you don’t give your heart in pieces

“Unreserved, unrestrained / Your love is wild, Your love is wild for me. It isn’t shy, it’s unashamed. / Your love is proud to be seen with me.”

“Pieces” – Bethel Worship

Sometimes you can hear the same song dozens of times, and that 31st time, it takes on a brand new meaning. When I first listened to “Pieces” by Bethel Worship, I thought about how the love of the Lord is beyond our understanding. In this world, the unashamed way he loves us would be considered embarrassing. And we aren’t used to being loved like that.

The song is on my most-listened playlist, often filtering through the house when I’m scrubbing last night’s sauce off the pan, when I’m zoned out in the pickup line making a grocery list in my head, as I’m hunched over my computer in the dark doing client work. But one time, the lyrics broke through the distractions, the complacency of the familiar melody, and probably some rambunctious children’s voices to show me something new.

It started with a question:

How often do we base our picture of God’s love on the way those who are closest to us are SUPPOSED to love us but cannot?

” Love keeps its promises. It keeps its word. It honors what’s sacred ’cause its vows are good. Your love’s not broken. It’s not insecure. Your love’s not selfish. Your love is pure.”

There’s no agenda or manipulation in God’s love like there is in broken people’s:

*He never withholds love to get what he wants because we are all he wants.

*His love’s not affected by our performance or merit because it’s based on who he is, and his nature never changes.

*He doesn’t look for us to fail so he can feel better about himself because he’s concerned with our good.

*There’s no threat or injury, no room for fear in his love because it’s full and whole, and in him we’re free.

All the broken families of origin, mean girls, unhealthy relationships, conniving co-workers have taught us to wait and see before letting anyone in, to keep one eye always open in our trust, and to carry a proverbial knife behind our back in the event we allow someone to know our old wounds and most vulnerable places.

But that’s not how God intended love and it’s something that needs to be reframed, retrained if we want the fullness and freedom of the proximity he offers us.

We crave intimacy, community, solidarity. On some deep level, we want our whole, true selves to be seen–scars, bad habits, junk drawers, and all–and loved anyway. But first, we have to strip the fears ingrained in us by the people who have failed us and let the Father love us. For me, that looks like making my heart soft where it wants to be hard. Being transparent when the world tells me I’m too much. Prying open my death-clenched fists when an open hand goes against every instinct. Sitting at the Father’s feet when I believe I haven’t done enough to deserve the rest.

“You don’t give your heart in pieces. You don’t hide yourself to tease us.”

It’s hard and completely against human nature to love first, when it isn’t returned, without the safety of asterisks or conditions. But as we begin to grasp the nature of God’s love for a people who don’t deserve it, and let him love us the way only he can love, how can we not try? 

{friday mixing bowl} fall favorites, part 339829

I will never pretend to have any chill about fall. Even though I’m still wearing soccer shorts and drinking breakfast smoothies here in Oklahoma, it’s OU/Texas weekend, I put a new fall-ish doormat out, and the pumpkin patch is open for the season! At least the smell of fireplace on my 85-degree walk through the neighborhood makes me feel like I’m not the only delusional one 🙂 Here are my favorite things lately:

* Fall flowers and baby pumpkins from Trader Joe’s, pretty much the extent of my decorating skills, only $7 total, and conveniently located right in the middle of my morning routine!

Credit: APLetters.com

* This gorgeous and artful fall bucket list from AP Letters. You’d better believe I will check off every box. 

* Currently reading: All Made Up by Kara Isaac. Don’t miss this stunning reunion romance, my new favorite book from one of my favorite authors/friends/people to share room service creme brulee with.

* If you’re a woman and have any creative inclination in your body, I’m STILL thinking about the Collaboration episode on The Next Right Thing podcast. I even copied her Wholehearted Creative checklist from the transcript and printed it off to keep by my desk. Short, sweet, and full of powerful truth!

Credit: @ChalkFullofLove on Instagram

* #1 on my wishlist: this Stars Hollow Fall Festival T-shirt from Chalk Full of Love. 

* Several mugs per day of The Republic of Tea’s Hot Apple Cider herbal tea. Get in my belly. 

* Current nonfiction read: One of my favorite podcaster/speaker/ writer/storytellers, Annie F. Downs, just released her latest book, Remember GodI just finished listening to it, and wow. I cannot adequately express how much this book meant to me. She talks about hope, disappointment, seasons of wilderness, the nature of God, and ends with this prayer that left me a changed (crying) woman: “I would do it ALL again for who I’ve found You to be.”

