Friday, July 3, 2015

Fabulous Friday Feature-United States of America


Photo Courtesy

My guest today is the United States of America. I am thankful for all the men and women who have given their lives and those who, unfortunately, are suffering from injuries for the sake of our freedom today.

Celebrating is always fun.

Don't you find the pop of fireworks and the splash of color in the night sky amazing? I do, too.

Due to weird work schedules in our house, we celebrated the United States of America on the 1st instead of the 4th, complete with big taco meal, invited family guests, and a family firework show.

We talked, laughed, shared stories, updated everyone on the latest about each family member. What a fun time.


I hope your 4th celebration is as grand.


I wish our country could celebrate Independence in a way that considers everyone. I'm not referring to political beliefs, just every person. I learned in one of my first full time jobs as a secretary that I couldn't meet everyone's need, no matter how hard I tried. I still tried even though the other secretaries said I was foolish.

God loves all of us unconditionally. He has standards that He expects everyone to obey. These standards are for our good and make sense. God even provided the way for us to go to heaven. 

Simple. 

For all

Which includes anyone who is willing to take the journey.

I hope you have an amazing celebration this weekend. Is there anything I can pray for you?


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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Why We Will Always Remember




Photo by Mary Vee

It was a Wednesday when a volunteer pianist came to play for the residents in the nursing home. The aids and visiting family members wheeled in men and women with varying disabilities. 

When the last person arrived, all the available seats were full. Not every activity gets a crowd, but this one does.

For one hour the pianist played hymns from long ago.

At first everyone listened to the piano, then one by one, compelled by their memories, the listeners hummed. 

A blind woman, sitting to the side, broke into song. Her lovely soprano voice sang every word encouraging others to join with their voices. She wasn't a senior, but in need of care.

An elderly gentleman rubbed his forehead and looked down while singing. He didn't smile, and seemed somewhere else in thought. Still, his voice rang clear and strong.

A group of sisters visited their mother who had dementia. Two visited from different states. The girls sang harmony to their mother's soprano melody.

The music filled the room as if a trained choir performed. Sopranos, Altos, Tenors, and Basses. Men and women remembering words they'd learned long ago and expressing what those words meant to them. Memories of good times with friends in church and other gatherings.

How is it that the seniors and dementia residents remembered all or at least most of the words to these hymns? 

My theory is that they had sung them so many times in the past, the words and meaning seeped into their bones and became a part of them. 

This is what God asked the children of Israel to do long ago. Each generation was to teach their children about God. The words were memorized and repeated over and over to keep the meaning fresh in their hearts so one day they, too, could teach their children.

The things that are most important to us are the things we repeat. The more we repeat the more we retain and can recall. 

There was a time when I wondered if, as an old person, I'd remember my love for God. Would I forget the Bible stories? Would I forget the songs of praise? Now that I've heard and seen men and women at this residence singing the words to songs from long ago with such passion, I am confident I will remember....because God means that much to me....then again...I don't plan to ever get old. (wink)


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

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fabulous Friday Feature-Betsy St Amant-God is Evident on My Journey





Today we welcome author:
Betsy St. Amant

One commenter will win a copy of
 Betsy's new release: 
Love Arrives in Pieces





Mary here. Betsy is an awesome friend. She spent time with the Alley cats at the last ACFW conference, enduring all our crazy. In her post below you will see she is full of energy and has experienced more than a bucketful of life already. Her website shows a list of her published books. I asked Betsy to share how God has led her on her writing journey You're gonna love reading her God story. Here is what she said:



God is Evident on My Journey



I was asked to write a post about how the Lord has led me on my writing journey. And all I could think of was the phrase “kicking and screaming”.  ::grin::

You’ve probably seen the cartoon of the stick figure Jesus and the Christian. Jesus is pointing out the footsteps in the sand. “Those multiple set of prints are where I walked beside you. Those single footprints are where I carried you. And see that long groove? That’s where I dragged you.”

I don’t think it works that way exactly, but you can probably relate!

I’m pretty sure I have the world’s worst memory—maybe right up there along with the Israelites. Because no matter how many times God has worked miracles in my life, shown His endless love for me, and never failed to provide for me, I still panic, doubt, and pitch a fit every time my life careens off the course I’ve plotted. The equivalent of sitting down in the sand and crossing my arms in a huff that would give any toddler a run for their money.

