Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Life's Seasons

Charlotte’s Garden
By Shirley Johnson

Charlotte loved to work in her garden in the morning. She could hear the morning birds greet the day with a song. The refreshing dewdrops found rest upon the garden. The flowers seemed to smile back at the sun.

Charlotte worked hard at maintaining the presentation and growth of the garden. She knew with the proper care it would not only look beautiful, but create a peaceful atmosphere for those viewing it. From childhood, she knew which of the elements and garden intruders can interfere with the presentation and growth of the garden and which are harmless.

The garden often ministered to Charlotte. She embraced the seasons of the garden. It often shared reflections of life and whispers of hope.

While working in the garden a ladybug crawled on her sleeve. There was a time many years ago if this happened she would have panicked. She smiled and laughed to herself. She thought back to when she was a very small child. She was with her mom visiting at their friend’s home. The porch provided a favorite play area. Somehow a ladybug crawled right where she sat. She cried out to her mom for help.

Charlotte’s mom came running in response to her cries. While Charlotte saw a big intruder, her mother saw a simple little ladybug. “Oh, Charlotte.” “It’s okay,” said her mom. Her mom had gardened a long time and knew the difference between a harmless bug and dangerous ones. “This is just an innocent little bug that somehow landed in the wrong place.” She calmly scooped up the ladybug with her gentle hands, opened the screen door, and let it go.

Life’s seasons have a way of presenting itself with different problems. There are times when we have real problems, big problems that we need to face, address and solve. Sometimes though, we have little irritations that invade our space. They land right where we sit in life. They have us talking, repeating, agonizing and spinning our wheels. They interfere and distract us from the purpose and plan in our lives. They “bug” us.

When those little irritations land in our space,
look at them and determine how big they are.
Perhaps there are times when we too must open the screen door and let them go.

Shirley Johnson shares inspiration and encouragement through her writing. She is a member of SCBWI and ACFW. She loves to read and has volunteered at her local Public Library as an Adult Literacy Tutor. She shares her writing on her blog. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Say Yes to your Passion, Purpose, Power

Walking in Your Own Shoes
By Kolleen Lucariello

Here in my home state of New York, October ushers in the fun of pumpkins, apple picking and salmon fishing season. There’s also the beauty of leaves peaking, apple cider and cozy sweaters. Among the many things October has to offer, it has also been designated as Women Walking in Their Own Shoes month: a global call for women to say yes to their purpose, passion and power.

If you’re like me, fall also means it’s time to shed the flip-flops, put away the sandals, and slip your feet back into a pair of shoes. Preferably comfortable ones—it’s never enjoyable to spend a day in shoes that don’t fit.

Once, while visiting my parents, I slipped my feet into a pair of my mother’s shoes so I could retrieve something from the car. Immediately, I noticed we walk completely differently; she walks on the inside of her sole—I don’t. My feet in her shoes didn’t work well. Come to think of it, I’ve stood in the clearance section trying to squeeze my feet into the wrong size shoe all for the sake of cuteness. I’ve also clomped around in shoes too big out of convenience. Neither were comfortable. Did you know it’s possible to cause serious harm to yourself by wearing shoes that don’t fit properly?

Serious harm can also happen when insecurities keep you from walking in your own shoes. Just as there’s comfort when we slip our feet into our own shoes, comfort can be found when we slip ourselves into the purpose, passion and power God has given us.

Paul wrote, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone” (Ephesians 1:11-12, MSG).

When we say yes to Christ, we say yes to purpose because we discover what we are living for. We say yes to passion because we recognize who we are, and we say yes to power because we understand the kingdom of God is not based on talk but on power (1 Corinthians 4:20).

Cinderella was the only one who could wear the glass slipper.

You’re the only one who can walk in your shoes.


Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, the author of the devotional book, The ABC's of Who God Says I Am, resides in Central New York with her husband, Pat. You can connect with Kolleen at as she pursues God’s heartbeat to change our identity—one letter at a time. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Improve Marriage with Reading

One Proposal for An Improved Marriage
by Lori Lipsky

For the first time in our marriage, we decided to read a book at the same time so we could discuss it together. Credit for the idea goes to my husband, but I was excited about the plan and in total agreement with our book choice.

