Monday, September 30, 2013

Leigh Bale's Sunday School Observations

I teach a Sunday school class every week.  Eight and nine year olds.  A very fun age.  They're smart, love God, and are very wiggly and chatty.  Especially this time.  Not sure what was up.  The gremlins must have been out.  I've raised two kids and am an old "war horse" at this.  First, I must say I love these children.  Every single one.  I was well-prepared, but still had to pull out my arsenal of strategies.  I used my "whisper voice" to get their attention, called on them by name, asked lots of pointed questions, moved in closer so I could look them in the eye to grasp their attention, had lots of visual aids and got them active in participating.  All of this really helped, but the chatfest never completely ended.  By the end of the lesson time, I know I got several key points across to the kids, but I came home feeling as though I'd just wrestled a flock of alligators.  Some Sundays are just exhausting like that.  I have no doubt next week will be better.  It always is.  :)

Have you ever prepared and then gone forward to give a lesson or other presentation to a group of people and come away feeling as though no one absorbed or appreciated what you had tried to do?  Maybe even your own family members.  What are some strategies you use?  How do you buoy yourself up for the next time?  I have my own arsenal of things I can do, but I'm always open to learning new things.  I'd love to hear your ideas.

Leigh Bale
Healing the Forest Ranger - Now available!
The Forest Ranger's Return - Available Feb 2014

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Place of Refuge Interview

How exciting to have Kathleen O'Bryan from A PLACE OF REFUGE written by Janet Lee Barton  a September 2013 release from Love Inspired Romance .

1.  Kathleen, tell me the most interesting thing about you.

I'm not sure there's all that much interesting about me. I'm an immigrant from Ireland and I lived with my sister and her husband until recently. Now I want to do all I can to help her and her boys out of the tenements and on to a better life.

2.  What do you do for fun?

Before moving to Heaton House, the only fun I had was taking my nephews to Central Park. Life hasn't been much fun up until now. But I love living here and I've gone on several outings with the other boarders--to Ladies Mile, on picnics and even to Coney Island. That's all been a lot of fun.  And I love spending time with the boarders. I feel like they are part of my family now. Well, all except for Luke. He's . . . special. I've never had a man friend like him before. He came to my aide in the park last year when my brother-in-law was threatening me. And he was here the night I was brought to Heaton House  beaten and . . . he'll always be special to me.

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

Going back to the tenements. I'm afraid I might see my sister bruised like I was. I'd love to have her out of there so none of us have to go back.

4.  What are you afraid of most in life?

That my brother-in-law will hurt my sister or the boys now that I'm not there to protect them.

5.  What do you want out of life?

I want to get my sister and nephews out of the tenements so that we can all have a chance to have a good life, one where we don't have to worry where our next meal comes from. And I want my sister to be able to know people like Mrs. Heaton who has been so kind to me.

6.  What is the most important thing to you?

My faith and my family.

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

I don't know. The Lord made me the way I am, and He must have had a reason for doing so. Who am I to second guess him? I suppose I'd like to have more patience and not jump to conclusions so quickly. Maybe not find it so hard to trust others.

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

I don't have a pet. It's been all we could do to take care of ourselves since we came to America. No need making a pet suffer along with us. Maybe someday my nephews will be able to have a pet.

9. Can you tell us a little interesting tidbit about the time period you live in?

Oh, my, it's a time of much change. Especially for women. So many are entering the workforce and there are all kinds of jobs for them. Why, Mrs. Heaton's daughter-in-law works at Butterick and Julia works at Ellis Island. Elizabeth works at the Delineator magazine and Millicent is a photographer who wants to open her own business. Mrs. Heaton says we all have so many more choices on what to do than women did when she was our age. Women don't have to depend on a man to take care of them--they don't have to settle for anything but love now. And after watching the way my brother-in-law had treated my sister--I don't think I'd ever be able to trust my heart to any man. Well maybe one. I believe Luke is the kind of man one could trust . . . but he'd never think of me that way . . . no matter how much I might wish he did.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


A Hero from Her Past 

If Kathleen O'Bryan were capable of trusting any man, it might be someone like Luke Patterson. She never expected to be reunited with the man that rescued her last summer. But when she arrives at Mrs. Heaton's boardinghouse, seeking refuge, it's the handsome writer who greets her at the door. 

