Monday, April 29, 2013

Are You Missing Life?


Sometimes we allow ourselves to become bogged down with stuff. We run around trying to finish this and plan that.

I opened the window this morning, heard the song of several birds, and thought of God. 

My mind immediately leaped into the list of things I needed to do today. Really? That happened fast.

And what were these terribly important things? 

Some truly were necessary. Feeding the family. Going to work. Etc.

Some are not. 

Let's talk about how we spend our day. What do we really need to do today? If this was the one day you could remember when you turned 94 years old, what would go through you mind?

God asks us to live each day to His glory. Each day, whether it seems good or bad needs to honor HIm. And when our choices honor Him, we can find peace even in the problems. 

I am so glad you stopped by today to read this post. If possible, take a look outside. If the weather is good, step outside again. Listen to the sounds. Are the kids outside? Is it raining? Are there new flowers? What does the air smell like? Does the scent or sounds bring a memory to you?

Think of a verse. It doesn't have to be a special one, just the first one that comes to your mind. What is it? Where have you heard this verse before? What was happening then?

Think of a special person in your life. In what way has God blessed you through this person?

How are we doing? Is your spirit calm, ready to face the rest of the day?

The Bible says in Ecclesiastes that our life is a whisper. And although whispers are soft they can be powerful. 

Determine, right now to make today, even if you are sick in bed, a day to look back on and say, Yes, This was a day that the Lord made. I rejoiced and was glad in it.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Fabulous Friday Feature-Janelle Mowery




Today I welcome an award winner author, 
a lady who is both kind and friendly,
Janelle Mowery



Enter to win Janell's new release, 
Always Remembered
Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.


I met Janell through ACFW. Seems I've met so many wonderful people there. What a kind, giving, and friendly person. She immediately responded to my message asking her to visit with us and spoke to me as if we'd known each other for a long time. How awesome is that?

I asked Janell to share how God has led her writing journey. This is what she said:







God Made Me with an Extra Dash of Adventure Spirit

I believe our creator God makes every individual unique, each with our own dreams, desires, and bents. I think He made me with a slightly adventurous spirit.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved books. When I was six, I was given Alice in Wonderland, which I believe awakened in me that adventurous spirit. 

My third grade teacher gave me the book, Journey to the Center of the Earth, which added to the adventure, and I learned books could be a great escape. 
Yes! This is Janell, and the pic is not photoshopped.

I began to devour almost every book I could get my hands on, some of them three or four times. When my classmates moaned about the classics we had to read in English, I’d quietly rejoice and finish reading them before the next day of class. Well, most of them anyway. Some, in my opinion, were a bit odd.

I think that same adventurous spirit sent me on a journey, moving me from my home state of Minnesota to my new home in Texas. And it was that same spirit of adventure that helped me jump out of a perfectly good airplane to see what skydiving was like. But the adventure I found in books, as well as my God-given dream, is what called me to write.

My younger sister introduced me to Lori Wick’s books. After reading several, God placed within my heart a new dream, a new adventure. He made me certain that I, too, could write a book. My decision was that I would only write for Him, and my prayer was that my books would bring people to Him or give them a closer relationship with Him.

After writing four stories in 2001, I decided to see if they were good enough to be published. I attended my first conference in 2003 and received positive feedback. In 2006, I received my first contract…a mystery written with my good friend, Elizabeth Ludwig. A few years later, Harvest House contracted the first three books I’d ever written. Their choice to change the title of the first book blew me away. They titled it, When All My Dreams Come True. How perfect. (My original title was Light of Dawn.)

As I research and write each new book, I get to live a new adventure…and make yet another dream come true. Praise God!
**
Janelle was born and raised in southern Minnesota. She is an award-winning author who began writing inspirational stories in 2001 and has since written several historical novels as well as a mystery series, many of them receiving four stars from Romantic Times Review. 

