Give Yourself a Break NOW! By Hannah Alexander

Once upon a time I thought that when I got older I would be able to slow down all the frantic busy-ness in my life. Little did I realize that the longer I lived, the more responsibilities would pile up on me. And don’t even get me started on deadlines. Even now that my Hannah Alexander persona is writing independently, there are still deadlines to be met to keep readers happy. Combine that with growing a new business (our clinic) and it seems our lives are full to overflowing with work. Sure, it’s work we chose to do, but there’s still stress involved.

I wake up in the morning thinking of all the things I have to do that day and I want to hide under the covers for the rest of the day.

Because of that, some days I’ve begun to force downtime. I’ve turned a blind eye to laundry piling up. Usually before we run out of clothes, I’ll be in the mood to wash. That’s good enough for me. I can even fold socks in front of the TV if I feel like it, but only if I feel like it. Long ago, I made the decision that the home and appliances are there to serve me, I’m not there to serve them.

When I’m in the mood to cook I’ll cook extra and freeze the rest so when I’m desperate for something to pack for our lunches, I can grab something from the freezer and we’ll be set. However, on those cooking days I’ve discovered it’s necessary to go ahead and freeze as much as possible or leftovers will be eaten too soon.

On those occasions when I haven’t prepared anything ahead of time, I’ll grab apples and nut butter for a quick meal. Nuts are nutritious and the healthy fat in them will help you feel satiated.

Feeding us is always a stressor for me, as you can see, so yes, I do grab gluten free comfort food from time to time when I’m rushed and not in the mood to cook, but I make sure that in the next few days, those carb-high comfort foods are counteracted by protein-veggie days so I can keep the ol’ vital leptin working in my system to control my appetite. It’s easy to grab some jerky and a veggie tray. Keep it simple. Fruits, pre-chopped veggies, nuts, jerky, eggs are all dense in nutrition, so those are go-to foods

One unguilty pleasure I indulge in as a writer to trick my brain into thinking I’m still resting is to turn on an essential oil diffuser, bring my computer to bed with me and write, do my edits, even eat breakfast from time to time. I can have a lazy weekend morning and do something I enjoy at the same time.

Our lives are busy, and some people would think that taking work to bed with you would be counter-productive, but for me it just prolongs the sense of relaxation while I do something I most enjoy–even if it is work. Hubby and I have found that wherever we are–whether in our recliners side by side or in bed with our computers side by side–we find a sense of peace hiding from the world together with the doors locked and phones turned off.

We keep our home as a sanctuary and seldom answer the door unless we are specifically expecting someone. Even though we do a lot of work at home, we try not to allow the world to intrude on us on our rare days off.

Someday I’d love to find the time to take a three-hour hike in the woods again. That day hasn’t come yet, but I can still dream.

Everyone is different, and your escape won’t be the same as mine. Whatever it is, though, take the time to escape from the pressures of life before the pressures of life trap you. Ask yourself if you’re doing what you know you’ve been called to do or if you’re doing something out of guilt or someone else’s sense of need. Serve God, serve others as God tells you to, and give yourself a break. Even God rested, according to Genesis.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pray for Your Friends

Been struggling lately?

I know I have. Struggles have a way of sending us to our knees in prayer, don’t they? That is, if we weren’t already there. I read via email or Facebook posts about other friends and struggles beyond imagining. Makes me think about Job, of course. If you’re up on your Bible stories, you know about Job and his suffering, and we all relate to what he went through on some level, especially the part where he complains to his friends about his losses, diseases, and misery.

I’ll be the first to admit that I whine a lot about my problems and struggles. I like to call it venting, or talking things through with friends, and that is somehow therapeutic for me.

Yep. I can certainly relate to Job on that.

But there’s something else much more important in Job, and I like to jump right to the end of the book. Job 42:10 says, After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.

Job stopped complaining and started PRAYING FOR HIS FRIENDS.

I’m not a theologian and this isn’t a Bible study, but just a simple encouragement for you today. For me, it means I need to stop focusing on myself and my problems and put my focus on others with action and prayer.

Be blessed!




Enter the drawing for Black Friday Cash–a $100.00 Amazon Gift Card. Sign up for my Great Escapes newsletter at

Read the Mountain Cove series, -new romantic suspense set in Alaska from Elizabeth Goddard. Buried, Untraceable, Backfire, Submerged.Books


Posted in Elizabeth Goddard, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Bible and the Rebellious GPS by Julie Arduini

I have a Ford Escape with Sync navigation. Recently I had to update the software and with most technology, that comes with some bugs.

One of the issues is that my dashboard electronic map at any moment can decide to go crazy. I needed to double check a street I was taking after a doctor’s appointment and when I looked at the map, it showed me driving through a lake. Like I said, crazy.

