Posted on December 2, 2013 - by Lorna Seilstad
What time of year is it?
Obviously, it’s Christmas, and as the song says, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
But Christmas goes beyond the shopping sprees, the Christmas programs at school, and stories of Santa and his tiny reindeer. During the next two weeks the Inkspers want to celebrate the greatest gift every given–the birth of our savior, and we want you to step into the story with us.
Most modern theologians agree that Jesus was not actually born on December 25 because the shepherds would not be in the fields in the winter and no census would be taken during the cold season. But the date is not nearly as important as the gift of the Christ child. Have you ever wished you could have been present when Jesus entered the world? Would you have wanted to hear his first cries? Been an angel bringing the good news? Each of us are going to choose someone from the story of Christ’s birth that we’d to exchange places with if only for a moment. Join us every day in the next two weeks and take a fresh look at an age-old story.
Elizabeth spent years of being barren. I can imagine the hours she spent on her knees praying for a baby of her own. When the angel Gabrielle tells Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah that she was going to conceive and bare him a son, Zechariah didn’t believe. He was struck mute until their son was born.
Now, imagine and older mother Elizabeth, several months along, seeing the knowing smile on her husband’s face every day. If only he’d had enough faith he could have shouted for joy every time he saw her!
Elizabeth was heavy with baby John when her unwed cousin Mary came for a visit. According to Luke 1:41-45, here’s what happened. “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!’” (NIV)
If I could change places with someone from the nativity story, I’d choose Elizabeth and here’s why.
1. Custom would dictate that Elizabeth would not have been happy with the appearance of her unwed, very young cousin appearing on her doorstep. Still, Elizabeth listened to the Holy Spirit over traditions. How hard that is to do sometimes! She blesses her young cousin with her praises.
2. Baby John leaped in her womb at the sound of Mary’s greeting. If you’ve ever been pregnant, you can imagine what an eye-opening moment that had to be. Elizabeth would never have to doubt that Jesus was Lord.
3. Elizabeth is joyful for Mary. Because it had taken Elizabeth so many years to conceive, she could have been bitter. She could have looked down on Mary. Instead, she lifts her up. I imagine Mary really needed that kind of support at this point in her life. While Mary knew the truth about the child she carried, all those around her did not.
At this time, a girl who became pregnant out of wedlock would have been terrified. The whole social structure was set up for children to be born within marriage. Genealogy and ownership of children was seen as very important. Girls who became pregnant outside marriage would probably have had to leave their homes and their families.
There was the potential of being sold into slavery or of being stoned to death. She may have been married off quickly or banished from her home and village, which may have led a women to prostitution or slavery when she had no way of supporting herself.
But it is in the arms of her older cousin that Mary finds the love, affirmation and support she needs at just the right time. I’d love to be her for day.
What about you? Have you ever thought of Elizabeth’s role in the nativity story?
Posted on November 18, 2013 - by Lorna Seilstad
With Thanksgiving in the U.S. just around the corner, many of us are taking this opportunity to look at the blessings in our lives. But the Inkspers wanted to take a more specific look at one area–that of being a writer–and share some of the ways this “obsession” has blessed each of our lives.
Here’s ten reasons I am thankful for the privilege of writing.
1. My commute is REALLY short, and I don’t have to drive in bad weather. Since I only have to walk to the basement to begin my day, I get to avoid the icy Iowa roads.
2. I never have to grow up. Writing is a lot like playing with Barbies on paper.
4. Research! I love it. For me, research is like a treasure hunt, and when I discover something, I feel like I won a prize.
5. The deep sense of satisfaction I get when I know I’ve written something that feels “right.”
6. I laugh at my own jokes. Yep, I do it out loud while I’m writing, and no one is around to care.
7. Storytelling is my constant companion. All my life, when I was bored or traveling or having trouble falling to sleep, I’ve made up stories.
