Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Unseen Forces

MagnaTiles
My kids love Magna-Tiles. Have you seen them? Each square and triangle is embedded with magnets, allowing the kids to build all sorts of creations. 

A few weeks ago, my four-year-old came to me, beaming with pride as he showed me the “rocket ship” he’d built. He carried it around the house for a while as I worked on the laundry. I heard his cry of dismay when an unfortunate bump flattened his rocket ship, but he’s a trooper and he immediately set to work rebuilding.

Then things got tricky.

The “wings” on his rocket ship wouldn’t stay in place. No matter how hard he tried, they kept clinging to the sides or flipping in the opposite direction than the one he desired. His frustration grew and he went from a few grunts to loud sighs and then moved into full-on wailing. “I can’t get it to work!” 

I encouraged him to keep at it. He did, but the longer he spent trying to fix it, the more frustrated he became, and the louder he voiced his disapproval with the entire situation. He eventually brought the rocket ship to me and asked for my help. 

As it turned out, he wasn’t doing anything wrong. 

But…
Unseen forces were at work.

My little guy has no understanding of electromagnetic fields or polarity. As far as he was concerned, his rocket ship had turned against him. He was baffled by the challenge of putting it together. It had been so easy before!

It only took a few minutes for me to find the exact combination of tiles that had the right polarity to allow the wings to behave the way he wanted them to. My little guy thought I was a miracle worker and went on his way happy. The next time the rocket ship crashed, he came running to me because he knew I understood what was going on, even though he didn’t. He knew that somehow, I knew how to make it all work.


A few days later, as my own world refused to cooperate with me, I found myself complaining loudly and frequently to anyone who happened to get within earshot. 

Then I felt guilty about whining so I tried to convince myself that these issues were “first world” problems. I have a lot to be thankful for, and these annoyances and inconveniences would surely seem ludicrous to people with real problems.


Then…I took my broken, uncooperative “rocket ship” to God.

Yes, I realize I have this all out of order. 
Yes, I know I do this a lot.
Yes, you would think I would have learned by now that starting with prayer is a much better method. All.The.Time.

Thankfully, my Abba doesn’t get annoyed when I finally stop bellyaching and start talking to Him about it. When I did, He reminded me of the magna-tiles and the “unseen forces” that prevented my little guy from accomplishing what he’d set out to do.

“Unseen forces.” 
Really?

I hadn’t accounted for the possibility that the drama in my life could be a spiritual battle. It’s not like I’m dealing with addictions or blatant sin. 

I’m dealing with a hectic schedule and the need to be in four places at the EXACT.SAME.TIME. 

I’m aggravated by the need to make tough decisions and I’m anxious about upcoming changes to my world and annoyed that all of this “stuff” is making it very difficult for me to do things I feel called to do.

But sometimes I forget that these roles of mine…wife, mother, writer, friend, daughter, sister, room mom, Bible study leader, CrossFitter…they actually matter. I may not be able to see how it all fits together, but these areas of responsibility and calling have been entrusted to me by the God who created me and knows me best.

The same God who never intended for me to do it all on my own. The same Abba who can see all the forces around me and who is the only One who knows exactly how to make it all work. 

I don’t have everything figured out, but I do know that I get to choose how the magnets line up. 
I can insist on doing it my way and find myself pulled further away from my Father. Or I can get in line with Him and stick tight to His will. 

Next time you find yourself battling those unseen forces that threaten to derail you, remember the magna-tiles.

Choose to stick close.

It’s the difference between whether or not you’ll fly your rocket ship…or crash and burn.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Writing Update and Links I Love

Writing Update

I’m working away on a new novel. A secondary character from Covert Justice just showed up on the front porch and sent things in a very interesting direction. This guy is persistent! I looked at him and thought, “I’m so glad you’re here, but I wish you’d let me know you were coming!” (I realize for those of you who don’t write, this may be a bit disturbing…welcome to my world!)

My author copies of Covert Justice should be arriving soon. I’m insanely excited to see them and hold them and put one on my bookshelf! I’m up to my eyeballs in promotion work for Covert Justice and excited to offer some fun treats for my readers!

For those of you who might not know, my publisher is Love Inspired Suspense and they offer a book club. If you sign up, you receive new releases in your mailbox 2 months before they are released to the public. This means that book club members will start receiving Covert Justice in just a few weeks! AAAGGGHHH!

Be on the lookout for an opportunity to join my prayer team. I’m convinced that there is NO WAY I can do this without having a strong team of prayer warriors behind me. I’ll be giving you the opportunity to commit to praying for me, and for the readers of Covert Justice, in the months ahead.

