Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Random on Wednesday

1. Tell me the absolute best way to watch a movie.

In my house, curled up on the couch with a bowl of hot buttery popcorn which was popped on top of the stove. And a Dr Pepper, although I can't drink them after about 2:00 in the afternoon. But that's my all-time favorite combo.

2. Do you ever think about your own funeral? If so, do you have specific ideas about how you would like it to be?

Yes and yes. Primarily, I think about songs I want sung and to be sure the pastor works in the plan of salvation.

3. Are you more of a giver or a taker?

Giver. It's actually one of my spiritual gifts.

4. Vacations: planned activities and schedules, or play it by ear?

Combo. On our trip this summer we planned some specific things we wanted to be sure to do and left other days open for random "whatever strikes our fancy" activities.

5. What is one often overlooked item in your home that needs to be cleaned regularly?

My oven. I only remember it needs cleaning when I'm going to be using it too soon to set the self-clean cycle. (Actually, there are lots of things I could answer. I'm not a very fastidious housekeeper, to say the least!)

6. Name a cause that means a lot to you.

" 'Cause I said so." Well, this makes me look like a real stick-in-the-mud, because I'm not a save-the-whales, hug-a-tree, you-name-it-a-thon type person. I guess it would be supporting the church and missions. When I hear statistics on how little people give to their church, it always surprises me. Fortunately, when I was growing up my folks considered it as crucial as paying the mortgage and utility bill. (And my dad was the church treasurer!) And when you get right down to it, I guess that's a pretty important cause!

7. Do you eat a regular old peanut butter jelly sandwich, or do you customize it? And by the way, jelly or no jelly?

My girl thinks this is totally gross, but I have to put a little butter on it. I have ever since I was a kid. Cuts down on the stickiness of the PB. And no jelly.

8. If we were having a conversation in person, how would I know if you were nervous?

I would tend to have a hard time maintaining eye contact. Some people probably think I'm trying to see what's on their desk when I talk to them in their office, but I just get really self-conscious and look down a lot.

9. Do you have an elaborate bedtime routine, or just the basics of toothbrushing and jammies?

Pretty basic - just shower, brush teeth, pills, in bed with a book.

10. Have you ever regretted something you wrote on your blog?

See #11. (But I still love ya, Lid!) No actually, at the moment nothing comes to mind. I'm hoping that's due to grace and not just a poor memory.

11. Has anyone ever told you that you look like a famous person or celebrity? Did you agree?

Sigh. Here we go again, just to give Lid a laugh in her gloomy week. Hasn't everyone heard this by now?! When I was in my 20's, I was told I resemble Ted Koppel. By my mom.

Boy, did she ever live to regret that statement!

(Hmm, wonder if that could have anything to do with the answer to #8. Ya think?!) I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Well, she sure guaranteed my grasping the "fearfully" part!

12. If you were going to dedicate a song to a loved one or friend, what would the song be and to whom would it be dedicated?

As much as I love music, I could come up with a zillion answers, but as I type this on Tuesday night, my answer is dedicated to my man. . . . .Happy Birthday to You!

Join the fun over at 2nd Cup of Coffee!


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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Warm Chat & A Slow Burn

Some authors write humorous books that make me laugh out loud as I read. Others transport me to another time in history and give me a taste of my heritage.

Mary DeMuth reaches into the closets of the heart, exposes the harsh reality of the bleakest human conditions, and then shines the light of God's love and redemption. In A Slow Burn, the second book in her Defiance, Texas trilogy, I was once again compelled to tarry alongside desperately hurting indiviuals and see beyond the brokenness and destructive choices to the souls crying out for God to fill their emptiness, although they didn't yet recognize to Whom they were crying out. And while the story is fiction, the searing of my heart was as real as the pages I held in my hand.

I had a similar experience when I read and reviewed Daisy Chain, the first book in the trilogy, back in February. I loved it. And I wanted to run away from it. For the story contained some aching truths about life that I would prefer to pretend didn't exist.

And then I met Mary at the Christian Book Expo in March. After harassing teasing her about the trauma she had inflicted on me, I sat down to have a serious discussion with her. What a privilege and blessing that was. She's an incredible woman, full of depth and passionate about her message. And just a whole lot of fun as well!

Even though this blog tour is for the second book, A Slow Burn, it's important to back up a bit to see a glimpse of her heart in writing the series. We talked about both Daisy Chain and A Slow Burn.

[Daisy Chain] has some tough stuff in it! Tell me about it.

It started with a conversation with a friend of mine who had grown up in one of those homes where the father was an upstanding community member, but behind closed doors there was wrath and anger. And so there was a huge dichotomy that really messed with him as far as who was God, and who was God the Father, and it made me really mad when I heard that story and plenty of other stories like that. I wanted to expose that and peel back the layers a little and show why it’s not cool to act one way in public and be praised for how holy you are and yet not act that way behind closed doors. I wish I didn’t have to write about that, but that’s the story God laid on my heart.

It’s bad for the church to have inauthentic people in positions of leadership. Then it’s just a show, and I don’t believe Christianity is a show! It’s a life transformation from the inside out, and if we come at Christianity from the outside in and say “Okay, I just gotta look a certain way in public and that’s what a Christian is” then we’ve really missed the boat.

(We talked about the other characters in the story and how they are a strange assortment.) Is there anyone normal in this town?!

(Laughing) That’s why it’s called Defiance, Texas – nobody’s normal!

I always love books set in Texas but this one’s really messing with me!

Yeah, it’s not your typical Southern hospitality book! Bald Muriel just showed up in the book. I had no intention – I had no idea who she was; I just started writing this scene and she just showed up. And she needed to be in there. She’s definitely a redemptive element in that book. She just has a genuine relationship with God.

So many of you authors just have multiple personalities from what I can tell– people just “show up” in your books!

Yeah, my husband thinks I’m crazy, I’ll say, “You won’t believe what my characters did.” And he’ll say “You wrote them!” And I’ll say “I know, but they just did this!”

We discussed why she writes about such hard themes.

What I’d like to come across in my novels is: yes, you can go through the grittiest, darkest thing in your life, absolutely, but God is still bigger and still brighter and lighter than that tragedy. My moniker is Turning Trials to Triumph, so if I can show the darkest dark, it shows God’s lightest light even more spectacularly amidst that backdrop. So that’s my heart and my passion behind why I would write about something like that.

