Posted in fatherhood, for the family

Happy Father’s Day!

To all you dads out there—Happy Father’s Day!

Thank you to biological dads, adoptive dads, foster dads, granddads, first-time dads, and many-times-over dads. Thank you to men who have filled the role of a godly example for those who don’t have dads, don’t have a good relationship with their fathers, or who have lost their dads.

Thank you to dads everywhere who are doing their best to be a role model to their sons. Thank you to dads who model an example to their daughters of what a godly husband is. The men who do their best to be the kind of husband their wife needs—the faithful, constant, and strong presence in the face of an ever-changing world where it’s sometimes difficult to depend on others.

I am grateful to have grown up with a loving father who took care of his family. His own father was a poor example and not one any boy would want to imitate for a variety of reasons. Dad was the opposite. He loved us and worked hard to provide for us.

I’m also grateful I married a man who is a wonderful father to our daughters. Again, not having a father to emulate, my husband broke that cycle and has cared for and nurtured our girls. He has taught them to have a strong work ethic and to stand up for what they believe. He has encouraged them to learn new things—and to work alongside him as he builds, pours concrete, and fixes items in disrepair. Their skill set is amazing because of him. He has modeled what a strong man looks like and, most importantly, how to share about the Lord with others.

If you didn’t have a kind and caring dad who modeled for you what it means to walk with the Lord, what it means to love and care for those in your life, and what it means to be humble, kind, and patient; if you didn’t have a dad that provided for you or if you never even knew your dad, this day can be a challenge. Rest in the arms of our Heavenly Father who promises to love you unconditionally, even when your earthly father didn’t.

In a world where dads are oftentimes mocked, belittled, and unappreciated, if you are blessed to have a loving father and/or are married to a man who has loved and cared for his children, be sure to tell him how much you love and appreciate him.

Not only this day, but every day of the year.

Posted in guest posts, Saturday Spotlight

Saturday Spotlight: All My Tears by Kathy McKinsey

I am honored to have Author Kathy McKinsey as my guest today on the Saturday Spotlight. She is an amazing author and an inspiration.

Be sure to check out her latest release All My Tears.

ABOUT THE BOOK

All My Tears

Five women search for God’s hope through sorrow and deep troubles.

Meet five women who struggle with life’s deep sorrows. Beth fights to recover from alcoholism and to mend her relationships with her family. Ann doesn’t believe God will forgive her. Kathleen wrestles with a years-old fear and with saving her marriage. Cassie needs to learn to deal with chronic depression. Martie finds herself the single parent of the eight-year-old niece she barely knows when the child’s parents die in a car wreck.

See how God gives them the gifts of hope, healing, and love.

ABOUT KATHY

I dedicated my first book, All My Tears, to my mother, Lila Mae Brinkmann. She has been with me since my writing dream began 50 years ago.

From when I handwrote my stories when, because of my visual impairment, I was no longer able to read them for myself. Since, as a teenager, I shamelessly sent out many poems and short stories to magazines. I had a manual typewriter and no way to edit or correct for errors. And until I finally published this first book in 2019, Mom has shared this dream with me.

HOW TO CONNECT WITH KATHY

https://www.kathymckinsey.com

https://www.facebook.com/kathy.brinkmann.mckinsey

https://twitter.com/kathymckinsey

Kathy’s Amazon Page

Be sure to check out Kathy’s other books, Millie’s Christmas and Gifts of Grace.

Posted in devotionals, Growing in the Lord

do you stand out?

As Christians, we are called to be different. To be set apart, to not be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2).

We are called to stand out. But do we?

As Believers, we uphold a higher standard. No, none of the things listed below will get us into heaven. Rules and good works don’t save us. Only putting our faith and trust in Him will.

However, when we have made Jesus our Lord and Savior, we should look different than the culture. We should do things differently. Respond differently.

Growing in Him is a lifelong process, one we won’t perfect this side of heaven. But we can, with His help, become more and more like Him everyday.

Would others be able to tell the difference between us and an unbeliever?

