SPOKEN MOMENTS

The third book in the Moments series has been released. Twenty-four of the forty-two authors who contributed their stories were presented with their one-free-book at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference last Monday evening, May 18.

Many of the authors have their first publication in these Moments books. Others are multi-published. The content is stories about the power of words—negative, positive, and God’s words.

The first spoken words we have recorded are God’s words, when…in the beginning he said, “Let there be light.” And there was light. Then he sent Jesus to be the light of this world in a different way. When Jesus returned to his heavenly home he left us with the instruction to be, “the light of the world.”

As authors of these Moments books, we hope to entertain, inspire, encourage, and relate as we share our joys and failures and the presence of God in our lives. The authors joyfully relate their experiences, get no monetary compensation, and donate all royalties to Samaritan’s Purse, an organization that provides spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.

Spoken Moments Front Cover (1)

 Other books in the series are Divine Moments and Christmas Moments. Now, Spoken Moments has fifty-two articles about the power of words. They can hurt, they can heal, but most important these stories lead to Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word, who saves.

Some of the stories are wonderfully entertaining. Others impress upon us the importance and impact of words, whether we speak them, write them, or show them in action.

Other Moments books to be released this year are Precious Momentsby, with, about Children and Christmas Moments Book #2.

I am now acquiring articles for Stupid Moments. Not that I think any of you readers are, um…stupid, but many of us have times when we were in embarrassing or humiliating situations that we like to share that make others laugh and help us laugh at ourselves. Then there are times when we feel ridiculous. Other times our foolish moments might have that faith element, such as having resisted accepting Jesus or allowing him to be Lord of our lives. We may have yielded to temptation, or held onto unforgiveness which hurt us more than it hurt the one we should forgive.

If you would like to contribute to Stupid Moments, send your “moment” which may be as simple as saying you can’t find your car keys and you’re holding them in your hand. Or these may be articles of 500 to 3000 words. Content is more important than word count. If you dare share…send your moment or article attached to an email, Times New Roman, 12 point type, to yvonnelehman3@gmail.com. Many of us like to hear about others’ “stupid” moments, whether funny or serious. Christmas stories are also welcomed for a future book.

Please let others know about these books. They have life-changing qualities.

Oldies But Goodies

We love movies at my house and why not, I’m a storyteller and my children have the bug too. Have you ventured into the movie theaters lately or watched at home some of the recent “Bible” movies such as Noah or Exodus? I was excited to see more Biblical movies made and hoped for inspiration such as I saw in The Prince of Egypt animated film, which was filled with an inspiring script and music to stir my spirit.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for these recent Hollywood films. I was okay with Noah (even the angels turned into rock people) until that last act and I could hardly stomach watching Noah trying to kill his grandchildren in what he thought was obedience to God.

But then we rented Exodus with Christian Bale. Rare is the movie that I can’t watch to it’s conclusion, but the director took artistic license to an entirely new level with his re-imagining of Moses and the Exodus story. I would have been okay with watching it if there had been any sense of anointing. Something that I could see God in–but this movie not only lacked inspiration, it was downright debasing, in my opinion. You might have seen it and loved it. I could no longer stomach it and went to my room to watch something else. Eventually my husband followed. He didn’t finish it either.

And what did the kiddoes have to say about it? “Mom, can we watch The Prince of Egypt to get the Exodus movie out of our heads?” Now that is saying something.

So not only did we watch The Prince of Egypt, and cried with the music (me, mostly) but we ordered the TWO DVD’s of The Ten Commandments (Charleston Heston) on Netflix. I used to own the anniversary special edition, or whatever it’s called, on VHS, but alas, I no longer have the VHS player or tapes. The kids did not watch The Ten Commandments years ago when I put it on. They were too young to remember anyway. I’m thinking we should start watching it again once a year on Easter, like I did growing up when it was on TV–back before we could watch anything, anywhere, anytime.

It took us two evenings to watch the movie, and even though it was made in the 1950’s and has obvious inaccuracies to the true story, it still inspires. We chuckled over the Hebrews’ use of King James English, but all agreed that the scene of the Red Sea parting is by far the most moving, and the best in terms of drama and inspiration, compared to other movies tackling the same event. I also enjoyed the beginning where filmmaker Cecil B DeMille stepped from behind the curtains to introduce the movie, explaining the texts they used to research in creating Moses’s missing years.

And in his voice, I heard an awe and reverence for God. I heard “the fear of the Lord.”

It saddens me that we seem to have lost that and hence, we must return to the oldies, but goodies, to find it in movies made by God-fearing directors.

