Praise in Prayer by Camy Tang

marblecross_bderksen_pickmonkeyblueHi guys! I’ve been blogging a lot about prayer lately, but it’s because my pastor is going through the Lord’s Prayer at church and the sermons are really hitting me.

This past Sunday I felt God convicting me about my love for Him. The pastor talked about how the Lord’s Prayer starts with worship and adoration of God, which I’d heard before, but then he went on to talk about how this type of praise is an indiction of what’s most important.

If we only go to God in prayer when something is at risk, that means that thing is most important to us—more important than what God is to us. That really made me stop and think. I pray to God a lot about my writing and getting my work done, so does that mean I value my work more than I value my relationship with God?

All relationships take work—there aren’t any relationships we have that require no work whatsoever. So why do I slack off when it comes to my relationship with God?

I want to go to God in prayer just because I love Him, and not because I need something. It seems I always need something, and even though I don’t deserve it, God answers my prayers. But I should start my prayer to Him with praise of who He is, and in that way put in some effort in my relationship with Him.

When something great happens, like our favorite sports team wins an important game, we cheer and then we post on Facebook or Twitter to share with everyone our joy in our team’s victory. That type of sharing and praising of our team completes our joy in the victory.

In the same way, my praising of God should complete my joy in my relationship with Him, shouldn’t it? If I take the time to post about my favorite sports team, why wouldn’t I take the time to praise God in prayer?

So this week I’m hoping to work on learning how to really praise God. I am thinking of going through a book on the names of God and also going through the Psalms (my favorite book of the Bible).

Also, since I’m posting about prayer today, I want to 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!

Awards by Tara Randel

Writing can often be a solitary endeavor. Getting lost in the story lines and adventures of our characters is a joy to create. I know I always want to give the readers a journey they’ll never forget. But how do I know when a reader enjoys my book?

Unless I receive reviews, I can’t be sure. Now reviews are tricky things. Of course authors like it when reviewers leave a nice comment. But I love to hear from readers, too. Getting an email from a reader who truly appreciates my book makes my day.

So when I found out this weekend that my Harlequin Heartwarming book, Honeysuckle Bride, received the 2015 ACRW Readers Choice Heart of Excellence Award in Long & Short Contemporary, I was thrilled. To me it’s more than an honor. It’s validation that the hours I spend plotting and planning and laboring over the keyboard means something. I don’t intentionally look for accolades, but when I get them, I rejoice. God has given me a talent that I will always use to my full potential. Getting this award is a reminder that as much as I love to write, people like to read my books.



If you have a dream, go for it. If God is leading you in a new direction, grasp His hand and run into your destiny. Not everyone wants to be a writer, but whatever is in your heart, give it a try. There will be plenty of trial and error, but once you reach your goal, there isn’t any better feeling.

And the most important thing I’ve learned along the way? Give God the glory!

WARNING by Hannah Alexander

Several years ago I had a particularly stressful month. Halfway through the month a streak of pain crossed my shoulders and down my spine and legs and would not relent. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t function. Finally I gave up and went to see my family doctor.

He told me I had fibromyalgia and gave me hydrocodone for the pain. Yeah, the hard stuff. I’d taken narcotics after an automobile accident a decade ago, and again after surgery, but I always quit taking it as soon as possible and never developed a dependency.

This time, however, the pain became chronic. I was told I would always have fibromyalgia and as hard as I tried I was unable to endure the pain without the hydrocodone. I tried alternative doctors and actually was able to improve my health, but the pain persisted year after year. Most days I could get through a day with only two doses, and I’m stubborn enough that I refused to increase the dose unless I was in agony.

Despite attempts to avoid becoming dependent, chronic use of a narcotic over the years makes us dependent no matter what we do. Several weeks ago, however, I was speaking to a naturopath who told me she’d heard of pain clinics that treated their patients by weaning them from their narcotics. That’s all. She said that often the pain would go away after the narcotic was out of the system. This meant that the narcotic, itself, caused the uptick in pain.

I stopped taking my prescribed narcotic when I had a few days during which I could stay home. Since I had been stretching the time out between doses, I felt this could be done safely. I had accumulated several creams, over-the-counter medicines and herbal supplements to help me through the worst of it. I needed that and more.

I stopped sleeping, the pain increased, I lost all appetite and despite my determination to keep eating, I lost ten pounds in two weeks–this is NOT a good way to lose weight. My skin became dry and stretchy, my head hurt and my stress level was off the charts. I had to take blood pressure meds for a couple of weeks. Did I mention I couldn’t sleep? I still refused to take another pill because I didn’t want to be addicted for the rest of my life.

It’s been five weeks. I would not recommend that anyone withdraw from narcotics in this way. If I’d known how my body would behave I would have weaned myself much more gradually. I would still have done it. The pain I was feeling between doses for so many years was, indeed, caused by the narcotic for the most part.

Yes, I still have some pain, but the intensity is not nearly as high as it had been between doses when I was considered a “chronic” pain patient, and it doesn’t return regularly the way it did when it was time for another dose of narcotic.

