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The Restraining Hand Of God

I have a problem.

When I want something to happen, I want it to happen yesterday.

Anybody with me?

That’s a problem for two reasons. First of all, circumstances don’t fall in line at the drop of a hat, just because you want them to. Second, God’s timing rarely matches mine. Ours. The timing of imperfect, impatient humans.

How is a person supposed to figure out God’s timing about something? If you know, please leave a comment and inform the world! I freely admit that I have no idea.

But in my nearly half-century of life, I have figured out how to recognize when something isn’t God’s timing. It’s when I feel the restraining hand of God. What does that feel like?

Let me give you a couple of examples from this spring, when I had two opportunities to get ahead of the Lord and, therefore, blow it. With the first one, I did blow it. With the second, I paid better attention and made myself be patient.

Story #1: impatience in the garden

To understand the first experience better, you need to understand that in southeast Oklahoma, where I live, the average annual humidity is 74%. This means that a lot of fruit-bearing plants are susceptible to disease, namely fungi.

Besides the fact that we lost three Asian pear trees and a cherry tree to fungi last year before we ever had a chance to get any fruit off them, the biggest problem that fungi has caused is black rot on my grapes. The past three summers, all of the fruit has shriveled up into black nothingness before the grapes even had a chance to mature. Last year, spraying with a copper fungicide helped a little, but not much.

So I did some research and ended up buying a conventional (read: synthetic chemical) fungicide.

Yep. I was going to destroy my own dream of being an strictly organic grower. I rationalized it with the knowledge that the toxic substances in the fungicide convert to harmless substances after a couple of days.

I knew I was supposed to start spraying the fungicide as soon as the leaves started showing, then every two weeks thereafter. But I just couldn’t get myself to do it. I told myself that it was because we were having so much rain. If I sprayed, it would just get washed off, anyway.

While that was true over half the time, there were enough breaks in the rain that I could have kept a semi-regular spraying schedule.

The truth is, my reluctance to go out to spray with the chemical fungicide was God’s restraining hand.

Finally, we began to have more sunny days and fewer rainy…and the black rot had begun to show up on some of the grape leaves and baby fruit. Donning a pair of gloves and a breathing mask (I was wearing sunglasses, and figured if I was careful they would serve as sufficient eye protection), I mixed together a gallon of spray and sprayed the grapes, then the blackberries since they get a different fungus every year that makes me lose a good 50% of my blackberry harvest.

I shoved down every second-guessing that wanted to worm its way into my head about using a toxic chemical in my garden…until I told my son and husband to stay out of the garden until the next day.

Leave it to a kid to remind you to listen to God. My son asked, “Why are you spraying something that’s so bad that we can’t go in the garden for a whole day?”


A week or so later, I was doing more research on the subject of black rot and fungicides, and guess what? Turns out the fungicide I’d chosen will only prevent black rot. Once the plant has symptoms, it won’t eliminate it!

I complained about it to the Lord, and you know what He had the audacity to say to me? “I was the One who led you into a chemical-free life.”


Duh. I knew that.

Desperate times can make you ignore the restraining hand of God. As well as knowledge He’s given to you prior.

So I asked for help in finding a natural fungicide that would actually work. I think I’ve found one, but I won’t know for about another month.

My point? Sometimes the restraining hand of God is a feeling of reluctance, even dread, when you’re considering doing something. God is nudging you inside your spirit to be patient and wait for something better.

Like a non-toxic fungicide that doesn’t require a haz-mat suit to spray.

Story #2: A novel experience

If you diligently follow this blog and read every single e-mail I send to my newsletter list (thank you!), you might have gotten a whiff of the struggle I’ve been experiencing over how to launch my new Christian fiction series, “Pine Mountain Estates.”

The way an Indie author is “supposed” to launch a book is to get as many of her list subscribers, Facebook followers, etc. to review the book before launch day. Then, she’s supposed to pay several hundred dollars across a bunch of different book promotion platforms to include her book in their daily promotional e-mail on her book’s launch day.

On launch day, the book is supposed to be priced at ninety-nine cents. Or higher, depending on who you ask. Because you’re not just supposed to give away your brand new book! Number one, you want to make money from it right away, and number two, you want it to rank high in Amazon’s paid book category. You want to strive to make the book be a bestseller (which, by the way, isn’t nearly the indicator of income success that non-authors believe it to be).