How about you? What oldies but goodies have you watched lately? What Biblical movies have you enjoyed?

Blessings!

Elizabeth Goddard

The Inspiration of “I Run 4″ by Julie Arduini

May2015runshirt

In a few minutes I leave for the annual IEP meeting to determine what helps our daughter will receive in the coming year. We recently moved so it is with a new district (we attend a Christian school so my rep is the same, but the services are provided by the district.)

These meetings are never easy because it’s easy to believe what we read on paper. Through the years what was in black and white gave little to no hope. Now we’re preparing for middle school years. She is in a regular classroom fighting to keep up. Her overcoming spirit inspires me.

This group has been such an encouragement in a short time. Our daughter’s issues for the most part are invisible (hypothyroidism, Albright’s, Hashimoto’s) and somehow I feel I have to fight extra hard for her, especially against the world who feels she should look a certain way or don’t understand how tired she gets. I am very aware there are millions of parents fighting harder than me. I also know what a lonely journey it can be.

A couple months ago my friend directed me to an organization called “I Run 4.” Runners of all skill levels are matched with a special needs child or adult and each time they work out, they dedicate that run to their “buddy.” They run for those who can’t. A special need is anything from having an IEP like we do to Down’s, autism, CP, etc…

Our daughter was matched with her runner quickly. Our runner is from the same area where my step son lives. She writes and has a great idea for a book. She is a Christian. It is the perfect match. She runs 6 times a week and tags me/our daughter on social media. Her posts are inspirational. I’ve watched our daughter reach out of her comfort zone because she knew someone was rooting for her and going the literal extra mile. I Run 4 has been amazing.

Our daughter even received a care package from her runner. She gave her the shirt from her last race, and it is a well known race in Madison. I gave our tween permission to take a selfie and put it on Instagram to show her runner. My step son saw the shirt and wondered how on Earth did his youngest sister get a race shirt from his city? And it was fun to share how this all came about. The care package came with other goodies and an encouraging note that our youngest is carrying with her.

I write all this because there are many runners who can’t wait to be matched and there aren’t enough buddies. The process is easy and I found it professional/legit. I have no regrets, except I wish I’d heard about this sooner. The need is so great that runners are waiting 7 months for their buddy. I waited two days to be matched. The need is that great.

If you know someone with a special needs diagnosis, I highly recommend they check “I Run 4″ out. It changes everyone involved for the better.

We are living proof.
To learn more,

The Ups and Downs Of My Recent Remodel

If you’ve ever done any remodeling in your home, you probably have stories about your process. Surprises along the way, unexpected expenses, but hopefully satisfying results. Or perhaps you like to watch any number of fixer-upper shows on HGTV (those are positively addictive to me!).

In our house, remodeling usually takes a bit longer than either my husband or I expect. When we remodeled our master bath, the unhooked toilet sat near the foot of our bed for weeks. It’s a good thing we’re not sleepwalkers or easily confused about things in the middle of the night!

Since then, we’ve decided not to be too rigid about timing. Before Easter, we needed to take advantage of my husband’s spring break from teaching but also knew we were hosting the family meal. So we warned everyone the house wouldn’t be completely settled and forged ahead. At least our kitchen no longer looked like this:

Kitchen_Before

 

It looked a little more like this:Kitchen_2

Just before the kitchen remodel, we’d also decided to add another reading and work space to our home. Since I’d claimed the study as my writing space eons ago, my husband has often taken over our dining room to grade papers or do other desk work. So we decided to turn some unused space in our front hall from wasted to useful. From this:

Before_Loft

To this, connecting the top stair landing to the open shelf across the way:Loft_After

 

 

 

 

 

As you might have noticed, we installed wood flooring, but not just in the kitchen. In the process of taking up old tile just below this loft area, my husband ended up hurting his knee. That was right before Easter, and unfortunately he’s still not really up to par. A burst bursa led to an infection which led to surgery which led to an ongoing recovery from an incision left open to help it to heal from the inside out. Fortunately for all of us, we hadn’t started the other project we’d planned on the tile-removal day by unhooking the powder room plumbing to make way for the new flooring. With a house full of guests coming, knowing things take longer than we expect, we decided to put off that particular remodel until after the holiday. Thank goodness, since it has yet to be started, except for the tile having been taken away!

It’s hard to complain, though, since other than the powder room the rest of the tasks to be done are details we’ve been easily functioning around. The good news is my husband’s knee is mending, and he’s looking forward to finishing up.

