Guest Angela Couch – Waiting For Her Turn

Dear readers, from time to time I ask others to share their stories of faith, hope, and love in order to encourage us all. If you have a story to share, you can find my guidelines under the Connect tab. In the meantime, welcome Angela Couch!

April was a great month for me. My historical romance, The Patriot and the Loyalist, was released, I was busy getting ready for a move into a larger home, and I was entering the second trimester with my fourth pregnancy—yay, no more morning sickness! And then, about a week before our move, and at 14 weeks along, I threatened to miscarry.

But everything was going to be alright.

I stayed in bed catching up on edits, promoting my book, and enjoying a “When Calls the Heart” marathon, while my poor hubby tried to keep up with kids, packing, and a little work on the side.

Everything was going to be alright.

Thursday the 4th of May we had the moving truck booked and friends lined up to help us pack up our home so we could make the three hour drive south Friday morning, (my husband’s birthday). But by two in the morning, I knew plans were going to change. I’d given birth to three babies. I knew what labor felt like. Only this was six months too early. And there was way too much blood.

Prayer brought peace, but not the kind I wanted. With that peace came the understanding that I wasn’t having a baby this Halloween. The understanding that I needed to stop fighting my body and let nature take its course. The hardest thing I’ve ever done.

By eight in the morning I came home to my house of boxes, no longer pregnant.

Yet God did not leave me alone.

I told my husband I wanted to go ahead with the move on schedule. No sitting in limbo. I honestly just wanted the distraction, the busyness around me though I would be of no help. I believe that in itself was a gift from God. And that peace that continued with me. The wonderful understanding that God held my baby…and that someday I would hold him or her, too. I just needed to wait for my turn.

Gradually it became so the miscarriage wasn’t about “losing” my baby. The Lord whispered “patience” to me. His timeline, his plan for my live, and that child’s life, is the perfect one. All I need to do is trust.

To keep from freezing in the Great White North, Angela Couch cuddles under quilts with her laptop. Winning short story contests, being a semi-finalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest, and a finalist in the International Digital Awards also helped warm her up. As a passionate believer in Christ, her faith permeates the stories she tells. Her martial arts training, experience with horses, and appreciation for good romance sneak in there, as well. When not writing, she stays fit (and warm) by chasing after three munchkins.




Back Cover:

Completing his three years in the Continental Army, Daniel Reid still has no desire to return home-not after losing the woman he loves to a British Captain-so he volunteers to ride south through enemy lines and deliver a message to Colonel Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox. With his temper needing a release and a dark haired beauty finding her way into his broken heart, Daniel decides to join the Swamp Fox’s efforts against the British. Little does he know the British still have the upper hand.

Lydia Reynolds has learned that love comes at a price, and she refuses to pay. Better to close her heart to everything and everyone. When her brother-in-law won’t grant her passage to England, where she hopes to hide from her pain, New Englander, Daniel Reid, becomes her only hope-if she can induce him to give her information about the notorious Swamp Fox and his troops. When the British grow impatient and Daniel evades her questions, Lydia must decide how far to take her charade. The poor man, already gutted by love, hasn’t grown as wise as she. Or so she supposes. . .

Until the truth is known, the muskets are loaded. . .and it is time to decide where true loyalties lie.

Buy links:  On Amazon and At Barnes and Noble

A Season of Growth – Part 3

Spring has sparked a new season of growth for my whole being in body, mind, and spirit. I’ve already talked about growing stronger physically and growing sharper mentally. This week, I’m focusing on growing richer in my spirit.

The spirit is a harder concept to grasp, even if you come from a faith perspective like I do. All I can say is there’s a part of me deep inside my heart or chest region that reacts and responds to beauty around me. A part that longs for more. That sings a new song when inspired. That overflows with abundant love and joy. A part of myself that can just as easily feel parched and isolated and empty.

