Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sunday Scripture

Christus Pantocrator, Cathedral of CefalĂą, c. 1130.
[GNU Free Documentation License]

Jesus said to his disciples:
"I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing! 
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! 
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? 
No, I tell you, but rather division. 
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."
Luke 12:49-53

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, August 15, 2019

Dog Days of Summer, by Myra Johnson


Apparently, the summer heat has been on the minds of several Love Inspired bloggers this month. It’s been brutally hot in Central Texas the past few weeks, with several days in a row topping the 100-degree mark. Texans aren’t the only ones sweltering, however. I recently read an article stating July 2019 may well go down in history as the hottest month on Earth ever recorded!

Chillin' underground with the fam on a hot summer day!
Crazy, but our dogs actually seem to enjoy finding a sunny spot in the grass to stretch out and soak up some rays. Watching them made me curious, though—where exactly did the phrase “dog days of summer” originate? 

Poppy soaking up some rays!
A little Googling and I came up with an answer. Come to find out, the phrase has nothing to do with panting dogs lolling in the summer heat. The term began way back with the Greeks and Romans, when the hottest days of the summer often coincided with Sirius, the Dog Star, rising and setting along with the sun. The Greeks and Romans believed Sirius combined its heat with the sun’s, making the days even hotter (a false assumption, of course). Depending on the tilt of the earth and where you happen to be living, the so-called dog days of summer typically occur between July 3 and August 11.

So now I’m pondering the origin of any number of idioms we hear so often in daily conversation:
  • Raining cats and dogs. (Sure could use a good rain right about now!)
  • Facing the music. (Are they playing your song?)
  • Once in a blue moon. (Ever seen one of those?)
  • Having a bee in your bonnet. (Scary thought!)
  • Getting up on the wrong side of the bed. (I always get up on the same side, but some days definitely turn out more “wrong” than others.)