When Janelle is not writing, she loves reading, researching history, and spending time in the great outdoors. She now resides in Texas with her husband and their two sons. To learn more about Janelle, visit her website at www.janellemowery.com


To enter the contest for an autographed copy of Janelle Mowery's book: 
"Always Remembered":
leave a comment (and email address)
and become a follower of this site if you aren't already.
U.S. residents only
Winner announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Janelle, for Joining us This Weekend!


Reader, have you been on an adventure? 

I taught my young children how to ride a busy city bus. We boarded the first bus that came to the stop. The kids picked where we got off. Then the game began. What do we do next? Now that was an adventure. We actually found our way back home!

Or did you have a sibling influence what you are doing today?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Taking Care of Business at the Coffee Shop

The coffee shop can be a perfect place to sort out thoughts and get work done. I find this setting a great place to relax.

I love to spend an hour chatting with my husband while sipping what ever blend of tea struck my fancy.

But sometimes I come by myself to work. Like today.

I have my cup of English Breakfast tea, cell phone, and lap top spread across the table surface. I purposely chose a booth to prevent someone from reading over my shoulder. 

Today's work? Updating my sensory vocabulary with observation. What do people wear, how do they converse, what is the body language, and what words do they use.

This particular shop is playing classical music, the tables are nicely spaced for privacy, abstract and impressionistic paintings hang on a coffee brown wall and business is being conducted all around me.

To my right, a thirty-fiveish man is pouring on the sales tactic to an eightyish man. The younger one is leaning forward and speaks loud enough for all near him to hear. The elderly gentleman is not so easy to hear, he is sitting with his back against his chair and leans forward only once to write something on a piece of paper. The young man is animated with every word, the older is stately, perhaps a retired doctor or president of a company. And although seemingly retired, wears a suit to the coffee shop. The younger man has his work cut out for him. 

In the next booth, a fortyish woman is interviewing for a job. The male interviewer has used understanding comments throughout their visit. I am inclined to think this is a woman returning to the workforce after many years, or one who has been surprised with a lay off.

Two women, one older approached a table across the way, no wait a third just came. Three generations represented in this group. The eldest stayed alone at the table while the middle aged woman walked away, returning a moment later with two trays in her hand, and the third, the youngest, pulled out her cell as she sat and is texting. The youngest has bright pink pants and a snappy shirt. The middle aged woman has what seems like an imitation fashion bag, sandals and a raspberry hoodie, and the older lady is wearing a fully beaded blue jean jacket over a mock turtleneck shirt. Her white sock show beneath short cut jeans. Well, let me guess...grandma, mom, and teen daughter went out for lunch.

It is twelve fifteen and the coffee shop if full. Orders are announced for patrons to pick up. Hungry men and women balance their speciality sandwiches and salads served on oblong plates through the maze of tables. Conversations blend into humorous string of unrelated sentences delivered by female and male, young and old. 

And best of all, there is WiFy for people like me who love to write about people.

So, Reader....what did you do today? What did you see, hear, smell, taste, feel? Help me broaden my dictionary of descriptions.

Monday, April 22, 2013

If You Ride the Bus...


Today's college town bus...

You are in for a treat. 



University of Michigan Bus
is free for campus transportation.
If you visit, you'll see why a bus system
is needed to get students to classes
and back to their homes for this large campus.
I went to the University of Michigan campus and spent the day with my college daughter. She swiped her card to pay for her fare and I pressed my coins into the meter. We plunked down in the first available seats, I chose to sit sideways to watch the action.

Easily ninety percent of the passengers either spent their time texting, surfing the net, or talking on their phones. A few International students chatted in their common language. the remaining passengers stared blankly out the window. The bus driver must have been instructed not to speak to anyone--or else he couldn't speak English.

Needless to say, I could have been anywhere in the world and experienced the same thing. 

I found it exciting.

The closer we came to the center of the campus (a good twenty minute ride), the more passengers boarded without any getting off. The sardine situation remain silent except for international voices. No English.

Body language communicated volumes. 

People slid over to let someone else sit, some shifted farther down the aisle to let others step past the yellow line, and a few nodded. But that was it. No English.

