Saturday, June 25, 2011

I meet the most interesting people, writers from all over the world. One of those friends is Anita Mellot who grew up in India, but who now lives in the US.

Recently I had the great pleasure of reading Anita's just released Devotional book , School is Where the Home is. She wrote this book to encourage Homeschooling parents, but I found the book went far beyond that. Here's a sample.


“The old order of things has passed away. . . . I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:4-5)

Lisa, my eleven-year-old, drew a stick figure on the magnetic drawing board that her sister Katy had just unwrapped.“Now something cool’s going to happen. Watch!” She slid the bar down its side. Seven-month-old Katy went down on her knees and ran her fingers over the toy’s surface. She picked it up and turned it over, trying to find the missing figure.

“See, you do this.” Lisa grabbed a star-shaped magnet and showed her sister how to stamp on the magnetic board. Soon the toy’s gleaming white surface was as dark as the night sky. Then together, hand over hand, they slid the bar.

Katy squealed and clapped her hands as black gave way to bright white. A similar toy—a “magic slate”—was my favorite when I was a child. I loved the fact that no matter what my mistakes were, I could start afresh.

That’s exactly what a new school year signifies: a fresh start, new beginnings. In Revelation, Jesus declares that the old order of things has passed, and he ushers in newness of life. The biblical meaning of “new” conveys a sense of freshness--something that hasn’t been used before or become worn out.

I’m grabbing hold of that hope as I begin a new school year. My mistakes and the challenges of the past are erased when I come to Jesus in humble repentance. He breathes new life into our school. I’m taking a step toward a new beginning this year.

Thank you, Lord, for new beginnings, for hope.

Digging deeper: For what new beginnings are you thankful?

"Excerpted from School Is Where the Home Is by Anita Mellott, copyright © 2011 by Anita Mellott. Used by permission of Judson Press,"

Christine here again: I highly recommend this devotional book to any parent who is homeschooling their child. But this book would inspire and feed the soul of any Christian parent, whether they are homeschooling or not.

As a grandmother these days, I found my emotions and spirit drawn into these daily stories that contain such fresh and vivid images. I found myself wiping a tear away at times, and at others, chuckling. And then Anita wraps up each image with scripture that goes right to the heart.

This is a book that would be a great gift to any parent, or anyone who is engaged in teaching children. It would also make a great book for your child’s public or private school teacher.

Click here on School is Where the Home is if you'd like to buy it.

And drop by Anita's blog From the Mango Tree.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Pandita Ramabai (1858-1922)

Is it because I’m a romantic, or are there times when God writes on our lives with a big bold pen? Because He’s done it again in my life. And quite frankly taken my breath away.

This past spring I didn’t think He could bless me more than He already had when He arranged for my birth-daughter to be the model on the front cover of my debut novel—a fictional story set in India 1919. My birth-daughter Sarah is the child I relinquished to adoption when she was 3 days old, and was reunited with 20 years later.

The road of adoption relinquishment and reunion is not an easy one. After the reunion as I relived the original loss of Sarah, the Lord encouraged me to write out my emotional pain. Like a lot of writers, my loss became my muse. But it wasn’t until after the photo-shoot for the front cover that I realized God had bracketed the conception of my fictional career and its debut with my beautiful muse. I couldn’t thank Him enough.

But He wasn’t finished yet. He was writing another chapter to our true-life adoption story.

During the design of my front cover, Sarah and her husband were in the midst of applying to various missions. As ER nurses they both felt called to full-time missionary work.

Several months after my novel was released, Sarah announced they were going to serve with Global Aid Network—GAIN. One of the bigger projects they will oversee is the Ramabai Mukti Mission, an organization that has been in existence in India for over 100 years. The Mukti mission cares for women and orphans—especially the disabled and those rescued from sexual slavery.

I couldn’t believe my ears. This particular mission has strummed a chord in my heart for several decades, and so has its founder, Pandita Ramabai—a former Hindu widow who came to Christ in the early part of the last century and who started up her mission to rescue women and children.

There is an integral fictional character in my novel Shadowed in Silk. Her name is Miriam. Some reviewers described my Miriam as a Mother Teresa figure, but in fact she is based on Ramabai who had died in 1922.

My birth-daughter, Sarah, had no way of knowing this. I’d kept this tidbit of my novel to myself. Only God knew.

So why India? Sarah and her husband had considered all sorts of missions all around the world. And why this particular organization in India? There are so many
Christian relief projects even in that country. Why bless this particular birth-mother's heart in such a personal way?

As I look back on the road of adoption relinquishment and reunion—and my writing—I am amazed at the boldness of God’s pen strokes in my life.

It’s no wonder I write. I desperately scrabble to get down on paper just a trace of His exquisite tenderness and kindness, the artistry of what He can do with a surrendered life . . . a surrendered child, to encourage others to follow Him.

If you would like to know how you can support this worthwhile ministry that endeavors to relieve the suffering of others, then you can contact Sarah and Mark Blaney at the following email (spelled out) Marb(at)globalaid(dot)net or Sarahb(at)global(dot)net or by going to the Gain website

A life totally committed to God has nothing to fear, nothing to lose, nothing to regret.’ Pandita Ramabai (1858-1922)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Edgy Christian Fiction

There’s a term floating about the world of Christian fiction the last few years, a term I didn’t pay much attention to. At least not until it was suggested that my novel fit that category.

