Stepping Back: The Upside of an Injury by Vicki Hinze

Stepping Back 


Vicki Hinze


Nearly 5 weeks ago, I sat at my desk as I usually do, and the phone rang. Now the phone is behind me when I am at my desk, so I turned around for it, had a short conversation, and then rather than swiveling in my seat to put the phone back on its charger, I just stretched back. Something in my shoulder pulled. Pain surged through the shoulder and rolled down my arm in waves. The pain was excruciating. Within seconds, I was in a cold sweat and I dropped the phone. So began this little, seemingly insignificant incident that forced a step back.


With that small motion during a routine task, I set off a chain of events that has impacted my life in ways large and small—and apparently will continue to impact it for at least the next three weeks.


At the time, I knew I was hurt. Three days later, I realized something was seriously wrong. My shoulder and right arm throbbed continuiously and I couldn’t lift even a coffee cup. I saw my regular doctor, who sent me to get x-rays and scans and referred me to an orthopedic specialist. After a healthy shot in the shoulder, the orthopedist referred me to physical therapy.


When you have a heavy schedule and a high-octane life, and you are suddenly sidelined and incapable of doing anything you normally do, it impacts you physically and also your mood. I tried to keep a positive attitude and my grouchiness at bay by reading inspiring quotes, and essays that focused on the beautiful things in the world. That did help, but as the pain persisted and the weeks wore on, the attitude challenge became more demanding. And then I received an email…


The instructions were to look closely at one photograph. (I give full credit to whoever took it; that wasn’t disclosed to me, but to grasp the lesson I learned in this I must include it.) This is the first photograph:


 The story goes, that the white truck was traveling from left to right on the road. It broke through the guard rail, flipped and kept flipping, right over the culvert and came to rest where you see it parked.


What a blessing it seemed that the truck had flipped and landed as it did so that the driver was safe. Likely rattled to the core—who wouldn’t be?—but uninjured.


Then the email instructed me to look at a second photograph. (Again, full credit to the undisclosed photographer.) Here is the second photograph:


I took one look at it and gasped. That driver hadn’t just experienced a blessing but a blessing and a miracle!


And then I read the words below the second photograph:


“If God isn’t done with you, then God isn’t done with you.”


Now flipping a truck and escaping certain death is a lot more dramatic than stretching to put a phone on its charger, but the lesson can be the same.


My whole attitude about being sidelined changed. And that’s made all the difference.


I’ve looked at these two photos often in the last few weeks, and will I’m sure in the next few weeks. And when I do, I think of all of the things I did routinely and took for granted. I think of all the therapy and work by the therapists, and the things I am able to do today I was unable to do right after the injury. And I think about how grateful I am healing is possible.


It’s easy to get discouraged when sidelined, or when things don’t go the way we want them to go. We don’t always know why they happen, though sometimes the reason becomes clear later. And the point, I guess, is that whether or not we ever understand why isn’t important. What is important is to not take the routine for granted. To be grateful and count your blessings.


In every life there are many cliffs, and many close calls. Some we see and recognize, but some escape our notice or are beyond our notice. Just as one can’t know the number of lives saved by taking a preventative measure, one can’t know what didn’t happen because something we perceive as being a bad thing did happen. It just might be that that bad thing was a very good thing—like the truck flipping over the culvert and not down that cliff.


And that brings us to the bottom line. The lesson isn’t just if God isn’t done with you, then God isn’t done with you, though that’s one offered. The lesson is also if you’re on the wrong path, or the “less than stellar path” that God has planned for you, He can and will sideline you to give you time to reflect and realize you’re on the wrong path or that “less than stellar” path.


Which sums up nicely an encouraging, mood elevating “secret weapon” that helps keep perspective balanced. It’s waiting for us in the simple verse:


“Be still, and know that I am God.” –Psalm 46:10


While the next few weeks will have their challenges, I will focus not on what I can’t do, on impatience or frustration, but on the gems being shown to me.


The gifts in those gems are doubtless ones I can carry with me not just during the trials but for the rest of my life. I’m going to seek them. Embrace them. And implement them.


And when I forget, I’m going to reread this article and be reminded. I think there might just be another lesson or two hiding, waiting for me to find them.







New Release!

