Converging Roads

Converging Roads

Old, vintage padlock ( open )isolated on white backgroundTwo weeks ago during the worship time at church, I saw in my mind’s eye a picture of two roads merging. The phrase, “converging roads,” entered my thoughts like an interruption. After that image faded, I saw a padlock open. These symbolic images came in a wisp of time…a second or two.

The worship leader invited the congregation to share any impressions received from God. Our small church provides a perfect context for listening prayer, something Quaker churches have practiced for centuries.

Feeling spiritually dull, I didn’t say anything. I wasn’t sure what it meant. It would have been entirely okay to say, “This is what I saw and heard,” mentioning the two roads and the lock. No interpretation was necessary. But I held back, and the moment passed.

Guide signThen our pastor announced the recent engagement of a young couple. They beamed as he shared their story. Because their last names matched the names of two streets in our town, the young man proposed to his girlfriend where the two roads converged!

My ears popped open! Our pastor actually used the verb—converge.

At that point, I shared my impression with the couple. It was obviously for them–and so precise! God loves it when a man and a woman become one. He “unlocks” His pleasure and releases His Spirit to take the journey of marriage with them.

Think how powerful that impression might’ve been if I had given it publically before the pastor’s announcement! That couple could’ve experienced the intimacy of God, because I had no prior knowledge of their engagement.

When we came home, I discussed the incident with my husband. Duncan saw the connection for the couple, but also thought it was a word for us. Our roads were finally converging. God was releasing us into “the next chapter” of marriage.Continue reading

The Silence of God

The Silence of God

I asked my husband if our son had recovered from a bad cold.

“Didn’t you hear me?” His voice sounded kind. “You asked me earlier, and I said ‘Yes.’”

“I must’ve been thinking about three different things at the same time,” I said. “Sorry.”

Original MixmasterMy mind has been noisy lately. Too much going on…countless things to take care of …many concerns tainted with worry…an eight-lane highway of racing thoughts. I try to sit still with God in the mornings, but I haven’t been hearing much. On the other hand, I haven’t been saying much either.

Distraction is a part of feeling silence with God. I’m restless inside. Lists start to form, creating a need to pounce on the day. But something else is needling me.

There are things I’ve prayed about for years—even decades—that haven’t changed for the better. “I don’t know how to pray about this anymore, God…” A seed of disillusionment gets sown.

It’s not disappointment with God. I believe with deep conviction that His heart is good. He can be trusted, no matter what.

Rather, I don’t know how to participate with God through prayer when what He’s doing is far beyond what I understand. I pray, ask, plead, and contend for things—as I see it—but it might just be my agenda to fix things.

Maybe God is waiting for me to run out of words.

Are you done yet, Susan? His tone isn’t antagonistic.

“I guess so. I don’t know what to say.” Prayerlessness feels like such a dreadful sin.

Just be quiet with Me.

IMG_0335I got up at first light and opened the front door. The world outside was still. No cars on the road yet. Snowflakes floated down, making the most beautiful soft tapping sound on the fall leaves. A blanket of white covered the landscape as far as the eye could see.

I am making all things new. He said, pausing to let the words stick. You’ll see…

imagesMy eyes teared up. “But Lord…Continue reading

When life jackets aren’t enough…

When life jackets aren’t enough…

IMG_1187You see that little girl? The one on the right? Yes, it’s me. I was six and a half years old that summer. That’s right—the girl in the lifejacket, the one who wanted life to be safe.

Some of my family’s pictures reveal a time in my life when I was free to be a child in a child’s world. Utterly unselfconscious. I was given that privilege, that chance to grow up naturally, slowly, as a flower opens in the spring.

SDH TeenagerBut that time of innocence melted away. I soon became a contemplative teenager, and a very different world emerged. I saw pain in other people’s faces. I heard traumatic stories. I learned about abuse, divorce, racism, prostitution, drug overdoses, mental illness, and death. Where was God in all the chaos and tragedy?

I wanted to be safe and keep others safe too, but life jackets would not suffice.

How does one reconcile the idea of a loving God with the pain in human existence–particularly when it comes to unjust suffering? Is it brazen to think God isn’t doing a good job of being God? How can you get close to Him, if you don’t trust Him? Those deep brooding questions were tucked away in the dark places of my heart, even though I’d been a Christian for a while.

And those are Iris Somerset’s questions too.

Closeup IrisIris is the main character in my newly released novel, Bird, Horse, and Muffin. She’s ten years old. Ten and a half to be precise. Half years are important when you’re keeping up with a snarky teenage brother like Wyeth.

God speaks to her for the first time in a school parking lot. From that point on, her family life begins a nosedive. Yet her spiritual curiosity is stirred. God brought her terrible news. Still God was the One Who told her. How intriguing and confusing to a young girl with a heart full of questions?

My editor, Mick Silva, wrote me during the writing process. “You know you’re Iris, right? You get that don’t you?”

I tilted my head. It was a curious thought. I didn’t lose my mother at a young age. My father wasn’t anything like Hank, Iris’ father, and I didn’t have a volatile older brother to contend with. But in truth, my spiritual questions were the same. I wrote back. “Well, yes. You’re right. Maybe she’ll figure things out for me.”

BHMfrontcoverFINAL copyStory writing is like that. As an author, I was laying out my own questions and struggles, my own vulnerabilities and dismay that life is different than I’d hoped for. I searched for answers and pressed into God when I came up empty. At times my characters took me places and showed me a few things. And some of my own questions resolved.

Wyeth and Car closeupMostly I hope this story will resonate with those who have lost a parent, or have had to grow up too quickly, or lived under the instability of alcoholism. I want to show a real God in the midst of human loss–that when you reach your absolute rock bottom, God is there.

Still one has to choose between despair and faith. It’s not an easy choice. Despair is the shipwreck of the soul, and the journey of faith is often without a clear path. As a kid might say, it’s a choice between worse and worser. And yet along the way—through faith—the unseen becomes more real than what is seen. And that brings hope—the kind of hope that lights the way.

Candles WaxAs Uncle Skeets explains to Iris in the story—“To go on with God, you have to be willing to walk in days of mystery.”

All the God encounters in my novel are based on true stories, lending authenticity to the ways God enters our human struggle.

May you have your own encounter with God as you read the story!

Bird, Horse, and Muffin is available now on Amazon and Kindle. If you’d like to be part of my “Street Team” and help put out the word on social networking, write me at sdhill747@hotmail, and receive a free, signed copy. With 5,000 new books printed every day—900 alone in the U.S.—the only way to extend the reach of my message is through word of mouth. Your help would involve less than an hour of time and would be greatly appreciated! Enjoy the fabulous book trailer created by Filmmaker Scott Chestnut with the help of my son, Nate!

Click here to watch the book trailer