Friday, December 26, 2014


I loved all of your Christmas traditions and Christmas stories. Thank you so much for sharing. I now have some new ideas to share with my own family.

I wish you all could win, but there can only be one winner. And that winner is ....

Kathy T!

I'll be contacting you soon with your prize of an audio copy of The Journey of Eleven Moons.

Grace and peace to you,


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Quiet Moments With God - God With Us

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means, God with us."

Each Christmas season I watch the movie The Nativity. Each time is like the first. I discover truths I haven't seen before. Tonight, was the same. 

I am in awe of God's providence - overwhelmed by the gift of his son who was given for us. We do not deserve such a gift, but God offers mercy and grace even to the least of us.

I am amazed at the response of a young girl, who said, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said." Mary said yes to God, knowing it could cost her life.

What an honorable man was Joseph who accepted an unbelievable truth about his virgin wife and bravely stepped into the role of husband and protector of Mary and the child called Jesus.

If any of them had refused, what then? I believe God can do all things and would provided a way. But how blessed are those who obey the will of God.

God is good all the time. His will is true and right ... always.

May you know his grace and peace this Christmas season and always.



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Steadfast - Guest Blogger Camille Eide

It's guest blogger Wednesday! And I have a treat for you! Camille Eide is  my guest. And she's giving away a copy of her debut novel, Like There's No Tomorrow. 

More about that later. First let's meet Camille.

Camille Eide writes heart-tugging tales of love, faith, and family. She lives in Oregon with her husband and is a mom, grammy, church office manager, bass guitarist, and a fan of muscle cars, tender romance, and Peanut M&Ms.

Camille’s Website:
Email: for interview questions or other info
Book Trailer:

Thoughts from Camille:

“Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
I would flee far away
and stay in the desert;
I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.”
Psalm 55:6-8

I have heard people say, “If I could just get over this health issue,” or “If only I had more money.” If only I had less stress, more help, less pain, more support, etc, etc.

Have you ever been there?

If only . . .

If I could just . . .

Behind these words is a cry for relief. Not only relief from difficult circumstances, but also from fear and hopelessness. What if I become so sick or anxious or overwhelmed or so deeply in debt that I can’t function? What if my circumstances never change? What if it gets worse?

Thanks to our Adamic inheritance, we live in a fallen world, full of sin, disease, dysfunction, injustice, abuse, brokenness—the list is endless. You may be dealing with something that could wreak more damage than a hurricane. Whether from external circumstances or inner struggles, the weight of constant suffering can be unbearable and make us hopeless for a way out, no end in sight. No hope for relief.

My pastor suffers terrible migraines. These are horribly painful to the point of making him physically sick. He can’t think or do anything but lie still in silent darkness. With a family and a loaded plate of pastoral responsibilities, he doesn’t have time to be sick, and yet he somehow presses on, with the diligence of a faithful, caring shepherd. He asks God for healing and asks others to pray, and yet the headaches continue. When a migraine strikes on a Sunday, we’ve seen God answer prayer many times by giving him enough strength and relief to deliver his sermon. What amazes me is that in spite of this suffering, this man is absolutely unwavering in his faith in Christ. His life is an inspiring example of steadfast confidence in and obedience to God. The fact that God has not yet healed him doesn’t stop him from serving the Lord with his whole heart, with truth and grace, every minute of every day.

He continues to ask God for healing. And we should keep asking God to relieve us and others of suffering. I know he can. And many times, he does. But what if immediate relief isn’t part of his plan for us right now? What if God has his reasons for our weathering a storm (or an entire hurricane season) instead of rescuing us from it?

The Apostle Paul talked about his “thorn in the flesh.” I think Paul came to terms with the fact that relief from this trial would not be soon coming. I also think that at some point, he became grateful for the thorn, because it drove him closer Jesus.

How does being close to Jesus help when we face difficult circumstances?

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

So I’ll never fail to bear fruit. Awesome. But what good is a bunch of fruit when I’m suffering?

When we turn our lives over to Christ, his Spirit moves in and begins the work of making us more like him. God’s word and presence feed, sustain, and transform us. This transforming work is evident by spiritual “fruit” such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Not a pretense worn outwardly like a “goody-hoody,” but a God-kind of gentleness and peace that springs from the center of our soul where God, the Maker of the universe, lives and works in and through us. This fruit not only lets others see God in us, it’s presence in our lives reminds and assures us of his power and love. This assurance comes from experiencing God in a way that teaches us we can trust in his goodness, his provision, and his constant faithfulness.

If storms feel endless and unbearable, maybe we need to stretch our roots deeper into God’s stream. When we make him our daily Source, nothing can destroy us. No drought, famine, wildfire, (debt, depression, pain, cancer) can steal our love, joy and peace when we are nourished by The Stream.

Yes, storms may shred our bark, and our fruit might be knocked off and crushed, but we will never wither. We might be battered for a season, but God will be our strength and sustenance. If he is allowing us to go through difficulty, he will provide what we need. And he won’t let us weather a storm alone! He is a “friend who sticks closer than a brother” and will stay beside us all the way to the other side, whatever that may be. He will never leave or forsake us! We will sprout new leaves and blossom again. What tremendous hope we have!

Are you in a season of suffering? Can you share a time when circumstances felt too unbearable? Have you “reached your roots” into the stream of God’s daily provision and strength?

