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Book News! I Signed with The Blythe Daniel Agency

Sometimes, I wondered if this day would come. The search for the right literary agent has been quite the journey.

But the wait was worthwhile. I’m so honored to share that I signed with the Blythe Daniel Agency and Literary Agent Stephanie Alton, who will be representing me on a new Christian Romantic Suspense project I cannot wait for you to read one day!

About My New Project

The setting of this story is near to my life (and heart) as it takes my heroine from her ordinary world in Tampa to the snow-covered slopes of Beech Mountain. Both places are special to me, because I’m a Florida girl by birth, and my husband James proposed to me near Beech Mountain. You’ll get to experience so much of what I love about these settings in this novel.

Here’s a sneak preview of the premise:

Kaley just wants a carefree ski trip with her church singles’ group, but trouble follows her to Beech Mountain. When her last client of the day is murdered hours after she leaves for vacation, she becomes the target of an underworld celebrity who will stop at nothing to keep her secrets buried. The ally Kaley needs to survive is none other than her ex-boyfriend who won’t give up on her, even if she gave up on him.

You can be praying with me as my agent works to place this project with the right publisher.

Introducing My New Agent

Speaking of my agent, I’m excited for you to meet her! But first, some backstory:

It’s so neat how God works in unexpected ways. I met Blythe Daniel, the owner of the Blythe Daniel Agency, several years ago at the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference. I appreciated so much her professional expertise and also her gracious ability to connect with people on a personal level. Never in my dreams did I imagine that one day, I’d get to be part of her author community.

She connected me with her Blog About Blogger Network, organized by her colleague Stephanie Alton. For a few years, you’ve enjoyed the giveaways made possible through this network right here on the blog.

In March of this year, Faith Pitch on Twitter did a special #FaithOverFear contest where writers could pitch an in-progress project, and the participating editors and agents would each award one person a consultation. Although I figured it was a long shot, I pitched my current WIP (work in progress), and to my delight, won a consultation with Stephanie Alton, also an agent with the Blythe Daniel Agency.

Stephanie has been so helpful in answering my questions and a delight to communicate with. Long story short, I just signed an agreement for her to represent me on my new project.

What’s Next

Because we only see news (like this) and new book release announcements on social media, it often appears that just like that, the book is published.

But that’s not how the publishing industry works. In reality, it’s a slow process that often takes years.

All that to say, it could be over a year or even two before you have this novel in your hands. But in the meantime, I’ll be sharing the journey right here with you, along with other book news, the author chat features I hope you’ve been enjoying, giveaway opportunities, and as always, faith in the everyday adventures of life.

Thanks so much for being my friends and celebrating with me today!

~ Kristen

Book News! I’m proud to partner with the Blythe Daniel Agency. @kjhogrefe

Author Chat with Jerusha Agen on Romantic Suspense, Fighting Fear, and Her Next Release

I’m excited to introduce you to today’s featured author, Jerusha Agen! This gal has been such a blessing to me as we’ve gotten to know each other through our writing journeys, and today, it’s your turn to be blessed by her. I hope you enjoy this author chat as much as I have!

Q: What prompted you to first write Christian romantic suspense?

The first novels I wrote, which became the Sisters Redeemed Series, were romantic women’s fiction. But a curious thing happened as I was crafting those stories—each book in the three-book series leaned increasingly toward suspense! I realized when I finished that series that I might as well stop fighting the urge to add suspense to everything and embrace it instead!

Since then, I’ve written suspense novels that allow me to revel in the excitement, danger, and fear-fighting courage of the genre. I especially love how suspense stories delve into intense, sometimes dark issues—the places where the love and hope of Christ shine the brightest.

Q: What do you hope readers will take away from your books?

I hope and pray readers will always find in my stories a greater understanding of Who God is and where He is in the midst of suffering. I want my readers to come away with an unshakable hope from the realization that even in the darkest, most difficult circumstances, the Redeemer is there, is in control, and is always good.

Q: How does your Fear Warrior Blog tackle the topic that plagues characters in suspense novels—and many people in real life too? How does your faith shape the way you approach fighting fear?

The Fear Warrior Blog is dedicated to helping people fight against fear in their everyday lives. And you’re right, Kristen, this is an issue that does plague the characters in suspense novels, as well as all of us in real life! Everyone experiences fear at some point in their lives, to varying degrees, and I love to write realistic fiction that depicts that authentic struggle in the lives of characters too.

The characters may face a more palpable or overt danger than many of us do in our lives, but their deepest fears are the same as ours. And the only way to gain victory over fear is the same for us too.