In how we treat others? Do we have empathy and compassion? Are we encouragers? Do we serve others and treat them as better than ourselves? (Philippians 2:3).

In the way we dress?

In the way we speak? Do we use crass words? Tear others down? Use His name in vain?

In what we watch, read, and listen to? Or are our entertainment choices the same as someone who doesn’t know the Lord?

In what we post online?

In how we spend our spare time?

In our thought life? In what fills our minds? In what consumes us?

In how we deal with temptation? It is always lurking around the corner. Do we give in or pray for God’s help to stand firm against it?

In how we react when someone tells an off-color joke or mistreats others in our presence?

Unbelievers do notice our words and actions. They are listening to what we say. Watching how we conduct ourselves. Whether we…

Walk in integrity.

“Walk the walk and talk the talk”.

Talk about our faith freely or hide it.

No, it’s not easy to look different. To stand out. To not give in to a culture that tempts us from every side. To care more about living for Him and caring what He thinks than what our friends or family think.

If we’re honest, we’ll admit it’s a struggle every day. Only with God’s help through constant prayer, worship, and the reading of His Word can we become more like Him than like the world.

May we glorify Him with the words we speak, our actions, and the words we write. May we be worthy of the calling He has placed on our lives. (Ephesians 4:1)

And may we stand out for Jesus.

Before you go, check out these other posts:

11 verses about God’s unfailing love

Movie Monday: Play the Flute

surviving shingles, part 1

subscribe to my newsletter

delectable gluten free chocolate crinkles

conquering the joy zappers of life

10 ways to encourage others

Posted in about my books, about the books, Book News, Book Spotlight

Ellis Creek Happenings and Character Quiz

Which Ellis Creek character are you?

I’m excited today to share with you some fun Ellis Creek happenings, along with a character quiz.

Christian historical romance is one of my favorite genres to write. Something about spending time in “the olden days” is refreshing and provides a much-needed reprieve from this crazy world in which we live.

And yes, if you guessed that I loved watching Little House on the Prairie re-runs, you guessed correctly.

Love from Afar and Love Unforeseen both take place in Montana in the late 1800s. Ellis Creek is a charming little town where everyone knows everyone else. There are delightful characters, such as Meredith, Gabe, Tillie, Willard, Lula, Gideon, and Mollie. There are more challenging characters, such as Leopold Arkwright. And finally, there are timeless characters, such as Mr. Norman and Widow Jones.

Below is a map of the town and the key places.

Mollie, one of the secondary characters in Love Unforeseen, works at her parents’ mercantile and also writes for the Ellis Creek Journal. I have a sneaking suspicion that sometime in the future she may “graduate” from being a secondary character to a main character.

Below is a recent article Mollie penned about the happenings in Ellis Creek…

Love from Afar and Love Unforeseen are both available in ebook and paperback formats, and Love Most Certain (Book Three in the series) will be available for pre-order in the coming months. More details about both books can be found here and here. Love from Afar is available for purchase here. Love Unforeseen is available for purchase here.

Which Ellis Creek character are you? Go here for the Character Quiz.

And after you’ve taken the quiz, please come back and let me know in a comment how you scored!


Before you go, check out these other posts:

Serving Unexpectedly

Subscribe to my newsletter

Book News/Giveaways

reading suggestions for kids of all ages

5 things moms need

5 things to do this summer

Posted in Growing in the Lord, miscellaneous how-to, Miscellanous how-to

conquering the joy zappers of life

All we have to do is live in the world for a day and it becomes evident there are joy zappers. We ourselves, other people, and even things that attempt to, while intentionally or inadvertently, steal our happiness seem to lurk around every corner.

Perhaps you recognize some of these joy zappers:

Illness. Ranking toward the top of joy zappers is illness. According to the National Health Council, “About half of all adults have a chronic condition”. Chronic illness, chronic pain, and chronic disease are tough and can feel unmanageable, frightful, and depressing.

Mean people. Mean people are akin to weeds in a garden of flowers. It can be beyond difficult at times to react in a God-glorifying manner with “weedy” folks.