“The ICE workbook is something we all should have ready for our families! The author has included everything you might possibly need to have ready in an emergency. When I was paging through it, I realized how little I know of what goes on in our home. It certainly is time to change that and be prepared – just In Case of Emergency.”  ~Betti Mace


Read More 








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FREE Engaged eBook August 19 by Julie Arduini

I know towards the end of summer, many people still have travel plans and a need for a good read.

I have on my tablet a load of books I want to read for enjoyment, not for writing or review, so my thought is perhaps that is your case, too.

Let’s add a FREE eBook to your collection, okay?

On Saturday, August 19, ENGAGED will be a free eBook on Amazon. 


Trish Maxwell’s back in Speculator Falls with egg on her face and a lot of apologies to make. She left the mountain town for her dream job in New York City, only to come back unemployed. With no prospects, she works at her family’s department store and makes amends as she finds a new passion creating window displays for Adirondack businesses. She works hard and tries to convince the people of Speculator Falls she’s changed for the better.
As Trish pitches in with community events, she meets paramedic Wayne Peterson, the one man who doesn’t seem to judge her. She even makes friends with Jenna Regan, who helps Trish when people demand to know what’s next in Trish’s life. Living in New York City has been her goal, but the more she’s around Wayne and the Adirondack area, the more she’s drawn to revising her plans. Just when Trish thinks the plan for her life’s coming together, a second chance comes her way that could give her every career goal she’s ever wanted, but threaten to tear her and Wayne apart. Can Trish surrender fears about her future and discover God’s plan for her?


Although this is book 3 in a series, I believe you can read it as a standalone without confusion. However, if you would like to start from the beginning, ENTRUSTED is a free eRead at, and ENTANGLED is available at a low cost. All books are available for print, AND I created a devotional ebook using the characters from this series as well as my surrender stories to help you in your surrender journey.


Feel free to spread the word to other readers. If you enjoy my books, reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are the best way. The more reviews a book has, the more Amazon makes it visible. Thank you for considering Julie Arduini books for your summer!

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Reading the Word by Tara Randel


Here we are again. Summer break is almost over, unless your children go back to school as early as Florida. Our kids went back this week. There’s something about the hustle of getting ready for school, even if your children have grown and  you don’t have to buy school supplies and new clothes.

I was in WalMart last week, roaming around in the supply section. Back packs. Lunch boxes. Paper, pens, pencils…it all took me back to the days when I took my girls to the store to get ready for the big day. We always made a special day of shopping, then out to lunch as our last day of summer vacation. I watched the parent’s faces, remembering that look of being overwhelmed by the number of supplies the schools require. I actually rolled my cart away with a package of pens. I know, I got away easy.

The scene got me thinking. How many times have you felt overwhelmed by all the material out there, offering to help us have a closer relationship with the Lord? There are books and tapes and pod casts. I’ll be talking to a person and they’ll say, “Have you read so-and-so?” Many times I haven’t. Let’s face it, we can’t read every single book put out by an author who hopes to have some sort of impact in our walk with the Lord. So what do we do?

Go back to basics. Read the Bible. I don’t knock books that help us understand doctrine or church history or walking day-to-day with the Lord. They are wonderful additions to the Word. Reading the Word daily brings us hope, strength, promise and joy. No matter what you face in life, the Word can fill your heart and soften the sad places. It can even make us bold as we discover who God is and how much He loves us.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12-13

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13

As the children get back into a routine, why don’t we all, me included, take this opportunity to set aside a special time each day (if you don’t already) to get into the Word. As our children grow in learning, let us also grow deeper in our relationship with God. Every moment spent with the Lord is exciting and worthwhile.


Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of fifteen novels. Family values, a bit of mystery and, of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Look for her next Harlequin Heartwarming romance, HIS ONE AND ONLY BRIDE, available January 2018 and her next Christmas Town novella in the holiday collection, HEARTWARMING HOLIDAY WISHES, available October 2017.  Visit Tara at Like her on Facebook at Tara Randel Books

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How NOT to Trim Trees by Hannah Alexander

This will be the shortest article I’ve ever written here due to the title of this piece.

Good news: There are no longer heavy branches scraping half the shingles of our roof–and by the looks of this overgrown tree, you can see that everything here grows with alarming vigor.

Bad news: I’m afraid of heights, I had no proper work shoes, don’t do wood saws, and had no one watching me in case I fell off the roof.

