Keep Going

This past week has been what I call a huge headache. My blog was disabled because the blah blah blah read a false positive and blah blah blah which means it thought my blog–my precious baby–was a SPAM blog. Gah! Then after the wonderful Bonnie Calhoun talked me off the ledge and had the IT guys at Blogger fix it, my email was hacked. I wasn’t in Madrid (wish I had been, but not stranded).

The security at yahoo asked me for my answer to the question. I don’t even remember using that question. So after 3 tries of answering, it locked my account up for 12 hours. Hopefully, today, I have it all fixed–but in the meantime, my website designer was supposed to send me links to the pages and whatnot. So…I set up a gmail account just to get by on Saturday. Is that sad? Do we rely on technology too much? Meh, I don’t really care and this post isn’t to ponder that. 

My point is. I had a crazy week.

But God is so great and so faithful and I just love Him to pieces. After all the drama went down on Saturday morning, I opened up my Word For You Today devotional and fell in love with the words. So much I’m sharing them with you today. This is the moment I wish I had a scanner. Nope. I’m typing it all in. For you. Be grateful. *wink wink*

“…In each of us there is a lesser self and a greater self struggling for supremacy. Your lesser self says, “Not enough people believe in me. I’ll never make it.” Your greater self says, “My faith in God and in myself is enough; I can make it.” Your lesser self says, “It’s taking too long to realize my dream.” Your greater self say, “Dreams are realized one day at a time.” Your lesser self says, “Enough is enough! I’ve taken too many hits. “Your greater self says, “I’ve come too far to give up now.” Your lesser self says, “I don’t have the strength to hold on to my dream. “Your greater self says, “Hold on a little longer; the darkest hour is just before the dawn.” ….Where does that kind of strength and tenacity come from? God! The assignment God gives you will never be greater than the grace He provides. So draw on His strength, keep pressing ahead, pursue your goals and you will prevail.” 

Whether your past week was above the clouds or shoddy (Not to be confused with Shawty–the melody in your head) God is faithful. And this, my dear friends, is a brand new day of a brand new week. Hacked, not hacked. Disabled, not disabled. Rejected, not rejected. Grace abounds! So keep going. And I will too, if I’m not stranded in Madrid and needing some fast cash. I’ve already sold my gold. 

In one more week….my new online home will be ready. I expect you all to shout, “Move that curtain!” And the unveiling will happen. Seriously. Shout. 

What do you like to do when the going gets tough and you need to de-stress? 

Celebrating a Crapper

I dare not lie when I say today is the official holiday to celebrate Thomas Crapper. And yes, this is where we get the term, “CRAP.” A word I say often.

So I’m delighted, to be able to celebrate this day and share this crap with you! 

Thomas Crapper is mostly known for inventing the modern flush toilet. 

But he didn’t.

I don’t know much more than that, but what I do know is this:

There’s a legend that says U.S. soldiers stationed in England during WWI saw toilets that said “CRAPPER” on them and came home using that word interchangeably with “bathroom.”

But that’s just a legend. Not fact. 

So Happy Crapper Day, everyone! I think in honor of this man we should all flush our toilets simultaneously at 5:00 p.m. CST! Who’s with me?

And be honest, you know you feel dumber having read this! 

It’s all I got. Except I heard it’s also National Chocolate Day today too. I thought that was every day. Who knew?!

Have a great weekend!
*All information came from Snopes (dot) com

If you could make up 
one national holiday, 
what would it be and why? And what is your favorite chocolate candy?