We obviously learned our lesson from that first bathroom remodel: unhooked plumbing can remain unhooked for longer than you expect, so consider the possibility of unexpected delays!

How can I pray for you? by Camy Tang

marblecross_bderksen_pickmonkeyblue

My Bible study group has been going through The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg and in chapter six, I was really convicted about the spiritual discipline of prayer.

I was taught to pray in a certain order—praise God first, pray for other people, confess your sins, and then ask God for what’s been troubling you lately. It’s the order laid out in the Lord’s Prayer in the Bible, which makes sense.

But me being me, I don’t like strict guidelines like that. I will go to ridiculous lengths to avoid them. Which might be why prayer has always been so difficult for me. I just want to dive in and say, “Hey God, this is really bugging me and I could use some help,” rather than spending a good five minutes in praise, intercession, and then confession before the supplication part (although typically confession is mixed in there with my supplication).

Maybe I’m just impatient. Maybe I’m just a rebel. Who knows? I just know that prayer has always been a difficult spiritual discipline for me.

The author of the book quotes Walter Wink, who said: “The fawning etiquette of unctuous prayer is utterly foreign to the Bible. Biblical prayer is impertinent, persistent, shameless, indecorous. It is more like haggling in an oriental bazaar than the polite monologues of the churches.”

The author goes on to talk about “simple prayer”: “In simple prayer, I pray about what is really on my heart, not what I wish was on my heart.”

That really struck me. I’m always struggling to pray in a way I wish my heart was aligned, and it’s not. Maybe that’s why prayer is so hard for me.

The author goes on to quote Richard Foster: “We bring ourselves before God just as we are, warts and all. Like children before a loving father, we open our hearts and make our requests. We do not try to sort out the good from the bad…”

So now I’m going to try to jump start my prayer life (yet again). But this time, I’m not going to focus on the “correct” way to pray, I’m just going to pray. Because I think God would rather I simply pray in any old way rather than not pray at all.

I want to extend this to you guys. 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!

Do Not Worry, Part 2: Eagles

On my last post, DO NOT WORRY,  I shared that when I wake up in the morning I dread the day, and that I’ve made a conscious effort and have chosen to celebrate the day, and give God the glory. I’m happy to report that my days have improved as long as I choose to “think on these things,” and have a grateful heart. That, instead of letting all the burdens of life weigh me down.

 

I’m a pastor’s wife, writer and home schooling three boys, which means I simply have too much to do. But isn’t it that way for most modern women? We want to do it all. Everyone expects us to do it all, or at least try. So I have my fingers in too many pies and I’m trying to eat them all. No wonder I’m overweight! Sorry for the bad joke. I’m leaving it in the post though to keep things transparent. Ha!

 

Today I’m taking my previous post deeper. I had a dream the other night. In the dream, there were eagles everywhere on the walls. Carvings and paintings and mosaics, you name it. I thought nothing more about the dream or the eagles until the next day when I saw a bald eagle on Facebook then the dream came rushing back at me in full detail. Has that ever happened to you?

 

Eagle

Bald Eagle soaring high above the Mississippi River

And I knew there was something about those eagles.

 

I tromped down the stairs to the office and booted up the old clunker desktop. This detail is important because on the way down the steps, I started humming that old song, “They that wait upon the Lord. . .” You know the one. It’s basically the Bible verse about eagles.

 

 

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 

 

 

Over the years, I’ve heard many teachings about this verse, but decided to do some research on my own as a reminder and possibly  find a new truth or a new spiritual nugget.  I read about how eagles have heavy wings and how they patiently wait for the thermal that they can ride so they can conserve their energy, and soar even higher.

 

They don’t have to use their own energy.  They simply spread their wings and ride the wind.

 

And I realized, that’s what God wants from me—to wait for that thermal. To wait for Him so I, too, can spread my wings and ride the thermal. So I can soar even higher than  is possible on my own.

 

I’ve taken on so much, in fact, more than He ever would have wanted from me. It’s all in my own power and strength, and not in His power and strength. Sure, we have to work hard, but there is a better way that doesn’t require striving.

 

I admit, I’m still trying to let go of the burdens, and I’m still trying to figure out how to “wait” on Him, but the realization that there is a better way. . .well, that has already shifted much of the burden from my shoulders.

 

Now, I’m going to wait on that thermal. Join me?

________________________________________________________________________

goddard-LR-new-4 (2) blackandwhitebackfire coverElizabeth Goddard is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than twenty romance and romantic suspense novels and counting. To find out more, visit her website at http://elizabethgoddard.com

COMING SOON: Backfire, (Mountain Cove book 3) Fleeing Alaska and cutting all ties could be the only way to survive…but it would mean leaving her heart behind.