You pinpointed that answer when you asked how faith shapes the way I approach fighting fear. Faith in God is the only way anyone can truly obtain victory over fear and break free from the prison of anxiety, worry, and all forms of fear. The good news is that this faith isn’t a pie-in-the-sky make believe or ignorance of reality. And the other good news is I don’t have to muster some heroic degree of faith myself.

“Faith in God is the only way anyone can truly obtain victory over fear and break free from the prison of anxiety, worry, and all forms of fear.” ~ @SDGwords on @kjhogrefe

This faith that gives us victory over fear is simply acknowledgement of and belief in the truth. And this faith, thank the Lord, isn’t something I have to conjure or force, but rather is a gift from God Himself.

So my faith, the faith God enables me to have, is also the means by which He gives me victory over fear. This fear-fighting weapon is available to everyone who belongs to Christ!

Q: How have you overcome fear in your own life, and how has this experience helped you encourage others?

Since God started me on this journey of fighting fear years ago, He has granted me so many victories, but many of them are in the small steps forward on my path to eventual conquering of that fear.

The most remarkable fear God has enabled me to overcome is my stage fright. I shared the complete story of this victory and how others can beat their own stage fright at the FW Blog, but the short version is that God gave me the faith, wisdom, and radical shift in perspective that enabled me to break free of stage fright. Ironically, this breakthrough happened when I gave a live presentation on fighting fear!

I knew we as Christians could have victory over our fears because the Bible tells me so. However, this experience has equipped and encouraged me to speak this truth to others with even more conviction because I’ve seen the evidence of victory over fear in my own life.

Q: As writers, we often don’t get to see how our writing influences others. However, sometimes readers do reach out and share with us. What has been the most encouraging feedback you’ve received?

I wouldn’t have thought to receive feedback on my writing during a pandemic, but I got a hand-written note from an elderly reader the other day who shared that one of my books gave her comfort and helped her pass the time in an enjoyable way while she was quarantined alone.

I never expected a story I wrote would bring encouragement to a sweet woman alone during such a time. But God knew how it would be used, just as He knows how He will use each of the posts I write for the Fear Warrior Blog, where I have often been astounded and encouraged by feedback from readers who were strengthened for their battles against fear.

I am awed by the privilege to have my words used by God to help others!

Q: Can you hint about what next project you have in the works?

I’m delighted you asked this, Kristen, because I’m currently working on getting my debut romantic suspense novel ready to launch with Love Inspired! I’d like to share with your readers the official title, for the first time in public: Rising Danger.

Rising Danger, which will be among the first books published with Love Inspired’s new trade line, is slated to release in July 2021. The novel tells the exciting story of a woman and her explosives detection K9 who stand between a city and a bomber.

That’s all I can say for now, but I’ll be sharing more exclusive updates and insider peeks with members of the Fear Warrior Suspense community (my awesome newsletter subscribers) in the coming months. I hope you’ll all join me by visiting FearWarriorSuspense.com.

Meet Romantic Suspense Author Jerusha Agen whose Fear Warrior blog equips readers to fight fear in their everyday lives and whose suspense novels remind them of the One who provides the victory. @kjhogrefe

About the Author

Jerusha Agen imagines danger around every corner, but knows God is there too. So naturally, she writes romantic suspense infused with the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ. Her debut romantic suspense novel, Rising Danger, releases in July 2021.

With a B.A. in English and a background in screenwriting, Jerusha is a speaker, writing instructor, and author of the Fear Warrior Blog, where she writes about fighting against fear in our everyday lives.

You’ll often find Jerusha sharing irresistibly adorable photos of her Furry Fear Warriors (three big dogs and two little cats) on social media.

Visit Jerusha at www.JerushaAgen.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

About Introverted

Jerusha is giving away Introverted, a free romantic suspense story, to anyone who signs up to join the Fear Warrior Suspense community! Follow this link to get your free story at FearWarriorSuspense.com!

She never invites visitors. But visitors sometimes invite themselves.

When a winter storm brings more than snow, May Denver is forced to flee from her home and fight for her life. Can she trust an unwanted neighbor and risk her greatest fear in order to survive?

Uncertain Future, Certain God

I used to have the bad habit of flipping to the last pages of a book to find out what happened. Maybe you don’t have that problem, but have you ever wanted to know something that’s out of reach? Right now, I think we’re all wondering when life might get back to normal. Perhaps you’re wondering if you’ll be able to attend college in the fall or if working from home is now a permanent situation.

