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.