What’s Next for Sunland

For all my wonderful supporters who have asked, “What are you working on now?” and “What’s Book 2 about?” — here’s a sneak peek.

Thank you all so, so much for your support! Story-spinning is more fun when I get to share it with you.

Also, today is the last day to get the eBook for 99c and the paperback 25% off.
Amazon
Other eBook retailers

-Miss Darcy

Five Favorite Books

I guess being a bookworm comes with the whole writer thing. 😉 Today I’m talking (read: gushing) about five of my favorite books. Hope you enjoy!

That said, what are some of your favorite books — and what do you love about them? (Because my TBR pile may be rivaling the Eiffel Tower, but it’s not tall enough yet.) 😉

Shalom!

-Miss Darcy

My Book’s First Birthday!

Can you believe it’s been a year since The Crown and the Axe set out to seek its fortune? While this year itself has been crazy-long, somehow it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to self-publish a novel. 🙂

So in honor of the occasion, my book is on sale this week! 99c for the eBook, 25% off for the paperback.

Amazon

All the other eBook platforms

And just for fun, I’m doing some little behind-the-scenes videos this week. Hope you enjoy!

Have a lovely weekend, my friends! (Maybe even have some ice cream to celebrate with me.) 😉

–Miss Darcy

Interview with YA Author Amanda Tero

I’ve featured a couple of Amanda’s books on my blog before, but this time I’m asking questions of her instead of one of her characters! (I love getting a peek into other writers’ lives.) Amanda Tero writes Christian Historical Fiction for young adult readers — and for adults who remember what it’s like to be young. Her latest release is A Strand of Hope, one of four interconnected novellas featuring packhorse librarians.

So please help me welcome Amanda Tero!

Amanda Tero is a music teacher by day and a literary guide by night, creating stories that whisk readers off to new eras and introduce them to heroic but flawed characters that live out their faith in astonishing ways.

First, three vitally important questions. 😉

Favorite season? Fall!

Favorite color? Green.

Favorite ice cream? Only one? Uh… chocolate chip cookie dough. 

“Only one?” — That’s my kind of answer. 🙂

Who was your childhood hero? I actually wasn’t much into hero-worship as a kid. I think I just had a solid respect for people who did the hard things and stayed steadfast. Maybe Joseph in the Bible? He went through extreme hardship yet was always one of my favorite Biblical accounts to read, because he just lived so uprightly!

What was your favorite childhood book(s)? The first set I remember reading was the Little House books. Mom had assigned them for me to read a chapter a day as my first “chapter book,” but before long I was begging to just finish the book instead of waiting until the next scheduled read. 😉 I embraced historical fiction because of those books. I loved not just Laura’s story, but learning about life in a different era. A close tie would probably be The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare, for very similar reasons. Plus, it was an action story. 

Ooo, love both of those!

What would you wish to have written on your tombstone? (Feel free to be either funny or serious!) Oh, hmm… I’d like my birth and death date written on there. 😉 But seriously, I hadn’t thought of that. Something about glorifying God… trusting God… yeah, not sure.

Now give us a peek into your writer’s brain!What’s your favorite historical period to read and/or write? The 1800s! I prefer the country/western side than the city side. 

Ah, one of my faves!

What does your story-spinning process involve? (We want to hear about it all, either in general or for a specific story.) Well, it’s semi-different for each one, but I’ll talk through A Strand of Hope. The idea initiated by my sister sharing a Facebook video of packhorse librarians. As soon as the three other authors and I decided to band together to write a series, I had to find my story. I knew I wanted a girl who adored books to the point that she used them as an escape from reality. So then, I had to give her a harsh reality she’d want to escape from. Enter her mom, a single, unwed mother of the early 1900s who blamed Lena for being distanced from her family. The story was stuck there for a while. I just wasn’t sure where to go with it. So I had some brainstorming sessions while driving. I put my phone on to record and just talked through the characters, the plot, the theme. I asked questions, answered them, told myself why that would or wouldn’t work. That really helped me. I also brainstormed a lot with my friend and author of another book in the series Anita (A.M.) Heath.From there, I drafted the rough cut. I’ve just grown to accept that I’m a panster and I’m being one, I have to write the story to discover the story—but then, I’ll have a major rewrite to do. This time, I really didn’t have that major rewrite. By God’s grace, it was a solid story from the start. I think that was just God smiling down on me because I was trying to do this while attending college full-time and teaching music part time.And yeah, the rest is just hours of hard work (whether or not I felt like it 😉 ), putting it all together.

