Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A New Recipe-A New Fact About Our Heart

Ree Drummond's Orange Chicken
I saw a fantastic orange chicken recipe and decided to try it. I'm one of the last persons who would be able to do a cooking show. I especially appreciate not only the video of what the chef is doing but also the text version of the recipe.

Ree Drummond is a ranch wife, writer, photographer, and obviously a great cook. Her teen daughters love Chinese take-out, unfortunately they live to far from any restaurant. Ree figured out how to make her daughter's favorites: orange chicken and beef with broccoli.

The closest restaurant to me is thirty minutes. My choices there are: McDonalds, Big Boy, yeah, nothing fancy. To get to a nicer restaurant hubby and I have to travel one hour. I find myself in the same boat as Ree. If only I could cook as well as she does.

*Chefs take much less time to cook a meal than a novice like me. The forty minute chicken took me two hours. Gack! I know!! It's that perfection thing going on in me. 

I decided to make the orange chicken for my guests who were coming for lunch the next week. To make sure I had a handle on the process I made the dish on Saturday for my family. They totally loved the taste. Yeah, success!

I want to share with you what happened during one particular step in making this oriental dish. I needed to heat the oil to 350 degrees. After watching her video, I realized this temperature could easily give me a good burn. I kept a screen over the pot to prevent any drops of oil from wanting to escape.

When the thermometer reached 250 degrees, the oil spared no expense to remind me this was a very hot temperature. I slid the screen back on top of the pot immediately after taking this photo.

At 293 degrees the oil continued to froth and demonstrate the high heat.

Even though I have a gas stove, it seemed to take forever for the oil to reach 350 degrees. 

As I waited, I guessed the oil would continue to increase bubbling, swirling, popping, etc. I kept a safe distance with potholder in hand not knowing how violent the oil would get! 

To my surprise as the temperature neared 350 degrees the oiled seemed to calm, giving a deceptive appearance of being cool. 

The brown residue is from cooking the first set of chicken pieces. 

The oil response to the higher temperature became a mystery. 

I began to wonder if this is how we appear when we get angry. The people around us can see us lose our cool at first. But minutes, hours, days later, when we allow ourselves to become consumed with our anger others can't tell. We appear to be content but aren't. We give the illusion that everything is fine when inside it really isn't. 

The detriment, of course is when one simple word or action reminds us of our anger and sends us into an uncontrolled response.

No matter how others have wronged us, we need to seek God's help right away. Ask Him to give you exactly what you need to calm your heart and help you forgive the other person. 

When another word is added and rekindles the heat, run to God and ask Him again to give you exactly what yo need to calm your heart and help you forgive the other person.

Repeat as often as needed. Even years later. Only God knows you well enough to provide the calm you need. God can calm a storm. He can also calm your heart.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Life Moves at a Different Pace in Paris

Photo Courtesy

During our one-week stay in Paris, we rushed to get up in the mornings, hurried down to the quaint breakfast area of our hotel then briskly walked to whatever sight we wanted to see.

Each morning we passed so many cafes on our way to the subway or bus or walkway. Seriously, there seemed to be a cafe on each corner. And each cafe had fifty percent of the seating outside under an extended roof. 

One morning we left our hotel around seven. We walked a block and passed the first cafe. Two men sat across from each other, engaged in what seemed like a political discussion. 

I couldn't understand the French and only assumed. But you know what two people look like when they have these types of conversations. They leaned their body forward to make their point then sit back when satisfied they won...until the other person leaned forward and countered the thought. As they spoke, their hands moved to emphasize certain words. Of course their eyes also engaged in the conversation going from wide-eyed passion to slitty-knowing. I found them very amusing, but only laughed inside.

At another cafe, a group of businessmen sat with their morning coffee in one hand and in the other, cards fanned so only they could see what they had. A fun game before work? Nice.

Few Parisians live in homes like we are accustomed to. Most live in small apartments not suitable for having guest. Instead, they meet at cafes, restaurants, and pubs. While other businesses are closed in the early morning and into the evening, the cafes have their doors open. Come in. Meet friends. Relax. Talk about philosophy, politics, etc. Play a game. Sit back and have coffee until you have to go home.

Life runs at a different pace in Paris. 

What seemed different to me was the emphasis on meeting others in person and relaxing before and after the work day. 