 

 

Mother’s Day and Infertility by Julie Arduini

The smell of hyacinths filled the air. Ladies walked in hand-in-hand wearing their finest clothes and holding chubby little hands. They sat and listened to the pastor talk.

About them. All good stuff. Encouraging words. Inspiring message.

He ended the message with an invitation to help themselves to a plant. A challenge to the men to take care of the meals and kids for the rest of the day.

Families exited, smiling, holding fragrant gifts in honor of motherhood.

And then there was me.

I was newly married and diagnosed. Polycystic ovaries. Like forbidden fruit, I never wanted to be a mother as bad as I did until my doctor sat me down and told me it might not be an option. I didn’t know it at the time but my ovaries were 5x the size of what they should have been. There were days my fertility or lack of didn’t bother me as much as the pain of daily living. It hurt to walk.

But Mother’s Day was another story.

It was painful to breathe.

I wish I had the perfect script to give those that want to say the right thing and for the women who are hurting. I remember skipping classes that talked about motherhood at conferences. I most likely skipped a church service during that season. The anguish is undefinable. People who don’t know hand over a flower and I would feel like a fraud accepting it. I’d hear that it would happen in God’s time and I wanted to slap them. In church. And feel even worse.

I share all this because maybe, just maybe, I have a small solution that can open the door for healing. If you know someone with infertility issues or miscarriage, I share my complete story with Heidi Glick, Elizabeth Maddrey, Kym McNabney, Paula Mowery and Donna Winters in A Walk in the Valley: Christian Encouragement for Your Journey through Infertility.

91LVPrvc+FLFrom diagnosis to where we are now, we’re completely transparent about our journeys. I believe healing can start through these pages because in our honesty, we share Scriptures that aren’t there to patronize or sound cliche. We ask questions, ones we prayerfully wrote because we’ve been there. We wished a book existed that could have helped us. I long for a Mother’s Day where a woman doesn’t have to slink down in the pew or cry driving home because she has hope.

The book recently released and already hit the Amazon bestseller list and is receiving solid 5 star reviews. I write this not because I want to highlight the business side of being an author. I want to assure you what we believed about this book, readers are agreeing.

 

From Amazon Reviews:

  • “The women who contributed to this collection have opened their hearts, sharing their deepest pain.Their practical suggestions and advice, along with their encouragement to let God walk beside you, come from experience, and are are not just things a pastor or teacher thinks he should say.”

  • “A Walk in the Valley is not a typical devotional. There is no condescension, sugar-coating, or trite suggestions to “wait on the Lord.” This is an honest combination of personal experience and soul-searching prompts desperately needed in the community dealing with infertility. I particularly appreciate the memoir-like recollections of the medical horrors, the difficulties within spousal relations as a result of this condition, and the frustration and disappointment resulting from medical intervention, all paired with relevant scripture.”

My friend read it and let me know she learned how to better respond as this wasn’t her experience. That’s something I didn’t even think of, that it could help those who don’t personally know the journey.

If anything about this post rings true for you, I encourage you to get a copy of A Walk in the Valley.

And know you aren’t alone.

Reading and Writing and Faith by Vicki Hinze

Christians Read, vicki hinze, readers and writers and faith, articles

 

 

Reading and Writing and Faith: A Journey and Exercise

© 2015 Vicki Hinze

 

More than a few authors, who are also huge readers, were discussing feeling murky about the blend of their faith and their writing. More than a few felt mired, murky, uncertain what to write or even if they should write. Could their time be better spent—the exercise of their faith be better spent—doing something else?

That applied to them as writers, but also as readers. Should we read? What should we read? Could our time be better spent doing something else?

Those questions in that discussion sent me on a journey to discover the role of faith-filled authors. What information was available to share with them? What would offer guidance? Direction? Counsel worth having? Were there specific guideposts, guidelines that would be helpful? Specific signs to watch for or to avoid? Was there anything I could give or add to the discussion to help other writers and myself?

Although I’ve been writing steadily for well over twenty years, I am not the ultimate authority on anything including writing and know that only too well. So I went to what is the ultimate authority on everything—the Bible. What does it say about authors, writers, storytellers and scribes? I thought that would reveal useful insights on both writing and reading and, frankly, was stunned that I hadn’t thought to specifically search that before now. Ah, God’s timing. Again. A lesson often repeated during my career and life. Not my time, His time. Often the two are poles apart—or seem as if they are. But experience has taught me that His timing is always perfect. Mine’s anything but. So now, apparently, is the exact right time to take a look at this. Hence, this article, which well might spur a book.

