Wednesday, December 21, 2011
With Thanksgiving being late this year, the Christmas season kinda just snuck up on me. Is the same is true for you? The calendar says "Advent" is here, yet up until this past week, I was feeling far from prepared -- in my heart or otherwise. That is until we put up our tree two weeks ago.
As soon as the lights were plugged in, it was like a switch in my heart was turned on as well. This year as never before, the physical acts of preparing for Christmas this week... baking cookies with my children, writing the cards, singing carols... they have all been very special and real reminders of the importance of preparing my heart.
Likewise, I'd like to encourage you to take joy in every little thing that you do over these last few days leading up to Christmas. Whether it's filling stockings, visiting family and friends, listening (or perhaps singing) in a Christmas program, driving by pretty lights, whatever... I hope like me, you'll be able to see these physical reminders in a new "light." May we not merely see them as another thing to check off our lists, but as a means to prepare ourselves for celebrating the greatest gift ever given, Jesus Christ.
My hope for you this year is that you will experience an extraordinary Breath of Heaven as you prepare your home and your heart this Christmas season.
Have a very Merry & Blessed Christmas!
(Photo: Yahoo Images)
Monday, December 19, 2011
Yesterday, like many other churches in the UK and probably across the world, we had our carol services. The morning was an all age service with the children taking part and the evening a traditional carol service with readings and a wonderful mix of old and new carols, to both organ and band.
Friday, December 2, 2011
Tessa’s Teacakes by Mary Manners
Tessa, the youngest Spencer sister--and the most impulsive--rushes into the Mount Ridge crisis center bent on saving her brother-in-law. She's ready to handle Brent's abductor, with or without help. What she's not ready to handle is the effect policeman, Colin Phillips, has on her. Romance is the last thing on Tessa's mind. She longs for the adventure and fast-pace of New York City, not being tied to Mount Ridge and a man who insists she shouldn't be so impetuous. After all "independent spirit" is what Tessa does best!
Colin transferred from the police force in Atlanta in order to find closure after the brutal murder of his younger sister. He wants a nice, safe future, not one filled with caring and worrying about another impulsive woman. His sister was naive and unpredictable, and while Colin is drawn to Tessa's spunk and vitality, her willingness to rush into danger scares him. No way could he cope with another devastating loss. His heart must remain closed where Tessa is concerned.
But God has His own plans--and His own way of changing hearts and cultivating love.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I’m thankful for a loving husband—a man with whom a share a real-life romance filled with love and laughter, adventure and fun (I tell my husband he’s cheap entertainment). Tim supports and encourages my passion for sharing the written word. I’m so thankful God brought him into my life.
I’m thankful for my daughter, Danni, who has grown into a beautiful young woman. Danni illuminates my life with her loving, generous spirit. She’s friend to everyone, and has a special place in her heart for the elderly and the hurting. She is truly a blessing to me.
My friends, especially my precious writing friends, are a reason to give thanks. These wonderful people completely understand when I mention the ‘voices’ that speak to me while I’m writing. I love them dearly.
But, most of all, I am thankful for my Lord and Savior, who has given all of this and more to me. What an amazing blessing to know His love and grace are never-ending.
So, as this holiday season begins, I wish you blessings and peace, dear friends. May you take a moment to draw a breath, step back, and count the many blessings that fill your life.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Today, both the fig bush and pear tree produce abundantly. Daddy lived long enough to taste the figs, but passed away before the pear tree produced. I remember him digging around it, fertilizing, and wondering aloud if it ever would bear fruit.
Over the years the fruit continues to increase. In the past month while visiting my mother, I've gathered three bags full of the delicious fruit. Mama has called in friends and neighbors to share in the bounty besides giving loads of pears to us kids. Still, innumerable pears hang on the tree and at least a hundred are scattered beneath it.
While gathering the pears, I contemplated on what Daddy would think if he knew what his efforts had wrought. What if he does know? What if God allows people to look down from heaven and see the fruit their life has produced in the lives of others?
I picked up my heavy sack and returned to the house to find Mama seated in the kitchen working on a Word-Find. She laid it aside as I heaved the sack up onto the table and asked, "Do you think Daddy ever considered he might be leaving a legacy behind when he planted the pear tree? I wonder what he'd say if he knew people come from miles around to gather pears."
She shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know, but it seems the tree produces more fruit every year."
A gift that keeps on giving. Who can count the jars of preserves that have been canned from that one tree? I know my dad would be pleased to share his bounty with his small community. You see, he was a giving person.
This brought something else to contemplate. Does everyone leave a legacy? I knew the answer as soon as I asked myself the question. Yes. Whether we know it or not, something we say, or an act of kindness we show to another can become a legacy--changing the person's life. Who knows what results may someday emerge from those kind words or deeds?
My fifth-grade teacher did not live long enough to learn she'd planted a dream in my heart when she announced to our class, "One day Laurie will become an author."
Her words were planted in my heart and not forgotten. Even though I nurtured them through the years, (journaling and writing poetry) three decades passed before I acted on them.
My prayer is for the words I write to become my legacy. For this reason I must always write what God directs and inspires. My desire is for readers to be emotionally healed and blessed through my stories.
The highest compliment I've received? When a reader turns to me and says, "Thank you. Don't ever stop writing. You will never know how much your story helped me."
Monday, October 31, 2011
Wow, I don't know about you, but we had snow this weekend! I said to one of my boys on the way to church yesterday, "It looks more like Christmas out here than Thanksgiving." :)
This morning, as I was getting ready to stoke up our wood stove I thought how lovely it would be to curl up for a bit with a nice warm blanket, hot drink and a book. If you feel the same way, perhaps you'd enjoy this story~
Disheartened and tired, Samantha Warren returns to Vermont during the winter break. Her passion for history rekindles after finding an old smuggler's chest hidden in her grandparents' attic. Will she be able to return to New Jersey without her heart being smuggled like the chest once was? Or is it already too late?
Samantha gingerly reached for the newfound treasure. A rush of adrenaline coursed through her body, and her nerves jingled the instant her fingers caressed the soft, worn wood. Just as she knew her own name, she knew there was something special about the small chest.
“That you making a racket up there, Sammie?”