Returning to one of the characters, Daisy's mom, Miss Emory, led us into the second book.

Miss Emory – she’s a piece of work! She’s actually the primary character of the second book, called A Slow Burn. I wanted to explore what it would be like for a mom to grapple with issues of guilt and how do you get out of that? Because obviously in the first book you see her as not a positive role model as a mom; she’s not on MOPS International!

Now you have kids, right?

I have three. I have a girl who’s 16, a boy who’s 13, a girl who’s 10.

Was this not painful for you to write and think about and live? It makes me tear up just thinking about reading it!

It was painful, especially to think about what if my child was taken and trying to explore what that would be like as a mom. But I was really surprised at how hope-filled the second book turned out to be.

I need to know that – that there is hope. Some people say “I just don’t want to read about bad things happening to kids.”

Yeah, I know and that’s really hard. I guess maybe part of it is that I was one of those kids. I was a kid that tremendously bad things happened to me, and I’m okay today. I have a memoir coming out in January with Zondervan called Thin Places, and that explores all of that. I’ll expose all the issues of growing up in a crazy, drug-infested home and the sexual abuse and all the things that come alongside. So I have a really dark story, but God really intersected and healed me, so I love to show the contrast of the darkness with the redemption.

The third book is also going to grapple with some sticky issues, some of which the church hasn't been willing to address. It comes out next spring.

(I'm going to save that part of the interview for another time, like when it's getting closer to the time for release. Just a little something to whet your appetite!)

* * * * *

A Slow Burn is truly a gripping novel. As Mary mentioned, the focus is on Miss Emory, who is wracked with guilt over what has happened to Daisy. Anyone who is a mom can identify with the self-reproach and the second-guessing, the "if onlys." And Emory certainly has a boatload of maternal regrets. As she painfully discovers, her continued poor choices and ineffective coping mechanisms only magnify her despair, her grief, her bitterness, and her unwillingness to reach out to Jed, Daisy's broken-hearted friend who blames himself for her disappearance. To protect her own vulnerability, she lashes out at Ouisie and Hixson, the two friends who repeatedly offer kindness, support, and loving truth. Don't they realize she is beyond redemption? And why do these cryptic letters keep arriving in the mail, containing prayers and instructions to visit difficult places and uncover gaping wounds that she'd rather leave alone?

What will it take for Emory to realize how deeply she is loved? A Slow Burn is a masterful story to ponder long after the last page is turned.

Mary DeMuth is an expert in the field of Pioneer Parenting. She helps Christian parents plow fresh spiritual ground, especially those seeking to break destructive family patterns. Her message guides parents who don’t want to duplicate the home where they were raised or didn’t have positive parenting role models growing up.

An accomplished writer, Mary’s parenting books include Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture, Building the Christian Family You Never Had, and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God. Her real-to-life novels inspire people to turn trials into triumphs: Watching the Tree Limbs (2007 Christy Award finalist, ACFW Book of the Year 2nd Place), Wishing on Dandelions (2007 Retailer’s Choice Award finalist), and Daisy Chain.

Mary is a frequent speaker at women’s retreats and parenting seminars, addressing audiences in both Europe and the United States. National media regularly seek Mary’s candid ability to connect with their listeners. Her radio appearances include FamilyLife Today, Moody Midday Connection, and U.S.A. Radio network. She also has articles published in Marriage Partnership, In Touch, and HomeLife.

As pioneer parents, Mary and her husband Patrick live in Texas with their three children. They recently returned from breaking new spiritual ground in Southern France where they planted a church.

Learn more about Mary at her website and her blog!

To find a list of other stops on the blog tour for A Slow Burn and to read other reviews, click here.

You can purchase A Slow Burn at Amazon. I highly recommend that you do so!


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Monday, September 28, 2009

Got Peace?

I had been eagerly anticipating receiving my copy of Amish Peace by Suzanne Woods Fisher, and I was not disappointed. I've enjoyed her previous books, and she's become a dear bloggy friend. As I began reading, my initial response was to inhale the book as I typically do. I'm a fast reader, and when I enjoy a book, I fly through it. But a few chapters in, I caught myself and realized what an oxymoron it was to rush through a book such as this! So I set it aside and read it in small bits, ruminating between sittings on what I read. Ahhh, the difference was amazing!

While there have always been a fair number of books about the Amish, particularly in the Christian fiction genre, the shooting at the West Nickel Mines School in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania on October 2, 2006 resulted in an increased interest and focus on this sect by the secular world as well as believers. Their response as a community to the tragedy was heart-warming, and the immediate spirit of forgiveness they demonstrated was mind-boggling.

And although we have more time-saving devices at our disposal than ever before, many of us find ourselves overcommitted and stretched so thin that we no longer take time for the simple pleasures of life such as a sunset or a quiet conversation with a friend. What lessons can we learn from these folks who have made the deliberate choice to live apart from the demands of modern life?

The point of Amish Peace is not to convert us all to the Amish faith. Suzanne makes that clear at the beginning. In fact, she said a newspaper once published an article about the number of people who had inquired about how to become Amish. She quotes a wise Amish man who responded:
If you admire our faith, strengthen yours. If you admire our sense of commitment, deepen yours. If you admire our community spirit, build your own. If you admire the simple life, cut back. If you admire deep character and enduring values, live them yourself. (p. 15)

No, becoming Amish isn't the answer. In fact, as with any group of individuals, the Amish aren't perfect. (Nor is their theology.) But as the book points out, they do have some convictions and values that we would be wise to emulate.

Divided into five sections -- Simplicity, Time, Community, Forgiveness, The Sovereignty of God -- each chapter is a picture of Amish life. Traditions, stories, and conversations from Suzanne's personal visits made me feel as though I were present in those big farmhouses as well. There is much wisdom and food for thought to be gleaned from these pages. One conversation that made a particular impression on me was regarding the intentionality of the heating of the house (or lack thereof). After dinner, everyone in the family gathers in the kitchen and family room.
"It's the only room that's heated," Viola explains. "At night, the entire family gathers here. Everyone is together. The kids do their homework, Dad reads, I'll be finishing up something in the kitchen."

