Contest–Lost and Found

I’m holding a contest! Win a copy of LOST AND FOUND for yourself or a friend along with one of my literature inspired necklaces. This necklace features phrases taken from LOST AND FOUND and was made by the author–me!

To enter the contest, leave a comment on this post about why you want to read LOST AND FOUND or want a friend to read it. If your comment is personal and you’re not comfortable leaving it on this post, email it to me at ginny@ginnyyttrup.com. On Monday, 7/30, I’ll choose the winner based on the comments I receive. 

To learn more about LOST AND FOUND, go to the link below.

 LOST AND FOUND…

Two women who’ve compromised for the sake of security… Will they risk it all?

Read the book description and reviews here: Amazon.com

 

I Don’t Understand…

I woke this morning with a searing pain in my throat and a fog of discouragement hovering over my mind and heart. Why am I here? Orlando and the International Christian Retailers Show? I arrived in the wee hours on Sunday morning and have only left my hotel room to venture to a nearby pharmacy to pick up a prescription–an antibiotic for strep throat. Yesterday’s interviews were cancelled, today I’ve already missed coffee with my publishing group, and participating on an author panel.

After walking with God for 45 years, I’m learning when discouragement tempts, I need to turn to Him. Immediately. So I posed my question: Why am I here? And then came my tears. Honesty with God, the freedom to speak my confusion or heartache, often lead to a cleansing cry. Soon I recalled a quote I’d read last week from It’s Not All About Me by Max Lucado: “My pain expands God’s purpose.”

I recalled the pain I’ve experienced during the last four years–the end of my 29 year marriage, the loss of home, comfort, and all familiar to me, seven surgeries, financial struggles, etc. In the midst of recollecting, I heard the Spirit whisper: Do you trust me?

Yes, Lord, I trust You.

Even when you don’t understand My ways?

I paused. This is a familiar question. A lesson in the making through the last four years. Do I trust God when He doesn’t make sense to me? When all seems wasted?

Yes, Lord, I trust You…even when I don’t understand.

So why do I find myself in bed, in a strange city, down with strep throat rather than participating in the events I came to attend?

I don’t know.

But He knows.

And perhaps in the mystical way of God, He will use my pain to expand His purpose…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Keeping Up

I often read the daily selections from Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest. I like the way Chambers’ cuts to the quick: “Beware of any work for God that causes or allows you to avoid concentrating on Him (April 23).”

Last night, like  many nights of late, I didn’t sleep. It’s a season of life, I suspect–a tiring one. As I wrestled with my sheets, my mind began churning with thoughts of all I need to do. While I could have spent the wee morning hours focused on God and communing with Him, instead, I listened to the call of my to-do list. Eventually, I turned on the light, reached for my laptop, and revised a proposal and sent it off to my agent.

Revising the proposal allowed me to check one thing off my list. And for that, I’m grateful.

But Oswald Chambers’ point is well-taken for those of us whose work is ministry related. Because I wrote of spiritual matters in the night, it felt as though I’d spent time with God. But that’s a deception, and one I recognize.

The struggle for me, these days, is keeping up with the work for God, but not to the exclusion of God. A question my spiritual director asked me this week helped me maintain my perspective: “How do you define success for yourself?” After several minutes of silence, time to weed out the answers that didn’t resonate, I landed on the one that did fit. Success for me is resting in God.

That’s it. It’s my greatest desire and the one I lose sight of most often.

As I strive for worldly success–or even ministry success, I can, as Chambers’ suggested, begin worshipping the work rather than worshipping God. But there’s no satisfaction in that. The accolades, the awards, the sales–all of those are fine and even good–if they’re from God. But when they become my focus, I’m left empty.

And God’s left waiting…

Waiting to spend time with me.

That’s a hard concept for me to embrace. Yet, as much as I long to rest with God, I also long to offer my friendship to God. To be like Abraham–a friend of God.

So… What’s keeping you up?

