Wednesday, April 26, 2017

WHAT I GAVE UP FOR LENT

by E. E. Kennedy


It’s been a little over a week since we celebrated the Resurrection Day of Jesus, generally known as Easter. That’s when Lent ends and theoretically, and I can stop practicing my Lenten sacrifice. But I don’t think I will.

I grew up in a predominantly Catholic town, but we were Methodists, so while we knew what Lent was—or thought we did—my family didn’t participate in that particular part of the Christian calendar. We did, however, celebrate Easter. My mother was a Preacher’s Kid, and we grew up learning all about Jesus and going to church. My siblings and I were steeped in the Scriptures and the hymns of our faith, but for me, it didn’t quite take. It wasn’t until I was twenty-two years old, in graduate school and feeling especially sorry for myself, that somebody showed me a little booklet called “The Four Laws” and all the pieces of the Gospel seemed to suddenly fall into place.

It was the mid-Seventies and a movement called the “Jesus People” had swept across the country. “Put your hand in the Hand of the Man who stilled the water,” we sang as we wore our hair long and our pants bell-bottomed. Though accepting Christ was almost trendy then, my decision was nonetheless sincere. It was a turning point in my life and I’m forever grateful that it happened.

There is a point to all this background, and here it is: until this year, I never consistently gave up anything for Lent. And I’m not sure I even did this time. But I learned a bunch from the effort and want to share. Oh, what did I give up, you ask? Complaining.


If this sounds frivolous, believe me, it isn’t. Over the years I’ve become quite adept at complaining in all its forms: griping, grumbling, bellyaching, grousing, whining, nit-picking and groaning. It had become a habit. Of course, rather as with all bad habits, I’d also become adept at disguising it as wishes and suggestions. For example, “I wish I didn’t have so much gray in my hair” or “Wouldn’t it be nice if the neighbors didn’t park their car there all the time?” and especially “Things would be so much better if more of my books sold.”

One day after my daughter asked, “Mama, why are you so negative lately?” I started to notice that I had become an expert complainer.
So this year, as Fat Tuesday—Mardi Gras—approached, I decided that this would be my “give up” for Lent. The Wednesday following, I awoke as I usually did, stiff, sleepy and groaning. I could have happily dozed at least another good two hours. Grumble, grumble. Oops! That's complaining! I’m currently on a gluten-free diet for health reasons and in the kitchen, I looked longingly at my husband’s waffle. Doggone, why can’t I have that? Oops! Complaining.

As the day wore on and the complaints continued, I realized I’d taken on quite a challenge. It wasn’t just the odd gripe I had to dispense with, it was an entire attitude! The opportunities to be negative were everywhere: the busy traffic, the fact that there were so many mattress stores in my town, the loud construction going on behind our house, how Congress is acting, the weather, the way my new sandals rubbed my toe. And on and on. This was going to be MUCH harder than I’d thought.

All at once, even my prayers sounded like complaining: “Lord, why is it so hard to lose weight?” “Don’t let the plumber cost too much!” As the day wore on, there were more and more red flags. They say the first step to getting better is admitting the truth, and there it was: I was a serial complainer!

This Lenten thing was essentially between me and the Holy Spirit, so I went to Him for help.
As I explained my problem to God, I began to realize that my complaining consisted of symbolically throwing mud at Him, lacking appreciation for the life He’s given me and for the situations He has put me in. It’s saying to Him, “You, Lord, aren’t enough to help me with the challenges in my life.” Just because I follow Him doesn't necessarily mean that my dreams, my hopes, my preferences are His. In fact, even His thoughts are higher than ours, Scripture says. 

That’s when I came across I Thessalonians 5:12: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Somebody I heard on the radio pointed out that the phrase didn’t say, “for all circumstances,” but “in all circumstances.” That helped a lot. I should have realized that He’d understand the situation. He knows that while not everything in my life is to my liking, it is part of His plan. In good times or bad, in the midst of it all, I’m to give thanks that He’s with me all the way. I really can trust Him, lean on Him, thank Him. (Even for the four mattress stores within two blocks of each other! What’s up with that?)

So, bottom line, did I become a total non-complainer? Are you kidding?
 
Still, I learned that I don’t have to wallow in negativity when Christ is in my life. There’s a great old book, Pollyanna, (not the Disney movie, though it’s pretty good) that tackles this issue quite well. The orphan child had been taught by her missionary father that the Bible contained many “happy texts,” which was proof that He wanted us to have an upbeat attitude, even when circumstances didn’t seem to warrant it. I need to copy Pollyanna more.
So even though Easter is over, I’m still doing the “giving up” thing, but lately it isn’t quite as hard to do. It’s actually quite freeing, not having to make note—whether mental or verbal--of everything that displeases me.

Come, be a Pollyanna with me!





Leave a comment and your email address below and be eligible to win an 
e-Book version of any of the four Miss Prentice mysteries by E. E. Kennedy: Irregardless of Murder, Death Dangles a Participle, Murder in the Past Tense or Incomplete Sentence

Monday, April 24, 2017

THIS WEEK ON THE SUSPENSE SISTERS




We’re planning another great week on the Suspense Sisters. Check out our posts, our interviews, and our awesome giveaways!
  
The Suspense Sisters want to congratulate one of our sisters. 
 Elizabeth Goddard just signed a three-book deal with Revell – as well as a six book deal with Love Inspired Suspense! Way to go, Elizabeth! We're so proud of you! You’re going to be a busy writer.