Complaining. Constant complaining can hinder our joy and make us forget how blessed we are.

Toxic media. Toxic media has taken on a whole new face in recent days. False news, censorship, lies, attacks, and more contribute to our already high stress levels in a world that has appeared to have derailed.

Idols. Idols, or anything we put above God in our lives, can come in many forms and can quickly steal our joy. Place the importance of material items—such as new cars to compete with the neighbors or an unlimited amount of charging on your charge card with no ability to pay the balance due—over everything else and you’ll quickly discover the stress of this common joy zapper.

Trials. Trials are never fun. Whether in the form of illness, relationship issues, money struggles, or when life just doesn’t go right, no one wants to hang out permanently in the struggles of life. I was recently speaking to my mom about one of the trials that has weighed heavily on my heart these past few weeks. “God is definitely growing you,” my mom tenderly told me. And she is right. God does grow us through trials. It is not fun to experience any type of trial, and most of us would like to learn whatever it is God is teaching us sooner rather than later.

Relationship conflict. Is there anything more stressful than relationship conflict?

Gossip. Being on the receiving end of gossip is an instant joy zapper and a painful reminder of how dangerous the tongue can be.

Unrighteous anger and bitterness. Unrighteous anger and bitterness can easily tip the scales against having a joyful life.

Comparison trap, procrastination, perfectionism, people-pleasing, worry, and fear. Comparing ourselves to others, procrastination, perfectionism, and people pleasing can all take us from happiness to dissatisfaction, discontentment, and a melancholy outlook. Likewise, worry and fear can take something meant to be pleasurable and turn it into something to dread.

Excessive busyness. Excessive busyness not only drags us down, but it’s unhealthy to be too busy. It causes stress and makes it difficult to find peace.

And there are many more that we could add to the list. Some of the items listed above are things others use to steal our joy. Others are things and demands we put on ourselves that steal our joy.

So what can we do when joy zappers fly in and attempt to take root in our lives?

Pray diligently and often. Lord, I surrender this joy zapper in my life to you. Please show me what I am to learn from it and grow me to be more like You through it. Help me to trust You more fully through any obstacles I may be facing. While I realize you might not take it completely away, I know You will walk with me through it, and I praise You for that.

Set your mind on things above. In Matthew 14, Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink. A good reminder to keep our eyes on Him. When we do so, we are held safely in His grasp.

Remember who He is. It is so easy to forget that the One who spoke this very world into existence, who created our innermost being (Psalm 139:13), and who died so we who have put our faith in Him may have eternal life someday, has also overcome the world. He is bigger than anything we find ourselves in the midst of. He can and will give us peace over the most difficult joy zapper.

Be mindful of where you spend your time. One of the biggest traps we can allow ourselves to fall into is spending time with the wrong things (or people!) When we constantly fill our minds with the news, negative social media posts, or angry music we can cause our perception of things to become skewed. Spending time with unhealthy things and people can also cause a shift in our personalities. As I have told my daughters many times, “garbage in = garbage out”. Don’t let the joy zappers of where we spend our time weigh us down.

Spend time in the Word. A better place to spend our time would be to spend it in His Word. Taking time each day, preferably in the morning before you start your day, to get to know Him through Scripture is a surefire anecdote for problems to become smaller.

Grow in the Lord. Are we further in our faithwalk this year than last year? When our growth becomes stagnate, our chances of being thwarted by a joy zapper is greater.

Spend time with godly family and friends. There are few things more energizing than spending time with a sibling in Christ. Godly family and friends can pray for us as we endure the struggles of our joy zappers, hold us accountable in our walk with the Lord and through temptations, and pray for us.

Set reasonable goals. One of the biggest joy zappers is busyness. I find myself guilty often of trying to cram too much into one hour/day/week/month. We weren’t designed to be on stress overload, as we navigate the 400,000,000 items on a to-do list. Instead, set reasonable goals and achieve them in bite-sized chunks.

Spend some time in Creation. An excellent remedy to combat joy zappers is to spend some time in Creation.

