Monday, July 27, 2015

Song of the Week – “While I’m Waiting”

Wait. That’s not one of my favorite words. When I first began writing, I would send something to a publisher and…wait. I would just about pounce on the mailman when he came. “(Yes, this was before the Internet and email!) Even after I began sending things out by email, there was a lot of impatient waiting, checking my inbox several times a day. I wish I could say I had conquered this issue 100%, but not really. The key to writing is to not spend time waiting. I need to e working on the next thing in the meantime.

The same is true of our Christian lives. Many days we send p a request to God and spend (waste) our time waiting. That’s not how it should be. We should be moving on to something else. While we are waiting for God’s answers we need to be worshiping and serving.

That’s what the Song of the Week is about. Give a listen… 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Just One More Thing

You can download a free copy of this
 to-do list at Misfit Isle
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel like I struggle with laziness. I’m not sure if it’s that I am in fact lazy, or that I’m disappointed at the end of the day when I haven’t been able to cross everything off my list.(I’m definitely a list maker!) I don’t know if it’s because I work at home, that sometimes it’s easy to get distracted from work. I’m a writer, editor, and book reviewer. All of those cause me to sit. Either way, it’s something I’ve taken to God. Over the last several months I’ve prayed each morning for productive day, free of laziness.

God has helped me by nudging me to do “one more thing.” Each day, when I attempt to sit and do nothing, I tell myself, “one more thing” and I find one more thing to accomplish. Then there is that afternoon slump. There are many afternoons I feel like I could simply lay down and take a nap. Because I work at home it would be so easily done. The one good thing about me is that I’m not a nap taker. I never actually sleep and I feel worse after I get up so I don’t even bother trying. Instead, I use my afternoon slump as an opportunity to do one more thing. I know that if I get up and move around, I can work my way through the slump.

It often ends up that more than one thing gets done. For instance, tonight, after dinner it would have been easy to simply clean the kitchen and call it a night. But, I knew I needed to put some bread in the oven to prepare for tomorrow night’s dinner. Before cleaning, I put the bread in the oven to do its thing while I cleaned. Two birds, one stone.

Then, as I was pulling the bread off the pantry shelves to cut up for stuffing, I realized it wouldn’t take much more to move all the items on the shelf so I could wake them down and give them a good scrubbing, which they had needed for a while.

Now, I sit here writing this blog post. Instead of quitting, I’ve accomplished three more things that can be removed from tomorrow’s list. And that makes me feel better. Don’t misunderstand me, being lazy once in a while isn’t a bad idea. In these hazy, days of summer, there’s nothing more I enjoy than time at the pool. Being lazy once in a while is probably necessary for sanity’s sake.

Being wives and mothers takes up so much of our time, but let’s use that time to the best of our ability. We will never have EVERYTHING done. That’s just the way life works. Examine your life today, maybe you need to do that one more thing.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to get some watermelon for a snack.…hmmm…maybe the fridge needs to be cleaned out.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Song of the Week - "Words"

There seems to be an awful lot of word slinging lately, sometimes in surprising places. Everyone has an opinion about everything and they aren’t afraid to share it not matter how they sound or who they hurt. Yes, I have definite opinions about everything that’s happening in the news; however, I don’t scream my opinion to everyone on the Internet. I think most people who know me, know exactly where I stand on many of these issues. If someone wants to sit down and have a discussion (without bashing and hollering) I would be glad to. When you scream your opinion at everyone, soon everyone stops listening.

Words are something we use on a daily basis. I use mine for work. I want my words to be carefully chosen. I know that sometimes the words that come out of my mouth are not the ones that should. I think that’s why I enjoy writing…I can go back and scribble out the words that shouldn’t be there. Unfortunately, I can’t do that with my mouth.

This week, listen to the song, and then go out and make it a point to be careful with your words. Wherever you stand on many of the issues facing society today, don’t let your words be hurtful. You want to bring people to Christ with your words, not push them away. There will always be disagreements on issues, even among Christians, but don’t let that ruin your testimony. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Meet Leo

I haven’t done a Real Life post in a while and thought it was time. I had actually forgotten about it until one of my son’s friends reminded me. I usually have stories about people stopping by
my house to use the bathroom, but not this time.

Last summer, I was busy working when my husband came home for lunch. After he left, he sat in his truck outside the house for a few minutes. I didn’t really think anything of it as this is normal for him. When the phone rang, I answered.

“Lock the door, quick!”

It was him. I saw a woman just standing in front of our house looking at it. For those of you who have never been to our house, it’s pretty much all open, especially during the summer. The curtains are open, the windows are open.

I quickly went to do as my husband requested. I barely made it. The woman was at my front door trying to open it. I didn’t even have time to lock it, so I just held the lock so she couldn’t enter without knocking. I scrunched down on the floor by the door so she couldn’t see me if she tried to look in.
Leo, in his spot by the front door.