It’s no different with my writing journey—and I’ve very recently been knocked down in that regard. But you know what?  I’m finally starting to get up, brush the sand off my rear end and just walk with Jesus.

He’s led me this far, and He’s not going to start wandering us around in circles now.

When I look back, His fingerprints are so evident on my writing journey. There was this time I felt prompted at an ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference to go talk to someone whom most in attendance considered a Very Important Person. I argued with God. “Um, don’t you know who that is? I have nothing to say to them. They won’t even remember me!” But I obeyed. Struck up a conversation, which turned into a great one (they did remember me!) I felt sure this would be the opening to a door at that particular publishing house. I could “clearly see” what God was doing here. It was so obvious (ha! Hilarious, right?)

See, the thing about God is, we rarely guess His plan correctly. And the best part is His plans are better than ours anyway. Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

I thought I knew what God was doing that day when I obeyed that prompting and started that conversation. But I had no clue. Oh my goodness, I was so far off. God took that conversation and developed it into a friendship that rescued me on more than one occasion, that saw me through one of the darkest seasons of my life, as well as the corresponding season of confusion and rebellion afterward. That relationship prayed me out of the pit, spoke life into me, and, through various avenues, took me to a deeper level of “next” with God that I didn’t know existed.

Oddly enough, I did get published at that particular publishing house less than a year later. Not because of anything to do with that person (who isn’t even at that house anymore) But because of God’s “immeasurably more” ways. And if I’d had to pick? I’d have picked the friendship over the contract. God knew what I needed more than I did, and He provided. And He still is, and He always will.

It’s so much better to walk with Jesus. To have those moments of insight and hindsight that literally steal your breath until all you can do is exhale His name in wonder.

What about you? Are you walking with Jesus on your life’s journey today? Are you being carried right now through a particularly rough storm? Or are you being dragged, fighting against the purpose God has called you to?
.

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Betsy St. Amant has a heart for three things - chocolate, new shoes and sharing the amazing news of God's grace through her novels. She resides in Louisiana with her adorable, story-telling young daughter, a collection of Austen novels and an impressive stash of Pickle Pringles. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications, is multi-published in contemporary romantic fiction, and freelances for her local newspaper. She also enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching on the craft of writing. When she's not composing her next book or trying to figure out where Mr. Darcy went, she can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha, or singing along with her daughter to the latest Disney soundtrack. Look for her upcoming novel with HarperCollins publishers, Love Arrives in Pieces, June 2015!


Here is how you can connect with Betsy:

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Click Here to buy or read
Love Arrives in Pieces
For so long, Stella was known for her beauty. Now, with her heart stripped bare, she must discover who she really is.
Former pageant queen Stella Varland doesn’t trust beauty anymore after her divorce. Her appearance betrayed her and led to brokenness, so instead of being beautiful, now she tries to make beautiful things, but she always falls short. So she keeps her passion for art to herself and focuses on her interior design work. But if she doesn’t get another job soon, she’ll be stuck living with her parents.
Contractor Chase Taylor is determined to live a life of no regrets after losing his fiancĂ©e. Now he lives life at full speed, striving to see how much he can accomplish. He knows if he slows down, he’ll fall apart. So he returns home to Bayou Bend to renovate the town’s old theater and is shocked to discover that the designer for the project is his old flame, Stella.
Forced to work together, Chase and Stella battle their chemistry and past as they struggle to compromise and work together on a vision for the theater. Their wills clash as they attempt to hide their brokenness—and their unresolved feelings for each other—until Chase discovers the hidden parts of Stella, while losing her trust in the process.

A near catastrophe, a fire, and a small-town gossip mill finally force Stella and Chase to realize that they have a choice—to hold on to the shards of their pasts, or surrender their fragmented pieces to the One who makes a beautiful masterpiece from their brokenness.

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Enter the contest to win a copy of 
Betsy's new release:
Love Arrives in Pieces:
leave a comment (and email address)
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Sorry, US only

The winner will be announced on my Facebook page

Thank you, Betsy, for joining us this weekend!

