A Little About Me… by Judith Miller

I am extremely excited to be a new member of the Christians Read blog and hope that I’ll soon become acquainted with many of you subscribers. For those of you who don’t know anything about me or my books, I thought I’d use this first post as a way of introduction. For those of you who do know me, maybe you’ll consider this a refresher course.

groveton-easterI was born and reared in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. That’s me at the far right sporting a coat my mother had made on her treadle sewing machine.  I’m not sure why I was crying, but I’m sure it was because my brother had committed some horrid infraction against me. Shortly before I reached the ripe old age of eighteen, I moved to Kansas and have been here ever since. During those many years that followed, I lived in Junction City and then our family moved to Topeka. After twenty years in Topeka, I recently moved to the Kansas City area to be close to my adult children and granddaughter. I know many of you can relate to the upheaval created by such a move. I still feel like I’m a visitor in someone else’s house. I’m doing my best to make it my own, but it’s going to take some time. I count myself fortunate I’ve found a church that I believe is going to prove a wonderful fit for me, and I can now navigate my way to the grocery store without getting lost. So, I figure I’m on my way to adjusting, right?

My writing career began back in 1996 when Barbour Publishing accepted and published my first historical novel for their monthly book club. At that time, I was working in the Legal Section of the Department of Administration for the State of Kansas. During that time, I met Tracie Peterson and we formed both a writing and personal friendship that eventually led us to co-author twelve books for Bethany House. Our co-authored books have taken us from Lowell, Massachusetts to the Thousand Islands near the Canadian border. From there, we moved off the Georgia coast to set our final co-authored series on Jekyll Island.

scan_pic0041While working on our co-authored projects, I also began my solo career for Bethany House and wrote the Freedom’s Path series set in western Kansas which was based upon the settling of an “all colored” town named Nicodemus. The broadside at the left was used to lure unsuspecting freed slaves to a town that didn’t exist.

I love finding unique settings and events to share with readers. Since writing the series set in Nicodemus, I’ve written books set in Pullman, Illinois, the Amana Colonies, Cincinnati, Ohio, and in several towns located in West Virginia. My most recent book, The Chapel Car Bride, will release in April and is the story of a young woman who accompanies her father into a rural coal mining town during his chapel car ministry.

Most of my books have been set in the second half of the 19th Century or early Twentieth Century—a time period that truly intrigues me. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit and research in most of the areas portrayed in my books, and the people I’ve met along the way have truly blessed my life. I hope to tell you about some of them in future blogs.

What about you? Do you enjoy reading books that are set in specific parts of the country or outside the United States? What about time periods? What’s your preference? I always enjoy hearing what readers find unique and interesting, so do tell! I’d love to connect with you.


Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

A New Release by Tara Randel

I’m excited to share that my newest book, THE WEDDING MARCH, is a March 1, 2107 release. I had so much fun focusing on the music industry in this story, the ups and downs and hard work it takes to be successful. As in any aspect in life, putting our best foot forward and giving it our all gives us a sense of accomplishment.

This beautiful cover captures the essence of the book; the excitement of a wedding day. And a big part of the festivities includes music. Music sets the tone and mood of the event, and behind every wedding is a beautiful love story, as each Heartwarming book promises.

And to get you in the wedding mood, I’m offering four copies of  THE WEDDING MARCH in a Goodreads Giveaway. Click here to enter:  https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/enter_choose_address/222315-the-wedding-march


The help only he can offer… 

Cypress Pointe, Florida, is a long way from LA, where pop singer Cassie Branford needs a hit to prove she’s not a two-album wonder. But her case of writer’s block could be over when the struggling songwriter meets Luke Hastings at a family wedding.

The legendary musician walked away from success at the height of his career. Yet Luke is already inspiring Cassie with his dedication to building a permanent community outreach center for troubled teens. Volunteering to help bring music into these kids’ lives is also bringing her and Luke closer. Maybe they’re not as different as he thinks…


Amazon: http://amzn.to/2iggKQD

B & N: http://bit.ly/2j7NO20

Harlequin: http://bit.ly/2j7Rd0o

iTunes: http://apple.co/2igm8mN

Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA TODAY bestselling author of fourteen 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 www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at Tara Randel Books

Posted in Tara Randel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

If You Love the Book of Ruth… by Hannah Alexander

ruthI always loved the book of Ruth. It includes the best types of conflict but it also has a happy ending. Today is Valentine’s Day. What a fitting day for a book about Ruth, Redeeming Grace, to be released.

