The Gift of Wings

by Jim Denney

In September 1962, my third-grade class filed into the school library in search of adventure. I found mine right away—a book displayed on the “new arrivals” shelf. It had a blue cover with three children silhouetted against radiating concentric circles.

I grabbed the book and printed my name in the very first line on the pocket card, which meant that I was the first student at John C. Fremont Elementary School to check out A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. It was L’Engle’s first published novel, and it would go on to win many awards, including the prestigious Newbery Medal.

WrinkleInTime

That book had a huge impact on me. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that A Wrinkle in Time helped set the course of my life. I’m a writer today in large part because that novel captured my imagination when I was a boy. I have re-read it many times as an adult.

Every time I read it, I get caught up in the adventure of good versus evil, of children on a quest to save their father, who was lost in time and space. I am always fascinated by those mysterious angelic beings named Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which—and the deadly entity known only as IT.

Re-reading the novel as an adult, I’ve been impressed to see how L’Engle seamlessly wove together concepts from quantum physics and the Christian faith. A Wrinkle in Time contains allusions to Isaiah, Psalms, and the New Testament. Mrs Who quotes from 1 Corinthians: “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” (1 Corinthians 1:27).

The inspiring notion that God is pleased to use foolish, weak creatures like ourselves as His instruments to topple the mighty and powerful also runs through the fantasy of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. And this theme is central to my own Timebenders science-fantasy series for young readers.

My own childhood experience tells me that children internalize lessons from inspiring fiction. Kids identify with their storybook heroes. While immersed in the tale, they become the heroes, experiencing the story (and learning its lessons) at a deep emotional and spiritual level. They learn to stretch their faith, test their courage, and deepen their love and empathy for others.

The poet Emily Dickinson understood the impact children’s literature has on the soul of a child. In her poem “1593,” she called this effect a “bequest of wings” that enables young spirits to soar:

He ate and drank the precious Words—
His Spirit grew robust—
He knew no more than that he was poor,
Nor that his frame was Dust—
He danced along the dingy Days
And this Bequest of Wings
Was but a Book— What Liberty
A loosened Spirit brings!

[Emily Dickinson, “1593,” in Helen Vendler, editor, Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010), 498.]

Whenever you read to a child, you bequeath the gift of wings. When you give a child a book to read, you enable your child to soar.

___________________________________

Note: Battle Before Time, the first book in my newly revised and updated Timebenders series for young readers, will be released later this week. When links are available for the paperback and ebook editions, I will post them here. Thanks! —J.D.

 

 

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In the Mood for Something Different? by Lyn Cote

 

Are you in the mood for a bit of Christmas? Or will you be?

Sweet Christmas Kisses 4

Lyn Cote here-I’m so happy to be joining the other amazing authors here at Christian Reads! And I’m excited about a new project. I am participating in a boxed set with 14 Christmas novellas, a mix of wholesome sweet romances and some inspirational by 14 authors.

Right now it’s at the introductory price of 99 cents. The set, Sweet Christmas Kisses 4, contains quite a mix of authors. Here are a few:

  • Beate Boeker, a German author who loves to set romances in Italy
  • Roxanne Rustand who writes about Montana and handsome veterinarians
  • Jean C Gordon who writes about love and motocros
  • And ten more authors!

If you’re interested, here are the buy links:

Kindle: http://a.co/9TxNMzz
Nook: http://bit.ly/2g8xyO8
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2xgU0sG
Google: http://bit.ly/2viH7g4

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/ book/id1285643154

In this boxed set, my novella is “Loving Winter.”

Here’s the scoop: At her cousin’s wedding, Winter Woodard, owner of her family’s nursery, isn’t expecting to meet her match in local football coach, Clay Dixon, (she isn’t into sports!) but he stands by her through a holiday season fraught with unexpected setbacks.

This novella is connected to my Northern Intrigue series, set in Steadfast, Wisconsin-a town whose people

and mysteries you may never forget~

BTW, the first book in the series, Winter’s Secret, is free.
So why not give a boxed set a try? What a deal–99 cents for 14 sweet or inspirational romance novellas!

