Inspirational Reader's Choice Finalist - RACHEL!

SampleAnnouncement: Rachelis a finalist for the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award! Winners will be announced in July at the RWA Convention. Now, on to what I really wanted to say:

Can I admit something? I don't want it to sound like I'm complaining because that would be really selfish of me. But it's been an exhausting and sometimes rough, sometimes sad year so far. Not that there haven't been lots of good times - there have. Seeing our son get married in Los Olivos, California was wonderful. But I think we took on more than we could handle, starting with the bathroom remodel.

So to say I'm physically, emotionally, and maybe even spiritually exhausted is a bit of an understatement. And I ask the Lord what I'm supposed to learn from all of this. I could ask Him why, but I kind of doubt I'm going to understand the why of things in this life. I could say we suffer to help others - that would be biblical. I can use the trials of life in my writing and infuse some of that empathy that comes through it all into my characters. But I sometimes wish my imagination didn't have to be quite so real!

Today is one of those exhausted days. And it's always something, isn't it? Big or small, Jesus was right, "Each day has enough trouble of it's own."

But on the bright side - life has so many good points. Like - Jesus loves me. Do you think about that very often? Jesus really loves me. Even when I'm crabby and unlovable. Even when I'm crying and don't understand and want to blame the world for all the things that go wrong. Even when I don't act like a Christ-follower or lash out in anger at things I should take in stride. Jesus loves me.

And sometimes He sends me little reminders of that love in ways that may seem silly to some, but to me, they come at just the moment I need them. Like a call from a family member or friend. Or when the songs on my playlist, which has hundreds of choices, but the ones that shuffle when I'm in my deepest need are just what I need to hear. Or the phone call or email that tells me something good about one of my books. Oh it's nice to win an award or make a contest's finalist list. It's honoring to see one of the titles on a bestseller list.

But what brings tears to my eyes are letters from readers who found grace, who found Jesus in my stories. Who went back to the Scriptures and found healing or help through the characters' experiences. Those things make the empathy from my own pain a little more worth the effort.

No one likes pain. No one likes it when God starts working in their hearts because He doesn't let us go or let us go too long on our own path. If we are His, He will be the relentless lover who pursues us with whatever it takes to bring us back, to wake us up, to help us to see that what we think we want is so far short of what He has planned for us. He made us for so much more.

He loves us. He loves me. And He promised to never leave me or forsake me no matter what happens in life. Sometimes I don't like the possibilities of what life may hold. Sometimes I can't wait to see what may be around the next bend. Either way, I love to cling to that promise that He will be with me in the moment, good or bad.

Rachel had to learn that in the end - Jacob couldn't be everything she needed. He couldn't give her what she thought she wanted most. Only God could do that.

Only God.

Imagine. Even when life is at its worst, He loves us still.