Like Stained Glass Windows

It was one of those days….

We’ve all had them. Nothing was going right.

I won’t go into all the little bumps throughout the day. But, I arrived at my desk first thing in the morning to start chipping away at my “to-do” list. My main computer—the one where I keep everything stored—refused to open up Windows. All I got was a message that continued to recycle explaining that Windows was having a problem and that if it had shut down due to blah-blah to restart one way. If it shut down because of interruption in power, blah-blah, to restart by highlighting another option. 

No matter what I tried—and I tried everything I could think of—like shutting off power for a period of time and rebooting, then disconnecting every cord and cable and reconnecting—nothing worked.

I have a laptop that I use primarily for writing, but I’m also able to connect to the Internet—and thank goodness that I back up most of what’s created on the main computer to my laptop. But … I’ve been negligent in backing up everything.

After an extended amount of time, I gave up trying to fix it and accepted the fact that I’d need some professional help—for the computer, that is … One son-in-law is a computer programmer, so I put in the necessary call and left a message begging for help.

I took a break and went grocery shopping in an attempt to relieve some frustration. Now you have to understand … I enjoy grocery shopping about as much as I enjoy cleaning toilets, eating Brussels sprouts, or suffering with a full bladder during a long flight from the west to the east coast with a window to my right and two sleeping strangers to my left.

I’m afraid I didn’t handle the inner anxiety over a messed up computer and lost time very well. Usually, I’m a pretty calm person—so calm it can irritate my husband. But I wasn’t handling that day with a peaceful, tranquil, and composed attitude.

Nervous energy even pushed me to dust the blinds hanging from my office windows.

Then I was reminded—perhaps by an angel—of one of my favorite quotes.

“People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” ~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Things happen. We all experience little ups and downs—road blocks and irritations in our lives. Some walk through dark tunnels, wondering if they’re ever going to see daylight. Others deal with one crisis after the other.

It’s easy to be happy and pleasant when things are going our way. How we deal with interruptions—and sometimes life-changing obstacles and heartbreaks—reveals who we really are inside.

Shine on!

Dawn

Sparkling Glass


Like most people, I don’t use fine china or crystal for everyday dining. Actually, I don’t even own a set of china. But I have acquired a variety of lovely glass bowls, vases, serving dishes, and goblets. Some of them are heirlooms, passed down from relatives no longer with us.

I display the pieces on glass shelving in a large, oak hutch. When a light within the unit is turned on, the glassware sparkles and reflects off the mirror that covers the back of the hutch.

Some of the dishes are used when we have guests, but others can go months without being touched. I realized last weekend that it was definitely time for a thorough cleaning. Despite everything looking beautiful a few feet away, a close-up view (with my reading glasses on) showed a layer of dust on the shelves and a film covering dishes rarely used. Yuck! I removed and washed each piece until it gleamed. Now with the interior light turned on, the glass inside sparkles.

Isn’t that a great example of our lives and relationships?

We can go about our day, thinking everything is cool. From a distance, our view looks great! Our marriages seem to be on solid ground. The kids are doing well. Our friends surely know that we care and are available should they need us. We’ll still be “tight” when we get around to spending time with them. Right?

What if we took a closer look?

Do any of our relationships need a little TLC? A little tender, loving care? A little cleaning up?

Sometimes, it doesn’t take much.

A hug and a word of praise can put a grin on a child’s face. Saying a heartfelt “thank you” for a helpful gesture can make a spouse feel appreciated. A phone call inviting a friend to meet for a cup of coffee can open the door to mutual sharing.

What small thing can we do this week to help make our relationships sparkle?

Dawn

Little Adventures


I confess.  I’m a workaholic.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy fun and relaxation. It’s just that when there’s work to do—and there’s always work to do—I have a hard time setting it aside. I blame both DNA and my upbringing. My parents owned their own business, and I grew up watching them often work seven days a week in order to keep up with customers’ needs. My father was the local butcher in a farming community. You may think that doesn’t require working so many hours, but if a cow goes down with a broken leg, it has to be taken care of right away or the farmer loses the meat. And when he was the only butcher around for miles, people depended on him to make sure their freezers were stocked and their families fed.