8. Meeting readers or hearing from them because one of the books God’s allowed me to write has touched them in a meaningful way is a huge blessing.
9. My writing friends –both real and imaginary. I’m so thankful for all of the friendships I’ve made because of my writing pursuits. I’m also thankful for the imaginary friends who become characters on the pages of my books.
10. The joy of typing “The End”. Having given months and months to a solitary effort and then to see it come together is priceless. I know then I’m part of something as old as time. I’m a storyteller. The words I write become stories that can evoke laughter and tears, and there’s no better job in the world.
I could go on and on about the joy of seeing a cover for the first time or the fun I have brainstorming with friends, but I’ll stop now. I thank God for the blessings he’s given me through writing, and I pray I will bring glory to him with the words I write.
What about your job? What things do you find yourself beging thankful for concerning it? Do you relate to any of the things on my list?
Posted on November 3, 2013 - by Lorna Seilstad
Nostalgia. For some, the word conjures up warm feelings. For others, it provokes a sense of longing. According to Milan Kundera, author of Ignorance, “The Greek word for ‘return’ is nostos. Algos means ‘suffering.’ So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.”
I don’t know if I think of feeling nostaligic as a form or suffering, but as autumn gives way to winter, we often find ourselves thinking of the rose-painted past.
What makes you nostalgic? Your childhood? That of your children? Simpler times? Join the Inkspers during the next two weeks as they take a look at what makes each of them nostalgic.
Even though my youngest daughter is now fourteen and hasn’t played with the dolls in quite a long time, the announcement made me a bit sad. It seems as if the last hold on my kids’ childhood is being broken.
Ironically, when my youngest daughter told her college-aged older sister of her plans, it seemed to trigger a little melancholy in her as well.
We have never been a wealthy family so purchasing these dolls for the girls was a big deal. I bought accessories off of eBay, and they happily settled for generic brand clothes for their dolls along with a few “official” outfits.
Kit (above) and Kirsten (at right) made road trips with us. They provided hours and hours of playtime, and they made my girls very happy. A mother cherishes those things. If only it were that easy to make them happy today.
So as we seal up the boxes containing the beds, the chairs, the books, and the clothes, I can’t help feel a little nostalgic. My girls have grown into beautiful young women, inside and out, but sometimes I miss the days when we’d pour over the newest American Girl Doll catalogue, when I’d hear them playing let’s pretend, and when I could be “the best mom in the world” by picking up a new outfit at a garage sale.
All things must come to an end, so instead of being sad, I’ve decided to say a prayer of thanks–thanks for my daughters, thanks for their giggles and hugs, and thanks that they were able to enjoy a magical childhood.
Have you felt a similar tug when you put your kids toys away? Did you or your children have toys that your cherished?
I think it will be a lot of fun to share some of our memories.
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We’re celebrating the release of Shannon’s latest title, Rodeo Queen for the next two weeks. Shannon is giving away 2 print copies. All comments will go into a drawing. Deadline: Nov 16, 11:59 pm central time.
Until she starts receiving threatening letters from a stalker. The good news is, the Texas Ranger assigned to her case is none other than her former sweetheart Mitch Warren—the man who chose his career over love.
Mitch vows to focus on protecting the woman he’s never forgotten. But Caitlyn stirs up memories best left in the past. When Mitch insists on hiding Caitlyn away on his family’s San Antonio ranch, will he keep things professional or seek out a second chance?
Posted on October 20, 2013 - by Lorna Seilstad
Did you know peanut butter and jelly have a national day? It’s April 2. There are also special days set aside to honor the “bald and free”, the Mad Hatter, and . There’s even a National Mole Day.
After seeing all those, I was delighted to discover a holiday I could really celebrate. Nov. 1 is National Authors’ Day. So, for the next two weeks, the Inkspers will be counting down the days toward this special day!
Some of us will be sharing things about authors who touched their lives. Others will be discussing how readers can encourage and support authors or how we can enourage young writers who may someday be the next generation of authors.
