Monday, September 30, 2013

If You Don't Ever Take the Chance.


Country Singer, Jimmy Rose recently said, "If you don't ever take the chance--You will never know the outcome."

When Hudson Taylor became deathly ill and had to return to England to receive needed medical care, he wondered if and when he'd be able to take his family back to China. During the healing process, Taylor used the time to reevaluate the ministry and his goal to preach to those living in inland China.

The three years convalescing proved invaluable. At this time, the China Inland Mission came to life. Those working with Taylor set up the administration and finances then called for recruits and taught language and Bible lessons. In the hours he didn't sleep, Taylor worked with a helper to write a translation of the New Testament in a Chinese language. A few years after leaving, Taylor brought sixteen missionaries with his own family back to China, ready to begin a new ministry.

What would have been missed if he had given up while recuperating from his disease? What would have happened if he never became sick and instead stayed in China's port cities?

Or here is another example: Abraham Lincoln, a small town boy with little education other than what he learned on his own, became president of the United States.

Not is it possible to miss great opportunities, but sometimes we move and train in what we think is the right direction only to discover it isn't the glorious opportunity God had for us.

I think of athletes who are injured and unable to compete. 
Missionaries who are unable to raise support.
Students who don't score high enough on an entrance exam.
etc.
Once these folks find the next part of their journey, they frequently see the unexpected blessing. 

Life is a training. 

Full of surprises and changes. Like the first uncomfortable gasp of breath at birth. 

Friend, don't get comfortable, God has a plan for your life. It may or may not be what you thought. Are you ready for the next great adventure?

photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fabulous Friday Feature-Melissa Tagg



Today I welcome 
Melissa Tagg,
a sweet friend who knows how to brighten a group gathering. 

I can't even remember when I met Melissa. We've engaged in conversations through the Writers Alley, My Book Therapy, ACFW, and she is a regular visitor here on my website. She's encouraged, supported, laughed, and prayed with both my friends and I. What a kindred spirit. I recently asked Melissa to share how God has led her on her writing journey. This is what she said:



Trust- Not Snazzy Time Lines

When Mary asked me to write a guest post about my writing journey, my first thought was, “Sure, I can do that. No prob.”

Then I sat down to write it.

And it wasn’t so easy.

Because I feel like my writing journey has been chalk full of cool moments, spiritual tugs and open doors that I can only attribute to God’s sweet timing.

And, sure, there have been down moments too. Times when my writing felt stale. When I wondered if I’d ever actually see words in print. When I felt like I was playing turtle to others’ hare of a publication journey.

So how does one tie all the ups and downs together into a tidy bow of a post called “My Writing Journey.” Um, maybe one doesn’t. :) But in an effort to keep this post from turning knotty, here’s the basic overview of my journey to publication:

2009: Start writing seriously
2010: Final in a contest, win another contest, start pursuing publication
2011: Crickets (not my most fun year ever)
2012: Several doors all open at once culminating with signing with my agent, finding out my book was going to the pub board at Bethany House and being offered a two-book contract—all within a four-week period

What that snazzy little timeline doesn’t depict is all the emotion that’s been a part of these past few years—the questions, the learning, the growth (I hope), the crazy swirl of stuff probably only other writers understand.

So, sidestep with me for a moment, if you don’t mind. I was reading in the Psalms the other day. I love that book of the Bible…mostly because I love David. He’s just this no holds barred kind of guy. A little crazy at times, yes. I mean, he wasn’t all-perfect, that’s for sure. But I love that he bares his heart in words. From the gut-wrenching to the glorious, the hurt to the hope…it’s all there.

What gets me about David’s psalms every time is that every time he comes back to the same place: trust.

Seriously, the guy always eventually gets back to declaring his trust in God. And I love that.

And when I think about my own writing journey, when I clump all the ups and downs and awesome and not-so-awesome moments together, I realize what I really want my journey to be about—what I hope I’m getting better at—is simply trusting God.