Do you consciously create your characters, or do they seem to come to life on their own? It’s really a mix of both. I do have to work to make my characters less perfect. Anita told me once that I make a great person but a boring character because I’m the type that when I do something wrong, I instantly regret it, pray, seek restitution, etc. But if my characters lived that way, there wouldn’t be as much conflict. So I have to purposefully make them choose the wrong thing and keep driving down that road. It makes their lesson more impactful. 

What was the most difficult part of writing your latest book, A Strand of Hope? Haha… remembering the small details. Faith Blum, A.M. Heath, Alicia G. Ruggieri and I all helped create the town of Willow Hollow, it’s surrounding areas, library routes, and town characters. I was forever messaging one of them with questions on details. In a way, having the team was super helpful because I could just ask and get an answer when I forgot something rather than try to dig and find the answer myself.

What are 1-4 of your all-time favorite fiction books—ones you love to reread? I need to reread more than I do… but ones I have read several times and want to read again are: The Bronze Bow (Elizabeth George Speare), The Last Sin Eater (Francine Rivers). And I have a whole list of books I’ve read once that I want to reread… but my TBR is totally unending.

Love your answers, Amanda! 🙂 Thanks so much for joining us on the blog today!


I confess I haven’t read Amanda’s latest book yet. But I’m bringing it on vacation next week, and I can’t wait to explore this little-known piece of history. 🙂 Take a peek at it below!

Journey with a horseback librarian into the hidden crevices of Kentucky mountains. Feel her pain as she struggles not only to barely make ends meet, but as she also attempts to connect the pieces of her own life while her mom continues to make selfish decisions.

Lena Davis is the daughter her mom never wanted.

But she survived. Through stories. Because books didn’t judge. Books weren’t angry she was alive. Books never expected her to be anything but who she was.

As she grows up, her beloved library becomes her true home. So when the library is designated part of President Roosevelt’s Packhorse Library Project, Lena is determined to get the job of bringing books to highlanders, believing she’ll finally be free of her mom forever.

But earning the trust of highlanders is harder than she imagined, and her passion for books might not be enough to free her from her chains.

The Packhorse Library Project was part of President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration to encourage education in the remote parts of the mountains. “A Strand of Hope” is a historical fiction novella based on real events but set in the fictional town of Willow Hollow in the Appalachian mountains.

See why I’m looking forward to it? Check it out on Amazon. And be sure to check out the whole series, too. I have it on good authority that some of them are only 99c this week. 😉

And don’t forget to follow Amanda on your favorite social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, Pinterest, and Bookbub), and visit her website, where you can also find her blog and newsletter.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into a writer’s life, and I do hope you’ll check out Amanda’s books!

–Miss Darcy

Allowed to Take Comfort

I don’t know if it’s my personality.

I don’t know if it’s the writer in me, determined to experience any pain that comes my way because “all of life is research.”

I don’t know if it’s my desire to fully acknowledge painful things because ignoring them can create an unhealthy mental state.

But for some reason, I sometimes don’t allow myself to accept comfort.

And I’m not really talking about comfort from other people, although sometimes I just nod and smile and refuse to let their words sink into my soul, or even to ruminate in my mind.

Actually, I often find myself unwilling to take comfort from the deepest source I have—God’s Word.

If I take comfort, am I being fair to the honest questions of others—and myself?

If I take comfort, can I still deal with my painful emotions in a healthy way?

Most of all, if I take comfort, will I somehow sell short the Truth I need to learn through this?

But I’m learning that I’m allowed to take comfort.

When my brain is spinning with all these incredible, deep questions about theory meeting reality and I can’t quite seem to grasp the answers, I can take comfort in the One who knows every answer. Some of the answers I will find in time, and some I won’t discover until He tells me—either on this earth or when I see His face.

It’s okay. After all, I serve the God who commands the morning, and causes the dawn to know its place (Job 38:12).

When my heart is broken and floundering in pain, I can take comfort in knowing that my God has walked through every kind of pain there is—even death—and will walk with me through mine (Isaiah 43:2).

In my hardest suffering, I may even envy a stillborn child (Job 3:16), as long as I also remember that my Redeemer lives (Job 19:25).

