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Sunday, October 28, 2012


Stop by Shannon Vannatter's blog tomorrow for an interview and a chance to win Postmark: Christmas, a 4-novella collection set in Christmas, Florida.

This makes three posts this week where you can leave a comment for a chance to win one of my books. Please answer the question: What is your favorite Christmas story?

I Am Here - Again

Joel Osteen quoted a parishioner who said, "I'm in pain, but I'm still here." I thought of what God had shown me about Abraham. When God called him to sacrifice his son, Abraham said, "Here I am." Sometimes that's all we can give--and it's enough.

This week I took the step I should have weeks ago. I haven't had a regular quiet time for quite awhile. Mostly because I have a hard time figuring out a way to carry my Bible in my weak hands.

I use Bible gateway all the time for Bible study, and I've noticed they have a reading plan on the website.  The computer, of course! I spend hours here. Now to see if there is an online prayer journal; there are, of course. I started using

Forgive me, Father, for not looking earlier; and thank You for meeting me there.  "Here I am."

God has shown me so much in a few short days, much of it specific to writers.

Good ol' Jeremiah. I'm so glad I'm not in his shoes. This week, I read where he confronted God, not once, but twice. The first time he asked:

You are right, O God, and you set things right.
    I can’t argue with that. But I do have some questions:
Why do bad people have it so good?. . .

Meanwhile, you know me inside and out.
    You don’t let me get by with a thing!

Jeremiah 12:1-4, MSG

God's answer was, as usual when asked "why?", a non-answer:
So, Jeremiah, if you’re worn out in this footrace with men,
    what makes you think you can race against horses?
And if you can’t keep your wits during times of calm,
    what’s going to happen when troubles break loose
        like the Jordan in flood?

Jeremiah 12:5-6 MSG

If you think you have it bad now, it's going to get worse.

Later, Jeremiah made a bold statement:
You’re nothing, God, but a mirage,
    a lovely oasis in the distance—and then nothing!

Jeremiah 15:18 MSG

This time God's answer is more direct:
Take back those words, and I’ll take you back.
    Then you’ll stand tall before me.
Use words truly and well. Don’t stoop to cheap whining.
    Then, but only then, you’ll speak for me.
Let your words change them.
    Don’t change your words to suit them.

Jeremiah 15:19-21 MSG

I want to speak for God, so I'd better pay attention!

I'm thankful for God's word--powerful, alive, sharper than a double-edged sword.

**Last week's winner was Cindy Regnier. All comments on this post as well as the one on my new book covers qualifies for a chance to win one of my books. There must be at least five comments for the contest to be valid. Also to be valid, please answer this question: Have you ever asked God a question?**


Cover art arrived this week for two of my spring titles!

My novella Angel in Disguise is in this amazing collection.
Texas Rangers and Outlaws
May 2013
I wrote all 4 stories in this one.
Kansas 1875
June 2013

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.--1 Thessalonians 5:14, KJV

Apparently this single verse in 1 Thessalonians caused translators quite a bit of problems.  The phrase including "unruly" ("disorderly" is some of the more modern translations) is often interpreted as lazy, idle, or unwilling to work. "Feebleminded" comes out as discouraged, fainthearted, afraid, timid, disheartened. 

Today "feebleminded" is an offensive word. What is the PC word today? Intellectually challenged?  In any case, I think the definition of feeble applies:  physically or mentally weak; lacking physical or mental health.

I especially like the translator who turned "be patient toward all men" into "put up with everyone."  Patience suggests an entirely different attitude!

I stumbled upon this verse in the King James version recently and came to a complete stop. One version, five short phrases, captured the essence of life and ministry in a nursing home:

Warn the unruly: I've seen that several times. Once a couple of residents even resorted to fisticuffs. There was the man who insisted on his removing shirt and trying to stand . . . the brain-injured man who shouted obscenities at the top of his voice . . . oh, yes, we have unruly people here.

The folks here are more than willing to work. Those who can walk love to push residents in wheelchairs (even when they don't want it). One lady is trying to find everyone here jobs. Another gentlemen treats the home as his office and often approaches me as his secretary, since I work at a computer.

Comfort the feebleminded: While all the other words. . . discouraged, fainthearted, timid, afraid, dishearted. . . may apply, I like King James' generic (if not PC in 2012) term feebleminded. That's true of so many people here. Their minds might be locked in the past. Or they might need instant (and repeated) answers. For some, all we know of what is going on in their heads is the expression on their face. Are they smiling? Fearful? Angry? Confused?