Please join us as we count down to National Author’s Day!
When I was in 5th or 6th grade, we were given the task of writing to a celebrity. Some of the kids in my class chose actors or athletes. One young man wrote to Charles Schultz and received a reply. I had just read A Wrinkle in Time. It was the first book I’d read that had totally engulfed me, so I chose to write to Madeleine L’Engle. As an aspiring author, I asked her for advice.
Ms. L’Engle wrote me a personal note. In the letter she said that the best advice she could give a young writer was to keep a journal–not of what you do but of all that you think and feel.
I wish I could say I took her advice. I’d have a wealth of emotion to draw on if I had. What I can say is that advice has stayed in my head. I realize that I began to see life through a writer’s lens after that. I didn’t write down all that I thought or felt, but I became aware of it in an acute way.
Unfortunately, the letter was lost when my room suffered water damage. But I don’t need the letter to remember the experience. An author took time to write to me and plant a seed. Today, I celebrate Madeleine L’Engle and all those like her.
Posted on October 7, 2013 - by Lorna Seilstad
Are the trees dressing in their autumn splendor around your home? I just returned from a trek across Iowa. I joined Judy Miller in Amana for a book signing at the Amana General Store during Oktoberfest, and I was delighted to see the trees gracing the hillsides with leaves beginning to turn.
Fall is one of my favorite seasons and it always puts me into a period of reflecting. The Bible, too, suggests autumn is time for us to reflect on the harvest and bounty of what God has done in our lives.
During the next two weeks, each Inkpser will be sharing a Bible verse related to the harvest and sharing some thought on it. I hope you will join us each day and reap the rewards of sharing God’s word with friends.
In Exodus 23:14, the nation of Israel is commanded to keep three special times for the Lord. One was the Feast of Unleavened Bread, also known as Passover. The second was the Feast of the Harvest, also known as Pentecost or Feast of Weeks. This was to be held 50 days after Passover. The last was the Feast of Ingathering, also known as the Feast of Booths.
Passover, you may know, celebrates the day the day the death angel “passed over” the doorposts marked with the blood of a lamb and the children of Isrel were freed from Egyptian slavery by Moses.
Pentecost, or the Feast of the Harvest or Day of First Fruits, celebrates the day the Torah was given to the nation of Isreal, and is also connect the wheat harvest time.
On the day of firstfruits, when you present to the Lord an offering of new grain during the Festival of Weeks, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.
“On the day of firstfruits, when you present to the Lord an offering of new grain during the Festival of Weeks, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. ” -Numbers 28:26 (NIV)
God wanted the people to bring him the firstfruits of the wheat harvest. The people were to bring an offering of new grain in the form of two loaves of bread. They were specifically commanded to make these loaves with fine flour and leaven, and they were to do no work as the day was holy.
Because the loaves contained leaven, which always stood for sin to the Jews, the bread could not be placed on the alter and could not be eaten until after the ceremony. This was a festival of joy as it marked the conclusion of the wheat harvest. The feast concluded with sharing the meal with strangers and the poor.
This special day reminded the people to give their best and first to the Lord. Also, during the busyness of harvest, they were to stop and set aside a day for Him.
In anciet Isreal, history says that Jewish farmers would tie a reed around the first ripening fruits from each species in their fields so they could be offered at he time of harvest.
How often do we take time to give God our firstfruits? Does He get the best part of our day? Our week? Or does He get the leftovers? What are you setting aside for Him? Do we stop working, even in busy times to thank Him and spend joyful time in his presence?
What are your thoughts?
Posted on September 23, 2013 - by Lorna Seilstad
Whether you Tweet, Pin, or Post, you are probably familiar with the social media terms that have become a regular part of our lives. Some people believe social media provides a way to be connected to friends across the globe. Others see it as a lion–ready to devour our young and destroy our relationships.