Thing is, the GPS kept doing that. I requested directions to take me home from a route I wasn’t too familiar with and the system refused to work. It had me on the other side of town and never caught up to where I really was. It was as if the GPS was resisting the truth and making its own way.

20130421_124746 (2)

This is my Sync navigation during a trip to the Adirondacks. I reached my destination with no problem.


The reality was I was on a two lane highway ten minutes from home. The GPS displayed I was driving through the lake, then a development not even close to home, and then not on a freeway, but through it. Watching it unfold was nothing short of ridiculous.

Then it hit me, isn’t that the state of the world right now? As a Christian, the Bible is my ultimate guide. I trust it, and His word does not fail me. But I’ve watched others make the Bible fit their reality by changing the directions.

Last week on Good Morning America, President Obama announced that ISIS was contained. Hours later my newsfeed was filled with the horrors ISIS masterminded in Paris.

In order to get my GPS to make sense again, I had to hit a button called “Master Reset.” I tried the navigation and I reached my destination with accuracy. There was still stress thanks to traffic, but having truth and reality match up made a world of difference.

I believe we are in a season where everything that can be shaken, will be. You are either all in for Christ, or you are not. For those that hedged on that commitment or once rejected Him but want to change, Jesus IS the master reset. He can take all the things we forced to look right and put us on the right path.

What scares me is it appears more people would like to announce they are reaching the destination yet driving through a lake. It’s truth to them and they seem willing to stick with it. It reminds me of my rebellious GPS until I hit that master reset.

If you’d like to hit that master reset button, please contact any one of us here at Christians Read, and/or click here.

Posted in Julie Arduini | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

What Comes Out of Sickness by Camy Tang

I have just come out of possibly the worst 10 days of my life. I had some pretty bad menstrual cramping for a couple days, but one of the generic acetaminophen tablets I took for the pain ended up giving me horrible food poisoning symptoms (I have a feeling it was some type of impurity or chemical contamination in the tablet). So after dry heaving almost hourly for 24 hours, I was in terrible shape. But maybe because my hormones were out of whack from the sickness or as residual effects of the contaminated pill, I got horrible hormonal migraines. Since my stomach was so sensitive, I couldn’t take any medication for the pain and I ended up spending several days in bed with the blinds closed and my head pounding. I only just started eating normal food a couple days ago.

Since I was literally unable to do anything for those 10 days, there were things I had committed to do which I couldn’t do. I couldn’t do worship music for youth group at church on Saturday, nor could I do worship music at Sunday service. I do virtual admin work for a couple groups and couldn’t even crawl to my computer, much less work at it, with my pounding headache. I also had some home wireless router problems so I was having issues sending emails even from my phone (I had to switch off my wireless and use my cellular provider). There were emails from various people that I couldn’t respond to right away. (And I missed the news about France until just yesterday.)

And yet out of those 10 days I was amazed at the response I got from people. Not just the concern about my health, but people who stepped up to fill in for me when I couldn’t do what I was scheduled to do. There were so many people who were so helpful and so understanding, and it really made me grateful for those people in my life.

Not everything was roses and rainbows. There were a couple people who were annoyed that I couldn’t fulfill my commitments, even though they knew about my sickness. I’m not entirely sure how to respond to that, but I suppose Jesus would want me to just give them extra grace. After all, maybe they’re dealing with some other types of trouble in their lives and it spills over into their responses to unrelated things. Or maybe I need to gently and gradually step away from the relationship, since I really don’t need toxic or negative people in my life. Either way, right now I’m so physically exhausted that I don’t have the energy to be upset or hurt by their annoyance at me, which I guess is a blessing in itself.

I would never wish this kind of suffering for anyone, but I realize that times like these in our lives really do bring out the best or worst in the people around me. It makes me realize who I can trust and count on, and it opens my eyes to the love and grace of my friends, church members, and business associates.

I hope that in this season of thanksgiving, that we can all feel even more grateful for the people God has put in our lives.

Posted in Camy Tang | Tagged | 4 Comments

Christians Read Winter Catalogue is Out!

Christians Read, Winter Catalogue

Click to View

Posted in Vicki Hinze | Tagged | Leave a comment

Boundaries in Caring by Hannah Alexander

God has gifted each of His people with one or more spiritual gifts in our lives. It’s a true joy to exercise those gifts, but sometimes it helps to understand a little more about those gifts first. If one of your callings is the gift of giving, whether that would be caring for others physically, or giving financially, let me share a few lessons I’ve learned while exercising my own gift of giving. Maybe you can add to my experience.