God says in His Word, He desires for us to gather together. To fellowship. To commune with Him. To not be alone. When I have allowed myself to be alone for too long, and too long can vary from an hour to days depending on my needs, I feel sleepy, lonely, sad...all these negative feelings that are craving for company. At these times, God nudges me with opportunities to be with others.

How about you? Do you need to meet with someone-in person-not on FB or email?

Could you call someone and talk with them for a time, share your thoughts, hear their voice, and know that you are not alone?

Maybe you know someone who tends to feel lonely and could really use a visit or call from you. Who can you bless today? Tomorrow?

I hope you have a fun day. And don't forget us here. Leave your howdie-do in the comment section. I enjoy to chatting with you.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fabulous Friday Feature-Jeanne Takenaka

Today I welcome author: 
Jeanne Takenaka

A prepublished author's
journey led by God

Jeanne and I have been good friends for a couple of years. I can't even remember where we met. We just did. Was it through My Book Therapy? The Writer's Alley? At a conference? I'm not sure, but what I know is she is one sweet person. She always smiles. Works really hard. Is dedicated to God's call for her to write. Wow. Jeanne is not yet published, but I am convinced she will be back here on Let's Talk with a debut novel some day. I asked Jeanne to share with us how God has led her on her writing journey. This is what she said:

The Story Only We Can Write

I’m the one who said I could never write a book.

Oh sure, I wanted to, from the time I was thirteen. But when the idea first entered my mind, the thought of creating settings, plots and characters seemed way too big to this insecure girl. So, I chalked it up as one of those, “I could never…..” passing fancies, and I got on with living the real life of growing up.

Fast forward to four years ago. As my husband and I sat in a couple’s retreat, an idea literally popped into my brain. A story question something along the lines of, “What if ballroom dancing could save a marriage?” A skeleton of a plot as well as the heroine’s name accompanied this crazy impression. 

I know agents and editors dread hearing, “God told me to write this story.” He really did give me the inspiration for it, though. I talked with a trusted writing friend and told her about my idea. Would she think it was as crazy as I did? Her words: “I think you should write this story.” 

My heart pounded as the shelved dream blossomed into a strong desire. I talked with my husband about it, knowing I needed his support to do something this radical (at least for me). He  told me I should do it. We talked about the things that would need to change in our lives so I could really pursue this dream of writing a book. 

Jeanne Takenaka, Gabrielle Meyer, Lindsay Harrel
at a My Book Therapy Retreat
I learned about My Book Therapy and devoured everything I could learn about writing craft. I attended their Story Crafter’s retreat and learned that I still had a lot to learn about crafting a compelling story. Their other retreats also gave me great teaching as well as introducing me to other people who understood this drive to write. 

God has put me in touch with encouraging people on this writing journey. They’ve shown me the necessity of being teachable, of hard work and of believing in this calling God places on the crazy ones (translated: writers). One crucial message I heard early in the journey goes along this line: “God gave me this story to write. He didn’t give it to someone else.” I need to write it because I’m the only one who can tell it the way I do. He knows the story we each need to pen because only He knows who will one day read it and be moved by it.

My first two books are women’s fiction because relationships and seeing them whole and healthy is my heart beat. My current manuscript is a contemporary. Each of my stories has a component that deals with understanding who we are in God’s eyes.

As I’ve grown in my writing skills, I’ve entered contests. I’ve finaled in a few, including the My Book Therapy’s Frasier contest in 2013 and 2014.

I’ve found blogging has helped me discover my voice. More than that, I’m meeting people and finding that comments left on the posts I write challenge me to consider the topics through different perspectives.

I’m not published yet, but I hope I will be one day. I’m working on my third book, and of course, I’m hoping this is “the one.” Ultimately, my writing is for God’s eyes first. I’m learning to trust His timing and his plan for my writing journey.

God’s the giver of every good gift. He equips us to fulfill the call to write for Him. I try to be teachable so that I can improve in telling stories He can use to touch readers.

Jeanne Takenaka writes contemporary fiction that deals with real life issues with a heart to draw women closer to God and to those around them. She is wife to one amazing man who is her real life hero, and mother to two exuberant boys who hope to one day have a dog of their own. She loves being God’s girl always learning about His grace, hanging out with friends and enjoying a great cup of coffee. She and her family live near the mountains in Colorado. She is a member of ACFW and My Book Therapy Voices.

