Join the Love Under Construction blog tour!

Super excited to announce that my new Christian contemporary romance novel, Love Under Construction, is set for release in December!

Are you a blogger who would like to join me in a blog tour celebrating Love Under Construction‘s release? If so, head on over to the signup form found here. It takes place December 6-11, and you can choose whatever day(s) you’d like to participate.

I will be sharing your blog post on my social media platforms and listing all of the blog sites who are participating in my Blog Tour Kickoff Post here on this blog.

Looking forward to connecting with you for my latest release!

*Regularly-scheduled blog posts will return next week.

Favorite devotional posts for 2011

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

Today is the first in a fun series I’ll be posting about for the next couple of weeks highlighting the “favorites” of 2011.

To kick it off, today I’m featuring my readers’ favorite devotional posts for 2011 (in random order). I have been blessed to have several guest bloggers on my blog in 2011. A HUGE thank you to Kerry, Jo, Joy, Rhonda, and Theresa for sharing their inspiring devotionals! Be sure to check out their websites (listed in their individual devotionals) for more of their inspirational writings.

I have more wonderful guest bloggers scheduled for 2012 on Thursdays, along with the usual fun Thursday book giveaways. I’ll also be continuing my Movie Monday Movie Reviews each Monday, (in case you missed any, they are archived here: https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/mom-approved-movies-for-families/ ) and of course, on Tuesdays, I’ll give you a humorous glimpse inside the life of a wife, mother, and author. Mixed in will be some family and marriage posts and a few other miscellaneous items. 🙂

For now, kick back and relax and enjoy these devotionals!

Training for God https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/training-for-god/  (guest blogger Kerry Johnson)

Hidden treasures https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/hidden-treasures/  (my devotional)

How to train a deer https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/how-to-train-a-deer/ (my devotional)

Back in business https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/back-in-business-devotional/ (guest blogger Jo Huddleston)

Lessons from a sage grouse https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/lessons-from-a-sage-grouse/ (my devotional)

Word games by heart https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/word-games-by-heart/ (guest blogger Joy Avery Melville)

The fifty cent prayer https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/the-fifty-cent-prayer/ (guest blogger Rhonda White)

Mamma, I need my pants! https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/mamma-i-need-my-pants/ (guest blogger Theresa Miller)

A HUGE thank you to you, my readers, for your encouragement and support in 2011. May God bless you in 2012!

Day 7 of the Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Celebration with Penny Zeller & Karen Baney

I am super excited because today commenters have a chance to win a copy of Karen Baney’s book A Dream Unfolding and a copy of my book McKenzie – the first book in my Montana Skies Historical Romance Series! Scroll down for the fun question of the day and information on how you can have a chance at winning both books!

A Dream Unfolding 

Here is the blurb about A Dream Unfolding:

The promise of a new life and a chance to start over…
Hannah Anderson had the life she always wanted, married to the man of her dreams. When her husband’s brother gets in trouble with the law, the town turns against them, shattering her perfect life. Now they are left with only one choice–to head west to the Arizona Territory in the hopes of creating a new life. Will the journey be worth the cost?
Will Colter, after burying his father, is forced to leave the ranch he has called home for nearly thirty years. The journey is dangerous, challenging him and his men. Will he find the new life he was hoping for? 
Or, is there a new dream quietly unfolding before their eyes?

And the blurb about McKenzie:

Desperate to save her sister from an abusive husband, socialite McKenzie Worthington responds to a mail-order bride ad in the Montana Territory—where God-fearing rancher Zachary Sawyer prays for a wife to share his life. But when McKenzie arrives with a plan that includes divorce, will Zachary’s persistent kindness and self-sacrifice change her heart?

Today’s fun question is – what is your absolute favorite Christmas song? Leave a comment for a chance to win both books! And don’t forget to go back and leave comments on Days 1-6 for more chances to win. A winner for each day will be chosen at random on December 19. We have only a few more days of the Christmas giveaways left, so be sure to leave a comment! (U.S. residents only, please) Also, confirmed subscribers receive two entries!

And now for some Christmas memories and traditions!