But ...  I’m trying to play more.

My husband and I have a goal to enjoy not only big events, but also little “events.” I took last weekend off from writing and editing. With comfortable temperatures and sunshine, Saturday couldn’t have been more beautiful.

We took our time driving an hour and a half to another town in order to ride a steam-powered train. The engine pulled a line of enclosed cars, as well as open cars with canopies overhead to shield people from the sun. The hour-long ride took us through the woods and countryside. Once we got to a certain place on the track, the engine moved to the rear car and pulled us back to the small station.

The journey on the train wasn’t thrilling or exciting. The scenery wasn’t breathtaking. But, I couldn’t help notice how relaxed I felt. It was also fun observing people our age and older with grandchildren—just out for an afternoon. The kids didn’t need to have “gadgets” to be entertained. They enjoyed the ride, watching the engine, and hearing the whistle blow.

I think many of us have forgotten how to enjoy life's simple pleasures.

It doesn’t always take a lot of fanfare or expensive trips for our lives to be enriched. Sometimes, just walking in a park, sitting by a lake, or eating an ice cream cone with a spouse or friend can make our day better.

Look around you. Explore. What small thing can you do this coming week to put a smile on your face?

Dawn

Book Review - Husband Material by Annette M. Irby

Lara Farr is picking up a few items in the grocery store when a good-looking man catches her eye. He seems almost lost standing in the holiday aisle. Lara understands—Valentine’s Day isn’t easy for her either.

When Lara returns to her restaurant, The Blue Hyacinth, she’s a little irritated to learn that their best table is being held for a guest when there’s a line waiting at the door to get in. After all, they don’t even take reservations. But, she learns the manager agreed to giving the table to customer—a past regular—who lost his wife three years earlier. Lara relents, and is surprised when the widower who claims the table turns out to be the man she spied in the grocery store.

Wyatt Hansen believes it’s time for him to move on with his life, but wanting to honor his wife’s memory, he visits their favorite restaurant on Valentine’s Day.  He’s intrigued by the owner and invites her to sit with him. Two people casually brought together begin to share pieces of their lives. But, when Wyatt offers to help Lara’s business by using his marketing skills, she’s determined to keep it just that—business.

In only thirty-one pages, Annette M. Irby skillfully gives readers a contemporary romance with depth. She puts us in the heart and thoughts of two people who want to love and be loved, but have walls surrounding their emotions. Wyatt tries to give without expecting anything in return, while Lara struggles with trust and letting a man into her life.

Husband Material is about two people finding each other. But, it’s also a story that reminds us that God oversees the big picture, and he can use everyday situations to bring wonderful opportunities, people, and changes into our lives. We just have to be willing to walk through the doors he opens.

If you’re looking for a quick read and you enjoy contemporary Christian romance, I highly recommend Husband Material.

This book is currently available at White Rose Publishing as an e-book as part of the Dollar Download offerings.  *Note: Dollar Downloads are short inspirational stories for Kindle or e-reading on other devices.

Husband Material is also available on Amazon as a Kindle download.




Annette M. Irby has enjoyed writing since her teen years. If she's not writing, she's reading for review, or editing. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers and finaled in their Genesis Contest, 2006. She gives back to writers via her co-hosted blog: Seriously Write (http://www.seriouslywrite.blogspot.com). Married twenty years, she lives with her husband and three children in the Northwest. Husband Material is her second book, following Love Letters. She currently works as a freelance editor, as well as editing for publishing houses. She is active in her church as a mentor and worship leader. She enjoys photography, nature, and falling deeper in love with Jesus.

Add Just a Pinch

When it comes to creating delectable—or just even edible dishes, there are two types of cooks. Those who follow a recipe. And those who don’t.

Back in the day, when I was a high school student and home ec was a required class, we were taught to not only follow recipes, but to carefully measure the ingredients. A cup of flour needed to be leveled off with a knife. Liquids were poured into a glass measuring cup and eyed at table level to get an accurate reading.

For years, those rules remained ingrained in me. When cooking or baking, I didn’t deviate from the recipe. Of course, most of the time, my dishes turned out pretty well, but I didn’t allow for any experimentation. 

Then my husband and son-in-law stirred things up in the kitchen. They’re both great cooks and neither strictly follow recipes. My husband changes this and that and may not measure ingredients, while my son-in-law enjoys creating his own dishes.

The thing is … the food not only turns out … it's often improved from the originals.

So, now I take a few risks here and there. I sometimes add in a little more or less of an ingredient. I may throw in something that’s not even listed in the recipe.

I’ve learned to apply this lesson to not only my cooking, but my life … It was pretty much the same. I stuck to a plan or a schedule and was reluctant to change course. I played it safe. 

It’s good to have a plan to follow. Without one, it’s sometimes difficult to get anything accomplished. We don’t want to wander aimlessly through our days, weeks, and years. 

If we follow our plan too closely—afraid to veer off the path for even a short amount of time—we risk missing out on something exciting. Just like food without seasoning, our life can become bland. And who wants to lead a boring life? 

Like a chief adding a pinch of seasoning here and a pinch of spice there … taking little adventures and experiencing new things adds flavor to our lives.

So what are you going to “cook up” this coming week?

Dawn

The Story Isn’t Over

How many times have you wondered why? 

Like … why do bad things happen to good people? 

Why don't things always work out the way we want them to?


Why doesn’t God answer all prayers with a “yes?”

This past Thursday, my husband and I made a visit to my stepdaughter’s grave on what would have been her 28th birthday. Angie died in a freak car accident when she was only 19 years old. It devastated our family. It didn’t make sense to us why God allowed a beautiful, smart girl to die at such a young age. She didn’t do anything to deserve it. And she loved the Lord and shared her faith with those around her. We still wonder what she’d be like and doing with her life today. We've asked why many times….

I’ve watched people being frustrated over job loss or not getting the promotion they worked hard for.

I’ve listened to women cry over sweet romances gone sour, wondering why they can’t find someone to love them the way they deserve to be loved.

I’ve empathized with those questioning why some have an abundance of wealth, while others struggle to make rent.

We've heard about unwed teens getting pregnant, while married couples put themselves through expensive fertility treatments in hopes of having a child.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve questioned God less because I’ve experienced answers to some of the whys. I've learned there are sometimes good reasons behind disappointments and God saying "no" or "not now."

Heartbreak over men dated was healed when the right one came into a woman’s life. She saw and understood how God protected her from making a wrong choice.

A job that someone desperately wanted would have stood in the way of a better and more fulfilling opportunity down the road.

People who struggled financially were grateful for what they had and sometimes were more willing to share than those financially blessed.

Infertile couples provided loving homes for children who would otherwise be raised in a system that couldn’t provide the same kind of care.

First Corinthians 13:12 says, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.”

We don’t have all the answers as to why things happen like they do. And we may never have answers until we’re face to face with God and gain only the understanding that he can provide. I’ll always wonder why Angie died. But, I believe God used her death for good—maybe to reach people who knew her with the reality that they’re not invincible.

I do know this … 

While situations may not be what we want at any given time, we don’t know what God has in store for us in the future. While he sees the big picture, we only see what’s right in front of our eyes.

Whatever your circumstances, remember that the story isn’t over … and it won’t be over until we reach THE END.

Dawn

Blog Tour – Book Review of Martha by Diana Wallis Taylor

In Martha, author Diana Wallis Taylor gives readers a fictional portrayal of one of the women found in the New Testament. Unlike her sister, Mary, Martha is known for being more interested in completing her work than sitting at the feet of Jesus. 

Through story, we’re given an opportunity to view Martha as a whole person instead of someone who just has her priorities out of order. The author does an excellent job of combining her imagination with what was written in the Bible as she weaves the culture and practices of that time into the novel. 

Martha, Mary, and their brother, Lazarus, develop a strong and loyal friendship with Jesus. It’s no wonder their world is shaken when they’re told he’s been crucified. But, having a relationship with Jesus has changed Martha’s life. 

Maybe it was because I’ve heard much of the biblical accounts included in the book since I was a child that I found myself wanting something more—something a little deeper. At times, I felt this book would fit better in a Young Adult (YA) category.

However, before reading this book, I’d never thought of Martha as someone who may have loved and wanted a family of her own. In the story, she’s rejected by the man in the village she hopes to marry, she falls in love with a Roman soldier, and she takes on the responsibility of caring for her siblings after her father dies. Thinking about what she may have experienced gave me a different perspective. Martha questions her purpose in life. What direction is the right one? It’s a question most readers will be able to relate to.

If you enjoy reading biblical fiction, I encourage you to try Martha.

Available June 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.



Diana Wallis Taylor is an inspirational speaker, an award-winning writer, and the author of the novel Journey to the Well. She lives in California.


DISCLOSURE: I was graciously provided a copy of The Search by Revell Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

A Mother’s Prayers


If you’re a mother who wonders if God answers prayers for your children, I can testify that He does. It may take hours, days, or years … but God will honor your heartfelt requests. I’ve seen it happen in my own life more than once, and every time it does, I’m humbled.
My two daughters, Brooke and Ana, are 2 ½ years apart in age. When they were wee ones, I prayed over them as they lay curled up in their beds at night. I asked God to watch over them. I still pray for His protection.
As young teens dealing with fluctuating hormones, they fought like most siblings. Sixteen years ago they didn’t have personal cell phones. Many of the arguments were about one getting off the phone so the other one could monopolize it!
I prayed that they’d grow up to become best friends … and you know what? They are. At 27 and 29, they’re still close—even with one now living on the east coast and one living on the west coast.
When their father and I divorced, Ana was a freshman and Brooke was a junior in high school. Since we’d kept our “problems” quiet, both girls were angry and confused. Life could have unraveled even further. They might never have forgiven me, and I could have lost them. But, I trusted the relationships and love we had for each other and a God who loved all three of us. He didn’t let me down. There was healing, and what we have today is even stronger.
Brooke is an actress who has worked hard at her craft. In the entertainment industry, just as it is for writers, it’s difficult to break in. While living in Seattle, she paid her dues and found her place in the theater community here. But two years ago, her husband accepted a job transfer to New York. They were both thrilled, but although NYC is the place to be for actors, it meant starting all over again—sometimes attending more than one audition in a day.  I prayed that opportunities would open up, and God answered. Later this year, she’ll leave on a national tour for eight months playing the oldest daughter in a production of Fiddler on the Roof. God is good!
Most recently God has honored my prayers for Ana.
Through life’s challenges and struggles, instead of turning away from God like she could have, she sought and drew closer to Him.
One of her heart’s desires was to find someone to share her life with, but it seemed the harder she looked, the more she experienced disappointment. Some of the young men who pursued her weren’t the men they presented themselves to be. My heart ached as her hopes rose, only to be hurt again.
I couldn’t fix it for her … I could only offer encouragement and prayer. And I did pray. For God to send the right man for her—someone who would cherish her as she deserved. Someone who was a man of God and who would provide spiritual leadership in the home.
Ana met Shawn through mutual friends at their church. They later realized that they both had signed up to go on a mission trip and spent months training for the adventure. In July, 2010, they traveled with a team to South Africa where they shared their testimonies in churches, played with children, visited homes, and assisted with HIV-Aids testing. Soon after they returned, they admitted to being interested in more than friendship and began spending a lot of time together.
Since then, our families have enjoyed time together. The first time I met Shawn’s mother, we stood in my kitchen observing the couple. It was so obvious that they were meant for each other. His mother shared with me that she had prayed for years for the right woman to come into his life, and as I explained that I, too, had prayed for someone for Ana, we both teared up, knowing that God had answered the prayers of two mothers.
Ana and Shawn recently got engaged. Their families and friends are celebrating with them even before the wedding. We’re convinced that God brought them together.
The waiting and the heartaches have been explained. The past relationships weren’t right. God wanted them to wait until He could provide the best for them.
I look at them, and I know … God honors a mother’s prayer.
Don’t ever stop praying for your children. He hears you … and He’ll answer.
Dawn

Blog Tour – Review of Chasing Sunsets by Eva Marie Everson

Chasing Sunsets by Eva Marie Everson is a contemporary romance in which two people get a second chance at their first love.

Kimberly Tucker, a school teacher and the mother of two young boys, is trying to get on with her life after going through a divorce she didn’t want. She struggles to understand what went wrong in her marriage, but her husband seems to be living it up, dating a variety of women.

When Kimberly must send her boys to stay with their father for five weeks during the summer, her father convinces her to spend time at the family vacation home in Cedar Key. She hasn’t been there in years—not since her mother died. Once there, she doesn’t understand why a childhood friend treats her coldly, but she finds friendship with the warm and wise older woman living next door.

It doesn’t take long before she also runs into her first love, handsome Steven Granger, who broke her heart when he left for college and married someone else. Along with a daughter, Steven has a story of his own. Also divorced, he’s returned to Cedar Key to run his father’s business. Happy to see Kimberly again, he begins pursuing her, but still not completely healed of former wounds, she’s not sure she’s ready to open her heart to him again.

Kimberly holds on to the painful belief that she lost two men she loved because she wasn’t good enough for them. While dealing with those untruths, she also discovers some things about the past that shake her world. She struggles with letting go and moving forward, but also begins to understand that she can’t fix or control everything.

I was drawn into the character’s lives from the first page to the last. Kimberly felt like a close friend, and I cheered her on as she learned to trust and began opening herself up to love again. I grew to care for her family, as well as the elderly neighbor next door.

The author gives us an engaging story that is both romantic and hope-filled. It reminds us that although things may not go as we’ve planned, God can still work things out for good.

This is the work I’ve read by Eva Marie Everson, but it won’t be the last. If you enjoy reading contemporary Christian romance, I highly recommend Chasing Sunsets.


Chasing Sunsets is available June 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.




Eva Marie Everson is a speaker, a popular radio personality, and the award-winning author of Things Left Unspoken and This Fine Life. She is coauthor of the Potluck Club series and the Potluck Catering Club series. Eva Marie lives in Florida.


DISCLOSURE: I was graciously provided a copy of The Search by Revell Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.


The Character Therapist


What is character therapy?

Character therapy is a service Jeannie Campbell does when she uses her professional training and experience as a licensed clinician to evaluate and diagnose fictional characters.

Up until now, Jeannie has been serving writers through her Character Therapy blog. But this month, she’s launched her new website, The Character Therapist, which offers even more help to writers.


Who is Jeannie?

Jeannie the Therapist:
Jeannie Campbell is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC # 45366) in the state of California. She is Head of Clinical Services for a large non-profit in Humboldt County, and enjoys working mainly with children and parents.

Jeannie graduated summa cum laude from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity with Specialization in Psychology and Counseling and magna cum laude from the University of Mississippi with a double major in psychology and journalism. She has worked in a crisis pregnancy center, psychiatric hospital, drug rehabilitative program, several non-profits and homeless shelters, a foster family agency, and in private practice.

Jeannie the Writer:
Jeannie has been writing ever since she received a diary for her fifth birthday. She began writing angst-ridden middle-grade novels in junior high, often commandeering the family computer for hours on end. After eight years of higher educational pursuits, she moved onto adult contemporary romance and romantic suspense, frequently using her day job as a therapist to generate lots of fodder for her night job as a writer.

Two of Jeannie’s “therapeutic romance” manuscripts have garnered the high praise of being finalists in the Genesis Contest for unpublished writers, sponsored by the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), of which she is an active member. She writes a popular monthly column for Christian Fiction Online Magazine and has been featured in many other e-zines, newspapers, and blogs.



How can you—a published or aspiring writer—benefit?

1) Write characters more realistically.
Using a search engine to find out information about a mental disorder yields a very different
result than asking a therapist who has treated those same problems in real life. Instead of getting a bunch of stale facts, I can help you breathe life into your characters while taking into consideration your unique story world.


2) Plot more feasibly.
Plotting the external conflict around your character’s internal conflict is essential to create
tension on every page. Understanding the character’s driving goals and motivation in relation to their emotional state will help you figure out what plot points need to occur to maximize the character’s arc to its fullest potential.


3) Avoid clich├ęd or incorrect depictions of mental disorders.
My passion is helping those not afflicted with mental disorders understand those who are. Since one in four adults have a mental disorder, the likelihood of one of your characters having one is pretty high. But you want every nuance to ring true about the character, not feel cardboard cutout or stereotyped. So pick my brain instead of yours to avoid pitfalls of re-writing later.



Elizabeth Mueller
Make an “appointment” with the therapist through the website by filling out an intake form. Submit and she’ll notify you before she posts your character’s free brief assessment on her blog. More in-depth assessments are available for a small fee.

Jeannie also provides other free options on the site, including articles on topics like stereotypes, and a subscription to her newsletter.

Interested?

Check out The Character Therapist at http://www.charactertherapist.com/



A Few Encouraging Words

Have you ever seen a child’s eyes light up when told he’s done a good job? Or when he’s trying to do something for the first time—like tie his shoes, climb a tree, or ride a bike—and his parents say, “Keep going! You can do it!”  

Children need encouragement. But, that need doesn’t fade when little boys and girls grow into adult men and women.

My husband and I watched the new TV show Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition which airs Monday nights on ABC. The show documents amazing makeovers of eight super obese people who set out to safely lose half of their body weight in one year. Each segment shows one person going through the yearlong stages with the help of nutrition expert and trainer, Chris Powell.

The debut followed 21-year-old Rachel, who not only struggled with her weight, but with gaining her family's support in her new lifestyle. At the end of the year, she’d lost around 200 pounds. Amazing!!! Especially when you consider that we complain how difficult it is to lose 5 or 10 pounds.

I don’t believe she could have done it without “encouragement” from her trainer. Someone who kept telling her over and over that she could do it.

Here’s the thing. Everyone needs encouragement now and then. Whether it’s to keep working toward a weight-loss goal, finding a job, learning something new … or just getting through a difficult day.

Giving encouragement costs us nothing but the few seconds it takes to utter the words. But those words can alter a person’s day, perspective, and ability to continue pushing forward. Those words can be affirming and in some instances, even life-changing.

Be alert and always mindful of ways you can encourage people today, tomorrow, and every day. With just a little effort, you can make a difference in someone’s life.

Dawn

Book Review – The Art of Romance by Kaye Dacus

The Art of Romance by Kaye Dacus begins with an interesting and lively group of older women who are competing to have the first great-grandchild. Two best friends, Perty and Sassy, decide to be matchmakers and bring their two grandchildren, Caylor and Dylan, together.

Caylor is an at attractive thirty-four year-old English professor who writes Christian romance novels. She lives with her grandmother, Sassy, not because she has to, but because she wants to help take care of her. Caylor loves her spunky grandmother and is content with the arrangement, believing that romance for her will remain within the stories she creates.

Dylan is a twenty-eight year-old artist who was fired from his teaching job at a college because of a betrayal by his ex-girlfriend. Because he has nowhere else to go, he returns to his home town. Dylan moves into an apartment above the garage at his grandparents’ home and gets a temporary teaching job at Caylor’s school. The two are naturally thrown together, and his grandmother, Perty, couldn’t be happier.

The two professors are attracted to each other, but they’re each hiding something they're ashamed to admit. If Caylor reveals that she’s discovered Dylan’s secret, she’ll have to reveal one of her own….

This story has many wonderful elements: romance, art, music, humor, conflict, quirky characters, and great friendships. The family dynamics encompass both the good and the bad. Who wouldn’t love Sassy and Perty? They adore their grandchildren, but they also hold them accountable. We get to see the relationships between siblings, as well as between children and parents. Parents whose expectations sometimes don’t fall within the perimeters of unconditional love.

The Art of Romance is a story with flawed characters so likeable you wish they could be your friends. If you want romance, you couldn’t have a more satisfying ending.

It's also a story about actions having consequences—and learning from the past so the same mistakes aren't made over and over again. If that can be done, there's hope for a better and brighter future.

If you enjoy contemporary romance with a bit of humor, you’ll enjoy The Art of Romance.




Humor, Hope, and Happily Ever Afters! Kaye Dacus is the author of humorous, hope-filled contemporary and historical romances with Barbour Publishing and Harvest House Publishers. She holds a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, is a former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, and currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers. Kaye lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and even though she writes romance novels, she is not afraid to admit that she’s never been kissed.

The World Ends!


The latest prediction is that the world will end on Saturday, May 21, 2011. Today is … hmmm … Friday, May 20, 2011. The world comes to an end TOMORROW, people!!!

Right now people around the globe are emotionally, intellectually, and physically invested in believing this prediction. Why? Out of anticipation—curiosity—fear?

The world’s end has been predicted before—more than once. I’ll give you just a few examples. Televangelist Pat Robertson predicted Judgment Day would come in 1982. Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church predicted the world would end by 1891, and a group that became the Seventh-Day Adventists predicted the end by 1843.

This time, it’s coming from Harold Camping, an 89-year-old retired civil engineer from Oakland, California. He believes he knows when the world will end because of numerological calculations based on what he’s read in the Bible. Camping just happens to have a ministry with the capability to broadcast around the world—and he’s done just that. The prediction has been publicized in almost every country.

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36 NIV)

I recently read “End of the world? How about a party instead?” written by Tom Breen from the Associated Press. According to the article, there’s been unrest involving thousands of people in Vietnam who believe Camping. His prediction has been spread by using radio, satellite TV, daily website updates, billboards, subway ads, and RV caravans hitting dozens of cities and missionaries scattered from Latin America to Asia.Billboards have gone up in Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.

One report stated that Camping has amassed $120 million in donations from followers. So … if the world is ending … why does he need so much money? Is he using all of it to help get the word out in time?
Others insist that the world will come to an end as we know it on December 12, 2012. There’s even an official website for believers. There you can find a long list of articles that explain why this date is THEE date. The site showcases a long list of celebrities who “supposedly” agree with this prediction. You can get your 2012 survival guide—as well as your 2012 T-shirts through this site.
Some of the 2012 followers feel that instead of the second coming of Christ or the ultimate destruction of the world, the year 2012 may be more about internal transformation rather than external change.
Out of curiosity, I skimmed through some of the articles on that site. It all sounds kind of complicated to me.

“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”  (Matthew 24:44 NIV)

What do I believe?
I believe that we should live each day as best we can—being productive, giving, and loving—appreciating the people in our lives. I believe in trying to live each day—as much as I can—as though it were my last, even though there are days when I still get bogged down with feeling I need to check things off my “to-do” list.
I believe that Christ will come when God, the Father, decides it’s time. That may mean after my time on earth, ten years from now, next week—or even before I finish typing my next word.
Whenever that time comes, I’m ready….
Are you?
Dawn

Small Acts of Kindness

Small acts of kindness—gestures that brighten the day and lift the load. Have you observed any lately? Have you been the giver or receiver of kindness?
This week I struggled with some technical issues pertaining to the blog for writers that I co-host and write with several other authors. We wanted to create a widget—a button for the blog called Seriously Write. None of us are very “techy,” so I offered to work on solving the issue.
I reached a certain point and then hit a roadblock. I thought of someone who might be able to help and contacted her. She wasn’t obligated to do anything. But, she not only provided written directions, she resolved the problem and then expressed that she was glad to help. What had caused me to hit my head against the wall turned out to be a simple fix for her.
Small matter to her—but to me, it was huge. Not once did she make me feel that I was a nuisance. I was grateful for her assistance—and her kindness.
She’s not the only person who’s helped me out with technical issues. An acquaintance works for Blogger, and I contact her whenever I have problems. With cyber smiles and a gracious, willing heart, she’s always taken time to answer questions and help out. Her kindness has made my life easier.

Someone opens and holds the door for a woman with a stroller in one hand, and a child in another.
A young man shovels or snow-blows a neighbor’s driveway on a cold, winter day.
An elderly woman is given a ride to a doctor’s appointment by someone who attends her church.
An appreciative parent writes an encouraging note to a stressed-out teacher.
A friend offers to take a new mom’s baby for a few hours so she can rest.
A meal is cooked for a family going through a tough time.

These may be small acts of kindness that may not take a lot of effort on the giver’s part—but they can mean so much to the receiver.
Have you observed any acts of kindness lately?
Have you been the receiver?
Have you offered an act of kindness?
This week, think about the small things you can do to brighten someone else’s day.
Dawn

Book Review – Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad

Lorna Seilstad’s debut novel, Making Waves, was on my list of “to read” books for some time. I recently had a chance to curl up in a comfortable chair and open the pages.

The Story …
Marguerite Westing lives a privileged life, and she’s thrilled when her father announces the family will spend the summer of 1895 at Lake Manawa, Iowa. Along with other wealthy families, they pitch several tents near the water and discover it’s the hot vacation spot for the summer. This is not the kind of camping you may remember from your childhood. The Westings have also brought along their “help.”
Marguerite is delighted that she may have a breather from Roger Gordon, a successful businessman who is pursuing her. Marguerite’s mother is doing all she can to get them married, but the man bores adventurous Marguerite. Unfortunately Roger shows up, intending to monopolize as much of her time as he can.
When Marguerite becomes determined to learn how to sail—not an option for young women during that time—she figures out a way to maneuver into being taught by the handsome Trip Andrews.
The summer starts out light and playful, but soon things are turned upside down as Marguerite falls for Trip, attempts to fend off Roger, and wonders why her father is sneaking out at night. More than one person is keeping secrets. Not everything is what it first seems to appear.

The Review …
Making Waves is an impressive debut for the author’s Lake Manawa Summers series. It was the perfect book to read as we move into the summer and anticipate both fun and lazy sun-filled days.
The author did an excellent job making me feel like I was at Lake Manawa with the characters. I could almost taste the vanilla ice cream with fresh, sweet strawberries spooned over the top. I felt the wind blowing through my hair and the water spray on my face as the sailboat skimmed over the water.
I admired Marguerite’s independence, spunk, and love of adventure. It was easy to fall in love with Trip, who came to her rescue more than once. I also had no problem despising the villain, Roger Gordon, who turned out to not only be boring, but self-absorbed and dangerous.
But even heroines and heroes are not perfect, and both Marguerite and Trip have their faults. She uses small lies to hide the truth and get her way, and he uses preconceived ideas about people to keep them at a distance. Their flaws help make the characters believable and relatable.
At first Marguerite comes off as being a bit ditsy, but as the story progresses, we learn that there’s more to the young woman. She’s not only caring, she’s intelligent and capable of doing a lot more than what women were giving credit for during that time.
Light-hearted and humorous, with a touch of mystery, the story also holds a thought-provoking theme. Lies—whether they’re big or small—can be hurtful and destructive. Small lies can quickly become larger ones. However … the truth can set a person free.
If you want a delightful summer read, I recommend reading Making Waves. I’m also looking forward to reading the author’s just released, A Great Catch, the second book in the Lake Manawa Summers series.


Lorna Seilstad is a history buff, antique collector, and freelance graphic designer. A former high school English and journalism teacher, she has won several online writing awards and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives and draws her setting from Iowa.

His Princess

Were you one of many who stayed up late or got up early to watch the royal wedding between William and Kate?

I did neither, but I’ll admit that I watched television clips on morning TV shows leading up to the wedding, as well as broadcasts following the event.

Like many women, I waited to see the dress. And Kate didn’t let me down. It was stunning! She was stunning! 

I was glued to the TV when Charles and Diana married. She looked nervous and shy walking down the aisle. It’s nice to see how loving and comfortable William and Kate’s relationship seems to be—and how much more at ease with her new role Kate appears.

Why are we so interested in people of royality? Why do we want to know what they wear, what they eat, or who is invited to their weddings?

What little girl has never wanted to be a princess? I grew up reading about Cinderella, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Snow White, and Repunzal—to name a few! Now little girls also want to be Belle, Jasmine, and Ariel. Older girls may hope to become the homecoming or prom queen. There’s just something about a diamond tiara and a flowing gown that makes a female feel special.

Not all—but many of us—have dreamed at one time or another of our own Prince Charming. We want romance. Whether we admit it or not, many of us desire to be loved and protected by a strong, dashing man. And who wouldn’t give up cleaning toilets to live in a castle?

We may not live in a palace. Or wear a jeweled crown. But we're still part of a royal family, and our King rules over a kingdom that can't be compared to any other. 

With God as my Father, I am a princess. His princess. And with God as YOUR Father, you are too…unless you’re a prince, of course.  

Excuse me while I go look for my tiara.


Dawn



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