My husband got out of his car and asked her if she needed something.

“I’m looking for Leo.”

“Leo doesn’t live here.”

“Oh, I was told he did.”

“This is my house and there’s no Leo here.”

Finally the woman stumbled away.

My husband came in and got out a cane and put it by the door. “Just in case you have trouble later.”

My son decided to name the cane Leo. If anyone comes to our house looking for Leo, they may find him.

Yes, this is a true story. And people wonder why I'm a writer!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Song of the Week - "Lord I Need You"

My heart is heavy for so many of my friends and family members. Many are going through any number of difficulties whether physical, emotional, or mental. This song is for all of you this week. I don’t want to name anyone as some of the difficulties are private. I just want you to know that someone is praying for you and that there is Someone you can call out to in your time of need.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Guest Author Kelli Hughett

My guest author today is Kelli Hughett. Kelli was raised in Colorado where she and her husband are now raising and homeschooling their three kids. Kelli writes suspense with His fingerprints all over it when she isn’t tending the chickens and the garden or speaking to women’s groups. Faith and Family are the most common notes in the soundtrack of her life.

You can catch up with Kelli, read devotionals and random thoughts, or book a speaking engagement at

Thanks for visiting with us today, Kelli! For anyone who is interested, simply click on the cover to purchase a copy of her book.

Tell us a little about yourself and share something about your day-to-day life that might help a reader to feel as though they know you a little better.

I’m married to the minister and have three exuberant kids! I live in rural northern Colorado in full view of the Rocky Mountains. My friends call me an urban farm-girl, but’s that isn’t indicative of my success in that venture! In fact, last week I was attacked by a rooster at the neighbor’s house! (still got the bruise on my knee from his spurs!) We just planted a big garden and, if we can keep the cats and weeds out of it, we’ll have some nice veggies come fall.

Our house sits on the bank of a pond where I watched a family of geese paddle just this morning. We have ducks, loons, pelicans, herons, and even a bald eagle! Coffee (or tea in one of the china cups I collect) out on the porch overlooking the pond is my favorite morning pastime! (better if my husband is there with me!)

As for day-to-day life, I am a homeschool mom, so we usually start with a family breakfast and then get going on school. My favorite subject is Bible and I love reading aloud to my kids.

We’re normally done around lunch time, leaving me free in the afternoons to work on marketing (bleh) and on writing more suspense (yeah).

How does your faith affect your writing?

Being a follower of Christ is my ultimate call and goal in life. Does it affect my writing, yes! But maybe not in the same way as it does other writers. I write suspense and romance that won’t offend the soul, but I leave the sermons for my husband to preach.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you?

It’s really hard to narrow down that long list to just one! I tend to do a lot of quirky things that end up in messes similar to Lucy Ricardo. J Probably the most embarrassing thing was crashing a shopping cart full of groceries in the parking lot because I thought I would push the cart at break-neck speed! The cart wheel hit a divot in the pavement and I flew over the up-ended cart and onto my stomach. Sprawled on the blacktop, I kept thinking, “I’m invisible. I’m invisible.”

Yep, pretty embarrassing. If I had the security video from that store…I could go viral on YouTube.

Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?

Yes. I ate books for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Kids (that shall not be named) called me Kellis the Bookworm! Ha! My favorite book was Anne of Green Gables. Then I met Mary Higgins Clark and my horizons widened to the suspense genre. I love a good thrill without having to skip over skanky parts. Hard to come by in today’s book world.

What Genre do you read most often?

I’m always reading that writers should read extensively in their genre, but I don’t. I feel like suspense should be uniquely surprising and if I read too much in the suspense genre, I don’t feel like I have any originality. I don’t avoid suspense, but I read a lot out of the genre, too.

I love classics and am a sucker for Austen and historicals. (I love a good prairie romance and adore Regency fiction) I really enjoying re-reading books that I loved the first time. I get more from them every time. That’s my measure of great fiction!

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest release, Red Zone, is a romantic suspense with a side of football. I have readers tell me every day, “I hate football, but I loved your book!”

Marcy Farris practically trips over a dead body on her way up the bleachers to watch her son play football. Jack Briggs, former NFL player, nurses an old injury and contemplates life after football, but once he sees Marcy, he understands that life could have meaning if she found potential in him, even after his retirement from the game.

Sometimes an athlete’s biggest plays are made OFF the field.

It’s a tale of corruption that leads the characters deeper into danger and passion.

What inspired you to write this particular book?