Why am I telling this to Christian readers? Because there are a lot of people in our country who are placed on narcotic pain meds and continue to take them, innocent of the addictive potential. Doctors were taught in med school that as long as a patient is truly in pain, narcotics are the best to control that. It’s true. Now, however, doctors are being told that their patients can become dependent on those narcotics and it’s difficult to get off them.

Everybody feels pain from time to time. A lot of people feel intense pain. Sometimes narcotics are necessary. Just be aware they are dangerously addictive if taken longterm. Don’t let it happen to you.


Why We Can’t Afford to Mistake Kindness as Weakness Anymore by Vicki Hinze

Vicki Hinze, Kindness, Weakness,






Vicki Hinze



We’re weary of people who do not say what they mean and mean what they say. We want truth and honesty. We don’t want belligerence. We don’t want rude. And we don’t want weak people manipulating us by paying lip service.


The problem is, people have been so busy being politically correct that they’ve stopped being honest because they fear being shot down, demoralized, or destroyed. We once lived in a civil society where reasonable people could disagree without retribution. But those days fell to the PC police and those who make such rules that the rest of us—whether or not we agree—feel compelled to follow to survive. Now, collectively, people have gotten a bellyful of biting their tongues, having their character maligned, and seeing their views tromped, and they’re retaliating. That push-and-pull, fueled by anger and disgust, gives us a society highly charged on all sides.


Of course, conduct is markedly different. As a result of our experiences, we are markedly different. The challenge for us all is in how we are different. That can make it difficult for us to unite as a civil society, which is necessary if we are to survive intact as a civil society. The bottom line is we need each other—all sides—and we need to recognize that all sides have value in the collective whole of us.


One of the biggest challenges facing us is this division and polarization. We’re into the second generation of self-indulgence, and that, while gratifying perhaps personally, does not serve us well collectively. It blinds us to the merits of temperance, tolerance, and appropriate public conduct. It encourages us to mistake kindness for weakness. And that mindset leads to destruction—if we stay on that path.


We don’t have to, and many don’t want to, stay on that path. But we aren’t sure how we got on it in the first place, and we have no idea how to get off it.


The good news is, despite claims of those who like us divided—it’s easier to manipulate us if we’re divided—it’s not that hard to figure out how to fix this challenge. First, we have to understand and accept that the change doesn’t begin elsewhere with others or those in leadership roles. It begins with us.  In our mindset, our attitude, and our personal choices.


Step One is to remember, if we didn’t know, or to discover:  Kindness is not weakness, it’s strength. Here’s why that’s a fact:


It’s easy to bully. We see it all the time. It takes more effort and self-discipline—more strength—to be kind. It’s easy to be kind when faced with kindness. It takes more work to be kind in the face of adversity. More work and more personal control and character.


Martin Luther King had it right. Don’t judge a man by the color of his skin. Judge him by the nature of his character. Why was Dr. King right? Because we all bleed red. A person’s character tells us not just his nature on a specific issue, event, or in a specific circumstance, but the means by which he will decide his stance on other issues, events, and specific circumstances. It tells us what guides his decisions. What principles he uses to guide himself and his actions.


We need to remember or discover: Kindness and respect go together like hand and glove. Kind people are respectful. Of themselves. Of others. Of all views. Kind people listen with an open mind. They don’t shout down or attempt to silence those who disagree with them. They might or might not change their opinion due to what they hear from those who disagree with them. That’s far more likely to happen if they’re treated with respect.


Calling people names and comparing them to some of the worst criminals in history, blaming them for others’ disenchantment doesn’t encourage anyone to hear opposing views much less to listen and be swayed by them. If when engaged, someone is rude, hostile, or violent, then everything they say will be met with resistance and fall on deaf ears.


Facts prove points. Rude and hostile or violent conduct proves the facts are not supporting someone’s points. The person behaving in that way is thought of as weak, or that s/he has an ulterior motive that is disrespectful to his or her own opinions and to the people and their opinions s/he is s trying to change.


Kindness is often mistaken for weakness. It’s not. Kind people fight the battles they consider worth fighting. They don’t feel they must compromise their principles to do it. They don’t feel compelled to fight dirty or to lie and manipulate or threaten. The truth holds up under logic and reason, and truth is sufficient to battle and win.


Weakness is the refusal to fight. Or forcing others to fight for you while you keep your own hands clean and yourself out of the fray. Weakness is the fear of fighting and losing what you want and are trying to get. Weakness is the sit back and do nothing response—to protect yourself from criticism, being targeted, from losing ground.


The most weak are those who double-speak to divert attention from the truth to lessen the pressure on themselves. Included in that group are those who set up others to take blame for them. That’s weak and cowardly.


The weak are immobilized by fear. They’re motivated by want but stymied by flawed logic, misinformation, the absence of facts, or by the deliberate misrepresentation of facts. The weak fail to do their own homework to assure they have command of the truth, the facts as they are and not as they or others wish them to be, and too often they ignore inconvenient truths because those truths do not support their position or fit the narrative they choose to support their personal agendas.