  1. Give with an open heart. If you are sure God has nudged you to give to a particular person, do so with a heart of generosity, no matter how you feel about that person.
  2. Before giving, make sure that call to give was from God, and not a simple feeling of guilt because you have something that someone else does not–or because someone has tried to “guilt” you into giving. Humans haven’t blessed you with this gift of giving–that is from God, so follow God’s wisdom, not human wisdom.
  3. Find out more about the person or group to whom you wish to give. We once loaned a car to someone attending our church who was riding his bicycle to work in the cold. We felt sorry for him, and since we had an extra car we handed him the keys without doing any kind of background check. Had we realized he had lost his driver’s license due to negligence, we would have known better. It was much more difficult to ask for those keys to be returned than it was to hand them over in the first place.
  4. When possible, give in secret. I love anonymous giving because it focuses the spirit of giving on God, not me. That keeps my head from swelling when it shouldn’t, and it gives the receiver notice that God knew about their need and cared enough to bless them. I was simply the secret vessel used for the giving.
  5. It can’t be said enough: don’t allow pride to ruin the gift. The Bible has a lot to say about personal pride, and none of it good. When God has blessed you with a spiritual gift, never forget where that gift came from. It isn’t your goodness, it’s God’s.
  6. Beware when word gets out about your gift of giving. To our dismay, we’ve found that there is a lot of greed in the world, and often it comes from places and people we wouldn’t expect. Those who already love to give can easily be manipulated into giving more than they are called to when word spreads about your generosity. We’ve had many requests we’ve felt led to turn down because we felt those requests were made because someone thought we simply wanted to give money away. That’s why I specifically focus on giving anonymously when possible. Then word doesn’t spread that I’m a generous person (which I’m not) and my head is less likely to swell, and those people with nefarious minds won’t mentally draw a target on me and plan to set me up for a scam. We have enough of those in the world, and we don’t want to tempt others to do the same.
  7. Again, practice wisdom as you practice giving. Read Proverbs. In fact, bury yourself in the Bible and don’t let go, because that is where you will find the wisdom you need for exercising your gift. Walk with God at all times. Test and retest your inclination to give to ensure your finances, time and belongings go to the right place.
  8. Don’t expect a thank-you. This is another reason I like anonymous giving, because then I won’t be as likely to receive praise for something God asked me to do. I know someone who loves to do generous acts of love in secret. She once shoveled snow from an elderly neighbor’s yard. She didn’t think she’d been discovered, but when she was, not only did she not receive thanks, she was accused of shoveling that snow so they would feel inclined to pay her. Ouch. What began as a thoughtful act of love became a painful situation.
  9. There is a difference between loaning someone money and giving it to them. You might be called to do one or the other. Learn to discern between the two, and remember the Bible teaches us not to charge high interest rates on a personal loan.
  10. The gift of giving is a great gift to have. It is not something to be taken lightly, but an honor God has bestowed on certain people. If you’ve been given this gift, enjoy, but utilize it with wisdom and a generous heart.
Posted in Hannah Alexander | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Forgiveness by Vicki Hinze

Vicki Hinze, Forgiveness


We’re wronged. Betrayed. Lied to or about. Cheated on. Abused—you name it. And the first thing others tell us to do is forgive them.


That’s of course the last thing we want to do. We more naturally think of revenge, of hurting someone who’s hurt us. We think of getting back, getting even—in some way punishing the person who has caused us pain. We don’t do it, can’t bring ourselves to inflict pain on another—we know too well how it feels and the thought of making someone else, even a slimy slug who hurt us, go through that at our hands…? No. We’re better than that. We’re above it.


Yet we have all this pain and we’re suffering. We need to do something to stop seeing red and emotionally bleeding. But what?


Well, we work through the clutter, assigning blame and motives and seeking understanding. We want to know why this person thought it was okay to hurt us. Why s/he chose to hurt us. We want to know what is wrong with the hurter that s/he is so messed up s/he thinks hurting anyone like this is okay. (Yes, we’re judging. Hurt people do that. They lash out.) And slowly we see a shift in ourselves from being hurt to angry.


Angry people assign motives and blame. They might or might not be the right motives or reasons for blame—and blame itself can be misplaced—but when angry, we assign it. We stretch, looking for reasons for this painful behavior to make sense. Bend scenarios where someone we respect and admire or love wasn’t a jerk, didn’t intentionally harm us—we had to have gotten it wrong. But we’re looking for someone—anyone but us—to blame.


Sometimes we think we’ve figured it all out—but even when we do, then often we later discover that we were wrong. The reasons were different. Maybe insane, but different. The bottom line is we look for a way to mitigate the hurter’s behavior in hurting us so that we don’t feel responsible for it—like the reason was our fault. We deserved it.


We don’t deserve it, of course. One who deliberately hurts another is wrong, but often our pasts come out to play with our heads and hearts. Past mistakes, old tapes that play in our heads that tell us we deserve no better. All kinds of nonsense seated in insecurities attack.