At some point, most of us have wanted to know the end without dealing with the drama in between. In real life, we often don’t understand why we have to wait so long for answers or why our prayers hit the ceiling.

I have good and bad news. The good news is that God never designed for us to know what tomorrow holds. In fact, not knowing deepens our dependence on the Lord and strengthens our faith in Him. The downside, from our perspective, is that there are some things we just can’t know right now. When we try to get what we want on our timeline, we create problems for ourselves and others. Perhaps we can spare ourselves some heartache by learning from others’ mistakes.

Choose to Wait instead of Rush.

The fall of mankind hinged on knowledge that God asked us to entrust to Him. God’s instructions to Adam and Eve were simple: They could eat of any tree except “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17 NKJV).

The serpent capitalized on our innate desire for knowledge when he tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5 NKJV).

Pause for a second. What if Adam and Eve had been content not to know? There would be no broken world. We would still be living in paradise!

The serpent used the urgent temptation to know back then, and he still uses it today. Urgency is not an attribute Scripture applauds. Instead, the Bible frequently repeats the command to “wait” on God and records the blessings associated with it. Consider Psalm 27:14, Psalm 37:9, and Isaiah 40:31 for starters.

Yet the opposite of waiting is what Satan wants us to do. He wants us to rush ahead for immediate gratification or pleasure, because he knows that regret will hurt our relationship with God. We can spare ourselves much pain if we rest on God’s timing.

Let God’s Sufficiency be our Security.

Regardless of our life stage, we all face situations where God asks us to wait. For example, my husband and I recently bought a new home and are in the process of renovating it. Newsflash: Renovations do not happen overnight. We have made so much progress, but sometimes, it’s easy to become impatient. Yet much like house renovations, we ourselves are works in progress. God’s renovating work in our circumstances and spiritual lives keeps us going back to His throne of grace, asking for guidance and grace.

God’s renovating work in our circumstances and spiritual lives keeps us going back to His throne of grace, asking for guidance and grace. @kjhogrefe

And that’s a good thing. If we had all the answers, we could fall toward the sin of self-sufficiency. If we were in charge, why would we need God?

King David fell into this trap when he commanded a census (2 Samuel 24:2). Even Joab, his general, cautioned him against this decision. “And Joab said to the king, ‘Now may the Lord your God add to the people a hundred times more than there are, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king desire this thing?’” (2 Samuel 24:3 NKJV)

However, David disregarded the warning. Because he demanded to know the size of his kingdom, God stripped him of the very security his soul craved with a plague that decimated the people. God bluntly reminded David that his sufficiency and security come from Him alone, not from the scope of his realm.

Joab’s question to David is one we should ask when we find ourselves insisting on answers. Why do we desire to know? If we can honestly say the reason will strengthen our faith or another person’s, then we can prayerfully proceed. However, if the root cause has to do with pride or securing selfish interests, we need to stop and reevaluate.

Embrace Knowing God, not Knowing the Future.

There’s an old hymn that says, “Farther along, we’ll know all about it. Farther along, we’ll understand why.”

I think the hymn writer had good intentions and wanted to encourage people that it’s okay not to know everything right now. However, whether we’ll understand one day is not something Scripture guarantees. Maybe God will or won’t take the time to gently reveal His plan.

Ultimately, knowing the details won’t matter. What will matter is that He remains the God who loves us lavishly, unfathomably, and infinitely. Knowing God is enough. We can rest assured that even though we don’t know what’s going to happen, God can more than supply any need.

We can rest assured that even though we don’t know what’s going to happen, God can more than supply any need. @kjhogrefe

Dear Father, please forgive me for trying to control my circumstances and wanting to rush ahead of your timing. I accept that even when I don’t understand how You are working, I can trust Your plan. Please use times of uncertainty in my life to bring me closer to You and to give me a greater awareness of Your presence. Amen.

~ Kristen

Peace Pirates: Review & Giveaway!

You might be surprised to see this book on my blog. I’m kind of surprised myself. After all, this is not a mom blog. (Hello, I’m not a mom yet!) However, this blog is all about thinking truthfully and living daringly in everyday life, and when I reviewed the book concept for Peace Pirates, I realized it fit our theme here perfectly.

Ashley Willis’ premise with this book is to fight the “pirates,” or anything that steals the peace from motherhood, by using biblical truth. It’s such a simple concept but so powerful, because every day, all of us (mothers or not) face choices, confront thought patterns, and deal with situations that can potentially rob the peace of God from our hearts.

