Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Importance of Choosing One-Word - and A Gift

There is something thrilling about welcoming in a new year. I can hear Marilla Cuthbert telling young Anne Shirley, "Oh stuff and nonsense. Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it." Good advice that fits a new year, eh?

2016 is a New Year with no mistakes. Are you ready? It's this Friday!!

I love celebrating a new year cresting the midnight hour.

Thursday night I'll drink lots of coffee and stay up with the family to celebrate. Some years we read a book as a family to stay awake, a couple of years, my son has set up an elaborate firework display. 

So exciting!


Two years ago, I introduced the concept of choosing a one-word to my readers here on Let's Talk. 

The directions:  choose one word to be your theme for the year. Post the word in a prominent place. Use this word as your goal word for the year. 

For example: If I choose the word "trust" 

*I might see my goal as learning to trust others 
*or I might see my goal as wanting others to trust me. 

So each day I would pray that God would help me grow in this area:

*During the day, I might say I need to trust God to get me to work on time, to help me do my best, to let my spouse complete a task without reminders/nagging, to still love me even when I sin, etc. 
*During the night, I might say I need to trust God to protect my children, my home, etc.

For this reason, choose your one-word wisely. Pray about your one word choice for this year. The goal is not to "succeed" but to improve that area of your life . . .  mistakes ARE allowed!

Here are a few idea words for you to choose from. This is not an all-inclusive list. You may think of a word not listed here.  As I mentioned above, each word can have many definitions. The word you choose will have the definition you need.

Adventurous          Delight                 First              Noble               Resistant
Apprentice             Dependable         Giver            Organize          Responder
Brave                     Devoted               Heartfelt       Patient             Serious
Builder                   Disciplines           Helpful          Peace              Spunk
Care-ful                  Disciple               Hope            Praiseworthy    Still
Change                  Driven                 Humble         Prayer              Thankful
Cheerful                 Empower            Include          Productive        Trust
Childlike                 Encourager         Joy                Purify
Compassionate      Endure               Listen            Quiet
Concern                 Engage              Lovely            Rejuvenate
Courage                 Enjoy                 Manager        Relax
Crystal                   Faithful               Motivated       Release

This was my one word for 2014

This is what I chose for 2015:

Here is your assignment: think about what you would like to have for your one-word for this year. I have mine. I'll post this next week.

ALSO--I'll make certificates again this year and email them to any of you who want to play along. The design will be changed again to distinguish this year's from previous ones. Please indicate your one-word in the comments AND your email address. Thanks!

Are you ready to give the One Word Challenge a try? I hope I will tell you mine next Tuesday.

I am so excited for 2016 and what God has for all of us. 

May your new year be immersed in blessings. I'm praying for you.

So, as this year draws to an close, how can I pray for you?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Festive Napkin Folding

The family is due to arrive any minute!

You've planned the meals, have the China out, polished the silverware, and are excited for their arrival.

While you wait, here is an idea to give that special touch to your table.

My chefy daughter learned the art of napkin folding. She has made some for you. We've also given the standard names for these folds. If you see one you like, go to You Tube for instructions. We have found some great instructional videos. Chefy daughter used them to practice will while studying for the napkin folding portion of her exam. She received 180% out of 100% on her exam. Wahoo!!!!

You know I only bring you the best. Without further ado, here is chefy daughter's napkin folding samples and their names.

The Rose - 
You Tube Link for The Rose fold

The Candlestick 
You Tube Link for The Candlestick Fold

The Triangle
You Tube Link for the Triangle Fold

The Fan
You Tube Link for the Fan Fold

The Bird of Paradise
You Tube for Bird of Paradise Fold

The Cardinal's Hat
You Tube Link to the Cardinal's Hat Fold

The Flower aka The Rosebud

You Tube Link to the Flower Fold

The Star-Instructions for this one will not be found on You Tube. Chefy daughter's instructor invented this one in an impromptu napkin folding challenge.

Many of these folds can also be done with paper napkins. Go ahead and give it a whirl. Surprise your family when a wonderfully folded napkin on their place setting.

If you missed any of the preparation for Christmas Festive celebration series simply scroll down to see: 
International Christmas Five Course Dinner, 
Eastern European Table Settings, and 
Unusual Christmas Traditions.

Merry Christmas!

I'll be taking a break until next Tuesday, celebrating Jesus's birthday with my family. I'll also be praying for all of you. Do you have any prayer requests?