Wouldn't it be simple to heat the other rooms? Granted the Amish don't have central heating, but it couldn't be that hard to lug a kerosene heater upstairs so the kids could study quietly. Would it?

The answer comes swiftly.

"No!" Viola says, eyes wide. "We love being together. It's our way. Why, if other rooms were heated, everyone would. . .well, they would scatter!" She says it as if it were a sin. (p. 42)

Quite a contrast to many in our society who strive to have a separate bedroom and bathroom for every family member! I'm thinking our families would be less fractured if they were not so spread out!

Amish proverbs begin each chapter and are sprinkled throughout the book, and each chapter ends with a few questions for Reflections, making this an ideal book for a discussion group.

Here is one of my favorite Amish proverbs from the book:
Before we can pray "Thy Kingdom come,"
we must pray "My kingdom go." (p. 211)

And to celebrate the book's launch, and to give you a chance to get to know Suzanne. . .


A Facebook Launch Party is scheduled for Monday, September 28th from 5-7 pm Pacific time (which is 7-9 pm Central or 8-10 pm Eastern) You can chat LIVE with Suzanne -- and maybe win some great prizes. Click here to sign in! More information and a schedule can be found on Suzanne's blog.

Suzanne Woods Fisher's interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised in the Dunkard Brethren Church in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Benedict eventually became publisher of Christianity Today magazine. Suzanne's work has appeared in many magazines, including Today's Christian Woman, Worldwide Challenge, ParentLife, Christian Parenting Today, and Marriage Partnership. She has contributed to several nonfiction books and is the author of Amish Peace and three novels.

You can read an excerpt here. Amish Peace can be purchased directly from the publisher or other online and local stores. Available October 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

I highly recommend this book!


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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Winner of If God Is Good

True Random Number Generator
Min: 1
Max: 20
Result: 18
Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Congrats to Quilly! Email me your mailing address, and I'll send the book your way directly from Amazon.

(In case anyone's wondering why I put 20 numbers in the Random Number Generator from 17 comments, the 3 commenters who posted about the giveaway got an additional entry added on at the end, in the order of their comments. Quilly was one of those, and the random widget picked her!)


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Saturday, September 26, 2009

TSMSS - Unredeemed

I have loved the group Selah for years. Many of you are aware of the hearbreak experienced by their lead singer Todd Smith & his wife Angie in the loss of their precious baby girl Audrey Caroline in April of 2008. Just a few weeks later, Todd's sister Nicol Sponberg (who had previously sung with Todd in Selah) & her husband Greg buried their 10-week-old son, Luke.

Selah has released a brand new CD, You Deliver Me, that is incredible. This song was a late addition to it and is beautiful beyond words. You may have heard a sneak peek on Angie's blog back in April. Todd speaks of their journey and the powerful message of this song before the group sings it.


The cruelest world
The coldest heart
The deepest wound
The endless dark
The lonely ache
The burning tears
The bitter nights
The wasted years

Life breaks and falls apart
But we know these are
Places where grace is
Soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled
It may be unrestored
But when anything that's shattered
Is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see
It will not be

For every choice that led to shame
And all the love that never came
For every vow that someone broke
And every lie that gave up hope
We live in the shadow of the fall
But the cross says these are all
Places where grace is
Soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled
It may be unrestored
But when anything that's shattered
Is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see
It will not be

Places where grace is
Soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled
It may be unrestored
But you never know the miracle
The Father has in store
Just watch and see
It will not be
Just watch and see
It will not be

Written by Chad Cates, Tony Wood, Brian Petak

This song fits perfectly with the message of the book I'm giving away this week, Randy Alcorn's If God is Good. Click here to enter!

Join more friends at Amy's for music to bless your weekend!


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Friday, September 25, 2009

Five for Friday

Quilly had this Five Word Meme on her blog and invited others to play; if we agreed, she would send each of us five words of her choosing about which to share. I laughed when I got my words - she said she didn't start out intending to have them all start with them same letter, but it just kinda happened. But the word geek and alliteration lover in me thought it appropriate since it was for my Friday post!

So, here goes! I'm sure you're dying to know what I think about:

1.) Faith
First on the list and first in priority. I can't imagine life without it. And yet it's not the faith itself that sustains me, but the object of my faith, which is Christ. One can have much faith in an erroneous and powerless object or religious system and be doomed. But even a small amount of faith in the God of the universe Who is omnipotent, omniscient, just, and sovereign, will change hearts, lives, the world.

2.) Food
Can't live without it! I'm a Texas gal and I like my beef - steak, burgers, roast, BBQ. And Mexican food, of course! I cook most nights and my kids take their lunches. I'm a bit of a baking snob - I grew up making stuff from scratch and that's still the way I do it. I like crunchy foods - tacos more than enchiladas, salad more than soup, etc. And popcorn. And I'm not very adventuresome when it comes to food. I like what I know and what is traditional.

3.) Flaw
Way too easy for me to spot! I'm such a perfectionist about so many things. The last 5 or 6 years I've learned much about grace. (But misspelled words and misuse of apostrophes still drives me batty!)

4.) Fame
Way overrated. Except in blogs, maybe! LOL Seriously, a life in the spotlight holds no appeal. I want to know my friends love me for who I am, not for the light that might spill over onto them.

5.) Fear
The feeling that comes just after I click "Publish Post". . .!
What happens when #1 falters or is placed in myself and my abilities - or in anything other than God. It used to paralyze me when my kids were tiny - the fear of "what if" something happened to them. I'm lots better. I think. We'll see if it stays that way when my boy gets his license in a few months and drives off alone for the first time!

Well, that was harder than I thought it would be when I saw the list. What happened to words like fall and friendship and foolishness?! Just joking, Quilly -- it was good to stretch my brain a bit!

If you want to play, let me know in the comments and I'll email you 5 words.


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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fields of Grace

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Fields Of Grace

Bethany House (October 2009)


Kim Vogel Sawyer


Best-selling, award-winning author Kim Vogel Sawyer is a wife, mother, grandmother, author, speaker, singer of songs and lover of chocolate... but most importantly, she's a born-again child of the King!

