Sunday, July 26, 2015

So, having written about jealousy and envy, I realized it isn’t enough to write about the problem. We must have a solution. A defense, if you will, against the sweet poison that gets pressed to our ears and hearts.

Part of the issue is that it’s so much easier to talk about applying the antidote, than it is to actually do so. Why? Because we have to give up our right to hold onto the hurt, or to the anger. We must, as I wrote previously, forgive people for failing us—in essence, for not being God.

But why—why is it so hard to just lay it down? Even when we know—or say we know—that God is good, that He is all wise, that we trust Him?

I wrestled with this all week but still haven’t come up with a good answer. Oh, yes, I write things and then get tested on them, pretty much immediately. This time seems harder for some reason. Maybe because life has been filled with stresses that fly at me from all directions. You now how it is: you try to hold it together, but at some point one or several darts get past your defenses, and then here comes the meltdown. Your friends, your loved ones, are left standing there looking at you like an idiot—you were so strong last week, what’s wrong with you that you can’t keep it together over this?

And once it’s there, under your skin, it tends to flare at odd moments, like poison ivy—you think you have it beat, or mostly so, then you scratch unthinkingly at a mild itch, and suddenly it’s a full-blown breakout, all over again.

It isn’t that the offenses aren’t real, or valid things to be upset about. The thing is, when we focus on them, it feeds the itch rather than kills it. But when we deliberately choose to look up, to look at the Cross, look at Jesus Himself—it begins to fade.

The stepsisters I wrote about last week, jealousy and envy, will hate that, of course. If the Prince isn’t paying attention to them, they don’t want anyone to be happy, and here’s where they show their ugliness. They’ll stop their charade of sympathy and instead lean into your face, screeching and jeering. You’re such an idiot! This proves it! You’ll never change, God doesn’t care about fixing your situation, you’ll have to put up with this indefinitely, and you deserve the misery you feel.

And you know what? Jesus knows what it feels like to have those things screamed at you. He’s experienced injustice: the people who should have known the time of His coming, didn’t, and even those who followed Him misunderstood His purpose until after the Resurrection. He was beaten, mocked, spit on—and this was God, the One who made us all, who gave us life and then went above and beyond to come be the payment for our rebellion against Him! Who had more right to feel the hurt, to be angry at the slight?

But He knows—and He does care. If He doesn’t change a situation, He has a reason, whether it’s for our growing, or to test our trust in Him, or because His purpose for that other person isn’t yet completed. Regardless, we can know that He’s intending to work a greater good through it.

This doesn’t mean the answer is necessarily always to ignore the voices and tough it out. God is always there beside us, but sometimes He waits for us to actually ask Him to deal with those bullying girls before intervening.

14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

... let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. (Hebrews 4 & 12, NKJV)

(first appeared 4/28/13)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

LoRee Peery
This week, we welcome Christian romance author LoRee Peery. LoRee says she writes to feel alive, as a way of contributing, and to pass forward the hope of rescue from sin. She writes of redeeming grace with a sense of place. LoRee clings to I John 5:4 and prays her family sees that faith. She has authored the Frivolities Series and other e-books. Her desire for readers, the same as for her characters, is to discover where they fit in this life journey to best work out the Lord’s life plan. She is who she is by the grace of God: Christian, country girl, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend, and author. Connect with LoRee through these links:


TBB: Hi, LoRee! Welcome to our blog. We're so excited to have you!

LP: Thank you for the opportunity to visit The Borrowed Book.

TBB: Tell us a little about your writing. Is it hard for you?

LP: I’ve realized more this year than ever before, how much I need the Lord in my writing. I have to pray when I write. Period. Zoe McCarthy considers God her Co-Author. I love that.

Tuesday I mentioned my struggle with the post, "Take it to Jesus, No Matter what IT is." Though I’d prayed specifically, flow didn’t come until I sang “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

Every aspect of the writing process has proven troublesome for me at some stage. I have an idea file consisting of various lengths of interesting tidbits from itsy newspaper notes to several pages of magazine articles. Most of the time, I consult that notebook for beginning sparks.