See you next week!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Fabulous Feature-Carol Moncado-God Knows What We Need

Today we welcome author:
Carol Moncado

A commenter will win a kindle copy of
Carol's book

Scroll down to see how.
 International Readers Are Invited to Enter!

Mary here. I'm so happy to welcome Carol. She is an absolute blast to hang out with. You have got to meet her. Spoiler alert, Carol makes chocolate chip cookies and shares them with her friends!! I asked my good friend Carol to tell us how God led her on her writing journey. Here is what she said: 

God Knows What We Need

Mary – thank you so much for having me today! I appreciate you! I first met Mary when we were roommates at a conference a few years ago. She’s fabulous! (But I’m sure you readers already know that ;).)

She asks such a simple question – how has God led you on your writing journey? – but it’s so complex! Such a nuanced thing. When did God lead me on my journey? As a kid when I spent more time in my room reading or making up stories in my head than I did playing with friends? When I took a creative writing class in college? As a mom with young kids when I wrote for fun? (Those things will remain hidden!!!!) What about when I got serious about this writing thing in 2009 and wrote my first manuscript I wanted to publish?

What about when manuscript after manuscript was rejected by publishers and agents? When one finally caught the eye of an editor and agent (later to be turned down)? When agent Tamela Hancock Murray signed me with a different manuscript? When we got no's all the way around from publishers and after much prayer and advice, I decided to go indie?

The answer is…well, God’s hand is visible in all of those times, even if it was hard to see at the time. Making up stories as a kid led to making up stories as an adult. All those manuscripts no one wanted? They were practice – and a stockpile. That decision to go indie in November 2014? One I’m so incredibly glad I made. And the stockpile? That led to eight novels released in my first year as an indie author (and two novellas – plus one more last weekend). If I hadn’t had them ready to go, I wouldn't have had the success I’ve had. God knew that ahead of time!

Book sales have led to moderate monetary success – enough to pay my own writing bills (conferences etc.) rather than taking it from family funds, money to fix my husband’s brakes (twice), pay for braces (for two kids – for now!), pay for vision therapy so a kiddo who struggles with reading is improving significantly as her eyes start working right together, paying off vehicles and other bills, etc. Five years ago, I knew braces were on the horizon and didn’t know how we’d pay for them. Vision therapy? Not a clue! It’s not cheap, but oh so worth it to see my ten-year-old FINALLY starting to grasp things most kids do when they’re younger – all because the muscles in her eyes don’t track right which has led to her brain processing things differently than most of us do.

Besides that, my husband and I both teach at a community college (my main job, his second job). With the Affordable Care Act regulations about full time vs. part time employees and how those hours are calculated, changing requirements for benefits, we both saw our hours cut (we don’t rely on that job for health insurance, etc. but the new regulations apply to everyone). The income from books has also helped make that up – as well as allowing me to stay home this coming summer rather than teaching summer school, a choice I haven’t been able to make in many years. 

With four kids doing two-a-day swim team practices, a new high schooler doing summer school and band camp, and everything else that goes with our summer schedule – not needing anyone to help me with pick-ups or drop offs – or need a babysitter while I work (my oldest did last year, but she’ll be in band camp).

Are all of those things about my writing career? Well, no. But God knows what we need in all areas of our lives. He knew years ago that I’d need to have a bunch of books out quickly when I started the indie career. He knew I’d need income to pay for braces or vision therapy – or even to pay bills when our “day job” pay got cut some. Without His guiding hand over the last /mumble/mumble/ years, I wouldn’t have been ready when the time came.

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21, NIV; bolding mine)

Even when I didn’t know it, He was equipping me. I don’t want you to come away with the impression it’s all about the money – it’s not! But it’s been a huge blessing to my family. Beyond that, the friends I’ve made (both other authors – like Mary here and so very many others – and readers) are invaluable. The emails from readers who tell me I helped make their day a little better because they needed escape from a difficult situation. Emails from readers who let me know that some little thing I barely remember writing was just what they needed to hear – to remind them of God’s plan for their own lives. All of those things and so much more.

I’m not anything special – just a gal with an imagination that won’t quit and a God who can use her imaginary friends for good. My good. My family’s good. My readers’ good.

God is good. All the time. Even when we have a hard time seeing it (like when we wallow in Ben and Jerry’s after that email from that editor) or in difficult situations where it may be years before we see how those things are part of a beautiful tapestry.

But what a beautiful tapestry it is! And I am so very blessed to be a part of it!

