Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Real Life Out of the Boat Stories: An Interview with Marcia Moston

We spent last week talking about what it means to me to be Out of the Boat. (If you missed it, you can read about it here).

Today, I'm thrilled to introduce you to someone who got out of the boat, or in her case, out of the country, and followed the call of God to a remote village in Guatemala. My dear friend Marcia Moston's book, Call of a Coward - The God of Moses and the Middle-Class Housewife, will be released on August 7th. I want you to meet Marcia, but first...a little backstory.

If you've followed this blog for over a year, you may recall that I reviewed Call of a Coward in July of 2011. What happened next is the kind of thing that should be impossible...unless you happen to believe in a God who does all sorts of impossible things.

Marcia's story, Call of a Coward, won the 2010 Women of Faith contest that included a self-publishing package with Westbow Press. The book went to print, Marcia began the not-so-fun but oh-so-necessary process of promoting her book, and then things got...well...the impossible happened.

One month after the book came out, Thomas Nelson offered her a contract (and if you don't follow publishing, let me just say that this is HUGE). It's been a roller-coaster kind of year for Marcia as everything went on hold while Thomas Nelson worked their magic. (I personally think she should write a book on the adventure of following God through the crazy world of publication).

And now, a year later, the book is going to show up on store shelves all over the country and I'm so excited to see what God is going to do ... if it's anything like what He's already done, it's going to be awesome!

So now, let's meet Marcia and read a few excerpts from Call of a Coward - the God of Moses and the Middle-Class Housewife.

Q:  Tell us about yourself.

A: Although I hold degrees in sociology and Christian education, most of what I’ve learned has been by the proverbial seat of my pants. I’ve taught English in a Christian high school, worked with orphans in a Mayan village, led mission teams to Central America, delivered Yellowbooks, stuffed vending machines, and lived in everything from tepees to parsonages.

I love to share the stories and lessons I’ve learned along the way about what a very real God can do with the smallest of our offerings. My first and most dear word from the Lord is Be still and know that I am God—Psalm 46:10.

Q:  What do you hope readers will glean from your story, Call of a Coward-the God of Moses and the Middle-Class Housewife?

A: A fresh confidence in the Living One Who Sees Them. A sense of expectancy in encountering him. Both the story and its path to publication are examples of the possibilities of an ordinary life in the hands of an extraordinary God. I hope readers will be inspired and encouraged that whether they travel a thousand miles or a thousand feet, God can do exceedingly more than they imagine.

Q: Tell us about Call of a Coward-the God of Moses and the Middle-Class Housewife.

A:  It’s about laying aside your hopes, dreams, and fears to follow God even though where He’s leading seems to require credentials you lack and courage you don’t think you have. And about discovering just how personal and gracious He is. Here’s my opening:

The problem with promising God you’ll follow Him wherever He leads is that you just might have to go.

I suspect it would be easier if you were certain of His calling—like stepping out the door and seeing the lilac bush on fire and hearing a voice commanding you. But when it’s your husband who is delivering the message—well, that leaves a little room for wonder.

At least that’s how I felt when my husband rocked my comfortable middle-class afternoon with his belief God was calling us to pack up and move to a Mayan village in Guatemala.

Permission link: Excerpted from Call of a Coward: The God of Moses and the Middle Class House-Wife. Thomas Nelson ©2012. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson, Inc. www.thomasnelson.com.

(Lynn here: I've added in another excerpt because one is not enough and because this gives you a feel for how beautifully Marcia writes...I dare you to read this and not squeeze the arms of whatever chair you're sitting in...)

The road exceeded my worst expectations. Cliffs rose straight up on one side and plunged straight down on the other. The dusty, rutted trail between the two was wide enough for one vehicle. It was one thing to ride a scary road with a husband you could yell at; it was another to ride a scarier road with a stranger who said with the same equanimity, “There’s a good view from the overlook up ahead,” and “The brakes are bad, that’s why I have to pump them.”

Hernando downshifted, pumped the screeching brakes and entered the river. I couldn’t decide whether to look ahead at the slippery rocks on the steep bank, look behind from where we had safely come, or simply bury my head in my lap. If I needed a sign from God, this was it. I decided there was no way I could ride this road to go shopping, to get our mail, to find a doctor, to do anything ever. When, and if, I met up with Bob in the village, I was going to have to tell him so.

Permission link: Excerpted from Call of a Coward: The God of Moses and the Middle Class House-Wife. Thomas Nelson ©2012. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson, Inc. www.thomasnelson.com.

Q:  Is there anything else you would like readers to know?
A:  It was with fear and trembling that I put my name on the same line as Moses’, but the story is not about me or Moses; it’s about the God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Call of a Coward: The God of Moses and the Middle-Class Housewife is available online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christian Book Distributors or from your neighborhood bookstore.

Your turn: If your husband (or wife...I know there are some guys who read this!) came home and said "I think God's calling us to...." how would you respond? Or how would you hope you would respond?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Still Out of the Boat (Part 2)

As I mentioned on Monday, this week I'm taking some time to answer a frequently asked question.

Why did you name the blog Out of the Boat?