So if you’re one of my friends who is a young mother (or like me, have so many friends who are in this season of life), please keep reading. I’d love for you to enter the giveaway and use this resource for yourself or share it with someone who would be blessed by it.

What are Peace Pirates?

After her confessions of a pirate mom (which are both hilarious and more than likely common misadventures shared by many moms), Ashley identifies four peace pirates that often plague mothers: mommy martyrdom, comparison chaos, clenching control, and excessive expectations. She breaks down each one by showing how these pitfalls can steal joy and then provides practical teaching from the Bible to combat each one.

One of my favorite points that she makes is that there are no perfect parents. This is such a liberating thought, right? She uses the example of Mary and Joseph in the Bible. The mother of Jesus and His earthly father actually lost Jesus for three days (Luke 2:43-47). Although I’ve read this story many times, I’d never considered it in terms of parenting. If the parents of the Son of God made mistakes, then parents today need to give themselves some grace, too, when best-laid plans turn into pure chaos.

As someone who isn’t a mother yet, I really appreciated this perspective. Not only are there no perfect parents, but they also can’t control everything their child does. Instead of judging parents in public when we have little-to-no knowledge of the situation’s background, Willis offers this suggestion: “When we see a stressed-out mom at her wit’s end, why can’t our first inclination be to offer her some help or an encouraging word?”

I love that. Assume the best, not the worst. Offer an encouraging word or to get more napkins from the dispenser. Willis’ practical, biblical style will bless and encourage the young mommas who read this book.

My Takeaway

Again, I’m not a mother yet, but as I read this book, I realized that the “peace pirates” Willis identifies can steal our peace, not matter what our life stage.

My personal takeaway is to not make excuses for issues like pride, comparison, and unrealistic expectations but deal with them now. Don’t wait until you’re a mother and feeling “less than” other mothers because your child isn’t perfect. Don’t wait for your child to graduate to realize that you “missed out” on priceless moments because you were so concerned with looking the part.

Wherever we are in our journeys (single adults, young marrieds, young mothers, empty nesters, etc.), let’s ask God to show us what “pirates” are trying to steal our peace. Then, let’s make it a matter of prayer to defeat them and pursue joy right where we are.

Enter the Giveaway

I wish I had a dozen copies of this book to give each of the young mommas I know. Since I don’t, I’m still excited to give away the one autographed copy I have.

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment. You can share why you think this book would be an encouragement to you or a young mother you know. Or, if you’re a young momma barely holding it together, you could just say something like, “I want to fight the peace pirates!” I’ll announce the winner on the blog next week.

~ Kristen

Special thanks to the Blog About Blogger Network for hosting this giveaway.

Peace Pirates by Ashley Willis: Book Review & Giveaway by @kjhogrefe

Giveaway Winner!

Congrats to Bethany on winning the hard copy of Peace Pirates by Ashley Willis! Thank you to everyone who participated.

Author Chat with Lindsay A. Franklin on Her Weaver Trilogy

Have you ever talked to someone ONCE and come away thinking, “Wow, she’s so cool but totally down to earth, and I think we could be friends in real life?” That’s how I feel about award-winning author Lindsay A. Franklin. Although I’ve never had the privilege of meeting her in person, the emails we’ve exchanged make me hope that our paths will cross one day.

For now, though, I’m thrilled for you to meet her right here on the blog as she shares about her Christian fantasy series, The Weaver Trilogy, and its epic conclusion, The Story Hunter, releasing today.

Q: What inspired the fantasy element of “story strands” and the concept of “weaving stories” as being a special power some characters possess?

The series was inspired by the phrase “story peddler,” which I heard an acquisitions editor say in a workshop about the publishing process. She was referring to selling manuscripts to her publishing board, but I wondered what it might be like to be a “story peddler” in a world where art was magic and “story” had to be something a traveling peddler (in the more traditional sense) might sell—something physical. Why strands that solidify into crystal? I have no idea! It just came out of my imagination that way.

Q: Who is one of your favorite characters from the Weaver Trilogy and why?

I have a lot of favorite characters in this story, even when I’m forcing them to make terrible decisions (Brac comes to mind there). Digwyn is the most personal to me, as her story is the most based on mine, but something personal is poured into each of them. My love for my father is in Yestin. My close relationship with my daughter is in Tannie (on whom I based Tanwen, back when my daughter was only five). Kharn’s easygoing nature and his dorky dad jokes are a wink at my beloved husband. There’s a little something I love (or love to hate in some cases!) in each of them.