Two things inspired me. #1: I saw an article about the fastest growing NFL demographic: Women. I’m an avid Broncos fan and bringing a football twist to a suspense book felt marketable to woman. It was believable with the constant scandal coming from the NFL…and creating an unforgettable hero was EASY! ;) #2: My husband went nuts when I brought up the idea! We really had fun working together on the football jargon and the mind of Jack. I tease him about having a button made that reads, “If you think Jack Briggs is sexy, you should meet my husband!”

What are you working on right now?

I never have just one project I’m working on. I get bored with a setting and characters just like you’d get bored sitting with the same people every day! My contemporary is about a woman who runs a hunting lodge in Colorado. I love the idea of a hunter is being hunted by a killer. (and more women are taking up hunting than any other sport in America) My second project is a historical romantic suspense that, I hope, has the feel of a creepy Victorian-era thriller. A little Frankenstein, a little Jane Eyre…a lot Kelli Hughett.

I’m wanting to go write just talking about my latest projects. Writing is great stress relief for me. It’s the best place to meet the truest version of myself.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Guest Author Lori Stanley Roeleveld

My guest author today is Lori Stanley Roeleveld. She is the author of the devotional book Running from a Crazy Man. I think Jerry Jenkins explains it best with:

So you were hoping for a cheery devotional that would warm your heart, put a grin on your face, and remind you to count your blessings as you climb, climb up sunshine mountain as heavenly breezes blow?

Guess what?

You picked up the wrong book.

On the other hand, I’ll bet you can’t read just one of Lori’s bite-sized reflections. There’s plenty of sugar to help the medicine go down. As soon as you peek ahead and think, I’m not sure I want to face this particular truth, you remember that the last time you thought that, Lori made it palatable with the right dash of humor, pathos or ah-ha.

Then you’ll find yourself saying, as I said: “All right, just one more. And one more. And one more.”

Jerry B. Jenkins

Here is an excerpt from her book. Click on the cover to purchase a copy.

Following Jesus When It Doesn’t Make Sense

This is nuts.

That’s what I’m thinking about my life sometimes and the lives of people I love.

Something is seriously messed up because life doesn’t make sense.

Have you noticed?

There are people who love and obey the Lord and they thrive.

There are people who rebel against God and they suffer.

But sometimes, people who rebel against God enjoy great happiness, wealth, and all the best the world has to offer, seeming to prosper at every turn.

Sometimes people who love and obey the Lord face trials, losses, and failures that make others shake their heads and turn away in confusion.

On some days, we know exactly what God is about and what He’s doing in our lives. On other days, we feel as though all we’re doing is running from a crazy man.

Like David.

As a young shepherd, David spent years getting to know God. I imagine at night, he contemplated the stars, wrote songs to the Lord, and saw the staggering works of God in nature as he defended his flock against lions and bears. He probably dreamed about the day when he would become a true warrior.

Then, David was called in from tending the sheep. The prophet Samuel anointed him king—an exhilarating moment for a young man, brimming with promise and yet laden with fear too. The nation of Israel already had a king who was quite comfortable on his throne.

But David’s immediate prospects improved even more when he took a place of honor within King Saul’s household, developed a camaraderie with the prince, Jonathan, and became the only person who could soothe the king with his songs. The power of God was strong within him. It emboldened him to oppose the giant warrior Goliath and defeat him with inferior weapons.

This young man was heading somewhere. Nothing could stop him. He knew the Lord’s blessing and favor were upon him. He looked forward with confidence.

Until a spear came flying at his head.

And not just any spear, the king’s spear. Neither was it a slip of the hand. One look at Saul’s face, and David knew he had become the king’s enemy.

Why? David hadn’t sought an enemy. David knew his place and was faithful to God, patiently waiting his turn on the throne. Yet, the following years of his life would find David doing nothing more than running from a crazy man.

David fled, seeking refuge where he could, never staying in one place for long. He gathered outcasts around him he never dreamed would become his fellows, and they ran with him, always evading an
unpredictable spear-wielding monarch.

This is nuts, he must have thought some nights. We have a real enemy to fight, the Philistines. We should be combining forces not battling one another. What is this accomplishing? How can it be God’s plan for me to spend my days and nights running from a mad king? How is this good for me or for Israel?

And yet, it’s clear from the biblical record all that running sorted David out.

He could have been arrogant. David had numerous reasons to believe in himself and trust his own skills, but spending years off kilter, relying on God alone, helped to sober him before the throne became his.

As a fugitive, David also learned that while his fortune could turn on the point of a spinning javelin, God would never leave him nor forsake him whether he encountered crowns or caves.

Others, too, recognized what David was made of in the years he ran from Saul. Time and again, when other men would have sliced Saul down or chosen to escape from the entire situation and never look back,

David acted with honor, with faith in God, and with loyalty to king and country. As others witnessed this, he bore testimony to the faithfulness of God in the midst of trials and inspired people to trust his leadershipwhen it came his time to rule.

