On My Reading Book Shelf by Maureen Lang

You can always tell a reader from a non-reader. Just say something like “I’m reading this really great book right now . . .” and watch their eyes sparkle with interest and hope to learn about a book they might like, too. Or else their eyes will glaze over and they’ll be quick to change the subject, unless they’re so polite they suffer through a topic they have absolutely no interest in.

But since this is a blog for readers, I can safely mention this topic knowing which kind of friend I’m talking to! I just finished this really great book. :-) It’s called The Whiskey Rebels, by David Liss. Basically it’s the tale of two main characters who live in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War. The author vividly created the era in my mind, filled it with fascinating characters that were at times brave or weak, cunning or heroic, loyal or selfish. The most delightful surprise for me was the self-deprecating humor in the male lead. If you like intricate plots and schemes that have no less than America’s early days as a teetering nation on the line, you’ll like this novel.

I also recently finished Her Royal Spyness, the first in a series of mysteries by Rhys Bowen. It’s set in the UK in the 1930s, an entertaining portrayal of an impoverished British Royal (34th in line to the throne, but still . . .) who must clear her brother from a murder charge. I don’t normally like series books, especially when I have to wait any length of time for the next in the series. But since these books have been out for a while, I can satisfy my impatience and jump right in to the rest of the books in line. They promise a fun mystery with just enough romance to keep this romance reader happy, and a heroine even this ordinary American can somehow identify with.



I also have a number of nonfiction books to be read, research material for future writing projects. Among them are titles like Smoldering City, Chicago and the Great Fire (1871-1874) by Karen Sawislak, and The Gospel of Germs by Nancy Tomes. I may not read these kinds of books from cover to cover, just enough as time permits to learn more about each historical era or setting to add texture to the novels I’m planning. I know so much history is at our fingertips online, but I love having a book in front of me, my own that I can underline or take notes from. Somehow it lasts a little longer in my head that way. :-)


That’s it for now, but like you I’m sure, I’m always adding books to my to-be-read pile. So, Happy Reading!



What We Read by Vicki Hinze

Christians Read, Vicki Hinze

Photo: canstockphoto.com (manipulted

My granddaughters love to read. They come from a long line of readers, so them reading is doing what comes naturally to them. But their love of books, and specific stories—that is their own.

Like their mother, gran, and great-gran, they love many types of books. And it’s amazing (and wonderful) how much they absorb from the books they read.

Not long ago, I asked two of them to tell me about the books they loved most and why they loved them. Now, they’re young. Six and ten at the time. Yet both articulated the story and their thoughts clearly and a lot more concisely than I have when asked similar questions.

That fascinated me—as their gran but as an author and a human being. Both cut to the core of the book in answering the questions, and what I heard was that it wasn’t the events that occurred in the books that snagged their focus. It was the character’s emotional reaction to those events and whether or not they, as readers, deemed the characters’ actions good, just, or “inappropriate.”

These books clearly helped shape the children’s thoughts and opinions. They processed what they read through their own eyes, and accepted or rejected the conduct, ethics, actions, and attitudes of the characters.

That was expected. It’s what, to some extent, we all do when reading a book. But then something happened that brought in the fascination factor because the totality of the impact of books on us became extremely clear.

I mentioned a book that had been embraced by many and asked if they’d read it. The eldest said, “I started it, but I didn’t finish it.” The other one said, “I read the first page.”

“Why didn’t you finish it?” I asked.

The eldest dipped her chin and said, “Gran, you have to be careful what you put in your head.”

I agreed but said nothing, wanting to see where she went with this.

The younger one didn’t hold back. “If trash goes into your head, trash comes out of your head.”

“Ah, I see.” I heard those words spoken in their mother’s voice. She was guarding their minds. “So your mom said you shouldn’t read it.”

“I didn’t want to read it,” the youngest one said.

“I prefer other books,” the eldest said, exercising the diplomacy of being older.

It was interesting to me that at these young ages, they were already guarding their minds. Yes, mom taught them, but at their ages, they rejected a popular book based on what they thought.

Okay, that’s not just the power of books but also of parenting. However, making judgments on right and wrong, good and bad, worth putting into your mind or not—all of those were personal judgment calls. It fascinated me that they’re made early and they were made on merit.

Now other children have loved that same book. And I’m not saying the book is good or bad, just that it takes on different connotations and is read, processed, and received by different people in different ways.

I have to tell you. I thought about this short little conversation for weeks. I think it stayed with me so long because I needed to broaden my thinking. Before the conversation, my perspective was that mom (or dad) checks out the books, buys the books or gets them from the library, and the kids read them because they’re what they have to read.