Forgive. Unforgiveness can steal our joy quicker than we might realize. And not only can it steal our joy on its own, it also leads to bitterness. Ephesians 4:31-32 has a lot to say about how God thinks we should handle bitterness. He tells us to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” And while it may be nearly impossible to forgive someone at times, we need only to remember how much we are forgiven for and what that need for forgiveness did to the Savior when He went to the Cross for us.

Nothing can steal our joy in Christ. It is more than mere happiness. It is a deep abiding knowledge that we are His and that we will spend eternity with Him, no matter what transpires in our lives. No matter what comes our way or threatens to derail us, Jesus is still on the throne.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

13 verses to comfort the weary soul

who are you behind the screen?

for such time as this: finding stability in an unstable world

the importance of living out your faith

7 ways to inspire others

5 ways to be happier

the video camera is always on, part 1

Posted in Book Spotlight, guest posts

Saturday Spotlight: Anchored Hearts by Julie Arduini

It’s an honor to have Author Julie Arduini as my guest today on Saturday Spotlight. Julie is here to discuss her latest book, Anchored Hearts. Read on for an excerpt and be sure to follow Julie on her social media to keep up-to-date about all of her upcoming books.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Can two go-getters surrender their need to control and find a happily-ever-after?

Jordyn Bell Hart succeeds in everything she does. Her promotion to morning show co-anchor blossoms her career in the same way her mother’s work had. Jordyn keeps tabs on her family and enjoys helping them grow. When life around her starts to change, can she surrender her desire to control?

Spencer Collins knows how to balance a busy life. He has his work as a reporter, his time caregiving for his grieving father, and looking out for his little brother. When he learns he’s the new co-anchor of a morning show with Jordyn Hart, can he handle working with a celebrity who brings a lot of challenges to life on and off the set?

Christian Romance/Clean & Wholesome

Free Kindle Unlimited

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09XH1KVXD

Softcover: https://www.amazon.com/Anchored-Hearts-Julie-Arduini/dp/1733687645/


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to find freedom in Christ by surrendering the good, the bad, and —maybe one day—the chocolate. She’s the author of the new contemporary romance series SURRENDERING HEARTS (Anchored Hearts, Repairing Hearts, +four more.) Her other romance series is SURRENDERING TIME (Entrusted, Entangled, Engaged.) She also co-wrote a YA series with her daughter, SURRENDERING STINKIN’ THINKIN’ (You’re Beautiful, You’re Amazing, You’re Brilliant.) Her stand-alone romances include MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN and RESTORING CHRISTMAS. Julie maintains a blog at juliearduini.com and participates in the team blog Christians Read. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at http://linktr.ee/JulieArduini.


AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Welcome, Julie! Can you give us a little background about you?

Absolutely! I love to write Christian romance that features surrender issues and chocolate. I’m married and we have two children. I’m also a step-mom and grandmother.

So, what’s Surrendering Hearts about?

It’s a six-book series featuring the Hart sextuplets. Each sextuplet gets their own book. The premise is what if a family shares a unique birth story but stays in the national spotlight because of tragedy? Anchored Hearts is the first book featuring the oldest, Jordyn Bell Hart.

Tell the readers about Anchored Hearts.

Anchored Hearts features Hart sextuplet #1, Jordyn. She’s used to taking care of everything and everyone, but times are changing. Her dad has recently married their neighbor, Shelly, and Jordyn isn’t used to the idea. Her siblings are moving on and not keeping Jordyn in the loop. Then there’s her work at WFRN. She’s the new morning show co-host who falls for her colleague, Spencer Collins. However, she’s made a vow stemming from her childhood that could ruin everything. Spencer has issues of his own. The morning show job wasn’t part of his plan, and he’s constantly tuned into his home life. The both of them need to let go of their control issues. Question is—-can they??

What, if anything, surprises you about writing?

How God takes me through the surrender theme before or as I’m writing about it. I never realized how much control was a problem in my life until Anchored Hearts. In fact, I lost a year of writing because my mom became ill and then passed away. That grief and how I handled it led to anxiety. When I sought counsel, I realized a lot of it was grief and my wish to be in control.