Just like I feed my body with food and feed my mind with information, my spirit gets fed with beauty. Much of that beauty comes from communication with the Creator of all beautiful things through my quiet times of reflection in the Word of God, prayer, and worship. In the rush of a busy life, this area often gets short-changed so I have to be deliberate and disciplined to protect this time on a regular basis.

I’ve also found that it’s harder to find times of silence when everyone else in our household is out of school for the summer. That’s one reason why I enjoy getting out of the house and heading to a park, the path alongside a lake, or even the nearby mountains. When outside in nature, I’m reminded of the Creator and easily slip into a conversation of thankfulness that in return fills my spirit. Of course, there is also research to show that “forest bathing” through a simple walk among the trees reduces stress and has other health benefits, but I personally think that’s because all time spent in creation feeds the spirit because I feel the same refreshing alongside water or watching the surf roll in on a beach.

There is also inspiration to feed my spirit found in other areas of creation like a powerful musical score, a gorgeous piece of art, the fluidity of dance, and even the laughter of children. So, I’m going out of my way to find these other sources and then pause to soak them in while I can.

Between my quiet times, walks in nature, and other sources of creativity, it’s a season of growth in the way I care for my spirit. How do you feed your internal being and find refreshment?

A Season of Growth – Part 2

Spring has sparked a new season of growth for my whole being in body, mind, and spirit. Last week, I talked about my desire to change, baby steps to get there, and rewards along the way as I transform my flab to fit and tired to toned. This week, I’m focusing on growing my mind.

Confession time. I am an avid reader. Shocker, I know. But I usually read fun books as an escape from the stress or as a reward for getting my boring day job’s work done. Whether they are romance, suspense, historical, or dystopian, I like easy reads where I don’t have to do much in the way of thinking about individual themes or theological concepts. I could spend days on end falling deeper into a world of unending stories.

However, a mental diet of light fiction is like a physical diet made up primarily of chips and soda. There are times we need to chew on the protein-packed meat in order to strengthen our muscles. Likewise, it’s also important to sometimes really dig into a deeper topic and dust off those unused areas of logical thought in the recesses of the brain. That venture might be in the form of a non-fiction book or even a biography of an inspirational person, but either way, the choice must be deliberate.

So, during this season of growth for my mind, I’ve moved a few buried treasures within my to-be-read pile to the top of the teetering stack. Of course, I’m also setting aside time for reading, likely on my front porch where I can sit outside in the nicer weather for a change but still feel like I’m doing something productive. I’ll admit that I’m also alternating fun reads between these heavier books in the stack, but those will be my built-in reward for reading something outside my normal choosing.

There’s also a lot to be said in the field of neurological research about the importance of learning new skills or exercising neglected areas of our brains in order to prevent or hinder dementia or even Alzheimer’s. While I’m only in my mid-40’s, I’m determined to dust off a few areas of critical or logical thought. That’s why I bought a magazine filled with logic puzzles and hope to solve one a day in order to remind myself how to think outside the box. It’s not a huge step, but it will help move me in the direction I want to go by sharpening my mental acuity. Plus, the ability to connect seemingly unrelated things should help with the plotting of my next book.

At our last meeting, one of the member’s of our local writers’ group presented us with an overview of how to use Photo Shop and the cheaper Photo Shop Elements program to create layers with a picture. She will be doing a follow-up session specifically on how to create full book cover layouts for indie publishing and since my writing career is likely headed back that direction, I am looking forward to learning more about both this program and this process while I acquire a few graphic design tools along the way. I’m not exactly artistic so this will certainly stretch my mind by actively learning the program, but the reward will be the ability to create my own book covers on a budget I can afford.

Between books, puzzles, and a self-taught class, it’s a season of growth in the way I’m taking care of my mind. What are you doing to exercise your brain?

A Season of Growth – Part 1

Spring is my favorite time of year. Between the colorful bulbs in my flower bed and the lilac blossoms in my own backyard, there’s a sense of hope and anticipation that builds in my heart. The long cold winter slips away and fades from memory as new life emerges and dead brown grass turns a vibrant green. It gives me hope that exciting things are around the corner.