P.S. Because I didn’t sleep, I’m feeling giddy and like giving books away today. It is Friday, after all. So, here’s today’s game in the name of marketing, or stewardship, as I prefer to think of it: Refer one new subscriber to my blog or one more “fan” to my FB author page and have them leave a comment on this post mentioning you or have them like my FB page and leave a comment there mentioning you. Then, I’ll do a random drawing on Monday and send a free signed copy of either Words or Lost and Found to you and to the friend who mentioned you in their comment. Deal?

 

Waiting…

I’m in a holding pattern and, I confess, I hate it. I’m part of the immediate gratification culture in which I live, and I find myself frustrated that gratification, in this instance, is so long delayed.

Why God? I’m tempted to ask. Or, What have I done wrong, Lord, that you’re punishing me in this way? Or, leaving God out of the equation all together, What’s wrong with me?

The accuser’s voice asks questions of its own: Do you know how many people are depending on you? It’s crazy to wait on God, don’t you know that? And, because the accuser’s voice and my voice often sound alike, What’s wrong with you?

I could force the issue and just take off on my own. At this juncture, with people depending on me, that seems like the wise choice. But something holds me back: Experience. I’ve walked with God too long to take off without Him.

So like the Psalmist, I cry:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts

and every day have sorrow in my heart?

 

But again, my experience, like the Psalmist’s, informs me:

But I trust in your unfailing love;

my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord,

for he has been good to me.

Psalm 14

Yes, Lord, as I wait, I recall Your goodness to me–your love and your salvation.

I will trust You.

Are you waiting on God for something? How’s the wait going for you?

 

Come…

Click link to hear :  At Your Feet by Melissa Greene

This past year was punctuated by noise. The roar of jet engines as I flew off to another commitment; the clamor of conferees; the cacophony of conversations; my heart pounding as I stood to speak and then the awkward sound of my own voice ringing in my ears.

At home, phones rang, emails alerted, early morning alarms blared. Even in the quiet moments, the sound of my nails tapping the keyboard as characters whispered dialogue in my mind, kept me engaged.

Underneath it all, in the deep recesses of my soul, discontent grew—a nagging longing—a deep loneliness.

I am Mary. But I was living Martha’s life.

And I was desperately missing sitting at Jesus’ feet and simply…listening.

To Him.

And Him alone.

This weekend, as I sat at another conference, Jesus called my name. “Ginny, you are distracted by many things…” There was no condemnation in His voice. Instead, the call was an irresistible wooing. “Come… Choose what is better.”

Do you hear His voice?

Is He calling you?

Come…

Luke 10:38-42

Thank you to the Lifeway Events Team for a wonderful conference this weekend and to Vicki Courtney for her message on Mary and Martha, and Melissa Greene for her incredible song–At His Feet. It was a privilege to join you and lead a workshop at the .Mom event.

You’re Okay…

If you’ve read my novel, Words, and also read the reader letter included in the book, then you know many of the emotions portrayed by my characters were my own. I come from a history of childhood sexual abuse, and like Kaylee, I lost my voice–not literally–but almost.

My ability to speak truth, my ability to speak up for myself, and my ability to speak confidently were robbed from me. I was shamed into silence. I hid the truth as a means of protecting myself, and those around me. Of course, my silence only served to further the childhood abuse and contributed to emotional abuse in my adult years.

My words were so stunted that I even found praying with words difficult. Instead, I learned to sit in silence before God and simply open my mind and heart to Him. I didn’t speak. I didn’t pray silent prayers. I hoped God would search my mind and heart and know my needs and the needs of those I cared about.

Oddly, without conversing with God, I still felt we had a deep and intimate relationship. The type of intimacy that comes, perhaps, with sitting in silence with someone you love.

Then one Sunday, during the annual Palm Sunday service I attend each year in the middle of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, I bowed my head and sat in silence with God. The organ moaned in the background as communion trays were passed from one conferee to another.

