Tuesday, April 30, 2013
If you’ve ever read a Candace Calvert novel you know that there is just something insatiable about them. With a supporting cast of characters that are always quirky and fun, to heroes that I would challenge any living-breathing female to deny to love, all wrapped up in gripping stores that will keep you glued to the pages late into the night.
As I have come to expect from one of my favorite authors, Calvert dishes up a Texas-styled medical drama in Rescue Team that puts Grey’s and ER to shame.
Jaded Kate Callison, interim ER director at Grace Medical, is running from her past and desperately seeking a place to belong. She might come off a little stiff at first but Kate’s journey of redemption will have you in tears.
And then there’s Wes Tanner. Insert swoon. Selfless and tender. Macho and funny. This guy is the hero you want fighting through the woods to rescue you. The guy you want to dance with you under the stars. He’s almost too good to be true, despite the wounds that keep him from being truly free of the past. And if I can picture him with that twinge of a southern accent I just melt into a happy little puddle.
What I love most about Candace Calvert, aside from her obvious talent for weaving descriptions, points of views, and storylines with a seamless and effortless elegance, is that she not afraid to tackle tough issues. Rescue Team will challenge your view of forgiveness, inspire you with the astounding truth about grace, and literally entertain your socks off!
Don’t miss out on this irresistible read by real-life trauma nurse Candace Calvert. And if you haven’t read book one Trauma Plan drop what you are doing and run to your nearest bookstore! It’s my favorite! Though, I suppose, since the hero looks almost exactly like my husband I might be a teensy bit partial!
Well, what do you think? If you're not sold read the book. :)
I can not wait for the next installment in this series. Fair warning: If you pick up a Candace Calvert novel prepare to get hooked!
YOUR TURN: Since there are so many good looking books hitting the shelves, what's on top of your to be read pile?
Maybe it should be Rescue Team!
Leave a comment AND your email address before 12 P.M, CST on Friday May 3rd and you could win a copy of this fabulous read!
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
As I’m certain all of you know by now, life is, well . . . hard. Busy. Hectic. Stressful. Exhausting.
There are countless distractions that steal my time and my focus away from my Source. And often enough, my Source starts to feel like a side dish, and then maybe a dessert, or just an occasional splurge. It’s much more difficult to notice just a pound or two. Most often it’s only when you’re completely out of shape that you start to realize how horrendous your diet has become.
As a mother of two wild-child toddlers, most days when I catch my reflection in the mirror I have one of those “Whoa!” moments. As in “Whoa, sister, what the heck happened to you? You used to be kinda cute and, well, skinny, with unlined skin and an almost perpetual grin.
When did I lose my focus? When did I become complacent? How did I get so out of shape?
With everything in me I want to be desperate for God. But am I? And how, with the kids and the bills, and a marriage, and relationships, and writing, and blogging, and facebook, and church, and missions, and . . . (you get the idea), do I find time to indulge in Him?
In my heart I’m not trying to simply perform or look good on paper so that others might commend my holiness. Ick! Even just thinking that makes me all itchy with the hypocrisy of it all. Legalism. Empty works. Going through the motions.
That is not how I want to glorify the God that is my very breath. The God who has blessed me with this wonderfully exhausting home and family. The God who has never abandoned me even in my darkest, desert nights.
So why do I feel like a snail wiggling inch by inch up an endlessly long and treacherous mountain when, in reality, I know that I will never reach that ideal peak. There is no perfection to be had here. There is no earthy destination where I will have done everything God has for me to do and then I can just dust off my hands, kick up my feet, and wait to see his Glory face-to-face.
Since my efforts very often fall short and leave me filled with frustration, am I bringing Him any glory at all?
A few weeks ago at church my uber-awesome Pastor said something that stuck all over me like winter static. He said:
God is most glorified in you when you are satisfied in Him.
Man, it really got me thinking . . . Am I satisfied? My life is great, but am I so caught up in my daily struggles that I’m left wanting more without the energy to even cry out for it?
This profound thought has been tooling around in my brain for a few weeks, and yet, I'm not convinced I know how to be fully satisfied with where I am at. Every day is a battle. From the unique struggles that we are facing with our children, to the constant financial battle of getting ahead, and the challenges of my husbands dreadful job, I feel like we are simply pushing through the junk in hopes of the day when things won't be quite so difficult.