Samantha blew a puff of dust off the curved lid and sat down Indian-style on the painted but worn wide plank attic floor. “I’ll be down in a few minutes, Gram.”
Gram chuckled. “Sure, and pigs can fly too.”
Gram might be eighty-something, but she didn’t miss much. She knew Samantha’s passion for history and antiques and how long it had been since she had visited the attic of her grandparents’ beloved 1820s Victorian home. For that matter, how long since she’d been in Vermont, period.
Samantha fiddled with the latch on the chest. Her finger brushed against a small metal protrusion on the side of the lock. In a sudden, swift motion, the latch sprung open and the lid lifted a quarter of an inch, almost as if the chest wanted to share its secrets and stories with her. She lifted it further and peered inside. The musty smell of aged wood and paper greeted her like a familiar friend she hadn’t seen for a long, long time.
She clutched the box to her chest and rushed downstairs. Breathless, she held out her find for her gram to see. “Do you know what this is?”
“I do.” Gram’s eyes sparkled. “And, I must say, it’s good to see there’s some life in you. I’ve been worried about you since you’ve come home.”
Gram didn’t need to be concerned about her. She was a strong independent woman—at least she liked to think she was. Granted, she had felt a little bit blue as of late, but didn’t everyone experience those feelings every now and then in life?
Time to focus on something else. She held the box a bit higher. “The chest?”
Gram motioned for Samantha to join her on the couch. “That chest’s said to have held letters from one of the caves in the Notch.”
“You remember the history?” Gram asked with obvious delight.
“Sure.” Samantha nodded. “When I drive through Smuggler’s Notch, I try to picture it as during the War of 1812.”
“Yup,” her gram said. “That was when the good old U.S. Congress placed an embargo on the imports from England.”
Samantha looked out windows to the mountains. “I can imagine smugglers hiding in the thick forest and storing their supplies of food, clothing, cattle, and such from Canada in the caves and caverns along the Long Trail.” She turned back to her gram and matter-of-factly said, “And then of course, a hundred years later, when the U.S. Congress passed a law prohibiting the sale of alcohol, it happened again.”
Gram nodded. “Smugglers avoided the revenue agents by storing the alcohol in the caves where they freely smuggled it through the Notch Pass, down to central and southern New England. Thus it’s aptly named...”
Together, they chorused, “Smuggler’s Notch.”
Samantha smiled at her gram’s joy, which must have been mirrored in her own eyes.
History...her passion. But recently, without her even realizing it until this moment, the joy and excitement she usually felt had fallen flat. She still enjoyed her teaching position at a high school in New Jersey, but her enthusiasm over the last several years had waned. How had that impacted her students? She shook her head, trying to dispel that train of thought.
Perhaps coming back to Vermont for winter break was what she needed—at least she hoped so.
“Samantha, I know I don’t tell you this often enough, but I think you’re a gifted history teacher. I only wish you’d come back home where you belong.”
There were many subjects Samantha would be delighted to discuss, but her personal life, particularly where she did or didn’t belong, wasn’t one of them. Especially since she had been struggling with those very same thoughts moments ago. “Gram, let’s not go there. How about you tell me about this chest instead?”
Gram rolled her eyes. “You’re more stubborn than that old manual lawn mower. I guess I should expect as much with all that red hair.”
Samantha lifted her chin. “It’s not red. It’s auburn.”
Was it her imagination, or was Gram fighting a smile?
Gram coughed in her hand. “Where were we...oh, yes. This chest stayed in a cave where it held correspondence or information from one party to the next.”
“How’d you get it?”
“I’m saving that part of the story.”
Samantha’s heart sank with disappointment. “Why?”
“So I can be sure you’ll come back home, where you belong, from time to time.”
Samantha rolled her eyes and bit back the retort, Now who’s being stubborn?
Reviews: (As posted on Amazon.com)
Deila Latham said: "... What a beautiful, heartwarming, soul-stirring little story! JoAnn Carter says more in thirty-seven pages than many authors can produce in an epic novel. It's a thought-provoking picture of a life in transition, a love in the balance, and a God Who never stops caring. Smuggler of the Heart is good stuff. Period."
K.M Daughters said, " I loved Sammie and Tim (and Grandma, too) at first meeting. Sweet prayerful souls are reunited in this lovely, well-written romance. Sammie's "conversations" with the Lord were beautiful and soul stirring. A must read for anyone who enjoys Christian fiction and satisfying romantic endings."
Kara Lynn Russell said, " This short story is a mini-vacation to snow Vermont. Perfect for a lunch time or break time read."_
Purchase Link: http://www.pelicanbookgroup.com/ec/smuggler-of-the-heart also available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
We’ve had one day in over two weeks when the heat index wasn’t above 100 degrees. Patience and tempers run short. People are testy. My DH had debilitating cluster headaches for three days. Wednesday it was 109, thanks to 98 on the thermometer, and the high dew point. Hubby went to bed at 8:30.
Not five minutes later, the phone rang. A woman asked for someone who doesn’t live in our home. We don’t have cells or caller ID (don’t ask), and we get a lot of unsolicited calls.
I admit I’ve never been a quick thinker (years ago a kid asked if my refrigerator was running and I went to look), so I didn’t even consider asking who she was or the last name of the individual she wanted. I was curt, and basically hung up.
The phone rang again and the same woman asked for the same person.
I said, “No one by that name has ever lived here.”
She verified our phone number, then offered, “You must get a lot of calls to be so irritated.”
“We do. And my husband just lay down with a horrid migraine.” I didn’t apologize.
She said, “The Lord be with you.”
I was convicted by her click. It sounded so final. It was too late to apologize or search for any more excuses.
Humble, regretful, guilty. That old sin nature can still raise its ugly head. My mind raced to the Lord.
Five minutes later, the phone rang again, but no one responded to my softer hello.
What if it was a test of some kind?
What if the caller really meant to call me to see how I’d handled the ruse?
What if someone was checking up on me to see if I’m equipped for ministry?
What if I missed the opportunity to entertain an angel?
I was once voted Miss Congeniality. If those girls could have heard such a tone of voice, that trophy would belong to another. And a short tone like the one I used would never fly in the workforce.