So you see, for $1.50 I was able to go to a foreign country and receive a cultural experience and didn't need a visa, airport security, special shots, or reservations.

I loved stepping into a cultural transport, especially since I didn't have to be anywhere. I boarded the bus when my daughter did and stepped off when she did. 

Have you stepped out of your typical piece of the world. Something as simple as walking in front of or behind a crowd of people you wouldn't normally find in your neighborhood would give the same affect.

When you found yourself in the situation, what did you feel like? A little excited but uncomfortable? Curious what the others said even though you heard the words (even American dialects can throw some of us for a loop)? Unsure of what to do next?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fabulous Friday Feature-Kim Vogel Sawyer





Today I welcome award winner author 
Kim Vogel Sawyer




Enter to win Kim's book, 
Kansas Weddings.


I met Kim at ACFW. She is a gracious and lovely person. I immediately saw her godly heart

I asked Kim to share how God has led her writing journey. This is what she said:








Little Girl Dreams

From my earliest memories, I have wanted to write. My parents tell me I was telling stories before I was old enough to write the words on paper. 
I believe the desire was planted in me by my Maker, and when the time was right, He watered the seed and brought it to fruit. Although I entered college as a journalism major, my plans took a turn when my young husband left and I was alone with a baby to support. 
I changed my degree to elementary education so I would be more available to my daughter. But that desire to write remained in the back of my heart, and I continued writing whenever I had spare moments. 
In the early 1990s I began submitting manuscripts to publishers and met with a series of rejections. "Good" rejections--positive feedback but no takers. After three years of consistent negative replies, I gave up and turned my focus to teaching. 
In 2000, my dad approached and said he felt it was time for me to see my little-girl dreams come true. He funded a self-publishing venture, and my first novel, A SEEKING HEART, released in the summer of 2001. 
Because I wanted to learn more about marketing, I began attending writing conferences. In 2003, I signed with Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency, and on March 15, 2005, I received my first acceptance for a story I called DEAR JOHN (a part of the KANSAS WEDDINGS trilogy). 
Two weeks later, Bethany House accepted WAITING FOR SUMMER'S RETURN, and by November of that year I had signed contracts for ten books with three different companies. 
I've been writing full-time ever since and I find great joy in giving God the glory for allowing my little-girl dreams to find reality.


Award-winning, bestselling author Kim Vogel Sawyer is one of the most beloved writers in the Christian market today, acclaimed by readers and critics for her "gentle stories of hope." 


With more than a million books in print and stories translated into six different languages, her books have a reach far beyond her Kansas roots. 

Kim and her retired military husband Don, with the help of their four feline companions, operate a bed-and-breakfast inn (www.TheKingsInnbnb.com) in small-town Kansas. They relish time with their three adult daughters and nine grandchildren and also enjoy travel whenever the schedule allows. To learn more about Kim and writing and speaking ministries, please visit www.KimVogelSawyer.com.   



To enter the contest for an autographed copy of Kim Vogel Sawyer's book 
"Kansas Weddings":
leave a comment (and email address)
and become a follower of this site if you aren't already.
U.S. residents only
Winner announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Kim, for Joining us This Weekend!


Reader, how has God made your childhood dreams come true?  For me, God let me travel to other countries. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

When the Worst Happens




I hadn't heard until the end of the day about the bombings at the Boston marathon.This will, in no doubt, be added to the growing list of events that should not have happened during my lifetime.

It's important to discuss our impressions, fears, concerns, and needs during and after these situations. Real people were involved both physically, socially, psychologically, and spiritually.

Yes, I remember where I was when J.F.K was assassinated  the first shuttle exploded and the second burned in the atmosphere, Columbine shootings, Oklahoma bombing, Newport shootings, and the many others in between these and the Boston marathon.


What does God have to say about tragedies like these?

Let's talk together and share verses and words of encouragement.


I'll start.