I thought about doing it that way, but only one part of it sat right with me – giving my e-mail subscribers a chance to download the novel for free before launch day. Considering the rest of it made me feel frustrated.

I considered a couple of other ways to go about the book launch, but the more I thought about them, the more frustrated I got.

This time, I recognized the restraining hand of God. Sort of. I at least knew that I hadn’t hit on the strategy I was supposed to use to launch my new series.

So I quit trying to figure it out, and decided to wait.

The other day, God lifted His hand and whispered the strategy I was to use into my spirit. If you’re on my list and read my e-mail from the other day, you know it.

If  you’re not, I’ll give you a hint: you need to be on it if you want to get the first four books in the series for free. 😉

How did I know the idea came from God? I felt release inside my spirit and soul. I felt peace and renewed enthusiasm about launching my novels.

I knew that I knew that I knew that this was the way God wanted me to go.

When God says, “Wait.”

Those are two ways that I know that God is telling me to be patient and wait: a feeling of reluctance, sometimes embedded with dread, and a feeling of frustration.

Another way – my favorite, but one I only experience if I think to ask the Father directly – is hearing the word “no” inside my spirit.

I’d love to hear one of your experiences when you knew God was telling you to be patient and wait on His timing! Feel free to share in the comment section below. 🙂


There are two kinds of Christian fiction readers in this world: the kind that realizes that Christian novelists are as imperfect as they are, and the kind that puts writers of Christian fiction up onto a pedestal. That kind believes that Christian authors actually think, speak, and live like Yeshua did. They believe that authors who write faith-based fiction actually live out, on a daily basis, the godly wisdom and principles they set forth in their books.

A-hem. Without making any mistakes.

I’m going to speak to that second kind of Christian fiction reader in this post. I’m going to knock myself – and, I hope, ever other Christian author they’ve ever read – off of our undeserved pedestals.

I could describe one of the many times when I bit my husband’s head off (apparently, he’s skilled at reattaching it). Or one of the many times when I complained to God about not working with my plans (I know you’ve never done that, so pray for me). Or about how I’ve manipulated people to get what I wanted done, done.

But I’ll stick to my rude behavior toward Customer Service Representatives (heretofore to be abbreviated as CSR).

I was nuts to e-mail when I was still angry

Living in the middle of nowhere, I love online stores. Especially those that provide organic food. About a year ago, we started ordering product from nuts.com, and have mostly have had great experiences with the company.

But a couple of months ago, they sent us raw peanuts instead of almonds.

Twenty-five pounds of them.

I immediately e-mailed the company. I was not nice. All the anger I was feeling poured out into my words. I kept my language civil, but barely. I wish I still had my original e-mail to share, but I don’t.

Let’s just say that not too much time passed before I started to feel bad about how I’d dealt with the issue.

Not too long after I sent the e-mail, a CSR from nuts.com replied, apologizing for the mix-up and asking me to send photos of the peanuts to verify that indeed, we’d been sent the wrong thing. I took three photos and sent them promptly.

She replied:

Thank you so much for getting back to me with these photos! Again, I truly do apologize for this mishap. I’ve forwarded these photos to our Food Safety team to avoid this in the future. In the meantime, I’ve gone ahead & reshipped a new case of the Raw Almonds for you. In a moment, you’ll receive a separate email outlining the details of your replacement order. Once it has shipped, you’ll receive another email with tracking details. No need to worry about returning the product, please feel free to toss it any way you see fit. 

Thanks again for your order and for your honest feedback. It’s customers like you that make us a better company! If you need anything else, we are ready to help!

By then, I’d calmed down and was really feeling bad about my nasty e-mail. So I wrote:

I’m sorry I was so angry over the peanuts. It wasn’t that big of a deal – I knew you guys would handle it. You’re gonna laugh, but I was reading a novel prior to receiving the order and the hero was acting like a complete IDIOT and I got totally frustrated with him – or should I say, the way the author decided to have him act toward the end. So I was already irritated when FedEx showed up, and then the driver drives onto our FRONT LAWN, thinking it’s part of the driveway (UPS has done the same
thing), so I had to tell her through gritted teeth that this space with GRASS GROWING ON IT is NOT the driveway.