While spring is the start of a season of growth outside, it also sparks an internal season of change. This month—despite the snow that fell over the weekend—I’m deliberately turning my attention toward growth in several areas. I’ve often talked about my writing journey and how I’m growing in craft, but I am more than my business. More than the next book I write. More than the next post I share on social media.

I am a whole person. Body, mind, and spirit. So while I am also a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee, and volunteer, my core identity is the true foundation of all that I am able to do. And neglect in any one area affects the others with an outward rippling effect on the rest of my life and influence.

With that said, my first focus in this short series is to create a season of growth for my body. Which honestly makes me laugh, because as my mirror reflects, I spent that long cold winter growing in a few unwelcome areas. Ahem. I may have stayed inside where it was warm but my current squishy, jiggling, pasty white body is not the earth-suit I want to journey through life with. No. I’d much rather have a healthy, strong, toned, and energetic body that will carry me to all the places I want to go.

So, how does one actually change? First, by wanting to change. By being honest about where I am, but also seeing where I would rather be and focusing on that goal. Second, by rearranging life to include new habits that will replace old habits while moving me closer to that goal. Third, by measuring results and giving myself rewards when I reach certain milestones until the achievement of the overall goal becomes reward enough.

Practically speaking, I’ve dusted off a stack of videos and DVDs that serve up strengthening exercises in ten minute doses while focusing on those big muscle groups with squats, lunges, sit-ups, and push-ups. I can squeeze ten minutes in while waiting for my daughter’s bus in the morning. Already I feel stronger, have a boost of energy to carry me into my work day, and I know that the increase in muscle will eventually boost my metabolism to burn more fat even while I sleep.

I’ve also hung a few cute items of clothing where they are visible in my closet. You know, that adorable shirt that doesn’t look quite right now but will be absolutely perfect once I’ve dropped five or ten pounds…just in time to be out and about for a summer event. I don’t spend a lot of time around a swimming pool, so this is my equivalent of getting that swimsuit-ready body.

Spring and summer are the perfect times to also eat a bit healthier with fresh veggies and salads. But I’ve also invested in a cute insulated cup with a straw and told myself that I have to drink one full glass of water between each indulgence of Diet Dr Pepper. Small changes but they should add up, especially once I’m able to get outside more, be active, and soak in that Vitamin D from the sun during walks.

That covers the desire to change, what the end result will look like, and the small changes to get there. As for measuring the results, the scale and the fit of my clothing are pretty obvious signs of progress. There will definitely be an internal reward of feeling better about myself and looking cute in my new clothes, but I’m hoping the renewed energy physically will also translate into fresh creative ideas in my writing and the ability to participate in activities with my kids.

It’s a season of growth in the way I take care of my body. Who will join with me in this journey?

Beside Still Waters, He Restores My Soul

God certainly knew what He was doing when He gave me the word “Abide” as a focus point this year. I’ve been digging deeper to learn how to abide. To be still. To listen. Yet I find myself still striving inside and wrestling with decisions to make and unaccomplished goals.

When I’d set aside time for my devotions, I had often found myself at least subconsciously watching the clock to see when I could stop and get back to the mountain of real work I needed to do.

Knowing there is something extremely messed up about not being able to be truly quiet during my so-called quiet time, I tried something radical. I cleared my schedule, took a short drive, and just sat beside some water. Sized somewhere between a pond and a lake, it had all the necessary elements of water, a few trees, some grass, and even a few feathered guests. A gentle breeze formed a few ripples across the surface of the water, then it stopped, leaving a surface like glass. Water lapped a bit against the shore as gliding ducks created new ripples of their own. The surrounding trees were beginning to leaf out while the grass was transitioning from winter’s brown to the life-giving green of spring.

As I sat, my senses soaked it all in…then calmed. Low-level anxiety and stress and tension melted away and as I sat, something deep down inside began to get filled up. My mind wandered without an agenda. Without a purpose.

