Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Focus


Serving.
That's my new focus for 2019.
I was a little down the other day.
Pity party time.
My daughter invited me to feed the homeless with the youth group.
I'd done it before and enjoyed it, but I didn't really want to go.
I had a list of reasons why I shouldn't go...
Why I couldn't go.
But I went.
I was annoyed all the way to the church...
About my little problems.
But as soon as I arrived and began cutting donated cakes and pies and putting the pieces onto plates, I forgot all about my angsty issues.
All of the volunteers were happy.
They were eager to serve and much to my surprise, I was as eager as they were...joyful even.
The doors opened and the bedraggled bunch filed in.
I couldn't stop smiling.
Four teens and I were scooping ice cream.
How did we get so lucky?
We get to give ice cream to people who rarely taste the stuff.
"I haven't had ice cream in so long," one guy said.
I gave him an extra scoop.
Ice cream is heaven on earth and that guy needed a respite.
One by one, we dished joy to the downtrodden.
And my heart was filled.

How does God do that?
It makes no sense.
How can a tired, defeated, weary heart be ENERGIZED by GIVING to someone else?
I didn't think I had anything to give.
Yet the joy poured out.

I've been asking God to lead me.
To lead me to how He wants to use me.
And He showed me.
Serve.
More.

In that fog of self absorption...of thinking about MY problems...
God reminded me that focusing on OTHERS is the remedy to the angst of life - to sadness, upset and annoyances.
Focusing on OTHERS brings relief, joy and deep satisfaction.
So that is my focus for 2019.
Serving.
What's yours?

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

His Indescribable Gift...

Who remembers the Sears Wish book?
I'm pretty sure I drooled over this very catalog.
I would have been twelve years old. I dogeared pages, wrote lists and imagined getting every single thing I desired from that wonderful Wish Book.
Christmas in 1977 wasn't like Christmas today.
My family lived on a very tight budget. Credit? No way.
Today we live in a world where stuff is plentiful...whether or not it's affordable in the moment.
Even though this wish book invokes memories of childhood desire, I'm glad I didn't receive the treasures of every dogeared page.
I'm glad my parents carefully chose gifts for me and didn't stack boxes to the ceiling, feeding the greed monster that lives in all of us.
I'm glad God doesn't give me everything I want either.
Sometimes I think of some of the things I begged God for.
Relationships when I was young...I'm so thankful for the husband he gave me.
Stuff I knew I couldn't live without...my friends got some of that stuff and they were no happier for it.
As an adult, I wanted children right after we got married. I'm so glad we waited five years. We were so young at that time (19 and 20).
There are so many times I didn't get what I wanted and I'm forever thankful for that. Time always revealed the blessing of a "no" answer to my prayers.

I wanted to write a book when I was in the thick of mothering.
I felt God say, "Wait. I'll tell you when to write."
So I did.
I set my desire aside.
Dogeared the page, nonetheless, but set that wish aside.
The Lord is faithful and He's taken me on a winding road to publication.
A short story was published this fall, and from that endeavor, I was invited into a critique group - challenging me to become a better writer.
I'm grateful for the freedom to follow every rabbit trail on this path to publishing a novel.
I couldn't have done that and mothered my children well.
He is so wise.

What are you wishing for this Christmas and in the New Year.
Have you asked God for it?
Seek God's wisdom this season and see where He leads.
His gifts are always good.

His best Gift is the One we celebrate this season.
May you grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:18-20)

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Merry Christmas every one!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Characters...

The Bickering Bickersons
Last summer, at my mom's garage sale, an old man with a long, white beard approached the table where we were taking money and bagging treasures.
His hands were empty...he wasn't buying.
He said, "I bought a pair of shoes from a drug dealer. I don't know what he laced them with but I've been tripping all day!"
Then he walked away.
That's a character right there.
We've all encountered the joke-telling old man who approaches strangers, drops the funny and makes a hasty exit.
I love those guys.

Characters are everywhere.

