Thursday, January 31, 2013

LFY in Glacier Bay, Alaska

My Review: 
I had the fun of hearing all about Tricia's trip to Glacier Bay to research this book. It was a hoot to hear her talk about Bud's rental cars, the rugged beauty of the place, and how everyone knows everyone. Hearing the details made me hungry to read the book and I wasn't disappointed. All those details and so many more were incorporated into the book causing Glacier Bay to come alive in my mind and making me want to visit it in person after visiting it on the page. 

The story is woven between a contemporary search for someone who can understand you at the deepest soul level, and letters that detail a story from the 1920s that includes that part of Alaska. Through the letters, the heroine gains the courage to risk her heart to the one person who has ever really seen her. I have really enjoyed the books that Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss co-author. This book is a delightful blend of the historical and the contemporary. And its a story that will call you back to the pages again and again.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ashton Park Review

This week, the

is introducing

Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2013)


If you've become a fan of Downton Abbey (in spite of what happened Sunday night!), and you've wondered if a book existed that captured the same feel of following upstairs and downstairs in a large hall in England, then you might enjoy Ashton Park. It falls into short scenes (reminiscent of the passing on the TV show) that bounce between the servants and gentry. Many of the scenes occur on the front during WWI, and there are also some in Ireland. I did find it challenging to connect with the characters at first because there was so much bouncing between them, but as I kept reading that changed. And I enjoyed the time period (late 19 teens) very much.


For fans of the hugely popular Downton Abbey series, comes this equally enthralling story of the Danforth family of Ashton Park.
Among the green hills and trees of Lancashire, only a few miles from the sea, lies the beautiful and ancient estate of Ashton Park.
The year is 1916.  The First World War has engulfed Europe and Sir William's and Lady Elizabeth's three sons are all in uniform--and their four daughters are involved in various pursuits of the heart and soul.

As the head of a strong Church of England family for generations, Sir William insists the Danforth estate hold morning devotions that include both family and staff. However, he is also an MP and away at Westminster in London whenever Parliament is sitting. During his long absences, Lady Elizabeth discreetly spends time in the company of the head cook of the manor, Mrs. Longstaff, who is her best friend and confidante. This friendship includes visits to a small Baptist church in Liverpool that exposes Lady Elizabeth to a less formal approach to Christian worship and preaching than she is used to and which she comes to enjoy.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Ashton Park, go HERE.


Murray Pura was born and raised in Manitoba, just north of Minnesota and the Dakotas. He has published several novels and short story collections in Canada, and has been short-listed for a number of awards. His first books to be published in the United States are the inspirational works Rooted and Streams (both by Zondervan in 2010). His first novel to debut in the USA is A Bride’s Flight from Virginia City, Montana (Barbour), which was released January 2012. The second, The Wings of Morning, will be published by Harvest House on February 1. Both of these novels center around the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Monday, January 28, 2013

4 steps to building solid relationships with extended family

This post is more poignant this morning. My Grandpa died last night after 93 good years on this planet. So grateful for him and his legacy. So glad we made time for extra stops over the years. Missing him though.

 On Being The Do It All Mom: Four steps to building solid relationships with extended family
Shucking Corn with
Ever have times where you think things were much easier 100 years ago? Families lived in close proximity and we didn’t have to raise our kids alone? It’s so easy to glamorize the past – but I for one love indoor plumbing and electricity. I also love my kids to be connected to their extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and more.

What’s a mom to do when life keeps us moving so fast and the miles separate us from loved ones?

Here are a few things I do with my kids to try to build those bonds across the miles:
1)   Make the commitment to visit. It’s not always convenient, but it’s important. My kids can’t have a connection with my parents if they never see them. Connections take time, so you have to build it in. For my family that means a week at Christmas and ideally another week at some point during the year.