A former elementary school teacher, Kim closed her classroom door in 2005 to follow God's call on her heart to write and speak. Now blessed with multiple writing contracts with Bethany House, Barbour, and Zondervan Publishing, Kim enjoys sharing her journey to publication as well as the miraculous story of her healing from a life-long burden of pain and shame.

Kim's gentle yet forthright testimony lends credence to the promise of Ps. 117:2--"Great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever."


Will their Mennonite faith be shaken or strengthened by the journey to a new land?

With their eldest son nearly to the age when he will be drafted into military service, Reinhardt and Lillian Vogt decide to immigrate to America, the land of liberty, with their three sons and Reinhardt's adopted brother, Eli. But when tragedy strikes during the voyage, Lillian and Eli are forced into an agreement neither desires.

Determined to fulfill his obligation to Reinhardt, Eli plans to see Lillian and her sons safely settled on their Kansas homestead--and he's equally determined that the boys will be reared in the Mennonite faith. What he doesn't expect is his growing affection for Lillian--and the deep desire to be part of a family.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Fields Of Grace, go HERE

Kim Vogel Sawyer has crafted a story that tugs at the heart and expertly portrays the emotions and experiences which Lillian and her family encounter. The fear and anxiety associated with pulling up roots to move to a new and unfamiliar land gives way to anticipation and hope. After the discomfort of the arduous voyage, they prepare to arrive in America, but the paralyzing shock of loss upon loss, and the numbing grief which accompany it, seem more than they can handle. Yet there is no time to adjust to this new reality before life-altering decisions must be made by Lillian and Eli. When they finally arrive at their new acreage, the exhaustive work of settling the land serves to bring some members of the family closer while driving a deeper wedge of resentment between others. As the sharp edges begin to smooth away from their shock and grief, however, flickers of hope and joy begin to once again ignite, along with new dreams. But when a new sorrow carves another hollow in Lillian's bruised heart, she blames Eli and her grief turns to anger and bitterness. Will her tears of sorrow lead her back to God, allowing Him to bloom a field of grace within her heart?


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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday's Random Dozen

If it's Wednesday, then it's Bible Study morning, Youth Group night -- and time to join Lid at 2nd Cup of Coffee for a Random Dozen!

1. Please share one middle school memory. It can be good, bad, ugly, funny. Pictures or words, I don't care, just share.

Last week almost all of us admitted how excruciatingly painful middle school (or junior high, in my case) was. So of course this week, Lid wants us to peel back our fingernails and SHARE a memory from those blasted blessed days. (I think she just wants to see who her real blog friends are that will keep coming back for more torture!)

Well, this is actually a good memory. And it's the start of my word geekiness. My eighth grade teacher (named Miss Gross, and she was 4'11 in all directions and as sweet as can be!) was huge on grammar. We diagrammed sentences almost the entire year. That was unusual even for my day - no one diagrammed sentences any more. Our final exam was to diagram a 100-word sentence! We turned our paper sideways and had to plan really carefully to get it to fit. I think I got a 98 or something. I loved it, and I learned more in English that year than any other year until 11th grade English when I had a phenomenal teacher who focused on literature and writing.

2. What's your favorite Beatles song?

I'm a nerd, but I just love When I'm Sixty-Four.

3. If I asked you to describe your most comfortable outfit, what would it be?

Denim shorts with some side elastic, a scoop-necked shirt, and flip-flops in the summer. In the winter, jeans, fleece sweatshirt, and slip-on mules.

4. Would you rather host a party or be a guest?

Host. I love it and it gives me something to focus on besides small talk, which I'm not very good at.

5. Do you think we will move completely from traditional books to digital ones, and if we do, are you OK with that?

I don't think so. At least I hope not. There's nothing like the smell and feel of a crisp new book. And the warm look of a bookcase filled with well-loved volumes!

6. Do you learn best by reading, listening or experiencing?

Experiencing. In nursing school we could have several lectures and read all sorts of stuff about a certain disease or surgery, and I'd be confused. I'd have one patient with it and it would click.

7. If you are (or when you were) single, what is the kiss of death for you concerning the opposite sex? (That is, what is one trait or behavior or habit or anything at all that immediately turns you off from considering that person a potential match for you?)

Well, there were obvious requirements like being a believer and having my values. But if we're talking shallow things? Greased hair (either unwashed or from product) or being short. I'm 5' 10" and really wanted someone at least as tall as I was.

8. Snacks. Salty or sweet?

Salty. I love chocolate, but to eat in large quantities - because isn't that what you do with snacks?! - salty is better. Homemade popcorn (not microwaved) is my favorite.

9. Look around you in a four foot radius. What object is around you that you didn't realize was there or forgot was there? How long has it been there?

My mom's recipe boxes. They've been sitting here for a year and a week.

10. What is your favorite Tom Cruise movie?

I'm not a Tom Cruise fan, but I loved A Few Good Men. And Top Gun.

11. You buy a bottle of shampoo and discover that you don't like what it does to your hair at all. What do you do with that full bottle?

Either toss it or give it to my man.

12. Your favorite Fall comfort food? (Last week it was beverage.)

I love making this in the fall:

3 cups flour
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. apple juice
2 tsp. vanilla
3 large eggs
3 med. Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples, peeled & chopped
1 c. walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 c. golden raisins.

Preheat oven to 350. Grease & flour a 10-inch Bundt pan. Place all ingredients except apples, walnuts, & raisins in large bowl. Beat at low speed until well-mixed, constantly scraping bowl with spatula. Increase to medium speed & beat 2 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl. Stir in fruit & nuts. Spoon into pan. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes or until it tests clean. Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove from pan & cool completely. Sprinkle with pwodered sugar to serve.
[NOTE: Can wrap well & freeze up to 1 month.]

And don't let the long list of ingredients intimidate you. This is really a simple recipe. Almost everything gets dumped into one bowl at the beginning, you mix it a bit, and then you add the rest. I love to take this up to the church for the staff to nibble on throughout the day. It makes a great dessert or even a breakfast cake. Enjoy!

Go see some more random folks over at 2nd Cup of Coffee.

And be sure to enter my giveaway this week for Randy Alcorn's new book If God is Good!