Credit: DamnDelicious.net

* It’s not fall without soup, and your tomato soup needs these Grilled Cheese Roll-ups for scrumptious dunking. 

I told you. It was a lot 🙂 What are you enjoying so far this season?

PS: If you’re not ready to move forward with football and fireplaces, you can get a little dose of summer romance in my new novella, That’s When I Knew. Available on Amazon for 99 cents through the 15th <3 

That’s When I Knew pre-order + FREEBIES

I’m so excited to announce that my novella, That’s When I Knew, originally published in the Love at First Laugh collection last year, got a pretty new makeover and will be released individually on October 1!

It’s available on Amazon for a special pre-order price of 99 cents, and to show my appreciation for my amazing readers, I’m offering a pre-order freebie pack of downloadable goodies! This includes inspirational lock screens for your phone, a devotional based on the book, recipes, and a daily planning page that would make Chelsea proud.

Here’s how to get yours:

1) Pre-order the novella on Amazon for only 99 cents: https://amzn.to/2QLzzOb

2) Copy your order number in your Amazon confirmation email and head here: http://www.laurietomlinson.com/freebies/

That’s it! I’m so excited to share Nick and Chelsea’s story with you. Thanks for reading! <3 To learn more about the story and access story extras, click here.

the long game: now available for pre-order!

Exciting news, friends: My novella, “The Long Game” is now available for pre-order with the Once Upon a Laugh collection on Amazon Kindle!

Even better? The whole collection (8 inspirational romantic comedies) is on sale for 99 cents for a limited time. I am so excited to introduce you to Ryan and Annie and the rest of the stories in this set.

When the arts budget gets cut to make room for a new football coach, small-town choir teacher Annie Jacobs has one long-shot chance to save the spring musical: kicking a field goal on national television. But she swore off sports—and the spotlight—forever when her last attempt resulted in social annihilation. And the new football coach is the golden boy she pined for in high school, who was there to witness it all.

Hometown hero Ryan Collins has returned to Lake Greencliff to restore the football program to its former glory, the opportunity for redemption after his first coaching tenure ended in disappointment. When he finds out his second chance came at a cost, he agrees to help prepare Annie for the contest. But he doesn’t count on falling for the fascinating woman who fell off the map after high school, or how much she helps him in return.

When the past threatens to repeat itself, crippling old fears resurface. With their jobs and their students’ futures in the balance, can the show–and their budding romance–go on?

For more information, including story inspiration and extras, visit The Long Game’s story page! You can pre-order all 8 novellas for 99 cents by clicking here:

Pre-order Now!

{friday mixing bowl} favorites lately

It’s been a minute since I did one of these on the blog, but I do send it out once a month in my newsletter! Here are some of my lately favorites:

The hardcover versions (gorgeous gray and coral) of my favorite CSB She Reads Truth Bible are 50% at Lifeway today! This isn’t sponsored in any way except to tell you I have read my Bible more in the year+ I’ve had mine than ever in my life. I love the format and the aesthetic of it. Dudes, your lady would love this for Mother’s Day!

If I ever win a million dollars, I will give about half of it to Sal Khan and his incredible website. Some of you know I’m taking classes, and nobody helps me understand Lewis structures and stoichiometry like him! If you have kids in school, this website provides videos that break down pretty much any subject from the ground up (and in a way that’s ZERO% condescending). So helpful if you haven’t taken a math class since 1993 🙂 Did I mention it’s FREE?

My committee meetings with Jaime Jo. If you have trouble prioritizing time with your people, put it on the calendar like you would a work thing and call it a committee meeting. I learned this from my sweet friend Pam, and it works like a charm.

Cheap Trader Joe’s flowers + a lit candle make work feel less like work and any space feel 100% more cheerful and cozy.

For ages, I’ve told myself I didn’t do audiobooks because who has time for a 7-hour time commitment? But I just discovered the Hoopla library app, and it changed everything! I’ve been “reading” in the carpool line, doing the dishes, answering emails, and taking walks. This week alone I’ve “read” three books that have been sitting on my shelf for ages — nonfiction read by the author is my jam. The secret is to put it on 1.5x speed, which is a hair slower than Mickey Mouse voice 🙂

Comfort Food Sundays are a new thing in our house. We’ve found it helps us eat cleaner, healthier dinners through the week because we can look forward to all things pasta, cheese, and cream on Sunday nights. (This was the beginnings of chicken and dumplins — no “G” to be found.) There is something about the slow, unhurried act of chopping vegetables and minding a bubbling pot that makes me right with the Lord before a busy week.