But that really just means that we are missing out on what God is trying to teach us right now. Missing out on time that we will never get back. And failing to see that regardless of our circumstances, we are called by God to be a light today. To show his love, joy, grace, and compassion today. To seek him with everything we have, not tomorrow, or when life finally settles down (as if that will ever happen), but TODAY.
What do people see when they look at me? Do they see the snot-crusted mommy who hasn’t had a good nights sleep in almost four years? Or do they see a joyful servant of the Most High, blessed beyond belief and satisfied with the God that is always more than enough?
What about you? Are you shining with His Glory? Or are you so worn out that you can’t even reflect His goodness?
Regardless of your struggles, are you satisfied?
Thursday, January 17, 2013
As Christians we all seem to think we have a handle on grace but very seldom live like we do. I have been on a journey these past two years and though I know I am just barely grazing the surface, I wanted to gush about what I’ve come to realize.
During this process, first I decided that I really had to tame my ego and humble myself—nothing I do can merit God’s grace, his love, his favor, or forgiveness. If I could earn it with good works and obedience, doesn't that belittle what Christ did on the cross? It is His righteousness that saves us… it really has nothing to do with me or how holy I am. How many commandments I can follow and how sinless I can be.
The Bible very clearly states that we ALL fall short, and yet His love is greater than our sin. Pretty awesome right?
So the big debate on this is if we run wild with this idea of grace, what is to keep us from embracing sin and lawlessness… after all, he’ll forgive us. It seems like grace would give us a free pass to sin, but in fact, if you can grasp what that grace really means, it’s quite the opposite.
For example, because I grew up in the church and was saved very young, I didn’t really have those dark, wild years as a teen. My testimony isn’t a tale of great transformation, it is a love story about God’s faithfulness.
And my obedience wasn’t rooted in fear of the consequences. Let me explain…
I remember this one conversation I had with my dad. He told me, kind of out of the blue, that if I ever found myself out somewhere, drunk or otherwise compromised, that all I needed to do was call him—no questions, no repercussions—he would come get me and bring me home.
I have one heck of a good daddy! While to some this might seem irresponsible, but in truth it meant that . . . he knew me. Knew that though I wasn't the type to cause trouble, I wasn't above temptation.
None of us are.
This security, this grace that he showed me didn't inspire me to recklessness, it overwhelmed me with love. It told me that he cared more about my safety than the rules or his expectations.
True grace inspires us to obedience.
Never once did I have to call in that favor from my dad—not that I was any thing close to perfect. But I respected and loved my daddy enough that I didn't want to disappoint him.
How much more does God want to shower us with his grace to show us his love?
We're missing the boat when we focus solely on our conduct, because let’s face it—we are gonna screw up. Probably daily. But following Christ isn't about the rules, our sin, and facing the condemnation for our failures.
And I’m not implying that there is no discipline. As a parent I am learning when my two little handfuls of insanity need a firm hand and when they need a big hug.
It’s just simply… no matter how much junk we just waded through, no matter how deep or numerous the stains, he still throws his arms around us, calls us pure and blameless. You see it isn't about my sin, it’s about HIS LOVE!
It is both a liberating and impossible concept to fully grasp.
If you reduce Christianity to a moral code, you are totally missing the point! His love isn't conditional. Let go of that bondage and get free!
Talk to me: What have you been taught about grace? Do you feel like it is dangerous to embrace that level of freedom? And do you find it hard to not measure your faith based on how well you control your sin?
Monday, December 10, 2012
Have you ever been on the receiving end of a really bad pick up line?
I understand it takes a lot of courage for a man to cross a room and pay a woman a compliment. We women are generally the hunted. Sure, if we’re single we might send out the vibes, but very often our initial role is passive. A man has to not only traverse a room, but if he wants to snag a fish, he also must come up with a clever hook. (Something we know a little bit about as writers!)
Somehow the whole idea of a pick up line is hilarious to me. You hate to laugh at a guy for trying, but still, it’s funny. Whether you are available and on the prowl for a man, or happily married for thirty years, I challenge any woman to honestly say they don’t appreciate a little compliment, even from a complete stranger. Let’s face it, it’s nice to be noticed.