Dear Friend, 
God loves you. So very much. And when you walk through terrible times, He understands your sorrow and pain. He will wrap His loving arms around you. He has also put in the heart of others to help, listen, and care for you. Hold on. God will help.


Psalm 46:1  "God Is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

John 16:33  "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Psalm 119:25 "I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word."

A friend of mine recently wrote: God is never blind to your tears, never deaf to your prayers and never silent to your pain.



Your turn, reader. Help me share words of encouragement and verses.


photo courtesy of freeditigalphotos.net

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tax Day




Are you ready?

Have you sent in your forms?

This year, for the first time, we needed help. Mainly because we moved and worked in two different states.

While we may or may not agree with the politics of our country, we feel it is important to pay our taxes and to do them correctly.

And since Jesus paid His taxes . . . .

I hope you will receive a nice refund and can do something wonderful with it.

Let's dream about that wonderful return. What would you like to do? I mean it's not like winning a prize, this was your earnings that didn't need to go for taxes.

One year we received something like $35. I was ecstatic we didn't have to pay more. We used the money to go out for dinner.

My husband and I are planning a special anniversary celebration. It will take awhile to save up for it, even with the tax refund, but we hope to go in a year or two. 

Would you like to know what we want to do?  

Go to Israel. Perhaps, and the is the bonus dream, start with a cruise to the ports where the Apostle Paul went and end up at the Egyptian pyramids. The cruise will take a special money tree to grow in our backyard:)

It's not etched in stone, of course. Something might come up that will require the funds. Of course the needs of the family will come first. And I'm okay with that. Still, it's fun to dream.

Do you have a special plan or dream for your tax refund?

photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Friday, April 12, 2013

Fabulous Friday Feature, Dr. Richard Mabry


Today I welcome a friend and hero, 
one who has overcome then sought to help others, 
Dr. Richard Mabry.  


I met Richard at an ACFW conference and have seen him pop up in cyberspace many times. Why? Because those who know him can attest to his kind, gentlemanly ways. Who wouldn't want to sit down and chat with him? 

Richard, or Doc as some call him, loves to play golf. He says, he "works fruitlessly to improve his golf game." Sounds like a challenge to me, eh?  He is a retired physician, and when not writing, he spends his time reading, and defending his title as the world’s best Granddad. He and his wife live in Frisco, Texas and are active members of Stonebriar Community Church, pastored by Dr. Chuck Swindoll.

I asked Richard to share how God has led his writing journey. This is what he said:



When Life Hands You Lemons…

How would you complete that sentence? Most folks would say something about making lemonade. In my case, it goes something like this. “When life hands you lemons, write about it.” And that’s how I got started writing.

My wife of forty years died in 1999, and I was devastated. To help climb out of the hole of my depression, I began to journal, letting my bottled up feelings flow from my troubled brain into my fingertips and onto the hard drive of my computer. Eventually, I printed out these thoughts and let a close friend read them. He suggested they might be helpful to others in a similar situation, so I began to explore how I might turn them into a book.

I somehow had the idea that you simply printed out your manuscript and sort of stood on the corner and hailed an editor much as you flag down a taxi. It didn’t take me long to discover that it wasn’t that simple. I had a lot to learn about the craft of writing and the publishing business. It was at my first Christian writer’s conference that I not only was introduced to the basics of writing non-fiction, but also to Christian fiction, an entity I’d managed to avoid until that time.

Lots of study and attendance at other conferences followed, as I developed my skills. It was a slow process, but eventually I produced a manuscript that was published as The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse. The response to that book has been gratifying, and has shown me that God can indeed use something terrible to bless others.

Recall that I was also introduced to Christian fiction at that conference. Actually, two of the faculty, James Scott Bell and Alton Gansky, encouraged me to try my hand at it. Heeding the premise of “write what you know,” I began writing medical fiction. There were lots of false starts, but eventually I found what writers call my “voice,” as well as my niche: “medical suspense with heart.” Four years later, after producing four books that garnered forty rejections, I got my first book contract. And I’m still writing.

