Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Trying to keep the wheels on the wagon....

Well, people of cyberland, it’s the end of May and you know what that means! Yep! It’s also the end of the school year. Since I teach third grade, this is a crazy time when we try to keep a lid on the rising energy levels and general hysteria of a bunch of young kiddos who can smell summer vacation in the air. It’s not easy, let me tell you. I am always struck by the similarities between writing a novel and wrangling a bunch of third graders. Here are the top three.

1. Plot threads are like kids, they tend to run in all different directions. When you’re coming down to that last few chapters, there are numerous things to resolve. The romantic arc? Check. The inspirational arc? Check! The various suspense threads? Double check! Don’t leave anything hanging or you’re likely to have some unhappy reader mail!

2. The work doesn’t stop when the bell rings. Every teacher and writer knows that success involves putting in many outside hours in both planning and execution. After those precious words are written,  edits and revisions are done, and the book has been birthed....the work of promotion begins. People aren’t going to find your amazing book unless you let them know all about it via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, website etc.

3.  Both teaching and writing are a combination of art and science, if you will. Teachers have all kinds of formal training in the science of how to best instruct their students. The really great teachers have that intuitive ability in the art of motivating, encouraging, interesting and inspiring their subjects. Writing is like that, too. It’s important to know the nuts and bolts of how to put words together on a page, but the artistry comes in when elevating those words to encouragement, motivate and inspire readers.

So what do you think? Am I on the mark or is the tip of my crayon a bit dull these days?




Dana’s newest book is the first in a new series. Mitch Whitehorse is living his worst nightmare when his serial killer brother escapes from prison. He will have to partner with his brother’s ex wife to put the monster behind bars one last time.



https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Ranch-Riveting-Suspense-Roughwater-ebook/dp/B07L1SWDFS/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Danger+on+the+Ranch&qid=1558977616&s=gateway&sr=8-1



Monday, May 27, 2019

When We Were Young by Belle Calhoune





Recently I've been suffering from nostalgia. I find myself yearning to go back in time and relive

certain portions of my childhood. It always seems to me that those times were far less complicated,

and as a child, I was able to view everything through rose-colored glasses.




I grew up in a small suburban town about ten miles outside of Boston, Massachusetts. I had a really

great childhood. One of five kids, my parents were devoted to anything and everything that

enriched the lives of their children. The grand three-story home we lived in was located directly

across from a  public library. It's no small wonder I became an author since I was always across the

street with my nose in a book. Our house was always a bustling place--lots of laughter and chatter

and debates.

Since my mother was a doctor and my father was a biologist, there was also a lot of scientific

discussions.  Those were never my favorite but I learned a lot.










Summers were spent at our summer house in Cape Cod where we would swim, sit in the sun

(suntan lotion wasn't a big thing back in the 70s), catch crabs and boil the occasional lobster.

We had a favorite place to drive to for ice cream once the sun went down. Four Seas Ice Cream.

I remember my father always ordered the Pistachio while my mother loved the sherbert.

One of my funniest memories is when a lobster escaped the pot and my mother screamed

the kitchen down until my father rescued her. Sadly the lobster was eaten and his escape was short-

lived.








I think a lot of this is tied up in missing my mother who passed away in 2000. Sometimes

we think we're past the grief, but then unexpectedly it rises up again and plunges you into yet

another stage of mourning someone you love.





I miss the sound of my mother's voice and the tinkling of her laughter. I miss being mothered

by her.

I miss her tiny wrists and her wisdom. I miss her being only a phone call away.

I miss my father calling her  Anne. I imagine I'll never stop missing these things.

My dad is going to be selling the house I grew up in. It's really too large for him and he's

held onto it for far too long. Although I know this in my head, my heart is already mourning

the loss of my childhood home.  So many beautiful memories were made within those walls.

The winds of change. The permanence of grief.