Last night I had a long overdue girls’ night with one of my closest friends. We went to the grand re-opening of our beautifully restored historic city library, and we had dinner at a quaint café downtown. The café is intertwined with campus life of the local university, so it was bustling with laptops and study groups—kids, as I now call them. Though I am not that far off in age, with two kids and a mortgage I felt like the oldest 27-year-old in the bi-state area.
So we are enjoying our dinner and conversation when a guy walks by. He makes a remark about my hair and goes outside to have a smoke. When he comes back in my friend is in the bathroom and he takes it as his moment to cast his lure.
I had to give him points for, umm . . . originality. Here’s how it played out.
Guy: “How’d you get that?”
Me with furrowed brow: “Um, pardon?”
Guy: “How’d you get that?”
Me: “My hair?” A tangly mess of wild waves. “It came this way.”
Guy: “No that.” Points at me.
Me: “I’m sorry. I don’t understand.”
Guy: “That face. So much beauty!”
Me: “Ha! Wow!”
Guy: “No really. You encapsulate me as a man, you’re so beautiful!”
Okay, now I am nearly crying! What on earth? Word confusion?
1. Enclose (something) in or as if in a capsule.
2. Express the essential features of (someone or something) succinctly.
What does that even mean? Did I help solidify his sexual orientation? What a strange and hysterical curve ball.
Me mid laugh: “Not entirely sure what you mean, but I’m sure I’m flattered. Thank you!”
When my friend and I left we had a good laugh in the car about some of the funnier lines we've heard or been the victim of.
One of my favorites was this one…
“Is that a rhinestone jacket, or do you just sparkle?”
So, it’s Monday…. It’s a good a day as any for a hearty laugh.
What is your worst pick up line? And how did you respond?
Monday, November 26, 2012
Thanksgiving has come and gone, but the overstuffed feeling, the turkey coma, and the air of gratitude are lingering evidence of the holiday season now in full swing. I love this time of year. When the warmth and wonder of tradition and family grab on for a month-long ride. But this thanksgiving something else hopped on. Something other than leftovers and a few, unfortunate, extra pounds. Something like… fear.
Holidays for the Simpson’s are always a marathon of activities and family time. We try to hit each side of the family, which usually equates to at least three celebrations of each holiday and severely nap-deprived toddlers. Our Thanksgiving celebration with my mother-in-laws side of the family was particularly exciting this year.
My mother-in-law, Janet, my sweet teenage niece, Kaylee, and I ended up wandering a trail in the woods with my little young-ins and two of my nephews, Austin and Eli, who are five and nine. Problem was that my little guys couldn’t quite keep up and so Kaylee had the big boys with her farther ahead. Of, course, boys will be boys and Austin and Eli got a little too curious—a little too big for their britches and slipped out of sight. Kaylee ran back to tell us that she’d lost them and so we split up, started on a scavenger hunt of sorts for the runaways.
Having long ago been the path for an old railroad, the trail was clear and wide, several paths branched off to beautiful open meadows that made me feel like I was traipsing through the storyworld of Bambi with my two wild fawns. For a few moments it all felt very innocent. Surely if we hustled ahead, covered a little more ground, we would see the boys just around a bend.
Wandering further, I started to realize with each step just how far we had ventured from home. How difficult it was to wrangle my own curious little brood alone, on unfamiliar terrain.
As the sounds of Kaylee and Janet’s calls disappeared on the wind, the moment sobered, matured. Panic set in, and amplified even more when the Bambi parallel became much too real and dangerous.
Fear so tangible and cold snaked its fingers around my spine. Someone was hunting—and two boys had run off through the maze of trees.
It’s moments like these when fear can run amok in your system, blot out your faith, your senses—blind you to everything, and swallow you whole.
How often do we feel like we are wandering through the woods? Our path unsure, the signs to look for unclear. Each trail appears the same and yet leads to a very different place. Which one is the right one? What might happen if we go the wrong way?
I tend to write a lot about fear, not only because I write suspense and they are inevitably intertwined, but because life is scary. Moments like these crop up when you least expect them, and even if we are firmly rooted in the truth, our faith can feel frail—wobbly when those mountainous doubts press down hard.
This little adventure had a happy ending. I ended up discovering the wandering troublemakers, squeezed the frightened breaths right out of them, and then gave them a firm talkin’ to.
