Bragging Rights

“Be quiet while God is working,” Mama Bessie.

“Be vewy, vewy quiet,” Elmer Fudd.

“Move like the ‘g’ in lasagna,” my sister.

I’ve grown quiet of late, on social media and real life. My long-time friends may not even recognize me, I daresay, because I am not my usual boisterous self. But I’m just laying low and watching God work.

I recall a conversation I had with a mental health professional regarding a young man. In her assessment, he was arrogant, prolly narcissistic, too. To paraphrase Beyonce – he had a big ego. I defended him, knowing his history. Arrogance, or the belief in one’s own greatness, is often the flip side of low self esteem, where you don’t think much of yourself. When you’re feeling low, you might bolster yourself with thoughts of greatness to get you through. And when you’re on top the world, you pump yourself up even more, recognizing that you can accomplish more with a positive mindset. But to others, it may seem braggadocious.

I grew up not thinking much of myself, so I often spoke in a way to convince myself that the opposite was true. Deep inside, though, I didn’t believe it. But I could talk a good game. In truth, I was a lot like that young man. That’s why I identified so easily with him. Esteem, low and high, were often two sides of the same coin for me. And I could be either, at any given moment.

“You know, she fine, like you,” my brother said one day. He was trying to find words to describe a coworker, also a friend, and that was where he landed. Whatever he said during our conversation after that was lost. My mind went stop-the-presses, full stop. I remained hung up on that one point.

“Wait,” I interrupted him. I had to ask. “I’m FINE?” As in good looking. I’d never been fine, in the estimation of myself or others, as far as I knew. My face must have shown my shock and confusion at his off-hand remark.

“Yeah,” he asserted. “You know that!” He looked at me like I was fishing for compliments, but I was genuinely stymied.

“No,” I said in a small, wonder-filled voice. “I didn’t. I never knew that.”

“Well,” he said with the boastfulness of all men, “you should always believe you are the best thing!”

Men believe this wholeheartedly. They could look like Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble all rolled into one, with ashy feet sticking out the bottom of their vehicle. But you still can’t tell them they ain’t fine. I come from a generation where women were taught to be more humble, and not be so caught up in their looks. But men must believe that they’re the best thing walking, otherwise, how else could they convince us that they are the prize? For a woman to think more of herself was to be vain.

What does that have to do with me being quiet? Well, God has been working, as I said. He’s been leading me and blessing me with so many opportunities that I don’t have a lot to say, no boast to make. Time for that is over. God is showing me who I am to Him. No need to talk myself up any longer. The more He does, the less I say. I’m rendered speechless by the plans he has for me. So, I hear you, Mama Bessie. Turns out, I don’t need to believe I’m the greatest thing. He does.

“My soul shall make her boast in the Lord …” Psalm 34:2 KJV

Be blessed,

Loria

A Place for Us

Wear the world like a loose garment, which touches us in a few places and there lightly.” St Francis of Assisi. 

“You ought to wear this world like an overcoat,” Mama Bessie.

This world. Due to my grandmother’s influence, I compare it to an overcoat, meaning, something to be cast off when you reach your destination. It’s no longer needed in your new environment and the protection it affords becomes obsolete. Some folks liken it to moving, perhaps to a new home, where the cares of your previous life were left behind. But the gist is the same. We are to travel light through this world as pilgrims on a journey, as did Abraham and other heroes of faith, until we find the place we can call home.

It’s been often quoted that you don’t want to be so heavenly bound that you are no earthly good. So, yes, it’s good and right to think of heaven as our home and this world as our journey to make it there. But what do we do until then? How do we make our home now?

The need to fit in is great. It presses on us from childhood until we leave this place. We are creatures created for fellowship – made to have at least one other person on this earthly plane we can lean on. We are not designed to be solitary (although, there is much good to be had in that state, too). But many of us strive all our lives to find our tribe, or that one person to whom we can say: You, too?

I am that person who has often gloried in my solitude, but only because sometimes I felt there was no one like me. Friendships have left me disappointed when it was revealed that we were very different in some crucial aspect, sometimes to my horror. But I keep trying. In the interim, I’ve learned to detach myself from pretenders and perpetrators early on. It’s just less messy. If I wait too late it’s usually a bigger deal, with something small being blown way out of proportion because we just weren’t compatible.