Support the weak: Physical weakness abounds here. It's the reason I'm here. The staff does most of the "supporting," of course. But I find comfort in being in a place where everyone has some kind of disability. I am not an object of pity here, but a fellow sufferer. We don't have to pretend to feel better than we do. 

Be patient toward all men. Patience--while I wait for the overworked staff to take care of me. Patience--when a fellow resident insults me (I'm not the only object of her spite). Patience--while the noise level rises.  Patience--when my personal rights are minimized. All of that, and more. Even if at times all I manage is to "put up with everyone." And I confess, sometimes, not even that much. 

Look at your own life.  Do you know people who are unruly (or lazy),  feebleminded, or weak? How do you manage in the patience department?

**DANA is the winner of last week's book giveaway. Leave your name & contact information, along with an answer to the above question, for a chance to when one of my books this next week. A minimum of five comments is needed for giveaway to be held.**

Saturday, October 13, 2012


God had to use a Thor-sized hammer to get this insight through to me.

Perhaps a hammer is the wrong image. It wasn't a single blow, more of 58 years of living finally spilling over the dam of my mind.

People consider me sweet. They call my books sweet. And for some reason, the characterization bothers me.

Perhaps I am too literal minded.  I love "sweets," desserts of all kinds. When people say too much frosting makes a cake too sweet, I laugh. I LOVE the corner pieces with frosting on two sides as well as big flowers on top. I love to fill every hole of a waffle with syrup. The more sugar the better.

There are books like that, with so much sweetness and light that the layers of plot disappear under the heavy frosting.  I guess my mind equates a "sweet" story with those that are "syrupy" and "saccharine."

So I did what I often do when stumped by the nuances of meaning of a word: I looked it up in an online dictionary. I discovered that in addition to defintions for "sweet," there are also meanings given for "sweet person." Aha!  Just what I needed.

I found the first definitions on one of those answer sites.  Six years ago, someone else was struggling with this same question.  Someone else asked how to become a sweet person. Hmm, so I'm not the first person to ask what on earth does that mean?

One answer includes the downside, the reason I don't like being called sweet: someone who is sweet is easily manageable, who doesn't know how to stand up for herself. With my background of abuse, I refuse to accept that description.  I also don't like to be called "soft spoken."

Other people gave lists of things sweet people don't do: wouldn't hurt a fly (or even think of hurting a fly); doesn't pass judgment or condemn; doesn't gossip or talk about people behind their backs; doesn't fight, threaten or intimidate.  I actually have done a lot of those things. That explains why I don't see myself as sweet. I know all the bad things I still do.

The award for a humorous definition goes to the person who said a sweet person must be good-looking!

At last! The positive attributes that I can admit to: caring, genuine, thoughtful, compassionate, sympathetic.

This one makes me smile: "To become a sweet person requires inner strength. That is what we must first have in whatever situation, which can then help you to help others and achieve whatever you wish to achieve. You should have firm belief and optimism."

My favorite defintion says, "Someone with a big heart. Not someone to be run over, but simply someone who cares, and who is open to other caring persons."

My prayer is that whatever sweetness I possess goes beyond that.

I want to be open to people who don't return the favor, without becoming a doormat. I want to  love them as Christ loves me. Unconditionally.

**For a chance to win one of my books, please leave a comment that answers the following question: How to people characterize you and/or how do you feel about it? There must be at least five answers to give away a book, and there are one book given away for every five comments.**

Sunday, October 7, 2012


While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.  Acts 7:59-60, NIV

When I read the story of Stephen's trial before the Sanhedrin, the final three words of Acts 7 stopped me as I read: He fell asleep. 

At first, I wondered, did he literally fall asleep as they were stoning him? No. But I decided it didn't matter. Stephen was enduring one of the most violent deaths possible. His accusers were stoning him for his faith in Christ. 

He prayed, "Receive my spirit. Forgive them." After that? He passed from this life to the next as easily as falling asleep. As peaceful, as restful, as desirable, as anyone desires their experience of death to be. 

God turned death into a nap for Stephen.

God made a fast-day lunch for my friend Karla into a feast. She shares the story:

I went to the store closest to my house, and grabbed this funky seaweed snack which tastes . . . well, funky . . . but it somehow adventurous and fun. I grabbed some antioxidant juice that was on sale. I went home and made a chocolate protein shake. I looked at the bounty--all healthy and good--and said to myself: "Funny how God can turn a fast into a feast."

If God can change death into a nap and a fast into a feast--what will He do with my day?

**For a chance to win one of my books, leave a comment (including your email address) answering the question: How has God transformed less-than-pleasant circumstances for you? One winner for every five comments will be chosen. Amy Campbell won last week's contest.**