Then…*SIGH*…peanuts instead of almonds. Last straw. I blew up. Forgive me.

The CSR’s response:

Oh my goodness I can definitely understand how you feel – Haha! Although, I do truly apologize for the inconvenience this has caused for you. This is something we don’t want to happen again in the future so I completely understand the frustration. You’ll be getting the case of Raw Almonds (No Shell) very soon for you to enjoy 🙂 If there is anything else you need, please don’t hesitate to reach out – I’d be more than happy to help!

If you’re the Christian fiction reader who thought I was super-spiritual, you’re going to react in one of two ways. You’re going to be shocked and determine never to read any of my books ever again, because you think I am Satan Incarnated.

Or, at least, a Big Fat Hypocrite (although no one in their right mind would ever call me fat).

The other way you might react is to say, “Aw, look! As soon as the Holy Spirit convicted her, she sent an e-mail apologizing for her behavior. She’s such an authentic follower of Jesus! I wish I could be as good as she is.”

If that’s you, do me a favor.

Take. Me. Off. Your. Pedestal.


Maybe you need one more example to get it into your head that I’ve sinned and fallen short of the glory of God as much as anybody and everybody else has.

I’ve eaten a whole jar, and am still alive to tell about it

More recently, I ordered two jars of tahini made from raw, sprouted sesame seeds from Amazon. When they arrived, the lids weren’t completely sealed and there was oil dripping down the sides of both jars. I promptly went to Amazon and wrote a scathing review.

Then I found the company’s website and told them about the review. Here’s what I wrote to them:

Thought you’d like to read the review of the Max Sesame Tahini I just posted to Amazon:

I bought one jar of this. Liked the taste, so I bought two more. When I opened up the package, there was oil all over the outside of both the jars and neither lid popped when it was first unscrewed, like it’s supposed to do if it’s properly sealed. Since we live in the middle of nowhere and it’s a PITB to do Amazon returns, we’re out 38 bucks. I. Am. ANGRY.
(End of review.)

The much kinder reply from the company:

Hi Emily,

I’m so sorry about the situation and aggravation that you went through and I really want to solve this problem with you. Please read the below information and let’s try to work it out.

Can you please provide me with your phone number? I would like to discuss it with you.

You usually hear a ‘pop’ when you open a jar is because it has been packaged at a very high temperature.  When a jar is filled with food products at extremely high temperatures (beyond boiling point), and then tightly closed, the food product cools inside the jar, resulting in a pressurized environment. This keeps the lid very tight on the jar. The food cools down and builds air pressure, which is released when you open the jar with a ‘pop’. 

However, all of our Nut & seed Butters are packaged at a cold temperature, so there is no air pressure buildup and no ‘pop’.

When a jar is filled with food produced in cold press process (like our products), the lid of the jar can sometimes become loose due to being shaken harshly during the shipping process and therefore the butter’s oil leaks during the shipping process.

We carefully wrap each bottle inside bubble wrap. The bubble wrap is sterile and protects the jar and butter from contamination and the butter is definitely safe to be eaten.

My reply:

Thank you for your prompt reply, and I’m sorry for jumping to conclusions. I did, a couple hours after emailing you, ask a question about it on Amazon. What you said makes sense, and I will go edit my review as I do enjoy the product.

My review went from one star, to five stars. And though the jars were full of tahini, I discovered a bunch of egg on my face.

Oh, and I’ve been eating the tahini every day since, and am still alive to tell about it. 😉

The long and the short of it

I love my Father and my Savior. I thank God every day for His grace and mercy. I pray daily for help in keeping my thoughts, words, and actions lined up with His will and His ways.

But still, I fall short. Always will, until I shed this earthly body and take on the heavenly one God has prepared for me.

If ever a story I write makes me seem particularly wise or godly, it’s only because I’m writing what I wish could be. What I hope I’m moving toward.

Forgive me for not being the perfect person you thought I was.  😉


Rethinking The Call

God called me to write novels. I know that, as sure as I know that the prediction for rain in two days is going to come true.

When, a few months ago, I realized that the strong desire to write novels was an actual heavenly call, I started listening to all sorts of podcasts about writing and marketing books. At first, it was exciting.

But lately, it’s become anything but. And I began resenting the call.

