Exciting Book News!

When she discovers the handsome Reverend Matthias Sorenson assisting runaway slaves, can Annalise Van Houten convince him to allow her to help? Or will mistrust prove fatal for all involved?

Underground Railroad promo

I am super excited to announce that my latest novella Freedom’s Flight is set to be released June 1! I join eight other fabulous authors in Barbour’s latest novella collection: The Underground Railroad Brides Collection.

And good news! It’s already available for pre-order at Amazon, Christian Book Distributors, Barnes & Noble, and your local bookstore.

I love Barbour novella collections because they include so many different voices all with a common theme. The Underground Railroad Collection is no different. All set prior to the Civil War, heroes and heroines come together to help this within the bonds of slavery.

Check out the official trailer for The Underground Railroad Brides Collection here.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Movie Review: Where Love Found Me

If you only watch one movie this year, this should be the one.

 

where love found me (2)

A touching story inspired by true events, “Where Love Found Me” takes the viewer into the realities of children living on the streets. When documentary director, Hudson, sets out to make a movie about street children in China, his plans take a different route when he discovers the lives these children live and the dismal futures they face. The truth tugs at his heart, and he seeks to make a change. But will the process threaten his life and the lives of those he seeks to protect?

 

Faith, drama, and humor highlight this movie that will bring tears to your eyes, as well as prod you to make a difference in the world for the millions of children worldwide who dream of a forever home through adoption. This is definitely a family movie, and you will find yourself rooting for Hudson, Rubelyn, and the other street children. However, due to the nature of the film, this movie is for teens and up.

The parallel between a man who gives his life for the children and our Savior Jesus Christ is profound in this movie, and reminds us that we are here but for a short time. In that short time, what can we do to make an eternal difference in the lives of others?

My recommendation? Don’t just rent or stream this movie. It’s one to buy for the keeper shelf!

More information can be found at the “Where Love Found Me” website.

The trailer for this movie can be found on the website and also at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMvTFwC5tCI

Review also found at Amazon.

Thankful for the small things…

Psalm 107 1

It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving was already nearly two weeks ago.  As I reflect on the past year, I think of the many things I am thankful for – Jesus Christ as my Savior, my husband, my children, extended family, friends, and health. Sometimes, though, we only think of the “big” things we are thankful for, like those things I mentioned above.

What about the seemingly “small” things we are thankful for that we sometimes overlook? Below are a few that came to my mind in no particular order:

  •  I’m thankful for water. According to an article titled World Water Day: A Billion People Worldwide Lack Safe Drinking Water “More than a billion people—almost one-fifth of the world’s population—lack access to safe drinking water.” How many times do we go to the faucet and grab a glass of water without giving it a second thought?water
  • I’m thankful I can breathe.  According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, “Approximately 34.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma by a health professional during their lifetime.” My husband and youngest daughter are included in those statistics. How many times do we take it for granted that we can take that a breath?
  • I’m thankful for the ability to read. While doing research for 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference, I discovered that “by age 17, only 1 in 17 seventeen-year-olds can read and gain information from specialized text” according to the National Institute for Literacy. Taking this statistic into account, there are a high number of people who cannot read. Yet, I read things everyday and don’t give it a second thought that some people don’t have that ability.
  • I’m thankful for those who risk their lives each day to bring the Good News to those around the world. We in the United States face minimal persecution when it comes to sharing our love for Jesus. Our missionaries in other nations are not so fortunate. I read The Voice of the Martyrs and my eyes were opened to the sacrifices our Christian brothers and sisters make everyday to share the hope of eternal life with the lost around the world.
  • I’m thankful for food to eat. A couple of years ago, my husband and I were both diagnosed with multiple food allergies. It has been a challenge to find things to eat.  Yet, so many people in the U.S. and in the world have no food to eat – AT ALL. They would love to only have allergies to a handful of foods  – if they still had food to eat. dinner
  • I’m thankful I haven’t been involved in a devastating hurricane, earthquake, or tornado. A few years ago, we suffered severe exterior damage to our home and vehicles during a bad hail storm. When we returned home from our vacation, our yard looked as though it had suffered a major catastrophe. Tree limbs were everywhere, our garden was ruined, the new siding on our house destroyed, and our SUV totaled.

A few days after the hail storm, our church was seeking volunteers to assist with the devastation caused by a deadly tornado in the southern part of the country. As our family discussed being a part of this outreach, I was overcome with gratefulness and humbleness that it was only a relatively minor hailstorm we were dealing with and not a horrific storm where lives had been lost.