We need to remember or discover: that we all suffer self-inflicted wounds. There isn’t anyone who hasn’t made mistakes. Who hasn’t done—or thought of doing—something questionable to protect themselves and ended up hurting themselves and/or others.


There was a time when we remembered we’re all flawed before we went into attack-mode. There was a time when we understood the value of decorum and civility. A time when we gave others the benefit of doubt before acting as their judge and jury, eagerly convicting them. A time when we gave others the forgiveness and grace we knew we would one day be asking for from them. We knew that day would come because we’re human, and, for humans, that day always comes.


But things are different now. We are a divided society. We’re now in the second generation of being a divided society. Some have deliberately perpetuated that division, and collectively, we’ve allowed it. The fault for the division isn’t theirs, it’s ours. We condoned it and, because we did, we own it.


Yet that doesn’t mean we must continue to own it. That we can’t realize that unless we stop focusing on what divides us and start focusing on what unites us, we will follow the path of those before us who have embraced division. Remember the warning in the quote:  A house divided falls?  That applies to society as well. It’s happened over and again throughout history. We need not repeat it, and make that lethal mistake our mistake.


That inconvenient truth, our division, puts us and our society, at a crossroad. We can divide and fall, or we can unite and prosper. It’s our choice.


The path to uniting isn’t easy. Much has been done to make it difficult because our division served an agenda for others who put their needs before the needs of our society. Recognizing that, as individuals, we must decide which side of the fence we want to be on—the Dividers or the Uniters. None can straddle the fence. That results in certain destruction.


We decide, and we can find our way back to a civil society where all are respected and diverse opinions make us stronger, for then we explore all possibilities and adopt the strongest of the strong.


The first step to uniting is to decide to unite. The second is to respect your decision and yourself, and then to respect others. To jumpstart respect is to identify and embrace the differences in kindness and weakness.


So far, we’ve blown it. We’ve failed to recall or discover that we all have the capacity to be kind and strong or to be weak and destructive. But the beauty of being a free society is that we can choose at any time, on any minute of any day—a thousand times a day—to stop wherever we are and start over. Looking at how far we’ve fallen, and how many of us have hit bottom and are floundering in a pit of despair, we’re way overdue for a fresh start.  So how do we do it?


Be kind. Be respectful. Be civil. To yourself and to others. All others. Treat everyone with the dignity and grace that you, at some time, are going to need and hope you receive.


A fresh start is that simple—and exactly that difficult.


It takes incredible strength to be kind and to unite. But we’re capable and, if we choose to do it, we have the ability to do it. I’m certain of it. Why? Because we know the difference between kindness and weakness—and that’s why we can’t afford to mistake one for the other anymore.*





© 2015, Vicki Hinze. Hinze is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest release is The Marked Bride, Shadow Watchers, Book 1. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s online community: Facebook. Books. Twitter. Subscribe to Vicki’s Newsletter.


Music in Writing and Reading by Julie Arduini

  Julie’s note:

This was originally intended to be an article for an ezine but the project didn’t move forward. I thought I would share here with you as the theme was music. Not only do writers use music, but I do as a reader, too.

Consider these whether you write or read. Do you use any of these ideas?    

music note photo: music note musicnoteold.jpg
When it comes to finding that “zone” and hitting a word count and making a deadline, music can be a helpful resource. Let’s look at the different ways:

  • Getting in the “genre” mood. Writing a historical? Playing instrumentals and vocalists from the time period can help virtually transport you to the year. There’s fiddle music for the Civil War era. Ragtime piano for the early 1900’s. Swing music defines the 40’s as much as do-wop and Elvis are reminiscent of 50’s. Writing about a time period around the Vietnam War could bring a playlist featuring Janis Joplin, Peter, Paul and Mary, Jimi Hendrix. Even if your setting is before your birth, there’s most likely music to help set the atmosphere. Writing a romance? Listening to Dean Martin croon can help foster writing. Although the 80’s are known for being the decade of “hair bands,” there was some romantic songs in there, too. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler, “Endless Love” by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, “With or Without You” by U2 are some songs to create for a playlist. Motown artists also have romantic tunes. From “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge to “My Girl” by The Temptations, there’s a lot of Motown for romance writing. Don’t forget music for breakups. Chicago has some sad songs. Taylor Swift has a great break up anthem to inspire writing with “We’re Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Dionne Warwick sang “Walk on By,” while Roy Orbison creates emotion with “Crying” and Willie Nelson brings feeling to “You Were Always on My Mind.” Whether the romance is going well or not, there’s music to fit the mood. No matter the genre, sometimes writers use movie or Broadway soundtracks for focus. Rocky can motivate. The Fault in Our Stars makes the author feel like a teen again.  The Wonder Years was a TV show but has a great 60’s feel. Singin’ in the Rain brings about romantic thoughts. The Newsies soundtrack is listed on as part of a playlist for Broadway. Television, movies and Broadway are popular resources to turn to when looking for writing encouragement.
  •  Some authors prefer not to have music with lyrics as they find it distracting. Some alternatives are instrumental music, NPR, symphonies. Although there are vocals, authors also find opera a nice music to have in the background while writing.