2)   Plan that the time will be focused on connecting. That means hours of playing and hanging out. My kids have their rooms at both grandparents’ houses. They settle in the moment we arrive and feel at home because there is a place for them and their things. At my parents’ home my siblings and their kids spend hours during the week we’re home and my mom cooks lots of big meals. This enhances the chance for the kids to hang out together and get teased by their aunts and uncles. The kids don’t need an agenda. They simply need a time to hang out and connect.
A0HpiPxCYAAcJAs On Being The Do It All Mom: Four steps to building solid relationships with extended family
Driving lessons with
3)   Order the time so that you can have meaningful conversations. The other day that meant playing Monopoly with my nephew. Monopoly isn’t my favorite game, but it gave me a vehicle to spend time talking and connecting with my 14 year-old nephew. That’s priceless. We love games because they are an excuse to sit around a table and be together. Find that something for your family.

4)   Look for moments you can have one-on-one time. My kids have 13 cousins on my side of the family. That makes for 17 kids running around when we’re all together. It’s organized chaos. We love every minute, but it means sometimes it’s hard to get individual time with the kids. So I have to be intentional about finding time. It might be playing a game and being ridiculous with my answers. It might be taking a niece shopping. But I want to build the time in so if they ever need me, they’ll know I care about them.

It’s true that modern life often has families scattered across the country, but if we make it a priority, we can still cultivate deep family relationships. Then our kids will know they are part of a legacy and have a heritage that is much more than simply them.

what do you do to ensure solid relationships between your kids and your extended family?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Countdown: Three ideas for winter weekends

This photo makes me nostalgic for the days my older two were the ages of my younger two. Ah...if only we had snow like that this year!

The weekend is upon us and one of the challenges when the weather is bitter is what can we do? Here are a few ideas and I'd love to hear yours, too:

1) Grab the heavy weather gear and move. Put all those mittens, hats, and scarves to good use. Find some snow boots, and strike out on an adventure. Walk through the mounds of snow if you're lucky enough to have it. If not, see if your town has ice skating, hockey or other cold weather activities. I heard on the radio that in Iowa their climbing ice on the sides of silos. Who know what your community may have!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

ACFW Board Meetings!

Today I'm in downtown Indianapolis for ACFW Executive board meetings. We're plotting and strategizing for the future. We're also setting the schedule for the fall national conference. Woot!

The conference is coming up September 13-15 in downtown Indianapolis. I am so excited. We already have editors and agents signing up to attend. This year I will be offering mentor appointments instead of teaching. I can't wait to have one on one appointments with aspiring authors. I love being able to answer questions and give feedback. It's one small way I can thank all those who help me! You can learn more about the conference on the ACFW website.

I'd love to have you join us!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review: Escape back to Smitten with Secretly Smitten

Secretly Smitten is written by four of my writing friends. If you've followed my blog at all you know I thoroughly enjoy Colleen Coble's romantic mysteries and I adore Denise Hunter's contemporary romances. With the Smitten novella collections these two authors pair with Diann Hunt and Kristin Billerbeck: both are brilliant, funny writers. 

With Secretly Smitten, these authors have returned to Smitten, their created town in Vermont. The town is still trying to find ways to stay alive. And four young women are on their way to find romance. These novellas tie together with those in Smitten, the other collection. You can also read this collection on its own. I love how real the characters are and the way I want to join them at Mountain Perks for a good conversation and update on their romantic adventures. The stories tie together and bring back characters I came to love in the first collection. Because there are four novellas in this book, each can be read in a long sitting and it's the perfect book to take along on a spring break trip. Easy to put down when you need to do something else, but also engaging enough, you'll want to return often to this delightful town. Here's more:

Secretly Smitten
Summer, fall, winter, spring—Smitten, Vermont, is the place for love . . . and mystery!
There’s a secret in Grandma Rose’s attic—a forgotten set of dog tags belonging to her first love. But David Hutchins was killed in action and never returned to Smitten. How did the dog tags end up in the attic?
The mystery intrigues Rose’s three granddaughters—Tess, Clare, and Zoe—and they decide to investigate, though their mother, Anna, warns against meddling. But as the seasons turn and the mystery unravels, the three young women and their mother encounter some intriguing mystery men of their own. Has a sixty-year-old puzzle sparked something new for this close-knit family of women?
Join popular romance novelists—and real-life BFFs—Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter for four delightful intertwined tales of mystery and sweet intrigue.
RITA-finalist Colleen Coble is the author of several best-selling romantic suspense novels, including "Tidewater Inn", and the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor series. * Christy Award finalist and two-time winner of the ACFW Book of the Year award, Kristin Billerbeck has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. Her books include "A Billion Reasons Why" and "What a Girl Wants." * Denise Hunter is the award-winning and best-selling author of several novels, including "A Cowboy's Touch" and "Sweetwater Gap." She and her husband are raising three boys in Indiana. * Diann Hunt has lived in Indiana forever, been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, her dog, and, well, chocolate.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Delighting in the Scriptures: Exodus 3:16