HAVE YOU EVER TRIED ONE OF THESE BOXED SETS? DID YOU ENJOY IT? SHOULD I PARTICIPATE IN ONE NEXT YEAR? I WOULD LIKE TO HEAR SOME FEEDBACK. THANKS!–Lyn Cote

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Dealing with Fear by Louise M. Gouge

 

Screen capture from the public domain film “Carnival of Souls.” https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:COS_09.JPG

Louise M. Gouge Deals with Fear…

 

Not the nervous feelings I would get while waiting for a job interview or the shakiness I used to feel before singing a solo in church. Not even the raw fear of flying that has turned me into a non-flier.

 

I’m talking about a fear that I didn’t even realize I was experiencing.

 

It crept quietly into my mind and heart as I watched Hurricane Irma approach my Central Florida home right after Hurricane Harvey had destroyed major parts of Texas, including the homes and possessions of people I actually know. Having been through three hurricanes in a matter of weeks back in 2004, I knew what could come in the way of destruction. This time I was determined not to be afraid. I prayed that I would set a good example for my grandchildren. I quoted my favorite Bible verses – “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee” and “Thou wilt keep him (or her) in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.” I even posted them on Facebook to proclaim my faith that God had everything in His hands.

 

But as the hurricane drew closer, with the very powerful edge of the eye due to hit our home—at night of course, my mind seemed to go into high alert against my will. While my dear hubby (aka Mr. Cool) was sawing logs, I couldn’t sleep. My pulse pounded, and I’m pretty sure my blood pressure was nearing the stratosphere.

 

Rats!

 

I finally had to confess to the truth. I was afraid. Just what I’d vowed, and tried so hard, not to be.

 

But what was I afraid of? Death? Destruction? Probably. But mainly it was the unknown that frightened me. Would we have tornadoes? Flooding? Snakes in the water? The problem with being a writer is that I’ve always let my imagination go where it would for the sake of story ideas. But this was real life. Scary real life. If I was so afraid, where was my so-called faith?

 

Like the cancer my husband didn’t know he had last spring, I needed to have my fear diagnosed and let the Great Physician remove it so healing could begin. As I did this, I realized that being afraid was okay. We’d done all we could both physically and spiritually to prepare for the hurricane. I chose to trust the Lord, but I was still quaking in my boots.

 

And so, today I come to you with my first blog post for CHRISTIANS READ with an honest confession. Taking a page from Julie Arduini’s post from yesterday, I can see that pretending to be fine or, in my case, not frightened by the storm’s uncertainty, is not being real. If nothing else, this experience will make me a better writer. After all, our characters should reflect real life. But I hope it will also help me to ’fess up to me deepest feelings, whatever the situation. I think that will set an even better example for my grandchildren. And it will bring me closer to the Lord.

 

FYI, we made it through with a minimum of damage, and our hearts go out to those who have truly suffered these storms. As I write this, I’m praying God will help those who are experiencing Hurricane Maria.

 

Florida author Louise M. Gouge writes historical romance fiction, receiving the prestigious IRCA in 2005 and placing as a finalist in 2011, 2015, 2016, and 2017. When she isn’t writing, she and David, her husband of fifty-plus years, enjoy visiting historical sites and museums. Please visit her Web site at https://louisemgougeauthor.blogspot.com/ https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLouiseMGouge/, Twitter: @Louisemgouge

 

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My Fake Family by Julie Arduini

Years ago, I received a tote bag for Christmas that featured pockets to place your own pictures on both sides. It was a season where I was overwhelmed with moving, young children, and the baby was quite ill at the time. I’d look at the bag and feel guilty for keeping the already inserted model pictures in and not customizing it with my own. However, I grabbed the red tote and took it with me.

One day when I was grieving the loss and change in my life, I carried that tote bag with me to church. It was still a new church to me and I did not feel like I belonged. I was homesick. A woman approached me and asked how I was doing. Just as I responded to everyone, I smiled and said, “I’m fine, how about you?”

I wasn’t fine. Not even close.

The lady then asked if the picture on the front was of the baby, because this picture had a child with blonde hair. I laughed and said, “Oh, no. These pictures aren’t real. This is my fake family.”

Then came the loving rebuke in the form of a whisper to my soul.womens-2684462_960_720

It’s your fake tote bag to use when you’re lying.

Ouch.

But it was the truth. Every time I was asked how I was, I lied every time. Even in church! I pasted a smile and always said I was great. Good. Fine. Never the reality. Lost. Grief-stricken. Shell-shocked. Lonely. Angry. Sad.

