Saturday, January 31, 2009

FEATURED THIS WEEK: APPRENTICE FATHER BY IRENE HANNON


His orphaned niece and nephew are depending on Clay Adams. This commitment-phobe substitute dad needs help, and he needs it fast! Nanny Cate Shepard comes to his rescue just in the nick of time. Cate is no stranger to tragedy, and her deep, abiding faith has led her through her darkest days. With God's help, her kindness and nurturing can heal the children…but what about Clay? Will this father in the making abandon his lone-wolf ways to give Cate and the children the forever family they deserve?

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Blogging We Will Go


I've never minded being a last minute blogger. As a matter of fact, I wish it were my turn more often. Why? Well, I like Blogging. True. Really. And, I was a Blogger-Come-Lately. A few years ago, when a master Blogger spoke at my local RWA chapter, I wrote a chapter while she gave her spiel. I even (gasp) threw away her handout.

Then, when I sold to Love Inspired Suspense, suddenly I felt the need to Blog. I had to have a presence, do something. And, whallah (sp?) a Blogger was born. It helped that my friend Lisa Mondello sold when I did, where I did, and got bitten by the Blogger bug also.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about why I Blog. Recently, on a loop I am on, somebody posted that unless you started Blogging in the early 2000s, then Blogging is a waste of time. It's caused a flurry of discussion and I'm reading with interest, but truthfully, no matter the outcome. I like to Blog. It feels like I'm touching base with people I can't see, readers and fellow writers both. There are times when I read the comments or make a comment, where I feel like I'm with my friends - good friends.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My Bad!

It is my turn to blog today and I nearly forgot. My bad! (as my grandson says, but I'm not sure why) Of the many fruitless things I've done today how is it that I can forget to stop for a few minutes and praise God here among my friends? How do we so easily let life run away with us?

Okay, the cat's out of the bag. Now you know I'm not much of a planner. Oh, I mark things on the calendar. I make lists, but I usually forget them on the kitchen table and don't remember them until I'm in the produce aisle at the grocery store. My mind is packed with pointless facts I will never need unless I get a ride in the Cash Cab some day. I hurry from one crisis to another and all the while I think, Why do I do this to myself? Why not slow down and breathe?

I want to change but at 56 I'm not sure that's really an option.
Does anyone else have this trouble or am I the only scatterbrain here?

I think the real reason is that I often feel I'm the one in charge of stuff. I get lost in the "stuff" of everyday life and I forget who is really in charge.

I'm so glad I noticed the Blog in big letters on my calendar this evening. Thanks Craftie Ladies of Romance for giving me a chance to stop and praise Him here among my friends. It does my heart and soul good to be here.

Blessings,
Pat Davids

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Life Is Not a Race

I read what Rick Warren said about having margins in your life. I thought about it a lot since then and have realized how important that is. Having margins in your life means having breathing room, taking time to relax and enjoy life. Americans are too driven. We work more and sleep less. We are wearing out our bodies and mind. We run from one thing to the next as if we are in a race.

I am going to work this year to put margins into my life. I know that situations change and some margins I plan will suddenly disappear but that’s what margins are for. If I have a book deadline and a family crisis happens, I hope that I have built in some extra time so I won’t panic on top of having to deal with the crisis. That just adds more stress on top of stress. And stress is not good for our bodies. Last year I discovered that when I ended up in the emergency room with skyrocketing blood pressure.

So take time to breathe, enjoy life and put some margins in your life.

Does anyone have suggestions on how to do this that might help others?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Are you busy or are you busy blessed?

Are you busy or are you busy blessed?

"I will lift up my eyes to the hills--From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.--Psalms 121:1-2

I don't mind staying busy but as we all know, a woman's work is never done.
I've never been a domestic goddess. I'm more of a dysfunctional diva. I don't mind too much clutter and I don't mind dust bunnies dancing at my feet. I can get so
lost in a story that I forget where I am and what day it is. But when I finally
shut down my computer and blink, I see the clutter of life everywhere. And then I
get stressed about the mess. Like a lot of women, I work two jobs, three if you
count the occasional home made dinner and the actual mopping of the kitchen floor.
I write books by day and I moonlight as a freelance magazine reporter by night (and that includes weekends).

In between those two jobs, I try to maintain my household. But I tell you, some days I fall back on a set of rules I created to give to a friend who was fretting
about not being able to do it all. Here are some of those rules:

1. House work--Sweep the room with a glance. (got that one from Mae West)
2. Feeding your family--The best thing to make for dinner is reservations. (Can't remember where I found that one.)
3. Laundry--Wal-Mart has new clothes available all the time. Just go and buy more!
4. Something nice for Sunday night dinner--Chocolate works every time!
5. Quality time--Does grunting while you're searching for Cheetoes in the pantry count?

Of course, I'm not that bad. I manage to have time for my family, church, friends and even the cat. But there are times when I've had enough of the clutter and the mess. Then I have to stop writing and start purging and cleaning. That mound of laundry has finally hit the roof; the dirty dishes are now the only dishes in the house, and even the cat has taken to pushing at the dust bunnies just for fun. It's time to clean house. Once I get started, I become obsessed with getting everything in order. And the order only lasts a fleeting moment, but it makes me feel better.

I like to clean house before I leave for a trip so when I arrive home, I'll feel as if I'm still in a hotel and the maid just left. I like to clean house if my husband has been away, so that when he comes home he won't think I've been out shopping all weekend. Okay, maybe I have done some shopping but cleaning the house distracts him from figuring that out! And I love to clean house for a party or just because it settles me and helps me get away from brain fatigue.

The point of all of this is that we all have times when we feel overwhelmed and cluttered about life, times when we wonder what will happen next. In these scary economic times, I try not to complain. If I have a pile of laundry, that means I have clothes to wear. If I have a sink full of dishes, that means I have food to eat and a nice kitchen to eat in. If I have the clutter of books and magazines and newspapers, that means I am blessed to be able to read and learn and grow. If I have a pet who trusts me and loves me no matter what, that means I know the meaning of unconditional love. And if I have a family that is willing to eat pizza now and then so Mom can work, that means I am one very blessed person.