Carol Moncado, Mary Vee, and Pepper Basham
at the St. Louis ACFW Conference
When not writing about imaginary friends, Carol Moncado is with her family and dog, who weighs less than most hardback books. Her favorite activity is watching NCIS, unless Castle is on - or Girl Meets World (with her four kids, of course!). She believes peanut butter M&Ms are the perfect food, and Dr Pepper should come in an IV. If her kids, and the dog, aren’t racing around her big backyard in Southwest Missouri, she’s at the pool watching swim team practice or teaching American Government at a community college. She's President of MozArks ACFW.

Carol loves to connect with readers. You can find her at her:
Blog |  Facebook

Winning the Queen's Heart

Christiana Elizabeth Marissa Abigail has been queen of Ravenzario since her family died in a horrific car accident when she was five. Her uncle acted as her regent until she was of age. In the last year, the uncovering of his duplicity shook the country’s faith in her - and her faith in herself. At least she is finally going to get to marry her secret boyfriend. Isn’t she? 

American Alexander Bayfield has been in love with the queen of his adopted country for years. A chance conversation, one he wasn’t supposed to overhear, inserted him into Queen Christiana’s inner circle. For two years, he’s watched as her relationship with a man he knows to be evil progressed. The evidence to finally put him away for good has been uncovered and it’s up to Alexander to break the news to her. 

The aftermath leaves Alexander as the only one Christiana can turn to, the only one who can protect her reputation and, more importantly, her heart. Will he be able to win it for himself, or will secrets from his past, paparazzi who tell stories before checking facts, and the long-reaching tentacles of her uncle’s empire keep them from finding love?

Protecting the Prince, an e-novella from the Brides of Belles Montagnes series, is free for a limited time for Carol's newsletter subscribers!


Finding Mr. Write and Good Enough for a Princess are free on Amazon! 

Enter the contest to win a kindle copy of Carol's books:
Along Came a Prince and More than a Princess
Finding Mr. Write and Falling for Mr. Write
International Readers are welcome to enter!
here is how:

leave a comment (and email address)

AND sign up to receive my newsletter -in the right column
(subscribers to my newsletter will receive a special gift)

AND/OR sign up to receive posts by email if you aren't already

Thank you, Carol, for joining us this weekend!

We enjoy chatting with you, Reader, and look 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, December 15, 2015

International Christmas Five Course Dinner by a Commis Chef de Garde Manger (aka Chefy Daughter)

Oooo We are in for a treat today. Since this is a virtual Christmas dining event, casual attire is allowed.


I'd like to introduce my Chefy Daughter: 

Good Day and welcome to our restaurant. I'll be your personal chef today for our International Christmas meal.  Last week, we set the table. If you missed it, here's the link: New 
Ideas for Setting the Christmas Table 

Today, we'll serve a five course meal. I'll introduce our courses one by one.

May I start you off with freshly baked Challah? All our breads and pastries are baked in house and braided by our pâtissier. Challah is a Hebrew bread that can be made any time of the year, although it usually is made to celebrate Chanukah. This bread was prepared separately in order to remain Kosher and true to the traditions surrounding this rich culture.  Please enjoy. 

Challah Bread Six Braid 1.JPG
Photo Courtesy

To begin, we start with the soup course. This dish is from a rich, ancient culture--Greece.  We offer our Avgolemono, a lemon chicken soup garnished with mint.  This rich, creamy ambrosia with a sweet tangy aftertaste is the perfect, traditional start to a Greek Christmas meal. 

For the salad course, we offer an Ensalada de Noche Buena.  White Sapote is tossed with crunchy Jicama, ripe pineapple, oranges, and peanuts with a house made lime vinaigrette.  This tropical Mexican dish is typically served on Christmas Eve as a sweet way to celebrate the birth of the Savior.
Photo Courtesy

Between our salad and entree course, you may want to refresh your palate.  For our holiday intermezzo, we present the brilliant American cranberry in our humble Cranberry Apple Sorbet. Gently sweetened cranberries and sour Granny Smith apples are blended in this frozen delight. 
Photo Courtesy
Our entree is a featured dish found in any British Commonwealth country- mince pies. This pie marks the Christmas season all over the world.  We specifically derived this dish from New Zealand. Juicy, tender lamb is seasoned with rosemary and a spicy piri piri.  