If you like Biblical fiction and you’ve never read a book by Jill Eileen Smith, you are in for a treat. She takes her research seriously and connects many of the dots that might have raised questions for you at some point in your reading of the Biblical account. However, remember that this is a work of fiction, so she makes things fall into place in the most logical way with her research, but she never takes the mystery out of the Bible. I learned that many years ago when I was judging a contest for unpublished writers. I knew when I first started reading her manuscript that I’d found a jewel of a book–one that must be published. I was not surprised to find that the other judges felt the same way. Jill won the contest that year. She never looked back.

That was the beginning of her writing career, and she’s on top of it now as she continues to research deeply to provide the most realistic story a reader can find without being overwhelmed my too much information.

Since I have been a fan of Jill Eileen Smith before she was even published, I can guarantee that her latest work, Redeeming Grace, will totally satisfy any reader of Biblical fiction. Check her out today and treat yourself to an excellent read.

And have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!


Posted in Hannah Alexander | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Spoiled Children Don’t Grow by Julie Arduini

It seems like so many people I love are in a holding pattern, circling the runway to promises fulfilled. As a parent, I underestimated how shattering this would be. When the kids were little, their safety and prayer they would make wise choices consumed me. Now, life is happening where I am helpless. These are setbacks and hurts they have to face themselves.

And I am not handling it well.

Each week we have at least one meal at the table where we not only catch up, but share what’s coming up and what our prayer needs are. The tears fell as the kids admitted their requests are the same. We have been praying and praying on these things. One request is years in the making. To see their frustration and pain, I couldn’t even finish dinner.

When it was my turn to prayer, I sobbed my questions out. Why aren’t things happening? Some of these requests are promises, so why aren’t they fulfilled? Why is there so much hurt? Basically I said You need to show us You’re in this because we are fading fast.

I kept the lament going long past dinner. As my husband tried to encourage me, I admitted sometimes I just need Jesus to be at the foot of the bed and explain Himself. To not have that, it’s really breaking me. I want to understand.

I went to bed with that crying headache and fell into an exhausted sleep. At 3:23 am I woke and instantly knew that number meant something. Before I could even pray, Colossians 3:23 came to mind. I knew that wasn’t me being all smart. A confident grasp of the Bible is not one of my strengths. But I immediately went to it.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…” Colossians 3:23, NLT

I laughed out loud. Earlier I’d been begging for a sign I’m on the right track with writing. When I give my time mentoring others, praying, giving away funds needed for writing to other needs around me. That direction could not have been more clear. I needed to stay obedient and get my focus off the money and business side of writing.

A few hours later I was working through my study guide for Ann Voskamp’s, The Broken Way. I stopped to once again ask, why? Why, if we are His beloved children, would He allow such pain?heart-1463424_960_720

Before I could move on, a thought so sudden and so full of wisdom dropped into my spirit I know it is a download from heaven. It has comforted me all day. I want to encourage you, because I know so many of you are asking the same questions I am. Here is what I “heard,”

“There is pain because you are beloved. If there weren’t hard times, you would be spoiled. And spoiled children don’t grow.”

Father, comfort every beloved child asking hard questions be encouraged today. You have eternal purpose for them. Their pain is not a joke to You. Strengthen, encourage and prepare them for ministering to others with similar hurts some day. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done. In Christ’s name. Amen and Amen.


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

Lessons From Frozen…

happiness, winter holidays, christmas and people concept - youngUnless you’ve living in total isolation for the past few years, you’ve probably heard of the Disney movie Frozen and the hit song that came from the move entitled, “Let It Go”.

All three of my granddaughters loved the movie, so naturally, I got to know Frozen quite well.

Beyond the amazing music, I think what I took away from the movie was don’t try to be someone you’re not and at some point in your life you have to learn to let go of the things that are cluttering up your life and standing in the way of God’s will.

Both these things are easier said than done. Especially letting go.

Valentines Day Background With Hearts

I’m the type of person that likes to hold onto things for the memories they bring me. But at some point, I had to let go of some things, otherwise, my life would become overwhelmed with stuff. So, appropriately, this January, I did some house cleaning and got rid of a lot of things I wasn’t using, but I kept the memories.