What’s next for you?

Surrendering Hearts is six books, so up next is Hart sextuplet #2, Ryan. His story is Repairing Hearts, and I’m SO excited about it.

Thanks so much for having me, Penny! Here is an excerpt to give readers a taste of Anchored Hearts.

Thank you for being my guest! Readers, be sure to check out the following excerpt of Anchored Hearts.

***

Spencer Collins reached into the potato chip bowl for a third time as the conference room monitors faded to black, signaling the end of the live interview. The heavy wooden door opened and Vince, the station’s GM, blew in like a microburst.

“Amazing show, right? I feel as though when Julia Turmeric graces this building, everything she touches turns to gold.” Vince’s smile could power all of New York’s Southern Tier. “Anyway, thanks everyone for staying late. Jordyn’s taking her mic pack off and will be in shortly. I won’t keep you long. Help yourself to more snacks. There’s plenty left.”

Spencer poured an ice water and took a seat across from a couple Elmira-based reporters. He pulled out his phone and checked to make sure he didn’t miss any texts from his younger brother, Carson. Seeing none, he reached for a couple chips and tried not to get grease on his suit pants.

When the door opened again, Jordyn Hart pushed through with a friendly grin and a glance round the room. Even though the studio lights weren’t around, her hair carried a sheen as she stood near Vince. “Hi, everyone. I hope I didn’t keep you all waiting. I wanted to find my dad after the show.”

Vince poured her a glass of ice water and handed it to Elmira’s only noon anchor. “Nonsense. Now that you’re here, let’s get down to business.” He gestured for her to sit on the other side of the table, while he sat at the head.

Spencer sipped on his drink, stealing a glance at Jordyn. They’d crossed paths a couple times when he gave a live report from Binghamton, but this was their first time in the same room. Something about those big brown eyes and the lingering trail of rose and vanilla created an energy around her. He took a deep breath and intentionally shifted his seat so he’d instead focus on Vince and the big announcement.

The boss cupped his hands together and placed them on the table. “WFRN is the Southern Tier’s leader in news. Rise and Shine is the most watched morning program in America. We’re going to marry the two by creating a local morning show that will usher in Julia’s national program.” He walked over to the conference room laptop and touched a few buttons. An image appeared on the huge screen in front of them. “I present Early Rise and Shine, premiering sweeps week in November.”

Spencer stretched his legs under the table as he took in the bright blue, orange, and yellow logo. Impressive. The move made sense. Why though, was he invited to attend?

Vince returned to his seat; his smile as electric as the logo. “The co-hosts will be Jordyn Hart and Spencer Collins.”

Posted in 1

may we never forget…

May we never forget those who gave their lives for our country.

May we never forget freedom isn’t free.

And may we preserve those precious freedoms so many fought for (and continue to fight for) and for which so many lost their lives.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13

Posted in miscellaneous how-to, Miscellanous how-to, things to do this month

5 things to do this summer

Summer is on its way. Here, in no particular order, are five fun things to do to celebrate the season.

Plant flowers. Our family decided a few years ago to plant most of our flowers in containers. This is much easier to maintain. Want a fun way to bless others this summer? Plant a container of blooms for a neighbor or for someone who may be unable to plant some themselves.

Play on the swings. When was the last time you sat on a swing, pumped your legs, and pretended to fly through the air as you did as a kid? Bring out the inner child in you—it will create a fun memory for your own kids. Trust me.

Take the family out for ice cream. There’s nothing that says summer like this delicious frozen treat.

Read a good book in a hammock, on the porch, on the beach, or while relaxing in the mountains.

Build a DIY birdbath. Stay tuned in a future post for a super easy idea I’ll share about a DIY birdbath that has been a hit for our resident birds for the past couple of years.

What are some things you plan to do this summer?