Other than those things, all I have to show for yesterday is a nicely trimmed tree, burned feet–man, that roof was HOT!–and a sprained elbow. Icing it now, which is why I can’t write much.

Wisdom: NEVER climb onto the roof of any house without a cell phone, or a neighbor watching out for you, especially if you’re as inexperienced at tree trimming as I am. Always wear shoes, not sandals, not bare feet, when you’re working in the garden or in the trees. Never work in the heat of the day.  If and when you do these things and suffer for it, make sure your ice bag doesn’t have a leak and that the water you drink to replenish your fluids isn’t too cold. Oh, and if you decide to pull weeds instead of using poison (I prefer the exercise) wear gardening gloves. Tumble weeds can bite.

Happy August!


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How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Julie Arduini

I honestly thought I missed a couple posts this summer thanks to a dead laptop I had to restore. One look at my list of posts and oops, I haven’t posted since the end of June!

With back to school weeks away for us, I thought I’d take today’s post to share what I’ve been up to. It’s been a different summer for me.

First, I finished the Surrendering Time Series with the release of ENGAGED. I really enjoyed this book and the feedback I have received has been strong. At the end I included a series prologue for my next series, Surrendering Opinions. That also received high praise, so I’m ready to dive in September.


My husband holding our first grandson.

We traveled a lot this summer. Our older children, adults who are both married and live in Wisconsin, both kids had their first sons. It was surreal and amazing watching the “kids” interact with their own babies. I met the older kids when they were around 9 and 11, so it was a blessing to see them come full circle. Our younger children, 19 and 14, looked super proud to be holding their new nephew. No one beamed more than my husband. He stares at the pictures and just says how beautiful they are. It’s a wonderful season of life.

Our travels took us the PA/NY border where we returned to Bucktail Camping, our first time in a decade. We camped with my sister and nephew, and what a difference for us. Instead of our kids being young, they were the ones helping their cousin and showing him all the fun things to do. If you’re ever near Mansfield, PA, Bucktail has putt-putt, a train ride around the campground, ball pit, batting cage, tower slide, merry-go-round, arcade, frisbee golf and more.

Closer to home, I took the kids to Ashtabula for the day. Our son is a sophomore at Kent State with hopes to be a history teacher, so we relished our time at the Hubbard House, the last stop for slaves in their journey to freedom. We also did some shopping and visited the beaches.

We had times at home, too. When it was rainy, we binge watched West Wing, a show I’d forgotten how well done it was. We painted rocks, part of a huge hobby in NE Ohio where you paint the rocks and hide them to brighten someone’s day. It’s so big around here the group was featured on CBS This Morning earlier this year.

Writing? I did a little of that, although I confess not a lot of it. Our youngest is a tremendous asset when it comes to plotting and she came up with a great idea for a tween series. The first book is about surrendering lies girls believe. The series revolves around a ministry that grows friendships between girls of all ages through mentoring. We believe we have three books to write in total that will encourage tween girls and the women in their lives. Stay tuned on the Surrendering Stinkin’ Thinkin’ Series.

How about you? Did you travel this summer? What fun things have you enjoyed? I’d love to read your comments.

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Great Christian Love Stories by Mary Alford



When I first started reading romance novels, (I’m about to truly date myself), the Christian romance genre was TINY.

Today, there’s a subgenres for Christian romance such as Amish, cowboy, small town, historical, and suspense to  name a few. No matter what type of Christian romance you like to read, there’s something for you.

But what makes a great Christian romance? Is it the faith element? The romance? The life issues that must be overcome in each book?

As a writer, I have to say, I’m drawn to creating stories filled with all of these things. Whether it be romantic suspense or contemporary romances, I love to fill my stories with the seemingly insurmountable drama in my characters’ lives that tests their faith and creates great emotion for the reader and well as for me, the writer.

deadly memories

So, what do you think? Are great Christian love stories about the faith, the romance, or the life issues? I contend they are about all of these things. Great Christian love stories can be filled with faith, romance, suspense, and life issues, but they always, always leave the reader wanting to know what happens next in the hero and heroine’s lives. And if you’re like me, you’ll end up reading those books over and over again.

