Survey—What Should My Next Book Be?

If you have not heard, I published my first book this summer. You can find out more about it here. Even though I am focused on promoting and marketing the book, people are asking me what I am going to write next.

So, far my answer has been that I have outlined a few ideas, which is true. I also want to write a short e-book to give away on my website. My plan is to write the e-book first within the next couple of months. Then in January begin writing on my next book. Want to give your input on what I write about next? I hope you do!

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Trauma upon Trauma

This post is a continuation of excerpts from my new book. A quick note about the progress of the book–My timeline is to publish the book by the first of May  I am enjoying formatting the manuscript. Did I just say enjoy? Can’t say that I am really. But it feels good to move closer to publishing.


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After I agreed to the placement of our first foster child, the CPS case worker knocked on our front door a couple of hours later. I opened the door and staring back at me was an 8 month old little boy in the arms of the case worker. She introduced herself.  I invited her in.

The little boy was quiet.  Did not cry.  He did not show any emotion when the case worker handed him to me.  Now I know that he was in shock.

A few weeks later after his first parent visit, this sweet little boy just stared at his parents as they walked away.  No emotion.  No crying.  Until we got home.  Then he lay on our living floor screaming, hitting his head with one of his toys.  It broke our hearts to see this 8 month old little boy reacting this way.

So, what was causing this extreme behavior?


In my book, I refer to little boys like this one as at risk or vulnerable children. Dr. Karen Purvis refers to them as children from hard places. If you are considering fostering or are doing so now, I highly urge you to check out Dr. Karen Purvis’ material.

Also, classes such as, Separation, Loss and Grief that we took through Arrow helped us understand at least at an elementary level about what was going on with this child.

A person of any age will struggle with processing trauma  Think about how grown people act after experiencing natural disasters. But can you imagine what it is like for a child.  If they are very young, only a few months old, it seems to affect how they process more normal situations.

Their reactions become fear based instead of normal needs based.

  • I am hungry.  Normal need based response–Someone will feed me. Fear based response–I will starve.
  • I am cold.  Normal need based response–Someone will keep me warm. Fear based response–I am alone.
  • I am afraid.  Normal need based response–Someone will comfort me. Fear based response–I will take care of myself.

For a child in foster care, the trauma begins to pile on top of trauma. Fear eventually controls the child’s behavior.

Example of trauma upon trauma for a foster child:

  • Neglect, abuse, or abandonment in family of origin.
  • Removal from family of origin.
  • Placement in the home of complete strangers.
  • Loss of personal items, routine, familiarity.
  • Months of uncertainty, sense of belonging.

The first night that our foster son was in our home, I lay in bed listening to a thunderstorm.  My heart was full of compassion wondering what was going on in his young mind. Did the storm frighten him? Was he sleeping through it? Did he wonder where he was? Did he wonder if he was safe? My intercessory prayer was that God would protect his heart and mind making him whole.

Question for you:  How can you patiently and with compassion embrace an at risk child from a hard place?


I Almost Ignored the Call that Altered my Life


I am blogging on different segments of my upcoming book, Adopting the Father’s Heart.  This is one story that causes my throat to tighten.  A one second decision altered my life.

We became certified as foster parents January, 2011.  Now it was June.  We turned down several foster placements for a variety of reasons.  We traveled a lot those 6 months.  We also narrowed our parameters quite a bit about a foster placement.  For example, we decided that it would be wise to begin with only one child instead of a sibling group.

The summer of 2011 in Austin, Texas was brutal.  The heat wave that summer broke the record of days over 100 degrees–by a long shot!  This particular day was hot enough to fry an egg on the dashboard of my truck.

Because we had turned down several placements, I was beginning to doubt our decision to foster children.  I was weighing other options in my mind.  To feel productive, I bought ceramic tile to put in our kitchen and breakfast area.

I unloaded over 300 square feet of ceramic tile in 110 degree heat.  Then I sat down at our kitchen table to drink some ice water.  I sat with drops of sweat running off the end of my nose as I read some emails.

Then my phone rang.  It was Arrow, our foster care agency.