While letting go is hard, it is choice we must face many times in our lives. Whether it’s getting rid of some old junk, a bad habit, knowing when to end a toxic relationship, or simply being the bigger person and end an argument, sometimes you have to make the choice to simply ask God for the strength to let go.

portrait of beautiful girl on windy day

One of my favorites Bible verses is Isaiah 43:18-19. “Forget the former things;   do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

So no matter what you’re holding on to, let it go. Let God have it.


All the best…


Mary Alford


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Maintaining Emotional Perspective Through Prioritizing

fajnn4bsazs-nino-ubezioLast semester, I spent a good forty minutes each day listening to someone tell me all about their friend drama. My response was always the same: Sounds like you need different friends.

Now granted, I was speaking to a teen, but sometimes when I scroll through Facebook, I realize some of us adults are in those same cycles. To whom I’d say, “It sounds like, perhaps, you need different friends.”

Or at the very least, to decline their drama-party invitation.

But what about when, for whatever reason, you get sucked in? Then, to borrow some of girl-835020_1920Taylor Swift’s lyrics, you’ve got to shake-shake-shake, shake it off.

And now that that melody is running relentlessly through your head …

Consider what Paul has to say in Philippians 1:10 “For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return” (NLT). Further on in the same chapter, he says, “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ” (1:27 NLT).

Whenever I read that, I can’t help but think of all the times when our family’s been on vacation. We might encounter a wobbly hotel end table, a rude hotel staff member, or the most forgetful waitress in all of food service history. And yet, none of those things have the capacity to ruin our vacation (unless we let them) because we’re only passing through. It’s not our home, and, well, those encounters don’t really matter–they’re not why we went on vacation. Rather, we left home to simply get away and bond and reconnect as a family.

And if we let the wobbly end tables or poor service distract us, we risk losing the treasure family-1599825_1920of it all–time with each other.

How often do we allow the little things, the less-important things, like how the cashier responded to our hello, or maybe how a coworker treated us, overshadow the blessings God wants to sprinkle in to our day? How often do we let other’s actions control our emotions, thus giving them power over us?

When nine times out of ten their issue is just that–their issue.

As my husband would say, “Don’t own that monkey.”

Set it down, turn it around, and let it climb right back onto the other person’s shoulders, where it belongs. You’ll be much happier and much better able to focus on whatever it is God is calling you to do.

What about you? What do you think of when you read those verses from Paul? How might viewing our world and interactions through an eternal perspective change our responses? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another.

Posted in Jen Pheobus | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Kind of Faith Are We Proclaiming?

womanScripture tells us we are God’s image bearers–that the world will catch a glimpse of who He is through us. So, what kind of God are we revealing? What kind of faith are we proclaiming? Do our words and actions reveal our trust in a God who never leaves, never forsakes, and can never be diminished or overcome?

There will always be fires to chase after–if we choose. There will always be wars, economic declines, unemployment hikes, uncertainty. Mounting feelings of lack of control. And it’s easy to get caught up in the swirl of chaos and fear.

It might even be easier to spend hours debating a Facebook thread than crossing the street to bring a single mom dinner. Or to have coffee with a lonely old woman. Or to babysit a sick woman’s children.

I think that’s exactly what Satan would have us do. How easy a diversion. And then, if that doesn’t work, or perhaps if he wants a bit more oomph, he’ll pit us against ourselves.

And yet, if we’d step away from our computers for a bit and spend some time with our uxr-t8cz1u-daniel-mingook-kimSavior–the King of nations and victorious, risen Lord!–we’d recognize our true and timeless mission–that of knowing Him and making Him known. 

How did Paul respond, in the middle of total chaos, while facing unthinkable persecution? He got busy. He sought out those very ones who persecuted him, to show them a better way. Because Paul knew Christ’s love was stronger. 

His knowledge was experiential. Prior to encountering Christ, Paul, then called Saul, was a member of an ISIS-like group. A powerful member, one who spent his time seeking out followers of Christ in order to persecute them. Scripture tells us he witnessed the brutal stoning of the first Christian martyr and “agreed completely with the killing.”

How hard must one’s heart be, how strong must one’s hatred be, for them to stand there and watch, and not just watch, but approve, as a man’s bones are broken by stone after stone?

But then Saul met Christ, and this encounter brought about a radical change, and suddenly this man went from wanting others to die to laying down his life for those who, now, wanted him dead.

How much love does that take, to endure beatings, floggings, to risk death, for someone else? Not just someone else, but for the very ones that are beating you down?