And I wondered… Lord, is it okay that I don’t use words when I pray?

His response was swift and sure. You’re okay.

I’m okay? His response stunned me. And tears flowed… I’m okay?

He answered an unasked question. He’d searched my mind and heart and without me saying so, He knew what I needed.

I needed to know that in His eyes, I was okay, just as I was.

Just as I am.

You’re okay are the most tender words He’s spoken into my life. Words of acceptance. Words of forgiveness. Words of unconditional love.

In God’s eyes, you’re okay too. Do you know that?

 

Saying Goodbye to Guilt

Guilt is often my early morning companion. It whispers condemnation into the dawn of a new day, and I…listen. Can you believe how much you ate yesterday? You didn’t exercise either and you probably won’t exercise today. You’re hopeless. And think of the time you wasted. You should have worked harder. You have so much to do. Did you blog? Did you write that synopsis? What about that novel?

Each accusation seems to land on my chest and by the time I rise, Guilt is pushing me back down. Holding me hostage. I crawl out of bed already defeated. But worse than the sense of defeat Guilt imposes, is Guilt’s ability to separate me, in my own mind, from God.  Rather than approach my Heavenly Father in freedom, I slink to the throne of God in shame. Apologetic for my many failures, I find it difficult to look fully into the face of God—I find it difficult to receive His love and grace.

In those moments, I’ve allowed Guilt to win.

This morning, I woke early to the usual whispers. But upon hearing the first accusation, I kicked Guilt in the gut and it scurried away. What was different this morning? I spent the day with my Lord and Savior yesterday. I took a Sabbath and rested with Him. I slept. I prayed. I spent time reciting His Word—filling my mind with His truth.

It was a day of fasting: from busyness; from food; even from coffee. It was a day of giving up some things in order to make more room for God. Lest you think me noble for making such a choice, it was also a day of intense struggle. I didn’t want to fast. Nor did I want to spend time with God. But…it’s where He led me and I decided, begrudgingly, to follow.

As I rose from bed today, I did so with a renewed sense of freedom—the freedom to enjoy my sips of coffee and bites of food—the freedom to look forward to my work and the purposes God has for me. I rose with anticipation of spending the day in the company of the God who loves me—who longs to hold me in His embrace. Rather than slink toward His throne, I walked, head held high, aware of who I am in His presence. I am His beloved…and He is mine.

Is Guilt hissing its accusations into your life? Are you listening?

Dreams

I dreamt of becoming an author for many years. Once the dream became a reality, I discovered the reality was much different than the dream. My dream included hour after hour spent in solitude researching and writing the next great novel. I’d wear silk pajamas while I wrote, work from a desk overlooking the crashing surf, drink imported tea, and have deep literary discussions with my dog. And, of course, I’d write only bestsellers.

When I did chose to appear in public, photos of me—lithe and lovely—would be splashed across the social pages of my hometown magazine and perhaps even the entertainment page of USA TODAY.

My dream did not include the following: Writing under the pressure of a deadline, wearing yesterday’s sweats while I wrote, doing radio interviews before I’ve had my morning coffee, acquiring writer’s spread because I sit more than I stand, or speaking publicly, or even out loud, for that matter (except for the discussions with the dog, of course). I did not dream of to-do lists longer than my arm or taking the fast track to a marketing degree by doing rather than learning. And I definitely didn’t dream of working harder than I’ve ever worked while earning less than I’ve ever earned.

I am not comfortable with the unexpected. Nor am I comfortable with most of the realities of my new career.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

I prayed God would fulfill the desires of my heart and He did. But He included a few things I didn’t bargain for. He included things, mind you, that I don’t even do well! He fulfilled my dream and took me so far out of my comfort zone that I’m not sure I’m even in the same galaxy as my dream!

And guess what? I love it!

I love it because I’ve learned a new dependence on Him. I love it because when a reader connects with me, I know it’s because He’s worked through me. I love it because when I stand on a stage and open my mouth, words actually come out. Words that I couldn’t speak on my own. Words that glorify God because they are a miracle of God.

