Freedom Behind Fences

I got a good chuckle when Savannah rushed at hooded crows with all the exuberance of puppyhood. The crows ignored her. They were behind a fence.

Some people fear becoming Christians because they think it will mean losing their freedom. Yet the crows behind the stadium fence are free to visit together, fly, hop, gather food, drink from clear rain puddles, find homes in trees—and participate in other crowly activities. They are also free from attack. Free from fear.

The Bible instructs Christ Followers not to do anything that will destroy their bodies. Not smoking is not a loss of freedom, it frees the non-smoker from a host of smoking-related health issues.

Not drinking alcohol breaks the chains of addiction, violence, spouse abuse, child abuse, drunk driving, car wrecks, and arrests.

Not coveting frees a person from depression and removes the temptation to steal. Not stealing frees a person from the rigors of life behind bars.

Not committing adultery frees a person from contacting sexual diseases, or courting the ire of a wronged spouse.

Not committing idolatry and loving God with all heart, soul, mind, and body frees Christ Followers to live in love, peace, joy, and assurance of everlasting life after this one.

Worldly fences restrict. God’s fences free.

Criticizing Criticisms

prickly pear bloom and bite out

There are a few comics that I read every morning for a light, funny, uplifting start to the day. Usually.

Today I made the mistake of glancing at the comments. Every comment under every comic was a criticism. On one comic, someone had ridiculed the way the ant was drawn. On another comic, someone had said that babies kicking inside their mothers would not make the noises the cartoonist had drawn as a way to illustrate how lively the baby was. Really, folks? Did those derogatory comments make you laugh and give you a happy start to your day?

Not everyone is a Christian, so not everyone makes Jesus Christ their example. All who heard Jesus wondered at the “gracious words” that He spoke, words filled with power, spirit, and life. Not criticism.

The book of Proverbs is full of advice about how we should use our tongues: A man shall eat well by the fruit of the mouth; A wholesome tongue is a tree of life; He who is of a merry heart has a continual feast; A word spoken in due season, how good it is; Death and life are in the power of the tongue; A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

Why is it easier to criticize than to praise? It shouldn’t be. It really shouldn’t be.


The Change Rose


Another name for hydrangeas is “change roses.” Hydrangeas are small bushes in the southern U.S. where I grew up. In Scotland with all the rain, they can grow into small trees.

Size is not what earned hydrangeas they nickname “change roses.” They range in color from white, to blue, to light purple, to dark purple, to pink, to red. White hydrangeas lack color pigment and can’t be manipulated to change their colors. The color of other hydrangeas depends on the presence of aluminum ions in the soil and how the plant absorbs them according to the acidity of the soil.


We are like hydrangeas. What surrounds us that we see, hear, and read changes the focus of our hearts and the direction of our thoughts. Immerse ourselves in negativity, profanity, and impure thoughts and we become soiled like a white garment before flood waters. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”


IMG_3886The good news about being change roses is that we control the change. We have freedom to decide what we allow to enter through our ears and eyes and what we allow to come out of our mouths. Hydrangeas are static and have no choice but to absorb the soil around their roots and bloom accordingly. We can change our soil by moving: getting up to turn off the TV; refusing to allow negative or toxic people to rent space in our minds; turning a polluted conversation into a clean conversation, going for a walk to remove ourselves from human contamination.

My goal as an author and as a Christian is to keep the soil around my roots pure and bloom for the Lord.


No Fear…Absolutely


There are no easy answers for why bad things happen to good people, and why a loving God allows them to happen.

There are a lot of chipper, upbeat standard answers that sometimes make those afflicted with pain and suffering angry. Sure, they may be true – but in the midst of pain who wants to hear: Everything that happens in your life is a consequence of the decisions you’ve made and your actions. True or not, I can’t imagine walking into a hospice ward to visit a person with lung cancer and saying, “Well, this is your fault for smoking.”

True or not, in the center of a storm of pain, hardship, and suffering – telling someone that God created a perfect world, which was ruined by sin, and that God never intended bad to enter His perfect creation is not much comfort. Action to help the person is needed more than all the glib clichés one can deliver.