A kind of love only Christ can give–and that kind of love is contagious. It can spread like wildfire, melting hearts of stone and turning lives that have flipped upside down right side up again.

friendship-468851_1280And the darker, more hate-filled our surroundings (or Facebook feeds), the brighter our love shines.


Posted in Jen Pheobus | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lasting Friendships by Tara Randel

Last spring, our church experienced a merge with another local body. Our pastor wasn’t quite ready to retire, but when the suggestion came up, he decided to leave earlier than planned. He wanted to go on a speaking circuit of churches in our area and spend time with his family. The merge made this happen for him.

When the new pastor came in, he brought his staff and members of his church and soon, it did not feel like home. Friends my husband and I had had long term relationships with were jumping ship to find a new place to attend services. We finally made the switch as well, searching for a new place to worship and make new friendships. (It’s been a tough transition, but that’s another story.)

We landing at a mega-church for a while, but soon got lost in the crowd. It was a great place to unwind, but we missed working in the church. We began attending a small church in town, a place where we already had established friendships. But still, it was painful not to be in touch with the folks we’d gone to church with for so long. There is a connection in the spirit, an abiding sense of family, when you go through life and death, good times and bad, with a group of people. Starting over on one hand is exciting, on the other hand daunting, but we continue to find our place in the kingdom in this new season.

So why am I telling you this story?

Last weekend, our retired pastor spoke at the new church we are attending. We put the word out and friends we hadn’t seen for months came to the service. It was old home week, except now we had new friends joining in the mix. Our new pastor had no reservations at having this retired pastor share with his church, no jealousy that some of the folks at the service would not be back again, as they have found different houses of worship. He was just happy to see all of us happy, hugging and catching up. That spoke volumes about his character.

My point is, friendships are important. Whether we see special people every Sunday or just a few times every month, the memories we’ve created cannot be taken away. We have new adventures to look forward to, just not on a regular basis. We need to work harder to maintain those old friendships, but they’re worth it. And as for new friends? It’s fun getting to know these people. I’m seeing how God uses different people to fulfill His purpose, finding new co-laborers to do God’s work here in His kingdom. The amazing thing is that old or new, we all work together.

So while leaving my old church was tough, it has shown me how important it is to keep in touch with my old friends, and how awesome it is to find new folks to work with and make a difference with on this earth.

God always has a plan, even if it takes a while to understand. I’ve learned to walk hand-in-hand with folks I might never have had an opportunity to meet if we hadn’t looked for a new church, while knowing my old friends are there if I need them. God has spread us all around. To touch lives? Maybe. To advance the kingdom? Definitely. These friendships are developed by our shared love for God and will only grow stronger with time.

So hug the friends you’ve known and cherished forever and enjoy and value the new friends you’re going to make. They all enhance our lives.

Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA TODAY bestselling author of fourteen 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. Look for The Wedding March, a March 2017 Heartwarming release. Visit Tara at www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at Tara Randel Books

Posted in Tara Randel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

What Tracks do I Leave? by Hannah Alexander

Picking up where I left off two weeks ago, I’m still following tracks outside in the snow. But the snow has melted quite a bit since last week’s storm. What was once so light and powdery that I had no trouble shoveling has now been pressed down to a wetter level by the sun’s rays. The tracks we left last week have widened so much that our tracks look as if giants walked around outside the house. The coyote tracks look like those of much larger dogs, with claw marks that might resemble that of a bear. I’m glad I saw them when they were fresh.

I was sick over the weekend, so I had too much time on my hands. I contemplated those tracks outside the window and thought about the those imprints we leave behind in life. You know what I’m talking about? Tracks such as words I’ve spoken to someone out of compassion, or maybe out of anger. Maybe out of fear. What kind of impact do my actions and words make on others?

Two friends of mine from high school lost their mothers last week. Since I no longer live in that community, do I ignore their loss and go on with my life, or do I send cards of encouragement because I’ve lost my own mother and understand how they feel? Taking no action would leave no footprint. Maybe a card wouldn’t matter much to them, or maybe words written by a friend who understands their loss could impact them in ways I can never imagine. This is a time when I should consider my footprint.

An obviously very troubled woman tried to start a fight with me over a cart at the grocery store the other day. Yes, really! Her unwarranted hostility caught me off guard. I immediately got away from the woman and reached for another cart while someone else reprimanded both of us for fighting. That further caught me off guard, because I hadn’t said a word. The incident left a footprint in me. Instead of walking around the store with a friendly smile, I kept my head down, grabbed what I needed, and got out as quickly as possible.We can all be affected by someone else’s footprint. Others might have been affected by a smile from me that day, but I closed myself off out of fear of another attack.

