A COOL THING TO DO!

Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Christian Novelist Retreat
Retreat for writers wanting to learn more about the craft and creativity of writing novels – all genres – contemporary and historical

October 18-22, 2015

Theme: Hope in the middle of faith and love. – I Corinthians 13:13

It’s HOT, HOT, HOT – unseasonably so – right now in these mountains

but… this too shall pass

And all that will be HOT in a few months is that book you’re working on

– or thinking about –

Time to improve it, work on it, brainstorm it, get it critiqued,

enter it into a contest, and/or show it to an editor/agent!

October is the peak season for leaf color in the mountains of western North Carolina and the perfect time for novelists to gather for inspiration, encouragement, improving skills and practicing creativity. If you don’t have an idea in mind, we’ll help you find that too.

Small, intimate group. Please register early. – Ridgecrest: 1.800.588.7222

http://ridgecrestconferencecenter.org/event/novelist – yvonnelehman3@gmail.com

LOCATION

Ridgecrest/LifeWay Conference Center, Ridgecrest, NC

(twenty minutes east of Asheville—home of the famous Biltmore House and Gardens)

All sleeping rooms and classes for the Novel Retreat are in Mountain Laurel Hotel

Ridgecrest Novelist Pricing:

Program Fee – $325 full time

Program Fee – $120 for one day

Program Fee – $60 for one-half day

Mountain Laurel Lodging (per room, per night:

Single $69, Double $69, Triple $79, Quad $89

Meal Package – $96 per person (Sunday dinner – Thursday lunch)

TEACHING FACULTY: They don’t come any better than these!

Lynette Eason (widely-acclaimed suspense writer,speaker,award)

Eva Marie Everson (FCWC director, best-seller, pres.WordWeavers,editor)

Eddie Jones (author, speaker, publisher Lighthouse of the Carolinas)

Yvonne Lehman (conference director 30+ years, 56 novels, 5 non-fiction, editor)

Torry Martin (anything creative!author,actor,speaker,you name it!)

DiAnn Mills (50+ best selling novels, suspense, multiple Christy winner)

Edie Melson (best-selling books, Guideposts blogger, Social Media expert)

Robert Whitlow (best-selling thrillers, movies, we’ll show his movie Mountain Top)

Diana Flegal (Hartline agent, speaker, author)

Lori Marett (award-winning scripts, DVD movie Meant to Be)

Ann Tatlock (adult and children’s books, multiple Christy winner, editor LPC)

Deborah Harvey (music and worship leader)

(in addition to novel classes, we offer Social Media instruction, script writing,

CONTESTS – CRITIQUES – AWARDS

BONUS MONTHLY TUITION DISCOUNTS

(for discounts: yvonnelehman3@gmail.com)

TO NAME A FEW OFFERINGS:

Mythic structure, archetypes, ideas, senses, social media, compelling protagonist & antagonist, scenes, scriptwriting, movie making, cozy mystery, point of no-return, writing as extended ministry, seat-of-pants suspense, top ten mistakes, comedy for stage & screen, romance, query letter, cover blurb, changing state of publishing, character arc, plot, tension, Goodreads/Pinterest/etc., write for your life, dialogue, successful critique groups, advanced characterization, synopsis, dialogue that sings/dances/plays piano, genre & brainstorming

AND THEN THERE’S:

Inspiration, encouragement, association, great food (you don’t have to cook and wash the dishes!), classes in one building, beautiful spacious rooms, indescribably beautiful views, maybe a black bear or so, bookstore, signings, Moments presentations and opportunities, one-on-one with faculty whether or not you pitch…just discuss,

writing time, worship, music, fun, laughter

JOINING US IS A REALLY COOL THING TO DO!

LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING YOU – Yvonne

Summer Reads and Movies

11424659_577268585748361_8873474521910097599_oI think summer is passing me by and I haven’t started having fun yet. How about you? I’m a home schooling mom and also write novels so the summer gives me a break from the toughest part of my day so that I can focus more on writing my novels. But this girl also wants to have fun! (I’m hearing Cindy Lauper in my head now)

Since I have a little more free time in the summer, of course we do the usual activities of swimming and hiking and picnicking. But I can also watch more movies and read more books–all part of having fun and part of my job. That’s right–I have the best job in the world.  When looking for new inspiration or ideas it helps to watch lots of movies and read widely.