My Christmas Memory by Karen Baney

Karen Baney Ever since I lost my mom, ten years ago now, I have a hard time looking back at holidays.  It seems far easier to stay in the present than to travel back in time to my childhood because I miss her so much.  So, when Penny came up with the idea for this series, I had to work up the nerve to go through some old photo albums.

Boy, am I glad that I did.  I came across this picture from my mom on Christmas Day 1986.  This is the perfect picture to describe a long standing Armstrong gift-giving tradition that Mom instigated.

Don’t worry.  Mom didn’t really get a box of Fruit & Cream Oatmeal for Christmas.  Nope.  Instead, Dad took the lovely string of pearls in the iconic felt jewelry box and wrapped it inside the oatmeal box which then got a layer of wrapping paper.

Our tradition: disguise gifts, double wrap gifts, hide gifts around the house.  Anything was acceptable.  I think one of us girls even got a bra wrapped in a two-cup measuring cup one year.  That was Mom’s idea.  She loved it—two cups having double meaning and all.

Yeah, we were creative (evil) with gift wrapping.  Half the time I think we put more thought and effort into making it a challenge to open gifts than we did on the gift itself.

Just in case you think this tradition died in the 90’s when the last Armstrong graduated high school, think again.  The story of how my brother proposed and gave his future wife the engagement ring involves many boxes, duct tape, and a very patient woman.

The best part?  As our family grows we have even more people to torture with creative (evil) gift wrapping techniques.  The Armstrong Family Tradition lives on.  (Mwahaha!)

Join Karen and 9 other Christian authors as they celebrate the release of her new novel Nickels, with a blow out $0.99 sale for Kindle books.   http://womensliterarycafe.com/content/december-2011-book-launches You can connect with Karen at http://www.karenbaney.com/

My Favorite Christmas Traditions by Penny Zeller

Years ago, my husband and I started three fun traditions with our children that we look forward to each Christmas season, in addition to attending Christmas Eve services at church. Each year…

We go “Lighting.” Everyone snuggles into their pajamas, then we head out in the car for a drive around town and a night of enjoying the creativity of those who use Christmas lights to decorate their houses. We then grab a bite to eat – since we’re in our PJs, we go through the drive-thru of course!

Our second fun tradition is that our girls exchange “Gag Gifts.” These are presents that appear to be normal to the unsuspecting eye (and are wrapped beautifully), but inside contain wacky gifts, such as an empty milk jug for the daughter who loves milk or an old avocado seed for the daughter who detests avocados! We capture these hilarious moments on film and laugh about these gifts for months afterward.

Finally, our third yearly tradition takes place on Christmas night. We watch Christmas movies (The Nativity Story, etc.) and for dinner we eat popcorn, crackers with spray cheese, and other fun junk food items. My husband found some large football-shaped plates from the Dollar Store that we use only on this special night. Our daughters have commented that we are the “coolest” parents because we allow them to have an all-you-can-eat Christmas dinner with nothing nutritious!

But no matter how many traditions the Zeller Family enjoys each year, the most important thing we celebrate as a family is the celebration of Jesus Christ!

Penny loves to hear from her readers at her website at www.pennyzeller.com, here on her blog,  and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pennyzellerbooks.

How to Instill Compassion and Servanthood in Your Children

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

Ephesians 6:7 says “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord and not men.   However, just telling our children to serve others isn’t enough. We need to model compassion for others to our children.

So how can we, as parents, grandparents, teachers, and youth leaders, make the application for our children from the physical act of service to the motive we need to have? For one thing, our motive must be for Jesus and not ourselves. Matthew 6:3 says “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing…” Explaining to our children that we help others, not so we can brag about it, but so that we can honor Jesus is a great step in explaining this passage.

1. Remind our children to put others first in a me-first society. Teaching our children (and modeling it through our own behavior) to put others before ourselves can be a daunting task.

I’ll never forget when my girls were younger and I had split a cookie in half (inadvertently, one piece ended up slightly larger than the other) and told them to each choose a piece. I watched from afar to see how things would unfold. My oldest, Sunshine, told my youngest, Doodle, “It’s important that the person who picks first should pick the smallest.” I grinned. Sunshine was getting it!

