Friday, December 31, 2010


I’m a scaredey-cat. I suppose one could call it an anxiety issue, but each New Year as I start out, I’m the glass-half-empty person. Even though the Lord blessed my socks off this past 2010, I worry about the future.

I prayed about it yesterday morning---confessed my fear as a lack of belief in the Lord’s goodness---and not 2 hours later a small miracle happened. It’s amazing how kind God is. He rewarded my honesty by assuring me that He will take care of me. He will take care of my loved ones. I don’t need to be afraid of 2011. Here’s how I know:

One of the blessings of being published by a traditional but small press is that WhiteFire is allowing me to contribute to the front cover of my debut novel. If the photos turn out well, they’ll send them to their designer. So I found a model, a beautiful young woman who just happens to be my birth daughter. How serendipitous can you get?

I began to hunt down the costume for my character, Abby, as she arrives in India at the end of WWI. A lady from church loaned me a gorgeous straw boater hat which fits the era. In a second hand store I found a wide collar blouse that also fits the period. And I was pretty sure my calf-length, beige linen skirt would complete Abby’s 1918 ensemble. But when I looked for the skirt in my closet, I couldn’t find it.

Then I remembered I’d given away a ton of clothes this past year when we moved house. I’d stuffed that skirt into one of any number of charity boxes.

So yesterday morning I prayed about my worries for the upcoming year, including the front cover for my book.

I trudged out of my house, planning on buying material and a pattern at the mall. On the way, the thought popped into my mind to check the second hand store. As I parked the car I prayed again, Lord please help me find the right skirt.

Not 5 minutes later, halfway down the skirt aisle I stopped. There was my skirt---the very skirt I’d given away 6 months ago. I could buy it back for only $9.99.

At the checkout counter I told my story to the girl.

“Impossible,” she said. “It can’t be your skirt. We only keep stock for 4 weeks.”

I looked at the skirt. It had the faint blue ink spot I’d put close to the knee. But it also had a smudge of dirt and a tea stain that I had not put there. But it was my skirt, even to the extra button still in its plastic wrapper at the back. This was my skirt.

I don’t know how the Lord did it. Did he hide it away in the shop so no one would buy it for 6 months? Or had someone bought it, wore it a few times, and then also given it up?

All I do know is, God the Father cared enough about me to ease my worries over a simple skirt, because He cares about my novel’s front cover. He cares for me.

And He cares for you.

John 16:33 Jesus said,"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."

Saturday, December 04, 2010


It is my pleasure today to have as my guest, Renee Sanford. She and her husband David Sanford are professional writers of such calibre, that their interest in me over 8 years ago encouraged me in my desire to become a writer. They are the authors of Thriving as an Adoptive Family published by Focus on the Family, of which I am proud to be a contributor. It is in this book that I shared a brief version on what it felt like to be a birth mother. Below is an article that Renee wrote on how God shaped them into becoming adoptive parents.


Have you ever thought of growing your family through adoption? If so, what was the first gift God gave you in your parenting journey of faith?

As a couple, my husband, David, and I knew adoption was our heart’s desire for our family long before we were married.

How did David know? First, he loved children! Second, he strongly resonated with God’s call to care for orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27). Third, adoption played an important role in his extended family.

I felt the same. My family first grew by adoption when I was nine. My parents heard about a little boy who was going to be placed in foster care because his mother’s degenerative disease had left her unable to properly care for her children. Through no moral fault of his mother, this little boy had experienced profound neglect. My parents welcomed that little boy into our home and later adopted him.

Several years later, other families from our church were adopting children from the Philippines where missionary friends lived and served. Again, my parents felt God’s leading to meet the needs of an orphan child. A little girl this time, they decided.

When they wrote to the orphanage, they happened to say, “If you have sisters, we’ll take two.”

Two it was—two darling girls, aged one and a half and three years old. For me, as an almost thirteen-year-old girl, it was like having two pretty dolls (except when the littlest one threw tantrums!). For my parents, however, it meant embarking on an uncharted journey into parenting children who were adorable on the outside and hurting deeply on the inside. Little did my parents know what they were getting into.

At that time, I remember my mother started listening to a new radio broadcast hosted by Dr. James Dobson. Because my parents had grown up in broken and neglectful homes, they took in whatever they could learn from God’s Word and ministries like Focus on the Family. God’s grace proved to be abundant as they poured into us children the love and nurturing they themselves had not received as children.

Still, there weren’t all the tools available that my parents needed for the particular challenges of raising adopted children. They did the best they could, but they wish they had known more. Looking back, they would have done some things differently and, perhaps, everyone would have experienced a bit less pain.

Thankfully, much research and attention has been given to the unique needs and concerns of adopted children and their families. Careful study and insightful listening has led to a better understanding of how to more effectively parent children who have experienced the loss of their birth family and/or the horrors of abuse. Resources and support are now available to adoptive families that were non-existent or hard to find in years past.

All parenting is a brave journey of faith. After all, God alone can work the miracles of healing, health, and faith that we desire to see in our children and in our own hearts and lives. So, when God gives us the opportunity to truly meet our children’s needs and better love them in ways they understand, let’s receive those gifts with thanksgiving and praise.

May God supply many such gifts to you and your family now and for years to come.

Renée Sanford and her husband, David, are the general editors of the Focus on the Family Handbook on Thriving as an Adoptive Family (Tyndale House Publishers).

Click here on this link Thriving as an Adoptive Family if you would like to purchase this handbook.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I'm proud to promote * 75 Christian Authors * One Amazing Online Event

Christian Review of Books in conjunction with Cross Purposes Bookstore is excited to announce the first annual Christmas Book Signing Bash.

Beginning on the day after Thanksgiving and lasting ten days (26 November
- 7 December), this book signing will be an unprecedented online event. 75
of today’s favorite Christian Authors have come together to answer
questions, chat with their readers, and offer signed copies of their
books—all without leaving the comforts of home and hearth!

Readers can search by author, title, or genre at the Christian Review of
Books Christian Review of Books and then follow the purchase links to Cross Purposes Bookstore and buy autographed copies of each book featured. The authors will sign the books and ship them to the customers.

For a full list of participating authors, visit the Christian Review of Books

I hope you'll take a look at this fine selection of Christian novels and non-fictional work. These are people I am proud to be aligned with, the closest being WhiteFire publishing who has just given me a contract to publish my novel Unveiled, and the members of the International Christian Writers Blog.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Now the day is here, it's a bit hard to find the words. But after 10 years of honing my craft and seriously pursuing a career in Christian fiction, I've just been offered a contract by WhiteFire Publishing for my historical, Christian inspirational novel, SHADOWED IN SILK which won the 2009 Genesis for historical under the previous title UNVEILED.

Its a story about...

Abby Fraser who only ever wanted to be noticed by those who were supposed to love her.

At the end of WWI she reunites with Nick, her British officer husband in India, and finds herself trapped in a marriage to a cruel stranger. She also finds protection, and truths she never expected to hear from Eshana, a former Hindu and child widow.

Major Geoff Richards, broken over losing so many of his men in the slaughter of the war, returns to his cavalry post in the Punjab. He remains true to his faith in Christ, but no longer believes joy can be found in this life. And back in India he cannot accept the inequality of his British peers toward Indian people, especially the callousness of the typical English memsahib. He also can't stomach the way Nick Fraser bullies his wife and little son.

Love for Abby...and joy for Geoff...seem impossible set against India’s canvas of glittering palaces, veiled women, dust, heat and poverty. As tensions rise in the Indian bazaars and alleyways, the British retaliate, ushering in the very thing they fear---the beginning of the end of the 300-year-old British Raj, and setting the stage for Gandhi.

Playing a part in that grander scheme, sinister enemies—-in the guise of friends and servants, and England's political enemy, Russia---draw Geoff, Abby and Cam, Eshana, and Nick out under the brassy sky of an inhospitable Afghanistan desert.

It is there, when all seems lost, that love and joy are found as God promised to those who love Him---joy in the land of the living.


I received the email on the very day of my 30th wedding anniversary from Roseanna White that they want to publish SHADOWED IN SILK. They're working on the contract at this moment, so the release date is still to be set.