Please, I welcome your prayers, but the following is Not a plea for sympathy. When my hip pain started a few years ago, I ignored it. I declared stoutly, “I don’t need to go to the doctor. Even if an x-ray shows a problem, I will never let anyone cut me open. So why go?” So I exercised, ran, and prayed the pain away. I was a Texan, after all, and just like my character Texas Miz Mike in my mystery-romance-suspense “Bridge” series, Texans stand up to crisis. They don’t back down even from rattlesnakes.

Prayer works. From the time I was a new Christian and God removed my warts, to the time my son was scheduled to have a metal rod inserted in his spine and God healed him instead, Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever – and Jesus heals. Prayer works. But sometimes we don’t get the answer we want or expect. Sometimes God answers “No.” Sometimes He answers “Wait.” For me this time, God’s answer was “NO.” For whatever reason, God did not heal me and I became increasingly worse. By worse, I am on crutches. I can’t open my mouth to take a bite of food without throwing the utensil down and hollering in pain.  Sneezing, yawning, coughing – the pain is so intense that it would knock down an elephant. Fortunately, I’m a Texan.


The MRI showed a “huge” bulging disc in my spine that presses directly into the nerve. Instead of my right hip, the pain has spread to both hips and makes it impossible for me to drive because I can’t lift my foot and press down on the clutch. Why do I have this pain? Why has God not healed me? I don’t know. I do know that the Bible says to give thanks in everything, because this is the will of God for me in Christ Jesus. So I give thanks. I know that everything works together for good to those who love the Lord. Everything. How is this horrific pain working together for my good? I don’t know exactly, but I have an idea.

No fear. The greatest fear a person faces in life is death. Once that fear is eliminated – there’s nothing to fear. I lost my fear of death when my 37-year-old son died in a plane crash four years ago. He’s in Heaven and I will get to see him again when I get there. Everyone must walk through the valley of the shadow of death to get to Heaven. But shadows aren’t real. They can’t hurt. Shadows are an illusion. No fear.


However, I love mobility. I want to walk, run, swim, climb mountains – keep moving. Therefore…I was determined that no doctor, no surgeon was ever going to touch my spine. Until…the pain. It took severe pain to grow me past the fear of having surgery. My surgery is scheduled for next week and I would be jumping in joy – if jumping didn’t hurt so much and if I could lift my feet. I am thrilled. I am totally unafraid and totally ready to surrender my life, health, and spine to whatever surgeon God provides. Trusting God totally and totally without fear.

I can’t answer the question of why bad things happen, or why Jesus didn’t heal me this time as He has in the past. Mysteries belong to God, even though I write them in books. But this I know, pain has pushed me to grow beyond fear. Totally.


One Person CAN Make a Difference

Think one person can’t make a difference? Think you can’t make a difference? Think again.

blog one can make differnce church


More than a thousand years ago, an Irish holy man named Fintan Munnu started one of the first Christian communities in western Scotland. His chapel gave the present historic village of Kilmun its name. Over the centuries, a place of worship has always graced the hillside where Fintan Munnu—one man—walked, prayed, worshiped, and built a life of service to God.

blog one Benmore pink

An American, James Piers Patrick, bought an estate on the Cowal Peninsula of Scotland close to Dunoon and planted an avenue of Giant Sequoia trees in 1863. The enormous awe-inspiring trees—now 148-feet high—continue centuries later to draw visitors to Benmore Botanic Garden. One person who made a difference.

James Duncan—one man—bought the 120-acre estate in 1870, planted more than six million trees and added paths through the forested hillside. One person.

blog one Benmore

Henry Younger took over the estate in 1889 and added exotic shrubs and trees before gifting the estate to the nation.

blog one Benmore weeping

“Wild Horse Annie” Velma Bronn Johnston successfully campaigned to stop the eradication of wild horses and free roaming burros from U.S. government land. Legislation to protect wild horses and burros was passed in 1971 after Velma engaged school children around the United States to join the campaign to save the animals and stop the rampant cruelty and slaughter that was desecrating herds.