Core Strengthening: 4 Must-Do Exercises

The human heart fascinates me. I’ve watched surgeries (on tv), I’ve researched procedures for a book. How God fashioned us, is truly amazing. This week while moving through the Bible study, Your Strong Suit, by Donna Pyle,  she led me to a verse in the book of James.Chapter 5. Verse 8. “Establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
After the movie clip from Clue bounced out of my head–you know where J. Edgar Hoover shows up and tells them the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand then Mrs. Peacock slams the door in his face and calls him a beatnik–the word “establish” stuck with me.
What exactly does it mean to establish your heart?
The Greek word for “establish” is “sterizo.” It means “to make stable, to strengthen, to render constant.”
I’m working on strength for this year. You can read about it, HERE. Not just physical strength but in every area of my life. So, I wasn’t surprised to find the word “strength” in this little nugget that God flicked at me.
This Greek word, “sterizo” is a derivative of “histemi”–which happens to be a Greek word Donna Pyle comes back to often in her study, because it means “withstand” and Your Strong Suit is all about the armor of God and withstanding in the evil day. I had to smile about that, how God is using her study to minister to me and then pinging other scriptures off of that for my life. He works like that often.
My question was, “Lord, if you want me to strengthen my heart, I’m down with that, but what exactly do you mean?”
In the Bible, the word “heart” isn’t always meant as an organ. The Greek word for “heart” is “Kardia.” I bet reading that you immediately related it to our English word, “Cardio.”  That’s where we get it. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t. No one is judging!
“Kardia” refers to the actual organ, but also denotes “the centre and seat of spiritual life.”
The center. The core.
Strengthen the center, the core, 
of your spiritual life.
Last year, I did P90X. I’d like to tell you how fit and trim I am, but the truth is the minute I stopped doing it, the muscle tone fell away. Quickly. But I learned something of importance in this program.
It’s all about the Core. 
In an article on core fitness, Elizabeth Quinn states, “To build a strong core you need to exercise a variety of muscles…The core muscles also make it possible to stand upright and move on two feet. These muscles help control movements, transfer energy, shift body weight and move in any direction.”
Interesting since my study is talking about wrestling, standing, and withstanding.
To establish a heart, means to build strong spiritual muscles (by exercising various muscles), thus creating balance, (controlled spiritual movements), and the ability to move in any direction–(flexibility) when God asks you to step out and do something you might be uncomfortable doing.
As I looked at the passages above this particular scripture,  I found some exercises that can help build core spiritual muscle.
  1. 4. Be generous with wealth and remember where your true treasure lies.
    1. James Chapter 5:1-6 talks about fattened hearts–those who have been corrupted by their wealth. Nothing wrong with wealth, as long as it doesn’t turn you into a selfish monster.
 3. Include God in all your plans
James Chapter 4:13-17 talks about boasting in what you will or will not do, never considering that tomorrow may never come, after all we are but a vapor in the wind. Instead, we need to say, “If the Lords wills we shall live and do this or that.”  Now, that doesn’t mean every time we make plans for the next day, we tell our BFF, “If the Lords wills, we shall have lunch.” It means, don’t go about planning life and forget who holds our destiny. Include God. Even in a shopping trip! You never know when you’ll just “stumble” upon a deal. 😉
                    2. Do not Judge 
James Chapter 4:11-12 talks about speaking evil or backbiting. It’s not our place to condemn. Jesus has much to say concerning us, but it is the time of seeking and saving what has been lost. But one day–or night–He will come. As Judge. Until then, we should get on board with the program and “snatch souls from the fire” not send them there behind their backs. Ouch! I know. I got the whammy first, so…
         1.  Go Low
James Chapter 4:7-10 talks about submitting to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, He’ll draw near to you. Be sorry for your sins. Weep over them. Sometimes, we focus so much on mercy, we forget to be repentant for our sins. Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. I find when I go low, God soars in my life. And if I work my core muscles, I can squat for days, not just over nasty public toilets.
These are just a few exercises, but they have to be done daily. More than just your #30minaday. It won’t be easy by any means, but what real in-depth workout is? If it was easy, we’d all look like Jillian Michaels. I was going to say Billy Graham, but…whatever, you get my point!
What do you think is tougher: Working out physically or spiritually? Why?

I’m hosting at Living By Grace today! Come by and chat or offer some encouragement to others!

Get out of Dodge with Erica Vetsch!