I love the talkative, oversharing toddler,
The classic church lady with the single arched eyebrow,
The constantly bickering married couple (the bickering Bickersons),
The insecure, but hilarious teenage boy who hasn't a clue how funny he is,
The flamboyant older woman - gaudy, colorful and, best of all, owning it,
The self-absorbed soul, always positioned near, and peering in a mirror while conversing with others,
The loud laugher (guilty), unable to rein in their delight to a socially appropriate level,
Friendly grocery checkers, bantering about their kids, the weather, sometimes dropping inappropriate personal information leaving the hearer unsure how to respond,
The teenage girl, unaware of her beauty, disguising it under a heavy mask of makeup,
A quiet, big-tipping gentleman blessing tired waitresses,
The old couple holding hands as they walk through the park,
The tired mom in the grocery store carrying on a loud conversation with her toddler in the hopes someone, anyone will notice that she's a good mother (we notice, you are),
The former high-school all-star who isn't any more, but lives or rather, re-lives that glory,
The all-knowing neighbor, keeping tabs on everyone within a two-block radius, and reporting that knowledge to anyone who will listen,
The fashion-impaired woman (guilty again) who consistently mis-buttons her shirt or mis-matches patterns, but not in a hip, new way,
The cheerful mechanic or contractor or repairman bearing bad news with a knowing smile - knowing a good payday is coming,
The chatty dental hygienist, asking questions you can't possibly answer with your mouth wide open,
...and so many more...
Which brings me back to the joke-telling old man...
I've met hundreds of them in my life.
I can't remember all the jokes,
But I'm glad I remember the essence of the old men who told them.
After all, it wasn't the joke that was funny, it was the person who told it!

Keep your eyes open for characters...perhaps you're one of them!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving...


Since it is Thanksgiving, I will produce the obligatory list of things I'm thankful for, but with a twist.
THIS Thanksgiving, an acrostic poem of words I like and why I like them. (Not sure why an acrostic is called a poem, but whatever.) Sure, it seems boring and maybe it will be. (I hope not)

And to clear myself of any guilt for not mentioning the obvious things I'm thankful for: Here they are...
My family and friends, my Savior and my country.

On with the "poem"...

T - Tribe. The idea of tribe was a bit lost on me for most of my life. I equated "tribe" with large groups of cliquey women excluding all others. Not so. Regarding friendships, I related to the saying, "I'd rather have four quarters than a hundred pennies." Like most people, I've been burned. It happens when you "collect pennies". So I am guilty of being guarded when sharing my life with people. Even so, my little growing tribe of sisters is precious. As my hair has grayed (amazingly fast once I stopped dying it - go figure), the wisdom of those white strands seeped into my noggin. I'm better at finding kindred spirits and avoiding danger.

H - Harmony. Alone in my car, when I'm singing and worshiping God, I sing harmony. Horribly. (I literally apologize God when it's really bad.) I was thinking about harmony the other day. It adds beautiful depth to music...and when we live in harmony, work in harmony, we are much more productive. Harmony is a choice though. You have to work at it. I hope my harmonizing continues to improve. It will, with practice. Harmony brings joy...in all things.

A - Aqua. I love that color. It represents water, purity, happiness. It is fresh. It is eye-catching.

N - Nest. I'm a mother...of grown children, but still. You never stop being a mother. My nest may be empty but my heart is full. My home is different now - emptier - but it brings me great joy. I host my writing group every week and it buzzes with life. (I love that.) It is nearly ready for the eventual return of my kids. They'll all be home for Christmas and I can hardly wait!

K - Kitchen. Odd, I know, but I love to bake and at the moment there's a hole in our kitchen ceiling (a tiny leak in the master shower - Yay, new tile in the master bath..gulp). Since we've got to patch the hole and paint, the kitchen is on my mind. We'll eventually paint the cabinets - or maybe not - and what color should I paint the walls? I love these conundrums (another favorite word) and perusing Pinterest to solve them!

S - Strength. It was a challenging year. I never imagined losing a parent. (Why would I want to imagine that?) I made a wonderful discovery, though. I am strong. I have strength. And when my strength wanes, God offers His. I leaned in and soaked up His strength when mine was nowhere to be found. And here's the best part. God's strength is there for the asking. He doles it out as we need it, not before - not when we anticipate the need - when we actually need it. I like to prepare. I like to have extra on hand. This year, I learned to accept grief as an offer of strength from God and it built my faith to know I could trust Him to give it right when I needed it.