Q: The characters in your stories experience the loss of friends and family throughout their journeys. When Tanwen asks how she can make the loss stop hurting, she’s told, “It’s supposed to hurt. Because people matter. And when we lose them, it hurts. It leaves a void.” Why do you think this truth is so important to include in fiction, and how do you think it can help readers who have experienced loss?

It’s human nature to try to avoid pain. It leads to a lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms. Avoidance. Denial. Numbing. I think it’s important to accept that some things are supposed to hurt. Life is hard. Our world is fallen. Pain is inevitable. Doctors tell us physical pain is important because it shows us where the injury is, where the disease lies, what’s broken. Emotional pain is the same. Allowing yourself to ride those waves of pain, rather than trying futilely to fight against or ignore them, is the beginning of processing your grief so you can heal and one day move into your new normal—one that will always honor and in some sense grieve the ones you lost but will allow you to live on without them.

Q: An important topic The Story Hunter explores is choosing forgiveness over revenge. Why do you think this message is so powerful, not only for a fiction story like this one, but also in real life?

Forgiveness can be profoundly difficult to practice. By nature, I’m a bit justice obsessed, to be honest. We have a long-running joke in my family of origin. When I was two or three years old, my older sister hit me and was made to apologize. She bounced over to me and threw out a flippant, “Sorry!” I glared at her and said, “The main thing is you did it.” It was utterly shocking and offensive to me that my parents expected me to forgive her just because she said she was sorry. It didn’t erase what she’d done in the first place! So, “The main thing is you did it” became something of catchphrase in our family—usually to poke fun at how ridiculously difficult it was for me to forgive someone who had wronged me.

But when I became a Christian at eighteen, everything changed. I was suddenly sharply aware of my own sin—the many ways I failed on a daily basis, and how woefully desperate I was for God’s grace. Because of Jesus’s atoning sacrifice, God never says, “The main thing is you did it” when we ask for forgiveness. He offers complete forgiveness freely, and it has been my life’s goal to model that in my life whatever way I can. Vengeance merely compounds wrongs. It doesn’t bring healing, it doesn’t bring peace. Vengeance says, “I want you to hurt because I hurt.” Forgiveness sets the offender and the offended free.

Q: Can you hint about what next project you have in the works?

Well…I can tell you it’s a YA portal fantasy, and my research will involve reading and rereading many classic works of literature. The project “code name” is Cosmic Library, which is fantastically terrible. I promise to think of a better title than that!! 😊

Meet author Lindsay A. Franklin who talks about her Weaver Trilogy, latest release, and the power of forgiveness. @kjhogrefe

About the Author

Lindsay A. Franklin is a Carol Award–winning author, freelance editor, and homeschooling mom of three. She would wear pajama pants all the time if it were socially acceptable. Lindsay lives in her native San Diego with her scruffy-looking nerf-herder husband, their precious geeklings, three demanding thunder pillows (a.k.a. cats), and a stuffed marsupial named Wombatman. She’s @LinzyAFranklin on Instagram and Twitter, and is also on Facebook.

About The Story Hunter, Book 3 in The Weaver Trilogy

Redeeming the past is a fatal quest.

In the wake of a deadly coup, the capital city of Urian has descended into chaos. Heartbreak and bloodshed await Tanwen and her friends as they discover the unlikeliest leader now rules Tir.

If they want to save the realm, Tannie and the Corsyth weavers must rescue Queen Braith and unmask the Master, ending the strife once and for all. But the success of their hunt depends upon an ally no one trusts.

The Master has a new target in sight: fragile, trauma-scarred Digwyn, whose unique weaving ability could turn the tide of any war. When the desire for vengeance proves too powerful for Digwyn to resist, Tanwen must face a terrifying truth: the fate of Tir rests in the hands of a volatile, shattered girl.


The Better Yes: Beating Your Fear of Missing Out

One of my greatest joys as an author has come through getting to know other writers, and Jerusha Agen is one of those writers. Although we’ve never met in person, I’ve read some of her inspirational suspense novels and had the privilege of writing for her Fear Warrior blog. Recently, she invited me to be a guest blogger again and share what’s on my heart that might encourage readers who are facing their fears.

Below is a re-post of my piece that published on The Fear Warrior blog today. You will definitely want to hop over to The Fear Warrior blog to take advantage of a giveaway I’m offering there as well as to check out Jerusha’s other outstanding content.