I’ll start off with a secret. I’ve never read a Western. But I won A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas by my friend Erica Vetsch and how could I not read it?
You know what? It was good. Really good. Another secret? I didn’t realize this was where we get the phrase, “Get the heck out of Dodge.” Also? I said this for days after reading it! My husband nearly told me to get the heck out of the house!
So…let’s talk Erica Vetsch. She writes one of my favorite blogs. I always learn something and I always leave smiling. Her Friday Five proves we have tons in common! If you don’t follow her blog, you won’t regret popping over there and joining the site!
 Erica is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and reading, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical fiction set in the American West. Whenever she’s not following flights of fancy in her fictional world, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two terrific teens, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and avid museum patron.
JP: Minnesota? Wow that’s gotta be cold right now! But enough about weather. Your novel includes real historical figures, which is so neat. How much research did you do for those people, setting, and the occupation of Addie?
EV: I did a boatload of research. I knew nothing about photography in the 1870’s, so I had to start from ground zero. I also read lots of biographies of Bat Masterson and histories of Dodge City. There is so much folklore surrounding Dodge, thanks to Gunsmoke, that it was difficult to wade through what was true and what wasn’t.
JP: Gunsmoke! That was in Dodge City? I droned when my dad watched that!  I did NO droning when reading your book! Which character did you relate to most and why?
EV: Probably Miles, because we both want to please people and we’re less than bold about sharing our faith.
JP: I could identify with him very much and I keep wanting to correct the spelling of his name! My son’s name is Myles. Okay, moving on.  What one thing other than writing are you passionate about?
EV: At the moment, homeschooling. I’ve homeschooled for many years now, and I’m down to one child at home. We’re deep into his 10th grade year, geometry, biology, American Lit, etc. Also basketball which is ruling our lives at the moment. He’s having a great time, and so am I, except for a serious case of bleacher-butt.
JP: OMG! I so know! Karate bleachers leave me walking like Frankenstein and trying not to cry when I stand up. It bugs. Speaking of, when did you get the writer’s bug?
EV: I’ve always been a story-lover, reading copiously and spinning stories in my head. A few years ago, I tried my hand at writing some stories down, and I was well and truly caught. I can’t imagine not writing now.
JP: Tell us your favorite line from the story and tell us why?
 Spoken by Bat Masterson “…If you don’t bring in the killer yourself, Miles, you’ll never have the respect of this town or the cowboys who ride in here. You might as well hang up your badge and get out of Dodge.” I LOVED being able to use “get out of Dodge” as originally intended.
JP: Loved that line! A lightbulb went off in my brain at that moment. Though, I added heck for some reason. LOL Name one place you’d like to go that you’ve never been and why?
EV:  I’ve always wanted to visit New Zealand. When I was about 14 I discovered Essie Summers romances. They are all set in New Zealand, and I’ve read every one of her 51 novels. I would love to visit the settings of her stories. She was a big influence on me and my dream of wanting to be a writer.
JP: Wow! That’s like me reading all of Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley High books! But not really. What genre do you like to read? Do you write that genre?
EV: I love to read historical romance and mystery and the best of both worlds for me is historical mysteries with a touch of romance. Authors like Ellis Peters, Elizabeth Peters, Anne Perry, Kathy Lynn Emerson. I would love to write more mystery, but it’s so hard to keep track of all the criminals and clues!
JP: If you could pick one villain from any book to be for a day, who would you choose?
 EV: Probably Moriarty because how cool would it be to match wits with Sherlock Holmes and be able to hold your own?
JP: That could possibly be the best villain pick yet.  Well played, Vetsch! Since we’re talking characters, who would play your characters?
Miles Carr
EV: I didn’t use to use pictures, but with the last few novels, I’ve found it very helpful. Easton Corbin was the template for Miles Carr, Amy Adams played Fran Seaton, Dylan Bruno was Jonas Spooner, and once I saw the cover art for A Bride’s Portrait, Alyssa Milano (but with blue eyes) became the template for Adeline Reid.
Fran Seaton
 JP:  Was it Alyssa? I thought it looked just like her! Well, I’ll be! Great choices, Erica. What would your characters say about you if they had the chance?
EV:  Probably “Stop being so mean to us!”
Bat Masterson for real
JP: LOL! Well in their defense, you were! Tell us what you’re working on now?
EV:  My next novel is called A Bride Sews With Love in Needles, CA. Here’s a brief overview:
Jonas Spooner
With her brother already on the front lines in France, Meghan becomes a Harvey Girl in Needles, California. Ready and willing to wait on the hundreds of doughboys heading for Europe, Meghan deems this service her way of contributing to the war effort. When her brother is injured in battle, she enlists the Harvey Girls into sewing a Red Cross signature quilt to raise money for wounded soldiers.
Horse breeder Caleb McBride makes his living by selling stock to the US Calvary and keeps his pride by remaining a loner. When Meghan meets Caleb, she senses something mysterious and wounded about him, piquing her curiosity. But when the townsfolk scorn him as a coward and profiteer, Caleb feels her pity and becomes even more guarded.
When Needles is hit with an influenza epidemic, the Harvey Girls’ hotel is made into a temporary hospital. While tending a stricken Caleb, Meghan discovers his shameful secret. Will both Caleb and Meghan find a way to kill their pride before their chance at love rips apart at the seams?
JP: Sold! That sounds intriguing! Thanks so much for coming by today, Erica. I truly loved your book–the plot, the solid characters, their quirks. I’ve already loaned it out! 
 Here’s a sneak peek at A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas.
Quench your craving for good fiction with this wonderfully written Old West adventure. Hoping to leave the shadows of her shady yesteryears behind, Adeline Reid is focusing on her photography career. But when her ex-boyfriend’s compatriot in crime shows up in Dodge City her entire past is threatened by exposure. Can Addie keep her secrets while helping to catch a killer? Deputy Miles Carr’s investigation into a shopkeeper’s murder leads him to Addie’s door. Will his attraction to this female photographer keep him from catching the true culprit? Or will Addie lead him off course in more ways than one? 
Before you go, Erica, would you like to ask everyone a question?
How do you feel about finding historical characters mixed in with your fiction? Love it, hate it, depends on the story?
You can connect with Erica on her blog, facebook, twitter, and the web