TBB: Are you a morning person? A night owl? Do you arrange your schedule to allow for the most efficient, productive time for writing?

LP: Morning? Ugh. It doesn’t matter if I get out of bed at 6 a.m. or 8:30 a.m. I don’t wake up until after 10:00. I’ve always been thankful I take notes in church because my mind is a blank. I’m a night owl when it comes to reading. Before I fall to sleep I try to hit where and/or what I’m writing the next day. My best writing time is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. so that’s when I write during the daily-word count stage of my first draft. I set the goal of 1000 words and often go beyond. I try to make appointments later in the afternoon. Tuesdays and Thursday I exercise at noon. Some days the writing doesn’t happen because I go ahead and run errands while I’m in the city. My study is upstairs and I try not to sit for longer than 40-45 minutes. I most often call it a day by 7 p.m.

TBB: When working on a manuscript, what do you do when you get stuck?

LB: Eat chocolate. No, I save that for a self-reward. I do chomp on chewy candies, and for some reason, it works. Even walking out of the room for a drink of water clears the cobwebs. If my head is spinning, or I’m tempted to twiddle my thumbs, I get up from my desk. The act of moving clears my head. I’ll exercise, go outside, or walk the dog. If I’m totally lost in a fog, I’ve been known to watch a movie, read, or even work a crossword.

TBB: Have you ever performed an action you want one of your characters to carry out in order to help you visualize or describe it? Were you ever embarrassed by doing so?

LP: Yes, I have. And I’m so thankful I was alone. In my first story (that will never be submitted for publication), the heroine’s father died in a fluke fall on the basement stairs. Our wooden basement stairs are unfinished, so I contorted my body every-which-way to get the logistics of the fall. Again, in the story where my father’s homicide is fictionalized, I placed myself in odd positions near our pickup parked on our rock driveway. Imagination has to take over, but I’ve stood or sat in various places inside the house, imaging a world I’d created in order to get logistics. The worst I’ve ever been caught at was speaking dialog to myself.

TBB: If you felt the Holy Spirit urging you to quit writing, would you do it?

LP: Oh, my, yes. Life happens. God knows my future, I don’t. He’s granted me the desires of my heart. I’ve thought about what I’d do instead of writing. I don’t know how I’d spend my time other than lie around reading and gaining weight. I love to piece quilt. However, I have arthritis in my hands. Attempting to thread a needle either brings tears or laughter. The only repeated motion that doesn’t hurt my hands is typing. I call that a huge blessing.

TBB: Does your best writing flow? Or are you most satisfied with the work that you’ve labored over, sweating and groaning?

LP: I believe it’s both. The absolute finest writing moment is when the characters take over and my fingers fly. I groan when I search the weasel words, such as "was." I’ve found seven cases of "was" on a page, and that did make me groan. I still struggle in my writing. I try to keep learning. I’ll continue to seek my friend Jesus.

Pelican Book Group, 2015
Where Hearts Meet 
Shattered by the loss of her parents, Deena pours her love into her patients at an assisted living facility. When the son of one her charges starts showing up to spend time with his mother, Deena's wary heart is warmed by his attention to his mother...and to her. Simon is plagued by his ex-wife's disappearance years before. When he meets Deena, who closely resembles the woman, he fears his attraction is based only on Deena's looks. But she exhibits a warmth his ex-wife never had. Dare he risk his once broken heart? As two lonely souls pursue a tentative, budding love, secrets and lies come forward to tear them apart. Can Simon and Deena overcome loss and allow their hearts to mend?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Pelican Book Group, 2015
by LoRee Peery

Where Hearts Meet 

Shattered by the loss of her parents, Deena pours her love into her patients at an assisted living facility. When the son of one her charges starts showing up to spend time with his mother, Deena's wary heart is warmed by his attention to his mother...and to her. Simon is plagued by his ex-wife's disappearance years before. When he meets Deena, who closely resembles the woman, he fears his attraction is based only on Deena's looks. But she exhibits a warmth his ex-wife never had. Dare he risk his once broken heart? As two lonely souls pursue a tentative, budding love, secrets and lies come forward to tear them apart. Can Simon and Deena overcome loss and allow their hearts to mend?

