How We Spend Our “Spare” Time by Vicki Hinze

Hannah Alexander is unable to post today. She’s without Internet service, so I’m filling in for her. We’re expecting a hurricane by Friday, so I’m a wee bit busy, but I thought I’d share the following video I created answering your question about writers who write articles and such for writers and if it helps sell that author’s novels.  I hope you find it useful–the underlying truth in it can be applied to you in whatever you’re doing in your spare time that relates to your work.

Here is the video:


For writers, it’s all fodder. Every observation, everything you see, hear, read, experience. Related or seemingly unrelated, it does all relate. So even if your spare time activities don’t seem to be relevant, understand that in some way they are–or will be.

My best advice:  Do what you do because you love it. Because it matters to you. If it is also helpful to others–even in some small way–so much the better!


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The Secret to Coping with Old Tapes by Vicki Hinze

Old Tapes. We’ve all got them. Those bits of conversations and things we’ve been told that, true or not, we believed and took in deep. You’re ugly, you’re fat, you’re stupid. We heard those things from people in authority over us, people whose opinion mattered, and we figured what they were saying must be true because, well, they would know.

But did they? That’s the part, our part, that wasn’t assessed. Perhaps because of our youth. Perhaps, in part, because of the role those people played in our lives. Or perhaps because we esteemed those people and respected their opinion–at times, more than our own.

There are many reasons we develop old tapes. And coping with them creates all kinds of conflict in us and for us. But how we address them, and whether or not we permit these old tapes to control our thinking is up to us. We can embrace or shun them at any time.

I’ve created a video on coping with old tapes I hope will be helpful to you. Watch it. Share it. Because it isn’t until we deal with these old tapes that we can relegate them into history where old tapes belong.


Vicki Hinze–My Kitchen Table: The Secret to Coping with Old Tapes from Vicki Hinze on Vimeo.


Here’s a copy of the Personal Power Card referenced in the video:


Personal Power Card, Vicki Hinze


* * * * * * *

© 2016, Vicki Hinze. Vicki Hinze, The Marked Star PreviewAward-winning bestselling author of thirty novels in a variety of genres: suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest release is The Marked Star. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Facebook  Books  Twitter   Subscribe to Vicki’s Monthly Newsletter!


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by Elizabeth Goddard

I’m going to piggyback off Tara Randel’s Back to School At Any Age post. After all, it’s that time of year. Kids are heading back to school or getting ready. Shopping for clothes on the no-sales tax weekend, buying school supplies. And the list goes on.

But I’ve always home schooled my children. So our list is a bit different. I start searching for the best curriculum for each of my children–they’re all different–and that could mean online classes, co-ops, or textbooks with a variety of focuses or teaching styles. That could also include dual college/high school credit courses at the local community colleges or universities. I drive myself nuts–and everyone else–while I search for what we’ll use in the coming year.

Fortunately these days, more parents are choosing to home school their children and as a result there are more choices. There’s seemingly no end to the possibilities and opportunities. Public schools even offer online home schooling opportunities through Connections Academy or other similar venues. It’s public school only at home.

This coming school year I’m looking into something completely new to me. It’s called “unschooling.” A few year ago I would shudder to think of it. But here’s the thing. I suddenly find myself with a “special needs” child. Yes. Suddenly. He doesn’t fit into any specific diagnosis yet, but we do know that right now, academics aren’t important. Any kind of school subject, textbook or teaching could cause him to meltdown. Stress out. Or a psychotic break. Yes. It’s that serious. It’s not an act. Believe me, I almost wish it was. But what’s a mom to do? School is now supposed to be about sitting and focusing on one thing for fifteen minutes at a time.

Guess who is stressing out now? I’m terrified because I hold my son’s future in my hands–what will his life be like if he doesn’t learn anything? Well, I’m the one who has learned something new. Learning occurs naturally, and before textbooks and learning to test well and all that. . learning was actually something to enjoy and look forward to. I’m not going to bash school or teachers because that’s how most of us learn!–and that’s not what this post is about. But there are some who need to learn differently. For me, discovering there is another way for my son to get an education that doesn’t include sitting and doing a workbook for hours out of every day. . .is such a relief!

And I’m still “learning” about unschooling myself. For starters we are going to take the subjects he loves and wants to know about and let him learn everything he can and wants to learn. I’m pretty sure that’s going to be all things vikings and castles and medieval history. I have to reintroduce the love of learning and for him, let it happen naturally.

Though I dreaded the coming school year with this new burden of helping my son get through, I’m now excited! The sky is the limit on what we can learn!

As Tara said in her post, we never stop learning. I’m glad we have so many educational choices.

Many blessings!

Elizabeth Goddard

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Book Club Revelations by Julie Arduini

I spent the last few Tuesday evenings with a group of ladies from my church talking about my latest release, ENTANGLED. I admit, the thought of a book club where I’m the author and the attendees are people I’m acquainted with made me pretty nervous, but these ladies have been such an encouragement. ENTANGLED was a hard book to write and to watch them dive into the chapters, finish in one setting, and be so passionate about the men in the story and who the heroine should end up with, it’s been fun.

