Guest Post: I’ll Never Get My Life Back (and a chance to win Disney tickets!)

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

My friend and fellow writer, Jessie Gunderson is my guest this week. She and her family are in the process of adopting two beautiful children from Ethopia. Jessie is holding a fundraiser on her blog where you can help out and have a chance at winning a pair of Disneyland tickets.  She’s also giving away a second place gift – your choice of one of my books (McKenzie, Kaydie, Hailee, 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference, or Hollyhocks).

This is such an awesome opportunity to give two children a chance at a forever home!

I’ll Never Get my Life Back

By Jessie Gunderson

I’ve never thought of myself as the mothering type. I was the girl making mud pies and riding horses. The delight I experienced once I started having kids surprised me but I still longed for a day when they’d be grown up and I’d get my life back.

One day I was thinking about God’s profound love for us and how Jesus gave up his life so we could live and I began to change. I realized I couldn’t love God and despise His creation. I prayed for Jesus to show me how to love people.

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The Gunderson family

I’ve been a mother eleven years this December, learning how to love, surrender my agenda and the perfectionist tendencies, and grow to a place where I no longer want a different life. Isaiah 58:10 says to spend yourself. And as I studied God’s selfless character, I realized that’s how I want to be.

I delivered a little boy, my fifth child, at our home in the woods and I knew that our family wasn’t complete. God revealed over the next year and a half, His plan for further growing our family to include internationally adopted children. We’re currently in the process of adopting a 5 and 7 year old brother and sister from Ethiopia. She wants to be a judge when she grows up and he wants to be a runner. The journey toward them is immense and the heart change has taken me a lifetime but I no longer want out. I want to surrender to Christ’s strength and lean on him so I can spend myself loving the least of these.

Don’t forget to stop by Jessie’s blog to read about how you can help the Gunderson family bring home their two newest members of their family and in doing so, have a chance to win!

Grabbing the Moment

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

I am excited to have a special guest writer on my blog today – my friend, Jennifer Slattery. Today, Jennifer shares with us of the importance of spending time with the Lord.  Be blessed as you read her fantastic post!

Grabbing the Moment

By Jennifer Slattery

Something happens during the teen years. That child that used to follow you around with wide-eyes and constant questions disappears and an independent, resident expert on all areas of life takes their place. Or at least, that’s the way things are in the Slattery home–most days.

It’s almost comical how far the tables have turned. My doting little princess is growing up and now I’m the one following her around, bombarding her with questions, hoping to find a way into that ultra-independent heart. Which makes those rare moments when my adult-sized, emotionally-childish teen curls up beside me, special. A stop-all-time-and-grab-the-moment-with-both-hands special.

One morning, before my daughter left for school, she curled up on the couch beside me. We sat for a good ten minutes, not saying anything. As I held her, my mommy instincts took over and I had an urge to protect, even though there was nothing to protect her from. I didn’t want her to do anything for me. I didn’t need her to say any magical words. All I wanted was her. And I could have sat there indefinitely.

She left and I turned to my to-do list. After four days zonked out in bed with the flu, it had quadrupled. The house was a mess and laundry was piled so high I was ready to send out avalanche warnings. But another voice called just as urgently, although much softer. In fact, it was just the faintest whisper. If I chose, I probably could have ignored it. Even convinced myself I didn’t hear it. But somehow that tender moment with my daughter had opened my heart, reminding me of another parent recently forgotten.

In Isaiah 6:5 I hear the tender heart of an ever-pursuing father in God’s words, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for Me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am.”

And in Isaiah 65:12, “For when I called, you did not answer. When I spoke, you did not listen.”

Only this time I did. I ignored my to-do list, let the clutter piled around my house wait, turned on some praise music and grabbed my Bible. And I could have sat there in my Father’s arms, indefinitely. He didn’t need me to do anything. I didn’t need to say any magical words. All He wanted was me. It was one of those stop-all-time-and-grab-the-moment-with-both-hands experiences.

Jennifer Slattery writes for Christ to the World Ministries, the ACFW Journal, The Christian Pulse, Internet Cafe Devotions, and Jewels of Encouragement.  She loves to hear from her readers at

And the winner is…

Well, actually, we have two winners! Drumroll please…

The winner of John Hileman’s book Messages is Linda!

And the winner of Laura Hilton’s book A Harvest of Hearts is C.C. Almon!

Thank you to everyone who entered! Winners, you will be notified by the authors about winning and CONGRATULATIONS!

Don’t forget to visit every Thursday for great author interviews, giveaways, and guest posts. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s coming up in the near future…

Thursday, October 20 – Author Stephanie Shott

October 27 – Author K. Dawn Byrd

November 3 – Author Amanda Beth

November 10 – Author Jo Huddleston

Also coming up next…

Monday, October 24 – Movie Monday – another awesome movie review for your family!