This year I have committed to read through the Bible. It's been a few years since I intentionally set out to do that, and so far so good. I've wrapped up Genesis and into Exodus. What's been an absolute joy to me is the way God is causing individual verses tucked in the midst of Scriptures I know well to pop to life. I thought I'd share some of those with you in the coming weeks. Is that all right?

While I was reading the early chapters of Exodus over the weekend, God made this verse jump off the page:

Go and assemble the elders of Israel and say t them: Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has appeared to me and said: I have paid close attention to you and to what has been done to you in Egypt. (Ex. 3:16)

Are you in a place of slavery? A place where you feel abandoned, ignored, or overlooked? Is it a place of pain?

Then rest in this promise: God is paying close attention to you. It may look like you've been abandoned. It may feel like you've been abused. That does not mean God has forgotten you. Instead, God is paying close attention, not only to you, but to what has been done to you. Pray and wait, because His redemption is on the way.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Arsenic and Old Lace

I'm neck-high in editing and writing this week, so I'm going to resurrect this post about one of my favorite movies of all time. It's the weekend, and if I weren't writing like mad, this is a movie I'd pop in and watch. My daughter watched it for the first time over Christmas. I LOVED watching her laugh loudly over the antics. It's a classic and Cary Grant is simply WONDERFUL. Insert happy sigh. So here we go:

Last week I unintentionally offended a friend (just kidding, Steph) by not inviting her over to watch this classic Cary Grant comedy. When I saw that the TCM Comedy Collection included Arsenic and Old Lace, I was a wee bit puzzled. Guess it had been too long since I watched the movie. It didn't take too many minutes and I was thoroughly delighted by Cary Grant's comedic acting.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

9 Daily Truths to Absorb

Somedays (okay, lots of days) others say it better than I do. This is one of those times. I love these daily truths from Mary DeMuth. Absorb these. What would you add?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Four Great Family Games for Winter Nights

It's that time of year when the wind is cold and the snow might blow. A time when getting outside isn't always an option, and the kids might get a little whinny. What's a mom to do?

We love playing games at our house, but even the most enjoyable games can get boring after awhile. This month I've had a few new games and we're really enjoying them. So much I thought I'd share them with you. One thing I love about them is most of them have an educational purpose that doesn't distract the kids from enjoying them.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

What's Your Word for 2013?

Sometimes I think God gives us a theme verse or word for the year. Kind of a heads-up or light shining down the path in front of us. 


I've been asking God over the last several weeks what my word or theme for this year is.

I don't remember where I first ran into the idea, but I love asking God for a word or theme verse to ponder and incorporate into my life. In 2011,  my word was BELIEVE and the verse was Isaiah 43:18-19:

“Forget about what’s happened! Don’t keep going over old history. Be alert! Be present! I’m about to do something brand new. It’s bursting out. Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road in the desert and rivers in the badlands.” (MSG)

Last year I think the word was Trust and Dream. 
This year I'm still praying, but I wonder if it's Favor or Intimacy. I've had a couple prayers breathed into my heart over the last few months that indicate Jesus wants to usher me higher and deeper into relationship with Him until He is my all in all. That is so challenging...and encouraging to me. I'm still praying though because I want to focus on His heart for this year. 
So what's your word for the year? Here are some people have given me recently...maybe they'll inspire you or resonate...