With a gasp, I said, “Me . . . little old soft-touch me . . . write an edgy book!”

For those of you who don’t know what Edgy Christian Fiction is, here’s a brief description—Novels with a Christian world-view, not necessarily with Christian characters or any type of Christian preaching. These books may contain sexuality, sensuality, Christian characters who drink alcohol, gamble, cuss, lie. Christian characters who struggle with a particular recurring sin. Books with graphic violence and/or vividly depicted crime scenes, the underbelly of life, men's action novels including war stories, and/or vampires and Goth type characters.

It was a bit of a shocker to think my Shadowed in Silk would fit anywhere in that category. There are certainly no vampires in it. And I come right out and explain the gospel message of Christ through one of my characters. But still, some would say my debut novel leans in the direction of edgy.

As I wrote Shadowed in Silk, I worked hard to mirror the emotional and spiritual lives of real people. A fair chunk of my own thinking when I was young and searching for truth is portrayed in my characters, as well as that of my thinking as a mature Christian. I wanted to reach all sorts of levels in readers' spiritual understanding.

My story is about a woman who is abused and then abandoned by her husband, and who then falls in love with a kind man, who happens to be a Christian. I’ve got to tell you right now, that the book is squeaky clean. But it’s considered edgy because of what this distraught woman feels in her heart, because what she feels is wrong.

A few Sundays ago, I had a chance conversation with a woman who had just started to come to church. She shared a bit of her life which had been scarred by poor morale choices in her youth. I caught that look in her eye. She wondered about me—did I understand the sadness due to her immoral youth.

I told her that if she could have a heart-to-heart talk with each person in our church, she would find that most people did not have a sweet and perfect life. She’d be surprised to know how many of us had babies before we were married. Me, being one who had relinquished a child to adoption. Then there are all those couples who are on their second marriage, and bear the pain of a failed previous marriage, or who were abandoned by their first spouse. There are people in our pews who’ve been to jail. I’ve held the hands of some who've had abortions before they became Christians. I know a few who used to have issues with anger, alcoholism, drug addiction, adultery.

My church is full of people who have been saved from terrible moral choices in the past. And my church is full of people who have loved ones who are still struggling with those same issues. If I can’t shock the elderly people in my church with my own past sins, because quite frankly they’ve seen much in their lives, how can I shock them with my realistically written book?

So, it seems I've written a bit of an edgy book. Maybe that will be my brand. One thing I do know, Christians like to be entertained too, whether it be through an edgy story, or a gentle one.

God can use it all.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

I consider it a real priviledge to have as my guest today, Christy and Golden Scroll nominee, Jeanette Windle.

There are books that are entertaining, and those that are important. And then there are books that are wonderfully both. It is no wonder that Freedom’s Stand has been nominated for the Golden Scroll Award. I wish I could give it more stars than the top 5 star rating.

Jeanette has woven heart-rending human rights issues with the fast pace of an action and political thriller as well as a tender romance. I don’t know how many times my heart stopped as I read this book. Such as when a prison door clanged shut on Jamil, a former Muslim extremist and suicide bomber, who is now a follower of Isa Masih. The stakes in this story ratchet higher and higher until we are watching a modern-day Daniel in the lion’s den.

I asked Jeanette why she wrote this book, and why this setting?

Jeanette Windle: Freedom's Stand is the sequel to 2010 Christian Book Award and Christy Award finalist, Veiled Freedom, set in contemporary Afghanistan. Motivation for this story was my own frustration, disappointment--and hope! Like many of you, I had rejoiced despite the ugliness of war in the post-9/11 overthrow of Afghanistan's Taliban, believing it presaged new hope for freedom and peace in that region. But neither freedom nor peace materialized. Instead today's headlines reflect the rising violence, corruption, and despair. The signing of Afghanistan's new constitution, establishing an Islamic republic under sharia law---and paid for with Western coalition dollars and the blood of our soldiers---tolled a death knell for any hope of real democracy.

Yet the many players I've met in this drama have involved themselves for the most part with the best of intentions. The more I came to know the region and love its people, I was left asking, "If with all the aid and arms and good intentions, freedom has not come to Afghanistan, what is the true source of freedom? Can outsiders truly purchase freedom for another culture or people?"

That question birthed Veiled Freedom. True freedom cannot be bestowed on another people through arms or an aid package, but only through individual hearts transformed by coming face to face with Jesus Christ.

The question Freedom's Stand addresses is: once you've found true freedom in Isa Masih, Jesus Christ, how far will love carry you in sharing that freedom with others?

Ironically, the real-life story that most inspired Freedom's Stand had not yet happened when I began writing it, though conditions on the ground in Afghanistan were such I knew it was only a matter of time. By the time Freedom's Stand headed to print, Red Cross therapist and war amputee Sayed Mossa was but one Afghan Isa-follower who had found himself on death row for his faith under the current Karzai regime. Though back-door deals recently brought about Sayed's release without every addressing the freedom of faith issue, other Isa-followers with less public press remain on death row in Afghanistan. Meanwhile Sayed himself is now exiled from his country as a condemned apostate.

My motivation in writing this sequel to Veiled Freedom was not just to finish the story of Jamil, Amy, and Steve, but to raise a voice for my brothers and sisters in Christ behind bars or suffering unjust persecution for their faith, not only in Afghanistan but across this planet.

Christine here again: I've been a big fan of Jeanette Windle for a long while now, and her latest novel affirms that.