Most of us fall somewhere in middle.
For the next two weeks, we’ll be discussing social media. We’ll be sharing our favorite sites, talking about the pros and cons, and maybe even talking about social media etiquette. So, whether you see social media as a bane or a blessing, join us and share your feelings on this subject.
Personally, I have a Twitter account, a Pinterest account, and a Facebook account. Of the three, I use Facebook the most.
Twitter– I don’t Tweet as much as some do, but I do when I find something I think will brighten someone’s day or make them laugh.
Pinterest–I know I will get swallowed in the black hole of visual stimuli, so I have to limit it. I’ve also not spent enough time on it to master all the nuances.
Facebook–Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with high school and college friends as well as to connect with new reader friends. I have several good friends who’ve moved away. Because of Facebook, we stay connected on what’s going on in each other’s lives much better than occasional phone calls.
Recently, I re-connected with one of my best friends from high school because we found each other on Facebook. Then, we talked on the phone for nearly two hours. What a blessing!
I love the pictures on FB and the humorous posts that some of my friends put up. But one of my favorite things that my friends share are links to touching videos like the one below. A father who is dying with cancer arranged to walk his daughters down the aisle at a church now. Grab some tissues before you watch!
So, are you a Facebooker? Do the FB changes drive you crazy? Have you connected with any old friends because of social media?
Posted on September 23, 2013 - by Lorna Seilstad
During the last two weeks, readers had the opportunity to leave comments to be entered for a chance to win Laura Frantz’s Love’s Awakening or Sarah Sundin’s On Distant Shores. Drum roll please as we announce the winners.
Susan P. is the winner of Love’s Awakening.
And Adelina M. will be receiving a copy of On Distant Shores.
Posted on September 9, 2013 - by Lorna Seilstad
Chocolate. Massages. Manicures. The list of guilty pleasures goes on and on for most of us. We all deserve a little indulgence, and now that the kids are back in school, it’s time to give in to the calling of the occasional Oreos.
For the next two weeks, join us for a fun time as we Inkspers will be share our own guilty pleasures. Ten days of “10 guilty pleasures” gives you 100 things to add to your own list. And to help you get started, check out the giveaway at the end of this post.
Here are mine:
2. Long baths. I do a lot of plotting while I’m in the bathtub, and I love to take a long soak.
3. Time with friends. Whether its going out to lunch or shopping together, I love to spend time with my friends.
4. Playing games on Facebook. Yep, I’m hooked. Sometimes, I reward myself with a game or two when I finish scenes I’m writing.
5. Oreos. The greatest cookie ever made. That’s high praise considering I’m known as “The Cookie Lady” for the cookies I make and sell at Christmas. Even when I’m up to my armpits in homemade cookies, I’ll buy a pack of Oreos.
6. Fresh flowers. I love having fresh flowers around the house. I’ll even buy myself some flowers from the grocery store and arrange them in a vase just so I can enjoy a bouquet on my table.
8. Cottage cheese. I love it. It’s what I craved when I was pregnant. What can I say?
9. Reading books. Right now I’m reading Sarah Sundin’s newest book On Distant Shores, and as soon as I’m done, I’ll be curling up with Laura Frantz’s Love’s Awakening.
Since we know most of our Inksper friends have reading on their list of guilty pleasures, we’re giving away a (gently used)copy of Sarah Sundin’s On Distant Shores to one lucky reader this week, and a copy of Laura’s Love’s Awakening to another reader. Every time you leave a comment over the next two weeks, your name will be entered.
So, do you share any of my ten guilty pleasures? If not, what’s one of you own?
Posted on August 26, 2013 - by Lorna Seilstad
According to the age old saying, you can’t judge a book by its cover. Even if that is true, we still judge them on that basis all the time.
Most of us will pick up a book based on a cover that grabs our attention or intrigues us in some way. Then, we flip it over and read the back cover blurb. If we like that, we might read the first page, and if we like the package, we purchase the book. Once we’re home, we devour its contents.