It all makes sense to me as I ponder the way I've been feeling lately. Memories transport us back in

time to a place where the ones we've lost are still present. They are comforting and tie us to

our past.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sunday Scripture

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Holy Trinity, by Szymon Czechowicz,
1756–1758. [PD-US]

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words;
yet the word you hear is not mine
but that of the Father who sent me.

"I have told you this while I am with you.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything
and remind you of all that I told you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

You heard me tell you,
'I am going away and I will come back to you.'
If you loved me,
you would rejoice that I am going to the Father;
for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe."
John 14:23-29

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, May 24, 2019

Don't Underestimate the Power of a Mom with her God by Katy Lee

My son graduated last night with both his high school diploma and his Associates degree. He was my last homeschooled child, so after years of dedication, the ceremony was something I couldn't miss. In fact, I even changed my traveling schedule around months ago to be sure I would be there. So imagine my emotional state when the last leg of my flights was canceled with no other flight available. All hope was lost ... or was it?

It was one of those moments in life where one could accept the circumstances, or one could decide to try. Not one to let grass grow under my feet, I decided to try. I dried the tears from my face and set out for another way home. The train schedule showed the last train to get me to the ceremony in time had just left the station. My mind toyed with the idea of renting a car and driving myself the five+ hours, but this would mean driving through New York City--something I've never done. In fact, I always avoid those bridges like the plague. Could I do it? I wondered as I dried my tears and headed in the direction of the rental car shuttle. Before I knew it I was standing at the car rental counter with a car brought around for me. There was no more time to debate. It was time to drive. And drive I did!

I won't go into the horns and "birds" I heard and saw fly along the way because I want to focus on the empowering moment this endeavor gave me. I drove in thick, bumper-to-bumper traffic. I saw a few accidents and prayed for the people whose days had just been derailed like mine. I reached out to friends to pray for me along the way too. As the time for the beginning of the ceremony came and went, and I was still so far away, I expected to have missed the graduation after all. My husband called and said I should just go to the restaurant we planned to eat at after. But that felt like giving up. I couldn't make a Plan B yet. So I continued to pray for the road to clear, and soon after it did. Nearly six hours later, I pulled into the parking lot and ran down the street and up the steps to the Symphony Hall, stopping only to buy a dozen roses from a vendor...because I figured that's what Wonder Woman would do. I headed inside and made my way to the seat my husband saved for me and quietly cried again as I watched my son's row stand up to head to the stage.

I MADE IT!

Sorry it's blurry. I was shaking so much by this moment. But look at that smile! His mom came through. He will never know how much I was stretched beyond my comfort zone ... at least until he has children of his own and understands how far a parent will go for their child. And for all parents out there wondering how far they would go, you can't know until you are faced with such a moment. But don't underestimate yourself, because with God all things are possible. 

Katy Lee has published seventeen novels, including her Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense books. She calls her thrilling mysteries and romances “Higher purpose stories at high speed suspense.” Two of her books have been nominated for both the Romance Writers of America’s RITA® Award and the Daphne du Maurier Award for excellence in mystery. Katy has won an Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award and Selah Award for her 2016 Romantic Suspense Blindsided. A native New Englander, Katy loves to knit warm wooly things while she plots her next suspense story.  You can connect with Katy at: KatyLee@Katyleebooks.com or her website: KatyLeeBooks.com and Facebook, Katyleebooks Instagram katyleeauthor

Thursday, May 23, 2019

How's Your Spiritual GPS?


by Lisa Jordan, @lisajordan

I turned on the Maps feature on my phone and looked at the navigation screen on my Ford Escape. The robotic voice commanded me to go southwest then turn right. Okay, so which way was southwest? Why couldn't it just tell me to turn left or right? 

Anyway, my mom thought we needed to turn right, so we did.

Then my GPS rerouted us around the block—or so I thought—to get back onto the road we needed to head out of the busy city.

However, instead of connecting us back to the familiar route, the GPS guided us a different way. And honestly, that way had less traffic, less congestion, and less roadwork.