I'm going to answer by revisiting a couple of blog posts that were written in April of 2010 when this blog was just a baby, and when I couldn't say "I'm a writer" without turning red and stammering over the words. (If you missed Monday's post, you might want to read it here first).

Some things have changed in the past two years, but one thing hasn't.

I'm still Out of the Boat.

Out of the Boat - Part 2 (from April 2010)

I have a very active imagination.

I know what you're thinking . . . "Yeah, we sorta figured that out ever since you admitted that you've been walking around with detailed, novel length stories in your head. You're a loon."

True. I take full responsibility for my own weirdness.

But, I find having a very active imagination to be a gift. When I read verses like Eph. 3:20 where it says that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or imagine . . . well, I think . . . whoohoo! Bring it! 'Cause this girl can imagine some pretty amazing scenarios!!

So I started wondering about the other disciples in the boat.
There they are, the twelve, thinking this might be their last night because they are losing the fight. Jesus shows up, walking across the rolling seas.
And Peter. I do love Peter. Talk about a man with an imagination. I mean, really! Where did he come up with this? "If you are who you say you are, ask me to come to you on the water." What kind of question is that? But that's not really the point of this post - that's a freebie!

Sometimes I find the things Scripture doesn't tell us as interesting as what it does. We have no idea what the eleven guys in the boat did while Peter was tiptoeing over the waves. But our own experience gives us some good ideas.

So picture it. Imagine it was you in the boat. And your buddy starts climbing out. What would you do?

"Peter! Don't!" Frightened hands reaching to restrain him.

"I always knew he'd do something stupid and get himself killed. He just doesn't think." Deep sigh.

"Show off." Eyes rolling.

"Who does he think he is? He can't walk on water. He's always been a bit arrogant but really, this is taking it to extremes. When he goes down, we're all going to get wet trying to save his sorry self." Righteous indignation.

I find it interesting that while the account of Jesus walking on the water is found in Matthew, Mark, and John, only Matthew records Peter's part in the drama. I wonder if John was embarrassed that he didn't think of it first. I know . . . I know . . . Scripture is inspired and clearly God wanted Matthew to tell the story. I get it. Just work with me here!

Maybe Matthew was the one who was most jealous. Or most impressed. Keep in mind, they all heard Jesus. They knew Jesus had called Peter to come. They didn't just have to take his word for it. But still . . . he got out of a boat. In the middle of a storm.

I have some friends who are "out of the boat" - and in far more spectacular ways than me.

An acquaintance at church who, even though she has young children at home, has opened up her home and heart to foster children in need. I am blown away by that! I'm not sure I could do it.

A dear friend who, even though it makes absolutely no sense to most people, has put her home on the market. Why? They are downsizing their lives so they can be better positioned to go on short term missions trips. To Africa! With the whole family! I've known this girl for years. She's been a faithful and dear friend, but it was only a few months ago when she said "I've always had a heart for Africa." Really? I had NO IDEA.

I could go on. I know of two others who are serving on foreign fields. Single. No real hope of ever marrying. But they felt the call and they answered it.

And the biggest question they hear is "Why?" And sadly, when they say, "Because I felt called to do it" people often look at them like they've lost their minds.

I've wondered about my own reactions. When I hear of someone who is living their life, totally and completely sold out to Christ. Willing to take whatever steps they feel him calling them to take. Even if it seems nuts. Have I looked down my nose? "Don't they know what this will do to their children?" Questioned the timing? "Maybe that would be fine in a few years, but now?" Wondered what their decision might cost me? "They are so selfish - I'll have to pick up the slack."

No, we don't have the benefit of hearing the call ourselves. But maybe we should remember that for the one who is called, there is only one option.

Getting out of the boat made NO SENSE!

But getting out of the boat was the ONLY thing that made sense.

Because Jesus said, "Come."
Next week, I'll be sharing with you the new schedule for Out of the Boat, and the rationale behind my new tagline, "Living Where Fear and Faith Collide." I hope you'll join me on the journey.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Still Out of the Boat (Part 1)

In honor of my 200th blog post, I've been fiddling with the blog. If you're reading this in a reader or on a mobile device you may not see anything different, but I'm trying to spruce things up around here. I'm also in the process of renewing my focus for Out of the Boat and revamping the schedule, but we'll talk more about that in August.

For this week, I want to answer a question that I get asked with some frequency.

Why did you name the blog Out of the Boat?

I'm going to answer by revisiting a couple of blog posts that were written in April of 2010 when this blog was just a baby, and when I couldn't say "I'm a writer" without turning red and stammering over the words. Some things have changed in the past two years, but one thing hasn't.

I'm still Out of the Boat.


Out of the Boat - Part 1

Matthew 14: 27-30 - But immediately Jesus spoke to them saying, "Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid." And Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me."

Lynn's synopsis: Peter jumped out. Peter freaked out. Peter called out.

I am so out of the boat.

I guess I didn't exactly jump out of the boat. It was more like a tumble (I'm not known for being graceful). But regardless, I'm out of the boat.

And I am freaking out about it.

