T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.

And Grace, my fears relieved.

How precious did that Grace appear

the hour I first believed.

—lyrics from Amazing Grace

You know, I joke all the time about my colander brain and how my memory is not what it used to be, but the truth is that my memory IS what it used to be—the size of a flea! My husband and daughter claim it’s not so much a poor memory as poor listening skills, which they insist have been greatly hampered by my focus on whatever my current manuscript happens to be.

     “Mom, where did you put the bridal-shower list I gave you?” my daughters says.

     “Uh … shower list,” I repeat, desperately trying to pull my thoughts from the McClare’s mansion on Nob Hill to our not-so-mansion-like hearth room where my daughter is staring at me, patiently awaiting my response. Which, unfortunately … is lost somewhere between San Francisco and Missouri.

     “Uh … what?” I say again, my mental plane just now touching down at St. Louis Lambert Airport, almost home …

     “The shower list,” she repeats, fighting the urge to roll her eyes. “The one I gave you yesterday, for the shower at Aunt Kate’s.”

     I blink, suddenly back in my hearth room again, my memory hard-drive whirring and clunking to comprehend just when she gave me this shower list, much less where it was at the moment.

     She shakes her head. “You weren’t listening when I gave it to you yesterday, were you?”

     I sigh. “I guess not,” I say, wondering if I should be happy it’s not my “memory” at stake or just depressed because my “focus” sucks pond water.

The truth is I have only been successful at memorizing a few things in my life—my address, phone #, Social Security #, pin #s, a few phone #s, the 23rd Psalm, and three stanzas of the song Amazing Grace.

Why the lyrics to Amazing Grace, you ask? Well, because other than Jesus Loves Me, it was the only song for which I knew the words when I used to rock my babies in the rocker. I remember soooo wanting to sing songs to them in my low, off-key crooning, but that’s kind of hard when you don’t know any lyrics, so the fact that I did, indeed, know three stanzas of Amazing Grace is truly, in and of itself, “amazing.”

“Mommy, sing “Amay,” my daughter would beg over and over again from the age of two through six, craving the comfort of our rocking song whenever she had a trial in her young life. Somehow, it always comforted her, soothed her, replaced the bad feelings with feelings of hope and peace and joy.

Just like the true meaning of the song itself:

The Lord has promised good to me.

His word my hope secures.

He will my shield and portion be,

As long as life endures.

A few Sundays ago at church we sang Amazing Grace during worship, and all those wonderful memories of rocking my babies came flooding back, bringing tears to my eyes. But it was when I sang the lines, “t’was Grace that taught my heart to fear, and Grace, my fears relieved” that caused those very pricks of tears to swell and overflow, slithering down my cheek at the incredible blessings and mercy of God.

You see, He took a hard, crass twenty-three-year-old woman who hated Him and wanted to burn Bibles and taught her to “fear” the sin in her soul, and just how much it would rob her of the love she so craved. He showed her that true confidence and self-worth comes from living for Him, not for one’s self, and that momentary pleasure—be it success, sex, drugs, alcohol, the occult, food, you name it—would never, ever satisfy beyond a fleeting moment and would, in fact, destroy all chances for true happiness.

Oh, yes, he “taught” my heart to fear … and then He turned right around and “relieved” every single fear I’ve ever had, replacing it with more hope and peace and joy than I have ever known before. Truly amazing love from a truly amazing God … given to us freely via His amazing grace.

Quick … somebody pass the Kleenex, please …



“Sweet Thunderation,” my publisher Revell is giving away five free copies of my upcoming release, Love at Any Cost, book 1 in my brand-new “Heart of San Francisco” series. All you have to do is click on the Goodreads link below and enter—it’s that’s easy! Good luck and here’s to a win!




My good friend Carrie Pagels will be discussing her upcoming e-book Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance on Blogtalk Radio and not only will those who call in to comment be eligible for a prize from Carrie, but if you let me know via the CONTACT JULIE tab of my website that you commented on the air, I will also enter you in a random drawing of a signed copy of Love at Any Cost and a signed printed manuscript of A Light in the Window. Here’s the link for Carrie’s radio interview scheduled for noon EST on Wednesday, March 26:


Here’s to an “amazing” weekend!