Of course, then we had to find a way to track down the other two members of the search and rescue team, and finally make the long, exhausted trek back to Aunt Fran’s.
Life is full of uncertainties, sometimes even roadblocks. There may night always be a sign warning the dangerous curve ahead. But just remember, though the path may not be clear, there is a guide you can trust who knows the way.
When was the last time fear knocked you on your keester? And what do you do to navigate though all those doubts?
Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! So thankful for you!
Friday, October 26, 2012
We break from our abnormally scheduled blogging for an announcement…
I am agented!
I’m so blessed, and quite frankly ecstatic, to now be among the amazing group of authors and writers represented by the brilliant, multi-talented, and hilarious Chip MacGregor. If you have witnessed the moronically happy grin that hasn't left my face for a solid week, now you know why.
Praising God, the author and finisher of our dreams, for the best of the best!
Anyone else riding high on good news?
Monday, October 15, 2012
Alright folks, I’m taking a poll. Not for any sort of scientific research, but more to satisfy my ravenous curiosity.
The question is very simply… Country boys or city boys?
There is no right or wrong answer, and this is just for fun so please don’t think I am criticizing. But as I have wracked up a few novels and novel ideas I find that I gravitate toward a certain kind of man for my heroes. They are all different in trait and character, of course, but in some fundamental way they all seem like country boys at heart. Even if they are living city boy lives. That might not make much sense. Perhaps I should give y’all my definition of each.
You won’t find these in Webster’s. These are homegrown and absurdly stereotypical. Just go with it.
City boy- a man who operates with a certain air of refinement. Overtly ambitious in occupation and appearance. Charming. Slicked back, clean shaven, smooth hands, sharp dresser. Busy.
Country boy- a man who works with his hands, outdoors, or doing something physically active. Hardworking, honest-often brutally so. Unrefined charm. Tousled hair, five-o’clock shadow, callused hands, t-shirt and jeans practical. Carefree.
Some men can be a mixture, it’s not always black or white but for the purposes here, pick which one suits your man, or your type, best.
If you are on the fence, here is a checklist that might help you gage your tolerance for those wild country boys. Channel Jeff Foxworthy’s skit “You might be a redneck” when you are reading these little clips from my life with my country boy.
You might have it bad for a country boy if…
- You find the idea of attending a tractor pull intriguing.
- Your man suggests you attend a mouse race and you don’t run screaming in the other direction.
- You don’t correct him when he says he’s going to go “get a shower” instead of “take” one.
- The cowboy boots by your door are caked with something that may or may not be mud and you allow them to stay there.
- You find it cute when he drops the beginning of words like “him” and “them” so they all sound like “eem.”
- You don’t mind the sand-paper scraping of his scruffy, five-o’clock shadow leaving well earned redness around your lips.
- You have a weakness for plaid and denim in combination.
- You find usually unsavory things like sweat and dirt particularly appealing on his sun-bronzed skin.
- You decide trying elk, squirrel, venison, maybe coon, and wild mushrooms would be an exciting adventure for your delicate palette.
- You find odd phrases like “grow a wild hair” perfectly acceptable when used in combination with a lazy, rakish grin.
Alright ladies, what’s your preference? And what kind of hero are you more prone to write? And anyone have anything to add to this list?
Whether you get all swoony over your city boy or country boy, be sure to give him some sugar today. ;)
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Ever have one of those fall on your face-awed by God moments? Okay, so you may not literally fall down but I am talking about those times when you can feel His breath stir you, when everything melts away and you find yourself in the river just soaking it all in.
It’s the main reason why I love to worship—to detach from the chaos of life and just rest. With two what-on-earth-did-that-mother-put-in-their-milk baby boys my life is, in many ways, the antithesis of anything resembling rest. For all you mothers I’d like to say there is relief for the constant battle of bedtime and naptime after the baby phase, but sadly, I see no light at the end of the tunnel. Y’all can pray for me. (
got to me!) Ahh, Texas
Last week was one of those weeks with very little rest, though to be fair I can’t blame it on my wild toddlers. I was at the ACFW writer’s conference in
A wonderful time of year where like minded people come together to learn the
craft of writing, encourage one another, and pitch to agents and editors who
make us squirm while they silently peruse our precious pages with a furrowed
brow. (I shall not name name’s.)