You can connect with her on: 
Facebook author's page Jeanne Takenaka 


Jeanne's Manuscript:
 Safe in the Shadows
After being humiliated by a Hollywood scandal as a teenage TV star, Tiana Emory ran from fame—a dream come true that turned into a humiliating nightmare. She hid behind an altered name and the “normal” life of a non-profit manager, wife and mom. Now widowed and the mother of two children, Tiana clings to her anonymity. But when her husband’s former best friend, NFL player Carter Maddox, asks for her help, Tiana’s security is threatened. How can she say no when the job will help pay for medical treatments her chronically-ill daughter desperately needs?

As her choices draw her further into the public eye—and closer to Carter, Tiana must decide who truly defines her—the gossip-dishing media or the God who created her. And, was her safe life merely a mirage all along?.

Wow! Jeanne, This sounds like a fantastic book!

Thank you, Jeanne, for Joining us This Weekend!

Don't forget to comment!

What about you? Do you have any dreams you’ve stacked in the, “I could never….” shelves of your life? What dreams are you working toward accomplishing?

Reader, Take a moment and leave Jeanne a word of encouragement.

Thanks so much for joining our chat today. Don't forget to help yourself to virtual coffee/tea/pastries!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Busy Days Are Here

Photo Courtesy

Days are getting busy again.

I woke this morning, and knew I needed to get up. 

Had to be somewhere. 

Needed to share the bathroom with family members. 

Get breakfast going, stir the kids to move.

And I didn't want to.

I am, by nature, a springy morning person. There are those rare mornings when the pillow wins.

I am also a solar powered person. Really. From the moment the sun peeks over the horizon to the last ray of light I am energized. Then, like a flashlight switched off, I peter out.

This morning the skies were gray, blocking the shine part of the sun. BUT the birds were singing. And God blessed me by putting a praise song in my mind. He knows how I am on dark days. The sun may not be brightly shining but God was.

I took my turn in the bathroom, roused the kids, then saw my pillow. Dare I lay down--just for a few more minutes? I did. While I lay there enjoying the relaxation, God brought you to mind. I prayed God's blessings on you. We talked about some of the prayer requests you have shared and I asked him to care for your needs.

Once I leave the house, I'll perk up. Never fails. I'll park my car far from the entrance for the exercise and a chance to sing praise songs to myself as I walk to the door.

As the darkness creeps into the mornings, getting up will get harder to do. I am so thankful God entertains me, keeps thoughts and songs moving in my mind, nudges me to get going and not waste an opportunity to serve and worship Him.

This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Your turn- 
What prayer request do you have. I will gladly pray for you. 
What blessing do you have. I'd love to join you in thanking God.
If nothing comes to sure to say howdy-do. I love to chat!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Pre-Conference Mix and Mingle for Everyone!

My first ACFW conference with super friend Pepper Basham

The first year I went to the ACFW conference I met several of the gals from the Writer's Alley in person. We'd chatted in our writing group on line, but had never met in person. Yeah!

I only had pictures to go by to recognize these gals in a sea of conferees checking in for the conference.

In less than a heartbeat, I recognized them and knew they were kindred spirits. Pepper Basham and I were told to smile for this picture, but we couldn't stop horsing around. I don't remember who the camera person was, but she probably grew a little impatient with the two of us. In fact, I don't think the serious picture was ever taken!

My first ACFW conference with super friends
Krista Phillips and Sherrinda Ketchersid

After all of the classes, chatting with Alley Pals, meeting with agents and editors, we held a Writer's Alley meeting. We of course stayed very serious and ... HAH - NOT! Pillow fights, flopping on the beds, laughing, and of course lots of chocolate.

super friend, Casey Herringshaw and me

I must admit, there are stressful moments at the conference. Nail biting times when waiting to see an agent or editor then watching their face to see if they like what I've said. 

Rather than get all mopey when the answers hoped for didn't come....

Ashley Clark, Angie Dicken, Sherrinda Ketchersid,
Casey Herringshaw, Pepper Basham, Krista Phillips, and me

We found getting crazy -- then inviting everyone we saw around us to join in our crazy -- to be the best medicine.