I just was.

Beside the still waters, I found a prayer of communion and intimacy taking the place of my earlier prayers of desperation and need. Me and God, hanging out beside the water. No rush to be somewhere or do something. Simply being all the way down to the depths of my soul and trusting God to keep me in the palm of His hand whatever the rest of the day held.

Eventually a pain in my stiff back forced me to move and life’s responsibilities intruded once again. Yet, as I drove back home, I found joy in the realization that my soul had truly been restored beside the still waters.

So far this month, I’ve given myself permission to wait before making a big decision and permission to relax about my never-ending to-do list. Now, I’m giving myself permission to trust even more the One who restores my soul.

After all, that’s what abiding is all about.

Getting To Know The Twins in Moonstone Secrets

From time to time, I let others share their stories on my blog. Today, welcome back Dawn V. Cahill as she interviews identical twins Livy and DeeDee McCreary, singers and dancers extraordinaire, who star in her new novel Moonstone Secrets – sequel to Sapphire Secrets.

Dawn V. Cahill: DeeDee, since this is your story, why don’t we start with you? Tell us why you want to share your story with the world.

DeeDee: Picture this—a remote cabin in the Canadian bush. Howling wind. A barking dog and a dead body…. Wouldn’t you be curious, too?

DVC: Indeed I would.

DeeDee: Moonstone Secrets is basically my testimony. And what an incredible journey. Not only did I find out the truth about my boyfriend’s ex-wife, I also found a husband. And God. Now, I just want the world to know that God loves them. So many people have never experienced His love. They don’t know what it’s like when God grabs ahold of you and pulls you into His arms – so unlike anything you’ll ever experience.

DVC: But you weren’t raised to believe in God. What made you change your mind?

DeeDee: I met someone who wasn’t afraid to share Christ with me. At first, I was resistant. Our parents and grandma raised us to be suspicious of organized religion. But then, one day everything changed. I made a shocking discovery about the man I loved and…

DVC: Spoiler alert!

DeeDee: Whoops. Zipping my lip now. Better change the subject. Let’s talk about dancing!

DVC: Okay, dancing it is. One of my readers wants to know, were all those dance lessons growing up a pleasure, or a chore?

DeeDee: I won’t lie and say they were a piece of cake. Dance lessons are grueling. If I hadn’t had Livy to learn and practice with, I’m sure I would have given up a long time ago. But now, I marvel at what my body can do. I’m pumped that we get to pay it forward by teaching other little girls the beauty of dance.

Livy: Our mom’s passion for dance rubbed off on us. I couldn’t have quit if you paid me. For me, the downside of dance was the demanding nature of it. In the professional dance world, you have your share of divas and spiteful types and those who take themselves oh-so-seriously.

DeeDee: You find if you don’t keep raising the bar, someone else will be more than happy to grab the best part.

Livy: Yet all the practicing builds character and self-discipline.

DeeDee: I loved the intense competitions…

Livy: I hated the bloody toes and outgrowing my favorite leotards…

DeeDee: There were hardly ever any boys in class to tease or flirt with.

DVC: How times change! A couple of single fathers brought their daughters into your studio for lessons.

Livy [giggling]: Don’t forget to mention how cute they were.

DVC: And now you’re married to one of them, aren’t you, Livy?

Livy: Spoiler alert!

DVC: My lips are sealed. But my fans who read Sapphire Secrets are dying to know…were you ever able to dance again?

Livy: I don’t want to spoil the surprise. But if they read Moonstone Secrets, they’ll find out!

DeeDee: Don’t forget to tell them about your prequel, When Lyric Met Limerick, a free short story about a fateful meeting…the day our amazing and talented parents met.

DVC: Readers, just click on my Amazon author page to find all my books. And thank you, ladies, for letting my readers get to know you today.

Livy and DeeDee [in unison]: So long, lovely readers.

