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Fear and Pink Buffaloes

buffaloesI usually have a pretty good handle on my fears. When they crop up, I try very hard to take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. My what-ifs turn to prayers, sometimes as simple as, “Jesus, no.” Other times, when the fearful thoughts assault me and won’t go away, I recite scripture, reminding myself of truth. And God calms my heart. It works every time.

When I’m awake.

But those fears crop up when I’m sleeping, and they come out in the weirdest ways.

For example, the other night, I dreamed I was driving through a prairie with my three teenagers in the car. The prairie was filled with cows and horses and birds and all sorts of other animals—sort of like you’d picture the African Savannah, but in Oklahoma. I felt pretty secure in my car. Then we came upon a pack of buffaloes in the middle of the road.

I had to stop, of course. Even dream-Robin isn’t dumb enough to drive into a pack of thousand-pound animals.

So we stopped, and then, out of nowhere, one of them climbed in my open window. It was a baby. I knew this because it was smaller than the others. And of course, it was pink.

(When I told my husband about the dream the next morning, I explained that it wasn’t bright pink. It was more a brownish pink.

“Like a hot dog?” he asked.

“No. More like its fur was brown on the inside, but had a pinkish tone on the ends.”

“So it was a buffalo with frosted tips?”

I don’t think he was taking my dream seriously.)

So there I was, pinned to my seat with a buffalo on my lap, and I was screaming for the kids to help me. But they didn’t help at all. I didn’t see what they were doing (I was busy with the buffalo, obviously), but I imagine they were taking video on their phones to text their friends. Then the buffalo started biting my fingers. (That might have had more to do with my arthritis, but that’s a story for another blog.) I finally managed to shove the buffalo out of the car, but more were coming in the other windows.

My kids were oblivious.

I was still trying to get the windows closed when I woke up.

Okay, I admit, it sounds kind of silly in retrospect, but imagine how you’d feel with a buffalo on your lap, snacking on your fingers.

After I washed my hands to get off the imaginary slobber, I analyzed the dream. The worst part was my three teenagers in the car, watching me fight but not helping. And the fact that my husband wasn’t there. I felt like I was trying to protect my kids from all the evils in the world, and I was alone. It felt so real, and the feelings I felt were so authentic. Me against the world. And I was losing.

But the dream was a lie. Yes, I am trying to protect my kids from evil. And yes, sometimes it feels like the evils are closing in like the buffaloes in my dream. But I am not alone. My husband is with me. My kids are not oblivious to the buffaloes….er, dangers in the world. And we have God on our side.

Fear is a feeling, and feelings aren’t to be trusted. Feelings are a result of thoughts, and thoughts are so often wrong. That’s why God tells us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). That’s why He admonishes us to focus on the things that are true, right, noble, pure, lovely, excellent, and praise worthy. (Philippians 4:8) We cannot control our feelings, but we can control what causes them, our thoughts.

Finding Amanda cover-high resolutionWhen we’re awake, anyway.

What’s your strategy for dealing with fear? 

Had any weird dreams you’d like to share?

Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, released in April, and its prequel, Chasing Amanda, released in July. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com.

More about Finding Amanda:

Chef and popular blogger Amanda Johnson hopes publishing her memoir will provide healing and justice. Her estranged husband, contractor and veteran soldier Mark Johnson, tries to talk her out of it, fearing the psychiatrist who seduced her when she was a teen might return to silence her.

But Amanda doesn’t need advice, certainly not from her judgmental soon-to-be ex-husband. Her overconfidence makes her vulnerable when she travels out of town and runs into the abuser from her past. A kind stranger comes to her rescue and offers her protection.

Now Mark must safeguard his wife both from the fiend who threatens her life and from the stranger who threatens their marriage.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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An Extraordinary Woman Writing about Extraordinary Women

51ZMPGxKchL._UY250_As promised, this week I’ll be talking about just one of the five novels in the Women of Heart book bundle. I’m starting with The Women of Valley View: Callie, the first book in a series by Sharon Srock, who writes about ordinary women doing extraordinary things. Sharon would call herself an ordinary woman, but I know her, so I’m not fooled. Sharon is anything but ordinary, and her debut novel, Callie, is just one bit of evidence to prove it.

Here’s a sneak peek at Callie.

Callie Stillman dabbed raindrops from her face with a linen napkin as Benton dodged a server with a loaded tray and took his place across from her. She smiled into her husband’s blue eyes and reached across to wipe water from his beard. “We’ll both have pneumonia if we don’t dry off soon.”

Benton took the napkin and finished the job. He sent a wink across the table. “I’ve been told the food is very good. A few sniffles should be worth it.”