Why? An independently published author is “supposed to” write at least four novels a year – more is better. She’s supposed to pay several hundred dollars per book cover, plus shell out another several hundred for professional editing and proofreading. For just one book.

On top of that, she has to experiment with Amazon and Facebook ads (or take a $500 course on the subject) and spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars per month on advertising. Theoretically, she’ll eventually figure it out and make a profit.

She’s supposed to have a Facebook page. Network with other authors. Write what “everybody” is reading.

Oh, and let’s not forget: the smart authors dictate their stories.

All these “supposed to’s” and “shoulds” have been building up in me to the point that I wanted to scream the other day. Instead, I lamented silently to the Lord about His call on my life to be a novelist.

Because I don’t want to do all of that. I just want to write when I have a story on my heart, and use book promotion sites to get them in front of people’s eyeballs.

Know what the Lord said to me? He whispered, “Since when have I ever asked you to follow everybody else?”


So, when God calls you to engage in a certain task, it’s not necessarily in the way that the world would have you to do.

Whew. Thank You, Jesus.


A little over a week ago, I finished the first draft of the fourth book in my “Pine Mountain Estates” series, Finding Dalia. What does a novelist do after finishing a novel? Dive right into editing? Take a well-earned vacation?

I can’t speak for other authors, but up to a certain point in my novel-writing year I have a previous novel to edit and proofread right after I get done writing the latest novel.

See, once an author finishes the first draft of a novel, they need to set it aside for a few weeks so that when they return to edit and proofread it, they can look at it with more objective eyes. Since I write in series, I almost always have some editing and proofreading to do of a previous novel in the series upon completing the first draft of the latest novel.

That takes me about a week. Then what? If I have not yet completed the novels I planned to write for that year, I start to outline the next story. If I have completed them all, I take a break for a week, then do some more editing and proofreading for a week, take a break, and so on, until I’ve gone through all the novels for the year three times. At some point in there, I start planning out my next series.

And, of course, all along the way, I’m marketing my previously written books and – with the help of my husband – creating covers for my latest novels.

That may sound like I’m working hard year-round, but I’ve scheduled it so that I’m writing novels from the beginning of October through the beginning of June. A traditional school year, I guess you could say, with plenty of vacation time for four months. The editing and proofreading I’ll do in a day only takes about an hour, so the weeks that I’m doing that task are still pretty laid-back.

There ya go. A peek into my life as an author.


Like you, I’ve heard all my life that there’s a first time for everything. What is difficult to infer from that statement, but which seems to be the case more often than not, is that this “everything” is often something you haven’t thought about before.

For example, I never in my life thought I’d get an e-mail from a blind person. Especially, a blind person who is a fan of my books.

But, that’s exactly what happened to me yesterday. It’s not that I’d never thought about blind people purchasing digital books. I actually have contemplated that off and on, because I myself “read” Kindle books using the Text-To-Speech feature because my eyes get tired quickly from reading. I’d just never thought about a person without sight consuming one of my books – and e-mailing me on top of it!

I wanted to share a bit of what her e-mail was about because she gave me some interesting information. She recently signed up to my e-mail list, and when you do, some of the e-mails you receive from me are follow-ups. These e-mails are automated; I set them up once and they get sent out to subscribers after so many days in a certain order.

One of the e-mails explains the horrible, rampant Internet book piracy, of which I have become a victim. This is why I’m no longer going to sell print books, so that if I ever see someone trying to sell a print title of one of my digital-only books, I will be able to tell Amazon in no uncertain terms that the seller has pirated my work.

Anyway, my new fan – I’ll call her Anne in case she’d like to remain anonymous – replied to that e-mail to tell me about the BookShare website. This is a low-cost subscription site that legally provides books for blind people, as well as others who have trouble reading text such as dyslexics, people with cerebral palsy, etc.  That is, they get permission from publishers to provide certain books in a format that such people can access – audiobooks, Braille, etc.

Unfortunately, Anne told me, many Christian book publishers don’t allow their books to be put on the site. Anne has gone on to read His Second Chance, and thanked me for providing books on Kindle that aren’t full of “evil and filth.”

You’re welcome, Anne. And thank you for enlarging my world a little bit more by helping me to remember that people of all kinds consume books.