Recently I considered revisiting some classics and thought about the old Alfred Hitchcock movie,  North by Northwest with Cary Grant. I had used a similar Frank Lloyd Wright house used in the movie for a setting in my last novel, after all, I might as well watch the movie. But I never got around to watching it. And the next thing you know, I was heading with my family to Rapid City, North Dakota for an impromptu trip that had nothing at all to do with the movie! My husband was speaking at a church there, doing his sermon on the potter’s wheel. In the meantime, we were able to visit the sights including Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and Custer State Park where we saw buffalo herds and prairie dogs. I’ve never seen prairie dogs before. Cute!

We didn’t get time to see any of the movie-related sights for North by Northwest or Dances with Wolves, but when I got home, I put both movies on Netflix and I watched North by Northwest last night. The movie was slower than I remembered, but that’s how old movies are. We live in such a fast-paced world and want stories to move along quickly these days. I enjoyed watching Cary and his damsel in distress climbing on Mt. Rushmore or at least a set, since I had just visited.

I decided to make a list of classics to watch this summer so I’m asking for suggestions? What are some of your favorite old and recommended movies?

Adirondack Reflections by Julie Arduini

Last month I was invited to speak in Speculator, New York and share the writing process behind my Adirondack romance, Entrusted. What made it extra special was I spoke at the Lake Pleasant library, a place I used as inspiration in the book.

Once I finished sharing the process, guests lingered to chat. I came away encouraged and tempted to become like Jenna Anderson, the heroine, and pack it all up and move to the mountains once and for all. What encouraged me was hearing their stories about Adirondack life. Because I visit and don’t live there, it was important my research was accurate. They let me know I was right on track.

June2015LakePleasantLibrary

Speaking at the Lake Pleasant library in Speculator, NY.

Here are some of my thoughts now that I’m back in Ohio:

1. Naming the village Speculator Falls instead of the real Speculator worked. It’s fictional and although I brought a lot of real experiences to Entrusted, having a fictional village gave me flexibility. They let me know my research was accurate and they appreciated that when I needed to embellish, it was okay.

2. Paying attention to the cover paid off. They loved the cover and felt it was Adirondack authentic. One woman felt she knew the exact location in Lake Placid where the picture originates. I explained that for some across the country, they see hills and believe they are mountains. My Speculator friends know the difference and were honest enough to say they would have called me on it.

3. They were so wonderful to share, but nervous to at the same time. More than once I heard, “You’re probably going to put this in your book…” What they appreciated was in Entrusted they couldn’t find anyone that was real and yet everyone felt like a real friend. I explained that I took everything I loved about Speculator and made composite characters. Each person in the story has something that reminds me of the people there.

On the flip side, I returned to Ohio full of mountain air and pleasant memories. I compiled video and pictures and organized everything for the Embrace Women’s Book Club featuring Entrusted. We had our first meeting last week and I had some reflections from the Ohio side, too.

1. The ladies find Adirondack life as peaceful as I hoped they would. From the tall pine trees to the lack of chain hotels and locals who stay year around, the readers in this book club were instantly enamored.

2. They immediately respected the people who choose to live there year ’round. We had a rough winter in Ohio but the Adirondacks saw temps as low as -40. I’ve been in Lake Placid in September when there was ice on railings. It is especially isolating in a winter as the one we had.

3. Everyone felt as loyal to the Adirondacks and the people as I feel. If I’d had a bus chartered and announced we were leaving for Speculator, everyone would have been on it. They understood the love for the woods and desire to protect them. Most couldn’t relate to living in a county where there were no traffic lights but they admired the literal frontierland.

And that’s where the summer will take us as a book club—a literal frontier land. Jenna leaves everything in Ohio to pursue a life without regrets. She wants to belong and with a non working GPS, inability to access Wi-Fi and constant conflict with the town grocer and councilman, it isn’t easy. Trying new things never is.

Have you ever visited a setting from a book? What observations do you have?