To David, it must have seemed a terrible waste of time, all that running, hiding, and fighting.

It came out of nowhere, just when David thought he was headed somewhere. He felt God had plans for him, but suddenly, life was all about the running.

Is there a crazy man chasing you? Do you feel as though someone or something else has grabbed the reins of your life and you’ve lost control of your days and nights?

Maybe your crazy man is a disease or the aftermath of a disaster.

Maybe you’re reeling from betrayal or loss. Perhaps someone close to you has been stricken with a mental illness or an addiction, and you’re in a battle for his or her life. Or a series of events have lined up to knock you down again and again and again, just when you thought you were getting somewhere.

Remember David. He was a man after God’s own heart, but for a long time all he did was hide out in caves dodging a spear with his name on it. Survival seemed to be his only accomplishment.

But God was with him. God accomplished much during that time—in and through David. He can accomplish much in and through you during your time on the run.

God will never leave you nor forsake you. While you’re running from the crazy man, God is waiting for you in every cave, in every hideout, in every stronghold. The crazy man doesn’t win in the end.

God wins. Those who remain with God share His victory.

Ponder the Perplexities:

Need help coming to terms with your “crazy man?” Who doesn’t? I know I did.

David’s story is told in 1 Samuel 15-2 Samuel 1. If you’re visual, sketch a simple timeline of David’s life, then sketch one of your own.

What can you learn from those timelines?

If you run out of words to pray, use Bible verses as prayers such as Psalm 31:14-16: But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love!

If your days of running are behind you, can you see how God used that time? What did He do in you or through you as a result? How can you encourage others with your story?

Remember: While our fortunes can turn on the point of a spinning javelin, God will never leave us nor forsake us whether we encounter crowns or caves.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Guest Author Jayme H. Mansfield

My guest author today is Jayme H. Mansfield. Keep reading to find out more about her, her writing, and her book, Chasing the Butterfly. When you're done, show Jayme a little love and leave her a comment. You can also grab a copy of her book by clicking on the cover below.

When did you first discover that you were a writer? 

The first time I found myself in “the zone” was when I knew I had found my passion to write. Hours and hours went unnoticed and turned into full days in front of the computer. Ironically, for being an extravert, I discovered a wonderful place—to be by myself, creating new stories.

What inspired Chasing the Butterfly?

The initial seeds for the story grew out of writing assignments for the Christian Writers Guild and my personal passions for painting and traveling to France numerous times. But after that, I was inspired to persevere and complete the novel as a personal journey and challenge. At some (often many) junctures of our lives, we have to contend with forgiveness. Writing the book was my way of navigating pain, communing with the Lord, and ultimately realizing the freedom and joy that come with forgiving. I promised God I would finish the story, and when I did, I wasn’t sure if it would remain for His eyes and mine only. But His ways are surprising—that’s when the doors began to fly open.

Tell us where do your story and character ideas come from.

My characters come from bits and pieces of family members, friends, and myself. I don’t recall ever concocting all of the characters—instead, they seem to invite themselves into the story because they have something important to say or do. As for the story idea, I am fascinated by strong women who eventually figure out how to survive life’s difficulties, and ultimately find hope in the blessings. I have always been intrigued with history so weaving that with an artistic element motivates me to create story.

You are one of the busiest writers I have met. How do you manage to balance writing time with teaching school and being mom to three active boys?

I suppose I’m one of those people who have never understood the meaning of boredom. I find that I am driven by my passions to create in many forms. Sometimes, I wish I could lay aside a thing or two, but then I feel something’s incomplete. It’s probably a good thing I have three boys and a husband who are active and have so many personal interests. But I admit, there have been many days that I jump on and hold on tight!

Tell us how you came up with the lovely cover of your book.

My long-time friend, Kelly Berger, is an accomplished professional artist in Colorado. When I received word from the publisher that they would consider an original piece of art for the cover, I went straight to Kelly. She read the manuscript and fell in love with the story. I had pulled at least thirty different images and photographs of Provence, laid them out randomly in my art studio, and asked her to take a look. From those and our shared travels to Provence, we envisioned the low vantage point—poppy field with the butterfly in the distance and the sunset backdrop. Off to work she went…when the final painting was unveiled, I was stunned. Truly, it was exactly how I had imagined the cover! Our friendship has been blessed by the opportunity to share in the creation of the novel.

How did you research your setting in France? Do you have any anecdotes or interesting experiences arising from your research which you would like to share with our readers? Have any of these found their way into your book?

I’ve been to France, particulary Paris and Provence, several times. On each visit, hundreds of photographs captured the beauty and history—those images became ingrained in my mind and served as the visual memory when I wrote many of the scenes. I find World War II fascinating to read about, both in other novels and in non-fiction. Eventually, I needed to pull myself away from researching and get on with the story. On a fun sidenote, whenever I mentioned paint colors, I had to make sure the specific names of the paints existed at that time. I had a wonderful time delving into the history of art materials—it’s amazing where those unique names originated—but, that’s another story.

