Winner of the American Christian Fiction Writer's Carol Award for Dauntless!!!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Facing Fears - Missionary Style

Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. ~ Psalm 86:11

Camper enjoying cuddle time with God
You might have noticed I went missing last week. I was on a short term mission trip to a poor rural area at the border of West Virginia and Kentucky. The experience was awesome!

Some of the highlights included 1) Leading worship for a kids camp, including crazy dances and Dina's classic "cuddle time with God." 2) Meeting a woman in a trailer park with no furniture and completely furnishing her home within a few hours. 3) Getting to play extreme make-over including shopping, making curtains, and decorating to turn a tiny pantry into a cute camo themed room for a thirteen year old boy, and being able to do the big reveal on his birthday. 4) Seeing my youngest child stepping out of his comfort zone in ministry, quiet time, and praying out loud in a group.

Extreme make-over
Actually, stepping out of our comfort zones and facing our fears was the theme of this trip and of our devotional quiet time studies. And sure enough, I found a few fears of my own. Fear of pain and discomfort mostly, which aren't fears that I had in my younger years. But as I mentioned in my last post, being valiant doesn't mean a lack of fear. It means a willingness to overcome those fears.

So I've decided that I'm not going to ever become one of those older women who make excuses in order to keep their lives cushy and under their control. I want to grow into a tough, sassy, fearless old brod. LOL. Like my Aunt Dolores who still goes on international mission trips in her 90s!!! Now that's my kind of old lady.

My youngest son
We also learned that fear is important, because it is a mirror of what is going on deep inside of us. Rather than repress our fears, we should look them in the face and get to the root. And finally we relearned the importance of the fear of God.

Monday, July 13, 2015

True Confessions: Anxious about Anxiety

(As first seen on Inkwell Inspirations on 7/10/2015) 

Somehow it does not surprise me that around the launch of my Valiant Hearts Series with its goal of inspiring young women to be strong and courageous, I found myself under attack. An attack of anxiety. Isn’t that the way it always seems to work? 

I’m generally a pretty peaceful person. Sure, I’m prone to stress just like everyone else, but I try to keep my life manageable and focus on the positive. I don’t have a tendency to sweat the small stuff or get mired in worry. In fact, I’ve even had the experience of passing through incredibly stressful situations on a cloud of supernatural peace.

However, I have had a few bouts with physiological anxiety. Usually it occurred when I’ve tried a new medication (for unrelated issues like headaches or cholesterol) that didn’t agree with me. I’ve also noticed in recent years that I’ve had some anxiety issues due to food sensitivities.

Those experiences taught me an important lesson about anxiety that most Christians don’t seem to realize. “Anxiety disorder,” in our modern use of the term, can sometimes occur when something in your body goes haywire. It can be a purely physiological phenomenon. Yes, I realize the Bible talks about anxiety in some translations, but I’m going to use the newer disorder definition of the term to indicate a medical condition and contrast it with words like worry, fear, and stress, which are emotional conditions and involve a greater degree of choice.

It would be easy for me to feel guilty that I’m not trusting God enough, not having enough faith, or even in sin. That I’m not staying in perfect peace and casting my care on God the way the Bible instructs. But perhaps the gift that God has given me in this situation is the clarity to realize my anxiety makes no logical sense and isn’t coming from my mind or my spirit at all. 

Worry happens when you fixate on a problem and allow fear to take over. You think about it again and again, often picturing worst case scenarios, until your body becomes stressed and anxious and even sick. To contrast that with a physiological anxiety disorder, this anxiety happens when your body gets out of whack due to nutrition, hormones, or brain chemistry. It begins with your body feeling the anxiety, and then your brain looks for any minor issue, or every minor issue, to attach those anxious feelings to. At that point, your brain might begin to fixate on those issues and it seems like fear or worry. 

Oh, and as I’ve been learning, hormonally based anxiety is especially prevalent in teens, pregnant women, new moms, and middle aged women. (Isn’t that most women?)

So what are those physical symptoms of anxiety? They can include any or all of the following.

A tight or constricted feeling in your chest
Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
Dread or sick feeling in your stomach
Tension throughout your body
Pressure in your head
A racing heartbeat
Difficulty breathing
Difficulty sleeping
Dry mouth

Anxiety stinks. It can completely paralyze you. I’ve been pushing through my anxiety. I’m not letting it stop me, and I’ve been praying and researching to find ways to manage it. In fact, for now at least, it’s pretty much gone.  Here are a few of the simple methods that I’ve found helpful so far.