And it’s not just exhausting while you are there. Months of preparation have us fine tuning our manuscripts, pitches, and one-sheets for those few moments when we can share our story, our passion, praying someone might catch the vision and take a chance on our dream. We bury ourselves under this avalanche of expectations, desperate to make the most of each moment and emerge victorious. (That, or justify the cost and time away from our families.)
But in the midst of those awkward high-school flash-backs where you wonder if you are gonna find someone to sit with at lunch, and those minutes before your appointment with your dream agent where the clamor of energy is drowning out your tirelessly practiced pitch until your mind washes blank, God walks in.
Whenever my mom would pray for me growing up she had this way of making it more about God and less about me. Like it was in his hands, and he would prepare the way. It was a balm for my nerves when I would be preparing for an audition or some other over-eager quest I had to conquer. I could step outside myself, my careful agenda and my ever-increasing expectations, and just rest in the fact that God would show up.
At the conference I had this moment with my roommate where we were both a bit shaken and our nerves went haywire. (And no, my back was not on fire again.) Anxiety was battling with me and it really felt like it was winning. We stopped right there in the hallway of the hotel and prayed together. And in that moment, it wasn’t just the two of us with our fraying nerves.
Now, I’d like to say that prayer is a magical remedy for stress but that’s not what I am trying to convey. Lord knows even though I made it through all of my appointments without incident, I still managed to feel like an idiot and considered cramming my tortured foot into my mouth after it got off its leash. And let me tell you, I prayed a lot. Prayed a lot since that those few who witnessed my blunder might have merciful memories.
But just remember, whatever you are going through, whatever the situation, you can rest in your own helplessness knowing that God shows up. Always has, always will.
Writers, what was your favorite moment from the conference? And readers, do you remember a time where you knew without question that God showed up?
I loved seeing you all at ACFW! Can’t wait until next year!
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
So I have come to realize something about myself. Something possibly disturbing. I’d like to say that this disturbing behavior came about as a result of my creative outlet as a writer, but sadly, I fear that this has always been a bizarre symptom of my tireless brain.
Perhaps it is why I love writing suspense.
So here it is… my dark side. (If I could I would cue Darth Vader breathing sounds over the imperial match anthem.)
I often (maybe as often as daily) envision worst-case scenarios.
No, I am not a depressing and morbid person by nature, in fact, some have even ventured to deem my general disposition as “sunny”. But somewhere deep down, my mind is a twisted little prankster that draws out terrible, horrifying outcomes from the most mundane daily activities.
For example, due to the blistering heat—and a recurrent sleep strike my children have embraced that has us out of bed with nothing to do at 6:15 am daily—I have been taking the kids on early morning jogs. This hearty expedition involving at least 50 extra pounds for me to push has been taking place 4 or 5 mornings a week at the crack of dawn. As I am NOT a morning person, the beauty of the breaking dawn is an occurrence I would rather not witness—so perhaps that has some bearance on why my mind might travel to a dark place unsafe for children.
Wow, rein it in, Amy… Okay, so we are jogging on the trail behind my subdivision—a wide, paved, and usually well traveled route with a myriad of people biking, running, and roller-blading in clingy and painfully graphic booty-tight shorts that would be best reserved for private use. (Just sayin’!)
At one point during my jog this morning I found myself alone (alone as you can be with two toddles present) on a long stretch shrouded with a thick and pressing border of trees. I hear a rusting to my right, and I imagine most people might assume a squirrel was intimidated by the strength of my pounding soles and my impressive speed J But me? My mind leaps to someone lurking in the brush, watching, and waiting patiently for the right moment to attack—drag some helpless victim behind the curtain of trees. My pulse hikes up a few notches at the thought, my stride super-charges and the burning, humid air in my lungs evaporates.
The problem might be that I can actually see the scene unfolding before my eyes. I actually let myself feel the imagined fear as I walk through the emotional process of dealing with that kind of panic.
I’ve pictured car-wrecks, abductions, intruders, and accidents of all kinds. On rare occasions, the what-ifs have crept over the line from hypothetical to possible. Like this one time when my hubby was out of town, the threat from my vivid imagination became so real that when I heard a crash sound at 2 am, I had sworn someone had broken into my house.