The Brothers KaramazovMy husband had once asked a well-read acquaintance we both respect to recommend several books that had been most influential in his life. One of the authors this man mentioned was Dostoevsky. We decided to choose Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. I’m a bit ashamed to admit what happened next.

I could make excuses, but the quick truth is my husband read the book right away and then patiently waited for years for me to complete it. I started in several times but got bogged down in the early pages by the long Russian names. Prior to this I had read Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and some Chekhov stories so I’m not sure why I struggled. I guess I allowed myself to be distracted by life and by other books, and I put off the Dostoevsky. As I look back, I regret not making The Brothers Karamazov more of a priority. I eventually purchased an audio copy of the book and completed the novel.
After I finished listening to the book, we shared our impressions with one another. Remarkably, my husband remembered details of the book quite well. Since then, we’ve read or listened to dozens of books and discussed them. We have different tastes, but our interests intersect with authors like David McCullough, Louise Penny, and David Baldacci. When it’s time to order another Audible book, we’ll sometimes collaborate to choose a selection we agree on so we can both listen on our own, but then have the book in our shared reading history.

Our book talk is informal and brief, but it’s a treat to talk books with my husband. We’ve found discussing books often sparks interesting conversation. Good books teach me more about who I am, but each new book we share helps me learn more about my spouse, too. We’re learning together as a couple. We discuss dreams and ideas. Books get us talking, and in marriage, communication is a good thing.

About the Author:
Lori Lipsky is a writer and teacher. Her poetry and short fiction pieces have appeared in a variety of literary journals and magazines. She lives in Waunakee, Wisconsin with her husband, where she teaches piano at a private music school. You can find her at on Twitter @LoriSLipsky

Thursday, September 28, 2017

That Was Then This is Now with Paulette Harper

Hello. I’m Excited. This is one of my stops for the Virtual Book Tour That Was Then, This Is Now, This Broken Vessel Restored. This virtual book tour is organized by Write Now Literary Book Tours. This tour runs September 28, 2017.  

Follow the tour here.  
Book your own tour here WNL

Genre: Christian Non Fiction
Kindle ASIN: B073VCY1L5

About the Author

 In addition to being an award winning author of Completely Whole and Secret Places Revealed, Paulette is an inspirational speaker, as well as a writing workshop instructor. Her literary works have been spotlighted in a growing number of publications, including CBN, Real Life Real Faith Magazine, The Sacramento Observer and Black Pearls Magazine. She has also appeared on numerous local and online radio shows.
Paulette resides in Northern California.

                     About The Book



If you've recently asked yourself these questions, Paulette Harper's That Was Then, This is Now has the answers. Struggling to recover from a broken marriage and disappointed dreams, Paulette Harper gropes for meaning and understanding. And through her searching, God reveals Himself to her in ways she never before imagined possible. By sharing her struggles with transparency, she illustrates how a heart attitude of surrender allows God to use a broken vessel for His ultimate plans of glory.

That Was Then, This is Now, minsters to hurting hearts in every season in life, reminding them that God restores shattered lives, intent on using them for His sovereign purposes.

Purchase Links
Amazon paperback:  http://a.co/8uFAONt
Connect Socially
Amazon author page: http://amzn.com/e/B004FEJKCQ

Tour hosted by Write Now Literacy

Read an excerpt:

Destiny and Purpose
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, and then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. Psalms 139:13 (MG)

Destiny is the inevitable or necessary succession of events. What is necessary happens to any person or thing. Purpose is something one intends to get or do; the object in which something exits.

“You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; you know exactly how I was made, bit–by–bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something” (Psalms 139:15, MSG). Everything about you God already knows every hair on your head, the shape of your body, your personality, your character, and your habits (good and bad). He knows every detail about you. You and I are in the mind of God. “Long before He laid down earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love” (Ephesians 1:4, MSG).

Even though you might not like certain parts of your makeup, God did not make a mistake. You are not an accident, nor did your parents “slip” when it came to you. Everything that has happened to us, pleasant and unpleasant, has shaped us to be the people we are today. He will use life’s circumstances to redefine your character and bring necessary changes to your person. No matter what life has thrown our way, what blows have come, what road we have taken, the plan of God will always remain. The purpose for which you were created will stand. Destiny is within us. “Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day” (Psalms 139:16, MSG).
You must find out why God created you and for what purpose. No one other than God can tell you why you were created. He knows your destiny because He is the one who designed and formed you. Some of us were called into ministry, appointed to be pastors; some were called to be presidents, owners of corporations, doctors, lawyers, engineers, and professional athletes. Whatever the vocation you are called into, you and only you can fulfill your God–given destiny. Once you realize what your purpose is, that will motivate you to continue striving in spite of the setbacks in life.