With all these ideas, now let’s share where to find this music, stream it, and create playlists.

  • The free version has commercials but the ability to create many channels and even shuffle. I’ve listened to Pandora on my laptop, on my phone and in the car. This is what I used to write my chapter for The Love Boat Bachelor. The channel? I looked for steel drums and Caribbean music.
  • They offer three months of premium/ad free music to anyone who has never used them before for .99 and are known for their variety of music.
  • Amazon Streaming. Part of the Prime Membership, Amazon Prime Music boasts one million songs and hundreds of playlists.
  • Soundcloud. Not only are there artists to listen to, but actual sounds that can help the writing mood. From dog barks to fire sirens, there are plenty of sounds to search.As far as research for writers who want to utilize music into their work, Google is a great place to start. Learning about instruments, career opportunities, practice schedules and more are all available online. However, nothing beats an interview with a musician, vocalist, music teacher or worship and creative arts pastor. They can share specific details like technology issues, emotions during auditions, best drumsticks to use and much more. Music provides mood setting for writing, inspiration for genres, playlists, streaming and research opportunities for fiction.

How does music influence your writing?

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I’m Back! by Tara Randel

It’s been a while since I posted. Life has a way of sneaking up on you.

I had two back-to-back deadlines for the end of August and the first of September, one for a mystery which will be out in 2016, the other for a Christmas Collection releasing in October. Made those deadlines, but I still have another looming in October. I’m afraid this ole brain of mine can only write so much at a time.

I’m glad to be back!


It’s September. Fall is right around the corner. I have to admit, autumn has always been my favorite season. Maybe it’s the cooler temperatures after a long summer or the lovely shades of yellow, red and orange when the leaves begin to change. The scent of a burning fire always makes me think of football games and Thanksgiving.

Surprisingly enough, the temperatures here in Florida haven’t been beastly! Warm, compared to some parts of the country, but I’ve been opening my doors and windows in the morning. This is certainly a welcome treat.

Since I love to decorate for the fall season, I’m looking for new ideas. Tell me, how do you decorate for the season? Do you decorate? And if so, what is your favorite?

Listen to God’s Whisper by Maureen Lang

This past Sunday at church, a visiting speaker reminded us to say yes to the opportunities God puts in our path. I have to admit I don’t always follow God’s gentle nudging. There have been times when I’ve felt led to reach out to someone, or even just to voice a thought or question, either one-on-one or in a large group. But instead of taking the risk, I remain comfortably quiet or to myself, even as I realize few people would object to someone spreading a smile or cheerful word. Somehow living in an increasingly isolated society (apart from online social networking, of course!) makes it seem like real interaction has become optional.

But what if remaining comfortably quiet instead of following those nudges is actually being disobedient to God? Did He create me to be merely comfortable? Has much good has ever come from someone so comfortable in life they just let the days pass by? Making no change, taking no risk, allowing no new thoughts or experiences?

Obviously not all whispers come from God, but there is one sure way to test them. Is whatever you’re being prompted to do in sync with something Jesus would do? Does the word or action represent God well? Not all of the nudges will be smiles and happy words, but it’s likely all of them have a foundation of love. Even when Jesus admonished the money changers in the temple, He did it out of love for God.

This is just a short reminder to you and to me: learn to listen to God’s whispers, and build up your courage to follow them. No doubt God will bless both ends of the interaction!

Stressed Much? by Hannah Alexander

How’s your stress level? I recently listened in on an anxiety symposium that was quite helpful. In it, some experts in the use of alternative supplements suggested several possible aids that could help with a person’s stress level without resorting to prescription medications. For instance, GABA or GABA Calm might help some people, while 5-HTP could help others. I’ve found that L Tryptophan and simple chamomile can help me. Holy basil is another favorite. I also take magnesium supplements to help me relax at night, but we’re all different. No body responds to the same supplements, so it’s sort of a trial and error approach.

I’ve also found that some essential oils can help with stress, and we even use one of those oils in the clinic, allowing the patient to inhale the oil for ten minutes if they happen to have white coat syndrome. Again, this could help some and not others, but we’ve found that simply allowing a patient to sit quietly and breathe a calming essential oil will lower the blood pressure if the problem is due to stress.

The most powerful antidote to anxiety, fear, stress, even depression, is turning back to Christ. I tend to drift away from reading my Bible every day, and I shoot up instaprayers during the day without actually digging deeply and spending quality time with Him. I can spend all day doing what I know God has called me to do, but all work and no love shared with Him? That doesn’t cut it for me. I need that Holy Presence in my daily life to sustain me. I need to depend completely on Him, and not my own strength.

One way I’ve always drawn closer to God was to go out into the wilderness for a hike, to surround myself by His creation and talk to Him in the peace of nature. I seldom fail to come back with a full heart. Even a quick stroll in the sunshine can give me a spiritual lift.

