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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Let God Lead Your Dance




 by Dina Sleiman


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When I first sat down to write Love in Three-Quarter Time, I figured that since the book was about the waltz, the perfect spiritual theme would be “let God lead your dance.” My heroine, Constance Cavendish, had spent her youth as a Scarlet O’Hara type character, selfish and headstrong, yet with an admirable strength and passion. After tragedy struck her family when she was sixteen, she blamed herself and determined to tame her passionate nature and somehow earn God’s forgiveness.

Of course, I hope my reader will understand that none of us can earn our way to forgiveness, but if not, they can take that journey along with Constance. Constance needs to learn that God created her passionate, fiery nature. Her goal should not be to repress it, but rather to submit it to God. To let Him lead her life much like a dance, following with His gentle tugs and sways. I chose as a theme verse for this book, “Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day,” from Psalm 25:5.

And as I started this book, I assumed I would keep the spiritual theme focused and simple, but books, and life, never really turn out that way. First, to get to this theme, Constance had to learn about one of my all-time favorite spiritual themes, the importance of an intimate relationship with Christ. One cannot stay in tune with God and follow His rhythms for one’s life without that intimate connection. Constance had to learn to see God from a new perspective. She needed to immerse herself in God’s word and in prayer, and she needed to learn to hear His voice.

As she discovered intimacy with Christ and learned to let God lead her dance, she also began to discover freedom in Christ. Yet another theme I love. In fact, my personal life and writing theme verse is, “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.” See how nicely letting God teach you His rhythms flows into freedom in that verse. And since a subplot of the book concerns the abolitionist movement, guess what? Freedom became a theme in the book as well. Both Constance and her hero needed God’s freedom in their lives. Particularly freedom from the mistakes of their past.

And how does one get free from the mistakes of one’s past? More often than not, by facing the truth. By learning God’s perspective on the truth to replace the lies of Satan for starters, but also by dealing with the truth, revealing our secrets, and making amends. Both my hero and my heroine were held in bondage by secrets from their pasts. So, before I knew it, truth became a theme in the book as well. The truth shall set you free and all that.

By this time, my "simple little historical romance" had almost as many themes as my epic historical saga! And I swear, I didn’t even do it on purpose.  But no issue exists in a vacuum. Our spiritual journeys contain many facets. And I think this journey develops in an organic way. The fact is, my "simple little historical romance" ended up with more of a spiritual focus than I ever expected. It became a love story with Jesus as much as anything else, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Which of these themes interests you the most? Have you learned to let God lead your dance? If so, what advice do you have on the subject? I'd love to hear your thoughts on freedom and truth as well.

(P.S. I would encourage you to go back and watch some of CJ's videos from Wednesday with this in mind. Especially the "Young Victoria" and "Romeo and Chelsea" dances.)

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Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing, is now available at amazon and other online and ebook distributors. Her latest novel, Love in Three Quarter Time, is the launch title for the new Zondervan First imprint. Dina is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. She has recently become an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire as well. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at http://dinasleiman.com/
 

12 comments:

  1. I love all the themes, Dina. The story offers so much more than a delightful historical romance. And, while I'm happy with fiction that has a light thread of faith throughout, I think the reason I love this book so much is how you allowed the spiritual lesson to have such depth. Of course, I now have to say THIS IS NOT A PREACHY BOOK!

    A wonderful post, and I am happy to have watched as you developed it and now to see it released.

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  2. No, I don't think it's preachy at all. My hope is that it reads as a very sincere journey. And I think the fact that my "spiritual mentor" in the book is a hunky, buckskin clad circuit preacher with a mystical bent precludes any preachiness ;)

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  3. What a wonderful theme and it fits perfectly with your title. Well done!

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  4. Dina is amazing at allowing her spiritual themes to grow organically. They are just a natural extension of the characterization, just like our own spirituality should be a natural extension of our inner lives and our relationship with Christ. So her story doesn't have to be preachy!

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  5. Awe, thanks, Lisa :) I think throwing in some things that are very real and not what people would expect is helpful in preventing that sense of preachiness. I feel the more flawed the character, the more you can afford to show their spiritual journey.

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  6. It does rather seem as though e-books seem to be gaining ground then.

    Maybe one day I could stand a chance- if I ever write anything of course......

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  7. This book should also be coming out in print. Hopefully soon. There was some sort of snafu with that.

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  8. Dina, I think you really captured the spirit of God leading the dance and letting your heart soar. The feeling that theme invokes in me was present almost as soon as I started reading the book. This is definitely your strong-suit, so get cracking on the next book. 'kay?

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  9. As someone who's done a bit of ballroom dance, I know how hard it is to let your partner do the leading. But it doesn't work when both partners try to lead.

    Thanks, Dina, for letting me examine whether I let God do the leading, or if I'm trying to take that control for myself.

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  10. Suzie, I've actually been chomping at the bit to write the next book, which will be Patience's story and she needs to learn to hear God's voice with her inner ear. But I'm trying to wait for a thumbs up from Zondervan. I have a sample and synopsis written and I just love them so far.

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  11. CJ, the best example I had of letting the man lead was when I would go two-stepping in college. I wasn't very skilled at the dance, but if I could just let go and let those cowboys lead, I would dance like a pro.

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