All posts by Leslie DeVooght

Forgive Quickly–Life is Short

At the risk of losing a couple of subscribers like the last time I wrote on this controversial topic, I’m going to ask for your grace. Now stick with me, this is a short post, and if you are a subscriber and comment, you can win three books that will be perfect for your summer vacations. Each book takes place in a coastal state and deal with this topic in some way. They are Still Waters by Lindsey Bracket, The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson, and The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck.

So what is this scary topic? Forgiveness. All of these stories require a character to extend grace in difficult circumstances. In our real lives, forgiveness can be one of the most difficult things we are called to do, but we should forgive quickly even when the person has not apologized. Jesus taught all we need to know about forgiveness.

“Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22. Y’all know I don’t do math, and even I know that’s a lot of times, but sometimes that’s what it takes.

I love that Jesus doesn’t give any other instructions–simply just keep forgiving. In my experience when the topic of forgiveness comes up, everyone has their own thoughts on how forgiveness should look. They often include conditions about not forgetting the wrong or letting an unapologetic person know that he has been forgiven. But that’s not what the Bible teaches us, so why do we think we get to create our own versions of forgiveness? Sorry if I’m stepping on your toes. Never fear, I’m stepping on mine as well. I think that’s one of the reasons Jesus says to forgive so many times, eventually we will do it with a pure, loving heart.

I think forgiving others is one of the ways we can truly feel the Holy Spirit working within us. We can’t do this on our own. Grace is against our human nature, but y’all, it is so good for us.

Forgiveness produces a compassionate heart, while unforgiveness fosters bitterness.

“The Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!” Isaiah 30:18.

As we learn to forgive quickly and unconditionally, we draw closer to the Lord. Our hearts can find peace and joy because we know God is faithful. Although it is often difficult to understand why he doesn’t punish wrongdoers or save us from their wrath, we can be thankful that he shows us the same mercies.

Friends, “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32.

Life is too short to seek vindication and too long not to show grace.

How has someone shown you grace?

Is there a book or movie that you love about forgiveness?

Why is forgiveness important to you? How do you do it?

Tell me your thoughts or favorite quotes or a bible verse. Subscription to this site and a comment on this post or last week’s will enter you in the three book Summer Reading Giveaway. Only for USA readers. I can’t wait to hear from you on the website.

Thank You

           I learned an important lesson from Kelsea Ballerini, and it wasn’t that I miss me more. For those of you wrinkling your brow, Kelsea Ballerini is a country music singer and her tour and one of her songs is called Miss Me More.  We took my daughter and a couple of her friends to the concert for her 15th birthday. During the concert, the words, “Thank You,” appeared in bright, bold letters over the backstage wall, and Kelsea thanked the audience for their support. I’m sure this happens at a lot of concerts, but it struck me that although it is a such a simple thing, really just two small words, we don’t do it nearly enough or say it with enough enthusiasm. We have so much to be thankful for, and for me, I want to say thank you to all of the people who have supported me not only on this writing journey but also in my life.

Last week, I needed six more followers on my Facebook author page to reach 500, but y’all, my friends blew that goal by over fifty in less than twenty-four hours. My agent figured out that in one year, the subscribers to this website increased by over 1400 percent. (Y’all know I don’t do math.) Wow! I am so thankful for each one of you. God has blessed me with you, and I hope I can be a blessing to you, even if it’s just a sweet story that makes you smile.

So often, we take for granted God’s blessings, even see them as burdens, but we are called to do everything, whether in word or deed in the name of our Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Col. 3:17) How often do you pause and thank God for the work he has assigned to you? When we focus on being thankful, our perspective will be transformed. We will find blessings in the mundane and the routine. When we take account of all of our blessings, our frustrations lose their hold on us. We may even learn to be thankful for setbacks and struggles.

Last summer, I got the results of a writing contest that I lost. For whatever reason, this loss hit me hard and made me doubt my future as a writer. In an effort to get perspective, I spoke all of the things I had to be thankful for as I drove carpool and completed chores. Somewhere in one of those rides in the car, the Contemporary Christian radio station I was listening gave the verse of the day.  It was Phillipians1:6. “Be confident of this, He who began a good work in you will carry it onto completion.” There it was—a little whisper from God, and I said a big thank you.

With gratitude comes an understanding of God’s blessings and how He is faithful to His promises. Our hearts can seek to follow His truths knowing He will faithfully lead us.

