Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Look Up! by Elizabeth Musser

Often when I see a musical, one song will resonate with me so that it replays itself ad nauseum in my brain for days and weeks and months afterwards. Such was the case when I watched the wonderful film Mary Poppins Returns back in February. Here we are many months later, and I’m still singing, “Count your blessings; you’re a lucky guy for you’re underneath the lovely London sky.”

But I don’t mind.

Everything about the lyrics in this song makes me smile. First of all, the London sky doesn’t exactly have the reputation of being that welcoming for much of the year. But can’t a gray sky be lovely? It’s all about perspective as the song goes on to tell us.

When we write, we are giving our readers a certain perspective and hoping that they’ll catch on. Part of that perspective for us as Christian authors is to infuse our stories with hope.

The song from the film continues, “There’s a different point of view awaiting you if you would just look up.”

I want to give encouragement to my readers, but sometimes I sense the Lord simply wants my readers to be an encouragement to me. He whispers to me on those days when I’m feeling distracted or uninspired or discouraged, “Count your blessings and look up!”

As writers, we need to do this throughout each day so that our imaginations which are often creating conflict and angst don’t hijack the joy of the present. It’s a juggling act, isn’t it?

Usually I’m not underneath the London sky, but the Lyon, France sky where my husband and I serve as pastoral care missionaries. But we’re back in the States for the launch of my new novel, When I Close My Eyes. Yesterday, under my north Georgia sky, I watched my grandchildren frolicking right outside the window of my office, making it very hard for me to concentrate on writing and delighting me with the simple experience of being together on the same continent. So I looked up from my manuscript, waved to them, and hummed that tune in my head.

This morning, I drove up on Lookout Mountain underneath an autumn-blue sky to speak to a book club. In my talk, I addressed the major themes in the novel: depression, hypocrisy and grace, sharing from my own experience with depression. I was blessed and encouraged by the honest conversation that followed as these women responded to both the story in my book and my personal story. I sensed the Lord saying, “I don’t waste anything in your life. I’m using your story to impart hope. Look up!”

A few days ago, I was talking on the phone with my father in Atlanta. He told me that his new next-door-neighbor had just discovered that I was an author and that she’d read and greatly enjoyed some of my novels and couldn’t wait to meet me. Look up! That was a fun and unexpected blessing for my father, this woman, and me.

A few months ago at our little church in France, my husband, Paul, met a young Dutch woman named Judith who was visiting her sister in Lyon where her sister and husband attend our church. Paul mentioned to Judith that we had traveled to The Netherlands often because my novels are published there. Then Paul introduced me to Judith, and I explained that I write Christian fiction. Her eyes got wide when she asked me my name and I replied, “Elizabeth Musser.”

“I’ve read your books and love them!” she said. “And I just bought another of your novels to give to my mother for Mother’s Day.”

We chatted for a while, both of us certainly blessed by that serendipitous encounter. Later that week, I mailed a few signed book plates to Judith to put in those books.

So often we can’t see the impact of our words on others. “Is what I’m doing really making a difference, Lord,” we may ask. Then He pulls back the veil, ever so briefly, and gives us a peek at the lovely sky, reminding us that there’s a different point of view awaiting us if we will just look up. He intertwines lives at the right time so that indeed we’ll be blessed.

My sky today keeps changing from sunny and blue to moody and gray to frivolous with puffy white clouds. I think it is going to rain soon. But I’ll keep looking up. Won’t you, too?

As writers, we need to count our blessings throughout each day so that our imaginations which are often creating conflict and angst don’t hijack the joy of the present. via @EMusserAuthor #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting


ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Her new novel, When I Close My Eyes, was released on November 5 of 2019. For over thirty years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions’ work in Europe with One Collective, formerly International Teams. The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and her blog.

When I Close My Eyes

Could she ever share the secret of The Awful Year?

There is one story that novelist Josephine Bourdillon shirked from writing. And now she may never have a chance. Trapped in her memories, she lies in a coma.

The man who put her there is just as paralyzed. Former soldier Henry Hughes failed to complete the kill. What’s more, he never received the full payment—funds that would ensure surgery for his son.

As detectives investigate disturbing fan letters, a young but not-so-naive Paige Bourdillon turns to her mother’s tormented past for answers. Could The Awful Year be worse than the one they’re living now?

Set against the flaming hills of North Carolina and the peaceful shores of the Mediterranean Sea, When I Close My Eyes tells the story of two families struggling with dysfunction and finding that love is stronger than death.