INDIE TIME by Kristen Heitzmann

I’m excited to say I’ll be independently publishing my upcoming novel, TOLD YOU SO. I’m blessed to work the past seventeen years with top-notch publishers, but this seems the right avenue for this time and this series–yes, I’m now writing TOLD YOU TWICE. Being able to do these stories this way is exhilarating. But I’d like your input.

Here’s a peek at the first of the TOLD YOU Series:

Grace Evangeline knows her newest romance novel should be playing live on Broadway and will stop at nothing to convince playwright-producer Devin Bressard. Yes, it might involve a little stalking and infiltrating the people in his life to prove her plots are not contrived, her characters not cartoons. People all over the world love her novels–and her. So why should this man matter?

Devin Bressard likes his full and meaningful life. As “a voice for the times,” his productions strike nerves and win awards. Grace Evangeline’s request is laughable—until he starts glimpsing her in his East Village neighborhood. Forced to work together, he learns she’s trouble in more ways than one—a calamity vortex. Who could know the spokesperson for strength and virtue would ignite his carefully contained heart in a conflagration that touches more lives than their own?

That’s the bare bones gist of it. Now it’s time for book covers. For this romantic comedy series set in NYC, what might appeal to you?

A. artistic, i.e. watercolor wash, zany illustration, or other cool treatments

B. sharply photographic

C. feature faces

D. closeups of clothing, hands, etc. without faces

E. incorporate setting in a composite

F. Simple / plain with text

Feel free to vote or offer any thoughts you have about covers. I value your feedback!

The Names of God by Tara Randel

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I recently started reading a book about the names of God. It made me sit back and contemplate just how awesome our living God is.

We all have ups and downs in life, struggle through circumstances or long for the desires of our hearts. How comforting to know that God has a name for every single need we have in this life. I find security and trust knowing God is available to me. All I have to do is call His name.

He is Almighty, powerful, has authority and is filled with splendor. He is Sovereign. He is everything I need and, best of all, longs to have a personal relationship with me. He is my redeemer. He is everlasting and my king. He is faithful. True. My rock and my salvation. My comfort, my peace, my healer.

And in all things I give Him honor and praise.

I could very easily add to this list of names, but I wanted to focus on three that struck me.

First is Yahweh. To be or to exist. I AM. Completely set apart. This name was regarded so holy that the Jewish people would not spell it out in its entirety, nor would they speak it out loud. It is the name God gave us to remember him throughout all generations.

The next is Elohim. Lord God. More God than any other gods. Strong Mighty. Worshipped above all.

Adonai. Great Master. Total obedience is His rightful due. He watches over me, I am protected by God. He is the authority.

I believe the more we know God, discover how vast and myriad are His names, we come into a deeper relationship with Him. A deeper understanding of who He is. The more I learn about Him, the more I can’t help falling deeper in love.

My prayer is that you take some time out of your day and think about the wonderful names of God. You can’t help but coming away more amazed by Him.

The Individualism of Taste

TASTE for blogThe other day my husband and I were teasing each other about things we hold dear that the other can do without. Coconut is one of my husband’s favorite flavors; I reject even the slightest hint of it. He fondly remembers 80s rock ‘n roll; I prefer folk (please don’t hold that against me, I just like songs that tell a story!). I recall Young Frankenstein as a funny movie; he shrugs his shoulder over whatever small snippet he even cares to remember.

The appeal of modern art escapes both of us, yet we know that venue offers some of the most expensive items on our planet. And I can’t even count the number of comedians who must make a living at humor that doesn’t work for us. But we do have several we both love (Jim Gaffigan and Brian Regan come to mind.)

Another example is in reading taste. One of my favorite books is Peace Like A River by Leif Enger. Over the years, I’ve recommended this book to many people. To my surprise, after a close friend of mine checked it out she confessed she couldn’t get past the first few chapters. She tried, she said, but just couldn’t get into it. Tried! Oh, my! It didn’t take any effort for me to love it from cover to cover. Each and every word is like a lesson in the most elegant use of our language.

Isn’t it curious that whether it’s our taste buds or our funny bone, different things appeal to different people? Even among compatible people raised in the same culture! Let’s not even start on the varieties of tastes from around the world.

Of course there is no right or wrong in matters of taste. It’s simply proof of the variety God gifted to us. We might shake our head when we hear about some popular trend that holds no interest for us. But it should be a reminder that we were created by a God of endless variety!

