapped into his impossibly long dark lashes. For Heaven’s sake, she was doing it again. She grasped the knob, twisting it. “S-sorry.”

“No problem, feels good. After sittin’ out here all mornin’ with nothin’ but a prayer for a breeze.” He met her gaze, letting it linger.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

 

A Wave Tossed by the Wind

At the beginning of the Summer, I planned out goals for each month, and then, life happened. I’ve heard it said that we make plans, and God laughs. What I have finally learned is that I can’t accomplish much work in the month of July. Unfortunately, when I haven’t marked everything off my to-do list, I feel guilty. How about you? It’s not that I haven’t completed many things. It’s that I haven’t completed ALL the tasks that I put on myself. As I feel the burden of my list getting longer, I struggle to find peace, and I bounce from one thing to the next without making very much progress with anything.

For example, this morning, I took my son to his first day of school, leaving me with the entire day to work through my list. I love to make lists, and I absolutely believe in putting things on my list that I’ve either almost finished or will only take a second to finish. It feels so good to draw a line through anything. (Okay, I confess. I even put items on my list that I’ve already done that day. Don’t shake your head. I know I’m not the only one.)

This year my children are attending three different schools. One is private while the other two are public, and two of the schools are new to our family. I have been to orientations, joined Facebook groups, read too many emails to count, and studied school handbooks. At this point, it has all become a blur, so I set out to get it all under control. Ha, ha. Before I knew it, I was creating a list for next week with two calendars open in front of me, Amazon opened on my computer, and a stack of forms to read and sign stacked on the table. I tried to focus on one thing at a time. But then, something would pop into my head, or a notification would chime on my phone, and I’d flip to a different thing. I could feel my heart rate picking up as the minutes disappeared. How would I finish everything and find the solitude to write this message? Have you been there?

I could hear Jesus whispering, “Come to me, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me … for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” But I think some part of me was afraid if I stopped working, the items on the list would just keep multiplying, building into a giant wave that would eventually crash over me.

Now as I sit in my car at my son’s soccer practice at eight-fifteen at night, I realize the difference a few minutes in prayer and quiet would have made. Sure, the tasks would still have existed and most would still need to be completed, but I certainly would have had a change of perspective.

I often joke that I’m a recovering control freak, but in these times, I know that desire to control is rooted in a lack of faith. When I ask God for help and only try to do what he sets before me, I don’t feel overwhelmed, and I always have enough time. I wish I had remembered this verse this morning. I know my day would have been different, but maybe it will help you with your to-do list.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:5-6

Are you being tossed by the wind? Ask God for wisdom and then believe that he will provide. Listen and rest in the knowledge that what God wants done will find a way and everything else will be washed away by the waves.

Flash Fiction – Avoiding the Bouquet

Lately, it seems I’ve been writing a lot about weddings.  So much can happen when we throw together family and friends. People come with all kinds of expectations and experiences. The book I just finished begins at a wedding, and this short, short story takes place at a wedding reception during the bouquet toss. As a child, I loved trying to catch the bouquet, and as a bride, I couldn’t wait to see who would catch my bouquet. Because I was one of the first of my friends to get married, there was quite a crowd when it came time.  And I can happily report that my friend who caught my bouquet is happily married and so is the guy who caught the garter, although not to each other. (Too bad because that would have made a fun story.) They were so sweet to let me share this picture with you.  Thanks Ronna and Rob.

While my girlhood views were filled with romance, I realize from talking to unmarried friends that this isn’t always the case. This is the perspective I took with this story. I hope you enjoy it.

What is your favorite part of weddings? Do you have any funny stories from weddings? Please share. I’m always looking for inspiration.

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The bouquet of white hydrangeas launched from the bride’s hands and soared into the air, ricocheting off the chandelier. As it plummeted toward Anna, she recoiled, shuddering. Two younger women in skimpy dresses dove in front of her with apparent disregard for maintaining any mystery about their lack of undergarments.

Anna pivoted, abandoning the inevitable tug-of-war, grabbed a glass of champagne and tossed back the bubbles. As she threaded the crowd, she spied another flute of cheer on a service table. She snatched it up and shoved the door open, stumbling into the hall. How many glasses had she consumed? Apparently not enough.

A quiet summer night beckoned her from the other side of the French doors. Her heart pounded to the rhythm of the band’s cover of Brick House. Did every wedding band include that song in its set list? She leaned against the door frame, gazing through the window. The soles of her feet ached. Moonbeams danced across the lawn, leading to the brooding ocean. The music grew louder. She glanced over her shoulder.

A couple danced out of the ballroom, gazing into one another’s eyes. At this point in the night, no one would notice if she disappeared for a while.

Anna dropped her hand onto the door handle and slid it open. She slipped through the narrow space, pulling the door closed behind her. She closed her eyes as she rolled her shoulders, releasing the tension. A warm breeze blew against her face, and she inhaled deeply. The salty air brought a peace she could only find by the sea. She lifted the glass to her lips.

“Hi there.” A deep voice said behind her. “Must be my lucky night.”

Anna’s heart skittered as her throat tightened. She coughed, spewing the champagne.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.”

Her throat burned, and she rubbed her neck as she turned to face the man.

He reclined against the stuccoed wall with one foot crossed over the other and a hand in his pants’ pocket. His bow tie hung loosely around his neck. With the trimmed beard that accentuated his strong jawline and a coy smile, he could have been posing for a men’s clothing ad.

Anna swallowed.

He pushed off the wall and extended his hand as he stepped out of the shadows. “I’m Baker.” He couldn’t be more than thirty. Way too young for her, but . . .

Anna felt the corners of her lips lift. Perhaps, Click here to read the rest of the story.