The thing is, people are messy. They do things for logical reasons but also just because. They don’t always act logically or reasonably or justly. Sometimes they have no clue why they do the things they do, and later they are stunned that they have done them. Sometimes they’re sorry, sometimes they’re not. Sometimes they feel perfectly justified in causing others pain, and on the rare occasion, the unbalanced actually feel they’re helping the person they hurt. (i.e. You made me beat you half to death to save you from yourself. You have to learn.)


Victims need to understand these things. Twisted? Yes. But it happens. Victims need to understand that they don’t deserve to be hurt. They also need to understand that the person hurting them might not have a clue why s/he did whatever s/he did to inflict injury. There isn’t always a rhyme or reason that is logical. Perhaps it’s logical to the hurter, but that logic, for whatever reason, isn’t rational and logical to others.


The victim can’t fix the person who inflicted the injury. Repairs must come from the other person, the hurter. S/he who recognizes s/he has an issue must desire help, seek it, and act on it to change. That’s possible in many cases, and in some, unfortunately, it is not. But professionals are equipped to deal with both. So focus on the victim. What can be done to ease the hurt?


You’re not going to like this…


Forgive them.


What? Why?


Forgive them. To forgive doesn’t mean to allow someone to stomp you again. It doesn’t mean to put yourself in the position of more pain, injury, harm or hurt. It means to recognize that we’re all human, we all make mistakes, and sometimes we do stupid things without malice that hurt others. Sometimes people do things with malice and, while you hold them accountable and hold them responsible for their actions, you still forgive them.




Because for as long as you do not, you are a festering wound. You can’t heal. You’re carrying around the pain, hurt, anger, disbelief, distrust—all the negative emotions that you experience as a result of the injury inflicted—and it’s heavy.


You can’t move on to more constructive, more positive things until you get this negative baggage off your back. When you forgive, it’s gone.


Forgiveness doesn’t mean you forget or ignore or act like the injury never happened. That’s totally unrealistic. Forgiveness means you don’t let the injury define you or your life.


For example. Child abuse might steal your youth and your past. But it doesn’t steal your present and future unless you choose to let the abuse define you and steal your present and the future. You decide.


Bring the injury into the open, deal with it, cope with it constructively, and then move on. That’s the power in forgiveness. It’s not just for the other person that you do it. It’s for you.


Now, theologically, you might say that forgiveness is essential—and it is. We all need forgiveness so it’s just that we be forgiving. But theology or faith doesn’t require you to put yourself in harm’s way again. Actually, those who do harm are called on it, given an opportunity to repent (ask for forgiveness deeming not to injure again—this is restitution, if you will—and then the weight of the issue is removed.


We do need to forgive others. They need an opportunity to admit the wrong and attempt to right it. It’s the means through which we grow and develop as human beings. But when we forgive, though at times it is extremely difficult to do, the one who gains most is us. We gain the wisdom of the lessons in the injury, and we choose not to injure others; we know how it feels and impacts us. And we put the injury to rest, freeing ourselves to move on unencumbered by the baggage of carrying around anger, upset, hatred, and other negative feelings we relate to the injury.


Forgiveness liberates us. Frees us. Forgiveness let’s us put the past to rest and be open to a wiser, brighter and more content future.





Posted in Vicki Hinze | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

TWO (or more) WRONGS DON’T MAKE A RIGHT! by Yvonne Lehman




I’d like to share a few things that occurred at the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat that ended October 22.

Opening night was Sunday and everyone heard and knew what to expect from the schedule.

Um… well… don’t we all know what can happen with schedules!

On Monday evening we were to watch Robert Whitlow’s movie, Mountain Top. But… a tree fell on a line and Ridgecrest began operating on generator.

WAIT, HOPE & PRAY… or revise?

A conversation between Robert (novelist, script writer), Torry Martin (writer, scripts, acting), and Lori Marett (writer, movie Meant to Be) about script writing was to follow watching the movie. We simply switched the conversation and Q&A first while lines were being repaired.

Ah… perfect! LIGHTS! ACTION!

UM… well… something went wrong with the sound system and a Conference Center person with the knowledge of what to do wasn’t available. But a student, Deborah, was. She had handled such equipment at her church. She was a lifesaver. Except… the movie needed Blueray and I, the director, had not asked about the exact equipment needed, and I had already informed Ridgecrest of our needs so they didn’t anticipate these occurrences.

Without an AV specialist, Deborah came to the rescue of handling the sound equipment, being able to work it so we could watch Robert’s movie, Jimmy (not Blueray but DVD) instead of Mountain Top.

A few of my helpers were concerned because of being helpless, and things not going like clockwork, and our having to use a student to operate the system. Well, I’ve directed conferences for over 30 years and am well aware that some clockwork stops because of a lack of electricity. We must improvise, make changes or even do without. Robert exhibited his calm, generous nature like one aware of the same thing.