While this is only the first paving stone in the long and winding path called publication, I couldn't have made it this far without that still small voice of God saying, Keep on. Don't give up. I'm just as concerned about the artistic dreams I instill in you, as I am in all I've created.

I've been hanging onto that encouragement from God for the past 10 years. SHADOWED IN SILK is the second, full-length, fictional novel I've completed, but up until this past week I was unpublished except for a few smaller articles, and my birthmother piece in the Focus on the Family book, Thriving as an Adoptive Family.

God never let me wriggle off the hook, though at times I was a coward, not wanting to face the grueling perseverance needed to become a writer. Along the way He sent me opportunities that take my breath away. I'm still working hard on the non-fictional book for Children's Camps International, and I've also just completed the first draft of a new fictional novel called SOFI'S BRIDGE.

With God's strength, those 2 books will be finished within the next year as well. SOFI'S BRIDGE is about a young woman who, like me, struggles with the faith needed to believe that God cares about the creativity He put within her.

And the Children's Camps International story is the non-fictional account of what God is doing in various parts of the world today to bring little children to Himself.

So, it's all terribly exciting right now. I'm still running the gamut of emotions to be so have my 10 years of stepping out in faith to believe in something I couldn't see, actually become a tangible thing.

Somewhere down the road, people will hold the labor of my heart in the form of a book---with binding, pages to turn, and a story that I pray will make them relax, enjoy being whisked away to a far-off place, to feel romance, danger, suspense, and to come to understand a little better, the depth of Christ's love for them.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


The Master's Wall by Sandi Rog is a delightful yet heart-gripping story of a young Hebrew slave, David, in the first century, and the love that grows from his boyhood for, Althea, the daughter of his cruel earthly master.

It's a story that satisfies the young teenage reader as well as the adult man or woman. The fast paced and intriguing plot keeps you turning the pages from the start as David is intent on either escaping his enslavement or earning his freedom by acquiring the skills of a gladiator to entertain his Roman master.

Love stories that start in childhood rarely draw me in, but this is one of the rare ones. Time after time, David finds opportunities to escape the villa just outside of Rome to go in search of his little sister. Yet, each time, his love for his master's daughter holds him back. Being the child of a cruel Roman man of power is not much better than being a slave, and David's heart wants to set Althea free as well as himself and his sister. At the same time he is guided by God to share his Christian faith--a faith that is despised and persecuted. Each time David whispers about Christ to another person he puts his life on the line.

David's and Althea's life and love hang in the balance until the last page. Sandi Rog has written characters that come to life on the page. They sparkle with all the beauty and fractiousness of children and grow into adults that inspire me.

Click here on The Master's Wall if you'd like to order this book.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


I practically never do games, or quizzes. But once in a while one intrigues me, and I can't resist. I had to write down in less than 15 minutes, my 15 favorite authors of all time.

No sweat--I did it in 5. For the younger set, some of these authors may not be familiar to you. And it's an eclectic list. But human beings are complex creatures--I love a good love story, but I also love a gritty murder.

If you want to play, leave a comment with your favorite 15 authors below.


M.M. Kaye--Sweeping historical romance writer with settings in India, my beloved favorite novel of all--FAR PAVILIONS.

Mary Stewart--Romantic suspense writer from the 70's, my favorite--THE IVY TREE.

Nevil Shute--Drama and romance with a strong dash of history mostly set in Australia and England, my # 1--- A TOWN CALLED ALICE.

Jane Austen--No need to explain this one., my favorite---PERSUASION

Dorothy L. Sayers
--Murder mystery writer from the 30's, but who also wrote a text on God and the arts that I studied at university, And I love her slueth, Lord Peter Whimsey.

Rosamund Pilcher--Romance writer from the 70's, my favorite, THE SHELL SEEKERS

Paul Scott--Historical drama writer who wrote the quintessential Raj Quartet books on the independence of India. It was made into a BBC TV series called "THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN."

Ellis Peters--Medieval historical murder mysteries, solved by BROTHER CADFAEL.

Anne McCaffrey--Science Fiction writer who wrote what I consider THE BEST book on dragons and a whole other world called PERN.

Francine Rivers--The Christian writer who I think birthed Christian Romance novels---THE MARK OF THE LION SERIES.

Bodie Thoene--Another Christian writer who gripped me with her historically accurate stories---THE ZION CHRONICLES.

Linda Nichols--A new Christian author I've come to love and respect, who writes the most beautiful women's fiction, and stories that grip my heart---AT THE SCENT OF WATER.

P. D. James--She ranks right up there as the new murder mystery queen, bumping Agathy Christie out of that spot. She writes a lovely, gritty murder to read with a pot of tea by the fireplace. I admit I'm in love with COMMANDER DALGLIESH.

Victoria Holt--Ah, the Gothic suspense romance queen--THE SHIFTING SANDS.

Charlotte Bronte--For the greatest love story of all--JANE EYRE.

Now, let me know who you love.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


There are many happy milestones in life we look forward to. Those first steps our kids take, when they go to summer camp for the first time. The first day of kindergarten, learning to drive, graduation.....

Shopping for a daughter’s wedding dress is one of those milestones. A milestone that feels like icing swirled along a cake. It’s white, it’s beautiful, it’s fun, and it’s one I’ve thought about for years, and shared in my prayer time with God. I could close my eyes and always just see it—my daughter trying on gowns in a bridal shop, fancy mirrors, chandeliers, a chic sofa to sit on, her grandmother with me to share the moment but also to add her invaluable opinions.

We look forward to the happy milestones, and try not to think of the sad things that will come our way, too, in life. But it’s healthy to dwell on the hopes, the dreams, the goals. The sad bits will come, and then we know we can hold onto God’s hand through them.

But when He gives us something lovely and wonderful, then it’s time to savor,to enjoy it with Him, and to thank, thank, thank Him.

With only just over 4 months to plan this wedding, we knew we had to get the dress quickly. Intuitively we knew that the dress sets the tone. This was confirmed for us by the lady in the bridal shop.

David and I went into the shop and asked questions before Lana had a day off. And as we were shown around the shop, we were impressed with the selection and the knowledge of the owner. And I knew then, we didn’t need to travel all over the countryside to look for a gown. Chances were Lana would find what she would like here. But if she didn’t, well of course we’d keep looking in other shops.

But we didn’t need to.

The owner showed both bride and mother around, pointing out all the various styles and fabrics. Then she told Lana to pick out the dresses she’d like to try on.

And then she suggested one herself. One I hadn’t noticed yet. And as soon as I saw it, my heart quickened. And Lana’s voice lifted a higher notch.

Lana was taken to a change area, where her grandmother and I sat. And the owner told her, that out of the 6 or 8 dresses she’d chosen from the rack to put on the one she liked the best first.

The lady said to Grandma and me, “It’s usually the first one they try on. Something subconscious takes place.”

And as soon as Lana came out, we were fairly certain, this would be # 1. My mother started to cry. And the smile on Lana’s face told me all I needed to know.

It was exactly as I had dreamed. Not the details, but the feeling. She was stunning, ethereal, beautiful.

She tried on all the gowns afterward, and they were each breathtaking. Any one of them would have been glorious to wear. And if we had not seen the first one, we would have come out of that shop that day with one of the others and been deliriously happy.

But then the lady told her to put the # 1 dress on again. And everything else paled to comparison.

Within 2 hours, from start to finish, we had the gown chosen and ordered, and that would set the tone for Lana’s wedding day.

I haven’t been able to say thank you enough, to the Lord.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


My thoughts are awhirl. You pray and pray and pray for something, and you wake up one morning . . . and voila . . . there it is.

It was just like that yesterday. I woke up, stumbled down the stairs with my hair awry, wearing the housecoat my youngest son says makes me look like somebody’s grandmother. When he said that to me a few years ago I politely reminded him that I am somebody’s grandmother.

But I digress. Yesterday I groped in the dark kitchen for the tea kettle. I don’t like a whole lot of light first thing in the morning. Takes me a few hours to adjust. And it took almost 30 years for my husband to grasp this fact. He’s the opposite sort, having a penchant for flicking ALL the lights on first thing while I try in vain to shield my eyes from what ever blinding source the light came from.