In the past few weeks, hubby and I have both been ill. That’s scary when neither of us can get out of bed to care for the other. We realized right away we needed to draw back to God more completely, that we’d been doing what we thought was right, but not spending quality time with the One for whom we were doing it.

It’s a longterm goal, to walk more closely with Jesus Christ, but it’s also instantaneous. I found that as soon as I turned back and repented of my independence, He was there. How does He do that? It has to be supernatural, because anyone at any time can turn to Him, repent, find His love and learn to walk with Him.

“Be anxious about nothing, but in everything make your requests known to God, with prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7


Prayer – a parent and child relationship by Camy Tang

At church, our pastor is starting a series on the Lord’s Prayer, and he started with an overview of prayer. Something that really struck me was the reasoning behind the five different parts of the Lord’s Prayer – Adoration, Submission, Petition, Confession, Protection.

Our pastor gave an example of how sometimes when teenagers are off to college, they only call home when they need money. (Yes, I was guilty of that, too!) After a while, that gets irritating to the parents since their kid only thinks of them as a bank.

But when we only pray petition type prayers to God, that’s kind of the same thing. We’re only ever asking Him for stuff. I had never realized the parallels between my prayers and how I used to only ask my parents for things.

A solid parent-child relationship is built on more than just provision. There is love, humility, forgiveness, and protection on both sides, from parents and children.

I want a solid relationship with God, and so my prayers should reflect that. So hopefully this week I’ll work on developing more of a relationship with God in my prayer life.

marblecross_bderksen_pickmonkeyblueRelated to that, 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!


It’s that time of year when my royalty statements come in, from four different companies. Believe me, it cost more to send a couple of them than the amount printed on the statements.

What’s the best royalty statement (or check) you ever got?

Many of us are disappointed, or begrudgingly shake our heads with acceptance of a small or non-existent royalty because we’re still earning out our advance.

It’s easy to wonder… is it worth it? And when e-book publishers give royalties only, “No advance” doesn’t motivate like a contract with at least a small advance.

We don’t write for money? No… but if we don’t get money with writing, we have to get a paying job, so yes we want money so we can write.

Sort of reminds me of “good works don’t save you, only acceptance of Jesus” and yet, if we are saved and have Jesus then good works follow. James says, “faith without works is dead.” The two go together.

How nice if writing and money could go together. Other professions in which Christians work pay money, including the ministry/work of a pastor. The primary purpose isn’t for money, but without the money how does one survive?

My first published piece was seven rhyming lines of iambic pentameter for which I received $2.57 (strange amount) – was it worth it? Oh yes, happiness galore, great joy. I became a published writer, a professional making money, and that’s before I even attended a writers conference.

When I am penniless (almost) and bewail my plight of poverty, I get a letter or email saying how my book changed a life.

My book, In Shady Groves (story of Hosea and Gomer), helped save a marriage. A man called me and thanked me (later sent me a gift). His wife could not forgive herself for her actions and this book helped her realize God forgives her, her husband forgave her, and she could forgive herself. There’s no amount of money worth that!

One of my novels had a main character who visited the young woman she had sponsored when they both were young. Other of my stories included mention of sponsoring children in other countries. Readers have written to say those stories influenced them to sponsor a child. Maybe the money on the royalty statement didn’t show a lot of sales, but if one child was given a chance in life by a reader, because of the story, then that’s the payment.

A woman wrote to me, saying she was not a Christian but my book made her think, and she was going to read it again. That’s a better reward than a few dollars.

Most writers have stories like that to tell. That’s why it makes me wonder about the phrase, “don’t self promote.” I have yet to hear a writer promote self. We promote our books, articles, devotions, etc. that God has enabled us to create, and these stories touch other lives. The product of our profession needs to be promoted.

But… at those times of the year when royalty statements come and they are a disappointment we can thank God we are in a profession that ministers and touches the lives of others in positive ways. And as I write, I probably learn the faith message embedded, and need it, even more than my readers.

Through the years I’ve probably bemoaned my failure about royalty statements more than I have thanked God for the surprising ones and even a couple abundant ones (never got rich!).

Eventually, I think about my best royalty statement. Galatians 3:26 says, “You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Jesus Christ is King of kings, Lord of lords. I’m his child. That makes me a princess.

What better Royalty Statement could there be?

YVONNE LEHMAN is author of 56 novels, founded and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years, and is now director of the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat held October 18-22. Registration now ongoing. Click Novel Retreat or Great faculty: DiAnn Mills, Lynette Eason, Eva Marie Everson, Eddie Jones, Torry Martin, Edie Melson, Robert Whitlow, Diana Flegal, Lori Marett, Ann Tatlock. We’ll see Robert’s movie, Mountain Top, have a six-hour class on Social Media, have critiques, contests, classes on craft of writing including writing scripts. Also private appointments with faculty and half a day on Brainstorming. Would love for you to join us!

Time goes by!

I was recently reminded of the time one of my clocks stopped working. I put a new battery in, and immediately it started ticking again—backwards! When I showed it to my husband he laughed and said he was feeling younger already.

