Monday, June 30, 2014

Celebrating Two Years







Two wonderful years of chatting with you about tons of topics.
Thank you!

Reading your comments is one of my favorite times of the day.


God has blessed.




During this second year, I have focused on bringing interesting guests every weekend to lead our discussion. Weren't they awesome?  

The Fabulous Fridays are not limited to authors. The theme is: sharing how God has led an individual on their journey. We've read some fantastic adventures. If you've missed any, or would like to reread one, click on the tab at the top "Fabulous Past Guest's Testimonies." The list is in alphabetical order by last name.

On Monday and Wednesdays I post other discussion starters and devotionals. Topics have included: what we learn in church, what we see in nature, current events, book and movie reviews, anything that starts a discussion, a giggle, or a praise.







And now, sit back and enjoy our chat. Here, have some virtual sweet tea or freshly brewed coffee.







We also have tasty virtual chocolate, scones, and pastries, all calorie free.












To complete the celebration, I am offering a book giveaway. I have several books from fabulous authors sitting on my shelf, waiting for one of you. (sorry US residents only)

To be entered in the Let's Talk Second Year Anniversary Book Giveaway 

1. Become a follower if you aren't already, (click the blue "Follow this blog" button in the right column and follow the instructions.) or sign up to receive the latest post in your email.

2. Leave a comment.

The winner will be announced this weekend on my  Facebook Page. I will then give the winner a list of five books to choose their one winning book from. And, if possible, I will contact the author, to see if a book plate can be sent to the winner as well.



So friends, let's talk. Here are some ideas:

How has your summer been? 
How has God blessed you this week? 
What goal do you have for this new month? 
Where would you love to go on vacation?
Can we pray for you?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fabulous Friday Feature-Glitches, Issues, Inconveniences





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My sweet guest didn't show. 





I can't help but wonder what happened. 





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I hope everything is okay for her. 



In fact, I almost hope she was so busy she forgot about coming today rather than she have a problem.










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Have you had this happen that to you? You made arrangements to be somewhere then--due to something crazy or sickness, or Aunt Polly calling to chat for three hours and you know how difficult it is to get her off the phone, or a flat tire, or, well, there are tons of these types of glitches that vaporize any memory of the arrangements.

And when you remember you feel really bad.












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I'm not even going to tell you who the author is...because when she remembers and emails me--the poor thing will probably lavish her apologies--I'm going to ask her to reschedule. I'm convinced she has a wonderful testimony to share with us. 

So, for this weekend, let's share verses, sayings, thoughts, etc. that we can use to pull us back on our feet when glitches, issues, and inconveniences barge into our life and take over what we had planned.

If you can't think of one, simply say howdie do! It's so much fun to read each other's comments :)


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Treasures



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What is the greatest treasure you have?

Let's assume air, heartbeat, and other essentials are already on the list and think of something different for this topic.

God gives us many treasures. Sometimes we don't notice them because we've always had them. Water, a roof, food, freedom to worship, transportation, communication, ability to read, our senses, friends, clothes, etc. 

Still, God watches over us, insuring the sun, moon, and stars stay where they should, gravity works, web of life functions, and etc. He loves us so much He wants us to enjoy the treasures.




Have you decided what your greatest treasure is? Good.

If this treasure is a person: take a moment and pray for him/her. Thank God for the blessing of having this person in your life. Say something special to them even if you have to use the phone or social media. Memories tend to fade over time, so consider what could be done to help you recall in the future what you are remembering today. These memories will serve as avenues to praise God for each moment He gave you with this person. 

If this treasure is a talent: have you used this talent lately? I saw a show that had a contestant with amputated legs compete in a dance competition. She loved sports and refused to give them up after the surgery. Her motivation inspired many people. I am thankful for the gift of writing and want to honor God by learning to do my best.

If this treasure is health: how are you maintaining your health today? Can you give suggestion to those of us who want to take better care of ourselves? 

If this treasure is finances: can you teach others some of the skills you've learn?

If this treasure is your mind: how can you continue to invest this treasure? An eighty-five-year old man from my church recently taught a mini class. He spouted out verses like a Bible college grad. He took us to the depths of the topic and planted a desire to learn more in all of us. On the last day of the class, he said he was surprised he could still teach the class. He asked the pastor if he could teach another class this coming fall. I plan to attend!