On Wednesday (April 1), we'll be celebrating the first #KillerVoices book releases on Facebook with an all-day release party. Follow me on Facebook and join in the fun!

Some Links I Love for your Weekend:

Family
I loved this. We’ve all got strengths so let’s stop comparing! No, You're Not More of a Real Mom Because Your House is Messy 

Yes! Yes! Yes! I prefer books over Kindles - this explains it so well. Why Digital Natives Prefer Reading in Print - Yes, You Read that Right 

Faith
Wisdom from my dear friend @LoriRoeleveld The Day God Forgot His Call On My Life 

Fiction
A must read, whether you write or not. The Trajectory Principle 

Useful for all suspense writers. Writing Spies - Which Agency Does What To Who

Food and Fitness

I couldn’t decide if I should post this under food or fun! Yeah for coffee! 3 to 5 Cups of Coffee a Day May Lower Heart Attack Risk 

Wanting to give spaghetti squash a try? This recipe is a staple at our house. We add pepperoni! 5 Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie 

Fun
A little bit of salty language. Don’t read this one if you never make snide remarks - it’s high on the snarky scale! 17 Motivational Posters for Sarcastic Parents 


Friday, February 27, 2015

Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey - Book Review

Sabotaged Cover

My copy of Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey arrived a couple of weeks ago and I intentionally put away in a cabinet.

Why?

Because I knew once I started reading it, I’d probably read it in one sitting. 

If the tiny tyrants who live here hadn’t wanted supper at a reasonable hour, I would have done just that. As it was, I knocked it out in one very enjoyable afternoon/evening of reading.

Sabotaged is the fifth and final (sob!) installment in the Alaskan Courage series which follows the adventures and romances of the McKenna siblings. I’ve been looking forward to this story since I read the first book in the series, Submerged

Why?

Because in Submerged, Reef McKenna is still the wandering, black sheep of the family, and I so wanted to see what would happen when he finally came home. 

The books in the Alaskan Courage series can be read as stand-alone novels, but I don’t recommend it. Especially for Sabotaged. We’ve learned a lot about Reef McKenna throughout the previous books, and when Sabotaged opens, he is not the man he was in Submerged. His character arc takes place over the course of the entire series, so if you just read Sabotaged, it might seem a little flat. 

Another reason for reading the previous books in the series first is that Reef’s relationship with Kirra Jacobs really begins in book four, Silenced, and if you haven’t read that, the romance in Sabotaged could seem to be a bit rushed. Not that it bothered me. :-) I liked it just fine. 

Dani Pettrey
As Sabotaged opens, Reef and Kirra have been teamed up on the search-and-rescue team supporting the Iditarod. But when Kirra’s uncle disappears, they quickly find themselves racing to save Kirra’s cousin, Meg, in time to prevent a massive disaster to the Alaskan environment and economy. 

Here’s why I liked Sabotaged:
  • The story is fast paced with several story lines that are interesting, but wind up being dead ends for the characters. I could feel the frustration as the characters realized they’d been wasting time chasing down the wrong leads. 
  • Kirra’s story is one that will resonate with far too many women, and I applaud Dani Pettrey for tackling a subject that is often swept under the rug. 
  • I loved the behind the scenes glimpses into the Iditarod—a race that has always fascinated me. 
  • I also loved the way all the McKenna’s are involved in the search for Meg. It was so fun to see some of my favorite characters in action again.
  • The Epilogue wrapped up the series with a nice glimpse into all five of the McKenna’s families. 


There wasn’t really anything that I didn’t like. 

As I mentioned before, the speed of the romance and the character arc might have bothered me if I’d read this as a stand alone, but in the context of the series, they made perfect sense. 

Sabotaged is a great read for anyone who enjoys Inspirational Romantic Suspense. The Alaskan setting and the McKenna family dynamics help the Alaskan Courage series stand out from other books in the genre. 
Highly recommended!


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Twelve Years Ago, I Was Afraid

Twelve Years Ago, I Was Afraid

I’d given birth to our daughter at 5:22 p.m. The NICU team had gone to work immediately and rushed her away from me.

I didn’t even get to hold her.

A night that should have been filled with joy was tinged with fear.

Knowing what I know now, I could make an argument that I wasn’t nearly as afraid as I should have been.

If I’d known how long it would be before I got to hold my baby girl…
If I’d known how long it would be before we got to take her home…
If I’d known how my hands would tremble on the keys when I searched for Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome…
If I’d known how my motherhood experience wouldn’t come anywhere close to what I’d thought it would be…
If I’d known how my faith would shatter into a million pieces as everything I thought I knew about God got lost in the long days of specialists and therapies and one missed developmental milestone after another…
If I’d known how hard it would be to be Emma’s mom…
If I’d known what this journey would cost me…

I wasn’t nearly as afraid as I should have been.