Bless Peter. I'm so glad he's in the Bible. I love him. I love that he had a big mouth and a big temper and that he blew it - frequently and spectacularly. And I'm thrilled that God used Peter and we all can smile when we read about Peter's antics in the gospels, because we know how the story turns out. How Peter became a bold and courageous apostle. How he lived - and died - for Christ.

But today, I'm thinking about how Peter freaked out.

The man got out of the boat. Of his own free will, he stepped out of a perfectly good boat and onto water. Water! And he walked on it. We don't know how far he walked before he realized what he had done. Maybe it was a few steps. Maybe 50 yards. But regardless, Jesus called him and he obeyed. And then he totally lost it.

For the past week or so, I've been freaking out quite a bit, once a day, OK fine. A lot. We'll leave it at that.

For me, getting out of the boat has more to do with telling people I'm a writer than the actual writing. Because now that people know . . . what do they expect? Will I be explaining to people five years from now, ten years from now, that 'yes, I'm still writing but no, I haven't been published'?

Was there any reason for Peter to get out of the boat, other than to be obedient to the call?
Does it matter if I'm ever published? Maybe to my pride. But otherwise, no. What matters is that I'm taking the next step, in obedience to my Father.

So why am I freaking out? Because I'm a perfectionist. Because I care way too much about what people think about me. Because I'm afraid of going to this conference and being embarrassed by my naivety. Because I've gotten my eyes off of my Father and on myself. Because I'm trying to do "this" myself when I'm not even sure what "this" is. Because I'm thinking about me - me - me.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me." Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him saying to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" -Matthew 14: 30-31

I have no idea why Jesus wanted Peter to get out of the boat and I have no idea why God wants me to write. But it's not just about me. God is up to something. God is always up to something. He's that kind of God!

And when I call out to Him, He takes hold of me and says, "Baby, why are you doubting?"

Ps. 138:8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Credits: A friend of mine posted about how Jesus is always there for us when we've jumped, or been pushed, or went kicking and screaming, out of the boat. I've been thinking about it ever since. You can read her comments here. Thanks for the encouragement Kim!
I wrote these words over two years ago and I'm amazed how true they still are today. I'm living life at the place where fear and faith collide. How about you? Have you stepped out in faith and now are freaking out? Tell us where you are in the journey!

Friday, July 13, 2012

We Have a Serious Problem

“You have the tickets, right?”

Yeah. Those are not the words you want to hear twenty minutes before the final performance of The Lion King.

But there we were, four people standing across the street from the Peace Center.

Four people.

Two tickets.

I tried not to panic as I race-walked to the ticket booth, prepared to beg the woman behind the counter.

“May I help you?”

She was so kind. But could she help?

“I don’t know. We have a serious problem. We bought four tickets, but we only have two.”

She smiled. No panic. No fear. “This is not a serious problem. We’ll have this taken care of in no time.”

As I watched her peck away at the computer in front of her, I had to ask. “Why is this not a problem?” She nodded at the screen. “Because I have all the information right here.”

In less than two minutes, my serious problem was no problem.

As relief flooded through me, I asked the angel in the ticket booth, “What’s your name?”


I almost laughed out loud.

Because if you think God wasn’t chuckling in that moment, then you’ve forgotten that we are created in God’s image and He has a sense of humor.

I’ve had a lot on my plate lately. Some minor annoyances. Some serious problems. So I do what any good Christian would do.

I fall before Him and I say, “This is a serious problem.”

Of course, there’s something I don’t say (because good Christian’s know better), but it is at the heart of my fear.

I never add, “And I think it might be too big for you to fix.”

(If you need to run for cover, I’ll understand. It’s a little cloudy right now and that lightening strike may be imminent).

I’ve noticed that God never seems to be as wigged out about a situation as I am. But then, He has all the information.

He sees the entire circle of our lives.

He has the past, present, and future held securely in His hands.

I thought I was just going to The Lion King, but God used it to remind me about who He is, and what He can do.

With just a little faith.

Luke 17:5-6 ~ The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. (ESV)

I love it when God shows up in unexpected ways, don’t you? Has God revealed Himself in an unusual way in your life lately? I’d love to hear about it!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Milestone, A Question, and A Review

Can you believe it's July? How did that happen?!

I hope you are in the midst of a fun and fabulous summer.

Here at Out of the Boat, I'm scaling back a little for July. I'll be posting once a week this month so I can spend some time focusing on my fiction writing (yeah, I'm still working on that!) and making plans for the future of Out of the Boat.

Believe it or not, today marks my 200th blog post! I love blogging far more than I ever imagined I would. Thanks to all of you who've jumped Out of the Boat and come on this crazy journey with me!

If you're a regular here, I would so appreciate it if you could take a moment and answer this question (either in the comments, on Facebook, or via email).

What would you like to see more (or less) of on Out of the Boat? Is there something I don't cover that you wish I would?

Currently, Monday posts are about Faith and/or Family. Thursday posts are about Writing and/or Reading.


And since it is the first Thursday of July, I'm over at The Write Conversation talking about Riveting Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson. I'd love it if you stopped by to say Hi!

Grace & peace!