Camille’s new contemporary novel, Like There’s No Tomorrow, ( released Sept 30, 2014 from Ashberry Lane Publishing ( It’s a mildly amusing yet tender love story about two young, single caretakers, two quirky old Scottish sisters bent on reuniting, and too many agendas. It’s a love story with a tug-o-war over a daft old woman, family drama, faith testing, and the gift of each new day.

I love this story. You will too.

And you have a chance to win a free copy. All you need to do is leave a comment. Make sure to include your email address so we can contact you.

Book Links:
Barnes & Noble:

Camille blogs about God’s grace at Along the Banks

We have a piece of business from last week. The winner of Angela Strong's book, The Snowball Fight Professional.

And the winner is ...

Amy Davidson.


Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Steadfast - Wednesday's Guest Blogger Angela Strong

Let's begin this week's Guest Blog with last week's winner. Congratulations Patti Iverson!

Saved by the Fireman will be on its way to you soon.

I love Wednesdays because I get to read incredible stories right here on my own blog. They are about love and loss and hope and joy. 

And this week Angela Ruth Strong is my guest. 

Angela Ruth Strong studied journalism at the University of Oregon and published her first book LOVE FINDS YOU IN SUN VALLEY, IDAHO in 2010. 

Her Fun4Hire series for ages 8-12 started with a short story titled THE WATER FIGHT PROFESSIONAL that has been printed over half a million times. You can find out more about her and her Twitter campaign to have a snowball fight with Jimmy Fallon on her website at

Angela has something special to share with us this week.

Hope for the Holidays

Today I prayed for lonely hearts. There are a lot of them out there. I know because I heard from three of them on facebook this morning alone … and because I used to be one of them.

I pray for them because I know how hard it is during the holidays. And because I know there is hope.

The trickiest part is living like you have hope when you don’t feel it. So here are the three tricks that helped me make it through my darkest days.

1.) Seek truth. For my husband it took years of living in confusion over his first wife’s growing distance before he finally prayed, “God, show me the truth.” Moments later he drove into a restaurant parking lot to find his wife in the arms of another man. I had a similar experience in my first marriage, and I also had a residue of lies I believed about myself after being abandoned. Lies about my worth. I’m still sensitive to the issue of being a “burden.” But if I hadn’t found truth, I would never have waited for a man who would treat me right and/or I wouldn’t have been able to accept his love. I once had a friend say to me, “Ang, my ex was a schmuck, and if I can’t keep him, how am I ever going to keep a good man?” The answer is that a good man wouldn’t have cheated on her. She has to believe she is worth a good man to have a healthy relationship. This requires finding value through counseling and prayer and reading the Word and connecting with godly mentors. This requires truth.

2.) Give thanks. One of my darkest moments was when my ex (husband at the time) forced me out of my home without eating the dinner I had made because he couldn’t stand to be around me. I had nowhere to go. And no money to buy myself something to eat because he’d taken my name off the bank account. I called a relative in tears. He said, “Don’t even pray for him, Angie. We’ve all got you both covered in prayer. You just give thanks.” Seemed like a crazy idea at the time, but I went to the Christian bookstore and put on some headphones and listened to worship music. Best advice I’ve ever gotten. It took my eyes off my problems and put them on Jesus. It’s that simple. If you focus on being alone, you’re going to feel lonely. If you focus on thanking Jesus for all he’s done for you, you’ll feel more loved and accepted than you’ve ever felt.

3.) Grant mercy. “Mercy triumphs over judgment every time.” We sang these words at church, and they revolutionized my life. Because I had judged big time. And you know what? My judgments were based on truth. They were biblical. They were right. But the outpouring of mercy I suddenly felt for the people who had hurt me the most made me feel alive again. I could let go of vengeance and fear the expectation I had for God to grant me justice. It didn’t matter anymore. For the first time ever, I could wish my enemies the best. And mean it. I seriously wanted mercy for them. I wanted them to feel as free as I felt right then. Because it was so powerful and beautiful and healing. It didn’t matter that I was alone anymore because I was so overflowing with love that I cared more about being there for others than having someone be there for me.

A year later I met the man of my dreams, though I thought it was too good to be true. I didn’t think I deserved it. He would say, “You are a gift from God,” but I couldn’t say it back. I was afraid God was going to take him away. Then one day on a jog I was thinking about this, and I got this scripture stuck in my head: “Every good and perfect gift is from God.” I went home and looked up all the verses that included the word “good.” The first one in the Bible was, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” The last one was, “Now you have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.”
I bawled. I accepted God’s gift. I celebrated my 3rd wedding anniversary this year. And it’s been good.

To all who are lonely, I pray my story gives you hope. And more importantly, I pray that someday your story will give others hope. Because that’s a pretty good and perfect gift, too.

What a beautiful story, Angela. And wise words from one so young. Thank you for sharing.

Angela has a new book out and she's giving away one copy to a lucky winner. To have a chance to win a copy leave a comment and make sure to include your email address so I can contact you.

I've heard kids are loving this book!

I, Joey Michaels, am the Snowball Fight Professional. Basically this means that customers pay me to shoot snowballs at other people. I'll use the profits to buy Grandma a gift so impressive that she'll give me a puppy for Christmas. Unless, of course,  my cousin Winston has anything to do with it ...
Earning the Puppy wouldn't be so hard if I didn't have the following problems:
1) Winston stealing my employee.
2) Winston getting me in trouble every time I do something wrong.
3) Winstron blaming me for things I don't even do.