Callie’s gaze roamed the room. “The décor is lovely. It’s…” Recognition slammed into her chest, forcing the air from her lungs. The man crossing the room behind her husband nodded and continued to his table. Was that the bailiff? Do you swear to tell the truth… She gulped for breath and fought the familiar darkness that crowded the edges of her vision.

Callie ran a finger around her collar, tugging the neck of the blouse away from skin suddenly dewed with a fine film of sweat. Too hot. She took a sip of water, dismayed at the tremor in her hand as she lifted the glass to her lips. I won’t give in to this.Not here, not tonight. Callie closed her eyes and practiced the breathing techniques she’d learned over the last six months. In through her nose, hold for a few seconds, and out through her mouth. Concentrate only on the current step in the process, the next breath. The tightness in her chest began to fade. Thank you, Jesus. She raised her water again and held the cold glass to her flushed cheek.

“Callie?”

Callie met Benton’s eyes across the table. The concern etched on her husband’s face threatened to break her heart. Benton had been so supportive during the last few months, so protective while she tried to heal. She would beat this. For him, she would move on.

“You OK?”

Callie smiled. “I’m fine. It’s just a little warm in here all of a sudden.”

Benton cocked his head to the side. “You sure? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.

A ghost? She closed her eyes, the images unbidden but ever present. Sawyer’s pale, lifeless face. Callie’s hand reaching out to stroke baby-fine hair, bruises the mortician’s makeup couldn’t hide. That tiny coffin lowered into the ground. Callie could have lived with a ghost, but her haunted memories and the never-ending what ifs that traveled with them would drive her crazy.

Two more breaths, another swallow of cold water. Callie straightened in her seat and smiled at her husband. “This was a nice surprise. Thanks for thinking of it.”

Benton took her hand. “Anything for the woman I love. Have you decided what you’d like for dinner?”

“I—” A vicious bolt of lightning lit the dark Oklahoma sky outside the windows of the restaurant. Thunder rattled the building. The lights flickered and went off, plunging the room into sudden darkness. Across the room a frightened child began to wail.

Callie jumped to her feet. Her chair tipped sideways onto the carpeted floor. Oh Jesus, please make the crying stop. A harsh voice cut across the child’s frantic cries. “Andy, sit down and stop that noise. It’s just thunder.”

The lights came back up and Callie’s awareness narrowed to the cries of the child. Is that how Sawyer sounded? Frightened howls as his eighteen months of life surrendered to the beating his father dealt him. Oh Jesus, I’m so sorry. So sorry I let Janette deceive me. So sorry I didn’t ask you before I testified. I know you’ve forgiven me. Please help me forgive myself. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. Callie bolted from the restaurant.

“Callie!” Benton called.

She was letting him down. Still she ran for the door.

When Benton found her several minutes later, she stood by the car. Rain cascaded over her, mixing with her tears. Benton pulled her into his arms, wet and all. He held her close, his bearded chin rested on her head. “Shh, baby, it’s OK. I’m sorry. This was a bad idea.”

Callie clung to him like the lifeline between sanity and madness he was. “Benton, no. It was a great idea. I know you were trying to distract me. Trying to make me forget Sawyer’s birthday. I thought I could.” She allowed Benton to help her into the car, only to bend double in the seat as the panicked adrenalin gave way to nausea. “How could I have been so stupid?”

Benton started the car and turned the heater up to high. “Callie, you weren’t stupid. You thought you were doing the right thing.”

Callie shook her head. “I just wanted to help. I knew Janette wasn’t abusing her children. She didn’t deserve to 11269806_878817675510640_7983736318348400718_nlose them. Testifying to that…being at the hearing to support her…celebrating when it was over. I just wanted to help,” she repeated.

Her husband navigated the rain-washed streets while Callie huddled in the seat, head down, arms wrapped around her middle. The images in her mind took on a life of their own. Janette, sitting in her office, tearful over charges of alleged child abuse, frantic because her babies had been taken from her. Callie’s unhesitating agreement to appear in court as a character witness. The custody hearing, her nervous testimony, the endless waiting for the judge to make a decision, the joy of seeing those two babies reunited with their mother. And Sawyer dead a short time later because of my interference. Jesus, give me strength. Give me the wisdom I
need to never put myself in that situation again.

Hooked yet? It just gets better. And the great thing about the Women of Valley View is that there are three more (Pam, Terri, and Samantha) already released, and two more books in the series to come.

The Women of Valley View: Callie is just one of the 5 books in the Women of Heart series, which is only 99 cents for a limited time. It’s available at AmazoniBooksB&N, and Kobo.

