Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Meditation: God's Training Ground

This morning I have a simple thought. One that could revolutionize how I look at God's assignments. The pastor taught on David yesterday. He taught out of I Samuel 17. As he started talking about David listing why he could take on Goliath in verses 34-37, something hit me -- it was in the job that nobody wanted, that God trained David.

As a shepherd, he took on a lion and a bear. It was because of his experience there that he had the faith to take on Goliath. 

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine. 

It reminds me of Joshua's training to have the faith to lead the Israelites. Not only did he experience the miracles of God, he also spent concentrated time in God's presence in the Tent of Meeting. When Moses would leave, Joshua stayed behind. 

How would our perspective change if we understood that the things we do now are training grounds for future battles. God sees the big picture, but are we willing to trust Him when today isn't so clear?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What's in Your Hand?

Our Pastor is currently teaching a series on the great heroes of the faith. This week was on Moses. The question our pastor asked was based on Exodus 3, when God asks Moses, "What's in your hand?"

God took that simple rod and performed so many miracles through it.

So God's asking me (and you), what's in my (your) hand?

Are we willing to turn them over to Him? To give Him all we have? After all He gave it to us to begin with. He's the reason I have any ability. He's the reason I have anything to say...and anyone who cares to listen.

May I always hold my hands open, saying, "Lord, here's what I have. Use it. Use me. All for Your glory."

I pray that's your prayer, too. So what's in your hand?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Isaiah 58: come chew on this with me

In Sunday School this week, we ended by talking about Isaiah 58. Not a passage you can cover in five minutes. So I'm still thinking and meditating on it this week. It's really rich and thought-provoking. Especially when you consider God is directing His words to the Israelites who were trying to serve Him. So come chew with me. What sticks out and impacts you....

Isaiah 58

True Fasting
 1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. 
   Raise your voice like a trumpet. 
Declare to my people their rebellion 
   and to the descendants of Jacob their sins. 
2 For day after day they seek me out; 
   they seem eager to know my ways, 
as if they were a nation that does what is right 
   and has not forsaken the commands of its God. 
They ask me for just decisions 
   and seem eager for God to come near them. 
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, 
   ‘and you have not seen it? 
Why have we humbled ourselves, 
   and you have not noticed?’
   “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
   and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
   and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
   and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
   only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
   and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
   a day acceptable to the LORD?
 6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
   and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
   and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
   and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
   and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
   and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
   and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
   you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
   “If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
   with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
   and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
   and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always;
   he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
   and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
   like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
   and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
   Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
 13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
   and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
   and the LORD’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
   and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
   and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
   and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
            For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Faith and sock heels: Guest Post by Allie Pleiter

I’m often asked where my story-lines come from, how I pull my unusual plot lines out of the mist of my muse. I know people are looking for some stunning formula, some admirable technique, but I haven’t got one. I just pull on a thread and start unraveling, following where it leads.

I was standing in the First Division Museum in Wheaton, IL, looking for a thread to tug. I knew I wanted to write about WWI, but not much more than that. My knitter’s eye caught a WWII olive sweater vest in an exhibit, and when I read the description “hand made according to a Red Cross pattern,” I knew I’d found it.

A little more research turned up the WWI “Knit Your Bit” Red Cross knitting campaign poster to produce wool socks for soldiers, and the rest is HOMEFRONT HERO.

Wounded war hero John Gallows finds himself in the unenviable position of having to learn to knit socks in public so that boys will join the ranks of Red Cross knitters. You can imagine his lack of enthusiasm. Nurse Leanne Sample takes her knitting very seriously, and isn’t about to let an arrogant poster boy make fun of her efforts. She sees through Gallows’s bravado to his very deep pain. It takes faith on both their parts to see why they make good partners.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Restorer's Son in an Expanded Edition

I loved this series when it originally released...a shock for someone who is not a fantasy person. I'm thrilled that it's been rereleased with additional scenes and lots of goodies added in. If you didn't read this series the first time, do yourself a favor and read it now. It is wonderful! Here's a little about the book...and keep reading for an interview with the author.