If I don't get the puppy ... ugh. Winston will get  him. And Christmas should be all about what I want, right?

The snowball Fight Professional is Book 2 in the Fun4Hire Series.

This sounds like a book my grandsons would enjoy. Hmm. I'm still shopping.  

I'll announce the winner of The Snowball Fight Professional next Wednesday.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Sunday, December 07, 2014



The winner will receive a FREE audio copy of the newly revised The Journey of Eleven Moons. 

It is a spectacular way to experience the dramatic story of Anna and her sister Iya who lose their village in a tsunami and are forced to find a way to survive the Alaskan wilderness on their own. Their only help is an outsider that Anna doesn't trust.

All you have to do to win this book is share one of your favorite Christmas memories. 

I will run the contest through December 25th and will draw one winner on December 26th.

I can hardly wait to hear your stories. I will include some the best ones here on my blog during the Christmas season.


God bless you! Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 05, 2014

Life In 100 Words Or Less - Be Happy!

Yesterday was a good day. 

Mom and I hung out at the duck pond. I met with my acupuncturist. And I did some Christmas shopping.

Why was this day better than any other? I had a REALLY good time! I decided to have fun.

Each person I spent time with became a new friend, even the man who pumped my gas.

Connecting with others makes life more fun. Engage new acquaintances. Make eye contact. Chat. Smile.

Next time you go out, make new friends, even if they are momentary friendships. I bet you'll have a good day too.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Steadfast - Guest Blogger Allie Pleiter

Make sure to read to the bottom for a chance to win a FREE Book!

Life if filled with treasure, not just the monetary kind, but that which builds our spirits and nourishes our lives. Allie Pleiter, my guest blogger, has treasure to share. Please read on and become richer.

An avid knitter, BBC Television geek and French macaron enthusiast, Allie Pleiter writes both fiction and non-fiction.  The enthusiastic but slightly untidy mother of two, Allie spends her days writing books, buying yarn, and finding new ways to avoid housework.  

Allie hails from Connecticut, moved to the Midwest to attend Northwestern University, and currently lives outside Chicago, Illinois.  The “dare from a friend” to begin writing has produced two parenting books, twenty-two novels, and various national speaking engagements on faith, women’s issues, and writing.  

Visit her website at or her knitting blog at

Riches from Allie:

During my son’s four-year bout with multiple illnesses, I learned there are two types of adversity:  One is the full-scale calamity where you must surrender to your circumstances and exist in survival mode.  Those times offer lessons in grace, dependence, humility, and the extraordinary provision of our Lord.The other kind of adversity is a slow and weary trial that goes on for months, where you battle an eroding brand of normal. This trial must be fought by excavating blessings from amid the constant strain.  For that I used my “Fort of Fours.”

  Each morning I fought hard (some days really hard) to list four blessings.  Simple things like a warm cup of coffee, a kind hospital nurse, positive test results, anything that could teach my spirit to find the good even on a bad day.  Then, I allowed myself to list four prayers for only the coming 24 hours—even if that meant one of those prayers was not to freak out about something that could not be solved in 24 hours.  I went back each morning and put a check mark next to each prayer from the previous day that had been answered.  I collected a lot of check marks.

These eight items became my daily spiritual vitamins.  It allowed me to keep going, to carry a lightened workload, and to see my son through to his healing.  He’s fine now, but I still practice this every morning, and probably won’t ever stop.

These survival techniques are just what I need. Thank you, Allie.

Allie is offering a FREE BOOK to one of you. All you need to do to be included in the drawing is leave a comment. Make sure to include you email address so we can contact the winner. 

This sounds like a fun read. And just in time for Christmas.

Charlotte Taylor isn't good at playing it safe. Reeling from the sudden loss of her job and her beloved grandmother, Charlotte knows buying a dilapidated cottage in Gordon Falls isn't exactly practical. Especially since she just hired the one man who may love the property more than she does to help renovate it. Volunteer firefighter and part-time contractor Jesse Sykes can't stay mad at Charlotte for very long. Though she snatched up the home he'd planned on purchasing, Charlotte's dreams are big enough for both of them…if only she'd let him in. Charlotte promised she'd never fall for a first responder, but is it already too late?

I'll announce the winner of Saved by the Fireman next Wednesday.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Journey - It's All About Love

I had such a busy and blessed Thanksgiving that I didn't get a message out on my blog this week.  So Sorry.

First order of business - We have a winner from last week's guest blogger. 

Congratulations, Patti Shene! 
You have won a copy of Dandelion Moon! 

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday I enjoyed precious time with family. I was reminded of my many blessings.

The weekend stirred up my internal thought processes. The idea of love and what it truly looks like whirled around in my mind and my heart. 

None of us is good at loving all the time, but let's be honest, some people are better at loving than others. I've decided that a person with a warm and gentle heart always beats out someone who has their act together. We know those people. They are the ones who always look good - who say the right thing - help the poor - make wise choices - and are successful (in the eyes of the world). But what about the warm and fuzzy component? It's gone missing. 

The world would have us believe that the appearance of goodness is what matters ... and the world would be wrong. The world sets a low standard when it comes to how we should love others. God's Word, on the other hand, sets a high standard. But any other bar of measurement is inadequate. 