The residential area offered landscaped homes, well-kept schools, and parks where children were playing with their parents and dogs.

Even though I’d been to the city hundreds of times, I was seeing this area for the first time. After an exhausting day, the views were soothing, and I was able to relax.

Finally, the GPS directed me back onto the main road I needed to take me home.

At first, there was a little concern about getting lost, especially in an unfamiliar part of the city, but I had faith in my Maps app to pilot me where I needed to go.

If I had taken that left and gone home the way I’d come, then I would have missed out on touring through that calming neighborhood.

I think that’s how we can be with God. The Bible tells us we can plan our course, but the Lord orders our steps. Faith is believing without seeing.

How many times, though, do we struggle with moving forward in faith without knowing where God is leading us?

We can make goals, create plans, and write out to-do lists and then be so focused on achieving them that we are taken down alternate routes of annoyances and miss out on blessings God is sharing with us—interrupted writing time to chat with a friend, helping a family member, or being of service in an unexpected way. 

We can view those interruptions as annoyances, but when God is in control of our time, our plans,  and our steps, then it's ordained for the purpose He has for us.

Life offers plenty of potholed roads, dead ends, and roadblocks that can cause us to be detoured along the way. And it’s so easy to get caught in a spirit of fear that keeps us from even moving forward. But, no matter what we’re doing, God wants to stay connected with us. He gives us the courage to keep going. Even when he reroutes us, and those paths may be through seasons instead of minutes, but He's with us every step of the way. 

I know how difficult it is to follow God even if the path seems hazy or even too dark to see where the next step may be. And sure, we may make mistakes from time to time that leads us down the wrong road, but when we get back in alignment with God’s will for our lives, then He will reconnect us with the best route to take for the path He’s mapped out for us. So take heart—no matter what we're doing or where we're going, God wants to be with us. 
And even better—He knows the best way, so following him will take us to the greatest destination of all—the center of His Perfect Will.


Season of Hope
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, releases 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.


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Unexpected Blessings

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11


“There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” “Every dark cloud has a silver lining.” “This too shall pass.” There are lots of ways to express the hope that our current trials will eventually come to an end. When we’re going through dark times, it’s human nature to hold out hope for a brighter future. 

Last fall, my sister’s husband was diagnosed with lung and bone cancer. Less than four months later, he passed away, and after 25 wonderful years of marriage, my 52-year-old sister found herself in the position of being widowed.

Through it all, Kim had complete confidence that not only would God take care of her, but that He had something wonderful in store for her. I admired her faith and the positive outlook she displayed through the grief.

A couple of months ago, she decided to check out Christian Mingle to see what singles there might be in the area and possibly find what they refer to as an “activities partner.” She put up a minimal profile, and since she lives in a small mountain town, with the nearest big city two hours away, she was surprised to have a response the following day from someone in the next town. He wanted to know what church she attended, and after praying about it a couple of days, she sent a reply. As it turned out, this guy Randall works with one of Kim’s friends at church, who has nothing but good to say about him.

After texting back and forth for some time, they finally decided to meet in the park downtown and go to lunch. Kim wanted to go Dutch and each pay for their own meals. Randall’s response was, “Sorry, I’m old-fashioned…and I don’t speak Dutch!”



Since that first meeting, they’ve seen each other almost every day. If Kim made a list of everything she would want in a man, Randall would fit the bill. He’s gentle, caring, romantic, and strong spiritually—a man who prays for her and with her and isn’t afraid to talk about his faith. And he’s crazy about her. They’re taking it slow, letting God lead. But I have no doubt where all this is going. Somewhere down the road, I’ll be getting a new brother-in-law.

During those darkest hours, Kim knew God had something good for her. She just never expected that blessing to be in the form of Randall!