And that means I am "busy blessed." Busy blessed is much better than being lonely and not so blessed. Busy blessed means that my hands are not idle, that my mind is constantly getting some exercise and that I have a family to cherish and friends with whom I can laugh and the hope of a good tomorrow. We can worry about all of these things--dust, dishes, laundry and clutter. But I have found that it will all be there, no matter what I do. So I try to take it as it comes and roll with the punches. We can worry about what we did or didn't do yesterday and we can worry about what might or might not come tomorrow, but today, for this moment in time, we can look up at our home, at our family, at our pets and out into our beautiful, diverse world and know that all the clutter we worry about--death, destruction, war, economics and politics, crimes and storms--these things will always be out there and we will find a way to work around all of our worries--if we lift up our eyes to the hills and know that God in in control. I'm so glad that I'm busy blessed and that the messiness of my life can't overtake the blessings of my life. And I can smile as I hear my son unloading the dishwasher downstairs. Now if he'd just clean his bathroom!

Lenora :)

God's Faithfulness

Hi Everyone!

I loved Lenora's post yesterday. I'm copying her list for future reference :)
As far as my post today goes-it will be fairly short. I just finished a deadline and it always feels so great and satisfying to finish a book. I'm always, always, always crazy at the end of a book--mostly because I'm worn out and partly because I enjoying being a bit crazy! I feel very busy and extremely blessed in my life right now.

I've enjoyed all the post over the last few weeks on faith they have been so timely for me and so inspirational. I think it is so important for us to read about or hear others stories of faith. As an author I write books of hope. Books that I can manipulate any way that I want. I can have as many miracles and happy endings after tests of faith as I want to create for my readerships satisfaction. But it is the real life stories that truly give us hope when we hear them. In these touching true tales of God's goodness in our hard times we know we are truly seeing that God is with us always. These type of stories get us through when we may be faltering. It's easy to look back over our lives and see how God worked everything out so perfectly. But in the midst of what we think is the worst of times it isn't as easy to see His hands at work. Thanks everyone for relating these beautiful testaments of His faithfulness in your lives.

Heroine's Interview from Daddy for Keeps

Heroine's interview from Daddy for Keeps by Pamela Tracy:

1. Natalie, tell me the most interesting thing about you.
That in some ways I had a fairy tale childhood. I had two parents who loved me. I live in a ranch house with personality coming out the door and it was such a fun place with animals, (think horses), and books and so much. I didn’t appreciate them until my mother passed away and then I had a bad accident while riding my horse. So, for the beginning of my life I was a powerhouse child, believing I had the world at my fingertips. My late teens and early twenties, I was a bit reticent. Then, once Robby and then Lucky came into my life, I kinda came into my own again.

2. What do you do for fun?
Oh, for fun I play with Robby. I also design web pages and really love the design work. I have a feeling, thanks to Lucky, life’s about to redefine ‘fun.’


3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?
The laundry. I really hate folding laundry and putting it away. I also dreading endings. Remember how long it took me to get to my dad’s bedroom. I dreaded the ending of my book (well, think about it, now you won’t know what happens to me, whether there’s more kids, how our new church goes, etc). I Right now I’m engaged to Lucky. I almost dread the wedding because the dating part is such fun.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?
Honestly, right now, I’m a little afraid of being a preacher’s wife. I mean, the members of the church know more about this wonderful Savior than I do. Lucky tells me I’m lucky because it’s like finding a new author and knowing there’s enough books out there to read for the rest of your life. He tells me the members which embrace me, and that I’ll be teaching them more while they’re teaching me. But, I still fill like I’m a step behind.

5. What do you want out of life?
I want to be the best Christian, the best wife, the best mother, the best friend… Hmmm, I sound like a Stepford woman. It’s just that God has taken so many of my worries away. I get to enjoy ’doing’ for awhile.

6. What is the most important thing to you?
Family and church.

7. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?
Right now I’m starting to read the Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense books. We Stepford wives need adventures!

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would like my leg to feel (and work) like it did before the accident.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
Robby’s getting a puppy. Guess it will be mine too. Lucky comes with a few horses. I’m thinking I’ll be getting back on a horse.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
I would go back the day before my mother passed away. I would not leave her side for the whole day. I would breathe in her scent, memorize her touch, and make sure that I said “Good night. I love you.”

Saturday, January 24, 2009

FEATURED THIS WEEK: DADDY FOR KEEPS BY PAMELA TRACY



The moment Lucas “Lucky” Welch sees the blackhaired, green-eyed boy at the rodeo, he knows. The child is his late brother’s son. But why was little Robby kept a secret? He demands answers from Robby’s adoptive mom, Natalie Crosby. But the pretty, protective woman isn’t forthcoming. And once Lucky learns the truth behind Robby’s birth, he understands. Especially when some family matters get more than complicated. As a bull rider, Lucky knows he just has to hang on tight and keep showing Natalie that his wish is true-blue: to be a daddy—and husband— for keeps.

*****************************************************************************
Since I'm a Craftie Lady. I thought I'd go ahead and include an interview about this book that I did over at the Cheaper Than Therapy blogspot. Here it is:

I understand you have a new release out called Daddy for Keeps. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?
I’d love to talk about Daddy for Keeps. It’s my first straight romance for Love Inspired. By nature, I think I’m a comedian, which makes writing suspense so much fun. I get to go against nature. In Daddy for Keeps, I didn’t have to curtail nature. I could write humor. For example, here’s the first paragraph:
The billboard on top of the grocery store featured a picture they'd taken straight from his mother's photo album. Lucky Welch, headliner of this year's Selena Rodeo, shook his head and hoped no one recognized the bull in the background. It had belonged to his grandfather and was a family pet named Whimper.
Here’s the back cover blurb: The moment Lucas "Lucky" Welch sees the black-haired, green-eyed boy at the rodeo, he knows. The child is his late brother's son. But why was little Robby kept a secret? He demands answers from the woman claiming to be Robby's mother, Natalie Crosby. But the pretty, protective woman isn't forthcoming. And once Lucky learns the truth behind Robby's birth, he understands. Especially when some family matters get more than complicated. As a bull rider, Lucky knows he just has to hang on tight and keep showing Natalie that his wish is true-blue: to be a daddy—and husband—for keeps.


Daddy for Keeps is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?
My title was Lucky in Love. I, genius that I am thought that was a snappy title. Harlequin didn’t think so, and they know best. I didn’t arrive at the title. It arrived to me.