All the best…

Mary Alford




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Liberty Memorial by Judith Miller

When visitors ask what they should see when visiting Kansas City, I always suggest the National WWI Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri. I still recall my first visit. The visit was a request for my birthday before I lived in Kansas City. Now that might not sound exciting for some people, but I had wanted to visit for several years, and had heard many wonderful reports about the museum. The museum didn’t disappoint.

While writing A Bond Never Broken, one of the books in my Amana series, I studied the history of America’s involvement in the war effort, but I must admit that my knowledge of World War I was limited. In fact, it still is, but my visit to the museum greatly expanded my knowledge.

Walking toward the museum, you can’t miss the Liberty Memorial Tower that rises above the surrounding observation deck. Near the top of the tower are carved statues of four stone guardian spirits. Sculpted by Robert Aitken, they represent Honor, Courage, Patriotism, and Sacrifice. The two gigantic stone sphinxes adorn the Liberty Hall Deck.

The sphinx known as “Memory” faces the East with wings shielding its face from the horrors of the European battlefields. “Future” faces the West with wings shrouding its face to symbolize the future which is yet unseen.

On the observation deck there are two additional exhibit halls and a beautiful view of Kansas City. In addition, you can ride an elevator to the top of the memorial tower for an even better view! Fortunately, it wasn’t too cold the day we were there, so we enjoyed going up and taking in the view.

I am a visual type and was deeply impacted as we entered into the museum to begin our tour of the galleries. Each person crosses over a glass walkway that spans a field of 9,000 red poppies—one poppy for every 1,000 men who died. Although my picture doesn’t do it justice, it is a beautiful memorial statement to those who gave their lives during the Great War. There were so many things to see and I’d love to share all the pictures, but that’s impossible, so I’ve included only a few. If you visit Kansas City, be sure to stop and visit the museum.

Blessings, Judy


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NOT THIS TIME by Vicki Hinze

I’m down with inflamed nerves on the right side of my chest and back. Physical therapy is helping but it’s slow going (and painful).  As a result, I haven’t been on the keyboard.  But I received a note from my publisher, Multnomah (Random House) that they have a special sale on NOT THIS TIME, one of my Crossroads Crisis Center books.

NOT THIS TIME typically sells for $13.99 and is on sale for $1.99!

I wanted to pass that news along to you. Here’s a bit more about the book:

“Tense, breathless, multi-layered – and highly recommended.”  ~Lee Child

“Vicki Hinze’s new thriller, NOT THIS TIME, hones suspense to a razored edge.  Riveting, relentless, and fraught with betrayals, here is a novel that cuts both to the bone and to the heart. Not This Time should be retitled Not to be Missed.”  ~James Rollins



Sara and Beth built a multi-million dollar business and act as anti-terrorism consultants. Now their business and friendship are strained because Beth is leery of Sara’s husband. When he goes missing and is verified kidnapped, authorities consider Beth their prime suspect.

Then their hometown, Seagrove Village, Florida, is rocked by an act of terrorism, and Beth doesn’t know who to trust. Someone close to her is connected to the attack, but who? Is there a connection to Crossroads Crisis Center? In the midst of the confusion and fear, Beth finds herself attracted to a man from her past, the former Shadow Watcher, Joe. She knows she shouldn’t fall in love with him–she can’t resist or even explain their bond. And as her world unravels around her, she wonders…

Will the truth set her free or ruin her life? Is it possible to be pushed beyond redemption?

“Vicki Hinze has… talent for transforming the unlikely into something beautiful.” –Publishers Weekly

Amazon     BN Nook     Google     Kobo     iBooks

Enjoy the reading–and the savings!





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It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas…

We are in full blown summer here in my neck of the woods in Texas, and it’s hibernation time.  You know what I mean. When the temperature creeps up to over a 100 degrees and its not fit for man nor beast outside most of the day.

When things get hot here in the Alford house, my thoughts naturally drift off to cooler times. And when I think of cooler weather, well, I think of Christmas.

And when I think about Christmas, I find myself wanting to start making Christmas decorations.

So today, I though I’d share some of my favorite craft ideas for the upcoming the Christmas season.


oh holy night

I love this idea because it seems easy enough and you can add lights to it, giving it a special look.

let it snow.

Not sure if I can pull this one off or not. But I’m looking forward to trying it.

snowman melting

This is one of my favorites from last year. The melting snowman. I think it would be fun to make with the granddaughters.

 true love

And this sign that pretty much defines the meaning of Christmas for me.