We love chatting with you and are looking forward to reading your comments and questions. Or at least your hi, hello, or hey.

Thanks for stopping by!


Don't forget to comment!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Hilarious Reuniting of Long Lost Friends



Photo Courtesy

The incredible group of ladies met for breakfast at a small town restaurant. 

The first lady arrived at the same time hubby and I pulled into the lot. She parked in the handicap spot, walked into the restaurant with her walker and requested seating at a group of tables that had one long bench joining them.

She sat by herself, ordered coffee and patiently waited, speaking occasionally with the waitress.

Two other ladies, both donning short, white permed hair and glasses greeted their friend and sat with her. Their chatter sounded like best friends continuing a conversation where they last left off.

Over the next twenty minutes, ten more ladies joined the group, each one hopping in the conversation as they sat.

At two minutes before twelve, two last ladies walked toward the table. There were no more chairs. One of the two ladies stiffened her back and frowned. "Well," she huffed. "We should have set the time for a half hour ago."

Now here is the non spoken communication I am guessing happened in this scene. Smirk. This is the part that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Lady number one woke early. She hurried to get dressed concerned that there wouldn't be a table for their group. She found her favorite purple blouse and necklace that matched her comfy slacks. Her hair was a bit out of place, but it would have to do for now. She needed to hurry to get to the restaurant and save a place for everyone.

The traffic moved a little slower than she wanted. Didn't everyone understand she had to get to the restaurant? The handicapped parking spot near the door was empty. She pulled into the spot and stepped out of her car. After a few tugs on her blouse she hurried as fast as her walker allowed. Fortunately, the restaurant had plenty of space. She smiled. 

**Mary's note-this restaurant rarely had 25% filled with customers. 

After a few ladies arrived their conversation focused around these days. "Why, we use to be able to go to a restaurant in town. Now we have to drive all the way out of town to go to a restaurant." 

**Mary's note-this restaurant is on the edge of this two mile long small town. I absolutely loved listening to these ladies--truly this is no sarcasm. Their conversation made me smile. If we could have, hubby and I would have stayed longer, but we thought the ladies might think we were listening to them...even though we were ;)

The last lady to join this group, the one who was upset that all her friends arrived and had their food served to them when she walked in two minutes early, took charge. She walked to another table and grabbed two chairs and dragged to where her friends sat. She placed herself at the head of the table and said with a firm voice, "Well, we should have set the time for a half hour ago."

Loved this. The other ladies didn't buckle under her words. Most of them kept talking in small groups of two or three. I'd venture to say the whole spectrum of personalities sat at that meeting of long lost friends reuniting.

So if they wanted to get together again next week, and decided to change the time to 11:30, what time do you think the first lady would arrive? I'm tempted to go and see. (wink)

And maybe I'll order another cup of coffee, just to listen in on their conversations.

Isn't God amazing? We think we join groups with individuals who have things in common with us. When in actuality, we, and every other person in said group supplies a different piece of the whole.

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


Friday, June 19, 2015

Fabulous Friday Feature-Amanda Cabot-A Time For Change








Today we welcome author:
Amanda Cabot







Mary here. After inviting Amanda to join us, I had a chance to read her amazing post below. As you will soon see, Amanda speaks from a heart that has been touched in a special way by God. A wonderful tell of how her books read. I asked Amanda to share how God has led her on her writing journey. Here is what she said:



A Time For Change


“What do you want to be when you grow up?”  From the time I was seven, there was only one answer: I wanted to be a writer. The question became, what kind of writer, and the answer seemed to vary by the day.

In grade school I wrote and produced two plays, both of which received enormous critical acclaim. Admittedly, that might be a slight exaggeration, but “All About Thermometers” and “Hawaii: The Fiftieth State” did play to sold-out audiences.  (Translation: everyone in the fifth grade had to attend.)

I also dabbled with creating and publishing a neighborhood newspaper – no competition to the New York Times, I assure you – but what really caught my fancy was fiction. And so I gave myself the goal of selling my first novel before I turned thirty.