Oops! Yep, that's me, waking up on the wrong side of the bed!
If you’re curious about these or innumerable other turns of phrase, many of which I’ve never even heard of, I found an interesting website, Idioms Online. Share some of your favorites in the comments, and enlighten us about the origin if you can!

~~~~~~~

Native Texan Myra Johnson writes emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. She’s wrapping up a Love Inspired mini-series with returning characters from Her Hill Country Cowboy, Hill Country Reunion, and The Rancher’s Redemption. The next book in the series, Their Christmas Prayer, is due out in October.

Also look for the updated editions of Myra’s earlier romances:


Myra is a three-time Maggie Awards finalist, two-time finalist for the prestigious ACFW Carol Awards, winner of Christian Retailing’s Best for historical fiction, and winner in the Inspirational category of the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards. After living five years in Oklahoma, then eight years in the beautiful Carolinas, Myra and her husband are thrilled to be back in the Lone Star State enjoying wildflowers, Tex-Mex, and real Texas barbecue! The Johnsons share their home with two very pampered rescue dogs who don’t always understand the meaning of “Mom’s trying to write.” They’ve also inherited the cute little cat (complete with attitude) their daughter and family had to leave behind when they moved overseas.


Sign up to receive Myra’s e-news updates here!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Small towns and summertime parades Roxanne Rustand


I just returned home from ten days in rural Wisconsin with three of our grandkids, while their parents were in Hungary and Austria.  I had been wondering if I could come up with enough activities to keep everyone entertained, but between the list their mom wrote and a few ideas of my own, the days flew. At least for me! Now I'm back home, and miss being with the grandkids more than ever!

I love small towns and rural life--the wide-open spaces, the feeling of community. The celebrations--the county fairs and parades.

My husband and I live on an acreage with our three horses, rescue dogs and a flock of friendly barn cats (all neutered), and all of my books for Love Inspired have been set in small towns or ranch country, where I feel right at home.

Hmmm..."flock" didn't sound quite right for describing our cats so I got sidetracked here and had to look up the correct term.
I had  NO idea that a group of cats is  called a "clowder of cats," a "glaring of cats," a "pounce of cats," or a "destruction of cats." A clowder?!  A glaring, pounce, or destruction of cats made me giggle!


At any rate, it was fun being in beautiful, rural Wisconsin, with the rolling hills and trees, beautiful parks, and lovely lakes.  It was also fun to go to the local parade, where the two oldest grandkids were on a 4H float.

The parade was amazing.  It's a  very small, one-stoplight town, but all of the communities in the region send their floats, bedecked with princesses, to each other's town celebrations.  I lost count at ninety-six units going by!

Marching bands.  Horses. Float after float after float, all topped with the beaming princesses and  royal courts from their town.

 The Shriners, whizzing by on their little go-karts.  A polka band atop an antique green
hearse.  :)  That's quite a group. Click on the photo to see them better!

Have you seen or done anything fun and memorable this summer? Maybe had some nice visits with family or friends? Read any good books?


Anyone leaving a comment here will be in a drawing for my newest book High Country Homecoming (Love Inspired, June, 2019.)

All the best to you!
Roxanne Rustand




Tuesday, August 13, 2019

In with the New


How is everyone’s summer going? It’s hot, hot, hot here in Colorado, although it does occasionally rain in the evenings. We’re trying to keep our energy bill from skyrocketing by using fans most of the time, but the air conditioning still goes on in the afternoon when we’re all sweltering.

My oldest daughter and her family (including my granddaughter) moved to the Seattle area to be near my son-in-law’s mother, and they’re having quite an adventure trying to get settled. I really miss them, even though we Facetime. It’s just not the same. I want to reach out and touch them and can’t.

My middle daughter is now the General Manager of not one, but TWO Metrolux movie theaters in Utah. It’s a super exciting job because Sundance uses these theaters come January—I think that would be a GREAT time for us to visit, even though we’d probably see little of my daughter. But…a movie star or two, perhaps?

What’s truly amazing about Middle is she got a job in concessions when she turned 16. Yes, working at the movie theater was her first and basically only job. She’s worked her way up in the company. Look out, District Manager under the age of 30!!

Youngest is likewise experiencing change. She is an Assistant Manager at Sam’s Club working her way up to General Manager. She’s the one they call when they need someone to step in as General Manager for a week, so I don’t think it will be long now. In the meantime, she just moved into her first solo apartment (she’s always shared living expenses with friends.) Boo even has his own room!

As for Joe and me, our family has grown. We’ve welcomed a bonded pair of Tuxedo kittens into our home.

Dab and Hype (thanks to Boo for providing us with really cool contemporary dance move names) are super fun and such a blessing.