So, yes, the book cover is vital in the whole purchase process. Perhaps a different saying is actually more appropriate here–”a picture’s worth a 1000 words.” Yes, that sums up the importance of a cover nicely.
For the next two weeks the Inkspers will be sharing some of the covers they think are winners this year. They may also share some that will be hitting the shelves soon and what they think makes an eye-catching, outstanding covers.
In order for a cover to make my list, it needs to
- draw me in
- tell me what I can expect from the book (era, attitude, etc.)
- be attractive (fonts, colors, models used, dress)
Besides my own cover for When Love Calls (which I love), the following are some of my favorites this year so far.
This cover just screams fun. The font used for the title is whimsical and the house behind echoes of a romantic, modern day getaway. I haven’t read Judy Christie’s Sweet Olive yet, but it’s on my list.
You can read about Sweet Olive here.
This is one of my favorite of Judy’s covers for the Amana books. It fits the story so well (yes, I’ve read this one and highly recommend it). With one look, you know the Amana dress is not like the Amish. The suitcase gives a clue to the time period, too.
You can check out A Simple Change here.
Rachel Hauk’s Once Upon a Prince is by far one of my favorite covers this year. It draws me in and makes me want to pick it up. With the bride’s smile and bare feet, you know this is clearly a fun romance, and the heart around the title seals the deal. Even the font echoes a fairy tale.
You can learn more about Once Upon a Prince here.
Regina Jennings’ book, Caught in the Middle, doesn’t release until next year, but I can’t wait to check it out. The colors are great, and the expression on the girl is priceless. But my favorite part? The cowboy boots with the her toe turned slightly in which make this a hard to resist cover.
You can pre-order Caught in the Middle here.
What do you think makes a great cover? Which of these strike your fancy? I’d love to hear about it.
Posted on August 15, 2013 - by Lorna Seilstad
As I commented in Shari’s post yesterday, I took my two oldest to college yesterday. My son will be a college senior this year. When I hugged him goodbye, I told me to enjoy his last “first day of school” next week. Then, on the way home, I began to think about the school experience all three of my children have had and what we as mothers are facing today.
This prayer echoes some of my musings.
Dear Heavenly Father,
So often we hear of the troublesome aspects of public schools, but I want to thank you for provided a free education for my children. I’ve taken that blessing for granted. What would our nation be like without a public school system?
Thank you for blessing my children with teachers who have gone the extra mile, who have touched their lives, and have helped them grow in book and people knowlege. If they’d had only me to influence their minds, they’d have missed out on so much, and at times, I would have missed out on the opportunity on teaching them how to filter world views from Christian ones.
Lord, I pray our children will delight in learning. In our teach-to-test society, I fear some of the joy of discovery is being lost. Help our children find that and help us as parents to provide other avenues for problem solving and discovery.
Please help our children learn to do their best. Help them discover the thrill of having given their all, and help them understand that their choices and actions bring glory to You.
Father, another aspect that schools bring our children our friends. I pray you will help our children make wise choices when it comes to friends, and more importantly, you will help them be the kind a friend who is filled with kindness, humor, and honor. I pray that through their friendships, they might be able to be a light.
Sadly, Lord, our campuses and schools have been violently attacked in recent years. Gunfire and bloodshed has changed the school’s enviornment forever. Please surround our children with your protection. Protect them from the evil one in every way, and help us mothers not to worry every time we hear a siren during the school day.
I know you love my children even more than I do. When I am tempted to want to draw my protective wing around them and shield them from the world, help me to trust you to provide for them. And when I think my child has been wronged, help me to not approach the situation like a mother bear. Help me to pull my claws back in, take a breath, and step back. Please, season my words with grace and respect and help me seek solutions rather than validation or vindication.
Thank you for hearing our prayers.
In Jesus’ name we bring our requests before You,