I used to be really hurt about these breakups until I saw (sometimes, much later) that we were not on the same page, even from the outset. And now I can view those friendships through a more forgiving lens. I see it clearly now. They were searching for the same thing as me. Only in this effort were we similar and united. A true fellowship may need more.

Fellow: a person in the same position, involved in the same activity, or otherwise associated with another.

Though our paths converged for a short time, and we benefited from that relationship, the fellowship we created was not real. In many other areas we were unequal. Our only common interest was that we were looking for a friend. Sadly, that wasn’t enough to carry us through thin times. After a while, our paths took us in different directions.

“They went out from among us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have surely remained with us …” (1 John 2:19 KJV)

We were not meant to continue together, forever, because we were not the same. They could not go with me on my journey, but neither would God take me on theirs. It’s like no fault insurance. No one is to blame.

We’re meant to keep trying to find our place in this world. At the ripe old age of (mumble, mumble – you didn’t really think I would tell!) I’m still looking. If we believe heaven is our home, it’s only natural for us to seek it here. No, we can’t create everlasting heaven here on earth. But we can create pockets of it and make this our home, for what it’s worth, for a short time. Even as we press towards our main goal, we’ll continue loving folks, and making friends along the way. We must keep searching for our tribe.

Be blessed,

Loria

What are your Qualifications?

True story: My sister and I were extras in a movie about the first Black Heisman trophy winner, Ernie Davis, aka The Express. (Other folks were there – her husband, and members of our praise team – but the latter don’t factor into this story.) When we finally saw the movie, we were surprised to see that my sister received a lot of screen time for a mere extra, while some received none. The camera, as they say, loved her.

The day of filming, one Hollywood type kept turning to my sister (she’s a looker – SMH – runs in the family) and demanding the of her: “What are your particulars?”

She would smile faintly, not flirting or encouraging the fellow, but he didn’t seem to need much encouragement. He kept at this until my brother-in-law spoke up and put our fellow actor in check. Yikes! You should’ve seen his face! But I digress. The point of the story is his catch phrase.

I took it to mean that he was asking, who was she? Why was she here? What was her experience, resume, or qualifications? And how could he have missed her if they traveled in the same circles? My sister could pass for Phylicia Rashaad. She’s that beautiful. He felt he should have known about her, met her before that day.

When I attend a new Bible study, I try to keep my mouth shut for a while, at least in the beginning. I can take over things in a hurry, without even trying, so I’m careful not to step on anyone’s toes. But there always comes that moment when I finally speak, illuminating on some point, and one of two things happen. Folks sit up, take notice, and you can visualize the gears turning by the stunned expressions on their faces. Others take offense.

Sometimes, they say it aloud: “Who is she? Who did she come with? Where did she come from?”

All of which have the same root cause as the first story. What are your particulars? They want to know how I came by such information. (No secret – I’ve been reading the Bible since I was a child.) Also, the offended party would want to know: why am I encroaching on their territory?

Folks always wanna know your qualifications. But we shouldn’t be too offended when they ask. We’re in good company. The Pharisees asked the same of Jesus:

“By whose authority do you do these things?”

Again, basically the same reasoning behind the question as when the actor asked my sister. Who are you? How did you get here? What experience do you have? Where is your resume, sir? Really, what they seem to say is: You’ll have to get in line behind those who are more qualified than you. And, like the Pharisees, it’s always the established leaders who are quickly and most often the ones offended.

When the Apostle Paul told the disciple Timothy, let no man despise you because of your age, he really meant don’t let anyone look down on you because you don’t have a lengthy resume. I sometimes modify the scripture mentally to include gender or education. I once knew a pastor who became upset because another pastor was pulling in more members, even though he lacked a degree. He expounded on the subject often as it was a sore spot. What he really meant is – let this fellow pay his dues like I did! He should have to get behind me, go to school, and wait for his turn to be a successful pastor. Oh, did that burn him!

Recently, I watched what has become a cult favorite, Sister Act II, starring Whoopie Goldberg. I once read that she was not the first choice for that role. It was meant for Bette Midler, who turned it down. I’ve watched Whoopie’s star rise ever since the Color Purple. Never in her experience did I recall “singer” listed as one of her accomplishments or attributes. She’s a great actor and has done much but she was unqualified, or at the very least, underqualified. Still, she went for it. She inhabited the role, making it her own so much in the first movie that they made a sequel which was more fun than the first!

