Friday, April 19, 2013

A Visit with Anita Higman

Where God Finds You: 40 Devotions Bringing Biblical Characters to Life
by Anita Higman

When the angel visited Mary, Jesus' mother, to tell her that God chose her to give birth to his son, she trembled with fear. Noah's wife stood in awe of the rainbow, God's sign of promise. The woman, who touched Jesus cloak with enough faith to be healed, humbled herself before her Lord. When I read the Bible, I try to picture how people like Rahab, Daniel or Lydia really lived. Did they have feelings like I do? What did they think? How did they deal with a lack of faith or loss of hope?

Anita Higman answers my questions as she paints intimate portraits of forty individuals from Biblical times. Through in-depth fictional character sketches and specific scripture, she creates a colorful slice of each person's story. With emotion and clarity the writing brings the people to life as it pulls the reader in to Old and New Testament times. Complimented by the life applications and questions to ponder, each devotion offers wisdom and encouragement.

This is just one of the wonderful books that Anita has written. A prolific author in several genres, Anita writes from the heart. Her deep relationship with God guides her as she works. Let’s hear what she has to say about the writing journey.

1.       Anita, you’ve spent your career writing stories, so you must have thought about this before—why do you think God uses stories so often to communicate his truth?

I believe Jesus used storytelling (parables) because he knew that we could truly relate to this form of communication. After all, our lives are like living storybooks with each chapter being written every day. Stories go right to our hearts—stirring us, challenging us, inspiring us, changing the way we think. And most importantly, ever moving us toward redemption.

2.       You are an award-winning writer, a best-selling writer – you are still writing fiction, also, right? Or have you achieved all you set out to do with your fiction writing?

Yes, I’m still writing novels, and I hope to do so for the rest of my life. I have dozens of stories yet to tell. I just hope people will continue to want to read them!

3.       How do you see this book being used?

I believe Where God Finds You would make a good book to read while you’re sipping your morning coffee, or it would work well for a group Bible study.

4.       What did the experience of writing these stories bring into your own life?

I have never felt so close to God as when I was writing this book. The experience felt a little like when you turn up the volume on your phone, and you can hear someone’s voice with more clarity. But it was also sensing his nearness—the warmth of his love and the light of his presence—that also made me well up each morning with worship and wonder and gratitude.

5.       Why did you decide to tackle this particular subject matter?

Good question. I generally write contemporary romantic fiction, so working on a devotional book infused with Biblical fiction was not an easy task. Also, I’m not a Biblical scholar, so at first I was overwhelmed, knowing how much research it would take to write a book of this kind. In fact, I said no to the editor who’d asked me to take on this project, but then he asked me to pray about my decision. That weekend I did pray about it, and felt strongly that I was meant to write this book. I may not have a degree in theology, but I did want to be obedient to God. Writing this devotional book, Where God Finds You, turned out to be an amazing experience.

6.       What do you think readers will take away from the book?

My hope is that people will enjoy discovering how relevant the Bible stories are to our lives today. I wanted to bring the characters to life and show that these ancient people were very much like us with similar hurts and tragedies, hopes and transgressions, joys and triumphs. Even though the culture was dramatically different, our hearts are the same. Those famous Bible folk needed God back then just as we need him in our daily lives right now.

7.       What do you like about this book?

Getting to know these Bible characters and writing their stories in first person was a seemingly impossible undertaking, and yet the experience inspired and encouraged me. I hope readers will be equally moved.

8.       Beyond your research, did you do anything special to prepare for a day of writing Biblical fiction?

During the months of research as well as the writing of this book I held to the routine of listening to the scriptures on CDs while I was in my car running errands and while I was getting ready in the morning. I did this hoping to absorb the Bible’s rich language, dramatic metaphors, and epic nature. In the end, this technique of preparing my mind for the day’s writing worked well. On some days the words flowed with little effort, almost like taking dictation, and on other days I struggled to complete one or two pages. But amidst my routine and aching back from long hours at the computer, the one thing that helped me more than anything was prayer. God really was faithful in helping me prepare this devotional book.

