The Voices Within

I’m vaguely aware of my dog’s paw, small and gentle, on my shoulder. His tap, tap, tapping pulls me from the fog of slumber.

“No,” I mumble, certain day has not yet broken night.

As I roll away from my persistent pup, a knife stabs at the base of my neck and thousands of needles drill into my right shoulder, arm, hand, and fingers. I moan, though not audibly. Instead the moan rises within. Echoes within. Resides within. READ MORE

Lost and Found

Lost & FoundI was thrilled to read another 5 star review of Lost and Found! Link here: Reading with Teddy G.

I’ve promised to share negative reviews too, but so far, they’re all positive. 🙂

To celebrate another 5 star review, I want to do a giveaway. Leave a comment on this post about why you’d like to win a signed copy of Lost and Found and I’ll enter you to win both a copy of the book and a bracelet from my company, Bookish Baubles.

I’ll draw a winner next Friday.

Christmas Tears

I have a lot of good memories from 27+ years of marriage. I also have a lot of memories that come with a stab—wounds that are slow to heal. But of all the memories made, the ones I treasure most are of Christmas. I think my family would agree, we made only good memories on Christmases past—especially those Christmas mornings when it was just the four of us, our stockings stuffed, a crackling fire in the fireplace, and a pan of homemade cinnamon rolls in the oven.

Even post divorce, that was a tradition we kept.

Until this year.

This morning, as I stood alone in the cold house, looking out at the tears of heaven splashing against the window, my own tears pricked my eyes as my heart ached with the missing of laughter, of delighted squeals from little boys, of a knowing glance between their parents.

Once again, I grieved the brokenness wrought by divorce.

Just as others this season are grieving their own losses.

Even greater losses.

And I wondered…

God, do You understand?

As rain pelted the glass and wind blew through the trees outside, it seemed His answer swirled within me. Yes, I understand.

I thought about that first Christmas when Jesus left the warmth of Mary’s womb. Did He cry as He entered our world? What about nine months before when He left His Heavenly home, His Father’s side, and descended from a state of omnipotence to embryonic? How did He feel?

And what did God the Father feel as He sent His son? Did He shed tears knowing what Jesus would suffer? Did He feel the stab of loss? Where was the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, during those hours of grief? Was He at the Father’s side, in the womb with Jesus, comforting Mary in her pain as she pushed her babe, the King, into the world?

Were there tears from heaven that first Christmas too?

I suspect there were many tears.

Just as I suspect our God has shed many tears this season.

As I wandered out of the kitchen and through the house this morning, I did so with the realization that I am not alone. The Spirit walks beside me, within me, His warmth and comfort surround me. And joy, beyond my understanding, bubbled forth.

God knows my pain.

He knows your pain.

But just as with that first Christmas, I believe pain and joy co-mingle.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).”

God gave the Son He loved to save a world He loved.

Pain.

And joy.

Yes, my child, I understand…

 

 

 

Write Now Relief

As I’ve watched the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy, my heart has broken for the suffering of so many. As another storm rolled in this week and a million people are still without power, and temperatures are freezing, I’ve wished I could invite each person into my warm home here on the west coast. Of course, that’s not possible.

So when fellow author, Susan Meissner, suggested a group of authors join together to do what we do best AND help victims of the storms, I jumped on board. The result is Write Now Relief.

If you’re a writer with a manuscript that needs first aid, you may bid on a 50-page critique from one of the participating authors while also helping the victims of the storm. Here’s how it works:

WHAT: Bid on a 50-page critique of your novel by one of the Write Now Novelists (listed below).  Highest bidder will send their amount to the designated relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse, for their relief efforts for the victims of Superstorm Sandy.

WHEN: Begins Friday, November 9, ends Friday midnight EST November 16.