Sure, I wanted thing to be what we humans call perfect. One of Robert’s movies was shown. A change of movie was no disaster. I don’t think God necessarily made that tree fall on a line, but… we do know some good comes from the worst of things, but this wasn’t a “worst” kind of thing. Just…life…eh?

Maybe. But the movie was wonderful. Thoroughly enjoyed. Most likely (knowing God) there was one (or more) person who needed that exact movie. We ate our popcorn, cried or felt like it during the movie, and had a wonderful evening. I don’t think Robert minded at all, although he was doing us the favor of letting us watch Mountain Top before its official release. Not one person was disappointed with Jimmy. I know… because they told me.

I learned from the situation. Next year I will know what questions to ask about technology (I’m impaired on that level…but learning), from AV needs of faculty and Ridgecrest.

After the conference ended, I received an email from Deborah. She appreciated the opportunity to help with AV equipment, saying it made her interact and converse with others which otherwise would have been difficult to do since this was her first conference. Attending a conference for the first time causes many students to feel inhibited, not sure what to expect, and even in the stages of discovering if they are, or can become writers.

Deborah’s helping increased her confidence and forced her to interact and that was a wonderful experience for her and a blessing for the rest of us.

Not only did that increase her relating confidence but she then sent me an article for one of my Moments book series. Submitting is also inhibiting for a beginning writer, still uncertain if the writing is in the correct form or has enough substance. That uncertainty and insecurity often prevents writers from submitting their work. They are afraid of being rejected.

However… the answer is already “No” if you don’t submit your work. Submitting is also a part of the writing profession, as well as “rejection.” I don’t like to call it rejection. A “return” may mean many things. It may mean the company, magazine, etc. may have all the submissions in that particular genre already. It may mean it really doesn’t fit their needs. It may mean the writing needs to be better crafted, or it may mean the subject needs further development. But … submitting (and analyzing why the work was returned – or having the piece accepted) is part of this writing business.

My Titanic book was “not accepted” by several publishing companies. Some already had a Titanic book in the process. Another simply couldn’t use it. Another held it for some length of time with committee considering it. Then it was too late to be published by anyone, if anyone was left since they would need at least a year before release.

The rejections were not because the writing wasn’t good enough (although some could have thought that). Miracles happen, as it did with that book when Abingdon accepted it.

The point is… don’t give up when it seems impossible. Scripture says, “Study to show yourself approves, not ashamed.” Perhaps this is your time to be studying, so when the opportunities come you are ready to accomplish.

Most of our writing is by daily working, learning, growing. When the times come that could cause discouragement (the lights go out! The work is too late), maybe it happened for good… even someone else’s good.

The lights out at Ridgecrest worked for Deborah’s good. My “rejections” worked for my good in discovering I can produce quality quickly if required because I have years of study, learning, growing, and writing after “returns.”

As we travel through this life, we learn that all things do work for good. It doesn’t always seem that it works for “our” good in dire circumstances. But it works for someone’s good. Their need at a particular time may be more needed than for our circumstances to turn out the way we want them too.

I could give examples of things gone wrong throughout my life. At the same time I can give examples of God proving his love for me, that he knows me, he cares, and when I realize the greatness of God (which I can’t really fathom) I feel like hiding, covering myself so he can’t see me (as if he couldn’t) and then he shows up in so-called small ways that make me laugh. He knows how to bring good from every situation. Generally, I just see “my” situation. He may value me enough to let things go wrong in my life… for the good of another person.

Posted in Yvonne Lehman | Tagged | Leave a comment

The World is a Canvas

10441040_10207907903801492_1157470789658424942_nStop and smell the roses.

You’ve heard that before, haven’t you?

We moved to Minnesota from Texas  last winter. I’ve always heard how intense the autumn leaves can be in the north. I haven’t had to be deliberate about “stopping to smell the roses,” or taking time to enjoy the beauty around me.

With bright, intense, amazing colors filling my vision everywhere I look, it’s more like the world is a canvas awash in color. The colors are as vibrant in the fall as they are in the 11218857_10207907903521485_3291168080911024215_nspring.  Here, there is as much beauty in dying leaves as there is in spring flowers.

God has outdone Himself with the colors. His creativity astounds me.

And we, His children, should be creative too!

11666273_10207907904401507_35085309522144313_nI love that He’s given me the ability to write novels and proclaim His glory. Last night, I took a knitting class and I keep envisioning all the beautiful, colorful creations I can make.

What about you? Do you have a skill or a craft you enjoy? What do you love to create?