I said all that to say, God calls you, then he qualifies you. It may not be in your resume. But when the opportunity comes, you should go for it. As my son (a great salesman) says, make them tell you no! Don’t you be the one to talk yourself out of it. With this lesson in mind, I’m saying yes to a lot more these days. When a door opens, I walk right into it. I don’t worry so much about my particulars. I’m finding that most times I’m called to utilize skills I already have. And, that I am more than qualified.

Be blessed.

Loria

The Glamorous Life

I have a confession to make. I’m regular. Sure, I’ve done amazing things of which I’m proud. Performed with great choirs, been their lead soloist and director, appeared in a movie and a live concert video, and taken part in recording an album. I’ve recently completed a stint in the studio and now have another credit to my name: vocal coach for a movie. I feel accomplished and grateful for all these opportunities, but God is not done with me. There’s so much more that I want to do, and I plan to keep using all the gifts he has given me until he takes me from this place. But really, I’m just a BBW entering middle age and a working stiff, just like many of you.

It used to be my dream to become a great gospel singer. As I sat in the audience of a megachurch one Sunday, I listened to the testimony of one of my favorite gospel singers just before she was about to perform. She spoke about how she had to make a choice between something in her life and her job. And I thought, job? What is this you say? You – gulp – work for a living? Gasp (while clutching my pearls)! Surely a venerated vocalist like herself must have hit the big time long ago, and would never have to work again, I thought. She quickly put that assumption to rest. Her story, however, is not unique. There are gospel music giants who travel the world, sing their faces off at great venues, perform in concerts, and attend award ceremonies only to come home to a day job which supports their efforts.

I once read an article about the late Darryl Coley, another phenomenal gospel singer and one of my all-time heroes, where he gave details of his struggle. Lights cut off and homeless, he could do nothing but trust God. His testimony was encouraging, and I was so thankful that he shared. He could have gone to his grave with that truth and the world would be none the wiser. It forced me, however, to face a dismal fact. Gospel singers of his caliber often live normal lives and not the glamorous existence I supposed.

Gospel singers are not the only celebrities who live dual lives. A minor scandal broke out when rapper Bow Wow (no longer called “Lil”) gave the false impression on social media that he flew first class. Then social media dragged him when he was caught on a budget flight, instead. Like so many on social media, he fostered a lie to uphold his image. Here’s my point: how we, the onlooker, perceive things may not be true.

But I get it. My private life is not for public consumption, though I live it out in a public arena. It’s a delicate balancing act. While I would never put my business (financial or otherwise) out there for all to see, I don’t wish to mislead people and still struggle with how much to reveal. However, my silence leaves things open for people to fill in the blanks and interpret in whatever manner they like.

Since becoming an author, folks invariably think I have money. Boo-hoo! Poor me! IKR? But seriously, whenever I release a new book, relatives and even strangers hit me up for money soon after. It never fails. Somebody needs this or that. It’s flattering in a way, it truly is. They believe I’m a celebrity and they have access to me. And I don’t even need to be a celebrity for that to happen. All people need to believe is that you are doing well because of the house you live in, the car you drive and clothes you wear, or the job that employs you. I still remember the time that a relative (through marriage) called me and insisted:

“You and your husband gon’ buy me a new car. I know you got it!”

Unbelievable. And a true story. Look, I try to never “poor mouth” my situation. You know – talk like I’m broke. The more you confess what you don’t have, the more likely it is to become true. I don’t brag about riches, either. But I do believe you will have what you say (Mark 11:23). Proponents of “The Secret,” and self-help gurus Tony Robbins and Wayne Dyer also teach that prosperity begins with your mouth. Our daily speech habits can impact our world. If you want to improve your life, they say, first start with what you say. It will transform the way you think and alter your outcomes.

That’s a good rule to live by, I think. Since I became aware of how words create our reality, you’ll never hear me confess how broke I am, no matter how close to the truth that may be, LOL! But because I won’t say it, people assume I’m rich! And while I wish very much for that to be true, it hasn’t happened… yet! A friend and I recently shared a meal, and he posed this question:

“Loria, do you see your books being made into a movie?”