Contrition ran so deep I couldn’t sleep. There is no excuse for irritability. A Christian has no reason to be rude. And Christians are meant to be in the Word on a daily basis. Oops. It was our anniversary and we’d planned a day away from home, I hadn’t made the time to absorb God’s precious words.
Early this morning, in the wee hours of dark, I turned to Ephesians, Chapter 4. Words are meant to be edifying. I’m reminded to walk (and talk!) in a worthy manner, with humility, gentleness, grace. Forgiveness is a must, because I’ve been forgiven. I’m convinced a kind and loving tone turn curtness into congeniality.
Have you been tested lately?
Saturday, July 23, 2011
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Can Wyatt rescue Lara’s restaurant, help her overcome her fears, and prove he is good husband material?
Sunday, June 5, 2011
The road to receiving Holy Orders was long and intense--truly a calling.
The permanent diaconate formation period in the Catholic Church entails a four- or five-year training period that resembles a collegiate course of study. Diaconal candidates receive instruction in philosophy, theology, study of the Holy Scriptures, homiletics, sacramental studies, evangelization, ecclesiology, counseling, and pastoral care and ministry before ordination. Although they are assigned to work in a parish by the diocesan bishop, once assigned, deacons are under the supervision of the parish pastor. Saint Stephen is considered to be one of the first seven deacons in the Christian Church.
The ministry of the deacon in the Catholic Church is described as one of service in three areas: the Word, the Liturgy and Charity. The vestments most particularly associated with the Western Rite Catholic deacon are the alb, stole and dalmatic. Deacons, like priests and bishops, must wear their albs and stoles; deacons place the stole over their left shoulder and it hangs across to their right side, while priests and bishops wear it around their necks. The dalmatic, a vestment especially associated with the deacon, is worn during the celebration of the Mass and other liturgical functions; its use is more liberally applied than the corresponding vestment of the priest, the chasuble.
For me, the most moving part of the ordination was when the 11 candidates for the deaconate lay prostrate upon the altar, deep in surrendered prayer to the God who called them to this vocation. My brother-in-law was also given the blessing of being able to serve with the Bishop during communion at this very special Mass. Another moving part of the ceremony is when the Bishop rested his hands atop the head of each candidate in blessing, and then gave them each a beautiful, leather-bound edition of the Gospels for use during Mass.
The day after his ordination, John delivered the homily and performed the duties of a deacon at his church home, Queen of Angels. This first mass was referred to as 'The Mass of Thanksgiving' and many family and friends were in attendance. We were truly blessed and thankful to be part of it, too, and witness him living out the call God placed on his heart. Receiving the Eucharist from my brother-in-law, then the Precious Blood from my sister-in-law touched my heart and brought me to tears of joy. Our family traveled bits and pieces of this road right along with him, and cheered him on all the way.
God has claimed a holy warrior in the gifts and talents of John Henry Hilger, and we're so very thrilled for him!
Until next time ~ Blessings!
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
meet Dora …
After a successful auditing career, Dora left the corporate world to be a stay-at-home mom to her two sons. Eventually, needing something more to fill her days, she started writing heart racing, God-gracing books that glorify her Creator. Dora belongs to the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Carolina Christian Writers.
Dora and her husband make their home in Kannapolis, North Carolina. When she’s not writing, Dora enjoys spending time with her family, guzzling café con leche, kicking back in her recliner with a good book, teaching Sunday School, vacationing in the mountains, watching football, walking her dog, and did somebody say shopping?
JOURNEY’S END Blurb:
Devastated after the brutal murder of her husband, Chelsea Hammond vows never to love another lawman. Intent on rebuilding her shattered life, she turns her focus to helping troubled teens. But when an angry father bent on retaliation, threatens her, Chelsea must turn to the one man she never thought to trust: Deputy U.S. Marshal Trey Colten.
Trey wants only to protect Chelsea, but she blames him for her husband’s death.Trey can relate. He blames himself, also. As danger lurks, Trey begs Chelsea to heed his warnings. He let down one Hammond. He won’t let down another—especially one who now holds his heart.
When Chelsea is snatched from her home, can she put aside her fear, and trust Trey with her life? Can she forgive him for destroying her past and let him help to rebuild her future?
Where one journey ends, another begins…
JOURNEY’S END Excerpt:
"I suppose I should have been a vet." Chelsea stroked the dog’s fur from his head all the way down his back, careful not to touch his wounded leg.
"Maybe. But I don’t think you’ve wasted your energy or your talents as a guidance counselor. Teenagers can’t seem to resist you, either."
That produced a full-fledged smile in his direction. Way to go, Colten!
"Remember that natural charm I warned you about?"
He threw back his head and laughed. "Yes. And after a few days in your presence, I’m inclined to agree with you."
He pulled into the veterinarian’s parking lot and glanced her way, surprised to see her grinning. "What?"
"Saved by the vet."
Her words hit him like a piano dropping ten stories. She was flirting with him.
He took his time walking around to her side of the truck. He opened the door and leaned in, planting his hand on the seat next to her shapely legs. His face hovered inches from hers while he savored the way her wavy hair cascaded down her shoulders, the lips that curved in that always graceful way, and the eyes that spoke everything his heart wanted to hear.
Her eyes closed, and her lips parted slightly.
Trey snapped out of it. He couldn’t do this. He was on the job. She didn’t know the secrets he knew, the truth about her husband.
Her eyes startled open. As much as he wanted to partake and enjoy, he couldn’t. He touched a silky curl framing her face and ran it through his fingers. "You need to know that right now I’m working. But there will come a time, soon, when I’m not."
She can’t bear to look at yesterday.
She has no strength to face today.
She won’t believe in tomorrow.
You can purchase this book at (either as an e-book or paperback) at: http://www.whiterosepublishing.com/Journey39S-End?CDpath=3
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
This is the second in the Love is Blooming serial
Widow Paisley Robbins rounded the corner of her front walk, ever on the look out for flowers to divide or trim. The transplanted Nebraskan missed specific seasonal changes, but spring was definitely in the air here in southern California.
The sound of a slamming car door drew her gaze off the slate path. Three houses up, at the curve of the cul-de-sac, Sara Hunter walked backward to her front door, face almost obscured by…a tree made of fruit? They exchanged a wave.
