“Anything that tends to make you anxious is a growth opportunity.”

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

And, boy, oh boy, have I had a growth spurt this week! 😉

As an extremely wired CDQ (caffeinated drama queen), I used to get pretty anxious about a lot of things, but my faith in God has really help temper most of it over the years, thank God. And then, of course, the spiritual sabbatical I took in 2014 reallllllly helped to mellow me out … uh, at least as mellow as a CDQ can be!

But this week, if I must say so myself, I grew A LOT! So when I read the above quote in my daily devotional one morning, I had no idea just how true it would be.

You see, I have just finished writing A Glimmer of Hope, the prequel novella for an Isle of Hope, and I have to admit, I’m pretty excited about it. I hope to release it February 14 and post the first chapter and cover next week, God willing, so be sure to stop by then. But this week I wanted to tell you just how that novella helped me to grow, not only in my faith, but in my my hope.

For those of you who have already read Isle of Hope, you know that it’s a story about a woman who returns home after eight years to make amends to the father she defied, the boyfriend she deserted, and the best friend she denied. Only this time, the tables are turned because now she’s the Christian and her ex-boyfriend is the bad boy. Here’s the jacket blurb:

Can a wild girl gone good

rebuild bridges with a good boy gone bad? 

She’s the town flirt serving up trouble.

He’s a pastor’s kid bent on serving God.

Until tragedy separates them for eight years,

turning tables—and hearts—

to restore hope for them all.

In many ways, the prequel was a bit difficult to write because the reformed heroine in Isle of Hope was easy to like, but to show her before God got a hold of her wasn’t easy. But it was definitely therapeutic to explore that aspect of Lacey Carmichael because in so many ways her wild-child life mirrored by own before Christ.

Now, A Glimmer of Hope is actually what is referred to as a “teaser” novella, which basically means I’ve given the readers a taste of Jack and Lacey in the past to hopefully motivate them to read about this couple’s future in Isle of Hope. That said, this prequel novella is very important to me because if new readers don’t like Lacey (I already know they’re gonna love Jack! ;)), they may not want to go on to read Isle of Hope. 

Enter the “anixous” …

Now I’m reallllly thrilled to say that so far, Isle of Hope has gotten some amazing reviews and currently has a 5-star rating on Amazon with 94 reviews. But … as we all know in this biz, you can’t please everybody, so the three “not-so-good” reviews I got put a bit of a blip in my perspective, mainly because two of them specifically reprove the “language” I used in Isle of Hope.

I’ll be honest and say right off the bat that when I included expressions like “freakin’, flippin’, friggin,” in Isle of Hope, I had NO idea they would offend anyone. As a historical writer tackling her first contemporary, all I was striving to do was paint a realistic picture of today’s young people with actual expressions used to express emotion because heaven knows how I LOVE to express emotion! So to say I was shocked when I read that two reviewers took offense over these words, is an understatement. I am most grateful that the one reviewer (who mentioned the language in the book) was kind enough to spare me a 2-star like the other reviewer gave me, stating, “There are some wonderful characters and a beautiful story of forgiveness … but some readers will be offended by substitute swear words.”

Wow … what an eye-opener for me! I mean honestly, how many times have I said, “oh my gosh!,” never once trying to slip anything past God by secretly meaning to say His name in vain. Seriously?? To me, words like darn, gosh, gee whiz — and yes, freakin’, flippin’, and friggin’ — are not meant to disrespect God in ANY WAY, but to protect His holy name instead, with words that can stop some people from actually using His name in vain. 

So … being the type of person who would rather die than hurt someone’s feelings, I really and truly regret that I upset those two reviewers and any of you reading this post today who feel the same. So much so, in fact, that I was blue for a couple of days and very “anxious” about the prequel, which also has a few of these words.

And here ‘s where the “growth” comes in. For a space of a couple of days, I allowed the devil to beat me up over this situation, focusing my attention on those two reviews rather than on Jesus. Will I try to tone down the so-called “language” in my books in the future? Yes, I probably will, but God also reminded me that He has called me to march to a different drummer than most Christian authors. Yes, my books are more romantically passionate than most romance novels in the Christian market, but they are also more spiritually passionate than most too.

And that’s because I long to reach women like I used to be — utterly lost without Him. The same woman who would no more read a Christian romance than fly to the moon. And yet, although many believe in God (1 in 9 women in the U.S. profess some form of Christianity according to a Barna Group survey), many of those same women worship at the world’s altar instead of God’s (aka Fifty Shades of Grey and the like), living their lives according to the world’s standards rather than His. Those are the women I long to reach with my stories of passion. Mainstream inspirational stories that hopefully will not only draw women like that closer to the God, but teach (through lessons learned the hard way in my own life) practical application of God’s precepts to those who love Him as much as I do.  

So would you do me a favor? Would you consider saying a prayer that God will help me reach mainstream Christian women for Him? I would SO appreciate that!

And remember:  Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. — Hebrews 12:2

Hugs and Happy “fixing”!