Wild Horse Annie died in 1977, and wild horses need prayers and protectors again. You can, we can make a difference again.

blog one

There are likely thousands of other examples of one person who made a difference…but I just happen to have pictures for these!

Whoever you are and wherever you are…you CAN make a difference.

Death, the Lasting Adventure


When I was 12, my spooky horse Allie jumped over a ditch to the road. His shadow hit the red clay dirt and he spooked. He leaped sideways bucking, threw me off, and ran home.

Allie was afraid of shadows. He thought shadows were real. He thought shadows would hurt him.

A lot of people are like Allie. They fear shadows. They think shadows are real. They think shadows will hurt them. We have either forgotten or chosen not to believe Psalm 23 in the Bible, “Yea, though I walk though the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

Because people know I’m a Christian, I often get prayer requests. I’m thrilled to pray for others and I rejoice when God answers their prayers. But some requests are impossible for God to fulfill because they are not within His plan.

We plant “dead” seeds and marvel when bright, new, healthy plants spring up from the dead-looking kernels. God never wanted death to be a part of the world He created. He designed human bodies to heal and live forever. But when Adam and Eve sinned, death entered the world. Because of that, God sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross in our place so we could live forever. Jesus didn’t just die—He rose from the dead to prove to us that we also can live again.


After we “die” to this world, we live forever in Heaven with Jesus in bright, new, healthy spiritual bodies that will never suffer death, illness, pain, suffering, or sorrow. But first—we must pass through the shadow.

It’s alarming to get prayer requests from people who are afraid of the shadow and don’t trust God’s promise about what is on the other side. I don’t know what to say or how to pray when someone grabs my arm and pleads, “Please pray for Momma. She’s 92 and her kidneys have stopped working, and she has heart and lung disease, and now she has cancer.”


What I want to say, and should be honest enough to say is, “Sweetie, let go of your poor Momma. Let her go home to God. He will give her a new healthy body.” But I’ve discovered that folks who are afraid of shadows hate truth.

Death is an adventure. An everlasting adventure. Between us and that lasting adventure is a shadow. All of us must pass through that shadow to get to our new life and claim our new body.

Perhaps we should repeat often, “Death is a shadow. Shadows aren’t real. Shadows can’t hurt us.”


Navajo Code Talkers & Dragons

I am thrilled to share my blog this week with author Katy Huth Jones. “Mercy’s Prince” is a classic, thrilling and real from beginning to end. I’m looking forward to reading Katy’s other books, and am blessed that she agreed to take time out of her busy schedule to be here today.

Katy, when did you start writing and what inspired you?

I started writing stories in the third grade when we lived in Arlington, Virginia during the early days of the U.S. space program. My teacher, Mrs. White, was passionate about space exploration, and we spent a lot of time studying it and keeping up with the current missions (the last two Gemini missions in September and November of 1966 and the tragedy of Apollo I in January 1967). Mrs. White began my lifelong interest in science but also encouraged me to write my “science fiction” stories about intelligent ants traveling the solar system (illustrated, of course). My longest story that year was TWENTY pages!

Me with GI Joe Codetalker

Me with GI Joe Navajo Codetalker at a school presentation two years ago. I had a small part in this GI Joe doll. Hasbro called my publisher, and they forwarded Hasbro to me to help them find a real Code Talker to do the voice, so I directed them to the president of the Navajo Code Talker Association (who has since passed away; most of them have!) but I suggested they donate some of the proceeds to the Association to help with funeral expenses. I didn’t hear until two years later (2001, I think) that Hasbro did donate $5,000. Yay!

Tell us just a bit more about your Navajo Codetalker book. It sounds fascinating!

The book is Navajo Code Talkers: Native American Heroes by Catherine Jones. I wrote the book after I researched the archives at a nearby Museum of the Pacific War for a magazine article assignment and realized there were no books written for children at the time. My only regret is that I didn’t borrow the money to travel to Arizona and interview some of the Code Talkers personally. I relied on transcripts of interviews instead. I need to get my rights back on this book and re-publish it. I believe I sold so many copies of this book because I developed a multi-media presentation which I gave to schools and civic groups (and still do once a year for the local sixth graders). I always sold out of the books I brought after each presentation!