I met my goal. I was one of those lucky people whose manuscript sold to the second editor who read it.  At that point, I was sure my career as a novelist was established. I was wrong. Oh, how wrong I was! My first book was released the same month that the publisher decided to discontinue that line in favor of spicier books. Since I wasn’t comfortable writing stories with explicit sex scenes, I didn’t sell a second book to that editor.

In fact, for a number of years, my writing career consisted of collecting a truly impressive number of rejections. Eventually I sold my first historical romance. Unfortunately, the month that book was published, my editor was fired. Are you starting to see a pattern here? Was God sending me a message that this wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing? If so, I wasn’t listening.

Over the years, I sold a number of books to various secular publishers.  Many of those books received good reviews, but none came close to the bestseller lists.  In fact, the comments I received most often from readers were, “You ought to write for the Christian market.” Each time, I shook my head. “Those books are too preachy,” I declared and continued plotting and writing secular books.

And then everything changed. One month after my husband and I achieved our lifelong goal of moving to a home in the West, I got a call from a dear friend from college. My friend's leukemia, which we had thought was in remission, had recurred. Jean Ellen had only two months to live. Talk about a wake-up call!

Though we were separated by thousands of miles, that summer brought Jean Ellen and me closer than we’d ever been. Knowing we had only a few months left together, we spoke of many things.  For the first time in the more than thirty years we’d known each other, we spoke of what was truly important: faith, love and hope. In our lighter moments, we spoke of the final gift she had for me. Though she was referring to a piece of French porcelain, what she gave me was of far greater value. Her last months on Earth brought me a stronger faith and the realization that it was time for me to write about God’s love.

By the end of the summer, I had changed and so had my writing. I took a new look at Christian books and discovered that they’d changed – or maybe it was only that my perspective had changed. Instead of considering them preachy, I now realized they were life-affirming.


More than that, I recognized that they were the kind of books I wanted to read … and write.  It had taken me a long time, and there were numerous detours along the way, but I finally had the answer to that question I’d asked so many years before. It wasn’t what I wanted. It was what God wanted. When I grew up, God wanted me to be a writer, a Christian writer.  And so I am.


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Amanda Cabot and friend, Jean Ellen at a Victorian Tea



Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. A former director of Information Technology, she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages.  Amanda is delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian romances, living happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming. 






Here is how you can connect with Amanda:

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CLICK HERE to buy or see In Firefly Valley

In Firefly Valley-Released May 2015


She’s lost her dream job—but has she found the man of her dreams?

Devastated by a downsizing, Marisa St. George has no choice but to return to the small Texas town where she grew up. Though it means a giant step backward, she accepts a position as business manager at the struggling Rainbow’s End resort. The only silver lining: Blake Kendall, a new guest who might make her believe in love at first sight. But will Marisa’s dreams of happily-ever-after be turned upside down when she discovers Blake’s real identity?


This warm and witty story of dreams deferred and mistaken identity will have you believing in second chances.

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leave a comment 
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Thank you, Amanda, for joining us this weekend!

We love chatting with you and are looking forward to reading your comments and questions. Or at least your hi, hello, or hey.

Thanks for stopping by!


Don't forget to comment!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

It's Okay to Stop-Look it up-Then Continue


Photo Courtesy



I attended a meeting where a very polished and gifted speaker stumbled on his words.

The cause, I think, was a well meaning person in the audience who verbalized whenever she agreed with what the speaker said. 

No one hushed the person in the audience because the individual had a disability.

While the verbalized words were well meaning, and we all understood, human nature did push it's way into the situation. 




Did the speaker eye the individual? Nope.
Did the speaker make a comment regarding the distraction? Nope.
Did the speaker call on someone to help? Nope.

For this reason, I had such respect for the speaker. I prayed for him that he could continue through to the end of his message without losing his purpose and intent.

Then something awesome happened.

The speaker cited a Scripture verse. It was a well know verse that most of us would be able to say ourselves. Halfway through the verse he stumbled. He rewound his words and tried again. After the second stumble he smiled, chuckled at himself, and said, "I better look it up." He flipped to the page in his Bible and read the verse.

A true sign of humility

During the meeting, I felt led to pray for this speaker. I'm convinced others in the meeting felt led to do the same

I have a feeling though, that God used so many things that happened in that meeting. 