Tuesday, October 25 – How to know you’re a writer of historical fiction (my humor post)

Monday, October 31 – Movie Monday


Making a Difference with Christian House Sitters…

I am excited to announce that each month, I will be posting about someone who is making a difference in the lives of others. This month, I am pleased to introduce you to Ray and Marilyn White and their Kenya Children’s Home Ministry…

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Welcome, Ray and Marilyn, it’s great to have you here! Can you please tell us about your ministry?

Christian House Sitters is a worldwide ministry that was set up in order to make a difference to people’s lives.

It helps 3 different groups of people.

Christians who want to take a vacation and need someone to look after their home and or pets can register free of charge as home owners.

Christians who need a break can register can register as House Sitters.

CHS seeks to put the two halves together.

As a result hundreds of Christians all over the world who could not afford a vacation have been enabled to take a break and see other countries.

Wow! What a worthwhile idea! Can you tell us a bit more?

House Sitters pay a nominal fee of £25 per year for their membership but this NOT a business it is a Ministry and 100% of this money goes to help feed and look after children at the Home of Peace Christian Children’s Home in Kenya. The cost of running the site is covered by Ray & Marilyn White who set it up.

So we make a difference to people needing a vacation, to people who need someone to look after their home and pets while they are on vacation and in the process we feed, accommodate and educate 85 children who would otherwise be living on the street or would die of starvation.

What a wondeful way to make a difference! Can you give us a summary?

HOUSE SITTERS. Benefit by being able to have short or long breaks in their own country or abroad.  Their only expense will be the actual cost of travelling to and from the destination. They will know that they are helping another Christian and that when they arrive they will be introduced to the home owners Church and Christian friends.

HOUSE OWNERS. Benefit from being able to leave their home and animals in the care of a Christian having confidence that they will love the animals and care for the property honestly. They will also know that you are helping another Christian to have a vacation.

They have the added security of being able to ask prospective House Sitters for a reference from their Church leaders.

Using this service they are able to make contact with potential sitters and prayerfully select the right person or people.

There is no charge to the owners.

Where can people find more details about Christian House Sitters and the Kenya Children’s Home?

Full Details: Christian House Sitters

The Kenya Children’s Home

Our Blog.

Do you have some contact information for those who would like to know more?

Our email address

Thank you, Ray and Marilyn, for being my guests today.  It was an honor having you here today. May the Lord richly bless your ministry!

For more ideas on how your family can join in serving others and helping those in need, please check out my book 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others available everywhere books are sold.

77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others

Word Games by Heart

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

I am thrilled to welcome my guest blogger, writer Joy Avery Melville, to my blog today.  I met Joy through ACFW.  She is such a ray of sunshine and seeks to touch the lives of others with her joyful personality (hence her name!) Feel free to leave Joy a comment and let her know how God is using your words (whether written or spoken) to make a difference for His Kingdom.

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I pray you’ll be blessed by Joy’s blog post…


I think God was playing a word game with me last week. I was reading an article and it had the word ‘hearts’ in it. For some reason the word ‘hears’ jumped out at me. Now, that’s not a normal response for me when I see the word ‘hearts’ and especially when you consider the ‘s’ isn’t next to the ‘hear’ so why that happened at that particular time is a mystery to me. The chuckle I had to myself would normally have been the end of the incident, but not that evening. Seeing those two words played back and forth in my head off and on for several hours.

Later, I was sitting in the living room with my husband and our dog when I began thinking a little out-of-the-box in regards to the combination of hearts and hears and a spiritual application suddenly hit me. I shot out of my chair,  my Yorkie went nuts, my husband, no longer able to hear  his television program, went just a little crazy himself, but I kept moving and managed to shut myself in our library, much to my hubby’s  relief and the Yorkie’s chagrin.

Before the dust-up I’d envisioned an old, old picture depicting Jesus at a door that had no outside latch with his hand raised to knock. I’m sure many of you have seen that some copy of that picture.

What do you do when someone knocks at the door of your house? You hear the knocking, right? Then what do you do? Usually you go answer it by opening the door to whomever is standing on the other side.

Remember what I said about the picture? It has no latch on the outside of the door. The door can only be opened from the inside. That’s how it is with the door of our hearts – Jesus won’t force His way in. He stands and knocks, pleading for the owner to hear Him knocking and willingly open his heart’s door to forgiveness and life eternal.

I’m not sure why God used that word in the article I had been reading. I just know He really impressed the word hears from the word hearts and asked me to write about it. There might be someone just a bit hard-of-hearing due to the hardness-of-their-heart needing to read it at this time.

If that someone is you, please, don’t waste time. Only you can open your heart’s door  to welcome Him in by unlatching it from the inside.

And now, a bit about Joy: 

Joy has written several short stories, one of which one second place in a regional literary contest resulting with a monetary prize. Family obligations and then a severe, debilitating disease separated Joy from her beloved writing for over a decade but through God’s
leading and provision, she has recently been revising and rewriting a full-length Christian Women’s Fiction novel for the September 2011 ACFW Conference.

