Monday, May 27, 2013

Needle in Hand

I’ve had some kind of needle in my hand since I was five years old. I started with an embroidery needle and floss. I’m sure my early stitches mimicked scratches on a hieroglyphic wall. As my eye-hand coordination improved, I took time to perfect my skills. With practice and interest, I moved on to a quilting needle, sewing machine, crochet hook, latch hook, and a failed attempt at knitting needles.

A few years ago, one of the professor’s in the art department at the local college offered a class on felting wool. I thought I’d give it a shot. This class did not involve a needle, just the gentle motion of my hands in warm water and wet wool. I gave my best attempt to move the materials around in the water at a slow, easy pace. That lasted about ten minutes. My patience wore thin and so did the wool. I finished the project and then walked away. Not long ago, this same teacher offered a workshop on needle felting. Note the word needle. I loved it. Since then, I’ve created a few items myself and plan to make more. I guess I just needed a needle in my hand in order to create.

To integrate this new hobby into my life I:
  • ·         Set aside a box to keep the supplies in
  • ·         Found venues to purchase supplies
  • ·         Looked at needle felting books
  • ·         Sketched out ideas
  • ·         Let my imagination roam
  • ·         Put the needle in hand and felted away

I enjoy learning new crafts, but I’m limited on time. Finding a way to incorporate my new hobby into my life adds an avenue for creativity and relaxation.

Do you have a creative outlet? What do you do to relax? If you do needle felting do you have any tips to share?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hope - Four Week Mini Bible Study

Click to go to Amazon
Heather’s life was secure, and she trusted that everything would be okay, until doctors diagnosed her husband with the rare disease, achalasia. As she clung to her faith, her husband reassured her of God’s continued care and prompted her to seek out the hope she knew she could find in God.

In order to refocus her hope, she journeyed through the scripture and discovered that she needed to stop praying for God to give her what she wanted, “and instead pray for what He wanted.”

As a result, Heather created a four-week study on hope. In each study, she offers scripture and thoughts, plus life applications and discussion questions.

Heather’s honest approach, spiritual insight, and conversational writing style welcomes readers to the joy of hope in Jesus. I recommend this Bible study to anyone who seeks spiritual renewal or a better understanding of the peace you find in God’s hope.

Friday, May 10, 2013

What I've Been Reading - Heart Stone by Sherry Kyle

The Heart Stone by Sherry Kyle

Jessica MacAllister is content to run her business and raise her son all by herself. That is, until life’s turned upside down by the return of her son’s substance addicted father. Concerned about her beloved Uncle George, she heads to Santa Cruz, California to help him move and to avoid the man she dreads seeing.

Widow, Evelyn Sweeney, wonders what happened to her first love. Should she try to find him? Or stay put and live out her life without knowing.

Nick, a firefighter, enjoys his single life, but hopes to meet someone special someday. Sooner would be better than later. But before he can focus on himself, he needs to help a troubled friend.

Like a fine weave, Sherry Kyle threads the stories of her characters together as they search for peace and love. Jessica, George, Evelyn, and Nick share more than one mysterious bond as they are drawn together. 
Through faith and hope, the characters struggle to seek God’s guidance and follow his path.

The author tells a beautiful story of hope and redemption. She creates a lovely setting and believable
characters who will steal your heart. This would be a great beach read as well as a good book for a book club. Anyone who enjoys women’s fiction, with a touch of romance, will enjoy the twists, turns, and tale of true love.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Visit to the Forest

 My husband and I drove south to visit our youngest daughter. I enjoyed the area she lives in, including the local coffee shop. The Forest Coffeehouse, aptly named due its proximity to the Smokey Mountains, offered just about any caffeinated drink a soul might crave, including Snow Leopard, Coconut Chai, Mate' Latte', Dirty Dirt Black Cat Chai, plus several decaf delights. They served scones filled with fruit and lots of other treats. But, as much as I enjoyed the coffee, that’s not the best part of the adventure.

I loved the atmosphere, laid back with a dose of ecstatic energy. Creativity and the desire to learn saturated the air. A man journaled, at a round table, beside the picture window.  Students worked on laptops and studied for finals. A group planning the local Strawberry Festival gathered and tossed ideas around. They even reserved a spot to sell local crafters' wares. 

From the art of the barista making a drink to the inspirational juices that flowed from the customers, a trip to The Forest Coffeehouse injected me with a hearty dose of excitement to get back to editing my novel. 

Where do you go to plug in to creative juices?

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.