The Restorer’s Son-Expanded Edition

Book two in the groundbreaking Sword of Lyric series, The Restorer’s Son won a Carol Award for speculative fiction.

Plunged again into the gray world of Lyric and Hazor, Susan and Mark search frantically for their teenage son, Jake. All signs hint that a trusted ally has betrayed them and threatens their son. A target of assassins and more political intrigue, false leads and near misses beset their path, which leads them into the dark prisons of Hazor before the One’s purpose is revealed.

Cast out by those he trusts, the new reluctant Restorer prefers to cross swords with the One rather than submit to His will. Pursued by his calling, he journeys to Sidian, where he finds a boy without a home, a king with burning questions, and a nation torn by darkness. As he embraces the tasks the One has set before him, this new Restorer learns that the One requires his all—perhaps even his life.

This new expanded edition of The Restorer’s Son includes an in-depth devotion guide for readers who want to dig into the spiritual themes of the book, bonus scenes providing glimpses of the story through a variety of characters, and fun extras including links to songs and recipes.

Here's Sharon with more.

What was it like developing new material for this new edition?

Books are like children. I treasure each of them in different ways, and among the novels I’ve written, I try not to have favorites. However, I confess that The Restorer’s Son has an extra special place in my heart. Because of that, it was fun to revisit the characters and world of this story. Kieran’s attitudes were loosely inspired by a verse in Judges where Gideon is told God will use him to save his people. Gideon’s response is basically, “If God is for us, why have all these bad things happened to us?” It’s a question many can relate to, and part of the reason that Kieran is such a beloved character. 

The new devotion guide gives readers an opportunity to dig deeper into the Biblical inspirations that helped inform the book, as well as find personal application. About forty pages of new content, including bonus scenes and a new song composed for the book, make this edition a new experience.

How did you decide where to put in bonus elements?

Working with the publisher, we decided it was important to keep the flow of the story intact and free from distractions. So the book is designed with a large back-of-the-book section that can be used either after finishing the story, or during the reading of the main story. Small symbols and page numbers at the end of chapters direct readers to bonus scenes, and QR symbols in the margin invite readers to explore audio files, or recipes, or rules for playing Perish – all without interrupting the story.

It was important to me that people would feel that it was worth the investment to own The Restorer’s Son-Expanded Edition, even if they had a copy of the original edition, so we packed this book with lots of added value.

Besides an entertaining read, what do you hope people experience in The Restorer’s Son-Expanded Edition?

My hope is that readers will catch glimpses of the way the One speaks to each of us in the language we understand, and that we can go to Him with our difficult questions. For those who are walking very painful roads, I hope the story will help them feel acknowledged. The journey is hard, heroic, and sometimes frightening. But we are never alone.

Where can people find the book?

To order The Restorer’s Son-Expanded Edition:

Kindle version:


Sharon writes “stories for the hero in all of us,” about ordinary people experiencing God’s grace in unexpected ways. Known for their authenticity, emotional range, and spiritual depth, her novels include contemporary fiction such as The Secret Life of Becky Miller or Stepping into Sunlight and the groundbreaking Sword of Lyric fantasy series which includes The Restorer’s Son–Expanded Edition. She’s been a Christy finalist and won three Carol awards.
Sharon’s undergrad degree is in education, and she earned an M.A. in Communication. When she isn’t wrestling with words, Sharon enjoys speaking to conferences, retreats, and church groups. She loves interacting with visitors at her website and blog:

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Discovery by Dan Walsh

In his latest book The Discovery, Dan Walsh has tackled a new challenge -- writing a story that combines contemporary and World War II. I love how this book plays on literary themes but is so much more. What would it be like to have your life suddenly changed by a lavish inheritance? What would it be like to have the opportunity to make your dreams come true? What would you give to make that happen? 

Michael wrestles with these issues as he reads his grandfather's final book -- an unpublished one left for him to find. Does it contain the answer to the questions no one can answer? Or is it just another novel from an award-winning thriller writer? 

This book continues Dan's engaging style and is smooth read that tugs at heart strings in a manner reminiscent of Nicholas Sparks. While I would have loved more time seeing Michael's story develop, Dan did a nice job balancing the two story-lines and time periods. I have found recently that I really enjoy stories that have two time threads that intersect and diverge. If you haven't tried Dan's books yet, this is a great place to start. 