1st Corinthians 13 says it so well. Please read and take time to reflect. What is God telling us?

  If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn't love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God's secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn't love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it, but if I didn't love others, I would have gained nothing.

  Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
  Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when full understanding comes these partrial things will become useless.
  When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. all that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
  Three things will last forever - faith, hope, and love - and the greatest of these is love.

Love one another. We have only one chance at this life. There are no do-overs. So, let's do our best.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Steadfast - Guest Bloggrer, Hannah Alexander

Wednesday means another book giveaway and another guest blogger.

Welcome Hannah Alexander. Thank you for being my guest.

Hannah Alexander is the pen name of an award-winning husband and wife writing team with over thirty published romantic medical suspense novels.

When to press on and when to surrender is one of the toughest decisions we can make. But God is faithful to show us the way.

Hannah knows this well. Here is her story.

When I Quit

My writing career was doing well as I drove to my mother’s country house one day to check on her. I had just completed the first novel in a new series of trade paperbacks, and I was excited about it. I felt it was one of the best I’d written, and was planning the next in the series. Unfortunately, I had no idea how I was going to complete the other two novels.

Mom’s health was getting worse as she was battling breast cancer and knee surgery. Each time she went under general anesthesia it worsened her dementia.

I didn’t know how much longer I could leave her home alone, but she was one independent woman, determined to make her own way, with no idea the trouble she was in—or the trouble I was facing with her. Her physician recommended assisted living, and I toured the local facilities. I couldn't do it.

I was halfway to Mom’s one day when I received a phone call from my agent to inform me that the trade line I was writing for had been discontinued. I didn't have to bother finishing the series. The book I was so thrilled about was being orphaned, which meant sales would tank.

At the time I could only feel relief. I was gratified to learn that I wouldn't be forced to return the advance I’d received for signing the contract, and that allowed me to care for Mom without the distraction of yet another deadline—often the bane of every writer’s life. The writing stress, along with my income, was all taken away in one short call.

But Mom developed colon cancer. My caretaking days hit like a flash, and we brought Mom home to live with us for the last six months of her life.

Not long after she moved in I was asked to write a series of shorter novels with the same publisher that had discontinued my trade novels. I decided that with a less strenuous deadline I could help Mom and continue my writing career—at least keep my name out there.

It didn't work. Mom stayed up nights, wandering the house with sundowner's syndrome, and I had to follow her. I couldn't function enough to cook dinner, much less write. So I called my editor.

“Joan, my mother is on hospice care. I have no idea when I’ll be able to complete this novel.” I didn't tell her I wasn't sure if I’d ever write again. I felt as if my heart was being ripped to shreds as my mother failed before my eyes.

“You just worry about your mother,” Joan said. “I’m taking your book from its slot, so you don’t have a deadline.”

That was when I began to wonder if it was time to stop writing completely. But how could I stop? I’d been a writer for so many years. And yet, once a writer pauses, the readers begin to forget her. My career might be over. Life was pressing me down to the point I could barely breathe.

I continued to attempt to work on my book from time to time, but it was such a mess I couldn’t make sense of it. My mother’s mind wasn't the only one that had left us. Mind had, too.

My mother passed away in February. In August of that year, as I tried to force my way out of a state of profound grieving, I managed to complete my novel. The poor editor who had to take that mess of a book from an author who had always been known for clean copy, and turn it into something readable? She was an angel.

I get it now when people talk about the struggles of caretakers. I’m amazed by those who spend years caring for their loved ones.

I’m writing regularly again, but my genre has changed slightly. I write more romantic medical drama, less romantic suspense. Life changes, and we metamorphose whether we want to or not. Maybe my career isn't over yet. If it is, that decision is with God. And that’s the best place for it to be.

Hannah is giving away a copy of her brand new book

Dandelion Moon

In Book 2 of the Hallowed Halls series, when Dr. Myra Maxwell finds herself stumbling through the darkness of a cemetery on a cold winter night, she realizes she doesn't recognize a thing, and doesn't recall how she arrived here. As Christmas fireworks begin, they frighten her. She doesn't know who she is, where she is, or why she's here. She diagnoses herself as a patient in a fugue state, most likely from some horrible experience her mind is working to force her to forget. But why?

Weston Cline is frantic about the woman he loves. She left her psychiatry clinic in the middle of the day on Christmas Eve, and he's heard nothing from her since. When he makes a call to her hometown of Juliet, Missouri, he catches a word or two that convinces him she's retreated to the place she feels safest, and he is determined to drive there tonight and protect her. Unfortunately, her friends, Drs. Joy Gilbert and Zachary Travis are determined to keep Weston away from Myra. He's shown his true colors in outrageous ways in the past year, and they don't want to risk her emotional well-being with his presence. Too bad, because he's going anyway, and he will stand firm with her.

Set at Christmas, Dandelion Moon might well give holiday celebrants a 
chance to root for the true meaning of Christmas to show itself at least 
one more time, and to find that miracles really do happen.

Hannah, this sounds fabulous. I can't wait to read it.

One lucky person will win a copy of this book.

For a chance to win leave a comment
And don't forget to include your email address.

Katrina Epperson!

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, November 17, 2014

Quiet Moments With God - The Feast

God uses whatever is handy to speak to our hearts. This morning, it was my dog Misty. 