Stunned into silence for moment, my first thought was to be humble and aw shucks him. But then I quickly reminded myself of another friend’s favorite adage: closed mouths don’t get fed! So, I said what I wanted to happen. Boldly, I put my answer out there for the universe to hear.

“Of course!”

“Well,” he continued, “it’s all in who you know. That’s how these things work. Do you know anyone that could make your books into a movie?”

“No,” I answered, soberly but quickly gained confidence. “Not yet.” And I knew I had spoken something wonderful into reality, calling it out of the ether into this plane of existence. It’s coming. But it’s not here yet.

Until that day comes, people might as well refrain from asking me for my as-of-now-unrealized riches! They will not make me say, “I ain’t got it!” just to get them off my back. That’s not ever going to be my confession. I will always lay claim to great things because I serve a great God. One day I will attain that glorious state of existence – celebrity plus riches. But I suspect that even once I have achieved it, I will still be “just regular”.

Be blessed,

Loria

 

 

The Gift Horse

This advertising course, said the post, would help me to understand just how to market my book. I was a little skeptical because I’d taken part in a few such courses with disappointing results. Still, I decided to enter the five-day challenge, which was an introduction to give you an idea of what to expect. I was only one day into the course before advertising was demystified and I felt less fearful and more encouraged. And it was FREE! Right up my alley. But why take an advertising course, you may ask?

“Y’all don’t understand!” Bernie Mac

I was terrified of marketing. So much, that the thought of it would make me near hyperventilate. I was so afraid to advertise that it took longer to release Pale Rider than originally intended because I kept getting hung up on the “how.” How would I get the word out? How would I do things differently this time? How would I know I was on the right track? How could I guarantee my success? For that matter, who could I trust to teach me? And as we know, fear paralyzes. It clogs up your brain with inconsequential matter so that you can’t think properly. You can only see the challenge before you and can’t get past that.

That’s when I saw the devil peeking out from his curtain (ala The Wizard of Oz movie) and realized that this was his plan to derail my efforts. So, I pulled on my big girl pants and got ‘er dun. No more procrastinating, I released my book. But I still had to conquer my fear. I called on the lesson gleaned from the ten lepers whom Jesus healed.

“Go,” he’d said. He didn’t mention how it would happen but they instinctively obeyed. They were healed, not at that moment, but as they went. The blessing was in the going, the doing, and the obedience. Following their example, I went as I felt I’d been commanded. I didn’t know the how but felt sure that he would bless me along the way. So, when this opportunity popped up, I felt like it could be a sign.

My decision made, I enrolled in the advertising challenge, and immediately began to breathe easier. I still had reservations but soon relaxed under the tutelage of the instructor. “See?” I told myself. “This isn’t so hard! You worried for nothing. You can do this.”

The second day into the challenge, things got hard! I became overwhelmed with all I needed to accomplish and fell behind quickly. Now I was playing catch up and wondering if I ever would. I was tempted to drop out then, but a thought occurred to me. What if this course was not a fluke like the others and truly the answer to my prayer? I examined it more closely. What did I ask God for?

I looked my gift horse in the mouth right then, something we’re always told not to do. I remembered being so afraid before. Paralyzed. Overwhelmed. Confused. And thinking, if only I had someone to make it clear and not so scary. I had that now. I realized, despite falling behind, I was no longer afraid. I was having fun!

After that revelation, I examined not only the gift more closely, but myself. The ad course was just another example of receiving a direct answer from God, though I hadn’t realized it until that moment. I saw then that my prayers were often answered in like fashion. I only needed to open my eyes to see.

I completed the challenge and was pleased with results and my improved mindset. I feel empowered and more knowledgeable. And I no longer sit around waiting for a golden arm to descend from the sky and rescue me. God has shown me that he will lead me to the tools that will allow me to succeed. As in the case of the lepers, I’m being blessed as I “GO!” I’m an authorpreneur now. I must learn all there is to know about this craft.

Be blessed,

Loria

Sabatoogey!

“What class are you?” When my classmate asks, I just smile. They try again.

Self-doubt leads to self-sabotage

“What year did you graduate?” Since everyone is waiting for an answer by now (which increases my hilarity), I mumble again.

“What?”