THIS WEEK:

On our review page, senior reviewer Iola Goulton reviews BEYOND JUSTICE by Cara Putnam. Iola says: “Beyond Justice is the perfect legal thriller—great characters, lots of action, plenty of
twists and turns, and enough legalese to set the scene without it starting to sound like reading a court transcript.”  

You can find her complete review HERE.  




On Tuesday, Suspense Sister DanaMentink will share What’s Hot in Inspirational Suspense and Mystery.







On Wednesday we’ll hear from E.E. Kennedy as she talks about
“What I Gave Up for Lent.” You could win your choice of one of her wonderful Miss Prentice cozy mysteries!  









Friday we’re interviewing the incredible Susan Sleeman. Suspense Sister Elizabeth Goddard. She’s giving away a copy of her exciting new book, FATAL MISTAKE!  

An FBI agent must protect the woman who can identify a terrorist bomber in bestselling author Susan Sleeman's riveting romantic suspense novel.

Each day could be her last...but not if he can help it.

Tara Parrish is the only person ever to survive an attack by the Lone Wolf bomber. Scared and emotionally scarred by her near death, she goes into hiding with only one plan--to stay alive for another day. She knows he's coming after her, and if he finds her, he will finish what he started.

Agent Cal Riggins has had only one goal for the past six months--to save lives by ending the Lone Wolf's bombing spree. To succeed, he needs the help of Tara Parrish, the one person who can lead them to the bomber. Cal puts his all into finding Tara, but once he locates her, he realizes if he can find her, the Lone Wolf can, too. He must protect Tara at all costs, and they'll both need to resist the mutual attraction growing between them to focus on hunting down the bomber, because one wrong move could be fatal.

That’s what’s happening this week on the Suspense Sisters. Don’t miss a single day. Sign up through email so you’ll get updates in the exciting world of inspirational suspense and mystery!


The Suspense Sisters! We love books!

Friday, April 21, 2017

INTERVIEW WITH ELIZABETH GODDARD



Elizabeth Goddard is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than twenty-five romance novels and counting, including the romantic mystery, THE CAMERA NEVER LIES--a 2011 Carol Award winner. She's a double finalist in the 2016 Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense for her books BURIED and BACKFIRE in the Mountain Cove series, and a 2016 Carol Award finalist for SUBMERGED. A 7th generation Texan, Elizabeth graduated from North Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and worked in high-level software sales for several years before retiring to home school her children and fulfill her dreams of writing full-time.

To get book news sign up for her newsletter at her website: http://elizabethgoddard.com
Follow her on Bookbub! https://www.bookbub.com/authors/elizabeth-goddard
You can connect with Elizabeth on Facebook: http://facebook.com/elizabethgoddardauthor
or Twitter: http://twitter.com/bethgoddard


INTERVIEW

If you had to describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say?  

I’m a home-schooling mom and pastor’s wife who follows God’s call to write.

What do you do when you’re not writing? Any interesting hobbies?

Not writing? Hmm. Pretty much I’m always writing. If I’m not putting words on the page, it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped writing. But sometimes I like to read. 

What was your favorite book as a teen or child?

I had so many “favorite” books growing up that it’s hard to decide. But one book came to mind with your question. Where the Red Fern Grows. But that book was way too sad. Tears me up just thinking about it.

What genre did you start out writing? Have you changed course? Why or why not?

I started out writing historical romantic suspense. I loved reading the Thoene Zion Chronicles—historical novels filled with suspense. I’ve changed course, certainly. When I couldn’t seem to gain traction with my historical romantic suspense proposals, I switched to fantasy. Ha! Then Heartsong Presents bought a contemporary romance from me. Turned out that romance had mystery and suspense in it. I can’t seem to write a romance without suspense. Though I sometimes write cozy mysteries or straight romance, I’m primarily a romantic suspense writer. 

Any other genres you’d like to try?

I’ve already tried historical romance and fantasy. I love reading both, but now that I’m entrenched in writing romantic suspense, I can’t imagine the research that I’d have to do to get back up to speed writing either genre. 

If you could go back in time and do something differently at the start of your career, what would it be?

I’d start much earlier. I spent at least ten years attempting to write off and on because I believed I was wasting my time so I’d quit. Well, turns out I was wasting my time by NOT writing during those years. 

What is the most important thing you’d like readers to take away from your books?

I hope readers will be inspired to walk closer to God. My characters have various struggles in their walk with Him, but really, that’s the point—we need to be walking with Him. Working through our struggles by bringing Him into the mix. 

What is the most valuable piece of advice you’d like to give to unpublished authors?

Persist. Go to conferences and learn to be the best writer you can be.
 


Arriving at her secluded cabin to find her brother missing, Olivia Kendricks follows his trail into the woods—until two shooters take aim at her. She only escapes when ex-detective Zachary Long, her brother's friend—and Olivia's first love—comes to her rescue. Now
as they run for their lives in the snowbound wilderness, they must search for her brother while figuring out why someone wants them dead. And though Zach's police force training may be what will save them, it's also what once drove them apart when he gave Olivia up to chase his dream. In a freezing landscape as deadly as it is beautiful, they'll have to let go of the past…and face down powerful men willing to kill to keep secrets buried.




Elizabeth is giving away a copy of FALSE SECURITY. To enter, leave a comment, along with your contact information. (U.S. only, please!)