Sunday, December 29, 2013

I Don't Usually Write this Kind of Blog Post...but this is important

Sirens blared as I waited on my husband to meet me at McDonald’s. We’d driven separately to attend the Christmas Eve-eve service at church. I’d gotten ahead of him in the chaos of traffic.

By the time I heard the sirens, several minutes had passed and he’d not arrived. That feeling of fear hit the pit of my stomach. If you’ve never felt that sick twist to the gut, I can tell you it’s not good. Just as panic seeped through me, the phone rang. Thankfully Tim said, “I’m okay. I’ve been in an accident, but I’m okay.” Even though I knew in my head he was okay, the fear still gripped my heart. I wanted to go to him but couldn’t because of the congested traffic. Instead, I met him at the hospital where he was checked for injury. He ended up sore and bruised.

The car didn’t fare as well. The other driver, distracted by who knows what, plowed into the back of Tim’s Honda CRV. The car was totaled.

I write this because I want to remind everyone of the dangers of texting, using an iPad, or any other distracting device while driving. I don’t know what the driver was doing or what distracted him. But I do know that driving without paying full attention to the road can be devastating. We are thankful that Tim’s injuries are not life threatening. But they could have been. The car was wrapped around him. The back of his seat broke and threw him backwards, which probably kept him from head injury. And thank goodness he wore his seatbelt.

If you get nothing else out of this, please use common sense, pay full attention and don’t text while you drive. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Romancing Christmas: Carriage Rides in the Snow

When I think of carriage rides, I picture Cinderella stepping out of her magically transformed pumpkin with her dress flowing over her glass slippers. I remember watching Lady Diana and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, in their wedding carriages. There’s just something about the horses clip-clopping through the park with the distinguished coachman sitting atop the seat that sings romance.

One of the most romantic Christmas gifts I’ve ever received from my husband was a carriage ride through a near-by city on a snowy December evening. The Christmas lights glowed in the store windows as holiday music floated through the streets. The horses seemed to clomp in time to the music, and the driver treated us like royalty. As snowflakes floated in the air, we snuggled to stay warm.  His kind gesture filled my heart with love.

Many village Christmas celebrations and the downtown city areas offer carriage or sleigh rides. What a fine activity to share with your Christmas sweetheart.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Romancing Christmas: That Romantic Glow

They walked hand in hand as snowflakes danced around the twinkling lights on the low pines. Is there anything more romantic than sharing the beauty of Christmas lights on a dark evening with the one you love? Maybe, but it’s definitely in the top five.

The lights in our local park.
In 1880, Thomas Edison hung the first string of electric lights outside his laboratory in Menlo Park. Two years later, his friend and partner, Edward H. Johnson, draped a string of electric colored lights around their indoor Christmas tree in 1882. His family found delight in the colorful novelty. Although electric lights were not the norm for several years, they did eventually catch on and become more affordable.

Now we see extravagant light displays all over the country. From Rockefeller center to small town parks, sparkling colors and white lights twinkle in the night. My husband and I enjoy driving around the neighborhood to admire our neighbors’ displays. We enjoy walking in the park and seeing the decorated trees.

Romance + Lights =
·         Stroll through a light display together
·         Decorate the tree together
·         Sit by the Christmas tree with a cup of cocoa
·         Take an evening drive and view the lights
·         Go to the town tree lighting ceremony together

Enjoy the glow of the season.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Merry Christmas to You by Sidewalk Prophets

“Lights, please.  "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field…” Linus Van Pelt’s childlike voice filled my car. And I loved it.

Sometime in early November, I listened to a radio interview on K-Love with David Frey, the lead singer of Sidewalk Prophets. He talked about making their new album, Merry Christmas to You. They had wrapped up the music and thought they had everything ready to go when the producers realized they needed to ask the voice of Linus for permission to use the monologue. Unfortunately he had passed away. But, at the last minute they reached his wife and added Linus’s voice to their wonderful new Christmas album.