9.       Do you have a favorite Bible character?
If I were to choose a favorite Bible character, I’d say that I was drawn to Mary Magdalene. I wept when I read the exchange between Mary and Jesus just outside the empty tomb. I could not only see the Jesus who loved the masses, but I could see a more intimate portrait—the Jesus who loved Mary Magdalene as a precious friend—the same Jesus who loves me and you.

10.     Any other thoughts about the book that we didn’t cover?
Through the writing of these devotions I sensed the Holy Spirit whispering, “This book is going to change your life, Anita.” And I have to admit—it did. Even though all my troubles didn’t vanish when I finished the last page of the book, I did come away with an awareness—that the same God who set the stars in the heavens also knows the number of hairs on my head. Jesus is nearer than I imagined, and he cares more deeply than I’d hoped. And he’s constantly working things out for good in my life. And in your life…

 Bestselling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has thirty-five books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She’s been a Barnes & Noble “Author of the Month” for Houston and has a BA in the combined fields of speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends. Please visit her online at and feel free to drop her a note by clicking on the “Contact Me” button on her website.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Willow, the main character in my work-in-progress, teaches College English. She adores poetry, as a matter of fact; I’m sure she writes some from time to time. In April, she asks her students to pen a poem or two because April is National Poetry Month.

Like Willow, I have written poems for years. Most of mine would be considered children’s poetry, including the one I want to share today. This is dedicated to Willow and her sister Bess and all the other sisters, who nurtured their own, unique personalities.


My sister Bailey plays baseball.
She’s not like other girls at all.
She’d rather slide around in dirt
Than wear a pretty pleated skirt.

I just don’t understand why she
Doesn’t want to be like me.

My sister Beatrice twirls around,
Hardly making any sound.
She pirouettes, she tippy toes,
She wears flowery calicoes.

I just don’t understand why she
Doesn’t want to be like me.
Two sets of sisters

My sister Bailey loves the dog.
She asked our dad to buy a hog.
Her overalls smell funny, too.
I think she drug them through the zoo.

I just don’t understand why she
Doesn’t want to be like me.

My sister Beatrice loves our cat.
She made the cat a lavender hat.
She sprays herself with sweet perfume.
It makes me want to leave the room.

I just don’t understand why she
Doesn’t want to be like me.

My sister Bailey drops her junk
And throws her clothes around my bunk.
She leaves her gear beside the door,
So I can’t shut it anymore.

I just don’t understand why she
Doesn’t want to be like me.

My sister Beatrice makes her bed,
Smoothing out her frilly spread.
She folds her clothes, puts them away.
Oh, I can’t take it one more day.

I just don’t understand why she
Doesn’t want to be like me.

My sister Bailey hugs me tight
When I wake up afraid at night.
She tells me stories, calms my fears.
She dries my weepy, seepy tears.

I’m glad my sister’s not like me
And she is who she wants to be.

My sister Beatrice helps me write
My homework on a busy night.
She quizzes me and makes me study.
She tells me I’m her study buddy.

I’m glad my sister’s not like me
And she is who she wants to be.

So be yourself, that’s what we do.
For no one will be just like you.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Good Girl by Christy Barritt

Tara Lancaster grew up in the shadow of her preacher father. Determined to please him, she burdened herself with following all the “Christian” rules. She even started a blog that taught other young women how to be the good girl. Then, her life changed. Accused of a heinous crime, she flees her current life and hides out at her sister’s. That’s where the haunting begins. Except Tara doesn’t believe in ghosts. She’s not sure she believes in anything. With her new found friends, including a handsome neighbor, Tara is bound to find out who’s behind the scary happenings or die trying.

This question remains— In the midst of the suspense, will she learn to lean on God’s love and grace?

If you enjoy reading Mary Higgins Clark, you’ll love this fast-paced suspense. I confess, I lost a few hours of sleep because I couldn’t put it down.

The book is available at and

Here’s what Christy Barritt shared with me when I asked her about the writing journey for The Good Girl.