What are you loving right now? I’m always on the search for things that make life easy, comforting, and joyful.

what I learned in 2017

 

I should open this post in disbelief that it’s already 2018, but I was ready. My fresh start began toward the end of the year, and I couldn’t be more excited about what’s changing and what’s to come. Here in Oklahoma, it’s a balmy 16 degrees, and you can find me curled up with a steaming mug of soup, all wrapped up in children and cozy knits.

But more on the present and future later. For now, I will recap the silly, serious, important, and entirely trivial things I learned this year…

  • We went to California in December, and seeing things through the eyes of my children — meeting their animated heroes in real life at Disneyland; dipping their toes in the ocean for the first time — was WAY better than living it first-hand. Same for all the things they noticed about Christmas a year older. You can’t reproduce that WONDER in their eyes as they witness and process and absorb for the first time.
  • My friend Mollie taught me the S-T-A-R-S method for Scripture application, and it gave the practice new meaning in my life. For one, using the word “practice” couldn’t accurately describe my Bible reading habits before 2017. But it gave new meaning to the living, breathing aspects of the Word + the authority, which I learned will always be an unfolding, evolving, mysterious journey with the Lord.

 

  • After tasting Antoinette Baking Co’s magical strawberry buttercream, it’s official: I am no longer a chocolate dessert kind of girl. What is this blasphemy?
  • Sometimes your football team loses nailbiter after nailbiter after nailbiter, shaving off years of your life by building up hope and then swiftly cutting its legs from beneath you it with last-minute heartbreak. And you realize: this is exactly what you wished for last season. 2016’s team would have lost those games handily, after all. We have to take the bruised bottoms with the stumbling steps forward 🙂
  • Celine Dion is absolutely brilliant live. I’ve always liked her music and thought she was *pretty* talented. But on stage? That voice! I’m still feeling all the feels from her show.

  • There is true RESTORATION in silencing the mind and being completely still on a regular basis. Even for a few moments.
  • Ever since my son was born, I’ve been waiting for him to be old enough for preschool. I thought all of my work-life-home balance problems would be solved, but it turns out that sometimes too much time can be bad for people like me. Sometimes it lends itself to too much navel-gazing, no matter how busy I am or how many things I get done.
  • While I love the romance genre (and, um, write it–shhh!), I enjoy true women’s fiction with a romantic thread just a little bit more. In Muggle-speak, that’s fiction in which the primary storyline surrounds a woman’s journey (or non-romantic relationship), and her romance is merely a secondary thread.
  • Using your own name as your platform can sometimes be bittersweet. I usually give my husband and mom a mini photo book of social media images from the whole year, but this Christmas, there weren’t enough. My 2017 feed was full of carefully curated snapshots of bright books and bowls of oatmeal and tidy workspaces. While there was definitely lots of living happening outside of those social media squares, this year there will be more documenting chubby toddler cheeks, date night hijinks, and soccer princess shenanigans. My 2017 blog will include more of non-authorly me, too 🙂

What is one silly or important, deep or Jeopardy-trivial thing you learned in 2017? Do share in the comments!

on time management + the best-laid schemes

“Am I being led by love or pushed by fear?” – Emily P. Freeman

With the help of my Lara Casey / Cultivate What Matters Powersheets, I have been identifying big goals and little goals every month to help make sure I’m answering that question right.

While it’s good to see a framework of how I want my month to look and what I want to accomplish, if we’re honest, my to-dos have been pushed to the next month more often than not. One of the reasons is because we’re just getting into a good school rhythm around here. (Yes, I realize that it’s November!)

So one of my November goals was to design and implement a massive overhaul of my daily routine, which I did the first day of the month…

…and promptly went down with high fever and strep throat that picked off one family member at a time. Good perspective building from the get-go, I tell you 🙂

Please bear in mind that I will never abide by a hard-and-fast schedule. If one of my friends is having a day and suggests setting our minions loose at Chick Fil A for an hour or two, who am I to argue? If my toddler didn’t sleep well and needs to take an earlier nap? Picking up dish soap and chicken cutlets can wait.

It’s more of an evaluation of:

  • What will help me and the people I’m in charge of grow and move forward this month?
  • What’s been slipping through the cracks too much lately?
  • What excess and unnecessary can I remove?
  • Where is there white space in my days that can make the important things happen?

Would you believe me if I told you I’m NOT a natural planner? It’s true. My mind is actually quite the hot mess of need cilantro and schedule dentist appointment and maybe this could happen in chapter 2? at any given time. I didn’t start setting goals or keeping a planner until college when I had three jobs, 18 credit hours, intramural sports, a really fun friend group, and a very real, very intense fear of missing out. It was kind of necessary.