But thankfully yesterday morning he was still in bed catching a few more winks. A little earlier I’d heard our daughter in the bathroom, having her shower, and was then drying her hair, getting ready for work.

Normally in the mornings, any family members I meet—well, we just sort of pass each other with a friendly grunt, that is if we have to acknowledge each other at all.

But yesterday morning was different.

Lana bounded up the stairs as soon as she heard my footsteps in the kitchen.

“Mom, look at this.”

Or something to that affect. It’s all a bit of a blur 24 hours later.

She flung her hand out palm down, the fingers ever so elegantly splayed.

My eye caught a glint. I had yet to open the blinds, but I caught it. And—this mom is smart some of the time—I knew this flicker of radiance had to be what she’d been hoping for. That flash of light matched the glow in her eyes, and from that in her voice. My precious girl was brimming over with happiness. She'd waited, and she'd prayed, and by George if the Lord had not brought to her a worthy man to love. A very worthy young man.

I grabbed her hand. My goodness it was an engagement ring.

I flicked on the overhead lights so I could see. Yes it was . . . an engagement ring—and a beautifully tasteful one. The solitaire sparkled and shimmered and danced. I thought—oh my goodness, James has certainly outdone himself.

I gave Lana a mad dash of a hug, my words of happiness and congratulations tumbling from my lips so that a day later I really don’t remember what I said.

We ran up the stairs together, both still in our pyjamas, ripped open the door to my bedroom and flicked on the lamp by my husband’s side of the bed.

“You’ve got to see this,” I said to his disgruntled mutterings that he didn’t have to get up yet.

He leaned up in bed looked at Lana’s hand placed directly under the beam of light.

He smiled, “Oh, a finger, how nice.”

Psalm 37:3-5 "Trust in the Lord and do good . . . cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the disires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it."

Saturday, October 09, 2010

MY WHITE PANTS--By Guest Blogger--, author, Golden Keyes Parsons

Today I have one of my favorite author friends sharing with you today. I love this writer, not just because she writes stores that teach and inspire, but because she truly loves God first, and desires nothing more than that people come to know Him. Golden's story touches me on such a personal level. I felt such similar feelings when I was in India with Children's Camps International---and God forgive me---at times thought of my own health when I took the hands of little children who have so little, and who suffer so much.

MY WHITE PANTS--By Golden Keyes Parsons

We were riding the crest of a wave, a wave of revival. Over seven hundred people had come to the Lord in one week in one church. In the wake of this wave, our youth pastor, a former professional singer, formed a traveling, singing youth group. He had the charisma, the talent, and the call of God on his life to attract young people like a “pied piper.” My husband and I served as chaperone these trips.

One of our first mission trips was through the Midwest and into Canada. During those days, witnessing on the streets and in public places was not against the law. These young people were on fire for God and wanted to tell people about Jesus. They were pretty fair musicians as well.

Our enthusiastic leader would signal the buses to stop and all one hundred-plus kids would tumble out of the buses, complete with guitars. Contemporary, popular songs would soon begin to fill the air on the street corner, or at the entrance of a mall, or in a park or restaurant. Crowds would quickly gather.

Those of us who were chaperones would mingle with the crowd. After a few songs, the young people would disperse and begin witnessing to the people in the crowd.

“Who is this group? Where are you from? Why are you doing this for free?” Questions such as that led to a natural witnessing situation and hundreds of people were drawn to the Lord.

I swallowed my fear of witnessing to strangers and began to share with them the truth that Jesus loved them and had a wonderful plan for their lives and didn’t they want to give their lives to Him? At the end of every day I counted up how many souls I had brought into the kingdom. My, what a good girl was I.

One afternoon the bus pulled up in front of a small inner city mission. Those few of us who had chosen to participate walked into the shabby store-front building. I sat down in one of the rickety metal folding chairs to wait for the children.

After a few minutes we heard the laughter and scuffling of children running into the room. I turned to greet the lovely little ones—except they were not lovely little boys and girls. The little girls did not have clean, beautiful hair done up in bows and ribbons. The little boys didn’t have on clean tee shirts and blue jeans. Their faces were not clean. They did not smell good. They were not mannerly.

A rambunctious little boy ran headlong for me with dirty hands outstretched. His nose was runny. His hair was matted.

I looked down at my starched white pants. In that split second, God showed me how self-centered my heart was and how this “great soul-winner” lacked true compassion.

I’m ashamed to admit that my first thought was, “He’s going to get me dirty.”

However, I reached down and took this precious little boy in my arms. He sat in my lap all evening. Yes, his unwashed body reeked. He needed his hair shampooed and combed. His teeth needed brushing. But most of all, he needed love, and he needed Jesus.

That was many years ago now, but I will never forget that little boy, and what he showed me about myself. I pray he is today a godly man, and I thank God for what that dirty bundle of enthusiasm taught me that day.

“And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.”

This is the cover of Where Hearts are Free, the third book in Golden Keyes Parsons Darkness to Light trilogy. I recommend it heartily to any of my female friends between the ages of 15 and 95 who like a fairly fast read, and who like things to happen in a story.

If you’re looking for an exciting, historically accurate, romantic, inspirational novel that has some ‘teeth’ to it, then this is one for you. The author doesn’t shy away from difficult issues but meets them head on, but in such a delicate, God-honoring manner—much like her hero and heroine who face hardship with tenacity in spite of their authentic human frailties.

And all the while, the author enchanted me by blending the beauty of four seasons in Philadelphia of the late 1600’s with the cultures and Christian denominations of immigrants in the newly birthed Americas. The details of a Dutch Christmas, the elegance of France brought by the Clavell family, the stalwart faith of the Quakers, and the majesty of the silent Lenape, a local Algonquin tribe who aid the Clavell brothers delighted me.

In this story we focus on Philippe, the son of Madeleine Clavell. Young Bridget (Gigi) Barrington has been in love with Philippe since they were children. He alone carries her deepest secret—a dark memory that tantalizingly stays out of reach so she cannot comprehend what the evil memories mean, or the face behind them.

Philippe denies his feelings for Bridget. After all, he is an indentured slave to her father. To keep the young people apart, Bridget’s father offers Philippe his freedom if he leaves the vicinity. Her father then arranges a marriage for Bridget to a wealthy man who also has secrets.

We follow the two thwarted lovers as they are separated. The author then takes her characters on an adventure with the very believable weaving of a forced marriage, the brokenness of lost love, the harshness of an abusive relationship, and even a dash of gun smuggling.

Bravo, Golden, you’ve done it again.

Click here on Where Hearts ae Free if you'd like to order this book.

Or here on Golden Keyes Parsons if you'd like to visit Golden's website and learn more about her.

Saturday, October 02, 2010


Why did God write us a book? I’m talking of the Bible of course—his love letter to humanity.

Although, the other day I was reminded, God did not create the masses, He created individuals.

Story appeals to the individual. Details swirl around the heart of the reader, touching memories of their own lives, their own dreams and desires. A plot line strikes a chord of something from their own past, or of a place they’d like to go in the future. Or the danger within a story reminds them that God has indeed protected them well and kept them from such perils.

I like a good love story with danger lurking, a plot where the hero and the heroine must sacrifice ALL to win the day, and a really romantic kiss at the end. On the other hand I like a nice gritty murder mystery.

It just goes to show the complexity of the human mind, the individuality.

God uses story to point us to Him. The Bible is a whole library. Through each line He speaks to us on an individual basis of what we need in our lives.

And yet I notice that in the world of human fiction there is always a germ of truth that points us to God.

The world is full of books. The classics, pulp fiction, fairytales. But within all story, there rings the truth of sacrifice.

Have you ever noticed--in all good stories—Christian or not—the key element is sacrificial love. All stories in one way or another point out to all individuals what one man, Jesus Christ, did on the cross for them.

Today I'm reviewing the debut novel written by a writing friend, Melanie Dickerson. The Healer's Apprentice. It too is a story that clearly points to the sacrificial truth of what the Lord did for us.