But I learned that part of that’s true, but it’s not the whole truth. The kids often choose the books they want to read and if the books don’t meet the kids’ standards, unless forced to read them, they won’t. Parents exercise parental authority, but then from that point, the kids exercise their judgment based on the criteria they set—and that criteria will differ from child to child. It might be that they are guarding their mind. That they do or don’t like the characters. That a story makes them sad or cuts close to the bone on something they’ve experienced, or they don’t know why they do or don’t like it, they just do or don’t like it.

By the same token, with both of the readers, the stories they loved were loved for their characters. Because those characters touched the kids emotionally in tender ways, in just ways, and (with both), in ways that made them laugh. One put laughter at the top of her list. The other likes suspense. Neither cares much for stories without their chosen favorite element.

That realization led me to deduce that kids are as mercurial as adults when it comes to reading. We all have favorites. Favorite books, favorite authors, favorite types of stories. And at times, what we consider favorites changes. Sometimes we need to laugh. Sometimes we need to get mushy, to feel tender. Sometimes we crave action and adventure and we want to solve a mystery or to be thrilled. Sometimes we want to escape our world and get lost in another. And we do. In our books.

Time passes yet this subject continues to ripple through my mind. I’ve discovered that I too play gatekeeper on what I put into my mind. I used to finish every book I started. I don’t anymore. If the story and its characters speak to me, I’m all in. But if it doesn’t, I look for a story that does, saving the other book for another time.

Fascinating subject. One that reveals a lot about the power of books, the power of story, the power of reading and processing what is read. But how we read and when we read what we read says an awful lot about us as people, too.

I looked back at the books I’ve read in the past six months. Fiction and nonfiction. An array of genres, an array of types of stories. The books I finished and most enjoyed had a couple things in common:

  • The good guys won.
  • The bad guys lost and suffered the consequences of their actions.
  • I admired the characters who won because they battled for more than just themselves. The moral issue was bigger, and they fought for it.
  • The characters learned something worth learning as a result of their story journey.

I can’t specifically comment on the nonfiction I’ve read during this time because a lot of it was done for research, and this is about pleasure reading.   I can say when it comes to nonfiction, I appreciate:

  • You might be an expert but this reader is not, and if I can’t get beyond your convincing me you’re the expert and to the meat of the matter, both our efforts are wasted.
  • I love inspiring and uplifting nonfiction. Even the darkest information has moments of grace. Nonfiction should, in my humble opinion, include them.
  • Cited sources. All facts are not created equal. If you cite a source as a basis for a judgment, then I want to know that source so I can make the call on whether or not I consider that source cite-worthy.
  • Nonfiction doesn’t have to be dull as dishwater and bone-dry reading. Many fantastic nonfiction books use the same storytelling techniques that are used in fiction to great purpose.

All this brings me to more questions. This time, of you. I hope you’ll share your answers.

What do you read? Why do you read it? Are you a mercurial reader, who opts for different types of stories based on what’s going on in your life? What are your favorite things about reading? What type of stories do you love best?

In looking harder at this, it became clear that what we read varies as much as why we read what we read. Interesting questions led me to interesting answers.

I hope the questions above intrigue you into answering them. Maybe even share your answers with the rest of us here.

When I answered them, I discovered something unexpected—and I suspect you will, too.

I discovered that books have had a huge hand in shaping my life. Professionally and personally.   Mmm, my granddaughter was right about what you put into your mind. Kudos to her (and her mom and dad) on that…

Another lesson learned from my grans.

Mysterious ways, right?

Lessons from an Apple Core by Julie Arduini

While I’m in the middle of unpacking boxes and getting things set up in our new home, our youngest asked if she could have an apple. She’s on a Granny Smith kick these days and likes me to cut it up. I have a Pampered Chef slicer that works like magic.

Except last night.

I tried every which way to get that apple cut. I pressed down as hard as I could hoping the core would break under the pressure.

The core never flinched.
Granny Smith apple photo: Granny Smith Apple gsapple.jpg

I’m a visual person and right away I felt a check in my spirit.

These days, these last days where wars are popping up, diseases run rampant without borders, people rise up and claim they are savior and many follow—only those with a strong core are going to withstand.


A strong core is someone who not only knows Christ in a personal way, but trusts Him. It doesn’t mean anyone is perfect or never has moments of doubt or fear.

But when the special news reports seem hourly and full of bad news—

When scandals appear to put criminals in a better financial bracket while we seem to work harder for less—

It’s tempting to think about bending.

Giving in.

Joining the world for just one choice.