Snow_White_CostumeThe memory was the perfect accompaniment to another task I’ve been doing lately: cleaning out cabinets, separating trash from treasure. One of the treasures I came across was this old picture of my mom, taken when she was a teen. She and her own mom made the Snow White costume for my mom to wear to a Halloween party they were hosting. I have pictures of people dunking for apples with a table filled with scads of food in the background, a decorated basement and various costumes typical of the time. Girls dressed like old men in their father’s then-stylish suits, topped with ties and bowler hats, others posing as Betty Boop or hula girls. Innocent fun compared to some of the depictions of Halloween today, I guess!

My mom’s been gone over eight years now, and as I recall her life it’s hard to imagine her as the teen of this picture. It’s fun to remember that both my mom and her sister, after raising families of their own, would sometimes dress up when answering the door on Halloween to hand out candy. On another occasion I remember my mom gathering all us six kids, our spouses and kids for another Halloween party. Although this time she was dressed as a fairy princess, she told me her all-time favorite costume was Snow White. With the wistful tone of her voice, I totally believed her, and finding this old picture with the same smile on her face confirms it.

I guess this is all on my mind because despite today’s hot weather, it’s nearly the start of another new season. Regardless of my faulty clock, time never goes backwards. Today I’m getting together with a woman who has been my friend since we first met back in fourth grade. I’m blessed to say we have one of those timeless relationships that during various seasons when life took us in different directions, we were always able to pick up our friendship again no matter how much time has gone by. These days we live less than an hour apart, so we’ve made it a point to meet on a regular basis. We’ve both learned if you don’t prioritize time, other demands too easily waste it away.

Today’s post is a bit of a mind-ramble, but I think it comes with this reminder: time goes on faster than we think, so make sure you’re spending it in a way you can look back on with a smile!

What’s IN Your Mind? by Hannah Alexander

I have notes taped up around the house with one of my favorite Bible passages, the “whatsoever” passage. “…whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely…think on these things.”
I need to be reminded of this often because it’s so easy to place some ugly, untrue, impure things into our minds.
Mel and I relax in front of our favorite shows at night when we crash from a day’s work. Unfortunately, we’ve discovered lately that sometimes those shows, which are very popular with a lot of people, tend to be getting darker and darker. When we’re weak or susceptible, those shows can cause depression–homicide cop shows, high adventure, even sometimes comedy. They give me nightmares.
The nightmares have brought home to me the truth of the favorite passage of scripture above. Some things can be fun to watch, to read, to do, but I need to ask myself if it’s something that is uplifting, pure, lovely.
Sometimes a habit is hard to break. I’m in the middle of breaking a habit right now that is particularly difficult, but breaking bad habits, if we persist in doing good, will help heal us in the end.


Follow Your Purpose by Julie Arduini


A scene from the movie, Captive, starring Kate Mara and David Oyelowo.

One of my recent reads was to review the book, Captive. You might remember the author, Ashley Smith, was the single mom who in 2005 was held hostage by Brian Nichols. What made her story so extraordinary was that during her ordeal she read him Pastor Rick Warren’s, The Purpose Driven Life. The book will be in movie form in September, I believe.

Part of the review process was thinking about and sharing our purpose. In her twenties, Ashley, at the time of her captivity, was baby new in her faith walk. When she rejected the spotlight and told the media she wasn’t worthy of the praise, she didn’t want to sugarcoat her life. She was a single mom because her husband had been murdered. She didn’t have custody of her child because she became addicted to drugs. When Brian Nichols forced himself into her life, she still had drugs in hand to help her through the moving process.

Yet, in the midst of all that, God used her. In reading her story it’s compelling because it’s obvious she had her captor’s attention. He had been churched. He knew much of what she was sharing. And he was conflicted. He knew he’d killed people only hours before. Yet he had a son only days old. Ashley not only kept herself alive, she shared the gospel and the truth about grace and redemption.

Talk about following your purpose.

So, what can you think of in your life that reminds you of following your purpose, even when against all odds? It doesn’t have to be as dramatic as Ashley’s story, I doubt most of us could compare, nor want to.

Me? It might seem small to you but it was a life-changer. I was a Christian for quite a few years, married, and had a small child. But I was filled with anger from hurts and plans that didn’t go my way. I was afraid to trust the church, my Heavenly Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit? No. Way. Too scary. All of it.

But something drew me to Beth Moore and the call to join her online Bible study, Believing God.

The homework didn’t intimidate me, I dove into it. I couldn’t get enough. Each week I could feel my mind changing. Shackles were coming off and I felt a freedom with each lesson. One week while watching the video she challenged the members to picture themselves and the mountain they were facing and just stomp on it in faith in Christ’s power.
I pictured the anger, specifically from my miscarriage. I was so toxic from it I was barely functional. I closed my eyes and envisioned my foot just stomping out the hurt and bitterness.

When I did, this is what I saw:

That mountain crumbling to a million little stones I was able to walk over with ease.

It wasn’t just a picture. It was a promise from God. He healed my heart, and my body. Within two months I was pregnant.