When Characters Meet

Wow me, please. Yes! Thank you! 
I’m talking about introducing the heroine and hero in a story. If you know me at all or follow this blog regularly, then you know I rarely write about writing. There are too many good writing blogs out there with people who can explain things much better than I, so I leave it to them.

But a comment left on my blog last Friday, the four books I’ve read over the last week and two days, and digging into an old ms of mine (polishing rewriting) has me thinking about how characters in stories meet for the first time.

The comment was left by Beth Vogt and she talked about when she met her husband, in a Karate studio, and he put her on the ground–also she was engaged to someone else. Of course she hooked me right there. My heart actually fluttered. 

There are a billion ways to introduce a hero and heroine, the earlier the better they say, but sometimes it may come fifty pages in. I wouldn’t personally go much further than that and some will disagree with even fifty pages. But as a reader, I think if things are moving fast…say a murder…then finding the hero a few chapters in is okay and it doesn’t bother me.

But when they do, it better be with a bang.  I want sparks the minute they walk on scene together. 

I finished up Love on the Line by DeeAnne Gist. When her hero,who’s working undercover as a telephone repairman, meets the heroine, the switchboard operator, sparks fly. He is demanding and she’s a woman who doesn’t want to be told what to do or what to hand over (a key and a desk) to a man. The attraction is there, but the attitude is off the charts. And it sold me.  The other 2 books I read have wonderful introductions as well, but for sake of time I chose the last book I read of hers.

In Save the Date, (another book I just finished) by Jenny B. Jones, the hero was mean to the heroine in the past and she hasn’t forgotten, but she can’t deny that he seems different and it helps that he’s delicious to look at it! The witty, and super sarcastic, banter between the two right off the bat…sold me! 

When there’s ZERO tension between two characters–when they’re both nice to each other but otherwise unavailable, nothing moves in me. It’s boring. Sadly, I have read a few books where the beginning is much like this. Some I’ve pushed through simply because I hate not to finish a book. A couple picked up about halfway (but really, shouldn’t we start off that way between two characters?) and the others never did pick up and as bad as I hated it, I dropped the books. But I don’t want to talk about books that failed, and honestly, it’s not like I’ve read dozens that have. So…

What are some of your favorite “meeting” scenes in books? Share the scene or just the book and author if you’re in a hurry. What was it about their first encounter that hooked you?

WWF: It’s Real!

“How do you assess the strength of something? By testing it.”
This was a quote out of my devotion. We’ve all done this. Barely stood on a wobbly bridge and applied some force, pulled on rope to make sure the swing wouldn’t break and the list goes on.
In Donna Pyle’s  study, Your Strong Suit, she says, “Wrestling not only tests our strength, but provides a way of building it…repetition increases our strength and endurance.”
The verse she’s talking about is Ephesians 6:12 
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ESV
WWF: Wrestling With the Foe
She went on to describe wrestling, how close two opponents are to one another and I began thinking about the kind of wrestling Paul was speaking about in Ephesians. He’s using an analogy that they would understand. Greek wrestling… maybe even Greco-Roman. 
If he’s comparing our wrestling with the unseen enemy, then I think it would be wise to know exactly what it looks like. Don’t you?
Here’s what I found: (quotes are taken directly from Here)
“Wrestling to the Greeks was not only part of a soldier’s training regime, but also a part of everyday life.”
“Wrestling was taught under an instructor.”
“Greeks understood wrestling was a development of grace and symmetry in a vigorous activity that demands a high degree of skill and physical fitness.”
We can study wrestling matches by listening to the testimonies of other victories! We overcome by the blood (of Christ) and our testimonies! (Rev. 12:11) We can study the Word and take lessons through those men and women who wrestled.
But here’s something I found fascinating. When the Romans conquered Greece, they didn’t much care for the way the Greeks wrestled. They were much more “interested in brute strength and violence.”