There are many other treasures. I might not have mentioned yours. Whatever treasure you have, be sure to invest it wisely. God really wants you to have more.

During the Old Testament times, God continually offered to give treasures to Israel asking only for their faithfulness. When Israel turned from God to worship false gods, they lost the treasures. 

Enjoy the treasure God has given you with thanksgiving to Him.

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

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sneaky Moms






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My adult son made his opinion crystal clear. No birthday celebrations for him. 

He is turning one of those golden numbers and hasn't figured out our girly trick--perpetually 29.

The rascal even insured there could be no celebration by tightly packing his day. Even Houdini couldn't squeeze a visit to my son.

Hah! As though he could stop a mother!

My covert plan went into action a week before his birthday. Super charged with kindness and infused with respect for him, a brilliant idea flashed in my mind (shh, his birthday is today--don't tell anyone)

Step one: Buy small gifts that he likes. Hubby and I went to a bookstore and found a small sign complete with his style of humor and perfect for him to hang in his apartment. We also found a book about his favorite topic: political history.

Step two: Leave gift in bag (make sure receipt and price tags are removed)

Step three: Write a check for spending money.

Step four: Engage plan. A week ago he came to the house for a visit. Hubby and I sat down and chatted with him until he said he had to get back to his apartment. I counted at least four reminders from him about not wanting any birthday celebration. 

As he gathered his backpack I sneaked into my bedroom to retrieve the bag then handed it to him. "Dad and I went to the bookstore and while we were there, we thought of you. Of course these aren't birthday presents." 

He pulled out the sign and read it. Hark! What did I see? Did he smile? Did he laugh? Hah, he even said, "Thank you." He reached into the bag again and pulled out the book. THERE. Again...a smile and chuckle from the lips that didn't want a celebration. He talked about the book then said, "Thank you."

AND

He set the bag down and gave me a hug. (smile)

I ran to the kitchen where I had hidden the check and took it to him. "This isn't birthday money. See? I don't have a card."

Again. For the third time. Count it...three times. A smile, a laugh, and a hug.

I won.

A long time ago a sweet lady by the name of Hannah made a birthday present for her son, Samuel. He lived at the temple where he helped Eli the high priest. Hanna made her son a new robe and delivered it to him once a year. Can you imagine their conversations at the reunions? 

We are often told of Hannah's cry to the Lord for a child and HIs gift of Samuel to her. We also know God rewarded her faithfulness by giving her other children. 

Not only did Hannah offer her son to God for service, but she also reminded him, each year, of her unending love for him with a token.


We all do special things for those we love. Sometimes we need to be downright sneaky to pull off our plans. Have you used a covert plan to do something nice for someone?


Friday, June 20, 2014

Fabulous Friday Feature: Cynthia Ruchti-All My Belongings




Today I welcome author: 
Cynthia Ruchti

Enter to win Cynthia's book
All My Belongings

Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.






I met Cynthia at the Write to Publish Conference. Although a member of the faculty/staff, Cynthia's warm and friendly spirit encouraged conferees to chat with her. She never rushed away but always found a time to laugh or talk with us. When I saw her again this year, she invited me to her table. Sure enough we were laughing in seconds. I asked Cynthia, "How has God led you on your writing journey?" This is what she replied:





God took Me on The Scenic Route


When I was younger, I naively thought that the verse “straight and narrow is the way”—referring to the simple, well-defined, narrow-bordered way to peace with God—meant that the career and service path God sets us on is like that, too.

But almost without exception, He carves an individualized, “scenic” route that defines what He wants us to do with our lives. Those twists and turns, hairpin curves, cliff-hugging one-lane steep climbs always afford the best views.

I was born into a home that highly valued education, medicine, faith, and family. What a rich heritage that had nothing to do with money! My mom was a dedicated nurse. My father taught junior high band and other music programs within the school system. I came out of that environment with a passion for music, a deep appreciation for lifelong learning, budding faith, and an interest in the sciences. I also emerged with a strong desire to establish a home and raise a family where the mom was more accessible, because my mother’s tough work schedule had her working the night shift—and extra shifts—for most of my childhood, sleeping during the day, and exhausted much of the time.