So when life hands you lemons, don’t just try to make lemonade. You might try your hand at writing about it, as well. You never know what God has planned for you as a result of that experience. I didn’t.

***

Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician, past Vice-President of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and the author of four published novels of medical suspense, the most recent of which is Lethal Remedy (Abingdon Press). His books have been finalists in competitions including ACFW’s Carol Award and Romantic Times’ Inspirational Book of the Year. His last novel, Lethal Remedy, won a 2012 Selah Award from the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. 

His long-awaited next medical thriller, Stress Test (Thomas Nelson)  released in April of this year, and will be followed by Heart Failure in October.

Richard’s book,  The Tender Scar: Life after the Death of a Spouse (Kregel Publishers)  has ministered to multiple thousands of grieving individuals. His meditations and short pieces have appeared in The Upper Room, In Touch, and several other periodicals.

Richard’s website is http://rmabry.com
He posts regularly on his blog, http://rmabry.blogspot.com
He is also active on Twitter, Facebook, and GoodReads. 

Richard signs his books with his favorite Bible passage: Psalm 139:1-5.



Reader: Has Richard stirred a memory for you today? Perhaps this is something you could write about. Maybe not in a novel, but perhaps an article. There are many periodicals excited to receive quality short stories as well.  AND go to this link where there is a book give away to enter for Dr. Richard Mabry's new release: click this: Stress Test.  I did.




Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Upset Your Routine Day

Let's do something different today.

We all have ruts, daily grinds, rituals, even the sun needs to come out and say hi. (I'm in a rut on this one because I am very sun deprived.)

Hallmark and calendar companies have labeled everyday of the year with some sort of recognition. Let's make today 





National Upset Your Routine Day

Here are some ideas: 

Serve breakfast for dinner. 
Set up camping tents in the house and sleep in them
Call someone you haven't had contact with in a long time

Oh...here is one:

Write a letter...using paper, pencil, envelopes and a stamp.

Listen to your favorite songs from at least ten years ago.
Look at a photo album (nothing on line)

Sit on the floor (some of us may need help getting up, but hey, that's okay)

Roast marshmallows over a candle (yes this works, my teen daughter and I do this in the winter or yuck weather days like today)

Color something with crayons.

Do your chores in a different order. 
What's your take on this great debate: is it better to dust first or vacuum first. My mother and mother-in-law had two different views.

As I write this post, I see God is participating. I am sitting at my desk writing at 1 in the afternoon. The sky is dark and my room light is on. I hope this evening the sun shines to complete this activity.

So what can you do to upset your routine?

Benefits: 

Change makes us giggle, 
Helps us focus, 
Gives us new ideas, 
Helps us appreciate
Causes us to use different muscles
Possibly meet new people
Try new things

Yeah! Celebrate Upset Your Routine Day and have fun!!

Stop by again tomorrow and tell us what you did. We can share ideas and maybe celebrate for two days!

Monday, April 8, 2013

A New Look

I couldn't help it.

I confess, I am a girl.

There are times when I need to switch thing around. Can't stand having my feet stuck in the muck, or trapped in a corner. 

I move the furniture in my house without telling my husband, and today I changed the appearance of my website.

Do you like it? I hope so.

I felt "Let's Talk" welcomed you more into the conversation. Gives you an opportunity to say what you're thinking...and I love to hear what you have to say.

I felt the colors were warm, inviting, and might make you want to sit a spell and chat with all those who stop and join us.

I felt the table setting would entice you to take your time, maybe venture into the other rooms of my website where you'll find virtual sweet tea, flavored coffees, assorted teas, and, of course, pastries.

Next time you come, bring a friend and let us get to know him or her, too.

May God richly bless your day with warmth, sunshine, and giggles.