God is expecting you to finish your assignment no matter what you face, what odds are against you, what valley you are in, how high the mountain you think you can’t climb. You are required by God to rely on Him and depend and trust that everything is going to work out. Do not allow what you have experienced in life to reposition you out of the destiny in which you were created. Be determined, no matter what befalls you, to stay on course with the purposes of God. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NKJV).

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Mattie's Choice book review with Gay Lewis

Mattie's Choice

Buy on Amazon
Buy on Smashwords

About the Book:
It's 1925 in rural Oklahoma. A naïve seventeen-year-old Mattie chooses to elope with Jesse, leaving behind an ideal life with her wealthy and loving family. With hope for a happy future, she vows to stay with her husband through good times or bad, but the wonderful life Mattie dreams of is shattered by Jesse's abusive nature and his refusal to allow her to see her family.

When Jesse’s brother, Joe, brings home his new wife--the vivacious Ella--Mattie believes Ella is living the life Mattie prays to have with Jesse. As the years grow harder and Jesse and Mattie’s growing family struggles to survive The Great Depression, The Dust Bowl and illness, Jesse’s abuse worsens.

Life also unravels for Ella and Joe as he begins to abuse his wife. Ella makes the choice that Mattie has never considered.

Will Mattie keep her vow to stay with Jesse at the risk of her own life and the life of her children or will she leave him despite the vow?

A brief interview with the author

Gay, tell us what you love about this book.
I love the characters of Mattie and Ella. Mattie is naïve and blossoms as the book progresses. She was reared with wealth, but she wasn’t pampered. Her mother and father expected her to learn how to manage a household. She’s a talented cook and seamstress. Her problem? Well, she’s stubborn—almost to a fault. Her pride kept her from attempting a reconciliation with her father after she eloped against his wishes. Ella is eight years older than Mattie, and she’s much more sophisticated. Her parents died when she was young, but growing up, she too had an excellent work ethic. After the death of Ella’s parents, her aunt and uncle took her into their home in Galveston. She became a nurse, married and moved to Oklahoma with her husband. Her maturity and education gave her breaks that Mattie never had. She became Mattie’s mentor. Through her friendship, Mattie grew self-confidence. This book celebrates the life-long friendship of these two women.

Share two things you learned, either about the era, events, or publication process during the writing of this book.
Oh my! I learned so many. I’d known Frank Phillips created the oil company, Phillips 66, but I didn’t know he had also owned a bank in Bartlesville, OK. Phillip’s and Conoco merged into ConocoPhillips and are one company today. I love seeing how times and events evolve. I was surprised to learn Will Rogers raised $30,000 in Tulsa for the Red Cross during the Great Depression. People were starving, and these funds bought wheat to disperse to the hungry as well as to defray medical costs in hospitals. During the Great Depression, Oklahoma also experienced the Dust Bowl. Hospitals were overcrowded with starving, asthmatic folks. This money brought relief to them.

What did I learn about the publication process? I learned more than I can shake a stick at. I suppose the hardest lesson was how to present a controversial subject in Christian literature. Most people don’t realize that each genre has a formula with certain rules. For instance: no curse words in one, but that’s not difficult for me. No sex, and that’s easy to eliminate, but subjects such as divorce? Well, that horse has a different color. Divorce is red with horns. In other words, divorce is frowned upon in Christian novels. So is domestic violence.

Introduce us to the toughest character to write.
The toughest character to write was Mattie’s husband, Jesse Colby. I wanted to show he had a good side as well as the bad one. Was he a good person acting bad, or a bad person acting good?  He provided well, but he had skewed ideas of marriage and how to conduct himself as the “head of the house.” I wanted people to dislike him, but to also find a few qualities to admire. Maybe feel sorry for him a little even though they disliked him. We are all flawed, some more than others, and Jesse was definitely flawed. I wanted to show he loved Mattie, but he didn’t know how to express it. His warped ideas kept him from being the husband she wanted him to be as well as the one he wanted to be.
Lisa: I think you did that--but it was still hard to find anything redeeming about him.