The music exudes joy as it celebrates the season with fun and reverence. I’ve enjoyed the four new songs the group composed as well as their renditions of familiar songs and carols. This is a great CD for family time in the car or to decorate the tree by. I liked it so much that I bought it for my daughters, and they all gave it a thumbs up.

Link to the story behind Oh What a Glorious Night:

Do you have a favorite Christmas Album or CD? Please share.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Silver Bells by Deborah Raney

In Silver Bells I took a peek into an era before technology took over the newspaper business. Throughout the story Deb’s descriptions of the 1970s are right on. From early microwave ovens to Little Golden books illustrated by Eloise Wilkin, I revisited many of the joys of my youth. Yet under it all the turmoil of the Vietnam War wrestled with everyday life. 

Even though Michelle Penn had a very different future in mind, she took a job at the local newspaper to make ends meet. She never dreamed she’d meet up with Mr. Popular from high school, let alone actually enjoy his company. In an era of women’s liberation, war, and a fight for women’s freedom from domestic abuse, how does a hometown girl confront reality and find love at the same time? What appears as a simple romance dives into the importance of surrounding others with compassion that has no fear. Deb Raney created a story of love and forgiveness that plays on the heart. I enjoyed the love story between Michelle and Rob and the story of love they shared for Becky, a young mom in need. I recommend Silver Bells as a warm-hearted Christmas read that reveals the true spirit of the season.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Romancing Christmas: Mistletoe

There is something magic about love at Christmas that encourages new friendships, sweet affection, and mutual adoration. For December I thought it would be fun to focus on some of the more romantic symbols of Christmas.

The lowly mistletoe, a symbol of peace and joy, has brought giggles from girls, kisses from boys and all around good fun for all. The Norsemen tell a tale about Frigga the goddess of love. She worked to protect her son Balder from death. In her haste to bring together all the elements of earth to protect him she failed to include the mistletoe. Loki, the god of evil used the mistletoe to destroy Balder’s life. Broken-hearted, Frigga cried for her son. Her tears healed him as they turned into the pearly white berries of the mistletoe plant, raising the greenery to a plant of love that conquered death. From that day on anyone who stood under the mistletoe received a kiss and found protection from evil.

Years later in the eighteenth-century, the simple green plant was hung in doorways and proclaimed the kissing ball. A young lady might stand under the beribboned symbol of love and wait for her young man to give her a kiss and promise of marriage. Sometimes they just shared a friendly kiss and went on their way. If the girl was not kissed she had to wait another year for a proposal.

Folks still hang mistletoe around the holidays. Whether there is magic in the green leaves and white berries or if it encourages a man and woman to get to know each other, the mistletoe adds fun to the Christmas season.

Do you remember a kiss under the mistletoe? Did it lead to marriage?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Blessings

I will join my family later today to eat the bounty of food we all prepared for this special day. I know we will have a great time. Yet, I've already been blessed beyond abundance by the Thanksgiving service we shared with our church family. What a service. The church family joined with a local Christian outreach and provided turkeys and trimmings the recipients would take home and cook for their families today, Thanksgiving. We sang, prayed and heard the truth from God's word along side people we'd just met, who came for the blessings. 

So many folks worked together to prepare for this spiritual feast of Thanksgiving. Thank you to all who took their time and resources and put this all together to praise God and his bountiful blessings. 

I pray you are all blessed on this day as you meet with family and friends to celebrate all the joys of life.

Psalm 100:4 
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hospitality in a Small Town

A woman bundled in a blue sweater and fleece vest hung greenery around the window. Her helper added a sparkly ribbon. Down the street, several people flocked on the bridge and draped greenery and bright red bows. Trees shrouded in lights lined the main thoroughfare. These acts of preparation confirmed hospitality in a small town.

One of the things I love about villages and towns is their tendency to work together for the good of the residents. The town I live in plans a Christmas parade every year to open the blessed season. I grew up in a village. Just before Christmas, many people opened their homes to show and sell their handmade items. Folks gathered, chatted and enjoyed the welcoming arms of their neighbors.