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.35.54 AMEnter the drawing for $100 Amazing Gift Card for Black Friday cash! Visit my contest page on my website: 



Submerged CoverElizabeth Goddard has sold over a half million books and is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than twenty-five romance novels and counting. A 7th generation Texan, Elizabeth graduated with a B.S. degree in computer science and worked in high-level software sales for several years before retiring to home school her children and fulfill her dream of becoming an author.

Get your copy of Submerged today!

Posted in Elizabeth Goddard | 2 Comments

The Pleasure of Observing by Julie Arduini

Last week in a whirlwind blur, I took our two children and our son’s girlfriend to Upstate NY. It was the only time before snow flies that we could visit family, check in on my father-in-law, and help my sister with an out of town appointment. Did I mention it was whirlwind?

Wait, I’m not done.

Our teen son asked if it would be possible to travel to the Adirondacks, the home of my romance books and place where my heart feels at the most peace. They didn’t remember being there and wondered what it was like. His girlfriend, a hard working teen who hasn’t seen a lot of scenery outside of Youngstown, had never been in the mountains. I only had a day to work with, but I went for it thinking we could also take senior pictures.

I’m so glad we did it. Oh, it was 600 miles in 12 hours and my body’s still trying to recover. But to watch the kids experience a different culture from what they see in and around Youngstown?


Here’s what I observed.

  1. This is my parent's restored barn. The rocks are from the original foundation, and the wheel is from Pennsylvania Amish country.

    This is my parent’s restored barn. The rocks are from the original foundation, and the wheel is from Pennsylvania Amish country.

    The girlfriend kept saying, “This place is like an old time movie I’d watch on the Hallmark channel.” She’s right. I took them to Speculator, the inspiration for my series, Entrusted (available now,) Entangled (coming soon,) and Engaged (in progress.) Hamilton County has no traffic lights. Speculator has one stop sign at the four corners. Where our son’s girlfriend lives, I have to deal with a traffic light every few feet. No lie.

2. It’s also a huge change in attitudes and behaviors. We had complete strangers waving to us as we drove by, let us ahead for things when it wasn’t our turn. These are things I know are core to small town living. But to watch the kids see this, they were shocked. I wish they saw this in Youngstown, but it’s rare. We wouldn’t dare park and walk around in our area without locking our cars. The kids got to see locking up is optional. That might seem crazy to you, but here’s the reality. Everyone knows everyone in the small village, and they are safe. I pray that never changes.

These teens looked like naturals in the mountains.

These teens looked like naturals in the mountains.

3. The pictures make these city kids look natural. Almost. Our son remembers his first five years in Upstate NY, although he doesn’t remember visiting the Adirondacks. He is a country boy living in a suburb. Taking pictures of him at the Sacandaga River Walkway was so fun to see. He looked like a natural. His girlfriend? The same. Our daughter? Well, she lets everyone know she is a city girl. Although she thanked me for the trip and said the area was beautiful, she made it clear she’d never live in a place so isolated. Her picture in “downtown Speculator” shows that she wasn’t ready for the mountain air. Or wind.

Our daughter made it clear she's still a city girl.

Our daughter made it clear she’s still a city girl.

Have you ever had the opportunity to watch something unfold in someone else? What was it like? I’d love to hear about it.

Posted in Julie Arduini | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Autumn Decorating by Tara Randel


I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love decorating for fall. Maybe it’s because I grew up in New England and always loved this time of year. Brightly colored foliage, pumpkins on the doorstep, a hint of burning leaves in the air. I have many fond memories of jumping into piles of leaves after a day spent raking or staying out all afternoon and coming home to a hearty meal as the sun set way too early in the afternoon once the time changed.


My love for autumn has never gone away, even though I live in the south now. I’ve made new memories by decorating my home with all the colors and objects I hold dear. Every year I add new ideas, but one thing remains, loving this time of year.


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?

Tara Randel is the author of ten novels. She is currently working on new stories for Harlequin Heartwarming, as well as a new mystery series to be announced next year. Her Heartwarming book, Honeysuckle Bride, recently received the ACRW 2015 Readers Choice Heart of Excellence Award in Long & Short Contemporary. Visit Tara at Like her on Facebook at Tara Randel Books

Posted in Tara Randel | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

A Taste for a Classic

I recently finished reading a book by Daphne Du Maurier, who was one of my favorite authors while I was growing up. In my adolescent years I went through a definite “dark” phase where anything classically gothic appealed to me—with dark, brooding heroes and the innocent yet courageous heroines. I often go back to such classics just to remind myself of how words can fascinate me, how they can be gathered together to paint a picture so vivid in my mind it seems more real, at various moments, than the one I’m actually living in.