Has anyone said to you, “Life is easy?” 

Each of us has a story, and each one is unique. God chooses the timing of events in our lives. We either choose to fight as we hit roadblocks doing things our own way, or give the leadership to Him and go along for the ride. At some point we come to realize His plan rules, so instead of fighting, why not seek His guidance?

The writing bug bit me in the mid-eighties, as a cathartic journey to help me through grief and unanswered questions. Does anyone else moan at the thought of our first efforts, be it writing or another pursuit?

I had nothing to draw on besides my own life. Life lessons resulting in growth or aha moments take time to come to fruition. God reaches us when we are still in the valleys, amidst whatever storm caught us in its grip. He works out a different plan for our individual growth. We’d better learn to listen during those hard times. We can be desperate, focused on the pain, or we opt to quiet our hearts, persevere, and discover the grace in store for each of us.

Would writing efforts be worth it if writing came easy? 

Even this post challenged me. I didn’t know where to start because I had a hard time focusing on finding something I hadn’t written before.

Many Bible verses have spoken to me over the years. One of my favorites is 1 John 5:4. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

Our family was struck by tragedy in late April, 1975, at the trauma of my father’s murder. For some reason, much like the word closure, survivor rubs me wrong. I’d much rather think of myself as an overcomer.

The word victory also holds significance. Since the origin of my name comes from laurel leaves used in the winning crowns of athletes going back to ancient Olympics, I think of myself as victorious.

That victory comes about only when I set myself aside and seek my Lord’s guidance.

At the time I picked up pen and paper (I borrowed the computer during breaks on the job), I had two children at home, and was clueless as to “how” to write. I started out with short romances and submitted, what amounted to unpolished drafts, to magazines.

I gained writing experience when I contributed to a newsletter for a large church and evolved into editing a women’s newsletter. A friend and I started a Christian critique group.

On the job, I learned how to proofread and copy edit. I bought how-to books and tried my hand at nonfiction. My Nebraska essays were published in academic journals and anthologies.

Did you catch my earlier reference to closure? My father’s homicide remains unsolved. The Lord used that incident as part of my testimony. I received my first writing check when it was published.

To help my early attempts, I took a novel writing course through Writer’s Digest. My first novel took ten years to finish. It will remain in its container. That story was about a young woman who went back to her home town and proved her father’s reported accidental death had been a hit.

Setting down the story of my dad’s murder with resolution and a happy ending has been my driving force.

Would any part of life be worth living if we didn’t have to work hard?

I joined RWA, and learned more in six months than I had in ten years. I attended conferences. I read all the time I wasn’t writing. I didn’t write for eighteen months while I searched for an agent.

The Lord changed my attitude toward a sinful situation in my life, and my break came with White Rose Publishing, an imprint of Pelican Book Group.

 Had the sin remained unresolved, I may still not be published.

“Fragmented to Fulfilled” will appear in an upcoming anthology, But God: Interventions of Grace, projected to release late August. It’s spearheaded by Patricia Bradley.

Back to my father’s homicide, the struggle remains. One day I can say I’ve accepted God’s answer as “No.” The next day I work on the story, a fictional memoir combined with a contemporary romance in the current rewrite, and all the old emotions rise to the surface.

I take it to Jesus. Again.