Now when we come home in the evening, we’re welcomed by snowflake lights and trees shining along the street. A little shop in town has an open house as do several other businesses. My husband and I love to drive around and view the displays our fellow townsfolk hang. One of the churches hosts a living Christmas tree where the choir sings the story of Jesus birth. Some years there’s been a live Nativity.

Christmas in a small town is the best. People wave and shout Merry Christmas. They celebrate the reason for the season. As much as I enjoy visiting the nearby city and seeing the fancy lights, I wouldn’t trade in the small town celebration of the holidays.

Do you have memories of small town life during the holidays or do you live in a town now? Share your happy experiences.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pure Fun

'Tis the season for Hallmark Christmas movies. I'll admit, I enjoy a good romance, especially romantic comedy. The Hallmark Channel starts showing holiday films early in
November. I make sure I have crocheting to do, usually for gifts,. Then I settle in for two hours at a time of pure fun. I haven't been disappointed yet. I've even caught a few of the Lifetime Christmas movies. The story of a librarian trying to save the local library from being torn down struck a cord. ANd she met her match.

If your life was a Christmas movie, which one would it be?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

An Interview with Author Anita Higman About A Marriage in Middlebury

Anita, welcome to Encouraged in Heart. I read A Marriage in MIddlebury, and I have to say I loved the story of Sam, Charlotte and the other wonderful characters you created.  I'd love to stop by Charlotte's tea room and enjoy a pastry and tea. Tell us more about this delightful book.

What was your inspiration for A Marriage inMiddlebury?

The idea for this book came from my absolute love of tearooms in Texas. In fact, here’s my note to readers on that very subject:
More than a decade ago I met a woman named Linda Becker
who opened a tearoom in the Houston burbs called, Tea for
Two. Her eatery and gift shop did so well, she opened a second
shop. Over the years I’ve enjoyed her wonderful tearoom
fare as well as the quaint ambiance. Linda’s tearoom isn’t just
a cafĂ©—it’s a gathering place for friends, a place to eat home
cooked food, and a place so cozy you don’t want to leave.
As a writer I thought it might be fun to create a heroine who
owns a tearoom similar to Linda’s and set her shop in a small
town on the gulf coast of Texas. So, that’s how the novel, A
Marriage in Middlebury, was born. Even though my story, the
characters, and the town are fictional, Linda’s tearooms are
real places you can visit and enjoy. Thank you, Linda, for the
great food, and the fellowship, and the inspiration.

Everything was going smoothly for the main character when suddenly everything changes with the return of her ex. What advice do you have when life throws a curveball?

As a Christian we should trust in the One who made us, the One who’s known us from the first day when we were being knit together in our mother’s womb, the One who loves us best. Trusting in Him during life’s storms is the only answer, and it’s more than enough.

Charlotte was pressured into breaking off her relationship with Sam by Sam’s father - how should we react to family pressures and difficult relatives?

Bathe the situation in prayer and then talk things through no matter how painful. But once the air is clear, forgive and move on. Don’t keep going back over and over. Forgiveness is not easy, but it’s the only way to live free. It helps to remember that forgiveness is what God offered us when we sinned against Him.

Is there a certain Bible passage or verse that goes along with the theme of A Marriage in Middlebury?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Are any of the characters or events in A Marriage in Middlebury based on your own experiences?

Well, I love art, flowers, quirky characters, and tearooms, and I managed to put them all into the novel. It was a fun ride!

Do you find yourself returning to the similar themes in your novels (i.e. forgiveness, trust, etc.) or do you have a new message with each release?

Yes, I tend to go back to the themes of forgiveness and reconciliation. These are not only good themes for a story, but they are paramount in living the Christian life.

What do you hope readers will walk away with after they turn the last page of A Marriage in Middlebury?

That with God all things are possible!

Like several of your other books, A Marriage in Middlebury is set in your home state of Texas - what are some of your favorite things about Texas?