Maybe two.

Remember, we’re in this world, but we aren’t of it.

We’re made in God’s image and He has a purpose for us.

Keep leaning on Him. Go hard after Him to learn strategies, wisdom, secrets only He can share.

And watch your core build to the point that when the fires come, you don’t just survive.

You thrive.

That’s a strong core.


photobucket image

Dear Hannah by Hannah Alexander

Join us this week and suspend disbelief as we work on a letter from a character in a book I’m writing now. If anyone has a good answer or better insight–or any insight for me at all–join in!

Dear Hannah,

As a guy, I don’t do this kind if thing–ask for advice. As a physician, I go to colleagues for referrals all the time, and I love to get a second opinion on a particularly difficult case, but when it comes to my private life, I keep that private. But now I’m not sure what to do. Maybe you can help me.

Last year, I allowed a wealthy, powerful man to persuade me that my fiance, Joy, was not being true to me. In fact, he had me convinced she was having an affair with him, and that she needed to spread her wings and fly in the big city with a well-paying job–working for him, of course. And you know what? I gave in. He set me up with sly suggestions, and he pointed at her car, which never left the parking lot for two days, which he said was because she was staying with him. I was working myself to death at the time, and I can only claim sleep deprivation. I broke my engagement to the most wonderful woman in the world. I’ve never been more miserable.

But when I finally came to my senses and went to talk to her, she’d already taken the job and left town.

Fast forward a year. My beloved Joy is back in my life. The jerk fired her because she didn’t love him, wouldn’t have an affair with him, and was taking on too many pro bono cases–not getting paid. I discovered her car was in that parking lot because it had broken down and she had no time to get it fixed. She didn’t want to tell me because she knew I was working too many hours already. We worked things out and are back together again.

My problem is this: The scoundrel is back in town. He has apologized, and he seems to have changed, but I don’t know what to think. He wants to talk to me about yet another woman he thinks he loves–and she’s Joy’s best friend!

What do I tell this man of means, who uses his money to buy businesses and people and have others do his bidding? How do I remain calm in his presence? He wants to come to me, now, with his questions about love and women? I’m a Christian. He is not. All I know to tell him is seek Christ. Is that all I need to say?

Zachary Travis

Dear Zachary,

Wow, you’ve been run over by a steamroller! I’m impressed that you’re seeking advice for this, because most men I know would simply punch this man out and tell him to get lost. But you have a conscience, and perhaps you see a hurting man here. I don’t know, it’s just a guess. I hope it isn’t because you fear his money and power.

First of all, make sure you let Joy know you trust her. After all that happened, she must be feeling a little raw, maybe a little uneasy. She might think you’ll fall for this man’s lies again. Just reassure her.

Second, talk to this man. Be bold. Straight talk is sometimes necessary to get through to a person. Tell him that if he’s changed, you need to see the fruit of that change. And if you are a Christian, you know what he needs.

As for the woman he thinks he loves? She must know what he’s like, but if she doesn’t, she should be told. Let Joy handle that. You handle the troubled man. Even stand beside him and show him the love of Christ in a way he might never have seen before. People who hurt others are often hurting, themselves, and though you must protect yourself from them, you will also want to put an end to the darkness forever. God loves him. Show him that, and be bold. Be brave. Be the man you were meant to be.



To Read or Not To Read by Kristen Heitzmann

The other night between 12:30 and 4:00 when sleep eluded me, I began a quest to winnow the titles on my Kindle. As Camy Tang said in a previous post, collecting a long list of books to read is easier than getting through them. As with music playlists, I want every song that plays to be one I enjoy, so why have books around that I won’t like when I open them to read? In my music collection are a vast spectrum of styles from baroque to praise to Danish death metal–something for every mood. LOL.

I also read in a variety of genres with one criterion–it grabs me, woos me, impresses, amuses, or enlightens me. I love a story that makes me yearn. I love language so well-crafted it makes me sigh. I love characters I want to know. That’s what I want waiting for me when I open a new book. So in my quest for order among the chaos, I went title by title. I looked it up, read the synopsis and went to the reviews. What an enlightening experience.

It was like a huge critique group. Some thought the story the best they’d ever read. Others cringed at having to give one star. Some said the books were too complicated; others liked the complexity. But what really intrigued me was what the readers said they wanted in a story, what appealed or irritated them about the characters. Was the book true to the genre? Was it original or in any way set apart? Poor or no editing was an automatic dis-qualifier for me, though apparently that isn’t universally recognized.