Creating such a world is the goal of every writer, from the old time classics to the current day fast-reads. But as I turned the pages of this old genre, I couldn’t help noticing how things have changed in the many decades since Ms. Du Maurier was writing. Mood-setting was slower then, none of this instant-action that, for me at least, was popularized by the first Indiana Jones movie. While I loved those movies, I admit I still enjoy a slower pace now and then. Maybe I’m just getting old!

There are more books than ever to choose from these days, a fact that can discourage writers (how will my book ever get noticed?) but thrills most readers—even if we do have to spend more time looking. There is certainly a book for every taste and mood, the fast-paced contemporaries to the books written in the days when our leisure activities consisted of far fewer choices.

So my thought for the day: give a classic a chance! Let the world around you slow down just a little, and imagine yourself in a time where there weren’t all the pressing instant-gratifications of technology. It may not be a place anyone today wants to live in for long, but when time slows down it can be very refreshing. Try it, you might like it!

Posted in Maureen Lang | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Preparing for a Doctor’s Appointment by Hannah Alexander

I know it’s difficult to keep up with all the new rules and regulations with insurance, medical sharing groups, and physician visits. If you think it’s hard for you, just think how wild it can get at the doctor’s office with all the confusion going on and changes being made.

Here are some things to help you prepare for a trip to the doctor:

  1. Medications. List everything you take, including over-the-counter and herbal supplements, and keep that list current. When it’s time for your appointment, bring your list and gather all those pills with you if this is a first-time visit. Many doctor’s offices will ask you to bring your pills every time, particularly if you take controlled substances such as narcotics, as you might be randomly tested to ensure you’re taking them correctly. These are federal regulations, so don’t feel as if you’re being isolated out.
  2. Fasting. If you’re preparing for certain blood tests, the medical staff will instruct you to have nothing to eat after midnight (or some other time. Just do what they say). That doesn’t mean not to drink. You need to drink at least 32 ounces (yes, four eight-ounce glasses) of water before having your blood drawn. It will make the blood draw much easier for you and for the phlebotomist, and will save a lot of time.
  3. If you are running a fever, wear a mask. You don’t want to risk spreading a viral illness. Many clinics will provide a mask for you. Use it, and use the alcohol provided to clean your hands. Remember that sick people go to the doctor’s office every day, and not everyone is concerned about others who might follow them. Exam rooms are cleaned and sprayed down after every patient, but waiting rooms are busy places and a busy staff cannot spray or clean after every person has been through. Protect yourself and others from spread of disease.
  4. Have your insurance card and copay ready, as well as a driver’s license or other photo ID if this is a first-time visit. If you’re paying cash, you may receive a cash discount, so be sure to tell the receptionist ahead of time and find out what a cash price will be. Remember that additional tests, etc., will likely be over and above the quoted price, but most clinics will work with you
  5. Be prepared for paperwork. The more complicated the rules become, the more paperwork you’ll be expected to fill out. Some clinics will send you paperwork ahead of time, but most will ask you to arrive early to give you time to complete the forms before your appointment. Another option is to pick up a packet from the clinic before your appointment so you can fill out the forms at your leisure.
  6. Be thorough. Most clinics have a set amount of time during which they may see each patient. The more you write in the paperwork provided to you, the more your doctor will know about how to help you.
  7. Remember that sometimes, with multiple medical problems, a physician might not be able to get to everything in one visit. Be prepared for another visit.
  8. Remember that physician and staff are constrained by multiple regulations that they must meet, not only with federal rules, but by differing insurance regulations, depending on the insurance company. They do not automatically receive test results or documentation from other physicians or hospitals, so it is up to you to bring those test results, x-rays, etc., with you to ensure the physician will receive the most comprehensive information to make a wise decision about your medical care.

I hope this helps guide you through your next trip to the doctor.


Posted in Hannah Alexander | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Comfort Zone by Camy Tang

So, yesterday I joined my church’s missions committee. It was something totally out of the blue. I was sitting in service listening to a missionary talk about the work he and his family have done in Japan for the last several years, and I suddenly felt God nudging me to join the missions committee.

It was weird because 1) I honestly already have too much to do, since I’m on the Sunday worship team and working with the youth group every Saturday night, and 2) I hadn’t had any interest in the missions committee before yesterday. It wasn’t even a blip on my radar. But it was pretty clear to me while I was sitting in the pew that God wanted me to join the missions committee. Even my husband was shocked when I told him about it, but since it was God talking to me, well, He must have a reason for it.

What’s most interesting to me is how much God has changed what I care about in the past few months. Several months ago, I clearly heard God telling me that He wanted me to write my latest book specifically for the non-Christians in Japan. Since then, I’ve started being more interested in my ethnic culture, whereas I hadn’t had much interest in it at all for most of my life. I’ve also been more interested in missionaries to Japan, of which our church has several. So I guess being interested in the missions committee is a natural extension of that new interest.