That began my journey to authenticity and the funny thing is, today that’s one of the things people comment about, that they enjoy my transparency. I point right back to my Heavenly Father and explain I found freedom when I surrendered my fake family. Although I never did change out those pictures, I still carry that bag around to remind me. Faking fine doesn’t work for anyone.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when I saw a book called No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece. It didn’t take long for me to become completely absorbed in the book and her story. I confess even though I thought I learned everything there was to know about transparency, No More Faking Fine taught me even more.

Starting Monday, October 16th at 8pm Eastern, I’ll be online HERE for a live chat. Although the group is closed now, it will be secret once we begin. All posts will be private and confidential as we share what we thought about the book and encourage each other.

51r6PTOO0hLAll you need is to be on Facebook and have the book. If finances are an issue, I first read it at the library. If you absolutely can’t read the book, I still think the discussion will be helpful, so if interested, ask to join. Even if you can’t be “live,” the discussion and my notes will be on the group page for you to access at any time.

If you auto-answer “fine” to questions when you are anything but, I invite you to join me. Tote bags not needed!

 

 

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Pieces Of Me

pieces

As an author, I find myself putting pieces of my life into each of my books. Whether it’s my love of coffee, animals, or cooking, they all seem to find their way into my stories.

In my White Rose Publishing romance entitled, Grace And The Rancher, all three of these things are interwoven into the story.

My heroine, Grace usually has a cup of coffee handy, and her constant companion is her golden retriever, Lizzy.

When Grace first moved to Delaney Mountain, it was in the dead of winter and she didn’t know anyone in town. With many long, cold days up on Delaney Mountain, Grace realized she had to take up a hobby to survive the solitude. So, she took up cooking.

One of Grace’s favorite recipes and one that she made for the hero of the book, Kyle Delaney, is Grandma’s Chicken noddle soup with Amish white bread.

chicken noodle soup

I thought it would be fun to include both of these recipes here:

Grandma’s Chicken Noodle Soup

Prep 20 m

Cook 25 m

Ready In 45 m

For more flavor, try using smoked chicken.

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups wide egg noodles

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

12 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup water

3 cups diced, cooked chicken meat

 

Directions

1 – Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add egg noodles and oil, and boil for 8 minutes, or until tender. Drain, and rinse under cool running water.

2 – In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine broth, salt, and poultry seasoning. Bring to a boil. Stir in celery and onion. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.

3 – In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and water together until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Gradually add to soup, stirring constantly. Stir in noodles and chicken, and heat through.

 

Amish White Bread

Ingredients

2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

2/3 cup white sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

6 cups bread flour

Directions

In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam.

Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in flour one cup at a time. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Place in a well-oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two well-oiled 9×5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes.

Both of these recipes are easy to make and I found them on one of my favorite recipe sites, Allrecipes.com

GraceAndTheRancher_w12269_680

About Grace And The Rancher:

Grace Bradford is living a lie. To the world she has the perfect life: A promising country music career and a husband who adores her. But her husband isn’t the man everyone believes him to be. When a car accident widows her and ends her career, Grace escapes to Delaney Mountain. But moving to the remote town doesn’t wipe away the ugly secret of her marriage. Kyle Delaney never intended to return to Delaney Mountain, but he promises his dying father that he’ll turn their land into a working cattle ranch. He uproots his life in Austin, sells his flourishing business as a music agent, and returns to the Colorado town of his childhood. Can a runaway singer and a makeshift rancher, thrust together by circumstance and held together by the common thread of loss and a love of music, find hope and a happily-ever-after under the stars of Delaney Mountain?

All the best…

 

Mary Alford

http://www.maryalford.net

 

 

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A Few of My Favorite Books by Nancy J. Farrier

One of my favorite activities is reading. I love books in almost any genre: romance, suspense, thriller, young adult, fantasy – and the list goes on. I keep track of what I’ve read every year. I decided to look back over 2017 and pick a few of my favorites to share with you. This was not an easy task because I have a lot of favorites and would love to share them all.