G - Grace. I could go on and on about grace. It is the gift of God...two more fabulous G words! But grace...undeserved favor...wow. My church has Grace in it (The Graceworks) and my writing group is called The Grace Writers (as well as my novel). It's no coincidence. Grace is something the world needs. It's something I hope to pass on...to spread...to write about.

I - Inspiration. It's all around me. I find inspiration in the beautiful world we live in. Nature is a treasure trove, but even more, people. I love people. I love watching them and studying them. (Confession: I love reality TV because I can watch people I wouldn't normally see in my world.) In reality, though, (see what I did there?) we inspire each other. Do I inspire others? That's my hope. I am so inspired by so many people in my life and for that I am thankful!

V - Vivacious. There is a person I notice wherever I go. The old woman living vivaciously. She has pink, sparkly hair and colorful clothing - preferably mismatched but happy - and glasses, large and bold. These women are rare and interesting and fun. There is a woman who prances around Yelm Highway in heels, a hat and a suit straight out of the eighties. She has perfect posture and is perfectly out of place. I don't know her but I love her. I hope I am vivacious as an old person. (Old-er person - gray hair notwithstanding.)

I - Inclusion. It's a wonderful thing to be included. We've all experienced being invisible, overlooked or intentionally DIScluded. That's no fun. In fact, it's dismaying. But to feel inclusion - to know you belong. That's precious. Over the past year or two I've found many inclusive people. People who welcome strangers and celebrate change. I try to be that way too. I know I fail, but the more I practice it, the easier it becomes.

N - Niche. Everyone wants to find their niche. I wish Thanksgiving had a C in it. Because I equate finding one's niche to contentment. I've found my niche a few times in my life. The niche changes, grows and morphs. It's all a process. I hope you find your niche too...and consider...maybe your niche is right where you are. Perhaps embracing the season you're in IS your niche. By being content where we are, we free our mind to settle into God's plan.

G - Grateful. It's what Thanksgiving is all about - being grateful. And I am so very grateful for all of the blessings in my life. If you're reading this right now, you're one of them!

What words are you thankful for?

May your Thanksgiving weekend be filled with family, friendship and the blessings of the season!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Two Golden Rings during The Great Depression...


When I decided to write Two Golden Rings for the anthology, Christmas in Time, I did some research on the era.
What an interesting time.
Struggle and heartache permeated those years following the stock market crash of 1929.
In my research, I read a book, The Secret Gift by Ted Gup.
It told the true story of Mr. Gup's grandfather, Sam Stone, who had weathered the crash and had some extra money to give away in 1933 when Canton, Ohio was overwhelmed with struggle. That Christmas, Mr. Stone put an ad in the newspaper offering $10 to 75 families, no questions asked. Just write to "Mr. B. Virdot", describing your desperate need. When the letters poured in, he decided to answer 150 of them with a $5 gift.
Mr. Gup was not aware of Sam Stone's kindness until he discovered a suitcase filled with letters after his death. His grandfather kept the letters telling of utter desperation. They were proud people who didn't want to ask for money, but since it would be discreetly given, and since they were so desperate for the basic needs of life, they wrote. There were other letters in the suitcase as well. Thank you notes describing how the modest gift had been spent and what it meant to them.
Mr. Gup set out to find the families of the letter-writers, and discovered that the $5 gift had made a world of difference to some of them, filling them with hope and changing the trajectory of the family. For others it made for a nice Christmas but not much more. Some families struggled for generations. The book chronicles those stories and weaves in the account of Sam Stone's life as well. It's a fascinating read.

I tried to capture some of that tension in my story.
The desperation of need and the desire to be self-sufficient.
The pain of loss and the desire to be whole again.
The hope of provision and the devastation of disappointment.
Ultimately, I wanted to tell a story of the faithfulness of God - because He is - so very faithful!

You can buy a copy of Christmas in Time here.

I hope my story blesses you this holiday season!




Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Walk Through the Leaves...

