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Spreading the News
Ways to Pray
Happy 2009! Hope your year is off to a great start. Thanks so much for spending a few minutes with me and the Dark Chocolate newsletter!
What's In A Word?
As we move out of January and look ahead to Valentine’s Day, I’m still in a reflective place. This typically starts around Thanksgiving, but by Valentine’s Day life is too busy for much deep thinking. Not so for this year. I keep pondering a personal tradition that started years ago. It involves looking forward and praying. It also involves one of my favorite things… words.
Each year in December I begin to reflect on the past year, what I’ve prayed and what the Lord has done. Then I start talking to Him about what He wants to do in me during the next year. Often during that prayer time, one word or a group of words stands out.
Last year’s word was Expectant Hope and a verse God brought to mind was in Psalm 52. Verse nine says, “I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints.”
As has been par for the course, the word God brings to mind defines an area He presses on during the year.
In 2008 there were many reasons why hope was painful. But God was faithful. Every time I’d grow weary and refuse to hope God would point me back to His Word, and I’d see anew where my hope belongs. Not in man or circumstances but in God.
The word that stands out for 2009 is Peace. And there are already many reasons to be unsettled this year, situations where fear is the natural response. But because God and I have walked through a number of Decembers looking back and ahead, I know where there are reasons to fear, God will show me He is my peace.
Whether this tradition is a new idea or something you’ve done for years, I hope you’ll take some time to look back over 2008 and see God’s faithfulness. And maybe even spend a little more time praying into 2009 and seeking the Lord. He’s already behind, before and right here, working on your behalf.
Thank You so much for being the same yesterday, today and forever. Your love is everlasting and You are faithful forever. As far as the east is from the west, so far have You removed our sins from us. Not only that, You see from beginning to end. Teach us to look back and see Your fingerprints and to look ahead and see Your goodness and mercy and forever love. Help us rest in faith and look to You to be our peace.
Valentine’s Day is typically a time to share some love with those closest to you. I hope you’ll enjoy doing that this February. I also pray you’ll add yourself to your gift list and make time to do something that fills you up. If part of that filling your soul includes some quiet moments with good chocolate, then this recipe is just for you!
Valentine’s Day Chocolate Fondue
12 oz. chocolate chips
½ cup half-and-half
2 tsp instant coffee
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 to 3 TBS peppermint extract
Strawberries, pound cake, heart shaped cookies, or any other dipable treat
Heat chocolate and half-and-half in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Remove from heat and stir in desired flavoring.
Pour into a fondue pot or nice bowl.
Dip treats and Enjoy!
What’s Love Got To Do With It?
One of my favorite things about reading a good book is being drawn into the story through a great character, clicking with the fictional lead in some way. Similarly, one of my favorite things about writing is seeing my characters come to life.
But getting to that point is no easy task.
For me, creating characters who breathe starts with a few vital questions. Among them are things like, what is my character’s deepest fear, their spiritual gift, and simple things like their favorite type of music, food, and recreation.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ll camp out on one of my three vital character questions: what is my character’s love language?
Knowing my character’s love language tells me a ton about the character and adds a layer of tension within any relationship when I contrast one type of love language with another.
For example, if I have a female lead with the love language of physical touch paired with a romantic interest who has a massive personal space and a love language of acts of service, I have inherent conflict in every interaction because these two are talking very different non-verbal languages.
Not only that, but there are great character layers to be explored when I know my character’s love language. A character with a love language of words of affirmation could have been very wounded if he came from a home where no positive verbal encouragement ever happened. In a different way, a character whose love language is quality time can experience lots of conflict in her current relationships when the people she cares for are super busy. And pairing a gift giver with someone who lives to pinch pennies—especially when both of them have good back-story reasons for their actions and different love languages to boot—gives ample situational conflict to their interactions.
When you consider a character’s love language, you have tools for adding depth to their conversations, their non-verbal communications, and each of their relationships as well as strengthening story conflicts in believable ways.
All that from one simple question.
Next time, I’ll share the one vital thing I have to know about my characters before I ever type the first line of their story. Like love languages, it’s a valuable tool for deepening characters as well as understanding the real people all around you.
While you’re thinking about those real people, especially those closest to you, consider their love language and one way to make this Valentine’s Day a day a where they feel super loved. It’ll make your day better too.
Anyone interested in a free, early copy of the third Defenders of Hope book, Enduring Justice?
I have a limited number of influencer copies to distribute to folks who—if they enjoyed the book—will let others know about it. Along with the book, I’ll include a list of suggestions on how to spread the word, so you’re free to choose the one or ones that most interest you. I’ll also include some bookmarks and/or postcards. Public libraries, church libraries, bookstores and fellow fiction lovers are usually happy to receive such giveaways.
If you’d like to be a huge help to me in this way, please email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your address and I’ll get a package to you by mid-March.
One more way you can help spread the news about Enduring Justice is to be part of a tour of the blogsphere I’ll be taking this April and May. Again, if you’re interested, please email me and I’ll fill you in on the details.
And lastly, please visit the Heart Chocolate website (www.amywallace.com) and send your friends surfing that way too. There are Bible studies, loads of links, tips and lots of other cool extras you can explore the site to find. Keep an eye on the Heart Chocolate website too… changes are a’comin’ to add even more fun features.
Visit Me Online
I am always so grateful for and honored by your prayers! Thank you for taking the time to read and pray with me. You’re a wonderful blessing!
- Please pray for the launch of Enduring Justice. This story explores some controversial subjects: racism, true justice and secret keeping. All of these subjects are wrapped in grace with a longing for readers to know how loved and understood they are by the God who created them. I’d so appreciate your prayers that God would be glorified and this story would go out and bear much fruit.
- Please pray for wisdom, faith and peace as I walk a new path in my writing journey. It would also be a huge encouragement to know you’re praying with me for God to fill the stories I’m working on with His grace and truth.
A prayer for you:
Thank You for the dear people sharing this moment with me to come before You and just say thank You for who You are and for all You have done and are doing in each of our lives. You are so good. And You have such a good plan for each of Your children. Help us to trust and rest in Your love, to believe when life makes that hard. Give us eyes to see and fill us with peace as we depend on You. Thank You for always listening and for loving us so very much. In Jesus’ precious name I pray.
Abundant chocolate blessings,