Sunday, March 31, 2019

Sunday Scripture

Fourth Sunday of Lent

The Return of the Prodigal son, Pompeo Batoni, 1773,
Germany. [PS-US]

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them Jesus addressed this parable:
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
 
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32


If you have any prayer needs, please mention them in the comments section so we can join you in prayer. You do not need to include specific names or situations of a private nature, just say that you have a prayer request. The Lord knows your heart and the needs you have. It is a privilege and honor to pray with you and for you.


Thursday, March 28, 2019

Calming the Storm...or the Child?

by Lisa Jordan, @lisajordan

He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth—the Lord God Almighty is his name. Amos 4:13 NIV

I awoke to the sound of gusting wind and branches smacking our metal roof. I hate storms, particularly anything involving wind or lightning.

When I was a child, a tree had fallen on our house. Even though I had spent the night with my grandparents, who lived down the road, that accident created a domino effect of events that changed my life forever.

As the wind howled and prevented my return to Dreamland, I prayed and asked God to calm the storm. And if He wouldn't do that, then would He please calm this child.

For the next two hours, my mind drifted to my current WIP, the previous day's activities and the week ahead. For the most part, I didn't focus on the wind until it picked back up again, then I repeated my prayer.

These gusts of wind are nothing compared to storms others have endured, but they caused anxiety and sleeplessness in me. For me, for that moment, the wind was troubling. God heard the whispers because the wind died down at times, and I managed not to dwell on it.

Wind can be cool and refreshing on a hot summer's day. Or it can be devastating and wreak havoc. Even the strongest tree can crack if the wind is strong enough.

In my newest release, Season of Hope, Jake and Tori aren't strangers to the storms of life. They learn how adversity allows them to lean on God.

He stays constant, never bending or breaking. And no matter how small or heavy are the wind gusts in our lives, He hears every prayer, every cry of our heart. Sometimes we may think He can't hear us, but not only has He heard, but He's at work calming the storm...or the child.

Does howling wind comfort you or keep you from sleeping? How do you handle adversity in the storm?


His dreams can all come true...but only if his ex-wife will agree!
Jake Holland’s peaceful dairy farm is a sanctuary—one he wants to share with other worn and weary veterans. He just needs one more piece of land to start his program...and it belongs to Tori Lerner, his ex-wife. A collaboration could benefit them both, but with a past full of secrets between them, is there any hope for renewed love?


Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. Represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Management, Lisa is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. Her latest book, Season of Hope, released in March 2019. She is the Operations Manager for My Book Therapy. Happily married to her own real-life hero for almost thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn't writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, and creating with words, stamps, fibers, and photos. Visit her at lisajordanbooks.com.


Monday, March 25, 2019

Twix the what and the huh???





Hello, all. Dana Mentink, here. We had a rolicking good time on St. Patty’s Day with the Mentink clan and assorted holiday foods including corned beef, cabbage, etc. It was a hoot, as it always is. My sister shared an old saying she learned somewhere along the way. “There’s always a slip, twix the cup and the lip.” We had a great time alalyzing that one! I think we concluded that it meant that life is unexpected and many things can set us back a pace. It got us to thinking about other sayings and their meanings. My mother always used to tell us to “wring it out like a turnip” before we set off on a car trip. I’ll leave you to decipher the meaning of that one. My favorite from my father is, “Never keep such an open mind that people can fill it full of garbage.” I think my children will probably remember the little nugget I have repeated to them since their wee years. “Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.”

So over to you, dear cyber friends. What are some sayings common to your family? And, of course, feel free to add those special truisms that you’ve handed down to your peeps!

Here’s a link to Dana’s latest, a 99 cent prequel to the upcoming Love Inspired Suspense continuity series, True Blue K-9 Unit!


Sunday, March 24, 2019

Sunday Scripture

The Third Sunday of Lent

Jan Luyken etching, Parable of the Fig Tree. Bowyer Bible, Bolton, England.
[Free Art License]    
Some people told Jesus about the Galileans
whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.
Jesus said to them in reply, 
"Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way 
they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!
Or those eighteen people who were killed 
when the tower at Siloam fell on them—
do you think they were more guilty 
than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!"

And he told them this parable: 
"There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, 
and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,
he said to the gardener,
'For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree 
but have found none.
So cut it down.
Why should it exhaust the soil?'
He said to him in reply,
'Sir, leave it for this year also, 
and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; 
it may bear fruit in the future.
If not you can cut it down.'"
Luke 13:1-9

If you have any prayer needs, please mention them in the comments section so we can join you in prayer. You do not need to include specific names or situations of a private nature, just say that you have a prayer request. The Lord knows your heart and the needs you have. It is a privilege and honor to pray with you and for you.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Don't Forget to Say Good Morning!