I wrote The Good Girl ten years ago as Hurricane Isabel was ravaging Virginia, the state I call home. My brother and his wife were going out of town and had asked me to come to Minnesota to dog sit. I didn’t have any kids back then, so I said yes, looking forward to the chance to get away and explore a new place.

Their house wasn’t what I expected. It was older, had squeaky floors, and no curtains on the windows. One night, I heard the gate outside my bedroom window mysteriously open. Another night, someone rang the doorbell past midnight. Just a few little quirky things like that had happened during my stay and got my brain whirling.

That’s when I got my idea for The Good Girl. In The Good Girl, superstar Christian Tara Lancaster comes to dog sit for her sister, who’s traveling Europe with her flavor-of-the-month boyfriend. Tara, a preacher’s kid, has always followed all of the rules, and life in return seemed especially blessed. Then everything came crashing down—her marriage, her career, her reputation. Her sister, on the other hand, followed none of the rules and her life seems seamless and blissful. Every idea Tara had for how her life would turn out is wrong. The story goes from there.

I really had a great time writing this book. As I said earlier, I wrote it several years ago. It made the rounds at several publishers, one of the editors even writing, “Someone is going to snatch up this book. I wish it was us.” I could never give up on this novel, though. Something about it just gripped me.

Of all the books I’ve written, this one has the strongest faith thread. Tara is really struggling to understand if God really loves her not. She’s struggling to know if God is even real or if her whole life has been build on a false premise. Add a ghost, fame-hungry friend, and hunky neighbor to the mix, and you’ve got one of my favorite stories that  I’ve ever written.

People have asked me, “Are you Tara?” The answer is no, I’m not Tara, but I have drawn on parts of my own experiences. I definitely put too much weight into what people think of me at times. I can also be a perfectionist. I’ve been wounded by my brothers and sisters in Christ, deeply at times. God is working on me, though, and my goal every day is to become just a little more like Him.

I hope people will read The Good Girl and walk away examining themselves, and their faith, and how they treat other Christians. The early feedback on the book has been positive. People have said that the book was not only entertaining, but it caused them to think and reevaluate their own thought patterns and actions.

To find out more information about the book, visit my website at:

Thanks so much for having me here!

Christy Barritt is an author, freelance writer and speaker who lives in Virginia. She's married to her Prince Charming, a man who thinks she's hilarious--but only when she's not trying to be. Christy's a self-proclaimed klutz, an avid music lover who's known for spontaneously bursting into song, and a road trip aficionado. She's only won one contest in her life--and her prize was kissing a pig (okay, okay... actually she did win the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Suspense and Mystery for her book Suspicious Minds also). Her current claim to fame is showing off her mother, who looks just like former First Lady Barbara Bush.

When she's not working or spending time with her family, she enjoys singing, playing the guitar, and exploring small, unsuspecting towns where people have no idea how accident prone she is.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Do You Haiku?

I’ve enjoyed writing and reading poetry for years. When I worked in the library of an elementary school, I shared poems with the fourth and fifth grade, and then challenged them to write one for a contest. The haiku, a short poem first written in Japan, was a popular choice for an entry.

We can thank Japanese poet, Basho, for bringing this poetic form to the public. He wrote many of them that are now considered classics.

old pond…
a frog leaps in
water’s sound

a heron’s cry stabs
the darkness

A traditional Japanese haiku consists of three lines divided into a five-seven-five sound unit pattern. When American’s translated these small Japanese poems, they found that the sound units and syllables differed. The result, American haiku does not hold to the five-seven-five pattern unless it is natural to the poem.

A haiku is meant to capture a moment in time. Written in the present tense and usually containing a seasonal word, the tiny poem is like a snapshot catching that one instance that may have been missed. Most haiku contain a short phrase of description and a fragment or aha moment. This form of poetry is fun to write and collect. I like to sit outside for a while and just observe. I almost always find something interesting to write about, along with that aha flash.