I love it because when I’m down to my last penny, God provides in unexpected ways.

I love it because He’s taken my dream and made it so much bigger than my imagination.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

I love it because He knew the plans He had for me. Plans to prosper me. Perhaps not financially, but in ways I’d never have anticipated. In my faith in Him. In my love for Him. In my courage to follow Him.

In fact, it’s no longer about my dream. Instead, it’s about His will. And there’s nothing I’d rather do than delight in Him and live out His will.

What’s your dream? Is God fulfilling it? Is it what you expected?

If you dream of writing for publication…

Join me at the Inspire Writers Conference

September 26-27, where agent and editor, Karen Ball and I will be speaking.

Register here: http://inspirewriters.com/?page_id=1237

The God of All Comfort

As I travel and engage with readers, many open their lives to me and share their heartaches. In the last week I’ve heard stories of a husband’s unfaithfulness, a son’s death by homicide, a daughter’s rape. I’ve heard stories of childhood sexual abuse and a wife’s physical and emotional abuse. Many of these dear wounded warriors also share their journey of healing. They share the hope they’ve found in Jesus Christ.

But I confess, these stories often weigh on me and I want to shake my fist at God and tell Him He should prevent suffering. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—I don’t understand why God allows Satan to rule as the prince of earth. I don’t understand why God allows heartache.

However, I do understand this: I don’t want to serve a simplistic God who is easily understood. If God isn’t bigger than my understanding, then He isn’t much good, is He?

I face a conundrum. Maybe you’ve faced it too. Either I rely on my own understanding or I place my faith in a God I’ll never understand.

So I walk in faith, awed, and sometimes addled, by a mysterious God. And as I watch, and wait on Him, I see something else taking place in the midst of the suffering. I see comfort. His comfort. Offered to those who suffer from those who’ve suffered.

I see a beautiful dance—a pairing of souls drawn together by mutual pain. I see purpose assigned to their pain as they offer comfort one to another. I’ve received that comfort myself, and I’ve offered it to others.

The embrace of God.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 1 Corinthians 1:3-4

His mysteries are as unfathomable as His love.

Are you walking in faith and in need of comfort? Or are you reaching out and offering comfort to another?

 

 

 

 

 

Lies

After a long week in Atlanta, I lingered in my hotel bed this morning drinking coffee and eating chocolate. The breakfast of champions. I picked up a devotional book—or rather, I clicked on the icon and it opened on my iPad—and I read the timeless words of Oswald Chambers. Now, just a couple hours later, I can’t tell you the topic of today’s devotional, but I do recall the feeling stirring within me as I read the Scripture passage at the top of the page: I was home. Wrapped in a blanket. Safe.  At rest in the embrace of the One who loves me most.

It’s noon and I’m still in that same hotel bed. Still in my jammies. And still resting in the embrace of love.

But the morning didn’t begin that way…

I woke before dawn with a niggling sense of guilt. Gnawing guilt. Accusatory and condemning. And for a few moments, I listened to the accusations. You’re so busy doing God’s work that you don’t have time for Him. Who do you think you are? How can you expect Him to bless your endeavors?

Then I rolled over, snuggled beneath the covers, and…went back to sleep.

Phooey with those lies.

A busy week? Yes. Time with God? Yes. But not in the ways I’m accustomed to. I didn’t open my Bible or devotional books. I didn’t intercede with lengthy monologues (okay, I rarely do that anyway). Nor did I attend church. Instead, I saw the reflection of Christ in those who’ve committed their lives to serving Him. I engaged in conversations with those who love Him—with those who’ve surrendered to Him. I’ve depended on Him in moments of fear and fatigue and frailty. I’ve laughed. I’ve listened. I’ve given and received love. His love.

What accusations is the liar hissing to your soul?

Are you listening?

Don’t bother.

There is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1