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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Randy Alcorn's Latest & a Giveaway!

Randy Alcorn's latest book tackles a difficult subject which lies at the very core of our beliefs. I've had such a hard time getting started on this review that I can't imagine even attempting to write the book itself, but I'm so glad Randy did. This is a solid, thought-provoking, and well-written book.

If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil deals with the prime questions people ask today:
Why would an all-good and all-powerful God create a world full of evil and suffering? And then, how can there be a God if suffering and evil exist?

No trite answers here. This book is peppered with Scriptural references. (In the back is a 7-page, triple-column index of somewhere around 1000 references!) When I began the book, I decided to use those little Post-it flags to mark pages to which I might want to refer later. I'm wondering now if that will actually be helpful, for there are so many flags that I might as well have an unmarked book!

Randy begins by defining evil. For we must understand evil to acknowledge our own sin. Only then will we begin to grasp God's goodness and His grace.
Unless we come to grips with the fact that we're of precisely the same stock as [a convicted child-murderer] and Stalin and Mao, we'll never get over thinking that we deserve better. Evil done to us will offend us and having to suffer will outrage us. We'll never appreciate Christ's grace so long as we hold on to the proud illusion that we're better than we are. We flatter ourselves when we look at evil acts and say, "I would never do that." Given our evil nature and a similar background, resources, and opportunities, we would. (p. 76)

He also offers a discussion of worldviews that are contradictory to the Bible, utilizing Scripture to point out their fallacies. I think believers are sometimes fearful of reading books by or having discussions with atheists because they feel threatened by their assertions. This book is an excellent resource to assist believers in understanding those perspectives and how inconsistent they are with Scripture. (Caveat, we generally cannot debate someone into the kingdom. Individuals were always trying to engage Jesus in theological debates, and He sidestepped those to deal directly with matters of the heart. People generally do not care how much we know until they know how much we care.)

Randy tackles the difficult and often hotly debated question of Divine Sovereignty vs. Human Choice thoroughly and boldly, acknowledging that both "sides" have supporting scriptures. He encourages the reader not to simply pick and choose scriptures that support one's theology but to adapt one's theology to the Scriptures, quoting Charles Spurgeon as saying,
These two truths, I do not believe can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity: they are two lines that are so nearly parallel that the mind that shall pursue them fathest, will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring. (p. 278)

I am eager to complete the last third of the book, for flipping through I see many great nuggets such as: God's delay of justice is actually a demonstration of His patience and grace, how He uses suffering for His glory and our sanctification, and finding God in the midst of suffering.

This is not a quick read just because of the nature of the subject and the size of the book. However, while the concepts are weighty, the wording is down-to-earth. Some theological tomes are written such that I can't even understand the sentences, much less the concepts presented! But this is presented in a very approachable style, and I highly recommend it.

Randy Alcorn is the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM). Prior to 1990, when he started EPM, he served as a pastor for fourteen years. He has spoken around the world and has taught on the adjunct faculties of Multnomah Bible College and Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon.

Randy is the best-selling author of twenty-seven books (over three million in print), including the novels Deadline, Dominion, and Deception as well as Lord Foulgrin's Letters, the Gold Medallion winner Safely Home, and Wait Until Then (children's picture book about Heaven). His fourteen nonfiction works include Money, Possessions and Eternity, ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments, In Light of Eternity, The Treasure Principle, The Grace & Truth Paradox, The Purity Principle, The Law of Rewards, Why ProLife, Heaven, Heaven for Kids (8-12 year olds), 50 Days of Heaven (meditations on Heaven) and Tell Me About Heaven (picture book illustrated by Ron DiCianni).

Randy has written for many magazines and produces the popular periodical Eternal Perspectives. He's been a guest on over 500 radio and television programs including Focus on the Family, The Bible Answer Man, Family Life Today, Revive Our Hearts, Truths that Transform and Faith Under Fire.

The father of two married daughters, Randy lives in Gresham, Oregon, with his wife and best friend, Nanci. They are the proud grandparents of four grandsons, Jacob, Matthew, Tyler and Jack. Randy enjoys hanging out with his family, biking, tennis, research and reading.

For more information on this author, please be sure to visit To see the author's life and perspectives, check out his blog at

Go to the publisher's site to order If God is Good, read an excerpt, or find a local or online location to purchase this book.

I just have to do a giveaway! If you would like to read this book, enter a comment and I will send you a new one directly from Amazon. Leave a second comment letting me know you mentioned and linked to the giveaway on your blog and get an extra chance to win. Comments must be submitted by Sunday evening (9/27) at 6:00 pm CDT and I will draw a winner. US mailing addresses only. Be sure to leave me a way to contact you if you don't have a blog.

And even if you don't win, GOD IS GOOD!


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Hot Off the Press!

Now available from Tyndale House Publishers:

Holy Bible: Mosaic NLT

Encounter Christ on every continent and in every century of Christian History. A new genre of Bible—a weekly meditation Bible—Holy Bible: Mosaic is an invitation to experience Christ both in His word and in the responses of his people. Each week, as you reflect on guided Scripture readings aligned with the church seasons, you will receive a wealth of insight from historical and contemporary writings. Full-color artwork will engage the soul; quotes, hymns, prayers, and poems enhance the rich devotional experience. Also includes a Dictionary/Concordance, NLT word study system with Hebrew/ Greek dictionary. A beautiful layout of art and devotional content, and an online community and content (coming Fall 2009) will extend the experience.

My copy arrived in the mailbox yesterday. Be watching for my review of this Bible in weeks to come, along with a guest post by one of the contributing authors!

And a giveaway for one of YOU!


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Monday, September 21, 2009

Don't Run Away Just Because of The C-Word!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

One Imperfect Christmas

Abingdon Press (September 2009)


Myra Johnson


Making up stories has been second nature to me for as long as I can remember. A select group of trusted friends back at dear old Mission High waited eagerly for the next installment of my "Great American Spy Novel" (think Man from Uncle) and my "All-American Teen Novel" (remember Gidget and Tammy?). I even had a private notebook of angst-ridden poetry a la Rod McKuen.