After high school, I spent a year at Moody Bible Institute to help solidify my faith and get even more grounded in God’s Word and how it applied to daily life. Then I enrolled in a one-year program to become a laboratory assistant. Engaged to be married the month after I graduated from the program, my path seemed fairly straight to me. Get married. Work a while. Children two and five years after the wedding. Dream home and picket fence. Ta-da!

It’s an old adage, but a good one: If you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans.

We’ve been married 42 years this summer and I’ve yet to see the dream home or picket fence. Our children were born after three, six, and fifteen years of marriage. I worked for seven years while my husband went to college and endured a period of joblessness. Eventually, I retired from the chemistry lab to care for our little ones and can or freeze everything we could grow in the garden or harvest from the ditches along the road.

When my middle child was two-years-old, God made a major course correction that only He had seen coming. I’d taken some creative writing classes by correspondence just for fun. Two weeks after completing the last assignment, a speaker from half a country away crossed my path. She’d been given 15 minutes of free airtime on a new radio station in North Carolina and wanted to produce a program of spiritual encouragement for stay-at-home moms. I volunteered to do research for her…and to pray for HER endeavor.

But at the end of the conversation, she handed me a business card with the address of the station and said, “Send the first program here.”

What?

I had no experience, no training, no equipment, no knowledge, and frankly, no interest in writing a radio broadcast. I’d always said I’d rather sing three songs into a microphone than have to say my own name into one.

But I’d recently had one of the moments when I told the Lord I’d go wherever He wanted me to go and do whatever He wanted me to do. I didn’t hear it aloud, but sensed He was asking me, “Did you really mean that?”

I wrote and produced that radio broadcast—The Heartbeat of the Home—for 33 years, storytelling fictional scenes from everyday life for the first portion of the daily program followed by nonfiction devotional thoughts related to the topic of the day.

For 33 years! All along the way, challenges and life circumstances and hardship and a plethora of family crises would make me question, “Lord, is this what I’m supposed to be doing?” Each time, I was reminded that I hadn’t chosen the radio work. I hadn’t pursued it. God brought it across my path. He carved it into my life. The answer was always, “Carry on” or “Press on.”

When I began to wonder if I could write longer fiction—a whole book, perhaps—I joined ACFW, which at the time was called ACRW, and began to study the craft. I attended writers conferences and kept that legacy of an insatiable appetite for learning. But after six years of learning and growing added onto the decades of experience with the radio, I still had no book contract.

So God and I had a little conversation about it in September of 2008. “If this isn’t what you want me to do, just say so, God! I’ll lay it down and walk away.”
Apparently, that’s what He wanted to hear. Within two months, I had an agent and a contract for my debut novel—They Almost Always Come Home, a Carol Award finalist.

Since then, I’ve seen seven other books published (fiction and nonfiction) with more contracted. In 2013, two books released—a novel, When the Morning Glory Blooms, and a nonfiction, Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices. This past month, both books took top honors with Selah Awards from the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Before writing When the Morning Glory Blooms, I’d proposed six or seven snippets of ideas to my editor at the time—Barbara Scott. She pointed to When the Morning Glory Blooms and said, “That’s the one you should write next.” I well remember the conversation with her when I said, “Are you sure?” It was one I was least interested in writing. But it changed me as I wrote it. Reader mail shows it’s changing others, too. And when the Selah Award for that book was announced, I saw once more that God had tugged me onto another unexpected side road that led to exactly where I needed to be.

I have no doubt He’ll continue to do so. Now, I eagerly await those tugs, knowing the view will be spectacular.

I’m celebrating the release of my third full-length novel from Abingdon Press—All My Belongings—watching Him use the story in ways I couldn’t imagine. The year 2015 will see the release of another novel I didn’t expect to write—As Waters Gone By.

An old hymn says, “All the way my Savior leads me/What have I to ask beside?” I can trace that pattern through a long and winding road that has marked my life and know with confidence that trusting Him to lead guarantees the road will be twisty and filled with adventure, but deeply satisfying.



