Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Summer Prayer

 Christ the Savior, Pantocrator,  c. 6th century icon from 
Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai.

A Summer Prayer

Lord, on this the first Sunday of summer, we lift up to you
all those who visit this blog. Shower our online community with abundant blessings and let all who visit this site know how much we appreciate their encouragement and support.

In the days ahead, help us to recognize your presence in the warmth of your sunshine, in the soft caresses of your gentle breezes, in the majesty of your beaches and lakeshores, and indeed, in all the breathtaking beauty of the world you have created for our pleasure.

Fill our hearts to overflowing with love for you, Lord.
Direct our steps that we may give you honor and glory through our work and recreation, through our interactions, through our outreach and ministries. You are the source and summit of our lives, and we give you praise, 

Everyone who acknowledges me before others

I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.

Matthew 10:32

Friday, June 23, 2017

How I Met My College Sweetheart Husband by Belle Calhoune

Let’s go all the way back to the late nineteen-eighties.  Neon was popular along with spandex shorts, big hair and black rubber bracelets.  I was a college co-ed at Syracuse University, a very large college in upstate New York.  I was an English major with a minor in French. 

The first time I laid eyes on my husband was when I saw him on a local television commercial featuring Syracuse cheerleaders.  A cheerleader you may ask?  Yes, indeed.  My husband was a tall and athletic guy.  And an avid sports watcher.  His goal was to attend all the basketball and football games for free.  If he had to throw a few girls in the air and catch them to do it, it was fine.  He was in!

As I watched the commercial I turned to my friend, Alice, and we both agreed that he was very handsome.  But in a college as huge as Syracuse, what were the chances of my meeting him?  

The next time I saw my husband was during a night out with my friends at a college bar called Bugsy’s.  My friends and I used to love to dance to the latest hits and socialize.  At the end of the night I saw him—my crush from the commercial.  Cue the romantic music.   It suddenly came to a screeching halt.  Sadly, he wasn’t alone.  He was walking with a co-ed who my friend Jay informed me was my crush’s girlfriend.  She was even wearing his Syracuse letter jacket.  At this point I realized he was taken.  But that night I did find out his name was Randy.  He even had a great name.  As I watched him walk off into the evening with his girlfriend, I remember feeling a tad deflated.  Clearly, it wasn't meant to be.

Weeks passed by and I happened to see Randy again on the college bus that I took every day to bring me back to my campus housing.  By this time I knew he no longer had a girlfriend.  He was sitting with a group of guy friends and seemed totally engrossed in a sports conversation.  Nope, he didn’t even look away from his conversation with his guy friends.  Foiled again!

I attended a dance weeks later where at the end of the evening I sat down on a bench to put my boots on.  Did I mention that Syracuse is one of the snowiest places in the United States?  A few moments later a guy sat down next to me and began complaining about the loud music.  He was also putting on his brown Timberland boots.  One glance over and guess who it was? Randy.  We had a brief conversation which ended abruptly as the organizers began flashing the lights on and off indicting that the dance was over.  Was it my imagination or was I inching closer to officially meeting him?

This is probably sounding rather sad.  But I promise you, it wasn’t.  The truth is, I was living a good life.  But for some reason, every time I saw Randy I felt something spark inside of me.  It was almost as if a part of me knew that he was going to be someone very important to me. 

My life went on—I dated, had fun with my friends, attended concerts, went to church, spent time with my family.  Life was glorious.  I was happy.  My best friend Lisa and I had gone to high school together and then attended Syracuse together.  We were roommates and joined at the hip.  It was Lisa’s birthday and we went out to Bugsy’s with a group of friends to celebrate.  It was a fun evening with music, friends and joyful celebration.  Things came to a crescendo when I saw Randy walking in my direction.  I think I might have heard harps playing. 