Post from The Fear Warrior Blog

Have you ever had to pass up a good opportunity? Maybe you weighed your options, and at the time, that prospect wasn’t a good fit for you. Then later, looking back, you wonder if you made the right call.

I’ve been there. Like most writers, I work a day job as well. The challenge for me—and anyone else who has a side hustle—is finding enough hours for work, family, obligations, and the passion that keeps me up at night.

I’ll never forget when two people in the writing industry invited me to be part of their new venture. It had so much potential for growth, but it was on commission. I had a mortgage to pay and had just started driving about forty minutes every week to be part of a singles Bible study. I couldn’t afford to leave my job, which meant I’d be working nights and weekends—and would have to give up the Bible study. In the end, I said thanks but no.

Fast forward to today. That venture has indeed grown and led to some amazing opportunities for those involved. I’m happy for them, yet part of me wonders if I made the wrong choice.

As I was sharing my doubts with my husband, he asked, “Okay, you said no to that opportunity, but what did you say yes to instead?” It was such a good question! I realized I’d said yes to the Bible study, which led me to join that church group, which led me to meeting him. In short, I said no to one opportunity so I could say yes to another—and ultimately yes to my husband.

Perspective #1: Provision, Not Perfection

I share this story to offer some perspective, which is sometimes hard to find. When doubts and discouragement plague us, we have to fight that fear of missing out with truth.

One of my favorite promises is Psalm 138:8, which says, “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands” (NKJV).

I love the idea that God cares about what matters to me and is “perfecting” a good work in my life. However, let’s not confuse “perfecting” with “perfect.” The former carries the idea of an ongoing work in progress. As a writer, I know how messy that process can be. Rough drafts are riddled with problems that need attention. That “perfecting” or revising process takes time. Even when I finish a book, I’d never call it “perfect.”

Yet as human beings, we crave perfection and often unrealistically compare ourselves to unachievable standards. When we do, we run ragged and become ineffective.

Let’s be content with God’s perfecting work, which realistically requires us to prioritize. We can’t say yes to everything. We are the work of His hands, and when we are intentional in following His leading, He can make something beautiful out of the raw material.

Perspective #2: Providence, Not One-Hundred Percent

Another promise from Scripture reminds us that following God’s will doesn’t mean realizing one hundred percent of our dreams. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand” (Psalm 37:23-24 NKJV).

Did you catch that? The verse begins with the assumption that we’re talking about a “good man” or godly person here. God directs the decisions of and delights in the person who is seeking His will.

However, this believer will still fall. I think we sometimes forget this reality. Even God’s children face failures, disappointments, and defeats. The difference is that God won’t forsake us and will stand by us through it all. He “upholds” or supports us with His hand.

When we choose to follow Christ, the most important decision we could ever make, we are not guaranteed one-hundred percent success in this life. If you’ve been following a name-it-and-claim-it “gospel” that suggests otherwise, you’ve been misled. Following Jesus means we believe in His providential wisdom and care over our lives, not a guarantee of our dreams and goals being met.

The truth is that God works through the imperfections and setbacks—all those “missed out” moments—to make us more like Him. The closed doors encourage us to lean on him harder and deepen our relationship with Him, which is so much more valuable than any lost opportunities. 

Perspective #3: Protection, Not Freedom from Problems

The point of the Christian faith is not that we will enjoy a life free from problems but that we can experience God’s protection—and direction—through them. Yes, we will miss out on opportunities. Yes, we will fail where other people succeed.

Yet sometimes, God’s refusals are His mercies, and He allows us to hear “no,” so that He might give us a better “yes” later. In the moment, grasping that truth can be difficult, but in the long-term, we are so much better off.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (NKJV). God desires our good, and His plans for us far transcend any fear of missing out we may experience.

The next time your mind wanders to “what ifs” and fear that you’ve lost your chance, may I encourage you to stop and reflect on all the blessings you have before you. In my case, my husband reminded me that saying no to one opportunity meant saying yes to something far more important: the answer to my prayer for a spouse. We never know how God may use a “no” in our lives to pave the way for a better “yes.”

We never know how God may use a “no” in our lives to pave the way for a better “yes.” @kjhogrefe

~ Kristen

The Revisionary Gets Featured on Grace Filled Fiction Spotlight, Spring 2020

I’m excited to share that The Revisionary was selected for the Grace Filled Fiction Spotlight this spring! Enjoy this interview about how my dystopian fiction remains relevant for today and what else I have in the works.

Q:  What is your latest release/release you chose to spotlight, and what would you like us to know about it? What take away? If its theme is pertinent to the time of year or a holiday that’s coming up, mention that.  