And surely, when I turn to the Truth of the Word to find comfort, then the only Source of Truth—Jesus Christ—with not allow me to be misled.

He is the one whose wisdom set the courses of the stars (Job 38:31-33).

After all, what is comfort but hope and rest? And I am supposed to find hope and rest in Jesus.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

-1 Peter 1:3 NKJV (emphasis mine)

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

-Matthew 11:28 NKJV (emphasis mine)

Jesus Christ is my greatest comfort.

And, yes, I am allowed to accept His comfort without doing a disservice to either my emotions or my intellect. He offers a transcending comfort. It doesn’t remove the pain or the questions.

It’s simply stronger than they are.

-Miss Darcy

P.S. Anyone else noticed a similar phenomenon in your life, this inability to accept comfort and rest?

What We Really Want

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ve probably seen me write about the power of God to transform a life—any life. No matter how far we’ve fallen. Or how far we haven’t fallen (or don’t think we’ve fallen).

The grace and mercy of God, His power to redeem, are limitless. (If you’re looking for proof, check out the lives of Peter and Paul.)

The thing is God doesn’t force His redemption on anyone. We have to choose it. Because if there’s no option to choose, there cannot be love, and God is the essence of true, powerful, life-altering love.

But when we choose God’s redemption, it’s not a one-time thing.

We choose first to be redeemed from sin and its eternal consequences.

Then we have to choose over and over (and over) to be delivered from the power of sin in our lives on this earth.

So no, I don’t doubt God’s power to transform a life. But I also have great faith in a human’s ability to wreck His work.

Because sometimes we don’t really want to be delivered.

Oh, sure, we say we want freedom from this sin that’s causing havoc in our lives. We say we want all the blessings God has to offer.

But maybe we don’t really, truly mean that.

Because sin has its attractive side. That’s why we fall into it in the first place.

  • We say we want deliverance from an explosive temper that hurts our family and friends. But the rush of power that anger affords—well, we like that feeling.
  • We say we want contentment in our season of life. But we don’t want to forgo our fantasies about “someday, when something we want will make our lives perfect.”
  • We say we want freedom from lust in our daily lives. But a little bit of pornography is so thrilling. And the sexy stuff in R-rated movies doesn’t even count as real pornography, right?
  • We say we want peace that passes understanding. But worrying and fretting about something offers a feeling of control, and how could we cope without that security?
  • We say we want good physical health (and why doesn’t God give it?). But we don’t want to deny ourselves the pleasure of eating whatever we want whenever we want it.

We say we want complete freedom in Christ. But we don’t really want to sacrifice any pleasures at all.

We’d rather lament our unwinnable battles and shame ourselves for our failures.

Believe me, I’ve been there. Still am there, to an extent. (You know I’m always preaching to myself on my weblog.)

We sin, we regret it, we castigate ourselves for being such wretched followers of Christ, and then when we’ve properly chastised ourselves, we allow ourselves to believe He forgives us.

And then we do the same thing again.

Because self-loathing is cheap.

Oh, sure it’s painful.

But not as painful as changing our behavior.

Changing will cost us.

Changing requires us to see our sin, even the pleasant parts, for what they are.

Changing requires us to deny what our flesh wants in favor of what Christ wants.

Changing requires us to stop justifying ourselves and start believing what God says.

Changing requires us to “put off the old man and put on the new” (Colossians 3:9-10). And that’s hard. Really hard

Of course we’ll never accomplish that without God’s Holy Spirit working in us. But the Holy Spirit won’t accomplish it without our participation, either.

So what do we really want? The abundant life Christ offers? Or the temporary enjoyments of our folly and sin?

Maybe we need to do some soul-searching. (Frankly, I hate self-analysis, but it’s a very necessary thing.) Maybe we need to find out what we really want. And whether what we really want needs to change.

-Miss Darcy

Unprofitable Servants

I read the book of Luke back in December. And I’m still clinging to one verse. I say it to myself almost every day. I think it’s going to be my verse for the year.

Jesus’ disciples have just said to him, “Increase our faith.” And He starts by telling them that faith the size of a mustard seed can uproot a mulberry tree and plant it in the sea.

Then He goes on with a little story about a servant who works all day in the fields, comes in, and still has to prepare and serve supper to his master before he can eat himself. And does the servant receive any thanks? No. He’s just doing his job, and why should he get thanked for doing what was his to do? 