What made you decide to write in this genre?
Oh, again, the genre found me. I started writing paranormals, which I dearly love, and even in those – think vampires, ghosts, time travelers – I didn’t write sex scenes. As a Christian, it just wasn’t second nature, and I wasn’t comfortable writing them (yes, I tried). When the Christian market caught up to the twentieth century, I was ecstatic. I love writing about faith issues. To me, the faith issue is plot, black moment, and romance all rolled up into one.

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?
I’m a pantser. I always know my beginning and my end. I have a handout that divides chapters that I keep next to my desk. I think of writing as being playdough. I’ve got my green playdough (Go, I’m at the beginning, I love this part). I’ve got my red playdough (Stop, I’m at the end, wrap things up. I love this part). As I write a few colors come to me naturally. Black – controversies. Pink – love. Yellow – good secondary characters who add to the plot. Green – usually the setting is a character. Oh, wait. Some green didn’t wind up where it deserved so now it’s in the middle. Oh, some of the red needed to happen later. That’s how a seat of the pantzer keeps from having a sagging middle. As for this book, the only thing being a pantzer affected was how to truly deal with the real ‘mother’ issue.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?
I read biographies of bull riders.
I watched two bull riding movies. I went to bull rider sites (someday I might even start a bull riding school. Looks like fun).


Where did you get your idea for this particular book?
This is one of the reasons why I’m glad I had my goal in mind and never strayed. I wanted to write for Harlequin from day one. Daddy for Keeps is an idea that formed almost a decade ago. I don’t remember where I got the idea. I only know that about eight years ago, I started the story, and two years ago, when I had grown as an author, I got to finish it. Which character did you like writing about the most, and why? I think I liked Natalie. I’m an adopted child, and I’ve always been amazed by the emotional attachment that isn’t by blood. There’s a poem that I dearly love:
Not flesh of my flesh,
Nor bone of my bone,
But still, miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute,
You didn't grow under my heart,
But in it.

~Fleur Conkling Heyliger


My dad carried that poem in his wallet because he loved me. I found it when I was going through his belongings after he died. How could I not identify with Natalie. Tell us about how you develop your characters.

Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?
I don’t really have character sheets anymore, although I always mean to. I usually think of movie stars and gauge my h/h after them. Then, I develop personality. No interviews. Research changed Lucky more than Natalie because “I” could be Natalie. I’ve never been a bull rider.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book? LOL, I’m doing lots of blogs. Then, too, for this book, I started the Craftie Ladies of Romance blog. Nine other authors joined me, and together we promote.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hanging In There - with God





Hello again! Thanks to all your prayers and my dh's chicken soup, I not only believe I'll live, I'm looking forward to it!




I was deeply touched by Missy's last post because I, too, lost a baby early in one pregnancy. I could not have expressed my feelings better than she did. But, I now have 2 grown kids and 7 grandchildren, so it has been a while since that loss and life goes on. I became a Christian AFTERWARDS which also makes a big difference in the way I see things. My true peace about that baby who never was, came to me through Jesus, when I was in my thirties, a good ten years after the miscarriage.




I wonder why people sometimes dwell on the bad things and forget to celebrate the good. I know I'm guilty of doing so way too often. And, as an inveterate story-teller, it comes natural to me to exaggerate, too. In the case of my survival from catastrophic illness seventeen years ago, though, there is no need to add to the traumatic story. I'm here, by the grace of God, and I'll never forget what He did to save me, both spiritually and physically.




As an added bonus, my dh retired and we moved to the Ozarks where I have not only found the perfect atmosphere for creating my stories, I've found great peace. Being so ill was a real wakeup call and I honestly would not go back and change a thing. It wasn't fun. But it was necessary to bring us here, to this place at this time, and to strengthen my focus on our Lord and Savior.




Mature Christians have the advantage of being able to look back and see the miraculous things God has done. I hope I never lose the sense of wonder that those memories bring.




Blessings,


Val

Thursday, January 22, 2009

God Reaching Out to Us Through...Flowers



Missy here. After reading Linda’s beautiful story from yesterday, it reminded me of a story about faith through one of the hardest times in my life. When I suffered a miscarriage.

I wish I could say that my faith sustained me, and that I held tight to God and His comfort. But I didn’t. I was devastated and couldn’t even pray. I was angry with God. And I thought what I’m sure most of us have thought at one time or another: God, how could You let this happen?

I truly had a crisis of faith. And when it was over (or I thought it was over), I had decided that God really wasn’t interested in being involved in our lives. I decided that God was way far out there, had set the Earth to spinning, and would take us home to heaven whenever we died. But that in the in-between time, we were on our own.

Friends tried to comfort me. One good friend bought me this gorgeous basket of mixed plants. It was mostly green plants, ivy and such. But there was also a beautiful African violet as well. It was obviously a very expensive arrangement, and I remember feeling bad because I knew she couldn’t afford it. But she said she wanted to bring me something to cheer me up. And it did it bit. Of course, I’m hard on plants, and violets have never liked me. After a few weeks, the blooms were gone, and it became a nice basket of green plants.

I don’t have time in this post to tell all the amazing ways God worked on me. But one major one was that I attended a Walk to Emmaus. And on that retreat, I found out a woman had been praying for me by name ever since I first registered—before the miscarriage. And she always burned a candle when she prayed for me. She was going to give it to me on the retreat, but my candle had burned away. It was so touching to know someone had been praying for me even before the pain of losing the baby. Even through the time when I was refusing to pray.

On that same retreat, my table leader was 8 months pregnant. Oh, talk about pain! When I walked up and saw her, I was so bitter. I wanted to crawl away and cry. But when I eventually shared with her about my loss, she wept. She said she almost hadn’t attended the retreat but felt strongly that someone needed her there, and she went anyway. She shared with me some personal things that helped me to heal. And by the time I got home from that retreat, I was in a much better place. My faith was restored, and I knew God had been with me all along, even through the dark times.

Jump ahead two and a half years. After seeing an infertility specialist, we finally got pregnant again. And this time, I delivered a beautiful baby boy, Tyler. I was so happy. But I have to admit, there was a little twinge of sadness that hung over the joyous occasion. It hurt to think of my other babies (I actually had a second miscarriage a few months after the first one). But I was very thankful as I took my son home from the hospital.