More than that, He gifted me with faith. I don’t just believe in God, I believe God. He has allowed me to speak prayers casually in conversation to hear that the person was healed. There have been people who have read prayers I wrote and felt God move as they read it. People have found hearing aids, Bibles, precious things because I believed God and I prayed in obedience.

I could have stayed angry. I wanted to for a long time. But like Ashley, I was able to follow my purpose.

How about you?

To learn more about Captive, click here.

If you’re interested in the Believing God study, it is currently underway in the small group session with the Women’s Bible Café.

Spiritual Hunger by Vicki Hinze

Vicki Hinze, Christians Read, Spiritual Hunger

Photo Credit: Deposit Photos


We spend a lot of time in our lives seeking our path. Whether we sense or know there is a plan or a purpose for us, or we flounder and drift uncertain, we seek. That inner cry for fulfillment hits us all—sometimes really hard, and sometimes really often.

When we’re young, we think we have all the answers, but the older we get, the more we realize we don’t. We grasp that we don’t even know all the questions and that, when we settle into old age, we still won’t. We grasp that more happens in our spiritual lives and to us on subliminal levels than occurs in them physically and emotionally combined. And the older we get, the more we realize that those spiritual things most matter because they impact us for a much longer period of time. It’s the difference in a lifetime and eternity. The physical grabs our immediate attention because it is just that: immediate and easily recognized.

If we’re hungry, we feel it. And the hungrier we are, the more demanding our bodies become for food. We feel pangs. Then our stomachs growl and, if food isn’t ingested, the hunger pains grow stronger and stronger until we eat.

Spiritual hunger is more subtle but travels the same kind of path. It can be as faint as a whisper, a longing sigh. As we become more aware of it, it can grow from a fleeting thought or a heart prick to a deep desire or steady craving. Spiritual hunger can grow as intense as a relentless yearning that resides so deep inside us we can’t tell where it starts or stops, only that there isn’t a cell in our bodies that is unaware of it, and we know the same way that we know the sun will rise each morning that the yearning will continue to yawn and stretch and grow. It won’t be satisfied until we’re fulfilled and content.

That’s when most of us realize we aren’t beginning our spiritual journey, we’ve been on it for a long time. But unlike before, the hunger is no longer subtle. Now we feel it, recognize it. We know what it is we’re seeking. We might not name it as spiritual hunger. More often than not, we address it as wanting our lives to have meaning. Wanting to do something, to be something. Our legacy…

Then comes the inevitable what. What do we want? What will give our lives meaning? What is it specifically that we need to do or to become to find the inner peace we’re seeking? What will it take for us to be content?

It’s rare for a person to know exactly what that something is, though it does happen. Now and then, we’ll meet someone who says, I’ve always wanted to do x or to be y. Most of us haven’t had that certainty. We’ve wanted to do or be many things, and we eventually find something that stirs us enough to stick with it and then we do that thing or embrace and become whatever it is that fuels that desire or interest in us.

We think that finally we’ve found our feet, our place in the world, and we settle into our niche. And for a time, we might be content. But the day inevitably comes when we feel a stirring. We need—not want, need—more. What more? Often we can’t answer that. But we know that something is missing. Something just isn’t doing it for us. We should be happy, content, joyful. We should love our lives, and yet…

Maybe we like our life—at least, most of the time. And we think that, for real life, most of the time is pretty good. Everyone we’ve ever known has ups and downs, and if we have more ups than downs, that’s success, isn’t it? A live being well-lived?

We wonder, work at convincing ourselves, and yet that nag of a stirring persists, keeps us aware that deep inside in a place we can’t point to, there’s an empty space. A tiny hollow. Oh, it’s just a little thing. We need to just not think about it. We ignore it, shove it away, or try nine hundred physical things to cure ourselves of it. We’re determined to be happy. Content. Fulfilled.

But the empty space stretches, yawns, and grows, and with little fanfare or even much notice, the tiny hollow morphs into a honeycomb with tons of hollows. We ask ourselves, won’t I ever figure out why I feel this way? Won’t I ever be at peace with myself?

We were warned that we would always face trials—they’re a natural occurrence and part of life. And a wise Apostle warned us to learn to be content wherever we are. That raises questions, doesn’t it? If we’re feeling all this inner turmoil—niggle to nag—how can we be content?

Well, maybe the answer is in why we’re spiritually hungry. Why we feel it, I mean.

Maybe spiritual hunger is to remind us (and to keep reminding us) that we have needs that go far beyond the physical, and those spiritual needs can’t be ignored any more so than physical ones can be ignored and us sustain life. There’s a huge difference between living and really living, and we know it. In one, we exist. In the other, we live life abundantly.

An abundant life doesn’t exist without inner peace. And to grow into inner peace—I do believe it’s a process of many steps, not a single step—we must satisfy our spiritual hunger.

How do we do that?

By mirroring what happens in the physical world. When hungry, we eat. When thirsty we drink. We nourish the physical body. So to satisfy spiritual hunger, we eat and drink spiritual food and water.