0101171530The words we speak or write, the things we do for or against others, have chain reactions. If I speak caustic words to someone out of anger, that could affect that person’s life for days, weeks, even for life, depending on my words. It could also affect their loved ones, or even my loved ones, if that person holds a grudge.

I’m trying to pay more attention to the spread of my footprint in this world lately. How is your footprint doing?


Posted in Hannah Alexander | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Romantic Suspense to Love

by Elizabeth Goddard

As you might know, I write romantic suspense and that, because I love to read the genre. What could be more exciting than a handsome hero and a spunky heroine thrown together in a fight for survival while they race to stop the villain before he hurts someone else?

I wanted to share about two awesome romantic suspense novels I recently read that deliver just what fans of the genre are looking for.

First, I just finished Missing by  Lisa Harris.

Lisa has a lot of writing credentials and she doesn’t disappoint. Her bio says it all:

LISA HARRIS is a Christy Award finalist for Blood Ransom and Vendetta, Christy Award winner for Dangerous Passage, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 and 2015 from Romantic Times for her novels Blood Covenant and Vendetta. She has over thirty novels and novella collections in print. She and her family have spent over twelve years living as missionaries in Africa where she leads a women’s group, and runs a non-profit organization that works alongside their church-planting ministry. The ECHO Project works in southern Africa promoting Education, Compassion, Health, and Opportunity and is a way for her to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” (Proverbs 31:8)

See what I mean?

I loved, loved the twists and turns in Missing, and an unusual topic. I especially loved the ending–I don’t want to spoil it, but Lisa kept the romantic tension going and I was so ready for that ending! Oops. . .you’ll have to read the book to experienced it for yourself.

510iwxxqupl1And the blurb for Missing:

Nikki Boyd isn’t usually called in on homicides; her forte is missing persons. But when a case with two murdered and two missing pops up on a quiet suburban street, she’s ready to start the investigation and find missing homeowners Mac and Lucy Hudson. When the first clues lead her to the boat of her friend Tyler Grant–and another dead body–Nikki must untangle what ties Tyler to the Hudsons. The clues pull her into a deadly maze of counterfeit drugs and a killer who will stop at nothing to silence anyone who threatens his business–including Nikki.


Be sure to get your copy today!

Next up is Fatal Mistake by Susan Sleeman, another great story by another great author.

Susan’s Bio:

SUSAN SLEEMAN is a bestselling author of inspirational and clean read romantic suspense and mystery books. With over twenty-five books in print, readers love her Justice Agency, First Responders, and Agents Under Fire series for the well-drawn characters and edge-of-your-seat action. As a graduate of the FBI, city and county police academies, her research is spot on and her characters are real. Awards include Romantic Times Best Book, Swoony award winner, Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and EPIC Award finalist.

In addition to writing, Susan also hosts the popular website.In addition to writing, Susan also hosts the popular website TheSuspenseZone.com. She currently lives in Oregon with her husband, but has lived in nine states. They have two daughters, a son-in-law, and an adorable grandson.

You’ll have to wait to get your copy of Fatal Mistake because it’s not available until May, 2017, but this was a ride you don’t want to miss! Talk about edge-of-your-seat suspense. Susan knows her FBI stuff too, and the story is chock full of technical gadgets and information sure to not only entertain but to educate.

Here’s the blurb:

An FBI agent must protect the woman who can identify a terrorist bomber in bestselling 51y5z6toffl-_sy346_author Susan Sleeman’s riveting romantic suspense novel.

Each day could be her last…but not if he can help it.

Tara Parrish is the only person ever to survive an attack by the Lone Wolf bomber. Scared and emotionally scarred by her near death, she goes into hiding with only one plan–to stay alive for another day. She knows he’s coming after her, and if he finds her, he will finish what he started.

Agent Cal Riggins has had only one goal for the past six months–to save lives by ending the Lone Wolf’s bombing spree. To succeed, he needs the help of Tara Parrish, the one person who can lead them to the bomber. Cal puts his all into finding Tara, but once he locates her, he realizes if he can find her, the Lone Wolf can, too. He must protect Tara at all costs, and they’ll both need to resist the mutual attraction growing between them to focus on hunting down the bomber, because one wrong move could be fatal.

Be sure to Pre-order your copy today! 