 

Moutain Between UsI love discovering new authors, or new-to-me authors, don’t you? Those whose books impact my life and have characters that leave a lasting impression. For me, one of those authors is Charles Martin. I first listened to his book, The Mountain Between Us, on audiobook. Then I listened to the same book with my husband when we were on a trip. I enjoyed the second time almost as much as the first because there were so many nuances to the story that I missed the first time. The Mountain Between Us is coming out as a movie. I can’t wait to see it even though the trailer let me know there are differences in the story lines.

 

Conspiracy of SilenceOne of my favorite genres is suspense or thriller. I love heart-pounding action and convoluted plots filled with strong characters. Ronie Kendig’s, Conspiracy of Silence held me spellbound as I read. I am looking forward to continuing this series filled with echoes of current events in and plenty of tension.

 

 

The Red Door InnFor the sweeter, contemporary story, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Liz Johnson’s, The Red Door Inn. Her setting and plot were enhanced by characters that were multilayered with problems I could relate to. As restorations were done on the inn, God was working in the hearts of her characters, and in the heart of the reader. Very sweet and made me long for more.

 

UnblemishedAnother new author to me is Sara Ella. Her story, Unblemished, is for the young adult audience, but the truths there are so far-reaching. Her heroine struggles with trying to hide from people because of a mark on her face. This story of our negative self-image is one for all of us. How we see ourselves may not be who we really are.  Very interesting and well done.

 

 

The Lady and the LionheartFans of historical fiction will enjoy Joanne Bischof’s, The Lady and the Lionheart. The vivid detail of life in the late 1800’s comes alive. We travel with the circus and learn of characters and their plights. The emotional impact of this story will stay with you. An excellent read.

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse of my favorites. Maybe you will consider one of these books when you are looking for your next read.

 

 

 

 

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Stretching Myself by Marilyn Turk

Gumby stretching

Once upon a time, I was a little girl with a great imagination. I conjured up all kinds of fascinating scenarios for how my life would turn out. Some days I just knew Elvis would wait for me to grow up so he could marry me. But there were other days when another actor replaced him in my future, depending on the movie I was watching.

As I grew into my teen years, my future had grander proportions. I would be famous, somehow, in whatever endeavor I attempted. I thought anything was possible. In fact, my father told me so. He told me I could do anything I made up my mind to do. And I believed him.

But as we know, our lives envisioned as children seldom turn out the way we thought they would. As we get older, we realize our dreams might not have been realistic.

When I began my writing journey as an empty-nester after I retired from a Fortune 500 career, I thought I knew the way my writing would evolve. My plan was to write devotions and maybe an article here and there. But going to writers’ conferences opened my eyes to more possibilities than I had ever entertained before. As opportunities arose, I decided take them, because, after all, Daddy told me I could do anything I wanted to do.

And so I wrote devotionals, then articles, then short stories, then novels. I started a blog that soon had thousands of followers. My church heard I was a writer and asked me to write a Christmas play, something I’d never considered. But before I could stop it, the play developed in my mind, so I wrote and produced the play. The next year, I wrote and produced another one.

I was asked to write a novella for a collection, so I did. Then I felt God nudging me to host a Christian Writers Conference for my area, so I obeyed.

Stretching by waterMost of these steps were not pre-planned, but I believe God has given me opportunities to go beyond my own expectations and my own understanding about my writing journey. Every time I try something new, I stretch myself in a different way than I did before.

It’s a surprising journey when you let God take you where He wants you to go, use you in ways you never imagined, stretch you beyond what you thought was possible.

And so, when He presents a new opportunity, I’ll go for it. Because My Father said I could do it.

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How Do I Come Up with My Stories by Margaret Daley

How Do I Come Up with My Stories

By Margaret Daley

One of the questions I’ve been asked by readers is how I come up with a new story. Honestly, there are times I really don’t know how. Something just pops into my mind—a seed of an idea. I’ll think about the concept. Sometimes, it will grow quickly. Other times, slowly.

When I came up with the premise (theme of the story), I then sketched out a characterization for each of the main characters. As I dig deeper into the story, that sketch will become more detailed (background information). I start writing with a sense of what the opening chapter or two will be like. I have a framework for my story, but I don’t know all the details. I know what the ending will be, but usually I don’t know who the villain is until I’ve written a good portion of the story. I set up several people with the thought they may be the villain. This last book, I thought I knew who would do it but changed it at the halfway mark when another character shouted he was the saboteur.