  • I’m thankful for dirty dishes. Yes, you heard me right. I know, most people wouldn’t say “thanks” for the sinkful of food-corroded crusty dishes from last night’s dinner. However, I am thankful because if I didn’t have those dirty dishes, I wouldn’t have had food to feed my family. Same goes for dirty laundry. While it may not be my favorite task, I’m thankful we have clothes to wear, and therefore, clothes that get dirty.
  • I’m thankful for my church family. Sometimes I forget how blessed I am to belong to the Body of Christ and how thankful I am that I can walk through the doors of my church and learn about the Lord and share fellowship with other believers. While my husband was going through is open heart surgery and later his dangerous staph infection, our church body stood with us in prayer and support. What a huge blessing!
  • church
  • I’m thankful I can see and hear. As I sit typing this, my kiddos are in the living room playing a game with their dad. Thank You, Father, that I can hear their giggles! I’m thankful for sight too – the snow-capped mountains in the distance and the puffy white clouds in the sky are such a testament to His Creation. I’m also thankful that the Lord opened my eyes to see my need for Him! mountain 2

That’s a shortened version of “small” things I’m thankful for. As I look back on my list, I realize they’re not “small” things at all, but big and important things.

What are you thankful for?

 

scrumptious gluten free/egg free pumpkin bars

781603_index_boxBecause Lon and I both have gluten and egg allergies, I’m always on the lookout for delicious recipes that we can enjoy. Our daughters love to help bake in the kitchen and I’ve used that love for baking to teach them measurements.

They also love being taste-testers, although I don’t think my youngest will ever try baking powder again! 🙂

Check out this scrumptious gluten free/egg free pumpkin bar recipe. It’s perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas desserts or any time of the year. If your diet allows gluten and eggs, simply replace the gluten free/egg free items below with wheat flour and eggs.

Scrumptious Gluten Free/Egg Free Pumpkin Bars

You will need:

1 c. sugar

1/2 c. oil

egg replacer to replace two eggs (we use Ener G egg replacer)

pumpkins1 c. pumpkin

1 c. gluten free flour (I use Gluten Free Pantry flour)

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Please note that oven temperatures can vary. I usually have to instead preheat my oven to 340 degrees).

Mix all ingredients together except the pumpkin until lightly mixed. Add the pumpkin and mix thoroughly. Grease a pan with gluten free cooking spray and pour the batter into the pan. Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes until fully baked (cooking time will vary).

Frosting

4 c. gluten free powdered sugar

6 tbsp. of butter (if you are on a dairy- free diet, use dairy free substitute)

3-4 tbsp. of milk (if you are on a dairy-free diet, use an alternative milk. We use Rice Dream rice milk).

Mix thoroughly.

Allow the pumpkin bars to cool, then frost. Cut into small bars and enjoy!


7 ways to make a difference in November

It’s hard to believe that it’s already November! So what are some ways to make a difference this month in the lives of others? Here are seven suggestions:

Combine chocolate with cheer. When our church announced it was looking for volunteers to serve in the hot chocolate ministry last year, our family immediately volunteered. What is a hot chocolate ministry? It’s a stand where we handed out free hot chocolate (with a spoonful of mini-marshmallows) to those who attended our town’s annual outdoor Christmas event that happens each year on the day after Thanksgiving. What a fun way to spread Christmas cheer!

hot chocolate

Remember our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. Engage Magazine offers a way to write to persecuted Christians in North Korea to encourage them.  According to the website, in this unique ministry, letters will be delivered one of two ways: “hand-delivered to several Christians who have escaped North Korea” or “with broadcasters in South Korea who will periodically read letters, or passages of letters, to Christians across the 38th parallel.” All of the details can be found at Engage Magazine’s website.

Also included are tips on things to say to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ, and also the super-easy form on which to write your letter and submit online.

 

1 Thessalonians 5 11

Make a terminally ill boy’s wish come true. Little Jacob Thompson is battling cancer and will be celebrating Christmas early this year. His one request? To receive as many Christmas cards as possible. He especially loves homemade cards. Have your kids decorate homemade cards and include a little tidbit about Christmas, their home state (Jacob lives in Maine), and a thoughtful Bible verse or prayer for he and his family. The full details, including Jacob’s address, can be found here.

christmas card

Ring the bell. It’s that time of year again…time when the Salvation Army bell ringers will be wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and collecting funds to help poor families during the holiday season. Why not partner with your spouse, child, or a friend and volunteer your time as a bell ringer this year? Check out the details at the Salvation Army website.

Share with those who have no one. Sometimes while we are enjoying our Thanksgiving dinners, we forget something very important…the fact that many people don’t have anywhere to go for Thanksgiving dinner. Is there a widow in your church that will spend her first year alone? An elderly couple with no family nearby? A neighbor who lives alone? Why not make a difference in their lives and invite them to your home to share in your family’s festivities.

dinner

Learn CPR/First Aid. As part of my daughters’ curriculum for homeschool, they recently joined me to take a CPR and First Aid class. It was my fourth time taking CPR and First Aid, but things have changed a bit, even since the last time I took it. What better way to make a difference than to have the knowledge to have a role in possibly saving someone’s life? For more details on how to find a CPR/First Aid course near you, check out The American Heart Association’s website.