DSC_8915-25edRobin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, released in April, and its free prequel, Chasing Amanda, released in July. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com.

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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While My Soldier Serves—Author Interview

WMSS, final, high resI’m so pleased to welcome Edie Melson to the author’s chair this week. We’re giving away a free copy of While My Soldier Serves, so be sure to leave a comment to enter to win. The deadline for the giveaway is May 17 at 6 pm CDT.  

QPQ: Edie, why was it so important for you to write this book?

Edie: I struggled with fear while our son was deployed. Often the worst times were when I was awakened with horrible nightmares. I’d make my way downstairs and sit in the recliner, clutching my Bible and trying to pray. So often the prayers wouldn’t come. I longed for a book like this to give me a jumping off point for my own prayers.

QPQ: I can’t imagine what that must be like. How was your own perspective helpful as the mother of an active duty Marine?

Edie: I think that experience has given me insight into the deepest fears we face while a loved one is away at war. I know firsthand the hopelessness that comes from being unable to protect someone you love.

QPQ: You talk a lot about prayer. Why is prayer vital for our military soldiers?

Edie: It’s vital that we’re covering our military with prayer. Prayer activates God’s power. Sure, He can and often does work without it, but I’ve also seen how He moves mountains because of it. Our prayers help provide protection, comfort, even peace for those serving so far from home.

Tweet this: Our soldiers need the protection, comfort and peace prayer can provide.

QPQ: Why is it important to not only pray for the soldier, but for their families and loved ones as well?

Edie: Our soldiers are not the only ones serving. The families may not be official members of the military, but the battles they face are every bit as real and every bit as dangerous. This is especially true now that terrorist groups are targeting military families in their war against America.

QPQ: That’s a scary thought, especially when the soldiers are far from home, unable to protect their loved ones. It must make it even harder for them to go, knowing they’re leaving their families unprotected. How did you choose the six categories (Wisdom, Strength, Faith, Protection, Peace, Those Close to My Loved One) to pray for the soldier?

Edie: I kept a deployment journal while my son was away at war. When I looked back through the prayers I recorded there, these were the things I prayed. It seemed to make sense to go with what brought me peace during those stressful times.

QPQ: A deployment journal. What a good idea. You also chose seven categories (Fear, Peace, Patience, Faith, Strength, Anger, Reaching Out to Others) to pray for those at home. How did you choose them?

Edie: Those were the things I struggled with in my own life.

QPQ: Faith seems to be the category you spend the most time on. Why is faith so critical to those serving during these trying times?

Edie: Faith is what gets us through the dark times. So often when things are the blackest, it’s hard to hear from God. Even though it isn’t true, it feels like God is far away with His back turned. It’s only our faith in what we know is true, instead of what we feel, that keeps us moving forward.

QPQ: That’s a great point, Edie. Each prayer provides a perfect notable quote as well as dedicated scripture to tie in with the prayer’s message. Tell us about those.

Edie: I love quotes, and I felt that adding a quote would be another way to illustrate the focus of each prayer.

QPQ: How can the book be used for prayer groups praying for the military?

Edie: This book is a powerful tool for prayer groups. We know that when many people are praying the same thing it, multiplies the power of those prayers. The idea of potentially thousands of people praying the same thing at the same time for our military is one of the most exciting aspects of publishing a book like this.

QPQ: What a great point. And it seems even those of us who don’t have loved ones serving could use this book as a starting point to pray for our military. We may not personally know the men and women serving, but we are indebted to them. Seems the very least we can do for them is pray. Thanks for the reminder—and the great book to get us started.

While My Soldier Serves Prayers for Those with Loved Ones in the Military Thousands of families send loved ones off to fight on a daily basis. These families spend a lot of time living in a world out of control. This kind of stress can take an incredible toll, but there is hope. When we feel helpless, we can take our fears to the One who loves us more than anything and holds the universe in His hands. In this book you’ll find the words to usher you into His presence. These prayers are a place to visit again and again as you take your own fears to God. They’re just a starting point, written to help you find your own voice as you call out on behalf of the one you love.

Edie Melson: Edie Melson, crop, high res As the mother of a frontline infantry Marine, Edie Melson lived this book before she wrote it. Edie understands what it is to face adversity and come out triumphant on the other side. Her years as a wife, mother, and ministry leader have given her a unique perspective to reach out 
to others facing the same struggles.
 She’s the Military Family Blogger for Guideposts.org, social media director for several writing websites, and a popular ministry and conference speaker. Connect with her on her blog, The Write Conversation, Twitter, and Facebook. perspective to reach out 
to others facing the same struggles.
 She’s the Military Family Blogger for Guideposts.org, social media director for several writing websites, and a popular ministry and conference speaker. Connect with her on her blog, The Write Conversation, Twitter, and Facebook.

