Sunday, April 26, 2009


My daughters and I spent some time outside today in the absolutely beautiful spring weather here in eastern Tennessee.

Smelling the day. The flowers. The sunlight. It reminded me of how important it is to drink in each moment deeply. To experience life, to enter it, embrace it.

In reference to the idea that all of God's love, all of his presence is available each moment, Jean-Pierre De Caussade, a Jesuit priest in the early 18th century, wrote, “So every moment of our lives can be a kind of communion with his love.... This tremendous activity of God, which never varies from the beginning to the end of time, pours itself through every moment and gives itself in all its vastness and power to every clear-hearted soul which adores and loves it and abandons itself without reserve to it.”

Every moment all of the riches of eternity are available.

I needed a spring day to remind me of that once again.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Updates on my thrillers

Recently we received some good news that my novel The Rook is one of three finalists for a 2009 Christy Award as the best suspense novel published by a Christian publishing house last year. The winner will be announced in July.

Last year The Pawn was a finalist as well, and I'm thrilled that both of my novels have made it to, well... the final cut.

The third installment in The Bowers Files, The Knight, will be released this summer, as well as a mass-market paperback version of The Pawn--with a cool new cover. Thanks to all of you for supporting this series!

Check out any of the novels on my Amazon Connect page. More soon!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An Excerpt from Sailing Between the Stars

Everywhere you look in Christianity you see mysteries piled upon mysteries.

Here, death is the beginning of life, foolishness is the pathway to wisdom, the meek conquer the strong, a lamb tramples a snake, and the Almighty creator of the galaxies has a bellybutton. The foundation of this faith is paradox, not common sense.

Because logic can only take you as far as the confines of language and reason, but paradox can lead you all the way to the truth.

This is the story that bookends the ages. One day the garden with the snake who infects souls will be transformed into the garden where the Dove reigns forever. Here is a tale bigger than life, but just the right size to fit in your heart.

In the crazy world of Christianity, those who think themselves wise are really fools in disguise, while those who know they’re fools become our greatest prophets and teachers. Those who are the most aware of their sins are our greatest saints; while those who think they’re not really all that bad (at least not compared to most people) are the greatest sinners. Those who think they’re humble are proud, but those who know they’re proud are humble. Those who believe themselves to be free are the most enchained; those who see their chains are finally free.

As long as I think I can see, I’m blind. And only when I’m brave enough to admit that
I’m beyond all hope, does hope come crashing in and cleanse my heart.
We’re told to set our eyes on what we cannot see, accept a peace that’s beyond understanding, know a love that surpasses knowledge, and cling to the certainty of what we cannot prove. One day when my mind was spinning with all these paradoxes of faith, I prayed this prayer:

o elegant mystery,
creator of time,
revealer of history,
tune of the chime,
echo and swirl and curl through
my mind.
here i am waiting to be found
and to find.
seeker and shepherd,
blossom of laws,
lion of conquest sharpen your claws,
here i am waiting,
a child of your light;
no more debating
with my soul in the night.
circle and stir and renew my soul
o elegant mystery
splinter me whole.

To be splintered into wholeness is the goal of the Jesus-focused life.

Thanks for all of your prayers and support

We can’t begin to thank you all for your kind financial support and prayers as we traveled overseas.

I was humbled to be able to train the children’s leaders and pastors in South Africa and India, and was incredibly blessed to have my daughter along. The trip refreshed me and reminded me again that I grow closer to Christ when I’m serving others than when I’m doing anything else.

A Couple of Days to Relax

Ariel and I were able to get a few days off during the trip to explore some of the sites in Hyderabad and Johannesburg.

In South Africa we visited a lion park and it was one of the highlights of the trip for both of us. We saw hyenas, lions, cheetahs, zebras, and more. I fed a giraffe some potato chips (which was slightly against the rules), and Ariel was able sit in a pen with lion cubs and have them crawl on her lap.

We also visited a crocodile farm and a rhino park (unfortunately, we didn’t see any rhinos--maybe next time!). However, as you can see, Ariel met an Australian lizard that according to the guide at the crocodile park, can be trained to come when you call his name.


Teaming up with Mr. Smith

In Jo-burg I joined up with my friend Jeff Smith, one of North America’s most creative communicators, to speak to more than 900 children’s pastors and ministry leaders from throughout South Africa.

It was inspirational to work with Jeff again as we taught creative storytelling and scripture memory, drama and teaching techniques to the attendees.

By the way, Ariel was a great help during the whole trip, but especially during my workshops in South Africa. She helped lead dramas, performed readers' theater scripts, taught Bible verses, and took pictures and videos of the seminars. You rock, girl!

Prison Visits & Children’s Programs!

March 17-19

One of the members of The Village Church runs a prison ministry that works with several juvenile prisons in the Jo-burg area. He invited me to speak to the youth and I was excited to be involved.

We visited two prisons and I spoke to the prisoners, sharing the message of the gospel. It was moving and powerful; something I’ll never forget.

March 20
In the morning, Ariel and I told Bible stories and taught scripture verses at one of the poorest schools in Jo-burg. The kids loved her!

Then, to kick off the Children’s Ministry Conference, one of the churches in Jo-burg hosted a children’s rally Friday night.

Hundreds of children and family members attended. After some storytelling, drama, and skits, I closed out the program by sharing the gospel: “For Christ died, for sins, once for all. The righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18).

On to South Africa

March 16

We left Hyderabad at 3:00 a.m. and flew to Dubai where we changed planes and then headed on to Johannesburg (or Jo-burg as they call it in South Africa).