Cynthia Ruchti tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her novels, novellas, devotions, nonfiction, and through speaking events for women and writers. Her books have won or been finalists in RT Reviewers’ Choice, Retailers’ Choice, Family Fiction Readers’ Choice, Lime Award Top Ten Fiction, Carol Award, Selah Awards, and others. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.

To learn more about Cynthia click on these sites:
Website:       www.cynthiaruchti.com
Twitter:         www.twitter.com/cynthiaruchti



ALL MY BELONGINGS:
 
A new identity can’t protect Becca from a past that refuses to go away.

Where do you turn when changing your name doesn’t give you the anonymity you want? When running hundreds of miles away isn’t far enough? When your search for a place to belong lands you right back where you began?

Becca finds her way to an understanding of the beauty in the ugliness of dying, the tenderness in forgiveness, and –at last—discover that where she belongs isn’t as much about her family history as it is about her faith in the One to whom she’ll always belong.




To enter the contest for  
Cynthia Ruchti's book: "All My Belongings":
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, U.S. only 

Winner announced on my facebook page.


Thank you, Cynthia, for Joining us This Weekend!

Thank you so much, Mary, for this invitation. It's been a joy getting to know you. Would love to hear from your blog followers about other questions they might have, or comments about any of my books they've read or plan to read. Keep your feet to the path!



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Love Hate Relationship with Bugs



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Mosquitos seem to think I am their best friend.  They follow me whenever I step outside and try their best to invite themselves into my house.

I hate mosquitos. One five minute walk to the car renders at least twenty bites.

Black flies, heard the news and swarmed to my house. Yeah, I was the main menu.

I hate black flies. The bites last me twice as long as any other member of my family. 

Between the mosquitos and black fly bites I look like I have chicken pox.

Shall we talk about deer flies and spiders? Oh yes. Every critter knows my first name.

As I nursed my wounds this summer, I should have bought stock in hydrocortisone, my sweet Father in heaven gave me these verses:


The cow and the bear shall graze;
Their young ones shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.

Ah hah! There may be mosquitos, black flies, deer flies, spiders, etc in heaven, but they will not bite us.

In return, I won't have to spend hordes of money on bug killers. True confession, I don't feel guilty killing these biting bugs while here on earth. Not one bit. 

I can deal with the raccoons that knock over my garbage barrel before the trash man comes. I don't even mind the clean up since I bring my squirt gun and rambo the fur balls with water until they waddle away.

I can deal with cleaning the bird droppings off my deck and appreciate the umbrella over the table when the food is served.

I can deal with the rabbits digging their way under the fence and sampling our garden. 

BUT --I don't like skeeters or any other biting bug and am happy to shorten their life, while I'm here on earth.

Uh-huh. I see the smirk on your face. As a matter of fact, yes, I do feel better.

Your turn: What spring/summer/fall critters are you willing to deal with?


Monday, June 16, 2014

Why Trusting is So Difficult


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At first I thought we could talk about treasuring each moment. After all, we never know how long God has given us here.

Seconds after the thought came to me, I received a call from my adult daughter. Her voice was shaky. She happened to be in a bad neighborhood at the moment and something frighten her.

I did treasure her phone call, but I didn't treasure her being afraid. Hubby and I talked with her for a while. He, of course, found a way to make her laugh, and by the end of the conversation, she felt better.

In rethinking my original idea, God probably doesn't expect us to treasure each moment. The Bible says God forgets the sins of His children as far as the east is from the west. Obviously, He has chosen not to treasure some of our moments.

The Bible also says God will never leave us, nor forsake us. So in the untreasured moments, we can know God is standing by our side, doing what is needed to cause the situation to work into His big plan. Unpleasant moments will happen AND God loves us. 

When an untreasured moment happens, and they will to all of us in varying degrees, think of this Psalm for comfort:

Psalm 56: 3-11


Whenever I am afraid,

I will trust in You.
In God (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not fear.
What can flesh do to me?

All day they twist my words;

All their thoughts are against me for evil.
They gather together,
They hide, they mark my steps,
When they lie in wait for my life.
Shall they escape by iniquity?
In anger cast down the peoples, O God!