BUT

From this place, 12 years in and knowing what I know now, I have to say that I shouldn’t have been as afraid as I was.

Because

God held her when I couldn’t.
God held me while I waited.
God sat with me as I read the description of a diagnosis I never wanted.
God caught the tears that hit the living room floor when the invitations for the playdates didn’t come and all the other kids were walking and talking and saying Mommy while we spent hours in therapy for her to learn how to touch her nose.

God watched as my faith crumbled and He didn’t get mad. Instead, He put my faith back together. 

No longer the faith of a good girl who believed her good behavior would get her in good with a good God. 
No longer a faith in a God I had figured out. 
No longer a faith that made sense.

Because God doesn’t do things the way I think He should. He transcends my understanding of logic and common sense. His scales don’t tip in my favor when I’m good, but always tip in the direction of my eternal good and the eternal good purposes of His Kingdom.

I don’t know what the future holds. Goodness knows there is plenty to fear.

Middle school.
Puberty (shoot.me.now).
Teenage years.
High school.
Adulthood.
The days when the little brothers are off to college and it’s just me and her again, like it was for the first five years before they came along. 

Yeah, looking at that list, I’m afraid.
But I’m not nearly as afraid as I could be.

Because God is already there and there is nothing lurking over the horizon that will not first pass through His loving hands. 

I know this not because a preacher told me. Not even because the Bible tells me so.
I know because I live it. Because every day, He is there. No matter what comes, He is already there. Even, especially, when what comes is something I would have preferred to avoid. 

I know because God cares more about making me more like Him than He cares about whether or not I like Him. 
Because He cares more about my sanctification than my satisfaction. 
Because He’s big enough to handle my fear, my doubt, my anger, my frustration, and understands me even when I throw a temper tantrum about His plans. 
Because God uses scared people all the time.
Because twelve years ago, I was afraid.

Tonight, I’ll close my laptop, and sing a happy birthday goodnight to my Emma. The little girl who rocked my world. The little girl who made me into a much better mommy than I would have been if she hadn’t permanently altered my definition of motherhood. The little girl who drives me insane and brings me indescribable joy. The little girl God designed before the creation of the world to be exactly as she is. The little girl God has big plans for.

The little girl God entrusted to me twelve years ago, even though I was afraid.





Links I Love


Happy Sunday Out of the Boat readers!

What's up this week...

It's a birthday week here at the Blackburn house. Emma turns 12 today (Sunday) and Drew turns 4 on Tuesday. We have a birthday party at a local fire house scheduled for this afternoon. There will be lots of cake, allergy free blondies, presents, and fun.

It's awesome, but I have no idea how my baby girl is already 12.
And my BABY is 4! Yikes! 

A writing update 

In case you missed it, Covert Justice has a cover! So fun.

I did make some significant progress on Book 2 this week. Not quite as much as I'd hoped for, thanks to the weather craziness we had here, but at least I moved the story forward.


A little link love

Some of my favorite finds this week. Maybe you'll find something that inspires or encourages you. Or maybe it tickles your funny bone. Note: Not all of these posts are from Christian sources. Occasional salty language is possible. 


Faith and Family

The Day God Forgot His Call on My Life - Amazing post from my friend, Lori Roeleveld.

What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do - Wisdom from Michael Hyatt that closely mirrors something my dad has told me a lot. When you're feeling overwhelmed, just do the next thing. Don't worry about the list, just take the next thing you need to do and do that. Good stuff here!


Fiction 

Instagram for Writers - Great tips! I have an Instagram account, but I don't use it that often. This post has inspired me to give it another try.

Why You Should Write With All the Senses . . . Except Sight - Fascinating post from The Write Practice

Fitness, Food, and Fun

Chick-fil-A Rival Chicken Strips - Great recipe from Life Made Full. I wouldn't go so far as to say these are as good as Chick-fil-A, but they were very tasty and this is a recipe that everyone in the house enjoyed. 

Where Do Burpees Come From? - The history of my most hated exercise. 


****

That's it for this week.
I'm going to enjoy my family and friends this afternoon. I hope you have the chance to do the same!

May your week be filled with grace and peace,

Lynn

Monday, February 16, 2015

Covert Justice Cover Reveal

It's finally here! 


I have to tell you...every time I look at it, the part that shocks me is my name.
My name on a book. (Insert very girly squealing).

One year ago, I was living in complete chaos. Our home had been a construction zone since early January thanks to some frozen water pipes that had done close to $40K in damage.  I don't handle disruptions well. It was not prime writing time.

