Faith: I am One with the Force, and the Force is with Me

Have y’all run across Heather Bock from the Glimpses of Jesus blog? I started following her a number of months ago and so appreciate her humor and faith. This post of Heather’s, about ROGUE ONE and my favorite character from the movie, Jedi Knight Chirrut, has stuck with me ever since I read it the first time. Finally, I’m reblogging it to share with you! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thank you, Heather, and enjoy, dear readers!
–Wren

Glimpses of Jesus

i-am-with-jesus-and-jesus-is-with-me

by Heather Bock

“for we walk by faith, not by sight”
II Corinthians 5:7

I didn’t grow up watching the Star Wars movies like my husband and many others did. The first time I watched them was in the theater, but it was when they were rereleased in the late 1990s. Therefore, I don’t have as much emotional attachment as others might, but I do enjoy watching the movies and following the story (sometimes semi-following: my eight year old son, Mr. C, was a big help during the last film, as he often leaned over to whisper explanations about new characters). So when Rogue One came out,

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A Quick Note from Wren….

 

Dearest Readers—

Well, we’ve had several weeks of highly unexpected things happening around here.  You might have noticed that things have been VERY quiet at the FINCHNWREN blog!

  1.  I had surgery (expected) to remove a cyst from my abdominal area that was—I kid you not—the size of a baseball.
  2. Spent a week in the hospital.  (Also expected.)
  3. Went home on day #7.
  4. Got up the next day with a fever, tons of pain, and what turned out to be an infected incision.  (Unexpected!)

Now, everything else has fallen into that “Unexpected!” list:

  1. 4 more days in the hospital, May 8-11.
  2. Infected incision area and an introduction to this odd yet miraculous little machine called a “wound vac.”  Yes, it does just what it sounds like it might do; it is attached to my abdominal area via tubes, sponges, sticky clear tapey stuff, and it sucks out the bad stuff, stimulates cells to do good work and get healthy.  It runs via electrical cord/battery and I haul it around everywhere I go.
  3. The unexpected blessing of home health care.  I have nurses who come to my home every two days to clean the wound and change the dressings.

We don’t know how long this process will take.  It is at times, absolutely exhausting, painful, sleep-inducing.  Yet it really is miraculous, and healing is occurring.

I also want to send hugs and blessings to our dear friends and family–here in person, and via the Internet all across the world.  We’ve been blessed with meals, gift cards, prayers, cards, kind words, thoughts; so much care extended by so many.  Thank you!

I’ll do my best to stay in touch with you all.  Finch and I have some fun giveaways to bring to you this summer.  But at the moment, my focus is to heal; to love my family; to rest; and to hear God.  Here’s a sweet verse that I read just in the last hour; the perfect thing to close on, I think!

“Because of the LORD’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.””        —Lamentations 3:22-24

Isn’t that lovely?  Just the thoughts I’d like to have on my heart as I get ready to go to bed.

Bless you all, friends.  I’m looking forward to being more in touch with you.  –Wren

Meet Varina Denman! Author of JILTED & the MENDED HEARTS SERIES

I have the enormous pleasure of introducing you all to Varina Denman this week!  She’s the author of the wonderful MENDED HEARTS series, the stories of three women living in small town West Texas and dealing with life, joy, pain and love.  Varina’s newest book (and third in this series), JILTED, has just been published.  On Friday, I’ll be sharing both my thoughts about this book…as well as the opportunity for you to win a copy of JILTED, courtesy of Varina!

Today, Varina has been kind enough to answer some fun questions about herself and her writing career.  You’ll love getting to know her better, just as I have.  Enjoy!

V. Denman Author Int. Banner

So, Varina…your third book, JILTED, has just been published! What’s it like to be
a published author?

It seems like a dream, and I keep waiting to wake up. Or maybe someone will suddenly say, “Oh! You’re Varina Denman? This is a mistake.” But other than that …it feels GREAT.

How did you embark on this writing life?

It’s funny, but I never intended to become a writer. I studied computer science and mathematics in college, but then I took a break to stay home with my kids. During all the late night feedings, I had plenty of time for reading, and I consumed novel after novel. It was then that I began to wonder if I might be able to write, but it was still years before I tried it.

Jilted Windmill QuoteHow did you get “discovered” as an author?