Something about the lovely Irish immigrant stirs Luke's protective instincts. Life in New York's harsh tenements hasn't dimmed Kathleen's tender spirit. Day by day, Luke feels the walls around his heart crumble. But it will take faith on Kathleen's side, too, and the heart's power to recognize a real home at last….

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Worrying about something? Here, take my hand. I have something to show you.

 It's me, Barbara Phinney, who, way up here in the chilly north, has a little note to you about worrying. Okay, all of us have worried at some point in our lives. And even if you don't believe the Bible, this verse, found in Matthew 6:27, rings true for all of us.

"And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?"

But we continue to mull an event, a concern or decision over in our minds. Yes, it's easy enough to tell someone not to worry, and it's easy enough to tell yourself not to worry, but it is a totally different thing to NOT WORRY.
Let me submit to you something here to help if you're worrying about something and struggling over it.
First up, I understand. I worry and fret and even if I have decided something and I feel better for it, I still mull it over and over. (You should see me just making flight arrangements) Yes, I am totally sympathetic to your plight. I offer you now a big cyber hug. 


Now, we're going to work on not worrying. And we're going to fail and fall a few times, but we will get up again. We're going to be like those mii characters in the Wii Fit running program, that while running, fall down. But they get up again.
It's tough to stop worrying, and as a Christian, I need to physically extend my arms in front of me and give away my worry. 

Then, about an hour later, I have to do it again. And I have to tell God to pry that stupid worry from my clutches because I have picked it up again.
I am learning some skills at not worrying. I am no therapist. I am no counselor with oodles of coping skills and exercises at my disposal. But I am something with experience at worrying and someone who offers understanding.
Keep busy. Smile to yourself. Remind yourself that you have given over the worry to someone else. If you aren't a Christian, you don't have to say you've given it to God. Let me tell you, this isn't about your faith. This is about letting go of a negative issue. 

Yes, you can ask God to take the worry, but we all know you'll pick it up again. Allow me to give you permission to do that. Someone out there may say that's not Biblical, but it's honest, and honesty about yourself is important. Why am I saying you can pick up that worry again? Because I don't want you to feel like a failure when you do and add to your stress. You're not a failure for doing this. Like me, you'll stumble and fall, but like that mii character in the Wii Fit running session, you will get up again. 

Just remember to get up again. And if God has left that worry lying in front of you, 'pick' it up and hand it back to Him. Physically. 
When I do the Wii Fit  exercises, I do terribly. It's going to take practice. But I will get better. And you will also get better at not worrying. 
Here is a big cyber nod to you and your stress for the day. You're not alone, but you can conquer your situation. Just as I will.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have to pick up something that Someone has left at my feet and hand it back over to Him.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Minimalist Monday

By Carolyn Greene

It’s Monday, the beginning of the week, and most of us are already overloaded with things to do, places to go, and people to see.  Sound familiar?  What makes the to-do list even more overwhelming is the fact that every time something is needed to perform those important tasks, we must first spend twenty minutes searching through piles of stuff to find it.

My husband and I have spent more than thirty years in the same house (with a large basement for storage), and during that time we’ve collected many possessions that have gradually changed from blessings to clutter.  We’ve also added activities that keep us bustling from appointments to deadlines.

What’s a busy, overloaded person to do?

First, be grateful.   Those things that gather dust in the basement or attic were, at one time, blessings from a generous God.  The work deadlines are further blessings … opportunities to provide for our family and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done.   With each new book I write, I am thankful for the blessing of creativity and for the readers who make it possible for me to perform a job I enjoy more than any other in the world.

Second, minimize.  The Flylady, a home organization guru (, encourages her followers to do a “27 fling boogie” every week.  Or perhaps it’s every day.  At any rate, the idea is to hunt down 27 items to give away or throw away.  It’s amazing how easy it is to find 27 things that no longer add value to our lives, but which may bless someone else.

In our family, Thanksgiving was a time when we encouraged our children to sort through their old, outgrown toys that were still in good shape and give them to a charity so other children could enjoy them.  This not only made space in their toy boxes for the new gifts on their own Christmas wish lists, but it also taught them the pleasure of helping children who were more in need than they were.

Third, reduce the inflow.  Speaking of Christmas wish lists, my friend and fellow author Jenn McKinlay overheard a father tell his children that the previous Christmas they’d received everything they wanted, yet it was the family’s worst Christmas ever.  This year, he told them, they could each have four items, and that’s it:

Something to wear.
Something to read.
Something you want.
And something you need.