I have to tell you, I did not expect the avalanche of guidance, direction, responsibility, goals and aspirations, and dictates that I found. Nor did I expect the affirmation that writing is an enormous, trusted gift bestowed on writers. But that’s precisely what I discovered. That, and so much more!

I found dozens of verses that revealed copious insights and applied to writing and/or authors and reading. This, I thought, is significant, because honestly it can be applied to any occupation. I could expound and but then this would be the book that began as a single article that’s already grown into a series of articles. More importantly, full disclosure of my discoveries could color other writers and readers’ own discoveries, and that would deprive them the joy I experienced.

That was such a gift. I hope everyone, writers and readers, regardless of what they do, will search the Bible for their vocation. It’s a breathtaking experience—and it alters your perspective forever. In a sense, I feel I got a glimpse of being seen through God’s eyes. Just a glimpse, but the impact was profound. Everyone should feel that special and honored at least once.

What follows is the first of the verses that spoke intimately to me. After the verse, my thoughts. And beyond that, an exercise on that verse you can apply to your specific situation.

Now when you run your search, some or all of these verses might speak to you or other verses will speak to you. Some will speak more loudly to you than others. I do believe that is deliberate and our spirits are, if you will, plugging into the Divine will. What speaks most directly and clearly to us, I believe is tied to our individual purposes and to God’s specific plan for us. We recognize it at soul level, just as Christ said we would in hearing His voice.

 

Here’s a place trust and faith are called into action. Have faith that you will receive what you need when you need it, that you will recognize it, and that you will know exactly what to do with it. Your steps are guided by His will. They might be different than you planned (and often are) but they’re perfect for you (even when it seems otherwise). Know too that there is a reason for each step. Whether it’s to gain knowledge, wisdom or experience, you have the opportunity to gain something from each step. So step boldly in faith and trust that walking in His will you will get what you need to take the next step and fulfill His purpose for you. As a dear friend once told me, “Of course, it’ll work out fine. It’s a God thing.”

A God thing. Trust and faith, and us doing our part so He doesn’t violate free will (which He will not do) and He can step in to do His part. It’s amazing how comforting knowing that can be in times of uncertainty when there’s an absence of clarity.

 

The Verse:

 

And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision,

and make it plain.” ~Habakkuk 2:2

 

 

So many authors, myself included, struggle with what to write. The choices are infinite and the decisions made impact lives and careers and paths for the duration. Choices are infinite and significant to readers and to the author’s life and career as an author.

Writers choose to write to the market, to editorial preferences, to agent recommendations, to personal preferences—and all of that is fine provided those suggestions are in harmony with the author’s vision of the work. If suggestions or preferences are not in harmony with the author’s vision, then the author can’t fulfill the obligations required of him/her.

This is where author theme fits in and from whence the necessity of an author loving the work s/he elects to invest in resides. Why is that important?

If you don’t love the work, you can’t address it honestly with insight and understanding and compassion or with the dogged discipline required to give the work your best. If what you’re writing is outside your author theme (stories you feel are important, essential, compel you to write them), then you lack the determination to give the work all you have to give. Every work, to achieve its full potential, requires your all. To write lacking your all violates the trust given to you that comes with the storytelling gift. Remember: The storytelling gift is the one part of writing that can’t be taught. You have the gift or you don’t. So, as with all gifts, comes great responsibility.

Write the vision, the verse says. The vision as you see it. Not because “x” told you to write it. Not because you think it will perform well in the market. Because it is the vision. The one given to you in the form of inspiration, ideas, a deep-seated need to write this specific work at this specific time in this specific way.

I always “see” in my mind’s eye, the fingertip of God touching the crown of my head. “Write this,” that still, small voice inside me says.

Since nothing exists that He hasn’t first created, He is the root source of inspiration and ideas. From Him all blessings flow, right? So when that inspired idea resonates with you, isn’t it possible that the reason it resonates is because it’s divinely inspired? Isn’t it possible that you’re feeling inspired to write this or that now because that’s what He’s touching to your crown, infusing with His desire that the vision be written?

When you write to the vision, you can be assured that those intended to read it will. Those for whom the vision was crafted will find it. That’s the faith aspect. The author’s job is to write the vision.

It’s proven true in my life again and again that no heartfelt desire persists without the skills (or the ability to acquire them) also being present. The two run hand in hand—and affirm that we’re never given more than we can handle. If you have a deep and abiding passion for a project, you have or can acquire the skills and ability to manifest it.