The next morning, I got up and walked through the dining room. And I couldn’t believe what I saw. For the first time in two and a half years, the violet had bloomed! I stopped in my tracks and cried my eyes out. I just knew it was a gift from God, an assurance that my other babies were with Him. It was like they (and God) were sending a welcome gift for Tyler. And a gift for me.

God is good. And He gives us what we need. He cares for us even in times when we don’t think He’s near. He touches us through other people. And He touches us by the simple blooming of a flower.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

God's in the Details


This current recession isn't the first one Americans have faced in my lifetime. The 1980's were a difficult time, too, especially for those of us with young families.

My husband and I had four children still at home, three of them very young. I had just gotten my teaching certificate and started a new job. My husband's business was thriving, and we thought we were finally going to get ahead. We had built a new home on an acreage, complete with a long-term mortgage. Then disaster struck. My husband ruptured a disk that required surgery and a very long rehab period. In self-employed construction work, there's no such thing as paid leave or workers' compensation, nor did we have health insurance. All we had was my teacher's salary, a huge mortgage, a giant medical bill, and four children to care for. Add to that, a troubled, floundering economy, rising costs, etc.


I won't lie to you. The next few years were very hard. We had to let go of our dream home and move into town to a less expensive rental. For us, who love the country, and for me who loved my new home, this was especially devastating.


But God hadn't forgotten us in our time of distress. He opened the doors for me to work a second job after school and on weekends. He also opened the doors for my husband to attend college at no cost during his recuperation, a near impossible dream for a former high school drop-out.


But the best was yet to come. Our family longed to move back to the country. We longed for a home roomy enough for all of us instead of the cramped rental, but remember, finances were very tight. One day my husband drove past an empty house on thirty acres that not only was in my school district, but was closer to everything that mattered to us. It turned out to belong to someone we knew, who hadn't planned to rent the place, but was willing to let us have it at less rent than we were paying in town.

We drove out for my first look at the house and as we pulled into the drive, I saw a sight that told me God was definitely in this. I love lilacs and had tried unsuccessfully to grow them. Now, mind you this was October and lilacs normally bloom here in March. But two long hedges of stately old lilacs were in full bloom, sending their sweet smell all over the big, shady yard. I cried, convinced that God was saying very clearly that He had not only been working everything for our good, but that He cared enough to make the flowers bloom just for me.


Oh yes, the farm had four bedrooms AND a shop building for my husband who loves to tinker.


The story of God's faithfulness during that hard time doesn't end here. We learned a great deal about being content with what we have, about praising God in ALL things, about being good stewards of our possessions. Within a short time, we were able to buy that farm and an additional thirty acres. Best of all, God blessed us to the point that we were able to pay off the loan in one-third the time of the original mortgage. Twenty-eight years later, I'm writing this blog from that same home, content and happy to be here.


Why am I telling this story? To remind myself and everyone else, that no matter how bad the economy, no matter what happens in our lives, God already knows what's coming our way...and He's got us covered.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Blessings Through Adversity--Real Life & Fiction

One day my dh looked at me as I was planning a new story.
I use a spiral notebook to write out my hero and heroine personalities, backgrounds, motivations and challenges.
He looked at it and said, "You're kind of like God."
I was speechless for a few moments. Then I asked, "What do you mean?"
He said, "You plan their whole lives and know what will be best for them."
He got it.

When I plan a story, I create realistic characters, meaning they have problems, troubles from the past, and something to learn. That's the tough part--on them. As the author, I can't go easy on them. I have to keep throwing things at them, that demand change and growth. If I'm too easy on them, they won't change and they won't be prepared to receive the blessings (love) God wants for them. (And I won't have a story anyone including my editor will enjoy!)

Sometimes I will actually be too nice to my characters. I mean I'm not a mean person and I hate pulling out rug after rug from beneath my heroes and heroines. But if I'm nice, there is no story.

In my second Love Inspired, NEW MAN IN TOWN, I planned that my heroine's grandmother who raised her was deceased before the story began.

Imagine my surprise when in chapter two my heroine started driving to town to visit her grandmother at the local nursing home. I grabbed the steering wheel and said, "Hey! She's at the cemetery!"
My heroine wouldn't give in and there she was going into the nursing home. Then I knew why I had tried to rid my heroine of her grandmother, her "Mommy Dearest" grandmother. The grandmother was the villain!

And I didn't want her messing with my hero and heroine's lives. And interestingly, that book brought me the most readers letters. Every woman wanted to tell me about a manipulating, conniving, self-centered women in their lives. So without Grandma Dearest the story would not have had the impact it did. It wouldn't have forced my heroine to see her grandmother for what she was and to begin to have a relationship with her dad and his second wife and her half-sister. And she wouldn't have been ready to have a grownup love with the hero.

I don't know what challenges are in your life right now. Illness, unemployment, prodigal children, mourning. Life is never easy for anyone. I've learned over the years never to look at someone else and say--"Oh, she has it easy."

We all have our public faces and our private suffering. EVERYONE. No one gets through this life without paying hefty dues.

The secret is that if you love the Lord, the suffering is always for a purpose.

He doesn't torture us for the fun of it. He loves us enough to force us out of our comfort zones and sometimes He's pretty rough with us.

Especially if we resist change. Better to go with Him and find out in the end what the purpose of the present challenge was.

A friendly warning--learn whatever truth or change is necessary the first time you're confronted with it. Don't make God give you a make-up assignment!

"For we know that all things work together for good for those called according to His purpose"!

God loves us enough, not to let life be so easy we remain immature. He loves us enough to make us grow up! And be more like Him.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Filling our hope chests


As we’ve talked about hope in the last week or so, I got to thinking about hope chests. They’re not as popular today as they once were, but I think of all the hope that goes into preparing a chest for a new phase in our lives – whether it’s marriage, a writing career, or a new baby. While these chests do not always look alike, they all collect things. It might be a drawer in a dresser or a cardboard box in the closet. The hope chest that I worked hardest on was really a file cabinet that I filled with stories in my quest to become a published writer. Many of you know the work that goes into polishing your stories so a publisher will buy them. It is the same solitary, tedious work that girls used to put into embroidering pillowcases for their wedding days. The satisfaction of work like that is that we can pray, and dream, as we go about it. I don't know about you, but I like that quiet steady activity.