“Mercy’s Prince” is a phenomenal book and I can’t wait to read the others. What gave you the idea for the land of Levathia and the characters?

I’m so glad you like Mercy’s Prince, Stephanie! The first idea for this story and characters came about as a reaction to a movie I saw with my oldest son in 1988, a fantasy called “Willow.” I did not like their idea of a “strong” woman and set out to prove that a strong female character could also be non-violent. However, the characters were more like 2-D paper cut-outs, and the plot I tried to force on them just didn’t work, even after several rewrites.

Then in early 2011 my father was diagnosed with lung cancer, and I needed something to distract me so I could keep a “stiff upper lip” and help him and my mother hold together during a long, painful year of chemo, hospitalizations, and hospice so he could die at home. I took out the old manuscript, threw away all but the opening scene (over 400 double-spaced pages), and gave myself a writing assignment, not even thinking about publication. I asked Prince Valerian and Mercy to tell me THEIR story, and I just “listened” while they did so and wrote it down. The plot completely changed, the minor as well as major characters became living, breathing people (and dragons), and I felt as if I’d traveled to a faraway land. I “go” to Levathia when I’m listening to the characters. It’s exciting to capture that feeling of wonder I had the first time I went through the wardrobe with Lucy in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

What is your favorite genre to write?

When I first started writing “for publication,” I attempted science fiction stories for magazines. I wrote dozens of them (some with “promise” as editors tactfully put it), but never published a single one. I could not translate my love of science into stories that “worked.” My first sale in 1992 was a fantasy story, and I quit fighting it! I do love writing fantasy, but a close second is historical fiction.

Holly and me and dragons

Holly is my enthusiastic niece who asked if we could have a “summer writer’s retreat” in 2011. For two weeks we worked on our dragon stories and spent a lot of time making dragons without a pattern. The long one on the back of the couch is Albinonix from Mercy’s Prince, but I couldn’t figure out how to attach wings. Holly and I had a “writer’s retreat” three years in a row. Fun times!

The Christian content of Mercy’s Prince is skillfully woven into the plot and the book is a thrilling “clean” read that one would not be ashamed to have others read over their shoulders. How did you achieve this? Is that a goal you have for all your books?

The first incarnations of this story were not as overtly Christian, but once I recognized Valerian’s deep faith, I think that helped shape the story into the final version. I’ve always written clean fiction because I don’t separate what I write from my own faith. I try to make sure everything I write honors God, even if it’s not overtly Christian.

What do you want readers to take away with them when they finish one of your books?

I hope they will be encouraged to persevere during the storms in their own lives as they share the journeys of my characters.

Do you have another book planned? If so, would you like to tell us a bit about it?

I’ve published two more books continuing the story in Mercy’s Prince (Mercy’s Gift and Mercy’s Battle), and there are two more planned. I’m currently editing book 4, Mercy’s King, and have begun book 5, Mercy’s Joy. I’m so relieved the first three are complete, because they can stand alone as a trilogy if, God forbid, my cancer comes back before I finish book 5. I can’t publish book 4 until I complete book 5, because the two books need one another to tell the rest of the story.

Your courage in battling cancer is an inspiration. You have continued to keep up with writing and book promotion even through your illness and treatment. You are amazing. If it’s not too painful, could you tell readers a bit about your type of cancer and the prognosis?

I first contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (a cousin to leukemia) in 2004 but it wasn’t correctly diagnosed until 2005. By then, two different strains of it were growing in my lymph nodes and it took nuclear-bomb strength chemo to put it in remission. Each year it stayed in remission, my doctor was hopeful it wouldn’t come back, but it did so painfully, with a vengeance in June 2015, and chemo put it back in remission. Each time it recurs it’s more difficult to kill, and eventually I’ll run out of treatment options. But I put myself in God’s hands and pray without ceasing. The good thing about cancer is separating the wheat from the chaff in one’s life and focusing on what’s truly important: honoring my Savior, growing in faith, spending time with family, and encouraging others as long as I have breath in my body.