The dream of writing persisted into adulthood, although it often remained on the back burner while I attended to home and family and several "real" (read paying) jobs along the way. Then in 1983, while recovering from sinus surgery, I came upon one of those magazine ads for the Institute of Children’s Literature. I knew it was time to get serious, and the next thing I knew, I'd enrolled in the “Writing for Children and Teenagers” course.

Within a year or so I sold my first story, which appeared in the Christian publication Alive! for Young Teens. For many years I enjoyed success writing stories and articles for middle-graders and young adults. I even taught for ICL for 9 years.

Then my girls grew up, and there went my live-in inspiration. Time to switch gears. I began my first women's fiction manuscript and started attending Christian writers conferences. Eventually I learned about American Christian Romance Writers (which later became American Christian Fiction Writers) and couldn't wait to get involved. Friends in ACFW led me to RWA and the online inspirational chapter, Faith, Hope & Love.

So here I am today, still on this crazy roller-coaster ride. Still writing. Still hopeful. Writing, I'm learning, is not about the destination, it's about the journey. My current projects are primarily women's fiction and romance . . . novels of hope, love, and encouragement. Novels about real women living out their faith and finding love in the midst of everyday, and sometimes not so everyday, situations.

Graphic designer Natalie Pearce faces the most difficult Christmas of her life. For almost a year, her mother has lain in a nursing home, the victim of a massive stroke, and Natalie blames herself for not being there when it happened. Worse, she's allowed the monstrous load of guilt to drive a wedge between her and everyone she loves-most of all her husband Daniel. Her marriage is on the verge of dissolving, her prayer life is suffering, and she's one Christmas away from hitting rock bottom.

Junior-high basketball coach Daniel Pearce is at his wit's end. Nothing he's done has been able to break through the wall Natalie has erected between them. And their daughter Lissa's adolescent rebellion isn't helping matters. As Daniel's hope reaches its lowest ebb, he wonders if this Christmas will spell the end of his marriage and the loss of everything he holds dear.

If you would like to read the first chapter of One Imperfect Christmas, go HERE

Watch the trailer:

I know, I know. You aren't ready to hear about a book with the word "Christmas" in it. But this is one not to be missed. Actually, two Christmas seasons are simply the bookends of a difficult year in the life of a very normal family. A family whose sense of normal has been shattered by the stroke suffered by Natalie's mom. The author doesn't shy away from the raw emotion felt by each member of the family: Natalie's denial & guilt, Daniel's ebbing patience and despair, Lissa's determination and fear, not to mention the fluctuating hope and grief and confusion experienced by Natalie's father and her brother & sister-in-law. The story was a bit painful to read at times because of its honest portrayal of such a typical challenge that so many families face. Are family traditions dependent on their beloved matriarch or will this family be able to experience the hope and joy of the season once again?


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Whose Reputation?

From our new pastor's first official sermon yesterday:
My goal is not to build a great church with a great reputation. But my goal is for the people of this church to live and love so that Jesus has a great reputation. When the community looks at us, I don't want them to say "what a great church" but "what a great Savior."

Amen. May we never forget Who it's really all about.


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Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Carousel Painter

I've recently told you about Dawn's Prelude, written by Tracie Peterson, and A Surrendered Heart, written by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller. Today I am pleased to tell you about Judith Miller's newest release, The Carousel Painter.

After her artist father's death, Carrington Brouwer returns from Paris to America hoping to find work and support herself, as her only possessions are two of her father's paintings. Invited by her friend Augusta Galloway to stay with her family as long as necessary, Carrie quickly discovers that Mrs. Galloway isn't nearly as welcoming. When a need arises at Mr. Galloway's factory for a painter of carousel animals, Carrie convinces him to hire her for the job and moves into a boarding house near the factory. She soon realizes that her presence as the lone female in the factory is highly resented by the other workers - and their wives - but she is determined to persevere and prove her talents. But when a valuable necklace disappears while she is visiting the Galloway home one weekend, Carrie suddenly realizes more than just her job is at stake. Will she be able to prove her innocence or will she end up in jail? And will her friendship with Augusta withstand the test?

This is an intriguing book of life as an independent woman a century ago. The craftsmanship, time, and talent that it took to make the charming old carousels of yesteryear is fascinating and unmatched by today's mass-produced copies. The contrast between the smooth-talking playboy personality of Augusta's suitor, considered to be from "acceptable" bloodlines, and the integrity of Cassie's hardworking, sincere supervisor (Mr. Tobarth) and the factory manager (Josef Kaestner), who are deemed lower-class, is well-portrayed. Cassie's struggles with her pride and how to distinguish the fine line between pride and wanting to attain excellence in her work were easy to relate to. And as she deals with the uncertainty of the outcome of the stolen necklace, her discussions with Josef and Mr. Tobarth about faith and trust are excellent reminders of taking the truths of the Bible from Sunday into our daily lives.

Judith Miller is an award-winning author whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her novels, two of which have placed in the CBA top ten lists. In addition to her writing, Judy is a certified legal assistant. Judy and her husband make their home in Topeka, Kansas. Visit her Web site at

You can purchase The Carousel Painter directly from the publisher as well as from Amazon or


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A Chat & a Review

Tracie Peterson has been busily churning out the books this year, and that is just fine with me! In fact, I teased her about this when I had the privilege of meeting and interviwing her at the Expo in March, where she was promoting her Brides of Gallatin County series (see my review here):

I love it when [the books] come out so close together because a lot of time they make us wait 6 months or a year. It's probably hard on you, because you have to write them fast!

(Tracie laughs) My readers are always saying "Why can't they just come out every week?" But that would make it just too hard! And then they get them, and I've spent months in labor over these babies, and then they read them in two hours!

In addition to that series, and Dawn's Prelude, which I reviewed last week, the third and final installment in The Broadmoor Legacy series, A Surrendered Heart which Tracie co-wrote with Judith Miller, was also recently released. We discussed that as well.

Judith and I are dear friends; we've been friends from when I lived in Kansas, and she's just a lot of fun to write with. She's a remarkable woman to work with, and I'm excited to see the series complete.

So how does it work when you write with someone? Who comes up with the idea?