What kind of hope chests have you had in your life?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Heroine's Interview from Mommy's Hometown Hero

Heroine's interview from Mommy's Hometown Hero by Merrillee Whren:

1. Rachel Charbonneau, tell me the most interesting thing about you.

One of my ancestors was a Sioux Indian maiden who married a French Canadian fur
trader.

2. What do you do for fun?
I haven’t done much for fun lately. My life has been all about my work. But now that
I’m back on the farm I intend to have fun by enjoying all the simple pleasures of
country life.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?

I put off making a permanent decision about what to do with the family farm I have
inherited. I think I want to sell it, but there are a lot of good things about the place that
I have forgotten since I’ve been away. But I also remember the bad times on
the farm. So I push that decision into the future.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?

I’m afraid of losing the people I love. I’ve already lost my parents and my husband. I
don’t think I can take losing anyone else.

5. What do you want out of life?

I want security, but I don’t know where I can find it. Friends here in South Dakota
seem to find security in God, but I didn’t find that security when my father died. So
I’m not sure I can find it now.

6. What is the most important thing to you?

The most important thing in my life is my daughter Becky. I want only the best things
for her. She is making me rethink my priorities.

7. Do you read? If so, what is your favorite type of book to read?

My reading mostly consists of television and movie scripts, but I’m beginning to read
the Bible again, since my friend Sarah has made a bargain with me that includes going
to church. She also gave me an inspirational romance that I enjoyed reading.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I wish I didn’t worry so much. Although my career has gone well, my personal life
has been a mess. I wish I could have true peace of mind.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?

I haven’t had a pet since I was a kid on the farm. After returning to the farm, my
daughter has begged me for one of the kittens that was born on the neighboring
farm. So now we have two of those kittens. And I surprised her with a horse for her
birthday.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?

I would like to travel back to the time when my Native American ancestors roamed
the prairies in freedom.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

This Week's Featured Book: Mommy's Hometown Hero by Merrillee Whren


His objective: marriage. His opponent: a stubborn single mom. After ten years, Rachel Charbonneau is finally back in South Dakota. But she intends to sell her family's farm and rush "home" to the city. Ex-soldier Matt Dalton won't let her go without a fight. Well, a secret fight. He can't let her know he's loved her since they were kids. Or that thoughts of her saved him through the worst of times. And Rachel seems scared to tell him the real reason she wants to leave. So, his strategy: arm himself with all the faith and love necessary to be her hometown hero.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Faith and Prayer: What A Combo!

On Wednesday nights my church is showing a film on the life of Christ, taken from the book of John. So, last Wednesday I'm sitting in my pew, alone because my husband doesn't come on Wednesday nights and my son was in his Bible class, and I'm watching as Jesus deals with the blind man from the 9th chapter. Jesus spit on the ground, made some mud, and put it on the man's eyes. I'd never really thought about the fact that the blind man couldn't see what was going on so was probably sitting there somewhat passively. Then, Jesus said, "Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam." The blind man jumped up and went.

Wow, without question, the blind man jumped up and went.

I wonder how many times I didn't jump up and go.

That blind man had faith.

Personally, for me, I've found that my faith is stronger when my prayer life is stronger, so, of course, I'm always working on praying. The strongest my prayer life was, was in the early 2000s. I prayed to God every time I got in the car. I'd turn the radio off and I'd pray. My lips would move; sometimes my hands would, too. I was praying for something I had no control over: something I couldn't fix. Sometimes I felt so close to him it was almost tangible. I wasn't blind, but I did need healing. God answered my prayer, that time with a yes. (That yes is turning four next month!)

I didn't stop praying, but I've yet to recapture the closeness I had when I wanted something that I prayed four years for. Interestly enough, as I sit here staring at this blog, I'm thinking that I still pray just as often, but now so often, I'm giving thanks... and I was closer to God when I laying a huge need at his feet.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A TEST OF FAITH?

God works for the good of those who love him.
Sometimes it doesn’t seem that way, does it? When terrible or unthinkable things happen, do we sometimes wonder if we are being tested?

Years ago in the NICU where I worked, a baby girl was born without a brain. The condition is called anencephaly. It’s rare, and children born with it die, usually within a few hours. This little girl lived for a month. Each day we expected her to die and each day she didn’t. It was emotionally difficult to take care of her--for the doctors and nurses and especially for her family.

One day one of the younger nurses said to me, “Why is God doing this? Why doesn’t He just take her to heaven?”

Now, I was not the wisest or the most spiritual woman working there, but that day I believe the Holy Spirit moved me to speak. I looked at her and said, “This baby is with us because she is a heart tester. She’s an angel sent to earth to test for kindness and faith in the hearts of those who meet her.”

Dozens upon dozens of people cared for that child and for her family. How many of us passed the test? How many saw this flawed, doomed child as a child of God, and in our hearts we cared for her as we would Jesus if He was the one before us.

I don’t know, but God does.

Because our human vision is so narrow, so small, we can’t see the purpose God has for us or the reason behind the trials we face. We must let our faith carry us through the dark times.

Have you met a heart tester? Tell us the story.

Pat

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hope: A State of Mind

Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose"

What an inspirational verse! And we need it right now. A lot of things are happening in our country that are scary and make us fearful for the future. Uncertainty will do that to a person. We are uncertain of the future more so than usual. The future has always been an unknown, but when you are struggling to pay bills and possibly without a job, that future looks bleak.

We need hope. Hope will help us get up in the morning and face the day. Hope will get us through these hard times. Hope is a state of mind. That’s why a wonderful way to become hopeful is to read the Bible. It is full of verses that are inspiring and hopeful. But think about it. The New Testament is the most hopeful story ever told—Jesus’ sacrifice and death for us in order for us to have salvation and an everlasting life. How can we not be hopeful when we reflect on what He did for us and the love the Lord has for us no matter what? Think of what is waiting for us. Not poverty, not hunger, not pain, not darkness, not evil.

When I get down, I remember a devotional I read from Rick Warren. He stated:
Worship, not worry. Pray, not panic. I sometimes have to repeat that a lot not to do either one of those, worry and panic, because I’ve done them all my life. I’m reconditioning myself to worship and pray when I start to feel worry and panic descend on me.