Then Jesus says:

“So likewise you, when you  have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'”

-Luke 17:10 NKJV

I find enormous comfort in those words.

I don’t have to do anything grand and wonderful. I don’t need a spotlight. I don’t have to be the smartest, or best, or most magnificent anything.

Every day, I just get up and do the things that I am commanded.

  • Servanthood takes the pressure off. I don’t have to call the shots or plot great strategies. I just have to listen to what part I play in the plans.
  • I’m not responsible for how things turn out. If I do what I’m told, the outcome’s not my fault. The result of my dutiful performance is His business.
  • If I do the things I’m commanded, I don’t have to worry if I’m doing enough or not doing enough–just follow the instructions. There’s a sweet accomplishment and rest when I can simply do my duty.
  • If my Master commands me to do something, He will also equip me to do it. I don’t have to worry about whether I’m “able” to do something. I have His resources at my disposal.
  • And of course I’m unprofitable. Jesus spent His own blood to redeem me. No amount of service could ever in a million billion years repay what He spent, let alone more. So I don’t have to try.

Yes, I believe God sometimes gives us “large” things as part of our duty. But what’s big for me might not even look big to you. And that’s fine. It’s not about us.

It’s about getting the King’s work done.

When I love my family and friends (or strangers), when I wash the dishes, when I write another scene for a story, when I volunteer as a “gopher” at church, when I take vitamins to keep my body in good order, when I give my best effort at choir practice, when I read my Bible, when I pray for a friend’s prayer request on Facebook, do I get thanked? Of course not. Why should I?

But even so, these little things matter.

The English Standard Version, which I’m reading this year for the first time, calls us “unworthy servants” in Luke 17:10.

Which is another beautifully accurate descriptor. How in the world could we be worthy to serve the King of Kings?

We’re not.

But He is worthy. Of our service, our praise, our adoration. Of our love.

And this Master of ours, who is worthy of all glory, became a servant Himself.

The night before Jesus was crucified, He washed His disciples’ feet. Then He said,

“You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

“For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.

-John 13:13-16 NKJV

Our Lord both lived and died on behalf of His servants. Why should not we be willing to go as far?

Is there not joy in following the footsteps of our glorious, humble Master?

And what does all this talk about unprofitable servitude have to do with faith anyway?

Well, if you’re a servant with a good master, you can trust him to take care of you, to give good orders, to provide what’s necessary for carrying out your tasks successfully.

In other words, if we’ll quit looking at ourselves and look at our Master, our faith cannot help but grow.

Because He is worthy.

-Miss Darcy

I Am Thankful, 2019

It’s been a long year. (People have always said that time flies as you get older, and I had started to see time speeding up a bit in my late teens and early twenties. Then 2018 and 2019 came along and set me back, so I guess I’ll have to start over. But I digress…) It’s been a kinda hard year in some ways, and I’ve hardly had a grateful heart every day.

But I am grateful to be alive, abiding under the shadow of the One who holds my breath in His hands.

And to list some specifics, I am thankful this year for

  • My book published! A dream come true.
  • A church I love.
  • Cool opportunities to sing with my church choir outside the church walls.
  • The fact that Middle Tennessee is finally feeling like home.
  • A vacation in the Smoky Mountains, our first since the fire in 2016.
  • A visit to St. Augustine Florida.
  • Fun movies. I’ve acquired a couple new favorites this year.
  • Sleep. (Don’t worry: I’m not becoming a grown-up. Just an adult.)
  • Two of the best sisters a girl could ask for.
  • Friends who actually seem to love this slightly crazy writer.
  • The Word of God, without which I wither in a very painful way.
  • The fact that God does meet me where I am, and loves me unconditionally.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

-Miss Darcy

Did Jesus Die Because of Love or Obedience?

I’m not sure why I read the comments under Christian YouTube videos because more often than not they’re malicious. But I ran across one a few months ago that interested me.

The comment said something to the effect of: “Why are Christians so happy that Jesus died? I mean, an innocent person dying because of something someone else did wrong? That’s not justice. That’s disgusting. Am I missing something?”

It’s a valid question. An innocent person dying for a guilty person isn’t justice. So why can we rejoice about it?

I pondered that, and it didn’t take me long to come to a conclusion.