I was running errands yesterday when I was hit with an urgent need to go for a walk.
This is significant for one particular reason...
I haven't taken a solo walk outside since my dad died.
I don't know why.
I've walked plenty with Alex but not alone.
So yesterday I couldn't get home fast enough to grab my ear buds and take off down the trail.
It was glorious.
Fall was showing off.
The weather was PERFECTION.
Not sunny, not raining...damp but not cold...perfect fall weather.
The leaves were ankle deep in places.
And there were mushrooms...
I love mushrooms.
They're so delicate.
So fragile...
But they have strength to push through the weight of the damp leaves.
                                           


Leaves let go of the trees in front of me, twirling to the trail.
I stopped to watch them.
Letting go.
Letting go so new life can grow in their place.
For a long while, I was all alone...me and my music.
Praising God for His beautiful world.
Reflecting on the past year...
Realizing that everything was fine...
Really good.
Even though...

And I'm thankful for the journey of life,
The changing seasons,
And solo walks through leaves.

Friday, October 26, 2018

God Will Take Care of You!


Yes, He will!
Matthew 6:26 (KJV) says:
Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are ye not much better than they?

Two Golden Rings is the story of Violet Finnegan, a young widow struggling through the the Great Depression. She longs to help her family when her father loses his job and they are unable to pay a debt. Will Violet trust God to provide for her family or will she take matters into her own hands?

The ebook AND paperback are available now on Amazon - Click here

Do you want to win a print just like the one pictured above?
Here's how: Be the first person to post a photo of yourself holding a paperback copy of Christmas in Time on social media (tag #heatherswrite on instagram or Heather Morse Alexander on Facebook). If you're the first, I'll send you a 5x7 print FREE!

What if you're not the first one to post a photo?
Here's another way to score a print: Leave a review on Amazon! There are 3 reviews on the ebook...will you be the 4th? :)
I can't wait to give a couple of prints away!

What if you want a print but you didn't win?
That beautiful print was created by my niece, Angela.
She has some for sale in her Etsy shop: Letterbabe

Thank you so much to everyone who has already purchased the ebook and paperback!
I appreciate you! I hope the stories bring you joy!

Monday, October 1, 2018

A beautiful October.


It's a lovely October but...
It's not nearly as beautiful as last October.

Last October,
The leaves were fiery red, bright yellow and glowing orange.
The trees seemed to hold onto the leaves a bit longer as if showing off.
Look at me! Look at me!

The rain smelled incredible.
The sunsets were glorious.
The crispness of morning, a delight.

Last year we'd just come through a horrible time of suffering.
We'd watched my dad battle cancer and ultimately lose the fight.
We didn't look out the windows or feel the fresh air.
We held a vigil of love.

And when it was over.
When the hot pain of anticipation and loss lifted,
October shocked with its beauty.

I remember saying over and over how beautiful THIS October was.
And it was glorious.
It was the prettiest fall I'd ever seen.

Because after the dark,
After going through the ugliness of death,
The light born out of that dark tunnel,
Was so very bright.

Suffering gives birth to appreciation...
Of life, beauty, nature.
And although last October was filled with sorrow,
Joy danced in the falling leaves.
My heart was bathed in a downpour of comfort.
Peace warmed like a comfy sweater.
And it was the most beautiful October on record. 

Christmas In Time - A Country Christmas by Carolyn Bickel

Happy Release Day!!!
Today is the day that the ebook releases so if you pre-ordered (THANK YOU SO MUCH!), it should be delivered to you today!
The paperback still has a week or two to percolate, unfortunately. It's coming though, I promise!
We surely do appreciate your support in this endeavor. It's been so much fun creating a book with my co-authors. What a wonderful group of people to work with!

Today I'd like to introduce you to Carolyn Bickel!
Her story is a sweet tale of Christmas that many of us can relate to...it will warm your heart!