LoRee Peery
Bio: Christian romance author LoRee Peery writes to feel alive, as a way of contributing, and to pass forward the hope of rescue from sin. She writes of redeeming grace with a sense of place. LoRee clings to I John 5:4 and prays her family sees that faith. She has authored the Frivolities Series and other e-books. Her desire for readers, the
same as for her characters, is to discover where they fit in this life journey to best work out the Lord’s life plan. She is who she is by the grace of God: Christian, country girl, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend, and author. She’s been a reader since before kindergarten. One day she slapped a story in her lap. “I could write better than this.” (Lofty assumption, eh?) Her dear hubby challenged, “Why don’t you?” Thus her writing journey began many moons ago. Connect with LoRee through these links:


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Jealousy and envy are the terrible, ugly stepsisters in the story of Cinderella. Everyone knows that. So why do we bother to give them the time of day?

Because they’re so deceptively sympathetic when we’re hurt or angry. Oddly comforting, sweetly whispering in our ears that of course we have the right to be upset, who wouldn’t in our situation?

A friend’s spending time with other people, while we struggle with loneliness.

Being passed over for a promotion that in our eyes, we’ve rightly earned—and seeing it handed to someone who should have been in line after us. (Or at least after a friend who we felt deserved it more.)

When someone announces they’ve finished yet another manuscript, or painting, or quilt, while you scrape for time for your own creative endeavors. Or they’ve just signed with an agent, or have a book accepted for publication.

Any circumstance where we’ve been slighted or forgotten.

Those are the moments, when you ache for your perceived loss, that jealousy and envy steal to your side and wrap you in a blanket of their own brand of poison consolation.

It feels so good, at first. It’s comforting. It hurts to be passed over, left behind, ignored. And we forget how, once we let the jealousy and envy take hold, it sinks deeper, eating away at us until the initial hurt becomes a soul-deep sore.

Taking it to God is the only way to find true healing, at any point along the way. But the longer we wait, the more awful the scars that jealousy and envy leave behind.

And the stepsisters are wily indeed. They know how to speak what we want to hear, to offer what we think we need.

For me, it helps to remind myself of a thought from years ago ...

Consider the stars in the sky ... is the significance of one diminished because of the others? Do they waste time in vying for the 'best' position in the sky? Does Arcturus suffer jealousy just because it is not Polaris (the 'north star')?

I think not. The more stars we see, the more glorious the night sky appears. And not seeing the 'lesser' stars doesn’t mean they aren't there, or that they aren't significant ... they all burn brightly for their Creator. And I believe they are each fully aware of the significance of their place in the universe, and the glow we see is one of awe and gratitude to the One who set them in their places.

So let it be with us.

12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.... 17 But “he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” 18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends. (2 Corinthians 10)

26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5)

For wrath kills a foolish man,
And envy slays a simple one. (Job 5)

30 ... envy is rottenness to the bones. (Proverbs 14, all NKJV)

(first appeared 4/21/13)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A storm system sweeps across the southeast, spawning tornadoes and lashing the landscape with wind, rain, and hail.

Elsewhere, wars brew. Politicians bicker. Children starve or are exploited for the pleasure of others.

So much going on in the world at the moment. So much in people’s personal lives. I’m overwhelmed just contemplating the prayer needs of those closest to me.

But if I had not believed I would see Your good in the land of living ... if I didn’t know that God is perfectly good, perfectly wise, perfectly in charge ... ­ I would have lost heart.

We are not the ones in charge of this world, nor are we required to be. That alone provides some relief—knowing I’m not responsible for the success of my little circle of influence. I’m responsible for praying, for trusting, for expending the effort in the work God gives me, but not for the outcome. Yet sometimes life spins out of control, and the state of affairs across the face of this earth seems to be particularly crazy recently. It’s unsettling at the least.

And yet, it isn’t anything new. During times of great political and social upheaval, people have always been sure the end of the world is imminent.

Never more so than now, though, I’m sure.

And where is God, while the world falls apart? When injustice and horror are pandemic, yet people entertain themselves with the obscene and frivolous?

He knows. He sees. And He takes note of each detail.

Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.
For evildoers shall be cut off;
But those who wait on the Lord,
They shall inherit the earth.
10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;
Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,
But it shall be no more.
11 But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
12 The wicked plots against the just,
And gnashes at him with his teeth.
13 The Lord laughs at him,
For He sees that his day is coming.
14 The wicked have drawn the sword
And have bent their bow,
To cast down the poor and needy,
To slay those who are of upright conduct.
15 Their sword shall enter their own heart,
And their bows shall be broken.
16 A little that a righteous man has
Is better than the riches of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
But the Lord upholds the righteous.
18 The Lord knows the days of the upright,
And their inheritance shall be forever.
19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time,
And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
20 But the wicked shall perish;
And the enemies of the Lord,
Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish.
Into smoke they shall vanish away.
(Psalm 37, NKJV)

(First appeared 4/14/13. Psalm 27:13, above, is my paraphrase.)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

An Interview with Christi Lynn, Bob Smithhouser and Jesse Florea with 'Adventures in Odyssey'.

Summer . . . a time kids pine for during the school year and parents may anticipate with something akin to dread. Fearing refrains of "I'm bored" or hours spent on the couch playing video games can make moms and dads nervous about the long, hot months stretching before their family. Focus on the Family's Odyssey Adventure Club offers an answer, encouraging parents and kids to embrace faith and fun with the "Take the Plunge"
Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse magazine's summer challenge.

Q: Why do you think some parents dread the idea of their kids being out of school all summer? Is it the added pressure of having to entertain them?

Florea: I'm not sure parents dread the summer as much as they have to get used to a new routine and spend more time organizing schedules. But, yes, there is added pressure to keep kids engaged and active over the summer. No parent wants his or her child sprawled on the couch for months watching TV and playing video games. And kids don't want that either.

Smithouser: Parents get tired of hearing "I'm bored," as if it's their job to keep the kids occupied 24/7 between now and Labor Day. Shortly after school lets out, there's the stress of adapting to a new routine. By August, we're wondering what's left to do we haven't already done. Fatigue can set in. Like Jesse said though, we don't want to cop out and let our children zone out with endless hours of TV and video games. That's why Adventures in Odyssey is great, because those audio dramas stimulate the imagination. And combined with the activities, daily devotions and message boards in the Odyssey Adventure Club, there are plenty of safe, spiritually enriching ways to keep kids engaged. It's the best possible answer to "I'm bored."

Q: Some research shows that kids from ages 8 to 18 spend more than 7.5 hours a day with electronic devices such as a computer, phone or TV. Why should this be a concern to parents? 

Lynn: We believe kids should be using their imagination and interacting with their family and friends. Many times media today tend to isolate. While the Odyssey Adventure Club is consumed through a computer or mobile device, it doesn't require a child to sit and stare at a screen. Kids can listen to episodes while doing other activities, such as coloring, playing with their toys or outside, riding in the car or exercising. The Odyssey Adventure Club also provides activities and devotions meant to be done as a family, encouraging that important interaction. Through the audio dramas, imagination is brought to life for kids within the theatre of the mind.

Q: How does the Odyssey Adventure Club help moms and dads make spiritual investments into the lives of their children? 

Lynn: Through the power of story and imagination, Adventures in Odyssey teaches life lessons through the lens of a biblical worldview. This helps a child grow and develop spiritually. All of our episodes with the Odyssey Adventure Club are also connected to a devotional, which will give parents the ability to tie together easily the program to a scripture and a spiritual lesson. Additionally, parents will find a daily devotional on the website that will take their children and their family deeper on their spiritual walk.

Q: How will the Take the Plunge challenge help parents spiritually disciple their kids while giving them a great time with their family?

Florea: The Take the Plunge challenge focuses on a child's mind, body and spirit. We want families to be active together and create memories. At the same time, we want to see our members grow closer to Christ. As parents help their children memorize God's Word and reach out to others in God's love, the kids will see God move and understand He can use them to further His kingdom.