As I prepare discussion questions, I also share behind-the-scenes tidbits. Some secrets are about my own motivations or facts about that chapter. Sometimes I share author information about the writing process. Whatever I choose, the ladies often have their jaws open. Readers don’t always understand what goes into writing a book.

Here are some of the surprising things they are learning.macbook-336704__180

  • A book never publishes after one draft. Not a good one, anyway. For me, I think I completely started ENTANGLED from scratch three times. I struggled with it. Sometimes my heroine was too unlikeable and I had to soften her. Other times I couldn’t make the plot work the way I wanted. Whatever the case, there were a few drafts and many revisions for each chapter.


  • Authors have tough lives. The hours are long and isolating. Very few authors are able to write full-time, so you may know them first as teachers, lawyers, nurses, receptionists, daycare workers. There are authors who rise before dawn to get some words on paper before the kids rise and they have to move on to the next part of their day. They also have real problems. Mortgages to pay. Prodigal children. Spouses that leave. Aging parents. It is not a glamourous life.


  • This might not be the case for other authors, but for me, sometimes the book takes on a  of its own and I don’t like it. I can’t say too much here because I want you to read ENTANGLED, but there are things that happen so I could have a story for ENGAGED that I didn’t like. I fought it, but the plot had spoken. Thing is, readers love the way it worked, so I’m glad I lost that inner battle.


  • Reviews are vital. Amazon will show something like “Here’s what else readers bought” and feature your book if you have I think a dozen reviews. After 50 reviews, Amazon makes things more visible. Especially as an Indie author, the more reviews you can have, the better and more visible I can be. For authors, three stars or less is tough, but you want readers to be honest. I can’t say enough how reviews drive a book. I always encourage readers to at least write a review for Amazon and Goodreads.


  • Word of mouth is just as crucial. Readers were surprised at how much marketing authors have to put in. They thought the book goes on shelves, on Amazon, and done. Not so. I am having trouble finding that balance between writing more so I have more books to offer and marketing what I have available. The best marketing is positive word of mouth and I can’t reach everyone. But readers—if they told co workers, family, friends, others in waiting rooms, etc…it works. Your opinion matters and we authors need you.


If you are an author, I challenge you to host a book club. It’s intimidating, but I’m so glad I’m doing it. It’s helping me with my writing and connecting with the people I value, readers.

If you’re a reader and looking for a book to talk about, I hope you consider ENTRUSTED and ENTANGLED. I’d be happy to FaceTime/Skype with you for one of your meetings and connect with you. I am hoping to do an online book club, probably via Facebook, starting in October. I’ll start with ENTRUSTED and then ENTANGLED. Want to stay updated on that? Join my free monthly newsletter so you have the latest news.


If you enjoy non fiction, I’m leading a study on Lysa TerKeurst’s newest release, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. Starting in September we will meet in a closed Facebook group once a week for an hour to discuss the chapters. Interested? Request to join the group.


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Trusting Our Coach in Times of Stretching

concert-441341_1920I haven’t gone full-on fan-girl since my teens, but lately, certain television programs had me leaning dangerously close to that response: America Ninja Warriors and the Olympics. Women’s gymnastics was both rolled in to one. If you watched even a smidgeon of Simone Biles performance, you were likely left with quite an attractive wide-eyed, surprise-700083_1920jaw-dropped response.

How can one individual be so talented? So graceful? So incredibly strong?

Through training. Hours and hours–upon hours!–of training, very little of which, if I were to guess, would be considered fun. Actually, I’m pretty sure the opposite is true, because training hurts. I know. I’ve tried to exercise on occasion.😉

To put it mildly, my treadmill and I have a love-hate relationship. And yet, despite the physical pain I know is sure to come, despite the unattractive red, blotchy face and the unladylike gasps for breath that totter close to hyperventilation, I continue to lace up again and again.

stretching-498256_1920Why? When I could be sipping an iced, snickerdoodle latte instead?

(Insert a video of a teenager rolling their eyes while saying, “Duh,” here.)

Okay, so stupid question aside. How about I throw out another one. Why do I go to such lengths to avoid spiritual training?

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I go to Bible studies and church. I read my daily devotions and listen to an appropriate amount of praise music. I’ll even sing along (more loudly than I ought, and quite off-tune) on occasion.

But when it comes time for the more painful endurance, stretching, or strength-training workouts, I can easily turn in to a whiny toddler-Christian. You know the type–the woman who clings to her comfort zone like it’s an old, raggedy blanky crying, “Why me???”

When I should be falling to my knees with my hands opened and arms raised instead, saying, “I trust You, Father. Teach me. Grow me.”

You know the phrase, “When it rains it pours?” It exists for a reason, and I’m pretty sure those downpours are God-tentional. As are the storms, the long arid seasons, the ouches, and the round abouts. With every panicked and painful step, God is training us, molding us into His masterpiece (Eph. 2:10), fully equipped to fulfill the role He planned just for us.

And it’s a good plan. A glorious plan. Much better than anything you or I could dream up. Promise. God has such great things in store for us, the kinds of things dreams–God sized dreams–are made of.

But we’re not ready. Our feeble knees need to be strengthened, our distracted hearing honed, and our ever-grasping hands pried loose … so we can hold on tight to something better.

When I’m feeling especially overwhelmed, I focus on one of my favorite “training” passages–Psalm 18:32-36:
32 God arms me with strength,
    and He makes (is making) my way perfect.
33 He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
    enabling me to stand on mountain heights.woman-983949_1920
34 He trains my hands for battle;
    He strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.
35 You have given me your shield of victory.
    Your right hand supports me;
    your help has made (is making) me great.
(Parenthetical inserts mine)

Knowing this, I can view every struggle I face differently–with hope rather than despair. With courage rather than fear. With joy and expectancy rather than defeat and uncertainty. It’s a choice. At each moment, we can live as victims or victors. We can embrace each moment with faith and opened, surrendered hands, or we can cling to our comfort zones and try to hide out from the storm. Notice I said try. Hiding won’t stop the storm from coming; it will only keep us from growing stronger through it.

Other resources you might find helpful or encouraging:

God Meant it For Good by R.T. Kendall

Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hernard




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Back To School-At Any Age by Tara Randel




It’s that time of year again. The kids are off to school. Those yellow buses that have been absent all summer? Well, they’re on the road once again. It seems like summer had only just begun and the school bells are ringing before you know it. The first day of school is either a sad day for parents who are enjoying summer with their children or the happiest day of the year. I have to admit, when my daughters were younger, I had mixed emotions between the two.

But here’s the question I’ve been thinking about. Is the school year just for kids?

I would have to say no. There are plenty of people of varying ages returning to the classroom. And why not? There are so many opportunities to increase your education or study for a new career.

I’ve always taken classes, even after I got out of college. First, it was continuing education to keep my dental hygiene license current. I still take classes today, even though I’m not active in that profession. I want to make sure I’m up-to-date on changes in the field or take a refresher course in case I do go back to work at an office.

As my life changed and I decided to pursue writing, I immersed myself if workshops at my local writers group. This was a brand new career and although I loved to read, writing a story to completion was a new concept. I had a lot to learn. Plot? Conflict? Characterization? Talk about overwhelmed. But I stuck with it. Learned from some of the best in the business. Every time I start a new project I pull out certain books or articles that help me jump start my story. And to this day, I always take craft classes if I’m at a writers convention.  I also teach craft classes when the opportunity arises, which helps me hone my craft.

In my spiritual life, I am always reading books and taking classes at church to deepen my walk with the Lord. I love topical studies or a study of a particular book of the Bible. I enjoy the perspective of different teachers, whether it be at a live classroom setting or a Beth Moore prerecorded study. I’ve been a teacher for years and let me say, as the teacher, you do more studying then you ever share in class. But that’s okay, because I love delving into the things of God.

So if it’s your children, or yourself, taking classes, enjoy the back to school season. It is exciting to start something new, even better to learn something new. Blessings!

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The Best Part of a Book?

What is the best part of a book? I guess the answer depends on your taste, but to those like me, there’s only one real answer. The romance, of course!

Think about it. Many popular books and movies include a romance. Classics like Gone With The Wind have a lot more going on than a romance, but it’s Scarlett and Rhett’s relationship many people remember when talking about that movie.

You can read literary, mystery, suspense, action/adventure, sci-fi/fantasy and any other kind of book and still find a romance. Some people may not want to admit it, but it could be the romance that keeps the pages turning.

But to enjoy a book that’s more than a romance, the trick for the author is to keep the action going so the pages without the hero and heroine together (or thinking about each other) will turn, too. Remember the old saying about anticipation being half the pleasure? In a layered story, the romance is just one of the layers but all the rest—the action, tension, plot-building—enhance the characters and setting to give the book a more rounded feel.

My favorite part of writing this kind of book is to see how many elements can be used as realistic barriers to keep my hero and heroine apart—until the ending, of course. Then those barriers have to tumble like the walls of Jericho, in a way that uniquely works for those two characters.

So today I’m off to build barriers, ones that are meant to fall with a happy ending, but must be strong enough to keep those pages turning as the reader wonders how they’ll tumble. What kind of a job could be more fun than this?

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How NOT to Move by Hannah Alexander


Necessary measures 3DSee this guy in the picture? He’s a doctor (well, actually, he’s a guy dressed up as a doctor.) You might need one of those if you decide to move. Keep one handy just in case.

Nearly every American has moved at some time in life. I’ve moved. Not much, and always before when I moved I had very little, so there wasn’t a lot to pack, but now, after more than twenty years in the same home, storing up STUFF and filling the basement and every room upstairs with far more than we have ever needed or even wanted, we’re in the middle of a move.

My advice to you? Be cautious and organized. How I wish I’d followed my own advice, but then, I had to learn the hard way.

First of all, moving a whole home is dangerous. Nearly 70% of homes in Missouri have brown recluse spiders in them. They don’t bother me. Or at least, they haven’t until now. But when I’m reaching beneath a pile of things I haven’t moved in ten years, I have to consider that some little creature under there might have staked out a claim, and if my fingers try to take it away, those little creatures will fight back. Fortunately, that was one thing that didn’t happen. If you move, and if you live in Missouri, wear gloves and be cautious. Also, make sure you don’t pick up these little creatures as hitchhikers to the next home.

Another danger–falling things. Things like large rolls of plastic furniture wrap. These rolls weigh probably 15 pounds. When one of these rolls falls on a big toe, one will scream loudly and then faint. When this happens, after reviving, wrap the wounded area with an ice pack.

Another falling thing: large mixing bowls. When one is so scattered, moving from room to room in an effort to decide what to do next–it’s called the but-first syndrome–be cautious about lifting slippery things like large, heavy cooking items. They will almost surely slip from your hand and fall on your foot. And you will scream and pass out. By this time your spouse will be prepared with the frozen peas. Expect  to limp for a few days.

Another danger–constant confusion. When one goes out to call the cat in for the night, and when that cat decides to tease one and stay just out of reach, be cautious about holding the door open with one leg while grabbing for the cat with the other. Storm doors that have always otherwise seemed harmless can become dangerous when one is distracted. They are spring-loaded, and they will swing back and slam into one’s knee. And  you will scream and frighten the cat away for the rest of the night. Make sure your spouse has frozen peas ready for the boo-boo. And be prepared to limp the next day. When the bruises appear, cover them. One does not want one’s poor, belabored spouse to be accused of spousal abuse.

Another danger–handling exercise equipment for the first time in twenty years. Oh, sure, it might look great to have all that exercise equipment in the family room. Anyone who visits might think you’re in great shape. The trick is using it and remaining familiar with the movements. When the tough, he-man spouse tries to fold it up to be moved so that it can sit in your new family room and make you appear to be in shape, caution spouse to move slowly and read directions. The spouse, of course, will not listen and will try to do it the way he’s sure it should be done, and spouse will pinch his finger and shout loudly enough to frighten the cat who is still hiding outside. Get the smelling salts. Male spouses can pass out as easily as female spouses. Get peas for the boo-boo and reassure spouse he will not lose his finger.

Beware the danger of confusion. Someone I know who is well-versed in moving advised me to box one room at a time…no, wait a minute, more than one person told me that. I’m thinking maybe five or six people told me that. Did I listen? Ha! I find myself rambling from room to room in a daze, overwhelmed by all that needs to be done. You know that thing about how you eat a whole elephant one piece at a time? Not that I recommend this kind of repast, but still. Our house is like an unruly elephant, and not only have I tried to eat an ear, a tail, and a toenail at the same time, I’ve become so overwhelmed that I could not function with a clear mind. I’m still not focusing.

This is how NOT TO MOVE belongings in a house one has lived in for twenty years. If you’re like me, you won’t pay any attention to my warnings. So the first thing I advise is that  you buy a bag or two of frozen peas and ask for help. Both will come in very handy.

Happy moving!


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Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled…Easier Said Than Done At Times

Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.   

John 14: 1-3

These wonderful words of promise come from some of my favorite Bible verses of all times.

If you’re like me, it seems that every day the news gets harder to watch. I want to stay informed on what’s happening around the world, but at what cost to my peace of mind? Whether it’s on the political front, violence at work, or global terror, we live in an ever increasing troubled world.

But don’t let it trouble your heart.

With Jesus’s words of comfort ringing in my ears, I set out to find a little good news to share today.

From the Good News Network, (yes, there really is an online site dedicated to good news and it can be found here:

86-Year-old Stranger is Paying for 8 Students’ College Tuition

Since he made his own fortunes through real estate, Dale Stoner has been able to cover every want or need his family has ever had – yet now that he’s in his old age and his kids are all grown up, he’s decided to give back to his community by paying for eight high school students’ college tuition.

Dale sat down with officials at University Prep in Victorville, California and found several names of hardworking teens that deserved the financial leg up.

Also, from the same Good News Network:

Deaf Girl Teaches Deaf Puppy Sign Language in Cutest Video Ever

Julia and her best friend Walter share something in common — both the puppy and the little girl were born deaf.

A Good Samaritan found Walter and his litter mates in December when the pups were only six weeks old and brought them to the Pasadena Humane Society shelter.

Julia and her mother fell in love with the little dog the first time they saw him. Mom remembered when Julia was a baby and couldn’t hear her voice, she would recognize her mom by smelling her neck. The first time she picked up Walter he sniffed her neck — the same way Julia had done as an infant.

And from

Mom Finds Clever Way To Ensure Her Internet-Obsessed Kids Do Their Chores Every Day

This mom found a clever way to ensure her kids did their chores before wasting the day away on the internet.

Using the Wi-Fi password as collateral, Mom forced her children to clean the kitchen and send a photo of the completed work before sending the day’s password.

She even thought about ways her kids could cheat. In order to prevent her kids from sending an old photo of the clean kitchen, she states in the note that the photo must contain one box of crackers placed on the stove.


mom clever wifi password for kids idea

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Also from

Martha Stewart And Snoop Dogg To Host The Most Entertaining Cooking Show Ever

This fall, VH1 is bringing us “Martha & Snoop’s Dinner Party,” where the unlikely duo will host a dinner party with A-list celebrity guests.

snoop dogg and martha stewart cooking show

This only seems odd if you’ve never seen the two together. The polar opposites actually have a lot of chemistry!

Snoop visited Martha’s daytime show twice and it made for some very entertaining television:

She taught him how to cook, while he taught her some choice phrases:

“We’re thrilled to partner with Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg, two of pop culture’s biggest icons,” said VH1 and Logo president Chris McCarthy. “Good parties are filled with fun, food and unexpected guests. Wait ’til you see what happens at ‘Martha and Snoop’s Dinner Party’; it will be unforgettable.”


Good news may be hard to come by these days, but if you look it’s there. With the world going crazy around us, I hope I’ve given you just a little good news to brighten your day. And remember above all else, let not your heart be troubled.

All the best…


Mary Alford













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Olympic Takeaways by Julie Arduini

Like most of you, I’m staying up way too late watching the Olympic coverage. I admitted on Facebook that usually it is straight-up patriotic fever that has me so captivated.

This year, the drama and backstories have captured my attention.

I admit, I’m not proud that I’m sucked in by the drama of a finger wave or a “Phelps Face.” These are athletic competitions that they have trained years for. But I believe the writer in me can’t stay away from the cold war implications of the Lilly King finger wave or the backstory Michael Phelps has going with his intense look. It’s hard to look away against the backdrop of his come back from the bottom of an emotional pit story.I’m trying to find the good in what I’ve seen, even if there is drama attached to it.

Here are my observations so far.

  • Yes, Lilly King has some sass going on and perhaps you see her as a bad sport. But as a “justice girl,” I understand her frustration. I’m not a competitive swimmer, but boy I work hard at my craft. I want to present a quality product and engage with peers and readers. When I see a person come along and publish their first draft story and call themselves “an author like you” or, like I wrote before, the fan fiction writer who turned her poorly written but “hot” pages into a runaway bestseller, I die a little inside. The Russian athletes have been dogged with doping, and I think I read that swimmer had two bad tests against her. It has to be frustrating to compete against someone who appears to be trying to short cut to success.

The “Phelps Face.” NBC/@BobbyWFrancis/Twitter


  • Michael Phelps said he was in a place of intense focus when his competitor was shadow boxing right in front of him. A lot of memes have popped up since then, some hilarious, I admit. But I love hearing about his focus and how not long ago, he was only remembered as the athlete caught doing drugs. His reality took him to a dark place and it was Christian athlete Ray Lewis who mentored and encouraged Phelps, even by giving him the book The Purpose Driven Life. Michael Phelps seems to be in the middle of a redemption story (not perfect, but redeemed.) When I see the meme and the Phelps face, it inspires me against my own warfare. There is so much that hits me behind the scenes as I write. Mind games. Loneliness. Doubt. And that devil, the real defeated one, boy he loves to shadow box in front of my face.

And the Phelps face for me is all, “Not today, devil. Not today.”


What lessons are you taking away from the Olympics? What is your favorite sport to watch?

By the way, there’s still time to enter my Goodreads Giveaway. One winner in either the US, Canada, UK or Australia will win a signed copy of ENTRUSTED & ENTANGLED.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Entangled by Julie Arduini


by Julie Arduini

Giveaway ends August 29, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

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When You Get Knocked Down by Vicki Hinze (Inspire Me #1)

Vicki Hinze, Inspire Me #1, When You Get Knocked Down

We all struggle and strive to accomplish things we deem important. Sometimes we succeed, and sometimes we don’t. More often than not, we do a little of both. We meet with some success but not enough that we feel we’ve succeeded.

With some success, we’re often inspired to continue striving, to endure more struggling. When we definitively succeed, we’re spurred to broaden our goals and to strive and struggle to expand that success.

But for too many of us, when we get knocked down, we’re dispirited. Frustrated and defeated, we convince ourselves that all the sacrifices and effort just isn’t worth it. And so we quit. That’s when we lose and the potential for good in our goals is lost.

In the spiritual realm, we don’t have to be beaten to stop the good things in our aspirations from manifesting. We just have to lose hope. Getting knocked down can rob us of hope… if we let it.

The clear and obvious combatant is to reject that robbery. To pick ourselves up and press on, determined to fulfill our aspirations. But how do we avoid the loss of hope? How do we fight and win this battle? How do we react to being knocked down so all isn’t, in our eyes, lost?

We seek inspiration and find it in typical and in usual places. But it isn’t just finding inspiration that aids us. It’s embracing it.

I hope you’ll recognize and find inspiration in the following video.

Vicki Hinze


* * * * * * *

© 2016, Vicki Hinze. Vicki Hinze, The Marked Star PreviewVicki Hinze is the award-winning bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest releases are: The Marked Star and In Case of Emergency: What You Need to Know When I Can’t Tell You (nonfiction). She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website: Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. KNOW IT FIRST! Subscribe to Vicki’s Monthly Newsletter!

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Time to Rest by Vicki Hinze

Time to Rest, Vicki Hinze, Christians Read



Vicki Hinze



Today, we have technology assisting on fronts that were dreams for small business and sole proprietors even a short time ago—and we’re grateful for it. Expanded capabilities save us money and time on tasks that were out of reach, enable us to participate in areas that exceeded our ability and our budgets. Now, we’re able to incorporate them into our plans and benefit from them.

For most, these remain welcome changes even though they add additional work to our schedules—most of which are overloaded already. We were strapped for time. Now we’re living within the confines of the daily deluge.

Unfortunately, this is our reality, and when we add activities to our existing schedule… well, something has to give. First to go is often hobbies and things we enjoy doing but before long, we discover we’re culling everything not work related and things that aren’t beneficial to the goals we’re seeking to meet on that front.

The more capabilities we have and gain, the more we must do. Soon, we’re looking for more things we can cut from our schedule. We need more time to do what we’ve been doing and these new things. And unfortunately—usually sooner rather than later—we reach a point where we can’t cull anything else, so we cull rest.

We get up earlier, stay up later, and too often, we still need a little more time. We’ve already reduced lunch hours, made scheduled breaks “mini-task time,” and tied mental tasks to repetitive physical tasks. For example, some record articles or scenes in a book while commuting to and from work. Or while at the kids’ soccer or softball games.

While we deem these reduced rest times necessary, we need to rethink those decisions and seek alternatives. Why? Because when we do not rest, we lose efficiency, clarity, and our productivity actually drops. That means the quantity and quality of our work suffers.

That’s not a good thing regardless of the type of work we do, but it creates a plethora of serious challenges when our work requires creativity. Writing books, for example, is a creative pursuit. Writers create worlds and people and situations and events from nothing. That requires brain power. Keeping everyone and everything straight requires more brain power. Making people and events credible and logical requires even more brain power.

Brain power requires rest. It’s that simple.

So what can we do?

Some tips I find useful are:

  1. Delegate. If you can, delegate some tasks to an assistant. If you don’t have one, consider a virtual assistant or an intern. Consider recruiting a teen, someone retired, a parent who has spare time.
  1. Batch tasks. If you do a task repeatedly this comes in handy. For example. I do a weekly article for a Social In Global Network. On Monday morning, first of the month, I write all that month’s articles, do the graphics for them, upload and disburse them throughout the network. When you’re in the mindset of a task, you’re halfway done. So it’s easier to do the articles in a group than to do them weekly. Look at your schedule and batch similar tasks, then do them all at one time, while you’re in that mode. The discipline of having them batched and on your schedule makes the work more efficient also.
  1. Schedule your time and tasks. Not only will you learn to estimate the time needed to accomplish tasks, but you’ll stay out of routinely working in crisis-mode. That spares you from last-minute binges and impossible deadlines. Prioritize your schedule. Every day, take on your “Must Do” items first. That too lowers anxiety because the most important things are accomplished first. Too, your schedule more accurately reflects the uses of your time and how heavy your schedule is. Will it change? Yes, of course. Unforeseen situations and events always come up, but they come up either way. With high priority items done, you can weather the unforeseen situations and events with less disruption and chaos than if you haven’t worked by priority. When you include even the mundane in your schedule, you also see what you can and cannot add to your schedule without putting yourself in high-stress, anxious positions due to overloading your time.
  1. Make your sleep patterns habits. While you’ll have exceptions, set a routine for your days and especially your bedtime. If you typically go to bed at 10, your body clock is accustomed to it. Come nine, you’re body is already anticipating ten. Prepare for it. And give your bedtime priority.

When we sleep, we heal. We restore. We give our minds a chance to work. During the day, our subconscious mind records tons and tons of things that are going on around us. It slots all the information and input, then transfers to our conscious minds what it deems important. That claims our focus. When we short our minds of sleep, the subconscious must toggle between slotting and recording new stimuli. Our focus is divided, and we’re tired, so we don’t interpret as quickly or as clearly.

A few years ago, I came upon an article on sleep studies that said every hour you sleep before 2:00 am, is worth two hours of sleep after 2 am. It advocated going to bed earlier rather than later. I tried this to see whether or not my body responded to this in line with the study. It did—and the results surprised me. Going to bed at 10 pm, I slept the same number of hours as before, but on rising, I was sharper, my mind clearer, and I awakened more refreshed than when I went to bed at midnight. I slept 6 hours and felt better and sharper than when going to bed at midnight and sleeping two additional hours!

Study you and your sleep patterns to see if going to bed earlier—same time every night—helps you.

  1. Keep lunch for lunch and breaks as a few minutes to just be. Relaxing that ten minutes is healing and restoring, too. Your body needs this. Your mind needs this. And your emotions need this, too. Even a brief respite can work wonders for us and our attitudes. Sitting and breathing deep, taking a short walk. Sitting on a park bench. Whatever you do to free your mind, whatever helps you to feel serene, calms you, makes you smile is a good way to spend a short break.

One of the perks of taking those short breaks is you reap the calming benefits. Another is the attitude adjustments that come with the calm package. People are not machines. They cannot function at warp speed all the time. They don’t just want down time, they need it.

An example. If you’re in a highly tense event, you focus with intensity on the event. You don’t think about other things. The event absorbs all of your attention and your energy.

Now, imagine the impact on your body, mind and spirit of maintaining that intensity for an extended period of time and not just for a short spurt of time. Overload. And what happens when we overload? We shut down. Our emotions grow numb and we distance ourselves to protect us from overload. We are anxious and weary.

It’s impossible to be a creative genius when you’re numb and distant, anxious and weary.

Stress intensifies. Problems like headaches, muscle tensions, knots in the stomach and ulcers—and lots of other physical reactions that are harmful to your health—manifest.

Fewer crisis-mode postures equates to less time intense. A rested body can better cope with short bursts of intensity. Its reserve energy is intact. It isn’t facing the crisis while already functioning in crisis-mode or intense focus. You might be busy and invested, but you’re not hyper-alert and focused. So you can become hyper-alert and focus intensely short-term with less harm to the body. What happens to it chemically and hormonally, is you endure spikes but they’d be lower on a graph and not sustained. That means less numb time. Less time operating while on overload. Less anxiety and less weariness. That means, to your body, less harm, less health challenges manifest.

The point is: You don’t just want to be well-rested, your mind requires you be well-rested. Your body requires you be well-rested to function well. And both your mind being more at ease and your body being less stressed help keep your emotions in balance. That all makes for a more content, more settled and at ease you.

So when you’re contemplating what to cull, don’t make the mistake of cutting into your lunch time, breaks or sleep time. You need that time—to rest!



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© 2016, Vicki Hinze. Vicki Hinze, The Marked Star PreviewVicki Hinze is the award-winning bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest release is: The Marked Star. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website: Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. KNOW IT FIRST! Subscribe to Vicki’s Monthly Newsletter!

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I’ve just read Steven James’ The Pawn and recommend it to readers who enjoy clever, complex stories with strong and vulnerable characters. No rough language, no gratuitous violence. Strong, compelling and realistic situations.

Suitable for Christian or General Market Readers.

Most interesting element: For me, it was the impact of childhood events on the adults people became. How it shaped their lives and they interpreted what happened and even more interestingly why those things happened.

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The Pressure Of Life by Tara Randel


As I changed the calendar to the month of August, I could feel my stomach tighten. I have a lot of projects going on and this month is going to be especially tight. So I told myself not to be overwhelmed, but it didn’t work. When you have the type of personality that doesn’t listen, it’s fruitless to argue with yourself.

When I get overwhelmed, I procrastinate. Not a good thing when on a deadline. I have a book due in a month. A novella due in a few weeks. And I want to go shopping. Or find a place to curl up with a good book. Why? If I put it off, the book isn’t going to get written by itself. Which piles on more stress. A cycle…that with God’s help, I’ve learned to break.

Thanks to my walk with the Lord, I can deal with the stress and emotional roller coaster that goes with deadlines and commitments. In the past, I’d make myself sick worrying and stressing, until I got tired of it. Finally, I got on my knees and said, “Lord, I don’t want this anymore.” Once I did this, a peace came over me and a scripture verse came to mind. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5

That has to be one of my favorite verses. That, and “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

When I took the time to ponder those verses, I began to understand that the pressure I put on myself was never going to get me where I wanted to go. It is only through the peace of God that I can meet my deadlines, focus on my work in progress without worry, and enjoy the labor of a profession I truly love.

All humans have times of stress, worry and doubt. How we manage these emotions is the important thing. I know I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

I have to believe it. And once these verses are a part of my spirit, I do believe it.


I hope these scriptures help anyone who is experiencing pressure in your life right now. Take a few moments to focus on the Almighty. Take a deep breath. Smell the roses, as they say. And then stand tall, head high, and walk with the assurance that you are not alone. God is by your side.


Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA TODAY bestselling author of twelve novels. She is currently working on new stories for Harlequin Heartwarming, The Business of Weddings series, as well as books in a new series, Amish Inn Mysteries. Visit Tara at Like her on Facebook at Tara Randel Books

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LATE BREAKING BLOG! by Hannah Alexander

2012-12-10 09.27.30

And I do mean late, since I’m writing this at ten o’clock at night instead of earlier in the day. Change is in the air, and stress is everywhere! I seldom use perfume, but today I slashed (yes, slashed) my wrists with much needed soothing essential oil. The phone at the clinic is ringing and people are coming in–and we’ve been closed since last Friday.

Have you ever wondered why we sometimes tend to wait until the last minute to get things done? Whether it’s writing that blog–like me–or cleaning the house, picking up your medical records a month after you’ve received a letter from your doctor who is going out of business (that would be something I’d do), it’s so easy to let things slide.

Why? Because we’re all so barraged by so many THINGS in our lives that we don’t have time to slow down and prioritize. Me, I haven’t written a new novel in over a year–not since I became a very unwilling clinic director. I also haven’t attended church as often as I would like. Time gets away.

See this picture above? That’s Mel walking into our first clinic. I would show a final picture of Mel walking out of our last clinic, but he hasn’t walked out for the last time yet. That’s because time gets away. Already, he’s working in local ERs, but he’s working to help us clear out the building. Will we get out in time? Will we get to the next job in time?

Will we find movers in time, or will we even find a house to move into?

How about you? What’s still on your To-Do list? Will you have time for it all?

Something I discovered following a death in the family: rushing through life doesn’t help. In fact, it steals your time. Take a step back and think about your priority list. No, really. Don’t just consider it, do it. Take a deep breath and strike out some of those extraneous things on your To-Do list. Do they matter as much as you think? If you lost someone precious to you, how would those things stack up?

People are more important than lists, or things, or timing. Yes, we need to be responsible, but what does that mean? Perhaps it means showing how you feel about your loved ones and friends before time gets away. You’ll never regret that.



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What Love Looks Like

We hear it so often, it’s become a cliche’.

life-863037_1920This statement is printed on T-shirts and engraved on wall hangings. It’s even a phrase we say to one another, but the question is, do we live it? 

They’ll know us by our love. They’ll know we belong to Christ and have been redeem based on how well we love others. Not just when it’s convenient, and not just for a little while–because that’s not love, at least, not the type of love Jesus modeled.

Jesus was all in, all the time, even when it was hard. Even when those He was loving on spurned Him at every turn. And He never gave up–never gives up. Whether He’s well-received or rejected again and again–and again, His love remains.

That kind of love changes a person. It can turn the self-destructing life around. It can transform entire communities—for generations to come.

And they’ll know us by our love.

That kind of love is hard. That kind of love hurts. That kind of love takes prayer-401401_1920incredible strength and perseverance, the kind only Jesus can give.

Now that I’ve been vague and semi-cryptic, let me give an example, one from current events. The riots. If you were on Facebook anywhere between May and the beginning of July, you probably read numerous opinions. I imagine you even saw a fair amount of hate—from every side of the issue.

But if you looked closely, you probably also saw some incredible love. Initiating, get-in-and-get-your-hands-dirty-and-your-heart-bruised kind of love.

As an example, here in Omaha, one organization in particular responded quickly. Shortly after the riots exploded in Dallas, after the shooting and fear and Facebook frenzy, Abide stepped up and stepped in—with love. Gathering together area churches and community members, they initiated a big prayer rally. A unifying action that created ripples of peace and healing throughout the Omaha Metro.

In other words, they didn’t sit at home behind their computers, sharing memes and girl-1064658_1920Facebook posts. They put action to their words and found a way to be a part of the solution, to demonstrate what real, active, initiating love looks like.

As Abide staff member, Rosie Schuman, Director of Neighborhood Transformation, says, “Our church is called Bridge for a reason. We want to be a bridge to Christ. Sometimes, we have to let people walk all over us to get to Christ. But we choose to let them, so it’s not abusive, we’re not door mats. Christ sure let people walk all over him. Showing love during that time. This is also what love your enemy looks like (Matthew 5:43-48). Staying put when things get hard.

And people took notice. I did. And I was challenged and inspired. Inspired to get off my couch, step out of my home, find someone who’s hurting, even if that hurt looks like anger, and initiate a get-in-and-get-your-hands-dirty-and-your-heart-bruised kind of love.

I’ve been working on that, and it’s been hard. Crazy hard. Harder than any other “mission” I’ve embraced. The easy thing would be to walk away. To guard my heart. To let someone else deal with the problem.

But they will know us by our love. By our initiating, self-sacrificing, persevering love.

The kind of love Jesus showed each of us when He hung on the cross, beaten and broken for us. For all mankind—those that respond to His love and those that reject Him at every turn.

That kind of love changes people. Changes communities. And perhaps most importantly, changes us. Makes us a little more like Jesus so that when people see us—watch our friends-775356_1920actions and choices and hear our words—they see our Savior, and by His grace and mercy, are drawn to Him.

It’s a high calling, this laying down of our life so that Christ might live through us, and in so doing, draw our broken, hurting world to Him. And that, my friend, is how we’ll change the world.

Let’s talk about this! Can you share any times when it was hard to love? Did you love anyway, and what were the results? Can you maybe share a time when you gave up and have regretted doing so? Share your thoughts, ideas, and examples in the comments below, because we can all learn from each other!

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