More about the bookGerard Warner was not only a literary giant whose suspense novels sold in the millions, he was also a man devoted to his family, especially his wife of nearly 60 years. When he dies he leaves his Charleston estate to his grandson, Michael, an aspiring writer himself. Michael settles in to write his own first novel and discovers an unpublished manuscript his grandfather had written, something he'd kept hidden from everyone but clearly intended Michael to find. Michael begins to read an exciting tale about Nazi spies and sabotage, but something about this story is different from all of Gerard Warner's other books. It's actually a love story. As Michael delves deeper into the story he discovers something that has the power to change not only his future but his past as well.

The book was provided by the publisher, but the opinions are entirely mine. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Three Posts on Homeschooling Worth Reading

Just the other night I discovered a new to me blog thanks to my friend Jennifer Mull. She's a homeschooling mom of eight that I go to church with and I love bouncing by her facebook page because I never know what kind of links she'll have up there. Often they get me thinking. Don't you love friends like that?

So Wednesday she posted a link to an article on Simple Homeschooling. The article was titled I want to Homeschool, but I don't want the Responsibility. Ouch! I think we can all admit we know homeschoolers who do a fantastic job. We know others that we don't quite understand how they do it, but it seems to work. And then there are others that probably don't want the responsibility. This article made me step back and reexamine how I'm doing. Always a good thing...especially when my kids' futures are at stake.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Irish Healer Review

The Irish Healer is the debut book by author Nancy Herriman...and what a debut! I took a chance on this book honestly because it was an advanced reader copy so I could read it while I train for the mini-marathon on the treadmill. I am so glad I did!

This book is set in Regency England -- but with a twist. Rachel Dunne has to flee Ireland after she is accused of murdering a patient under her care. Then she is hired in London to help a doctor who is giving up practice because he is tired of not being able to help the patients who come to him for help. Then cholera comes to London and both are thrust into situations they don't want.

This story is gripping. I'm not a huge reader of Regency novels except for Julie Klassen. This author does such a great job creating compelling characters with pasts that put their dreams for the future at risk that I can't wait to read the next book from Nancy Herriman. If you're looking for a book that will sweep you back to the days of Jane Austen, then I heartily recommend this story.

You can download the first chapter here.  The ARC was provided by the publisher, but the opinions are mine.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Rejoicing in New Life


This weekend we celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I love how God time this reminder of new birth in a season that is awash with newness.

Because of our early spring in March, I can't drive around town without seeing an abundance of reminders that life is new. From daffodils to tulips to the rich, green grass, the reminders are everywhere if I'll just open my eyes to look.

I don't know about you, but there are times I need that reminder. Sometimes I get bogged down looking at the areas in my life that never seem to change. The struggles I can't seem to overcome. But the reminder that one reason Jesus came and died was to give us victory over those areas. That there is the promise of new life in all areas of my life. Even the ones I despair of changing. Thank you, Lord, for that promise and the constant reminders!

Friday, April 06, 2012

The 13th Tribe by Robert Liparulo

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The 13th Tribe
Thomas Nelson (April 3, 2012)
Robert Liparulo
This book is fascinating. Built on an intriguing idea. What if God decided to punish a handful of the Israelites who participated in the Golden Calf fiasco by giving them immortality? And what if they spent the rest of eternity trying to earn their way back to God? This book has the excellent writing I expect from a Robert Liparulo book...but even more it has a concept that engaged me from the first page and drew me from page to page. Great idea and great execution!

I hope to have Robert here soon so you can learn more about him and his vision for this book.


Best-selling novelist Robert Liparulo is a former journalist, with over a thousand articles and multiple writing awards to his name. His first three critically acclaimed thrillers—Comes a Horseman, Germ, and Deadfall—were optioned by Hollywood producers, as well as his Dreamhouse Kings series for young adults. Bestselling author Ted Dekker calls The 13th Tribe, released in April 2012, “a phenomenal story.” Liparulo is currently working with director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, The Guardian) on the novel and screenplay of a political thriller. New York Times best-selling author Steve Berry calls Liparulo’s writing “Inventive, suspenseful, and highly entertaining . . . Robert Liparulo is a storyteller, pure and simple.” Liparulo lives in Colorado with his family.

Visit Robert Liparulo's Facebook Fan page:, or at Twitter @robertliparulo.


Their story didn't start this year . . . or even this millennium.

It began when Moses was on Mt. Sinai. Tired of waiting on the One True God, the twelve tribes of Israel began worshipping a golden calf through pagan revelry. Many received immediate death for their idolatry, but 40 were handed a far worse punishment-endless life on earth with no chance to see the face of God.

This group of immortals became the 13th Tribe, and they've been trying to earn their way into heaven ever since-by killing sinners. Though their logic is twisted, their brilliance is undeniable. Their wrath is unstoppable. And the technology they possess is beyond anything mere humans have ever seen.

Jagger Baird knows nothing about the Tribe when he's hired as head of security for an archaeological dig on Mt. Sinai. The former Army Ranger is still reeling from an accident that claimed the life of his best friend, his arm, and his faith in God.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The 13th Tribe, go HERE.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Want a copy of A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island?

Good morning! With the release of A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island a couple days ago, I’m going to be on lots of blogs in the next couple weeks. Right now there are three chances to win Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island:

Melissa Tagg is hosting me at her blog.
Trish Perry is hosting me at her blog.
Melissa Finnegan hosted me over at her blog, too.

And I’m really excited that one of the great Mackinac Island blogs talked about me yesterday. Bree posts great photos of the island and yesterday's post had such beautiful photos I can't wait to return!

So come play at these blogs!

I'd love to know where you love to escape. I'm always looking for a new setting for a book. Leave a comment here and if we reach 15 comments, I'll add another book to the mix. Facebook or twitter this post and let me know in the comments and I'll add you again. Follow the blog and let me know and I'll add another entry. Let's have fun.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Cooking the Books CFBA Tour

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Cooking The Books
Abingdon Press (April 2012)
Bonnie S. Calhoun
Because of when I received this book, I haven't had a chance to finish it yet. What I can tell you is that the author does a great job of creating a main character who is sassy, witty, and has hints of brokeness. I can't wait to get deeper into the story and see what makes Sloane tick and how she'll hang on to her bookstore. Sloane strikes me as the kind of character who is worth rooting for -- and with her sense of humor and bumbling style a fun one to read about.


As the Owner/Director of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance Bonnie has helped use the 220+ blogs of the Alliance to promote many titles on the Christian bestseller list. She also owns and publishes the Christian Fiction Online magazine which is devoted to readers and writers of Christian fiction. She is the Northeast Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). At ACFW she was named the ‘Mentor of the Year,’ for 2011, and she is the current President of (CAN) Christian Authors Network. Bonnie is also the Appointment Coordinator for both the Colorado Christian Writers Conference and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference.

In her spare time she is an avid social media junkie, and teaches Facebook, Twitter, Blogging and HTML as recreational occupations. She also has a novel coming out in the Abingdon Quilts of Love series. Her novel Pieces of the Heart will publish August of 2013.

Bonnie and her husband Bob live in a log cabin on 15 acres in upstate area of Binghamton, New York with a dog and cat who consider the humans as wait-staff.


After her mother dies from a heart attack, Sloane Templeton goes from Cyber Crimes Unit to bookstore owner before she can blink. She also "inherits" a half-batty store manager; a strange bunch of little old people from the neighborhood who meet at the store once a week, but never read books, called the Granny Oakleys Book Club; and Aunt Verline, who fancies herself an Iron Chef when in reality you need a cast iron stomach to partake of her culinary disasters. And with a group like this you should never ask, “What else can go wrong?”

A lot! Sloane begins to receive cyber threats. While Sloane uses her computer forensic skills to uncover the source of the threats, it is discovered someone is out to kill her. Can her life get more crazy?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Cooking The Books, go HERE.

Watch the book video:

If you'd like to read interviews with Bonnie, try these:
Everbody Needs A Little Romance
A Christian Writers World
Novel Rocket
ACFW - Fiction Finder


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