P.S. My latest novel, Undercover Protector, released this month!


Undercover at a tiger sanctuary, Special Agent Grayson Wilde’s convinced the owne9780373456819r must be involved in a wildlife trafficking ring—until someone tries to kill her. Now with Gemma Rollins’s life on the line, it’s clear that more than the wildcats need his help. Gemma’s determined to rebuild the tiger oasis she lost when her family died. But someone wants her out of the way, and she’s starting to wonder if her parents’ and uncle’s deaths were really accidental. Grayson says he’ll do anything to protect Gemma, but she can’t shake the feeling that her alluring new volunteer might not be all that he seems. With a vicious criminal closing in, though, she has to trust Grayson…because she won’t survive without him.


Get your copy today!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Unmet Expectations by Julie Arduini

The last time I posted, I shared that my word for 2017 is transformation. I mentioned the different ways I thought it would play out, and already I’m seeing in some ways I was right on track, and others, not even at the right station.

What I also didn’t consider was another word that would shove itself right in with transformation. With change comes how we deal with it. For me, I struggle. Why?

Unmet expectations.

Earlier this month I counted the hours until my eye appointment where I would be back in contacts after a three year break. Not only am I vain, but I’m at the age where my temperature is nuclear. I couldn’t wait to ditch the specs that kept fogging up.

One problem.

The contacts didn’t meet my expectations. I have always work gas perm lenses, and these are soft. The fit is great, but they said right off my vision wouldn’t be as “crisp.” Crisp? I felt like it was muted.

When I mentioned this, the doctor admitted that my prescription is so high that she had to compromise and give me something that was adequate for far and near. Adequate was to her a definition that meant, “These should only be used for social events. I don’t think you can wear these for work.glasses-1934296_960_720

I could feel the giddiness fading as she spoke. This was news to me, and not welcome, either. My expectation was I’d be back in contacts full time. Now I have “muted” contacts and glasses that no longer are the right prescription. That same day I was online ordering new glasses, the one thing I wanted to be done with.

My daughter’s day wasn’t much better. The school called me to discuss a change that would overall be a benefit her and her needs. Before we touched base, the teachers misunderstood and thought everything was a go. Although it was, I had not approved the move yet. Her entire schedule changed, and it was abrupt. One minute she is in homeroom, the next, she’s gathering her things and moving to a new room. She felt ripped from her friends. She didn’t understand. And this was certainly not her expectation.

Once we were able to meet and talk, she understood why I approved the change and although she didn’t love it any more than I loved wearing my glasses, it wasn’t our expectation, but it was God’s hand. This move offers her a reset, a theme I kept reading about and how it would be a major part of the new year. If anyone deserved a reset, she did. But she had to surrender her unmet expectations.

I have loved ones who never expected to be single moms, cancer survivors, or in an unemployment line. When I think about complaining, I remember a cousin who had this mantra, “No one said life is going to be fair.”

I wish I could write that I’m going to roll with transformation and unmet expectations like a happy musical, but I know me. I process it for a time, usually follow it up with some chocolate, and ultimately surrender and trust what is a surprise to me, isn’t to God. With that, I move forward.

How do you handle unmet expectations?

Posted in Julie Arduini, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Beginnings


New beginnings are everywhere around us. Some are small. Some aren’t. Each day is a new beginning. And just recently our country had a new beginning. We swore in a new president.


Our personal life is filled with new beginnings as well. Whether we decide to start a new career after our children are grown, or relocate to another state, new beginnings can be both challenging as well as rewarding.

Recently, after a lot of prayer, my husband and I decided to sell our cabin in Colorado. It was a very hard decision to make as we love Colorado and feel as if its our second home, but we realized since our granddaughters came along, we rarely use the cabin anymore. It’s too hard to be away from them for any length of time. This year was our first year not going to Colorado, and while we missed the people we’ve met there and the beautiful mountains, we know that Colorado will be there when our granddaughters are older. God willing, we will be able to return there again.


New beginnings is the story idea behind my upcoming February 17th Christian romance release, Grace And The Rancher.



Grace Bradford is living a lie. To the world she has the perfect life: A promising country music career and a husband who adores her. But her husband isn’t the man everyone believes him to be. When a car accident widows her and ends her career, Grace escapes to Delaney Mountain. But moving to the remote town doesn’t wipe away the ugly secret of her marriage. Kyle Delaney never intended to return to Delaney Mountain, but he promises his dying father that he’ll turn their land into a working cattle ranch. He uproots his life in Austin, sells his flourishing business as a music agent, and returns to the Colorado town of his childhood. Can a runaway singer and a makeshift rancher, thrust together by circumstance and held together by the common thread of loss and a love of music, find hope and a happily-ever-after under the stars of Delaney Mountain?