From December until last week, I had to rely on a friend to drive me to and from work. I would meet her in front of the house. I started going out earlier to take a moment to myself before having to deal with the day job and all its challenges. (I’m a teacher so LOTS of challenges!) At first, I also thought it could be an exercise to help with my scene descriptions in my manuscripts. But the more times I completed the activity, the more I realized it was doing so much more for me.


My friend would text me when she was leaving her house, so I knew I’d have about ten minutes before she pulled up outside. I started going out at least five minutes before she was due, and I’d examine the world around me. I would take several deep breaths and clear my head. I’d recognize where the birds were and see if there were nests in the trees. I’d notice the sounds of different birds and which side of the street they were on. I would study the sky, making note of the colors and how they swirled into each other. I’d touch the rough edges of the stones that make up my front steps, rubbing my fingers over the loose pebbles on top. I would close my eyes and listen to the wind, making note of how it felt as it brushed across my cheeks. I would smell the smoke of the logs people were already burning in their fireplaces in the houses nearby.


Now I’m back to driving myself around, but I’m still starting my days off the same way. I just lean up against my driver’s side door instead of sitting on the doorsteps. The activity has become my own private greeting to the day, a way to bring me closer to God, and a way to open my heart to all the possibilities ahead of me for the following twenty-four hours.


If you’ve done this type of activity, tell us about your experience. If you haven’t, is it something you’d consider? Share your thoughts with us.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Book Clubs

By Debby Giusti

Yesterday was the first day of spring so enjoy the sunshine, grab a cup of coffee or hot tea and join me in talking about one of my favorite subjects — book clubs! If you love to read, analyze characters and discuss theme, moral premise, symbolism or motifs, you’re probably in a book club. If not, you need to be.

My Book Club! We've been meeting for over a decade.

Oprah Winfrey is often credited with the rise in popularity of book clubs. The talk show hostess started her own television book club in 1996 and encouraged women to read books she chose, beginning with the club’s first read,The Deep End of the Ocean, by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Oprah picks invariably soared to the top of the bestseller charts, and even classics, such as John Steinbeck’s East of Eden,gained a new resurgence of notoriety due to what has been called the Oprah Phenomenon. Over a span of fifteen years, members read a total of 70 books until the club ended in 2011.


This great group of ladies hosted me at their first
blook club meeting. They started out with four
people. Now they have more than a dozen members.
Everyone wants to be part of their group.

Pamela Burger, in her article, “Women's Groups and the Rise of the Book Club," claims that women’s clubs in vogue in the late 19th century--when ladies gathered to discuss literature and the arts--actually gave birth to the concept of the modern book club.

Katie Vu goes back even farther. In her article, “The Book Club Phenomena,” Ku attributes the beginning of book clubs to Puritan Anne Hutchinson, who first gathered women into a reading circle in 1634. Margaret Fuller supposedly sponsored the first bookstore based club in 1840. Some sixty years later, avid readers received selections in the mail thanks to the Book-of-the-Month-Club and The Literary Guild.

Our read this particular month was Kristin Hannah's
The Nightingale.

Today virtual book clubs abound. Word of mouth book promotion has turned digital with readers sharing information online about authors and their books. Goodreads provides a forum for its more than 20 million members to discuss and review their favorite reads. Facebook reading groups interact with authors and discuss their stories in a number of forums, including Q & As and author chats.

Inevitably, everyone congregates in the kitchen!
No matter how or when they started, books clubs seem to be a permanent part of our American culture. In 2014, BookBrowse interviewed women who read more than one book a month and found that 56% were members of book clubs. The majority of clubs—89%--meet in person and read an average of 9 to 12 books each year. The books are selected from various genres with the classics and bestsellers being the most frequently chosen as monthly picks.
L to R: Sandy Marvin, my daughter Mary and Sandra
Kirkpatrick chat before our book discussion.

The book club in which I’m a member started more than a decade ago with a church retreat. After the weekend religious gathering, many of us wanted to continue to meet monthly. We started reading inspirational non-fiction but quickly evolved into a fiction reading group. The second Wednesday of each month finds us gathered in one of the members’ homes. The evening begins with appetizers and beverages as we socialize for an hour or so. The hostess provides a light dinner or heavy hors d’oeuvres and dessert. After eating, we turn our focus to the monthly read. Questions in the back of the book sometimes provide a springboard for our discussions, and it’s rare that a story doesn’t leave us with a thoughtful insight or takeaway that we can apply to our daily lives. At the end of the evening, the hostess announces the next month’s read. Each December, we have a book exchange with the January selection chosen from one of the gift books.