Journal to isolate food and medication triggers
Avoid caffeine
Cashews and pickles
Probiotics and vitamin D
Chamomile tea: double, triple, or quadruple strength
Contemplative prayer
Worship music
Deep breathing

I think too many people take guilt over their anxiety and just become more anxious about being anxious. Hopefully this article will help you to spot physiological anxiety for what it truly is and give you some tools to manage it. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help when needed. You might require the support of understanding friends and family or even medical care to get through anxiety. If your anxiety is caused by old emotional wounds, ingrained habits, or post-traumatic stress disorder, you will likely require professional counseling. 

Bravery is not the absence of fear; it is the determination to go on in spite of fear. Being a valiant woman of God doesn't mean denying your symptoms and trying to muscle through on sheer will power. It means facing your issues hand in hand with God and being determined to come out victorious!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Valiant Heroine - Misty Copeland

This week among all the political yuck going on out there in the world, there was some truly inspirational news. Misty Copeland became the first African-American woman to chosen as a principal dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. She was also recently named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine. That makes her a valiant heroine in my book. Not to mention the fact that ballerinas have to be incredibly strong, tough, and fearless--don't let the fluffy tutus fool you.

Check out this video which highlights the type of adversity Misty overcame as well as her amazing dance ability.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Summer Reading Sale!!!

For the next two weeks, the book that started it all will be on sale. Check out my adult-oriented medieval quest for love with WhiteFire Publishing. Dance of the Dandelion has been highly recommended by some of your favorite authors like Julie Klassen, Laura Frantz, and Melanie Dickerson!!! It was the overall winner in the 2009 Touched for Love contest and received an Honorable Mention in the 2012 Selah Awards. Only $.99 for the next two weeks.

Click here for kindle.
Click here for nook.

Dina Sleiman is a beautiful writer. Romantic and gritty, Dance of the Dandeliontakes readers on an epic journey of human failings, self discovery, and second chances. Through it all God’s love and forgiveness shines through. ~ Bestselling Author Julie Klassen 

This medieval romp of a book reads like a dance! Full of unexpected twists and turns, it displays the folly or joy of our choices and the God who enables us to find true freedom in Him. Dandelion Dering is a heroine you won't soon forget! ~ Author Laura Frantz

Dance of the Dandelion is that rare novel that offers deep spiritual blessings to its readers. By no means your average Christian romance story, Dandelion’s journey is an epic story of depth, of realistic temptations and failings, of discovering one’s worth, of finding one’s faith, and of learning to dance for God as only someone who has been set free by Jesus and his forgiveness can dance. The writing is extraordinary and the spiritual takeaway is powerful. ~Author Melanie Dickerson

Best. Book. Ever. I have finally found the perfect novel...She far exceeded stellar, and I dare say this book for me was more of a mindblowing romance and spiritual love story similar to Redeeming Love, a best-selling novel by Francine Rivers. Over the years I have read a ton of books set during this time period and none of them came close to being as exhilarating for me as this one. It not only inspired me, but reading this novel was downright addicting. I had to have my fix daily until I finished the book. When I reached the end I felt and ovewhelming sense of satisfaction at having experience the highs and lows of Dandelion's journey as well as bonding so closely to the characters that I felt as if I had also experienced the same boundless joy by the end of the book. ~ Author Michelle Sutton

This richly imagined book is a passionate medieval coming-of-age tale, written in a melodic first-person style that is compellingly believable. It will have you turning pages eagerly and journeying with young, beautiful and errant Dandelion Dering through the treacherous world of 14th century English life, as she rises from humble beginnings to better herself in the world. Along the way she learns difficult lessons about life, love, and even God. Highly recommended!  ~Author Linore Rose Burkard

Dance of the Dandelion is a surprising fairy tale with deep spiritual overtones, one young woman’s adventure to self-discovery and self-empowerment with unexpected lessons for modern girls. ~Author Louise Gouge

Dina writes beautifully, her voice so appropriate to the time period, I actually felt like a beautiful maid skipping through flowery meadows. Through Dandelion, she evokes dreams for better—for achievement and significance in her reader. I look forward to reading more of Dina’s work in the future. ~Jennifer Slattery, Novel Reviews

The almost musical, lyrical writing of new author, Dina Sleiman, invites the reader to join in the Dance of Dandelion from the very first sentence of the book. I felt the raw poverty of the young peasant girl, Dandelion, and agonized with her as she searched to fill the empty places in her heart. A stunning debut novel, I look forward to what will be forthcoming from this talented author.~Author Golden Keyes Parsons

Dina Sleiman breathes new life into the written word with her exquisitely penned story, Dance of the Dandelion. I was instantly transported back to medieval days and into the heart of her heroine, gripped so strongly that I couldn't bear to put the book down. Though the medieval genre carries with it certain expectations, Sleiman transcends them with excellent writing and a tale as real as it is timeless.~ Roseanna M. White, Author and Senior Reviewer for The Christian Review of Books