You said in one of your posts on “Clean Reads” that because of your cancer, your goals are different than most authors. Could you explain that a bit?

When I first began writing for publication in 1986, it was more about making money. I hoped to someday make enough money from writing that my husband could retire early, and we could travel. He has been so good to be the chief breadwinner while I homeschooled for twenty-five years. I had my “15 minutes of fame” in 2002 with a non-fiction book I had published about the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II, and I still give my multimedia presentation to the local sixth graders each spring, even though the book has been out of print for several years. Now I just write the stories pressing on my heart, hoping a few people will read them and be encouraged. My hopes are no longer focused on earthly rewards, but on our heavenly home.

Bode drawing Merry and Valerian

Something important to me: The drawing of Merry and Valerian was done by a former student of mine after he suffered a severe brain injury when an explosive went off at the base of his skull (he was in a World War II re-enactment, and one of the “grenades” was not thrown properly). His therapist urged him to read to get his fluency back, and he chose Mercy’s Prince. He said the story encouraged him so much, he wanted to draw the characters for me. Before his accident, he couldn’t draw a stick figure! I have never been so moved by a gift before.

When you are not writing, what is your favorite genre to read?

Since I read E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web in the third grade, my favorite genre has been fantasy. I prefer to read Christian fantasy, but I will eagerly read any clean fantasy and have found many wonderful writers in the Clean Indie Reads group! As in my writing, a close second is historical fiction.

When you are not writing or reading, what are some other activities you enjoy?

I have played flute since age 11, but gave up all thoughts of performance to marry, have children, and later homeschool them—although I taught music classes and later a homeschool band for 16 years while teaching private flute at the local schools. Once a year the local symphony conductor would ask if I could play with them, and I turned him down. After chemo in 2005, I stopped saying “no,” and it has been a joy to play with such a quality regional symphony. I’m actually the piccolo player and double on flute. I love to take photos of birds and other beauties of God’s creation, and I used to sew clothes and costumes and other fun stuff, but haven’t done much lately. My husband and I like hiking, and I love fishing, but don’t do it often.

Do you have a publishing company or do you self-publish? What effort do you put into marketing and promoting your books?

I’ve worked with five different publishing companies, three of which are out of business. That’s how I stumbled onto self-publishing, because I didn’t want my two fantasies about Leandra and the talking birds to die when the original publisher went “belly up.” Then when my cancer came back, I stopped querying publishers and agents for the Mercy series and decided to self-publish from the start. Pauline Books & Media, who published Treachery and Truth, expect me to do all the same marketing as I do for the self-published books, except that I have NO control over prices, back blurb, or even the title!

All I can recommend is that an author search for the right audience, whether it be schools (I’ve targeted private schools for T&T) or advertising with discount sites (I had great results with Pixel of Ink, and now they’re closed, bummer). I also look for bloggers who have reviewed similar books, with good results. Because I’m not trying to make a living as a writer any more, I just try to find readers who I think might like my books and don’t worry about becoming a “best seller.”

What else would you like your readers to know about you and your books?

The Mercy series is marketed as YA Christian fantasy, but readers as old as 87 love the story! I dedicated book 3 to my second oldest beta reader, book 2 to my cancer doctor, and book 1 in memory of my father, since it’s not possible for me to separate the story from those last few memories of him. I researched the 12th century to make some of the details feel authentic, but there are dragons of all sizes, hence the name “Levathia” for the land (like the levathian described in chapter 41 of the book of Job). The chapter titles are Scriptures from the old King James Version, but I didn’t cite the chapter and verse. If I am able to compile a companion volume, it will include the citations of all those verses, along with Valerian’s history of Levathia, Mercy’s book of herbs, a genealogy of the royal family, and an index of places and characters. I have music to the words of one of Kieran’s songs, but need to put the others to music, too.

Book 1 of my other fantasy, Leandra’s Enchanted Flute, is an allegory of the cancer journey, but with talking birds instead of dragons in the land of Finian Jahndra. My YA historical fiction, Treachery and Truth, is the story of “Good King Wenceslas” from the point of view of his servant, and takes place in 10th century Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). I also published a collection of poems I wrote inspired by my cancer journey, illustrated with color photos, entitled Carpe Diem.