Mumble, mumble, I reply. Everyone laughs, as intended.

I think it’s super funny (for some reason, shrug) when I get questions about my age. It always takes me back to the saying: a woman never tells her age. My classmates obviously already know but I always subtract ten from the year. Just for funsies.

Suffice to say, I’m old enough to have two adult children. And, like many of my generation, I remember coming home from school to roll over laughing at the antics of the Three Stooges. One phrase that keeps coming to mind lately (and I picture Curley’s scrunched up face as I say it): SABATOOGEY!

I’ve been thinking lately – gently guided to this realization, I’m sure, by a greater power than myself – about the times in my life where I undid my own efforts. Been my own enemy. Shot myself in the foot, so to speak. Self- sabotage.

How do we sabotage ourselves? More importantly, how can we stop?

I’ve been going through an Amazon Ads course to glean a better understanding of marketing. One theme that covered two lessons: Fear. So powerful that it would make you second guess and undo your work. A voice of doubt so insidious that you will destroy what you’ve done, regarding it as unworthy, or give up too soon when you don’t see the desired results. Sound familiar? That’s because that trait is not familiar only to Amazon marketers, it’s all-too human. I received their message, loud and clear. Don’t quit just because things don’t look like you think they should.

And many a failure turns about, when he might have won had he stuck it out.” Keep Going, Edgar Guest.

Another thing God has brought to my attention is complacency. Have you ever prayed so hard for something – a job, a relationship, a house, or car – only to fast forward years later and find little appreciation for that object or person? Your job that you were sure was a blessing has now become laborious, the requests of your boss get on your last nerve, and you just want to scream and walk out. Really? From the job you prayed for. SMH. Just in case you think I’m shaking my head at you, dear reader, I’m not. I always talk to myself first and hope that my shared experience will bring some enlightenment to others. Complacency will have us feeling ungrateful and entitled until that thing we’ve prayed for has sprouted wings and taken flight, no longer a concern of ours.

My beloved Kia, may she rest in peace, was a great car. The absolute best. But then I began to get it in my head that it was time for a new car. One with less mileage, an updated exterior, and a carpet that wasn’t so ratty.

I decried my old car more than I knew, I now realize, for a friend remarked upon seeing my car: “I thought your car was old! You must think mine is ancient.” I didn’t. Until that moment, I hadn’t realized his beautiful truck was older than my car and had far more mileage. He drove it for several years after that conversation, before it gave out in Arizona.

My own car died in service to me, too, totaled in a devastating car accident. She protected me to the last, my faithful Carisma. Before her twisted frame was hauled away, I took one look back and burst into tears at the sight. I saw just how injured I could have been and began to hyperventilate. Days later, I visited my car to retrieve my personal items. I drove by her twice because I didn’t recognize her gleaming beauty. I kept looking for a much older vehicle, which she was in my mind.

It was only after the accident that I saw what my friend had. Carisma was still a beautiful car. I was doubly saddened by her loss as I shopped around and found out what it would take to replace her. I’ve had several cars, but I still miss her. We had some great times together. But I think I miss her more because I devalued her until she was taken away. It was only then that I saw her worth.

And he learned too late when the night slipped down, how close he was to the golden crown.” Edgar Guest, Keep Going.

I’m listening to an audio book that I really like right now, The Magic of Thinking Big, by David Schwartz. There’s a common theme that seems to run throughout: positive thinking. Can success really be that simple? Change the way you view the world and the world around you will seem to change. But it’s not your job, your partner, or your circumstances that will change, in reality. It’s you. Every time I listen, I grow a little more in that direction, seeing things in a more positive light and being grateful for this life that I have.

And that, I think, is key to bringing a halt to self-sabotage in our lives. How close are we to living the life of our dreams? It may be just a positive thought away.

I leave you with the great ministry of D Train’s Keep On (The Sky’s the Limit) and pray that it encourages you!

Be blessed,

Loria

Speaking of trains, if you haven’t gotten on board, you should! Pale Rider has left the station and is chugging along. Let’s help it pick up steam! Order your copy on Amazon today!

Stay tuned for updates! A book discussion, book signings, and more are coming up soon!