What blessings have you received, unexpected or otherwise? What are you thankful for? Share your thoughts, and I’ll put your name in the hat to win an autographed copy of Bodyguard for Christmas. (U.S. residents only. If you live outside the U.S., I’ll send an ebook.)


Someone’s after his little boy. 

She has one chance to save them both.

When his young son is nearly kidnapped, assistant district attorney Colton Gale needs a Christmas refuge—and a live-in bodyguard. Though former military police officer Jasmine McNeal fights to shield them 24/7, she refuses to get attached. But growing close to the little boy and his father might be her only shot at keeping them alive—and becoming a family beyond the holidays.

Amazon        Harlequin         Barnes and Noble






Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Spring Has Finally Sprung! by Tracey J Lyons



It has been a record breaking rainy and cold spring here in the part of upstate New York that I live in and no amount of social media cheer seemed to help me!  I would see all the pictures my friends from the southern part of the country were posting and try not to be green with envy. Where they had daffodils and lilacs, I had puddles where the flowers should be.

There were days when I thought we were going to be in this weather pattern of dark, dreary, dampness forever. And then one day the clouds lifted and don't you know the thermometer actually went above 55 degrees Fahrenheit.


I swear on that first sunny day walking outside was like stepping out of a dark cave.

This past weekend my husband and I worked double time to get caught up on our yard work. We built a brand new raised bed vegetable garden. We planted potatoes, tomatoes, Brussel sprouts, green beans, peas, and cucumbers, then we ran out of space! Out in the front of the house, under my guidance, my husband planted over one hundred summer flower bulbs.

Our youngest son gave me a beautiful rose bush for mother's day to add to our front yard flower garden.

If I learned one thing this long, wet spring, it's that the weather patterns like our lives, can be ever changing. You have to be patient, something that's really hard for me and remember that in order to appreciate the warm, sunny days, you have endure some rain along the way.

I hope your spring is filled with an abundance of sunshine!

I'd love to hear about your spring gardens!

Tracey

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A Love For Lizzie

Print June 18, 2019
Digital July 1, 2019

Monday, May 20, 2019

A time to cast away




To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away...
-Ecclesiastes 3:1-6

Change is stressful. But there's no way to avoid it.
Change is inevitable--except from vending machines.
-Anonymous
The time has come for me to pack up the contents of a 2-1/2 bedroom house and condense it to fit into much smaller living area.  And as anyone who's ever had to do this can attest, I am struck by the fact that I have Way Too Much Stuff.
If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living.
― Anatole France
Image from Mrs. Brown (from Pixabay)
I'm going through all the things that I've been storing in the attic and garage and all I can think is... why? Why did I feel the need to carry all this around with me? Most of the storage was composed of material items that had lost any sentimental value they ever possessed. I hadn't used these things in ten years, so they didn't fall into the "but I might need it" category.
Identifying the things that make you happy: that is the work of tidying.
-Marie Kondo
The process of sorting through all the boxes was painful. I'd always managed to put it off in favor of more useful activities. (Or much less useful activities, to be honest.) But purging had an unexpected side effect on my mood. After I had donated all the excess to charity, I felt lighter myself. As if I had been carrying the weight of all these unwanted items, or the thought of them, in the back of my mind. I did Not Need All This Stuff.
What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.
― Abraham Maslow
People often accumulate Stuff to insulate themselves from being buffeted about by life. It doesn't always make you happier, but it can prove a distraction--not just from the unpleasant events in life, but from essentials. There is no way I'm going to take all these belongings on my final journey, and crowding my life with things I don't need takes my focus away from what's important.
Well and good if all things change, O Lord God, provided I am rooted in You.
― St. John of the Cross
 Getting rid of all these unwanted items left me free to concentrate on what mattered to me. On the people that mattered to me. And on higher things.