How do you see the importance of Christian fiction?

The presence of Christian fiction is imperative—it’s a venue for biblical truth to be woven into story in an appealing, inspirational, and fresh manner. I can’t tell you how many readers have appreciated enjoying a story without the offenses that are prevalent in much of today’s writing. Whether a reader has been a Christian or not, the discussions that have ensued from the story always contain elements of faith, hope, love, and God.

What are three things that have had the most influence on your writing process?

Belief--I have a story to create that is intended to touch the lives of others.

Gratitude and Humility – this writing journey is not merely about me, and I couldn’t do it by myself.

Challenge – writing is difficult in every way imaginable—but the process, nuances, and craft is exhilarating (even when I’m exhausted!).

Do you plot your stories out ahead of time, or just sit down and write from the seat of your pants?

Give me a horse to ride, and I’m on it! That’s my way of saying, “I love to write seat of the pants!” I get a rush from letting the story take off and run.

What events in your personal life have most impacted your writing, and how?

I write from plenty of emotion. I have discovered that I write scenes and dialogue based largely on what is currently on my mind and what themes are coursing through my heart and soul at the time.

What was the most emotional scene for you to write in your novel?

The scene at the pond ripped my heart out. Each time I reread that portion, I wept. Somewhere hidden in my greatest fears and deepest emotions, the descriptions evolved for those events.

Want a little snippet of Chasing the Butterfly?


Run, 1931

I learned to run that day, really run. I gathered my scattered papers, knocking over the glass holding my new paintbrush. The blue-tinted water pooled around my knees and soaked the hem of my dress as it filled crevices between the stones on our front porch. I ran across the lawn and on to the gravel road leading to the center of town. It didn’t matter that the bottoms of my bare feet stung from the jagged stones.

I couldn’t stop. If I did, I’d never find her—she’d be gone. My long hair tangled

and caught in the tears streaming down my face. Pushing it out of my eyes, it flew out behind me like a windstorm. My pale yellow sundress twisted between my legs and threw me to the ground. I lay there trying to breathe, then pushed myself up, hiked my dress to my waist, and ran full stride down the center of the road. My head was down, determined—running for my life.

I raised my head in time to see Papa’s car swerve onto the soft shoulder and skid to a halt. Except for the strained car engine, there was silence. I froze, gripping the hem of my dirty dress with one hand and my crumpled paintings in the other. Silhouetted by the setting sun, Papa leapt out of the car and ran to me. I tried to focus but my eyes were drowning.

“Ella! What are you doing? I almost ran you down.” Papa wrapped me in his arms. “Your feet are bleeding. Oh, dear God, what happened?”

My lips quivered, and my entire body began to shake.

Papa held me tighter. He sat cross-legged in the road and gathered me into his lap. He breathed hard against my neck. “Did someone hurt you? Tell me, Ella.”

He took my face in his large hands and pushed the tangles of hair from my eyes. My breathing slowed and I felt a momentary calm like the sea before a storm.

“She’s ... I know she’s gone.”


I shook my head slowly from side to side. “Mama.” I stared into his soft, brown eyes. “She didn’t come back,” I whispered the vicious words. “She said she was going to the market after you left for Marseilles. She was dressed up, Papa, wearing her pretty blue dress and red lipstick.” I ran my tongue over my lips, tasting the dust and tears. “I said, ‘Mama, why are you dressed up?’”

"Bet she just wanted to look pretty.” Papa winked an eye and forced a smile.

“That’s what she said. She said, ‘Ella, I want to be pretty again.’"

"Again?" Papa's smile faded.

I nodded. “I told her she’s always pretty."

Papa tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. “Yes, she’s a pretty girl, just like you.”

“But I waited for her on the porch all day.” I lowered my eyes. “And I heard you and Mama yelling last night.”

“Your mother and I had a little disagreement. That’s all. It’s fine now.”

“No. She had her travel case. I was coming up the path from the pond and saw her put it in the front seat.”

“Did she tell you where she was going?” Papa stared hard at me.

“I tried to ask but she didn’t stop. I ran after the car as she drove away.” I breathed in deeply and stared back at Papa’s widening eyes. “I tried. I ran fast but I couldn’t catch her.”

Papa squeezed me. “Oh, Lord, she didn’t.” I watched his eyes fill with tears. He pressed his mouth into my hair and whispered her name as though wishing her back home. “Marie.”

But his voice confirmed the truth. I wrapped my arms tightly around his neck and felt a damp spot forming on his shirt as the tears rushed from my eyes.