So what about you? What’s your favorite way to decorate for Christmas…even if its only July.

All the best…
Mary Alford
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Introducing Guest Author Colleen Coble

Colleen 2012 Black

Write Who You Are


I’d always wanted to write from the first moment I wrote a story in first grade. That dream went underground for a while when raising our children, but I’d take it out and blow the dust off now and then. When my brother Randy was killed at 37 in a freak lightning accident, I knew I had to follow my dream.

I’ve always read a lot and during the 80s and 90s it seemed there was no hope in any of the books I was reading. If I was going to write, I wanted to leave readers with a sense of hope. I don’t want to preach at them—I want to write a really compelling mystery story without language or sex scenes. And I’m a Christian, so my worldview is automatically going to come through the stories. My characters usually struggle with something I’m struggling through. And that’s the way it is with any author. You can read Stephen King or Dean Koontz and understand their worldview. It’s impossible for the author to hide it.

Readers often ask me why I write intrigue and mystery into my romances. I love the puzzle of a murder mystery and the thrill of a heroine in danger. I grew up on Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys and loved pretending I was Nancy Drew on the trail of a mystery. I’m all about relationships too, so I love watching my characters work out their internal issues as they fall in love. But I have to have that mystery element in there too.

After puzzling through it for a long time, I finally realized it’s my strong sense of justice that compels me to have my heroine up against seemingly insurmountable odds and facing danger at every turn. In this world we don’t see much justice. Murderers go unpunished. Bad things happen to good people. But I know that justice is sometimes just delayed in this world. In the end, God will make sure that justice prevails. In the meantime, I can create a world of justice in my books! I can make sure the murderer gets what he deserves, that the hero saves the day, and that the heroine prevails against the problems she’s been working to overcome.

Beneath Copper Falls cover comp 2

Beneath Copper Falls is exactly that. My heroine is running for safe haven back to Rock Harbor, but she finds out you can run from trouble. J My Rock Harbor series has been a favorite with readers since the first book, Without a Trace, came out, and it was fun to go back there for me too!

How about you? If you read romantic mysteries, what draws you to the genre?

Colleen Coble

USAToday bestselling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 4 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. Visit her website at and connect at Facebook at





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Community by Tara Randel

As I get ready to attend the Romance Writers of America annual conference next week, I can’t help but get excited about seeing so many wonderful writer friends. I’m looking forward to visiting with women I only get to see once a year and catch up on their busy lives and careers. Authors spend a lot of time alone, so being part of a group that can understand our needs is valuable. I’ve called on my writer friends when I’m having trouble with a work in progress, need industry advice, or just want to chat about the writer’s life. It’s great to know I can pick up the phone and chat with such great friends.

We all have groups of people, communities, if you will, that help us in different areas of our lives. If you are in the medical profession, there are associations that keep you up-to-date on the latest technologies. If you work in an office, there are those you can rely on for problem solving or might be task-oriented to help you get that proposal or work project in on time. Maybe it’s a group of friends you meet with once a month for dinner or some kind of social event. You can see where I’m going with this, the list goes on and on.

As much as I love my professional and social friends, I could never get through life without my Christian friends. Those who walk with me in the day-to-day of loving and serving God.

About a year ago, after our church merged with another, so many of my friends scattered for various reasons. We tried to stay in touch, but it didn’t seem to work. But those of us who had prayed together in an intercessor group decided meeting once a month was important. We still pray together and now meet regularly for a Bible study. These are folks who know my heart, know the love I have for God, know the heartaches and victories I’ve experienced with the Lord. And I know the same about them. It binds us together.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12

Communities are important. Friendship is invaluable. Linking arms to serve God together, pure joy. So hug the people in your community today and remind them how important they are in your life.

Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of fifteen novels. Family values, a bit of mystery and, of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. She is currently working on new stories for Harlequin Heartwarming, The Business of Weddings series, as well as books in the Amish Inn Mysteries. Visit Tara at Like her on Facebook at Tara Randel Books

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Something New by Hannah Alexander

0421171814I look at the title above and feel overwhelmed just thinking about trying something new. Life gets so complicated that the very thought of taking on yet another project numbs my brain. These kittens in the picture? They’re a big reason for my stress level. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy just raising them and seeing to it that they’ll someday go to a good home and will be polite and appealing to their new people.