The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson is a delightful teen fiction, published by Zondervan. One I heartily recommend to my young nieces of 13 and 14. But I wouldn’t stop there. Grandma would love this book too.

The author has taken a beloved fairytale—Sleeping Beauty—and added layer upon suspenseful layer as skillfully as a snowfall onto this old favorite.

Rose, the daughter of a wood cutter, is learning the skills of healing when the eldest of the Duke’s sons, Lord Hamlin, has been attacked by a wild boar. Rose reaches deep for courage and tends his wound. There starts a gentle romance, but one that is thwarted from the start. Lord Hamlin is already betrothed.

Danger lurks in dark shadows. Lord Hamlin searches for the villain who threatens his betrothed and his future dukedom, taking him away from Hagenheim Castle, and away from the temptation to fall in love with Rose. While he is away Rose is wooed by Lord Hamlin’s younger brother.

The setting of Healer’s Apprentice in medieval Germany comes alive with the historical detail. Castle towers, secret entrances, cobble-stone courtyards, dukes with richly brocaded doublets, duchesses with pearl encrusted gowns, and the intricate details of healing in that century.

Melanie Dickerson has created a story that will appeal—and be pertinent—to any young girl who must make those difficult choices, purity and loyalty and sacrifice in the face of temptation.

I hope you'll check out this book, and check out this wonderful author who has such a gentle heart for God. Click here to go to Melanie's website.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


In Psalm 127 it says, Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.

This psalm goes on a little further to say, It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors: For He gives to his beloved even in his sleep.

This verse always speaks powerfully to me when I read it. Either it encourages me to be confident that the work I'm involved in is His will.

Or, like today, it makes me stop and think and pray---is the work that I sit at with my laptop for 8 to 10 hours a day really His will? Or am I 'building a house' He does not want?

Anyone who reads my blog knows I love to write. I'm willing to put in the long, long hours, the months, the years to hone my craft. It's been about 8 years of seriously pursuing a ministry/career in writing, with a great many sacrifices along the way.

In talking to other Christian authors, this is the norm. It's also common that once an author is published, the money they make is a pittance. There's certainly no job security. When one is published, the author is only as good as her last book. And the pressure to market yourself and your book takes you away from the labor to produce another.

Yet, with all artists, the desire for wealth and fame is meaningless. It's the art that pulls on their hearts---the desire to use that art to glorify God. It's this that gives them the urge to give and give and give to this labor.

I see this in my son---a musician. As his 'artsy' mother I understand his need to pursue his music, with the overwhelming desire to honor the Lord, and assist others in their worship of God.

In my work, the desire is to help others 'see' God within the words and scenes I type on the page. I want them to understand something of what I glean from the Word of God. What He has taught me through my tumultuous journeys in order to help others trust in Him.

But alas, we live in a world where food must be put on the table, the roof over our heads must be financed. The gas bill must be paid. And I look at this favorite verse in Psalms and I ask myself like I do every day---Lord, am I doing what you want me to do with the labor of my hands?

I'm writing my third fictional novel at the moment. I've taken a short hiatus from writing the non-fictional Children's Camps International Book. Life is so busy for those folks right now, a short hiatus suits them too. Because in the meantime, I feel a tremendous pressure on me to finish my fictional novel and 'send it out there' with the hope that....this one will sell.

Is this pressure from God? Or my vain imagination? After all, I'm a writer, my imagination works overtime.

Will this fictional novel be it? The one to officially start my career? The one to bring in the small bit of wages I need to help support my household?

I don't know for sure. All I know is that every day, the Lord keeps nudging me forward. Don't stop, keep going. I'll provide.

But it's a bit scary to be taking such a risk. If you know me and care for me, say a little prayer for me. I'd like the confidence within my spirit that I am doing exactly as He wants me to do.

Then I read the verse in Psalms again. For He gives to his beloved even in his sleep...

The Lord gives to me when I take my much needed rest. While I sleep He forges the path for me. Why do I fret?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

SURRENDER THE WIND--Guest Blogger, Rita Gerlach

Today, my writing friend, Rita Gerlach, shares a little of how she crafted and wrote her historical novel, Surrender the Wind. Rita takes us into the writer's mind and workshop. For all other aspiring writers out there---I hope you enjoy.

SURRENDER THE WIND--A Review By the author, Rita Gerlach

When an American patriot of the Revolution inherits his grandfather’s estate in faraway England, he inherits more than an isolated manor house. He discovers Juleah’s love and a plot that leads to kidnapping, murder, and betrayal, in this stirring tale of fidelity and forgiveness. ~

Instead of answering interview questions, I’m commenting on some quotes from reviewers to give my readers a deeper glimpse into the storyline in Surrender the Wind.
* * *

From author Marylu Tyndall ~ Ms. Gerlach's historic research is evident throughout the story, and her attention to detail and literary descriptions of scenes placed me right in the middle of the action.

If a writer wishes to write a historical novel, research is a vital, essential part of developing a great story. When I began Surrender the Wind, I read numerous accountants of the Battle of Yorktown where the book opens in the prologue. I researched uniforms, dress, weaponry, food, and culture.

As the book moves forward into Chapter 1, the reader is taken to England, to a crumbling manor house in Devonshire. The historical research from this point on had to be in the details. I wanted my reader to see in their mind the scene, outdoors and indoors. Everything from a tallow candle in the socket of a brass candlestick, to the blue and white pitcher and bowl on the heroine’s washing table, adds strong visual imagery. My editor told me once that a place can become a character in a book. I feel that is true for Ten Width Manor. It's walls hold secrets of lives past and present in the story. Because it is the ancestral home of the Braxtons, Ten Width has a stronghold on those living in it.

Then there are the historical cultural markings in a book that make up the characters. Dress. Etiquette. Traditional family life. I studied 18th century wills and marriage customs, the fashions of the period, and how the classes interacted with each other.
* * *

From author Linda Clare ~ The American Revolutionary period comes to life as Gerlach explores themes of patriotism with a faith element.

In America today there is a resurgence of patriotism. We are returning to our roots, our Constitution, and faith. In the 18th century faith played a major role in the lives of people in both the Colonies and United Kingdom. In Surrender the Wind, I bring faith into the story as a lifestyle. It is delicately woven into the characters' personalities. One thing I did not want to do is write a ‘religious novel’. My goal was to write a novel where readers would become immersed into the characters by relating to the struggles they faced which bring about spiritual breakthroughs.
* * *

From Annette Temple ~ A Well-Watered Garden Blog' This book is one of the most romantic books I've ever read. The passion and love that is poetically described between Seth and Juleah was rousing.

I am so grateful to Annette for this comment. She helped me realize that I achieved my goal. Most of us ladies want a bit of romance in our stories, don’t we? We want a hero that is tough with the world, but tender with his lady. And a heroine that is strong in the face of tribulation, but swept away by the love of a man. Romance in a novel, in my opinion, is the most intriguing when what is written is just enough to leave the rest up to the reader’s imagination. In Christian fiction a writer brings out romance deftly, love that goes beyond the material, but deeper into the heart and spirit of the characters.

I’ll close here with a romantic excerpt from Surrender the Wind . It is Seth and Juleah’s wedding night. I hope you will consider reading my novel, and keep an eye out for the release of book 1 in a new series, Daughters of the Potomac, coming out in May, 2012, entitled ‘Before the Scarlet Dawn’.
* * * * * *

In his bedchamber, which they now shared, Juleah slipped on her silk nightdress. Thin white ribbons laced the front. She sat at the dressing table brushing her hair. Tinted with the golden splendor of the candles, she smoothed it over her shoulder and ran her fingers down its length. Excitement filled her, tripped over her skin along with desire. She glanced around the room. How masculine it appeared. A fresh coat of paint would improve its appearance, and white curtains over the windows would bring it warmth and light.

She set the candlestick on the table next to their bed. The brass clock on the mantelpiece chimed out the hour. She paused to listen to the musical sound it made, while she pulled down the coverlet. The door drifted open. Seth came inside, shut it, and proceeded to pull off his waistcoat.

“Ah, have you seen the moon?” She opened the drapes wide to let the moonlight pour in. It bathed the room soft blue. “Is it not lovely, Seth?”

He joined her at the window. Wrapping his arms around his wife’s waist, he stood close behind her. His breath brushed against her neck and she sighed.

He whispered in her ear. “Doubt thou the stars are fire. Doubt that the sun doth move. Doubt truth to be a liar. But never doubt I love.”

It pleased her that he, a Virginian rebel, had memorized the beauty of Shakespeare’s verses. Melting with longing, she turned to him. He took her into his arms. She reached up and pushed back a lock of hair that fell over his brow. “I will never doubt your love, not for anything in the world.”

He brought his lips to hers and she strained against him. Love rose within each heart. He lifted her, and her feet dangled above the floor. Holding her, he kissed her, turned with Juleah toward their bed, and took his bride away from the window.

* * * * * *

To read the first chapter of this book, click here on Chapter One: It takes a moment to load, so be patient.

Rita’s Website:

Surrender the Wind is available wherever books are sold. Kindle additions available from

Cokesbury Bookstore is having an amazing sale. Click here

Friday, September 10, 2010

SURRENDER THE HEART--Review of MaryLu Tyndall's latest novel

My author friend, MaryLu Tyndall, says that getting a literary agent . . . intriguing a publisher to even look at your work . . . and then have them publish your novel, is a miracle. Anyone attempting to enter the publishing world, Christian or not, knows how true that is.

I believe if someone is published in the Christian world of books, then the Lord has wanted that person's voice to be heard. Just so with MaryLu. Let me tell you about her latest novel.

Surrender the Heart—a naval / historical / inspirational / romance by MaryLu Tyndall—is set during one of my favourite times in history, the War of 1812. The characters, Marianne Denton and Noah Brenin, are two ordinary American people.

Marianne is aware Noah only wants to marry her for the fortune he supposes her to have. She has no love for him either, and allows him to remain under the delusion she will inherit a great deal of money for reasons of her own. When he walks out of their engagement party to tend to his ship, she follows with the intent to confront him. Hours later, she ends up concussed and on his ship too far out to sea to be returned to the safety of her home.

Things are bad enough until a British man-of-war darkens their horizon. Marianne and Noah, along with a few other crew members are impressed (kidnapped) off Noah’s cargo ship onto the hostile English vessel. Then war between Britain and the United States is declared.

MaryLu Tyndall’s fast-paced, fresh style of writing always gives me a few hours to escape from the weariness of life, and inspires me at the same time. In Surrender the Heart, Marianne finds herself in a situation much like that in the biblical account of Queen Esther. Marianne learns that God has allowed the events in her life to bring her to ‘such a time as this’ whereby her faithfulness and obedience can save lives and change the course of history.

Marianne and Noah, as well as the crew of the Fortune discover that, when God is working through them, they are anything but ordinary. By the end of the novel, even the name of Noah’s ship is changed from the Fortune to the _________. But you have to read the story to find out what.

In reading this ripping naval adventure, I found myself rooting for these American heroes, which just goes to show the talent of the author. You see, this particular reader is a Canadian citizen, born on British soil. It’s a bit of a switch for me to root for characters who fought on the other side of the war of 1812. Ah, but we’re friends now, aren’t we.

If you'd like to order this book, click here on Surrender the Heart.

Saturday, September 04, 2010


Our pastor once preached a sermon that talked about the vanguard of God’s protection. He used the metaphor of the mountains surrounding the wide, fertile valley we live in to show the enormity of the Lord’s love. Normally when I look at these low, gently rounded coastal mountains encircling my home, that’s what I think of—God’s protection, a shield of love.

Last week my husband and I took our son back to college on the prairies. To get there, we drove through a series of mountain ranges, including the Rockies. Driving through narrow canyons with mountains growing to staggering heights, gave me a different perspective. Sometimes mountains are so stupendous, they’re scary.

Down in a skinny ravine, where only at certain times of the day the sun reaches the canyon floor, it can get dark. The road before our car winds like a serpent. We can’t see what’s ahead. In fact we can’t see much but the dense, dark, fir and cedar trees whipping past.

So much like life—scary at times, troubling. We’re not able to see clearly, or understand what’s really happening in our life. We desperately want to know that God has taken care of what’s down the road so we won’t be hurt, or that He will dig us out of our present avalanche of pain. But our hearts grow faint the deeper we go through this dark, winding place that has no easy answers.

Is God really here with us? Will He bring us out to a place where we can experience clarity and peace and joy?

If you’ve ever driven through the Rockies going east, you know how quickly the surroundings change. As soon as we reach the grandest heights, the Continental Divide is right there. Rivers change their course. And not much farther we seemingly go through an open doorway. Low, docile foothills greet us, and flat prairie stretches for thousands of miles.

No longer do the mountains restrict our view. All of a sudden the sky becomes alive, taking center stage. Now we can see storms 20, 30, 40 miles away. Rain falls like a diaphanous drape on towns, then stops, and then falls on another. We can see lightning strike from a safe distance. And if the storm is coming our way we at least can be prepared for it. Perhaps even move out of its way. But it's more than that. The vast, huge sky—so much bigger than the greatest peak or crag—envelopes us.

Depending on how the sun filters through the massive clouds, the sky broods or smiles, or scintillates with a joy beyond human understanding. And if no clouds dot the living canopy that stretches forever, a crystalline blue takes our breath away. Yet...even here we can still see the vale of tears. Not until Heaven will we cease to feel the weight of sadness and disappointment.

But after coming out of the mountains, the mammoth, open atmosphere becomes our vanguard. Our God is so much bigger than anything He created. The One who made the sky will protect, bring peace and joy...with the breath of His spirit.

We must remember this when we're in the dark, winding place, that His great truth will be visible soon. Hold on. Trust.

Psalm 5:12 "For you bless the godly, O Lord; you surround them with your shield of love."

Friday, August 27, 2010

THE DRY SEASON--by Guest Blogger, Rachel Phifer

I have a picture my grandfather painted of his childhood. The family sits on the porch under the moon and stars. Grandpa plays the fiddle. Mama sits in a rocker fanning herself and the little girl by her side. The boys stand next to the porch with the dog, while Grandma and Papa sit in the porch chairs looking on.

I like imagining what it would be like to live in that world. I have an abundance of things, but so little time. The picture makes me envious – not that I want to go back to a time before antibiotics and dishwashers. But I think I would have sensed God more if I sat every night under the stars. I know their days were hard, but I imagine scrubbing clothes against the wash board and hanging them up on a line to dry. With my body hard at work and my mind roaming free, I think my thoughts would run to prayer often.

In the real time world, my body sits idle at my desk while my mind is in constant demand. It’s why I’m spiritually dry so often. I know for a fact that when I was a stay-at-home mom, my mind did roam free, praying, thinking about God and his ways, even singing along to old hymns while I swept the kitchen or folded laundry with no one but a one-year old to listen in.

That life isn’t attainable to me now. I do have to work in an office. I do have demands on my mind. That’s reality, but I do think that even in our desk-chained, time-crunched world, there’s a way to God.

I read something a while back that’s stayed with me. An overworked woman said her devotions had run dry for a while. But when she went to reading the Bible in short bursts three times a day – a few verses before breakfast, a psalm at lunch and another short passage after dinner, the change made a world of difference. The Bible sang through her day.

Sometimes, it only takes one thing, one change in the routine to make the difference. I just increased my hours at work, and I’ve been more tired than ever. I open the Bible, but before I read through more than a few verses my eyes glaze over. A real devotion seems out of the question.

I lamented my exhaustion to God, wishing that He could be as real to me as in times past. The answer came, Give me two short times a day. Can you do that, Rachel, and not worry about how you feel? Give me ten minutes at each side of your day in any way you can, and I’ll fill the hours in between.

I’ve given God those ten minutes, the bookends of my day, sometimes with my eyes pasted shut with exhaustion while I whisper the words of a prayer I know well. I do it with the sense that I’m giving that time to God so that He will give himself to me. I won’t say there’s been a miracle, but I do find thoughts of God drifting more into my day.