Finally, he gathered me up and stood to his full height. He turned towards the sun as it cast its final light on the hills. Like many evenings, we watched the color of the hills intensify to a deep crimson. Tonight they looked as if they were bleeding hearts. Then slowly, the color darkened and the hills beat their last bit of life.

Papa carried me back to the car. My body was limp like the injured baby bird I tried to rescue last spring after a windstorm had knocked its nest out of a tree. Opening the passenger door with one hand, Papa placed me gently on the front seat.

“We’re going home, Ella.”

“Back to New York?”

“New York?” Papa’s forehead wrinkled. “Of course not. Why would you ask that?”

“Mama says this isn’t our home.” I whispered.

Papa sighed. “Ella, the farmhouse is our home. Roussillon is our home.”

“But, you told Mama she’d be happy here.” I waited for him to say something, but his open mouth was silent. “Remember, you said we’d live happily ever after in the sweet smelling vineyards and...”

“I know. And the far-reaching lavender fields in the south of France.” Papa’s eyes filled with tears, but he quickly wiped them away with the back of his hand.

As we pulled back into the center of the road, I looked out the dust-tinted window in time to see my paintings spiraling on the side of the road as a gentle wind lifted them in unison. They chased in circles as if trying to catch and hold on to one another. I don’t know when I set them free. Perhaps I let them go the moment Papa also realized she was gone—I knew then my gifts for her would never be received.

As Papa drove slowly down the road, I turned and knelt on the seat so I could watch my papers through the rear window. My paintings danced—beckoning me to return and play some day. As they floated to the ground, they waved a final time, fluttered a last breath, and then lay scattered and lifeless, like the pieces of my seven year-old heart.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Song of the Week - "Just Say Jesus"

I can’t tell you how many times in my life where I had been at a loss for words in prayer. It might be a difficult situation I am going through myself. It might be something a loved one is dealing with. It may be a situation where I was asked to pray one way, but I’m not sure what God wants. In all of these situations, I go to one of my favorite passages of Scripture, Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

I find that verse a comfort. I can just close my eyes and open up my heart to God. I don’t have to say a word. He knows what I’m feeling. He knows the conflict within my soul. He knows how my heart is breaking.

The song this week fits this perfectly. Whatever you are going through, whenever you don’t have the words to say, all you have to say is, “Jesus!”

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Guest Author Debra Coleman Jeter

My guest author today is Debra Coleman Jeter. She is a Vanderbilt University professor who has published fiction and nonfiction in popular magazines, including Working Woman, New Woman, Self, Home Life, Savvy, Christian Woman, and American Baby. Her story, “Recovery,” won first prize in a Christian Woman short story competition, and her nonfiction book Pshaw, It’s Me Grandson: Tales of a Young Actor was a finalist in the 2007 USA Book News Awards. She is a co-writer of the screenplay for Jess + Moss, a feature film which premiered in 2011 at the Sundance Film Festival, screened at nearly forty film festivals around the world, and captured several international awards. She lives in Clarksville, Tennessee, with her husband.

Tell us about The Ticket:

Tray Dunaway longs to be part of the popular set at school, but she's growing too fast and her clothes no longer fit right. When she wears Gram's hand-sewn clothes to school, the kids make fun of her tall, boney appearance. Tray's luck improves when Pee Wee Johnson, a down-and-out friend of her father's, buys two lottery tickets and gives one to Mr. Dunaway as a thank-you for driving him to Hazard, Illinois. When her father's ticket turns out to be the winner, Johnson demands his cut of the proceeds, but Tray's dad refuses. What seems like a stroke of good fortune suddenly becomes a disturbing turn of events as Johnson threatens to cause problems for the family and Tray. To learn more, view the book trailer:

What prompted you to write this novel?

First, I wanted to write something to show of how little importance wealth really is, though we often spend way too much time thinking about money. Once I decided to write about a family with financial troubles winning the lottery, then I thought it might be interesting if someone else bought the ticket and gave it to them ... which leads to a lot of the twists in my plot.

Is there one particular message or “moral of the story” you hope readers walk away with?

There are actually two important messages. One is that wealth might not bring all the good things we sometimes envision and might create more problems than it solves. The second message is to treasure the moments with your loved ones; we never know how long we will have them in our lives.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

I prefer to set my novels in places I can see vividly, having experienced something similar in my own life. So I typically write about small southern towns: Paradise, Kentucky, in The Ticket, patterned after the small towns of Mayfield, Murray, or Benton, in western Kentucky, where I grew up; Sugar Sands, Alabama, patterned after Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, Alabama, where my family has vacationed regularly for years; Bell City, Kentucky, where my grandmother grew up with eight brothers and sisters. I’ve spent a month each year in New Zealand for about 12 years, so eventually I plan to set a novel there.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

I have a colleague at Vanderbilt whose signature on his emails reads “Never, never, never give up.” I think this is what I would tell writers. That, and write what you care deeply about, rather than what you think the market is ripe for.