They have, however, kept me energized and laughing at their antics as they’ve grown into adorable, playful young cats. Despite the trials of raising four kittens (actually five if we count their mother, who is still a kitten herself) we have been blessed with a new outlook on life.

We live near the old trails west, Oregon and Mormon among them. There are places where the wagon wheels became so embedded into the earth that they’re still there over a century and a half later. I haven’t been to see them yet, because I don’t like ruts.

As an introvert, I can easily get into a rut and stay home and avoid people. But after we’ve lived here for ten months, one kind lady from a church we visited actually invited me to meet her and some friends at the community center to play pinochle.

Now, I didn’t even know how to spell the word, much less play it, but I went last week. I learned the game. I felt welcome, and I discovered that I’m climbing out of the little rut I was in for months.

If you find yourself in a rut lately, even if you’re overwhelmed by work, you might consider trying something new. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time, but I think you’ll find that if you meet a new person, read a book by a writer you’ve never read before, or even take a walk in the rain, you could leave that rut behind for a little while.


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Life’s Unexpected Detours

Last weekend my daughter, granddaughter, and I had to make a trip out of town—not for anything fun, but to complete some business. On the return, I was eager to get home. I’m on deadline with my current book, and wanted to get back to work. We were about halfway home when my daughter asked if I’d like to stop at a Moon Marble Company, a small factory and shop where they make and sell marbles in Bonner Springs, Kansas. She’d mentioned it to me on a couple of occasions thinking it would be a fun place for all three of us to visit.

I’m going to be honest—I really didn’t want to make the stop. However, I went with the majority vote and agreed. It was one of those unexpected detours that turned out to be much more interesting and fun than I anticipated. I love anything that has the slightest connection to history, so when they announced they’d be making a marble just like they did it in the “olden days,” I was hooked.

Granted, they didn’t use bellows and forge, but even with the propane tank and electric kiln, it was fun to see the process. Believe me, I didn’t realize that creating handmade marbles was so time consuming and required such skill. Nowadays, most are machine made, but there are still craftsmen creating some lovely marbles. This is one of the larger marbles that was created by an artisan at Moon Marble Company.

Later, as I considered our little detour and how much I’d enjoyed it, I was reminded of some of the many detours I’ve encountered in my life. Not all of them have been ones that turned out as pleasant as my trip to the marble factory. However, each of them taught me a life lesson and drew me closer to the Lord. I’ve discovered that when I’m going through those tough detours, choosing to draw near and depend upon the Lord has deepened my relationship with Him and ‘grown’ me in my faith.  I won’t go so far as to say that I’ve always enjoyed the process, but if we walk through those detours with the Lord at our side, we can be formed and shaped into the creation He intended.

May you find joy as you walk with Him.


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Getting Away, If Only In Your Mind…


Its vacation time, and some of you are making travel plans for your summer getaways. Whether it’s a tropical beach somewhere, or a breathtaking mountain retreat, getting away from the day to day grind, even if it’s just for a little while, can help us to relax, rejuvenate, and refresh our minds.

But sometimes, taking a vacation just isn’t possible and we must find other ways to refresh. This is case for my husband and me this year.

With vacation not an option, we’ve come up with other ways to beat the Texas heat.

This year, we’ve set up our 15 foot, blow up pool around at the back of our house, and we spend time every afternoon there, enjoying the cool water.

But there are other ways to “get away” too, whenever you can’t actually get away. Or maybe you don’t have a blow up pool.

You’ve probably guessed where I’m going with this. A good book can take you to places you might never get to go otherwise.

No matter why type of books you enjoy reading, getting lost in a good story can make the days just fly by. And before you know it, when you reach “the end”, you realize you’ve taken a vacation without ever leaving your chair.

So, what’s your favorite book vacation?


Deadly Memories – Available now at Amazon


Amnesia may be keeping Ella Weiss from remembering her past—but not from saving the little boy who’s been her fellow prisoner the last seven years. After managing to escape her cell, all she wants is to find where little Joseph is being kept. Instead she runs straight into CIA agent Kyle Jennings. Kyle isn’t sure if Ella is actually a kidnap victim or if she’s working for the gunrunner he’s been after. One thing he is certain of is her uncanny resemblance to the wife he thought he’d buried. To save a child’s life and stop a terrorist from slipping through his fingers, he’ll need to uncover the secrets of Ella’s past—and whether or not she’s really the woman he’s never stopped loving.