Share the love of reading with others. Our family recently boxed up several Christian adult fiction books in excellent condition that we no longer needed or read. I called a local assisted living center and asked if they would be interested in some books for their residents. They were ecstatic! Remember to always call first before making any donations.

books

Speaking of books, for more ideas of year-round difference makers, please check out my book 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others.

What are some ways you and your family are planning to make a difference in the month of November?

 

 

 

8 things I want my daughters to know

mom and daughter

As the mother of two daughters, there seems to be such a short time in which to teach them all the things they will need to know by the time they reach adulthood. Will I succeed in teaching them everything? No. But I can focus on teaching them these important truths.

Focus on the things that are eternal. Material items, popularity, sports, homework, stress…these are things that will waste away. It is so easy to get caught up in the stresses of life – and there are many. But I hope you will remember that the only things that truly matter are those things that are eternal. Faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ is eternal. Sharing about Him to our loved ones and friends can plant the seeds for their eternal life.

The grass withers and the flowers fall but the word of our God endures forever.~Isaiah 40:8

God’s love is unconditional. Ask just about anyone and they will tell you they have experienced a time when someone stopped liking/loving them because of something they did or said. In a world where love is fickle, God’s love is unconditional and never changes. Nothing you can do can make Him love you any more than He already does. And nothing you can do can make Him love you any less.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:38-39

Your lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies~ Psalm 36:5

Jesus understands. He’s been there. Jesus knows and cares for every detail of our lives. He, too, has had a friend betray him. He has been on the receiving end of lies, has experienced loneliness, and has been tempted. But no matter who lets you down, there is One who never will. He promises NEVER to leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5).

Hebrews 13 5

Where to find your value and self worth. It is so easy to attempt to find your self worth in others. That friend. That boyfriend. Husband. Parent. But your self worth comes only from One. If we  garner our value from another human being, we will always be disappointed.

In our looks-obsessed culture, we could tend to think our value comes from our hairstyle, clothes, or whether our figure matches that on the front of a magazine. But our value does not come from people or from any of those things. Our value and our beauty comes from within. I have known far to too many women (and men!) who appear attractive on the outside, but are far from attractive on the inside. I hope that you will seek to be the girl God made you to be – one who has the love of Jesus within and who seeks to share it with others by the way she lives.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. ~ Proverbs 31:30

Speaking of value, do you know how valuable you are to our Lord? He loves you so, so much. Enough to give His very life for you.

The value of prayer. How often do we say, “Well, the only thing we can do now is pray.” The only thing? How about the most important thing and the thing that should top our list? Prayer is powerful. It is effective. And it’s our way of communicating with the One who created us and wants a relationship with us.

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. ~ James 5:16

God’s Word never changes. In any given day, especially in our quick-as-the-blink-of-an-eye culture, things change. Technology, the weather, fashion, styles, etc. But God’s Word is steadfast and never changes. We, as a culture, can try all we want to make God’s Word squeeze into our man-made box, but it will be futile. We should instead, with the help of the Holy Spirit, live as He commands by learning and living by the precious and timeless words of Scripture.

Give to God the unimportant things in your life, the important things in your life, and everything in between. Your future plans? Give it to the Lord. Your future husband? Give it to God. Surrender your life to Him and allow Him to use you for His glory. And He will.

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

jeremiah2911

Aim to please only One. Live your life to please the One who matters. And everything else will fall into place.

 

 

 

the one prayer policy

As I do each morning, I spend quiet time with the Lord praying and reading the Bible before embarking on my day. Sometimes the prayer lists are extensive, especially when the Lord brings to mind those people I need to pray for due to health issues, financial struggles, relationship issues, natural disasters, comfort due to a loss in their lives, or for the salvation of an unsaved loved one.

praying girl

“Oh, and Lord, could you please help…”

“Oh, and please come alongside…”

“Oh, and also, can you give peace and comfort to…”

“Oh, and…”

The list goes on and on. As an avid prayer warrior, I have found that there is no shortage of prayers needed for those around us. Whether it be those we know and love or those we have never met.

I am so grateful that the Lord doesn’t say, “Now, Penny. You’re prayer limit has been reached. Please reserve the remaining prayers for another day.”

Or…

“Sorry, Penny. Your one prayer is all you are allotted for the day. Pick which prayer that will be, pray it, then return tomorrow with another prayer.”

No, instead, God tells us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and to be “faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

Psalm 17 6In Ephesians 6:18, He tells us, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.Psalm 145 18aJeremiah 29:12 says, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” It doesn’t say, pray only once or twice and reach the prayer quota, then be done.

No, the Lord welcomes our prayers. Prayers throughout the day. Prayers on any topic or for anyone.

No limits.

No maximum.

No one-prayer policy.

On that note, I think it’s time for a prayer of gratitude!