So what about you? Are you going through a new beginning in your life? If so, how are you dealing with it?

All the best…


Mary Alford




Posted in Mary Alford, Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment

Life Interrupts…But Goes On by Vicki Hinze

Vicki Hinze, Seasons, Life Interrupts but goes on, 123RF Stock Photo

Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo


Life Interrupts… But Goes On


Vicki Hinze


We all know that we experience Seasons. Times in our lives when things go smoothly, and times when they just don’t. I’ve been in a “just don’t” season since right before Thanksgiving. Hubby broke his foot and had to have surgery.

That meant he was sidelined for six weeks, and in the way wives are when husbands are down, so was I. It made for scaled back holidays and for challenging times working. And then Murphy’s law, unconvinced we had enough on our plates, kicked in. An update skewed my website. We’re into week five of trying to get it back to normal, and after some very large bills and anxious moments, I am hopeful that this week things will get back to normal on it. Been praying a lot on this. There are things on that site that can’t be redone or replaced.

But Murphy wasn’t yet done. On a Monday Hubby was told his foot had healed properly—there’d been some doubt and concerns that the surgery might need to be repeated. We rejoiced at that bit of good news… until Tuesday. One day later, with visions of things getting back to normal dancing in my head, I went in for a normal follow-up visit with the doctor and had unexpected surgery that same day.

That knocked me for a loop for two weeks. Two weeks in which I was scheduled to prepare for the release of a new book, Down and Dead in Dallas. It was supposed to come out the week that five police officers were shot, but I delayed the release out of respect for those officers and their families because that shooting incident occurred in Dallas.

The title of the book had been established in a previous book, Down and Dead in Even, so it couldn’t be changed, and while that is the only thing the two have in common, I just couldn’t release a book with that title on raw wounds. So I held off. Then all this.

While I agree there is never a good time for unexpected events that knock us off our feet, after all the months of work in writing a book and all the effort of publishing that book, it really causes disappointment and complications when life interrupts. Still, under the circumstances, the delay was the right thing to do.

So now I’m playing catch-up; it seems, on everything at once. I prayed about that, too, and accepted that I can do only what I can do, and then I put the challenges on the altar. I’m limited in what I can do. God isn’t. And this is one of those times when I have no choice but to accept my limitations and to trust Him, that He will get word to those who need it or want it or could benefit from it.

Admittedly, I’m hoping this specific season of trials is closing. I’ve had about all the “fun” I can take for now. At least, I think I have. Oh, I’ll deal with what I must, but I sure would be grateful if the season ends now. There’s no sugarcoating this. I am bone-weary tired.

The good news is, I’m not soul-weary tired. Like everyone else, I’ve had my share of those seasons, too, but I’ve been spared that this season, and for that I am really grateful.

If you’ve been reading the Down and Dead, Inc. series, you know it started with Down and Dead in Dixie. The second project is Down and Dead in Even. I wanted to mention that because when you subscribe to my newsletter, you get a copy of Even free. It’s a Quick-Read novella about Caroline Branch Easton, and if read before Down and Dead in Dallas, you’ll get more from the book. While that isn’t essential, getting to revisit some characters is always more fun when you know them. You meet Christine Branch in Even, and she so interested me, she just had to have her own story. That brings us to…

Down and Dead in Dallas, Christine’s story, which reveals a lot of the inside secrets of Sampson Park. I totally enjoyed that, and I hope readers will, too.

Vicki Hinze, Down and Dead in Dallas, Down and Dead, Inc. series

Down and Dead in Dallas is currently available in ebook (paperback is coming) at: Amazon, BN, iBooks and Kobo.

With grace, the door on this Season will soon close. And a window of progress will open. As I write that, I’m reminded of the truth that even the darkness night falls to joy in the morning.

May your dark nights be few, your mornings be many, and may you enjoy seasons of great progress!











Posted in Vicki Hinze | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments


Portrait of unhappy grumpy pissed off senior mature man isolated on gray wall background. Negative human emotions, face expression feelings

The other day I overheard my husband talking to a friend about how it’s almost inevitable that men should turn into the stereotypical “grumpy old men” sooner or later. I guess if you live long enough, some of the more memorable interchanges are those where something gets screwed up. A promised service isn’t done on time; a product is poorly made; orders get mixed up. Somehow a “simple” job someone is supposed to perform just doesn’t get done, or at least not done properly. Happens all the time, right?