The thing that came clear was that readers want to like a book. So many said, “I really, really wanted to like this, but for these reasons I couldn’t.” And of course there were the glowing reviews that expressed the things that left them wanting more. So, my question is what makes a book a keeper–or not–for you?

How long do you hang in with a book? by Camy Tang

I’m afraid I kind of offended a friend of mine because I didn’t finish a book I started. She was appalled. “How can you not finish a book?”

Me: “I don’t have time for books that bore me.”

She reacted as though I were going to burn my books rather than simply not finishing them.

I admit, I used to ALWAYS finish my books. Even if I was bored to tears, I would slog through and finish it.

Then I hit 35. (That was almost a decade ago)

And my TBR pile hit 5000 books. No, that is not a typo. Granted, half of those are ebooks, and a huge majority of those ebooks I got for free, but STILL.

(On a side note, ebooks have been very bad for my TBR pile. I used to be limited by my shelf space, or rather, the amount of surface area in my house, but now with ebooks, I am unshackled.)

I realized my TBR pile exceeded what I would be able to read before I died. Yes, Book Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy (I borrowed that from knitter Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, who said something similar about yarn stashes).

How to be able to choose what books I’d read before I died and which I wouldn’t? I couldn’t. So then, whenever a book didn’t interest me, I stopped reading.

It was very hard at first. I have a slightly obsessive compulsive thing about finishing stuff once I start.

But then I would look once again at my TBR pile and I would step away from the book.

Some of you might be cringing in horror. I apologize. But I simply can’t keep reading a book that doesn’t interest me when I could move on to another book from my TBR pile that does.

How about you? How long do you hang in with a book? To the bitter end? Or do you give yourself 3 or 5 chapters before you’ll put it down?

God’s View by Maureen Lang

This summer I was blessed to visit one of the most beautiful places in the world: Victoria, British Columbia. The trip was amazing—and for so many reasons. To start with, my expenses were paid by a wonderful organizations called Caregifted. My cousin actually heard about Caregifted before I did. She attended graduate school in Colorado and learned from her Alumni magazine that one of her colleagues started a foundation with the goal to provide respite for long-term family caregivers. Many people don’t realize how many of us are out here, since a hefty portion of our lives are spent in relative isolation. (It’s just so much easier to stay home with a severely handicapped loved one than to go out where so many things can go wrong.)

And so when I heard about Caregifted, I immediately submitted the necessary paperwork to be considered. Much to my delight, I was awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to beautiful Victoria. We paid for my husband to come along, since the trip is awarded to the main caregiver only, but needless to say the expense and the planning was made easily doable because of Caregifted’s generosity and vision.

Victoria, I was told by a resident, is Canada’s Florida. The weather is always mild, it rarely rains in the summer (although you wouldn’t know that to look at the incredible gardens everywhere) and they offer all kinds of attractions. Whale watching, castle tours, museums, shopping!, a Victorian tea, a vast selection of the best restaurants ever, and the most beautiful gardens anywhere.

I wanted to mention the gardens in particular, because Butchart Garden has come to mind so often since having been there. It is a place of true respite. Except for paths paved in limestone rather than gold, I thought it must be a lot like Heaven. Colors more vibrant than I imagined and in every variety. Incredible designs, every plant so healthy I think they must snip off a leaf or petal the moment it starts to wilt. When I first saw the pictures I assumed it had been enhanced somehow, but having been there to see it in person I know it’s real.

Butchart Gardens is the result of Jennie Butchart’s vision and hard work. Her husband, a cement magnate, mined limestone to use in his cement factory in the early 1900s. When the quarry was mined out, leaving only one large section untouched in the center because it was inferior quality, Jennie had the idea to make a garden of what was then just a big, rather ugly hole in the ground—smoke stacks of the factory looming above. She brought in countless wagon loads of black dirt from surrounding farmland, even did some planting herself. She tucked dirt and ivy along the steep edges of the quarry and on the remaining block of limestone in the middle so the result would be a stunning display of living beauty no matter where a visitor’s gaze traveled.

Sunken_Garden_BeforeAbove is actually a picture of a picture that my husband took at the garden, showing the history of the spot. You can see the early planning of the garden, with a pathway, a small original arborvitae bush to the left (one of two on each side of the path) and the design around the remaining stand of limestone. The white pillars in the background were later removed, two of five smokestacks used to make cement. Only one smoke stack remains today, not pictured, a tribute to the garden’s history.

And this is what the sunken garden looks like today:

Screenshot 2014-09-02 18.22.05

The colors are every bit as beautiful as depicted here, in this photo from the Butchart Garden website. Over a million bedding plants are on display every year! Beside the sunken garden shown here, they have an incredible rose garden, a peaceful Japanese garden, a formal Italian garden, and the loveliest array of hanging plants I’ve ever seen.

These two pictures remind me of how God might view us, because of His incomprehensible love for us. I don’t know anything about Jennie Butchart except for the amazing garden she left behind. But I wondered if she worked under divine inspiration when she had her idea for the garden. What the world might see as just a worthless, mined-out hole in the ground, God sees as beautiful. Jennie’s garden seems to me a perfect example of how God might view each of us right now.

And so my summer respite continues, every time I recall one of the loveliest spots on earth.

The Times They Are a-Changin’! by Kathi Macias

I remember hearing my grandparents and, later, my parents complaining about how quickly the world was changing and how more and more they felt “left behind.” I was clueless and couldn’t relate–until the years began to change my perspective.

When I first got into writing/publishing (WAY back in the Dark Ages, around the early 1980s), my job was actually much simpler. True, I had to write on an IBM Selectric typewriter, as opposed to the PC sitting on my lap at the moment, but I didn’t have to do any self-promoting or social networking or send out email blasts or monthly newsletter or… Well, you get the picture.

But it didn’t take long for me to realize that things were indeed changing rapidly, and if I didn’t get on-board, I too–like my grandparents and parents before me–would be left behind. So I dug in and learned all this “newfangled” stuff like marketing and networking, etc., and I thought I’d made peace with that. Until recently…

Now I find myself being contacted about movie and film possibilities for my books. Yeah, I know, a great problem to have, right? Although nothing definite yet, we are certainly making progress in the right direction for seeing one of my stories on the “big screen.” But the tough part for me is that I’m simply not a movie fan. I almost never go to the movies and scarcely watch them on TV. I would so much rather read a book! But that’s another change I’m learning to cope with, as I take on new challenges of scriptwriting and all that goes with it.

As a result I find myself wondering about my favorite people: readers. How do you all feel about it? Are you strictly book people, or do you cross over into movies? What sort of movies capture your attention and make you want to come back for more? As I make this new change, I’d love input from people I respect, and I imagine my fellow authors feel the same. Thanks, dear readers!

New Release–A GRAND TETON SLEIGH RIDE by Elizabeth Goddard and Lynette Sowell

I’m pleased to announce a new release by two Christians Read authors–Elizabeth Goddard (that’s me!) and Lynette Sowell. Lynette and I have been talking about writing a story set in Jackson Hole for years and finally got something submitted last summer that was quickly picked up by our editor. My husband and I spent many anniversaries skiing at Teton Village near Jackson. We’d stay with his aunt and uncle who lived in a beautiful cabin near the entrance to Yellowstone. She was the postmaster at Moran Junction. Many summers when I was growing up,  my parents would take us to Yellowstone National Park–one of my favorite places in the world. And one of the most famous mountain ranges—a picture of the Tetons graces many a dentist and doctor’s office. Ha!AGrandTetonSleighRide

A Grant Teton Sleigh Ride is a generational (historical) novella collection. Many changes happened in our nation over this time period–electricity and automobiles, two of the biggest changes. But Jackson Hole was often isolated when the Teton Pass was well. . .unpasseable, and folks often return to their horse-drawn sleighs in the winter well into the twentieth century.

Lynette and I loved researching these stories. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed writing them!

Wyoming’s spectacular mountains have drawn many—from trappers to ranchers to skiing enthusiasts. This Christmas, spend the holidays with the Covington family, who have called Wyoming home for generations. Rough, bristly rancher Zebulon sets his sights on eastern lady Belle Murray. Forward-thinking Emily would rather stay a dog musher than become a bride. Outfitter Sam wants to make his name in Wyoming—not say “I do.”  Hayley’s quest for her father’s approval goes sour when she takes an interest in a local ski bum. Will four festive sleigh rides rein in romance?

A Grand Teton Sleigh Ride releases September 1st in both electronic format (Kindle) and paperback, wherever books are sold. Pre-order your copy today!




Elizabeth Goddard

Lynette Sowell

Time to regroup… by Lynette Sowell

The ocean, a restful place -- Siesta Key Beach, Florida.

The ocean, a restful place — Siesta Key Beach, Florida.

There are times when we’ve gotten so busy or overwhelmed with life and all the goings-on, we like to say, “I need time to regroup.” And sometimes, that’s exactly what we need. Whether it’s job woes, family “stuff,” the general busy-ness that so easily invades our lives, everything all piled on–there are moments when we know it’s time to put on the brakes. So this year, after the rollercoaster ride of 2013, I’ve felt that need to regroup a bit.