Paisley eyed the delivery van parked in front of the edible fruit truck, and wondered what Sara was celebrating. The driver of the van exited the horseshoe drive. Instead of gaining speed, he swung into Paisley’s drive. Curious. She hadn’t ordered anything.
“Ms. Robbins,” the teenaged driver greeted, “we had a mix-up of orders and one of these is yours.”
“One of what?”
He jumped out and opened the slider. “Take your pick. The names are here on the clipboard, but Gramps and I don’t know who gets what ‘cuz the computer’s messed up.”
She surveyed the choices, beginning with a handwritten restaurant invitation. Her heart hitched at the writing that looked like her deceased father’s. She shook her head.
Delectable chocolates packaged in gold and pink wouldn’t be for her because she had celiac disease.
The dozen red roses vased in emerald glass weren’t for her either. She may have awakened that morning with a heightened sense of spring fever, but her love lay in a cemetery across town.
“How about these?” The delivery boy held up an ornate replica of a Victorian bird cage. Through the resin slats a pair of cuddling, teal love birds cocked their curious heads. Their iridescent feathers reminded her of an Indigo bunting she’d once seen back home.
She knew who the birds were meant for. “I’ll sign for those.”
This was the fourth time deliveries or mail had been mixed up with a man named Robin Paisley. The last time was the previous week when a package of organic bird seed had been left on her porch.
The teenager carried the cage up her steps and set it in the shade. Then he placed the invoice on the top of his clipboard for her to sign. “Thanks, three to go.”
She thanked the youth for the delivery. It was time she met the bird man.
Their first contact was when he’d called. Her number was on the invoice for a delivery of calla lilies, left at his door. She’d picked up her package when he was at work. The next two exchanges were over mail left in each other’s box.
The turquoise love birds were probably fine on the porch. She went inside to get her cell.
For some reason, a flutter of anticipation wiggled through her tummy as she waited for him to answer.
“Mr. Paisley, Paisley Robbins here.”
She smiled when he chuckled, low and long. “It happened again?”
“Right the first time. I think this one calls for a personal retrieval.” That flirtatious tone had come from her mouth?
“Be right over.”
What had she done?
Would Gabe be turning over in his grave?
She sat without moving, mesmerized by the pair of love birds. They nuzzled and clacked, engrossed in one another as they perched.
A car soon swished into her driveway. She took a deep breath and turned at the snick of the door. And almost forgot to exhale.
He wasn’t Hollywood handsome. Separately, features were mismatched, kind of unbalanced. But all together, she approved of the approaching package. When he was close enough, Paisley blinked. Robin’s blue and green eyes matched the feathers of the love birds.
He extended his hand. “We finally meet.”
At the touch of their palms, her hungry heart sighed.
Something beyond attraction was born. Peace. Familiarity. The sense of rightness. And above all, she could almost hear Gabe whisper, “It’s time to let me go.”
He ignored the steps and leaped onto the porch. “Oh, what lovely blues and greens you are.”
“Is that what they’re really called?”
“Generically. The bright green with the target eyes are called Fischers.”
“Why such a fancy cage?”
“It’s all for show. They’ll live in a wire cage in the breezeway behind my house.”
She tipped her head and wondered if she looked too much like his birds. “They seem pretty content here on my front porch. Would you like some lemonade?”
“I would. And I’d like to get to know more about you.”
Paisley had no idea what Robin’s life story was. But she knew deep inside she was beginning a new chapter of hers. A part of her would always miss Gabe, yet she was certain he wouldn’t want her to go through life alone.
She suppressed a giggle at the crazy romantic notion of the name, Paisley Robbins-Paisley. But that sounded a whole lot better than Paisley Paisley.
One fortunate commenter will win a pair of handcrafted stained-glass earrings by Lincoln artist Julee Lowe.
If you want to read the other serial stories, they will be post at different spots. Visit our blogs and websites, listed below and follow the story of the mixed up gifts!
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Kenzie Kinkaid shifted on the white-cushioned posing couch. The scent of artist’s oils, turpenoid, and drying canvases filled the small studio. Though she tired of holding her back straight and trying to appear relaxed, she never tired of gazing at the artist.
His dark chocolate eyes seemed to look right into her soul and enjoy what they found. And the way his wavy black hair fell over his forehead each time he bent to dip his brush into his palette made her toes tingle. She wanted to jump up and run her fingers through that wavy hair, then smooth it back out of his eyes. The feeling had grown stronger during the five weeks they’d been working together.
“This is the last sitting, Kenzie, and I think your parents will find the portrait worth waiting for.”
The deep timbre of his voice sent delicious shivers to Kenzie’s stomach. She blinked. She hadn’t experienced that delightful tingle once in the two years since her fiancé died in a sky-diving accident just a week before their wedding. “Did they tell you this was to be my bridal portrait, and that I wanted them to cancel?”
“Yes. But I was glad to extend you all the time you needed.” He stepped back and chose a new brush. “You’re a remarkable model. Usually I only ask for one sitting and then complete the portrait from photographs I take, but…you’re so stunning, I wanted to make certain I caught the real person beneath the beauty.”
Heat flooded her face. “You’ve been sniffing turpenoid, Jeffrey Gordon. I’m not beautiful.”
He propped a foot on the nearby stool, leaned an elbow on his knee, and dangled the brush from his fingers. “I got the impression from your parents they wanted me to get to know you.” The cleft in his chin stood out when he smiled.
“Please don’t feel obligated. Mom and Dad have been matchmaking for the past year. I’ve resisted, but they’ve thrown every eligible bachelor they know at me. And they made no secret of the fact that you are single.” Her ears burned. She ducked her head and smoothed the yellow silk dress where it clung to her thighs and then flared to the floor.
“Don’t be too tough on them.” A twinkle lit his eyes. “I named this portrait Daffodils.”
“Because of my dress.”
“Partially. But mostly because you have an inner glow that lights the studio. Would you go out with me?”
This was too much. Though she’d dreamed about him, she wasn’t ready to date. It was just too soon. Her knees trembled when she stood. “Please. You can finish the portrait from the pictures you took of me.”
Jeff dropped his palette on his shirt, leaving splotches of color on the black material. “I’m sorry. Don’t get upset.” He grabbed the palette off the floor. “I thought enough time had passed and you might be ready.” He placed the palette back in his left hand. “But I should have waited.”
Kenzie settled back down on the couch. “I don’t mind your asking.” She managed a smile. “I didn’t accept any of the dates my parents arranged.” Instead, she’d dived headlong into her marine biology work using all her energy and loving what she did. When she was ready to date again, God would let her know. She didn’t need matchmakers. And, of course, her parents had insisted she sit for this particular artist.
“Almost finished,” Jeffrey mumbled around the brush handle in his mouth.
She would miss the concentrated expression that changed his face from being merely attractive to being a man with purpose and drive and vision. She’d loved watching him work. Loved seeing the magic his hands created. Loved talking with him. Up until a few minutes ago they’d had a comfortable, relaxed relationship. And that’s all she wanted.
“All finished. You can view the portrait now.” He stood back, his usually direct gaze guarded.
Did he think she wouldn’t like his work? She shot up, almost afraid to look. Her stilettos tapping on the hardwood floor, she glided over to the easel.
“It takes my breath away. It’s like looking into a mirror. I…I love the way you captured my skin tones.” She fingered the edge of the wet canvas. “Do I really look like that?” Heat flooded her from her scalp to her ears. “I’m sure my parents will be happy with it.”
The following Saturday morning, Kenzie paced in the tiny garden behind her rented house. The sun shone, the air smelled sweet, and a hummingbird flashed around the nectar of a scarlet bougainvillea bush. She should be happy or at least content. But, now that the portrait hung in her parent’s living room over their mantle, she missed her Saturday mornings spent with Jeff. Missed their casual conversations. Missed their spirited discussions about God, and how He worked in a believer’s life.
She probably just missed him because spring had come to Southern California in a burst of sunshine and blooming flowers. And probably because daffodils’ ranged up and down her short walkway. And probably because a Blue Jay darted down to lure her away from its nest full of new born chicks. Well, she’d get over him. Her bare feet slid over the smooth stones between the waving daffodils as she sauntered around the house to the front.
With a screech of brakes, a delivery truck pulled into the horseshoe drive in front of her neighbor, Sara Hunter’s house. Kenzie rested her hands on her hips and watched Sara walk to the truck. The delivery man slid the side open. Because the truck obscured her view, Kenzie couldn’t see what else Sarah did, but her neighbor soon turned back toward her own front door. Then a Delectable Edible Arrangements truck pulled up behind the departing delivery truck. Wow, busy day on Daffodil Lane.
Another squeal of brakes distracted Kenzie from Sarah’s drive to her other neighbor, Paisley Robbins. Kenzie only had a nod and hello acquaintance with the two older ladies, but she liked them both. Paisley came outside and talked with the delivery driver. Kenzie glimpsed an antique cage with some tiny birds fluttering inside, and was about to walk across the street to talk with Paisley, when the delivery truck gunned out of her drive…and right up Kenzie’s.
Kenzie sucked in a breath. What? She hadn’t ordered anything online. Maybe the truck was simply turning around in her drive.
But the truck pulled up, stopped, and a teenager with spiked hair jumped down. “Kenzie Kinkaid?” The boy carried a clipboard.
He grinned. “Um, Miss. You got a delivery.”
“Are you sure? I’m not expecting anything.”
“Yep. Only problem is—um, we got a glitch in our computer. So, Gramps sent me out with these names on this clipboard, and I got packages. But I don’t know which deliveries go to which names.”
Kenzie chuckled. “Really?”
Untied sneakers flopping on the drive, he hurried to the side of the white van and Kenzie followed. “Can you look at these orders and pick out which one is yours?” He opened the slider.
“Well, yes, but I can’t imagine…” Kenzie let her words fade as the boy took out a huge box of chocolates in a gold package with a fancy pink ribbon. The thought that a man sent candy made her heart race. She remembered the expectation such gifts brought. And the love they expressed. “Is there no card?”
“No card, Miss. Do you think this is for you?”
She shook her head. “No. I wish they were, but I don’t think so.”
“These must be for you then.” He pointed to an emerald vase filled with a dozen long-stemmed red roses.
She bent inside the van, stuck her nose close to a velvet bloom, and inhaled the rich rose scent. How many bouquets had she received and taken for granted? How much caring went into such a gift? She touched the cool, glass vase. Why had she turned her back on love? She’d been too cautious to risk her heart again. And with that fear she’d lost the joy and excitement and deep satisfaction of caring about someone else more than about herself. She breathed in the sweet, rose fragrance again.
How strange these gifts getting their addresses tangled. Was God sending her a message? Was He telling her not to turn her back on love? She’d been too afraid to risk her heart these past two years. The pain had cut too deep. And, last week she’d totally discouraged the one man who’d caught her interest.
“I’ve got this one more,” the teenaged voice cracked. His expression looked so sympathetic Kenzie knew he must have sensed her regret. He handed her a vellum envelope.
The envelope felt smooth and rich in her hand. Spring-like yellow paper showed through the translucent material. She had to peek inside. “This looks as if it’s been opened.”
“Yes, Miss. Ms. Hunter and Ms. Robbins opened the letter to see if it was for them. But it wasn’t, and I only have two other addresses. And the two other packages. Do you think this one’s for you?”
She slipped the textured paper out of the envelope. Her heart fluttered. Beautiful inked calligraphy invited the reader to a dinner that evening at the Café Parisian. She knew that Café. It nestled just around the corner from Jeff’s studio. She’d thought some evening she might stop by and have dinner in the romantic spot. Tears pricked her eyelids. This couldn’t be for her either. The restaurant was for lovers. She was about to fold the note and return it to its envelope when she glimpsed a sort of signature in the corner—an artist’s palette.
“There’s daffodils embossed on the front of the envelope, Miss.”
Such a sweet invitation. But why hadn’t Jeff signed it? Could it be
that he feared being rejected again? That his artist’s heart wanted her to
catch the gentle suggestion behind his invitation? The puzzle intrigued
her. But not nearly as much as the man.
Kenzie couldn’t stop smiling. “Yes, thank you. This gift is mine.”
With a hitch of his drooping pants, a slapping of sneakers, and a squeal of burning rubber, the delivery truck drove away.
Kenzie clasped her hands and gazed at the glorious azure sky. “Thank You, Lord for these three messages. I hear what You are saying. My parents aren’t the only matchmakers.”
God had sent His own special message. She would no longer turn her back on the promise of love.
One fortunate commentator will receive an autographed copy of Anne's Scottish historical, Masquerade Marriage.
Look for Anne's Scottish historical, Masquerade Marriage at http://www.whiterosepublishing.com
Friday, April 22, 2011
How often have we come upon situations where all we want to do is scream: If God wanted to heal me, He would! If God wanted a painful relationship saved, He’d do it! If God loved me, if I’m His precious child, He would want me healthy, and whole—in body, spirit and emotion. So, why is there pain? Why is there suffering?
Does a seeming “lack” of healing—in our health, our relationships, our jobs, our finances—mean God doesn’t love us? Is He, perhaps, angry with us? Punishing us?
While I believe we bear the weight of the choices we make in life—for good and for bad—I can’t think of God as a scorekeeper. I don’t hold to the image of Him seated on an unapproachable throne in the heavenly realm, scepter in hand, watching intently, waiting for sin and evil to mess us up so he can add another “sinned again” checkmark to that space next to our names, or shake his head in righteous regret.
Instead, during those moments when I most need His forgiveness and healing, I like to think of Him as a compassionate and forgiving friend. I like to think of Him like the best parent you could ever pray for. He knows me, and most important of all, He loves me—no matter what my “illness”—be it physical or emotional. His healing comes in the fact that when I turn to His absolute goodness, when I open myself to His Word and pray to him in words or in silence, his presence is real, and life-changing.
‘He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.’ (Psalms 107:20)
‘O Lord, my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me.’ (Psalms 30:2)
Do these verses mean He works a magical touch and heals all afflictions? That He keeps bad things from happening? He can, and He will, if that ‘magical’ touch is part of His overall plan. However, life is imperfect, and so are we. He holds the plan, not us (thankfully!). To me, these passages reflect the truth that He gave us the Bible as a living, breathing means by which He wants to care for us, and instruct us in ways to best handle our life circumstances.
God’s grace and love gives me strength by which I learn to work through those healings I crave.
That brings me to part 2 of this post: Responsibility.
I’ve learned that I need to take responsibility for healings needed in my life. Is my health in question? Don’t be afraid to get to a doctor and get their input and help! Is a relationship in need of healing and forgiveness? Take the initiative (hard as that may be!) and step up to the plate. Offer the opening needed, and let God do the rest.
‘Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” The man stretched out his hand, and it was restored’ (Matthew 12:13)
When I read this verse, I realize Jesus is ready to heal the man—He stands waiting and able. But He asks the man to move first. Jesus never enters where He’s not asked, or wanted. BUT—when we reach out to him in trust and faith, He will answer the call. Maybe not in the exact ways we expect, but His grace has always led me to a place where I look back on events in my life—good and bad—and think to myself, ‘He always leads me to what’s GOOD.’
In the end, I look at the fact that Christ’s journey was seldom easy. He cried out to His Father for healing, and comfort, and He received it. How? By being the example, and bridge, we all need to follow in living our daily lives, because with nothing but love to hold him there, he died upon a cross, and brought about the ultimate healing of us all in one powerful beautiful word: REDEMPTION! Happy Easter, everyone!
PS – It’s springtime, and love is blooming! A group of White Rose authors has teamed up to give you a free gift, a series of short romances centered around a delivery snafu! Intrigued? Then please pay a visit, in order, to the following websites on April 27th:
Part 1 - Tanya Stowe: www.creativewritingforces.blogspot.com
Part 2 - LoRee Peery: www.whiterosesinbloom.blogspot.com
Part 3 - Anne Greene: www.whiterosesinbloom.blogspot.com
Part 3 - Mary Manners: www.marymannersromance.com
Part 5 - Marianne Evans: http://www.marianneevans.blogspot.com
Enjoy the fun—and romance!
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
I can only write of God’s healing freedom because I’ve experienced His healing love that gives me freedom in my own life.
Since I became a Christian at age twenty-one, I’ve been healed many times. Because I had a very difficult childhood, I experienced great healing when I became a Christian. The Lord really made me a new creation in Christ Jesus as He promised. He began the emotional healing that made me the happy, content person I am today.
When my first husband died early in our marriage leaving me with very little money and two young children to raise, I learned first-hand that the Lord does take care of His children. When the first love of my life died, I felt physically torn in half. At times I looked down to see if there was blood. But God was with me in a very special way. He became my constant companion. And slowly He took the torn halves of my heart and life and knit them back together. At that time He gave me the verse, Deuteronomy 31:6 – The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you: He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. And He absolutely kept that promise. And, at the right time He brought a new love, a new husband into my life. Through that experience I know, without a single doubt, that I have the freedom to trust God. God is Love. God Heals. God gives freedom. Not just to me. He gives love’s healing power to all His children.
I don’t have a lifetime verse from God’s Word, because during different seasons and different trials in my life, God’s given me different verses. So many verses are precious and meaningful to me. I am finding these days that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me from Philippians 4:13 to be a verse I cling to as God so often takes me out of my comfort zone and puts me in new situations.
God’s healing love gives freedom. Otherwise I couldn’t write the happy-ever-after ending to my books.
Can you think of a specific time of healing in your life, mind, body, or spirit. I’d love to hear about it. And one fortunate commentator will win a free copy of my book, Masquerade Marriage.
Readers can find my book at http://www.whiterosepublishing.com and fans can get to know me better by visiting my website at http://www.AnneGreeneAuthor.com.
On Wednesday, April 27th five of us White Rose authors will post our short story. Five delivery gifts arrive at five addresses. But there’s been a computer glitch. There are addresses but no names and each of the five ladies must choose which gift belongs to her—a bouquet of roses, two teal-colored love birds, a box of chocolates, an engraved invitation, and a fresh fruit tree. Discover the story behind each gift.
Monday, April 18, 2011
I love the month of April, and the rains that bring flowers in May. I celebrate my birthday, my born-again anniversary, my first book contract, and release of my first book available in print, which arrived on my birthday. God is so good, he renews my soul.