When that parallel becomes evident, we have an open door. Feed your soul and you’ll find your purpose. Seek your path and you’ll find it.

Whether you’ll take a direct flight or the scenic route depends on what you have and what’ll you need to fulfill your purpose.

We often consider pit stops or diversions unwanted irritants, but they are the means by which we gather the tools and knowledge and abilities—the wisdom—that we’re going to need to fulfill our purpose. We should embrace them instead.

That’s admittedly hard to do at times, but all that’s really required is a perspective shift.

We are not being interrupted. We are being instructed.

We are not being delayed. We’re gathering fuel that will propel us further faster. (You can’t drive a racecar if you haven’t yet learned to ride a bike, right?)

We are not being oppressed. We’re being prepared for progress.

And maybe spiritual hunger is God’s way of reminding us He’s waiting. Ready, willing and able to guide and direct, to instruct and assist. We feel spiritual hunger over and again throughout our lives because, as we grow in knowledge, ability, wisdom and our capabilities increase, we’re able to serve bigger purposes. All are significant. All are worthy. All are essential. Some just require more knowledge, more skills, and more insights than others.

Maybe seeds of discontent that intrude aren’t intended to rattle us or to make us discontent. They’re to signal us to the awakening of new beginnings. New seasons. New opportunities to gather what we need to be truly content.

And when we reflect, we see the spiritual-hunger harbinger might be an uncomfortable harbinger cueing us, but it is also a beacon summoning us nearer to fulfillment, if we’re wise enough to heed the call and embrace the journey.

That Apostle’s intent becomes clear, looking at His “be content wherever you are” from that perspective, and the wisdom of His message spans space, time and distance to aid us now. We should be content wherever we are. It’s all a part of our purpose journey…


The Reunited Hearts Series, Vicki Hinze, Her Perfect Life, Mind Reader, Duplicity

© 2015, Vicki Hinze.  Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. Subscribe to Vicki’s Newsletter.



When my great-American, best-selling, internationally-acclaimed novel was rejected, resulting in my becoming physically ill and spiritually deficient, I had to re-think what this writing life was all about. Perhaps God wasn’t going to put a novel in my brain, let it flow from my fingertips, and maybe He didn’t really want to work for me as my agent and earn 10%.

Thinking I might have more to learn, had only a high school education at the time, I began taking one literature, then English, course at a time and discovered there was more to writing than my inspired thoughts. I needed the review of basic grammar. I needed the rules of good writing, the confirmation that I did some things right, and the challenge of becoming like published writers who had experienced rejection and disappointment, but never gave up although it took many years before they were published.

I learned that Writing is a profession and my goal at that beginning and early stage should not be instant publication. My goal should be learning the craft, just as anyone must learn the craft of whatever job or profession he enters. One may have a certain expertise, natural inclination, or tendency but there is still the requirement of learning the craft and practicing what one learns. There should never be a time when one stops learning.

I became delighted with everything I learned and could incorporate into my writing. I started the Blue Ridge Conference, then began to teach classes, critique students materials, and mentor because those who have gone before me had taught me. They encouraged, motivated, challenged, and inspired me. I want to pass it on.

I want other writers to reach their potential, have the joy of the writing journey, and find where God leads them in this profession. That’s why it’s so thrilling to me when students make comments like these:

“My first article was just accepted. I wanted you to know. Thank you for the conference.”

“Thank you for your encouraging critique. I believe that I am learning a good bit and that gives me a great deal of happiness. I realize there’s still a long way to go, but I am enjoying the journey.”

“I cannot thank you enough for your time and feedback. I have moved forward on several projects.”

“A week and a half until Christmas! I am thankful for the instruction and encouragement because it has kept me writing a bit more than I might have otherwise through this busy season. Good to remember that I CAN make time to keep writing through December.”

Ah, I think, it is I who am blessed to have the privilege and opportunity to be used by God and give back a little of what others have given to me through the years.

After directing the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years, I turned it over to Alton Gansky, who is doing a magnificent job with it, as I expected. Now I’m directing the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat held annually, (October 18-22, 2015) at Ridgecrest Conference Center (western NC).

Along with classes on novel writing we’re offering a six-hour course in the all-important Social Media (taught by the experts: Edie Melson and DiAnn Mills).  This is an opportunity to talk with faculty, editors, agent, enter contests, get critiques, hear Robert Whitlow and see his movie, Mountain Top. There’s the opportunity to learn from Eva Marie Everson, Lynette Eason, Eddie Jones, Torry Martin, Lori Marett, Ann Tatlock and Diana Flegal.

And it’s not all novel. There’s script writing, brainstorming, private appointments, critiques, contest awards, prize drawings, book signings. Other than having 56 novels out there, I’m now into non-fiction with my series of Moments books (50+ articles in each). Some of these authors do not claim to be “writers” but have stories they want to tell. Come and learn about that!

To register for the novel retreat got to: http://ridgecrestconferencecenter/event/novelist, or call 800.588.7222. For additional information contact me:


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