Trusting His timing.
Trusting His guidance.
Trusting He doesn’t give a person a love of stories and natural bent toward writing for no reason.
Trusting that He’s present in all the ups and downs to come.
Trusting that He’s got me on this path to transform me.

That last one is something I picked up in Jim Rubart and Allen Arnold’s awesome “Live Free. Write Free.” class at the recent ACFW Conference—the writing life is less about crafting a good story than it is seeing God transform us. And transformation starts with trust, doesn’t it?

Learning to trust.

Yeah, I think that sums up my writing journey. :)

Melissa Tagg is a former newspaper reporter and total Iowa girl. Her first novel, Made to Last, releases from Bethany House in September 2013. In addition to her homeless ministry day job, Melissa is also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for writers. When she’s not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies and daydreaming about her next book. Melissa blogs regularly and loves connecting with readers at www.melissatagg.com.

During her reporting days, Melissa interviewed presidential candidates and llama farmers, rode a hot air balloon and flew a plane, and once came face to face with a buffualo. But today she gets her kicks by letting her characters have their own fun. She’s passionate about humor, grace, and happy endings.

How to connect with Melissa Tagg:
Website/blog: www.melissatagg.com
                                                            Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/MelissaTagg




A debut author has many commitments for the books given to them from the publisher. I'm not sure we all understand the pull to provide book giveaways by many sources.When those books are gone, the author must pay for the books. 

Let's show our understanding and leave Melissa a word of encouragement to press forward in the writing career God has blessed her in the comment section.
.

Thank you, Melissa, for Joining us This Weekend!


Friend, sometimes our impressive schedule doesn't bring all the joy we hope. Share something that has sparked a joy so exciting your blurted out the story to the first person you saw.




Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Open Minded to the Unusual




Panic set in.

My husband couldn't find his wallet and he needed to leave for work five minutes ago.

I gave him my debit card to buy gas and sent him on his way.

We searched his pants pockets, counters, under the sofa cushions, the car, even drove to the last place where he used one of his cards.

I pulled all the bedding off the bed and frisked the top of his dresser.

Enough. Time to call in the pro.

I roamed about my house and said, "God, we've looked more than once in all the obvious places, I need an idea where the unusual place is."

I stopped in my bedroom in front of the suitcase hubby uses for most of his work trips and thought, Nah, it wouldn't be in there. He didn't use the suitcase yesterday, but he did use his wallet yesterday. 

I nearly had to step over the suitcase to take another step which for some crazy reason was left in the walk path. 

I rolled my eyes and thought there is no reason the wallet would be in this suitcase. NONE AT ALL. 

My foot scraped against the fabric. I knew it. God clearly told me to check the suitcase. I picked it up, set it on the bed, and unzipped the compartments, shoving my hand deep into each one. Nothing.

I unzipped the main compartment lifted the lid and--you guessed it--the wallet was there! I burst out laughing. This was the funniest God moment in a while. The wallet was in the suitcase.

Why?

How?

I don't know. But, God did and He showed me. Isn't God wonderful?

Friend, your turn. Share something amazing God has done for you or your family.

Monday, September 23, 2013

How Good and How Pleasant

A picture of unity
Mary Vee, Ashley Clark, Pepper Basham
Writers Alley friends
There are those moments, when the folks around us do not get along.

It may be a family squabble, coworkers disagreeing, volunteers clash. Sigh

Even more distressing is when we jump on the bandwagon and escalate the issue. My heart breaks when I cozy up to the problem like king Ahab in the Old Testament, instead of pulling away and praying as did king Hezekiah, king Jehoshophat, or king David. I really don't want to grumble or add to the issue, but I do.

Sigh.

And it is so difficult to simply say "I'm sorry" or to walk away.

I think writers are inspired to write specific themes because that is the very issue they are experiencing or need to address in their own lives.

For me, the manuscript I completed and pitched at the ACFW conference has this theme:

How good and how pleasant it is for the brethren to dwell together in unity. Psalm 133:1

When I am out in public, God has helped me learn to use proactive skills to diffuse situations before I foolishly leap onto the bandwagon. But after I leave, my heart replays the scenario and it aches. I grumble and rehash words in the privacy of my home. But that isn't right either.

And so, for today, I pray that you and I will only see the beauty in the people God has made living in our world. That any grumbling words slip away, frowns and squints morph into smiles and twinkles, complaints fade to concerns, anger and frustration reveal themselves as cries for help and love, and our hearts will be overflowing with the perfect love that God has given us.

Wait! Don't swing the pendulum. This does not mean that others have carte blanche to stomp on our spirits, take advantage of us, or squash our good deeds. Stand up for your testimony. Stand strong. And this, too, will help to calm the angries in others.

You are a treasure, called by God, to bring unity to your piece of the world.

Blessings on your day.




Friday, September 20, 2013

Fabulous Friday Post-Mindy Obenhaus


Today I welcome 
Mindy Obenhaus,
a gracious lady who loves her family and is willing to follow God's will. 

Enter to win Mindy's August 2013 release,
The Doctor's Family Reunion
Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.


I didn't know the story your are about to read when I saw Mindy at the ACFW conference. We just never know when others might be experiencing something that is demonstrating the power of God. Thank God, He has brought Mindy's story to our attention today. You will be blessed. I asked Mindy to share with us the journey God has led her on for her writing career. Of course she graciously agreed, ever willing to share how God has blessed. Here is what she said:



Seeing It Is All Good

Many writers will tell you that they’ve always been avid readers. Many will tell you they’ve been writing forever. I cannot say that. However, I’ve always had a love of story.

As a child, I would contrive these amazing adventures in my head. Even into adulthood, I made up stories that would play through my mind like a movie.

When my mother moved in with us, she brought boxes and boxes of romance novels. I started to read and suddenly found myself with a voracious appetite for romance. I began to wonder, “Could I write my stories?”

The only way I’d find out was to try.

I completed my first novel in seven months. Then I joined a writer’s group and discovered what I really had was a bad first draft. Still, I had written an entire book. That gave me the impetus to press on and learn my craft.

That was over eight years ago. During that time, God called me to write for Him, Mom moved out, and our two-and-a-half year old granddaughter moved in. Two years later, when she was finally reunited with her Navy mama, I thought I’d have all the writing time in the world. But life rarely goes according to plan.

On September 4, 2011, wildfires broke out near our family ranch. Propelled by thirty mile per hour winds, the smoke and flames engulfed us. We lost over a hundred acres of timberland, but our homes were spared.

A week later, my husband fell while surveying the damage. We rushed him to the emergency room where the doctor informed us, “His back is broken. We fear it’s pressing on his spinal cord, so we’re going to CareFlight him to Houston. And, by the way, there’s a mass on his kidney.”

This was ten days before ACFW Conference. I would likely miss. In that hospital room, I prayed, “God, if You don’t want me to go, I’m okay with that.”

Well, my husband didn’t need surgery, but he had to wear a brace for the next several weeks. Excellent news. However, he still couldn’t dress, shower, or even get out of bed on his own.

Yet he was convinced that I would go to conference.

Five days before I was supposed to leave, he told me to go shopping for a banquet dress. I said, “I don’t know that I’m going to conference.” His response? “Yes, you are.”

Two days before my long-scheduled departure, this stubborn man willed himself out of bed. Fantastic. But what about the kids? How would they get to school? Band practice?

You know what my man did? He called our friends and asked for help.

I did make it to conference that year and pitched a story to Melissa Endlich from Love Inspired Books. The Doctor’s Family Reunion released earlier this month. J

I think that was my best conference ever.

When I returned, we learned that the mass on my husband’s kidney was cancer. The kidney was removed, and though his recovery was littered with complications, God’s hand never left us.

Romans 8:28 tells us that “all things work together for good.” If my husband hadn’t broken his back, they wouldn’t have found the kidney cancer. Without those complications after surgery, he would have gone home with a pulmonary embolism.

Today, my husband is cancer-free, and embarrassingly proud of his author wife. I achieved my dream, though when I started my journey, I never imagined how long it would take. But a God-given dream is about the journey, not the destination. In His time, dreams really do come true.


Mindy Obenhaus always dreamed of being a wife and mother. Yet as her youngest of five children started kindergarten, a new dream emerged—to write stories of true love that would glorify God. When she’s not penning her latest romance, she likes cooking, reading, traveling, and spending time with her grandkids. 

Learn more about her at 

The Doctor's Family Reunion: Family means everything to Dr. Trent Lockridge. Growing up without a father, he always yearned for a family of his own. One long-ago summer in Ouray, Colorado, he thought  he might build a future with beautiful Blakely Daniels. But when he abruptly fled town, he broke her heart and left behind more than memories. Years later, Trent is shocked—and overjoyed—to learn he's a father. He'd like to earn back Blakely's love and trust— but it won't be easy. And the clock is ticking. He's got only a few weeks to prove that, this time, he's here to stay…forever.


To enter the contest for an autographed copy of 
Mindy Obenhaus's book: "The Doctor's Family Reunion":
leave a comment (and email address)
and become a follower of this site if you aren't already.

Winner announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Mindy, for Joining us This Weekend!


Friend, wasn't it wonderful to read how God's showed His presence in the events happening in Mindy's family? Let's see here are a few she mentioned: 

Her mother moved in, bringing good books.
Her granddaughter needed care.
Fires rampaged her area leaving them only with their house
Her husband is injured. 
Husband's cancer discovered and treated
Husband's complications lead to finding other problems and treatment
Husband fully supports Mindy
God blessed by giving her this published book.

How has God blessed you in a time of trial?





Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Complete,Thorough, Perfect


Consider your morning.

Photo by Mary Vee
As you woke, you inhaled a deep breath of life sustaining air. Was it crisp? Mine was. It was forty-two degrees outside.

You stumbled in your morning walk dance to the bathroom and freshened up for the day using water flowing from a faucet.

You slipped into your work clothes, even mom's and stay at home workers have work clothes, made from the plants and animals inhabiting our earth.

You enjoyed your breakfast, even if it was only a cup of coffee, thanking God for His gift of food/drink.

By this time the sun rose in the sky, lighting your home, radiating colors far better than interior lighting.

Everything God does is designed to have a thorough, complete, and perfect outcome. His desires are for our good. 

I feel rested, satisfied after my sleep last night.

My hair and skin are clean, fresh for a new day.

My stomach is appeased with the breakfast.

The sun sparks happiness in my heart, a special warmth that isn't physical (it is still cold in my house).

God has sparked a plan in my mind for today. One that feeds off the ACFW conference I just attended. If I follow through, even address unexpected issues, I will rest tonight, knowing God is thorough, complete, and perfect. The provider, giver, sustainer.

Blessings on your day.

Friend, will you share a blessing for God in the comment section?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Four Beautiful Seasons

I'm traveling home from the conference today and wanted to put a fresh, inspiring thought in your heart while I'm gone.

God has blessed us with four lovely seasons. We all have our favorites, of course. But the newness of each season brings fantastic memories (which hopefully wash away any sad ones).

Photo by Mary Vee



My favorite season is Fall. I love the scent of the cool but not cold air. The colors found in certain areas of the United States are well worth the travel. I grew up in Michigan where trees cascade over roads. A fall trip can be done by bicycle. Maybe visit a mountain forest. Rich, vibrant colors.


Take a walk in the woods. Listen to the twigs, leaves, and foliage crunch beneath your shoes. Stop for a moment. Listen. Hear the birds? Many won't be there for long. They'll fly south for the winter. The day I wrote this post a flock of birds flew to the south. Already? Yeah, something about the early bird . . .




Buffalo in Rocky Mountains





The rainy season returns.

Topping off my favorite season is Christmas, my favorite holiday. It's all about colors, people, sound, and memories.

Cooke City, Wyoming
Rocky Mountains
Photo by Mary Vee
 









Winter will follow. Cleansing the air with snow, blanketing the farmers field with nitrogen laden moisture, giving the trees a time to rest and the kids time to sled.








Montana
Photo by Mary Vee







Spring will wake the Rip Van Winkle nature sprouting new buds, sending fresh floral, shrub, tree scent into the air. New life will be born. Everything fresh, new, well rested. The earth is ready to be plowed.



Montana spring, the only time green can be seen,
Photo by Mary Vee

 















Summer fun rounds out this list. Beach parties, bike rides, sowing, reaping, fresh vegetables, hot sun.












An unusual tourist
Photo by Mary Vee, Montana







Friend, Which is your favorite season and why? How can you see God in your favorite season?



 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fabulous Friday Feature-ACFW Conference

The ACFW conference is in full swing. The hotel is filling up with writers anxious to meet each other, renew friendships, and to attend those all important meetings. 

Warning, this weekends post will be filled with random fun pictures from the ACFW conference. 

Yeah!

Scroll down to see about a book give away.


Mary Vee, Pepper Basham, Amy Lee Simpson, Casey Harringshaw



Casey Herringshaw, Beth Vogt, Amy Leigh Simpson, Pepper Basham

Mary Vee and Pepper Basham

Cara Putman, Casey Herringshaw

Angie Dicken

View outside our window in Indianapolis, Indiana


There will be a book give away with one of the books I get  at the conference. The winner will have a chance to choose. 
Must leave a comment
Must be a follower of this website
U.S. Only. 



Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11

I couldn't figure out, for the longest time, why I had such a problem choosing a topic to write for this post.

Ideas always popped into my head then are filtered into something that met the standards I'd set for this website:

1. A topic I can say at least something about.
2. A topic you, my friend, would be interested in.
3. A topic that solicits comments because I don't want to just talk to myself.
4. A topic that honors Christ in some way.

And as I worked ahead (since I will be at the ACFW conference), I looked at the date this post would be published. 9/11

Then I understood the reason for the struggle. 

This date represents so much. I know where I was when thousands of people sipped their last drop of coffee, when the power went out and men were trapped, when the structure around women's offices crushed down on them, when their families heard from them no more.

My heart groans for the family and friends affected--as they remember those they knew.

So, I will set aside my cup of tea this morning, bow my head and pray for them.

Father, you know who the men, women, and children are affected directly by the 9/11 terrorist attack. Their questions will arise again today. They will relive their loss, and desire a hug from their loved one. Hold them close with your loving arms. Whisper words of comfort to their aching hearts. If there is still a need whether financially, psychologically, spiritually, or physically please provide for them and show them how much a God of love cares for those who hurt.

Many will choose to withdraw, some will make their needs known. May Your loving grace see them through this time and supply all their needs that they may know You.

And if we who chat here today know anyone who has this need, may we be the one you send  to offer a cup of kindness.

Amen


Friend, if you would like, please add your prayer for those who not only struggle with 9/11 but  any who have needs of any sort. Let's lift our voices to the Lord.


Monday, September 9, 2013

A Blessing For Us

This is my rushed week.
The week I attend the ACFW Writers' Conference. I leave on Wednesday and will drive back next Monday.


Perhaps you are having a time when many events, tasks, whatever are happening/due. If not right at this time, you will have, I'm sure.



So here is a blessing for both of us:



photo by Mary Vee, taken in Michigan



May the Lord Bless you and keep you
The Lord make His face shine upon you
And be gracious to you
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you
And give you peace
Numbers 6:24-26 KJV




For this reason I kneel before the Father, 
from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you 
with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 
may have power, together with all the believers, 
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ 
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 
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
Ephesians 3:14-20



Friend: will you share a blessing for us? Write yours in the comment section.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Fabulous Friday Feature-Laura Frantz


Today I welcome Laura Frantz,
a gracious lady showing the love of Christ with her smile.

Enter to win Laura's September 2013 release,
Love's Awakening
Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.


I was introduced to Laura at an ACFW conference by my a fellow Writer's Alley Cat writer. Immediately I saw Laura's gracious spirit. It's been about two years since and I thought of that Christlike spirit when I noticed her new book release. I asked Laura to share with us the journey God has led her on for her writing career. Of course she graciously agreed. Here is what she said:


You Were Born For Nothing Less


Thanks so much for having me here, Mary. It’s always a joy to revisit my writing journey as it stays fresh and is always humbling to think how God led me to this place. 

In a nutshell…
I’ve written stories – historical fiction only – since I was seven years old. I think I came into the world hardwired to write. I didn’t study craft books and only took one creative writing course in college (which I hated). I think my best teachers were books. 

I read voraciously as a child and young adult, especially historical fiction or biographies of famous historical figures. When I was working as a teacher and social worker and even as a college student I would carry around legal pads and pens and write my heart out in spare moments. Aside from my family and the Lord, writing was and is my greatest joy and blessing.

Until I was in my 30’s I simply wrote for myself, never dreaming or thinking of publication. Then one day my pastor brother challenged me, telling me I’d been given a gift to share and should stop being a closet writer. He actually arranged for my family to help pay for a freelance editor to read my first novel, The Frontiersman’s Daughter. At the same time I submitted to Writer’s Edge. In about six months Revell Publishing perused my manuscript and picked it up.

**Mary here, this should encourage many who have been leery about submitting to Writer's Edge. 

I was so ignorant of the CBA and their standards as I’d read very little in the inspirational market. I didn’t have an agent or an online presence and I hadn’t been to any writing conferences, etc. But the Lord had a plan

I’m always amazed that authors come to publishing in such unique, individually tailored ways. God is so creative in how He leads us and opens and closes doors. When I received my first three-book contract, I was amazed (and still am!) that the Lord took the writing dreams of a little Kentucky girl and made them a reality.

Now, six years and five books later, I can honestly say that publishing has been something of a spiritual boot camp for me. I’ve had to let go and trust the Lord in fresh, often frightening ways. But I’ve found that He’s always faithful, always trustworthy. 

I’ve grown and changed so much since my debut novel went to print. Sometimes I feel I’m not the same person! And I agree wholeheartedly with Beth Moore who says this about serving Christ with the gifts He gives us:

“You surrender yourself to living in the tension where you’ll always be stretched and often be broken… You accept that far easier ways to live exist, but you were born for nothing less.”

Author bio:
I was born and raised in Kentucky and my heart has always been in Berea, Madison County, the place my family has resided since the 18th-century. I came to know Christ there at the age of 12, was baptized, and spent my childhood roaming through the woods and swimming in the rivers of my books.
My earliest memories are of the public library, standing in front of shelves filled with those little biographies of famous historical figures like Daniel Boone and George Washington and Sacajawea
I attended college at Denison University in Ohio and also in England, living in a manor/castle and studying the American Revolution from the British perspective. Shakespeare and 18th-century literature form the backbone of my English degree. Strangely enough, I only took one creative writing class.
It was never a desire of mine to be published. I simply love to write for the sheer joy of writing – and that was enough. But as Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”


To enter the contest for an autographed copy of 
Laura Frantz's book: "Love's Awakening":
leave a comment (and email address)
and become a follower of this site if you aren't already.

Winner announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Laura, for Joining us This Weekend!


Friend, wasn't it wonderful to read how God led Laura even when she didn't have the training? Let's see here are a few she mentioned: 

She read and read and read
Her brother pastor approached her about pursuing her writing interests (who needs to approach us before we step forward)
She has found publishing a spiritual boot camp (translated - it's not easy!)
She hold's to the Beth Moore quote at the end of her post. (good words to reread)


Choose one and add your comment.