You number my wonderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?

When I cry out to You,
Then my enemies will turn back;
This I know, because God is for me.

In God (I will praise His word),
In the Lord (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;

I will not be afraid.

What can man do to me?


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

Your turn: Rather than dwell on moments we don't treasure, share a special event that still brings a smile when you think about it.  (BTW this is what God does when He thinks of you).

I'll start. I could make a list a mile long, but I'll choose only one. My wedding day. So many goofy things happened during the ceremony and reception. We still laugh about it. Yet, it still resonates as one of the most wonderful days.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Fabulous Friday Feature-Janet Tronstad




Today I welcome 
author 
Janet Tronstad

Enter to win Janet's book:
either 
Lovebirds at Heartbreak Cafe
or
Alaskan Sweethearts
                                                                                         Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.


I've know Janet only a short time and already feel a kindred friendship with her. She's just one of those kind a gals.  I asked her to share with us how God has led her on her writing journey. Here is what she said:


An Awkward Partnership

I am so excited to be with you today.

Mary posed a difficult question when she asked me to share the spiritual aspects of my writing journey with you. God, me, and my writing have been, at times, an awkward partnership. I was writing before I knew Him very well and, by the time I felt the urge to dedicate my work to him, I didn’t do it because I had accumulated rejections (lots of them) and didn’t want to appear like I was begging for some God-given favor with the editors. You know what I mean?

I wanted God to bless me in my writing, but I wanted my work to merit publication. I didn’t want a miracle. I don’t know if it was pride or just sheer stubbornness that made that so, but I wanted to do it on my own.

Looking back after some 35 books published with Harlequin’s Love Inspired, I no longer have that problem. I humbly accept all of the help I can get with my writing success. But I think every writer goes on a unique journey with God in regards to their work. Part of my hesitation to ask for too much help from Him came about because of a writer friend I had at the time. Who, although a Christian, was so confident that God was going to bring her a publisher for her book that, when I was offered a contract and she was not, she stopped speaking to me. She could not bear that I had found success before her. It literally shook her faith.

I meet people frequently who feel God has told them to write a particular book. I always tell them to enjoy their journey and remind them there are many blessings in writing besides being traditionally published. No one wants to hear this, but it is true.

Right now I am working on my 36th book with Harlequin Love Inspired.  It’s part of my North to Dry Creek series (the first book, Alaskan Sweethearts, comes out in mid-September and will be on the shelves in October – it’s a fun book about a grandfather trying to make a match for his grandson using an old gold mine to sweeten the deal). I have also just published my first indie book, Lovebirds at the Heartbreak CafĂ© (a story set in the 1950’s about a trucker and a waitress and a whole carload of little kids).


I am happily giving away a copy of either of these titles (your choice) to someone who comments on this blog post and becomes a follower or subscriber of Mary’s site.  And, since we are on the subject, I’d love to know about your writing relationship with God. Leave a comment or a thought.





Janet Tronstad grew up on her family's farm in central Montana and now lives in Pasadena, California where she is always at work on her next book. She has written more than three dozen books, many of them set in the fictitious town of Dry Creek, Montana where the men spend the winters gathered around the potbellied stove in the hardware store and the women make jelly in the fall.






Romance. Elvis. A fun 50's style novella from USA TODAY and PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY bestselling author Janet Tronstad. 

A truck driver (Buddy) and a waitress (Penny) both have enough trouble without everyone in Webster's Crossing thinking they are falling in love. 

A new Retro Cafe Sweet Romance sure to delight you.







Want to connect with Janet? Here's how:

~~
To enter the contest for an autographed copies of 
Janet's Tronstad's book either: "Lovebirds at Hearbreak Cafe or Alaskah Sweethearts":
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, Janet, for Joining us This Weekend!
.
I love Janet's spirit. God didn't choose to bless her more. She simply humbled herself and did as He led her to do. 

Your turn: Janet asks us to tell our writing relationship with God. Or change the word writing to what your current interest is. For example: if you are a quilter, how are you able to strengthen your relationship with God through quilting? 

Or just say howdie doo. :) We love to chat here.