Gratitude is a game changer. “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.” (2 Thes. 1:3)

Imagine how much better the world would be if we saw the people in our lives as gifts from God, even the ones that frustrate you. At least if we’re searching for reasons to be thankful, we won’t be grumbling. Your words of thanksgiving could be the very thing that encourages someone else. Don’t let us miss an opportunity to tell someone thank you. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be THANKFUL.” (Col. 3:15)

Who are you thankful for? Why? What amazing person has blessed you with something that makes you want to exclaim thanks in bright, bold letters?

I’d love to hear from you. Be sure you are subscribed to my website and comment on this post, and you will be entered in a giveaway for three books. (Still Waters by Lindsey Brackett, The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck, and The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson.) Giveaway limited to USA.

Waterford Crystal Daydream – a Flash Fiction story by Leslie DeVooght

Declan paced, studying the techniques of the first-year apprentices. Each approached the furnace with wrinkled brows, all but Caitlin, daughter of Waterford’s senior blower, Patrick O’Malley. Declan had trained under him for five years, and her over-protective father was the only reason Declan avoided her.

She twirled the six-foot metal rod; her pale blue eyes drifting. Where was she this time? Her lips turned up slightly—definitely not in this manufacturing cave. Too bad he couldn’t join her daydreams. From her starry-eyed expressions, they were delightful.

As she swayed toward the twenty-five hundred degree furnace, Declan darted to her side, touching her elbow.

She jumped, dropping the rod. “Gracious Declan, you put me heart crossways.”

“Sorry.” He retrieved the rod.

She took it, placing it in the molten crystal. She blew and twirled the rod, gathering a bubble. “Hopefully, Da’ didn’t s—”

“Caitlin!” Mr. O’Malley glowered. “A sunny day in Ireland be here before ya’ get that crystal shaped. The group’s already to the molds. Stop your bolloxology—get moving.”

Declan cringed. “Sorry, I wasn’t faster.”

“Thanks for trying.”

“Of course, I like helping you … I mean it’s my job … helping you.”

“Of course, but I do like your help.” She carried the rod to her station and turned the ball against the wooden paddle, but it tilted.

“Lift it some, more pressure.” Declan slipped behind her. “Or it won’t shape, and—.”

“Caitlin Margaret O’Malley!” Mr. O’Malley clapped. “I don’t know what’s goin’ on in that noodle of yours, but the class is ready to head on.”

“Mr. O’Malley, I can stay, and help Caitlin try again.” Declan lifted the rod from her. What was he thinking? He must be mad as a box of frogs. If Mr. O’Malley suspected he was interested in Caitlin, he’d batter him.

“Fine, don’t let her break anything.”

“I won’t.” Declan exhaled.

As Caitlin turned, her ponytail brushed his cheek, and the scent of lavender caught his breath. “We need to reheat this.”

She didn’t budge. “Why are you going outta your way for me? Won’t your girl be wonderin’ after ya’?”

“I don’t have a girl but me mum.” He stepped back. “Let’s get this to the furnace.”

“So you’re playing the field—are ya’?”

“No, I only have eyes for one girl, but …” He took the rod and walked to the furnace.

“But …” She slid under his arm, grasping the rod.

Declan’s cheeks heated like he was in the furnace. “She’s off limits.”

“Intriguing,” she blew in the pipe and spun the rod, adding molten crystal. “Tell me more.”

“Turn it.” He reached around her, placing his hand over hers. “Like that.”

She shifted, meeting his gaze. “Not more instruction. More about your forbidden love.” She extracted the orange ball.

“She’s lovely although a bit of a dreamer.” As he handed her the paddle, their fingers grazed. His heart tripped.

“I bet she’d break the rules for a sweet, handsome guy like you.” Caitlin shaped a vase form with the paddle.

“Maybe … let me help.” He stepped behind her, wrapping his hands over hers on the tools. “Easy does it. Your da’ will have me head if anything happens to you.”

“Never mind him.” She checked the shape. “Ready for the mold?”

“Yes, careful.”

She stepped onto the block and fitted the form into the mold. She blew into the rod, twisting it.

He gazed at her. Her flame-colored hair draped over her shoulder like melting crystal. Like a Waterford masterpiece, she was a prism, refracting radiant joy. Her turning slowed, she raised her head, and lifted the vase.

“Lovely.”

“The vase or me?”

“Both but it doesn’t matter.” He followed her to the cooling chamber.