I think this new interest in these things is from God because of what He wants me to do with my fiction writing. He steered me in a new direction and now He’s opening my curiosity to things with a passion and fervor I hadn’t had before. I’m really enjoying what I’m learning and stepping outside my comfort zone.

I think I’ve always been afraid of stepping outside my comfort zone because I always assumed it would be very uncomfortable. The idea of doing new things is uncomfortable, but actually doing those things is nowhere near as hard as I thought it would be. And I’ve found myself changing so that doing these new things isn’t as difficult as they would have been only a year ago.

All that to say, I want to encourage you to think about things that are outside your comfort zone. It might be scary to consider, but God does watch over us. I’ve been surprisingly pleased and excited about what’s happening in my life and the new directions I’m going. I can’t guarantee that would be the same for you, but God does want us to serve Him with a joyful heart. And right now, unexpectedly, my heart is overflowing with excitement.

Posted in Camy Tang | 4 Comments

When Life Isn’t Fair by Julie Arduini

Growing up, my sister and I spent time with favorite cousins. It was a respite of sorts from a chaotic season and the cousins offered zany moments and memories that are still fresh for me.

My cousin, the father of the family, also gave me wisdom. If I remember the story correctly, he was in the military and served during JFK’s funeral. I don’t know if he was hot or stressed or both but someone in the family told me that he passed out and it made the newspapers.

And my cousin would say, “No one promised life would be fair.”

It applied to that moment when he was being professional and his body decided not to cooperate during a national moment.

It was the answer I was given when I wanted explanation to teenaged angst or situations.

And it popped into my head last week when my son faced an experience with an adult when he did all the right things and not only was blasted, but told don’t bother coming by anymore.

All week we both struggled with the fairness of it all. Stewed over the fact that he communicated the proper way, with plenty of notice. He used respect. We think the adult forgot and tried to cover tracks, and we suspect it was a bit of retaliation for someone close to our son who didn’t communicate with the adult in the best way a few weeks before. Whatever the motive, he saw in black and white that words that don’t build up. At the end of the conversation, and for days after, he felt torn down.

And I felt ripped apart for him.

I went to God and asked for strategy. What perfect thing was I going to say or write to make this situation right for him?

How were “we” going to get justice?

And the answer was swift and consistent.

Because I kept going back to make sure.

I wasn’t supposed to do anything as far as justice went. Sure, I could bring up other instances of their past and not only make a point, but win a case. I could parallel how my son communicated versus how his peers didn’t, and he was the one that got the fury. I could write a report, make an issue, say something, anything to turn it around, and God made it clear it wasn’t His plan.

And my cousin’s words echoed.

Life isn’t fair.

So, what to do?

Here’s what I counseled my son and I apply to the situation. Honestly, some steps were easier than others.

  1. Wish for the other party to prosper. The adult, once I questioned the situation and asked for clarity, verbally blasted me. It wasn’t nice and it sure wasn’t fair, but she definitely made the end result clear. My response?
I wish you well.
We have decided as a family when it is time for a person to move on, us, or someone else, we want everyone to prosper even if it didn’t go the way we thought. It’s not easy or fun sometimes but I have to admit, God looks at the heart. We truly want everyone to move forward with blessings and God takes care of us when we line up with His will.
I may never see how that adult fares in life, but we wished her well.
2. We were intentional in how we closed the door to that experience. I heard a pastor say once, “The way you close one door is the way you open the next.” That’s so simple it’s deep. If you leave a place mad, unless you deal with it, the next place you go to—you’re going to be mad. I had a tough customer service experience recently that left me reeling. I was furious. I had to really pray while driving to the next place because I didn’t want to enter that place mad.
This is how we prayed. What happened was unfair and left our son wondering what’s next for him. He’s unsure because he did all the right things and it did not work for him. But he prayed that God would guide him and help him overcome. He asked that his feelings stay with that closed door so he could start fresh and right with Him for the next opportunity. And I’m seeing that. He’s diving into things with the same hard work ethic he had and not letting the words that were spat at him define him.
 3. Keep moving forward. Like Lot’s wife, it’s tempting to look back. I shared on my personal blog that the same son as a pre schooler spent two years through playing with toys rehearsing his response to kids that teased him at a play yard. They called him “coconut head” and I would find him time and time again giving his answers back to those kids through toy soldier and Lego play. I’m just as guilty. I think I’m doing great responding to an unfair situation and suddenly, my mind is jogging through scenarios where I get the last word. Don’t go there. Keep that door from #2 closed. Keep moving forward. Don’t let the enemy get a foothold.
Is life fair? It isn’t.
But hopefully when these things hit, we can not only survive the experience, but thrive.
Do you have anything you do when something unfair happens to you?
Posted in Julie Arduini | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments