Burn Calories by Kissing: Guest post by Lynda Schab!

 You read that right! But you almost didn’t because at first I had the title, Burn Calories by kissing with Lynda Schab! I’m sure she’s glad I proofread my stuff! 
Lynda does list some interesting facts about kissing, but she’s talks about
marriage and romance and how that ties into her second novel, Madily In Love.
I’ve had the privilege of reading both her books and I’m begging, begging you to buy them. Today. Seriously. Fun and light-hearted, yet deep spiritual messages. I laughed, man did I
laugh, and I even cried at times. So enough gushing and let’s hear what Lynda
says about real romance!
Romance: A
feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.
Who doesn’t want
that? I mean, do you know anyone who doesn’t want
to feel excited about spending time with the one they love? If I had to guess,
I’d say 98% of us crave or desire romance.
Now for my next
question: Who actually has that? Who can say their marriage is bubbling over with romance?
My best guestimate would be 5%? Maybe 10%? Okay, 15% tops.
So maybe it’s not all about the romance. Love is an action,
blah, blah, blah. But, come on. There’s a reason God created romance. He wired us to have a desire for thrill and adventure
(don’t believe me? Read The Song of Solomon). Marriage without romance is sort
of like eating a slice of cake without frosting. The cake may taste good, but
the frosting makes it all that much better.
As a side note, kissing is a major romantic act. Here are three
interesting facts about kissing:
  • Men who kiss their wives in
    the morning live five years longer than those who don’t (tell your
  • A team of medical experts in
    Virginia contends that you’re more likely to catch the common cold virus
    by shaking hands than by kissing (great news!). 
  • A fairly passionate kiss
    burns an average of 9 calories (that’s equivalent to six M&M’s!)
In my book, Madily in Love, Madi McCall is just coming out
of a marital rough patch (you’ll have to read Mind over Madi for that story)
and is determined to get back the romance she’s lost with her husband over the
years. But that’s not so easy. Especially when she’s just re-entered the
workforce, is dealing with a rebellious daughter, a son who is dating a girl
who is not exactly Madi’s idea of the perfect choice for him, and a
mother-in-law who has (temporarily) moved in and seems to have…um…criminal
tendencies. But Madi isn’t letting that stop her.
She bites the bullet
and attends a romance class at church, which offers great suggestions… that
fail miserably. All she wants is to find the peace among the chaos, and
rekindle the fire that has gone out of her marriage.
Although this book
has to do with the importance of adding romance to marriage, the main thing I
hope readers can take away is that even though
life seems unmanageable, disorderly, and chaotic, God is always in control.
One of the recurring
phrases throughout the book—as mentioned by Madi’s counselor—is “Embrace this place.” In other words, no matter
what you’re going through, recognize that it won’t last forever. And down the
road, you might just look back and see just how that “unbearable” season was
essential in moving you to a place of growth and necessary change.
And most of all, I
hope to show the fun—and not the frustration—of trying to add a little zest to
your marriage. There are a few good tips to take away, along with fun quotes
throughout, beginning with this one, which pretty much sums it up:
marriages begin
we marry the ones we love,
they blossom
we love the ones we marry.”
-Tom Mullen
Lynda Lee
Schab got her writing start in greeting cards (Blue Mountain Arts, Dayspring)
and from there went on to write articles and short stories (Mature Living, Christian Home & School)
and in many places online. As a freelance writer, she works behind the scenes
at FaithWriters.com and is a regular book reviewer for FaithfulReader.com, as
well as a staff writer for www.SharedSorrows.com
Both books in the Madi series have finaled or semi-finaled in various contests.
Lynda admits she has a lot in common with the character of Madi. Not only are
they both addicted to ice cream, chocolate, and computer games, they struggle
with the same types of insecurities and continually require a hefty dose of
God’s grace. Lynda lives with her husband, Rob, and two teenagers in Michigan.
with her on her blogs, On the Write Track (for writers) and
ThePrincessMentality (for princesses everywhere whose lives are not a
fairytale). Also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. The Madi series
is available through OakTara.com, and can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes& Noble, Christianbook.com, or ordered from any brick and mortar bookseller
around the country. Lynda also has signed copies available for purchase on her
All Madi
Lee McCall wants is to fall madly in love again…
with her
After a
rough patch, Madi’s determined to get her marriage back on
She’s even taking a romance class at church and getting great
fail miserably. The distractions are plenty. She has just reentered
the workplace as a health spa receptionist. Her 16-year-old daughter,Christina,
is pushing the limits, and Christina’s twin, Max, has fallen hard for a girl
who isn’t Madi’s picture of a perfect match for her son. Even younger
daughter, Emily, is developing a teenager-ish attitude.  
When her
mother-in-law moves in—temporarily, of course—the stress starts to drive
Madi a little crazier than normal. What she wants, more than anything, is some
peace among the chaos. 

Fact or Fiction…or Both with Laura Frantz!