Bad as you wanna be

I just wanted to share some insights from this week that encouraged and lifted my spirits. I hope it does the same for you. While out shopping, I wore a simple black dress with a message emblazoned upon the front in white script: Queen. A woman who was walking down the street with her family stopped to remark: “I love your dress!” The exclamation startled me for my mind was far away, ruminating on terrible, awful things.

It was a blue day for me. I was losing the battle of the bulge, again. I’d found the pandemic weight I’d worked so hard to lose and it seemed to settle right across my middle. Normally I subscribe to the Shenaenae (from Martin) school of beauty: Keep it cute in the face and thin in the waist. But today I felt frumpy in my straight dress with its side split, even with the uplifting declaration. (IKR? Sounds totally cute.) I should have felt amazing, but my stomach wouldn’t cooperate, protruding in an unsightly manner which made for a less-than-flattering reminder each time I passed a mirror or darkened window. I felt, well, fat. When the woman broke into my dark thoughts, she reminded me, just for a moment, of how others view me. And how God sees me. Just in case I didn’t get the message (I hadn’t, for no sooner than I was out of the parking lot, I’d return to my depressing mental cage), it happened again.

“I love your dress,” said another random woman. Translation: Beautiful dress, beautiful you. It was then, that I finally received what God was trying to tell me. Even on a bad day, I’m still pretty awesome. He knows this because he knows what he instilled in me. The good news is, you are, too. We all have that innate spark within us, automatically making us capable of greatness. And, as I told my daughter during her teenage years, you are more than what you weigh. There are worse things in this world you could be besides fat. Being overweight has not been the worst of my sins, unfortunately.

So, with my head and mood lifted, I continued my day and no longer felt like a failure. I reminded myself of all I’ve been able to accomplish and just some of the things I’ve overcome lately. But I didn’t need to travel too far down memory lane to see myself more clearly. Those memories were enough to restore my crown. I was enough. And so are you. Make up your mind today, that no matter your present circumstance, or the pressures you are facing, you are enough. Straighten your crown and walk like royalty. We are rocking this.

Be blessed,

Loria

P.S. The Kindle version of Pale Rider is live. Be sure to download your copy on Amazon. If you’re a fan of Bible stories, you’ll love this tale. Also, I’m still partnering with Story Origin to get the word out about more indie authors like myself. This week I’m sharing the works of author Sherif Guirguis. Check out book two of the Agartha Chronicles, Red Soul.

And, if you haven’t seen the latest action trailer for Pale Rider, you can watch it on YouTube. I loved putting this together and I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Have a great, fun-filled, fourth of July weekend. Be safe.

It’s Personal

Don’t take it personal,” Jermaine Jackson.

Due to the subject matter, I recommend that parents read the book first and make themselves available for any comments or questions that could be forthcoming. It is well worth the conversation.” Amazon reviewer, Pale Rider.

One thing I struggled with early during my Christian journey had to do with accepting Jesus’ sacrifice for me. For God so loved the world and all that. Yes, the entire world and all of humankind. He loved us enough to wrap himself in flesh so that he could be like us, live like us, die like us but with a great difference. His death wasn’t just a cause for mourning. It was a cause for celebration. Jesus’ triumph over the grave meant freedom for all. One day, we who believe would rise again and be clothed in our glorified body, too. It’s the foundation of our faith. And I thought I believed in his love for me.

But then I faced a personal crisis so deep that it left me mute. Sure, I was still walking around and interacting with others but inside I was numb. Like an apparition I ghosted through my home, going through the daily motions. The pain was so agonizing I felt like I couldn’t breathe at times. I shut down and couldn’t, wouldn’t even talk to Him. My situation was unbearable. How could He let THIS horrible thing happen to me?

“I love you.”

His voice came to me. I brushed it aside, not wanting to hear such empty declarations. You don’t love me, I would’ve said, had I been talking to Him. If He had, this never could have happened. The days went by and I’m sure I ate and drank and did all the normal things. But that time was a void. An unfillable chasm. A deep maw of pain so great, it would surely swallow me, and I would be no more. It would destroy me, I was convinced, and I would fall into the abyss of nothingness. I welcomed the inevitable end.

“I love you.”

This time, I answered, though still dismissively. Yes, I did. Me. I blew Him off. The God of the universe. I don’t say this with pride. I was in so much pain that I wasn’t trying to hear anything He said. But He persisted.