My new release this month is Deadly Secrets, the 10th romantic suspense and last book in my Strong Women, Extraordinary Situations Series. I was excited about the premise of this story. I wanted to have a story about a past relationship that ended when the heroine left the hero at the altar. What would make a woman leave the man she loved the day she was to marry him? Then I wanted to explore what would happen when years later they would have to work together to save several kidnapped women—one the heroine’s niece. This story is charged with a lot of emotions and fast, heart pounding action. Deadly Secrets was hard to write. I had to dig down emotionally to show the tough path both the heroine and hero went through. But also, I had to keep the suspense and action going at the same time. I felt as though I went through the wringer. By the time I finished the story, I was mentally exhausted and so ready to take some time off to fuel my creativity.

The only conclusion I’ve come up with through this process of creating a story is that God is my muse. There are times I’m stumped with no solution to a problem. Then out of the blue an idea pops into my mind. Even I am baffled by my creative process. I wish I had a simple answer to how my story ideas come to me. I’m just thankful they do.

Deadly Secrets Final small

Blurb for Deadly Secrets in the Strong Women, Extraordinary Situations Series

Secrets. Murder. Reunion.

Sarah St. John, an FBI profiler, finally returns home after fifteen years for her niece’s wedding. But in less than a day, Sarah’s world is shattered when her niece is kidnapped the night before her vows. Sarah can’t shake the feeling her own highly personal reason for leaving Hunter Davis at the altar is now playing out again in this nightmarish scene with her niece.

Sarah has to work with Detective Hunter Davis, her ex-fiancé, to find her niece before the young woman becomes the latest victim of a serial killer. Sarah must relive part of her past in order to assure there is a future for her niece and herself. Can Sarah and Hunter overcome their painful past and work together before the killer strikes again?

Buy Links: : Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo and Google Play

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A Beautiful and Deadly Rhythm by Hannah Alexander

All of us have experienced overwhelming signs of the deadliness of nature. Lightning struck Montana in the middle of summer and a wildfire season hit that is worse than anything most of us have seen. I know all about fire season because I grew up in fire country of Southern California. If someone tosses out a lit cigarette, that person could be responsible for thousands of acres of destruction, and even worse, loss of human life.

In contrast, somewhere there are flowers blooming and scenting the air. Trees reach up and touch the blue sky. It’s a cycle that we will not change in this world. It’s difficult to consider our blessings when we’re experiencing illness, tragedy, heartbreak. I’ve found that during the most trying of times, that’s when I most need to count my blessings, smell the flowers, indulge in a beauty only God and a good gardener (not I) could produce.

I once watched the fires inching down a mountain toward my California home. I have watched a tornado form above me in the Missouri sky. I have lost my hometown to a huge tornado, and have feverishly searched for friends after recent hurricanes. I have prayed and cried with many others at the destruction and suffering taking place all around us. I have choked on the smoke drifting to us from the Montana fires, and urged a friend in Oregon to come stay with us when the Gorge fires threatened their home.

At times like this, when so much seems lost, when I wonder if the end is near (yeah, I’m a drama queen. Deal with it.) it’s time to step outside and allow the creative genius of the former owners of this home to calm me.  I pull some weeds, get dirt under my fingernails, wince and bite my tongue when a thorn gets me because I forgot to wear gardening gloves, and feel as if I’ve touched on something fundamental. There is truly beauty from ashes. Human kindness shines most brightly in the face of human suffering. Good ol’ boys get high from rescuing those in need.

It occurs to me that, even though I would much prefer the tragedies never strike, often a tragedy, much like a fire, clears away the dross that sometimes makes mankind ugly, and brings out the heroism some folks didn’t know they had. Many a man and woman found their inner hero helping the flood victims in Texas. Many more have found their strength fighting fires in the Northwest. Florida, faced with a Goliath of a hurricane, discovered their bravery and endurance. The losses will never be fully counted because they are so great, but the people will gain strength they never knew they had as they stand together and fight.

God knows how to turn death into victory. He can take our darkest hours and turn them into the defining moments  of our lives. It is the trials of life that become the Refiner’s fire. We will never be the same afterward, but we can trust that God will guide us into what we must become.

 

 

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Forget Me Not on Sale by Vicki Hinze

Physical Therapy is going well on my shoulder, back and right arm. I’m almost ready to graduate!