I forced myself into action despite my deepest desire to be a wussy-heroine who might hide out under the covers. And no I did not open the door and check outside—I’m not an idiot. Despite the nerves that threatened to make me fumble my husband’s 38-Special, I got out of bed and stalked around the house in my underwear with my gun drawn low, warning any intruders that mama bear means business (thank you conceal and carry classes!) Thankfully, I haven’t heard any reports from my neighbors that anyone saw me playing CSI in my living room. God is merciful!
Funny thing is, today, someone actually did step out of the trees just ahead of me—calling into question if my worst-case scenario for that moment was a small measure of discernment to impart caution or if it might be some serious paranoia.
Most of the scenes my mind creates do not produce actual fear. I’m just weighing the possibility of disaster, I suppose. Today, however, fear of my vulnerability and my isolation clawed at me, high-jacked my adrenaline and sent me on a survival sprint to avoid the stern-faced older man with the stiff and jerky gait that scared the ever-livin’ outta me.
So help me out here. Am I alone in this? Is this just my twisted spin on reality? Do you ever imagine worst-case scenarios, or are all your hypothetical thoughts rose-colored?
Disclaimer: In case you were wondering, I do not need prayer or any casting of demons for this ailment. It’s quite helpful in my current occupation. Thanks anyways! J
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Remember my heart attack scare back in May? Notice that I have been largely absent since?
Okay, so airing your medical issues on the web seems a little bit strange, and by nature I tend to keep these sorts of things pretty close to the cuff. But in this instance, if I tucked away and kept silent, I wouldn’t be giving God the glory.
He truly is a God of miracles.
And I’m gonna tell you why.
So just before Memorial Day I had this pseudo-heart attack and wound up in the ER with chest and arm pain, and a BP of 200/120. Yikes! They ended up running a gamlet of tests and sent me home scratching my head about why a 26 year old would have a sudden onslaught of symptoms more suited for middle age.
What they failed to notice on my labs was that my kidney function had plummeted. And with only one functional kidney to my name—long story—it’s pretty important that that one hold its own. At a follow up doctor’s visit, when my new doc discovered the slip, she freaked.
Turns out, my very unique kidney was to blame for it all. Poor little guy was falling behind and in return, by body jacked up my blood pressure to compensate. The only problem aside from the typical dangers of an elevated BP is—high blood pressure destroys your kidneys.
Are you following? This is a lot of medicine thrown at ya. Just channel some Grey’s Anatomy and we’ll all make it through.
Miserable weeks of tests and a cocktail of BP meds that made the room spin around like the Highland Fling any time I stood . . . and the results were not good.
Aside from the fact that I would have to be now and forever more a pill-popper, I was told that I’d probably need major surgery to avoid the future probability of a transplant, and that the surgery would be risky—there was only one doctor around who would even attempt it.
That’s a lot to swallow right? But the hits kept coming.
I was told that it would be highly unlikely that I would be able to sustain another pregnancy. This one shifted the earth beneath my feet. Yes, I have two beautiful babies already, and I’m not trying to be greedy or ungrateful but this wrecked me.
Wrecked me because . . . I lost a baby on Easter, at the end of my first trimester. The still, lifeless sonogram . . . the palm sized child you only get to hold once. Let me just tell you, it’s like nothing you can imagine.
I was so heartbroken, I just barely existed for a while. And even still, it’s like there is a scar etched into my heart.
Needless to say it has been a tough year for us. But when we are small and beaten down, God is BIG. Bigger than it all.
Wanna know how I know?
Because my kidney would have shut down completely if I had still been pregnant—and the baby likely wouldn’t have survived. How amazing that God—in all his loving grace—saved us from that. Saved us from losing the baby later in the pregnancy. Saved me from needing a transplant. Saved us from having to make a decision we might not be able to live with.
Saved. My. Life. Period.
And then I saw finally saw the specialist last week . . . Amazing how they change their tune when God intervenes.
I don’t need the surgery. My kidney function looks great. They are going to try to wean me off my meds. AND—I can have more babies.
Let me just tell you—I have never felt more protected. More cherished.
My God is mighty to save. No matter how bleak your circumstance. No matter how great the loss. And no matter how grim the diagnosis.
He’s got you!