Make it plain. There’s essential craft guidance for the author. It doesn’t matter how wonderful a work might be if the meaning in it isn’t clear. If a reader can’t follow the path, can’t grasp what is being shared, can’t wrap his or her head or heart around it, the purpose of the work can’t be fulfilled. Clarity is vital. Critical to all.

Put on your reader hat for a moment. Look at the work from that perspective. Now you get the full scope of the importance of clarity!

If you still doubt clarity is essential, imagine this: You’re having a conversation with another person, only that person is speaking in a different language. One you don’t understand and s/he can’t understand your language. If you can’t understand or be understood, then how can the purpose of the conversation be transmitted or comprehended? Neither of you have a clue what the other person is saying, what it means, or why it’s important. Both of you gain as much as you would talking to a brick.

Now let’s say there’s an important message God wants to pass between character and reader. He requires a vehicle to do it—a book. He needs a messenger, a translator—an author—to write the book carrying the message. He inspires an author who understands the character’s language and the reader’s language and can depict clearly the message. (The translator-author is trustworthy, willing and able to accurately translate without adlibbing [not writing the vision])—and writes the book. The reader reads and receives the divine touch and gets the message intended for him or her. The author’s purpose is fulfilled. The book’s purpose is fulfilled and the reader got what s/he needed from the book.

That’s why authors must strive to convey the vision and to make it plain. So that its purpose might be grasped and understood and fulfilled.

The purpose might be to offer a reader entertainment. Or to give a weary soul a sorely needed, short reprieve during a hard time, perhaps a deathwatch. To prove constructive solutions to challenges being faced exist. To offer hope or joy or clarity—or any of a thousand purposes in between. Whatever His purpose, it will be fulfilled.

He chose the author, inspired him or her, fired love for the project so it got the author’s best, then led the reader to it. Of course, the purpose for which He went to all this planning and directing is fulfilled. Free will played its role, but the opportunity was presented and delivered.

So can a writer’s time be better spent doing something else? No, not if writing is that individual’s purpose.

 

Can a reader’s time be better spent doing something else? No, not if reading is the means through which a message of something needed is being delivered—and again, entertainment and respite is a valid purpose being fulfilled in life.

 

So write the vision and make it pain. And read what you feel drawn to read.

 

An Exercise

 

Read the verse (above) and record how it resonates with you. What comes to your mind? Why does it matter? How does it echo in your career, your content, your craft choices? How does it impact your choices of what to write?

If you are a reader, read the verse above and record how it resonates with you. What comes to your mind? Why does it matter? How does it impact you as a reader but also in your life, your career, your home and choices? How does the infusion of purpose impact your view of what you read or do?

See what I mean about the insights and thinking on this providing guidance and gifts? See why I wanted you to experience it firsthand?

As a dear friend of mine often says, “It’s like a hug from Jesus.”

It was for me, and I hope it is for you, too.*

 

 

Mother’s Day Giveaway!

Mother’s Day is right around the corner. The Harlequin Heartwarming authors are celebrating with a special giveaway. Enter here to win the grand prize or Harlequin Heartwarming books.

http://heartwarmingauthors.blogspot.com/

 

Mother's Day Banner Final

ALL YOU EVER NEEDED TO KNOW TO WRITE A NOVEL!

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN! JOIN US!

Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Christian Novelist Retreat

Retreat for writers wanting to learn more about the craft and creativity of writing novels – all genres – contemporary and historical

OCTOBER 18-22, 2015

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

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

($25 discount on tuition if register by May 31). – Ridgecrest: 1.800.588.7222

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

LOCATION

Ridgecrest/LifeWay Conference Center, Ridgecrest, NC

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

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

Ridgecrest Novelist Pricing:

Program Fee – $325 full time

(save $25 if register before May 31)

Program Fee – $120 for one day

Program Fee – $60 for one-half day

Mountain Laurel Lodging (per room, per night:

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

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

TEACHING FACULTY: Lynette Eason, Eva Marie Everson, Eddie Jones, Yvonne Lehman, Torry Martin,

DiAnn Mills, Edie Melson, Robert Whitlow – MENTORS: Diana Flegal, Lori Marett, Ann Tatlock

CLASSES on craft, creativity, beginning writing, advanced writing, social media,

and showing of Robert Whitlow’s new movie, Mountain Top

Questions? yvonnelehman3@gmail.com

Developing A Book by Tara Randel

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One of the things I enjoy about writing is the developmental stage. I’ll get a hint of an idea and suddenly a world of possibilities opens up. A world I have to quickly narrow down to a reasonable story plot. Which I manage to do while still dreaming about where the story can go.