Here is what went through my mind in about 2 seconds before I answered:

  • I do not want to talk to anybody right now.
  • I do not want to turn down another placement.
  • I am not even sure I want to foster a child.
  • Danielle is not here.  I do not want to make a decision without her.

Then I answered the phone.  Arrow needed a home for one 8 month old boy.  The only other information was that the child probably would be with us for only a few days or weeks.

I share more about this story in my book.  Bottom line is that we accepted that placement. And, it did alter my life.

This story causes me to think about how seemingly insignificant decisions often have a great impact on our lives.  Some people call it coincidence or fate.

I prefer to see it as God’s hand of direction and providence.  I have no doubt in my mind that God intended for this little boy to be placed in our home.  And, even though I came so close to not answering that phone call, I believe that it was God’s Holy Spirit that nudged me to answer.

The question for me is not whether God works in our lives like this.  It is instead are we very good at listening and noticing what He is doing in and around us.  I recollect other times when I was definitely not paying attention to Him.  The results show it too.

Question for you:  What happened in your life that was the result of what seemed like an insignificant decision at the time?

Author as Entrepreneur

Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson, uses the term, Author as Entrepreneur, in the video below.  He is sharing about WestBow Press, a self publishing division of Thomas Nelson.  Over the past few years, the status of self publishing has risen.

I put a lot of research into self publishing vs. traditional publishing.  Blogs, articles, and author friends of mine had a lot of different advice.  Some said to stay far away from self publishing.  Others said that self publishing is an excellent option.

For me it came down to a few things that helped me make this decision:

  1. The idea of being an author and an entrepreneur is attractive to me.  I like the idea of being in business for myself and ultimately being responsible for my success.
  2. It is also attractive to me to work with a division of Thomas Nelson.  I will be able to use their expertise and name recognition.
  3. I did not want to wait the length of time that it probably would take to go through the traditional publishing process of writing queries, hiring an agent, and finding a publishing house that would accept my manuscript.

Ultimately, the decision was mine to make.  But as I was on the phone with the WestBow representative, I felt very strange.  She even commented about how I did not seem very excited.  Believe me, I am excited!

The strange emotion lasted for most of the day.  Finally, as I was getting ready for bed, I processed with my wife what I thought was going on inside of me.  Why did I feel so strange?

I decided that making this commitment made everything seem more real.  Another thought lingered around the edges of my mind – “Do I really want to take the risk of sharing some of my life, my story, my passions?”

The answer is yes.  But, I do not take what I am doing lightly.

I appreciate everyone’s encouragement to follow my dream of writing.  Will you help me get the word out.  Like me on my FB page – Adopting a Father’s Heart – the book. You can do so by looking to your right on the sidebar.

Follow me on Twitter.  And join me on LinkedIn.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and Google+.  All of these are on the header of my home page.

Enjoy the video!





Break My Heart

Yesterday we sang the song Hosanna by Brooke Fraser.  Great worship song.  The words in a good worship song take me to the foot of my Father’s throne.  They move me to lay prostrate before Him allowing Him to use my life as He wills.



As we sang the song, the phrase, “Break my heart for what breaks Yours” caught in my throat.  The song continues, “Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause as I walk from earth into eternity.”

Break my heart for what breaks Yours.

In the book I am about to publish, Adopting the Heart of a Father, I write about God’s heart for the orphans.  One of my favorite verses that I quote in the chapter, The Call of a Father’s Heart is Psalm 68:5-6.  “Father to the fatherless, defender of widows – this is God, whose dwelling is holy.  God places the lonely in families.”

When I read that verse, I feel God’s heartbeat.  I sense His heart-break for the fatherless and the lonely.  What a tremendous God whose mind is on those who do not have a father  nor a family.

Break my heart for what breaks Yours.

God has blessed  me by growing up in a biological family and by being a part of a family of believers.  God has blessed me also with a wife of nearly 25 years and now an adopted son.  I have not experienced the loneliness of being an orphan or a widower.

I do not have within me what it takes to feel compassion for those who are orphaned or without a family.  So, I need for Him to break my heart for what breaks His.

When my wife, Danielle, and I began to consider adopting a child through the foster system, I was not willing to foster a child that was not available for adoption.  I could not imagine becoming attached to a child to only see them return to their family.

I did not want my heart to break.