Photo courtesy

Alas, our meal is nearly complete.  What sort of Chef would I be if I didn't offer you a dessert?  I searched my family's roots in Western Germany to present you with our finest Buche de Noel, prepared in miniatures for individual portions.  Designed to look like Yule logs, the Buche de Noel is a key part of French and German Christmas traditions.  Each cake is accompanied by meringue mushrooms and is lightly frosted with powdered sugar snow.

File:Bûche de Noël with meringue mushrooms sprinkled with confectioner's sugar.jpg
Photo Courtesy

Photo by Mary Vee of Chefy Daughter at
Culinary Arts School

Thank you so much for dinning with me today. 

Commis Chef de Garde Manger
Mary's Chefy Daughter

Bon Appétit
Merry Christmas!

Mary here: Did you have fun?
Are you stuffed?
Yeah, me too.

What favorite food does your family serve for Christmas?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Fabulous Feature: Lisa Phillips-Writing Like a Worship Leader

Today we welcome author:
Lisa Phillips

Two commenters will win a copy of
Lisa's book:

 Easy Prey

Scroll down to see how.

International Readers Are Invited to Enter!

Mary here. I'm so happy to welcome Lisa to Let's Talk this weekend. What I appreciate the most about her post was reading how God used two callings in her life to work together. I asked Lisa to tell us how God led her on her writing journey. Here is what she said: 

How to Write...Like a Worship Leader

A few years back, right after the birth of my first child (who is now eight) I was struggling with my identity. Probably something a lot of new moms can identify with. All of a sudden, you aren’t just you—and your whole life is taken up with this tiny, helpless being.

Except that was the time when I really felt God was telling me I was a writer.

Fast forward five years.

Summer 2012 I participated in a Speed Date Pitch for Love Inspired Suspense. Out of that 100 word pitch (which you can read about here) I was offered my first book contract. Since then I’ve written six LIS books, four published and the last two coming next year, and also independently published four full length novels and four short stories…

About which time I became a worship leader.

I don’t know if God just doesn’t want me to get comfortable, or what. But it seems like every time I settle into something, He begins to do something new in my life. Which I’m fine with. I really don’t like being stagnant, or anything that even resembles a rut!

So far, leading worship and writing have overlapped in so many ways. It seems like the things I’m learning in worship, things like dying to myself and keeping that spirit of worship through my whole day and not just Sunday mornings, translate into my writing. My characters are having to learn how to love like Jesus does, how to overcome the difficulties they see in other people that cause conflicts. Sure, there aren’t many spies or bad guys in worship leading, but the principles are the same.

I have to trust God in everything, and I have to trust Him to work through me to do what He wants so that He will be glorified. One of my favorite songs right now is called Broken Vessels. It’s a version of the hymn Amazing Grace that Hillsong rearranged. The first part goes like this:

All these pieces, broken and scattered
In mercy gathered, mended and whole
Empty handed, but not forsaken
I’ve been set free, I’ve been set free.

It’s like the spiritual premise of every book I’ve ever written: I was broken, and Jesus put me back together.

You can listen to the song here, but don’t forget to comment below! I’d love to know what God is teaching you right now.


Lisa Phillips is an ex-pat Brit who crossed the pond to attend Bible College. She and her husband have two kids and an all-black Airedale who goes by the name Vator (short for “The Dark Lord Elevator” which is what happens when a 4yr old boy names your dog).
Lisa got her start writing while waiting for her employment authorization card to come through, and studied the craft with the Christian Writers Guild. She can most often be found with a cup of proper tea and her nose in a book.

Lisa loves to connect with readers. You can find her at her:
Website | Twitter

Easy Prey

While Investigating a murder at Rikki Allen's house, detective Blain Kent realizes the victim looks a lot like Rikki. Could the secretive widow have been the target? When the killer comes after Rikki at a safe location, Blain finally gets the truth out of her: she's the daughter of Franco Alvanetti--the notorious crime kingpin. A by-the-book former marine, Blain has made it his life mission to put the Alvanetti family out of business. Yet he has to trust Rikki to protect her from a killer who wants her dead by Christmas.


Enter the contest to win a copy of Lisa's book:
Easy Prey
International Readers are welcome to enter!
here is how:
leave a comment (and email address)

AND sign up to receive my newsletter -in the right column
(subscribers to my newsletter will receive a special Christmas gift)

AND/OR sign up to receive posts by email if you aren't already

Thank you, Lisa, for joining us this weekend!

We enjoy chatting with you, Reader, and look forward to reading your comments and questions. Or at least your hi, hello, or hey.

Thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to comment!