DeeDee: Peeps, you have to download Moonstone Secrets, because this crazy author is going to put me through an even worse ordeal than Livy’s. I have no clue how I’m going to get out of this mess…

DVC: Not to worry, DeeDee, your story is now available for preordering and will be released next week!

DeeDee: Hey everyone, be sure to subscribe to my favorite author’s newsletter at so you can be the first to read my story!

As the Christmas season sparkles around her, DeeDee McCreary eagerly anticipates visiting magical Victoria, BC, with her boyfriend, Nick, and meeting his family. But the trip proves disastrous. First, Nick finds his bank account cleaned out. Then he disappears. Frantic, she determines to uncover what happened. When she discovers something far worse than she anticipated, she questions everything she believes to be true about him.

With the man she loves in jail for an unspeakable crime, DeeDee knows the truth lies somewhere in Nick and his ex-wife’s past. But if she pursues their secrets, will she put herself in danger, too?

Author Dawn V. Cahill pens “Stories of Victorious Faith for the 21st Century,” nearly always with a crossword puzzle, sudoku, or dark chocolate nearby. “The characters in my stories face situations that would have been unthinkable even 20 years ago. We live in a vastly different world than our parents did, and that’s the world I write about.”

Why I Can’t Do Everything

Duh. Because I’m human, not super-human. That’s why I can’t do everything.

That’s the easy answer, but it’s true. Yet, I must not really believe it because I still try to do more than is humanly possible to accomplish in a day, week, or month. I suppose I took to heart that sage wisdom about aiming high because even if you fall short, you’ll still end up among the stars.

Anyhow, I try to take on more than I can reasonably get done…and then beat myself up with guilt for not marking everything off my list. I could set the bar lower, but I’m a recovering perfectionist who thinks that the world is watching and judging me based on my performance. (At least I’m past the feed-the-baby-and-change-diapers stage of life.)

Case in point? This overwhelming feeling of hypocrisy when sharing practical advice and wisdom with other authors. I’ve written a comprehensive set of blog posts about a wide variety of topics and will likely compile them all into a book to make it easy for others to get access to all of the information and possibly earn a little cash on the side to support my writing obsession. However, over and over as I wrote about these wonderful and often easy ways to promote books and juggle all of the marketing while still writing…I felt like I was staring into a mirror with a wagging finger aimed my direction. I couldn’t help but see all the things I should be doing. Should be, but I’m not.

It doesn’t just happen in my writing world. I’m also striving for balance in all areas of life, yet can’t help seeing undone projects and goals everywhere I turn. From my squishy muffin-top-ish waistline to the dust-covered and cluttered scrapbooking table to that teetering pile of books I’ve been meaning to list on Amazon to generate a little more spending money. I could devote hours to one area, feel a sense of satisfaction in a job well done…then turn around and get smacked in the face with guilt over all the other things still to do. Not to mention the new things that snuck onto my proverbial plate—like the weeds in my flower bed—while I was occupied elsewhere.

Want to know why I can’t do everything? Because I’m human. And there will always be things to do. It will never all get done. And there’s freedom there. Not the freedom to give up completely, but the freedom to be realistic.

Even if it won’t all get done, I can still be about the business of doing. Even if I never reach that lofty goal I’m aiming at, I’ll still end up further than if I had never tried. So the better question to ask is did I make progress today? Did I take a baby step or two in the direction I want to go?

I may not be able to get everything done, but as long as I made some sort of measurable progress today, I’m giving myself permission to relax and enjoy the journey.

Quieting the Noise So I Can Think

I hear voices. I wish they were just the characters of my latest work-in-progress clamoring to share their opinions about a recent plot twist. But, no. Lately I’ve been hearing the voices of doubt and confusion and guilt to the point they’re blocking out the true voices of faith, wisdom, and peace. While I’m still learning to listen, I’m also quieting the noise so I can think.