Great discussion at our May meeting last year.

I enjoy visiting book clubs and greatly appreciate having my story selected as their monthly read. The conversation flows, and book club members invariably have questions about where I get my ideas and who creates the cover art and the back of the book blurb. In addition to answering their questions, I also provide a behind the scenes look at publishing and the writing life. 


Now it’s your turn. Tell me about your book club or any reading programs with which you’ve been involved. 

Happy reading!

Wishing you abundant blessings!
Debby Giusti

AMISH SAFE HOUSE
Hiding in Plain Sight
The second thrilling Amish Witness Protection novel

After Julia Bradford’s son witnesses a gang shooting, hiding in witness protection on Abraham King’s Amish farm is the only hope the Englischer and her children have. Even as danger closes in, Julia is drawn to the community’s peaceful ways—and the ex-cop turned Amish protector. But when their location is discovered, can Abraham protect her family…and possibly have a future by her side?

Order HERE!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Sometimes God says no

The night we got Ava
Hi Everyone, Danica Favorite here, and I have some sad news to share. For those of you who have been following the journey of our horse, Ava, I'm sad to report that she colicked and passed away as a result earlier this month. It's been a difficult month for us, in a lot of ways, and Ava's loss had been harder on us than I would have thought.

The morning of her passing, Hubby went out and found her struggling. He got our daughter, and they quickly realized it was colic. She was rushed to the vet, and the vet did everything she could, but sadly, Ava did not make it. To make it more difficult, we had to leave Ava at the vet to take my husband in for a routine medical procedure. I had to make the decision about Ava as they were taking him in for anesthesia. Neither of us got to say goodbye. But I did call my amazing father-in-law, and he picked up the girls and took them to say goodbye. The extra blessing in it was that a dear friend, who'd been there with us during Ava's leg injury, was the vet tech on duty all day, so he was with Ava the whole time. And he was there for my girls to say goodbye.

I have been so touched by the outpouring of love and support for our family during this time. I still get weepy from time to time, and I still dream about her. Who would have imagined that the horse I jokingly told everyone was "the last horse before the divorce" would steal such a big part of my heart?

When hubby took Ava to the vet, I prayed for her, as I did before. I asked my friends and loved ones to pray for her. But God said no. I don't know why. And I don't know why, after all we've been through with this horse, and all the miracles we've been given, why we weren't given another one. But I still choose to trust in God, and I still choose to believe that God is good.

Ava in the pasture with the others. 
Our vet tech friend told us that when his horse colicked and died, his boss told him that the only way to never have a horse colic is to never have a horse. Colic happens, and it's one of those crazy things that sometimes has a reason, and sometimes doesn't. It's nothing you can predict, and even if you do everything right, your horse can still colic and die.


It's a good reminder of how fragile horses are. They seem to be these giant, tough beasts, but they are actually very delicate and require special care. When something goes wrong with a horse, it can go really wrong, really fast. And get really expensive. We'll still be paying off Ava's vet bill for months to come.

And so, you might wonder again, "why?" I've thought a lot about this, because it's been such a struggle, such a hard season, and after so much hope, for it to all be lost. But God knows, and it goes back to trusting God and believing in His goodness and love. Just as importantly, I've looked for the good that has come from our tragedy. We have been surrounded by a lot of love and a lot of compassion from the people around us. Ava was surrounded by love. In her short life, and the short time she was at our house, I know she knew we loved her. I can still picture the love and trust in her eyes all the times I sat with her and loved on her.

Maybe that is the point. Choosing to love, knowing that at any moment, something totally beyond your control can take whoever or whatever you love away. But that is life. And for me, faith is about believing and loving God even when none of it makes sense.
Ava back in the corral after her leg healed.


Matthew 5:4 is a verse that spoke to me years ago during another painful time of grief. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." I have found great comfort, not just from the amazing people around me, but also from God. Ava is not the only loss I've suffered, and I know she will not be the last. But I am grateful for the time she gave us, for the miracles God showed us, and for the chance to be part of her life.


Thank you all for being part of Ava's story. The love and support you all gave our family has meant a lot to us.