Such a plan would certainly make a child think long and hard about what goes on that wish list.   And for us adults, there’s the one in, one out (or two out) rule.  If a new pair of shoes comes into the closet, one or more pairs need to go out.

Fourth, focus on what’s really important.   A well known financial expert suggests we keep an open hand policy … a hand that’s open to give to others is also open to receive blessings.  I prefer the image of an overflowing teapot:  God continually fills our teapots with blessings.  Out of that teapot full of blessings, it is our duty and honor to fill the cups of those around us.

How do you (1) manage the abundance of blessings in your life and (2) use them to serve others?

Carolyn Greene is blessed to write for two publishers of inspirational fiction, including the Southern Blessings series for Love Inspired which will be launched in June 2014.

Friday, September 20, 2013


The Craftie Ladies would like to set aside Fridays to acknowledge and celebrate the good things that are happening in our lives and we hope that you will join in and tell us about the blessings you have encountered as well.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

One Good Thing Friday

This past week, I was aiming to complete the first draft of my latest contracted Love Inspired Historical, and as I was barreling down toward the finish line, I knew I needed a scripture verse that really captured the flavour of the story. That one verse that would showcase the theme.
And God, in His Glory, delivered it. 

And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

Mark 9:24
 Writers all know that feeling of when you write something that clicks and makes sense and pulls back into play a previous incident in the story, but this goes far beyond. In fact, the more I read this passage, the more I am amazed at how it can fit with so many parts of the story, which I have named so far, "Faith in the Warrior". 
I'm thankful for this, and for the way the whole of the Bible is layered with so much meaning, so much strength. And I can remember that God will build on my faith and strengthen me.
Have a blessed Friday.
Barbara Phinney

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Great Juggling Act by Sherri Shackelford

I think being a mother is great training for being an author. I'm constantly juggling overlapping projects and I *usually* feel like I'm losing control over at least one of those projects. I have a book coming out in February and I'm enjoying the little nuggets of progress along the way. Right now I have a back-cover blurb. In a month or two I'll have a cover, and another month or two after that I'll have an actual copy of the book. 

During that time, I'm working on the third book in the series. While that book is sitting with my editor, I'm busy plotting another three-book series. At some point I'll have to put a sudden halt on the new project and revise the old project--while promoting the new release. Sounds like being a mom, doesn't it?! Juggling school, sports, dentist appointments, religious education, and on and on--while still trying to cook dinner, clean the house and raise decent little human beings. 

And I usually feel like I'm failing at one or more of those things at all times! But, as Billie Jean King famously stated, Pressure is a Privilege. 

My favorite quick dinner recipe is nicknamed Pesto Pasta in our house:

16 oz (or thereabouts) package of bow tie pasta
3-4 eggs
1/2 cup prepared pesto sauce (more or less to taste)
1/3 cup packed-in-oil sundried tomatoes (more or less to taste)
1-2 tbsps olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces
fresh parmesean
salt & pepper

Fill your pasta pan with water and add the eggs, once the water boils add the pasta and cook as directed. (The eggs will cook with the pasta and save time)

While the pasta and eggs are boiling, heat the olive oil in the skillet and cook the chicken until golden and cooked through. (Season with salt and pepper or your favorite seasoning mix--my family likes Nature's Seasoning by Morton.) 

Drain pasta and peel and slice the hard boiled eggs. Mix the pesto into the pasta and add the sundried tomatoes and cooked chicken breasts. Sprinkle the eggs and some fresh Parmesan over the top. the meal looks elegant and time consuming--but it's not :)

Coming in February, The Marshal's Ready-Made Family:

A Marriage of Necessity 

Gentlemen don't court feisty straight shooters like JoBeth McCoy. Just as she's resigned to a lifetime alone, a misunderstanding forces the spunky telegraph operator into a marriage of convenience. Wedding the town's handsome new marshal offers JoBeth a chance at motherhood, caring for the orphaned little girl she's come to love. 

Garrett Cain will lose guardianship of his niece, Cora, if he stays single, but he knows no woman could accept the secrets he's hidden about his past. The lawman can't jeopardize Cora's future by admitting the truth. Yet when unexpected danger in the small town threatens to expose Garrett's long-buried secret, only a leap of faith can turn a makeshift union into a real family.