Katy costume closeup

The closeup with the costume is one I purchased to wear at school visits for Treachery and Truth. It’s as close to authentic 10th century Eastern Europe as I could find.

 Universal links to Katy Huth Jones’ books:

Mercy’s Prince

Mercy’s Gift

Mercy’s Battle

Leandra’s Enchanted Flute

Return to Finian Jahndra




When the Bridge Breaks

To celebrate the release of “Bridge to Xanadu” in paperback, I’m offering a glimpse into the third Texas Miz Mike Christian mystery-romance-suspense. The backdrop is imaginary Three Prongs, Texas, not unlike the real Bandera, Texas, “Cowboy Capital of the World.”

Mystery writer Michal Allison Rice follows a porcupine in an attempt to get a picture for the local newspaper. The porcupine climbs into a dumpster. When Miz Mike peeks inside to get a shot of the critter—being Miz Mike—she finds a murder victim. She is convinced that the man she saw in a local restaurant with a child is both killer and kidnapper. But since no one believes her wild accusation—she must prove it herself.

“Bridge to Xanadu” is dedicated to Native Americans. Chief Alan Bitterroot is an unforgettable hero:

The chief himself came to meet me. He was impressive; tall, and bare-chested, with beaded necklaces around his neck and fringed beige pants traveling down the length of his long, straight legs. His skin glowed a healthy brown, and even though tufts of grey infringed on the long, wavy mass of reddish-brown hair, his face looked eternally young. I looked into the verdure depths of his eyes and fell in love—with the eyes—not with the man I had only just met. Now was an unfortunate time to remember that I had not engineered an excuse for my intrusion. His hand clamped around mine and I couldn’t have spoken anyway.

As always, Miz Mike’s talent for minding her own business throws her into the path of danger:

Later, I remembered the sudden increased tempo of footsteps and the rush of movement behind me. But then, standing at the edge of the world alone, I received scant warning before a rodeo bull-like kick to my back sent me sailing momentarily against blue sky and clouds. Then the sky fell out from under me and I tumbled over rocks and through prickly pear cactus in an endless terror-filled plunge down the mountain.

No challenge is greater than Miz Mike’s determination to meet and defeat it:

It was pure insanity. I dropped Matilda’s leash, hoping that the borrowed dog would follow me. Like a football player going in for the tackle, I tore across the uneven ground, grabbed the child, flung her over my shoulder, and ran.

Cowboy hero Marty (who would be any woman’s hero) can’t believe he has lost Mike’s love:

“I don’t know, Marty. It was a magical, amazing world. I had never walked there before. I got lost. Now I can’t find my way back. It’s like there was this bridge there…Bridge to Xanadu, in my mind. The bridge washed out. It left me stranded.”

The killer-kidnapper catches up with Miz Mike:

Something with all the solidity of a metal stick thumped my ribs from the back and a voice that instantly turned my insides to ice growled, “Don’t turn around writer-lady. Just back up and get into my car, just like you planned on taking a little trip with a good friend. Cause we’re gonna be really good friends…until I get tired of you.” He laughed uproariously, but no joy bounded up and down the notes of his laughter. Instead, the smell of death spilled out of his mouth. He planned to kill me and I had stupidly walked into his trap. bridge

Use It Or Lose It!

Up until a few weeks ago, I thought I was in good physical shape for my age. Then I attempted sit-ups.

Some years ago, I could clasp my hands behind my neck and do 50 sit-ups. Unaware that had changed, I confidently clasped my hands behind my neck and did…nothing. I could not even pull myself up one time. Now every morning, I hook my feet under the stair railings and do as many sit-ups as I can. I still can’t do one with my hands behind my neck…but I’m working toward it. Simply because if you don’t use it, you really will lose it. There are a lot of things I would love to lose (like extra weight), but health and fitness are not among them.