Well, it depends. The very first co-write I did was with Judith Pella; I met her at a conference and I had an idea for a series, and one thing led to another - it was such a God thing. With Judy Miller, we were friends, and I knew her style and knew it would mesh with mine very well. So we started talking, and the first series . . . . we had both been toying about doing something with the textile industry and the mill girls, and little by little we began putting together story ideas; it was really a mutual thing.

Judy has been writing the first draft, so that involves most of the research, but it still requires that the second writer have a good knowledge of the time period, the research, the information. So for that purpose we [have] traveled together and researched the elements. So basically, we work on the idea together, we flesh it out; we're sticklers for an outline, so we do a detailed synopsis. And then Judy writes, sends it to me, I flesh out; she will have chapter chunks that she leaves for me because maybe I have more expertise in that area. And she always, always --here's the secret!--leaves me the last chapter to write because she can't bear to say goodbye. (Laughs) So now your readers will be in the know!

So how do you come up with the basic ideas for your stories?

I'm a voracious reader, and we watch a lot of the History Channel. A lot of times, I'll be reading a non-fiction book and see some little thread [that I wonder about] - my favorite line is "and we don't know how this happened" or "we don't know who was involved." I love that because that just opens the door for the fiction author to take it and run.

So you're just the Paul Harvey "The Rest of the Story" person!

(She laughs) Sometimes it's a place. I fell in love with Alaska the first time I went there and I knew I wanted to write about it. Sometimes it's a character. I'll see someone and think "I can spin a whole story around this person."

A character as in, someone in history? Or someone weird you see walking down the street?!

Either way!

So what is the weirdest thing you've ever done to research for a book?

My husband's a historian, so he works for me and does a lot of research for me, and he's fantastic at it. In one of the books with Judith Pella, the girl is on her back in a field, and she's flailing a knife at the guy that's pinning her to the ground - who's actually pinning her to save her life from the bulletfire! - and she doesn't want to see if she stabs him, [so her eyes are closed as she's flailing the knife]. And I wasn't really sure how to portray that scene and work it out, so my husband and I acted it out. And his father walks in! And he just looks down at us. I was just using a butter knife!

And you're still happily married?!

We are! Twenty-nine years!

I liked Tracie's books before I met her, but now that I've seen what a delight she is, it makes them even better!

Anyway, back to the book, A Surrendered Heart! I have thoroughly enjoyed this series of the three Broadmoor cousins. This last book is the story of Amanda. She is in her element helping Dr. Blake Carstead provide medical care at the Home for the Friendless in Rochester, New York when the cholera epidemic of 1899 breaks out. The rest of her family flees the city to their estate on the Thousand Islands just as the Home is quarantined - and Amanda becomes deathly ill. Once she is on the mend, she reluctantly goes to join her relatives for a complete recovery, although her heart remains with her patients and the doctor who is her mentor and friend, and she looks forward to returning and to, hopefully one day, attending medical school herself.

As the summer weeks progress, Amanda's plans are suddenly thwarted by the disturbing news that the family fortune is about to disappear. Her father's unethical business practices are catching up with him, and to save his finances and his reputation before both are destroyed, he promises Amanda's hand in marriage to a business associate many years her senior. She quickly discovers the type of man Ellert Jackson is, but there is no escape from the future laid out for her.

Sophie and Fanny, Amanda's cousins who were featured in the first two books of the series, face their own continuing challenges. The bond between the three girls is tested, as is their faith. I love the way the authors wove the cousins' stories together and brought the series to a satisfying conclusion. And we know which author wrote the last chapter! LOL

Judith Miller is an award-winning author whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her novels, two of which have placed in the CBA top ten lists. In addition to her writing, Judy is a certified legal assistant. Judy and her husband make their home in Topeka, Kansas. Visit her Web site at

Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 70 novels. She teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. Tracie and her family live in Belgrade, Montana. Visit

A Surrendered Heart can be purchased directly from the publisher or from Amazon or


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Saturday, September 19, 2009

TSMSS - The Love of God

The first time I heard this song, I was either in elementary or junior high school, and I have loved it ever since. The story behind it is incredible.

The last verse is from the poem Haddamut, written in Aramaic in the year 1050 by a Jewish cantor in Germany named Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai. In 1917, Frederick Martin Lehman was so overcome by a sermon on God's love that he began penning a song in his idle times at work. While the first two verses and chorus came easily, and he composed the melody the same day, he struggled to write a third verse. He remembered the poem from an old camp meeting that he had saved as a bookmark. Upon finding it, he was stunned to discover the words fit his melody perfectly. Additionally, small print below the poem indicated that the verse had been found translated and scratched on the wall of an insane asylum after a patient's death. Frederick Lehman's daughter, Claudia Faustina Lehman Mays, arranged the music, and the song was published in 1919. It has since been translated into almost 20 languages.

Source: HIMknowledge Ministry

Of course, when we as believers think of God's love, our mind immediately goes to the cross. (But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8) But look below at that last verse and realize it was written by one who presumably was still awaiting the Messiah.

"I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness."

Jeremiah 31:3

"When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son."

Hosea 11:1

How much more should we, the New Testament Church, be overcome by His love?!

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:17-19


The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.


Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.


WORDS: Frederick Martin Lehman (vv. 1-2, Refrain) & Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai (v. 3)
MUSIC: Frederick Martin Lehman & Claudia Faustina Lehman Mays

You'll find more songs to bless your weekend at Amy's.


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Friday, September 18, 2009

Fools Rush In

Some novels transport the reader through time, either historically or futuristically. Others are based in contemporary settings. And some are so current you almost expect to run into the characters if you are in or near the city in which they reside. Such is the case with Fools Rush In by Janice Thompson. Set in Galveston, Texas as the city is rebuilding from last year's Hurricane Ike, the book is peppered with references to real landmarks, such as the historical Strand, Moody Gardens, and Seawolf Park, among others. Since Galveston is one of our favorite get-away spots, those references made the story practically jump off the pages and really added to my enjoyment. But for those in distant states for whom Galveston is only a periodic news item during hurricane season, never fear - this entertaining story is also full of wonderful characters and flavor!

And speaking of flavor, what do you suppose happens when the Bella of a passionate & noisy Italian clan meets a Texas cowboy? Mamma mia! Something's bound to be cooking, and I don't just mean the pizza and BBQ!