Overall, Texas is an inexpensive place to live, it’s a great place to raise a family, and it’s one of the friendliest places on earth. I’ve lived here for about thirty years, and I’m proud to call Texas my home.

Before becoming a writer, you had number of interesting jobs - what was it about writing that drew you in?

I had an incredible need to tell stories. I don’t think I had a choice in becoming a writer—the profession sort of chose me. But I’m content in that truth. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Do You Make Christmas Ornaments?

With October coming to an end and Christmas around the corner, I thought I’d share some sites from the web that feature free Christmas ornament patterns and ideas.

Crochet patterns: click on the ornament name to see the photos.

Whether you’re be inspired to create your first ornament or help your children make one for Grandma. Have fun and let your creative juices flow!

Do you have other good links? Please share here...

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman by Carole Brown

A Journey of Love and Hope

Carole has created a moving account of life in a cult created by self-centered and evil leadership. Caralynne Hayman carries a torch for her deceased daughter and the terror she experienced at the hands of wicked men. With a sense of urgency, Carole carries the reader through the unbearable journey of a mother’s sorrow as she mourns, yet rises to protect her other children. Caralynne must call on the faith she once knew and the man she once loved.

This is also the story of truth and how God’s love prevails. The book is not for the faint of heart, because Carole paints a true picture of how terrible life can be inside a group of misled people who believe so intensely in what they do that they will harm anyone who gets in their way. Well written and thought provoking, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman will not leave you for a long time. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

We have a Winner!

Diana Montgomery is the winner of a free copy of Anita Higman's, Winter in Full Bloom. Congratulations Diana!
Thanks to all who entered the contest.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Anita Higman answers questions about Winter in Full Bloom~read to the bottom and find a chance to win a free book

I enjoyed meeting Anita Higman at the ACFW conference in Indiana. She's as beautiful as the stories she tells. Join me in hearing what she has to say about Winter in Full Bloom.

Winter in Full Bloom is set in Texas as well as Australia. What made you want to set the novel in these two places?
Well, I live in Texas, and so I wanted to make use of my home state. After living here for about thirty years I have a soft spot for Texas now. Also, I’d visited Melbourne, Australia for about three weeks and had taken notes, and since it was such an exotic place and I’d had such an amazing time there, I wanted to share some of my experiences with readers.

The cover is beautiful. Did you have any input in this cover?
Yes, actually, I did. The publisher sent me a few samples to look at, and I chose this one. But the cover you see now was tweaked a number of times. One of the changes was the addition of the red tulips all along the snowy path. I’m so glad the publisher was open to changes. I’m very happy with the final cover. It reflects the story even better than before, and I think that bit of unexpected intrigue along the road will be eye-catching to the bookstore browser.

That title is unique. How did you come up with Winter in Full Bloom?
Sometimes I brainstorm titles, and then sometimes I use a phrase I find within the manuscript that works well as a title. Winter in Full Bloom was created during one of my brainstorming sessions. As a side note, there are a couple of meanings to this tile. The heroine’s name is Lily Winter. Also, half of the book takes place in Houston at the advent of winter, but when she flies to Melbourne at the same time of the year, Australians are experiencing the beginning of spring. So, even though Lily has begun getting ready for winter, she suddenly enters into a season of springtime—literally and in her personal life.

Are the characters from your imagination, or do they come from real life?
My characters are a mixture of both. I’ll be watching someone at the airport or the mall or at church, and I’ll think, “Wow, that gesture or laugh or walk is perfect for my character.” Then some of my character’s traits will come straight from my imagination. Usually, it’s a fun brew of all the above.

Do you and your husband travel a lot?
We travel much more now that we have empty nest. Last year we went to Alaska, Hawaii, and Canada. This year we’ve been to Mexico, California, and right now as I type this answer, my husband and I are waiting at the airport to fly to Ireland. Can’t wait. I’m hoping to set one of my future novels in Ireland.

Why do you write?
I have a real need to express myself creatively—guess I was born that way—and writing and I fit well together.

Your heroine, Lily Winter, is experiencing empty nest. Why did you add that element to the story?
I was going through this same rough phase of motherhood, and I thought it would be good to add this to the story. I hope it added an element of authenticity to the tale. And too, forcing myself to write about the pain surely helped me deal with it better.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been in this profession for about thirty years. It’s been a long, stumbly kind of journey. I’ve had some dark hours—those moments when I really didn’t know what I was doing or why I was doing it. Moments when rejection swept me under like a scary undertow. Moments when getting published seemed pretty much impossible. But I never gave up, and I’m glad I didn’t. I’ve had thirty-four books published in many genres, and even though it’s been a rough ride, it’s also been deeply satisfying.

This story is about twin sisters? Are you a twin and do you have a sister?
I’m afraid I have to say no to both of those questions, but I’ve always wanted to have a sister. And that desire I suppose fueled the dialogue and some of this story.

Winter in Full Bloom is a love story but also a story of family reconciliation. Have you experienced that last part in your own life?
Yes, I have known the miracle of family reconciliation, and it has brought me great joy!

Any final words for your readers?

If you have ever taken the time to read one of my novels, I thank you with all my heart. I sincerely hope that Winter in Full Bloom inspires you and makes you laugh, and when you come to the last page and close the book, I hope your heart and your step feels just a little lighter. 

If you would like to win a copy of Winter in Full Bloom, leave a comment about your favorite season of the year by October 12. I'll choose a winner and let Anita know and she will send you a copy of this delightful story.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Blessed by the ACFW Conference

Saturday September 14, I stepped into the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Indianapolis. I couldn’t believe I was finally attending the writer’s conference that I’d prepared for for months, years really. Even with all the preparation, I still had butterflies fluttering.

At breakfast I met several writers from Ohio and Kentucky. What a joy to meet folks who live in my area. When we finished eating, the worship leaders led us in uplifting praise that echoed the reason we met together. 

After breakfast, I made my way to the third floor where classes and appointments took place. To calm my nerves, I sat in the hallway organizing the information for my appointments with an agent and editors. As I sat on the hotel’s bench, doubts crept in—did I really think I was ready to talk to editors? God heard me. He sent a lovely woman who sat with me and lifted me in prayer. She even let me practice my pitch. She’d come to the conference with her writer husband. Earlier she asked God to lead her to people she could pray with, who might need encouraged. I think I encountered an angel in disguise. What a blessing.

My first two appointments were in the morning. As I waited in line to meet with an agent, I ran into Anita Higman, a very talented author. She wished me well as I walked down the hall
Anita Higman & me
to the agent appointment. I wasn't a fit for the agent’s author list, but she did compliment my writing. Anita was kind enough to check with me after my meeting. Another blessing. I met with an editor just before lunch and I’ll just say that one was good practice. 

At lunch, I decided to sit at a table in the back of the room and prayed God would send me who I needed to meet. He sent two lovely young women and the editor I would be meeting at the end of the day. We all chatted about what we wrote, where we lived, movies and books and enjoyed the good company. God knew that I needed that boost of confidence. 
After lunch, I sat in on a class about the first fifty pages. The teacher shared with honesty and humor how to capture the reader’s attention right from the beginning. Then I met Deborah Raney, another wonderful, seasoned author. She’s as sweet as I imagined, and her class met all my expectations. I left Deb’s class for my last appointment of the day.
Deb Raney & me

Talking with the editor was fun. She asked me several questions about my characters and where they lived. I loved telling her about them. The people I’d imagined for years came to life. I walked away with a feeling of peace. The blessings continued. One of the ladies I sat with at lunch checked to see how the interview went. She did not know me until we ate lunch together. Yet, she cared enough to see how my appointment went. God's people are amazing. I walked away from the conference blessed in ways that I never dreamed.

In all of this wonder-filled experience, I can’t forget the people who prepared the conference, those who prayed for me for weeks or my husband who chauffeured me to Indy and back. We had a great time. Without a doubt I would love to do this again.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

ACFW Conference, Here I Come

This is it. I have less than a week to complete everything I need for the ACFW Conference. As much as I wish I could attend all three days, I'm grateful I will be surrounded by authors, editors, agents, and new friends all day Saturday. 