My inspiration for getting back into shape is native Texan and Bandera rancher Edwina. When she was in her 70s, Edwina suffered a massive stroke that left her unable to move or speak. As she listened to her doctor and her family discuss the fact that she would be totally incapacitated for the rest of her life and unable to live alone, she got mad. When she heard her family talking about selling her ranch and putting her in a nursing home—she got Texas mad!

Since Edwina could neither move nor speak, her doctor and her family didn’t know that she could hear them. Edwina focused on her big toe on her right foot until she made it move. She repeated. Over and over, Edwina made one toe move. Then she focused on the other toes, then her foot, then her leg. Imagine her family’s amazement when they walked into her hospital room and found Edwina lifting and lowering her leg!

Edwina returned to her ranch home and spent the rest of her life living there on her own. She never drove again, but she ordered groceries and cooked her own meals and cleaned her own house. Once a week I would walk over and mop under the bed and in other hard to reach places.

So…I do sit-ups. I can do 10 now easily. Any day now I expect to manage one with my hands behind my neck.

Writing is the same way. If I had quit after the first rejection slip, or the second, or number 150—the Texas Miz Mike series would never have been born. Now five Christian mystery-romance-suspense books share the “Bridge” title, and number six will be out before summer.

You don’t have to be a writer to be persistent and hang on to your dream. Whatever talent you have—use it or lose it!

BTN & me

The Path of Wisdom

Immediately after 10-year-old Jackie Evancho appeared on “America’s Got Talent” in 2009, she signed a record deal. Music critic Andrew Duckenbrod said, “She is a prodigy; they break the rules by definition.”

Jackie also broke records. “O Holy Night,” released in 2010, became the year’s number one best-selling debut recording. She has since won platinum and gold. She is the youngest ever Top-10 debut artist in history.

Jackie comes from a strong Christian background and is an Ambassador for Mission Humane, an organization that encourages children to help protect animals. Her full length album “Awakening” was her fifth consecutive number one release on the “Billboard” classical albums chart. She sang at the National Christmas Tree lighting service in front of the President and First Lady. She played the part of Robert Redford’s daughter in “The Company You Keep.” No matter how much money and recognition she earns, she retains her reputation as polite and humble.

Scotland’s Susan Boyle appeared in “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2009. Her first album debuted as best selling on charts around the globe. She performed at Windsor Castle for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. She continues setting records in the music industry. She supports a multitude of charitable causes.

Susan Boyle comes from a strong Christian background and sang for the Pope. The woman who was bullied as a child, told she was learning disabled, and was nicknamed “Susie Simple,” is now worth 22 million.

How did they do it? I believe they found the Path of Wisdom and followed it.

Wisdom comes from God. The Lord told Moses in Exodus, Chapter 31, “I have called Bezalel and have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship.” Then he called by name other workers to help build the temple saying, “I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans.”

So, too, in I Kings, Chapter 10:24, “Now all the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.

We all have gifts. God pours into each person He creates some special talent or ability. It is up to us to find it and use it. James 1:5 promises that if any lacks wisdom, they can ask God and He will give it generously.

Jackie Evancho was only 10 when she discovered her gift. Susan Boyle was nearly 50.

If you are still searching for your gift, ask God. Proverbs 3:5 promises, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path.” I dislike Bible translations that say, “He shall make your paths straight.” God never promises easy. He uses difficult to allow us to build character and enhance our understanding. The Path to Wisdom is not straight and easy – but with God’s direction, it is achievable.

Like Jackie Evancho, I knew my gift was writing at an early age. I started writing my first book at 11. Unlike Jackie Evancho, I have not achieved worldwide recognition, which is a relief. I’ve seen her schedule! It would take time away from writing.

Like Susan Boyle, I’m a late bloomer having only recently achieved a certain measure of success with my books…after 40-plus years of writing and submitting manuscripts and receiving 150 rejection slips. And like Susan Boyle, I was bullied at school and thought to have a learning disability. I do – it’s math. Out of my six siblings, I was the only one who never made the Honor Roll. I was the only one who ever brought home an “F” on my report card – several, all in math.

But instead of believing the “stupid” label slapped on by others, I found The Path of Wisdom.

light on path