About Danica:



A self-professed crazy chicken lady, Danica Favorite loves the adventure of living a creative life. She and her family recently moved in to their dream home in the mountains above Denver, Colorado.  Danica loves to explore the depths of human nature and follow people on the journey to happily ever after. Though the journey is often bumpy, those bumps are what refine imperfect characters as they live the life God created them for. Oops, that just spoiled the ending of all of Danica’s stories. Then again, getting there is all the fun.

You can connect with Danica at the following places:

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/7HCXj
Website: http://www.danicafavorite.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/danicafavorite
Instagram: https://instagram.com/danicafavorite/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DanicaFavoriteAuthor  
Facebook Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/DanicaFavorite/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Danica-Favorite/e/B00KRP0IFU
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/danica-favorite

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Road Trip! by Tracey J Lyons




Well this month's post caught me off guard! Why? Because I'm on a road trip with my husband. A road trip that everyone who knows us wasn't too sure would happen. You see we are, finally, after being together for over 40 years, driving from upstate New York to Florida. Now, we know many, many people have done the I-95 corridor before us. And we also know that many, many family and friends think only one of us will be returning in my RAV 4. LOL!

So...the trek began four days ago.

Yes that is my all important tea mug that you see perched precariously on the dashboard. A souvenir from another  road trip to Bisbee, Arizona. 

The car was packed. Okay not to organized, but I know where everything is.

And off we went on our 1,371.4 miles (one way)!! Or 20 hours in the car with my husband! Wait what did I agree to??!! 

Honestly, so far it's been a great trip. My husband, TJ , and I have talked books, kids, grand-kids, parenting, grand-parenting, in-laws and out-laws. We've even managed to solve a few of the world's problems.  But more importantly we've stopped along the way to visit friends we haven't seen in over a decade and friends who moved away from us as few years ago. And... we've set aside our crazy lives to reconnect with each other. This is becoming one of our most memorable trips. Something we can check off of our bucket list. 


I'm glad we decided to take the plunge and do the drive. We've been plotting and planning our trip back. I know I'm stopping at Georgia Peach World, exit 58 off of I-95. 

Special thanks to B & K Weiss, and R & D Spano for hosting us along the way! 

Tell me, have you ever taken a long road trip? I'd love to hear where you went!! 


A Love For Lizzie 
Print June 18, 2019
digital July 1, 2019

TraceyJLyons.com 


Monday, March 18, 2019

What Good We Know


"What do you know good?"
This is a old-time folksy greeting down here in Georgia. When you're settling down for a chat, the other person often poses this question.  It's the best sort of invitation. It means--tell me the good you have in your life right now. Share some happy news you've heard. Lift my spirits. Make me smile.
I love this, don't you?  And I think we need more of this--lots more of it--in our world today. We need an extra dash of goodness everywhere--in our conversations, on our television and computer screens.
And most definitely in our books!
We writers are often told "Write what you know." I took that to heart--which is why my books brim over with small towns, farms, goats, chickens and milk cows! Those are some of the many good things that make up my world, and I dearly love sharing them with others.

So what do I know good today? Let's see...

I know sometimes it's kind of fun to play with your food!
I know age brings its own unique beauty.
I know the rainy days we experience bless us with their own special sort of loveliness.
I know the smell of freshly baked bread brings a family running to the kitchen.
I know that curiosity can be the doorway to some really fun adventures.
I know that beauty is found in humble places--if you take the time to look for it.














Now it's your turn! What do you know good, sweet friends? Share the glimmers of joy you see sparkling around you today, and let's make each other's lives just a little brighter! 


   Don't miss my newest Love Inspired romance set in Pine Valley, Georgia! Hometown Hope releases in June 2019! 



Sunday, March 17, 2019

Sunday Scripture

Second Sunday of Lent

The Transfiguration by Raphael, c. 1520,
Vatican Museum. [PD-US]

Jesus took Peter, John, and James 
and went up the mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance 
and his clothing became dazzling white.
And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, 
who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus 
that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, 
but becoming fully awake, 
they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, 
"Master, it is good that we are here;
let us make three tents,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
But he did not know what he was saying.
While he was still speaking, 
a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, 
and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.
Then from the cloud came a voice that said, 
"This is my chosen Son; listen to him."
After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.
They fell silent and did not at that time 
tell anyone what they had seen.
Luke 9:28b-36


If you have any prayer needs, please mention them in the comments section so we can join you in prayer. You do not need to include specific names or situations of a private nature, just say that you have a prayer request. The Lord knows your heart and the needs you have. It is a privilege and honor to pray with you and for you.