You had a lot of ups and downs during the publication of this story. Would you like to share one or two of those moments and how you’re plunging through the rapids?
Yes!  Thanks for asking. Where do I begin? This book went through major transitions. It took me twelve years to write, two publishers and several editors. Prism, my original publisher, merged with Pelican Book Group while this book was under contract. The transition took extra time. And then there’s this: Editors don’t always agree with writers. Sigh. (hangs head in despair) Editors like to delete scenes that writers deem important. That happened in my case. At one point, I became exasperated—to the point of not caring if this ever book saw the light of day. I’m happy to say it did, but not without a lot of frustration on my part. And I know I caused consternation to those who worked with me too!
Lisa: It's hard to trust others with our visions - especially when you've had it so long.

Mattie’s Choice is a departure from Sarah the Love Angel. What led you to this story?
I admired my mother-in-law and my husband’s aunt. They are the inspirations to Mattie’s Choice. My mother-in-law lived with a controlling husband. He never physically hurt her, but he did emotionally. He refused to allow her to see family and wanted her pregnant.  This strong woman had fourteen pregnancies. Two miscarriages and one stillborn. If he hadn’t died when my husband was a child, I guess she would’ve had more children. He was a difficult husband, but she reared eleven children to become successful, God-fearing adults. She stayed positive during hard times. She did what I couldn’t do. I revered her and believe God blessed her with tenacity and determination. She stayed true to her convictions when most of us would have thrown in the towel.

What’s next for you?
I have the sequel written to Mattie’s Choice. It’s going by the title Rebecca’s Family Secrets. Rebecca was one of Mattie’s children. She came by way of adoption. This story is a romance and of course the mystery is the secret.  I’m in the process of fine-tuning it. This is a Christian story with no divorce or violence in it.
Lisa: I look forward to reading it. I was curious about her.

What are you reading now?

I’m reading Regency Romance right now. This is a time frame I never plan to write in.
Lisa: It's always good to read outside of our field. Enjoy!

About the author:
Gay N. Lewis

As a pastor’s wife, she writes Faith Features for various church periodicals. She also writes articles for Texas Hill Country.  Gay is also a published author for Pelican Book Group in romance and fantasy fiction. Her current series is about a dyslexic angel who comes to earth to help humans, but Sarah, the angel, is more like Lucy Ricardo with humorous antics and bumbles.

All of the Sarah books have appeared on Amazon’s Best Seller’s List. The Sarah series is available in eBook format as well as print at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Pelican Book Group, and other book sellers. Some additions are available in Amazon Audible. Each book in the series is a standalone novel.

Her latest books, Mattie’s Choice, and Clue into Kindness are not fantasy and romance. These books are women’s fiction. The stories are about abusive men and women who are addicted to an unhealthy relationship.

The books are available in print, eBook, and audio.
For more information, please go to http ://gaynlewis.com/
Gay would love to have you see her video trailers and become a follower of her blog.

Sarah has her own Facebook page. Follow Sarah on Facebook@ Sarah Wingspand

Friday, September 22, 2017

Book Review Kimberly Miller Picking Daisy

Picking Daisy by Kimberly M.  Miller

Picking Daisy
Kimberly Miller

Christian Romance
Prism Book Group, Pelican Ventures LLC
September 2017

Print $15.99
Ebook $4.99
Buy on Amazon

About the Book
Daisy Parker isn’t the woman that rock star Robby Grant would have imagined himself falling for. She’s soft-spoken, sweet, and lives by a strange code the struggling musician is recognizing as Biblical.

And he’s helpless against it.

Even if Daisy is hard-pressed to believe that a man like Robby would see her—a woman long forgotten by the rest of the world—as anything more than a step back to his career.
But Robby challenges Daisy in ways she’d long avoided.

With their mutual love of music, it seems nothing can separate them—not Daisy’s wheelchair or Robby’s ego.

As Robby grows into the man he’s long dreamed of being, Daisy dares to trust again. But will this sweet melody last?