The source of all this mental turmoil is a silly book. Well, not exactly a silly book but a story that I’ve been working on since the very beginning of my fiction-writing journey. The glimpse of a late-night diner waitress through a window while driving sparked a short story idea which grew into my first never-to-see-the-light-of-day manuscript and a few ideas about secondary characters who could turn the diner world into a series. I got connected with other fiction writers who soon critiqued my story about waitress number one back into a dusty drawer. However, in an experiment, I wondered if I could write an interweaving story about all three of the waitresses I had dreamed up…and that story was runner-up in a big contest in 2009.

Awesome. Except publishers had their women’s fiction slots filled for years and one agent kept asking me about my overall story question. (A question I had no idea how to answer at the time.) A writer friend suggested that I could pull the story back apart into three separate books and try to write them as straight romances. It felt like a lot of work, so I shelved the whole project and moved on to write two unrelated manuscripts.

Then on a whim, I picked up the character arc of waitress number two thinking—erroneously—that it would be easy to add the hero’s point of view amidst the existing scenes and slam-bam have a short novel length romance. It took more work than I thought but I was happy with the resulting story…which won the same contest in 2014…received requests for proposals and full manuscripts…and was also rejected over and over.

Since then, I’ve rewritten complete sections, rearranged scenes, deepened characters, revamped the opening, and continued to pitch the story idea to editors and agents. And continued to get rejections, with the “good” news that I’m open to resubmit if I rewrite it again.

All of which has led to my current paralyzing mental chaos after being rejected once again. What should I do with this story? These people?  The series potential? This award runner-up and then award winner that’s going nowhere? Should I do the work in order to keep knocking on the traditional publishing door or make this the first in an indie-published series of my own? Should I start fixing it based on the input from the last rejection letter or should I get the advice of a few beta readers to see what they would suggest? Should I try submitting it to a couple small presses as-is or add another 10,000 words in order to meet the guidelines of a different publisher who would be a great fit? Do I even like these characters anymore and would I want to invest more years into their world? Should I toss the whole thing in the trash and call it a painful learning experience or should I…?

In the middle of all of the noise, I heard a whisper in my soul.

Be still. Set this aside and quiet the noise. And in the silence, I am finally able to think clearly. I’m reaching the finish line on a non-fiction project so that’s obviously my first priority. Then I need to dive back in to revise the rough draft of a book that will come after my next release in February. By the time that manuscript is ready and that series completely written, then—and only then—will it be a good time to decide which writing project to pursue next. God knows if, when, and how this story will have a voice of its own.

In the meantime, I have permission to wait.

Shut Up and Listen

Do you know anyone who talks more than they listen? Someone who asks the same question over and over without ever hearing the answer?

While these types of behaviors are somewhat understandable—and unfortunately common—coming from my special needs daughter, I had to shake my head the other day when listening to a call-in radio show. More like I wanted to scream at the caller to shut up and listen.

The woman on the line had gone to the trouble to call in and sit on hold for who knows how long until the host had room in the rhythm of callers and advertisement breaks to put her on the air. With millions of people listening in, she presented the dilemma requiring the sage advice of the host. Except, unlike the countless previous callers to the show, she never stopped talking. And it wasn’t like her problem was that complicated since she started repeating herself about the third sentence. And kept on repeating herself while the host politely…and then not-so-politely tried to interrupt her monologue.

“Hey, lady. You called me, so do you want to know what I think?”

She finally stopped talking and the host gave her and the nation a practical and wise solution to her trouble. But as the show moved into another commercial break, I had to wonder if I’m ever like that lady when I’m talking to the One who has all of the answers.

When I pray, am I so busy dumping my complaints or concerns that I never stop to listen? Am I fixated on getting through all of the items on my I-promised-I-would-pray-for-you list before I run out of time? Do I really think I need to tell God all of the ugly details and feelings about a situation before I am ready to hear a solution?

My focus this year has been on learning how to abide. To stop striving or doing but rather to be still and know that He is God. To stop talking and complaining and arguing…and simply listen.