Ashley Clark, Amy Simpson, Casey Herringshaw,
Krista Phillips, and me

And when our friends couldn't be with us in person, we used Skype to stay in touch, moving the camera to invite those in other countries to join in the fun.

Friendship is a gift from God
This year I am participating in the pre-conference mix and mingle. I was so happy to get an invite from Laurie Tomlinson, our newest Writers Alley Cat. And now I am inviting any of you. Wait, don't run away if you aren't going. You are invited to mingle, too! Get crazy with us!

If you want to participate, here’s what to do: answer any of the questions from below that you want. Put your answers in the comment section. You've read and learned a lot about me, let's open the friendship doors and get to know you. (There are virtual pillows for fun pillow fights, freshly brewed virtual coffee and tea, and virtual chocolate.)
Here are the questions and my answers! 
Name: Mary Vee
Location: Michigan – and a heart in Montana
What you write/tagline/trademark: Middle Grade and Young Adult Fantasy and Adventure / “Never Surrender”
Place in the book world: Pre-published author. Currently working on my third manuscript while the second one is out on submission.
On a scale of hugger to 10-foot-pole, please rate your personal space: Mostly hugger, but the shy bug attacks sometimes and falsely accuses me of hanging out at the 10-foot pole.
The unique talking point that will get you going for hours: Books, traveling, movies, characters, Bible doctrine.
Loved ones at home you’ll be missing: My husband, teen daughter who keeps me out of trouble on the computer.
Conference goals we can pray for? That my books will find their perfect agent and definitely for peace during pitches!
Anything we can celebrate with you? Three acquisition editor’s asked for my manuscript this year.

One or two ways we can help you build your platform? Yes! You can like my author page on Facebook and become a follower of this website and sign up to receive the post in your email.
That’s it!

I hope you've had a good time. Invite your friends to come mingle with us. Everyone is invited. :)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fabulous Friday Feature-Gina Holmes

Today I welcome author: 
Gina Holmes

To win a copy
Driftwood Tides

Scroll to the end of the post 
to see how to get your copy.

I've met Gina through several writing groups. She has busily worked on preparing her new release, Driftwood Tides. Still, she found time to write some very inspiring words for us today. I asked Gina to share with us how God has led her on her writing journey. This is what she said:

God Uses Even Those With Shattered Hearts

I just love the question you posed. How has God led me on my writing journey?  It’s something I have thought quite a lot about but haven’t tried to nail down in words, so this is a great assignment. When I first started writing, I wrote suspense, and it was a perfect fit because I saw the world as a scary place. As God really began to heal some of the trauma from my past, He drew me to a book that changed what I wanted to write. I half-wish it was an obscure artsy type book that would make me look cerebral and hip, but it was the very popular, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

Gina, I loved that book and keep in on my to read again and again. (Mary)

That novel taught me that God can use even those with shattered hearts and souls to do wondrous things. That He still wanted me despite being broken and bruised . . . but also that I could write those kinds of stories to minister to others.

I don’t write suspense anymore, I write family drama. Stories that show dysfunctional families finding their way to health. I can write these stories with conviction because I have found that healing myself. My latest novel, Driftwood Tides, is that kind of story. A young woman with a daddy-sized hole in her heart finally gets it filled.

An alcoholic driftwood artist learns to forgive himself when he must try and forgive his wife for the unthinkable. Both find a reason for hope . That’s what God’s journey for me has all been about. Hope. Just like Holton Creary who repurposes old pieces of knotted and gnarled driftwood into magnificent works of art, God has taught me that this too can be done through words, even by people who are gnarled and knotted themselves. 

Friend and author, Cindy Sproles
 with Gina Holmes
Gina Holmes is a B&N, Amazon, ECPA and CBA bestseller. She is a Carol Award winner and two-time Christy finalist. Her latest novel, Wings of Glass has been named one of the best books of the year by Library Journal, as well as a finalist in Romantic Times' Reviewer's Choice Awards.

Holmes is a practicing Registered Nurse, a wife to the love of her life, mom to two boys and stepmom to 3 daughters. She and her family make their home among the Blue Ridge Mountains in South-Western Virginia.