She loves to eat. When it's dinner time, she joyfully bounces back and forth through the house. She looks kind of silly, but I get it. I love to eat too.

She also loves treats. And this morning my little girl, paced up to me, followed me everywhere I went, and made it known, she was thinking about a treat.

I knew what she wanted. But thought I'd string her along for a few minutes. She didn't give up because she knew where to get what she was hungry for.

I acted as if I didn't know what she was after. I chatted
and gave her a few pats, but she wanted to know
if I was going to give her what she wanted most.

Finally I asked, "Do you want a treat?" 
She was all ears then. She knows those words.

When I finally got up and walked to the pantry where
her dog treats are stored, she knew it was going to be
a good morning. With her stump of a tail wagging at 
hyper speed, she raced me there, then sat at my feet
and waited, quivering with anticipation.
I rewarded her with what she wanted and off she
went, her morning brighter than before.

Misty is easily motivated by food. We can get her to do almost anything if we offer her a treat. 

I'm kind of like Misty. I'm also easily motivated by food. But the kind of food that makes a real difference is the kind the Lord provides - God's Word.  It make life easier, brighter. I can always trust in it and in its author. His Word is truth and always satisfies. It has the power to change my life and the lives of those around me.

I want to be like Misty - persistent, seeking, and excited about the feast

I'm hungry. Are you?

Grace and peace to you from God,


Friday, November 14, 2014

The Journey - Courage

We never know how courage will be displayed. It may be a soldier on a battle field, or a fireman who risks his life to save a stranger, a single mother who steps onto a college campus determined to provide a better future for her family. And sometimes it comes in the shape of a twelve-year-old boy who wants to get back to living.

My grandson Ezra is a determined and courageous twelve-year-old.

Many of you know about the horrific ATV accident last March that nearly extinguished Ezra's life. Every time I see him I see a miracle. Along his journey one doctor after another has shared their amazement over his survival and recovery.

The healing continues. Ezra has a long road ahead due to damage to his skull, more surgery, an eye that has been altered, and teeth that need repair. He's been patient and strong, but being side-lined from the sports he loves has been really hard on him. He couldn't wait any longer, and managed to get permission from his doctor to play basketball this fall.

This week he had a home game. It was thrilling, for this grandma, to watch him play.

His team had a good day and so did he. They won and Ezra did a great job at rebounding and blocking, and he made a basket.

The most precious thing of all - He played!

After the game, he joined his brother and sister and had dinner with my husband and me. Of course we talked about the game, which was fun, but it was Ezra's account of what happened just before that has me tearful. 

He was afraid. Ezra didn't know what the consequences of an elbow jammed into his face or skull might be. Or what a hard fall on a gym floor might do. He told us, "I just prayed and trusted God to protect me. And I did my best to get the rebounds and fight for the ball."

That's courage. He may only be twelve, but he's walking in faith.

Ezra's one of my heroes. 

Heroes make life richer for the rest of  us. Do you have a hero in your life? 

Grace and peace to you from God,


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Steadfast - Guest Blogger Janice Thompson

November seems to be flying by. And lucky for us, it's Wednesday. This week I have a special guest, Janice Thompson. Though we've never met in person, I feel as if we're good friends. She's a doll. You're going to love her.

Award-winning author Janice Thompson has over a million books in print. She has published over 100 books for the Christian market,
crossing genre lines to write cozy mysteries, historicals, romances, nonfiction books, devotionals, children’s books and more.

Janice is the incoming president of the Woodlands, Texas ACFW chapter and was named the 2008 Mentor of the year for ACFW. She loves teaching at writing conferences, both local and national.

Janice’s tagline, “Love, Laughter, and Happily Ever Afters!” sums up her take on life.

She lives in Spring, Texas, where she leads a rich life with her family, a host of writing friends, and two mischievous dachshunds.

You can find out more about Janice at

Don't skip down to the contest details. You really want to read this. Janice knows what it means to remain steadfast. 

The Worst. . .and Best Year of my Life

When I think of a particular season of my life where I had to remain steadfast, I can’t help but be reminded of the worst—and possibly best—year of my life. In the middle of 2006, my twenty-six year marriage came to an end. I didn’t wish for it. I didn’t plan for it. It just happened. Abruptly. I’d been through one heartbreak after another in the relationship but that didn’t make the severing any easier. A few weeks before the divorce was final, I received a call from my dad, letting me know he had cancer: Multiple Myeloma. He was admitted to M.D. Anderson Hospital, one of the leading cancer centers in the world, where he had a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, he continued to get worse. After two agonizing, painful months, my father passed away. I was devastated. I was also a woman of faith, who had been quick to tell people, “Just trust God.” Now I found myself in a position where I had to trust Him fully and completely. I had no husband to lean on and my older daughters were already married and gone. So, I did my best to (as I told others) trust God.

The need to trust Him grew and grew over the following months. My first grandchild was born early under emergency circumstances. She was a teensy-tiny little thing, but did fine. I focused on her to ease the pain. Then another unthinkable thing happened. One of my best friends had a heart attack and passed away very unexpectedly. About three weeks after that, (just three days before my daughter Megan’s wedding) my forty-five-year-old sister passed away in her sleep. . .completely out of the blue. I remember that week so clearly. My daughter’s wedding was on Friday night; the funeral was on Saturday. I carried around a purple folder with wedding plans in one pocket and funeral plans in the other. Horrible. I was in a literal fog.