But life in its ever-flowing route through time, doesn’t give us that pause button. If you have found that pause button, let me know where it is. Because I haven’t found that switch to throw that will let me disappear with my hubby on an island to rest, reflect and reenergize.

I looked up the definition of the word regrouping, or regroup. Regrouping, in one of its definition, is also a math term. (Blech) The other definition says something along the lines of, “reassemble or cause to reassemble into organized groups, typically after being attackedd or defeated.”

Oh, joy.

One of my favorite verses comes from the book of Matthew, at the end of the chapter:

“Come to me and I will give you rest—all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear my yoke—for it fits perfectly—and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; for I give you only light burdens.” Matt. 11:28, The Message

It is so often quoted because of the comfort it gives us, in “letters in red” straight from Jesus. He did’t say we won’t have to work, that we won’t wear a yoke, that we’ll never have burdens. He asks to let Him teach us; He’s not a hard taskmaster, laying so many things on our shoulders to be mean. The people He spoke to understood what yokes were for–to keep the oxen in check and guide them while they worked. No, He wasn’t calling us oxen! :)  But the analogy shows me that Jesus will give us a yoke–one to help guide us, get done what we need to do, and stay in line with where we need to be going.

Sometimes we take things upon ourselves that aren’t from Him. Whether it’s over-committing with good intentions, having work habits that need improving, a need to learn to  be organized–Jesus will give us the grace and strength to do what we need to get done.

Yes, we will work, we’ll stumbled and slip sometimes. But that promised rest will come. Jesus will give us that rest, but we need to take action ourselves to learn to accept it. My prayer every day is that I will learn to do just that myself!

How do you regroup, get that “rest,” and still keep up with the flow of life?

About the Ice Bucket Challenge by Julie Arduini

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last week, chances are you’ve seen the Ice Bucket Challenge gone viral to raise awareness and donations for ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Along with the videos, you’ve probably read the comments.

  • How does pouring water over your head help a cause?
  • Why would I participate in something just because someone tagged me?
  • Why not just give the money?
  • Wait, are people donating, or just getting wet?
  • I’m pro-life and have heard organizations use embroyonic stem cells to fight ALS. I don’t want to donate if that’s the case.
  • I’m uncomfortable jumping on a bandwagon that’s so massive, just because.
  • How can we dump water on ourselves when Africans don’t even have wells drilled?

I admit, when I saw it start, I hoped I wouldn’t get tagged. I don’t look great on video, and less so wet. There’s a vulnerability to put myself out there and share.

I also was fairly sure I heard about the embryonic stem cells, and that’s a deal breaker for me. I would want to give to an organization that uses adult stem cells.

I also interacted with people affected by ALS and their response to the videos was incredible. If the world could respond with as much passion to the issues I personally live with and around as they have ALS, I too would be choked up and overwhelmed. It is a terrible disease and I understand the need for awareness. I also know a cure can’t be found without donations.

My step son, Matt, in his ice bucket video.

My step son, Matt, in his ice bucket video.

So, what do you do with all the opinions out there about a video that challenges people to learn about ALS and send money?

My answer is to prayerfully remember your God-given convictions.

When I got tagged by my nephew, my own kids were so excited to respond that they didn’t even wait for me to move ahead. They researched ALS and created the video. They did wait on me to learn about donating.

When I was tagged by one of the girls I minister to Wednesday nights, I knew it was time to make the video. All the girls in the class were tagged and I thought it was a great opportunity to be foolish for Jesus, if you will. They saw me take the time to buy ice and put a call out on when and where we’d do it. They were so giddy to watch and participate, they couldn’t contain themselves, and the parents gave money.

My turn came and it was important for me to say in the spiel that although I was taping on behalf of ALS awareness, I wanted people to respond to a charity they felt comfortable with. For me, I planned to take the monies and donate them to a charity close to these girls and me that I knew where and how the monies were spent. (M’Pact Girls Ministries.) I tagged people who I felt made an eternal impact in the lives of children. I challenged viewers to do the same.

My convictions are different than yours and I think too often and too easily we trip over ourselves about it. I’m not about to participate in anything demonic, but I’m not going to go after anyone that throws water over themselves. I know that it’s a first world excess and I’m aware of third world issues. But my conviction is to be relational with kids and this challenge was a way for me to share the gospel and be with kids. That might work for you, it might not. But it was my conviction.

I might not agree with where all the funds are going, but my answer has been that I am uncomfortable sending to a place that uses embryonic stem cells. I follow with my interest in using adult stem cells, and that I understand the world doesn’t agree with me. That’s my conviction.