Have you ever tried purging your life of the clutter that distracts you from what is essential?
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
-Matthew 19:21


Evelyn M. Hill is a multi-published author who lives at the end of the Oregon Trail. Her debut book, His Forgotten Fiancée, was published by Love Inspired Historical. Her latest book, The English Lieutenant's Lady, deals with British spies in the Oregon Territory (based on actual events). 
When not being distracted by her cat, she writes inspirational romances set in Oregon. She loves to hear from readers. Please visit her website or sign up for her newsletter.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sunday Scripture

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Our Lord Jesus Christ, James Tissot, 1886-1894,
Brooklyn Museum. [PD-US]

When Judas had left them, Jesus said,
"Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him,
God will also glorify him in himself,
and God will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another."
John 13:31-33A, 34-35

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, May 17, 2019

Are You Trading the Truth for a Lie? By Jordyn Redwood

Recently, I became intrigued by the story of Lee Israel, a famous literary forger. The movie, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, starring Melissa McCarthy highlights her life and career.

This post will contain spoilers about Lee Israel's life so you've been warned.

Lee Israel was a writer who had fallen on hard times. She had achieved literary stardom by writing a book that hit the NYT bestseller list. After that, things in her writing career started to falter. Dropping book sales made it difficult for her to get another contract. Money stopped coming in. She was late on several bills and then her beloved cat got sick. Out of desperation to get money so the vet would treat her cat, she sold a real celebrity letter gifted to her for cash.

As a biographer, she had access to some of these priceless letters written by celebrities for her research. She stole a few from the library and sold those. Then she discovered she could forge these types of letters and began to make a significant profit off of these forgeries before law enforcement eventually caught up to her.

At the end of the movie, Lee is walking by a bookstore selling one of her forgeries. She goes in and inquires about it. Surprisingly, the forgery has a "certificate of authenticity".

She remarks,"Does the letter of authenticity have a letter of authenticity?" Eventually, she writes a note to the bookstore (in an inventive and creative way) letting them know this letter was a forgery. However, the bookstore owner keeps it up for sale-- knowing that his customers likely won't be able to tell the difference between the forgery and the real deal.

They won't be able to tell the difference between the truth and the lie.

 



For some reason, that struck me deep to my core. How often is it that I will trade the truth for a lie? Is it in denial? For status-- as someone who bought this letter might want? Is it because the truth is too hard?

In this era, finding the truth almost takes supernatural abilities. Fake news abounds. A person's "personal truth" is always the right truth . . . but is it? It seems we can all operate on our own set of chosen truths.

Shortly before venturing into Lee's story, I'd also listened to Lysa TerKeurst's book It's Not Supposed To Be This Way. In it, she discusses some of the difficulties she has personally faced over the last few years: an emergency abdominal surgery, a cheating husband and the possible dissolution of her marriage, and a cancer diagnosis. In speaking specifically about the cancer issue, she remembers an appointment she had with the oncologist who outlined her diagnosis, treatment, risks and benefits, and statistics for a cure.

What she said also struck me. "These were just facts. They weren't the truth."

The Truth, as she shared, was that God loved her. God had DIED for her. God wanted good for her despite the feelings she had concerning her present circumstances.

And then I thought-- this is the Truth we always need to fall back on.

Despite the facts.

What about you? What do you think about Truth? What is the Truth of your life?

********************************************************************

Jordyn Redwood is a nursing supervisor by day, suspense novelist by night. She hosts Redwood’s Medical Edge, a blog devoted to helping authors write medically accurate fiction. Her first two medical thrillers, Proof and Poisongarnered starred reviews from Library JournalProof was shortlisted for the 2012 ForeWord Review’s BOTY Award2013 INSPY Award and the 2013 Carol AwardPoison shortlisted for the 2014 INSPY Award and the 2014 Selah Award. Her novel, Taken Hostage, won the 2018 Stiletto Award in published romantic suspense. In addition to her novels, she blogs regularly at Redwood’s Medical Edge and the Love Inspired blog. You can connect with Jordyn via FacebookTwitterPinterest, her website and via e-mail at jordyn@jordynredwood.com.