Jesus loved us. That’s why He died to redeem us. He wanted to do it. So we rejoice in the depth of His love.

As I continued to think about it, planning a blog post on the subject, you can imagine my consternation when I ran across this post on Facebook a few weeks later:

“It wasn’t because Christ loved us that He died, He was being obedient to the Father.”

A comment on the post added, “We never said Jesus didn’t love us only that His love didn’t take Him to the cross.”

So, if that’s true and Christ died out of mere obedience to His Father, then my whole argument for the righteousness of Jesus’ death kinda falls apart. At supper that night, I alternated holding a spoon and a pencil as I worked through some of my thoughts on the subject. I read some stuff online, talked to my family about it (because I have some great theological arguers in my family), and this blog post is the result.

I’m still going to argue that Jesus died for us because He loved us. Here’s why.

We know that obedience is born of love, respect, or fear. We can rule out fear because we know Jesus and the Father love one another perfectly.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.

-1 John 4:18a

So if Jesus died primarily out of obedience to the Father, He must have died because He loved and respected the Father.

And there are many verses that speak of God sending Jesus to die for us. The famous John 3:16–“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” That could give a person the idea that it was God’s love that motivated Him to redeem us, and Jesus’ love didn’t enter the equation.

And this one:

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

-1 John 4:9-10 NKJV (emphasis mine)

But to claim that these verses say only the Father’s love motivated Jesus’ death is to, at least partially, divorce Jesus from the Trinity.

When Jesus came to the earth, He was the one and only God-Man. He was fully Man, yes, but also fully God. The Father’s motivations were His motivations.

Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.

-John 5:19 NKJV

The Son of God on earth did exactly what He saw the Father do. The love the Father has for us is the same love Jesus has for us because the Two of them, with the Holy Spirit, are One.

(Do we comprehend that fully? No. If God didn’t blow our minds sometimes, He wouldn’t be worth worshiping.)

But to make a distinction between the Father’s love and Jesus’ love is hardly worthwhile. The Father was willing to let His Son suffer because He loved us. The Son was willing to suffer because He loved us.

[Jesus said:] “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.

“As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. …

“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.

“No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

-John 10:14-15, 17-18 NKJV

Jesus didn’t have to die. The Father commanded Him, but He “laid it down of Himself” because He wanted the same thing as His Father.

Jesus IS the Good Shepherd, so He lays down His life for His sheep.

Now what about that verse that says Jesus “learned obedience”? Well, let’s have a look at it.

[Jesus], in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear,

though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.

-Hebrews 5: 7-8 NKJV (emphasis mine)

This was “in the days of Jesus’ flesh.” Jesus hadn’t been a Man before; that was new. Before this, He had always experienced perfect communion, perfect unity with His Father.

Now Jesus had become the God-Man. And the Man-part of Him had to learn obedience. While the God-part of Him was still fully aligned with His Father’s will, the Man-part of Him cried out in anguish, pleading that the pain be taken away.

And Jesus’ Man-part, like all other men and women, had to learn obedience. When our wills pull us away from God’s will—when we want something contrary to what God wants—we have to choose to obey.

So did Jesus.

Now as a writer I fully embrace the notion of multiple motivations. We humans are complex creatures. How much more complex is the God-Man!

So I believe Jesus died for us because He loved us. But when it came down to facing the cross, His flesh did what any flesh would do—it cowered away from the prospect of such unfathomable pain. And thus, when His flesh tried for the upper hand, He had to learn obedience.

But His heart was fully motivated by love.

As my dad so succinctly put it:

Why would Jesus’ primary motivation be something He had to learn (obedience) rather than something that was part of His essence (love)?

As I read a few online articles on this subject, I ran across one on Desiring God. It brought out another interesting point, saying that Jesus’ death was about vindicating God’s righteousness. See, for millennia “in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed” (Romans 3:25).

God’s righteousness was at stake because He’d been letting sin slide by unpunished.

Now the easiest way to vindicate His righteousness would be to say, “That’s it. From now on all humans pay for their own sin. Those who were previously kind of righteous that I let slide by, well, they all go to hell now. They can count themselves blessed that they had several hundred years’ delay before their punishment.”

But God didn’t do that.

God vindicated His righteousness by paying for all those sins Himself.

Because He loved us.

Truly, Christ’s cross is the most powerful picture of pure love anywhere in earth below or heaven above.

-Miss Darcy