Every writer has their process. Does the plot or characters come first? Setting? Names? Most of the writers I know don’t sit down at their computer with a fully formed idea and characters without first spending time and thought into the overall picture of the story.

I’m one of those writers who has to plot before I start. Beginning, middle and end. I’m not bound by my decisions, because sometimes I divert when a character insists I’ve gone in the wrong direction. Yes, I listen to the voices in my head. But having the story plotted out, having an idea of where I’m going, frees up the logistics so the creative part of my brain has free reign.

My favorite part is developing characters. Who are they? Why are they at this point in their lives? What do they look like? How will they all react to one another? I fill out a character sketch because believe me, at some point in the story I’ll forget what color eyes my hero or heroine have. But the sketch also lets me delve into their personalities as well. What are their conflicts? How will they overcome? Reach their goals? I know I’ve done a good job when I begin writing and fall in love with these people on page one.

Since I just started a new Harlequin Heartwarming, I’ve been in the developmental stage. The original synopsis is pretty detailed, so I had the fun of adding events here and there to torture my characters. I set my stories in a fictitious town in Florida,. As I get into the new story, I revisit places and people I’ve come to love in previous books. I keep a detailed file of names and places so I don’t have any repeats. Again, all part of the process.

I’ve jumped into chapter one, and yep, I love these people! My fingers have flown over the keyboard with ease as I began the journey I’ll spend with them for the months to come.

Hopefully, the remainder of the 70,000 words comes so easily!

A little help from your friends . . .

My youngest son just started his first job this week. While it’s exciting to see this first step into an area of life he’ll nurture until retirement (some 50 years from now!) it’s a bit of a milestone for me, too. My husband and I have raised a son who knows the value of work!

But as he was getting ready for his first day, I told him what my brother told me when I was getting ready for my very first day of work: the first day is the hardest, it’ll only get better once you know the ropes.

Of all the jobs I’ve had over the years there is one constant element that made each one of them memorable. It wasn’t the work, it was the people I worked with. I’ve met some of my best friends among co-workers—something I’m sure my son will discover in the coming years.

Even with writing, one of those careers that seems entirely solo, it’s the friends sharing this journey that increase the pleasure of the job. I’m giving a hearty wave to Vicki Hinze here, who has been one of my favorite encouragers ever since we met! And it’s not only writers, but editors, too, who have added so much to my career. When working with a traditional publisher, the editors come alongside a writer as cheerleader and offer input that can mirror the author’s own enthusiasm for whatever project they’re producing together. And now, having branched out to independent publishing, I’m once again reminded of the value of friends.

Independently published authors must surely rank among the most generous of those in the publishing field. I’ve never been around a group of people more willing to share what they’ve discovered! Everything from the “how-to” steps to various marketing successes, they’re there with input and encouragement.

So today even though I’m thinking of “work friends”, I just wanted to remind everyone not to take any of our friends for granted. Whether our lives go for better or worse, the rich path or the poor one, in sickness or in health, hopefully our spouses will be there, but so will our friends!

Are You Searching for Your Self?

If you live long enough, you’ve lost someone you love. Maybe it’s through a breakup, maybe it’s by death, but if you’ve lost a loved one you know the devastation, as if you’ve lost a part of yourself. For me, it’s almost physical.

Three years and two months ago my mother, whom we’d cared for in our home, passed away. Being an only child, I guess I was extremely close to Mom. I didn’t realize it so much when she was alive-you know, you just sort of take your mother for granted? But the connection was so solid that after Mom died, something in me died, and for three years I wasn’t myself. I couldn’t understand it. I knew Mom was in a better place, I believe in heaven and I knew what she believed, but that didn’t seem to matter.

I lost something so vital in my life that Mel, my loving, attentive husband, was very afraid for me. I was afraid for me. I wanted my SELF back. I hid out in the house for three years, only getting out to attend church and get groceries. Crowds put me into a panic.

During that time I helped Mel build a clinic, but I directed things from home, preferably via email.

Two months ago I was forced out of the house and into the workplace–our clinic–when we decided to move our clinic to a larger town and I was forced to be there to direct things in person. I did things I didn’t want to do, interacted with people in ways I didn’t want to, but I did it.

I forced myself out, bought dressy clothing, even wore earrings again. I began to interact with others besides my cats and my husband.