Smithouser: Research tells us the more senses we involve when teaching children a principle, the more likely the principle will stick. Bible memorization by itself is great, but it becomes even more powerful when put into action. Know it. Share it. Live it. Any campaign that helps families make memories while being the heart and hands of Jesus to a hurting world is one worth getting behind.

To learn more about the Take the Plunge challenge, visit

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Anita Higman
For a single girl in her 30s who longs to be married, it can be easy to feel a little lost when all your princes keep turning into frogs. Anita Higman details the twists and turns, triumphs and failures, in one young woman's search for love in her new book, Summer's List (River North/June 1, 2015/ISBN: 978-0802412324/$14.99).

 Life hasn't been easy for Summer Snow. She spent what should have been her carefree 20s selflessly caring for her ailing parents and denied herself the dreams in her heart to run her grandmother's bookstore. And if you asked her, she would say she's mostly happy - but she knows she's missing something - and her grandmother's love doesn't fill that aching part of her heart that longs for love and romance.

Q: In three sentences or less, tell us about your new book. 

A young woman, Summer Snow is sent on an unexpected adventure with Martin Langtree, a kind but gangly young man from Summer's past. A childhood friendship is rekindled, a romance is sparked and mysteries are solved in one magical Texas summer.

Q: What is the main theme that runs through Summer's List? 

Forgiveness and reconciliation do not come naturally to mankind, but it's the only right way to live. It's the way Christ taught us to live.

Q: What was the inspiration behind the story? 

My answer isn't romantic. It's not literary sounding in any way. It's the kind of answer that lets you see behind the curtain. I hope it doesn't spoil any of the magic for you, but here's my answer. It's always been easy for me to create quirky characters but not so easy to create conflict that can keep going for 80,000 words. So I thought if a heroine had a list of things she was compelled to do - and the list was challenging and fun, with surprises along the way - that this concept could create enough plot and conflict to get me through to the end of a book. I'll let you decide if my idea worked or not!

Q: Your heroine, Summer Snow, is used to putting others' interests before her own. We are taught to serve others, but is there a point when selflessness can become damaging?

Yes. It could be that Summer's parents should have insisted she at least attend a local college so she could prepare for her future while she was watching over them. Even loving parents can make selfish decisions at times.

Q: Can you identify with Summer's search for love? 

Yes, before I met my husband I was sort of lost in love like Summer. But I was fortunate enough to find my husband without a life-list.

Q: Why do you think the number of people delaying marriage into their 30s and even beyond is growing? 

I don't know for sure, but my guess is they are frightened of commitment. The reason may be because the divorce rate has some pretty scary statistics attached to it. For some men and women, maybe it feels hopeless for a marriage to last a lifetime. But it is possible. My husband and I have been married 35 years. We don't have a perfect marriage, but we're committed to each other, and we love each other. If we were to fall out of love someday, I know our commitment would keep us safe until we could fall in love all over again. My advice is to love freely, forgive easily and invite God to be ever-present in your marriage.

Q: What expectations and social pressures are put upon single women in the church?

Perhaps they feel if they can't find Mr. Right, then they are somehow second-class women. That is, of course, not true. But people in the church need to be sensitive to those who do not marry. We should never exclude them or make them feel they are somehow unacceptable or unlovable if they remain single.

Q: Can it be dangerous for women to believe in the notion of a "soul mate" or one single person whom God has for you to find and marry?

Yes, I suppose it could be a dangerous mindset because when you get bored or angry with your spouse - which is very common in most marriages - then it's easy to think you've made a grave error in your choice and someone else was your true destiny and would make you happier. That kind of faulty thinking is an effective way to dismantle a marriage.

River North, 2015
Q: What is the best advice you have for someone who truly longs for marriage? 

Tell God the desires of your heart. He cares deeply for us. But in my opinion, it wouldn't be wrong to consider using a good Christian dating service. I know of a woman right now who is living her happily-ever-after because of one of these services.