All the best…


Mary Alford





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Novel Retreat by Yvonne Lehman

For those who like to read of other’s accomplishments, or interested in becoming a part of the writing profession, or simply like to read and know about authors, I wanted to share this with you.

by Lynn M. Brown

Jerry B. Jenkins (Left Behind) says that Dennis E. Hensley is like a utility player on a baseball team—he’s the guy who can do it all.

“Doc Hensley can write curriculum, devotions, novels, short stories, interviews, articles, columns, hard news, speeches, and stage musicals,” says Jenkins. “And, what’s equally amazing, he also can teach it all. I’ve never had a writers’conference that I haven’t asked Doc to be the keynote speaker.”

Hensley holds a Ph.D. in literature and linguistics from Ball State University, and for the past 20 years he has been the director of the professional writing major at Taylor University, where he holds the rank of full professor. Each year he serves as a judge for the Christy Awards, the Christian Book Awards, and the Evangelical Press Association Awards.

“I feel my career is divided equally between being an active writer and training others to be writers,” says Hensley. “I have 72 full-time students in my college writing program at Taylor, and I also teach at eight writers’ conferences each year, write a column about writing for Christian Communicator, and write textbooks about aspects of professional writing.”

Recent releases show the balance between author and teacher. Hensley’s novel Pseudonym (Whitaker Publishers, 2016) and his short story collections, Jesus in the 9 to 5 (AMG Publishers, 2014) and Jesus in All Four Seasons (Bold Vision Books, 2015), verify his talent as a fiction writer. His book Finding Success with Your Dream Writing Projects (Bold Vision Books, 2017) is his tenth writing textbook.

“I was a newspaper reporter for the Muncie Star at nights and on weekends during the four years I was doing my Ph.D. studies,” explains Hensley. “I was writing fast, hitting deadlines, and learning to investigate a wide range of topics. Simultaneously, I was studying the great classics of world literature. For a career in writing, it was the best of both worlds.”

Hensley is in constant demand as a keynote speaker at writers’ conferences. Eva Everson, director of the Florida Christian Writers Conference, says, “Doc Hensley brought the house down the five times he addressed our attendees at our 2017 conference. He’s hilariously funny, but he always provides solid, useful, valuable content related to improving one’s writing skills.”

Similarly, Amy Munnell, director of the Southeastern Writers Conference (St. Simon’s Island, Georgia), says, “Doc Hensley’s 2017 appearance is the fifth time he has served as one of our workshop leaders. He always has fresh material to present. He recites poetry, tells funny anecdotes, shares valuable writing examples, and always takes time to work one-on-one with our conferees.”

Dennis and Rose Hensley have been married for 45 years, having met as teenagers while enrolled at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. They have two grown married children, Nathan and Jeanette, and four grandchildren. During 1970 and 1971 Dr. Hensley served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army and was awarded six medals for a year of duty in Vietnam.

“During my years at Taylor I have taught more than 1,200 students, and each has become a published writer. Many of my graduates are now in key positions in the world of Christian publishing. For example, Estee Zandee is an editor at Zondervan, Amy Green is an editor at Bethany House, and Katie Jameson is an editor at Focus on the Family. In 2015 my student Chandler Birch won the Simon and Schuster college novelist of the year award and received a $3,000 advance and a publishing contract for his novel The Face Faker’s Game. It’s gratifying to see my investment in my students pay off so well.”

As the author of 63 published books and more than 3,500 articles, interviews, columns, and short stories, one might wonder what is left for Hensley to be challenged by.

“Oh, there are always new developments in professional writing,” he says. “When I initiated the writing program at Taylor in 1997, there was no such thing as ebooks, blogging, smart phones, iPads, Nooks, Kindles, online publishing, Skype, or news streaming. I’m continually having to reinvent myself as a writer. It’s invigorating!”

Dr. Hensley writes a weekly blog related to writing on his web site of

Dr. Hensley, obviously, knows how to write and teach the writing craft. Come and take advantage of his vast experience October 8-12, 2017 for the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat (Novels, Craft, Movies, Social Media).

For more information about the retreat go to: (Novel Retreat)

I’d love to have you join us! Best wishes, Yvonne (Director)

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