The prayer warriors for my writing journey have been praying for me. They've lifted voices to God for everything from my confidence to my printer working, and every time I feel God moving. He's provided me with the funds, the time to prepare, a super supportive husband, an amazing critique group and so much incredible support from the ACFW first-timers loop.

As I finish the preparations, I trust God to continue to guide me. I know that I've chosen the editors and agents I'd like to meet, but He knows who I will meet. I pray that I show a good first impression, but He knows that I seek a humble heart. I'm excited about the classes I get to take. He knows what I need to learn. I pray that I get out of my own way and follow the One who knows what's best for me.

 Looking forward to a wonderful day with awesome people. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Second Chances-a book review

By Julie & Mitch Kelly

Julie and Mitch Kelly have gone through a refining fire. They lost jobs, a home, material possessions and dignity. But worst of all, Mitch almost lost his life. Raised to walk by faith, Julie had stepped away from God. Mitch never knew God. But when life poured fire over them, they found out who really loved them, and that they had a second chance at life.

Their story touched me in both a personal way and as a reader. With honesty and open hearts, they shared how they moved from selfish ambition to stand in the presence of God as his saved servants. I know Julie and Mitch and many times prayed for them as Mitch’s health declined. I sat by his mom as she told us their circumstances and asked us to pray. To see how God touched their lives filled me with joy.  As a reader, I was reminded that everyday there are people who suffer and search, and when they seek the Father, they'll understand the power and love of God.

Read the brief account of Mitch and Julie’s journey to faith. You’ll find it both uplifting and a beautiful painting of the Lord’s love.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

ACFW Conference - sites in Indy

I’m looking forward to attending Saturday sessions of the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Indianapolis. Attendees have the opportunity to meet editors or agents, whoever God has in mind. I know I’ll meet some lovely writers who have a heart for encouragement and inspiration. I can’t wait to sit in classes taught by authors such as Deb Raney and Brandilyn Collins. Something I’ve learned, by attending conferences, is to take in the city where the event is hosted.

Recently, I visited Indianapolis with my daughter and her children. They have a fantastic Children’s Museum and a beautiful Zoo. The downtown area revolves around a prominent Civil War statue and fountain. Incredible art installations dot the quiet canal district. If you are attending the conference, take time to check out the city and enjoy.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Winter in Full Bloom by Anita Higman

Find a comfy chair, a cup of tea, and a box of chocolates and prepare to savor Winter in Full Bloom. Open the beautiful cover and enter a world filled with love, sorrow, frustration, anger, reconciliation and peace. Lyrical prose, filled with lively description, will carry you into Lily and Camille’s worlds. Enjoy a visit to the land down under as Anita introduces it with the expertise of a seasoned traveler.

When Lily discovers a family secret, she flies from Houston to Australia. The city of Melbourne comes to life as Lily ventures on her unexpected journey. This is not only a tale of family discovery; it’s also a story of love. When Lily meets the charming Marcus, she’s not sure whether to run to him or away from him. But he has a tragic story of his own to work through.

Winter in Full Bloom is an intricately woven story filled with flawed characters, incredible scenery and a lovely tribute to the arts. Curl up and enjoy this beautifully written book.

Visit Anita's web site at

Saturday, August 10, 2013

I Didn't Think I'd Ever Finish

When I started writing my novel, I didn't think I'd ever finish. Over the course of four years or so, I've penned more than 58,000 words and edited them at least six or seven times. I've lost count. Finally, I think I am at the point where I can say, I'm finished except for a bit of polish. 

The process reminded me a bit of spring cleaning, which I haven't done since I started writing. When I cleaned, I started with closets, pulling out everything, sorting and pitching. Gradually, I'd get to the room itself. And finally, I'd polish the furniture and mop or vacuum the floor. Creating a clean, organized place to live required work. But when it was finished, I loved the satisfied feeling. As I wrote my manuscript, I went through every chapter many times and rewrote, subtracted, added, and corrected. Again, I felt satisfied.  