They held the “Pankration, (meaning all-powerful) a no-holds-barred form of wrestling. It was so violent, it included kicking, joint dislocation, bone breaking, hair pulling, strangling and more. The sole object was to force an opponent into defeat to make him give up. The loser often ended up maimed or even dead.”

Our unseen enemy doesn’t have an appreciation for fair play or even sport. He’s interested in using his brute strength to wreak violence in our lives. He will resort to whatever measure he can to accomplish his mission.
I know there’s an area of my life that I’m constantly allowing the enemy to win. I’ve felt doubt and pity over this area, but I’ve never been angry because I haven’t looked at it as the enemy pulling my hair, biting, and even strangling me.
Maybe it’s time you and I get mad. Like little boys when they play wrestle, but one goes too far and then it’s on for real. Why? One little boy got mad.
Maybe it’s time to get mad and get even. Maybe it’s time to see the wrestling match for what it is and take back our hair, our dislocated bones, our broken skin from biting, and our breath. No more strangling.
Praise the Lord, my Rock, who trains me for war, who trains me for battle.  Psalm 144:1

Maybe we should brace ourselves and scream to the top of our lungs all the things we are.

I was planned for. (Jeremiah 29:11)
I am loved. (Deuteronomy 7:7)
I am forgiven. Guilt free. (Ephesians 1:7) (Romans 8:1)
I am cared about. (1 Peter 5:7)
I am a special treasure. (Deuteronomy 7:6)
I am new. Washed clean. (2 Corinthians 5:17) (2 Peter 1:9)
I am unique and designed with purpose. (Romans 8:28) 
I am a child of light. (Ephesians 5:8)
I am a  good soldier. (2 Timothy 2:3)
I am more than a conqueror. (Romans 8:37)

 What we can do.

I can do all things. (Philippians 4:13)
I have resurrection power working through me. (Philippians 3:10)
I can move mountains. (Matthew 17:20)
I can be free. (Galatians 5:1)
Why we’re victorious.
I am covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:5) (1 John 1:7)
I have the Holy Spirit guiding me. (John 14:26)
I have a High Priest praying for me. (Hebrews 7:25)
I have God working on my behalf. (Romans 8:28) (Psalm 66:5)
With every maneuver of scripture and prayer, not out of pity…out of righteous anger…
we fight.

The Lord is powerful; 
he gives victory to His chosen one. 
Psalm 28:8
Which verse or verses
 can you claim today?
Come by Living By Grace on facebook and let’s chat! Also, I’ll be guest posting at Robin’s Nest tomorrow! I hope you’ll stop in as I talk about Snow Days and how they relate to Christians.

Faith Readers Group Review: The Christmas Note

Laughter, the smell of coffee brewing, a hint of chocolate in the air, and a mystery cake! What a great way to start off the new year with the Faith Readers women’s book club. Debra teased us on the facebook page and offered up a prize if we could guess what she was bringing. The hint: It’s from the book.

No one guessed it. 🙁 BUT…we still got to eat it! Hummingbird cake! Yummo and she even told us the story behind the Hummingbird cake.  

Our December pick was The Christmas Note by Donna VanLiere. Many of her books can be found as Lifetime TV movies. After reading this book, we know why! It was made for a warm, fuzzy holiday flick.

It’s the kind of book you can cozy up on the couch with a quilt, a cup of coffee, hot tea, or cocoa and smile.

As we discussed the book, some of the comments were comical, some serious, others insightful. Here are a few:

Could you identify with any of the characters?
 “I could identify with the mom. She was a good mother, but she wasn’t Suzie Homemaker. They had cookies, but they were slice and bake. I can handle that.”

“I could sort of relate to Gretchen, but I don’t know if I could be as nice as she was when Melissa kept acting so rude. In fact, that would be the point I told the kids, ‘We don’t talk to the neighbors keep moving.'”

What character did you least identify with?

“Melissa because she came from such an abusive background. My heart broke for her.”

“Gloria, the mom’s friend. She was kind of out there. I’m not sure anyone acts like that.”

A few shook their heads. “No, we know people like that.”

What theme did you take away from the book?

“God’s hand is at work no matter happens in your life.”

“Sometimes you have to look back to see where God was.”

“I think she got her point across, but she overdid it. I mean one or two coincidences are fine. But every time you turned a page it was a new one. Not believable.”

“Yeah, that was ridiculous.” 