HOW: Head to the blog of the author you’d like to have critique your 50 pages (that list is below). Find their Write Now Relief blog post and place your bid in the comments section of that post. Monitor it closely so that you can re-bid! Check back on this Facebook page for updates on all the bids. If you are the high bidder for the author you’ve chosen, make your donation and email a copy of your receipt to the author with your 50 pages. It’s that easy.

What will the critique entail? The author you choose will read your fifty pages with an eye to giving you insights and feedback on all aspects of your story excerpt, including plot, character, story arc, mechanics, pacing, and reader appeal.

 What is Samaritan’s Purse? Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.

How do I donate to Samaritans Purse? You can head to the Samaritan’s Purse webpage on Hurricane Sandy http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/articles/hurricane_sandy/ and click on the GIVE link imbedded on the page. Whether you are the highest bidder or not, do consider donating to this effort.

AND NOW THE PARTICIPATING AUTHORS! Choose the author who suits you best, head to their hosting blog and find the post on WRITE NOW RELIEF. Place your bid in the comments section of that blog, starting Friday, Nov 8. Check back often!

Susan Meissner Women’s fiction, historical, contemporary http://susanlmeissner.com/write-now-relief/

Ginny L Yttrup  Women’s Fiction, Contemporary  (That’s me so bid here)

Hannah Alexander  Contemporary romantic suspense, Christian romance, both contemporary and historical  http://girlswriteout.blogspot.com

Nicole O’Dell  YA  http://nicoleodell.com/home-2/o_blog

Rachel Hauck  All genres  http://rachelhayeshauck.blogspot.com

Jill Williamson  Middle grade, and YA or adult for spec fiction (fantasy, science fiction, etc.http://www.jillwilliamson.com/jill-williamsons-blog/

Gayle Roper  Romantic suspense, suspense, mystery and romance. Hosted by Nancy Mehl  www.nancymehl.blogspot.com

Miralee Ferrell  Historical romance, women’s contemporary fiction, romantic suspense  www.miraleeferrell.com

Donita K. Paul  YA, Fantasy, romance  http://dragonbloggin.blogspot.com

Ruth Axtell  Historical Romance  http://ruthaxtell.blogspot.com

Kathy Fuller  Amish, contemporary, historical, screenplays  www.amishhearts.com

Missy Tippens  Contemporary category romance, anyone targeting Love Inspired.  http://lifewithmissy.blogspot.com/

Happy bidding, everyone!

 

Really?

 

I’m in the midst of a season where I feel like all I say to God is, “Really?” While the question is the same, the tone, I confess, changes. Sometimes it’s laced with saracasm as in, “Really, God? You’re kidding, right?” Other times it’s asked in awe. The picture above reflects one of those moments this summer when, with wonder and humility, I said to God, “Really?” My book, Words, was a Christy Award double-finalist, and won the Christy for Best Debut Novel. I was awed. But, even following moments like that, I still utter the occassional, “Really, God? You’re kidding, right?” It saddens my heart to admit this truth… 

Last month, after struggling through multiple surgeries the past year, odd diagnoses, fatigue, and frustration, I returned home from a weekend retreat…sick. And with blood pressure numbers soaring skyward. Throughout the year, I’d had moments where I questioned God, but not with sarcasm or anger. But as a call to my doctor led to one appointment, and then another, and another, I broke.

“Really? You’re serious?” With chocking tears, I slung my question not only at God, but also to my spiritual mentor and friend, James. During our conversation, James’ reminded me that my relationship with God has never been marked by ease. In fact, it is through the struggles and suffering that a deep and abiding intimacy with God has developed.

An intimacy I wouldn’t trade for anything. Not good health or pain-free living. It is the pain, both emotional and physical, that have shattered my shell of pretense with God and made my relationship with Him real.

God is my friend, and I believe I am His friend. And in those moments, which are becoming rare, when I shoot my sarcasm in God’s direction, He loves me still. 

He loves me.

With wonder and humility, I ask Him again, “Really?”

Yes, really.

What about you? Have your conversations with God included the same question? What’s your tone?

 

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?

 

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