What do you do to keep your spirits up?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A day late and a dollar short

I'm late! I'm late for a very important date. Can you see me rushing to my computer in my coffee cup embellished PJs, my house booties falling off my feet. It's my day to post and late last night I came up to my office to do just that. But in typical style, I got sidetracked! I had to check out all the great fashions on the Golden Globe runway, didn't I? And I had to read e-mail, didn't I? And ... then my tempermental computer locked up on me and ... after kicking it ... I shut the thing down and went to bed. Then I was reading the paper early this morning and it hit me--Lenora, it's your day to blog!!! So here I am, coffee sloshing all over the floor as I hurry up to get things going. But then, I'm always a day late and a dollar short. That's what my mama used to say all the time. I grew up on a farm and it was a hard life. I was in charge of feeding the pigs. In order to do this, I had to go to the corn bin every afternoon and shovel up a five-gallon bucket of corn and drag that down to the hog pen and go in there with those big, mean hogs and cute little piggies and try to get to the feeder before they ate me alive! But before I had to worry about that, I had to worry about snakes and rats in the barn where the corn was stored. Talk about adventures. I think this is why I became a writer. I'd go into that corn bin pretending I was a famous spy and that I was dressed to kill. If I saw a snake, I'd bat my eyelashes and quickly chop him up with my trusty silver-plated shovel. "Take that, you old snake!" Sometimes this ploy worked and sometimes I'd running screaming out of that barn. All of this is to say, today it seems as if we're all a day late and a dollar short--and pretending things are okay doesn't always work. But knowing that God will provides does work. I have a little sticker in my line of sight on my computer. It says "Abiding Love surrounds those who trust in the Lord."--Psalm 32:10. I read that first thing every day, no matter what kind of mood I'm in. And even though I worry just like everyone about what the future will bring, I do know this--I will survive. I have survived the corn bin. I have survived the sloppy hogs. I survived cropping tobacco and hauling peanuts and not having a lot except a roof over my head and food grown right out my back door. I can make it in this world, because if I'm responsible and hardworking and do my best, God will provide. God is never late because He always knows exactly when we need him. I also have this list near my computer:

Eight Steps to Happier Living
1. Face reality
2. Establish warm relationships.
3. Develop outside interests.
4. Seek new adventures.
5. Guard your health.
6. Take pride in yourself.
7. Learn to relax and laugh often.
8. Look toward the future.
And if I might add my own to this list I've had many, many years--
9. Trust in the Lord.
And 10. Remember, better late than never!

Lenora :)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hold Fast--God Knows The Way

Hi Everyone!

I'm sorry I'm running late getting this post done. I'm on deadline with a book and am at the point where I'm bleary eyed and bumping into doors because of lack of sleep! BUT--His Cowgirl Bride is almost ready to be dropped in the mail on Wednesday and will meet its deadline. Praise God :)

However beware--the post below hasn't been edited!

I'm really enjoying the wonderful post on faith. I know for myself, walking by faith these last five years has been a must. When my husband died in 03 I learned trusting God's plan for my life was all I could do. I clearly was able to look back over the three years prior to Wayne's death and see the beautiful gifts of love that God had given me. He'd urged me to lay my writing aside and concentrate on my family for the four years before my son's graduated. At the time I knew I was very close to being published but I had been feeling that way for six years. God awakened me to the fact that at that time I needed to be obedient to what He was telling me and to concentrate on my family. The writing would still be there at the end of four years. I listened, and for the next three years didn't write a word. I went to ballgames, watched TV with my husband and sons. Went on a wonderful vacation in the Smokey mountains--and was completley in the moment with my family--not half in the moment with the other half of my brain plotting a book! I have to tell you that laying down the writing hadn't been and easy decision. I sort of laid it down kicking and screaming. Thankfully the next day God gave me peace about it and I was able to completely enjoy my family time without any sort of regret for the dream that I was delaying. I thought God had given me this nudge for the benefit of my son's but had no idea it was because God knew that He would be calling Wayne home to be with him during that time.

We serve an extraordinary God! He has our backs! He asked us to have faith in what we can not see--and to trust in what He can see and where He leads. For me, walking in faith since Wayne's death has been easy. Yes I've had my struggles with great grief. But I've also moved forward knowing that He loved me enough to give me a beautiful gift of speacial family time with Wayne and my boys before Wayne died.

I tell this story often as a reminder that God is faithful and His love for us is not measurable. We must trust in what we cannot see...but I can see what He has done for myself and others and so we do not blindly trust. So now, here, in this hard time that is happening all around me I will admit that I have moments of worry. For my friends and family and others who are struggling or fearing their futures. But when I start to worry, I back up, thank God for the way he has been faithful and then I put myself in His hands and go on.

He has never failed me even in the darkest of times...so if you are out there and this is a dark time for you I pray that you will hold fast to God and let Him lead you to the other side.

Blessings to all!
Debra Clopton

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Feeling like a proud grandma.

I'm so Proud of my boys...and horses.

The U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard at Fort Riley, Kansas has been invited to participate in the inaugural parade in Washington D.C.

I feel just like a proud grandmother!! As some of you know, I based a series of stories on this unique cavalry unit. In fact, my first Mounted Color Guard story, "The Color of Courage" was about the unit's efforts to save one of their injured horses and rehabilitate him in time for the inaugural parade.

These soldiers were wonderful to interview and to watch. Now the whole world gets to see them. Yeah!! You can read about them and see a video clip from the Wichita Eagle at the following link.
http://www.kansas.com/news/breaking/story/657302.html

It's amazing where the Lord leads us to find inspiration for our stories. Truly amazing.

Lately, I've been feeling down because of some health issues and all of the sudden I'm getting e-mails from people thanking me for telling them about the CGMCG and how they never would have known such a unit existed if it hadn't been for those Love Inspired books and how much they are looking forward to seeing them on T.V. I'd spend a minute patting myself on the back, but I know where my talent really comes from.

I think I'll just Thank Him, instead.
Bless you all.

Pat Davids

Hero's Interview from A Family for Luke

Hero's interview from A Family for Luke by Arlene James:

1. Luke, tell me the most interesting thing about you.
I don’t feel like I’m very interesting. I fix up houses. Sell them. Not much interesting about that.