My Review
A most worthy debut by Kimberly Miller. The story of a man who can’t grow up but has promise and a woman broken and abandoned by illusions of love was such an enjoyable read. I love it when I can invest in characters and want to hug them or smack them. Robby was so redeemable with the core of people who believe in him and real that I cheered for him from the start, seeing him through the eyes of his Uncle Nick, even though I wanted to dislike him and his immense ego. But contrasting him with Daisy of the title, a woman who hid behind a wheelchair while healing from life, made me realize that we should be proud and comfortable with who we are, not settle for but graciously accept the things we cannot change and come to a understanding with the aspects of ourselves that do need to be changed.

Told from both perspectives of the hero and heroine, the formula of romance, meeting head-on, and the wonderful conflict not of person but of morals makes for a refreshing twist in the standard tried and true genre. People you root for, a dilemma that could go several ways, too-good-to-be-true vicarious lifestyle of the rich and famous add up to one delightful take-me-away romantic read. While Daisy is obviously a paraplegic, there are no gruesome details about what it’s like to have to take care of a wheelchair-bound person. Daisy was strong and at ease, but there are things that have to happen that I wondered how Robby would deal with, even though he was chair-blind. He didn’t need Daisy to save him, and the author dealt naturally and organically with his faith-growth. Daisy, however, needed someone like him to force her out of her pity-party, and the two of them together were a glorious fit.

The side characters—Uncle Nick who was the instigation for the romance and remained largely out of the picture, Daisy’s friends, and Roby’s brother, and his bodyguard—were wonderful additions. I’m normally not a huge fan of companion stories, but would enjoy reading stories about any of these people. They were integral, integrated without being overbearing, and fleshed enough to hold the story together.

Wonderful job. I enjoyed the story thoroughly and recommend Picking Daisy for those who like slightly edgy but clean contemporary romance with characters who happily inhabit your heart and mind for a while.

Kimberly M. Miller
About the Author
Kimberly Miller enjoys the seasonal weather in Pennsylvania with her husband, two daughters, and one ornery cat. She teaches writing and film courses, and in her spare time loves reading, watching movies, making jewelry, drinking coffee and eating one of God’s amazing gifts—chocolate and peanut butter.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Tips for the Sandwich Generation

Stuck in the Sweet in the Middle
by Robin Steinweg

Do you ever feel you’re in that awkward, in-between stage? I sure do!

I recently spent years stuck in a crushing middle. Round and round I turned from the growing needs of aging parents to those of growing sons to those of work. I’d carve hours from sleepless nights to write, compose, or read. More often to pray. My husband accepted leftovers with grace and gratitude. Not just food, but time and energy. He was stuck in his own middle, caring for his dad and doing more for my parents than can be recorded.

Image result for sandwich cookie

Now our parents are gone. I’m living in the middle of grief, rediscovering who I am if no longer a caregiver. Looking to experience—and to pass on—the rich life Jesus came to give us (John 10:10). Know what? God shows me things I can do so He can help me move forward. I’m not stuck here. I get to be here, where it can be sweet in the middle!

If you’re in the midst of circumstances or even past them, it’s never too late to rediscover who you are. Try some of the following:
  • Develop friendships with people who will build you up.
  • Find ways to build others up.
  • Journal what you’re going through as a way to release feelings.
  •  Photo journal or doodle journal.
  •  Admit if you need help.
  • Get more color in your surroundings/clothing.
  •  List your blessings.
  • Express more gratitude.
  • Find ways to expand or share your hobbies.
  • Join a book club.
  • Volunteer to help others.
  • If you have grieving to do, do it whole-heartedly. But don’t stay there.
  •  Live fully. Enjoy what God gives you to enjoy.
  • Dream again. Don’t hold back—dream big. What does God have for you next?
These ideas have helped. Yes, I still pick up the phone to call my mom or find jigsaw puzzles for my dad. I still if wonder I could have, should have done more for them. Guilt and remorse creep in.

But I realize that’s the voice of our enemy, the accuser. So I intentionally turn to words of life in God’s Word. I leave my broken heart at Jesus’ feet. I embrace the blessings He sends my way.
I affirm this truth: It is Sweet in the Middle!

About the Author:

Robin Steinweg says life is like a sandwich-cookie. Whatever circumstances close in on us, it can be Sweet in the Middle. Her writings can be found in Today’s Christian Woman, Upper Room, Secret Place and The Christian Pulse. She also writes monthly for Music Teachers Helper blog.