Debra is having a giveaway on her website. To learn how to enter a drawing for a Kindle Fire, visit her media page at:

If you'd like to connect with Debra, you can find her:

Website and Blog:





Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Guest author today - Nan Jones

I am pleased to be able to have a guest author on my blog today. Nan Jones is an author/speaker who uses the words of her heart to assist fellow Christians in discovering the Presence of God in their darkest hour. Her devotional blog, Morning Glory, has become a place of community for Christians to find encouragement in God’s Word and comfort in His Presence. She has been published in several anthologies as well as the online inspirational sites Christian Devotions, and Inspire a Fire. Nan has also had the honor of being featured as a guest blogger on several sites. She is thrilled to announce her debut book, The Perils of a Pastor's Wife released June 30, 2015 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When Nan is not writing, she enjoys leading prayer retreats, bible studies or sharing God’s love as keynote speaker for special events. She is becoming known by her brand: "Even so, I walk in the Presence of the Lord" as she teaches her audience to go beyond the veil to find God's Presence.

Nan was gracious enough to answer a few questions about herself to help us all get to know her better.

Tell us something about yourself

I live in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina (Ashe County) about 10 minutes from Virginia and about 20 minutes from Tennessee. My home is a farmhouse built in 1895 with a much loved wrap-around porch, complete with rocking chairs and porch swing, that replenishes my spirit when I feel worn. I have three adult children in their late 20s and one grandchild. Talk about joy! I love the dynamics that occur in a parent-adult child relationship. Watching the fruit of my labor sweeten the world around them is a delight of my heart. My simple country home wouldn't be complete without my Mastiff, Blue - a 125 lb. hunk of love and two country cats. When I'm not writing or preparing messages for my speaking ministry, you'll find me gardening, crocheting, reading or sharing a cup of coffee with a friend.

Tell us how you got started writing.

As a child I was an avid reader and have always enjoyed the power of story. I am also an artist. Around age 10 or so, I realized that I could put my two passions together and paint with my words. That's when I fell in love with words! I wrote poems and short stories. I made designs with random words. I experimented with rhythms created by different sequences of words. This love of words seemed to ooze out of me. When I was 12 I made a list of my life goals. Writing a book was number one.

Throughout my life, writing was a hobby. I used my talent to help with church newsletters. I wrote poems and made cards as gifts. Occasionally I'd write a small piece for publication in an anthology, but writing was still something I did, not something I was. About five years ago my husband and I went through an extensive period of unemployment. It was at that time that my husband encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing full-time. And I did. I created my blog, Morning Glory, began networking with other writers and professionals in the industry, and studied the craft of writing diligently. I still do.

Who was the first author who inspired you to write?

Like most writers I have many favorites, but I'll tell you about my all-time favorite—an author you may never have heard of. Her name is Margaret Jensen. Margaret died several years ago at the age of 91. She was of Norwegian descent. Her father was a missionary in remote parts of Canada in the early 1900s. Margaret's books are filled with stories of faith and God's miraculous provision throughout her lifetime. She wrote as if the reader were sitting with her sharing a cup of coffee and conversation. That's my goal in writing.

Margaret was also a pastor's wife who endured some intense battles for the Kingdom. In her book, The Sun is Shining on The Other Side, she tells the story of one such pastorate. We had just gone through our first nightmare in ministry. As I read her words I cried. I realized that somewhere, somehow, someone knew what I was going through! I wrote her a 10 page letter to which she replied, "Are you a writer? You must be a writer!" God used her to confirm my desires. He also used Margaret to plant the seed for
The Perils of a Pastor's Wife.

What inspired The Perils of a Pastor's Wife?

I served as a pastor's wife for 31 years. These were some of the most fulfilling and rewarding years of my life. These years were also some of the most trying—not necessarily because of the people, but because of the spiritual battle that raged. Our lives could be turned upside down as quickly as the wind changes in a storm. A pastor's wife knows what it is to feel completely alone in the middle of a crowd. We are known to have trust issues—wondering who we can really be ourselves with and share our hearts with when we're troubled. Rejection is another deep-seeded hurt that most folks don't think about when they consider the lives of pastors and their wives. We love our church people like they are family. When we are asked to leave or voted out because of the annual confidence vote it's like going through a divorce. The pain is unbearable. But most people don't think about that. I knew that other pastors' wives needed to know that they were not alone in their struggles and that someone understood what they were going through.

The Lord has taught me so much through this journey of service to Him—lessons of His faithfulness, lessons of His pleasure in obedient hearts, and lessons of finding shelter beneath the shadow of His Wing. I am so thankful He asked me to share this with His girls.

What was the greatest problem/challenge you faced in writing this book?