But someone mentioned a contest, and for reasons that make no sense to me, even now, I entered. I sent in my first page, then my synopsis. And in the midst of the craziness, I carved out the time to add thousands of words to the story that had been floating around in my brain for a couple of years.

My husband could have discouraged it. It really was a bad time.
Instead, he pushed, prodded, encouraged, and cheered me on. 

When I hit send on the evening of June 8th, the day before my 40th birthday, I had no real hope that this would happen. 

I still don't know HOW it happened.

I know I prayed. A LOT.
I know I cried. A LOT.
I know I panicked. A LOT.
I know I stayed up late and got up early. A LOT.
I know it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. And I know I love this story.

A LOT.

I really hope you will, too. 

About Covert Justice ...

When a woman drags Blake Harrison out of his wrecked car, he knows the mysterious stranger has saved his life. But more shocking than the hit-and-run is the news that a crime cartel has infiltrated his factory. There's a fortune to be made by tampering with the factory's products . . . but only if Blake is out of the way. Undercover FBI agent Heidi Zimmerman has two goals - catch the criminals in the act, and keep Blake alive. Falling for the single dad and his adorable daughter isn't in the plan. But everything changes when an abduction leaves Heidi face-to-face with a killer, revealing the danger that's been hiding in plain sight all along . . .


Covert Justice is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be available in Wal-mart stores in June. I can't wait for you to meat Heidi and Blake. They are two of my favorite people.
(Yes, I know they aren't real...)

I have some fun things planned for my readers, including an opportunity to win free copies of Covert Justice, and an exclusive deleted scene!
So stay tuned!


Click to Tweet: Check out this great cover for Covert Justice from @LynnHBlackburn.

If you're on Goodreads, I'd love for you to add Covert Justice to your to-be-read list!

Covert Justice



Sunday, February 15, 2015

Links I Love

Happy Sunday Out of the Boat readers!

Today, I'm starting a new weekend post. Let me know how you like it.

1st up - A writing update 

(Because about three of you really want to know)!

Covert Justice has a cover! Stop back by tomorrow for the big reveal!

Book 2 is actually starting to come along. By come along, I mean the characters have decided to talk to me again and I have a good idea of what sort of torture I'm about to inflict upon them. By Tuesday, I will probably be back in the Pit of Despair, convinced I'll never finish another book. EVER. It's a vicious cycle. 

I now have a Goodreads Author Profile. If you are on Goodreads, I'd love for you to stop by and add Covert Justice to your to-be-read shelf and maybe ask me a question about the book. Thanks!

Covert Justice is also available for pre-order on Amazon. Seeing the book, with my name, on Amazon and Goodreads has been C-R-A-Z-Y fun. Until I start thinking about getting reviews. Then I experience shortness of breath and the room starts spinning. (I'm joking. Kinda).


2nd - A little link love. 

Some of my favorite finds this week. Maybe you'll find something that inspires or encourages you. Or maybe it tickles your funny bone. Note: Not all of these posts are from Christian sources. Occasional salty language is possible. 


Faith and Family

The One Question Every Parent Should Quit Asking by Scott Dannemiller @HuffPost Parents - good stuff

Dear Mom Who Refuses to Rest by Ruth Simons @ gracelaced - toe stomping good stuff

7 Ways to Prepare as a Homeschool Mom @ Teachers of Good Things - Yep. We're thinking about heading down this path and this was a great post.

Fiction 

Top Ten Things You Need to Know About the Writing Life from James Scott Bell @ The Kill Zone - JSB always has good advice.

On Becoming a Writer from Jen Hatmaker - Got doubts about writing? Read this.

Write Free by Carla Laureano @ Seriously Write - And this.

7 Days to Less Productivity and More Creativity by Allen Arnold @ Novel Rocket - This totally changed my week. It specifically applies to writers, but it could be just what you need for whatever God has called you to this week.

Fitness, Food, and Fun

Sausage, Potato and Spinach Soup from Damn Delicious - Best recipe find from our recent Whole45. You don't have to eat Paleo or be on a Whole30 to appreciate this soup. It's awesome and reheats beautifully. Comfort food for a cold day. (If you're dairy free, use full-fat coconut milk instead of heavy cream. I promise you can't taste it).

Chalk This One Up - Do CrossFit? Lift heavy? You need some chalk. This cracked me up!

****

That's it for this week.
I'm headed out to stock up for the winter storm that may or may not give us some snow and/or ice tomorrow. This the first real shot we've had all winter. I know my friends up North are sick of the white stuff, but I won't lie...I wouldn't mind a snow day!

May your week be filled with grace and peace,

Lynn