First, as someone sitting in the back, I noticed not one person in the room looked at the individual with the disability to see who it was, or to hush them. Not even kids. Pretty awesome. 

Second, the speaker worked to keep his focus on his message, even to the point of humbling himself to look up a verse he knew to insure he said it right.

Third, after the meeting, I saw a crowd of people warmly greeting the disabled individual. That was so sweet to see.

Fourth, the whole meeting sparked a genuine connection with the message.

What did I learn? Well, when I am speaking with someone, 
1. It is okay to make a mistake. 
2. It is okay to laugh at myself.
3. It is okay to correct myself in front of others.
4. We teach when we humble ourselves.

Distractions will cause us to make mistakes or forget. The issue is not what happens, but how we handle the situation afterwards. If we keep our eyes on God, the end may have some pretty awesome results.



This post has been brought to you by the one word-Look-it-up

What do you think?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Celebrate My Birthday With Me in Alaska

Photo Courtesy

Yeah! Today is my birthday. So this weekend, I am my guest.

And since I am the guest, I will be doing the book giveaways. Someday I will feature my own book, but, for now, I will be giving away some awesome author books to as many commenters as I can.

Those of you who have stopped in to read previous posts probably know I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to travel. So, hubby searched this year's list of conferences and found one in the beautiful mountains of Alaska. And it happened to fall during this week--my birthday. 

Of course I said--YES! Let's go. Everything you see in black is written before we left. Everything written in burgundy is fabulous news from Alaska!





I've posted the winning photos so far. 
Wow it was a really difficult choice!!

Photo by Mary Vee - Alyeska Resort



We, of course, will suffer in a beautiful mountain resort, will have to endure fresh caught fish for a meal or two, be dragged on board a one-day cruise to see glaciers, and etc. I CAN'T WAIT!! (disclaimer, I am writing this ahead of time and will visit with you when I come back). We saw fjords, and so many interesting animals. Totally recommend this trip.

I am hoping to post pictures while there. They have Internet in Alaska, right?







This is my wish list of want-to-see while there: (remember, everything in black is written before I go.)

1. a moose-not done yet

Photo by Mary Vee - Mountains
near Portage, AK



2. mountains-check








3. aurora borealis-won't happen. The long sun hours that I love are preventing it.

Photo by Mary Vee - Northwestern Glacier, AK





4. glaciers-check











Photo by Mary Vee




5. Eat fresh salmon or halibut-check - we had an SLT which is a salmon lettuce tomato sandwich!






6. visit missionaries serving in Alaska- on the list for Saturday


7. see the sun still up after 11:00pm-check! Can you believe it! I saw it at 2am and 4am, too!

Photo by Mary Vee-eagle on mud when
Pacific ocean tide is out





AND BY SPECIAL REQUEST 
MADE BY CARYL KANE:
AN EAGLE













Photo by Mary Vee - Sea Otter swimming in Pacific Ocean



And now it's time to share my birthday party with you. I have books to give away! 

Each of these books are fabulous! The list of authors, in alphabetical order, are: 








Photo by Mary Vee-Horned Puffins swimming in
Pacific Ocean


Joanne Bischof
Terri Blackstock
Dawn Crandall
Lisa Harris
Katy Lee
Julie Lessman
Anne Mateer
Laura Scott






Photo by Mary Vee - Whale swimming in Pacific Ocean



Rules: 
1. Winners need to either be a follower of this blog or sign up to receive email posts. Both can be found in the right column.

2.  Commenters will be chosen randomly and, in the order they were chosen, may pick which book he/she would like until the last book is given away. Trust me, though, even if you are the last commenter chosen, you will love the book!




Ready to party?


Photo by Mary Vee - Black bear in Girdwood, AK



Choose a question for your comment:

If you could visit any place in the world, where would you like to go?

If you could have one hour all to yourself, what would you like to do?

What would be top on your bucket list?

What is your favorite season and why?






Photo by Mary Vee- taken on the Iditarod trail
near Girdwood, AK

BE SURE TO INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL SO I CAN CONTACT YOU!

Winners will be notified sometime after Tuesday.

Winners will be announced on my Facebook Blog Page


Thanks for celebrating with me!!