One month after Megan married (leaving me with an empty nest) I went to the theater where I direct plays. We were setting up for a meeting on the stage and needed a couple more chairs. I went bounding down the stairs to the auditorium to fetch them. I can’t tell you exactly how it happened, but somehow I missed a step. Such a simple thing, missing a step. I knew when I landed that I’d done serious damage. My right foot was in the oddest position I’d ever seen and I’d never known such pain. Thank goodness the pain didn’t last. I went completely numb from my knee down and could feel nothing. I would later learn that the injury was a catastrophic break: tibia, fibula and three bones in the foot. I’d also injured my left foot and my right wrist, so I only had one available limb.

The rest was a blur. Paramedics were called. I was put into an ambulance, given morphine, and whisked away to the E.R. The next week and a half involved four ambulances, three hospitals, surgery to pin and plate the ankle and then several days in a rehab. They were (truly) the hardest days of my life. I had a couple of sweet friends who helped out but with my husband gone, my father gone, my daughters married and living their own lives, I’d never felt more alone.

The next couple months were spent in a wheelchair. I had a conundrum because my house was a two-story with bedrooms upstairs and living room/kitchen down. At night I would scoot up the stairs on my backside and then use an office chair to roll my way to my bedroom. Talk about tough! And to make matters worse, my only book contract was pulled. I was out of work and out of luck with very little money in the bank and no way to make more until I recovered and could find a job.

You can imagine that these months provided a lot of opportunity for depression. This hit especially hard on the anniversary of my dad’s death. I’d never been so low. Fortunately, several good friends took notice. They set camp around me and prayed me through. They offered encouragement, prayer, and even a bit of fussing, when the situation warranted it. In short, they were the hands and feet of Christ.

The fog slowly lifted. I was able to get my feet back under me again (literally and figuratively). New book contracts came. New possibilities arose. Grandbabies started coming in droves. In short, my life took off. God took a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year and began to use it for His glory. I not only survived; I thrived. It didn’t happen all at once, but in time I could truly see that God had walked with me every step of the way. Even when I felt completely alone, He was right there.

I’ve had several years to watch God’s hand at work. He took this frightened, lonely woman and gave her new projects, new grandbabies, sweet friends and much, much more. In fact, my plate is so full now that I can barely keep up. He redeemed my life and gave back what the enemy had stolen. No, I could never replace the people I’d lost, but with the birth of each grandchild, I saw how life continued, how hope was restored. I really did learn to trust God, just as I’d always encouraged others to do.

I don’t know what you’re going through today, but I can say this: Hang in there, friend. Remain steady, steadfast. God can (and will) take even the toughest experience and use it for good. This, I know.

Connect with Janice:
Twitter: booksbyjanice
Facebook: Janice Hanna Thompson

Janice, what an amazing story. Thank you for sharing it. I am encouraged.

Janice is offering a free book to one of  you.


She didn't expect to fall in love--but roses aren't the only thing blooming on Galveston Island

Cassia Pappas has found herself in a nearly impossible situation. She wants to spend her time immersed in her new job at a Galveston Island floral shop, arranging blooms and brightening occasions with her lovely creations. But her boisterous Greek family--especially her father--has other ideas. They've all relocated to Galveston to open up a new family restaurant located on the Strand--directly across the street from iconic pizza place Parma John's--and they want Cassia's full participation. 

To make matters worse, as Cassia is trying to develop a strong professional relationship with Galveston's premier wedding coordinator, Bella Neeley, her own father is intent on stealing all of the Rossi family's faithful customers. Not exactly the best way to get into this former Rossi's good graces!

Still, at least Alex, that hot delivery guy from the nursery, is always hanging around the flower shop . . .

This sounds like a fun read. I'm definitely getting a copy.

For a chance to win a free copy leave a comment along with your email address and you'll be eligible. I'll be drawing a winner one week from today.

Our winner from last week is Congratulations! JoAnn Durgin will contact you. 

Grace and peace to you, from God,


Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Steadfast - Guest Blogger, JoAnn Durgin

Happy Wednesday!

Last week's book winner is Anna. Congratulations!  I've sent your name and email address to Melody. I'm sure you'll hear from her soon.

Today's guest is JoAnn Durgin. Welcome, JoAnn.

JoAnn Durgin is the author of five novels in the popular Lewis Legacy Series as well as the Amazon bestselling Catching Serenity. Her novellas include Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, Starlight, Star Bright, Sleigh Ride Together with You (coming for the 2014 Christmas season), and Echoes of Edinburgh.

A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Louisville Christian Writers, JoAnn lives with her husband and three children in southern Indiana.

She’s recently *retired* from her paralegal position to write full-time. She loves to hear from her readers at or

JoAnn knows all about taking a leap of faith.

Losing a job is tough—even when you see it coming around the bend and recognize its inevitability. Funny how the date becomes ingrained in your memory. for me, that day came on Monday, November 9, 2009. When two of the law firm's partners walked into my office and closed the door.

I knew. My heart fell to my feet. “Sorry, but there’s just not enough work...”

Afterward, still in a daze, I worked all day and finished my projects as best I could. I might have been "let go," but I wanted to walk away with my head held high, with my dignity intact.