 

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Do Your Thing, God

Don't Worry. I've got this.Do your thing, God

I do it to my fictional characters all the time. They have their goals, and I thwart them at nearly every opportunity. And then I whisper in their tiny, fictional ears, “Don’t worry. I’ve got this.”

But we’re not fictional characters, and when we need something, it’s real. I’ve made requests of the Author of life, only to have Him do something completely different, all the while whispering, “Don’t worry, I’ve got this.” But like my characters, I don’t always hear Him.

When my husband was out of work about ten years ago, I prayed that God would give him a job. And then I outlined the type of job he should get, how much it should pay, and where it should be. I was very specific about what kind of boss I wanted Eddie to have and what kind of company he should work for.

There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s good to be specific about what you want. But these kinds of prayers can lead to problems. When Eddie would get an interview with the right company—according to my specifications—I’d get my hopes up, sure this was going to be the job. And then when he didn’t get it, I’d be disappointed and feel like God had let us down. When he had an interview with the wrong kind of company, I’d hold my breath and pray he didn’t get a job offer he wasn’t supposed to take. I was so sure I knew what was best.

The older I get, the more I realize how much I don’t know.  I’m a little like the characters in my books. They can only see the page they’re standing on. I might be real, but my “wisdom” is so limited, my foresight so flawed, I can barely predict dinner. And now with three teenagers pointing out my shortcomings, I’m more aware than ever of my personal limitations.

Tweet this: God doesn’t need my input. He’s got this. 

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that God doesn’t need my input. I have goals for my life. But he has plans for eternity. I want something here and now. He wants to grow my character and my faith. He wants me to pray and trust Him, and when I start to worry, he wants me to pray again. He doesn’t want me to fix it—whatever “it” is. He doesn’t need me to come up with multi-layered strategies. He just wants me to trust Him.

What happened with my husband’s job? He got a job offer from a friend who owned a new, very small company, and I worried. A decade later, the business is going strong, and I know that the job was exactly God’s plan for Eddie. Like my characters, I couldn’t see beyond that page of the book. But the Author knew what He was doing all along.

So today, rather than outlining my solutions, I try to hand Him my needs and say, “Do your thing. Perform a miracle. I trust you with this.” Is it easy? Not always. Has God ever let me down? Not once.

How has God answered your prayers in ways you didn’t expect?

DSC_8915-25edRobin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her first two books were Faith House and One Christmas Eve. Her third book, Finding Amanda, will release this spring. Robin works as a freelance editor at Robins Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Sign up for Robin’s newsletter at robinpatchen.com and receive a free e-cookbook and excerpts from her next novel.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2015 in Robin Patchen

 

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To Ski or Not to Ski

Marge12Cold and shivering—and bereft of any sense of accomplishment—I stood at the top of Mount Everest. The ski instructor called it the bunny hill, but I knew better. The icy slope in front of me could only lead to one thing. A painless death was out of the question, so I gripped my ski poles and prayed I’d be lovingly remembered. I took one last, shaky breath. It was all the encouragement my skis needed. One minute I was awaiting my demise, the next rushing toward it at breakneck speed. My skis traveled in opposite directions. My poles flew through the air. I didn’t mind. Better a snowball than a javelin. In the moments that followed, I became a firm believer that what must go down should never come back up.

I still have times when I feel as though I’m standing at the top of a mountain—figurative, of course—and wonder how I’m going to make it down. I see the slippery slope, and my mind pleads for escape. I can’t stay where I am—I know that—but the only way down looks like a scary one. Sometimes the situation involves facing an illness, or a problem with a family member or friend. At times my life takes me in a new direction, one that holds uncertainty.

Fear is a powerful emotion. Do I succumb to it and lay helpless in the snow, or do I get up and ski? Those moments of fear are inevitable, but we don’t have to let them rule us. When Jesus died on the cross, He conquered death and fear. With His help, we can take up our ski poles and glide—or tumble, if need be—our way to victory.

~ Marge Wiebe

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Humor, Marge Wiebe

 

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Fear, God, & the Blank Page

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“And I will give you rest.”

~ Matthew 11:28 KJV

Does staring at the blank page of your new manuscript cause confusion, anxiety or fear? Don’t let the enemy torture you with it any longer. Turn to the Savior and ask Him to give you the words to share and a vision for the story He wants to be told through you. He has promised to give us rest – freedom from everything that wearies and disturbs us. And that includes the fear of the dreaded blank page. Give Him your story and your fears. You will never regret it.

~ Kara R. Hunt

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2014 in Kara Hunt

 

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