Experience Jesus

When was the last time you read a book that stayed with you, that reminded you over and over again that there’s a better way to look at life? As readers, we likely get tidbits from any kind of book we read that opens our eyes to something inspiring, or we probably wouldn’t be avid readers. Those of us who blog on this site always hope to touch hearts and change lives, which is on reason why we keep writing. Sure, there are other reasons, but for most of us our high comes from knowing we’ve touched the lives of others with the words we’ve written.

Thanks to a friend’s recommendation a couple of weeks ago I dowloaded the latest release by Bill Myers entitled The Jesus Experience: Journey Deeper into the Heart of God. The message I received from this gifted man was profound and life changing–even though I’ve learned the lesson multiple times before: Get to know Jesus. Love Him before you do anything else. Love God with all your life. Out of that love will flow the fruits of the Spirit that God calls us to utilize, but first we must love. I know the others who blog on this site have been saying the same thing–Love God. Love others. Love must be in our hearts before any of our works for Him can be meaningful.

I found it interesting that the Sunday morning after I completed reading Bill’s book, our Sunday school class discussed the difference between faith and works, the differences between the sisters of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. We agreed that the reason we gathered together at church was to love God–before anything else. Church attendance means nothing to God unless we meet together to love Him.

But of course, Bill writes the words in such an interesting way, at times humorous, at times heart-rending, and because of his own walk with Christ and his journey into knowing Jesus more completely, his words resonate in ways I fear mine haven’t always done. But I plan to start, and the way I’ll start is by drawing closer to Him, by loving Him above all things, by clinging to Him in everything, and considering all trials, all joys, to be something I’m sharing with Him.

I highly recommend The Jesus Experience. I think if you read it you’ll be glad you did.

How can I pray for you? by Camy Tang

marblecross_bderksen_pickmonkeyblueThe past month and a half, I’ve been working on my prayer life. I’ve always had a hard time keeping to a structured prayer as outlined in the Lord’s Prayer, and then felt guilty when I couldn’t do it.

But over the past month, I’ve been letting that type of thinking go. I’ve been praying as often as I can in a conversational way with God, as if He were in the room with me (which I guess He is) rather than keeping to a certain structure of prayer. It’s enabled me to pray much more often than I usually do, and I have also felt a bit closer to God. I’ve also felt like I’ve heard Him a bit better than normal.

How is your prayer life going? And how can I pray for you?

I created a form for you to fill out your prayer requests to protect your privacy. Please let me know how I can pray for you!

LOSING IT ALL: Down to the Bare Soul

Vicki Hinze, Christians Read, Down to the Bare Soul

Down to the Bare Soul

 

By

 

Vicki Hinze

 

Now, more than ever before, I’m hearing from people who have lost everything. They’re feeling hopeless and helpless. Defeated in life, or by life. Some have lost jobs and homes, some have lost their health, and some have lost loved ones. Some just feel lost and overwhelmed and now it’s the holidays and they’re surrounded by cheerful people and are fit to be tied—or worse, despondent. The holiday blues have set in and it’s sucking them into that downward death-spiral. But they don’t have to be stuck. You don’t have to be stuck. Being stuck is a choice. And we can all make other choices.

Look, all of these situations are hard. There’s no sugarcoating it. But when facing the “I’ve lost everything” demon (and it is a demon as you well know if you’ve been through it), you can’t let it drain all that is good out of you and give into despair. Well, you can. But if you do, you’re closing the door and window of opportunity. Actually, doors and windows of opportunities, because losing everything offers multiple doors and multiple windows. You just have to retain the clarity of mind and vision and the courage and heart to see them, recognize what you’re seeing, and then act on them.

That might seem difficult to believe. When you’re down so far you can’t see up with a stepladder and binoculars, it’s pretty hard to believe that anything good still exists in anything. But it does. And that’s not a platitude talking, it’s experience.

I’ve lost everything except my life, and have come close to losing it more times than you want to hear about or I care to recall. I’ve been left with nothing, left with nothing, and started over with nothing but the clothes on my back. I walked away (okay, maybe crawled away) from a successful career and started over with nothing—no home, no family, no friends, no money. When I say nothing, I mean nothing… almost.