Technically, I was “laid off,” but no matter what it’s called, I still felt as though I’d failed. I worried that I'd let down my bosses, clients, and co-workers. Mind you, I'm normally a positive-thinking person, confident and secure in my abilities. Still, I couldn't help wondering, Will they think I've done something wrong? Will my friends abandon me now?

After those initial doubts,and only a few tears, I gave it over to the Lord and trusted that He had a plan for my life.

Let me backtrack a minute and give you a bit of my background. For years and in several states where we'd lived—with a six-year break in the Philadelphia area to raise our three small children—I’d worked as a legal secretary and enjoyed my work very much. On my website, I state that I've “been around in the nicest sense of the word.”

In the Boston area, I worked part-time for a small law firm in scenic, historic Concord (and, fittingly, drove by Louisa May Alcott’s childhood home every day), as I eased back into the working world again. Then I accepted a position five minutes from home (a good thing in snowy Massachusetts!) and worked for a one-man law firm.

When our family moved back to my native “southern” Indiana in late 2005, I was excited to be offered a job working in a prestigious downtown Louisville law firm. After 18 months as a legal secretary, I was promoted to a paralegal position. Along with that advancement came the expectation of meeting a threshold of monthly billable hours—the bane of existence of attorneys and paralegals everywhere. But when the work isn’t there, the paralegals are often the first to go.

Sometimes when we take a leap of faith, we risk losing it all. I will never regret moving from a “safe” position as a legal secretary to a paralegal position. If I hadn’t taken the position, I might always wonder what if ...

One of the biggest blessings is that I was given a generous severance package. What a blessing during the busy holiday season!

Never one to sit idle, I needed a plan. After years of being a pastor’s wife with all the responsibilities that entailed, and with our kids now older and more self-sufficient, I was back “home” in Indiana with unexpected time on my hands. I started to read Christian fiction again, something I’d sorely missed. I’d always loved reading and writing, and had earned a journalism and English degree before leaving Indiana the first time. I’d also been writing full-length novels since our time in Philadelphia.

Before the layoff, an idea had formed in my mind. I pulled out my old manuscripts (about six) from beneath our bed and literally blew dust bunnies off the notebooks. I read through the last manuscript I’d written, about a decade before, through fresh eyes, and it was almost as though someone else had written it.

Called Awakening, I recognized it could be the beginning of a series based on the love stories of various members of a Christian mission organization called Team Work—but I only had half of the story. Contemporary Christian romance was increasing in popularity at the time, as well as book series. I figured why not try to get one of them published?

After much prayer, I knew Awakening was the one.

You can read the entire story of my path to publication on my website at

Long story short: I searched high and low, but couldn’t find the missing half. All I had were antiquated small diskettes in a box. I continued to write more books and periodically tried to access the files on those old diskettes. Nothing. Over and over again, I’d get this message: “Can’t be read.” I told my husband, “We need to go to our knees.”

One day, I inserted the diskette as I’d done so many times before. A message popped up on the screen: “Do you want to read it as text only?” After hearing the churning noise and seeing the hourglass symbol, my book popped onto the screen! In English, not hieroglyphics. To this day, I still get chills. Not only was it my book, but when I printed it out and lined it up with what was in my notebook at home, it was only half of the book—the missing half! When I put them together, it was seamless.

I know the Lord gave my book back to me. Then he confirmed it; “And the Man said Peaches!” is on my website.

On May 1, 2010, I received a publishing contract and Awakening became my debut novel and released in November 2010. Four years later, I’ve now released four more books in what has become The Lewis Legacy Series (the prequel coming next month!), a standalone novel, and four novellas.

In late March 2010, I began another paralegal job in Louisville. This past August, I took another leap of faith to full-time author! The Lord also paved the way for that to happen in a way only He can.

Sometimes you need to take a leap of faith in order to better understand God’s abundant grace and mercy. Even if you fail, rest assured that God always has a divine plan. What we consider to be a human failure can often turn out to be one of God’s biggest blessings!

Trust Him to guide you. He’ll never let you down. His answer isn’t what we, in our impatience and limited understanding, expect. It’s so much better! Like the lyrics of a beloved hymn of assurance tells us, “God Will Take Care of You.”

Yet those who wait for the Lord, Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:31

Thank you, JoAnn. Isaiah 40:31 is one of my favorite verses.

JoAnn would like to offer a free e-book to one of you. But, she is going to do something special, by allowing you to choose from one of the three gorgeous books below. 

All you have to do is leave a comment and you will 
be entered in the drawing.


Grace and peace to you from God,


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Steadfast - Guest Blogger, Melody Carlson

It's Wednesday! Which means I have a guest blogger. It's an absolute treat to welcome the very prolific author, Melody Carlson. 

Melody and I met more than twenty years ago at a writing conference. We were both just setting off on our writing careers. She's a valued friend. And it is a special pleasure to have her here.

Make sure to read through this entire blog so you can find out about Melody's giveaway.

By the way, our winner from last week is - Brenda.


I'll make sure Ann Shorey gets your email address.

 About Melody. 

Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to political
activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write!

In the past few years, she has published over 200 books for children, teens, and adults--with total sales of over six million copies. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards. Melody is the recipient of a Romance Writers of America Lifetime
Achievement Award.