          I experienced some of the events, and situations you’ll see in my story. The struggle to pay the bills, the lack of money to buy gifts at Christmas, like many people, I experienced those difficult times. But in this story I wanted to show the importance of being a close family during hard times. Little things count. Presents from the heart come in different ways, as this family discovered; not always in lavish gifts, but in unexpected ways. The real meaning of Christmas is love for one another, and what this time is all about, God’s son 


Carolyn Bickel lives in southwest Washington State on a small cattle ranch with her husband Sam. Their house pets include a Pembroke Welch Corgi, and their fat cat Mabel. She has written adventures about Mabel and Tasha, yet to be finished. She loves music and plays piano in a band twice a month on Friday night at her church for Celebrate Recovery, a successful program for persons recovering from additions. Lives are being changed. It is wonderful to see.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Christmas in Time - The Junkyard Gang by James K. Pratt


Just a few more days until the ebook is released! The paperback has been a bit delayed I'm afraid. Look for a mid-October release for the paperback version of Christmas in Time!

Today, I'd like to introduce you to James K. Pratt. He's written a fun Christmas story from the perspective of a boy. 

Three kids living on an American military base in Japan sneak out on Christmas morning to give presents to a friend who lost his home in a fire. Along the way the three will struggle with bullies and military police. 
I lived on Atsugi base in Japan during the 1980s, the time the story takes place. It’s a great setting. Add eighties culture and kids in the midst of a Nintendo obsession and it became a nostalgic adventure inspired by my own childhood memories.


James K. Pratt is the author of Chelsea and Swindle, Children of Nod, and Night Side of Nature. You can learn more about James on his website, www.JamesKPratt.comor visit his Facebook home. You can also follow him on Twitter at @JamesKPrattx

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Christmas In Time - A Home for Christmas by Kristie Kandoll

Pre-order the ebook now - paperback available on October 1st.

This week, I'd like to introduce you to Kristie Kandoll.
Kristie is another of the seven authors contributing to the anthology Christmas In Time. 
I had the privilege of critiquing the first few chapters of Kristie's story and I was drawn directly into the emotion of the conflict. I can't wait to find out how it ends!
Without further ado...Kristie Kandoll:


My love of northwestern North Dakota runs deep. My ancestors homesteaded the land that my brother still farms. I have the utmost respect and admiration for these tough pioneers. A harsh climate, rocky soil, and often little money, produced resilient, hard-working people. 
One of our bachelor relatives farmed near us when I was growing up. My parents included him in our holidays, and he enjoyed Mom’s home-cooked meals. He held a special place in my heart, and I worried about him going back to his empty house. I’ve wondered how his life—and all our of lives—might have turned out differently if at some point he or we had chosen a different fork in the road.
Kristie Kandoll lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. She grew up in North Dakota and enjoys writing Christian historical fiction in that setting. A Home for Christmas is her first published story. Dakota's Promise, a romantic suspense novel set in 1939, and two novels in her Belden homesteading trilogy, Song of Dakota and Day by Day, are currently being considered. A blog with history of the area is on her website, kristiekandoll.com

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Clock


This is my great-grandfather's clock.
It kept time on the wall of his small grocery store in Montebello, California, back in the 20's and 30's.
My mother inherited it from him.
This Seth Thomas clock was an important part of my growing up years.
It hung on the wall in the family room of my childhood home. 
We willed those hands to reach the correct time as we waited for our favorite TV shows.
Bewitched, The Adam's Family, The Brady Bunch, Partridge Family and during my early teens, Donny and Marie. (swoon)
It's a schoolhouse clock...an old-school wind-up clock.
Wind it up and it runs for eight days straight.
It keeps perfect time.
This was both good and bad when I was growing up. 
Good when I was getting ready to go somewhere...
Bad when I came home late on a Saturday night.
It also has a loud tick tock...
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. 
My friends complained about it when they'd sleep over.
We always had sleepovers on the floor of the family room, playing games, watching Nightmare Theater and staying up 'til all hours (because we'd watched Nightmare Theater).
I love the sound of that clock. 
It's strong, steady and familiar.
Sometimes I don't hear it at all...and then I'll see the pendulum swinging back and forth and the ticking and tocking will waft over my ears...there it is...
Many years ago, my parents asked my sister, brother and I which family heirlooms we wanted to inherit.
I didn't hesitate. 
Great Grandpa's old clock.
When my mom moved this summer, she gave it to me.
It hangs in our den, ticking off it's familiar beat.
The other day, I was talking to my daughter on the phone. 
In the middle of our conversation she said, "Mom, I hear the clock. I love that clock!"
There it was.
That loud, familiar friend.
Nearly a hundred years of ticking and tocking and keeping time for generations of children and grandchildren.
I wonder what secrets...what stories that clock could tell...