Maybe when you’re young you don’t tally up all of the disappointments, unmet expectations, or unfulfilled promises aimed your way. Even the big ones can be shaken off, because you know you have a long life of new adventures to face where, hopefully, the results will be better.

Or maybe it’s because when you’re old, time doesn’t slow down—it does just the opposite. So that time the waitress messed up your order last year might have been a long time ago to someone else, but when it happens to you it seems like that other time was only yesterday.

Thankfully, most of the older people I know (including my husband) have developed something else through their years of experience: an appreciation for knowing just how hard it is to get everything right. Perhaps most importantly, somehow they’ve managed to retain their sense of humor as their bodies adjust to new limitations and they have to say goodbye to things they used to enjoy, everything from certain foods to playing sports.

So next time you meet a grumpy old man…maybe something as simple as a smile is the right reaction. Even if it only helps you, it’s worth a try. 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Freaky New Life by Hannah Alexander

Mountain Lion?

Mountain Lion?

I realize I’ve made it onerously apparent in posts from the past that Mel and I have moved 850 miles from a place we called home for many decades to the Nebraska Panhandle. Wow, what a move. It’s a whole ‘nother country out here, and we’re loving it, snow and all. We’re still looking for a church where we will feel more a part of this small town, but the neighbors, shopkeepers…pretty much every single person we’ve met reassure us by their kindness that we’ve made a good choice.

Um, see this picture? I believe it’s also one of our neighbors–not human. Coming from southern Missouri, where I hiked most of my life on logging trails, I’ve seen pretty much every kind of track available, including mountain lion. That’s why when I saw this set of tracks in our front drive, and noted that the stride matched mine, and that the tracks were all around our house, from dumpster in back to the country road several hundred feet from our house, I came running inside, squealing to Mel. He shoved a camera into my hand and sent me back out to take pictures–it was New Year’s Eve and he was recovering from the flu like everyone else.

So I went back outside, cluelessly unarmed, and followed the tracks, searching for some sign of claw mark, because if it has a claw mark it could be a large dog. Thing is, there are NO large dogs allowed to run wild in this area. Coyotes, yes, and I saw a lot of those tracks in the snow, as well. They came all the way up to our front door. But they have shorter, more hyper-looking steps, walking in circles, and they can’t retract their claws. Coyotes don’t scare me.


Mountain lions, however, make me very uncomfortable. I saw no claw marks in these tracks. It frightened me to the point that I emailed my uncle, whom I turn to with all my wild questions, and he told me this definitely sounded like a mountain lion and to watch my back. So we’ve called our neighbors and warned them so they can keep their dogs inside. We’ve dug out our weapons for protection just in case, and we won’t let the cat outside ever in a million years.

And now that I’ve managed to download these pictures I’ll be sending them to the state authorities to notify them of a presence in the area. Two mountain lions had to be shot in a town 35 miles northwest of us. They’d climbed into the backyards of homes. Have you watched the television show, Zoo? I know I’m freaking, but it feels kind of like that right now. Oh, yes, all that and I still LOVE it here. We have tumbleweeds! Right now I’m using them to decorate the front porch. No, I’m not kidding. I grew up in So CAL, where I built forts with tumbleweeds. I’m loving it!

Besides the wildlife–including the moose we’ve been warned about, and the prairie rattlesnakes–we’re learning that we can’t pop out to Walmart and be back home in less than an hour. We’ve learned that the Nebraska Panhandle is most definitely part of the wild, wild west, with formations such as Chimney Rock, Courthouse Rock, Jail Rock, Scotts Bluff National Monument, and the wildcat hills–all visions of beauty that take my breath away. We’ve learned that we love these wide open spaces, with sandhills to the north and east of us, prairie and hills and formations, plateaus and buttes to the south and west. I recently had a friend ask about where would be the best place to vacation between Colorado Springs and Mount Rushmore. Wow. I could keep her busy for weeks.

Don’t worry about the safety of the mountain lion; I couldn’t bring myself to shoot it unless it’s charging me or someone else. I did, however, score a 97% in my shooting course, and my weapon is fit for the task.

And now to alert the authorities.


Posted in Hannah Alexander | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment