Monthly Archives: November 2013

Free E-Books for You Today!

Icons for Blog Use.004

Here are three free e-books today.  I don’t know how long the “free” price will last, so if you are interested, get them now.  I have included a link to the kindle store, but they may be free on other e-readers also, so check your store if you have something other than a kindle.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Free E-Books

Great E-Book Deal: Si-cology 1: Tales and Wisdom from Duck Dynasty’s Favorite Uncle

Hey, Duck Commander fans…here’s a great deal on the e-book by Si Robertson.  I don’t know how long this price will be in effect and I don’t know what other e-readers are offering it at this price, but you can check your e-reader store and go ahead and get it today…price MAY be different tomorrow.

  • $2.99 on Kindle:  Si-cology 1: by Si Robertson.  I haven’t read this book, but I have heard several people who have read it said it was very good!

Leave a comment

Filed under Free E-Books

Captain Jack’s Treasure by Max Elliot Anderson (5 Stars)

Ahoy, Come Aboard for a Great Adventure! (5 Stars)

We will be giving away a copy of this book, Dec. 1-6, 2013.  So stop by and read the interview with the author and make a comment to that post to enter.

We will be giving away a copy of this book, Dec. 1-6, 2013. So stop by and read the interview with the author and make a comment to that post to enter.

Captain Jack’s Treasure (A Sam Cooper Adventure #2) by Max Elliot Anderson

Three boys, best friends, Summertime, the ocean, treasure hunting, and Captain Jack!  Ahoy, matey’s!  You are in for a treat reading this second adventure with Sam Cooper and his friends Tony and Tyler.

They live in Harper’s Inlet, FL and Tony’s dad own’s a marina.  They are out of school for the summer and Sam’s dad surprises him with a metal detector.  Now Sam is obsessed with finding buried treasure.  So he gets his friends involved and they set looking for adventure.  After a long time digging, all they came up with was an empty metal drum.  But then at the marina they meet up with an old “crusty” sailor, named Captain Jack.  He’s just bought and old dilapidated boat and ask the boys if they want to work for him this summer in fixing the boat up.  Of course they jump on that offer and off they go on a grand adventure on finding out Captain Jack’s secret and Sam’s getting more and more obsessed with finding treasure. Captain Jack always offers the boys a wonderful “tale” after each work day and the boys just eat it up, just like the pizza Captain Jack gives them.

Sam’s dad explains to him that earthly treasure are only temporary and true treasure is things that last.  Sam finds out the hard way what his dad was trying to teach him.

The morals in this story are wonderful and the excitement is good enough for any young boy, maybe 4th grade through middle school even.  Even I, an old grandma, enjoyed the story.

You don’t have to read the stories in sequence but I would recommend it.  This story refers to the boys harrowing adventure in the first book that I’m going to have to read now!  And I’m sure Book 3 will be just as good.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from bookfun.org in return for my honest opinion and did not receive any compensation for a favorable review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Remember, to come back on December 1-6, 2013 and read our interview with Max Elliot Anderson and comment on THAT post to be entered to win a copy of this book.  It would make a great Christmas present for some blessed young boy in your life.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

Just Say Yes!

Friday Gleanings.009

“he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.” (Luke 1: 9-13 NIV)

Last week I attended a memorial service for Liston Drury.  My family’s association with Liston came late in his life. When we met him, he was a retired Poultry Science engineer, who owned and operated a Christmas tree farm.  He was an upbeat, happy man with a dry sense of humor, and a faithful family man with a servant’s heart.

What I did not know was the extent of Mr. Drury’s service to others and to the Lord.  At the memorial service his granddaughter, son and several others described his years serving in the Navy, and later as a college professor, researcher, father, and church member.  It seems to me that whenever Liston was called to serve, he said yes.

This week, I came across the story of Zechariah, in Beth Moore’s Jesus the One and Only Bible study.  Zechariah was an elderly man and the husband of Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  As a priest, he was on a rotation to serve in the temple. His turn to burn incense and send up prayers for the people had arrived.  Then, for reasons beyond our understanding, Zechariah forgets his old age and Elizabeth’s barrenness, and he sends up a prayer for a son, a prayer that has gone unanswered for the duration of his married life. Only this time, he receives an immediate response, from the Angel of the LORD, no less. The angel announces that Zechariah will indeed have a son, that he will be called John, and that he will be the one to prepare God’s people for the coming of the Messiah. Wow! Double Wow!

I have read this story many times before, but this time I marveled at the way God honored Zechariah’s faithfulness in worship, prayer and service.  The question that immediately crossed my mind was: What if Zechariah had missed this opportunity to serve?  What if he had called in sick?  What if he had failed to pray for a son this time? Surely God would have accomplished His purposes another way, but would He have used Zechariah?

By the same token, what happens when we are given opportunities to worship, pray and to serve, but we call in sick, say no, or don’t show up? In order for God to bless us and our work, we need to make ourselves available, and the way to be available is to say yes.

Dearest Heavenly Father,

We know your plans are everlasting.  We praise you for being the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  When you include us in your plans, we are both honored and frightened, just as Zechariah was.  We thank you for your plan of salvation.  We thank you for giving us your Holy Word to light our way on life’s journey.  Thank you for hearing our prayers in the same way you heard Zechariah’s prayer.  Forgive us when doubt clouds our belief, and when we fail to answer your call to service.  We ask for wisdom and discernment in recognizing your voice and for boldness to always answer yes.

In the name of Jesus, who said yes even death on a cross,

Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Friday Gleanings by Carmen

GREAT NEWS- This Deal/Giveaway Has Been Extended Through Cyber Monday! Black Friday Blog Blitz – Fire Storm by Mackenzie Dare

 

THE AUTHOR HAS EXTENDED THIS OFFER THROUGH CYBER MONDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2013…SO YOU STILL HAVE A CHANCE TO VISIT HER SITE AND ENTER OR BUY THE BOOK AT A DISCOUNT.

First-time author, Mackenzie Dare has written a thrilling mystery novel.  I have read it, although I haven’t had a chance to write my review yet. I will try and get it posted next week.  The novel will keep you guessing and will present the gospel message in a wonderful way.  I thought Mackenzie did a wonderful job on her first novel.  The mystery kept me going and there were lots of twists and turns and it was action packed.  So, when Mackenzie asked if I would post this on our blog, I said “sure”!  It’s a good deal and you can enter to win a free copy at the link she shares below.  DO NOT ENTER ON MY BLOG, I’M NOT RUNNING THE GIVEAWAY, SHE IS, SO FOLLOW HER DIRECTIONS.  Thanks!  Enjoy the interview and reading the first chapter listed below.

6951145

“But we have no enemies!”… Why would a young mother, happily married and safely nestled amongst the cornfields of small town Illinois suddenly start finding murder attempts around every corner? 
A fireman, Jim thrives on danger, that is until it creeps closer than he ever expected – not to him, but to the one he loves more than life itself – his wife. Who and why? How can the “protector” keep his most cherished possession from this unseen killer?

Totally innocent – untouched by evil, Jess cannot explain or understand the incidents threatening her very existence. Holding on to her husband and clinging to her knowledge of a powerful God, she can only strive to keep trust in her soul and a smile in her heart, as the icy fingers of death lurk, coiled behind every corner. Safe in innocence, secure in love – marked for murder! God bless our home – if it doesn’t blow up!

FIRE STORM

BLACK FRIDAY BLOG

BLITZ

Hi! Thanks for stoppin’ by to participate in our “Black Friday Blog Blitz!”

Other Blogs That Are Participating  In This Black Friday Blog Blitz:

http://foundachristianbyhisgrace.blogspot.com/

http://craftybooksheeps.blogspot.com

http://www.morethanareview.com/

http://www.favchristianbooks.com/

www.TMWoodsBooks.com/blog

https://danyelle0423.wordpress.com/

http://www.wfbcmediacenter.wordpress.com

http://voyagesofalifetime.blogspot.com/

http://brittreadsfiction.wordpress.com

http://mackenziedare.blogspot.com

**************************************

Today only, get your copy of “FIRE STORM” for 60% off the retail price by following the “special sale link” below!

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=USP4JCDLXG6JW

6951145

Enter for a chance to win a free e-book of Fire Storm by copy and pasting one of the messages below and emailing it to: fiction4christians(at)gmail(dot)com

Hi, I stopped by (blog name), and would like to enter for a chance to win a free e-book of FIRE STORM. 

Please also sign me up to receive your monthly newsletter.

OR

Hi, I stopped by (blog name), and would like to enter for a chance to win a free e-book of FIRE STORM. 

I would rather not receive your monthly newsletter at this time.

Your name will then be assigned a number, which will then be put in a hat to be drawn out by an unbiased third party.

Enter to win a $25 – $50 prepaid Visa card by following the link below sharing our Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/FireStormdare

A $25 gift card will be awarded if our page receives under 500 shares.

A $50 card will be the prize if our page receives over 500 shares.

You may share this page as many times as you wish as long as each share is one hour apart. Your name will be entered again for each share.

Each entry will be assigned a number, which will be put in a hat to be drawn out by an unbiased third party

Below read this review along with an interview of the author and the first chapter of Fire Storm.

Review By Caitlyn Santi

May 23, 2013

5 of 5 stars

Oh. My! I absolutely, completely, totally loved this book! I
don’t know if I can put into words how much I loved it, but I will try!
As a Christian, small town, horse crazy, farm girl, I was thrilled to
find a Christian suspense book that was set in a small town where the
main characters live on a horse farm, needless to say I found myself
completely relating to so many aspects of this book! The romance, true
love, and devotion between the married couples was so sweet, their were
times that it made my heart swell and my stomach flutter! I loved Jim
and Jessica, Wade and Mellissa, and through the skillful writing of the
author I grew to love Derrick as well! And of course Morgan was just oh
so adorable. Fire Storm grabbed me on page one and didn’t release me
until I reached the end! I usually am able to guess who the killer is,
but with this one I had no clue who it was, so it was a big surprise
for me when the killer’s identity was revealed! And the suspense, oh my
goodness it was SO amazing, just when I thought it couldn’t get any
crazier (In a good way!) it did!!!

There is one thing I would like to point out and that is that Fire
Storm is told from a number of different characters view points, while
this did not bother me and I personally feel that it helped to tell the
story perfectly, I know that there are people who don’t like this way
of telling a story, but I would highly recommend that they read it
anyway because it is so worth reading!!!

Fire Storm has touched my life and my heart and I feel truly blessed to
have had the opportunity to read it! It is now on my list of all time
favorite books and I know I will reread it many times in the future!
And I highly anticipate this author’s next book!
In closing, Fire Storm is an amazing read, which I highly recommend to
anyone and everyone!!!
It is one of those rare finds that as soon as you finish it, you desire
nothing more than to start it again, it’s that good!!! 🙂

I received this book from the author, in exchange for my honest review.
The above is my honest opinion.
All thoughts and opinions are one hundred percent my own.

****************************************************

Author Interview

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 

I don’t remember a conscious decision. I think that’s just the way the Lord made me. I’ve always loved writing and making stories up in my head for as long as I can remember.  Every once in a while, I’ll find a page of an ancient second or third grade short story and chuckle as I read it and try to decipher the context.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? 

Right now, I’m self-employed, so I can just flip flop my schedule around to what works best.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Like I have any writing quirks…. 😉  Probably my most interesting one is the fact that my characters refuse to ever conform to my outline. Sure, I start out with a neat and detailed plan, but by mid-story, sometimes before, my characters are all running every which-a-way in their own directions. Sometimes the “good guys” turn into bad guys. Sometimes scenes from the end move up to the middle. Sometimes the wrong people fall in love, and even other times a deep, dark secret that I didn’t even know about will just pop up from somebody’s past. Surprises… that’s what makes writing so fun!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love life! One of my favorite things to do is to run outside, especially on a dew-glistening, bird-singing, apple-blossomed, spring morning… just to run toward a painted sunrise and feel absorbed in the beauty of God’s creation! I love riding my horse down the gravel road or through the cornfields. I love chilly fall days… a cool breeze floating in a slightly open window and feeling the warm apple-scented  steam as you slide a crusty, golden, apple pie out of the oven just as a drip of cinnamon syrup bubbles out and sizzles. I like a crisp, breezy walk through a pumpkin patch or a swim in a Wisconsin lake. I like camping in the North Woods or browsing souvenir shops. I’ve enjoyed climbing cliffs in the Blue Ridge and drivin’ by buffalo in Yellowstone. I love findin’ deals at garage sales and hangin’ out with my family… cookout style or pizza and popcorn movie nights. My favorite time is Christmas… It’s A Wonderful Life in the DVD player, a fire crackling in the corner, the pop of popcorn, and the sweet aroma of hot chocolate as we hang ornaments and wrap lights around our Christmas tree and nativity scene. I love seeing the Lord work in my life and teach me new things. I love Him because He first loved me. He’s shown me this sooo many times in my life! One of my favorite verses is “Thy gentleness hath made me great.” He’s the giver of life, the one who makes daffodils smile and the thunderclouds clap. I love life, love, loyalty, and laughter.

What does your family think of your writing? 

They are all very supportive and encouraging! I loved giving them my new book and hearing what they thought of it. I really appreciated their suggestions before I was satisfied with my final copy.

Do you have any suggestions to help readers interested in writing become better?  If so, what are they?

Always pray about your writing. You couldn’t get a better teacher.

Just keep writing. Progress can be amazing if you just keep practicing until you get the hang of it.

Make it fun, and keep it fun. If you get bored with it or lose track of where you’re going, you’ll likely stop.

Start with an outline for structure, but then add some surprises to keep yourself guessing.

Do you hear from your readers much?

Sometimes. I always enjoy hearing from them.

What do you think makes a good story? 

Action, a good plot, likeable and admirable characters, emotion, human interaction, purity of relationships, cleanness in language, mystery… but most of all, it needs to honor God. I loved writing this book, but it would always feel empty and useless to me if there wasn’t a higher purpose in writing it than making money. If you pray about it and are truly writing for Him, I believe He will cause everything else to fall into place

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

Be a teacher…or a vet…a nurse… or a fireman… a restaurant owner… or a mom with 12 kids….

For viewers who have not read, but are interested in your book, can you describe it please? 

Fire Storm is about a couple of young families living excessively normal lives in a small-town, farming community in Northern Illinois. Wade is a paramedic. His wife, Mellissa, works in a lawyer’s office, and they are expecting a baby very soon. Their best friends, Jim and Jessica, live on a small horse farm out in the country. Jim is a fireman. Jess is a stay-at-home mom with her recently born little girl. Life is fun and carefree till… Jess starts running into threats at every turn. Are they even threats or just accidents? The thought of a killer being after Jess just seems so ridiculous… though not so much… when she comes eye to eye with murder! Who and Why? What about Wade ‘n Mellissa? Will they remain safe in their young existence as they embark in the beginnings of life’s journey, or will the epidemic of murder spread? How far does it reach? What are the secrets?

 How and when did you become a Christian? 

When I was five, I prayed with my mom after hearing a Christian radio testimony, then I prayed the same prayer quite a few times after that whenever doubts arose after a salvation message. I got complete assurance of my salvation when I was eight and started growing in the Lord. I know I was saved before that. That is just when the Lord removed all doubt. So, I can’t honestly point to an exact date, but I’m 100% sure that I’m in God’s family, that He watches over me, protecting me many times, that He loves me, blessing me with countless surprises that are much more then luck, that He teaches me, not only spiritual but also physical things, and that He’s always there whenever I need Him.

How does God affect your writing? 

He gave me the talent to write. He gave me an imagination and a love for stories. He put me in a strongly Christian home where I received wisdom about spiritual things and knowledge of true love, sacrifice, and care. He saved me and gave me a reason to write. Fire Storm was written for Him and dedicated to Him, and by His grace, I pray that every book I write will always point heavenward and never downward toward worldly lusts.

Who is your favorite character in your book?

That’s hard to say. I like all my characters. They are all different and unique.  I like variety. The world needs rich and poor, plain and fancy, strong and weak, dream-chasers and content daily laborers, business women and stay-at-home moms, flippant and flighty and rigid work-a-holics. If there was one “right” type of person or one perfect race, the world would be sooo dull. Everyone fiction or real has their very own story.

What was the hardest part to write in the book? 

The Salvation message. It carries the greatest responsibility.

****************************************************

Chapter 1

Bright autumn leaves whirled around an even brighter red F-150 spurting down the gravel road. At the wheel, Jim Richards, enjoying the cool breeze ruffling his hair and the warm sun tanning the side of his face, had his arm through the open window. In his opinion, northern Illinois was at its peak in the fall. He glanced around at the walls of corn drying on either side of the road, brown with just a hint of green. They’ll harvest ‘em pretty soon.

Jim returned a wave from the driver of an oncoming car. He didn’t know who it was. People were just friendly like that in this small-town, farming community. He and his wife, Jessica, farmed a few acres of hay and bred a small herd on a little horse farm between the village of Oak Creek and the larger town of Spring Valley.

For an average-size guy, Jim’s frame sported a lot of solid muscle. He liked to work and enjoyed a healthy lifestyle. His blond hair was dark, almost brown, cut short and combed to the side. His eyes were a soft, sky-blue and held a mixture of humor, determination, kindness, compassion, or anger – whatever the situation called for.

Giant, white cotton ball clouds made the sky seem bluer than normal. Jim glanced down at the clock. Better hurry. You’re gonna be late for work. Pushing down on the accelerator, he knew he was going a little faster than he should on these curvy, gravel roads, but he told himself he had grown up around here and knew the area like the back of his hand.

He slowed to the speed limit as he turned onto the main drag going into Spring Valley.

Jim flipped off the radio. It never took him very long to get annoyed with it. It was always on the Chicago “all-news” station, and he really couldn’t care less how the traffic was moving on the Eisenhower or the Kennedy. If there was anything else on that station, he never knew, since he always turned if off before he heard it.

Huh, car in my spot, he thought to himself, as he pulled into the parking lot of the Spring Valley Fire Station.

Jim walked into the locker room. “Hey, Thundercloud, exactly what are you doing in my parking place?” Jim asked his best friend, jokingly.

Your parking place? Your deed of ownership, please?” Wade Thundercloud held out his hand.

“Squatter’s rights, my brother. Everyone knows that is my parking place.” Jim took his uniform shirt out of his locker.

“Uh oh, looks like another storm’s a brewin’ between Jim and Big Chief Thundercloud,” Carlos laughed.

“Did I miss something?” a fireman Jim didn’t know asked.

“It’s relentless persecution for my name,” Wade grumbled, buckling his belt.

“His name’s Wade Thundercloud. In case you haven’t noticed, the boy’s a full blooded redskin,” Carlos, a brawny, Hispanic fireman, explained as he buttoned his shirt.

Wade rolled his eyes. “Isn’t that a racist statement?”

Carlos laughed, “Awww…we hurt the little guy’s feelings.”

Wade threw his shirt at Carlos. “Oh, it’s on.”

“Yeah, maybe we should change the subject,” Jim suggested.

“Hey, I was kinda enjoying it. The guys at my last station were, like, way too serious,” the new guy protested.

“Yeah, talkin’ ‘bout that, who are you anyway? Derrick get kicked out or something?” Jim put his foot on the paint-chipped bench to tie his shoelace.

“Name’s Travis. Derrick’s sick or something, so I got called over as his replacement.”

Jim nodded and began to tie his other shoe.

“Yeah, well, it’ll be nice to be partnered with a guy that has a little more experience.” Wade straightened his collar. “Derrick’s been out of the academy for almost two years, but he’s only twenty-one.” He buttoned his cuffs. “He graduated from high school a year early when he was sixteen, took one year of paramedic training, quit for a year, then took the last year when he was nineteen.”

“Why’d he quit for a year?”

“Who knows with that kid.”

Jim gave Wade a sideways glance of disapproval.

“By the way, Jim.” Carlos tucked in his shirt. “Cap’s gone at more divorce proceedings so we got Captain Johnson.”

Jim grunted an acknowledgment and then closed his locker door. He was glad to be back to work and was ready for action

Today was hay-stacking day. Jessica Richards really didn’t mind. She loved being out in the barn with the smell of hay. Besides, throwing hay bales all day was one way of keeping in shape, and what girl didn’t want that? Of course, if her husband had been home, she would have conned him into doing it or at least into helping.

She grabbed a bail in each hand and climbed the ladder to the loft. People had commented that she was stronger than she looked. She was only five-foot-three and one-hundred pounds. Her chestnut hair fell thick and shiny to the middle of her back, and her deep brown eyes danced with joy and excitement more often than not. At twenty-three, she was a year younger than her husband and the proud mother of their beautiful baby girl.

After two hours of strenuous hay-stacking, Jess was beginning to wonder if the horses were worth all this trouble. She plopped down on a bale of hay in the loft and sighed. Halfway done.

She just sat there a moment, leaning against the stack of hay bales. She seriously contemplated just backing the hay wagon into the lower half of the hay shed and calling it quits for the day. Why not just leave the wagon there permanently and save all this trouble? After all, they never used this barn for anything other than hay, anyway. She smiled to herself as she imagined Jim’s reaction to that idea. That item of business would never make its way to a serious discussion bu-ut… She chuckled at some humorous mental images of his likely aghast response and filed the topic away in her memory as a good conversation starter to lighten the mood some likely evening. Smile weakening, she huffed a sigh. Un-for-tun-ately… that topic would have to keep for a while since he would not be coming home tonight.

She stretched. Maybe I should go inside, get a glass of cool lemonade, and see how Morgan’s doin’. Mrs. Robinson, an older lady from church, had offered to watch Morgan so she could get some chores done. She wiped her face with her sleeve. It felt good to sweat again. She hadn’t done much really hard labor since before she had Morgan.

As she got up to go down, the smell of smoke drifted up to her. She looked down the ladder. A thick cloud of dark gray smoke filled the barn. Breathing into her sleeve, Jess practically jumped down the ladder, frantic to get out. She raced for the door, but bright, daunting, orange flames already billowed across that escape route. Smoke burned her eyes. She darted for the back, but it was no good. Fire devoured the entire frame. Every wall blazed. Her lungs burned from the smoke.

She turned a full circle but saw fire in every direction. I have to get out, now! Lord, please, please give me a way out! The loft! Spinning around, she raced for the ladder. The heat grew more intense. Flames crept around the ladder, but she knew she had to go for it. As she raced to the top, the heat nearly overwhelmed her. Her lungs screamed for air. Relief flooded her when she saw that the loft door wasn’t engulfed. Thank you, Lord. 

Kicking the wooden doors open, she jumped, bracing herself for the impact. Pain and gladness swept over her as she hit the ground. Gasping for air, she was so glad to be alive. Thank you, Lord. Thank you.

Jim sniffed the air as he walked into the kitchen. “What’s that smell?”

“Wade’s cooking lunch today. We’ll probably all end up in the ER with food poisoning,” Dan, their oldest firefighter at forty-three, replied.

“Hey, don’t criticize my stew.”

“Stew?”

“Yeah, I found a prize-winning stew recipe and a prize-winning soup recipe. I’m just gonna mix everything together, and you won’t believe what I come up with.”

“I’m sure of that.”

“Just wait. You’ll love it.” Wade stirred the concoction.

Jim looked skeptical. “Did you burn something?”

“Well, the rice got a little done.”

BURRRUZZZ… The deafening fire bell sounded. Wade switched off the stove and hurried after the crowd out to the trucks. The address came over the loud speaker. Jim froze as he grabbed his helmet. “That’s my house!” Carlos shoved Jim into the engine, flipped on the sirens, and followed the squad out onto the road.

Jim’s heart raced, and his adrenaline pumped in overdrive. What happened? How did it start? Are Jess and Morgan okay? Did they get out? Jim clutched the handle near the door until his knuckles turned white. Faster! Faster!

He could see the smoke billowing as they turned onto the gravel road.

Fear invaded him as he saw flames plume above the hay barn. NO! Jess was going to be in there stacking hay today! His heart pounded.

The engine swung into the driveway. The barn looked like a lost cause. Jim’s eyes wildly scanned the area, looking for Jess. She stood in the grass with the elderly babysitter a little ways from the barn, holding their baby. Relief swept over him. They’re okay.

As the engine came to a stop in the front of the barn, they all piled out. Jim raced to his wife. As soon as he reached her, Jess handed the baby to Mrs. Robinson and fell into his arms. He could smell the strong odor of smoke on her. She hid her face in his shoulder. Now that she was in her husband’s strong arms, she let tears flow and allowed herself some quiet sobs.

Jim could feel her shaking. He held her tight, resting his cheekbone on her head. “Are you all right? I almost went crazy when I heard the address and saw….” His voice trailed off.

“I’m fine. Twisted my ankle. Just gla… I’m just glad to be alive.” Her voice shook.

“What happened?” He didn’t want to let go.

Wade put his hand on Jim’s shoulder. “They need your help, man. We’ll take care of her.” Reluctantly, Jim surrendered her to the paramedics and, after a final kiss, left to help with the fire.

The barn was so far gone that they decided just to contain it. Jim thanked the Lord that there was no wind and that the fire had not spread to the main barn or the house.

After the fire was out, Jim took off his helmet and began looking around for his wife. Seeing her seated on the ground leaning against the squad, he took his equipment back to the truck and joined her.

“So how ya doin’?”

“I have been diagnosed with a twisted ankle and mild smoke inhalation.” She coughed into her arm. “For a minute I thought I was a goner, but the Lord showed me a way out.”

“I’m just so glad you weren’t hurt any worse.” He put his arm around her and pulled her into a hug.

She leaned her head against his shoulder, feeling so much safer with him there. “Do they know how it started?”

Jim broke away from her gaze, glancing back at what had been their barn. “They think it was arson.”

“Arson?” Jess sat up straight and stared at him.

“Yeah…they say that someone soaked the walls with accelerant, then came back later and lit it.”

“Why would anyone do that?” She paused. “You mean they came back and lit it while I was in there? They were trying to…?” Her voice quivered.

“That’s not why. Most likely, they got scared off the first time and then came back. It’s probably just teens doing it for kicks. You were up in the loft. They must not have seen you.”

She glanced down at her hands. “I hope you’re right. I just can’t imagine anyone doing something like that for fun. It doesn’t make sense.”

“Some people don’t make sense.”

Wade came over and knelt down in front of Jess. “Are you sure that you don’t want to go to the hospital?”

“Yeah. Mrs. Robinson will drive me to my own doctor after I’ve had a chance to calm down.”

“Do you want me to try and get off work to go with you?” Jim asked.

“No. I’ll be fine. Just so whoever this was doesn’t come back.”

“It was probably just some jerk….”

“I know.… That’s what Jim said.”

“Of course, on the other hand…” Jim lowered his voice and shifted his eyes back and forth. “…it could be the ghost of some long lost second or third cousin seeking vengeance.”

Jess rolled her eyes. “Right.”

“Vengeance for what?” Wade grinned.

“Only the shadow knows.”

“Uh-huh.” Jess held out her hand to Jim who stood in front of her. He pulled her up.

“I better go find Mrs. Robinson and the baby. I’m pretty sure they went inside.” She reached to put her arms around her husband’s neck. Jim bent down. Usually, she stood on her toes, but that wasn’t going to work with a twisted ankle. Jim really wasn’t that tall. She was just that short.

“I’ll see ya tomorrow.” She finished the hug.

“Yeah, okay.” He kissed her and let her go. “Do you need help getting to the house?”

“No, I’ll be fine.” She smiled and began hobbling toward the house. As she went, she heard the alarm sound on the engine’s radio. Turning, she watched everyone pile in and the trucks speed out of the drive.

Not seeing Jim for twenty-four hours at a time was what she disliked most about his job, but it was what he really wanted to do, so she put up with it. She limped up the porch and into the house.

Mrs. Robinson sat in a recliner, rocking the baby. “Did Jim leave already?”

“Yeah. They had another call.” Jess coughed into her elbow. She still felt a little shaky, but she was calming down. “Oh, give me my little girl,” she said softly, bending down to gather her little one into her arms.

“Here you go.” Mrs. Robinson smiled as she handed her to her Mama.

“And how’s my little Morgan?” Jess swung the baby over her head, causing the little girl to wiggle and giggle. Sitting down, Jess put Morgan down in her lap as another coughing fit struck.

Mrs. Robinson headed for the phone in the kitchen. “Do you want me to make an appointment with your doctor?”

“I suppose. … Maybe she won’t have any openings today.”

“Jess-i-ca.” Mrs. Robinson put her hands on her hips reprovingly.

“Well… Can I help it if I’m not crazy about doctors?”

“Jim must be rubbing off on you. I’ll call.”

Jess just stared a moment into the bright, lively blue eyes of her beautiful girl, just so thankful that she could.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

A God-Sized Question

Friday Gleanings.009

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jeremiah 31:3

On Tuesday, my granddaughter asked me a God-sized question: “If God knew we would sin, why did he create us?”  I reassured her that God had a loving plan when he created us.  Today, after much thought and prayer, I wrote her this letter:

Dear Ashley,

Yesterday, when we picked you up from school, you were full of questions.  They were big questions, God-sized questions. I don’t know the answers to every question, but I can answer them the way Jesus answered the questions that people asked him.  He answered their questions by giving them examples and telling stories.

I’m not going to try to answer all your questions at one time, because I would have to write a book to do it.  Let’s take your questions one at a time.  Today I want to tell you what God has put in my heart to tell you about why He created us.

Your question was: If God knew we would sin, why did he create us?  I had to think hard and pray about how to answer this question, but then God gave me the answer:  God made us to love Him and other people, and to be loved by Him and by other people.  

Why do you think mothers have children?  Yes, to love them and to be loved by them.  Does it matter that those children might not always obey them?  Does it matter that maybe they might have a sick child instead of a healthy child?  Does it matter whether that child is smart or not so smart?  NO!  A good mother or father loves their child no matter what they look, like, what they do, or how smart they are.  

That’s what the love of God is like.  He loves us no matter what we do.  When we sin, He gives us many chances to ask for His forgiveness.  Because He knew that sin would be a problem for us, He sent Jesus to die for us, so that our sin would be forgiven once and for all.  All we have to do is admit that we are sinners and ask Him to be Lord of our life.  You’ve already done that, so Jesus will always be there for you no matter what happens.

Just think!  Your mother had you even though she knew she would have to get up at night to feed you.  She knew that she would have to work hard to buy food and clothes for you.  She knew that sometimes you would be grouchy and you might not always obey her.  But she still wanted a child to love.  That’s why she had you!

So, if your mother, who is just a human being, could have enough love to do those things for you, why wouldn’t a perfect, kind and loving God not want to create you?

Yes, He created us knowing we would not be perfect, because only He is perfect.  He knew we would sin.  Isn’t it amazing though, that He still wanted to love us no matter how imperfect we might turn out to be?

We can never fully know the mind of God.  If we could, then He would not be God.  I hope this helps you to appreciate your mother’s human love for you and God’s everlasting love for you.  Life is a beautiful gift God gave you through your parents.  

Instead of asking why you were created, just thank God that you are alive and have parents and grandparents who love you. And most of all be grateful that God will always love you.

Love, Grandmommy

2 Comments

Filed under Friday Gleanings by Carmen

What Are You Thankful For?

I’ve seen this going around on FaceBook, where some people are using November to count down each day by telling what they are thankful for.  Since I’m not an “everyday on FB” person, I thought I would pose that question to you on this one post on our blog?

You can share your thoughts, serious or funny or both!  I would love to know more about the people who follow our blog and one way is to know what they are thankful for.

***********************************************************************

Me, first and foremost, I’m thankful for Jesus Christ and His totally amazing grace and mercy He’s shown me!  And on the silly side, I’m thankful for my space heater that I keep plugged up at my side!  I’m cold natured and my husband is hot natured.  I would be happy to keep the heat set on 80 degrees!  But, that would totally suffocate my husband (and break the bank on heating bills), so I love my space heater.  It’s so nice to be warm and I realize it’s something so many people in the country and world do not have, so this is a blessing and I don’t dare take it for granted.  So, it may be silly to be thankful for my space heater, but I am.

So, how about you?  What are you thankful for?

4 Comments

Filed under Just Me!

Strait of Hormuz (A Marc Royce Adventure #3) by Davis Bunn

Excitingly Paced Thriller (5 Stars)

9780764211386

Strait of Hormuz (A Marc Royce Adventure #3) by Davis Bunn (Bethany House)

Marc Royce once again finds himself in the middle of a life and death situation, the only problem this time is that he has been fired from the US agency he was working from and he has not authority nor backup.  Yet, not all is lost.  His friend and supervisor from the U.S. State Department called him and wanted him to help.

So once again Marc is going from the Mideast to Asia and all over Europe to find the bad guys who are involved in nuclear warfare and bring them to justice.  His friend Carter Dawes shows up for back up once again and helps him.  And he is surprised by seeing Kitra Korban, from Bunn’s second book, Rare Earth, show up.

Let’s just say this whole book is a whirlwind of espionage, government agencies, and high tech weapons, desperate situations and romance.  It was a great book!  I enjoyed every minute and I’m sure you will too.  But I strongly recommend reading the series in order.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House for my honest opinion and did not receive any compensation for a favorable review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This book will be donated to our Media Center for our patrons to come and check out.  We have all three books in the series now!

Very interesting information to read, so be sure to click on each of these links:

Book announcement

Questions and Answers with Davis Bunn

Download an excerpt

6 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews

Friends, Food, Fellowship and Fiction – November 9, 2013 and Upcoming Book for January 11, 2014

Untitled.001

Every Waking Moment by Chris Fabry

We had a blast that morning talking about that book and sharing our stories too!  This book is a wonderful book about a young lady who has a strange medical problem and she works at a retirement home and since she can’t remember her childhood, she takes stories from the residents.  There’s lots of mystery, sadness and love flowing through this book and we highly recommend it to everyone!

Our meetings start at 9:30am and we all bring dishes for breakfast and have a wonderful time of fellowship, then we have our picture made and then we settle down to let Carmen pass out her neat little booklet with questions for us to go over to help lead the discussion.  As if, 9 ladies need any prompting to talk about anything!!  We usually end around 11:30, not because we are finished talking (no way could we ever be finished talking!), but usually someone has somewhere to go and the meeting ends.  Well, not this time.  No one had anywhere to go and we stayed until about 1:30!

I know that most people who follow our blog are from around the country and even the world, but if anyone out there lives close enough to drive to Winterville, GA (or surrounding towns), we would love to have you join us!  We love new members and you do not have to belong to our church, you do not have to be a Baptist, you do not even have to be a Christian, but we do read Christian fiction and that’s the only requirement…that you love to read the best books available!!

***********************************************************************

Our next meeting will be on Saturday, January 11, 2014 and we will be discussing Small Town Girl (Rosey Corner’s #2) by Ann Gabhart

small-town-girl

The first book is Angel Sister and when we read that book we had no idea that Ann would write a sequel.  We are so thrilled she did!!  I have already read the book and it’s fantastic!  So, if you would like to join us, please stop by the Media Center, or send us a message through this post or our “Contact Us” section at the top of the page.

Carmen will be sending out an email to our current Book Club members soon to take the book order for Small Town Girl, or you can purchase the book yourself at our local Christian bookstore, The Carpenter’s Shop (if they don’t have it in stock, Brian will gladly order it for you) or if you have an e-reader you can get it electronically.  We do have one copy of this book in the Media Center, so come in and get your name on the list and let’s start reading!!!  If you have read Angel Sister, you will LOVE this book, it takes place 5 years after Angel Sister left off.  If you haven’t read Angel Sister, then, come on in and get to reading!  It’s a great book.

We don’t have a location for our January 11, 2014 meeting yet, but we will keep you updated when a location is decided.

4 Comments

Filed under Women's Book Club

Plymouth Colony: Chance or God’s Plan?

Friday Gleanings.009

The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9 NASB

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, our thoughts turn to the Pilgrims.  When we call to mind the brave men and women who risked their lives for religious freedom, we tend to focus on the grand harvest feast, one year after their arrival in the New World.

However, before Thanksgiving could be celebrated, the Pilgrims faced many obstacles.  First, they were persecuted in England for their religious beliefs.  Many were imprisoned, and others had to leave their country to live in Holland.  Then, they made plans to come to America, sold everything they had, and put their trust in God’s providence.

They were careful in their planning.  Their destination was Virginia, but God had other plans.  From the outset, they encountered one challenge after another.  After their departure in August of 1620, the Speedwell, a ship purchased in Holland, began to take in water, causing the pilgrims to return to port.  Repairing the ship proved impossible, so the Speedwell’s passengers had to board the Mayflower, bringing the total number of passengers to 150.

Finally, a month later, on September 6th, the Mayflower departed. Because of the delays, the passengers were weary and the food stores were low. Bad weather plagued them almost as soon as they left port.  At one point, the pilgrims had to help the crew repair the main support beam of the ship with a jackscrew which was to be used in the building of new homes once the Pilgrims arrived in Virginia.

However, they never made it to Virginia, but anchored in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Mercifully, there were only two deaths recorded during the voyage, but by the end of winter, many became ill, and half of them died.

Before landing, the pilgrims clearly stated their purpose for coming to the New World in a Document called The Mayflower Compact: “Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith…”  Like our Constitution, it was an agreement to abide by laws to be legislated, obeyed and enforced by the people.  It was a political document, but the opening words leave no doubt as to the authority behind this agreement. The document opens with the words: “In the name of God, Amen. This covenant was signed under the authority of God, in the presence of God and for the glory of God.”

The questions I ask myself are: Would I sacrifice everything for the freedom to worship God?  Would I remain faithful when faced with suffering and death?  And having survived, and thrived: To whom would I give the glory?

Dearest Heavenly Father,

Today I recognize your authority to “order my steps” and even to change my plans so that yours might be accomplished.  I celebrate your presence in my life and recommit myself to spend time with you daily.  I embrace whatever plans you have for me as an individual, as a family member, and as a church member.  And finally, I resolve to give you the glory for whatever you decide to do through your church, through each family and each individual member.

In the name of Jesus,

Amen

2 Comments

Filed under Friday Gleanings by Carmen

Free e-Book by Siri Mitchell – Sounds Good!

Here is one freebie that looks really good.  I have no idea how long it will be free, so I suggest you get it today.  Also, it may be on other e-readers, but I’m just linking to kindle.

  • FREE on Kindle:  A Constant Heart (Against All Expectations #1) by Siri Mitchell

 

2 Comments

Filed under Free E-Books

Free E-Books

I’ve found two freebies today, one novella, one non-fiction…look closely at the dates.  I’m listing the kindle store link, but they may be free for other e-readers, so check your store.

  • FREE (11/11 – 11/12) on Kindle:  Seeker of Stars: A Novella by Susan Fish.  There are no reviews and I’ve not heard of this author, but publisher David C Cook is offering it free today and tomorrow, so I’m going to give it a try.
  • FREE (11/11 – 11/12) on Kindle:  Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Lives from David C Cook Publishers

6 Comments

Filed under Free E-Books

Remember Our Veterans Today and All They Gave

Today is a special day to honor those brave men and women who have dedicated their lives in full-time or part-time service to our country, so we can have the freedom’s we so greatly treasure and sadly take for granted.  I’m sure we all know a friend or loved one who served in or is still serving.  Let’s take the time to thank them and pray for them and their safety and God’s peace to surround them.

I have 3 very special veterans who were in my life and now they have all gone on to be with the Lord.  I wish I had taken the time to sit down with them and hear all their stories!

Reginald Reynolds, my wonderful daddy.  He served in Germany in the Korean War.

Reginald Reynolds, my wonderful daddy. He served in Germany in the Korean War.

Henry Lester, my wonderful father-in-law, who served in Italy and North Africa in WWII.

Henry Lester, my wonderful father-in-law, who served in Italy and North Africa in WWII.

Felix McElory, my husband's wonderful uncle, who served in Saipan in WWII.

Felix McElory, my husband’s wonderful uncle, who served in Saipan in WWII.

 

 

9 Comments

Filed under Just Me!

We Have a Winner for Ann Gabhart’s Book!

Baloons and Confetti for Blog Book Winners.001

Bonnie Roof from Mt. Washington, KY

Bonnie, we are so excited for you!  I know you’ll enjoy reading Ann’s book this Christmas.  We hope you and your family has a wonderfully blessed CHRISTmas this year!!

8 Comments

Filed under Featured Author & Book Giveaway

A Sure Supply For Every Need

Friday Gleanings.009

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105 KJV)

When I was ten years old we lived in Astoria, Queens. My Dad worked long hours to support a large family, and my mother was busy with my sisters, twin baby girls. Therefore, my brother and I were often given a list and sent out into the neighborhood to purchase various items.

There were no Supermarkets back then. If meat was on the list, we went to Ace Meat Market, where the different cuts of meat were displayed behind glass and the floor was covered with sawdust. If we wanted bologna or salami, we went to Connie’s Deli. Fish was purchased at the fish market and purchases were weighed on scales, packed in ice, and wrapped in white paper. If we wanted cheese, we went to Antoinette’s, where the cheeses hung from the ceiling. If it was aspirin we needed, we stopped at Riley’s Drugstore. It amazes me that most of the things we walked blocks to purchase can be found today under one roof and in one store.

In my younger days, I sought out spiritual food in this same way, going from one book to another, from one teacher to another, and from one philosophy to another. Then one day I realized that the spiritual food I craved was contained in one book, the Bible, the Word of God, His personal love letter to me.

Dearest Heavenly Father,

Thank you for giving us your Word. What a fountain of living water it is! We delight it in it as the psalmist of Psalm 1 delighted in the law. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus to complete it. We promise to spend time reading, meditating and feasting on Your love letter to us this very day and every day. Keep us grounded in it, as we wait to be with you.

In the name of Jesus, the Word made flesh,

Amen

Untitled.001

Leave a comment

Filed under Friday Gleanings by Carmen

Finally, I’ve Found Time to Search for Free E-Books

Icons for Blog Use.004

Some of these freebies you need to get today or tomorrow.  I have posted the dates on the ones I know, but if you think you want the book, don’t wait, they go away quickly sometimes.  I’m only listing the link to the kindle store, but they may be free on other e-readers too, so check your store.   This is all for today, I’ll get more to you in the next couple of days.  Some of these have been free before, but for our new followers, they might be new to you! Enjoy!!!

  • FREE (11/4 – 11/5)  on Kindle:  Blue Hole Back Home by Joy Jordan-Lake
  • FREE (11/5 – 11/6 notice this is NOT FREE until TOMORROW!) on Kindle:  The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camdem.  This is a great book!
  • FREE (11/1 – 11/14) on Kindle:  A River to Cross by Yvonne Harris
  • FREE (11/1 – 11/30) on Kindle:  Lion of Babylon (A Marc Royce Thriller #1) by Davis Bunn.  This is a GREAT series!
  • FREE (11/1 – 11/30) on Kindle:  An Untamed Land (Red River of the North #1) by Lauraine Snelling.  GREAT series!
  • FREE (11/1 – 11/30) on Kindle:  Daughter of Twin Oaks (A Secret Refuge #1) by Lauraine Snelling.  I haven’t read this, but I love this author.
  • FREE (11/1 – 11/30) on Kindle:  Angels Watching Over Me (Shenandoah Sisters #1) by Michael Phillips
  • FREE (11/1 – 11/30) on Kindle:  Candle in the Darkness (Refiner’s Fire #1) by Lynn Austin.  GREAT series…Lynn doesn’t write a bad book!
  • FREE (11/1 – 11/30) on Kindle:  Distant Dreams (Ribbons of Steel #1) by Judith Pella and Tracie Peterson.  Great book!
  • FREE (11/1 – 11/30) on Kindle:  Shadows of the Canyon (Desert Rose #1) by Tracie Peterson.  I haven’t read this one, but I love all her books!

3 Comments

Filed under Free E-Books

When Mountains Move (Sequel to, Into the Free) by Julie Cantrell (5 Stars)

This Story Draws You Right Inside the Pages  (5 Stars)

9780781404259_hi-2

When Mountains Move (Sequel to Into The Free) by Julie Cantrell (David C Cook)

This is the sequel to, Into the Free, so you have to read that book first or in my opinion you will not understand the depths of this book.

It’s now May 7, 1943 and church bells are ringing for Millie and Bump (Kenneth).  After all that happened to her in the first book, Bump was her lifeline!  He brought her back to living and loving.  Yet, she is still holding back.  She’s keeping secrets.  But one thing she knows is Bump loves her and she loves Bump.

Their rodeo boss wants them to go out west to run an old cattle/horse ranch he bought and that where they take off to.  Only when they get there they see that it’s going to be much more work than they could possibly imagine.  But with Bumps encouragement, Millie was all in. It seems like they take turns, when one is down, the other is up, and visa versa.  They are the perfect couple.  That is until a certain woman, Kat, enters the picture.  Will she drive a wedge between them?  Will Bump discover Millie’s secret before she can ever get the nerve to tell him?  And what ever happened to River?  You’ll know who this is from Into the Free.

This book was hard to put down.  It pulled me inside the pages and I felt like I was right there with them.  Even though I love lots of dialogue, and this book had less than I usually like, it still captivated me.  I loved this book.  You’ll love this book.  But, you have to read, Into the Free, first.

I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley for my honest opinion and did not receive any compensation for a favorable review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Let’s Meet Julie:

julie-7-2_06_03_2013

Julie Cantrell is the New York Times andUSA Today bestselling author of Into the Free, which won Christy Awards for Best Debut Novel and for Book of the Year 2013. Cantrell has served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. She and her family live in Mississippi, where they operate Valley House Farm. Her new novel, When Mountains Move, hits shelves September 1, 2013.

Julie is represented by Greg Johnson of WordServe Literary. Learn more about the realm of publishing by following the WordServe Watercooler, where Julie joins more than 70 authors to discuss the writing life. You can also find Julie blogging weekly with the Southern Belles, a group of southern female authors who gather on the cyberporch each day to chat about family, faith, fiction, food, and fun: http://www.southernbelleviewdaily.com/

2 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews

Exciting News from Elizabeth Ludwig…$2.99 e-Book Today Only on CBD

DarkRoadHome_CBD Daily Deal

Elizabeth Ludwig’s e-book, Dark Road Home (Edge of Freedom #2), has been chosen as a CBD Daily Deal.  On Nov. 1st, it will be featured in a special section of the website and offered on CBD for $2.99 (e-book only)!  This is a great deal!  ONE DAY ONLY, so today is your blessed day!

This is a wonderful series, you can search my reviews and you can also search our Featured Authors/Giveaways and you’ll find a great interview with Elizabeth Ludwig.  She gave away an autographed copy of this book during that interview.  I am a huge fan of Elizabeth and I’m sure when you start reading her books, you will be too!

Elizabeth Ludwig

Elizabeth Ludwig

Elizabeth Ludwig is the award-winning author of No Safe Harbor and Dark Road Home, Books One and Two in the Edge of Freedom series. Her popular literary blog, The Borrowed Book, enjoys a wide readership. Elizabeth is an accomplished speaker and teacher, often attending conferences and seminars where she lectures on editing for fiction writers, crafting effective novel proposals, and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. Along with her husband and children, she makes her home in the great state of Texas. To learn more, visit ElizabethLudwig.com.

2 Comments

Filed under Free E-Books

Christmas Interview with Ann Gabhart and Book Giveaway (11/1 – 11/7)

Ann was our very first featured author/giveaway back in June.  She had so much fun (and we did too!) that she said she would love to come back.  Of course I said “YES!”.  Since she had a new Christmas book coming out in September, I thought having Ann back in November with a special Christmas interview and giving away an autographed copy of her new Christmas book, Christmas at Harmony Hill, would be great.  So, sit down with your favorite Christmas tea or apple cider and enjoy reading this wonderful interview with Ann.

Make a comment between Nov. 1-7, 2013 to be entered in the giveaway. See rules at the end of the interview.

Make a comment between Nov. 1-7, 2013 to be entered in the giveaway. See rules at the end of the interview.

Untitled.003

ANN H. GABHART, the author of several bestselling novels, has been called a storyteller, not a bad thing for somebody who never wanted to do anything but write down stories. She’s published twenty-five novels with more stories on the way. She keeps her keyboard warm out on a farm in Kentucky where she lives with her husband, Darrell. They have three children, three in-law children, and nine grandchildren. To find out more about Ann or her books visit www.annhgabhart.com. Check out her blog, One Writer’s Journal, www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com or follow her on Facebook, www.facebook.com/AnnGabhart , Twitter, https://twitter.com/AnnHGabhart , or Pinterest, http://pinterest.com/annhgabhart/.

I’m reading, Christmas at Harmony Hill, right now.  It’s nothing like I expected.  I’m really draw in and can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen.  What can you tell us about the book and why you decided to write it?

I never intended to write a shelf full of Shaker books. When I wrote The Outsider I thought that would be the only book I would write about the Shakers. In fact, that story sat on my reject shelf for a couple of decades before it was finally published. And then readers liked my Shaker story, and my editor encouraged me to write more books with a Shaker background. So I agreed as long as I could write other historical stories along with those Shaker books.

My editor, Lonnie Hull Dupont and my agent, Wendy Lawton, are the reason I wrote a Shaker Christmas book. Several years ago they took a road trip together and came to visit me out here on the farm. We had a great time and of course did a lot of talking about books. One of them said wouldn’t it be fun to read a Shaker Christmas book. I didn’t even know if the Shakers did anything special at Christmas time, but being carried away by the moment and the great company, I said I might be able to find out about Shakers and Christmas. So I did and came up with some plot ideas that fit into a Christmas theme. Four years later, Christmas at Harmony Hill is the result.

The story is a bit different from most Christmas novels. I feel like it could be read any time of the year even though it is set in December 1864. The Civil War is drawing to a close, but Gideon is still fighting for the Union Army while Heather returns home to have their baby. When she finds no welcome there, she seeks shelter in the Shaker village where her aunt, Sister Sophrena, the Shaker journalist in The Gifted, has lived for many years. Sister Sophrena is ready to help Heather even as she is beginning to doubt her own Shaker walk.

Does your family have any Christmas traditions that have carried over from your parents?  Have you created new traditions?

I remember the great times I had as a child. Every Christmas Eve we went to my aunt’s house for dinner and presents. My aunt never married and so she was like a granny to my sisters and me. She made Christmas special. She died shortly after I married and so the traditional Christmas Eve dinner was then at my mother’s. I’ve had to adjust traditions somewhat after my children got married and all the family traditions had to be merged with their spouses’ traditions too. So now my children try to find an agreeable Saturday or Sunday to come home for Christmas. I suppose if we have a tradition it is just to try to get together and have a time of giving and sharing. I do still make the same orange and pineapple juice punch in my aunt’s cut glass punch bowl.

Do y’all open presents one at a time or everyone at the same time?

We used to open presents one at a time. I still like that way best, but when you have nine grandkids with seven of them under ten, things can go south pretty fast. So now we let the grandkids open their presents all at the same time and then while they’re playing with their new toys, the adults open their presents one at a time. So fun!

Do y’all have a special meal you always have each Christmas or do you just wing it?

I do serve some traditional dishes that the children expect. I have ham, both city ham and a delicious country ham roast. My homemade rolls are a must as well as green beans (canned from the garden), corn pudding, grape salad, fruit salad, and hummingbird cake. The other dishes vary from year to year. And of course, if anybody is here for Christmas breakfast or breakfast on whatever day we have our family celebration, we have homemade cinnamon rolls. Yum!!

Do you have a favorite recipe (or two) that you make every Christmas?  Can you share with us?

Sure. First my punch recipe. We never had a recipe written down, but my aunt just told me what to do. I started making that punch when I was a kid. I loved stirring it all together. So I’ll name it after her. If you’ll notice I also dedicated Christmas at Harmony Hill to her memory.

Aunt Bond’s Christmas Punch

One large can pineapple juice

One large can grapefruit juice

One large can frozen orange juice with only one can of water added

½ gallon orange sherbet

2 liter Gingerale

Mix the juices. Right before add scoops of orange sherbet and half the gingerale to the juices. Save the rest of the Gingerale for each individual to add to their cups to taste.

Note: My aunt always added the grapefruit juice but I often leave it out. If you do use the grapefruit juice, you may need to sweeten the punch to taste.

Then my hummingbird cake recipe. I found it years ago when our newspaper published the prize winning cakes for the Kentucky State Fair from 1971 through 1980.

Hummingbird Cake (Helen Wiser -1978 winner)

3 C flour (see Ann’s note in the directions about the flour and what she does)

¾ C chopped pecans

2 C granulated sugar

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp salt

1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained

1 tsp baking soda

¼ C chopped black walnuts (optional)

1 tsp cinnamon

2 C chopped banana

3 eggs, well beaten

1 ¼ c vegetable oil

Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. (I cheat and use self-rising flour and leave out the baking soda and salt.) Add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not beat with a mixer. Stir in nuts, vanilla and pineapple. Finally add the bananas. Spoon batter into 3 greased and floured 9 inch round cake pans. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 25 or 30 minutes or until Cake tests done. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn onto cooling racks. Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Icing (from Debby Osborne’s 1980 prize winning recipe)

2/3 stick butter or margarine

2 tsp vanilla

8 ounce package cream cheese

1 C chopped pecans

1 pound confectioners’ sugar

Whip margarine and cream cheese together. Add remaining ingredients and beat well. Spread between cake layers and then frost sides and top of cake.

Do y’all ever have a white Christmas? And speaking of white Christmas, what’s your favorite Christmas songs?

In Kentucky, it’s hit or miss with the white Christmas. We have had several Christmases that were white. One year, the family built a snowman. Another year we went sledding. And one year, my son ran off the road trying to go home and had to be pulled out of the snowy ditch. But I also remember some Christmas days when the sun was shining and it was nearly sixty degrees. Kentuckians have a saying that if you don’t like the weather, just stick around till tomorrow. So snow is an option, but far from a guarantee on Christmas day.

Untitled.004

I love Christmas songs. I’ve liked “The Little Drummer Boy” forever, but I also like “What Child is This” and “Mary, Did you Know.” So many great Christmas songs, it’s hard to pick just one or two. “Joy to the World” is my favorite carol.

Do you remember, way back when, when they had all those wonderful Christmas programs on, like Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope?  I do, and I miss them!

I do remember those shows. I remember Bob Hope going to Vietnam and having Christmas shows for the soldiers there. I wrote about that once on my blog and got a message back from a soldier who was there for one of those shows. It’s neat the way the internet connects people.

I love the Christmas story told from the original KJV from the book of Luke?  What’s your favorite?

If you’re reading the Christmas story, the King James Version sounds the best in my ears because that’s what I grew up hearing. I do like the New King James because it keeps some of the poetic sound of the KJV but changes enough to make it easier to read. At our youth programs at church, we always read from both Luke and Matthew so that we get the story of the shepherds and wise men too. When I autograph one of my books, I always include a Scripture reference with the signature. I try to match up a Bible verse with the title of the book or the story. For Christmas at Harmony Hill, I use Luke 2:19. I think people will understand why after they read the story.