2. What do you do for fun?
Play with my dog, but that’s kind of recent. I haven’t had Cooper very long. I like to travel, but haven’t done much of that for awhile.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?
Getting in touch with my mom. I know I should, but I just don’t like going through the hassle of the chit chat and all that baloney. We’ve had our times, and I don’t feel like going there. Besides, if I do, I feel like I’m betraying the love and support I got from my foster father. He was great and helped me when my mom didn’t.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?
Not scared of much. I’m a guy, right? Except that woman next door kind of gives me the heebie jeebies. She’s cute, in her own way, but when she turns those laser eyes on me – I dunno.

5. What do you want out of life?
A family. A home. Kids. That kind of thing. I love the kids next door, but their mom, well, see above.

6. What is the most important thing to you?
Right now, settling down.

7. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?
I like reading. I have a stack of books on my bedside table in my trailer. I like thrillers, mysteries and, believe it or not, Robert Frost. His poem about neighbors and fences is especially apt for me right now.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I think I’d prefer to be a bit more settled. I like moving around a lot but I’m getting tired of that too.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
Cooper’s my dog. A golden lab. He’s great company and he makes me laugh.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
I’d probably go back to before my foster father died and tell him how much I appreciated what he did for me and the guidance he gave me and the heritage of faith I got from him. He was a great man and I don’t think I thanked him enough.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

This Week's Featured Book: A Family for Luke by Carolyne Aarsen



Luke Harris grew up without family. Now, it's all he wants. More so when he and his friendly dog move next door to widowed mom Janie Corbett and her three kids. For the first time, he can imagine hearing the pitter-patter of little feet in his own home. Listening to their bedtime prayers. Having a wife and children to call his own. But once-burned/twice-shy Janie won't say yes—unless Luke acknowledges his troubled past. With the help of one stubborn woman, three smart kids and a cherished Labrador retriever, there might be a family for Luke, after all.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Speaking of rough times...

Good morning. I hope no one thinks I'm being irreverant but I tend to deal with problems and trials with humor, at least as much as possible. And, until I get to feeling better, you can consider this "person" as my personal image. Talk about a bad hair day! I've actually been having a "bad hair, bad head" week. Whatever that bug is that's been going around, I caught it. I'm so full of chicken soup I may cackle any minute!

Today, however, is better, which brings me to the theme of this blog. As long as we have tomorrows, we have hope. No matter how bad things may seem, there probably is another day in our future that will make the troubles of today seem unimportant. In I Peter:5-7, it says, "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may raise you up in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."

I think one of our biggest, most important tasks, as Christians, is to keep reminding each other that God cares for us, sick or well, rich or poor or anything in between. It's when we give up and take our eyes off the Lord that we suffer the most. I'm no saint (I know, I know, your image of me is shattered) but I do have a few hard miles on me. I know what it's like to be in need. Sometimes, no matter how hard we work, it's insufficient. That's where reliance on the Lord comes in. When our back's against the wall and we turn to Him, He will answer.

Years ago, I thought that my unwelcome hiatus from publishing was because of a lack on my part. Looking back, I can clearly see that God was preparing me for my current career with Love Inspired. I'd like to say that I had no doubts but that wouldn't be true. I did doubt His wisdom. And I did pray and weep and lament. But He was faithful. I'm here.

I get lots of letters from readers that tell me I'm on the right track but even without those, I can now see what God was doing in my life. Keep your eyes on the prize and trust him.

Even when your hair turns blue and you can't stop sneezing!!!!

Blessings,
Val

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Praying in Rough Times

I was thinking about our theme verse for January, Romans 8:28. And when I went to look it up in my Bible, I was reminded which verses come right before that.

Romans 8:26-27:
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

I’ve always loved those verses. Have you ever been at a point where you were so scared or traumatized or grieving that you found you couldn’t even pray? I have. I’ve been there more than once, and it’s not a good place to be.

But I’m so thankful that part of this Bible passage was tucked away in my memory, and that God brought it to mind. It was a comfort to know that though all I could do was just groan in pain and grief, the Spirit was interceding for me. I felt as if God was holding me in His hands.

I love how The Message states it:
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.

What a comfort.

Have you been to the point where you didn’t know how or what to pray?

Missy

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Finding God in the Hard Times



I’ve wobbled back and forth on what to post here today. I’m not a great spiritual leader nor am I a preacher. But I truly believe God has instructions for us during times of distress. And let’s face it, we all know that the world, including our country, is facing some serious challenges. Oklahoma has been listed by CNN and Forbes as the number one ‘recession proof’ state in America so we’ve not seen any real pinch. But my daughter lives in NYC. She tells me of businesses closing, of friends losing jobs, and a general feeling of anxiety. People ARE hurting, whether I am or not.

Interestingly, the NY Times reports that church attendance has increased of late, just as it did after 9-11. People know Who has the answers. They know where to go when times are tough. As committed Christians, we know too, but sometimes when the news is so bleak, we get sucked into the negativism and worry. So how about if come up with ways to de-stress and to remain positive in a negative world? I love Romans 8:28. It’s a favorite of mine as is Psalm 91--all of it really, but especially verses 14-15:

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him….”

Do you have a tip or a favorite Bible verse that encourages you when life is shaky?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

God Knows Best

Janet's image yesterday is a great one--the kitten and the lion. Indeed we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ our Lord. And he can bless us in circumstances that could lead us to despair.

I want to share with you the story of how God worked for my husband's
and my good through a serious time of testing just five years ago. Last year in 2008, over 2 million people lost their jobs. Maybe one of them was you or a loved one or neighbor. I don't know about you but I have been poor in my life and it's not fun.

In 2002, about a year after the 9/11 tragedy, my husband who worked in an aviation-related industry, was laid off. This had never happened to us before. And it hit when we had two children in college and two mortgages. My husband of course began looking for a new job. Well, no one was hiring electrical engineers especially if they were over 45. (Just try to prove age-discrimination.)

Since he had worked for his corporation for nearly 18 years, he got a generous severance package. But that ran out and then we started unemployment. Steve began taking home improvement and handy man jobs to bring in $$. Still, corporations weren't hiring.

We were nearing the end of unemployment and we had to make a decision. We could no longer pay two mortgages. My husband's lifelong dream had been to live on a certain lake in the northwoods of WI. We had been able to purchase a piece of property for half price through an old family friend. We had built our modest cottage on it for our future retirement.