Monday, September 17, 2018

Christmas In Time - An English Christmas Treasure by Debby Lee

          This week I'd like to introduce you to Debby Lee.  I met Debby almost two years ago when she responded to my request for a local critique partner on the American Christian Fiction Writer's facebook page. Debby has been an encouragement to me and a valuable critique partner. Her expertise has helped me to grow as a writer and her faith in my ability to tell a story is why I'm part of this anthology. I'm so grateful!
          Her contribution to Christmas in Time is titled: An English Christmas Treasure.

When members of my critique group began talking about putting an anthology together I immediately wanted to be a part of it. A chance to participate in a Christmas collection with writers who help me hone my writing skills, folks I consider my friends, I couldn't refuse. I almost didn't know how to begin. I've written several stories set in America during the 1800's, but for this project I was ready for something different. Then I thought about England. I love the movies Sense and Sensibility and Young Victoria, and besides, my mother-in-law is from Soham, England. So, I delved into research, which I consider one of the most enjoyable parts of being an author. Drawing further inspiration from the classic, The Little Drummer Boy, I wove together what I hope is a tale of heartwarming romance.

Debby Lee was raised in the cozy town of Toledo, Washington. She’s been writing since she was a small child, but never forgets home.
The American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America are two organizations Debby enjoys being a part of. She recently signed her fourth contract with Barbour Publishing. The Courageous Brides and Mountain Christmas Brides both made the ECPA Bestsellers list. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steven Laube Literary Agency.
A self-professed nature lover, Debby feels like a hippie child who wasn’t born soon enough to attend Woodstock. She wishes she could run barefoot all year long, but often does when weather permits. During football season Debby cheers on the Seattle Seahawks with other devoted fans. She’s also filled with wanderlust and dreams of traveling the world someday.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Christmas in Time - Christmas Stars by Barbara Blakey

Christmas in Time is set to release on October 1st!
Pre-order for the ebook is available now, and the paperback is coming soon.

What I've enjoyed most about contributing to this anthology is the people I've had the privilege of working with--seasoned writers from whom I can learn and grow as a writer. This week I'd like to introduce you to Barbara Tifft Blakey. 


 When the opportunity came to be a part of this collection, I started thinking about the many joyful Christmases I’ve known. One of the most memorable, almost magical, was the one spent in Europe, specifically parts of Germany and Vienna. It seemed like a perfect fit to set my story in a place that touched me as wonderfully as that Christmas did.

Barbara Tifft Blakey is the author of the language arts program, Total Language Plus. She has written a middle grade novel, Bertie’s War (published by Kregel) and written for two anthologies (published by Barbour):  The Underground Railroad Brides Collectionand The Pony Express Romance Collection.

         

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Writing the Scriptures - 3 Wonderful Discoveries!


I recently began writing the Scriptures...
No, I'm not adding anything to the Bible.
I'm writing what the Bible says - copying it - word for word in long-hand.

I began in Ephesians.
6 chapters,  17 pages of my handwriting.
Fun fact: My hand never got tired.

I discovered many things, here's three of them...
1.  When I take three or six word chunks and write them down, I have to examine each word - copy it exactly as it's written in my Bible - and as I do that, the words don't rush through my noggin.
They sink in.
They float there for a few seconds and sometimes I stop and take a minute to ponder.
(Maybe that's why my hand doesn't get tired.)
One of the first things I pondered is the fact that the Holy Spirit was given to us as a "deposit guaranteeing our inheritance" (Ephesians 1:14). Yes, the Holy Spirit is here to comfort and guide us, but I hadn't realized that the Holy Spirit is also a deposit - a guarantee or proof that Christ will return for us - in whom the Spirit dwells. Wow.
Ephesians is now full of doodle stars, underlined words and highlights where God revealed something new or cemented a truth into my heart. I'm so grateful.