We locked eyes (seriously!) and I said hello and kept walking.  A few beats later I felt a gentle tapping on my shoulder.  It was Randy!  He was asking me my name and then leading me to the dance floor where we danced to Prince.  We talked up a storm that night and he wrote my phone number down in his notebook.  I thought it was pretty funny that he had his backpack with him, but as a serious Engineering student he spent a lot of time in the library.  From that night on, we were a couple.  We would talk for hours on the phone, meet for lunch, go dancing and we even signed up for a history class together.

Five years later, we walked down the aisle.  Lisa was a bridesmaid.  We’ve been together for almost thirty years, married for twenty-four.  Randy went on to become an engineer for the FAA, then a patent attorney after three years in law school.  I was a Federal Investigator for thirteen years and I was the breadwinner during Randy’s law school years.  Things haven’t always been easy.  The law school years were tough as I was working full time and Randy was doing the law school thing.  We had our first child during that time.  Ultimately, we moved as a family to Connecticut when my youngest daughter was two days old.  It was finally time to reach out for my dream of becoming a published author.

No matter what challenges have been thrown our way, we’ve stayed together.  Still in love.  Still dedicated to one another.  We still understand that sacrifice is a part of marriage.  I like to think Randy and I were meant to be.  After all, I write romance novels for a living.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

He was determined not to have a girlfriend. But a wife on the other hand…

Maggie K. Black here! It’s my very first blog post and I’m remembering a fierce battle of wills I witnessed twenty years ago.

I’d never seen a young man teased so badly! Or handle it so calmly. I was twenty-one and I’d gone to a comedy club with a large group of fellow students. For some reason, the terrible stand up comedian decided to pick on the rather dashing and clean cut young man named Michael at the far end of our table.

Poor Michael. No matter how hard he tried not to get lured into a fight, the comedian goaded him, relentlessly, about the fact he went to church, was involved in politics and wanted to become a teacher. Time and again, the room would hold its breath waiting to see what jab would make Michael lose his temper. But instead he held his cool. And even though some of his views were very different from mine, I respected the way he handled himself with strength and respect. It even captured my heart.

At least, until the comedian asked him the fateful question, “Michael, do you have a girlfriend?”

“No Sir,” Michael replied. “And I’m not looking for one.”

My heart sank. Mutual friends introduced us after the show and we started talking. 

“I don’t want a girlfriend,” he said to me, earnestly, his green eyes wide. “I really mean it.”

But that was okay. We could be friends. We went to a movie a few days later and then I invited him over for dinner. He was fascinating, funny and kind, with the wonderful ability to discuss interesting topics while respecting the fact we didn’t always agree. I seem to remember our biggest fight was over the fact I wanted dogs and he didn’t.

Three months later, to my total shock, he proposed.

“I still don’t want a girlfriend,” he said. “But I want you as my wife.”

I told him to wait six months and ask me again. Which he did and I said yes! 

It definitely confused some people that we got married so young and so quickly. But, after almost twenty years together, I’m so very thankful for all the adventures we’ve been able to share. 

Now, he proofreads all my Love Inspired Suspense books, and says that when my heroes and heroines spar and argue in the face of danger it reminds him of us!

He’s been the perfect, steadfast hero for me to face down each challenge and battle that life threw our way. And while we each won and lost our fair share of disagreements, I did finally get my dogs.

Do you agree that opposites attract? Do you like the kind of book where the hero and heroine who have major differences, but love brings them together?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Welcome to summer! (and a giveaway)

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

Today is officially the first full day of summer, a season associated with vacations, beaches, high temperatures and lazy days.  And true to form, I have some fun things planned for the coming weeks.

The thing I’m looking forward to the most is the family vacation we have planned – a trip to the Grand Canyon!  There’s a large group of family members going – twelve in all – so the planning has been a bit of a challenge.  But it’s coming together and I’m getting really excited about it.

Then in late July there’s the big Romance writers of America national conference. This is always  great event for not only the learning opportunities but also the chance to catch up with friends and industry professionals I only get to see face-to-face at this once a year event. And this year it's being held in Orlando so there may just be a Disney hop in my future...

And in August my mom, my sisters and I are planning a fun getaway to the beach for a few days – a really fun way to top off the summer!

So what about you - what are your plans for this summer?