I had me and I had faith. And so do you, if you claim it.

I’m reminded of Joseph. The Coat of Many Colors Joseph, who had been a favored son and whose jealous brothers sold him into slavery. He was falsely accused by a woman and thrown into prison where he stayed many years. He could have lost hope. Instead, he remained faithful. He knew God was with him. And he understood that the situations he endured were preparing him for the future God had planned for him. When God was ready, Joseph was summoned to interpret dreams and he ended up as to what would equate to being elevated to the Prime Minister of Egypt. He clung to faith during the times it had to be next to impossible, and because he did, he was tempered by his trials and entrusted with the insight to save his people—including the brothers who had betrayed him. God restored all he had lost and so much more. Joseph made wise choices. Regardless of circumstance, he remained strong in faith and believed with heart that God remained with him.

I was a teenager the first time I lost everything, and I didn’t possess Joseph’s wisdom. I despaired. I thought my life was over. At that tender age, I believed the best was behind me and the future that stretched and yawned in front of me was bleak and dark and ominous. I was not eager to face it, much less willing to embrace it.

Yet when you’re in this position, you discover who you really are. You can run, but not hide. Fact and circumstance follows you, and so long as you avoid responsibility, it haunts and torments you. If you believe you’re defeated, you will be. If you believe you’ve lost, you have.

One of the greatest secrets of life is that you become who you believe you are. I don’t mean superficial things, like I want to be rich. That’s an insult to life itself without becoming rich being for a purpose that holds value. I mean the kind of things that give you the tools you need to progress and move forward and rebuild and create the life you envision for yourself.

You know, we don’t do much in the way of soul work on ourselves when things are going great. But when we’ve lost everything, and we have to humble ourselves and make hard choices, and struggle and do without, we gain a lot of respect. For others, for the kindnesses and compassion they embrace. For things that we take for granted. We develop a real sense of gratitude for basic necessities, stop resenting others’ their luxuries—unless they’ve stolen them. We start respecting the effort required to build a life. The effort required to keep building the life we want even when we suffer setbacks and challenges and obstacles. We stay attuned, looking for those doors of opportunity, and we’re humble enough to knock on them. And when we can’t find the doors, we look for the windows.

We seek and we find because we’re seeking.

If we’d truly lost everything, we wouldn’t possess the wisdom to do that. Or the skills of recognition. We’d cruise right past those doors and windows.

Often what happens is we seek so hard we fail to see. We don’t see that if we weren’t in this position, then we wouldn’t be in the right place at the right time and within the reach of the right people to seize an opportunity to attain a desired goal we’d deemed out of reach.

We believe that what we’ve lost, and likely didn’t appreciate when we had it, is exactly what we must have to be happy or content and we have to get it back. We focus so intently on getting it back, we blow right past doors and windows that would take us to a better place. Often, a place we’ve longed to go but never saw a pathway to ever get there.

And way too often we fail to recognize that just when we’re about to make some sort of breakthrough. One that will do us and perhaps a lot of others spiritual or physical good. That’s when we get nailed. Anytime we’re on a mission or have a goal that has benefits that extend beyond our personal selves, we should expect a body slam. Sometimes we see them coming, sometimes we don’t. But the fact is they come. It’s spiritual warfare, pure and simple. Can’t have you doing something good for yourself and others. No way. Need to keep you all down, despairing and oppressed, and miserable.

It’s not easy to walk away or lose everything. It hurts. It makes us feel as if we’ve failed. It attacks us at core level; our sense of worth, of value, our self-esteem. What we’ve got to remember is that sometimes we have to close a door to open another one. That until we do, we’re stuck in an old room that we’ve outgrown or we’re pacing out in the hall unable to get to our best place because we can’t find the door.

I once had a t-shirt that read something like: “I know that for every door that closes a window opens. But, man, these hallways are the pits.”

Hallways are the pits. And the longer you linger in them, the deeper and wider they become. The more slick are the floors, the more slimy the walls. Use those hallways before they do a number on you and in your head. Maybe you see the doors lining that hallway. But none of those doors look like the right door for you. If so, from experience I say, if any doors are constructive and better your position, test them. Try them anyway. That door might not be THE door but it well might lead to THE door. If you don’t walk through the first one, you’ll never reach the second.