The possibility that listening is integral to abiding, reminded me of the prophet Elijah in the desert who discovered that God often speaks in a still small voice. Or an earlier time when the boy Samuel awakened to a voice in the middle of the night and responded “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:1-10)

 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. ~ John 10:27 NIV

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” ~ Isaiah 30:21 NIV

Listen and silent are made up of the same letters. Think about it.

And then this thought I found online: God gave us mouths that close and ears that are always open.

As crazy and noisy as my life can get most days, it’s that much more important that I make time to shut up and listen.

Leave a Mark For Eternity

I can be a bit of a clutz sometimes, especially when I’m tired, overwhelmed, or distracted. Which, thanks to a crazy day job project, is how I spent much of last week. As a result, I ran into things…and now have the bruises to prove it. Of course, in the moment of impact, I remember thinking “that’s going to leave a mark” but today as I look at the swirls of purple and yellow, I can’t remember exactly what happened.

I only know that I’m changed (even if it’s only temporary) by the encounters.

A week ago, our pastor talked about leaving a legacy in the context of a living a generous life. However, one of his points was that we leave a mark on the lives of everyone we come in contact with. Good or bad. Encouraging or critical. Kind or dismissive. And whether or not it fades or lingers, there is a mark.

Between the sermon and saying goodbye to my oldest son as he headed back to college after Spring Break, I found my mind wandering to an incident in the past where that same son left a mark…on his sister, our kitchen, our memories, and in the minds of all the other parents I shared the story with.

It was a Saturday morning and I awakened to the giggles of my two toddlers across the hall. As I drifted in and out of that lazy half-dozing state, I remember thinking how blessed I was to have my husband snoring beside me and two happy children, even if our daughter would face challenges throughout her life. For today, it was a good day.

I must have fallen back to sleep, because the next thing I remember is hearing a knock on our bedroom door and the cries of my daughter. I bolted out of bed and rushed over, opening the door to find my pajama-clad kids standing there, one behind the other. At least my trouble-making son looked completely normal as he grinned over the top of his crying sister’s head. A head of dark hair with a pool of white liquid at the top. The same white that streaked her face, her hands, and as I later discovered, her entire torso underneath her zippered footie pajamas.

I snuggled the crying girl while interrogating her brother. All he said was “paint” before disappearing back in the direction of the kitchen. I followed with trepidation and learned first-hand how much liquid could come out of the half-used bottle of Wite-Out correction fluid my husband had left on the table where he’d been drawing up football plays. In addition to the Exhibit 1 puddle and streaks decorating my daughter, my son’s activity had left a mark on the papers, table, chairs, floor, and walls as he had apparently poured, painted, and then paraded around the room shaking additional spatters from the bottle.

I’d like to say that his decorate-my-sister-and-home tendencies dwindled, except there was a Vaseline incident a week later that finally removed the last white flecks from her hair, a finger-painting-on-faces-and-walls incident when he broke into my craft closet, and a year later a curly-cue trail of chocolate syrup throughout the entire house. I guess you could say that my son knows how to leave a mark.

Thankfully, as he grew, he began to direct those energies into sports and friends, leaving marks of a different kind in school records, mentoring relationships, and character awards. Which brings me back to the idea of leaving a legacy.

My daughter didn’t appreciate the kind of mark her brother left with the Wite-Out, just like I don’t appreciate the bruises I picked up during a rough week. Those marks hurt and stain. However, there are other kinds of marks–positive marks. Marks that change the trajectory of a person’s day, week, or life. The kind of marks that could change their eternity if it helps someone to believe in God’s love and plan for their life.

Even the smallest encounter with someone else can mark them with an improved attitude, a smile, and the energy to keep going. Other encounters can spark a train of thought or encourage the pursuit of a forgotten dream. And when we realize we are vessels filled with God’s love, we can intentionally pour out, dab, or scatter that love wherever we go.

That’s the kind of mark I’m determined to leave on the world.