Falling in love with words and books at a very early age, Joy listened each night as her parents took turns reading a variety of books to one another before they retired to bed. The old farm house the family lived in had open registers to the second floor from the first and her parent’s voices carried clearly as they read to each other.

In the 8th grade, Joy wrote a twenty page short story for a year end assignment and received an A+ along with a meeting with her teacher at the end of the day. That concerned teacher encouraged Joy to take as many writing/English courses as she could and in her sophomore year of high school, Joy co-authored, co-composed with three other students, an entire operetta that the school’s choir, band and speech class produced for the public as a Spring Play. Five performances and the credits included not only her scene writing for several scenes, but lyrics as well as musical melody to three songs performed by soloists during the play. It was an exciting transition to writing on a new level. In her senior year Joy had enough credits to leave her high school at noon and go to the local community college to take college credit creative writing courses.


The Fifty-Cent Prayer

Penny Zeller, Christian Author


Today I have a very special guest on my blog who has written a beautiful devotional about prayer. Her name is Rhonda White and not  only is she a gifted writer, but she is also a marketing expert on her website Please feel free to leave a comment and let Rhonda know how much you enjoyed her post – I know it will bless you as it has blessed me. 

The Fifty-Cent Prayer

I can still remember the day I was dropped off and abandoned by my parents.  Couldn’t they see that I still needed their watchful care?  I was left feeling terribly insecure, being separated from the comforts of my home and the pleasant memories…

My mother always cooked the same old-fashioned meals that she grew up with..cornbread with fried ‘tators’ and beans, biscuits and gravy, sauerkraut and weiners and for special holiday occasions, pickled pigs feet!  My dad was the meekest man that I ever knew.  Just for your own information, he was actually quite mischievous in nature. He always seemed to get me in trouble with Mom for acting unladylike while wrestling with him. (He always started it!  I’m telling the truth!) 

But here I was…nineteen and sitting in a dorm room ready to tackle Bible college.  My parents made their departure and I felt that the mere 300 miles away was in reality a million. 

I enrolled in classes, and with enthusiasm, I signed up for a gazillion credit hours.  (Boy, did I ever learn a lesson about being more sensible!)  Now that I look back, I’m so very thankful for that first year in Bible college.  It was the year that I learned the most about prayer.

Cooking class was one of my favorite classes.  After all, learning to cook is something that young ladies finally begin to take more seriously when they start counting down the days until their prince charming comes galloping into their lives.

My professor asked us to bring a dollar bill the next day to cover the cost of canned goods that would be used in the kitchen. Fantastic!  I was looking forward to getting out of class and having some fun in the kitchen.  The only problem, I realized after class, was that I had no dollar bill.  Mom and Dad was not nearby to lend a dollar at my request as before.  Searching my brain for resources, I decided to do something for the first time in my life….ask God to supply a dollar!

Later that afternoon, my roommate made a quick request while she rushing out the door.  “If you’ll just finish typing this page for me, I’ll pay you a dollar.”  I couldn’t believe my ears!  I gratefully took the job and proudly handed that dollar to my professor the next day.

I learned an amazing lesson that day on how God could really supply my needs. Just as we use repetition to teach a child, God soon taught me another lesson. (And I was glad for the repetition of learning His lessons.) 

It was laundry day for the dorm girls.  My turn was coming soon.  And although the dryer was free to use, I lacked the measly fifty cents that encouraged the washing machine to do its job.

Within minutes of my turn to wash, a knock on the door became my biggest encouragement for the day!  One of the dorm girls, who had to go to work, was willing to pay the required fifty cents to run a load of laundry if I but washed a few of her items with mine. 

That day God provided just 50 cents, but it seemed as though it was the most meaningful prayer ever answered.  God knew that I needed that repeated lesson to really “get it.”  The first time I learned that God could truly “provide” for our needs.  The second time I learned that God really “cares” about our needs…even the little ones

There seems to be some false assumptions about prayer that actually keeps us from praying more. Sometimes we feel that we must have a big emergency before God will actually pay attention to our need.  Other times we feel that we’re just not good enough to deserve God’s blessings. Although we truly aren’t deserving of all His goodness, we fail to recognize that He is our “Heavenly Father” who loves us more than we can even comprehend and knows so much more about taking care of us than we do our own children.

My husband also learned a very similar lesson about prayer while in Bible college.  If I should have the opportunity to tell it, I would entitle it, “The Ten-Cent Prayer.”  God’s goodness and mercies are not reserved for only people of big importance.  Just remember, no need is too small and realize that “God is no respecter of persons.” (Acts 10:34 KJV)  He loves you and wants to bless you every single day.

 “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” – I Peter 5:7 KJV

Rhonda White is a work at home mom who enjoys teaching women how to market their home business online. Sign up for your free membership at