She spun around, encircling his waist. “Pretend to be my mentor. Da’ will believe that.”

His heart pounded. “Seems risky.”

“Not at all. Now, I owe you a pint … Mentor.” She glanced invitingly at his mouth. “Unless, you’d like to chance a snog.”

“You’re worth it.” He pressed his lips to hers. He must be dreaming.

She giggled. “It’s about time. When’s the next lesson?”

God is Faithful

In today’s world, everything is about outcomes. We plan and strategize to satisfy a goal or complete a project or retire early. I remember having a goal to have my son potty trained by a certain age. I’d read books and articles on the topic, talked to other parents, and purchased all the right supplies. I’m sure you can guess how that turned out, but the good news is eventually, he did start using the toilet. (Well, most of the time, but boys do like the great outdoors.)

This month I started working at our church part-time as the Director of Women’s Ministries. I prayed and prayed to determine if I could fulfill the duties of this job and continue writing. In the end, I knew I needed to take a step of faith and apply for the job. Now, if you follow me at all, you know I’m in the middle of writing a book. My goal is to complete this novel before I go to a writing conference in March, so I have to write a lot each week. The first week on the job I really didn’t know how I would reach my word count goals each day, but somehow each day it happened.

“Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.” Psalm 36:5

Y’all God is so faithful He doesn’t ask us to do something without giving us the tools to do it. I don’t need to worry about my story or how I will do this job. If He has called me to do something, He will make it work the way He intended.

Did you catch that last part? The way He intended. We only need to “be strong, fight bravely … The Lord will do what is good in His sight.” 2Sam. 10:12. Taking a step of faith, trusting God with your work requires courage and strength. Fight might seem like a strong word, but when you look at your schedule and every block is filled, finding time to rest sometimes feels like a struggle. I pray that you will rest in the comfort that God is faithful to his promises.


February GiveawayThe Line Between by Tosca Lee 

This book will have you turning pages faster than the apocalyptic disease in the story can spread across the United States. Wynter Roth is turned out of the religious commune she’s lived in for most of her life, and the end of the world that the cult leader predicted is now coming true. But nothing is as it seems, and Wynter finds herself in possession of the key to stopping disease—save the bacon, save the world.

To enter the Giveaway, comment on this post on the website and subscribe to my blog if you haven’t already. What is your favorite breakfast food?

Simply go to www.lesliedevooght.com. The orange comment button is directly under this post. Only USA residents are eligible. Last day to enter is February 28th.

Croquet Kiss, a Flash Fiction story by Leslie DeVooght

Happy February. I’ve been busy writing a new book, so I’m re-posting one of my favorite stories. It was actually the first flash fiction I ever wrote. It is set on Jekyll Island, Georgia during the early 1900’s when the millionaires would take their winter holidays on Jekyll. I encourage you to visit Jekyll and take a tour of their “vacation cottages.” I hope you enjoy this story.

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Crouquet Kiss by Leslie DeVooght

Tap.

Clarice’s yellow ball rolled to a stop beside John’s black one. With her precise putt, she’d created an irresistible target.

John pulled back his wooden mallet and swung with gusto. His competitive spirit vanquished his manners.

Thwack.

John’s ball smashed against her ball, sending it sailing over the manicured lawn. It rested in the rough under a sweeping oak. His shot went beyond defense and social graces, but her ball couldn’t have landed in a more perfect location.

Rowdy cheers rose from the gentlemen, entertaining her friends on the veranda of the Jekyll Island Club House.

Jekyll Island Club

Clarice glanced to the spectators.

The ladies paused—their glasses of lemonade suspended. They breathed a collective sigh, while their wide brim hats swayed like sailing yachts on an undulating sea.

With a smug grin, John tipped his hat to his friends. His chest swelled, confident of his skill. Surely this surge of masculinity would encourage him to act on the sparks that flew between them.

Clarice bit down on her lip, a smile pushing at the corners. Before John caught a glimpse of her expression, she tossed her white, lace sunhat and marched across the croquet court. She swung her mallet like a drum major’s baton, feigning irritation.

Last night, she’d tarried with John in the beam of the moon on the stoop of her uncle’s vacation cottage. And when John leaned into her, she tilted her chin, lips puckered—ready. But instead of warm lips on hers, he’d lifted her hand and politely pecked the back of her fingers—merely childhood friends.

Ire rose in her, warming her cheeks—time to take matters into her own hands.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

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.”