Twenty-nine and single, Bella Rossi has taken over the management of her family's wedding facility and bridal consulting business and immediately changes its focus from traditional to themed weddings. The only flaw is that it's less than two weeks before her first event, a Boot-Scootin' western wedding, and she still has to lasso a deejay (along with a few other minor details, such as music, food, and centerpieces). That seems to be a daunting task until she overhears a customer at her uncle's pizzeria talking to a deejay and convinces him to give her his number (the deejay's, not the customer's). After Dwayne (or Duh-wayne, as he pronounces it!) arrives and the initial meeting with her and the couple getting married takes an unexpected turn, Bella falls for him - literally, in a fainting heap at his feet.

As plans proceed and then the event itself occurs, Bella tries to find the balance between giving her all to prove her capability and relying on God to guide her steps. There are plenty of amusing - and horrifying! - mishaps along the way, as well as lots of family drama. Will Dwayne "head for the hills" or will he add a little flavor of his own to her family? And what will happen when her rowdy relatives meet Dwayne's own down-home, small-town family? This humorous and engaging tale adds sparks and gives new meaning to the term "melting pot". And it made me hungry! I look forward to Bella's next adventure as she plans a medieval-themed wedding in Swinging on a Star, due out in January.

Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and native Texan. An experienced wedding coordinator herself, Thompson brings the everyday drama and humor of getting married alive in her books. She lives in Texas.

Fools Rush In is available directly from the publisher, as well as Amazon and


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Friday Funny

For all those preparing sermons and lessons for Sunday. . . .

A boy was watching his father, a pastor, write a sermon.

"How do you know what to say?" he asked.

"Why, God tells me," the father answered.

The boy replied, "Oh, then why do you keep crossing things out?"

Have a great day!


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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wanna Know Some Lonestar Secrets?

I was thrilled when I got the chance to read Colleen Coble's latest book, Lonestar Secrets. It's no secret that I love me a book set in Texas, and Colleen Coble is not only a great author, she is as warm and genuine as they come. I loved chatting with her at the Expo back in the spring.

After years away, Shannon Astor returns as a veterinarian to the ranching community of Bluebird Crossing, along with her young daughter, Kylie, determined to show the town she has risen above the rumors that drove her away. She realizes that is easier said than done when she runs smack dab into Jack MacGowan, who started those rumors. But her biggest shock is seeing Jack's daughter, Faith, who is the spitting image of Kylie. Surely this can't be a coincidence. What secrets are about to be brought to light and at what price? And how can this mess be fixed?

In addition to sorting out the situation with Jack and the girls, Shannon is troubled by the cryptic and increasingly desperate phone calls from her friend Mary Beth, who seems to be in some sort of danger. And why are folks determined to dig up the story of the treasure supposedly hidden in the surrounding caves - the same caves that took her parents' lives? Is there something more sinister at work?

This multi-layered story kept me spellbound from start to finish. So many elements weave together to make it a thoroughly satisfying read - suspense, grudges, betrayal, family secrets, heartbreak, power, romance, and trust. Set in the Big Bend area and with as many twists and turns as a West Texas tree, Lonestar Secrets shouldn't be kept a secret!

Can Texas's majestic Big Bend help Shannon find her life again?

Shannon Astor returns to southwest Texas to serve as the town's veterinarian, believing she's finally found the space to get her life back on track.

Then she catches a glimpse of Jack MacGowan, the man who ruined her life years before. But even more shocking is the sight of Jack's five-year-old daughter Faith, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Shannon's own daughter Kylie. Is it possible that their similarities could be more than just coincidence? Could Faith be the daughter that Shannon has believed to be dead for all these years?

As the truth emerges, everyone is forced to take sides--in a story with a heart as big as Texas.

Born and raised in the Midwest (Indiana), I grew up on a farm with horses, pigs and chickens. I had plenty of adventure–from being dragged by my pony to running my brother Randy’s motorcycle through a fence. Maybe that’s why all my stories have action and adventure in them.

How I Started Writing:
I think only God knows what really makes a writer. He gave me the upbringing I would need and the voracious reading appetite necessary to understand what makes a story. I remember the night I finished a book and told the Lord how tired I was of reading books that assumed He didn’t exist. I told God I’d do my best to write for Him, but He would have to open the doors. I waited and nothing happened. I couldn’t think of a thing worth saying.

Then one night in August 1990 everything changed.

To learn the rest of this story, visit Collen at her website! She also contributes, along with three other authors, to a blog!


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CFBA - Dawn's Prelude

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Dawn's Prelude

(Bethany House - October 2009)


Tracie Peterson

Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 70 novels. She teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research.

Ephesians 1:18 has become a cornerstone verse for a new non-fiction book she's been working on -- its also become a cornerstone in her life. The verse reads, "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints."

Tracie and her family live in Belgrade, Montana.

Newly widowed Lydia Sellers discovers that through an unforeseen fluke, she is the sole recipient of her husband's fortune. But instead of granting her security, it only causes strife as her adult stepchildren battle to regain the inheritance for themselves.

Lydia, longing to put the memories of her painful marriage behind her, determines to travel to Alaska to join her aunt. Lydia's arrival in Sitka, however, brings two things she didn't expect.

One is the acquaintance of Kjell Bjorklund, the handsome owner of the sawmill. Second is the discovery that she is pregnant with her dead husband's child. What will this mean for her budding relationship with Kjell? And what lengths will her stepchildren go to reclaim their father's fortune? Lydia soon finds her life--and that of her child's--on the line.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Dawn's Prelude, go HERE

When I open a Tracie Peterson book, I know to expect a great story, and she has certainly exceeded my expectations with Dawn's Prelude. Tracie skillfully portrays Lydia's despair and helplessness as a woman who has been treated throughout her life only as a piece of property to be bartered, abused, and taken advantage of. The result is a battered heart that looks at her circumstances and figures God turned His back on her long ago. The story is full of suspenseful twists and turns, yet through it all is a beautiful thread of God's tender wooing and redemption. And when things seem to be at their worst is when God's light shines the brightest! The only "negative" to this book was raised by my girl when she saw it. . . "she should play a viola, not a violin. They never choose a viola!" Um, I'll pass that right along!


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