I’ve seen arguments rise up over music choices, movies, several things that we end up fighting over and missing the bigger picture. God’s done amazing things using movies like Spiderman to help me share a nugget He revealed to me about unforgiveness. If all I did was watch Biblical movies, I’d miss that. But I understand some people have that conviction. I don’t watch R movies, but I know some very strong Christians who do. It’s their conviction. Alcohol? I know denominations struggle with it because Christians can be all over the map about it. Alcohol is a stumbling block for me and many people I know. That’s my conviction. I’m not afraid to walk into a bar, nor do I look for one. 

Anyway, I thought I’d share my observations. If nothing else, the person/people who created the ice bucket idea are marketing geniuses. As someone who studied marketing, they thought out of the box and it cost them nothing to come up with the idea as far as I can see. Pure genius.

I’m not interested in being a wet blanket. I am passionate about showing people Jesus. 

And I had fun getting wet.

What are your thoughts?

Personal Power by Vicki Hinze

At times we all get mired down by events in our lives, or by the events in the lives of those we love.  When we do, it impacts our judgement, our viewpoint, our perspective, and all of that makes it harder to remember who we are and whose we are.

A few years ago, I recognized this and sought a way to remind myself when I needed reminding.  As for all of us, that’s pretty often.  I spent a lot of time thinking about things, and then I started noting the important points to remember.

One thing that isn’t on the list but is etched in HUGE letters across my heart is to hit my knees first, not as a last resort.  We’re conditioned to try to fix everything, but we don’t see the whole “big picture.”  God has the view, not us.  So hitting the knees first, relying on his view and perspective and judgment can spare us a lot of misery and help us better cope with whatever we must endure.

The rest of my notes, I put in a little business card, then printed it out and I’ve carried it in my wallet ever since.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled it out to remind myself of things when I needed to be reminded–and sometimes when I didn’t.

So I’m including a copy here so that, if you’re inclined, you can print it out and carry it with you.

vicki hinze, personal power

I hope it helps you as much as it’s helped me.




vicki hinze, forget me not, crossroads crisis center series, Christian Fiction

Crossroads Crisis Center    Book #1




When we forget who we are, do we remember whose we are? 

That’s the question in Forget Me Not, and the one our characters answer in their search for truth and healing.

Read the first chapter HERE.

Advice to the Lovelorn by Hannah Alexander

Advice to the Lovelorn Man

Here we go again! If you enjoy fiction, or reading advice columns, here’s a combination of both as I attempt to guide fictitious characters in their love lives. I believe there’s always a lot of truth in fiction, so I hope we can find some truth here today.

Dear Hannah,

I’m upset. Livid, in fact. I just discovered my best friend, Myra, has been dating a man who nearly ruined my life last year. And she should know better, she’s a psychiatrist! With lies and manipulation, Weston managed to convince Zack, my fiance, that I was having an affair behind his back, and instead of coming to me about it, Zack broke off the engagement. I was devastated, of course. Then when I was at my lowest, Weston convinced me to go to work for him. Little did I know that he had other things in mind. After I worked at his clinic for less than a year–constantly on guard to keep his hands off me–he fired me. The man’s a lecher. And Myra knew all this. So why does she seem to be falling in love with him? What should I do?

And another thing, Zack is back in the picture again. We’ve reconciled, but I’ve found I’m not quite as trusting as I once was. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a wonderful man with a caring heart, but if he was willing to listen to lies about me one time, what’s to stop him from doing the same thing again?


Dear Joy,

First of all, do you trust your best friend? I agree that what Weston did was heinous, but people do bad things for all kinds of reasons, and unless you can see through his eyes–or, in fact, Myra’s–you’re not in a position to make a sound judgment. If Myra already knows Weston’s tendencies and she’s been seeing him anyway, then perhaps as her friend you should stand beside her. Listen to her if she confides in you. Don’t let her decision to date Weston destroy your friendship.

As for your relationship with Zack, just the fact that you still don’t trust him shows me that the two of you need pre-marital counseling. If you can’t trust him with your whole heart, there’s a break between you already. How much more unstable will the foundation of your relationship become after marriage? Saying those vows won’t change what’s in your heart. Make sure you have a solid foundation for marriage before you stand before the minister and say “I do.”



Demo Day by Tara Randel

That’s right, demo day. Today begins the remodeling of my kitchen, living and dining room. Which means walls coming down, flooring coming up and general noise and confusion. And during this renovation I must also finish writing projects.

I’ve been emptying out cabinets for three days. Why do we let ourselves accumulate so much stuff! At least I can purge during this process.