Kristen:  THE REVISIONARY presents the theme of finding hope for tomorrow, a timely message given the uncertainty so many are facing today. My heroine Portia sets out to save her brother from a satellite prison camp, but ultimately realizes she needs rescuing herself. Her search for the true Source of hope leads her on an adventure of rediscovering America’s godly heritage that her government has suppressed.

Q:  Please tell both fiction readers and writers what your writing journey has been like. How long have you been seriously writing? What have you learned? Did you experience anything unexpected? What has been your greatest joy?

Kristen: My writing journey has been an adventure of its own! I’ve been writing seriously since college and have learned so much in the process: from self-publishing to working with a traditional publisher. A teacher at heart, I’ve adopted a “teach-as-you-go” style that has involved sharing my experiences at writer’s conferences and online courses. My greatest joy has come through meeting readers and building friendships with other writers.

Click here to read the complete interview. Special thanks to the board at Grace Filled Fiction Spotlight for this opportunity!

~ Kristen

The Revisionary by Kristen Hogrefe ~ Grace Filled Fiction Spotlight, Spring 2020

Class of 2020, We See You During COVID-19

There’s something incredibly affirming about being seen and recognized for hard work. For high school and college seniors, they’ve been waiting for that moment when, traditionally in May, they would walk a platform, and all their family, friends, and peers would watch them receive their diplomas.

This May, however, COVID-19 is stealing that moment from the senior class of 2020. It stole prom, senior week, and so many other once-in-a-lifetime moments that they’d watched prior graduating classes experience. Many feel cheated, upset, or let-down, and no one can fault them for feeling that way. They should absolutely acknowledge the disappointment but refuse to let it keep them down.

Today’s post is for you, the Class of 2020.

Anticipate your moment.

That moment may not involve you crossing a literal stage, perhaps the most electrifying part of the traditional graduation ceremony. However, I challenge you to still anticipate your moment.

But how, you ask? Recently, I shared a post on my experience celebrating my first anniversary at home. It wasn’t what we had expected or wanted, but my husband and I weren’t going to let the day pass without a celebration.

You can also celebrate non-traditionally. Maybe you can plan a social-distancing-safe outdoor party with family and close friends. Maybe you can organize a caravan parade of you and your classmates, with cars decorated, driving down your streets. Maybe you can invent a virtual party or even a delayed celebration once your state reopens.

I know this situation is not what you expected, but you can make the most of your moment. Decide what’s special and doable, and go for it!

Choose what you do with this time.

Have you read or watched Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien? One of my favorite quotes from this saga is a conversation between Frodo and Gandalf discussing the growing evil they must confront.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

Timely, right? I don’t blame you seniors for wishing a worldwide pandemic hadn’t struck and ruined your senior-year celebrations. None of us wanted this to happen now or ever.

Although we can’t control what happens to us, we can decide what to do with it. @kjhogrefe

Deciding what to do is a personal choice each of us, high school senior or not, must make. Understand you’re not alone in dealing with wrecked plans. Couples have had to cancel wedding ceremonies. Carefully made travel plans have been thrown out the window. Even the Olympics has been postponed a full year. We all feel you!

But we can’t change anything by wishing it away. So what do we do? What can you, the Class of 2020, do with this time?

Scripture speaks to this very question. Let’s take a look at James 4:13-15:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” (NKJV)

Let’s break down those ideas and apply them to our situation. Last January, we were all making plans. You were making plans to graduate, maybe deciding what college you would attend next fall. But the truth is, we didn’t know March was going to put a pandemic at our doorsteps.

How should we proceed? We shouldn’t sit around aimlessly. Instead, we should make plans but hold them loosely, not tightly. Whatever good opportunity God presents us to do today, we should do it, and trust Him for tomorrow.

My hope is that you graduates prayerfully ask God what the next right thing is for you to do.

Focus on making a difference.

I remember my own high school graduation. As far as ceremonies go, it wasn’t anything grand. My homeschool class was a total of three (my twin brother and one other student in our umbrella school).

My grades were the highest of all three, but our overseer decided that being valedictorian would benefit the other male student more than me. He probably figured I’d just be a housewife someday and didn’t need the title on my resume. (For the record, there is no such thing as “just” a housewife. Being a wife and mom is such an important role, whether or not a woman also has a career outside the home. But I digress.)