Friday, April 5, 2013

Fabulous Friday Feature-Tina Radcliffe




Today I welcome a fantastic author who is funny 
and a super friend: Tina Radcliffe 

Enter to win Tina's latest book, 
Mending the Doctor's Heart.
 International readers may also enter! 
(see end of post) 

I met Tina at ACFW. After a meeting, I happened to step into the same elevator as Tina and a group of conferrees. We went up a few floors. The others stepped off the elevator leaving Tina and me, but we were not alone. Before the door closed, Tina looked at the inebriated man mumbling to himself, grabbed my arm, and said, "Mary remember we were going to  talk with a few friends first?" She grabbed my arm and the two of us escaped. Tina is a lot of fun. I highly recommend you introducing yourself if you ever see her. Warning: be prepared to laugh. 

I asked Tina to share how God has led her writing journey. This is what she said:



These Books Aren't Mine, They're God's

Mary, thanks so much for having me on your blog today.

I started my writing journey as a short story writer. I had a nice side income with sales to publications such as The Star (the tabloid used to pay $300 for a short story), and Woman’s World (when I started they paid $1000 for 1000 words) and The Trues (True Confession, True Story, True Romance). By the way, The Trues aren’t true and besides their scintillating cover stories they buy sweet romances as well.

My foundation in short stories taught me a lot about publishing. I learned how to track my submissions. I learned how to handle rejections. If I was rejected, the story was immediately rewritten and sent to another publisher. If I was asked to revise, I revised, with no questions asked. I learned to always have at least four to six stories circulating at one time. I learned not to take anything personally and to keep an eye on the editorial staff. When an editor moved on I resubmitted something that was previously rejected. That’s how I first sold to Woman’s World. Four editors later, the same story that was rejected by one editor was a sale to the new editor.

I also started my idea box at that time. Snippets of conversation, magazine articles, and bright ideas go in this box. It’s a physical box.


There’s some amazing stuff in there like this newspaper clipping. Doesn’t it just scream a story to you?

Sometime the stories that the ideas hold are longer than a short story. That’s when I began writing novel length fiction seriously. I joined RWA and began to learn exactly what I didn’t know. Quite a bit it turns out. I started writing short contemporary and single title romance, but when Love Inspired launched I knew that the merging of faith and romance was where I wanted to be. I wanted to write about normal people whose faith walk is part of their life. Like me.

My plan at that time was to enter the Golden Heart with a new manuscript each year. In 2005 and 2007 I finaled. Contests are great, but if you are consistently finaling and winning, but not selling, there is a problem.

I had a problem, so I hired a professional editor to look at my work. A former Pocket editor, she had edited New York Times best-selling authors. That edit taught me things that I will apply to my manuscripts for the rest of my career.

My next step was to reevaluate my submissions to Love Inspired. I read books from the line again, listened to the editor podcasts, and then submitted a query. The query met with a request for a partial, then a full, then a revision letter and then a sale in January 2010.

An amazing thing happened after that book debuted. I got reader letters. When you get a letter and someone you never met tells you that your words changed their life, well that’s quite a responsibility. For me, that was the point where I realized that these books aren’t mine. They’re God’s. That’s actually been freeing. God graciously opened the door for me to write novels and sell them, and it’s his job to help me write the next book and the next synopsis. My job is to be willing and obedient.
                                                                  
Tina Radcliffe draws from her idea box and her many careers to write her stories. She’s done a tour of duty with the US Army, been a certified Oncology R.N., a library cataloger, and a tech at a national mail order pharmacy. She’s from Western New York and has lived in Oklahoma, Colorado and now Arizona.  Mending the Doctor’s Heart is her third Love Inspired release and it hits the shelf this month.



You can find her at www.tinaradcliffe.com or in Seekerville.

To enter the contest for an autographed copy of Tina Radcliffe's latest book, leave a comment and become a follower of this site if you aren't already. Include email address in your comment. GUESS WHAT? International readers may also enter! Winner announced on my facebook page. Kindle book will be given to International readers.


Thank you, Tina for Joining us This Weekend!



Reader: Have you had a situation where you realized the task your tried so hard to do on your own belonged to God? How did/does this change your approach to the task?