“I love you.”

“Yeah. I know. You love EVERYBODY,” I emphasized that last word, heavy with sarcasm. “For God so loved the world, blah, blah, blah.” My inner voice sounded like I felt – flat and devoid of emotion. But then He responded with something that leaked through my pain and gave me pause.

“I love YOU. I died for you.” It didn’t surprise me that I was holding a conversation with the Lord, himself (though part of me suspected I was talking to myself, hence my easy dismissal). But I was a little perturbed at his emphasis on the last word. Me. He died for me, personally? I quickly brushed aside the thought and went back to my painful ruminations. I felt like I would die. I think I wanted to. But the conversation lingered in the back of my mind and interjected a question: How could such a big God love little, insignificant me?

I had a car accident soon after that – like a week later, as I recall. As I looked at the smoldering wreckage and then to the precious cargo I held in my arms, His words came back to me. I heard them clearly over the sounds of a multitude of cars whizzing by as kind strangers stopped to help me and my children on the expressway.

I love you. I died for you.

I never forgot that lesson, that experience. His love for us is wide and encompassing but also deeply personal. And so that is one of the lessons I share in this latest work, Pale Rider, as Ari learns about His personal love. A love so great and vast that it can embrace all of creation yet still care about you and me individually. For God, it is personal.

Be blessed,

Loria

P.S. Pale Rider will be available on Kindle June 30th and it’s FREE with Kindle Unlimited! You can preorder here! Also, check out my latest movie-style trailer. It’s EPIC!

Looking for more good reads? I’ve partnered with authors for Story Origin’s Discover them here!

And check out a short film by my buddy Aretha Tatum, Seasoned! It’s never too late to follow your dream!

 

 

Control

Fix, manage, control. One of my good buddies introduced me to this phrase and I’ve never forgotten. It’s what we do, especially when we feel that our world, our way of doing things, or our people are slipping away from us. We endeavor to not have anything in our life alter, to hold on to the way things are just a little while longer even if they no longer serve us. We panic at the thought of change. Whew. There it is. The BIG one. The most ominous word ever. Change is perilous. It’s scary. We don’t want to upset our apple cart even if that change means moving towards something greater. To paraphrase a song from my youth, I don’t wanna be a (control) freak, but I can’t help myself!

When Abraham left his hometown we might’ve imagined him marching forward on God’s command immediately, fearlessly. But I’m pretty sure that’s not how it happened! How can I be so certain? Because Abraham was only human, a mere mortal just like us. We cannot expect that he was, himself, anything other than a regular man. He had fears and reservations just as any person would have at the thought of such a move. I once took a class where they identified the most stressful events in a person’s life. Moving was right up there with death and marriage. It can be most terrifying, even if you’re moving into your dream house. Many of my generation danced and celebrated the emancipation of a young Janet Jackson as she sang about her efforts to wrest “Control” of her life away from her domineering father. We identified with her because we “wanna be the one in control!” Nobody likes change, initially. It throws our world off, leaving us to madly wrestle it back under our control. It’s where we’re most comfortable.

So, when God said to Abraham, “Go!” can we suppose that he just up and went? Not likely. Like most of us, he probably carefully planned his going down to the most minute detail. When my children were small, I couldn’t leave the house without their diaper bag which contained all my essentials for childcare. When I go on vacation, I make lists and take inventory of everything I will need while I am gone. Careful planning goes into even temporary moves. But Abraham wasn’t ever coming back. He needed to take, well, everything. If he were anything like us, he took as much as he could to guarantee his outcome and his comfort. To further hedge his bets, he took his nephew, Lot. Think about it! What would you take on such a journey?

At some point, though, he must’ve stopped delaying and procrastinating. When he could put it off no longer, he went as God commanded. How many of us would cease our efforts to control the outcome and simply obey? We would want to know exactly where we are going and how we’re going to get there. Details. But eventually we’ll need to do what Abraham did. Believe God. Step out on faith and just go. As we realize no further details are forthcoming, we can surrender to one of two options. Get it together and go OR give up the notion altogether because we’re afraid to step into the unknown. Again, an all too human reaction.