While I’m excited, the prospect of not having a kitchen for 4-5 weeks is daunting. Good thing only my husband and I live in the house. Well, the cats too, but I expect they’ll be so wigged out over all the commotion that I won’t see them much.

It’s during times like this, when everything is out of my control, that I learn to trust in the Lord, because He is in control. No matter the circumstances of life, I know God is with me every step of the way. You don’t need a major remodel of your home to know that life can be messy and loud. But in those quiet times spent with just you and God, there can be peace and joy.

So while I clean out my cabinets and move furniture, I’ll sing songs of praise and thank God that he has me in his hand no matter what I go through in life. And if you’ve been through the renovation process and have a few words of wisdom to share. let me know!

What I Wish the World Knew About Depression by Julie Arduini

I was stunned to open my Facebook feed and find it full of tributes to Robin Williams. I knew he wasn’t even 65, so I wondered if it was his heart. I was devastated to read and now know it was a suicide.

His family shared that he had been struggling with deep depression. His own confessions regarded his addictions. I love to read biographies and such and most of the great comedians had ravaging inner pain. Many medicate with alcohol or drugs. All in that category used humor, and we found it entertaining.

Robin Williams photo: London DSCN1435.jpg

I suspect his death is especially hard because his talents knew no bounds. Hysterical stand-up. Oscar winning drama. Laugh out loud interviews he hijacked. Touching tributes to causes and people like St. Jude’s. TV. Movies. I can’t think of another person like him, not before, not up-and-coming.

Now my Facebook feed is full of posts, articles, updates and comments regarding depression, suicide, God’s word, eternity. I don’t think any of these help his family. I pray something does. I can’t imagine the torment of anyone left behind after a suicide.

My hope is that through my small experience with depression someone might get a glimpse of what it is like. It took decades for me to realize I had hormonal imbalance. I suffered with severe PCOS, so I’m not sure if the two were related. But when I was in a certain time of the month I could feel a change and it was as ominous as a dark cloud and still night in the midwest. Nothing would be wrong otherwise and a thick veil of darkness consumed me. I was rocked with shame, for what, I don’t know. But it perpetuated knowing people needed me. The physical drain, almost like a vaccuum suck somehow took all energy and joy out of me left it impossible to manage the easiest of tasks. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to. I simply could not. Like I said, it was absolutely consuming.

This would hit hard for twenty minutes straight. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’ll be real here. It was such an intense darkness that I can think of many times I got a suitcase out and started to pack. I thought if I ran somewhere, anywhere, my family would be free of what my torment delayed them in having.

Three times I can recall walking to the medicine cabinet. I picked up pills and stared. I knew what I was contemplating but I was that void of hope and that full of desperation. And yes, this was as a Christian, and a strong one at that.

I longed for someone to bust in the door when I’d hide and tell me I was worth it. Who would hold me and let me cry or ooze the darkness out in whatever way. No one did. For those closest to me, they admitted they didn’t know what to do. They thought I wanted to be alone. I felt like I had no choice.

My story has a happy ending, and it is only by the grace of God. I finally broke down and confessed everything to my doctor. I now take a prescription medication that balances my moods and curbs menopause effects. Even with a hysterectomy, I still struggle. I’m upfront when I’m having a hard time. It’s not as dark or isolating but I get frustrated. My memory isn’t what it used to be. I have trouble sleeping. I tire easily than I used to. But it’s no where near where it was.

What do I wish the world knew?

1. It’s the darkest, most isolating and oppressive experience in the world. If you haven’t experienced it, you shouldn’t give answers as an expert.

2. It’s a vicious cycle, always looming. Just when you start to crawl out of the pit, there is a tug on your ankle threatening to pull you down and keep you there. It is frightening.

3. Isolation is the game plan of oppression. Love the person, no matter how much they protest, that they are going out with you for coffee. Show up with bagels. They will say they are busy and fine. Show up anyway.

4. If you’re not sure what to say, admit that. Transparency is an oasis. Patronizing, packaged answers are a wasteland. I didn’t feel better when I heard “I don’t know what your problem is.” Or, “You just need to snap out of it.” If I could have, I promise you, I would have led the way.

5. Jesus Christ CAN set you free. I admitted above that even as a Christian I struggled, so I get that you might argue why bother? Because without Him, I promise you, I’d be a dead statistic. Knowing HIm gave me enough hope to speak out, to call and seek help. I could picture Him next to me, weeping with me. That helped me so much. He is real, He is for you. Don’t go another step without Him.

To learn more, please visit the following: peacewithGod.net



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