Good sense dictated that we stay in IA where Steve was known and didn't have to advertise to get home improvement jobs. Good sense dictated that we sell the more expensive WI property
and pay off the IA mortage and stay in our IA home.

But I knew that selling my dh's dream was not a good idea. So in the face of good sense, we put the IA house on the market and moved to our cottage on the lake. (Leaving our two college-aged children behind too.)

It was easy to find work in IA where we had lived for 18 years, but finding it in an area where we were newcomers was very hard. At the same time, I had decided that I wanted to write historicals again when of course the market wanted contemporary novels.

Fortunately, our house in IA sold quickly and we had that money to live on. But our move north still didn't make sense.

Throughout this whole process, we kept asking God --what do you want us to do? And we got no real answers.

Then I received the best contract of my life for an historical series (my Women of Ivy Manor series). And finally a year after our move north, Steve found work as an insurance surveyor.

Now we are living my husband's dream a decade before we would have retired here. And my decision to begin writing historical romance has been blest with more contracts.

Now the point is that God used my husband's layoff to give us the life we had only dreamed of. And a decade early.

We live in an area of incredible natural beauty.

I'm writing what I love.

Steve is doing a job he enjoys, driving through the lakeland area and taking pictures of houses for insurance underwriters. He works his own schedule and never has to go to an office.

So God used the layoff to move us to where He wanted us to be (where we really wanted to be). There were a lot of tense moments and frustration over the lack of direction from God. But in the end, we are in a better place.

I don't know what trials you may suffering at this moment. You may say, "That's fine for her, but what about my situation?" Instead, I encourage you to stop and pray, "God, help me to have faith that You are using this for my good."

And keep praying that. God has a plan for us and it's always better than the one we could come up with. If you're having rough times, I encourage you to hang in there and see where the present hard times take you. God is always working for our good even when we can't see it.



Monday, January 5, 2009

Hope in Hard Times


We've decided to focus on Romans 8:28 in this blog for January and I'm glad. I don't know about you, but the news of late has made me nervous about the future. How can the banks be in such trouble? And the car manufacturers? And the stock market? These are days when I really need to know that God is in control. So, I found a picture to remind me of that fact.

I'm the kitten, but God is within me and so I'm doing just fine.

How about you? What pictures do you have in your mind that help you remember that God is in control?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Featured this week: Lois Richer's Rocky Mountain Legacy


How better to stop his sister from eloping than to arrange the wedding? That way, Cade Porter's only family member will stay put on his Colorado ranch. He hires the best wedding planner in Denver, but Samantha Woodward, of the famed "Weddings by Woodwards" empire, thinks Cade is mighty arrogant. Shouldn't the bride have a say in the most important day of her life? As they work together, Cade assures the lovely and independent Sam that she can plan their wedding right down to the day.

Interview with the heroine from Rocky Mountain Legacy by Lois Richer:

1. I’m Sara Woodward—the most interesting thing about me?
Well, there’s so much to choose from! I’ve just come home to Denver from Hollywood where I do makeup for the stars. That’s interesting, isn’t it? I really want to get into special effects, though, and I will—I’m just not sure how—yet.

2. What do you do for fun?
Right now I’m learning to play the guitar. None of the family or their dog really appreciates my efforts—though they like my singing.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?
I’ve put off talking to the family about my future plans to get into special effects because they don’t approve and they’d try to talk me out of it. I dread their bossy, overbearing pushiness. It makes me feel like some kind of failure, just because I don’t want to be part of the family’s wedding planning business. They all think that just because I came home to help out while Grandmother’s ill, that I’ll stay if they can talk me into it. No way! I want my own life.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?
I’m afraid the family will persuade me to stay on at Weddings by Woodwards (that’s the family store), and I’ll never achieve my dream as a special effects artist.

5. What do you want out of life?
Most of all I want to be accepted for what I am—a woman who is talented at taking a face and altering it so completely that no one would recognize that person.

6. What is the most important thing to you?
The most important thing to me is to find someone who will accept who and what I am without trying to change me because for my whole life my family has been trying to change me.

7. Do you read? If so, what is your favorite type of book to read?
I read everything! My favorite type of story is always a love story and it has to have a hero who supports and cherishes the heroine in whatever she does.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
If I could change one thing, I think I’d change my size. I’m the runt of the family, the baby. That makes everyone in my family think I’m incapable of running my own life, so they try to do it for me. It’s so frustrating, you know?

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
I don’t have a pet. But if I did, I’d choose a parrot. I love their coloring and the fact that they can mimic voices. I’d choose a male and I’d call him Enigma. I’d teach him to speak like my grandmother Winifred. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
I’d travel back to the Wild West when men were chivalrous. You know, that whole throwing the coat over the mud puddle thing? Or maybe back to the time when a man fought for the girl he loved. I’d just love for a man to think I was so special he’d be willing to duel with another man in order to win my affection. A man who is willing to put himself out there for me—that’s my kind of true love.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Times...They Be A-Changing


We had such fun with the 12 Days of Christmas! With January looming, the Craftie Ladies got busy typing and came up with various ideas as a theme for this first month of a blessed new year. Lyn Cote's idea, to focus on faith, got the most response. The scripture she chose from Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" isn't one that I turn to often. I should. And maybe after this month, I will. When Lyn posted the scripture, she had a caption above it - I assume from her Bible's version - that read: More Than Conquerors. Hmmm, when I looked up the verse in my own Bible, I missed that little caption because, see, I like to consider Christians More Than Conquerors.

I am a conqueror. Being a Christian is hard. I didn't realize that until my parents let go of the reins (they never really let go but there's something about going off to college) and I realized that, yes, because I want to, I'm going to attend church every Sunday (and Wednesday), I'm going to read the Bible, I'm going to choose not to cuss, watch certain TV shows, and etc.

You know, I think one of the times God really had to work for the good of me was early during my writing career. When I first put fingers to computer, Christian fiction meant nothing to me. I didn't really know it existed, and when I found out about it, I was like, "Huh?". Now I kick myself and try to imagine how much further along I'd be if I only listened to His nudge. Okay, it wasn't a nudge. He pretty much had to knock me out of my computer chair!

God still nudges me today. You should see the floor around my computer chair. I make sure it's clear of rubble (think envelopes, books, bookmarks magazines, pencils) so I don't squash anything.

Thank You, God, for nudges. Has he nudged you lately?