But if we want to experience the sublime, the divine, we’ll have to go as Abraham did, with no guarantees. With only our obedience to a God we cannot see. With our faith in Him and in our assignment and calling. I saw a post on social media recently that said: Sometimes you don’t need a plan. You just need to let go and trust! I felt that. It spoke to me as I delayed the publishing of my recent novel. I had questions with no immediate answers. I wanted to plan, to guarantee my outcome. But I finally realized that the kind of success I want is out of my hands. So, I placed it in His. And I’m finding that He’s revealing the answers to me, unfurling them along the way, as I obey. I hope you are encouraged to do the same. Just go. Do it.

Be blessed.

Loria

Pale Rider is live on Amazon! Click here to learn more, read the synopsis and preview, see the trailer! Or go to Amazon to order!

Also, Pale Rider is featured among other clean fiction that you can trust your family to read and enjoy! Check out Christian Fantasy and Fiction Summer Reads on Story Origin!

Outcomes

Can you believe it? It’s finally here! Pale Rider will go live on Tuesday, June 15th! It’s been a tedious road to get here but I’ll spare you the details. The point is, we’ve arrived! Now that we’re here (and my heart has stopped thumping over achieving my goal) God has put on my heart to talk about outcomes. You know, the end result.

Of course, I know the end I want to achieve – fantabulous success (and yes, I do know that’s not a word, but my writing program didn’t correct it so I’m going with it!) – but how do I get there? I’m a member of some amazing writing groups that aim to facilitate that and they all seem helpful but it’s overwhelming to be inundated with so much information. And they can’t all be right, right? Do this, do that, but never do this! Argh! (Yes, that is my pirate voice!) So, what do I do when I don’t know what to do? When confusion paralyzes me, I become terrified that there is no right action to take and fear I will doom myself because I “chose poorly.” Who can I go to for help sorting through the miasma of “helpful” information?

I go to the one who knows the outcome, has already provided for the outcome, and engineers outcomes against impossible odds. Believe it or not, the Bible exists to provide the testimonies of people who’ve overcome, not only to poke at us poor humans and say, “You’re wrong!” It’s so we could know there is a way out and that we have a Father who has provided for us and wants to come to our rescue. Even when we are wrong, we can go to him for help. (True story! You should try it, er, try Him!) I trust God because he knows my ending, declared it before my beginning (Isaiah 46:10), and promised it would be a good one (Jeremiah 29:11). I know two things for certain: He loves me, and He is pro-Loria.

So, I move forward as though fearless, while filled with trepidation. To do so is the ultimate act of faith because faith is action. It’s what we do that shows what we genuinely believe. Years ago, when I began this journey, I believed that the premise for my series was inspired by God and downloaded directly from heaven. Acting on that impulse, I began to write almost immediately and didn’t let up for years. Then life happened and my efforts were derailed. After a series of blows I began to falter and wondered if I’d gotten it right. I know how Joseph must have felt in that pit (or when he was thrown into jail), despairing of the bright promise his future once held. Oh! I do know.

But then things began to get better, minutely, then by great leaps. My life has not been completely restored but it’s getting there. I grew much in the interim and learned that He will catch me if I fall. And when the circumstances of my life no longer weighed so heavily upon me, I began to write again. I always come back to it. It called to me, telling me the story was not complete, nor was my life. I still had work to do. By faith, I brushed aside my misgivings and looked to God. It’s not given to me to worry about how it will all work out or if this will yield the career of my dreams. It’s my job to put my head down, go to work, then let it go and trust. I can’t hold on to it any more than I could my children after they became adults. By faith I released them, trusting God to keep them and make them successful. And so it is now as we count down to June 15th. I don’t know what the future holds, but He does. He is the author and finisher (Hebrews 12:2). I trust Him to engineer my outcome.

Be blessed,

Loria

Are you excited about Pale Rider? I know I am SO READY to debut my latest book for my fans. I’m in love with the characters and I know you will be, too. Look for announcements on June 15th with the link to order your paperback copy on Amazon. You can preorder your Kindle version (available June 30th) here! Meanwhile, click here to view the trailer and read an excerpt. Enjoy!

P.S. It’s been my supreme pleasure to partner with fellow authors on Story Origin: This week, I’m participating in Magic, Mayhem, and Adventures! It looks to be a wonderful collection of all the things I love about fiction. YAY! Follow the link to check out their offerings!