The Perils of a Pastor's Wife is written with raw, authentic emotion because I want the reader to realize that I too, have experienced exactly what she has. Reliving the pain was difficult, but necessary to make a difference in the lives of others.

What do you want your readers to gain by reading your book?

My heart's cry is that the pastor's wife will realize she is not alone—that someone understands how she feels. I want her to walk away from this book with renewed confidence in her calling, with healing deep in her wounded spirit, and the realization that in her darkest moments God was with her—He is faithful.

Tell us about a moment when something one of your readers said or wrote gave you pause, inspired you to think about your work in a different way.

When I write, I close my eyes and "experience" what I'm writing about—the sights, the sounds, smells. I love to paint with my words. Several months ago I received an email from a woman that I don't know, but she came across my blog online. Betty lost her sight 20 years ago. Before that, she told me that her greatest joy was to go out into nature and worship the Lord because of the beauty of His creation. Since her blindness she could no longer do that. She could worship Him in church and through her life, but she no longer had the joy of being mesmerized by His creation. Betty told me that through my blog—the painting of my words—she has been transported back to the time of her sight and the wonders of her Creator. I cried when I read her words. I was amazed—humbled that the Lord would use me in such a remarkable way. I'm still amazed. And thankful. Very thankful.

What events in your personal life have most impacted your writing, and how?

I have suffered much loss in my life. My mom died when I was 20, changing my life forever. My brother committed suicide 12 years ago; 6 weeks later my dad was diagnosed with leukemia and succumbed to the cancer 7 months after this. I've journeyed through the heartbreak of a prodigal child and held another in my arms on the way to the hospital because depression consumed him and he no longer wanted to live. In and out, and in-between all of this were the many trials of ministry—the gut-wrenching pain of rejection that comes when the "control people" of a congregation determine it's time for the pastor and his family to leave because change is happening and they don't like it. 

There have been times that I was so overcome with sorrow that I could no longer pray. All I could do was speak the Name of Jesus. Over and over again, "Jesus." He drew near to me in response to my cry and taught me to open my eyes to see Him and my ears to hear His sweet whispers of love. I learned to rest in His Presence—just being. Not striving. Not running my mouth. Just basking in His love. These are the things I write about and the things I teach about when I speak at events.

Would you like to tell us about your next book?

Yes, I'd love to. I'm working on another non-fiction piece tentatively called SEEING BEYOND THE VEIL: Finding the Nearness of God When You Need Him the Most. It's all about learning to look for the evidence of God in our lives. You know, we tend to think that when we're going through a difficult time God has abandoned us. Through my own sorrows I've learned deep in my knower that during my darkest moments, that's when the Lord is closest—He is drawn to our pain. But I must open my eyes to see Him. That's the veil I'm referring to, not the veil in the temple that separated God's people from Him—the one that was torn in two when Jesus died. No, I'm referring to the veil that separates our physical world from the spiritual world. The Lord promised to be with us always, but we often fail to see Him, especially when we need Him the most. Seeing Beyond the Veil will teach the reader how to open her eyes to see Him, and in the seeing, the child of God learns the very essence of who He is. I've recently started a facebook community page by the same name, Seeing Beyond the Veil and would love for your readers to visit. I get carried away when I speak about this because I love to share lessons learned, so I'm sorry I rambled. Suffice it to say that I'm very excited about sharing what the Lord has shown me about His faithfulness and His Presence surrounding us always. There will be a bible study for small groups by the same name to follow, so stay tuned.
If you want to visit, follow, or simply find out more about Nan, please see the sites below:

· Website:
· Blog:
· Facebook Community Page:
· Twitter: @NanJonesAuthor
· Pinterest:
· Google+:
· Goodreads:
· LinkedIn:
· YouTube:

Here is an excerpt from her book The Perils of a Pastor's Wife:

ONLY GOD KNEW where my husband was. I had run from the business meeting before its completion. Tempers flared. Tongues were unleashed, and nearly three years of fruitful ministry were all but destroyed. My heart beat madly within my chest, fighting desperately not to break 
from the pain of rejection. Angry tears stung my cheeks as I bolted from the sanctuary. I didn’t know if I could continue in this thing called ministry. God was asking too much of me.

My husband, David, and I had been ministering in the small rural church for three years. Under his leadership and the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the church had experienced exponential growth. God’s mercy and grace flowed into the lives of our people. Church had become a place of joy, 
restoration, and refuge.

Then evil reared its ugly head.

Click on the cover for more information.

You may visit Nan at her website: or her blog, Morning Glory: Nan has also created a facebook community page, Seeing Beyond The Veil, to provide a place for folks to go and get away from the chaos for a few moments and focus on Jesus through scripture, worship, testimony, and inspirational quotes. For personal communication you may email Nan at