While the sights, sounds and smells of India are much different than those in America, the restaurants, architecture, and climate of South Africa felt more like home!

We teamed up with the ministry leaders Lisa and Colin Ekman, both of whom serve at The Village Church in Jo-burg. They were wonderful to work with, and arranged for us to stay with the Herrmann family, whom we fell in love with right away. In the picture you can see Ariel with (left to right) Niklaus, Petra, and Kayleigh.

Visiting an Orphanage

March 15

Three years ago I visited an orphanage on my first trip to India. This year I had the honor of sharing the experience with Ariel.

As you can see in the photo, each child has a trunk in which he keeps all of his personal items. The children sleep on the floor and have classes for school in the same building.

Not all of the children in the orphanage are missing both parents; some have parents who are too poor or sick to take care of them.

After sharing Bible stories and teaching games to the children, I was invited to speak at the morning worship service. I was honored to accept.

For me, this visit was the highlight of the entire trip. I loved the dances the children shared with us, and enjoyed teaching them, playing with them, and meeting them. Their pastor invited me to return next year to train 185 evangelists skills in creative preaching. 
God willing, I’ll be back!

Excerpts from Ariel’s Journal

During our trip, my 13-year old daughter Ariel sent a series of letters home with her impressions of the trip. Here are a few snippets.

The traffic in India is incredibly horrible!! I asked Jacob, my dad’s friend from India, if he had ever run over anybody or hit anybody / anything. His answer was, “Not often.” Most everybody owns a motorcycle here. Everybody will drive in all different directions, and the only traffic rule here is-try not to kill anybody...

We tried coconut water. It is very different, but it is satisfying. It has a weird taste, but it fills you up. My dad likes it...

On every step, or in every trash pile are homeless people, beggars, disabled people, etc. You will not go anywhere without seeing either trash beside the road, or homeless people begging. It is very sad...

Today we visited the leprosy colony and took over one hundred pictures. It was very heart-wrenching...

Today was a busy day. We taught youth pastors creative ways to tell stories, and I did a couple performances. It is extremely hot here, and everyday during our performances the power goes out and the ceiling fans don’t work... Unfortunately the mosquitoes are attracted to us...

Yesterday I also went clothes shopping, and accumulated a little more than I had intended in the first place, but that is okay...

Heartbreaking Poverty & Beautiful People

March 13
Today we had some excitement, which Ariel called “frightening, yet miraculous.”

Jacob took us to visit the slums. If you’ve never been to a slum, it’s honestly difficult to imagine. Try to picture hundreds of families living in lean-tos made of rags, all using one toilet--which is simply a hole in the ground.

In the pictures you can see Ariel and I playing with the children, telling Bible stories, and handing out sweets. Well, some of the people in the first slum thought we were there to take advantage of them, to exploit pictures of them for our own personal gain. We left before any trouble could happen, but found out later that they were very angry and were ready to beat our translator and us.

But God watched over us and no harm came. Later in the day, our translator helped four of the young men from the slum who’d been in trouble with the law and the people who lived there realized that we weren’t there to take anything from them, but to give what we had.

At least 50% of the people at the second slum we visited have AIDS. Jacob has hired a nurse to visit twice a week to treat as many of their symptoms as she can. His compassion and heart for people continue to be an inspiration to me.

Reflections from India - #3

March 11-12

I enjoyed reconnecting with several of my friends in India: Caleb, an evangelist; Aneesh, a filmmaker; and Ben-hur, the manager of a TV station that provides Christian programming for more than 5 million viewers every day. I had the opportunity to spend a morning training the evangelists from Harvest Ministries, and Ariel and I led chapel at a girls’ school. My wolf puppet Jeddar even made a cameo appearance. I think the girls liked him more than me...

Visiting the Leprosy Village

March 8
I know that neither Ariel nor I will forget our trip to the leprosy village where we both spoke at the Sunday morning worship service. We shared lunch with the people from the leprosy village and Ariel made friends quickly when she handed out treats to the children!

The families in the village are destitute and very poor. After we arrived home in the states, the girls in Ariel’s class took up a collection to help pay for surgery for one of the men who lives in the village. In less than a week they raised more than $300!

March 9-10
When I first felt called to go on this mission trip, I felt that God wanted me to share some of the tips and tools I’ve learned over the years for telling stories to children. My friend Jacob Chinnappa set up two Sunday School teacher training workshops and a day of teaching at Seva Bharat, a ministry that produces Bible curriculum that is used for more than 4 million children throughout India each summer. The response to the creative teaching ideas was astounding and I was greatly encouraged by the creativity and passion of the Indian teachers.

Reflections from India & South Africa - #1

By God’s grace, Ariel and I spent nearly three weeks overseas and ministered to more than 1300 children’s ministers, evangelists, writers and pastors in two continents.

Here are some of the highlights and pics from the trip!

March 6-7
After taking a day to recover from the flight to Hyderabad, I spent two days teaching writing skills to Christian authors and journalists from throughout central India. This is the third writers’ workshop I’ve taught in Hyderabad since 2006. Staff from many ministries, including Joyce Meyers Ministries and Focus on the Family, attended.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Back at my desk

Over the last few months I've been consumed with finishing my novel The Knight. Then, I left for India and South Africa to teach writing and speaking.


Lots going on. I'll fill you in more now that I'm back at my desk again. For now, a poem that I found while going through some of my writing from a few years ago.

More soon...

The word-heat of your story
causes blisters on my eyes.
I’m seared into a new way of seeing.
Of being.
Of dreaming.

I can’t touch the page anymore
or my fingers might just
burst into love and
grow scars that look like yours.

Whenever I close my Bible,
steam presses out of the cover.