Do you have any unusual traditions you do each Christmas?  Or if not unusual, maybe just something you do each year without fail?

Life has changed for me since my mother’s dementia, so that some of the Christmas traditions that I loved have been lost along with her memory. I can’t think of any unusual traditions we ever had. For several years I loved going with my mother to her church for a midnight candlelight service on Christmas Eve after our family gathering. It was just so neat to go out of the church as the church bells rang the hour of midnight. We do have the tradition of having a candlelight service at our little country church too, but we usually have it on a Sunday night close to Christmas. I do enjoy the candlelight services and the imagery of the “light of the world” giving light to each of us.

Come to think of it, I guess I do have a grandmother tradition. When my first grandbaby was born, almost twenty years ago now, she was six months old on her first Christmas and I took a picture of her on the floor in front of my Christmas tree. She was my special Christmas gift.Untitled.001 Then, every time I had a new grandbaby come into the world, I’d get that picture of the new baby under the tree. Also I make, beg, bribe, whatever it takes, to get all the grandkids in front of the tree for a picture each year. They have to sit for that picture before they can open presents. Sometimes the toddlers have not been that eager for pictures or presents, but so far we’ve always gotten the picture.

Untitled.002

Oh, and there is that other tradition I have of giving all my kids and grandkids at least one book whether they want one or not. LOL. Fortunately they all love books and this tradition is fun for me too since I love shopping at bookstores.

I’m enjoying this so much I can’t stop, but I’m going to have too!  Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! I do enjoy hearing from readers. It’s fun having conversations with you on Facebook and on my blog, One Writer’s Journal. I hope you have so many blessings in the coming year that your cup overflows and you’re drinking out of your saucer.

Quick, Quirky Questions:

Decorate by yourself or have help?

I love having help to decorate, but it doesn’t always happen. When I was a kid, we had a great time helping my aunt put up her tree and that’s a great memory for me now. Sometimes my grandkids, who live near by, come to help, but they aren’t quite as carried away by the magic of decorating the tree the way I was. It could be because their mom puts up seven or eight trees. By the time I get around to dragging my tree out, those kids are all Christmas tree decorated out. They do like helping me get my Santa collection out of the boxes.

Real tree or artificial?

For years we had real trees. Actually we went out in the fields on our farm and cut a cedar tree and put it in a bucket. They smelled wonderful, but dried out quickly inside the house and were very scratchy to decorate. We also bought a live tree once and it’s now growing into a towering pine out in the yard. But I went the artificial tree route some years ago. Now I have one of those pre-lighted trees. Trouble is the lights are no longer working on some of the strands, but I don’t seem motivated to buy a new tree. I just string some more lights on it. My daughter-in-law says I need to buy a taller tree to fit in my added on family room. Maybe someday I will.

Untitled.005

Wrapping paper or bags?

I know it’s silly, but I feel like I’m cheating somehow when I use bags. I’ve always sort of enjoyed wrapping presents, but it can get tiresome wrapping that many presents since I usually buy several presents each for my husband, three kids, three sweet in-law kids, and nine grandkids. I’ve even been known to buy my daughter’s two dogs doggy treats and wrap them up.

When it gets down to crunch time and I haven’t got the gifts all wrapped, I’ll grab bags. I also use bags for oddly shaped items that don’t fit in boxes.

Cookies or brownies?

That’s according to the flavor cookies or brownies. Maybe my favorite is oatmeal cookies with craisens mixed in and spread in a 9 x 13 pan instead of dropped as cookies.

Cake or pie?

Pie. Very definitely pie. What kind of pie? Round will do. LOL

Tinsel on the tree?

When I was a kid and we were decorating those cedar trees, we always draped shiny tinfoil icicles on the tree. Then when we took the tree down after Christmas, we had to painstakingly pick off the icicles and lay them as straight as possible for use the next year. It was a freeing moment when, after I married, I decided trees looked better without the icicles.

Angel or Star topper on tree?

Angel, naturally, for a writer who titled one of her stories Angel Sister.

Thanks so much for inviting me back for a visit. I’ll look forward to your comments. Why don’t you tell me your favorite traditions at Christmas?  Ann

Ok, if you read this last sentence from Ann, she wants to hear your favorite Christmas tradition too!  So, feel free to include that in your comment below.  This is so much fun!!!

Now for the autographed book giveaway:

Make a comment between Nov. 1-7, 2013 to be entered in the giveaway. See rules at the end of the interview.

Make a comment between Nov. 1-7, 2013 to be entered in the giveaway. See rules at the end of the interview.

  1. You must be 18 years or older and be a U.S. resident.
  2. Leave a comment in the comment section at the end of THIS post.  One entry per person.
  3. We will randomly compile a list of everyone who made a comment and will draw a name.  We will then notify you by email giving you further instructions on collecting your free book.  DO NOT include your personal mailing address in your comment for security reasons.
  4. If we do not hear back from you in 5 days, we will draw another winner.
  5. Please allow 2-3 weeks for book delivery.
  6. If you win the book it would be really great if you could come back to this post after you have read it and tell us what you thought about the book.

119 Comments

Filed under Featured Author & Book Giveaway

Who Do You Follow? Choose Jesus!

Friday Gleanings.009

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…” (Psalm 23:4 KJV)

Did you ever play follow the leader?  In our urban New York neighborhood, following the leader meant skipping down a city block, going up and down stairs, crossing busy streets, traipsing through a schoolyard or meandering through a vacant lot dotted with yellow dandelions in the summer, crunchy leaves in the fall and deep snow in winter.  No matter where the leader took us, we followed.

The 23rd Psalm is about walking, being led, resting, and following. While reading verse 4, another Bible verse came to mind: Isaiah 52:7, which is quoted in the beautiful hymn Our God Reigns:

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of Him
Who brings good news, good news,
Proclaiming peace, announcing news of happiness,
Our God reigns, our God reigns.

Untitled.001

The second stanza tells us that Jesus “had no stately form, He had no majesty, that we should be drawn to Him.”  But many were drawn to Him as we are drawn to Him now, because as the third stanza tells us: It was our sin that bruised and wounded Him because like sheep, we strayed.  Nevertheless, our Shepherd came and bore our shame.  He, who was without sin, let himself be led to the slaughter, so that we might be born again.  In the final stanza, we are told:

Out from the tomb He came with grace and majesty,
He is alive, He is alive.
God loves us so, see here His hands, His feet, His side,
Yes we know He is alive…Our God reigns…

Our Lord, whom we follow, is the Good Shepherd, who leads us to the mountaintop.  To get there, however we sometimes have to walk with Him through the valleys, even the valley of the shadow of death.  He is the Lamb that was slain for our sins.  He is the King, who has defeated death and is alive.  Because He died for us, saved us, reigns over our lives today, we do not hesitate to follow Him into life’s valleys.

Several years ago, during a revival service, Ernest Easley, a cancer survivor, preached a sermon on walking through life’s valleys with the Lord.  In his sermon, he identified nine valleys: the valley of uncertainty, the valley of fear, the valley of detours, the valley of suffering, the valley of storms, the valley of discouragement, the valley of confusion, the valley of correction, and the valley of sickness.  The main point of the sermon is that victory comes through the valleys.

Dearest Heavenly Father,

You loved us so much that you sent your Son to die for us.  Amazing love! How can we not follow the one who gave his life for us, who went through his own “valley of the shadow of death” so that we might have new life in Him?  Thank you for walking with us through life’s valleys.  Forgive us when we lose sight of you on the path and begin to doubt.  When we hesitate give us confidence.  When we tire, give us strength. Gather us into your arms when we are afraid, and encourage us when we hurt.  Remind us that beyond the horizon, heaven awaits.

In the name of Jesus, wo shepherds us through life’s valleys,

Amen

2 Comments

Filed under Friday Gleanings by Carmen