2. Typically, reading my bible is something to get done.
Full disclosure - devotions were box to check.
I'm not proud of that but there it is.
Since I started writing the scriptures, I look forward to it. I think about it throughout my day and sometimes I write in the morning and afternoon. It's exciting to see what will pop out to me.
What nugget(s) will I find today?
(I've always liked a treasure hunt.)

3. There are A LOT of run-on sentences in the Bible. Which gives me hope, honestly. If the best selling book of all time contains a plethora of run-on sentences, one after the other, there's hope for my novel, right?! ;)

Have you ever written the scriptures?
I am surprised how much I enjoy it.
I've thought about writing the whole Bible, but honestly, the lists of begats in the Old Testament give me pause.
I'll keep you posted as I continue writing...next up, James. (We're going to study James at church so I thought I'd get a little jump start.)

Give writing the scriptures a try and let me know what you think.
You will be blessed, so very blessed!

Monday, September 3, 2018

One Year Ago...


It's been a year since my dad went to Glory.
A long year of massive change.
There's no preventing the loss of loved ones.
Death is a guarantee of life.
It's the way LIFE works.
And during this year, I've grown closer to my Heavenly Father.
That's a worthy exchange...not easy, but precious.

Much has happened during this year that would have made my dad so proud.
Our family celebrated many successes and even a new little addition who shares his name.
With every celebration I felt the joy my dad would have expressed.
His physical body may be gone, but his essence remains.
In that, I find comfort.

God's kindness and comfort is lavished on those who grieve.
Isaiah 41:10 - Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
This has been the most precious thing to know.
God does not want me to be stuck in sadness.
In the midst of grief, He brings joy.
Joy in the memories that come to mind every day.
Joy in my one precious life that keeps on going...
Joy in the promise of eternal life.

So...today I remember my dad and the day he went home.
I know I'll miss him for the rest of my life.
But I feel a lightness to this milestone.
This year was something to get through...all the firsts without him.
Time has softened the ache and calmed the crashing waves of grief.
And I'm thankful.

Friday, August 31, 2018

10 Things I Love About Fall

Fall is my favorite season for so many reasons...here are my top ten:

1. Cooler weather.
I love the sunshine and heat, and then I don't. Enough is enough. Bring on the biting breezes and sweater weather.

2. School supplies.
Composition books for 50¢...50¢!! Aisles of pens and pencils and erasers. Paper of every kind. Glue and paperclips and binders. And it's all on sale! Swoon.

3. Color.
The fiery reds, yellows and oranges contrast with green grass and blue sky. My eyes feast on the beauty of this time of year.

4. The smell of rain after a long dry summer.

5. Harvest. My garden is bursting at the seams. I love wandering down the aisles of my personal grocery store to pick dinner...provided the broccoli and brussel sprouts aren't wormy...but that's another story.

6. Clothes. I'm admittedly fashion-impaired but there's something about dressing in the fall. I can layer and take fashion chances, albiet with mixed results - but if I'm warm, who cares?

7. Baking. After a summer of minimal cooking because it's been hot, I look forward to baking. I love to bake cookies and scones. It's been a drought of fast meals and ice cream bars for dessert. Time to turn the oven on.

8. Rain beating on the window.

9. A fire in the fireplace.

10. The new year. Not the real new year, but the new school year which has always felt more like a new year than January 1st does. It's a time of setting goals and looking back and starting fresh.
The old passes away and the new has come...as the leaves tumble through the air, that's how I feel.
I love that!

BONUS: This fall, Christmas in Time will be released! I'm very excited to hold that book in my hot little hands and read seven stories of Christmas through the ages. My story, Two Golden Rings, is one of them. It won't be long before you can order your own copy. :)

What do you love about fall?

Friday, August 10, 2018

On Motherhood...and Contentment.


When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up,
My answer was always, "I want to be a mom."
Always.
My mom was a stay-at-home mom and I never imagined doing anything else.
The value of her presence was not lost on me.
So when I became a mother,
There was no question that I would be home with my kids.