*Note to writers: Pay attention to these reviews! They aren’t from writers who joined a book club; they’re die-hard readers and they know what they like. I make notes every month! Don’t put too many coincidences in your  work! And by the way, they’re totally right! There were waaaaay too many!

Our rating out of 1-5:  
3 1/2 stars

Our next book for the month of February is in the romance category. We’ve voted on Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones.

Here’s a peek at The Christmas Note

“Gretchen Daniels has recently moved into a condo with her two children to be closer to her mother, Miriam. As they build a life together in their new community, they notice a mysterious young woman, Melissa McCreary, who lives next door. She has few possessions, little personality, and keeps to herself. One day a local landlord who is looking for Melissa knocks on Gretchen’s door for assistance. Melissa’s mother has died and in the coming weeks the landlord needs Melissa to empty her mother’s apartment. Gretchen reaches out and offers to help Melissa, but the apartment is a gut-wrenching shamble of a home. There is little worth saving except for a few photos and a note that is discovered on the crate beside the bed. It is unfinished, but in the two scribbled lines, Melissa discovers secrets about her family that she never could have imagined. Can two very different women embark on a journey that explores a long-buried need for forgiveness, hope, and redemption?”
Have you ever read a Christmas novel? Any favorites?  

Here’s What’s Going on in My Neck of the Woods

Every now and again, I like to share what’s going on with me and find out what’s going on with you? (I always wanna know what’s going on with you!)

Told ya I just got around to taking
down the decorations!

On the home front, I took the Christmas stuff down…finally. Like this past week. Don’t judge! I’ve been lazy busy. My son just started Karate! He loves it, but bless his heart, he has no coordination!
He fell kicking one of the bags and growled when I laughed. I tried hard not to, but people who fall are funny!

This was at her Christmas recital. 

My daughter resumed piano lessons this past week. I don’t mind because she’s actually really good, and she shuts the door to her bedroom to play. 

I got the two books I’d really been wanting for Christmas. Roget’s Thesaurus and The Chicago Manual of Style 16th edition. 

I also bought a craft book the other day when hubby and I were out. We went to see Sherlock Holmes, which we enjoyed, and then out for a late lunch to our favorite joint, The Flying Fish. Oh the name of the book you say? Now Write! Mysteries edited by Sherry Ellis & Laurie Lamson. It’s several chapters written by various authors. I like it.

I’ve stumbled across some new songs that I’ve added to my playlist. Poison & Wine by the Civil Wars, Holding on and Letting Go by Ross Copperman, and Anywhere but Here by Safety Suit. Great songs for some scenes I’m revising. (I’ve linked them to youtube if you have time and wanna check them out.) Which reminds me, I have a youtube channel with no videos. LOL I keep saying I’m going to vlog but…I have zipola to vlog about. Any suggestions? 

Also…my new website is going to launch (cross your fingers) on Monday, January 3oth and I’ll be introducing my new tagline which I’m very excited about! I’ll share more about that in an upcoming post!

And last, I’ve discovered DeeAnne Gist. Since I’m new to reading historical romances, she’s a new find for me. LOVE with a capital L-O-V-E! I read A Bride Most Begrudging and Maid to Match. In two days. Last week. I’ll review them later. I am now reading, Love on the Line by her.

So that’s all I know around here. Oh, I cooked a deer. Not a whole deer, but like a roast. It was pretty good, once I forced my mind away from thoughts that it had disease or was a crazy deer and I was going to get both by eating it…anywho…

Your turn. What’s going on in your neck of the woods? Any new craft books for you writers? Novels? Is your Christmas stuff still up? Ever ate deer? Crazy deer?

A Very Present Help

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear…be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:1-2a; 10

This year my One Word is Strength. I just finished up lesson 1 of Donna Pyle’s Your Strong Suit. On day one, Jan. 1, I popped in the DVD to watch the first teaching and I cried all through it. Why? Because what a first day to kick off talking about strength, and that’s what she did. She talked about being strong in the Lord, and why his strength.  She talked about the enemy and how he strategically plans out his attacks. He’s methodic.
I encourage you to skip over to her website and purchase the study for yourself. Not because I love Donna and she’s a friend, because the teaching it amazing and sound. During the first lesson, while digging into the Word, I ran across the verse above and something struck me. Had I read it before? Yes.
But this time, the word “very” hit me. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer and the thought, “‘Very’ isn’t necessary here. God, you could really tighten your writing by omitting it.” I’m sure His heavenly brow arched as He said to Jesus and the Holy Ghost, “You two hearin this? The student is trying to school the Master.”
And after a slight grin, I decided if it’s in the Word, it’s for a reason. And I want to know why?
God isn’t just my present help, He’s my very present help. “Very” in the Hebrew is, “ma’od” and it means, “exceedingly, much, might, force, abundance, to a great degree.”
Hang with me, I’m going to break it down in just a minute.
God is our REFUGE, shelter from rain, storm, danger, or even falsehood (lies)
God is our STRENGTH, from material, physical, personal, social, political trouble.
A very PRESENT help, “matsa” to find, attain to, secure, to meet, encounter, to come upon, to fall in with, to be gained to hit, to happen upon.