The truth is: If I don’t make a list or give myself a big-picture, I spend a lot of time procrastinating or overthinking what needs to be done next. That’s my human nature and the tendency I’ve learned to adapt. 

But as much as I believe in managing the work, the chores, the appointments, and tasks, I think it’s equally important to create margin for rest and play. That doesn’t come naturally to me, either. I tend to feel guilty and stressed about taking time to rest and play when there are things I need to be getting done. What I’ve learned at the ripe age of 32, though? Guilt and stress only breed burnout and indecision. And I am actually less likely to move and make progress when I’m frozen in burnout and indecision. It’s kind of like starting off too fast in a race and finishing more slowly than you would have at a manageable pace. Or getting a speeding ticket and arriving late to your destination anyway.

So this month, I’m focusing on revamping my routine, finishing projects that have been vacillating for months, being intentional about family time instead of multitasking, keeping a daily gratitude log on my Facebook for perspective, working ON my business instead of just working in it, and recharging well (with things that actually fill me up instead of just shutting down in front of Netflix).

Are you a natural planner? Have you revamped your routine lately?

NaNoWriMo resources


Tools:

Pep Talks:

Helpful Links:

Fall Favorites Giveaway

To celebrate fall and my extreme gratitude for those who have helped spread the word about With No Reservations’ e-book sale, let’s do a giveaway!

One winner chosen in the Rafflecopter below will win a fall-themed bundle including:

  • Signed paperback for a friend
  • Bath & Body Works LEAVES Candle
  • Pumpkin Campfire mug generously provided by the super talented AstroBarn Design. (You’re going to want to follow her on Instagram pronto!)
  • Cozy fall blanket scarf generously provided by my favorite clothing boutique, Sashy Pants (Visit their website or find them on Facebook or Instagram to see their cute offerings!)

Ways to spread the word:

  • [bctt tweet=”The fall foodie romance With No Reservations by @LaurieTomlinson is on sale for $1.99! bit.ly/wnrsale/ #bibliophile #whattoread” username=”LaurieTomlinson”]
  • Copy and share: The fall foodie romance With No Reservations by @LaurieTomlinson is on #eBook sale for $1.99! bit.ly/wnrsale/
  • Copy the image above and paste on social media
  • Take a photo of your paperback or e-book and share about the sale
  • Tell how you shared in the Rafflecopter widget below

I can’t thank you all enough! Here’s how to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2017 ACFW conference mix & mingle


It’s this week, y’all!!

Welcome to the fifth annual pre-conference mix and mingle, the event with the cheesy name but serious fun. In case you’re new here and have no idea what this is all about, it’s just a little link up with questions that help us get to know each other before conference arrives. I’ve loved the opportunity to “meet” people ahead of time, especially that first year in Indianapolis when I was a newbie  🙂 At the bottom of this post, there’s a little link-up with friends who will be there and their own get-to-know-you posts.

Here’s how to play:

– Copy/paste the questions and fill out your own answers in a post on your own website and paste the URL to that specific post (not your homepage) using this handy link-up tool. Just click on the button below that says “Add your link”. If you don’t have a website, feel free to answer the questions in the comments below!

– Make sure to link back to this post after you fill out your answers so any of your readers who are conference attendees can participate, too! The more, the merrier.

– Click through the links below to get to know other conference attendees!

Here are my answers!

Name: Laurie Tomlinson

Location: Tulsa, OK

What you write/tagline/trademark: I write clean + inspirational contemporary romance!

Place in the book world: Published author of one novel and one novella with a few projects currently on submission.

On a scale of hugger to 10-foot-pole, please rate your personal space: All the hugs.

Something VERY serious: How do you take your Starbucks? Not a coffee drinker, but chai or iced Passion-Tango tea, please!

The unique talking points that will get you going for hours: Planners, pens, cooking, Texas Longhorns football, and whatever TV show I’m currently watching (Try Firefly)!

Loved ones at home you’ll be missing: My husband, 6-year-old daughter, and 2-year-old son. You’d better believe I’ll be missing my yellow Lab snuggles, too!

Conference goals we can pray for? I’ll only be there Friday and Saturday, but I’m praying for productive writing time and fellowship <3

Anything we can celebrate with you? Two book releases since our last conference: That’s When I Knew in the Love at First Laugh collection and With No Reservations, published by Harlequin Heartwarming!

One or two ways we can help you build your platform? You can like my author page on Facebook and sign up for my email list by clicking here!

Your turn!

Be sure to check out who’s going to conference as (hopefully) the links start showing up!