When I became a mom, it was MUCH cooler to be a working mom.
Perhaps it hasn't changed much.
Over and over, I was asked, "What do you DO all day?" 
I couldn't answer definitively.
What did I do all day?
Never what I planned to do when I woke up.
The days were a blur of meeting never-ending needs.
And snuggles.
Lots of hugs and sticky kisses.
Which made the messes and tears a lot easier to deal with.
But always the question - asked in a group no less,
"What do you do?"
"I'm a stay-at-home mom."
"Aren't you bored? I could never do that. I have to use my brain." (Yes, that was a real response.)
How does one describe a 24-hour-a-day-with-no-breaks, emotional, exhausting, hilarious, dirty, fun, smelly, sleepless, satisfying, dream job?

When my kids went to school, I had extra time during the day. 
My plan was to look for a job, but I didn't. 
I made work for myself by selling on Ebay and eventually launched a successful business on Etsy.
I made more money at home than I would have made working part-time...and I didn't miss a single track meet or soccer game.
That was the goal.
With my husband's crazy law-enforcement schedule, I wouldn't compromise being available for our kids.
But, I had big dreams for me.
I wanted to be a writer.
I tried to write when my kids were little but I felt the Lord tell me to focus on my kids.
He knew how obsessive I can be when a story takes over.
So I waited.
I obeyed.
I wrote Christmas letters but that was the extent of it.
And then the last kid graduated and I dove right in.
I don't know what will come of what I write, but I trust that God will use it.

I am so thankful that God chose to make me a mother. 
I'm so grateful to my mom for being an beautiful example to me.
I'm thankful for my husband for supporting my desire to be home with our kids.
And I'm grateful for my children - for loving me and honoring my efforts (mistakes and all) by working hard to be the wonderful, successful people they are. I couldn't be prouder.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Christmas in Time: What Will You Do by Kyle Pratt


October is coming and it won't be long before the release of Christmas In Time, Seven Stories of Christmas Through the Ages.

This week Kyle Pratt shares the inspiration for his story: What Will You Do

Pondering the Nativity
The writing of What Will You Do
Most of us are familiar with the birth of Jesus from the biblical account. In Luke, we read that on that first Christmas an angel appeared to shepherds and tells them that the Messiah has been born in Bethlehem. They run to the village and see the baby Jesus.
While that account is beautiful, in both its telling and meaning, I’ve felt for a long time that it’s merely the surface layer of a much deeper story. Why did the angel tell the shepherds? Did Satan know about the birth? Did he try to stop the shepherds or even kill the baby Jesus?
Perhaps I will receive answers to those questions when I stand before God, but probably not while we’re here on Earth. Still, I wonder and, since I'm a writer, I took pen in hand and using the talents God gave me created an answer.
My story, What Will You Do, will appear in the Christmas in Time anthology coming out this October. Between then and now you can read more about both right here. I hope you enjoy my contribution to the anthology along with the other six stories.
Kyle Pratt is the bestselling author of Through Many Fires, A Time to Endure, Braving the Storms, Through the Storm and other books. You can learn more about Kyle on his website, www.kylepratt.me or visit his Facebook home. You can also follow him on Twitter at @KyleonKindle
  


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Christmas In Time: Two Golden Rings by Heather Morse Alexander



            My great-grandfather owned a grocery store in Montebello, California in the 1930’s and 40’s. It was a difficult time in American history as the country suffered through Great Depression.
            One day a woman came into the store, did her shopping and brought the order to the counter to be tallied. When the time came to pay, she offered her engagement and wedding rings as payment. It was all she had.
            My great-grandfather accepted the rings, but he didn’t sell them to cover her bill—he kept them. He hoped she’d come back and pay him what she owed so he could return the rings to her. Unfortunately, she never did. We still have those rings today. They are a testament to my great-grandfather’s kindness and a witness to the desperation of the times. They represent honor and heartache.

            I wrote Two Golden Rings as a tribute to my great-grandfather.
            Violet Finnigan is a young widow struggling through the Depression with her parents and sisters. Her family is pulled under by a wave of misfortune in the plunging economy. The wealthy and handsome Sam Caldecott sweeps Violet off her feet with his charm, and the potential of financial security. Will Sam rescue her family from the throes of the Depression?
            Two Golden Rings is filled with the same honor and heartache of the tale that inspired it—as well as an abundance of faith and joy. It is one of seven stories in the Christmas In Time anthology coming out in October. I hope my story warms your heart this Christmas.