In 2012, I attended a writer’s conference that was hosted by the American Christian Fiction Writers. Since it was my first conference, I was nervous, and much of the weekend was spent seeking out other clueless newbies so we could
boost each other’s spirits. The registration packet included two 15 minute meetings with literary agents. I was TERRIFIED of these appointments, but I made it through them without embarrassing myself too much. Neither of the
agents offered to represent my work, but they gave me pointers and encouragement. After that, I relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the events.

At lunch the next day, I noticed a girl sitting alone at a table, and I sat down next to her and struck up a conversation. We talked about our children, our hometowns, the conference in general, and then I asked, “What do you write?”
You can imagine my shock when she said she was an agent. I stumbled over the rest of our conversation, but at the end of the meal, she asked to see my proposal, and a week later, she called and offered me representation.

I am SO THANKFUL I didn’t know who she was, or I might never have sat down next to her. We’ve had a marvelous relationship since then. During the year following that conference, she encouraged me as I worked on my manuscript, and the next year, my debut novel, Jaded, won the ACFW Genesis Award. My career was off the ground … all because I struck-up a conversation with a girl I didn’t know.

What does a “day in the life” of Varina Denman look like?

Typically, my alarm goes off at 5:00. I start my day with a fruit smoothie and Bible reading, then I jump into my writing. If all goes well, I’ll draft a chapter in the morning, then take a break to exercise. Next I’ll work on blog posts or marketing until lunch. In the afternoons, I help my teenagers with their homeschool assignments (during the school year), and try to do a little housework. After dinner, I read a book or watch a movie. I love a routine, so I’m happiest when I barely deviate from this schedule.

Varina Denman Mended Hearts coversA key element I’ve noticed in your books is that what others see (and conclude) about us is not always true about the persons we really are. I love this, it’s so true! Did this just “happen” as you wrote, or is this a theme you’ve thought on for awhile?

I was such a newbie when I started writing the Mended Hearts series, that it definitely just “happened” as I wrote. But by the time I got to Jilted, I was more aware of the recurring theme, and I began to work with it. Now it’s almost a given
that this theme will at least be brushed on in all my books. In my current work-in-progress it’s a major key point once again.

I like the way that you shift POV from first person, with Lynda, to third person, in Clyde. How did you decide to tell JILTED in this way?

So much of Jilted evolved through the writing of the series. Decisions I made way back with Jaded and Justified trickled down into the pages of Jilted, and that is true about the POV as well. When I first started writing, I didn’t know much about point of view, and I didn’t know I was sort of breaking the rules. I wrote and re-wrote, trying the perspectives differently, but it always sounded better with the heroine in 1st person and the hero in 3rd . I’m continuing that trend with at least one more book.

Varina Denman Jilted Cover 3DJILTED concludes the story arc for three women in the West Texas town of Trapp, in
your Mended Hearts series. What’s next for you as an author?

Right now I’m working on a stand alone novel,also set in Texas. Unlike the Mended Hearts series, which is set in the Lubbock area, the new story will happen a farther north, just on the edge of Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo.

And last but not least…how does it feel to walk into a bookstore and see your books on the shelf?

Amazing! I actually hadn’t done that until last week, and I found all three books side-by- side on the shelf. I wanted to squeal, but I was too embarrassed. 

Varina Denman writes stories about the unique struggles women face. Her award-winning Mended Hearts series, which revolves around church hurt, is a compelling blend of women’s fiction and inspirational romance. A native Texan, Varina lives near Fort Worth with her husband and five
mostly grown children. Connect with Varina on her website or one of the social media hangouts below.

A little about Jilted:

A heartbroken woman desires to move beyond old memories, but will her past give way to hope?

Lynda Turner has struggled with depression since her husband abandoned her and their young daughter fifteen years ago. Yet unexpected hope awakens when a local ex-convict shows interest. As long-hidden secrets resurface, Lynda must fight for her emotional stability and for a life in which the shadow of shame is replaced by the light of love.

Jilted tells of a woman who has lost the joy of living, of a man determined to draw her back toward happiness, and of a town that must—once and for all-leave the past where it belongs. It is a gentle reminder that all things can work together for good.

Be sure to join us again on Friday for more about JILTED, and for your chance to win a copy for your very own in our book giveaway!  And be sure to visit Varina Denman at her social media sites!