In time of TROUBLE, “tsarah” meaning “straits, distress, vexed.” From the root word, “tsar” meaning, “narrow, tight, adversary, foe, enemy, oppress, hard pebble.”

What this verse is trying to convey so powerfully is, When we are hurt physically, emotionally, materially (finances), when lies threaten us from others from the enemy (we do not fight flesh and blood but powers and principalities)socially–when friends betray us, do not stick by us, doubt us, leave us, offend us…
We can find an exceedingly, abundant, source of assistance. A refuge to protect us when we get into tight spaces when the enemy throws hard pebbles at us. Pebbles are small to God the Rock, but when thrown at simple flesh, they cause much pain.

God wraps us in His loving arms, securing us, wiping away every hurt. Every hurt. And pebbles bounce off Him, shielding us.

We have no need to fear. We have a strong place to find assistance.
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10.
The word “still” in the Hebrew means “to relax, drop it, abandon.”
Whatever has hurt you, whatever you’re afraid of, stewing over, concerned about, stressing over can be dropped and abandoned in the refuge and shelter of God.


Know He is God.
Some of my favorite verses to read  when I’m feeling helpless, alone, frightened, uncertain, when I know I need to relax and remember who it is and what it means to be God is from Job, as He reminds him how small Job is and how big God is.
38-39. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?…Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and issued from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment, when I fixed My limit for it…when I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop!’…Have you commanded the morning since your days began and caused dawn to know its place?…Have the gates of death been revealed to you?…Have you entered the treasury of snow, or have you seen the treasury of hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble…Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loose the belts of Orion?…Does the hawk fly by your wisdom?…


“Have you an arm like God? Or can you thunder with a voice like His? Then adorn yourself with majesty and splendor and array yourself with glory and beauty.”

Our strength isn’t in these flesh tents we drag around each day. It’s in a God Who defines might, strength, protection, and solidity.
A God this strong who knows how to caress us as if with a feather, yet fight for us and protect us with fierce love…and strength.
He’s got this.

Do you struggle with relaxing–being still? What are some things you can do to try and “be still”?

Come by Living by Grace, the facebook devotional community for women and let’s talk! You never know when your words will encourage someone else who might be lurking!