Q: Summer's story is unique, as she completes the "bucket list" her Grandmother made for her. What are some other ways single women can connect with their purpose in life, despite their disappointments?

 Make a list of all the talents God has given you, and then go about using them for His glory. You'll find satisfaction and purpose in doing what you were created to do.

Q: Have you ever made a bucket list? How did it change your life? 

 I've not made a bucket list, but my husband and I have made a list of places we'd like to travel to before we journey to heaven. Some places left on that list are Israel, Greece and Norway. Can't wait!

Q: Why do God's plans for our lives often look so very different than our own?

Because we see through a glass darkly while we're here on earth. If we could see more as God does, we would have different plans. They would come closer to lining up with His ways, and there would be much less turmoil and disappointment.

Q: Summer manages a children's bookshop. Was there someone in your childhood who helped instill in you a love for literature? 

 My mother read fairytales to me when I was a little girl. Those stories had a profound effect on me. People have told me my novels read a little like modern fairytales. My husband and I are about to break ground on our retirement home. Can you guess what it is? It's a fairytale house in the woods. Stories stay with us for a lifetime!

Q: You are, in fact, very enthusiastic about promoting literacy and have even won awards for your efforts in that arena. Why is that such an important cause for you?

If people can't read, I'm out of business. But beyond that reasoning, I always hope all people are able to read and know the power of words. Imagine going a lifetime without reading Oliver Twist or Pride and Prejudice or the Bible!

Q: What is the number-one message you want your readers to receive from Summer's List?

My brand is "Stories with a soft landing because life is hard." I hope readers finish all my books with a lighter heart and a sense of joy and hope.

To keep up with Anita Higman, visit become a fan on Facebook (AuthorAnitaHigman) or follow her on Twitter (@anitahigman).

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Anyone who’s grown up in church has heard the catch-phrase:
Mercy is not getting what you do deserve.
Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.

Getting what we don’t deserve.

Heaven. Favor with God. A hope not just for this life, but for the life to come.

But again, those are things we’ve heard before. What does it actually mean?

The Greek word for grace, charis, is related to the word for joy, chara. In fact, charis sometimes gets translated as joy, rather than grace.

Is it possible, then, that when we talk about God’s grace, we could just as easily say delight or joy?

Our God delights in us, His creation and His children. Our God showers us with joy.

And when the night is darkest, or the long-awaited answer to a prayer lingers still longer, could it be that “My grace is sufficient for you” really means, “My joy in you, the delight I take in this journey you’re on, will be enough to carry you even when it seems there is no answer for the hardship in your life”?

I personally am amazed that anything about me, or my life, could bring God joy or delight. Yet His word says,

The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17, NKJV)

This—from the One who made me. The One who loved me so much He provided the perfect sacrifice for my sins, from His own blood. Who welcomes me as His, regardless of the family I was born into or the mess I perpetuated as part of that. Regardless of the mess I continue to make of my life, when I carry on as if I don’t really need Him.

So, it might seem just another churchy buzzword, but there is no other word for it. ­Grace. The reason we have strength to keep going each day. The basis for any forgiveness we offer others. The sure knowledge that when we’ve exhausted our purpose and journey here, what awaits us is so far beyond what we can imagine. We don’t deserve it. We can’t earn it. Our flaws and failures can’t diminish it, because it existed before any of us, with full knowledge of what we would be and do.
All we can do, then, is surrender and glory in it.
                        12 Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ 13 Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.”
                        14 And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
                        15 Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”
                        17 So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.” (Exodus 33)
...through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2, all NKJV)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

by Karen Barnett

I’ve discovered that most writers are masters at procrastination. It’s a topic that comes up frequently when we get together. For me, procrastination rears its ugly head when I’m struggling with fear.

Why should I be scared? I’ve already written several novels. Shouldn’t this be getting easier by now? It’s not. I’m afraid because I don’t just want to write—I want to write well. The tiny voice in the back of my head will whisper: “This story is garbage. No one will read this…if you’re lucky!”