I have a new book out this month, so to celebrate I'll be giving away a copy to one of the folks who leaves a comment on this post.

From Bachelor Sheriff to Family Man 
Tired of pining for handsome sheriff Ward Gleason, seamstress Hazel Andrews plans to head East for a fresh start—until Ward finds an abandoned child. Hazel can't turn down his request that she watch the little girl while he investigates a spate of crimes. But spending time with Ward is sending local gossips—and Hazel's heart—into turmoil. 
Nothing in Ward's world is the same since he took charge of orphaned Meg…and that includes his growing feelings for Hazel. A fake engagement will allow them to care for the child together until Hazel moves away and finds someone more worthy. But with little Meg convinced she's already found her forever family, can Ward and Hazel dare to make her dreams come true, along with their own?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Rose By Any Other Name

Patricia Davids here wishing you a happy summer and loads of beautiful flowers.

 I have a passion for roses. I love the old-fashioned kind that grows in the back corner of my neighbor's yard and spills wonderfully fragrant blooms over the fence each summer. Sadly it only blooms once but it is worth the wait every year. Two large yellow rose bushes grace the front of my house. Sorry I don't have a picture of them.

I adore archways covered with climbing roses that beg me to sit and read poetry beneath them. I would happily share the space with a bee but more than two will send me inside.

Pictures don't do justice to these beauties in my mother's garden but they can sometimes remind me to stop and smell the roses. Things of beauty surround us and yet we hurry past without looking intent on our own troubles. I'm sure the roses don't mind.

If you aren't a gardener perhaps you enjoy the rose best when it come to your door as a nice surprise such as this "Get Well" gift from my agent when I was in the hospital last year. Nothing brightens the day for me like a yellow rose. I carried them in my wedding as my mother did before me.

I hope you've had a chance to read my latest book from Love Inspired. I'd love to hear what you thought about it, good or bad.

One Amish proverb says, "Don’t grumble because roses have thorns: rejoice because thorn bushes have roses."

Do you have a favorite flower?

Monday, June 19, 2017

New Releases for June from Our Love Inspired Suspense Authors

Jean C. Gordon here with new must buys from our Love Inspired Suspense authors. Just click on a cover to buy one. And to learn more about these talented ladies, click on their names. Memories
by Mary Alford 

Amnesia may be keeping Ella Weiss from remembering her past—but not from saving the little boy who's been her fellow prisoner the last seven years. After managing to escape her cell, all she wants is to find where little Joseph is being kept. Instead she runs straight into CIA agent Kyle Jennings. Kyle isn't sure if Ella is actually a kidnap victim or if she's working for the gunrunner he's been after. One thing he is certain of is her uncanny resemblance to the wife he thought he'd buried. To save a child's life and stop a terrorist from slipping through his fingers, he'll need to uncover the secrets of Ella's past—and whether or not she's really the woman he's never stopped loving. Agent
by Valerie Hansen

When Special Agent in Charge Max West and his K-9 partner, Opal, look into a series of bombings in Northern California, horse trainer Katerina Garwood instantly seems suspicious. As the ex-fiancĂ©e of a man tied to the criminal Dupree family, Katerina may know more than she's letting on—especially since the infamous syndicate is targeting her. And Max isn't sure he can believe her when she says she knows nothing. Despite his reservations, though, he can't deny his attraction…or the impulse to protect her. And with the criminals closing in, Max must separate the truth from lies, or he and Katerina may not live to share tomorrow…

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Prayer for Fathers

God the Father, by Cima da Conegliano, c. 1515,
The Courtauld Institute of Art, London. [PD-US]

On this day set aside to honor fathers,
We give thanks to God for the special men in our lives,
For our own fathers,
The fathers of our children,
And fathers within our
Extended families and communities.

Protect them, Lord, from harm,
Strengthen them in time of need,
And direct their steps that they
May always walk in holiness and grace.

Lord, we lift up those who mourn
The loss of their fathers
Or the fathers of their children.
May they find comfort in the promise
Of Eternal Life.