A wife and mother of three, Sherri’s hobbies include collecting mismatched socks, discovering new ways to avoid cleaning, and standing in the middle of the room while thinking, “Why did I just come in here?” A reformed pessimist and recent hopeful romantic, Sherri has a passion for writing. Her books are fun and fast-paced, with plenty of heart and soul. Write to Sherri at P.O. Box 116, Elkhorn, NE, 68022, email at or visit

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

American Christian Fiction Writers Conference 2013

Debby Giusti (L) and Missy Tippens (R)
arrive in Indianapolis!

Debby Giusti here!

Seeing old friends and making new ones is always the highlight of the ACFW conference. This year was no exception. The conference started Friday and was held in downtown Indianapolis at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. A host of restaurants were just steps away as well as a shopping mall so there was plenty to do in any off time. To add to the excitement, the Lucas Oil Stadium--two blocks from the hotel--hosted a COLTS game on Sunday, and the town was abuzz with football fever.

Workshops started on Friday, and the selection was outstanding. I attended James Scott Bell's all-day session on Saturday and came away with lots of new ideas on how to improve my work in progress. That night the Love Inspired Authors, along with executive editor Tina James and editor Emily Rodmell, enjoyed a yummy mega-course meal at PF Chang's. Thanks, Lenora, for arranging the gathering.
(L to R) Myra Johnson, Debby Giusti, James Scott Bell,
Missy Tippens and Janet Dean.
LI Authors gather was dinner Saturday night!
My thrill on Sunday was having coffee with best-selling author Frank Peretti. Frank's a down to earth guy who enjoys life and makes everyone he meets feel at ease. His debut novel, This Present Darkness, opened the doors to Christian fiction in 1986 and proved  that Christian readers were hungry for all types of stories in a vast array of genres. Frank received the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award on Sunday night at the Gala Banquet and Awards Ceremony.
Debby with Frank Peretti

Allie Pleiter, Debby Giusti, Love Inspired Executive Editor Tina James,
Love Inspired Editor Emily Rodmell,
Love Inspired Heartsongs Presents Editor Kathy Davis
and Janet Dean at the banquet.
Everyone looked beautiful in their evening attire. The Genesis and Carol winners were announced amid cheers and tears of joy. Congratulations to all the winners...and finalists! We're so proud of all of you. We're especially proud of Craftie Ladies Dana Mentink and Lynette Eason. Dana's book, Lost Legacy, won in the category genre, and Lynette's book, When A Heart Stops, won for romantic suspense!

Monday everyone packed their suitcases and headed home. I flew back to Atlanta tired but happy and brimming with ideas for my next story. I hope those who attended will share some of their special memories of ACFW 2013!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

By Debby Giusti

Someone wants Stephanie Upton dead. A warning to leave town is just the beginning. Fearing for her life, Stephanie turns to Special Agent Brody Goodman for help and protection. But can she trust him when he’s convinced her own brother is a prime suspect? Torn between her devotion to two men—an estranged brother whose trust she yearns to regain and an agent she may be falling for—Stephanie doesn’t know who or what to believe. As feelings between her and Brody escalate, she’ll have to choose sides to stay alive.

Available now at Amazon.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Something New by Merrillee Whren

Several days ago, Sandra Orchard blogged about renovating a very old house. Our current remodeling project pales in comparison, but I thought I would still show you a few before and after photos. Here is a before photo of our kitchen.

Here is a photo of the kitchen as it looks today. Of course, it isn't done, but I am looking forward to the finished product. That white wall outlet has to go.
This photo shows a portion of my new wood flooring. Today they are supposed to finish, and we can actually put our furniture back into the room. We still have to wait two more weeks for our counter tops. 
Throughout this project I have constantly been reminded of the following verse from 2 Corinthians 5:17. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"

Besides my new kitchen, baths and floor, I've journeyed into a new writing adventure. I have an indie book available either as an e-book or in trade paperback. You can learn more about it here.

What is something new in your life?

Merrillee Whren is an award-winning author who has written eleven books for Harlequin Love Inspired. She is the winner of the 2003 Golden Heart Award for best inspirational romance manuscript presented by Romance Writers of America. She has also been the recipient of the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award and the Maggie Award for Excellence. She is married to her own personal hero, her husband of thirty plus years, and has two grown daughters. She has lived in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas and Chicago, and Florida but now makes her home in the Arizona desert. When she’s not writing or working for her husband’s recruiting firm, she spends her free time playing tennis or walking while she does the plotting for her novels. Please visit her Web site at connect with her on Facebook at

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