Given time, I think that one change will make a difference. God is there, waiting. If I turn to Him, in just one way, He’ll turn to me.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

HOUSE GUESTS--by Guest Blogger, Joy Andreasson

My mother's friend, Joy, has a way with pictures that truly are worth a thousand words. That's why Joy's letter encouraged me when my emotions are very, very tired.

My relatives that stayed with us for 3 1/2 weeks have now left to return to their home in Northern Ireland. While I loved every minute of their visit, their leaving has left me with a multitude of conflicting emotions---sadness of times long past, milestones reached that will never come again.

As an immigrant, my relationship with my entire extended family has centered around few get-togethers that are usually only 2 to 3 weeks in length, separated by decades, and bookended by tearful hellos and goodbyes at airports gates.

Of course none of this is helped by fact that next week my husband and I will begin our semi-annual road trip to the prairies to take our youngest son back to college, and the next time we see him, it'll be Christmas.

Where has the time of my life gone?

Dear Christine: MY HOUSE GUESTS by Joy Andreasson

My house guests, or better known as My Squatters spent over a week bringing all sorts of things and dragging them through the tiny hole of a front door and making everything just right.

I imagined them talking to each other saying things like "is this okay?" or "what do you think of that?"

Things quieted down and I assumed the "female of the house" was laying the eggs and sitting on them. Then all of a sudden the monumental task of feeding the babies was on. The diligence of these two sparrows was amazing.

All day long they kept bringing beakfulls of little green caterpillars and you could hear the little ones squawking as soon as they came near the hole.

It brought to mind God's love and his diligence in always taking care of us, in the same way these sparrows cared for their babies. Awesome.

The down side of all this, but also such an example of how wonderful nature is, was that every time they brought the caterpillars they would go in the nest and come back out with the "poop" and deposit it on our patio. After the birds were long gone, your Uncle James got the bird house down for me, and I was quite amazed how clean it was inside. It didn't smell too great, but there was no sign of any debris like egg shells or a mess.

They started building the nest sometime just before July 12th and on August 13th, I realized there were no birds. Thought they should have at the very least done a fly by and said thank you, but we haven't seen a bird around at all since that date.

This last picture is the little bird sitting forlornly waiting for next year.

Love, Joy

Selections from Ecclesiastes chosen by Christine: "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh . . . Remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken."

Saturday, August 07, 2010

HARVEST FOR KIDS--Children's Camps International

It happened just as we prayed. Children's Camps International beat the Guinness World record for harvesting a quarter section in record time. I was there. I saw it happen. I felt the goose bumps, and the silent awe of watching 200---yes I said 200 giant, gleaming, combines---harvest a golden wheat field on this warm August 6 of 2010. See it here by clicking on the webcam Harvest for Kids World Record.

People came from all over the world---Anthony Samy from India, Alexander from Belize, to represent just a few of the international camps CCI partners with.

Over 200 farmers gave up their time out of a busy harvest season. Many local businessmen in southern Manitoba gave of their product and time to cultivate, plant, and nurture this wheat field. As I watched the mamoth combines, in two steady rows of 100 combines each, roll in an unwavering line to meet in the center of the section, my heart filled with pride for these God-loving prairie people.

Back in 2006 CCI tried to beat this record. To read about the struggles of that day, including the field being hit by lightning, go to

Today, the Lord graciously rewarded CCI for the faith-testing disappointments of that day in 2006. He couldn't have provided a more perfect day for the event that brought in over 10 thousand spectators, TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, and dignitaries.

The event began with a group of farmers singing our national anthem and then heading out to their machines. Three yellow crop-duster planes flew in formation over the field. Several helicopters and two other visiting planes also flew overhead. The Lord even sent a gentle breeze to blow the chaff away. A petting zoo entertained the children, and music entertained everyone. It was a great day. And it all happened because of the love of hundreds of volunteers and the handful of CCI staff who want to make a difference in the world.

It just goes to prove that when we step out in faith, with our hearts set on honoring God first, He lovingly rewards that faith. God allowed CCI to gain the awareness they sought through this Guinness World Record.

But why go to all this trouble? Why bring all these people here to witness this event? To beat a record? To win a prize? Have 15 minutes of fame?

No. It was for children. There are many worthy organizations that provide good food and water for kids. Children's Camps International wants to take the needs of children one step further. They want to feed the souls of kids, take the Living Water and the Bread of Life to these little ones---to introduce them to Jesus Christ through the camping ministry.

The bread we eat in this life, and the water we drink will satisfy only for a while, but a relationship with Christ will satisfy for all eternity.

Sunday, August 01, 2010


This gorgeous cactus was started from a piece that belonged to my mother’s friend, Joy. Sad thing is, Joy grew impatient with this plant when it was spindly and taking too long to grow. She got fed up with it and threw it out. Her neighbor, however, knew how to pace her time a little better, be more flexible with time-lines—at least in the case of growing this cactus.

This is a crazy, super-fast summer for me. I’m barely into my new house. There are still lots of boxes to unpack. There are pictures yet to be hung. And I’ve got relatives visiting from Ireland. With all that excitement, the next three weeks will go by in a blink. During that time, I also have to fly to Manitoba for a huge Harvest event with Children’s Camps International. After that, one week of ‘normality’, and my husband and I make one of our semiannual trips to the middle of the country to drop our son off at college. Then . . . summer is over. DRAT.

Lots of fun things to do, great times to connect with family, but little time to work on the two projects that press on my heart—the CCI non-fictional story, and my fictional novel that I’m hoping and praying will be the one to break into the publishing world. It would be nice to actually make a little bit of money for all the writing I do.

You see, I have a timeline running through my head. Push through with the two books in the summer, polish them off and have them ready by November. And then . . . yuck . . . get a day job in December to support the household coffers. Insert heavy sigh, I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

That’s my personality. Like all personalities, it has its plus side and its negative. Yes, I’m the kind of person who can work like a piston engine, all steam, push-push-push, and complete a project. You can bet your boots, I’ll finish a thing.

Negative side is—I get frustrated if I can’t get to my work, or what I think should be done. It’s because I worry, I suppose. Worry that events won’t roll off the assembly line of my mind on time. Those time-lines I set for myself are a two-edged sword. Yes, a person needs to set goals—without something to shoot for, you’ll miss every time. But so often I see in myself and in others, frustration welling up, when their expectations are not met quite as they feel they should be.

Impatience is a nasty thing. When Joy sent me that picture of the cactus it spoke to my heart. Sometimes we need to let go of the time-line in our mind, leave it to God, and let Him bring the flowering in his time.

What Jesus says about worry--Matt 6:25-28a "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field, and how they grow...."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

THE GROCERY STORE WOES--Guest Blogger, Peggy Griffin

I invited my writing friend, Peggy Griffin, to inspire us today. She's the lady from Southern Mississippi who keeps me in stiches reading her emails. I hope you like her sense of humor that can only come from the backwoods, and how it combines with her love for Christ.


Much to my aggravation, it’s time to go to the squeaky-buggy world of the grocery store. My mission is a research article for The Dogwood County Surprise. That’s our weekly, award-winning, in-depth newspaper. We’re up to ten pages now, and I’m the mystery reporter exploring the buying habits of the general public in today’s yucky economy. I must answer the question—What draws people down the primrose path of impulse buying?

More interestingly though—-my straying mind is snagged—-why do people dress like nobody’s going to see them at the grocery store?

So, here we are, our van circling the parking lot, dodging runaway buggies, a couple of—-never mind what they’re doing--alley cats, and a gaggle of turkey buzzards cruising slow and low.

Uh-oh! A Daisy Duke just came out of the store, sashaying around in barely-there, cutoff jeans at high noon.

"Don’t look, Hubby! You’ll be stunted for life!”

I hop out of the van while hubby makes another loop, looking for a parking space. Once inside the store I see an interesting subject—a lady shopper. Looks like she put the soap operas on DVR to record, and ran out in her slippers for . . . ? Well, now for what I don’t know. Whatever could be that pressing? A steam iron? Hair color? Safety pins? Duct tape? A razor? Hard to say. She could certainly benefit from a day—-make that a week—at Becky’s Barn of Beauty and Bail Bonds.