Before you go, check out these other posts:

10 ways to encourage others

How to start a Sisters in Christ group

the importance of gratitude

blog post archives

Looking to homeschool? Here are 7 things to consider

Book News/Giveaways

Posted in author interviews, Book Spotlight, guest posts

Saturday Spotlight: A Second Chance by Alexis A. Goring

I am thrilled to welcome Author Alexis A. Goring to my blog this weekend for the Saturday Spotlight.

Read below for all the details about her book, A Second Chance, her bio, and where to connect with her online.

Welcome to the blog, Alexis!

Alexis A. Goring is a passionate communicator with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the written word and God’s Word (The Holy Bible) is her favorite book of all time. Alexis knew from the age of 9 that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. She is grateful that God allowed that dream of her heart to come true in so many wonderful ways! When she is not writing, Alexis enjoys eating good food and posting about it on her Instagram. She enjoys photography as a hobby. 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Newly single food critic and newspaper reporter Traci Hightower is done with dating. After the man of her dreams left her at the altar on their wedding day and ran off with the woman she thought was her best friend, Traci resolves to focus on work and resigns herself to being a bachelorette for life.

Marc Roberts is a political reporter who is known as Mr. Nice Guy, the one who always finishes last. However, Marc’s compassion and kindness are of invaluable help to his newly widowed sister Gina Braxton who is trying to raise her two kids in the wake of her firefighter husband’s death.

Traci and Marc may be the perfect match, but they don’t know it yet. With God’s guidance and the help of Gina’s matchmaking skills honed by her career as a bestselling romance novelist, there is hope for a happily ever after for these two broken hearts.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.

CONNECT WITH ALEXIS

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAlexisAGoring/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PennedbyAlex

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/capturing_the_idea/

Website: https://alexisagoring.jimdofree.com

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/capturingidea/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7260528.Alexis_A_Goring

“God is Love” (blog): https://capturingtheidea.blogspot.com

“On My Heart” (blog): https://coveringitall.blogspot.com


Before you go, check out these other posts:

7 ingredients for creating the perfect character

the importance of new beginnings

10 awesome websites for writers

8 things I want my daughters to know

28 verses for uncertain times

for writers

mom-approved movies

Posted in Growing in the Lord, making a difference

Serving Unexpectedly

Years ago at a large Christian music festival in a local park, many who attended brought their own food to munch on while enjoying the wide variety of bands onstage throughout the day. When lunchtime arrived, my mom and I removed our ice chest filled with the prepared lunch for the six members in our family.

I’ve never quite met anyone like my mom. One of her favorite sayings is, “it’s all in the presentation”. Indeed. My mom prepared a table of delicacies that included scrumptious oversized homemade cookies, bowls of neatly cut watermelon and cantaloupe, and mouth-watering sandwiches. To the onlooker, it appeared to be something out of a magazine or found on a Pinterest board.

We were just about to pray and savor this tasty meal when the most unexpected thing happened.

Several individuals—strangers—arrived at our table, plates in hand, smiles on their faces. “This looks delicious,” we heard one of them say. “Thank you so much,” another said.

At first, my mom and I exchanged glances. Who were these people? Did they know this was a private meal?

But seconds later, we shrugged in tandem and encouraged them to help themselves to whatever they’d like. Our bounty was more than sufficient for our little family. You would have thought we offered them a million dollars.

Because it’s a park in the middle of a fair-sized city, there is a sizeable homeless population that migrates through the area on any given day. We didn’t know the situations of our “guests” or what was going on in their lives. But we did know one thing…that something so simple blessed them.

These days, my mom can no longer prepare lavish feasts or create beautiful crafts without assistance due to a life-altering accident and severe chronic pain. However, that day in the park all those years ago reminded me of the importance of serving unexpectedly.

Sometimes we have no idea how the things we do can bless someone. Sometimes, even when we don’t set out to serve someone or enrich their lives, our actions have the biggest impact.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

Book news/giveaways

are you an encourager or a discourager?

sunbutter and chocolate fudge bars

10 reminders of God’s enduring love

Subscribe to My Newsletter

the importance of teaching our kids to think for themselves

blog post archives