Enjoy –Wren

“How Do I Homeschool When…..” A Schoolhouse Review Crew Round-Up

How does one homeschool, under these different circumstances?

How Do I Homeschool When ... ?My fellow Crewmates at the Schoolhouse Review Crew are talking about those very things in this week’s Crew Round-Up!  You’ll be able to hear from some of my favorite bloggers on topics as varied as…

  • how can Dad help
  • what about when the family is experiencing burnout
  • when you move a lot
  • when days are crazy
  • when mom or child has a chronic illness or pain
  • if you have an only child
  • when you teach different grades

And that is only a sampling.  These wise and thoughtful bloggers have lots of wonderful ideas to share!

To visit these posts and others, click on the Schoolhouse Review Crew Round-Up, How Do I Homeschool When…

And enjoy!  –Wren

Words of the Year: First Things First

Are you a “word of the year”-type person?

First Things FirstI like the idea of a sort of an overall theme for my years.  I’ve used “grace” and “love” over the past couple of years.  I admit that I haven’t focused on the words for the entire year; but I have enjoyed thinking on them and working on adding more of them to my days and weeks.

This year, I have considered several words, but the one that won out wasn’t really a “one.”

It’s three.

“First things first.”

What does that mean to me?

It means that I want to work this year on the vital things.  The things that bring order and life and even joy, to me and to my family.

And, what does that look like?

Here is the list of things I’m desiring to focus on this month, and this year:

  • Meal planning for my freezer:  I’ve discovered freezer cooking this year, after being inspired by my blogging friend (from Gallimaufry Grove) Angela’s wonderful article about it.  When I read Freezer Cooking for Easier Mornings, the whole once-a-month cooking idea FINALLY seemed doable; not to mention unstressful.  Now, we don’t have an extra fridge or deep freeze at our home, so I don’t do 30 days’ worth at once.  But, I can crank out 6 or 8 meals on a Saturday afternoon that I’ll put immediately in the freezer for the coming week.  Each morning of that week, I pull one out of the freezer, add a little liquid to the bottom of my Crockpot, and pop it in.  7 hours later, when I really don’t feel very energetic, I have a healthy and delicious meal that’s ready to serve.  I love it!
  • Daily Planning:  My friend Kemi from Homemaking Organized is a beautifully organized woman.  You might remember her from our Garden Party Linkup this summer.  She creates amazing planners and printables.  I am using her The Homemaker’s Weekly Planner this year.  I also love this!  I finally feel as though I have a planner layout that is just right for me.  It is a page-per-day planner, and it also has a pair of pages for each week, a monthly calendar, and beautiful cover pages and printable dividers.  It is fantastic.  I have only been using it since the end of December, but I feel so much more organized AND I have gotten a lot more done.  Yay!
  • Personal Bible Study:  I’ve spent the last few years in devotional Bible reading.  I have several awesome “read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year” Bibles and lists, and they’ve been very good.  But I also love inductive Bible study, although it has been a number of years since I’ve done it.  This year, I am starting it again, with a Hebrews study from Precept Upon Precept.  I am SO excited!  This Hebrews is part 1 of 4 parts (so if you do all four, it will take you about two years).  I started it on January 1.  I don’t know what kinds of Bible studies you like to do, but I have found inductive Bible study to be a most rewarding process.
  • Building New Routines:  I’m excited about building a number of new routines, in the areas of exercise and homekeeping.  It has always worked well for me when I’ve had home routines assigned to different days of the week, like laundry on Mondays, bathrooms on Tuesdays, and so on.  I’ve been working on the home routines, now I just need to add back in family (and personal) exercise!

Finally….

I’m focusing on these things because I have realized that I need a bit more order in my home and my life.  I’ve been, for much of my life, a person who LOVES to do a lot.  That’s all good…but the downside can be a lack of organization in the personal life and routines.  I definitely need to grow in these areas.  My desire is to build a good foundation in them for my life.  It may not sound that exciting…but I am VERY excited about them myself!

So, these are my “First Things First” for this month, and I hope, for my entire year.  I’m so looking forward to solidifying them into my life and routines, and the resulting peace I hope they’ll bring!

What is your word (or words :)) for 2016?  If you’d like some information or just to see what others are thinking of for this year, hop over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog, which is featuring many of our Crew bloggers and their words for the year!

Enjoy!  –Wren