When I cleaned, I needed tools. Garbage bags, cleaning supplies, dust cloths, vacuum cleaner, and mop to name a few. In my writing I also used tools. Sometimes,they weren't objects but people. Wonderful, helpful people. Aside from my computer and writing books, I had my critique group, first readers,beta readers and all the folks who helped and encouraged me. I can't forget my husband who not only encouraged, but helped me set aside time to write. 

Now, I need to prepare for the ACFW conference. I'll attend on Saturday and hopefully meet an agent or editor who believes in my story.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

National Lighthouse Day

Today is National Lighthouse Day~It was on this day in 1789, that Congress approved an Act for the establishment and support of lighthouse, beacons, buoys and public piers. In Celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the signing of the Act and the commissioning of the first Federal lighthouse, Congress passed a resolution which designated August 7, 1989 as National Lighthouse Day.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Rosemary’s Cottage by Colleen Coble

Amy Lange returns to the family’s summer cottage on Outer Banks, North Carolina, where she and her brother, Ben, used to surf. Instead of looking forward to time with Ben, she’s there to investigate his death. Curtis Ireland lives down the road in the house he shared with his sister, Gina. Now he’s the caretaker of his orphaned niece, Raine. What appears to be a love story between two heartbroken people quickly turns into a smart tale of deceit and mystery.

Mourning their siblings and searching for answers throw Amy and Curtis together in a pool of turmoil and stress. Colleen paints an inviting picture of the North Carolina coast as the backdrop for this suspense filled read. The ebb and tide of the ocean reflects the rhythm of the relationship between Amy and Curtis as they try to find answers. Not far into the story a whirlpool of trepidation pulls the reader in and doesn’t let go until the final, unexpected twist.

If you pick up a copy of Rosemary’s Cottage, expect to lose some sleep. Once I met Amy and Curtis, I was hooked and couldn’t stop reading until I found out the truth.  

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices

By Cynthia Ruchti

When I purchased Ragged Hope, I assumed that I’d be reading stories that might help me as I am challenged by the pitfalls from the poor choices of the people around me. I’ve been there. Most likely, we all have.  Instead, I learned how to better serve others who are in emotional, physical, and spiritual pain from the consequences of other people’s choices. The part of the book that I appreciated the most and prayed about even more, is the section after each story where she says, “If you know…”, where the author shares tips on ministering to those who need hope. I’ve never read a book like this that offers such good ideas on how to reach out to the hurting. Because her words brought the realities to life, I found myself praying for the people in the chapters.

Cynthia shares stories of tragedy, pain, and rebellion. More than that she reaches into the heart and examines how the person survived. I love how she reckoned hope to a baby’s blanket, where the satin edges were worn and tattered, yet the blanket brought comfort and hope.  Some stories brought tears while others called up empathy. But most of the testimonies sounded familiar. In fifty-six years, I’ve seen many of the same struggles and lived the same desperate cry for Jesus’ hope.

This is a must read for anyone who ministers to others and wants to offer the hope of Jesus to a hurting world. Every church and public library should have this book on the shelf. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Lifeline by Christy Barritt

In Lifeline, Julianne Grace doesn’t want to ask Bradley Stone for help. But desperation propels her toward him. He’s not sure he can help. Too much hurt and baggage weigh him down. Trouble is… a relentless predator won’t let them rest.

The author delves into the ugly truth of physical and mental abuse in this fast paced, edge-of-your-seat suspense. Packed with emotion, the story leads the reader through fear and horror as the characters fight for their lives. What I like about Christy’s books is that she always weaves in a thread of hope. Even as my heart fluttered and I shuddered at the terroristic circumstances that surrounded Julianne and Bradley, relief washed over me as their faith kept them calm and guided their path.