A moment later, my smile faded as I listened to the rest of Sunshine’s rationale.  “And, Doodle, you can pick first.”

“I’m supposed to pick the smaller piece,” said Doodle.

“Yes you are,” agreed Sunshine, with a glint in her eye.

I watched as Doodle picked the smaller piece, leaving the larger piece for Sunshine, who  knew how to manipulate the system!

Our job is to continue to impress the importance of putting others first on our children, even when they don’t “get it” the first, second or one-hundredth time! (A side note: years later, Sunshine is now one of the most generous and giving people I know!) 🙂

2.  Hone in on each child’s unique personality and their God-given gifts. Each child has their own unique personality and will each have different ideas of what types of service projects they would like to undertake. In addition, they each have their own spiritual gifts. One of my children has a heart for world missions and has decided she wants to be a missionary. She is the vice-president of her missions club and she already receives a fair amount of mail!

My other child has absolutely no interest in missions. However, she has a deep love and devotion for younger children and at her tender age is already a mentor and childcare worker at our church.

Discover your child’s gift and passion. Discuss with them and ask if they could help one person in this world, who would it be? And what type of help would they want to provide? Some children have a heart for animals; some have a heart for those who are terminally ill. Still others have a heart that breaks for those in orphanages or foster care.

3. Allow your children to see the benefits that can be found by including your neighbors or others in your community in the service acts. I remember a couple of years ago when a friend of mine discovered her young son had cancer. It was amazing to me to see the Body of Christ join together to come alongside of this family in their time of need. Denominational lines were crossed as several different Bible-based churches offered daily prayer support, made and/or purchased meals, remodeled their home, made monetary donations toward the medical bills, and held fundraisers.

All over the country, communities and churches are coming together in amazing ways for the benefit of those who struggle with life-threatening illnesses, natural disasters, and unemployment – and it’s making such a difference!

4. It’s never too early to start our children on the path of serving and blessing others. We started our children serving others when they were babies and would accompany us to the nursing homes. Although they don’t recall the details of those days, my husband and I were still cementing within our children a permanent foundation of following Jesus’ command to love their neighbor.

5. Pray as a family that God would place someone in your family’s path – someone who needs help. Allow each child their turn to pray for this important topic.

6. Allow each child to choose someone to help on a regular basis.

7. And then serve with your family! And serve again and again! Serving fosters Christian fellowship both within your own family and with your neighbors – it unites families and brings us closer to God and each other.

For more ideas, including “Up for Discussion” questions at the end of each chapter to help families look deeper into the reasons behind each activity, check out 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference available at your favorite bookstore.

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

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

I came across this joke that was sent to me via email the other day and just had to share it. I have no idea if it’s real, but I thought it was hilarious! Enjoy!

Sally, a contestant on ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ had reached the final plateau. If she answered the next question correctly, she would win $1,000,000. If she answered incorrectly, she would pocket only the $25,000 milestone money.

And as she suspected the Million Dollar Question was no pushover.

The question was, ‘Which of the following species of birds does not build its own nest but instead lays its eggs in the nests of other birds? Is it: 

A) the condor 

B) the buzzard 

C) the cuckoo 

D) the vulture

The woman was on the spot…she did not know the answer. 

She had used up her 50/50 Lifeline and her Ask the Audience Lifeline. All that remained was her Phone-a-Friend Lifeline.  She hoped she would not have to use it because…her friend was well ~ blonde… but she had no alternative… so she called her friend and gave her the question and the four choices.

The blonde responded unhesitatingly:   “That’s easy..the answer is C: the cuckoo.”

The contestant had to make a decision and make it fast.  She considered employing a reverse strategy and giving any answer except
the one that her friend had given her… and considering her friend was a blonde that would seem to be the logical thing to do… but her friend had responded with such confidence, that the contestant could not help but be convinced.

Crossing her fingers, the contestant said, “C: The cuckoo.”

“Is that your final answer?”