Here are some of my seasonal haiku…Enjoy!

wobbly goats
born before midnight—
spring renewed
queen anne’s lace crowns
country roads—
blue chicory salutes

crimson moon floats
across chilly skies—
pumpkins grin

ice covered trees—
crystal glistens, sun
shine through jeweled glass

Do you read or write poetry?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Day at the Art Museum

“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.” – Osho

We live less than an hour from a city and have the opportunity to visit some interesting places.  On Saturday, my daughter and I loaded her kids in the Jeep and took a road trip.

Learning about embossing
As we drove into the museum parking lot, my three-year-old grandson spied a tall, red, metal installment piece. “Look, Mommy, look.” He loved it. Later in the museum he spotted the sculpture of a lion, bigger than him. He walked around and looked and discovered that the ancient cat had lost his tail. He turned to us. “The lion is sad. He lost his tail.” He talked about that the rest of the trip.

Creating a print
My seven-year-old granddaughter loves Van Gogh’s Sunflower and Kandinsky’s circles. Between her mom’s artistic influence and her art teacher’s introduction to various artists, Dylan has gained an enthusiasm for creativity. What a joy to watch art appreciation come full circle, as my daughter shared an original Van Gogh and some of her favorite artists with her daughter.

It’s never too early to introduce the arts to children. God, the ultimate artist, gave these painters, sculptors and designers incredible talent. If you live in or near a city, you most likely have access to an art museum. If not, maybe the local library or historical society exhibits art. If you are an artist, volunteer to lead a program to a group of children. I promise you’ll be blessed.

Do you have a place you like to go to view art? If so, where?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Doodles :)

Do You Doodle?

Some people might not see doodling as a form of art, but I do. I am the person sitting in church with flowers and butterflies penned on my sermon notes (see picture), or the woman in the office with sunflowers and swirls on her calendar. According to psychologist, Jackie Andrade*, drawing while listening assists the brain in retaining information. Evidently, while I’m doodling I’m not daydreaming. Instead, I’m actually paying attention. That’s good news for me. Making tiny pictures can add to the creative process, too. My imagination flies when I draw. And, it's relaxing :o)

Are you a:

~Daisy doodler – drawing flowers or fanciful mini-art

~Shape doodler – drawing squares, circles, hearts, etc.

~Fill-in doodler – coloring in empty spaces

~Name doodler – write names and outline or draw around them

~Anything goes doodler – as long as your pencil’s moving you’re happy

Do you doodle? If you do, what kind of doodler are you?

*Psychologist, Jackie Andrade initiated a challenge to forty people. While listening to a boring phone message, twenty people doodled while they alternately recorded names mentioned on the tape. The other twenty only recorded names. As a result, the doodlers recalled 29% more information than the people who only listed names.

ANDRADE, J. (2010). What does doodling do?. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24(1), 100-106. doi:10.1002/acp.1561

Saturday, March 2, 2013

What I've Been Reading

For a long time I tended to see the world through the lens of my life in the United States. I grew up in a safe home with electricity, clean well water from indoor plumbing, a warm bed and wonderful meals prepared by loving hands. We even had a colored television.

When I went through college classes that opened my eyes to situations in other countries as well as some in the USA, I realized the plight that many live with. The destruction, poverty and war that tore apart countries was devastating. What saddened me even more was the injustice given to women. We are blessed in the US to have the opportunity to gain an education, work in the field we want, raise our children as we want and worship where we want. Many women are seen as nothing more than a possession. They cannot think for themselves or contribute to their communities.

Ms. Lemmon tells the story of a group of women who conquered fear and created a network for survival. When the Taliban seized the city of Kabul, five sisters lost their opportunity to attend college. They were forced to take backward steps and huddle in their homes, afraid to show their faces in public. But, this is more than a story about a family living through war. These women rose above fear and fought back to keep their home and loved ones safe, while they combined their abilities to create a successful business. Through their work, they reached out to neighbors and taught skills, even as bombs blew and missiles hurtled.

Led by Kamila Sidiqi, one of the sisters, they found a way to use sewing skills and sheer determination to not only come out of the war alive, but to draw the women of the community together. I found their story both inspirational and encouraging.