If you struggle with these doubts and with procrastination, here are a few methods I’ve learned to help me get back on track. The first two deal with centering your heart. The next four are just simple tricks to keep you moving forward.

1. Start your writing session in prayer. It sounds so basic, but in my rush and my worry, I often forget. Praying helps to focus my mind and my heart. It reminds me that I’m not writing just for the reader, but for Him. And it also reminds me that I’m not alone in this endeavor. He’s right by my side.

Create a Playlist
 2. Create a playlist of inspiring songs. Not everyone can listen to music while they write, but I find it
a helpful tool to screen out other distractions. Sometimes after a few songs, I’m so lost in storyland I don’t even hear the music anymore. The songs you choose will depend on your style and your needs. Currently, I’m listening to songs that talk about courage and God’s presence. Here are a few of the titles:

• Word of God, Speak by MercyMe
• Give Me Jesus by Fernando Ortega
• Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher
• Only You by David Crowder Band
• Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) Hillsong United

3. Bribery Okay, it may be a little shameful, but when I’m desperate to reach my daily word count, I’ve been known to stoop to bribery. Sometimes it might be a simple promise—if I finish by a certain time, I’ll watch an episode of a favorite television show or take a walk. Other times, I have to bring out the big guns . . . peanut M&Ms—one candy for every one hundred words. Usually, after I’ve written a few hundred words, I forget to keep rewarding myself and save them all for when I finish. Hey, it works for me!

Set a timer!
4. Setting a Timer. Sometimes when I’m wanting to do anything but write, it’s pretty hard to get my tail in the chair. That’s when I bring out the timer. It’s depressing to think, “I have to sit here for four hours.” Instead, I set it for twenty minutes. After the timer buzzes, I get a five minute break. I can check Facebook, take a Jane Austen “turn about the room,” or pour a fresh cup of coffee. Even if I’m not feeling like working, usually I can talk myself into twenty minutes. And once I get started, I often don’t want to stop.

 5. Go back and read your last scene. There’s something about reading yesterday’s work that primes the pump for today. It reminds me why I like these characters and makes me eager to go play with them.

6. Turn off my Wi-fi. I don’t know about you, but social media is a huge source of distraction for me. When a scene gets tough, it’s easy to click over to Facebook or Pinterest for a moment. The moment can quickly become an hour. There’s almost a drug-like affect to it because seeing those “likes” and comments piling up makes me feel important. Unfortunately, even a few minutes on social media interrupts my progress. When I return to my manuscript, I have to get myself moving from a standstill again. It’s days like that I have to pull the plug. I actually walk across the room and turn off the router. To cheat, I have to get out of my chair and usually that’s enough of a reminder to keep me planted.

I hope these ideas help you. What tricks and tips do you use for battling the procrastination monster? I’m always looking for new strategies!

Abingdon Press, June 2015

Beyond the Ashes: Golden Gate Chronicles 2 
Where better to rebuild and face one’s fears than in 1906 San Francisco, a city rising from the ashes? Ruby Marshall, a young widow, is certain she’ll discover new purpose assisting her brother Robert with his cancer research, but she doesn’t anticipate finding new love. Dr. Gerald Larkspur dreams of filling his empty home with family, but he’d always hoped it would be a wife and children. In the aftermath of the great earthquake, the rooms are overflowing with extended family and friends left homeless by the disaster. When Robert’s widowed sister arrives, the close quarters seem close indeed. Ruby and Gerald’s fledgling romance is put at risk when Gerald develops symptoms of the very disease they’re striving to cure. Together they must ask—is it worth a second chance at love when time might be short?

Karen Barnett is the author of Beyond the Ashes, Out of the Ruins, and Mistaken. Named the 2013 Writer of Promise by Oregon Christian Writers, Karen lives in Albany, Oregon, with her husband, two teenagers, and three adorable dachshunds. Connect with Karen here:


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