Obviously, I was disappointed at the time, as were my parents, but today, I’m not going to go all Captain Marvel about it. I couldn’t control that I wasn’t valedictorian, and honestly, being slighted at my graduation doesn’t bother me today. The fact is that I got to choose what I did with the intellect God gave me. By his grace, I graduated college Summa Cum Laude, have published six books, have had the opportunity to speak to crowds much larger than those present during my high school graduation, and have the privilege of teaching English to my online students. And yes, I’m also proud to be a wife to the amazing man God brought into my life.

I say all that to say this: You can’t change the reality that you may not have a traditional graduation or enjoy all the regular pomp and circumstance. But you can decide what you’re going to do next with the abilities and opportunities God gives you. Class of 2020, how will you make a difference?

~ Kristen

Class of 2020, we see you during COVID-19. The disappointment of missing out on your pomp and circumstance is real, but refuse to let it keep you down. By @kjhogrefe

I’m honored that this post first appeared on DailyPS.com.

The Marriage Ark: Review & Giveaway!

Are you single seeking a relationship, dating, engaged, or married? If you fall into any of those categories, The Marriage Ark is relevant for you. Author Margaret Phillips, a licensed marriage and family therapist, uses Noah’s ark as a metaphor for building a marriage that will last.

The preparation, choosing a foundation to build, applies to any reader, single or someone with a significant other. She makes the case that before we can do anything else to ensure a strong, healthy relationship, we must first examine ourselves. She says, “When I think of preparing the ground for marriage-the building site-I find the site is YOU. Yes, you and the heart you bring. You, consisting of body, soul, and spirit. Marriage starts where YOU are.”

I couldn’t agree more. When I was single, I had a Sunday school class teacher once tell me, “In order to find the right person, you have to BE the right person.” In other words, are you personally ready for a relationship? For example, have you forgiven anyone who has wronged you, dealt with any “secrets” in your past, and addressed any sins or addictions in your life that could damage a relationship? Phillips includes a personal inventory checklist to help readers survey the “land” where they plan to build a relationship. These questions are poignant and so very important to ask BEFORE the ceremony.

As with a relationship, there are stages. Preparation is the first, and then Phillips extends the metaphor to the other phases of building the ark. She talks about the “Pitch” or the covenants, vows, and commitments that will hold a marriage together. From there, she discusses the building tools or your family background, the nuts and bolts of communication and conflict, an honest look at intimacy, differences between the sexes, and more.

The length of the book is also achievable for those who love reading and those who don’t. Something my Sunday school class laughs about is that, more often than not, one partner loves reading resources to help their marriage while the other views reading as torture. At just over 100 pages, broken down into nine chapters, this book won’t overwhelm the partner who doesn’t find reading enjoyable so both partners can appreciate it.

Enter to Win Your Copy

I’m grateful to the Blog About Blogger Network for hosting this giveaway and providing the opportunity for me to give away one hardback copy of The Marriage Ark.

To enter, you can do several things:

  1. Comment on this post and share why you think this book would be an encouragement to you or someone you know.
  2. Share the tweet below on Twitter.
  3. Share the related Facebook post on my author page. Be sure to tag me!
  4. Subscribe to my newsletter to learn about future giveaways and posts that will encourage you in your daily life.
  5. Do more than one to be entered multiple times. The winner will be announced here on the blog next week.

One of my favorite takeaways from this book (and there are so many good ones) is that we are responsible for our actions. No matter what our family background or “blueprint” looked like, whether it was a broken home or a beautiful one, we get to “create a new ark for ourselves as adults,” as Phillips says. I love that idea, because so often, people make excuses for themselves based on what happened to them. But that’s a wrong perspective. The past may have shaped us, but it doesn’t define us.

Husbands and wives, we get to choose how strong our marriage arks will be. With God’s help, they can withstand any storm that comes our way.

~ Kristen

The Marriage Ark: Giveaway & Review by @kjhogrefe! Learn how to secure your marriage no matter what storms come your way.

And the giveaway winner is …

Congratulations to Linda for winning The Marriage Ark giveaway and thank you to everyone who participated!

Writer’s Block: Publishing 101

As writers, we often share a dream: to see our stories in print. In today’s video, we talk about the basics of publishing: some common publishing vocabulary, types of publishing, the reality of rejection, and what you, as a young writer, can be doing today to prepare to perhaps publish one day. As always, there’s a writing activity for you at the end.

Join us on YouTube, and take a moment to comment or share your thoughts on today’s video.

What can you, as a young writer, be doing today to work toward your publishing dream? Join the conversation on Writer’s Block, a YouTube community for teen writers.