You can connect with her on: 
Facebook author's page Gina Holmes 


He made himself an island until something unexpected washed ashore. 
When Holton lost his wife, Adele, in a horrific accident, he shut himself off from the world, living a life of seclusion, making driftwood sculptures and drowning his pain in gin. Until twenty-three-year-old Libby knocks on his door, asking for a job and claiming to be a friend of his late wife. When he discovers Libby is actually Adele’s illegitimate daughter, given up for adoption without his knowledge, his life is turned upside down as he struggles to accept that the wife he’d considered a saint was not the woman he thought he knew.

Together Holton and Libby form an unlikely bond as the two struggle to learn the identity of Libby’s father and the truth about Adele, themselves, and each other.

To enter the contest for  
Gina Holmes's book: "Driftwood Tides"
leave a comment (and email address)
AND become a follower of this site, 
OR sign up to receive posts by email
if you aren't already.

sorry, US only

Winner announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Gina, for Joining us This Weekend!

Don't forget to comment!

To me, Gina's powerful words: God can use even those with shattered hearts and souls. I think all of us can raise our hands and agree with her as we remember times when we have felt so shattered.

Reader, Take a moment and leave Gina a word of encouragement.

Thanks so much for joining our chat today.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Stranded Without a Clue

Photo we took of the Arc d'Triomphe from
the top of the Hop on Hop off bus.

The Hop On Hop Off Bus is a sightseeing bus that takes tourist around a city. 

Tourists can ride these double decker buses and listen to information about special attractions like the Louvre. If a person wants, they can "hop off" the bus and go to the attraction then "hop on" the next bus that comes along the route.

One late afternoon we rode the Hop On Hop Off. We had stopped at several attractions earlier in the day, getting back on the sightseeing bus each time. We had been warned ahead of time to ask when the last bus would come to insure we had a way back to our hotel.

When we stepped off to visit the Arc d' Triomphe, I asked the driver, "When will the last bus come?"

"7:30," he said.

7:30 pm Arc d'Triomphe
photo by Mary Vee
We crossed the street, watched a ceremony to the unknown soldier, and climbed the stairs to the top. We watched the time and returned to the bus stop at 7:17pm. One of our red Hop On Hop Offs pulled up to the stop. We stepped in line and discovered the bus would only go to the next stop that evening. The driver insist we not get on board.


Evening came and we were far from our hotel. At the time, we'd not mastered the Paris subway system, were hungry, and our feet were sore.  We walked three blocks to a McDonalds to get some food and to think about what to do.

There seemed to be only one table left open in the crowded fast food restaurant, and it only sat two people. While eating our meal, the tables next to us became available to a group of young teens. Surprisingly, a man who seemed to be their leader said in English, "Who will pray for the food?"

The teen sitting next to us led their group in a heartfelt prayer. We realized God let us sit next to a missions team that had come from American. After finishing our meal we stopped to talk with the teens. We encouraged them and they encourage us. 

After leaving McDonalds, hubby saw an entrance to the subway. We had a few more bumps in the adventure, but God helped us find our way back to the hotel that night.

God knew we needed not only physical food and rest, but also the fellowship of people who spoke the same language and loved Him. Once we were refreshed, He was able to show us the way back to our hotel.

God is good. 

Even when we are tired, God is ready and willing to help.

Can we pray for you today?
Or do you have a blessing to share?
How about take a moment to say howdie do and enjoy some virtual snacks. What would you like?

Monday, September 1, 2014

To Every Hard Worker

Photo Courtesy

To every hard worker anywhere, not just in the United States, we wish you blessings.

This is the day which has been set aside to remember the work you do to pay your bills, keep the economy going by producing salable items, working in service oriented areas, entertainment, and all the many other areas of work.

May your enjoy a day with your family and thanking God for his blessings.

Should you need to go to the store or use a service today where someone is working, be sure to thank them.

And now...enjoy 
those barbecued dinners
the last dip in the pools
the parades
the outdoors
bike rides
sitting on the beach
chatting around the dinner table
baseball games
apple pie
and sleeping in

....for tomorrow we go back to work. 

             And that is very good. 

                   There are many men and women who don't have a job or can't find work. 

Think about the good in your job when you go tomorrow...and thank God.

This post has been brought to you by the one-word: Work

Reader, of all the jobs you have done whether volunteer or paid, which was your favorite?