Something happened. Now I wake up in the morning and look forward to coming to the clinic, seeing the patients come through and be treated with kindness by my fantastic husband and nurses and office personnel. I love being with our WONDERFUL staff and see my husband 24 hours a day, even though I’m a true introvert.

I don’t know why it took three years to recover, but it did. I have friends who take longer than that. I’m back. If you’re in that dark period after loss, allow yourself to grieve as long as you need to, but if you see an opportunity to do something, take it. Try it, anyway. Even if you can’t function the first time you try, then you need to give yourself time and patience and try again later. It will happen if you let it.

I thought I’d lost my SELF forever, and then suddenly I was back. It’s me again. I pray that if you’re struggling, you’ll find a way back to your Self, and maybe even a better Self than you ever had before. May God give you healing and peace.
Much love,
Hannah

Maureen Lang’s The Cranbury Papermaker by Vicki Hinze

Christians Read congratulations CR author, Maureen Lang on the release of her new novel:

Maureen Lang

Maureen Lang

 

Will he steal her inheritance . . . or save it?Arianne Casterton is devastated when her father and his new wife are killed in a train accident. Despite her faith in God, Arianne’s grief soon turns to despair when she discovers one-third of everything her father owned has been transferred automatically to his wife’s son and heir, Jonas Prestwich—someone Arianne never knew existed.Jonas’s mother married a backwoods papermaker much too soon after becoming a widow, embarrassing Jonas who lives among Philadelphia’s elite. Though he’s distressed by his mother’s death within a year after losing his father, receiving a portion of the papermaker’s inheritance feels like justice.God has blessed Arianne with the passion and talent for papermaking in her family’s tradition, but the demands of keeping the business going are nearly overwhelming. When Jonas offers to expand her efforts into something more modern and profitable, Arianne is suspicious, reluctant to give up the art of handmade papermaking. But she realizes without his unwanted help she might lose everything anyway.The Cranbury Papermaker is the 2015 release from award winning writer Maureen Lang, author of thirteen previous Christian romance novels and novellas.

Review: (Courtesy of Amazon.com)
5.0 out of 5 starsAn Old-Fashioned Romance Wrapped in Hand-Made Paper April 17, 2015
Once again Maureen Lang has illumined a slice of life in a bygone period of American history in such a way that the reader can picture what life was life in those days. Before reading this book, I took paper for granted, thinking of hand-made paper as an artsy thing that you see in special greeting cards or fancy invitations. It never occurred to me that at one time all paper was made by hand. So that part of the book was fascinating in and of itself, as well as the advent of machine-made paper which was just at that time coming on the scene.But that is just icing on the cake because the real joy of reading this book in the story itself. I really enjoyed it. We get a glimpse into small-town life in the late 1800’s with a romance that has all the essential elements: a beautiful heroine, a handsome and appealing man of questionable motives, rising tension and a satisfying conclusion. This is a typical Maureen Lang book with her usual use of vivid details, bringing the setting and characters to life in such a way that we can really picture them as we become engrossed in the story. She gives us lots of interesting characters to watch as we go along.Yes, this is entertaining, educational, and inspiring. It’s a delightful read.

When Words Wound by Julie Arduini

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2015 so far has had a lot of “stuff” I never saw coming. I’m a thinker and as I tried to process it all I realized everything I was dealing with was word related. When I thought even further I realized they were wounded words.

  • Negative statements uttered in anger
  • Snap judgments shot in fear and most likely anger
  • Barbs sent in the name of justice that wasn’t my battle to fight

Unfortunately this isn’t one instance and none of them are related. I could have handled one issue better but overall these were attacks that came without provocation. As a natural encourager who loves lifting others up, and an author who enjoys the written word, this has been a new thing experiencing words that were uttering the power of death.

How does one overcome that?

I realized fast I wasn’t going to pick myself up and move forward without the Lord’s help. The real me wanted to say the right thing, the perfect comeback, the rebuttal to all those things. But I knew wounded people wound people.

And I didn’t want to be next in line.

A few praying friends saw my distress and immediately prayed. When they finished, one of them gave me a card.

You guessed it.

More words.

These were words of life.

You are my hiding place;
 you will protect me from trouble
 and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7, NIV

She went on to explain that the trouble are words used against me. Words that wound. Attacking words. Words of death.

The songs of deliverance?

Those are God’s words. Words that heal. Words that encourage. Words of life.

And His words trump all other words. All negative. All attacks. All barbs. All death-filled words.

I hope this little season ends and soon.

But I’ve taken away a good lesson.

Even in the darkest moments, especially in the maelstrom of horrible words, I’m surrounded by His words. His promises. His comfort.

And so are you.

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