Most of my life I’ve read romance novels, suspense and thriller, but a few years ago, I gave historical romance a try. I honestly didn’t expect to like it. I mean how much romance can go on when folks couldn’t even leave the room without someone chaperoning them? 
Was I ever wrong! I can honestly say that some of the BEST romances I’ve read about come from historical romances. Laura Frantz is one author I read early on in my new discovery of historical romance and I can tell you, she is one of my all-time favorites! And she’s super nice! 
I just finished Courting Morrrow Little. One, is that not a great name? Loved it. The story itself is wonderful! Something I love about Laura is the way she keeps you in total angst. It’s off-the-chain! But what really gets me is, I never know if she’s using real-life history or just making it all up. It’s that good. So I asked her about her main character, Red Shirt and she’s here today to share with us what is and what is not real in her story! 
Thanks so much, Laura! Take the floor!
the real red shirt

Readers often ask where the inspiration for a character comes from. I always
point to history books and old photographs. Here is the real Red Shirt. Born along Nebraska’s Platte River in the
1830’s to an Indian mother and white father, he is something of an enigma. I
discovered him 20 years ago while researching the Oglala/Lakota (Sioux) Indians
for a Dances With Wolves type novel. He identified with the Lakota and
lived free till his people were placed on reservations. He and his wife, Pretty
Woman, had several children. The photo shows him (far right) accompanying the
famous chief, Red Cloud, in a delegation to Washington DC. Later, he joined
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and then faded from history. There’s a simple
grave at the Rosebud Cemetery that bears his name in South Dakota. I’ve not
been there but I’d like to go. 

I’ve carried him around in my head and heart for a long time:) Of course, I had
to alter him a bit for my book. He had to leave the Sioux and become Shawnee.
And Pretty Woman was a thing of the past! I also had to tweak his name to fit
into the historical context of the 18th-century. Most importantly, my Red Shirt
found freedom in Christ as well as freedom to exist where he pleased. Literary
license is a fine thing. Every reader will have a different picture of him in
their head and heart, too.

What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is
the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs
across the grass and loses itself in the sunset. ~Crowfoot

Visit Laura HERE! at her website
On Pinterest
& Facebook
Thank you so much, Laura! Now, everyone stop what you’re doing and go purchase Courting Morrow Little! You won’t be disappointed, I promise…even you skeptics of historical 
Do you like stories that mix fact and fiction? Why or why not? 
Here’s a peek at the novel! 
Morrow Little is haunted by the memory of the day her family
was torn apart by raiding Shawnee warriors. Now that she is nearly a grown
woman and her father is ailing, she must make difficult choices about the
future. Several men–ranging from the undesired to the unthinkable–vie for her
attentions, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to a forbidden love that
both terrifies and intrigues her. Can she betray the memory of her lost loved
ones–and garner suspicion from her friends–by pursuing a life with him? Or
should she seal her own misery by marrying a man she doesn’t love? This
sweeping tale of romance and forgiveness will envelop readers as it takes them
from a Kentucky fort through the vast wilderness to the west in search of true

Casey Herringshaw: Are You Willing to Wait?

If ever there was a young woman who inspires me, who I would model my daughter to grow up like, it would be the sweetest-ever, Casey Herringshaw. I’m honored to have her here today sharing about being a single woman in today’s life and living for God–which shines boldly and beautifully through her life. Casey, you amaze me.
Everyone, welcome Casey!
It ain’t easy being me.
(and no, not
because I’m simply gor-geous
Twenty-one. Single. Not dating. Yeah.
It seems when you hit a certain age it’s expected that
you’ll date. Or at least by the time you’ve hit your twenties, you’ve had at
least one boyfriend.  The boyfriend world
has never been for me and I’ve never been on a date and really put myself “out
there” as available. It can prompt some interesting conversations from those
who are curious about why I’m still unattached.
I won’t sit and pretend it’s been an easy road to stumble
Stumble being the operative
word. I’m certainly not at a hopeless age for never marrying, it can seem like
my fusses are nothing but a futile compliant tossed to the winds. But sometimes
nothing is harder than to see those who have surrounded you during your growing
up years, your classmates and friends, all tying the knot.
Since I hit my twenties I have probably seen half the young
women I grew up with get married and start the next chapter of their lives. And
every time I see the announcements on Facebook or hear about it from a friend,
the tiny part of my heart that longs to fall in love hitches. It’s not to say
I’m not thrilled for them. But it often doesn’t make it any easier to realize
they are leaving me behind.
It’s in these moments, I have to acknowledge the state of my
heart. I have to admit that I’m struggling. But then I have to admit it’s time
to move on. The only thing that comes of being obsessive or impatient is
I have to be honest with myself in these cases and have a
sit-down with God. I can’t see my future. I don’t know where He’s taking me. I
don’t know what He still wants to teach me. All I do know, is He’s saying no right now. He’s asking me to walk by faith
and in trust. I don’t want the one thing I’d love more than anything to be the
one thing that shouldn’t happen right now because I’m not ready.
Satan uses everything around us against us if we grant him permission. Oftentimes,
it’s my siblings ragging me about “finding a man” or the pictures of those from
my graduating class in their wedding finery. The downer “it will never happen
to me” that defeats my solidarity of where God has me. In those moments, Satan
has won the hand and I’m questioning God’s sovereignty, exactly the power he wants.
It’s not always easy to be single. Especially when it feels
as though there is no light at the end of the hopeless tunnel.
But I’d rather be single, growing and loving in Christ, then
married to the man He doesn’t want for me.
It can seem easy to settle when
we’re hopeless in our present. But the present doesn’t last. Our future does.
And what we do in our present affects everything about our future. It’s praying
for wisdom. Smiling at the people that are always asking about your “love life”
and telling them: God’s got this.

Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school.
She lives in rural Eastern Oregon in a town more populated with cows than
people. Taking the words and stories God has placed on her heart and
putting them on paper is one of her highest passions in life. Casey is a member
of ACFW and an assistant to the
ACFW Carol Awards. You can connect with her through her personal
blog, Writing
for Christ
 and her writing related group blog, The Writer’s Alley

*photocredit: freedigitalphotos

Susan Tuttle: Smear It Like Peanut Butter!

Susan’s Sunday morning breakfast!
These are the kinds of texts she sends.

I can’t say enough how awesome Susan Tuttle is! That’s right. You heard me. Susan is an amazing prayer partner and writer whom I treasure. She writes a wonderful blog called Steps! And you’re nuts if you don’t head over there and follow her. Just sayin. Thank you for guest posting today, Susan!

I had a revelation the other day as I made my breakfast. It was early, so roll
with me here.  See, I LOVE peanut butter.
It is one of the most delicious things on this earth. If you don’t like it,
well, there’s something wrong with you, and I’ll add you to my prayer list.
every morning I toast an English muffin and when it pops up I spread my
creamy-goodness over it. Peanut butter has a heavenly fragrance to it. It is
unmistakable. You don’t open a jar of peanut butter and have someone ask you if
you just cut up an onion. No. You know peanut butter by its smell. Oh, and when
you spread it over your warm English muffin??? It drips into every nook and
cranny and makes every bite oh-so-delectable!
I made my breakfast last week I literally stopped mid-spread. I looked at my
English muffin. And then I said to God, “Know what, Lord? I want you to be just
like this peanut butter in my life. Smear yourself over me, get every nook and
cranny, until every bit of me is covered with you, and your fragrance rolls off
of me.”
you it was early. Hadn’t even had my coffee yet.

But that didn’t make my words any less true of a statement.
you know what I want most in my life? Him. In every particle of my being. I
want to look like Him. Smell like Him. My words to taste like Him—the words I
speak AND the words I write. Because when people interact with me, I want them
to have an encounter with the Living God.
in the business of changing lives. And as much as I love peanut butter, I love
that even more.
Susan Tuttle is a homeschooling mom of three who
is crazy about coffee, dark chocolate, and words—both reading and writing them.
Combine that love of words with her passion for leading women to a
life-changing encounter with Christ, and you’ll find her crafting Inspirational
Contemporary Romance stories laced with humor, love, and healing
transformations. When not cheering on her Ironman hubby, chasing the family dog,
or tackling complex math problems to teach her kids (yes, even the second
grader), you can catch Susan at her blog, Steps.

Tell me, are you PB
lovers too? If not, what do you pair with jelly? 

Come by our online
facebook community where you
can be inspired daily with
devotions! Click “like”
in the sidebar.

Olivia Newport: What Happens When Values Collide?

I would like to welcome, Olivia Newport to the blog today! Everyone give her a big welcome! I had the privilege to read her newest novel, Accidentally Amish. Whether you are an avid reader of the Amish genre or not, I think you would enjoy this book. I know I did! 

Thank you so much for coming by today, Olivia, and sharing about values colliding! Take it away!

If we
were sitting in a quiet room together telling the truth, we would admit we have
come up against situations that challenged us to consider our values.
instance, a child’s temperament throws a parenting curve you never saw coming.
Someone you trusted makes an unkind remark about a decision you wrestled over.
Illness holds you back from attractive, even noble, opportunities. Two values
you hold deeply seem mutually exclusive. A calling on your life seems contrary
to anything you ever imagined.

What do
we do?

we struggle through the immediate circumstance and heave relief when it’s
over—without deciding what we actually believe is right. We do whatever
everyone else is doing, or what they tell us to do. We do whatever seems easiest, even if our guts tell us it’s
not best.
How many
examples in our culture can we point to where people of conviction nevertheless
look just like everyone else? Are they different? Are we, as people of faith, different?
The book
of Romans has long been one of my favorite parts of the Bible. Around chapter
12, Paul gets down and dirty practical. Theology is all fine and good, but what
does it have to do with how we live? Perhaps you know the opening verses about
not being conformed to the world, but transformed by God’s work in you. Here’s
how Eugene Peterson puts it in The
(emphasis mine).

“So here’s what I want you
to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping,
eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an
offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your
culture that you fit into it without even thinking
. Instead, fix your
attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what
he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you,
always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of
you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it
without even thinking.
This is a constant challenge for Christians
engaging the culture around us, isn’t it? And it’s exactly the challenge that
Annie Friesen, a main character in my book Accidentally
, faces. The title is playful and catches people’s attention. As they
read, though, they feel the collision of worlds in Annie’s life when she
realizes she has become so well-adjusted to her culture that she fits into it without thinking.
Though the Amish are no more perfect than the rest of us,
they do present us with some questions worth pondering.
• What truly are the values that drive our decisions?
• Are our behaviors consistent with what we say we believe?
• Is our faith strong enough to help us buck the culture
when we ought to?
I love the promise at the end of Romans 12:2: “God brings the best out of you, develops
well-formed maturity in you.”
How have you collided with your
culture and seen God 
bring the best out of you? 
Olivia Newport is the author of The Pursuit of Lucy Banning (2012), Accidentally Amish (2012), and the forthcoming The Dilemma
of Charlotte Farrow (January 2013). She
lives in Colorado with her husband and two twenty-something children. Learn
more at www.olivianewport.com.

Anywhere books are sold! 
Here’s a sneak peek at Accidentally Amish:
Escape the
helter-skelter of the modern culture and join software creator Annie Friesen,
hiding at the home of an Amishman. With her high-tech career in jeopardy, Annie
runs from fast-paced Colorado Springs—and straight into the hospitality of San
Luis Valley’s Amish community. There she meets cabinetmaker Rufus Beiler, and
the more time she spends with him, the more attracted she becomes. When Annie
finds she shares a common ancestor with Rufus, she feels both cultures
colliding within her. But is her love for Rufus strong enough for her to give
up the only life she’s ever known?