April is also the anniversary of the unsolved homicide of my father. Talk about the healing power of God’s love. Such trauma can change a life forever, if that life isn’t turned over to receive God’s grace, and pass that grace on to others. I’ve been disturbed many times over the years, wondering how a killer could be walking around free. I’ve had to accept God’s answer to this prayer for resolution as “no.”
I would say in the case of my father, God has healed my mind. The unsolved answers could have eaten me up. Instead, I realize that God is God and I am not.
For reasons only God knows, I walked around in constant physical pain for several years. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The leaden, heavy leg and back pain were corrected with fusion. I have learned to live with limitations, and am so very grateful for what I am able to do. At the time of this writing I am not pain free, but most days He enables me to handle the aches.
And because of God’s sovereignty, He chose me to spend eternity with Him. I call that healing of my spirit, which He has healed many times over the years, because I am weak and sin every day.
So when it comes to God’s healing power, I’ve been there, and I hope to bring that awareness to the characters I create. Inner conflict is painful, especially when it comes to spiritual things. In the case of Geneva Carson in Rainn on My Parade, she’s torn between following her dream to make her business a success and her instinct to come to the aide of a special needs child. Toss in the reality of falling for a younger man in a small town where she has lived her whole life.
Rainn Harris has spiritual issues as well. I don’t want to give them away, but he faces guilt, ill feelings toward his father, and taking up Geneva’s time when he knows where her priorities lay.
No relationship is flawless and follows a smooth path. The road is bumpy with hills to climb and ruts to avoid. We are emotional creatures. Our characters need to be as well. So there is a lot of healing that needs to be done during misunderstandings, careless words, thoughts taking over words and actions.
I claim Isaiah 12:2 as my lifetime verse: “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid: For the Lord God is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.” My goal is for that theme of renewal, that healing of the spirit, to be experienced through my stories.
Love heals. We can see the fruits in our lives. And we can write that happily-ever-after into our romances. Can you think of a specific time of healing in your life? Be it mind, body, or spirit, I’d like to hear about it.
In today’s modern society, the olive branch is used metaphorically rather than literally to convey the message of peace. Peace negotiations are used to settle differences between nations and in our personal lives.
LASTING LOVE is one of my earlier publications, an Easter story about death and resurrection. It is also a story about peace and forgiveness. There’s a lot of heartache and conflict packed into this short ebook. But the message it delivers is huge. Before Abbey Jordan can find happiness with Brady Jones, her fallen angel, she must find it in her heart to forgive him and offer an olive branch.
When Vermont florist Abbey Jordan’s nursery manager quits a few days before Easter, she is left up the proverbial creek without a paddle. But when she places it in God’s hands, she finds Lasting Love in a garden of roses.
Brady Jones has a daughter to raise, is out of work, and knows more about cultivating roses than anyone in rural Vermont. And when Abbey hires him as the horticultural manager of her floral shop, it seems like the answer to her prayers. But just on the brink of a budding romance, a fire destroys the nursery and buries all hope of love.
And when all fingers point to Brady for starting the fire, he falls from grace and off the pedestal Abbey has placed him on.
With its old fashioned classic appeal, the Lasting love rose is beautiful and timeless. It’s dark red with vibrant green leaves and big beautiful blossoms. It shimmers with a striking boldness and is a hearty climber. Bearing this in mind, I used a Lasting Love branch as the peace offering between Abbey and Brady.
Without giving the story away, a miracle occurs in Abbey’s life through Divine Intervention. Using a Lasting Love branch, Abbey extends it to Brady in the hope of reconciling their irreconcilable differences.
Upon checking the status of Lasting Love today on Amazon, I was rather shocked to find several customer reviews that were not there the last time I checked. More shocking, some were downright insulting, the worst of them advising it should have been a freebie! On the flip side of the coin, some were equally flattering.
What do I think about this? As with all things in life, you can’t please everyone. I just know that even after two years and two publishing houses, people are still buying Lasting Love. It was initially contracted by The Wild Rose Press for their White Rose line, the inspirational line. Not long after its release, the inspirational line branched into its own publishing house White Rose Publishing.
Even though the miracle in Lasting Love is purely fictional, the miracle evolving around the Lasting Love in my life is very real. The rose intrigued me so that I bought one of these shimmering jewels for my garden. I planted it with great expectation, confident it would sprout up to its promised Jack in the Beanstalk height, showering me with dozens of fragrant crimson blossoms that would make my neighbors pea green with envy.
To my dismay and great disappointment, my Lasting Love rosebush was a dud, a joke, a real lemon. In spite of the numerous accolades by customers who raved about their Lasting Love rose climbing the stairway to heaven, mine neither blossomed or bloomed or grew an inch.
I continued to nurture my little midget through autumn, losing hope when winter set in. We had a particularly frigid winter with lots of snow which buried my little pet. After a particular heavy snowstorm, the awning caved in and collapsed on my precious rose.
With the dawning of spring, much like the Lasting Love rose in my book, my rose resurrected with a vengeance. But even though the foliage was green and glossy, it remained a bud less three inch plant all summer long.
In late August, I suffered a massive heart attack and was not expected to live. Doctors saved my life through open heart surgery by implanting a heart pump in my chest. My own heart had failed perilously and permanently. When I came out of my four day coma, my cardiologists informed me that I was alive due to a miracle through Divine Intervention.
When I returned home three weeks later, it was a sunny fall day. My Lasting Love rose bush was as small as ever. But popping its head out of the glossy green foliage was one beautifully fragrant red rose.
I’ve just read Lasting Love again and got chills. Miracles happen every day. Do the insulting Amazon customer reviews bother me? Not in the least. Obviously, they never experienced the miracle of life.
Read customer reviews here
Purchase Lasting Love
Watch trailer by Hywela Lyn
He heals us in many ways, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In my story, Tender Touch, my heroine has the gift of physical healing. The idea for Lacy and Royce’s story evolved over time from some personal experiences as a young Christian. But for me, the most important healing I’ve received from the Lord is spiritual.
Check back later this afternoon for LoRee Peery's moving story!