o   Rest   o   Hope   o   Prosper  o   Work  o   Change   o  Finish  o   Love
o   Seeing  o   Productivity  o   Love: I Cor 13  o   Balance  o  Empowerment
o   Trust       o   Sustain   o Center (prior year was gather)  o  expectation  o   listen
o   intention  o   relax  o   focus  o   give  o   transformed  o  nurse  o   harvest
o   wait  o   faith

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Vanished Review & Giveaway

I have long enjoyed Irene Hannon's romantic suspense -- so much that I preordered this one, and with each new book I wonder if she'll be able to recapture that perfect mix of engaging story and characters I enjoy getting to know. Vanished does both of those. The heroine, Moira Harrison, gets lost in a thunderstorm and loses control of her car when someone appears in front of it. After the accident she tries to find the person she hit, but that person had vanished. As an investigative reporter, she can't let the matter go, even when the police can't find evidence she hit anyone. So she turns to a private investigator for help.

Thus launches a story. Relatively early on, we know who the bad guy is, so it seems a forgone conclusion that they'll get him. But the bad guy is a powerful figure with so much good you wonder if he could really be it. But there's plenty of bad mixed in to make me

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Have some Christmas Money? Great Historical Romance

The cover sold me on this book, but then I read a novella which had me laughing out loud as it introduced the characters in this novel. The novella had me racing to read the much so that I almost went out and bought a second copy of the book because I couldn't wait to get home to start reading.

The book did not disappoint. There is a strong thread of humor that runs through the book, from the main characters to the large supporting cast. Lady Eliza Sumner is hiding who she is in an attempt to find the man who stole her fortune. She ends up serving as a governess in NYC and is thrust into a comedy of errors when she is asked to fill in at an elegant dinner party. Hamilton Beckett is fortunate enough to sit beside this young woman who can't do anything right, and he is intrigued by the very fact she could care less about who he is. Add in a couple kids, a young woman who is determined to be part of every adventure, a jail, interfering mothers, and a white horse and you have a recipe for an absolutely delightful read.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Downton Abbey: does it live up to the hype?

For almost a year, many of my writing friends raved about Downton Abbey, but it never quite worked out for me to find time to sit down and watch it. In the last month, I've found pockets of time to watch season one and the beginning of season two. Just enough to become hooked.

There are several reasons I think the show works:

1) The scenes cut back and forth between both the upstairs and downstairs world.

2) The upstairs folk seem to actually care about the downstairs folk.

3) There are villains, though my one complaint is that the villains have absolutely nothing likeable about them by the beginning of season two. They are simply there for us to hate.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Flight of the Earls: CFBA tour

This week, the
is introducing
B&H Books (January 1, 2013)

With the holidays, I didn't have a chance to read this book, but I can't wait to dive into it. It has the sweeping look of a historical filled with great characters. And with a great cover like that, it would call to me without a great looking story-line.


It’s 1846 in Ireland. When her family’s small farm is struck by famine, Clare Hanley and her younger brother, Seamus, set out across the ocean to the Promised Land of America.

Five years prior, Clare’s older sister Margaret and her Uncle Tomas emigrated in similar fashion and were not to be heard from again. But Clare must face her fears as she lands in the coming-of-age city of New York. There she discovers love, adventure, tragedy, and a terrible secret which threatens to destroy her family and all she believes.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Five Ideas for Making Time for Romance after Kids

One question I often get asked is how can we as busy women find time for romance. Oy, I wish I had this one down. Sometimes life feels like that old country song: Hey Cinderella, how’s the slipper fitting now?

We all want to believe that once we get married, the fairy tale will go on forever. But if we’re honest with ourselves, sometimes life just gets in the way. Add in children, and it can be next to impossible to find time to be a twosome let alone have evenings filled with romance, roses, and passion.

While I will be the first to admit I do not have this down, here are a few ideas, and I’d love to see your suggestions!

1) Make it a priority. Like anything else, if it’s important, we will find ways to squeeze it in to our jam-packed schedules. One thing I’ve learned is that I can’t always wait for my husband to initiate a date night. So sometimes I have to swallow my longing to be the one being pursued and just pick a night and make it happen. If it’s important, then that’s what I have to do.


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