Wanted to share with you that my publisher, Multnomah (Random House), has Forget Me Not on Sale for $1.99 at most booksellers. This is the first book in the Crossroads Crisis Center Series.

There are three:  Forget Me Not, Deadly Ties, and Not This Time.

I introduced the Shadow Watchers in Deadly Ties and have written two more books on them.  The Marked Bride and The Marked Star.

Here’s more about Forget Me Not, which typically sells for $9.99 and for a limited time, they have on sale for $1.99:

Forget Me Not, Vicki Hinze, Crossroads Crisis Center, Shadow Watchers

THEIR ELUSIVE ENEMIES TOOK EVERYTHING.  NOW THEY WANT MORE.

Crossroads Crisis Center owner Benjamin Brandt was a content man—in his faith, his work, and his family.  Then in a flash, everything he loved was snatched away.  His wife and son were murdered, and grief-stricken Ben lost faith.  Determination to find their killers keeps him going, but after three years of dead ends and torment, his hope is dying too.  Why had he survived?  He’d failed to protect his family.

Now, a mysterious woman appears at Crossroads seeking answers and help—a victim who eerily resembles Ben’s deceased wife, Susan.  A woman robbed of her identity, her life, of everything except her faith—and Susan’s necklace.

The connections between the two women mount, exceeding coincidence, and to keep the truth hidden, someone is willing to kill.  Finding out who and why turns Ben and the mystery woman’s situation from dangerous to deadly.  Their only hope for survival is to work together, trust each other, and face whatever they discover head on, no matter how painful. But will that be enough to save their lives and heal their tattered hearts?

Amazon     Nook     iBooks    Kobo   Other

“Hinze has written a masterful, complicated tale of suspense that gains momentum with each turn of a page. Her writing flows surely, moving from one character to the next, one setting to another, with readers keeping the swift pace. . . . Hinze’s plot may have readers puzzling over how this tangled tale will ever resolve itself, but that underestimates the author’s talent for transforming the unlikely into something beautiful.”

–Publishers Weekly

 

Hope you enjoy the story!

Blessings,

Vicki

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The Beauty Of Broken by Mary Alford

broken

Have you ever felt so broken that you didn’t see any way of coming back from it? Brokenness can come either from the circumstances forced on us or the self-infliction caused by us, and I think at some point in our lives, we all feel a little less than perfect.

Maybe you’ve made so many mistakes in your life that you believe there’s no fixing them, not even for God. Well guess what, nothing is too big for God.

Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Just look in the Bible and you will find multiple examples of broken people finding redemption.

Adam and Eve disobeyed God and yet He came up with a different plan for their lives.

David had his friend killed to be with his wife. Broken, David called out for forgiveness and God blessed him.

Jonah ended up in the belly of a whale. I’d say he reached rock bottom. But God lifted him out of the whale and he fulfilled his mission in Nineveh.

Paul had Christians put to death until God found him on the road to Damascus, and he became a great apostle.

So you see, beauty can be found in brokenness and so can healing.

As an author, I love writing about broken and flawed people because I think readers can relate to them the most. We don’t want to read about perfect people living perfect lives. Watching the hero and heroine go from broken to restored just makes for a great romance.

When I set out to write my October Love Inspired Suspense, Framed For Murder, I wanted to show that kind of beauty and healing in my characters.

 

framed for murder large

 

Blurb for Framed For Murder:

FALSELY ACCUSED

Framed for helping her partner smuggle guns—and then murdering him—CIA agent Liz Ramirez must find the evidence that will prove her innocence…before she’s caught or killed. So when her squad’s leader attempts to bring her in for questioning, she knows her future depends on convincing Aaron Foster to go rogue and help her. On the run from the rest of her team and the gun dealers who are convinced she knows the location of their missing weapons, Liz risks losing the proof that would clear her name. But will eluding her pursuers—and trying not to fall for the handsome commander—prove to be fatal?

 

So, wherever you are in your life, no matter how dark your world may seem, there’s mending for the shattered. Restoration for the crushed. And hope for the hopeless. It can all be found in God. You just have to look up.

 

All the best…

 

Mary Alford

www.maryalford.net

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A Summer Recipe by Tara Randel

Labor Day is fast approaching, the last long weekend of summer. A day to relax, visit with family and friends and, if the weather is nice, cook out. Since grilling is always popular during the summer months, I try to serve side dishes that are colorful and tasty. Below is a recipe for one of my all time favorite recipes, which goes great with grilled chicken.

Veg Tian angle

Summer Vegetable Tian

 Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 45 mins

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • to taste salt & pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Italian cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Finely dice the onion and mince the garlic. Sautê the onion and garlic with olive oil over medium heat until the onions are soft and transparent (about 5 minutes).
  2. While the onion and garlic are sautéing, thinly slice the remaining vegetables. Make sure the potatoes are very thin so that they soften quickly while in the oven.
  3. Coat the inside of an 8×8″ casserole dish with non-stick spray. Spread the sautéed onion and garlic in the bottom of the dish. Arrange the other sliced vegetables, stacked vertically like dominoes, in an alternating pattern. Season the top of the vegetables generously with salt, pepper, and dried thyme.
  4. Cover the dish with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and top with the shredded cheese. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown.

If you find potatoes too heavy, leave them out. The dish is still yummy.

Enjoy!

Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of fifteen novels. Family values, a bit of mystery and, of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Look for her next Harlequin Heartwarming romance, HIS ONE AND ONLY BRIDE, available January 2018 and her next Christmas Town novella in the holiday collection, HEARTWARMING HOLIDAY WISHES, available October 2017.  Visit Tara at www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at Tara Randel Books

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An Awesome Surprise by Judith Miller

When I finally typed “The End” on my latest manuscript and sent it off to my publisher a full week early (not bragging or anything), my daughter, granddaughter and I headed off to Missouri for a few days of vacation time. While exploring on the internet, my daughter had located a couple of places she thought would provide some activity and interest for all three of us.

We rented a cabin—it was a very modern cabin—with washer, dryer, microwave, and all other necessary appliances, as well as a pool and patio where we grilled hot dogs and made s’mores. But before we arrived at the cabin which was located near Elephant Rock State Park and the Johnson Shut-Ins State Park, we stopped in the small town of Bonne Terre, Missouri, to take a walking and boat tour of the huge man-made cavern and scuba diving school.  Don’t get too excited about this. I did NOT scuba dive, but I was totally captivated that we were riding in a boat through a flooded mine that contains more than a billion gallons of water and also provides beautiful echoes.

The water is over one hundred and eighty feet deep and the temperature in the cavern remains at a lovely 62 degrees year-round. The walking tour allows time to take in the beauty of the formations that man carved into the ground while mining lead. Mining in this region of Missouri (about 100 miles south of St. Louis) played an important role in the economic stability of the area for more than 280 years.

Bonne Terre mine was abandoned back in the early 1960’s and subsequently filled with ground water. The old equipment, lockers and caves can be explored on underwater diving expeditions. Divers can become certified divers by completing the course and Jacques Cousteau spent five days diving and exploring the underwater beauty at Bonne Terre. They said the divers jumped down into the water from that hole up above, but they were just kidding–at least I hope they were.

If you ever find yourself near St. Louis and looking for something of interest, I highly suggest a tour of the mine. All three of us had a good time and now my daughter hopes to go back and get certified in scuba diving. As for me, I’ll stay in the boat.

How about you? Did you explore any new and interesting places this summer? If not, I hope you were able to enjoy some of God’s wonders outside your front door!

Blessings,

Judy

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God’s Majesty Displayed… by Mary Alford

eclipse 1st

 

 

Like a lot of people, I was excited to watch the solar eclipse, even though I knew there wouldn’t be much to see in Texas.

So at the appointed time, my husband and I went outside and I took a couple of photos. The first one is as the eclipse was beginning. This next one is when the eclipse was at its peek.

eclipse 1

Personally, I can’t tell much difference, but to me both pictures display God’s majesty.

Psalm 19:1-6 declares:

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;

And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

Day to day pours forth speech,

And night to night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words;

Their voice is not heard.

Their line has gone out through all the earth,

And their utterances to the end of the world.

In them He has placed a tent for the sun,

Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;

It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.

Its rising is from one end of the heavens,

And its circuit to the other end of them;

And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

solareclipseas2_hdv_0

So wherever you were, I hope you were able to enjoy the majesty that God displayed during the solar eclipse.

All the best…

 

Mary Alford

http://www.maryalford.net

 

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Stepping Back: The Upside of an Injury by Vicki Hinze

Stepping Back 

By

Vicki Hinze

  

Nearly 5 weeks ago, I sat at my desk as I usually do, and the phone rang. Now the phone is behind me when I am at my desk, so I turned around for it, had a short conversation, and then rather than swiveling in my seat to put the phone back on its charger, I just stretched back. Something in my shoulder pulled. Pain surged through the shoulder and rolled down my arm in waves. The pain was excruciating. Within seconds, I was in a cold sweat and I dropped the phone. So began this little, seemingly insignificant incident that forced a step back.

 

With that small motion during a routine task, I set off a chain of events that has impacted my life in ways large and small—and apparently will continue to impact it for at least the next three weeks.

 

At the time, I knew I was hurt. Three days later, I realized something was seriously wrong. My shoulder and right arm throbbed continuiously and I couldn’t lift even a coffee cup. I saw my regular doctor, who sent me to get x-rays and scans and referred me to an orthopedic specialist. After a healthy shot in the shoulder, the orthopedist referred me to physical therapy.

 

When you have a heavy schedule and a high-octane life, and you are suddenly sidelined and incapable of doing anything you normally do, it impacts you physically and also your mood. I tried to keep a positive attitude and my grouchiness at bay by reading inspiring quotes, and essays that focused on the beautiful things in the world. That did help, but as the pain persisted and the weeks wore on, the attitude challenge became more demanding. And then I received an email…

 

The instructions were to look closely at one photograph. (I give full credit to whoever took it; that wasn’t disclosed to me, but to grasp the lesson I learned in this I must include it.) This is the first photograph:

 

 The story goes, that the white truck was traveling from left to right on the road. It broke through the guard rail, flipped and kept flipping, right over the culvert and came to rest where you see it parked.

 

What a blessing it seemed that the truck had flipped and landed as it did so that the driver was safe. Likely rattled to the core—who wouldn’t be?—but uninjured.

 

Then the email instructed me to look at a second photograph. (Again, full credit to the undisclosed photographer.) Here is the second photograph:

 

I took one look at it and gasped. That driver hadn’t just experienced a blessing but a blessing and a miracle!

 

And then I read the words below the second photograph:

 

“If God isn’t done with you, then God isn’t done with you.”

 

Now flipping a truck and escaping certain death is a lot more dramatic than stretching to put a phone on its charger, but the lesson can be the same.

 

My whole attitude about being sidelined changed. And that’s made all the difference.

 

I’ve looked at these two photos often in the last few weeks, and will I’m sure in the next few weeks. And when I do, I think of all of the things I did routinely and took for granted. I think of all the therapy and work by the therapists, and the things I am able to do today I was unable to do right after the injury. And I think about how grateful I am healing is possible.

 

It’s easy to get discouraged when sidelined, or when things don’t go the way we want them to go. We don’t always know why they happen, though sometimes the reason becomes clear later. And the point, I guess, is that whether or not we ever understand why isn’t important. What is important is to not take the routine for granted. To be grateful and count your blessings.

 

In every life there are many cliffs, and many close calls. Some we see and recognize, but some escape our notice or are beyond our notice. Just as one can’t know the number of lives saved by taking a preventative measure, one can’t know what didn’t happen because something we perceive as being a bad thing did happen. It just might be that that bad thing was a very good thing—like the truck flipping over the culvert and not down that cliff.

 

And that brings us to the bottom line. The lesson isn’t just if God isn’t done with you, then God isn’t done with you, though that’s one offered. The lesson is also if you’re on the wrong path, or the “less than stellar path” that God has planned for you, He can and will sideline you to give you time to reflect and realize you’re on the wrong path or that “less than stellar” path.

 

Which sums up nicely an encouraging, mood elevating “secret weapon” that helps keep perspective balanced. It’s waiting for us in the simple verse:

 

“Be still, and know that I am God.” –Psalm 46:10

 

While the next few weeks will have their challenges, I will focus not on what I can’t do, on impatience or frustration, but on the gems being shown to me.

 

The gifts in those gems are doubtless ones I can carry with me not just during the trials but for the rest of my life. I’m going to seek them. Embrace them. And implement them.

 

And when I forget, I’m going to reread this article and be reminded. I think there might just be another lesson or two hiding, waiting for me to find them.

 

Blessings,

 

Vicki

 

_________

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