Things are changing in my writing world, as well. My very last book located in fictional Serendipity, Texas, Her Forgotten Cowboy, will be out this week. It’s really hard for me to break away from this town after writing sixteen books set there, but it’s time.


She can’t remember the past
He can’t imagine a future without her in 
Cowboy Country

Suffering amnesia after a car accident, Rebecca Hamilton arrives back in Serendipity, Texas, pregnant and seeking the baby’s father—her estranged husband, Tanner. Returning to the ranch house they once shared is her best chance at regaining her memories. But will recalling the tragic reason they separated only drive a bigger wedge between Rebecca and the man she’s falling for all over again?


I am excited to announce I've signed for six more books for Love Inspired!!! I'm moving on to my new series set on a Christmas tree farm in fictional Whispering Pines, Colorado. I’ve been wanting to write some books set in my home state for a while now so I’m super excited about that. Plus, the six book series involves the six-sibling Winslows training service dogs--and there will be lots of cowboys and kids, of course.

Change is scary, but I’m super excited about what the future holds. We’re safe in God’s hands, right?
I hope your summer was filled with blessings!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Summer Critters (Warning--Pictures!)

by Jill Kemerer

All summer I've been taking walks whenever possible, and I've encountered a LOT of critters! Now, I'll be the first to admit I'm a big baby when it comes to the creepy-crawlies. Spiders make me scream; snakes give me heart attacks. And since I'm a drama queen, I took lots of pictures to prove I had reasons to be afraid.

First up, I was just walking along, minding my own business when I almost stepped on this little guy. Yes, it took ten minutes for my pulse to return to normal!



This spider? HUGE. And in the bathroom at the park I was visiting. Yikes! In my mind, this is one step away from a tarantula.



In June, my girlfriend joined me on a research trip to the nearby Lake Erie islands, and we were both shocked at how late the Mayflies appeared this year. Here they are on my leg and covering a pole (they are harmless but icky!).




Also on this trip, we got to see what was under the black mats on one of the islands--it wasn't a pleasant surprise! To be fair, scientists research these snakes, so there's that.



I came across this adorable toad sunning himself while I was walking the other day. I don't mind frogs and toads. I like his pose.


Finally, in July we spent a week in Florida. We saw all three of these on the same night. The tiny crab was my favorite!




Not pictured? The raccoon that climbed the tree right outside the deck! The little guy was too fast for me...

What critters have you encountered recently? Which ones do you like more than others?

Enjoy your Monday!

*

Jill Kemerer is a Publishers Weekly bestselling author of inspirational romance novels for Harlequin Love Inspired. She loves coffee, M&Ms, a stack of books, and long walks outdoors. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two almost-grown children. Please visit her website, jillkemerer.com, and sign up for her newsletter.

Released May 2019:



She’s pregnant on his doorstep…
Saddle up for this Wyoming Cowboys novel

When his childhood friend Kit McAllistor shows up, widowed and pregnant, rancher Wade Croft offers her a place to stay…but he can’t offer her his heart. As old feelings begin to surface, past tragedies force Wade to ignore them. But on the brink of losing his ranch, will he also risk losing the woman he’s beginning to love…or can he cowboy up in time?


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Sunday Scripture

Etching, Jan Luyken illustrating the parable, Bowyer Bible,
Bolton, England. [Free Art License]

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Gird your loins and light your lamps
and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding,
ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. 
Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. 
Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself,
have the servants recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. 
And should he come in the second or third watch
and find them prepared in this way,
blessed are those servants. 
Be sure of this:
if the master of the house had known the hour
when the thief was coming,
he would not have let his house be broken into. 
You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect,
the Son of Man will come.”
Luke 12:35-40

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, August 9, 2019

Shipshewana Visit by Vannetta Chapman

Happy Friday!

Today I thought I'd share some pictures with you from my recent visit to Shipshewana, Indiana. Shipshewana is one of the largest and most affluent Amish communities. I've been there many times and all of my Love Inspired books are set in that area.







A few things I noticed this time that I hadn't seen before include:

  • solar panels on the barn
  • open buggies
  • a buggy race (on a county road--that was a hoot)
  • dinner in an Amish home where that part of the house had been built or modified specifically to hold dinners for Englischers
  • Amish families attending an antique tractor show
But most things in Amish country remain the same:
  • large families enjoying ice cream at Howe's on a Friday night
  • an Amish home to buy a quilt (the Amish woman had over 100 quilts that she and her friends had completed)
  • schools and phone booths and so many beautiful gardens
  • Amish working side-by-side with the Englisch in restaurants, quilt shops, etc.
  • Visited a cheese store and yes I brought some home.