Under my breath, I send her some good down-home advice, “Mercy, lady! Say no to the stretch pants!”

My buggy not only squeaks, it’s making a wicked left-hand turn. Guess I’ll have to steer with both hands and one leg, while holding the grocery list in my teeth.

Watch out! Another alert. Folks, we have a diva in the produce section trying to tell a lettuce from a cabbage. Why do they not label these exotic veggies more clearly? What a cute baby she has though. Hope she wears gloves over those longgggg fingernails when she changes his diaper. That lil’ sweetie pie could be wearing pink before the sun goes down! But those jeans on his mama! My my.

"Don’t bend over, princess! If a seam pops, you’ll shred more cabbage than The Catfish Joint will need for the Saturday night buffet!”

Just then my attention is grabbed by someone on the PA system, trying to bellow over Kenny Rogers singing about Ruby taking her love to town.

The announcement blares, “Listen up, shoppers! Don’t go down isle three. That’s isle three, y’all. We have a cereal . . . incident.”

Then there’s a muffled commotion as the mike is shushed for an inner-office communication. “They’re doing what? Mamas, round up your curtain-climbers! Somebody’s brood is making Rice Krispie Treats in a hubcap! I repeat, stay away from aisle three.”

I don’t need to be told twice. I steer clear of the aforementioned aisle. But I can’t help but smirk. Sounds like someone’s little angels need a halo adjustment. Glad my own brood has polite behavior.

My attention is snagged again. Here’s a cute young couple going at it over the reduced-for-quick-sale basket. Let’s see, he wants rice, she wants instant potatoes.

“Well, duh! Put gravy on it, sugar! It’s six of one, half a dozen of the other. And real gravy doesn’t come in a can! Get over it and get trottin’. I hear a t-bone singing my tune.”

Hopping on one foot, shoving the mutant buggy wheel with the other, I steer into the meat market. Ugh! There’s that pesky little ole man that’s always lurking near the good steaks! Does he live here? I have to duck him every trip. Naturally I’m not one to talk behind my hand, but he looks like he lives a little too close to the chicken coop. Anyway, he takes the meat out of folks’ buggies as fast as they put it in, telling them to go to the market that his brother owns down the street. He says the meat there is better and cheaper. Y’all know the butcher—he’s right proud of his thumb. Weighs it real often.

As I drool over a couple of 24 oz. sirloin strips, I have to whip a kink in the monstrous momentum of my overloaded, squeaking, left-turning buggy. To keep from turning a pokey elderly couple into roadkill, I run over my steering foot, dump a mountain of chocolate, and send two chickens flying.

If only Ma ‘n Pa Kettle would decide on a soup bone before my deodorant goes. While I wait, I sneak a peek at the old couple’s buggy. Research, y’know. Dry beans, cornmeal, flour, grits, coffee, tea, and molasses. And finally, thank you Lord, a soup bone.

Since I nearly decapitated Pa with my airborne chickens, I don’t reckon this is the time to ask questions. I was sworn into journalist accreditation on a fifty-pound Webster’s Dictionary, and can’t flat-footed lie in my article. I’ll just say they don’t hold with junk food.

As I wedge a gallon of rocky road ice cream between the diet Cokes, I feel that familiar pecking at my heart’s door. Attention, my wayward Child.

Y’all know about those inner-spiritual communications that bring us to our knees. A Scripture flashed through my smug brain like a high-beam searchlight. Mathew 7: 1-2 Judge not that ye be judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Now here’s a fine howdy-do as I listen to the still small voice of God. This molasses-sopping country girl doesn’t have to stomp cow patties to know she’s in the pasture. I revise my entire article for The Dogwood County Surprise quicker than a floppy-eared hound on a hambone.

Thank God He made us individuals! What a sorry sight this world would be if everybody were like me! I have more faults than a valley of volcanoes. My cheeks are blushed with shame.

Here’s what God helped me to see at the Piggly Wiggly:

The woman that should’ve said no to the stretch pants couldn’t. Her house burned to the ground last night and she has no clothes.

The diva who didn’t know lettuce from cabbage doesn’t have a mama like mine. Her parents are addicted to meth.

The young couple arguing over the reduced-for-quick-sale items lost their jobs last week. They only have money enough for one more meal.

The chick in the Daisy Duke cutoffs just ran smack-dab into her preacher. I don’t think she’ll be playing show and tell again.

Ma and Pa Kettle with the soup bone are retired missionaries. They live on a shoestring budget to send every extra penny to hungry children.

The pesky little man who could use a run through the carwash is homeless. His brother, the butcher with the heavy thumb, sets a place for him at the supper table every night, but the homeless man won’t take charity. He only comes in to eat when he’s earned it.

I really hate to stir up the Rice Krispie incident, but the Lord has latched on to this confession business tighter than—-you know I’m gonna say it-—tighter than a sullied possum. So let me get this over with in a hurry.

You remember those curtain-climbers in isle three and the Rice Krispie incident. Well it turns out, they were my own adorable grandkids. My daughter bent over to wrangle the caterwauling darlings and had a major jeans blow-out. The button skinned Pa Kettle’s bald noggin, and I’m too chicken to ask where the zipper tab landed. ‘Nuff said?

Uh-oh! Something else coming from On High to me! Get out of the pasture and keep humble, young’un. You’re not ready to rope the bull yearlin’s yet!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I have believed for many years that the Lord not only has a sense of humor, but that He has a poetic mind. Where else would we have received our literary and artistic talents if not from the giver of all good things?

And He’s gracious. He speaks to us in ways we understand, just as Jesus spoke through parables.

The Lord still does this for us today…if we listen…if we trust.

Last November I felt the Lord nudge my heart to take a giant leap of faith. Would I trust God enough to put aside my own agenda for my career and the writing of my fictional work to do a special task for Him? Children’s Camps International needed someone to write their story, but did not have the funds to pay for it. Would I trust the Lord enough to provide for my family’s needs while I completed this assignment non-gratis? In other words, could I trust God to pay my wages?

The tug of the CCI story was too strong to ignore. How could any writer not be pulled into the true-life adventures, the testing of God’s power, the fulfilling feats of faith, and the miracles of such a worthwhile ministry to children? I simply couldn't’t resist, and threw our financial needs into the lap of my heavenly father as I set hard to work. Besides, what’s more important than helping people preach the gospel of Christ to children? Life is too short to worry about building greater metaphorical barns and houses for myself.

Seven months later, I’m 2/3rd’s of the way through the book, but God has taken my breath way with His faithfulness to our family. Someone once said you can never out-give God.

It doesn’t make any logical sense that while I’m not bringing in a ‘proper’ wage that God in so short a time has eliminated ALL our debt, lowered our monthly mortgage and household expenses by the intricate transaction of our house sale. I may have lost the equity of a fairly large backyard at my old house, but I now look out on gently rolling pastures, where just beyond a line of trees the might Fraser River flows. From my office window my ‘back yard’ view grew exponentially larger. I may not own the deed to that land, but I sure can enjoy its beauty.

The other day from my kitchen balcony, I watched the farmer across the road harvest his field. His tractor gathered up the sweet smelling hay into bales. The next day his tractor rumbled along his fields to take the bales away to store in his barn for the winter. As the sun set over the coastal mountains, the rays caught the grassy dust so that the air and the field shimmered like gold.

Only God would know how much those sights and scents would mean to me as I write the CCI book. The theme of the camp work in India and other parts of the world centers on the farming seasons of seeding, cultivating, and harvesting. Only instead of sweet smelling hay, the fragrance wafting up to the Lord is the incense of a great spiritual harvest—millions of souls loving Christ as savior.

I took care last November to not make any bargains with God as I committed to this task. I’m old enough and have been through enough life with God to know He doesn’t barter for our faithfulness. He asks, and waits for our obedience. All I knew for sure at the time was that He would provide what I needed.

Only thing is, He is such a wonderful father, and gave me more than I ever dreamed. I can’t thank Him enough. But enough of chit-chat. It’s time for me to get back to the task he entrusted me with last November. With His power and enabling, He will finish the CCI literary work at the season’s end.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Last weekend, for the first time in four years, I missed posting my Sunday blog story. Due to moving house, being surrounded by boxes in various stages of being emptied, or flattened for recycling--and not quite sure where everything was--I think I can go easy on myself. For the last two months our lives have centered around cardboard. I'll be glad to see the end of it.