That is why those words caught in my throat when I sang them.  I realized that through our experience of fostering a child, God has broken my heart for what breaks His.  We became more concerned for children that had no family or were at risk than we did for our own hearts.  So, we fostered a child knowing that he could go back to his family.

Please Lord Jesus, continue to break my heart for what breaks Yours.

Question – What does your heart break over?  


Change of Plans

No, I am not changing my mind about writing books.  Yes, I am still working on my book – Adopting the Heart of a Father.  In fact, I only have a few pages left to work on from Danielle’s, my wife, review.  Then, I will decide on an editor, designer and publisher.



At least once a week for the next few, I will blog about a section in my book.  In case you are not aware, you can read an unedited sample of the first two chapters.  You can find them by going to the home page.

Early in the book, I share some of our history to give you some context.  It helps a little to understand why we decided to be more involved in orphan care at this stage of our lives.  One sub-chapter I entitled “Change of Plans”.

February 2007, Danielle and I led a small mission team to Thailand for a 10 day trip.  Danielle and I had gone once before, but this was my first time to lead a team.  What a learning experience!  Short story is that after we arrived home, Danielle and I decided that we needed to go for a longer time.

We talked to the project leader in Thailand about us volunteering for 6-12 months.  That turned out to be an answer to his prayers.  They needed some help.  Immediately.  Within 2 months, Danielle and I quit our jobs, set up care for our home and vehicles, and were on a plane back to Thailand.

We volunteered with several mission organizations during the 6 months in Thailand.  It was painful to leave and transition back to living in the U.S.  I really thought that we would quickly be back overseas.  But we have not gone back long-term.

Over the next three years, I served as the mission pastor at our church.  In 2010, while I was still on staff, we felt that we were ready to return to the mission field.  We began making plans, including setting up several meetings with mission organizations in Thailand.  We went to Thailand for 3 weeks in March, 2010.

However, God had other plans for us.

Before we left for Thailand, Danielle and I attended a Verge conference in our city.  Our focus was on learning more about being international missionaries.  God refocused us.  Not that our desire has changed about international missions.  We still want to go.

At the conference, Aaron Ivey’s worship team shared about God’s heart for the orphan.  Many on the worship team had adopted children.  They emphasized the need for foster care and adoption in our own city.  As, I sat their listening to their stories and challenge, I knew the Holy Spirit was speaking to my heart.

As Danielle and I walked across the parking lot to our car after that session, we both knew that we were about to change our plans.  We still went to Thailand the next month to serve with a youth team from our church.  Then, we served with a team from Tamar Center in a village.  The next week we met with several other mission leaders in the country.

By the time we returned home, even though it did not make sense to me, I knew that we were going to pursue foster care and possibly adoption before we returned overseas.

The change of plans caught me completely by surprise.  But, it is not the first time that God has done that in my life.  And, I have no regrets at all.

I try to live my life with a loose hold on things so that God can change my plans when He chooses.  I look forward to whatever is next.  What an adventure!

Question – Has God ever radically changed your plans?  How did you respond?


Blogging with a Voice


I am learning how to blog and write with a voice – a style.  A voice that is my own.  A style that is easily recognizable.

Of course this takes some time.  I began blogging a few months ago.  Up to this point, my blogging has mainly been updates on the progress of my book, “Adopting the Heart of a Father”.

Last week I published my new blog site,  My intent on this blog is to speak from my passions.

Just like others, there are some things in life that when I begin to talk about them, my heart rate increases as well as the pace of my speech.  What am I passionate about?

  • Knowing and having the same heart as my heavenly Father.
  • Living or at least have the willingness to live intentionally on mission.
  • Seeing the Bride of Christ awaken to its true identity and calling.

I will be blogging about these topics as I go forward.  Included in these blogs will be postings about what book I am working on.

My current book, “Adopting the Heart of a Father” shares our story of becoming foster parents.  A central theme to the story is how my Father’s heart influenced me.  My heart began to break for the foster children in our community.

I hope that as I continue to blog about what I am passionate about you will be able to hear my voice.

What are you passionate about?  Are you willing to speak out loud and let others hear your voice?