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Don't you just love that 4 letter word. :) WRP is having a sale on many books. Here's just one that you'll find @ whiterosepublishing.com~
DANIELLA ~This book normally retails for $3.50, but it is currently on sale for $2.63! Not only that, but WRP is also running another special -- save 25% off of your purchase Smuggler of the Heart. Purchase link: http://www.whiterosepublishing.com/Daniella
BLURB: When Harrison Beckman meets his father’s secretary, Daniella Duncan, she’s shy and self-conscious. Harrison, however, is determined to get to know her better. Before he gets to do that a rival comes along to steal Dani’s heart as quickly and thoroughly as the company’s contracts, which have been disappearing.
As the mystery unfolds, Harrison has to fight for the woman he loves, even though this means crossing swords with his father and his determined adversary. Will Harrison be able to find the love that could await them or will it be too late?
Author's note: While in the middle of writing this story, I heard the song MIRROR MIRROR by Barlow Girl on the radio. As I listened to the lyrics, it hit me how many women like Dani, (the heroine in DANIELLA) struggles with self-image.
As the plot develops, and Dani comes to the realization God loves her the way he made her. I had to be honest and ask myself, "Do I believe that?" It’s easy for me to nod my head while I’m writing this, but it’s another story when I’m standing in one of those dinky changing rooms try to find a bathing suit for the summer!
Accepting myself is sometimes is a daily struggle. In the same way this story has challenged me, as you experience Dani growth reading this book, it’s my prayer that it will draw you closer to God as well. (If you’d like to hear Mirror Mirror, click onto this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZgq8pA-ipY&feature=related )
Read the excerpt!
Harrison took the folder from her extended hand. Her hand seemed so small, and he had the strangest desire to protect her from whatever inner battle she was fighting. "I’m sorry. I know you’ve been with our advertising firm for quite a while now, but until today, I’ve never met you." He added with a smile, "Forgive me, I’m horrible with names. What’s yours again?"
Her eyes grew wide. With a nervous catch, she said, "Daniella Duncan."
"I like that name. May I call you Daniella?"
She shrugged. "Everybody calls me Dani."
"I think I prefer Daniella." Still studying her face, Harrison added, "Somehow, Dani doesn’t seem to fit you."
"Oh, Dani fits me all right. It sounds short and fat." Her hand clamped over her mouth, and her eyes grew even wider. Harrison’s heart nearly broke when she asked, "Did I really say that out loud?"
It had been drilled into his head since he was a boy never to talk to women about two things: their age and their weight. Now, what should he do with this hanging hot potato? Ignore it. "I didn’t hear anything if you didn’t." He tried to continue with the previous introductions. "Everyone calls my father Mr. Beckman, so I go by Harrison."
"Okay. I’ll try to remember that." Daniella seemed to have reached her limit; she looked like a cat being chased by a mouse, desperate for escape.
"Um, I really need to get back now, so..."
"Sure. Thanks again." Harrison didn’t even know if she heard him as she turned and left with quick steps.
He stood quietly by his door and listened to the clickety-clack sound Daniella’s shoes made on the linoleum fade into a soft pitter-patter as she retreated down the hallway. He shut his door while contemplating the strange woman who was just in his office. Pretty but strange...yes, definitely strange. Finally, he shrugged his shoulders and went back to the tasks at hand.
Free discussion questions here: http://www.whiterosepublishing.com/discussion_Q/DQ_Daniella.pdf
Friday, March 18, 2011
Seeing that my release date followed St. Patrick's Day, I thought I'd share a little bit about that saint's life. Read down to the bottom for a chance to enter my drawing.
Many folk ask the question 'Why is the Shamrock the National Flower of Ireland ?' The reason is that St. Patrick used it to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagans. Saint Patrick is believed to have been born in the late fourth century, and is often confused with Palladius, a bishop who was sent by Pope Celestine in 431 to be the first bishop to the Irish believers in Christ.
Saint Patrick was the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland who is credited with bringing christianity to Ireland. Most of what is known about him comes from his two works, the Confessio, a spiritual autobiography, and his Epistola, a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish christians. Saint Patrick described himself as a "most humble-minded man, pouring forth a continuous paean of thanks to his Maker for having chosen him as the instrument whereby multitudes who had worshipped idols and unclean things had become the people of God."
Saint Patrick is most known for driving the snakes from Ireland. It is true there are no snakes in Ireland, but there probably never have been - the island was separated from the rest of the continent at the end of the Ice Age. As in many old pagan religions, serpent symbols were common and often worshipped. Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to that pagan practice. While not the first to bring christianity to Ireland, it is Patrick who is said to have encountered the Druids at Tara and abolished their pagan rites. The story holds that he converted the warrior chiefs and princes, baptizing them and thousands of their subjects in the "Holy Wells" that still bear this name.
Read more about St. Patrick here. --Thanks to St. Patrick.com--
Here's the fun part-- I'm giving stuff away!
Enter by "liking" me on my Facebook author page, then leave a comment about how you celebrate St Patrick's Day or Easter, if you do. If not, just comment with the name of your favorite holiday.
Easter Monday one lucky winner will be sent:
A Ty Maryland style crab Beanie Baby, print copy of my 2007 novella "From Now On" and non-fiction anthology "Fiction and Truth," (edited by Kathy Ide), pdf copy of my novella "Prodigal" and a silver-plated heart shaped ring box.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
After firefighter Rainn Harris rescues Geneva Carson from being stuck in a tree, she feels she owes him. Helping to care for his autistic niece comes easy, but her attraction to Rainn is a different story. Being drawn to a man twelve years her junior metes internal havoc as Geneva attempts to balance responsibility and personal fulfillment. And the prospect of becoming a middle-aged mom to a special -needs child sends Geneva into a tailspin of conflicting emotions.
As the custodial parent for his young niece, Rainn is determined to be a better parent than his absentee sister. When Geneva agrees to help care for Mia, Rainn is overjoyed. He admires Geneva’s compassion and enthusiasm for life, and expects she’ll be a positive influence on Mia. What he doesn’t expect is to fall in love with the beautiful and vital woman. But Geneva’s hung up on their age difference, and he must convince her of his sincerity before they will ever have a chance at happiness together.
As tension threatens to pull them apart, both must learn to rely on the Lord to direct their futures—whether that means two lives joined or paths in opposite directions.