The other issue that disturbed my writing routine and self-imposed deadlines, was that I had no internet or land line phone. Unless I go to the local library I'm out of touch with the rest of the globe. But the phone company has at long last assured us we will have internet service by this coming Wednesday. I guess I can wait that long. By then it will be almost three weeks without daily email. So, it's been quiet. Too quiet.

Like many people today, I've become accustomed to staying in touch with others all over the world by simply tapping a few keys on my laptop. For writerly souls like me, this is total bliss. After all, writing is my favorite form of communication. Because I like to dig deep to the very sinews of my heart and share with people in a sort of detached way on the other side of the globe, I need to make sure I connect with people in a tactile way.

On a normal day for me I can be so engrossed in the world of the books I'm writing, that I can look up after many hours, stary about me with bleary eyes, and realize my life is very quiet. Too quiet.

That's when the Holy Spirit nudges me and I call up a friend or family member and go out for coffee.

I'm glad church attendance is so deeply embedded into the routines of my life I don't think twice about getting up on Sunday to worship with others. As a creative person who's comfortable with long stretches of solitude in order to get the work done that I've been called to do, I need to also make sure I don't miss those moments of corporate worship. It's important to feel like an integral part of community, to share thoughts--not on paper--but face to face with others.

Being without internet these two weeks has made me feel out of touch with people. I'm anxious to know what's going on in my friend's lives. This reassures me that I am ultimately a community-minded person, a person who needs to be connected. Sort of like that metaphor of the branch the Lord spoke of--He is the vine . . . we are the branches.

We don't need internet to stay in touch with people, although it's deliciously efficient. What we do need is the Holy Spirit, reminding us to stay in close touch with the Lord through prayer, and with each other in some form of communication.

So, pick up the phone, dig out your stationary, buy some stamps, make a skype call, drive cross town to knock on some one's door, or even just holler hello over the fence. Stay in touch.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


From my living room couch I can look into my kitchen and see the glass door to the pantry.

When I’m not out for a prayer walk around my neighborhood, I like to sit on the end of the couch close to the window for my morning devotions. Our springer spaniel, Zeke, may wander over and sit at my feet, and Scottie my cat may jump up on the couch to curl beside me. But usually it’s me, a cup of tea, my Bible, and God.

From this cozy spot I can either look through the window to the backyard trees, or glance at the glass pantry door and see a reflection of those same trees and flowering shrubs moving in the breeze.

Often when I see only a glimpse of a scene, or a reflection in glass, it strikes me as a doorway to another world—a magical place I long to go. The same sort of feeling a favorite book does for me—like Heidi taking me up the Swiss Alps, or Ash and Anjuli-bai whisking me off to long-ago India.

In case you haven’t realized, there’s a strong streak of imagination to my inner person. You’d never know it when you look at me, though. On the outside, no one could be more banal, prosaic, or no-nonsense. In the Lord’s dealings with me, most decisions boil down to good old common sense. After all, He gave us a brain and expects us to use it. But this dream-like aspect to my soul colors a great deal of my relationship with the Lord.

This is not to say my faith is airy-fairy. Walking with God can be terribly reasonable at times. Christ’s atoning death on the cross couldn’t be more logical.

God the Father is perfect Justice.

Humanity broke God’s laws.

Someone had to pay the penalty.

No human court of law could get more down to earth than this need to set things right. That truth, and my acceptance of what Christ did for me, is as real as the silver birch in my backyard. But the fact that the Son of God set aside His glory to come to dusty old earth to make that sacrifice, sky rockets that event into the supernatural, the unexplainable—something only an omnipotent God could come up with.

When I sit on the corner of my couch with my cup of tea and my Bible, my eye leaves the reality of my backyard and strays more often to the reflection in the glass. Sunlight dances in the leaves. Clematis and mock orange blossoms throw out dashes of color. The scene in the glass shows me a familiar place, yet not quite. My inner walking with the God of my Bible draws me to think far and above, to break free from mere common sense to the...enchanting.

Like the poets say—to dream. Do we humans stop ourselves from taking great leaps of faith because we would rather cling to the down-to-earth when our hearts hunger to soar for the impossible?

Colossians 3:1 "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God."

Saturday, June 12, 2010


As I write the Children’s Camps International book, I’m constantly encouraged by what the people involved in this ministry have to say. There are times I wish I had the book written right now, so others could benefit from the words of wisdom I’ve gleaned from the recorded interviews. But that wisdom is currently making its way into the narrative of the CCI story.

These past few months I’ve had difficult decisions to make, about selling our house, what I should do in regards to my career, and financial decisions that will affect the rest of my life. They're the same sort of worries that disturb the rest of mankind’s sleep at night.

Last week I shared one of the events that happened to CCI in the midst of trying times—an event that bolstered my faith that gets a bit wimpy at times. Today, I want to share a sampling of quotes from Ray Wieler, President of CCI, from Anthony Samy of India Bible Camps Ministry and a few of his staff. The Lord has used some of these words of wisdom to help me make hard decisions lately.

Anthony Samy “Today’s possibilities are tomorrow’s miracles.”

Moses (IBCM—Staff Accountant): “Before when I was a Hindu, I was very rich. But I had no peace. Now I follow Jesus. I am poor in personal money, but I have great peace.”

Anthony preaching to Indian pastors: “Don't ask for a blessing. You must do something for a blessing. You must sow something to reap a blessing. It simply won't just come to you. Sow your work, your time, as well as your money. Sow your man-power. Isaac planted and received 100 times. But do not go after money. Go to God for your needs.”

Pastor Hendry (Staff member of IBCM): “This teaching of children was a new thing. Before this we found it easy to teach adults. It is harder to teach children. We were very much interested in reaching adults instead. But in the camping ministry, to teach children, you must act like children to get their attention. You must play like a child. Think like a child. Not everyone can do this. It is difficult.”

Ray Wieler: ”Is there a better way? Another alternative? Can we take the cost of what it would be to send one missionary into a country, and instead use that same amount of money to work with hundreds of pastors who would then run children’s camps in their churches? CCI prefers to work for the indigenous pastors that are already there. There is already an established church. By taking the same amount of money for one missionary and working with a much bigger organization (the Church) we can multiply the effectiveness. The universal church is already there—the largest potential pool of volunteers in the world.”

Ray “An empty (camp) bed is a lost opportunity, and a child on a waiting list is a lost opportunity.”

D. L. Moody "Blessed are the money raisers, for in heaven they shall stand next to the martyrs."

Ray "Each time you ask for money for even the greatest of causes, you die a little each time.”

Anthony “There is plenty of food in India, but the people worship rats and cows. Tons of food is wasted each year because when the people see a cow or a rat in their rice paddy, they think, ‘Oh good, our god is having a nice lunch.’ Not thinking that animal is eating food that should be for them. Knowing that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, sets you free. Then you can chase that cow out of the rice paddy. India has more cattle than all of North America, but she is starving because of false worship. Jesus is the solution to every problem. He is the Living Water, the Bread of Life.”

Ray speaking to the Visiting Canadian team to India 2010 “There is a leadership exercise for team development for camp staff that I’ve used in the past. No one comes to camp to sit around. Everyone has a part to play. Everyone must be actively involved. The moment someone is missing, it becomes harder for everyone else.

A group of 20 or 30 people carries a hydro pole that weighs about 100 pounds through some track. The moment someone starts to slack off, we ask them to sit on the pole. In the beginning it’s just a joke. People are laughing. But when 5 or 6 people are sitting on the pole it gets harder. The joke is over. The people sitting on the pole realize they have become a part of the burden the others must carry.

During debriefing, those who sat on the pole are often in tears. They were not carrying the burden.

What we like to see is every young person equipped to further God’s Kingdom. We want to make kingdom builders. What impact we will play in that, we don’t know. But if we could only envision what that would look like, if everyone would take up the task of kingdom building.”