Why I Began Blogging

Full disclosure here – I watched Julie & Julia a couple of years ago with my wife.  If you are not familiar with the movie, it stars Meryl Streep as Julia Child.  The movie intertwines the story of Julia Child with a character named Julie who is blogging about cooking every meal from Julia’s first cookbook.

From what I remember, Julie began blogging as a way of recording her successes and failures as she cooked her way through the cookbook.  I do not think she expected very many people to follow her blog.  But many people did follow it much to her surprise.

At the time I was watching the movie, I was not even considering writing a blog.  I had no reason to write a blog.  I know a lot people blog to keep a digital journal.  I have kept a journal for several years – with ink and in a simple composition book.

I am not sure that I want everyone in the world able to read what I write in my journal!

So, why did I begin blogging now?  Initially, it was to give updates on my progress of my new book.  Friends ask me a lot about how it is going.  I began blogging about my status on the book.

I am now seeing the value to blog about more than just the book.  I have been working on a  personal brand.  I hope to be launching my personal website soon from which I will blog through a broader yet still focused lens.

I now see blogging as a way to do the following:

  • Speak to a broad audience
  • Communicate my passions
  • Have influence
  • Find a like minded “tribe”

If you are a blogger, why do you blog?  I would love to hear your comments.

Manuscript in the Hands of my Spouse

Yikes!  My wife, Danielle, is reading the final draft of my manuscript.  I gave it to her late last week.  She began reading it over the weekend.

She read the first half a few months ago when I had completed it.  She provided some excellent content critique.  Now she will be reading my revisions to the first half and the half that she has not yet read.

It is an interesting time for me to hand over my manuscript to her.  I think that we are feeling the stress of being in a constant state of flux for the past five years.  That state of flux only intensified during the first 15 months that our foster son was with us.

When he was placed with us during the summer of 2011, I thought that he would be with us for only a couple of weeks.  Then, as that turned into months, I lived each day thinking that it would be the last day that he was living with us.

It was during this time that I began writing this book.  My first draft expressed through the verb tense my certainty of his soon departure.

Now that we know the outcome, our lives are beginning to settle into a bit of a routine.  That is a good thing for us right now.  At least for a few months it will be a good thing.

But back to how that has worn on our marriage.  Like so many couples who are focused on raising a family, we found ourselves talking to each other more and more about only the logistics of making it through each day.  At first, I thought that we would only have to do that for a short time, like a few weeks or a couple of months at the most.

However, those months turned into a year and a half.  By that time, we found it hard to even talk about logistics without getting frustrated or upset with each other.  Not good!

In the midst of this challenging time I handed over the final draft of my manuscript to my wife!  I am not sure if I am overly trusting or extremely foolish.  I choose trusting.

Seriously, I do trust my wife and her judgement.  In fact, I highly value her input.

As for our relationship – we know what we need to do.  We are committed to each other.  We have resolved to hire babysitters more often, so that we can spend time together without the interruption of a very social two-year old boy.  We have also made it a priority to spend time together in God’s Word and in prayer.

I am confident with His help, we will get our relationship back on track.  She is absolutely worth it!  And, I am looking forward to her feedback on the final draft.

Final Draft

This morning I finished my final draft!  It is a little hard to believe.  I know I still have a lot of work to do before publishing.

First, my wife will read my manuscript while I decide on some professional editing.  I have not decided yet if I will have an editor from a publishing house or a freelance editor do the work.

I will also make a decision on the publishing route.  I have decided that I will contract with a “self publisher”.  I researched many of these options online.  Now, I will make some calls to interview the ones that I am interested in.

While doing that, I will be also putting more time into developing my online presence.  This includes my website, enhancing my blog, and networking through the various social media sites.

My hope is to have a solid following by the time my book is ready to be published.  Not only will this help with marketing of the book, but it also could catch the attention of a traditional publisher.

As I started my morning today, I was thinking about finishing my final draft today.  I had not been confident that this day would ever come.  Even though some had encouraged me over the years to write, I was not sure that I would ever take the time to do so.

I thought about how so many people have a story to share, but in comparison so few take the time to write it.  Just like any endeavor or project, many excuses prevent someone from writing a book.  I am proud of myself for jumping that hurdle and sharing this story.  Hopefully, there will be more to come.