“Yes, that is my final answer.”

“‘That answer is absolutely correct! You are now a Millionaire!”

Three days later, the contestant hosted a party for her family and friends, including the blonde who had helped her win the Million Dollars. 

“Jeni, I just do not know how to thank you, ” said the contestant, “How did you happen to know the right answer?’

“Oh, come on,” said the blonde…”Everybody knows that cuckoos don’t build nests. They live in clocks.”

Sally fainted…

Just in case you missed it, check out my humorous post about how I embarrassed my family in 5 minutes or less (scroll down to just before Movie Monday) It’s worth the read!

5 Ways to Bless Others

Want to make a difference in the life of others? My article “Five Ways to Bless Others” is in the January issue of the online magazine Inspired Women. To read it, go here: http://inspiredwomenmagazine.com/iwmonline/?p=1759

While you’re at Inspired Women, take a minute to subscribe on the right hand side by entering your email address and clicking on “go.” This is an awesome monthly magazine that has many inspiring articles.

Join me tomorrow on my blog when I share with you “How to Embarrass Your Family in Under 5 Minutes.” Yep, you guessed it. Another humor blog from the Zeller Family files!

Happy New Year!

Thank you, everyone,  for your encouragement and support in 2010. I so much appreciate you! May you all have a blessed New Year and may you all grow closer in your walk with Him.

I found this gem on our church prayer chain…

The New Year
(by Hyacinth Kwatashin)
[Edited/last stanza changes by Chris Long]

 
2011 – the New year lies ahead –
Like an empty book, unwritten story –
Lord I pray my days be spirit-led
With testimonies of Your Love and Glory.

 
May I be sensitive to Your calling
Obedient to Your Word and voice
May I walk Your path without falling
Less “feeling” and more by “choice”.

 
Guard me against all offenses
That would hinder my walk with You
To be sincere and avoid pretenses
Keeping my eternal reward in view.

 
May I be slow to judge others
But quick to lend a helping hand
When stress and trials do bother
On Your promises help me stand.

 
In sickness may I claim Your healing
In stress or sorrow – Your joy and peace
Despite circumstances, faith revealing
With strongholds, may I find Your release.

 
When the year ends and I reflect
On the year right from the start
May I be able to rejoice in victory
May my life – my story – gladden Your heart.

Merry Christmas!

Today in the town of David a Savior is born...

 

I had to include this picture Sunshine drew last week.  I love how she captured the birth of Jesus through her artwork! May we all focus on the real reason for the season – the birth of our Savior who came to earth as a baby and later died so we may have eternal life.

I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas! May the Lord fill your hearts with love and hope as you celebrate the birth of Jesus with family and friends.

In Christ,

Penny

Need a good laugh? Check out this joke…

I recently received this joke via email and thought it was too funny not to share. I wish I knew who authored it. So sit back, relax, and enjoy! Can’t you just see these two little boys?!

Two little boys, ages 8 and 10, were
excessively mischievous.
They were always
getting into trouble and their parents knew all about it.
So the mother sent the 8 year old first,
in the morning, with the older boy to see
the preacher in the afternoon.
nger in the boy’s face and bellowed,
‘Where is God?’

If any mischief occurred in their town,
the two boys were probably involved.

The boys’ mother heard that a preacher
in town had been successful in disciplining children,
so she asked if he would speak with her boys.

The preacher agreed, but he asked to see
them individually.

The preacher, a huge man with a booming
voice, sat the younger boy down and asked him sternly,
‘Do you know where God is, son?’

The boy’s mouth dropped open , but he
made no response, sitting there wide-eyed
with his mouth hanging open.

So the preacher repeated
the question in an even sterner tone,
‘Where is God?’

Again, the boy made no attempt to answer.
The preacher raised his voice even more and shook
his fi

The boy screamed and bolted from the
room, ran directly home and dove into his closet,
slamming the door behind him.

When his older brother found him in the
closet, he asked, ‘What happened?’

The younger brother, gasping for breath,
replied, ‘We are in BIG trouble this time,’

‘GOD is missing, and they think we did it!’