* photo credit: freedigtialphotos

Patty Wysong: As Beautiful as Hephzibah

Today, I’m honored to host the amazing, Patty Wysong who is sharing about beauty. Thank you, Patty for being here today!

As women, we have a natural bent for beauty. We love it and long for it. As Christian women we are very aware of the two kinds of beauty–physical beauty and inner beauty. How many times have we seen a beautiful woman and admired her beauty—until she took off her sunglasses or opened her mouth? And other times we’ve met a woman whose inner beauty shined so brightly that it far surpassed her outer beauty. 

Those women made an impression on us and we remembered their inner beauty much longer than their lack of physical beauty.

What makes a woman beautiful even when her hair is snarly and she’s wearing a plaid polyester pantsuit? A heart that’s full of her Savior and Lord. A heart that’s glowing for God. A heart that’s overflowing with praise. 

The Bible tells us what is beautiful:

Praise is becoming to the upright. ~Psalm 33:1b
Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
For it is pleasant and praise is becoming.
~Psalm 147:1

Praise! It’s something everyone can do. It’s a matter of making the choice to praise rather than complain. Praising God takes our eyes off ourselves and puts them on the One we are praising. Self-absorbed people are not happy people, they’re miserable. God-absorbed people are able to praise even when life stinks. It gives them a measure of joy even during the unhappy times.

We work hard at beauty–our own beauty and the beauty that surrounds us, whether it’s our home or work place. But do we put as much time and thought and effort into our inner beauty? Sometimes that inner beauty is as simple as choosing to praise God—whether we feel like it or not. That praise shines through us and God rejoices.

And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so your God will rejoice over you. ~Isaiah 62:5b

God rejoices in us, His bride, and He has a special name for us: Hephzibah. It’s found in Isaiah 62:4. But you will be called, “My delight is in her,” and the margin note says Hephzibah. My baby name book agrees with the margin note, too. Proverbs assures us that a good name Proverbs 22:1 is more desirable than great wealth. “My delight is in her.” Sounds to me like a pretty cool name to be called! Hephzibah. It has quite a ring to it.

Let’s be sure to beautify our lives with praise for our great God so we can live up to the name He has given us.


My delight is in her.

Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. ~Psalm 22:3

Since Patty quit running from God’s call on
her life and surrendered her pen to Him, she’s been happy. Life is never dull
as she juggles being a wife, a homeschooling mom of five, a Bible study
facilitator, an online blogging class teacher, a blog designer, a website
manager, and a writer. As long as she’s obeying God’s leading, she figures that
sanity is a novelty and not a necessity. Patty clings to the promise that God
will enable her to do what He asks of her, otherwise you would find her living
with the scaredy cats at the Funny Farm and not just occasionally visiting.

She would love to visit with you online on her blog, Patterings, Facebook, and Twitter.

Name one thing you find 
beautiful in a woman?

I’m hosting at
Living By Grace and
I’d love for you to come by
and chat!

Joanne Bischof: Does God Make Mistakes?

I’m truly honored to have debut author, Joanne Bischof here! Her book Be Still My Soul recently released and let me tell you, it’s amazing! Today she’s sharing with us about how her story came to life and answered the question: Does God make mistakes?
Do you ever look around you and wonder… “How did I
get here?” As a new author, I have this thought every single day. I’m amazed by
the blessing of it all.
I never planned on writing Appalachian
. I never woke up and thought “today is the day I’m
going to write a book about romance in Appalachia.” It just sort of happened. I
was listening to this

by Alison Krauss and instantly, Lonnie’s character came to me. I saw her
sitting there, this question filling her heart—would she ever be loved? Right
then, Gideon’s character came to me as well. And while at first, the
possibility seemed unlikely between the two of them, I knew that God works
miracles and that this love story had to be told. In this moment, Be Still My Soul was born.
The story took off from there and true to its musical
origins, it begins
with a dance
, deep in the mountains, one autumn
night. As I thought about it, I knew that Lonnie, the shy wallflower of Rocky
Knob would want little to do with singing on stage. But of course, that’s
exactly where she ends up. Right next to cocky bluegrass musician and handsome
ladies’ man, Gideon O’Riley. While they knew one another from afar, this is the
first moment they are thrown together. Gideon who has a reputation as being the
town rebel, ends up walking her home—almost stealing more than a kiss—and ends
up changing her life forever.
My heart breaks for Lonnie, but I see redemption on
the horizon and pray that hope will breath it’s peace into her spirit.
Isn’t life funny that way? We find ourselves in a
situation and we’re questioning if maybe God made a mistake. Maybe He fell
asleep at the wheel for a minute and didn’t hear our pleas. We think, “God you
know my needs and this is NOT what I need right now.” I think God just listens.
Because He knows what He can build out of nothing. What he can build from a
flurry of broken hopes. Broken dreams. But do we? Do we forget that God is so
mighty that nothing is too big for Him? No distance too far. No heart too cold.
There have been moments in my life when I’ve forgotten this truth. But then it
fills my heart with peace and healing begin. Because nothing is impossible for
Let’s chat! Has there been a time in your life when
you felt this way? A moment when you thought “no good can come of this” yet
down the road, God’s blessings unfolded in a surprise way?
 Here’s a sneak peek at Joanne’s historical romance:
chill tickled her skin. Lonnie pressed her hands together and glanced up. He
was even more handsome up close. Having grown up the shy, awkward daughter of
Joel Sawyer, she’d hardly spoken to any boy, let alone the one who had mothers
whispering warnings in their daughter’s ears and fathers loading shotguns.

Pretty Lonnie Sawyer is shy and innocent, used to fading into the background
within her family, and among the creeks and hollows of the Appalachian hills.
Though her family is poor and her father abusive, she clings to a quiet
faith.  But when handsome ladies’ man and bluegrass musician Gideon
O’Riley steals a kiss, that one action seals her fate.

Her father forces her into a hasty marriage with Gideon—a man she barely knows
and does not love. Equally frustrated and confused by his new responsibilities,
Gideon yearns for a fresh start, forcing  Lonnie on an arduous journey
away from her home in Rocky Knob.

Her distant groom can’t seem to surrender his rage at the injustice of the
forced matrimony or give Lonnie any claim in his life.  What will it take
for Gideon to give up his past, embrace Lonnie’s God, and discover a hope that
can heal their two fractured hearts?

Married to her first
sweetheart, Joanne Bischof lives in the mountains of Southern
California where she keeps busy making messes with their home-schooled
children. When she’s not weaving Appalachian romance, she’s blogging about
faith, writing, and the adventures of country living that bring her stories to
life. Be Still My Soul is her first novel.
Connect with Joanne at her website/blog, facebook, and twitter @joannebischof
*I loved all your names! Thanks for entering the contest. It was a toughy. Here’s my Top 4 Names I battled with for the Sailboat contest:
4. I Promise it’s Safe
3.Early Inheritance
2.Sinking Feeling
1. Parayoso (Paradise in Spanish) 

But the winner goes to…

Seas the Bay by Katelynn Evans! Perfect for a guy in Tampa Bay!

*photocredit: freedigitalphotos

Launch Party with Donna Pyle!

Purchase this study:
Barnes & Noble
Any bookstore! 

I stood in line waiting for my appointment with editors at the WFTS conference. I turned around to see this gorgeous smiling face. “I’m Donna Pyle.” 
“I’m Jessica Patch. What do you write?”
Donna shared a little of her testimony with me and in that very second, I knew we were knit together. Friends for life. Donna is full of passion for Jesus and a hunger to see women grow closer to Him. She’s bubbly, funny, full of godly wisdom and above all she’s a woman of integrity! I can gush all day, but I won’t!
JP: Donna, let readers know more about you and
your passion for Bible Study.
DP: Jessica,
thank you so much for hosting the exciting launch day festivities!
Hi, y’all!
I’m a life-long Texan who loves Starbucks, Chick-Fil-A, traveling, and kitty
cats. Well, I didn’t grow up going to church regularly. I remember hearing
about God the Father, but didn’t recall that God was married. I know, right? When I became a Christian
21 years ago, God gave me an insatiable desire to understand His Word. Out of
that quest, God revealed such über cool truths that I thought others might like
to know it, too, so I started writing Bible studies. Now, 19 in-depth studies
later, I know without a doubt this is God’s calling in my life. I launched
Artesian Ministries in 2007 and have the privilege of traveling all over the US
and internationally teaching God’s Word. There’s nothing I love more than
digging into Scripture. There are so many women who don’t know how much God
loves them. He’s given me incredible opportunities to let them know.

JP: You had me till cats! Just kidding speaking of cats, check out Donna’s cozy little critters. 
I thought cats always landed on their feet?
Um, Donna, she’s giving me the
stank eye! 
JP: Ok, now back to the real cat’s meow–the study! I’m more than excited to be a part of
helping you launch your newest Bible study, The God of All Comfort! When women
dig into this 8 lesson study what will they discover? What makes this study unique?
DP: Many
people know several Bible passages about comfort. But when life blindsides us,
we struggle to recognize HOW God comforts us in real time. That’s what this
study does. I interviewed several faithful Christians who went through
heartbreaking life situations. They reveal exactly how God comforted them and
how that experience affected their lives and strengthened their faith. Although
we dig into lots of verses about God’s grace, love and comfort, it also demonstrates
how God comforts us when we need it most. It shows us how to recognize it,
embrace it, and cling to Him when life turns upside down.
JP: I think we all love comfort, and there’s
nothing wrong with that—to be comfortable. Sipping hot tea while reading a good
book or dipping in a steaming bubble bath is comforting, but it doesn’t bring
the Greatest Comfort! Will women explore the difference between earthly comfort
and heavenly comfort?
DP: That’s
a GREAT question, Jess! Absolutely, there’s a difference and this study explores
it in depth. Earthly comfort expires. Chocolate gets consumed. Flowers die.
Friends move away. Loved ones disappoint. But our God of all comfort lives
inside of us. He is with us every second of every day to offer everlasting
comfort! This study hits hard issues such as childhood sexual abuse, loss,
cancer, addiction, divorce, spiritually mismatched marriages, the stress of a
child serving in the military, and more. These amazing story-sharers reveal
exactly how God comforted and restored them. The Scripture passages to look up
along the way and small group questions at the end of each chapter urges us to
dig deep and experience this study in a community of believers. If you have
suffered, needed comfort, or craved compassion, this study is for you.
JP: Speaking of earthly comfort for a minute,
answer the following questions:
Flannel or cotton? Cotton! I live in the deep
South. Flannel in this heat causes spontaneous combustion.
shoes or bare feet?
bare feet. Otherwise I’d miss the lovely feeling of stepping in cat urp first
thing in the morning every now and then. TMI?
or “whacha see is whacha get” ?
Make-up! I’m blonde, so I have no eyebrows,
eyelashes or color without make-up. Nobody survives seeing that. 🙂
or coffee?
oh yes, coffee! With a side of chocolate.
or showers?
There’s nothing like soaking in a hot bath to relax while reading.
or silence?
is my soul’s language. I love music – especially worship music.
or city?
a country girl at heart, but a city girl by amenities. If that’s wrong, I don’t
want to be right.
or sunshine?
I really love rain. The life it brings and cozy time if offers.
JP: Yes, yes TMI! lol When would you say you feel the most
DP: It’s truly the little things. A handwritten note
in the mail letting me know someone’s thinking about me during a hard time does
wonders. And did I mention chocolate?
JP: You did! I think I have your Christmas gift picked out! Let’s chat about spiritual comfort for a
moment. Share one of your most memorable moments when the greatest source of
Comfort—Jesus  Christ—comforted you!
DP: The
day I signed my divorce papers two and a half years ago was the hardest day of
my life. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, do anything, or get off of the sofa
when I got back home from court. At one point, I was in a heap on the floor
just sobbing. In that moment Jesus’ comforting presence was so powerful and
tangible that it startled me. He was right there with me on the floor, catching
each tear, and reminding me how much I’m loved and cherished.  
JP: I love that He bottles our tears and never mishandles our heart even when others do. Donna, I’ve had a blast hanging out with you
today. I know I’m going to jump in quick on this study and I hope the readers
out there will too!
Tell everyone about the comfy goodies you have
for them today!
DP: I’m so excited about
this launch drawing! We have:
Touch (Wi-Fi, 6″ E Ink Display)
copy of The God of All Comfort
ground coffee
coffee mug with The God of All Comfort
cover on it
iTunes gift cards (worship is essential to comfort!)
set of my DVD Bible study series, Your
Strong Suit
Here’s how
to enter the contest:
Donna’s question: “When was the last time you experienced God’s
comforting presence? How?”
  • Follow the
  • For extra
    entries: Tweet this (add @jessicarpatch to tag me so I can count it a 2nd entry), share on facebook (tag me so I can count it as an entry), and follow @DonnaPyleTX on twitter!
  • The
    contest ends on Sunday, August 19th
    and the winner will be announced
    on Monday, August 20th! 

You can connect with Donna on facebook, her amazing and uplifting blog-Hydrated Living, her website–Artesian Ministries, twitter, and goodreads

Here’s a another peek at The God of All Comfort:
Lessons about Hope in Christ.

Life is hard. Really hard for some of us. We suffer, we grow discouraged, we
struggle with sin. But when we view our sufferings from the balcony of faith,
we rest in the assurance that God never leaves us unloved or uncared for. His
hope is a beacon of comfort.

Over these eight lessons, our journey will take us through a section of
Scripture titled ”The God of All Comfort,” in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. The
apostle Paul, the author of that letter and an expert when it came to suffering,
lends insight and encouragement that God is not blind to our troubles. Along
the way, we will meet faith-filled Christians who relied on faith despite their
heartache. Through their stories and God’s Word, we will experience the
unmistakable handprint of a loving, merciful Savior.

For individuals and small groups, this Bible study offers hope provided by a
God who relentlessly pursues us with His ultimate comfort.

Surf N Turf with Lindsay Harrel!


*Note: Scroll down to the youtube so you can listen while you read! Get an island adventure all the way around!

Pillow fights with lots of giggling, goofy dance-offs,
roller-skating backwards, and late night talks. That’s what Lindsay Harrel is.
Fun, energetic, sweet, deep and full of Jesus. I love me some Linds.

Since the age of six, when she wrote the riveting tale “How
to Eat Mud Pie,” Lindsay Harrel has passionately engaged the written word as a
reader, writer, and editor. She holds a B.A. in Journalism and Mass
Communication and an M.A. in English. In her current day job as a curriculum
editor for a local university, Lindsay helps others improve their work and
hones her skills for her night job—writing inspirational contemporary fiction. Lindsay
lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband of five years and a golden
retriever puppy in serious need of training.
Did I mention wicked smart, too? Yeah. I know. Today we want
you to kick back, toss your flip-flops in the bag (mine are hot pink to match
my swim suit and since it’s cyberworld, uh…size 4 thank you very much!) Close
your eyes, well don’t really…um…you’re reading, and listen as Jimmy Buffet and
possibly Kermit take us to the islands.
Today, Linds and I are hanging at the beach. Which one you
ask? Doesn’t matter. It’s a beach. With water. And drinks with umbrellas
(loaded or unloaded whatever you prefer).
What kind of sunscreen are you wearing and what proof? I’m wearing my sparking
Hawaiian Tropics. I feel like such a Cullen! 15 proof which is a little higher than
the proof in my Mohito! LOL
Banana Boat ‘cause the name just rocks—even though I think of coconuts, not
bananas, when I think of the beach. And do they make a 150-proof? ‘Cause, girl,
I’m pale and I burn. Just a fact of life, unfortunately.
heard once you get to 30 proof, it’s all the same just more expensive. Don’t
take my word though, as you might look very much like Sebastian when all is
said and done. So, I know we’re chatting and all, but what genre is that book
you’re reading?
Christian romantic fiction, of course. I love all genres, but I sort of find
the beach setting a romantic one. So I gotta have fiction to match!
JP: Yes
I agree although I’m reading an intense romantic suspense, but I can’t figure
out who killed Laura Palmer. *giggle* You missed that didn’t you? You’re so
young! (Who else missed that?) Hold up, my bathing suit needs adjusted. Oh, the
sand! How many bathing suits did you try on before you found one you deemed
decent to go out in public in?
LH: Well,
since I can tell on the hanger that about 99% are either for tiny teens or
grandmas…not many (since there aren’t many to choose from!).
so had that issue with my daughter. Either too little girlish or too
Kardashian. Sigh. Cough. I’m parched. Let’s order something to drink! What are
you having?
LH: Ice water (with the awesome munchable ice like they have
at Sonic) with a Coke Zero chaser. Ha. I’m funny, huh?
Seriously? We’re on a beach with a full Tiki bar and you’re having water. With
ice. That crunches. You know what else crunches? Celery stalks. In Bloody
Marys. LOL I’m kidding, I mean celery does crunch but about BMs. Okay, now that
could go lots of places. BM as in Blood Mary, people.  Nevermind. I’m having a watermelon slush.
Man, I love the beach. The sand in my… toes, the crashing of waves. Sun on my
face. What do you love most about the beach?
photo credit: freedigitalphotos
LH: Like
you, the sound of the waves. There is nothing more relaxing to me than the
sound of running—or crashing—water. Sigh! Like I said above…romantic, no?
JP: Indeed
it is, Linds. Hey your shoulders look a little medium rare. I’m thinking you
need to load up again. Dude, we need some tunes. What’s playing on your iPod?
LH: You’re
going to run away screaming when I say this, but I love all the Glee
soundtracks. Especially the ones where they perform show tunes. Don’t hate!
Hate?! I LOVE the Glee soundtracks, have most of them! Crank up Defying
Gravity! But not really. It’s kinda’s messing with Jimmy. Here’s a little island treat for all of us! 

JP: Now that’s island fun and it makes me hungry. Lunch should be seafood. I’m having deep fried
crab claws, crab legs, and fried shrimp. What’s a little grease when you’re
wearing a cyber 4? What’s on your menu?
LH: Um,
yeah…the cool thing about surf and turf is YOU can have the surf and I’LL have
the turf. (Cough, seafood is of the devil). For me, chicken all the way, baby,
especially if it’s seasoned with some sort of Cajun or jerked spices. Yummy in
my tummy.
JP: And
yet again, you disappoint me. Sigh. SIGH. SIIIIGH! Oh well, more for me! Let’s
go in the water! Kayaking! Yes. Hope JAWS doesn’t get us. Ba dump…what do you
hope to see out here—minus JAWS? I’d love to see a school of dolphins. Do they
actually travel in schools? Herds? Packs? Crowds? Clicks?
LH: Yay,
kayaking is fun! I did that once in Hawaii with my hubby. And yes, wouldn’t it
be sweet to see dolphins? I might even be willing to brave my fear of the open
water and swim with them…as long as we were positive JAWS wouldn’t attack and
bite my leg off. I’d also love to see more sea turtles. We just saw one when we
snorkeled in St. Kitts (in a very secure and safe cove…no sharks!).
From the movie: JAWS

JP:  Sounds like a plan. Don’t worry, we’ll be
safe. Isn’t that what everyone says before it isn’t safe? What would you do if
the undertow kept pulling us out? Or if you were stuck on a beach island for
three months? What would you miss most? What would you miss least?

LH: I’d
miss my daily dose of Internet and social media/email, since I’m pretty much
addicted. What would I miss least? Haha, work.

JP: Yep, this is the life and it’s all in cyberville so join
us! You can hang with Linds on land too! At her blog, facebook, and twitter @LindsayHarrel.

playing on your iPod and are you Surf n Turf, or just Surf or Turf? Cheers! Don’t
forget your sunblock!

*Monday, I’ll choose the winner for my contest on facebook and share why I chose it here on the blog! Today is the last day to cast your vote and name the Saint Bernard in my newest book. Winner gets a $10 Amazon/Starbucks card (your choice) “Like” my page and leave as many comments as you like! 

Welcome Amy Clipston!

I’m baaaack!! Did you miss me? I missed all of you! Seriously, I did. Okay, before I introduce our lovely guest, Amy Clipston, I want to let you all know the winner for the Wildflowers from Winter drawing is TERRY STRICKLAND!!!! Yay, Terry! Katie Ganshert will be getting you a copy soon! Enjoy!

I met the loveliest author on twitter! If you tweet, come find me and let’s follow and hang out! @jessicarpatch or just Join the Conversation at the side bar! Amy is precious and we hit it right off! You definitely need to hang out with her too! @AmyClipston and her facebook page where she’s always giving something away! Woo hoo!

 Amy  is the best-selling author of the Kauffman Amish
Bakery series with Zondervan. She has been writing for as long as she can
remember. Her fiction writing “career” began in elementary school
when she and a close friend wrote and shared silly stories. She is a graduate
of Virginia Wesleyan College and a member of the Authors Guild, American
Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America. Amy lives in North
Carolina with her husband, two sons, mother, and four spoiled rotten cats.

 You had me until the cats! Just kidding…sorta.
😉 What one thing other than writing are you passionate about?

readers may not know that I’m passionate about organ donation because my
husband recently underwent a second kidney transplant. On June 14, 2011, I
donated a kidney to a stranger and, in exchange, my recipient’s husband gave a
kidney to my husband. This program is called paired kidney donation. Everyone
involved in the transplant is doing really well. I’m thankful my husband has a
new life without dialysis and that I was able to help another family through
the program.

That’s amazing, Amy! So glad everyone is doing well! You have a new book,
called Reckless Heart, coming out
this month, tell us one favorite line and why?
AC: I don’t want to give away too
much of the story, so I’d like to share a scene where Lydia and her mother
visit Lydia’s baby sister Ruthie in the hospital. Ruthie is very ill due to
leukemia. I like this scene because it shows the tenderness between the
sisters, and you’ll see how Lydia is struggling to be mature and strong.
Trying in vain to stop her tears,
Lydia lowered herself into a chair beside the bed and took Ruthie’s hand in
hers. Ruthie stirred but didn’t wake up.
Mamm sat in a chair on the other side
of the bed. “The doctor said that she is very tired from the illness and the
excitement of the ambulance ride.”
Lydia felt as if her world was
coming apart as she studied her baby sister, who looked so tiny and weak. She
stroked Ruthie’s little hand.
“I think she wants to hear your
voice,”  Mamm said. “She needs to know that you’re
here with her.”
“Ruthie,” she began. “It’s Lydia.
Mamm said that you wanted to see me.
I hope you’re feeling better. You gave us a real scare, but the doctor said
you’re going to be just fine. There are a lot of people in the waiting room
here at the hospital, and they all came for you. All of our aunts, uncles,
cousins, and most of our freinden
from church are already here. Joshua told me that more people are on their way.
You have to get better so you can visit with them when you feel up to it. You
know that they’ll want to come by the haus
and see you when you come home.”
Ruthie turned her head toward
Lydia and opened her eyes.
“Hi, there,” Lydia said as a tear
trickled down her cheek. “You need to get better, ya?”
Nodding her head, Ruthie squeezed
Lydia’s hand.
Lydia sucked in a breath and
smiled at her sister. They sat in silence for several minutes. The only sounds
were the buzz and hiss of the machine and the occasional deep, barky cough from
Ruthie’s little mouth.
Lydia began to babble about
everything that she wanted to do with Ruthie when she was better, such as
teaching her how to sew and how to write her name. She then told Ruthie about
the storybook she’d read to Irma in the waiting area. She prattled on and on
until she was out of words.
Finally, Mamm leaned over. “Ruthie, I think you need to get more sleep. Why
don’t you close your eyes, mei liewe?”
Ruthie closed her eyes. Soon, her
breathing changed, and she let go of Lydia’s hands.
“Let’s allow her to sleep in
peace,” Mamm whispered. “I think it
helped her to see you and hear your voice. Maybe that will give her some
strength to tell her body to get better.” She gestured toward the door. “Let’s
head back out to the waiting area.”
A beautiful scene! What inspired you to write this book?
AC: My friends at Zonderkids asked
me to write an Amish young adult novel and gave the choice of writing a
Kauffman book or creating new characters. I pitched the idea of writing about
Lydia Bontrager, a Kauffman granddaughter, and my editor liked it. I’m excited
I could use a Kauffman character in a new story that isn’t connected to the
That’s awesome! I’ve never been to Lancaster county. Name one place you’d like
to go that you’ve never been and why?
AC: It’s my dream to go to Hawaii!  My hubby is a Navy brat, and he was born in
Hawaii while his father was stationed there. I’d love to go see where he was
born and also sit on the sand and gaze at that crystal blue water. Someday
you’ll find me there sitting under an umbrella with a book in my hand and a
grin on my face.
JP: Find you? I might go with you! You
could always write an Amish book set there and go for “research”! When you’re
curling up with a good book at night, do you choose the same genre you write or
something else?
AC: I try not to read other Amish
writers. When I do, I worry my books aren’t as good or that I might
accidentally emulate their style when I work on my next novel. I enjoy
contemporary romance and young adult. I read both Christian and secular
authors. I have a pile books I want to read when I find the time.
That might be every writers fear! But man, I love the books in my genre (even
when I worry mine stink. What would your characters say about you if they had
the chance?
AC: I hope my characters would say
I’m a good person who strives to be the best writer, mother, and Christian
woman she can be. Sometimes I fall short, but I try to do my best.

And really, that’s all we can do! Give us a
peek at Reckless Heart!

Here’s a teaser for you:

Lydia Bontrager’s youngest sister is frighteningly ill, and as a
good Amish daughter, it falls to Lydia to care for her siblings and keep the
household running, in addition to working as a teacher’s assistant and helping
part time at her grandmother’s bakery. Succumbing to stress, Lydia gives in to
one wild night and returns home drunk.

The secret of that mistake leaves Lydia feeling even more restless and
confused, especially when Joshua, the only boy she’s ever loved, becomes
increasingly distant. When a non-Amish boy moves in nearby, Lydia finds someone
who understands her, but the community is convinced Lydia is becoming too
reckless. With the pressures at home and her sister’s worsening condition, a
splintering relationship with Joshua, and her own growing questions over what
is right, Lydia could lose everything that she’s ever held close.

Thanks for hanging out with me today, Amy! It was awesome!

Amy is giving a copy of Reckless Heart away today! Leave her a comment and your email address! If you’re reading from facebook, you can comment here or there! Tweet and get a double shot of winning!

Amy says: I would
love to ask readers what they would like to see in my next novel. What would
they like me to write about?