As Julianne faces unexpected and close to impossible circumstances, I love seeing her change from frightened and fragile to strong and courageous. In the midst of these incredulous conditions, Barritt knits in a story of love and respect between two injured hearts.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

When the Morning Glory Blooms by Cynthia Ruchti

Cynthia Ruchti weaves together the stories of women, across decades, who experience heartache, hope, and joy. In the 1890s, Anna steps out in faith to protect and nurture women no one else wants. Ivy makes a choice in the 1950s that will change her life forever. Move to 2012, Becky’s frustration with her daughter Lauren leads her down a path she never planned to travel. To complicate matters, she must find a way to show love to her friend Monica, whether she wants to or not. One element ties their stories together, hope.

The picture paintings that the author creates make this book stand out. As I read, I worked beside Anna and Puff as they scrubbed and repaired the old homestead where Anna planned to take in unwed mothers. I sat with Ivy as she poured over letters she tried to write to her baby’s father. With Becky, I wanted to comfort her as she struggled with caring for an unexpected grandson from her teenage daughter, Lauren.

Cynthia shows heartache, friendship and new life through the eyes of one who knows what it is to love fiercely. I met Cynthia and talked with her about her story. She writes as one who offers hope that glows in the dark. In the midst of stress, she turns to God and seeks His guidance. This shows in her writing. She’s a woman who’s experienced life and knows what it means to trust God.

I highly recommend When the Morning Glory Blooms. Not long after I finished the book, I saw morning glories along the road. They now remind me of God’s love and the hope he brings to my life. Pick up a copy of this book, you’ll be glad you did.

You may also want to read Cynthia’s latest nonfiction release, Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices.

What are you reading?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Taxi Rides and Navy Pier

My co-workers and I arrived in Chicago for the American Library Association conference. We flew in then caught a Go Green van. Our driver, George, a native Chicagoan, entertained us with stories and history about his beloved city. Did you know that Cool Whip, skyscrapers, and the juke box originated in the Windy City and that the nickname doesn’t refer to the wild breeze, but to politicians from the past? All facts, according to George.

Registered for the conference, we enjoyed a delicious lunch, then headed out to explore the city. We learned early that Chicagoans like to honk. The beeps and tweets sounded like a concert. Every taxi we rode in, three in all, honked at least every ten feet. And speaking of taxis, we can say that we experienced a crazy heart-in-your-throat ride, like you see in movies.  Our first driver, a sweet young man named Jose, chatted with us and drove with perfect safety. Driver two made our hearts stutter. He swerved, honked, slammed his breaks, and pretty much made us wonder if we should ever get in a taxi again. Thank goodness, our last driver made a smooth path to our hotel.

If you get to Chicago, go to Navy Pier, walk around, enjoy the people and the beautiful view of Lake Michigan. We hopped on a boat and enjoyed the tour of the shoreline. The boat sailed past the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, the highlight for me, as we listened to the history of this exciting city.

Off to Printer’s Row today and then to ALA.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Born and Raised in a Small Town

As John Cougar Melloncamp sang, I was raised in a small town. People valued Main Street, with Woody’s grocery, Odell’s drugstore, the library, bank, you get the idea. We even had a men’s clothing store and a fabric shop. Mom knew if I walked downtown after school for a scout meeting, my friends and I were safe.

My work in progress is set in the fictional small town of Turtle Creek, Ohio.  The town’s growing in size and acquiring a taste for arts and crafts, college kids and coffee.  I’ve enjoyed researching and visiting small towns as I pieced Turtle Creek together.

One of the villages I considered is on my route to and from work. The street corners host huge planters of pink petunias accented by purple and green. The sidewalks have a terra cotta brick trim. The drug store window invites the shopper in with an eclectic array of gift items. They even have a donut shop, florist and antique store, that make you want to stop and visit. Yet, the sites I enjoy most are not stores or eateries, but murals. This little town boasts a painting that invites the passerby for donuts or pizza. The other rings out the history of the town. If you’re familiar with Williamsburg, Ohio, you know what I’m talking about. A small town treasure.

Do you have a favorite small town? If so, where?