It's always fun to visit an area that you write or read about and compare the reality to the fiction. Have you been to Amish country? I'd love to know what you saw that left a lasting impression on you. My book The Amish Christmas Matchmaker releases next month, and we'll once again be visiting northern Indiana. I hope it's a story that touches your heart.

Blessings,
Vannetta

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Brave in the Dark by Sara K. Parker


On Tuesday morning, my 16-year-old looked out the window and was surprised to see that our van was missing. He called downstairs to me, “Mom, where’s our other car?”

“What do you mean?” I asked. “It’s out front like it always is.”

A pause.

“Mom. The van is gone!”

I went running to the window, panic-stricken. Sure enough, the van was GONE! In the span of approximately 3.2 nanoseconds, I remembered three things:

1. The previous night, a neighbor had called the police because she believed someone had tried to get into her house through the back door; no one was caught.

2. Months ago, someone else’s van in our neighborhood had been stolen. The van was found, but it was pretty messed up inside.

3. Months before that, another van in our neighborhood had been stolen. When they got it back, it had also been stripped inside.

I knew immediately that we had been victims of a terrible theft: our van had been stolen in the middle of the night while we were peacefully sleeping. I sank to the floor in the living room and burst into tears.

Maybe my cry-fest sounds a bit dramatic. Or maybe you can see yourself falling to the floor in a puddle of tears, too. At that moment, I had zero control over my emotions because the case-of-the-missing-van came on the heels of two months of very private heartache that had thrown my life into complete chaos. Along with the traumatic event of two months past, nearly everything that could go wrong had also gone wrong:

The pool turned green.


The bathtub upstairs leaked through the ceiling.


The rear window of our van cracked to smithereens.


You get the point. So much was going wrong that when I saw our van missing, I figured – well, of course the van was stolen. Everything else was going wrong. Why wouldn’t a selfish nasty thief target my car?

And a tiny part of me wanted to just climb into bed, curl up into a ball, and stay there for a few days. I did not want to face the mayhem of my life.

Then I reminded myself it was only a car, and my kids were depending on me not to lose my mind, so I pulled myself together and called the police and reported the van missing. After making the report, I was told an officer would arrive shortly. I then texted my neighbor friends:

YOU GUYS.
MY VAN WAS STOLEN!!!

Immediately, one friend responded:
What?? I just saw it outside like an hour ago.

I thought…huh. That’s strange. Who steals a van at 7 in the morning?

Then she called me.

“Sara? I’m looking right at your van.”

It was parked right in front of her home. A few houses down the street. Exactly where I’d left it the night before when we’d gotten together.

Red-faced and stifling hysterical laughter, I called the police back and told them that my van, in fact, had not been stolen. I had just parked it down the street and forgotten about it. (I left out the part about the frozen lime margarita my neighbor made for me the previous night because I promise that had nothing to do with my forgetfulness, and let's face it - why borrow trouble?)

Years ago, I would have been mortified by such a mistake. On Tuesday, I could only laugh. I was both relieved that the van had not been stolen and amused at my own forgetfulness, which I've been told is a common aftereffect of trauma so I should not be alarmed.

As I thought about the incident later, I was struck by how quickly my fears had sent me into a near-tailspin. How, for a moment, I had felt paralyzed, the problem too insurmountable. How, very unexpectedly, the temptation to just. not. face. it. took hold of me. This is not like me. While generally an avoider of conflict, I do tend to put on my big-girl panties and take care of problems as they arise. That unfamiliar emotion of wanting to run and hide reminded me of a character in a proposal I’ve been working on for a while. Suddenly, she seemed very real to me. Years ago, she was completely blindsided by a traumatic event incited by someone she trusted implicitly – and she wound up serving prison time for a crime she didn’t commit. When she’s finally out of jail and free again, she can’t live in that freedom. Instead, she lives in fear, in constant expectation of the-next-worst-thing.

I read a quote today that spoke to me:


This is the type of brave my heroine is going to become by the end of the book, and it’s the kind of brave I’m working on developing in myself.

In my August release, Security Measures, Triss Everett has always been brave. Too brave, actually. I love her life story because it is a reminder of how much we need God and one another to truly be brave. Yes, sometimes brave means taking steps on your own, but more often it means reaching out to others. It means being honest with yourself and those who love you. It means facing pain and reaching for new hope even when your deep losses warn you not to dream again and you really can't see beyond each new step you take.

Tell me your stories of bravery – a moment when you felt brave, or a moment when you witnessed bravery. While you’re brainstorming, I’ll leave you with a song. If Triss had a life song, I think this one would be it:


Also, keep an eye out for Security Measure in the stores. Post your sightings to my Facebook page to be entered to win an Amazon gift card!