She and her husband have two grown sons and live in Sisters, Oregon with their lovely Labrador retriever, Audrey. They enjoy skiing, hiking and
biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.

How We Survived a Year of Downsizing...Just Barely

About a year ago, my husband and I made the decision to downsize. Sounded simple enough. Sell the home we’d been in nearly twenty years, get into something smaller, enjoy more freedom and less maintenance.

Easy-peasy, right? Ha! Twelve months later we’re still worn out, beat up, and I can’t even find the butter dish.

Although I had writing deadlines, I wasn't too concerned about this downsize. Staging our home, preparing for open houses, random showings (to people with no intention of purchasing) proved a challenge, but I could handle it.

In the middle of winter, we got the crazy buyer who wanted to purchase our house "with everything included" (my underwear drawer too?). Although her offer was far less than our asking price, we attempted to "negotiate". And she insisted on visiting our home for hours at a time (although we weren't allowed to see her face!). To our  relief, she changed her mind.

In early spring we lowered our price and got a serious buyer, but she wanted us to check on building permits. We'd never heard of anyone doing this before, but our nearly forty year old house  was solid and well built. Why wouldn't it be permitted? Because the offer was contingent on  this, and because our realtor encouraged us, we naively went to the county and inquired.

Talk about opening a can of worms—the county “opened a file” on us. And that’s where the real nightmare began.

Because we live in rural Oregon and because the county's old records were sketchy at best, we were forced to jump through a bunch of ridiculous (and expensive) hoops that made us both question the county's sensibilities as well as our own sanity. But there is no turning back--the county's "file was opened" on us, and they threatened "legal action" if it didn't get closed.

During this “permitting” period, which stretched on and on, I drew blueprints of all five buildings on our property, all while trying to maintain my writing schedule. My husband was forced to dig around foundations, open up walls, hire engineers, electricians, plumbers, etc.. All to prove that our home was sound and solid (something we already knew). And we even unearthed proof of county permits (records that the county had lost!).

The whole thing felt like pure craziness and the stress levels got higher and higher.

Just about the time I started wishing for a forest fire to end the madness (our home was in fire country) my husband lugged all the required letters, reports, photographs and blueprints to the
county—along with his checkbook to pay for permits. But when the clerk told him the total, he nearly had a heart attack. He came home and told me the amount, and I felt physically ill.

It was so upsetting that I did what any writer would do—I wrote a long letter to the head of the building division. I explicitly told him everything we’d been through, how much money we’d already spent (jumping through their endless list of hoops) and how shocked we were to discover the cost of permits. I also told him that I planned to write our story for the local newspapers—a cautionary tale to homeowners who might naively step into the building division and inquire on permits for
older homes like we’d done.

The head of the division emailed me back that same day. We exchanged several interesting emails and he finally invited us to return to the county for permits. My poor husband went back—hoping for a miracle—and was informed that the county had accidentally added an extra zero to our permit fees (a zero that equaled thousands of dollars!). But the best news was that the county had decided to waive most of our permits—and they closed our file that very week. We would’ve celebrated—except that we were too drained. Did I mention the gray hair and stress-weight gains?

But we were hugely relieved to close the sale on our house and move into our ‘new’ home in town. Never mind that temperatures were in triple digits or some moving “volunteers” didn’t show, we were just glad to be on our way. And even though this “fixer” house wasn’t nearly as beautiful as the one we’d sold, we were happy to get into it.

The plan was to rent from the sellers for a couple of weeks until closing. We used that time to hold a massive and exhausting garage sale (a half-size meant half our stuff had to go). And then we continued unpacking, organizing, and preparing for some major remodeling (stacks of hardwood flooring, appliances, etc. were crammed into the living

But at least we were downsized. Right?


Just one business day before we were to close the sale, our loan guy called to inform us we had no financing. Never mind that we’d been approved and locked-in, or that we’d paid for the appraisal, which passed. Our loan guy admitted that he’d overlooked something—his financial group didn’t grant “corporate” loans.

We'd told  him right from the get-go that because of my writing, we're a corporation. He'd said 'no problem.' Now he was saying 'no loan.' We were moved into a house that we'd promised to purchase - and now we had no financing? Talk about stress!

To make a long story short (and this one might inspire a novel someday) we closed our house sale (on our anniversary in August). the remodel is nearly finished now - and looks good. And I  might go out and buy a butter dish today. but if you think downsizing is easy ... you're either watching HGTV or reading fiction.

If you’ve read this far, you’re eligible to win a signed copy of my latest book, The Christmas Cat. One of the hardest things about this downsize biz was allowing our old neighbors to adopt our Maine Coon cat Harry (the book’s dedicated to him). But we knew he’d be happier in the old neighborhood—and we spared him the stress of relocating.

Garrison Brown inherits his grandmother's six cats and a mission. 
Find good homes for Gram's beloved pets. 
But some of the cats are elderly, and it's almost 
Christmastime, plus Garrison has cat allergies - and, 
oh yeah, there's a secret cash incentive. 

Melody, I can't imagine going through all that you did. I'm praying for lots of stress free days ahead. Enjoy your new home. 

Your book sounds like fun. I'm definitely getting a copy. I need a good for Christmas.

Readers, for an opportunity to win this book all you have to do is leave a comment and your email address. I will announce the winner next Wednesday.

Grace and peace to you from God,