Trying any door requires two things: you and a leap of faith.

You don’t have to have all the answers, only the courage to take a step and try. The moment you do, you haven’t lost everything anymore. You’ve already started rebuilding from the inside out. And that’s where it matters.

You respected yourself enough to try, and you added a leap of faith. That took courage and wisdom and the insight to find dignity in what you’re trying to do. That recognizes honor in making the effort. There’s appreciation for the struggles, for being fearful and acting in spite of it not because of it. That’s bravery. Lots to admire in all that.

And if it works out, you’ve added a lot more.

If it doesn’t, you still don’t return to “S/he who has lost everything.” You retain all you’ve already rebuilt and add more wisdom. You know which door wasn’t right for you, which is just as important as knowing which door is right for you. And so you approach the next door or window wiser and smarter and with better insight and sharper judgment. And then, if need be, you keep building with the gains from the next door, and the next.

Eventually, as a result of your own efforts and honing your own judgments, gathering your own wisdom, you find yourself in a life that you’ve rebuilt.

It might look very different than the one you had. A few, those who miss the point, will mourn the loss of what they use to have. They’ll recall fondly and with angst their former glory days. And totally blow this new better day right in front of them.

One day, that path leads to regret.

But regret too can park your backside in a hallway full of doors. Ones you can choose to open or not from your wiser-for-having-made-the-journey position.

Before you put yourself in regret-mode, pause and take a long look around at the life you’ve rebuilt. Odds are good you’re going to find it much suited to you, and much more a content place that views value and worth far differently than the old life.

You might think you’ve lost it all. I did. But what I discovered was Joseph and the miracle of refinement. It takes a lot of heat to temper steel. It takes a lot of heat to temper people, too. I discovered that some losses are inevitable and we must cope with them or be destroyed by them. I’d lost some, but actually I’d misplaced some truly valuable things. Mostly the kind that are inside—character, courage, self-respect, a true knowledge of my own worth. The really valuable things in life. In losing, I sought and found a far greater treasure: The me I’d forgotten . . . and not yet come to know.

God remained with me. So too it will be with you.

Blessings,

Vicki

A Real Character

Quite A Character!

Quite A Character!

You know how there are some people who tend to call attention to themselves with an extra loud voice or extravagantly dramatic behavior–as if they’re attempting to be on stage? Yeah, well, I speak with my hands, so some people might consider me to be one of those people. I might be. Hard to tell when you’re one of “those” people. Our kitty, Data (named after Star Trek’s artificial intelligence) has a right to spread out and claim his attention because he’s beautiful. Others? I wouldn’t advise it.

I call those attention seekers “characters.” They work well in a novel, but not all of them are fun. Some of them can seem downright obnoxious, and we still have to put up with them. Doing so graciously is a lesson I haven’t yet been able to grasp. I try. Honestly, I try.

Let’s consider a “character” we’ve had experience with recently. Let’s call her Gertrude (though I had a good friend by that name, and I’m not crazy about using it. Still, gotta name her something.)

So say Gertrude wants attention and she doesn’t receive the attention she feels she deserves. Instead of waiting her turn on the schedule at our place of business, she drags one of OUR waiting room chairs to the front reception window and plops down and crosses her arms, glaring at the receptionist until he looks at her. Causing a scene. Getting the attention in an obnoxious way–using vinegar instead of honey.

Now, this character needs to be cared for just as much as the next person, but it’s most tempting to pass over Gertrude-the-character and move on to someone who is sitting quietly in the corner waiting his turn. Very tempting. If someone from that waiting room happens to see this Gertrude character out on the street somewhere, do you think they’ll rush forward to greet her and embrace her with love? Sadly, they’ll cross the street to avoid her and she loses the attention she so desperately wants. Obnoxious characters tend to have that affect on people.

See the character on the picture? Data? He spreads himself all over the floor and gets in the way and whines and drools on me and sticks his cold nose on my arm or face in an attempt to get attention. But he’s a CAT! I love him because he’s a cat.

I really do believe that old adage–if you want something, use honey, not vinegar. I highly recommend the use of honey. Be a character all you want, but be a nice one. A sweet one. Lie on your back and twist sideways with a big grin, don’t grab a chair and plant yourself in someone else’s face and glare at everyone within glare distance. Create friendship, not hostility. Again, as I said last time, be nice.

 

A Vacancy for Joy by Kristen Heitzmann

Recently a friend sent me this quote that has resonated on different levels.

“I want my life to be an inviting guest room, where joy can walk in and stay awhile.” Ashley Wiersma

She sent it because my house has been a fairly continuous place of care and solace. As in Simon and Garfunkle’s Sparrow song, people can grow weary. We need somewhere to rest, to gather strength, to find a new direction, or renewed hope–or even cross from this life to the next. From the start, I sensed our home would be a haven. Only after we moved in did I notice the plaque from the previous owners who had named it Windhaven.

Let me tell you, we get some mighty winds rushing through this mountain valley, buffeting the walls and moaning in the chimneys. I’m fairly certain those winds inspired the name, but it means more than that to me. We all get tossed on the winds of life. My family has been buffeted in more ways than I can say. This physical shelter reminds me God is my stronghold in the day of trouble. (Nahum 1:7) He calls us to be little strongholds for each other, not necessarily our homes but certainly our hearts.

To open our lives to others as a guest room is an incredible gift. How blessed it is to share a time / place / moment of rest and renewal, of beauty and grace in the midst of storms.

And the greatest part is, that when our lives are opened up, joy does enter in. I pray we can all have a vacancy for joy to enter and abide.

Book Release News!

Good morning friends. This week is release week for the latest in my Mountain Cove series–BACKFIRE. Book 3 is another Warren sibling’s story and set against the backdrop of beautiful southeast Alaska.backfire cover

Back Cover copy:

NOWHERE LEFT TO HIDE

Tracy Murray had thought she’d be safe disappearing in the wilds of Alaska after her testimony put away a gang leader. But the gang symbol tattooed on an attacker’s arm means the clock has run out. She’s been found—and she knows the killers won’t let her escape alive again. She can’t fight an entire gang alone—she needs help. But when she finds herself relying on widowed firefighter David Warren, a new struggle emerges. Fleeing Alaska and cutting all ties could be the only way to survive…but it would mean leaving her heart behind.

Mountain Cove: In the Alaskan wilderness, love and danger collide

Order your copy today anywhere books are sold. Visit ElizabethGoddard.com for online purchasing options.

Or download for your Kindle NOW.

Many blessings!
Elizabeth Goddard

Coffee Filters and Generic Markers by Julie Arduini

Last month I participated in our church’s women’s conference. Our keynote speaker, Dawnita Istre, was anointed and full of spunk. The worship team did an amazing job. The vendors shared their hearts for causes like A21 campaign and the Pregnancy Help Center.

Then there were the workshops.

Because I was part of the core team hosting the event, I had duties to attend to first. Our pastor’s wife encouraged us to focus on being fed ourselves, not serving every moment. That’s a hard concept for me but I decided to sneak into a workshop on dealing with difficult people. Because that’s not a “if this will happen” scenario, it’s a “when will it happen again.”

I sat with a group of ladies I know, but not as well as I’d like to. If you asked me to describe them I’d say beautiful, creative, gifted, kind.

The leader asked us to take a coffee filter and use the marker on the table to write what we knew someone had said about us that wasn’t true, but we believed the lie anyway.

I grabbed a red marker and wrote “evil.” I know it might sound crazy to you, but it was one word of many this year I’d been called. And instances like it were happening so often I started to wonder? Am I rotten? Do I really create the worst in people and enjoy it? Honestly, that one word messed with my head.

The next instruction was to dip the filter in water and watch the word disappear. Let the true Living Waters clean us and tell us who we really are. Redeemed. Valued. Beloved.

Here’s where it gets funny at our table.

We had generic markers.              markers photo: markers coloredmarkers.jpg

When we dipped the filters in the water, nothing happened.

We giggled and shared our words.

“Oh no, I’m really evil!”

But as I thought about the experiment I realized how many times I’ve taken those words to Christ for an exchange and kept taking the words back. He’d proclaimed me saved and I thought of myself lost. I was healed but I walked around wounded. I was loved but lived as if I were hated.

If that’s you, generic markers that don’t wash off or not, embrace the truth.

If you have called on Christ as your Savior, Rescue and Friend—-

You are:

  • Deeply loved and highly favored
  • Saved by the blood of Christ, declared innocent by His sacrifice and clothed in righteousness (translated: Jesus died for us, He made a way for us for eternal life, and although human and sinful, we’re not evil, thanks to Him!)
  • Entitled to His peace and authority (the same power He had on Resurrection Day is available to us everyday!)

I invite you to write those promises where you can see them, and receive them in your heart, and use permanent marker!

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If They Have Ears to Hear by Camy Tang

The Spinster's Christmas by Camille ElliotI really enjoyed the pastor’s sermon yesterday at church because it answered a concern I’ve been having lately. I’ve started writing “sweet” Regency romances under my pen name, Camille Elliot, which I want to aim at non-Christians. I want to tell my non-Christian readers that they don’t have to be perfect, that Jesus loves them intensely, and they are not alone.

My problem was that since I’ve been writing Christian fiction for my entire career, I wasn’t sure how to write a character’s internal conflict in a way that a non-Christian could relate to. I was toying with how to rephrase something so it wouldn’t be so “religious” sounding, or how to talk about sin in a way that wouldn’t alienate someone who dislikes the American Christian church.

The pastor’s sermon was about Matthew 5:10-12 (ESV):

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness ‘sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

His point was that people who don’t want to hear about God will revile your message no matter how you phrase it, because they see God in you (which is a good thing).

But also, if they are (maybe later) in need and their heart changes, they will then be attracted to your message and to what they see of Christ in you.

It made me realize that I should just write the books the way they’ll turn out—that I can trust God will give me the words to say. And even if the words are a bit more “religious” sounding than other secular books out there, that’s okay, as long as I am surrendered to God and vulnerable in what I write. God will draw people to Himself through my words:

(Jesus speaking) “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” —John 12:32 (ESV)

It reminded me that God will reach the people He wants to reach through my writing, and they might be different from the people He wants to reach through other authors’ writing. We each have a part to play.

My prayer for you is that God will reach the people He wants to reach through you, and that He can show them His love.

Faith and Writing by Tara Randel

Lately I have been hunkered down at my computer, typing away as I create stories that are under contract. I love to spend my day writing, love the unexpected scenes that pop into my head when my characters take over. Writing is never dull, that’s for sure.

Each time I start a new book, I’m filled with expectation. Although I plot before I ever type the opening sentence, I wonder, where will this story go? What crazy side paths will I wander down? How long will it take me to complete this journey? Questions plague me as I write the entire book, yet I don’t shy away from the answers. In writing, answers are good.

Unlike, life, where we don’t always get answers. While I can control the circumstances surrounding my characters, I can’t do this in my everyday life. Maybe that’s why being an author appeals to me. Not that I’m a control freak, but in the uncertain world we live in, who wouldn’t mind knowing just where they’re headed?

Enter God.

I’ve served God a long time. I have faith, that no matter what life throws my way, He has His hand upon me. Through good times and bad, I know He is there.

Faith is a funny thing. You can’t see it, can’t touch it. Yet it exists.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

How do we believe in something we can’t see? Good question. Because God is faithful to us. He is the example.
God’s word is full of the many ways He allows us to have faith.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. Deuteronomy 7:9

To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless
Psalm 18:25

Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Matthew 9:2

For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Romans 1:17

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13

I could go on, list many other passages of Scripture, but this next verse seems to boil down to our heart.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Romans 10:178

Are we willing to hear the message? And if you do, will you believe in faith?

Just as when I begin a new book, I start with a blank page and can’t see the entire story until I begin to write, I have to be active. I have to put words on the page. Let my imagination flow. The same happens with our walk with God. We take that first step and faith begins to grow. I type the words and my story progresses. I believe in God and my faith expands.

Some may take exception to me comparing faith with starting a book, but believe me, I have lots of faith that I will complete my story. Just as i have faith that one day I will stand in the presence of God.

I encourage you, no matter where you are in your walk with God, to pursue Him. Seek Him daily. Focus on faith, no matter what trials you my face. You will face them, so allow faith to keep you grounded.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2: 6-7

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