Must Meet Monday: Heather Sunseri

Think snickering in a library with your gal pal, watching romantic comedies and gorging on pizza while fighting over the hero, hanging at the beach. That’s Heather Sunseri. She’s fun, mischievous, a talented writer and a deep thinker.
 She’s always asking great questions and inspiring great conversations on her blog: Balance withPurpose. That’s how we connected. I discovered her wonderful blog and we’ve built a relationship–the kind where I can send her goofy videos I take of crazy carpool moms! And she can send me funny icon pictures and I actually get what she’s saying!
When Heather’s not pretending to like her work as a CPA, she writes YA paranormal romance, while corralling two kids to soccer practice and two dogs and a cat to their feeding bowls. It’s a crazy life, but someone’s gotta live it.
 Thanks for coming. Everyone, welcome Heather!
Thank you, Jesse, for inviting me on your blog today. These questions were a lot of fun! And you are all kinds of awesome!!
Aww! *blush*
 JP: What one thing other than writing are you passionate about?
HS: Just one, really? Well, let’s see. Besides God and family, I’m super passionate about traveling and about the trip I took to Haiti last summer. There is so much of God’s love in His people and His sights spread throughout the world just waiting for us to experience and explore.
JP: I agree. I felt the same way after coming back from Thailand. Lucky, that’s all we brought back, a deeper appreciation for God. We could’ve brought back bugs! Speaking of bugs, when did you get the writer’s bug?
HS: If writing is a “bug,” does that mean someone found a cure? I need that. I didn’t seriously consider writing until about four years ago. And I’m still just trying to figure it all out.
JP: I think it’s non-curable. It does make me nauseous at times, though. Hey, name one place you’d like to go that you’ve never been and why?
HS: There you go with “one” again. There are so many!! (Did that sound whiny?) I’d like to go to Sicily. That’s where my husband’s family is from. I’d like to go to Ireland—just ‘cause. Also, I’m pretty happy on just about any beach, and there are bonus points if there’s a coral reef off that beach for scuba diving.
JP: I say “one’ because I can’t monopolize everyone’s blog time! LOL I love your places. I’d love to visit them as well. I see a research trip in our future even though we don’t write the same genre. We do have a lot of books in common, though. Tell everyone what genre do you like to read? Do you write that genre?
HS: I read a lot of different genres, but lately, I’ve mostly read YA paranormal romance and contemporary romance. I’m not picky about the romance I read: suspense, paranormal, fantasy, contemporary, even a historical from time to time.
Although the last novel I wrote (that is still out in slush pile land) was a romantic suspense about a missionary, my current novel is a YA paranormal romance. It’s a little bit of a switch, but it was necessary, and there was a big reason behind it.
JP: I read that missionary novel and really enjoyed it! I love any kind of romance as well. You’re good with hooks. “a big reason behind that” yet you give us nothing! That’s evil!!  And since we’re on the subject of evil, if you could pick one villain from a book to be for a day, who would you choose?
HS: I’m not sure about from a book, but I’d like to be Regina from Once Upon a Time. She’s pretty and oh-so mean. Being her would teach me a thing or two. You know, for research.
JP: Oooh! That’s a good one! Excellent choice. She’s not gnarly like the witch in the fairytale Snow white, which makes me think of old gnarly people, like Old Man Winter who’s beating us with his cane; what one thing do you love most about this season? What one thing do you like least about this season?
HS: I love the mornings I get to sit in front of a fire with my laptop or a book and a giant mug of coffee. I am not a big fan of snow or cold temperatures, although I love the drama of an approaching snow storm. I don’t know what that says about me.
Oh, and I don’t know if this has anything to do with winter, or not, but it seems that both Vampire Diaries AND Justified are both starting new seasons this month. So, I love winter for that reason. I just know that those two shows are going to get me mostly through tax season without crying much.
JP: Two of my FAVORITE shows!! Sigh! Great characters. Do you hunt down pictures of your characters from the internet? Care to share what your hero and heroine look like with us from your current WIP?
HS: Okay, I know everyone is going to judge me for this, but I like my romances to have good-looking characters. I only dream dreamy heroes and pretty heroines. However, I do not hunt down pictures, because I don’t typically describe my characters too vividly. I want the reader to have the freedom to envision a little of how they want the characters to look themselves. Everyone has their own definition of pretty, right?
Also, I don’t want to be disappointed when the movie producers pick Taylor Lautner to play my Ian Somerhalder.
But, if I do come across pictures that remind me of my setting or my characters, I typically paste those pics on Pinterest. I provided the link below.
JP: I would beat someone down for making Lautner a Somerhalder. No comparison. And I really should join Pinterest. We’ll see. So you don’t hunt down pics. That’s cool. I wonder what your characters would say about you if they had the chance?
HS: My main guy would probably bring me a Chai tea and tell me to freaking relax while he rubbed my feet, while my gal would tell me to get over myself. There’s work to be done. She’s pretty intense about staying on task. And her best friend would tell me to breathe and get into the downward dog yoga position.
JP: They sound like interesting and fun characters! Can you give us a peek at your WIP?
HS: Oh, yikes. I can’t. I’m really not a superstitious type, but for some reason I’m always uncomfortable revealing the backcover blurb before the manuscript is actually complete. I can tell you that I’m unbelievably excited about the plot and the characters of this novel. I just hope I can pull off the uniqueness of it. Sometimes I wonder if God picked the wrong person to write it. (Side note: maybe trust should be my #1 word choice for 2012. Hmmm. Something to think about since I haven’t come up with one yet. Although, “zany” is running a close second.)
JP: Totally understand! And He didn’t! Besides, I plan on reading it when it’s finished anyway! Thanks so much for hanging out today, you zany woman, you! Before you go, what would you like to ask readers? They’re awesome about leaving comments!
What is your kryptonite, the one thing that bleeds your creative juices dry? For me, it’s tax season.
You can connect with Heather on her blog, facebook, twitter, and Pinterest (  I actually do post inspiration for my novels on one of my Pinterest boards. It’s titled…wait for it… “Book Inspiration.”)